Tuesday, June 23, 2015

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ SmartKidz Media

We don't do too much TV watching. No cable, just the basic channels, which in my opinion, don't offer much. But there are some really neat educational programs out there, and every once in a while, I would love access to good programs to supplement our schooling. And that is where the SmartKids Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media steps in to help.

SmartKidz Media Review
What It Is:

This is truly a media library.

There are different areas to choose a video from:

  • World of Discovery
  • Music and Fine Arts
  • Baby Signs Programs
  • Quick Find Study Guides
  •  Learning Special Needs
  • Living Skills Program

And much more.

My kids are older, so they gravitated right to the World of Discovery. The first thing we watched was a cooking demonstration. And the cuisine they chose? Japanese, of course. They have an entire Japanese section where we watched a chef make tempura, miso, sushi, and tamagoyaki.

You can choose to watch each individual dish, or watch the entire section on Japanese cooking, which has 15 recipes and is over an hour long. We also watched some French and Italian dishes as well.

The next section we checked out was Documentaries and Cultures. In this section are a group of videos called Unusual Cultures. Each episode is 26 minutes long and focuses on two unique cultures. The girls enjoyed learning about how people live in Crete, fish and survive in Lamalera, and the religions of Bali and Lombok.

I checked out the Health and Fitness area, and did a couple of Pilate videos. They each run 56 minutes in length and are a full workout. There are also workouts for kids and expecting moms too. I also enjoyed Music and Fine Arts. There are lots of different types of music to choose from: classical, cultural (music indigenous to certain areas), Jazz and Blues, and Relaxation.

There is an entire section of videos on World War II and the Cold War.

There is a plethora of Animal Collections, with videos on ants, elephants, and microscopic animals. One video caught my eye; it was titled "Nature's Soap Opera's". This was a funny video with voice-overs for the animals. The kids thought it was entertaining; most of the jokes were puns and pretty silly. The jokes were pretty clean, but they did take the Lord's name in vain a couple of times and used the word 'bloody'.

Another section that Bookworm enjoyed was Bizarre Science. These programs feature interesting experiments that show how normal everyday occurrences happen. Some of the ordinary things explained in these videos are vision, rain, and toast. (What makes toast land butter-side down?)

We really only used maybe half of this site because of the ages of my children, so I took a small tour of things that younger kids could do. There are:

  • e-book Collections with story songs, animated books, and Bible stories
  • Baby Signing Program, with a video dictionary and parent guides
  • Fun Zone, with games, puzzles, and  jokes
  • Easy Learning For Special Needs, where interactive media and books teach special kids about life skills

How We Used This And What We Thought:

This came at the perfect time. We are doing school in bits and pieces through the summer, but not going crazy. So I put on their schedule certain videos from SmartKidz that I wanted them to watch. I scheduled what I wanted the younger two girls to watch, and I would watch it with them. For Bookworm, I allowed her to explore a bit more of the site on her own.

The younger girls loved watching most of these videos. They especially enjoyed the cooking ones. I did get some fun requests for our evening meals! They thought that some of the animal videos, especially the silly ones, were not worth watching. But my kids are older and those kinds of videos could definitely appeal to younger kids.

Bookworm enjoyed the cultural and travel videos. She has always been interested in how people live in other countries so she watched every video in this series. I watched a couple of them with her and learned a few things myself. Beware that there are scantily clad women in beach scenes.

This website is a secular site; there are references to evolution and alcohol in a few videos. But like with any video, I preview things before my especially younger children watch.

There were some things I really liked. Each video has a short description and then also lists the topics covered. This is a huge help when trying to find information on specific subjects. There are also very extensive study guides. These are not videos, but are informational slides that give definitions, rules, and examples.

Math (including upper level math like algebra and trigonometry!), science, social studies (history) and language arts are covered.

There is also an art section where an artists' work is showcased while beautiful classical music plays in the background.

So overall we liked this media site; as with any secular video the parent does need to preview the content and I would recommend doing that for this resource. Want to know what the other Crew members thought? Click below to find out!

SmartKidz Media Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another Fair

This last week one of my good friends (the one I can blame for getting me into 4H), had her county fair.

We have had fun at this fair before.

We went a couple of days, to watch some of the competitions, and to just hang out.

And the competitions were fun to watch, and our friend's did great.

 All smiles.

 This girl is so happy because this is her last year in 4H, and this year she won senior swine showmanship, senior lamb showmanship, 4H reserve market lamb, and

**drum roll**

Senior Master Showmanship.

The last day was yesterday, Father's Day.

The dad's celebrated with margaritas.

And on the last day was the wheelbarrow races.

The kiddie race, which Nutsy was in.

Here she goes.....

...and there she is getting second place!

Her candy stash from the race.

Mr. Lego decided to enter the team race with a friend.

Alas. they had to fill their wheelbarrow with 50 pounds of sand, but only got about 37 pounds in there. 

I really enjoyed this fair; I love watching the kids compete, my kids help out their friends, and best of all.....this isn't my county fair so I can just relax and have fun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Week In Images

 This grill.....

 because it made yummy vegetables to make delicious sandwiches with. (For the record it was grilled eggplant, zucchini, red onion, with pesto, fresh tomatoes, and melted provolone cheese on sliced Ciabatta bread.)

These notes....

because they really help me to stay focused during the sermons on Sunday. And the last few have been very powerful.

This view......

....what I am see a lot of lately.

These jars.....

because they are my very favorite color.

This lime......

because it means we have another year of harvest coming.

Celebrating this life....

because I love him. (And them.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That summer has arrived. Not officially, but we do have lovely weather this week with temps ranging from 104 to 88. Love it.

What I'm reading: I picked up a couple books at the library that I have read before and wanted to read again. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, which is an amazing rescue story from World War II, and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I am hoping the latter book inspires me to do more bread experimenting.

What I'm listening to: The laundry going. Girlies behind me doing math facts. The bird going nuts in the other room.

What we're learning: We are still doing school through the month of June. But there are less subjects since our history and science courses are completed. We are focusing on math, grammar, reading, handwriting, and literature. And Bookworm is doing an apologetics course and working through her Greek Morphemes book.

What I'm watching: I am watching my tomato and cucumber plants....they have tiny little veggies on them that I am thrilled about.

What's cooking: This week I am making chicken Caesar salad with bruschetta, Thai spiced braised chicken, and burgers on the grill. I have also started something new, where I have Bookworm make one meal a week from start to finish. This week she is making enchiladas with refried beans and rice.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the assurance I have of my salvation. We heard a convicting sermon yesterday on baptism and I was reminded of how seeing a baptism is encouraging to me, and is beautiful picture of redemption.

What I'm creating: It is that time of year, and I am encouraging my kiddos to get on their 4H record books. They can be a hassle and are time consuming, but are a great way to record all they have done.

What we did this last weekend: We had a nice relaxing Saturday, hanging out at the pool and making grilled vegetable open-faced sandwiches. Then church on Sunday, our fellowship meal, and then to a park for volleyball.

What I'm looking forward to: This week, Lord willing, Bookworm will get her braces off. I know she is super excited and I am too.

A picture to share:

Hello, my beauties.

Monday, June 1, 2015

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ JazzEdge

If you know me, you know I love music.

I even taught beginning piano years ago, before life got crazy with four children.

So when this online piano course came up for review with the Schoolhouse Crew, I asked to be a part of it.

JazzEdge  Review

What It Is:

JazzEdge actually has three different products that we were offered; I chose Easy Piano Basics. Easy Piano Basics are online video piano lessons.Each lesson is between 2 and 10 minutes in length and can be used by both beginner students and those that just need a brush up.

The lessons begin with an overview of the notes of the piano and cover:

  • Half steps and whole steps
  • Scales
  • Time signatures
  • Sharps and Flats
  • Major and minor keys
  • Chords
  • Rhythm and note value

And much more. The 32 lessons are self-paced, which makes it very easy to move around within the program. And the instructor, Willie, does a good job of making the lessons simple, yet to the point. Really, a seven year old can watch this and learn the piano for the first time, while older students and adults can watch it as a review.

After each lesson he gives work to be done. It is expected that the student will work at least 10 minutes a day practicing what they learned.

How We Used It:

I had Nutsy take this course. Ever since Bookworm started formal piano lessons, she has been begging me to teach her. I have dabbled a bit with her and the piano, but nothing serious.

She would sit each day and do a lesson. That worked well for the first week, since the beginning lessons were very good at giving the material in bit-sized bits. We could have probably done two or three in a day, but I held her to one a day.

JazzEdge  Review

Into the second week we slowed our pace quite a bit, and worked out to about two lessons per week. She spent the other three days doing the 'homework' from the course. There are also downloadable sheet music for the lessons, which she would use each day.

We do have an upright piano so she would watch the lesson on our computer and then run across the living room to the piano. I do wish I had a device we could have played the lessons on; it would have been perfect to just prop a kindle up on the piano and have her play along with the lesson. You can do this course with a keyboard as well.

I also asked Bookworm to watch a few of the lessons that were further along; she watched the lesson on major and minor triads and felt like it was very helpful for where she is in her lessons. I watched a couple other lessons and liked how Willie explained the concepts.

I did like this course and found it very useful for reviewing tricky musical concepts. I also really liked that for one price, you get lifetime access to the video lessons and downloadable material. Although I would not use this in place of formal lessons, I did find that it helped to pique Nutsy's interest and helped Bookworm to review important concepts.

And JazzEdge has a couple of other courses that my Crew peeps reviewed:

  • PianoWithWillie is for more advanced students, that want to improve their skills.

Check out what they all thought by clicking below!

JazzEdge Review

Crew Disclaimer

County Fair 2015: Tears, Laughter, Lessons

County fair is over.

It was done 7 days ago, but I came home with a nasty head cold so pretty much lots of last week was spent laying on the sofa.

We started the week by fitting our goats.

This involves washing them,

clipping their hooves,

and shaving them for fair.

My project all works together and spends the bulk of the day at the farm; I love seeing the older ones helping the younger ones.

That Monday morning before fair I got a phone call from the girl who watches our goats. She said that one of them wanted to just keep laying down and didn't look right. We headed out there right away to check him.

He was not acting right, and after observing him for a while, we realized he wasn't peeing.

Goats pee pretty often, but wethers are susceptible to blockages.

After a couple of hours and ruling out a few other things, we took him to UC Davis Animal Hospital.

It was not good news; he had fluid all through his abdomen and they could not find his bladder on the ultrasound. It was very sad, but we had to put him down. The girl who lost him had a great attitude; it was especially sad because she had really worked hard with him and was a great showman. And very sad, because now she had nothing to auction.

Losing a goat the day before fair was devastating....I spent the rest of the day trying to get permission for her to show another goat and finishing the 56 things on my To Do List. We did get approval for her to show Bookworm's second goat, but there wasn't anything we could do to get her into the auction.

The next day we headed to the fair.

I had planned a new display for our project and the kids helped to decorate it and put it up.

And God was so good.....we were given adequate stall space and my eight bales of straw were delivered and waiting for me.

Our goats came in that afternoon and everything was in place.

The next day was weigh in. Boring so no photos. Everyone made weight and the lamb, even though he was a heavy-weight at 145 pounds, still looked good.

Thursday the fair officially opened and we had all our goat competitions.

All the kids did great; in market Bookworm got first in her class.

Showmanship was lots of fun; Nutsy got 3rd in Novice.

And seniors was pretty competitive; Dasher got 3rd and Bookworm got 2nd.

They were all winners in my book.

Friday was the lamb day.

Here is Mr. Lego, showing for the last time ever.

He did so well, and got 2nd in market class.

The sheep judge was a little strange. For novice showmanship he had all 25 kids get out there at one time. They were so stacked on top of each other that they had to show at angles.

And then they couldn't even complete a circle around the ring.....he quickly pulled 8 kids and dismissed the rest.

Which brought Mr. Lego's 4H career to an end.

I am so proud of him, and all he accomplished these last 6 years!

 Bookworm made the cut and ended up winning novice showmanship.

She went on to compete in seniors, and took 3rd.

This was where things got interesting. We have kids in our fair that compete in both 4H and FFA (Future Farmers of America - a public high school program). You can only show in one organization per species, but really good kids can win multiple animals species, and then they declare which species/organization they will use to get into master showmanship.

So, the girl who won sheep seniors decided to show in FFA masters. Then the 2nd place girl was actually the junior winner, and she opted to compete in junior masters.

Which bumped Bookworm up to senior 4H master showmanship.

We only found it out the next morning, about 3 hours before masters started. She quickly hooked up with a few other kids, and they went out and worked with some steers and hogs.

Master showmanship is lots of fun to watch.



Dairy goat



I loved this photo I shot of the whole group of master showman watching horse.


And the results? 

3rd place in 4H senior master showmanship.

Sunday was auction; all the kids in my project did well and made enough to do the whole thing over again next year. Except of course my one girl who lost her goat; she wrote up a special letter and distributed it to the buyers that day.

And it wasn't all work.....

Clover Club goat project potluck dinner

Playing with another club in the stalls after auction.

Ninja Destruction

Card games

I had a great group this year! They all worked so hard, and even though there were tears, tough lessons, and lots of work, we had a successful fair year.