my tiny salsa garden and garbage can
I’ve been wanting to grow a bigger garden each year. Sadly, our yard is pathetically low in sunny spots. I have this dream of lining up one of the driveways with big pots and growing all of our vegetables that way. It would be quite a sight I’m sure…I’ve been reading about growing potatoes in containers or barrels lately. I read one article that claimed you could grow 100 pounds of potatoes in a barrel of sawdust!!! Wow! I do not have a barrel on hand but I do have a busted up garbage can. Why do I have a busted garbage can? I’ll tell ya! In our town the local boys in the jail do the garbage rounds. After dumping the garbage in the truck they like to throw our garbage can back into the yard. It must be some kind of contest or something…I’m not sure. Don’t move to this town…that is just one of the messed up things going on around here.
The nice thing about a busted up garbage can is that my husband did not have to drill any drain holes in the can. (I am not permitted to use power tools, sharp knives or irons.) In fact he had to patch it up with some duct tape to keep from losing the straw and soil. I put a layer of straw on the bottom of the can then my potatoes and then some soil over the top. Once the potatoes sprout out and grow a bit I will add more soil and straw up to the leaf tips. I’ll repeat with the straw and soil one more time before allowing the plants to grow and flower. Then I should have lots of potatoes and enough growing season left to repeat one more time…hopefully. That is how I am going to repurpose my jail-bird busted garbage can…
My Home School Grades was created and designed by John Echols (a homeschool dad) and Jordan Shute (a recent homeschool graduate) for homeschoolers. No one knows better what homeschooling families need than fellow homeschoolers!! My Homeschool Grades is a way to keep track of grades and activities throughout the homeschooling years and to quickly prepare official transcripts for college.
My Home School Grades is amazingly easy to use…and I mean EASY! I can use it from my computer and iPad. Some programs on a computer just do not work well on mobile devices but that is not true with My Home School Grades. I never had a problem using it on my first generation iPad. After logging in the program walked me through how to set it up as an app on my mobile device. So easy!
In less than twenty minutes I had all four (ok…only three of them are schooled but I liked seeing Littlest’s face on the screen) of my scholars set up and their grades entered into the program for the 2012-2013 school year. Several popular curriculums (ALEKS, Alpha Omega, Apologia, MathUSee, Teaching Textbooks, Sonlight and others) are already in the system so all I had to do was enter their grades for MathUSee. If the curriculum I was using was not listed then it was very easy for me to add in the lessons, quizzes and tests. I really liked that I could weigh the quizzes and tests and the program would calculate the grade for me. I could choose my grading scale, grading display (letter grade or number), set up as a pass/fail or just enter a course grade. On another screen I could list their activities.
My Home School Grades is very user friendly and I already have everything set up for this school year! I like it so much that I am not using the grade section in my Ultimate Homeschool Planner. At the end of the school year I can print out an official transcript for the year and keep it with their portfolios.
The gentlemen behind My Home School Grades are also very customer oriented. On a Saturday I had some trouble with the program and they solved my problem on the same day! I wasn’t expecting to hear from them until Monday so I am very impressed with their customer service…top notch! If you are looking for a way to keep grades and prepare an official transcript then look no further than My Home School Grades…all the hard work is done for you.
For this review I received a lifetime membership to My Home School Grades valued at $49.99. Also all future updates and improvements will be included at no further cost. I learned during the conference call about some of the really cool ideas they have in mind for My Home School Grades. I think a one time price of $49.99 is a good deal. You can also get a free two week trial membership right now and find out for yourself!
On Friday, May 24th at 9:00 p.m. we will have a Facebook party for My Home School Grades and you can read the rest of the teams views at Homeschool Mosaics after May 23.
first day of school
Most schools are winding down for the year and getting ready for a break. After some discussion with my husband we decided to embark on year round schooling. This week we finished up our first week of the 2013-14 school year. Life has been hectic and chaotic for the past several weeks and we needed the normalcy of our school days back. The situation here at home has been so full of anxiety that I am sore from the tension. My back, neck and shoulder muscles hurt…As hard as this whole experience has been with my brother I am so grateful for the security I have in my husband. Security may seem a strange word choice but in my husband I have someone who loves me and he strengthens me to endure and grow from hard realities. He makes me a better person because he loves me…I am not sure that I can explain any better…
some of our curriculum choices
Anyway, we are back to school and settling down into our normal family routine. Littlest is almost potty trained and does quite well when we are home. Once he is well-trained then we will be looking for a good dog. I am considering a German Shepherd…a nice protective dog. We had a promotion party a couple of weeks ago. I let the kids have double their normal game time…which they loved! We also watched a movie and had popcorn and root beer floats. They had a really fun day and I posted their report cards on the refrigerator.
Biggest-4th Grade: Delta from MathUSee, Language Arts 4 and Reading 4 from Christian Light Education, Writing With Ease Level 4 from Peace Hill Press, Prima Latina and Famous Men of Roam from Memoria Press. For literature he will study through Rolf and the Viking Bow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Chronicles of Narnia, Black Ships Before Troy and The Hobbit.
Sparkles and JR 2nd Grade: Beta from MathUSee, Language Arts 2 and Reading 2 from Christian Light Education and Writing With Ease Level 2 from Peace Hill Press. Sparkles is also continuing with Spanish For You.
Group Studies: We will continue with The Story of the World Volume 2 from Peace Hill Press as well as Botany and Astronomy from Apologia. We are starting American history with Early American History from Beautiful Feet. For Christian Studies I chose Telling God’s Story from Olive Branch Books. I am very happy that I found Telling God’s Story since it is focused on Jesus for the early elementary years. When Christmas comes around we will continue with our study of Christmas Around the World.
Littlest: He is beginning pre-reading skills and will gradually go through the Phonics Museum from Veritas Press. He loves his “school box”.
Well…I think that is everything…
Being a hopeful person is heartbreaking sometimes…there are days I would prefer to hide “under my rock”. One of my friends often tells me I live under a rock…mostly because I quit watching the news. She has even taken it upon herself to inform me of important breaking news at times. Unplugging from the world does keep my anxiety from getting the better of me…that is why I live under my rock. Too much time on CNN or even Facebook and my inner worrier will surface.
Several weeks ago I brought the World into my home through my brother. We knew it would be a huge change to have him here and challenging for him as well as for us. I had so much hope for my brother then…I still hope he will find his way in the world but I know that I cannot help him. He brought the World’s ways with him into our very Christian home. He must have been very uncomfortable here. He is gone now. He not only quit practicing his Christian faith but openly denounced Jesus.
The man that sat at my kitchen table was no longer my sweet little brother. He is his father. As I slowly realized and accepted that fact I grieved. I was angry for a few days. So angry I could not look at him and could barely speak to him. He never intended to accept the help and shelter we offered. He manipulated and used us to escape his current situation. He chose alcohol and for him that is the same as suicide. That is his choice to make but not here…not in front of my children.
I grieve the loss of my brother. He is in God’s hands now. I just pray he accepts those nail pierced hands…somehow…before his life is over.
The Waterproof Bible and my backpack wrecked Bible
I received a cute pink Waterproof Bible from Bardin&Marsee Publishing valued at $24.95. The pages and binding of the Waterproof Bibles are made of synthetic (plastic) materials that are nearly indestructible. The company has several translations of the Bible available as well as customizable options and imprinting. The pages are crisp, durable and resist stains. I underlined a few passages and the ink did not bleed through the page (best to use a ball point pen, pencil and dry highlighters). It also FLOATS…but I forgot to take a picture.
When I first learned about this review I wasn’t entirely excited about the task. Don’t get me wrong…I love the Scriptures. I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this Bible. I do not read in the rain nor do I frequent beaches or pools. I am not a missionary or a soldier in far off third world countries. Nor do I hunt, fish, camp or enjoy outdoor sports. Maybe I should get out more…
One morning on my way to church I could not find my usual Bible… so I grabbed the Waterproof Bible tossed it in my backpack and rushed the kids out the door. I started carrying a backpack instead of a purse when my third child was born. I found a backpack to be easier to haul around than a diaper bag and a purse. Maybe, once Littlest is about four or so I can go back to having a nice girly purse…Anyway, Bibles get destroyed in my backpack and I have to keep rubber bands around my favorite Bible. I think I have all of the pages…but maybe not in order. The Waterproof Bible has been in my backpack for about a month now and it still looks PERFECT!!!! That fact alone really impresses me. This Bible stays in my backpack and I never have to worry about it or find rubber bands to keep it together. Maybe someday I’ll take it to the beach…
I think every mom should have a Waterproof Bible.
Stop by Mosaic Reviews for more reviews after May 16th. Right now you can read the teams reviews of The Etiquette Factory. We will also host a Facebook party on May 17th at 9:00pm Eastern time. Join us there!!!
Ooka Island is a fun learning to read program for preschool through second grade (ages 3-7). However my oldest (aged 9) also enjoyed playing the game. The program is valued at $19.95 per month or $149.95 per year. I received a free installation CD and online access until the end of the month in order to review Ooka Island. The game is based on research by Dr. Kay MacPhee. She developed the Eye/Ear Reading Method which is recognized in the United States as the top program for developing reading comprehension. To learn more about the incredible people behind Ooka Island click here.
Ooka Island in my opinion is worth every penny. My oldest three can all read so this program was entirely a review for them…which isn’t a bad thing. My two-year old loved, loved, loved Ooka Island and asked to play everyday…he is asking as I write this. When it comes time for Littlest to start Kindergarten I will seriously consider using Ooka Island with him. Sparkles and JR both used Starfall and they both agree that Ooka Island is “way better!” To get a feel for the game yourself watch this video tour. My kids enjoyed all of the games but their favorite was skating down Alphabet Mountain. As they progressed through the game they would rescue Ooka elves. The rescued elves would stay in the playground. During the free time portion of the game you can buy playground equipment and food for the elves as well as outfits for the player avatar. The elves are messy eaters and one of my crew thought he could imitate the elves during lunch time…that did not go quite the way he planned…
Sparkles and Littlest watching their friend play Ooka Island
We invited a friend (who is learning to read) over to play Ooka Island. She played for as long as her mom would let her. We gave her some quick lessons on using a mouse controller and she was able to figure out the rest of the game with very little help. I like that the game leads the kids through the activities so no one gets frustrated or confused. Our sweet friend gave Ooka Island a thumbs up! One of the other things I like is that the “free time” in the game is limited. Several times I have been frustrated with learning apps because the earned game time within an app is not limited. I think my scholars have spent the time learning and it turns out they have been playing with their sticker page or fish bowl for twenty minutes. This won’t happen with Ooka Island and it makes me want to do the happy dance!
My favorite part about Ooka Island are these activity pages and workbooks. These two resources really make this a full learning to read program in my opinion. There are coloring pages, vocabulary work, cutting and gluing, matching and other activities to go along with the books found in the game. There are several workbooks depending on your child’s ability.
The parent page of the game is called The Lighthouse and this is basically a progress report. It will show you your child’s skill level, problem areas and books read. By the time your child finds and reads all of the books he should be reading at an early second grade level. The program does adapt to your child’s ability and will review until your child achieves mastery in each skill.
Overall, I think Ooka Island is a great tool in helping your child learn to read. This program went far beyond my expectations. The company is offering a 30% discount for my readers!!! Yeah!!
After May 12th you can read more reviews on Ooka Island at Mosaic Reviews. For now you can read the teams views on Saving Memories Forever (I did not review that one but it looks so neat!) and some of our other reviews.
I’m going to ruffle a feather or two…So, let me start out by saying I think highly of the people and many friends who work in children’s ministry. It’s a tough ministry…I called it the Armageddon ministry when I labored therein. Why? Because some days when the last kid was (finally) picked up I would have gladly welcomed the End of Days…with open arms. No joke. Children’s ministry is exhausting and a labor of love. I make it a point to thank every individual who tends to my children on every Sunday morning.
I used to haul the kids to church every time the doors were open. Over the summer I would enroll them in several Vacation Bible Schools in the community. We quit attending all but Sunday morning service almost a year ago. I just did not feel that my children were really learning much and we were losing time together as a family. Service is great but not at the expense of time with my husband and children. I’ve thunk a thought or two over this and sought God’s heart on the matter.
I’ve heard a few sermons now on young adults leaving their faith. These are Christian kids reared in the Church who are leaving their beliefs behind and embracing worldly, secular culture. I think today’s culture is increasingly anti-Christian and is becoming more actively hostile each year. I do not want my children to embrace the secular culture. I want them to have a deep and abiding faith in God and a trusting love in the Scripture. Statistics show they will not get this in children’s ministry. Why?
I really do not know the answer. There are some books that have come out recently but I am not sure anyone has a concrete answer to why our kids are leaving their faith behind. I will share my thoughts and welcome your views as well. My kids have been taught many Old Testament stories. They know about Abraham, Isaac, Noah and Moses. Once my oldest asked me if I would kill him if God asked me to. When I asked him why he would ask me such a crazy question he told me the Abraham story he learned in church that day. Sobering moment.
I think the theology of the Old Testament is not for children. We teach them about Noah and Moses but the significance of these passages are not easily grasped by young children. We teach our children how great and faithful Abraham was and fail to point out that it is God who is faithful despite Abraham’s unfaithfulness. God remained faithful to his people despite their unfaithfulness to Him. The Law points out our need for a Savior and I think this is the basic teaching of the Old Testament. I am not sure that my children are ready to learn this…or capable until the middle school years. The Old Testament is rich and I do not want them to disregard it as reading material for children when they get older.
We are going to disciple our children ourselves. I was naïve to think they received enough instruction from church. God’s word is meant to be passed from the parents. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9,Proverbs 1:8, 2 Timothy 1:5) The whole point of the Scriptures is to teach us about and point us to Jesus. So we will not begin with the Old Testament…we will begin with the Gospel…with Jesus. I want them to know and trust Jesus more than I want them to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible.
example of Sparkles work…she is in first grade
I was a bit nervous about this review because I do not know any Spanish…maybe a word or two like “adios amigos”…but that is all. I was so nervous about it that I made my husband do the first couple of lessons with the kids since he does know some Spanish. He used to be a world traveler with his previous job so he knows a smattering of a few languages.
We received the Estaciones for grades 3-8 download package (PDF) from Spanish for You! valued at $64.95. This package included a Lesson Guide, lesson worksheets (answers to worksheets included), flash card and activity pictures, student text and audio files (both by a native speaker and an English speaker). The worksheets are broken down by grade level so all of your grades 3 through 8 scholars can work on the same subject at their own level! I think this fact alone makes this curriculum very useable for homeschooling families. My two first graders also had no trouble learning the vocabulary and using the third grade level worksheets. I was also surprised that
example of lesson guide
Littlest (who is only two) would listen and repeat the audio files! At first we had a hard time listening to the audio files because Littlest thought they were very funny. He laughed so hard every time he heard a Spanish word that we were all laughing. I had tears rolling down my face and all the kids were rolling on the floor. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a two year old?
What I liked: I loved the Lesson Guides and the audio files. The worksheets and audio files were clearly labeled so I was never lost in the curriculum. I always knew what I needed for each day. Yeah!!! We made flash cards of the vocabulary words together and reviewed these everyday. My husband got a kick listening me speaking Spanish because my Southern accent really deepened while I tried to pronounce the words properly. The lesson plan is set up for a four-day week and each lesson never took over thirty minutes for us. The workload never seemed like too much for my crew and lots of review is built into the program so we never felt like it was moving too fast. Overall, I really loved using Spanish for You! and now I know a few more words in Spanish…my little scholars learned far more quickly. And that is what matters to me.
What I did not like: Nothing really. Printing out the worksheets and student workbook was not a big issue for me. I realize all the printing might be an issue for some people. The student workbook is available in book form from the company (did I mention the entire student book is on the audio file!) when you purchase the package.
I think this is a great program for learning Spanish and we plan to finish out the lessons which will take about 27 weeks…so it is a full year of study for a great price. They have one other full year package called Fiestes and two other packages that will be available soon. You can use their curriculum in any order that you choose and you can do each package with everyone together working at their own grade level. This curriculum is ideal for homeschoolers or in a homeschool co-op.
Hello my friends. I know it has been kinda quiet on here lately. I hope to be getting back to posting more than just reviews in a few days. My brother’s care is consuming a bit of my time these days. Just as we were adjusting as a family to having him around our mother showed up…sick. Why she couldn’t wait until she felt better…not sure. She just had to see her son right now. The ironic thing is they haven’t said twenty words to each other since she got here on Monday and they haven’t seen each other in nearly four years. My family is so broken.
When my husband’s family gets together there is noise…lots of wonderful noise, talking, laughter and hugs. I love watching when they get together. I usually find a corner and sit back and watch them all enjoy each others company. There is so much beautiful life in the room when they are together…even when they grumble at each other. Sometimes I find it overwhelming…but comforting. I usually find a safe corner to watch from or hide behind my kids.
When my family gets together it is silent…silent like the grave.