Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is getting cold here. It is only supposed to hit 62 degrees here today and get down in the 40's at night. This is my season to hunker down and bundle up.

What I'm listening to: Monday morning laundry going, girls chattering.

What we're learning: This week the older ones are learning about the periodic table in upper level chemistry, and I am reading to the younger ones about matter in elementary chemistry. I am starting a music appreciation course with the younger two, and we are almost done memorized Psalm 121 in Bible memory.

What's cooking: This week I am making a Beef Bok Choy Hot Pot, Quesadilla Pie, and Japanese Curry.

What I'm thankful for: I am very thankful for our health. We have not been sick yet this season, and have not had any major injuries or illnesses. God is good.

What I'm praying: I am praying for the missionaries sent to foreign lands by our church's denomination; that they would be kept safe, be able to proclaim the gospel, and have wisdom and grace for those around them.

What I'm planning: I have my second 4H Communication Project meeting tonight, and there are a few last minute things I need to plan.

What we did this last weekend: On Friday the two older kids went to our church's monthly youth study. They enjoyed the discussion on Romans and then hanging out with friends afterwards. Saturday we played some tennis and did some things around the house. Sunday was church and Sunday school.

What I'm looking forward to: Well Mr. Lego is going to be on the radio this week. The California Avian Bowl team is doing a 20 minute-long radio interview this Wednesday at around 9:30 for KFOK. If you have nothing better to do, you can listen in here.

A picture to share:

~The trees are starting to change....

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Week In Images

This homemade mayonnaise....

because it was fun to try something new.
These green tomatoes....

because I have at least 40 of them on my plants right now, and am not sure what to do with them. Ideas?

This clean and organized closet....

because it feels good to accomplish something.

This animal city on the floor....

because who would have thought of using toilet paper strips for the streets?

This box of cookie crumbs....

because they were such a treat.

{Crew Review} Bridgeway English from Bridgeway Academy

High School Grammar.

Something that is necessary, yet can be a tough one to teach. And that is where Bridgeway Academy steps in to help.

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What It Is:

I received English and Writing, which is meant to be a remedial high school English course. What does remedial mean? To put it simply, the word means to correct and improve deficient skills. In grammar and writing? Oh we can definitely use that.

I received three books from Bridgeway Academy:

Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar.  This textbook style workbook is meant to be self-instructional. Inside the pages are six sections or "Paks". Each Pak has three sections, which range from 9 to 10 pages. At the end of each section is a 2 page review.

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At the beginning of each Pak is a list of objectives. These start at the beginning of basic grammar and include complete subject and complete predicate, and types of sentences. The book progresses through nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

At the end of each Pak is a self test. This helps the student to self-evaluate and see if they are grasping the material. There are final unit tests which they can then take, if desired.

I also received the Bridgeway English Book 2 Focus on Writing. This book is set up in the same way as the grammar book, with six Paks, and three sections per Pak. This book is the second book in the series and goes on to teach clauses, complex sentences, irregular verbs, capitalization and punctuation, letter writing, test-taking, study skills, and critical thinking.

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I also received a third book which is the Teacher Answer Key. This, in my opinion, is what makes this curriculum worth it. Reproduced on the pages are all the workbook pages from Books 1 and 2, with the answers given. There are some hints for guiding the student through the material; for instance, the Teacher Key suggests going over the material verbally with your child before the final tests. Mastery is the goal here, so for each problem your child gets wrong, they are to go back through the unit and find the page where that concept was taught. They then highlight that instruction, read it to understand, and then self correct the wrong answer. And even on the final tests the student is encouraged to correct his work.

What You Get:

Each of these products are soft cover, spiral bound workbooks. They are consumable and have fill-in-the-blank questions and lines for longer answers. Both Book 1 and Book 2 are available on the website for $23.33 each. The English Key is also sold for $23.33 and comes in the same type of book format. Meant for 7th-12 grade students who have struggled with grammar, this complete curriculum can be finished in a year.

How We Used This and What I Thought:

We have done different grammar programs over the years but it had been a couple of years since Mr. Lego had done any. He has 2 more years of high school and this fit into what he was needing this year perfectly. I had him do 2 pages each day.

The explanations are appropriate and to the point, and the examples were very helpful to my son in understanding the concepts.

Many of the worksheets were fill-in-the-blank exercises, asking the student about the teaching boxes.

These were very helpful and were a good indicator for me, as the teacher, to see how well my son had grasped the content.

At the bottom of each page or section is a place for your student to self-check.

I really liked this aspect of this program; self instruction is an important skill for high school students to have. Mastery is also emphasized, with each and every mistake being corrected and re-checked.

Overall, I really liked this program. One thing that was a little difficult was that the page numbers start over at page 1 at the beginning of each Pak; once on Mr. Lego's assignment page I had written p.22-23, and my son did those pages in the wrong Pak. Having consecutive numbers through the whole book would have been much easier.

I loved the pace of the books. It was just enough grammar for each day; Mr. Lego spent between 10 and 15 minutes doing the pages. You could easily do more pages in a day; I am thinking to have him put on the timer for 15 minutes and doing as much as he can in that time frame.

Every few lessons is a spot where the teacher is to initial at the bottom.  Listed underneath the signature line is something that the teacher is to specifically check on that page. For example, on one page the teacher is to verify the use of subject complements, or on another, to check that the student memorized the reflexive pronouns. This was very helpful to me, as I was basically handing the book to my son and trusting that he was checking it correctly. These reminders gave enough independence to him, yet still gave me ways to test and check how he was learning.

I am planning to have him complete both books 1 and 2 this year, and am planning to have Bookworm do the same program next year.

Other members of the Crew reviewed Learning Labs from Bridgeway, which are online classes taught about Middle Ages, Marine Biology, and Essay Writing. Check out what they thought by clicking below.


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Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it was a good school day today. First I spent time doing one-on-one school with the younger two...mainly doing phonics, math, and reading. (My focus in the younger years.) The older two were working independently on chemistry, history, math, and grammar. Then we all gathered for Together School where we read some science, did Bible, memory work, and our newest subject: Beginning French. Then the older two spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up their writing and literature assignments. A very good day!

What I'm reading: I picked up the book Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel at the library. I don't think I'll ever eat at The French Laundry, but I could be up to making some of the pastry recipes that are in the book

What I'm listening to: A little bit of Andrew Peterson. Lovely music.

What we're learning: This week the older two are beginning to learn about the Periodic Table in chemistry. Fun. There are a couple of Algebra and Bible tests, and then in history all of the kids are learning about Ancient Africa and the Phoenicians.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we watched The Right Stuff (fast forwarding a couple of parts) with the kids. That was the movie that I watched when I was younger that really got me hooked onto the history of the Space Race.

What's cooking: This week I am making my blogging friend's Chicken Shawarma, Persian Chicken and Rice, and Donburi.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for music. It lifts me up, makes me sing, and sooths my soul.

What I'm creating: Each week until Nationals in November, the Avian Bowl Team will meet to practice. Since a good chunk of the material comes from the Eggcyclopedia and is about cooking eggs, we are preparing egg dishes each week. Last week we poached and baked eggs and this week it will be custards....both stirred and baked.

What I'm planning: I need to get planning for my communication project. Our next meeting is coming up and I need to work out the specifics. We are also starting our goat project up in November and I need to come up with a loose scope and sequence for the year.

What we did this last weekend: We did our normal Saturday stuff; a bit of cleaning and organizing that needed to be done. Saturday evening my Sweetie and I went to a park to play tennis while the kids played on the playground. Then Sunday to church and Sunday school, then home to fellowship with a precious family. Then back again for evening worship.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to making Persian food this week; I have some fun recipes for Crusty Persian Rice, Baba Ghanoush, and cucumber salad that I want to try. I am also looking forward to cleaning out that darn closet in the garage which has become a catch-all for everything. We'll see if I have time to do it this week....

A picture to share:

~Sisters three.....

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Week In Images

These Dahlias.....

because even though the stem is bent because the stalk was so heavy, they keep on blooming. Makes me think of life sometimes....

These ceramic pumpkins...

because it is that time of year.

This lunch of Maze Gohan...

because even though it looks strange it is so yummy.

This beautiful display of density.....

because I love making science so interesting for my kids. (And seeing their eyes pop out when an experiment works.)

This delicious banana bread....

because there is no better way to use up those brown bananas.

{Crew Review} God's World News

The news, in my opinion, can be a double-edged sword. On one hand it is a good thing to be up to date with the world's happenings, but on the other hand, parts of it can be downright depressing and not worth reading. This is where God's World News comes in as a helpful tool for homeschoolers.

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What It Is:

These Christian magazines, created by the same company that publishes World News, have six levels to choose from:

  • God's Big World (Pre-K to Kindergarten)
  • Early Edition (Grades 1-2)
  • News Flash (Grades 3-4)
  • News Current (Grades 5-6)
  • Top Story (Middle School)
  • Trak (High School)
I chose the Top Story level for our family to use and review. The magazines are good quality, with color photos, drawings, and graphs that go along with the news stories.

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Inside the pages are not just current event stories, but other articles that relate to each other. For example in the October issue the main story is about people relocation. There are articles about the boat people in Australia, Pakistan refugees, asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan, and a page on the history of the Diaspora of the Jewish people. Each of the articles are between one to two pages in length and almost every one has at least one image as well. The reading level is appropriate for middle school, and has an engaging style that draws in the student.

Throughout the issue there are a couple of short sections called "Bible2Life". These give Christian insight into the various articles. In the issue on people relocation, the Bible2Life talked about the Great Commission, and how missionaries travel to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel. It also mentioned that even though lives can be torn apart when people have to flee, God is always in control and that He is working out His will through historical events.

In a couple of the issues there are helpful timelines....these are themed appropriately to the accompanying articles. In the three issues I have received so far the timelines have been on the History of Robotics and Moving (relocating) Through the Ages.

There are a couple of pages of funny cartoons pertaining to current events, and another page of photos with fun captions. And at the end there are a few pages of short news clips...these include Kate Middleton's baby prince, Detroit facing bankruptcy, Diana Nyad's swim from Cuba to Florida, and school lunch programs. These are only a few paragraphs long and give a great overview of current events.

Within each mailed issue is a vocabulary quiz. Some of the vocabulary words are rampant, consecrate, cauterized, and acrid. There are also quizzes for a few of the articles; the questions for all quizzes are all multiple choice. The parent conveniently receives an email with the answers to the quizzes for each issue.

Occasionally there are puzzles to do; in the August issue there were some articles on the Asiana flight and there was a graphing puzzle to do that shows the wing area of planes. 

What You Get:

God's World News is a monthly magazine. I received the Home Subscription, which is 10 issues of the magazine. (God's World News does not publish an issue in December and May.) This costs $28.00 for the entire year. There is a discount if you purchase more than one subscription; the more subscriptions your family purchases, the less each one is. If I were to get each of my kids their own grade level it would only cost $19 a year for each of them. The school year issues are 32 pages long; the summer issues are a bit shorter at around 25 pages.

The subscription also includes a Map It! for school use. This 20"x30" world map is referred to many times in each issue, and gives your child practice in identifying countries on a map.

Included with your subscription is student website access. On this website are some of the current articles in the issue, along with other helpful information, editorials, and reading material. There are historical biographies, articles about culture and arts, and much more.

And another helpful teaching aid? On the God's World News website you can log in and read lesson notes for teaching certain articles in the issues. You can also access the answer key there as well.

How We Used This and What I Thought:

I gave this magazine to my older two to read on their own. I had it on their schedules to read the magazine for 15 minutes twice a week, but they read through the whole magazine the first week. (They couldn't put it down!) Then a couple times a week I would go over certain articles during our Together School with all four of the kids. This was where the lesson notes for teachers were very helpful. I would print these off and add information as we talked about the articles. Talking about these articles with the age ranges of my kids (8-16) was not difficult; since the older ones had read it they could usually add information for the younger ones.

I loved it that I could hand any of my children this magazine and know that there was nothing they would see that was offensive or inappropriate. And I did appreciate the Christian view of the articles; sprinkled throughout the whole magazine is references to scripture and Christian morals and ethics, but not in an overwhelming way.

And there were a few convicting articles too....This last week we started looking at a shorter article about gluten intolerance. I must admit that at times I am skeptical of so many people having problems with wheat and don't extend grace where I should. At the end of the article there was a short paragraph suggesting that when we know someone who is gluten intolerant, it is an opportunity to extent to them kindness and hospitality, and be sensitive to their diet. That was hard to read, but made me realize how graceless I have been.

I really liked this magazine. So many times I shy away from discussing news events at the dinner table with the whole family, and then I realize that my kids (especially the younger ones) have no idea about what is going on in the world. God's World News gives us, as parents and teachers, the tools to learn about current events, news stories, and other tidbits of information in an age-appropriate and conservative manner. I plan to continue to use this in the coming years, as I raise my children in God's world.

Members of The Crew received other grade levels: check out what they have to say by clicking below.


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it was a busy Monday. We did school for most of the day....there were some math issues, but I was able to help the kids with it, thanks to their algebra course, No-Nonsense Algebra. Then I had some errands to run, laundry to fold, and finally, I have time to write my musings.

What I'm listening to: Right this moment? Sounds of the kids picking up and someone brushing their teeth.

What we're learning: This week I am planning a fun experiment in our co-op...we'll layer different densities of liquid (honey, oil, water, etc.) and then drop different objects into it and see where they float. The older two are learning about Ernest Rutherford in Chemistry and are writing a paper about him. And in our Together School we are doing an overview of Deuteronomy and learning about the artist Millet.

What's cooking: This week I am making Indian Lentils in the crock pot, Caesar Salad Wraps, and one of our favorites, Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas.

What I'm buying: Well today I did big shopping at Winco and Wal Mart, and survived. Tomorrow I'll hit Costco and Goodwill.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for warm socks. Today was a cooler day here, and I was enjoying my trusty wool socks.

What I'm praying: For a couple of my friend's whose family members are suffering from cancer. I am praying for healing and wisdom, but more importantly for their souls.

What I'm planning: I have some co-op planning to do, plus I have my 4H communication project meeting in a couple of weeks, so I need to lesson plan for that too.

What we did this last weekend: The older two had Avian Bowl practice and then a mock bowl at UC Davis. They were quite humbled with the results and realized that the next 5 weeks are going to be crazy busy with studying. Sunday we went to church, then to a park for a picnic and volleyball, and then over to a friends for card games.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to our co-op this week. I don't know how I could homeschool without it.

A picture to share:

~While the older two were at Davis, I watched my friend's 4 youngest boys. This is what our living room looked like....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Week In Images

This hummingbird....

 because even though he is a bully and chases away other hummingbirds, he is still beautiful.

This dear friend....

who encourages me when I am down, makes me laugh, and is my co-teacher in our little co-op.

This beautiful sunset.....

because the soft colors remind me of the coming fall.

This 14 year old girl....

who brings such joy to my heart.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That 4H is in full swing. And not just stuff with our club, but the Avian Bowl team, which Mr. Lego is a part of, is getting ready for their Kentucky trip. This week we have a couple of fundraising events (car wash and hot dog dinner) plus they have a trial bowl at UC Davis.

What I'm reading: I am reading through a new book I am reviewing from Apologia: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. We are going to be using this in our co-op starting this week so I am busy lesson planning...

What I'm listening to: At this moment? Some Steven Curtis Chapman on Spotify.

What we're learning: This week the older two are writing a paper on x-rays, and Dasher and Nutsy are learning about ancient China in history. We are all going through an online French course right now as well.

What's cooking: This week I am making a roast chicken in the crock pot, Shepherd's Pie, and Beef Enchiladas.

What I'm thankful for: I am really thankful for 4H. Watching my son lead the club meeting, seeing my shy daughter get up and give a report, and seeing the joy on my children's faces when we do community service, all make me very thankful for this organization.

What I'm praying: I am praying for those that are sick right now. I know that getting sick a couple times a year is to be expected, but it can still be miserable.

What we did this last weekend: We did lots of little things around the house on know, those things that need to be done but just don't get done during the week. Sunday we went to church, had our fellowship meal, went to the assisted-living center, and then over to a friends for games and fellowship.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to seeing how well the kids do this week as they fundraise; I am also looking forward to co-op.

A picture to share:

~Happy Birthday, Bookworm!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

To Bookworm: 14 Years Ago Today....

14 years ago, I was expecting my second baby. (You were actually my third pregnancy; we lost an unknown soul a few months before.)

{Yes, I am actually 5 months pregnant here...we were visiting Obachan
in Seattle the week before I went on bedrest}

14 years ago in July, I went into the doctor for my 20-week ultrasound.

My pregnancy had not been completely normal; At my first ultrasound at 6 weeks they couldn't see you at all, and so they told me they wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I asked them to wait and a week later at another ultrasound, you were big enough for them to see on the monitor.

So right from the beginning we could see God's merciful grace and providence. I had had spotting here and there, but for the last few weeks things had calmed down.

At the 20-week ultrasound, we found out that you didn't have barely any amniotic fluid. (The nice, cushy stuff that you lived in.)

So we met with a specialist, who was able to get a teeny bit of fluid from my uterus to see if he could help with what was going on. I went on pretty strict bedrest...only getting up to go to the bathroom and to take a 5 minute shower.

As the weeks went by you were doing okay....the fluid was coming back up a bit and not as dangerous, but I had to make sure I didn't get up at all.

Every 2 weeks we went in for growth ultrasounds, and then at 28 weeks I started getting steroid shots to help you with your lungs.

Man, those shots hurt.

14 years ago, in mid September when I was 30 weeks along, you were still hanging in there, but your growth was slowing. I was now going in for ultrasounds and non-stress tests twice a week.

One time, the fluid went below 3cm again, so they actually put me in the hospital for a few days. On the fourth day they even kept me from eating breakfast because they were sure you needed to come out, but the fluid went up to 5cm, so your birthday wasn't September 23.

Finally, on October 4th, we had an ultrasound that showed your growth in the last couple of weeks had stopped. The specialist decided that you would probably do better if you were born so they told me to come in two days for a C-section.

{Me, the night before you were born}

You were seven weeks early.

14 years ago today, the very same doctor that delivered me, delivered you. And in the same hospital, too.

{See dad? He loved having a front row seat to the surgery.}

You were 2 pounds, 13 ounces and didn't need any help breathing.

{Your first picture}

You were so tiny! You were only 14 inches long. Dad put his fist, right next to your head, and they were the same size.

I was so glad you were healthy, and had none of the problems that the doctors had predicted you could have had, with the low fluid.

 {This is one of the first times I held you....we put a blanket over
your head because they had an IV in there.}
We settled into a routine. Every morning I would call the NICU to see how your night had gone. Then every evening we would drive the 20 minutes to the hospital. Then we would spend an hour or so there, helping to feed you, holding you, and savoring each precious moment with you. Sometimes on the weekends we went twice a day...all of your grandparents and some of the aunts and uncles were able to come in and visit you too.

One neat thing about the hospital we were at was that siblings, who were not sick, could come in too. Your brother loved coming in and seeing you.

Your NICU stay was pretty uneventful; you did have some trouble eating and you would spit up a lot, so many times after you ate we couldn't hold you.

In late October someone made all of these bright orange hats for all the preemie babies. You were still needing some help with eating and we were waiting for you to hit 4 pounds so you could go home.

Finally, on November 9th, you were big enough to come home.

I was so thankful, not only that you were now home with us, but also for the many lessons that God taught us during those hard months.

Through my pregnancy, I had had 17 ultrasounds, 8 steroid shots, 10 non-stress tests, and we went back and forth to visit you each day for 36 days. So worth it, when I would see you in our home, in your dad's arms.

And now, look how you have grown.

You are turning into such a wonderful and sweet young lady.

Happy Birthday, my precious daughter.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for
welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Week In Images

These sand dollars....
because the kids were busy for hours collecting them.
This lovely way to eat tofu.....

because it has the perfect amount of bonito and ginger to make my tongue happy.

This hand lotion....


because it faithfully sits by the sink, waiting to help me with my dry hands.

This beach at twilight.....

because seeing the stars come out while listening to the surf was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monday Musings (On a Tuesday)

What I'm thinking: That we had a great time this last weekend beach camping. We went with another family and camped three nights on the Pacific coast. Between the two of our families, there were 14 children, from ages 7 to 21. We had a super fun (and crazy) time.

What I'm listening to: Well we are home now guessed it, I am hearing my laundry going, cleaning all those clothes from our trip.

What we're learning: This week we are just plugging along in school...the older ones are really enjoying No-Nonsense Algebra and I am thankful that they are understanding it.

What's cooking: This week I am making Chicken Fried Rice, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, and our usual homemade pizza on Friday.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the beauty that God has given us in Creation. Last week, walking on the beach at twilight and watching the stars come out, was one of the most beautiful things I can remember.

What I'm planning: I am planning French lessons for our co-op tomorrow. I am reviewing a fun, online French program for The Crew and I want to integrate it into our lessons tomorrow.

What we did this last weekend: We were camping on the beach for a few days, and visited a sister church of ours on Sunday. Then we spent an evening with My Sweetie's mom (Obachan) and then we spent a day at my dad's house. And now we are home. :-)

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to our co-op tomorrow, sleeping in my own bed tonight, and getting back into the regular schedule of life.

A picture to share:

~A gaggle of kids on the beach. (Three of them were missing.)