Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful - and Contemplative - Maestro is 15

2013 - with a Flat Stanley
Last week my oldest boy - the one who is now taller than I am at 6'1", who wears his Pop's clothing size, chooses his own music, many of his movies, friends and fashion - turned 15. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

SchoolHouse Review Crew: Out of the Box Games

I have been a huge fan of Out of the Box Games since The White Knight was in Iraq in 2007.
Out of the Box Games Review

They donated to our boxes for deployed troops, they were a fantastic way to have games for in the car, and a way for me to get some non-screen board game time in with the kids in as few as ten minutes! Well, this most recent review opportunity for the Snake Oil - Party Potion game had me pretty excited as a result.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Clued In Kids

Clued In KidsReview
What parent would turn down the chance to keep a whole group of kids happily and easily engaged and occupied for a half hour? You know you wouldn't - and neither did I! I was glad to have the chance to review Clued in Kids for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Clued In KidsReviewI was given two hunts to try out - Playdate Treasure Hunt Pad was the first one we did. To be honest, life has been pretty hectic here lately so I held it for a while and didn't do anything with it because I didn't feel like I would have time to set it up and give it a fair shake. How wrong I was!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love and Logic Parenting - a Little Experiment

Our house has been a little "chaotic" lately for many reasons. One of those is that we have six children at different stages of development. Second to this is parents who would like to stop yelling, and still see the chores and helpful siblings happening.

I started doing a bit of research and stumbled upon this video:

Love & Logic Parenting, How to Get Kids to Listen

I wish they had it set up so I could embed it, but they don't. So please head over there and listen and then come back to see the results of our first shot.

The Challenge:

Yesterday, I asked each of my oldest three boys to do one less-often-done chore. One had a bathroom to clean that hadn't been touched in quite some time; a second had some sawdust to vacuum up in a particular area of the house; a third had the refrigerator to empty and wipe down. I asked them anywhere between 10 a.m. and noon, and told them I needed it done by bedtime, or by dinner, depending on the child because two of them had scouts last night, so their evening was somewhat cut short. This was not an unexpected event though, so I knew they were each capable of the job assigned in the time given.

Then - as the video says - I waited. I gritted my teeth and did not offer reminders when they went outside to play at 2 p.m. I gritted my teeth when I left to take them to scouts and the other son was watching a movie on Netflix. Wait. Wait. Wait.

When I left for the scout meeting, I told 5-year-old Buttercup that she had until I returned home to get her room straight or we would have to do it together when I returned and she would miss part of the movie. Then I kissed all good-bye and walked out with those who needed to go.

The Results:

I returned from scouts about 30 minutes later. Buttercup was exactly where she had been when I left. Oops. "I'm so sorry that you didn't do your room. Now you have to miss some of the movie to get it done with me. Let's go take care of it."

Without any screaming, yelling, hollering, and minimal complaining, we went upstairs and she was even relatively enthusiastic about getting it done and was proud of the job she had done. She even did not complain about missing the movie time! (Color me surprised!)

Still I waited on the boys. (Whew! That was hard.)

At bedtime, the boys wanted to all sleep in Maestro's room. Good night, boys. Good night, Moon. Good night, All. Prayers and bed. Curtains down on act 2. 

I did a few quiet night time things for myself. Had a piece of chocolate that my lovely White Knight brought me. He confessed at one point that he had seen how they left their rooms and the kitchen after dinner and almost yelled, but then remembered what we were doing and stopped himself.  

To be fair to Maestro, he did g back down and straightened the kitchen before heading upstairs to sleep. I almost felt bad about waking him. Almost.

1 a.m.

I went nicely, sympathetically, into the room where all three boys slept so soundly. I turned on the light. I spoke gently, with increasing volume about what a shame it was I had to wake them. How sorry I was it had to happen this way but I just couldn't rest knowing that those three jobs were still messy.



But we're sleeping! Can't we do it in the morning??

No. No, I'm sorry. I just can't rest knowing that those are still messy. Come on. It won't take too long and then we can all get our rest.

But once I'm up I can't go right back to sleep. It takes around an hour or more!

I know. I really do. But we'll just get this done and be right back up.

Down the four of us trooped in the dark house to do the three chores when the distractions of friends and TV were not such an issue. Their feathers were clearly ruffled, and I was working hard to stifle my gleeful and evil cackles as I watched them work. Oh the joy of seeing the jobs get finished without fighting, yelling, arguing! Oh the fun of watching them not bicker with each other or complain about why do I have to do this job. Amazing how much "complaint energy" just doesn't exist when they are so tired and want to "get'r done" and get back to bed!

Thirty minutes later, the jobs that would have taken hours to finish with all the daytime bickering, were done, and my precious Cherubs were back in bed, asleep. Soundly, all three. And (surprise to me!) they were even fairly pleasant getting up the next morning at the regular time.

Will we try this method in other areas and learn more from Love and Logic Parenting?






Yes. Yes, I think we will....

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Let the fun begin!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Fortuigence Persuasive Essay Writing

Fortuigence Review


In our last church in Maryland we had a more experienced homeschooling father who mentioned once that a weakness he had seen in homeschooled children was an ability to write well. I must admit that writing is a less-observed area in our home program as well. So I frequently request to do reviews of writing programs to try out when The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew offers them. This time, I had the benefit of trying out Fortuigence's Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course.

From the "at home" perspective, the temptation is to think, I never write 'book reports' as an adult, so why would I need to make my kid learn to write one in school? The ability to write well is one that we use frequently as adults though, and many of us could do a little better, especially in the days of technology, social media, texting, abbreviations, and so on. Maestro is in high school now and this is definitely a box we want to make sure gets extra emphasis for a while until we pass the "I hate writing" stage and move into at least grudging acceptance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: IEW Fix It Grammar

Fix It! Grammar Review
For the first time in our homeschooling lives, our family had to do standardized tests this year. We decided to use the results as a way to determine weak spots in the boys and to guide us in our teaching efforts this year. Each of them were weak in grammar and rules of writing, so the chance to review Institute for Excellence in Writing Fix It! Grammar - The Nose Tree (book 1) teacher's manual  and the companion student book was an excellent way to begin our September schedule. 
Fix It! Grammar Review
This program had a lot of positives to start with. First, it comes from a company that is known for its excellent programs in the finer points of writing. The books are spiral-bound, so they lay flat while the kids are working, and the lessons are designed to take only fifteen minutes a day! Now, we used these first-level books for each of our oldest four children - ages 14 down to 5. They are geared towards grades 3-5. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First 10k and Marathon!

I am so excited and thrilled for The White Knight and Chef! Last week we traveled to Ohio so they could run in the Air Force Marathon. Chef did his first 10k (finish time: 1:07), and TWK finished the full in 5:22 - that is an average pace time of 11-12 minutes! I am so impressed and happy for them both.

Maestro was going to run as well, but that was a Mom Fail. I had his race time and date wrong (his was the day before everyone else) and so we missed it because we were still driving out there.

At the starting line

The trip out we stopped briefly in Baltimore for a friend's retirement ceremony, and then had a sleep over night and a bit of walk around in Pittsburgh - but that is for another blog post. A little later on, I'll also do more update and put the whole marathon story, what essential oils were used (you know we used them!) on my Three Friends Fitness blog. This post is all about my two Guys sticking it out and pushing through to levels they had not reached before now. 

Way to go, Guys!

About 2 hours after Chef finished,
and 30 minutes after TWK

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: 7-Minute Life Daily Planner

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
It has been a running theme on the blog that I need to get organized and get my time in order. I had the chance to try out The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner for a review and get to put my thoughts here. This 266-page planner is published by published by The 7 Minute Life, and offers access to additional online tools and printables as well. 
7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
Let's dive right in, shall we? One of the things this book does at the beginning is to walk the user through a series of exercises designed to clear the mind of clutter, prioritize life goals/plans and desires, and create workable steps to achieve them. I wrote my feelings at the time on a blank page in the beginning of the book so that over time I would have a measure of my journey using this program. It starts out, "I feel frustrated at my own inability/unwillingness to get it all together. I am excited by and proud of a few things ... but my own failings with respect to keeping the rules set, keeping my papers and things organized and the examples I show my kids are pretty bad and very frustrating." I then listed out things that I feel pressured by, and went to work on the steps outlined in the book. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Meditation Monday: What Drives You?


The kids were watching a Veggie Tales movie yesterday and I remembered - vaguely - seeing an interview done with the creator some time back. So I looked up the interview, out of curiosity, and found some things in the interview that resonated with me with regard to my business and the way I run things. It also resonates with how I live my life, and why we do things in our home the way we do.


These quotes come from the linked article if you want to read the whole thing.
... the question I ignored was, "How did God wire me?" Because He didn't necessarily call me to see how big an organization I could build.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Morning Meditation - On Knitting

I guess it's the Mom in me, but every time I look at my kids - particularly when they are sleeping and very still - the verse about being "Knit in the mother's womb" runs through me. And just like with the counting of hairs last week, I am in awe. It is written as a Hymn, a song - Psalm 139 - 



1You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meditation Monday: Counting the Hairs

I have some random meditation going on lately...

This morning I looked at the baby sleeping and while he was still decided to count - or try to - the number of eyelashes he had on one eye. I got to around 75 but likely missed a bunch. There were all different lengths and sizes and thicknesses. 

29"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31"So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

I don't have much to say on this except Wow. I know that the number of hairs on my head are a lot, so to think that He knows how many each person has (or doesn't!) is mind-blowing to me.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Christmas School Story - by Chef

I was cleaning off my dresser this morning, and am not sure how this gem stayed folded there for so long. But I enjoyed it so am sharing with you (along with some other summer-homeschool moments!)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Lesson in the Nest

Several years ago, the kids received a DVD about hummingbirds as a gift from their Nana. It turned into a week-long theme study and a blog post. Yesterday, Mr. Magoo found a complete bird's nest on the ground, lying off to one side and it brought back memories of that week. 

Bruiser put it back in the tree

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: A Life in Balance

I was recently given the chance to read and review the book A Life in Balance by Frank Belgau and his son, Eric Belgau, and distributed by the Learning Breakthrough Program. As a homeschooling mom, I can't help but keep watch over my children and asking: what have they missed; how could I be doing this subject better; is there something about his learning style that doesn't fit what I'm doing? And in truth, it can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride.

Learning Breakthrough Program Review
Here's the thing - our oldest learned to read with about the "normal" struggles and challenges. Our second and third took much longer to get into reading, and one still struggles a bit with longer words and books. And their spelling in the beginning was poor enough that even they can't tell what they were trying to write. And it was frustrating for them. I considered vision and tracking problems, ADD, ADHD, and so much more. What I discovered, well after they had worked out for themselves how to get around their difficulties, is that they both have pretty serious dyslexia. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Apologia's What On Earth Can I Do?

As we've neared the end of the school year, and it is beginning to warm up outside, the kids have been itching to get out and about. The problem is that we weren't done with our work yet and the odd, on-again, off-again winter weather had them going stir crazy in the house! There was a lot of bickering, arguing, and "me first" attitudes cropping up. Around the same time that all this began, the opportunity popped up to review the Apologia Education Ministries Program called What on Earth Can I Do? 

Apologia Review

What we received in the mail

This program is part of the What We Believe series and helps kids gain a Christian worldview in a way that covers all the different learning types, and many different age groups. The ability to adapt this program across multiple levels is huge for a family spanning several ages, abilities and learning styles and makes it an excellent homeschooling resource to keep on hand. In all, we received the book linked above, plus What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking JournalJunior Notebooking Journal, and Coloring Book.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Homeschool Review Crew: Micro Business for Teens

Can I tell you? I was super excited to get picked to review the Micro Business for Teens course! I have followed Carol Topp's Pinterest Page and Facebook page for a year now (at least!) because her advice is sound, her methods helpful, and my kids have attempted their own business ideas many times over the years, as have I. She has a Twitter Feed too, but since I don't tweet (yet!) I haven't been on there to look around. 

Micro Business for Teens Review
At any rate, I was excited. Very excited. To start, I told the kids about the program and left the books out on the counter in the kitchen for a day or two. The next thing I knew... they had vanished. And not in the same way that other stuff vanishes, where it's been stuffed in an "everything" drawer during a hasty after-dinner clean up, never to see the light again. More like, "vanished" as in, nowhere to be found because it's been squirreled up to a child's desk kind of vanished. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Featured Product Friday: NingXia Nitro and NingXia Red - Energy for the Win!

This is sort of a Featured Friday and Testimonial Tuesday rolled into one post. I'm all over the place this week, but I'm so excited that my White Knight Crunchy Skeptic has given the nod of credit to this that I have to share! 

NINGXIA RED and NINGXIA NITRO




You've seen me mention before that the White Knight Crunchy Skeptic guzzles NingXia Red after a long run. WELL, he has been marathon training and been looking to add a mile a week average to his runs to get ready for his first attempts at a full. AFTER each of these long runs, he has come home to drink at least 8 oz. of NR (a healthy person would drink 2-4 oz. a day optimally). It may even be more than 8 oz - he drinks it straight from the bottle.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Home School Adventure Company

It will likely be no surprise that we have around 2,000+ books in our home. Every room has a bookcase filled to overflowing (and often two or three bookcases!) in addition to the full library room and storage-turned-school room! The library has a fairly comprehensive, though not complete, set of C.S. Lewis' books, which led me to request the opportunity to review Home School Adventure Co.'s Mere Christianity Journal.

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal
I enjoy Lewis' fictional works and gain a great deal from them as spiritual allegory, but must confess that when it comes to his more "scholarly" texts, short though they are, I struggle. So I requested this review as much for 14-year-old Maestro, and 12-year-old Chef, as I did for my own edification. I also thought that working through the book (which we own, of course) together could provide some good discussion moments between the boys and the White Knight and I. The White Knight has read the book many times, so he served as a guide to our discussions within the confines of the Home School Adventure Journal.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Supercharged Science

Supercharged eScience Review
As an homeschooling mom one of the areas of life I probably feel like I "fail" at most often is science. I had it covered when we lived up in Maryland - we had a homeschool dad who was a PhD something-or-other that I just adored, and he was right up the boys' alley with nature walks, hands-on stuff and all that cool jazz. And then we moved. Shoot. So Schoolhouse Review Crew has come to my rescue yet again with the chance to review an online, hands-on science curriculum called Supercharged Science and their e-Science Learning Program

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Victus Study Systems Review

Victus Study Skills Review
As Maestro gets further into his high school years, and have decided that we can confidently continue to homeschool through those years, we have been considering and watching his time management, study skills and time spent online. We want to make sure he is set up to manage his time, take on the world and achieve his goals and dreams, whatever direction he moves in. One possible solution came from my faithful Schoolhouse Review Crew when they offered the chance to review the Victus Study Skills System

Monday, April 7, 2014

Meditation Monday: The Peculiar Timing of Answered Prayers



Okay, this is such an exciting post to write that I've set aside another exciting post I started yesterday! My understanding of the Orthodox Faith is that there are no coincidences in life: God foresees everything and though we do not know to pray for something specific, He knows that the prayer is going to be said - and that prayer counts even for things that have happened in our past. But because God does not have a past, nor a future, He just IS, then all prayers are heard at the right time, no matter when we actually said them. I hope I haven't muddled this all up and confused the matter - because the concept is integral to this story today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Younger Brother Comics

A bit of levity for your Wednesday this week... These are comics drawn by Chef. He has a (shall we say) unique sense of humor. I hope you enjoy the laugh at sibling rivalry and boyhood foibles as much as I did!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meditation Monday: The Still Quiet Moments



Maestro, as his nickname suggests, is very into music of all (most) kinds. But there is something about a good, quick tune that gets you pumped up when there is a lot of heavy, boring work to be done - like cleaning up the house, laundry, schoolwork, etc. But it's tiresome and just a lot of work from a kid's perspective, so we crank up the tunes. Today, Maestro had on a pop music station.


So few of the songs are appropriate for us to listen to that he ends up changing the station every second or third song. Well, that slows down our work considerably! I prefer to listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts while I work - it is inspiring for me to hear about others who are also struggling to become debt free. 

Or I listen to talks and lessons by people who have reached a point where they earn a full-time paycheck doing what they love and helping others - usually people doing Young Living as a business. I'm on my way, but not there just yet. My goal is to be there entirely by 2015 when the White Knight can retire and paint, create and "Art" full time - it's what he loves and his work is so beautiful. I'd like us both to do what we love full time. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Homeschool Review Crew: Mango Languages

Mango Languages Review
Today's post is a review of the program/website Mango Languages, and its program Mango Homeschool Edition courtesy of the Homeschool Review Crew. The timing is perfect for this review because the White Knight is eligible for retirement in 2015. A long-held goal has been to punctuate that retirement with a trip to France with all the kids. We really really want to travel more before Maestro leaves home in a few years. We have talked off and on about doing serious French study as part of our homeschool program before taking this journey to France, so I was excited to try a new program. 

Mango Languages Review

We have tried other programs - workbooks, Rosetta Stone, etc - and they have been decent starts but have really not grabbed the kids' minds well enough for them to want to return to them. When homeschool days fill up and there is limited time to give to everything, I'm not going to be as likely to push in areas that are somewhat "extra". Math is always going to come first over foreign languages if we're running behind in a subject, in other words. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meditation Monday: Be Worthy of the Answer


The other day Chef, now 12 years old, was pondering the age-old question about why men do what they do - the "why is there evil in the world" question. After much teasing by his older brother, (*sigh*), and a long discussion, it hit me: we had the answer to that question. It is because we are fallen. We have each, at some point, sided with "evil" temptations, whether big or small, they are all equally important to the matters of our souls. 

So what question should we be striving to answer? 

And it is this: If we continue to sin in our fallen nature, why does God still want us to be with Him? Why does He choose to accept us into his sphere for all time?

And the truth is, there is no way that I know of to answer that question. Our kids give us hard ones, don't they??

But here is the bottom line in the whole discussion: 

The answer itself to that second question does not matter. 

The important thing is to strive to be worthy of the answer.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Science 4 Us Online

It is a heavy "review" kind of week! So today I am reviewing the Science4Us.com online subscription for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The Square-in-the-Middles (Bruiser and Buttercup mainly) have really gotten a lot out of kids shows that are geared towards teaching science. I don't have a simple science program for them to work on so really appreciated having the chance to review Science4Us when it came around!
Science4Us Review
This program is geared towards kids in Kindergarten through second grade, and can also be used as an early science review by kids in third through fifth. We used it with Buttercup (K/1) and Bruiser (3rd). The older kids didn't look at it; Mr. Magoo (2 years old) looked on while they worked. And they love this program!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homeschool Review Crew: KinderBach Review

So! My first homeschool review post of the year - KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership and Teacher Corner. My hope in applying to review this program was that I would be able to temporarily "replace" the fantastic piano teacher we had when we lived in Baltimore. 

Kinderbach Review
I know that no program will likely ever replace a good live instructor, but I wanted to get something in place to keep them from losing the skills they gained while with Mrs. Diane. In Baltimore we had only an electric keyboard for the kids to practice on; once we moved to Virginia, we had space and ability to get a decent wall piano off of Craigslist… and then had no teacher.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Diffusers

I thought I'd take a bit of time this morning to talk about some of the lesser-known products that Young Living sells. Perhaps I'll make it an every Friday deal, but I don't know yet. For now - it's just Featured Product Friday - and today we're doing Diffusers. 


There are FIVE diffusers and a resin burner that Young Living sells and then you can get others from outside sources. A couple of notes on the diffusers: you don't want to heat your oils because it affects the therapeutic quality of the oils. I have used Thieves in my tea and still gained relief from a sore throat, so it does not completely eliminate the help you may find in using oils, but it does affect the quality somewhat. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lego Challenge: Day 5 (Pirate Ships) and 6 (Snow Theme)

Still playing catch up - but enjoying the days nonetheless!

Day 5 - Pirate Ships

We have watched a few of the newer Star Trek movies lately so Chef's ship took on a slightly different appearance:

An inverted theme on this one 

Monday, January 20, 2014

50-day lego challenge: day3 - World Wonders, and Day 4 - Houses

Day 3: World wonders!

11 year old Chef's pyramid ruins.



Bruiser's Apollo 13 - complete with launch tower.


We're doing a bit of catch up, because the blog idea occurred to us after we were several days in already! 

So here is Day 4: Houses

The  inside,a desk,writing tools and paper. 

This is over a pond.
Bruiser's House:

The whole complex - garage to the right, other
luxuries to the left


Outside view of the fireplace and chimney

Garage

5 yo Buttercup got in on the fun and made a house with three horses!

Side view of Buttercup's farm - including three horses -
two are seen at the back left with gray tops and a red piece at the rear leg
and the third one has a bright green tail

Thursday, January 16, 2014

50-Day Lego Challenge, Day 2 - Space Structures

Day two:Space stations.

11 year old Chef's Apollo 5. A small lego ship "toughed"up for a trip to the sun!

The whole ship…Ironically solar powered.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

50-Day Lego Challenge, Day 1: Castles

Chef and Bruiser have undertaken their own 50-day Lego challenge. So each day for 50 days they'll be creating, photographing and posting their structure of the day. If you have children who want to join in, give a holler and we'll post their pictures too! Make sure to come back and see what's next!

Day 1. Castles, Two boys 50 days over 1,000 legos.

What better way to start than castles?

11 year old Chef's dessert temple.
This is the whole thing. It has a jail, throne room, flag tower,
and more.
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