Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday Musings (On a Tuesday)

What I'm thinking: That we are on vacation. And that folks, is why I am writing this on a Tuesday. But we aren't sitting around doing nothing....yesterday we helped out at a food bank and did some book-shelf organizing. And today I have made two dozen apple spice muffins, all the laundry, and mixed up a batch of soft wheat rolls for dinner tonight.

What I'm reading: I am re-reading one of my favorite books right now: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. It is probably in my top ten favorite books of all time.

What we're learning: We are taking a break from normal school this week. And it is lovely.

What's cooking: Aside from the normal turkey dinner with the traditional fixings, we are having Chicken Fettucine Alfredo, Minestrone Vegetable Soup, and Lentil Sausage Soup this week.

What I'm buying: Nothing more this week. And I am SO not a Black Friday shopper....you have to drag me into stores as it is, and doing it on a day when thousands of others are fighting their way through the aisles is not even something you could pay me to do.

What I'm thankful for: That the Avian team was kept safe during their travels. We picked up Mr. Lego at church on Sunday and he had some fun stories to tell about his adventures in Kentucky. They had to opportunity to visit the Creation Museum, the Sluggar Museum, and the Kentucky Derby Museum.  In Avian Bowl, his team got FIRST PLACE in the written exam, but then drew a bad spot in the bowl section and went up against the hardest team first. They did such a good job, but lost because of buzzer speed. But what an incredible opportunity, representing our state at a national event!

What I'm creating: Tomorrow I am making the cranberry sauce, cornbread, and sausage for the stuffing. Thanksgiving is pretty much streamlined here and very relaxing for me to make.

What we did this last weekend: Saturday we did yard work in the morning. My Sweetie cut back all the roses and pulled out the summer garden while the girls and I planted 50 tulip bulbs around the yard. Sunday we went to church and Sunday school, then home for a relaxing afternoon at home.

What I'm looking forward to: My mother-in-law is coming for Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to seeing her. I love being able to visit and cook with her. And I am looking forward to just hanging out, with my precious family.

A picture to share:

~Food Bank volunteers....

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Week In Images

These apples.....

because we enjoyed Apple Crisp, Apple-Spice Muffins, and an Apple Cake this week.

These leaves.....

because leaves in a pile are meant to be picked up and thrown into the air.

These pumpkins......

because orange is such a lovely color.

This quiet spot in our neighborhood....

because even though we live in the city, there is still a place to be peaceful and quiet.
These joyful faces.....

because I loved having them all in my house this week.

This Week At My House

It has been a while since I profiled a week at our house. Most weeks are uneventful and aren't probably very interesting.

But this last week, while being uneventful, was a different one.

I had seven children in my house for 5 days.

Mr. Lego, as you know if you read my Monday Musings, is in Kentucky competing at the National Egg and Poultry Convention. My friend, who is the coach, took the team so I volunteered to watch her four youngest boys, ages 7-12.

And we had a blast.

Each day we did some school....very low-key stuff like phonics and reading workbooks, math, and read-alouds.

After that, the fun began.

They did this for a while one afternoon....

One of their favorite things to do was to look through our I Spy Books. 

The creators of those books were genuises.

One day they made a triple batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies. 

These were seriously delicious.

And when I felt like they needed to burn off some energy, I sent them outside to play.
The leaves were too tempting and they had a massive leaf-throwing fight.

Some of them went into the small greenbelt area in our neighborhood, and created a whole village for the stuffed animals.

I did take them with me when I ran errands and went to the library, and yes, they all fit in my car.

And for fun, I started writing down the things I was hearing......

"Retreat! Girls coming!"

(When watching a funny Youtube video) "You are 20 percent in front of me, so I can only see 50 percent! Move over!"


"Sit on his head!"
"Knight, come rescue me now!"

"It's not my fault that I'm mad at you."
"Let's listen to What Does the Fox Say again!" (We seriously listened to that song at least three times a day.)


 Me: "What are you doing?"
Child: "Slow-motion punching."

Child #1: "Get your leg off of my foot!"
Child #2 " That's not my leg!"
This was also heard often:
"When are you going to stop taking pictures of us?"

It was a pretty fun week.
I got to know these sweet little boys a bit better, and spend time with my own girlies as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That my son is up in the air today. As I am writing this his plane just left Denver and is on its way to Louisville, Kentucky. They will visit the Creation Museum tomorrow, then attend and compete at the National Egg and Poultry Conference. Then back home again on Friday. I am going to be having my own little adventure here at home...I am watching my friend's four youngest boys (ages 7-12), as she is the team coach and is the one taking them to Kentucky.

What I'm listening to: Chattering voices behind me, someone bounding up the stairs, and whistling sounds coming from upstairs.

What we're learning: Well we are going to be doing modified school this week....everyone has workbooks to do, plus I am planning on doing some out loud reading from our elementary science...Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Pretty much just the basics.

What I'm watching: The leaves turning incredible colors outside. We are having a particularly colorful fall and the view is amazing.

What's cooking: This week I am making a Chicken Stir Fry, Spaghetti and Noodles, and Tex-Mex Pasta. Yum yum.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the opportunities that 4H has given us. The ways it has stretched and challenged my kids and the amazing things that they have been able to do have been well worth it.

What I'm praying: Today I am praying for a friend I have on the Crew....her son was in a very serious motorcycle accident last week and is having surgery today. Prayers for healing and wisdom for the doctors.

What I'm planning: I have a full bushel of apples in my garage right now....I am trying to decide what to do with them. We had Apple Crisp yesterday and I would like to do a batch of applesauce to make fruit leather with.

What we did this last weekend: We spent part of Saturday helping Mr. Lego pack for his trip. We did some things around the house and had yummy stuffed pasta shells for dinner. Sunday we heard an excellent sermon on forgiveness and then had friends over for a chili dinner. Then back to church again for evening worship.

What I'm looking forward to: With a full house, this week is going to be a fun one....I am also looking forward to hearing all about Mr. Lego's adventures.

A picture to share:

~All the munchkins, humoring me and posing for the camera....

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Week In Images

These beautiful roses....

because they make me smile while I am washing the dishes.

This flag....

because it is good to remember, and thank those who serve our country.

This homemade kettle corn that we make when the weather gets cold....

because it is good to have family traditions.

These essential oils....

because I am seeing how helpful they can be.

This special moment.....

because it is a such a blessing to have a Grandpa who wrote a book about his childhood for his grandchildren.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it was a lovely Monday. The older two were at an Avian Team practice all day, so it was just the younger ones and me. We went to our town's Veteran's Day Parade, and then home for an afternoon of playing, reading, and watching Despicable Me. There was laundry, kitchen cleaning, and some floor interspersed as well. Dinner was Golden Winter Soup with Gruyere Toasts and now I am sitting down to plan out my 4H goat project meeting.

What I'm reading: I picked up a book by Willa Cather at the library last week titled My Antonia. I love reading O, Pioneers! and am looking forward to perusing this book.

What we're learning: This week we are finishing up a few things in co-op before our Thanksgiving break. The older ones have a segment of their chemistry DVD to watch and a Story Sequence to edit and complete. And the younger ones are starting to learn about atoms in their chemistry.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend my Sweetie and I watched Fiddler on the Roof. And it hit us both as quite sad this time; having three daughters and seeing haw hard life can be sometimes is sobering. But there is always joy to be found.

What's cooking: This week I am making Beef and Barley Soup, Chile Verde in the slow cooker, and a big pot of chili this weekend.

What I'm creating: I have written my last review (for a while). The Crew takes a break and won't start up until January...I have really enjoyed writing and am looking forward to starting it up again in a couple of months, Lord willing.

What I'm planning: Well the goat season is around the corner and I am planning out all of our meetings. Tomorrow night we have our first one and we are learning about the different goat breeds and goat terminology.

What we did this last weekend: We had a pretty quiet weekend. After church and Sunday School we went to a park with a couple of other families for a fun baseball game. (My friend and I were actually shocked that we hit the ball), then over to a friends house for Catch Phrase.

What I'm looking forward to: We have both our goat meeting and our club meeting tomorrow night; it will be good to get started with the animal project. Then later in the week we are getting a surprise visit from someone special, and then Friday is the last long Avian Bowl practice for the team. They leave for Kentucky next week...

A picture to share:

~Remembering and honoring those who serve our country in the military.

{Crew Review} ~ French Essentials

Want to learn French? I think it is such a beautiful language, and so when French Essentials came up for review, I decided to try it out.

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What It Is:

This online French program is meant for students from around 2nd grade through high school, with a concentration on grades 3-8. Combining modules though, can give high school credits for foreign language. You can see here the approximate grade levels and at what pace they should complete the modules. Currently there are 4 modules that have been produced so far, with Module 5 being completed by the end of 2013. Combining audio files, interactive online exercises, and pdf lessons, this program is a complete foreign language curriculum.

Each module has between 15 and 25 lessons. Some of these are obviously more involved; mastery is the goal so your child will spend time in each lesson until he completely understands what is being introduced. Each lesson includes a downloadable .zip file, online exercises, audio/visual segments, printable worksheets, and a final quiz.

This program focuses on learning the language four ways:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Speaking
In the .zip files, your child will read the French words in the lessons. The online sections include flashcards that both show the word and audibly say the word. Writing is done on the printable worksheets, plus the online portions have places where the student writes in or spells the vocabulary words. Part of the .zip files is audio/visual short videos of  French-people saying the vocabulary words. This listening part of the lessons were very helpful, especially since a wide range of people are speaking the words. Men, women, and children are all saying the same words multiple times to help with pronunciation. Many of the videos say "Ecoulez et repetez" , which means in French, "Listen and repeat." The students are to repeat the words after the French speaker which helped their pronunciation and speaking

What You Get:

You will receive full access to their online program for a year, which includes all files, videos, and lessons. You can purchase each individual module for $69.95, or full access to all modules for $149.95. If your student has had French in the past they can take an online placement test to see which module they should begin with. To download the lessons you do need to have the latest versions of Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and QuickTime 7

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A bonus to this language program is the notes on culture. Throughout the lessons there are cultural notes to look at online which also offer other ways to study about France, its people, and how the the French have influenced the world.

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How We Used This:

At first I decided to do this with all four of the kids. The first four lessons are all from the .zip file, and go over the alphabet, pronunciation, and French accent marks. (You should have heard us all, trying to say the French alphabet with French accents. My friend who was over visiting thought it was a hoot.) Beginning in lesson 5, the student will first read the lesson from the .zip file, and then go online to complete the activities provided there. These include audio flashcards, a spelling exercise, a matching game, a racing spelling game, and the lesson test.

After we began lesson 5 I realized that the younger ones would need to go at a slower pace and so, for the purpose of this review, I focused on the older two. Both Mr. Lego (age 16) and Bookworm (14) progressed at around a lesson every three days. I would sit with them as they read the lesson, but then assign a certain amount of time to do the online exercises each day. They were only allowed to move onto the next lesson when they received 100% on the lesson test.

What We Thought:

Bookworm liked the pace of lessons and seemed to be able to master the 'soft' french sounds pretty well. Mr. Lego struggled a bit; I think for him, having had some Spanish instruction made it harder to switch to French pronunciation. One of the things that made it a teeny bit harder was that their work done online (games and tests) is not saved. It wasn't too much of a problem; I just had them mark on their daily schedule what they had completed each day.

I really liked the approach of this program; I do not have any French background at all, so being able to hear the way it was pronounced was so helpful. I also feel that watching the French speakers say the words was important and helped my kids to learn the vocabulary. It was hard for my kids to spell out the the vocabulary; Comment tu t'appelles?  (What is your name?) sounds nothing like it is spelled. But once they were able to spell it out correctly they had definitely mastered the word. I really appreciated the written worksheets; when learning in a subject is done solely online it can be lacking. There was one to two worksheet pages for each lesson; I do wish that there were more of them for those students that needed extra help. (Like my younger ones.)

I really liked this program. It was harder for us since no one in our family has any background in French, but you didn't need any previous exposure to French to use this. In fact, that is one of the selling points of French Essentials; it is meant to be used by those without any experience in French. Want to check it out first? You can register for free and get access to selected lessons, exercises, and tests.

Other members of The Crew, with students of all ages, reviewed this language program. Check out what they thought by clicking below.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

My Week In Images

These tomatoes....

because they are the last ones I will get from my garden this year.

This lovely afternoon at the park....

because not only was it good exercise, it was also entertaining, watching the younger sisters trying to catch the ball.

This warm fire....

because it helped to keep me warm this week.

This heirloom melon....

because it was a lovely gift from my mother-in-law.

This crazy science experiment....

because anything called "Elephant Toothpaste" has got to be loads of fun.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

{Crew Review} ~ Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

If you read my Monday Musings you would know that in our homeschooling co-op this year we are having our older students go through a high school chemistry course. It is definitely meant for high school students which left our younger students with nothing to do during science time. So when this elementary homeschool science course came up from Apologia Educational Ministries, I was thrilled.

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What It Is:

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is a brand new addition to Apologia's Young Explorer Series. This easy to use, year-long curriculum is meant for grades K-6th. The course begins with matter and then moves onto atoms, mixtures, motion, energy, light, electricity, magnetism, and simple machines. The text book is broken up into 14 Lessons which are between 15 and 19 pages long. Words that are to be learned are in bold, with the definition plainly stated. Written by Jeannie Fulbright, the text is easy to read and is at a 4th-6th grade reading level.

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Throughout the lesson are Try This! boxes. These are fun experiments to do that help to understand the material being taught. Some of these are as simple as blowing on glass to see condensation, or using force to stick a piece of paper to a window. Others are more involved and include freezing different liquids in the freezer, substance testing with litmus paper, or creating a simple circuit.

There are beautiful color illustrations throughout the textbook that are very helpful in teaching the concepts. Almost all of the experiments in the book also have a photo to help explain the process.

At the end of each lesson is a short section with questions titled, "What Do You Remember?". These are a great way to verbally review with your child what they have learned. There are also suggested notebooking activities and a final experiment. These last experiments are more involved that the others listed and include making your own flashlight, building a periscope, and making a magnetic race track. There is a convenient supply list in the back of the textbook. The textbook is available on the Apologia website for $39.00

While the text can be used on its own, Apologia also provides Notebooking Journals in two levels.

The Chemistry & Physics Notebooking Journal is meant for upper elementary students. Inside the pages you will find vocabulary crossword puzzles, lined pages to fill up with facts, and scripture copy work pages to fill in. There are mini book/flap books to make for each lesson, the What Do You Remember? questions, and other experiments and book suggestions for further study. The notebooks are available for $24.00 on the website.

Apologia also offers the Chemistry & Physics Junior Notebooking Journal. These are meant for the lower elementary students who have limited writing skills and include  appropriate coloring pages, places to draw illustrations, copywork pages, simple vocabulary crosswords, mini books, and ideas for further study. These notebooks are also available on the website for $24.00 each.

How I Used This:

At the beginning of both the textbook and the notebooks is a few pages on how to use the book. These were extremely helpful in helping me decide how to teach this to our co-op students. Another planning feature is a suggested Daily Schedule in the notebooks. This assumes that you will study science 2 days a week and take 2 weeks for each lesson. The book will then be completed in twenty-eight weeks.

The books makes it clear that you do not need to assign every activity listed. Even the number of days a week that you do the material is flexible and allows you, as the teacher, to decide what is best for your family.

Each week I would assign a reading assignment from the text and one or two pages from the Notebooks. We gather weekly for co-op and while the older kids were doing high school chemistry, we would do our work. I planned out in advance what we would do each week. We did experiments, the What Do You Remember? page, and the mini-books for each lesson. And we had a blast. So much so that the older kids asked to come in and watch our experiments.

One day we made our very own lava lamps, as we learned about density

Another experiment about carbon dioxide bubbles was a favorite....that also might have been because there was candy involved.

Before adding Rock Pops.....

...and after.

And then there was this experiment on density. The older kids were even impressed.

First I had 8 liquids that were of different densities.

Next, following the instructions in the book, we added them into a vase in a specified order.

So pretty!

Next, we dropped different objects into the vase and watched where they became suspended.

Each of the objects sank until it had found a level that had more density.

You can see the ping pong ball floating on the top, a straw in the next layer, and the dice on the bottom.

Every lesson has its own crafty element which is usually a flap or layered book. This was the book they made after learning about matter:

I really liked it that the flap books were identical in both Junior and Upper Elementary Notebooks; that made it much easier on the teacher.

I really loved this curriculum. I never took chemistry in high school or college and have been scared of teaching this science. Jeannie Fulbright has not only made it fun with all of the creative experiments, but has done an excellent job in making the text of the course easy to understand. I am even learning things each week as I read aloud to the kids and am impressed with what my kids have learned. Yesterday when we went to read the book, and I was asking some questions, Nutsy was able to tell me the three forms of matter (liquid, solid, and gas). Both of the younger girls eagerly got out their notebooks each time we did science and loved filling the pages with facts, drawings, and answering questions.

This was the perfect fit for us. Not so intense that it was over their heads, but yet meaty enough for upper elementary students. And there are plenty of hands-on activities to satisfy those younger children, and their need for tangible learning. The book is unabashedly from a Christian perspective with references to God's power, His amazing creation, and the wisdom that He has given to humans. As we go through our co-op year we plan to complete the book and explore more about the fascinating world of chemistry and physics.

See what other Crew members thought of Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics by clicking the banner below.


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