Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I can't believe it is the last week of November. And I can't believe that we remembered to take our turkey out of the freezer yesterday. Most years we think about it sometime on Wednesday and then frantically yank it out and put it to thaw in a cooler filled with water. Does that mean that I am finally getting it all together? Probably not.....

What I'm reading: I just finished a very interesting book by Lily Koppel called The Astronaut Wives Club. It is the wives side of the story about the race to the moon and life as an astronaut's wife. Exciting and sad at the same time.....most of them ended up divorcing.

What I'm listening to: Right now? One Republic is playing on my playlist. We are also babysitting some parakeets and they are squawking away in the school room.

What we're learning: We are only doing one day of school this week and then we are on break. The older ones have been learning about viruses and bacteria in biology, and the younger ones are finishing up a chapter about nutrition in anatomy. The girls are all doing 4H presentations this year so we need to also get working on those.

What's cooking: This week I am making Broccoli Chicken Pasta, Donburi, a pot roast in my slow cooker, and like millions of others in America, turkey on Thursday.

What I'm buying: I was going to wait until Wednesday to go out to get my fresh veggies for Thursday, but what am I thinking? That is one of the crazy shopping days, so I think I'll do it tomorrow. On my beans for the green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, spinach for a yummy dip, and salad stuff.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for what God has given me. Today we helped out at a food bank with our 4H group and we are very blessed. I need to be reminded of that often.

What I'm creating: I finally did my project I had been trying to get around too; the kids made a keepsake frame for their Disneyland souvenirs. I am hoping to make it into a blog post soon...

What I'm planning: To get into the kitchen. I still have lots of apples that I need to do some stuff with, and then the fun baking and cooking will begin for Thanksgiving.

What we did this last weekend: We had a quiet weekend at home. We did lots of little things around the house, some puttering outside, ate yummy chicken spring rolls one night, and took a couple of evening walks.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, and the school break is a needed one. Then it is crazy, but it is December. Time flies.

Pictures to share:

~Bookworm and Dasher at the food bank.....they helped with passing out clothes.

~Nutsy with a friend at the food bank.....she helped to pass out supplies for pumpkin pie.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Week In Images

 These precious kiddos in my Sunday School Class.....

because I love teaching them about Christ.

These leaves.....

because even though they are everywhere, they are beautiful.

These friends.....

because I love seeing them play together.

Theses cookies......

because I love having a daughter who loves to bake.

This car.....

because Mr. Lego just bought it, and now my car is mine again.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The 2014 Blue Ribbon Awards

So every year The Crew, that lovely company that I write reviews for, polls all of us bloggers and we vote on our favorites.

And some of these I was very blessed to review.

Favorite Language Arts Program and Middles School Resource: 

Moving Beyond the Page

Greek Myths was a great short course for my older two to take.

And my younger ones loved Human Body. We are actually re-using lots from this kit as we learn Anatomy in co-op this year.

Favorite Language Art Supplement:


Not only does this online site have language art sections, it also has math questions, with levels all they way up to Algebra. Online learning is super fun for my younger girls.

Favorite Grammar Program:  

IEW Fix It! Grammar

LOVED this one. I am only required to use any products I review for 6 weeks, but we are still going through this great resource for grammar. 


I love that it includes vocabulary and copywork, and that they are going through such a fascinating story.

Favorite Math Supplement: 

Learning Wrap Ups

This is another one that we are still using. The wrap ups, which include both math and language arts, are super fun and so easy to hand a child to use to review math facts. I rarely hear complaints when I get them out.

And the Learning Palettes have gone over so well in our schooling too; they really cater to the more kinetic learners and those who like learning in a more tangible way.

Favorite Elementary Resource: 

Logic of English

Another one I LOVE. Both Dasher and Nutsy are doing LOE; Dasher is in Essentials and Nutsy is doing Foundations. I love their approach, and how I use so many ways to teach reading/phonics/grammar/spelling/vocabulary.

Through games, dictation, flashcards, copywork, and fun books to read; this course is complete and helps even those who have learning disabilities or are ESL. 

Best Digital Resource and All Around Crew Favorite: 

Veritas Press

This is another one that I have not stopped using; I am planning on having the older two use this history and literature curriculum through to the end of the school year. And I am very seriously thinking about having Bookworm continue on to year two of Omnibus.

So there are some of the awards. I loved these products and hope that you can read more about them and perhaps use them in your schooling!

You can see the entire list of Blue Ribbon Awards at the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

{Crew Review} IXL

Once again, I was offered the opportunity to use and review an online product. This one covers the basics of all learning: math and grammar.

What It Is:

IXL, an online learning program, has two sections that they shared with me: IXL Math and IXL Language Arts. 

Christmas Book Review

 IXL Math:

This online math program covers all math skills from Pre-K through eighth grade. Plus there are higher levels as well....Algebra 1 and 2, geometry, and pre-calculus.

The website is very easy to navigate; you can see at a glance what each level offers. And if you hover over one of the skills, a sample question comes up, so that you know exactly what to expect.

When you begin to do a set of problems, on the right side there is a clock, giving the time elapsed. The number of problems attempted is listed, plus your SmartScore. This score begins at 0 and goes all the way up to 100 as the questions are answered. If you answer some of the problems incorrectly, it does add to the number of questions that you are asked and your SmartScore goes down by a few points. The skill is not considered mastered until your SmartScore reaches 100.

 The math skills are listed by topic; your child does not have to complete one skill to move on to another; this makes it easy to use as a supplemental math program. IXL is not meant to teach your children math, but if they do get a question wrong, the solution is explained in detail.

At the top of your child's home page are different tabs:

They can click on Reports, which show how long they practiced, on which days, and how many questions they answered.

The Awards tab shows the awards they have received. These are earned in a variety of ways, such as mastering a certain number of skills in a category, getting a certain number of problems right, or practicing for a set amount of time.

IXL Language Arts:

Language Arts have grade levels for 2-8th grade. These include parts of speech, word analysis, vocabulary, reference skills, and much more.

The format is exactly the same, and when you begin a skill set, there is a clock counting on the right side. The SmartScore is listed with the number of problems as well. As with the math section, your child can move around from skill to skill.

You also have the same identical tabs at the top to see your Awards and Reports.

What You Get:

This online program is available as an annual subscription. One child for math is $79; for both math and language arts it is $129. They also have a special deal if you have two children that would benefit from this program; for two children it is $99 for math, and $149 a year for both math and language arts. Each additional child would be $2 a month or $20 a year.

You can also purchase a family subscription which is perfect for homeschoolers. 

As the parent you will also get a parent account. Here, you can see the same reports that are on your student's account. You can see their performance by skill, trouble spots, progress, and usage. You can even see a report card of sorts, that shows their cumulative score on all the skills they have worked on.

How We Used This:

I had both Dasher and Nutsy do this program. In the beginning I was going to have Nutsy doing Language Arts and Dasher doing math, but they both wanted to try out the entire program so they went between the subjects.

Nutsy was in the third grade math. Some of the topics are Numbers and Comparing, Mixed Operations, Geometry, Understanding Fractions, and Logical Reasoning to name a few. All together there are 24 topics with 277 skills total! That is a lot of skills to choose from.

Since I went into this knowing that it was not a course that would teach my kids, I told them right from the start that I would be choosing the skills that they would complete. For her, we started with some of the areas where she does need some extra help, like graphing, money, number sentences, and mixed operations. I had her put the timer on for 20 minutes each day that I wanted her to do IXL, which worked out to at least three days a week.

She liked the way that the questions were asked; sometimes there were colorful items and things that pertained to the problem. She isn't the best reader so she did have a harder time with some of the wording of the questions, so I stuck near her to help her out when she came across words she didn't know.

For the Language Arts section I had her do skills also in third grade. In that grade there are 116 skills that pertain to parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, prefixes and suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots.

I was excited to have Dasher use this; she struggles in school and likes using different forms of media to learn. She does really struggle with math and so instead of going by grade, we looked at it topically. IXL makes this easy; at the top of the screen you can choose to view the skills by grade or by topic.

I had Dasher work a lot on the multiplication problems. One of the skills we really worked on were multiplication word problems. She is an extremely visual learner, so having a problem like this:

Clay bought 2 bunches of carrots. There were 8 carrots in a bunch. How many did he buy?

was very tangible for her.

In the Language Arts section I had her working in the 5th and 6th grade levels. I was impressed with the depth of exercises; for example she had to choose between adverbs and adjectives, recognize subordination conjunctions, and determine the meaning of idioms. These were all excellent things for her to practice. She does struggle with the skill being timed; I know this pressures her too much so we would just tape a paper over the side of the screen. But then she wasn't able to see how close she was to completing the skill set; I do wish there was an option to hide the timer.

What We Thought:

I really liked this and used it in conjunction with our current math program. Doing it three days a week was an excellent pace; I would see what they had missed in their daily math, and then give them skills to do in IXL Math. I wish as the parent I could have assigned them work, but I just wrote down a list of the skills I wanted them to do.

We also continued on with our language arts curriculum and used this to add to that subject. The girls especially loved earning awards and seeing their page fill up with the different ones. As the parent I also appreciated how easy it was to get on and see how much work they had done. I do wish as I said above, that I could have actually assigned work for the girls, since they can pretty much go into any grade level and practice skills. But there were a few days when, after their 20 minutes were up, that they explored around, and found other skills to do.

I would recommend this as a great way to review math and language arts. The format is simple and easy to use, and the questions and skill sets are very age appropriate.

Other members of The Crew reviewed this great product; check out what they thought by clicking below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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Friday, November 7, 2014

My Week In Images

 My Week in images.....

This applesauce......

 because I love the aroma that fills the kitchen when I make it.

These kiddos, who trick or treated for only the second time in their lives......

 because there is grace, and we are all at different points on the journey heavenward.

These roasted tomatillos.....

 because once you start roasting them yourself, you will never open a can of them up again.

This opportunity.......

because it reminds me to be thankful that I live in a country where I can vote.

This clean room......

because even though the two downstairs closets are still a mess, this is not.

This girl......

because she makes me smile.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That today is a lazy sort of day. All of my kids are sick and are lying around, reading, or watching Andy Griffith re-runs. I am taking advantage of the quiet to plan out AHEAD. So far I have figured out all of my 4h market goat meetings and have planned two weeks of biology.

What I'm reading: I just finished a very interesting book called The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Wal Mart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan. This was a good read and really opened my eyes to where our food, mainly produce, comes from.

What we're learning: I am thinking we will be back into our school schedule tomorrow....the older kids are learning about animal classification in biology, the younger ones are writing me papers on the Gaul Empire, and my older two are going through Homer's Odyssey with Veritas Press' Omnibus. 

What I'm watching: My Sweetie and I are enjoying watching old Chopped episodes. I like it that it is straight cooking without any unnecessary drama.

What's cooking: Since people are under the weather today I pulled a frozen turkey carcass out of the freezer and it is bubbling in the pot right now making a lovely stock. Turkey Soup is for dinner, then this week I am making Lasagna, Chile Pork Verde, and of course, my Friday night pizza. My slow cooker meal this week is Moroccan Chicken.

What I'm creating: I have a crafty idea for a fun way to remember our Disneyland trip....I have all the supplies to make it, and I am hoping this week to have time to do it with the kids.

What I'm praying: Since sickness is right here in our house I am praying for those I know who are sick, that they would heal quickly and without complications.

What we did this last weekend: We didn't do much....kiddos were sick. My Sweetie and I went to church alone which was very weird.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to people feeling better in our house! I am also looking forward to our first market goat meeting; I think I have 11 kids in my project so it is going to be a full year.

A picture to share:

~My babies, seven years ago. Time flies!