Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Today, I am thankful.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. 

~Psalm 100:4-5

Friday, November 18, 2016

{National Prematurity Day} Four Precious Babies

National Prematurity Day is November 17th. I know this is a day late, but this day is dear to my heart.

All four of my precious babies were premature.

Mr. Airman Lego - born at 35 weeks weighing 3 lbs. 15 oz
Bookworm - born at 33 weeks weighing 2 lbs 13 oz
Dasher - born at 31 weeks weighing 2 lbs 12 oz
Nutsy - born at 34 weeks weighing 4 lbs 8 oz

Each of my pregnancies had different sets of challenges.

With my first pregnancy I was on modified bedrest for the last 3 weeks because of premature labor. Mr. Lego Airman also had symptoms of IUGR - intrauterine growth retardation (as did both Bookworm and Dasher) which basically meant that my placenta and uterus were not doing their job well enough.

 {First day as a mama}

He was in the NICU for 10 days and came home weighing a little over 4 pounds.

{wearing his glasses and chillin' under the bili lights}

Bookworm's pregnancy was long and scary - I did not have much amniotic fluid and early ultrasounds showed that her kidneys were malfunctioning. Then we were concerned that her joints would be fused because of the environment in the womb and that she ran the risk of long term lung problems.

 {first photo}

 Thankfully and by God's grace, she was born without any of these problems and never needed to be on the ventilator. She did get tube fed for a couple of weeks and was home from the NICU almost exactly 5 weeks after her birth.

Dasher's problems were different but just as scary. At 26 weeks my cervix was effacing and the cord had slipped into the birth canal. I was on very strict bedrest and spent the last two weeks in the hospital. If my water would have broken, we would have had only a few minutes to get her out without long term damage. As my smallest and earliest, she did need ventilator assistance and was on oxygen for a few days.

 She also had issues with eating so she had a central line placed for the first couple of weeks and needed gavage feedings a little longer than usual. She also struggled with A&B's or apnea (forgetting to take a breath) and bradycardia (her heart rate going down), but thankfully she outgrew that problem while she was still in the NICU. After 6 weeks she was able to come home with us. She did need a few follow up clinics to help her catch up.

Nutsy's pregnancy was highly monitored mainly because of the other three and the damage I had in my uterus from the traumas of the others' births.

 [sucking her thumb}

 She was the first of my babes to not be diagnosed with IUGR and her delivery, except for the concerns with my uterus and blood loss, was normal. She needed time to get the whole suck-swallow-breathe pattern down for eating, and came home 12 days later.

Each time we had a baby, I basically lost a whole year. After they were home we had checkups, developmental clinics, and had to really watch it that they didn't get sick. And while each one was in the NICU, we spent weeks shuffling back and forth, sometimes three times a day to feed and hold them.

{visiting his sister}

Don't even ask me if it was worth it, because I would do it all over again to hold my precious babies in my arms.

{diaper changes}

What I want to remember about this day first of all, is God's faithfulness. He actually gave us six precious babies, but took two of them home to heaven. Throughout all of those hard yet joyous days, He was merciful and we took comfort in His sovereignty.

I also want to acknowledge the perinatologists, neonatologists, and NICU nurses that helped our family. Our doctor during Bookworm's pregnancy once let My Sweetie try to find her with the ultrasound machine. When I was in the hospital pregnant with Dasher, one nurse always made sure my toenails were a fun color, so I would have something pretty to look at.

For the most part, our experiences with these professionals were good, and I was so thankful for their expertise that at times, kept both myself and our babies alive.

God is good. And I am so thankful and so blessed to have these four precious children. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

{Homeschool Product Review} ~ Physics 101


The very word can send the bravest homeschooling mom into the closet, to not come out until the end of the high school years. But something is here to help and in a big way: Physics 101 from The 101 Series.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

Now please don't stop reading just because you saw the word physics. I about did the same when I saw this product up for review, but then did some further looking into this resource.

What It Is:

Physics 101, The Mechanics of God's Physical World, is a DVD course for high school students. The parts covered in this complete curriculum are:

  •  Introduction to Physics - 1 lesson
  • The Physics of Light - 3 lessons (color, mirrors, lenses, speed of light....) 
  • The Physics of Sound - 2 lessons (sound, acoustics, the sound barrier....)
  • The Physics of Heat - 3 lessons (heat and cold, thermodynamics.....)
  • The Physics of Electricity - 3 lessons (outlets, circuits, batteries, electromagnetic spectrum...)
  • The Physics of Motion - 4 lessons (Isaac Newton, law of gravity, laws of motion....)
  • The Physics of the Weird - 3 lessons (Albert Einstein, relativity, quantum mechanics....)
  • Future of Physics - 1 lesson 

 As you can see, there are 20 lessons on 4 DVD discs. Each lesson should take two weeks to complete for a total of 40 weeks of instruction. You can easily spend 1 week on the first and last chapters which would have your high school student finished with this course in 38 weeks.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

You will also receive the Guidebook. This is conveniently on the last disc and opens up in Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is a 106 page book that has a text to read along with lesson quizzes. The text given is easy to read and mirrors the DVD lesson. There are places in the margins where fun facts and trivia are given. There are also short biographies and commentaries by the author that help to explain the concepts. Each lesson has between three and six pages of text that include not only the quiz but in-depth discussion questions as well.

The Accreditation Booklet is also a big help for us homeschooling moms! The booklet lays out the schedule and assignments to follow to count this as a high school credit. There is enough homework given in the assignments to last 135 hours, which is typically enough for high school credit. For each lesson there are:

  •  Physics Notebook Assignments: Each student is required to begin a Physics Notebook - a place to record all of the information they learn throughout this course.
  • Labs: These simple experiments help to explain the concept in each lesson. And most of these labs are done on the DVD, so your student will know exactly how to conduct them when they do it on their own. Some of these include making a compass, making 'singing glasses' (lesson on sound), and collecting items that have the same conduction. There is a simple supply list at the beginning of the Guidebook.
  • Reading and Research: In each lesson there is an assignment for further research and study. These vary per lesson - sometimes it is writing a 200 page essay, drawing a diagram, or drawing a timeline of a scientists' life. 

How We Used This And What We Thought:

As I said above, I was quite apprehensive about reviewing a physics course. I was homeschooled and did complete high school biology and anatomy. But my mom and I both decided that physics was not a course I was going to tackle. Which made me really nervous about reviewing this.

I decided to actually take this course myself. Bookworm is about finished with her high school studies and Dasher is not quite ready for this yet. And since I had never had any instruction in physics, I felt up to the challenge.

I spent 4 weeks doing this program. I was a quite a bit intimidated, saying in my mind that I was taking a physics course.

First off, I sat down and watched the Introduction to Physics DVD lesson, which is 30 minutes long. And I'll tell you, my first impression was a great one. I understood everything he said! I was thinking that he would be talking over my head most of the time, after all, this is PHYSICS. But Mr. Olson does a great job of bringing physics into everyday life.

In the beginning, he explains that physics is the science of asking questions. So, each lesson is based on daily questions that we might have about our world. 

The second lesson, which is on light and color, dealt with these three questions:

  • Why is the sky blue?
  • What makes rainbows?
  •  What's the difference between light and pigment color?

And after watching the DVD, reading the text and writing my notes, I am happy to say that I can answer those three questions! And not only answer them, but understand the why behind the answer.

 {my notes}

The third lesson, which I tackled in week 3, asked:

  • Why is my face upside down when I look at my reflection in a spoon?

I learned that the answer has to do with refraction and the concave of the spoon. And the next morning at breakfast, I happily shared this with my kiddos, as we all checked out how we looked, upside down in our spoons.

 {Segment 3 quiz}

I found the DVD lessons to be simple to understand, yet not so simple that I lost interest. Mr. Olson did a great job of explaining and keeping the student's attention. These lessons do not take place in a classroom, on the contrary the scenes change from a barn, living area, kitchen, and numerous locations outdoors. The experiments are shown on the DVD, which has excellent graphics, sounds, and photos. There are also bits of humor which I appreciated as well.

And one of the best parts? This DVD series is from a biblical perspective. From the beginning, Mr. Olson makes it clear that the purpose of this DVD is to give students an enhanced understanding and an appreciation of our created world.

I am not a physicist. Obviously. And at this point, I don't think I am raising any future physicists. One of the hurdles I thought I would need to pass to understand physics was higher levels of math. (Which is SUCH my weakness!) But in the introduction, Mr Olson actually points out that this is an overview of physics, and the purpose of the course is to give students an appreciation of physics without needing higher math. Of course a student that is interested in further study can pursue higher math and physics classes, but this course does an amazing job of fulfilling the high school physics requirement and giving students a greater appreciation of  physics.

Understanding how God has given us gravity, force, light, sound, and so much more is a very important part of higher education. Physics, a class that you should not be scared of teaching! Not with The 101 Series to help you, and make this part of science so very interesting.

There are two other courses that The 101 series has produced, Chemistry 101 and Biology 101.

Check out what others thought by clicking below!

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ Language Smarts

I have used some great products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ and so when this product, Language Smarts™ Level E came up for review, I was quite excited.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
What It Is:

First off, The Critical Thinking Co.™, has lots of different items to help home educators. Their motto, "Empower the mind!" is a good description of this company, which strives to give students the tools to think critically and analyze what they are learning.

The product we reviewed is Language Smarts™ Level E. This workbook style curriculum is meant for grade 4.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

The book teaches so much! In a nutshell it covers:

  • Parts of Speech
  • Punctuation and Capitalization
  • Reading (comprehension, genres, points of view, etc.)
  • Reference Materials
  • Sentences (compound, run-ons, kinds, etc)
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing (types of writing, research)

 For each of those topics above, there are lots of sub topics. Each of the sub topics has three to five worksheets to complete. For example, under Vocabulary there is the  sub topic Synonyms. There are three different worksheets to do about synonyms. These were a crossword puzzle, looking up words in a thesaurus and creating sentences, and filling in the blanks with the correct synonym.

Some of the worksheets are two pages long, but there is not an overwhelming amount of work. Lots of the worksheets are filling in the blank using a word bank, but there are also crossword puzzles, underlining, and writing complete sentences. There is also an answer key in the back of the book which is most helpful to home educators!

How We Used It and What We Thought:

I decided to have Nutsy do this book. I started out by having her start at the beginning, which worked very well. I liked it that she had at least three pages to work on each topic, and I loved the variety of the worksheets. At the top of each worksheet is a brief explanation:

I would sit with her and go over the explanation, and then do a couple of problems with her. I would then have her do the rest of the worksheet on her own, and she would come to me if she got stuck.

Here, after learning about prefixes, she is attaching a prefix to a word that makes sense to go in the blank.

She really enjoyed to pages on roots. She loved understanding word meanings by understanding what the root meant.

I also looked ahead in the book. I loved seeing all of the topics - I could very easily assign worksheets based on problems that come up in our language arts. In our writing class we have been studying run on sentences, and so I was happy to see a couple of worksheets that help to identify run on sentences, fragments, and teach proper sentence combining using coordinating conjunctions. This is exactly the issues she has had, so it is in my lesson plan in the next two weeks, to have her do those pages.

There are 363 pages in this consumable book, so if you do two pages per day, you could finish it in a 36 week school year. This is how I do plan to use it, but I will skip around if needed.

So really I could see this book being used in a couple of ways: it is a complete curriculum and can be done from start to finish, or, you can jump around and use it in a more topical way.

There were some other great products from The Critical Thinking Co.™, including a few software downloads for younger learners, and a sentence diagramming book for older students. Check out what my fellow Crew members thought by clicking below!

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

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Friday, November 4, 2016

My Week In Images

My week....

My oldest daughter......

 who is becoming a lovely young lady.

This creamy garlic pesto sauce.....

 because it made our paninis that much yummier.

This work of art....

because I could just sit on that bench and stare at it for awhile.

These cards....

 because they make my kids laugh. (Sometimes.)

These leaves......

because they are beautiful.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ Homeschool Legacy

Using unit studies is a great way to teach inquisitive minds. And this product, Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents, a Once-a-Week Micro Study from Homeschool Legacy, is another great resource.

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

What It Is:

Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents is a four week micro-unit study. Since this study is meant for grades 1-8, it is perfect for multi-age teaching. Each week focuses on one of our Founding Presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, And James Madison.

Each week has:

Brief Bio - this lists important information, such as birth date, education, occupation, religion, political party, and the years they served as President.

Supplies - basically the things you will need to teach that week, These things were simple: each week you would need a biography, ingredients for a recipe, and also for a couple of the weeks, a printout of a coloring page.

Key Facts - this was the bulk of the teaching section. The Key Facts began with History, and went over in a few paragraphs, their road to the White House and what events influenced them. A section on Language doesn't just bring to light terms that might be unfamiliar, but also expands on the feel of the time period. For example, in the week on Adams, this section goes into more detail about the home that the Adam's lived in, which wasn't the actual White House for part of their presidency. It also explains details about the Adam's marriage, and how the two corresponded with each other. And in a couple of the weeks there is a section on Government, which explains in simple terms the politics of that time period.

Cooking - Yes, the title of this unit study has the word cooking in it, so it does have its own section. This section talks about how cooking was an important part of the presidency. From entertaining (Washington) to more international cuisine (Jefferson), the marks that each president left on the history of food is discussed here.

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

How We Used This and What We Thought:

I found the unit study very user friendly. It came as a downloadable pdf with links embedded in the text. I appreciated that even some of the harder vocabulary words were hyperlinked to a dictionary. All of the recipes were linked, plus many web pages to learn further.

We followed the schedule of a week per president and got almost all the way through the four weeks during the review period. I found that with the amount of material, we could spend a couple of days per week doing this. At the beginning of the week, I would assign a biography to Dasher. She is older and would read it independently, and then I would try to find other resources to read to Nutsy. A couple of the weeks the study recommended a biography, but the other weeks we were to just find any book on that President to read.

Two days a week, we would meet together and work our way through the Key Facts sections. There was a lot of great information here! For example when we studied Jefferson, it was interesting to read about his love of language and neoligizing. This is the act of actually creating a new word. Jefferson was famous for this, and a list of some the words he came up with is listed.

And the cooking.....this, folks, is the reason I got this unit study. Our family loves to cook, and combining cooking with history (which I love to teach) seemed perfect.

Each week there was a recipe to try. And the recipe to go with Washington? Cherry pie, of course. There was a slight misprint in the recipe, but it was caught early in our review period and corrected.

The recipe for Adams was a favorite of John's - his wife's Apple Pan Dowdy. Bookworm decided to tackle this dessert one Friday and diligently rolled out the layers.

It was not a complicated recipe, but there needed to be time for the dough to rest.

There was lots of butter involved.

The crust was pastry style, with layers of dough and butter.

Then, onto the prepared apples.

The finished product, with some vanilla ice cream.

Bookworm did feel that this was a very rich dessert which was heavy in the butter. This made it very delicious, but the bottom crust did get a bit soggy.

The next week we made Jefferson's Macaroni and Cheese. This was a hit in our family, and so good that I forgot to take a photo until the next day, when it was all gone.

The final recipe, which we hope to try at the end of this week, is Dolley Madison's ice cream (Vanilla, not her favorite, which was oyster!).

All in all, the recipes were solid and brought these men's personal lives more real to my children.

For the most part, I liked this unit study. There was adequate information, that was accurate and well said. Because this was for elementary students, I did wish that there was more hands-on activities. There were links to two coloring pages in the four weeks and that was the extent of the extra activities. At the end of each week there was a "Did You Know?" section that had interesting facts about that President. We definitely learned more about our Founding Fathers doing this, and thought that is was a decent history unit study.

There are other unit studies that other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed, including:

Click below to see what they thought!

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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