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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rare Siamese Cat-Dog

Our cat and dog generally tolerate each other well, but do their best not to really cross paths.  They both must have been very tired, and the bed looked really comfortable. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mutitasking is the Enemy of Extraordinary

My husband came back from a leadership conference two weeks ago and brought with him several ideas for “family improvement.”  I have to say I haven’t been all that on board as he keeps telling me “read the book!”  Apparently, the keys to personal success can be found within the pages of a book part of his seminar was based on. 

So, when he kept telling me and the boys that multi-tasking was the enemy of extraordinary, I didn’t take that terribly seriously either.  I do somewhat agree.  When we are not really focused on any one thing, but are attempting to do too many things simultaneously, none of them turn out extraordinary. 

One focus he keeps telling me about is on stopping to really listen when someone is speaking to you.  I agree, this is essential when the topic is important, but when it’s just conversation, I didn’t think it mattered all that much until…

We were at the lunch table yesterday, and my youngest son was telling me a story.  In the middle of his story, I handed half of my sandwich to my hubby, and he made a comment.  My son stopped talking, his eyes dropped and his lip quivered a little.  My heart dropped.  What message had I sent – that what he was telling me wasn’t that important.  That HE wasn’t that important.  Ouch!  I apologized and told him I was in the wrong and that I was very sorry.   He rebounded quickly and finished his story with a smile.
I don’t ever want to make my children or anyone else feel that way.  I’m a classic scatter-brain – my head is going in ten different directions all of the time.  However, I now see exactly what my hubby was trying to tell me.  Make the moment count, pay attention and what happens can be extraordinary.

From now on, I’m going to strive to give my full attention.  Even when a conversation seems unimportant to me, it just might be very important to the one telling it.  If I don’t really listen, I’ll never really know, and with teens I just might miss something that is critical. 

Come to think of it…  Where did I put that book?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Looking for a Fun Vacation - Stat!

Wow – we are officially at summer break in two weeks!  I can’t believe how fast it has gone by.

Plans for summer are slowly forming, but I just can’t quite figure out where to go on a trip.  We didn’t take a vacation for the first time in fifteen years last year.  I don’t want that to happen again, but…

We’ve done the beach many times, and that is certainly an option.  However, been there, done that.  I’m not ready to pony up thousands for a dream vacation – if we’re going to do that, it’ll have to be planned well in advance.
So, where’s the happy middle?  It’s getting late.

Of course, youngest will be off for a week at church camp.  Middle has driver’s ed either in July or August.  I’m off to a conference for a week, and hubby’s work is sending him to Europe for a week.  (Lucky!)

What are your favorite quick planned vacations?  Any ideas of East Coast vacations that would be fun for a family?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Green Silk Worm Moth

I love the variety and beauty of the visitors we get during the summer.  This is a green silk worm moth that got trapped on our back porch.  Isn't he magnificent?  He was very friendly (or more likely sleepy) too...  We admired him for a while, then I put him on a plant so he could enjoy his slumber.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Waterfalls

As we enter our last couple weeks of school, it's time to start thinking summer. We have on our agenda to hike to the top of a couple of local peaks.  My daughter lives up in the mountains, and we have a favorite spot up off the Blue Ridge Parkway where we can hike to the waterfall.  It's where the hubby and I had our first big date.  So excited to go hiking again soon!



Friday, May 18, 2012

Traveling with Teens - (Five Days of Blogging)

We just got back from a small “edu”-cation.  You know, those outings that are designed purposefully to educate the kids without them realizing it.  They think they’re on vacation.  :-)

Actually, my teens are on to me.  They know when they are being educated rather than taking a gentle respite.

Traveling with teens is very different from those days when the kids were younger.  We can go longer distances without any crying fits or potty breaks.  We are able to go stroller free, which rocks!  People on planes no longer cringe when they see us coming, and they can carry their own luggage – love it!

However, traveling with teens brings its own set of expectations.  They aren’t adults yet, but they are young adults and therefore want to be more involved in the plans.  Well, typically, they want the right to veto plans. 

I find traveling with teens is a blast.  Sometimes I do drag them to places like museums, but, typically, they walk away realizing it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, often, they end up finding they enjoyed it.  Of course, sometimes things just don’t work out (read opera) where they really don’t appreciate my attempts to “culture-afy” them.

This trip was to Atlanta.  I knew they’d love the aquarium.  IPods were on the ready snapping shots of the whale sharks, belugas and otters.  They didn’t want to see the dolphin show and pronounced it lame when it was over.  (I kinda have to agree.)

Coca-Cola was a blast.  Youngest, still a kid at heart, wanted to hug the big polar bear.  Middle found the artifacts boring, but had a ball sampling sixty different kinds of soda.  If they had been toddlers, the sugar rush would have been unbearable.  As it was, they took it in stride.

They voted for monster cheeseburgers from HardRock Cafe for dinner.  Another fun experience we wouldn’t have tried without a McDonald’s Playland before. 

CNN was fascinating.  They actually were able to get what it took to bring us the news.  Not young kid friendly, but teens are all in to tech.  Youngest even got to try his hand at being a weather forecaster with the giant IPad like screen – he was manipulating the maps like a pro!

The zoo was funny.  Youngest took the map and became our tour guide.  Middle was focused on getting pics of the pandas and a souvenir for his girlfriend.  How times have changed!  Visiting the gift shop is no longer about trinkets for tots but souvenirs for significant others.

Traveling with teens means letting them be in charge some.  They can guide, they can choose a venue, pick the meal, or even spend a little downtime on the wi-fi back at the hotel.  It’s less chaotic and much more adult.  I kinda like it.  I do miss being a kid with them, but I am really enjoying teaching them as young adults.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fostering Creativity – Costume Supercenter

My youngest son has more creativity in his little finger than I do in my entire body.  I don’t know where it came from, but I do appreciate and want to find ways to foster it.  One thing he loves doing is making short videos.  Recently, he’s joined a homeschool filmmaking group and is so excited to see what they will come up with.

On his own, he’s decided he would like to begin parodying horror movies.  He doesn't like things that are too scary or gory, so he wants to find the lighter side. 
A fellow blogger and friend introduced me to an opportunity to review a costume for the Costume SuperCenter.com.  My youngest was beyond excited.  When we found the website, he looked and looked and looked.  So many opportunities!

You see – all of his mini-videos require costuming.  It’s not unusual for him to walk in the room and say – “Mom, I need a cape and a top hat!”  I often have to explain that we need to make many of these items as it all adds up!  So, you can imagine his thrill at getting to pick a costume.
Recently, he’s been wanting to parody Scream.  The funny thing is that he’s never seen a horror movie – he just reads online about their plots and then works to make them humorous.  So, he picked a Scream costume.  There were many to choose from - soem are more gory than others, but that is to be expected.  He chose one that was not gory.  He did have to choose an adult size (wow they grow up fast, don't they?).  The price was $21.99, which is very reasonable.  Thinking back to Halloween, the prices are comparable with what I would find at a local discount store.  Additionally, they offer Free Exchanges paying for shipping both ways.  Great for those times when the kids are growing like weeds and it's hard to pick the right size.
Each day – “Is it here yet?”  Then finally, Ding Dong.  Mom – UPS! Is it my costume?  Here’s what I found on the porch…


 A small jump for joy, and he was in. 


I do love how easy it is to shop Costume Super Center.  When it’s not Halloween,  it can be a challenge to find the items he feels would just be perfect for his movies.  I’d much rather go online than trek across town only to find out the items are sold out. 
So, here he is looking menacing without the mask.  Hopefully this black robe will fill many possibilities in future films.


And here is Mr. Scream himself.

I wanted to feature his mini-movie, but with summer upon us, getting people together to film his little short has been a challenge.  I’ll post it when it’s done.

I have to say, the ease, selection, and excitement on his face make me excited we have found Costumer Super Center.  Now, I just have to setup a budget and chores for him to earn more costumes, then let the creativity begin!
Disclaimer:  I received this costume free from Costumer Super Center in exchange for my honest review.

Teens – Faking Confidence (Five Days of Blogging)

I know as a teen there were things that really intimidated me.  Big crowds, job interviews, college interviews, dealing with some adults, giving speeches to audiences, etc.  There were times when I would almost freeze up.  Of course, freezing up would lead to failure, and in many of these instances, failure is a very poor option.

I learned quickly that faking confidence was a key to allowing me to be successful.  I use that technique to this day.  I’m not a social person, so meeting new people is very intimidating.  So, I fake confidence.  Look them in the eye, big smile, shake hands, show enthusiasm, try to identify their interests and get them talking.  It works! 

It works even beyond just meeting new people – job interviews are a great place to fake confidence.  College interviews are no different.  How about those speeches we inevitably have to deliver – faking confidence gets the audience on your side quickly.
To me – this is one of the best lessons I am teaching my teens.  That when they are nervous – fake confidence!

Now, understand, this is not the same as misrepresentation.  You never present yourself as more than you are or embellish your abilities.  However, you can confidently state that you don’t know how to do something but you are eager to learn! 
One of the ways we encourage them to fake confidence is through participating in Gavel Club - this is a speakers' club where they are asked to give speeches several times a year in addition to evaluating the speeches others give.  We see this as an excellent opportunity to get them confortable speaking in front of audiences.  Seeking ways to give your students opportunity to practice is key. 
Faking confidence can be life saving.  How many times have you heard that attackers choose victims that appear vulnerable?  Square your shoulders, walk with a purposeful gait, look people in the eye, and show that you are not to be trifled with.  It’s not sure-fire, but research shows it makes a difference.

Life skills are so important.  You can be the most prepared, but if you can’t deliver in a coherent and articulate manner, then employers, recruiters, and prospective colleagues may never know.  It’s all about the confidence.
What other life skills do you feel are critical?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teens, Homeschool Peer Pressure and Bullying (Five Days of Blogging)

One of the reasons we decided to homeschool was the climate at our local schools.  Having had our two oldest graduate from the public schools, we were painfully aware of the peer pressure and bullying that went on.  We felt that it created a climate where students were more concerned with fitting in and flying under the radar than they were being themselves.

However, this is not to say that peer pressure and bullying does not exist in the homeschool environment as well.  People are people. 
Peer Pressure, for us, is much lower than it was for our older kids.  There is still pressure to be “cool”, to dress in the latest fashion, to listen to the latest music, etc.  However, it’s rarely mean-spirited.  We’ve been blessed to be around parents and students that accept each other’s eccentricities rather than use them as a means to demean one another.  I believe it’s important to expose my teens to a wide range of people and personalities.  It’s important for them to fit-in sometimes and not others.  They need that experience, they just don’t need it to be the focus of their day-to-day life.

There are still cliques.  Since homeschoolers tend to group together -  those that go to the same church, grew up in the same co-op or live in the same neighborhood still do tend to clique together leaving “outsiders” to feel a bit left out.  However, this is life.  We fit in sometimes, and sometimes we don’t.  I don’t want my kids to grow up overly sheltered, I just want them to grow up to be who they are and to be that wonderfully.
As for bullying, there have been instances where boys don’t like each other and pick on one another, but it’s never an on-going, can’t-get-away-from-it, day-to-day thing.  Jealousy as kids grow into teens and begin “liking” each other rears its head, but can often be resolved by time or conversation.  Facebook, Skype, and other social media make it easier to pick on one another as well.  (You know I believe in allowing internet interactions, but this is one downside.)

Having a “thick skin” is something we are trying to instill.  People will be mean.  It’s life.  It’s how you deal with it that matters.  Do you let it eat you up?  Do you allow yourself to be angry instead of just shrugging it off?  How do you behave when it happens? All teaching moments. 
As much as building a bubble we can keep our kids in sounds nice, it’s obviously not realistic.  As homeschoolers, we have to acknowledge that we can’t and shouldn’t protect them from everything because at some point in life they will have to deal with peer pressure or being bullied by others.  Being able to do that in an environment where they have the opportunity to learn from these instances instead of having to live in fear of them makes all the difference.

Has your family experienced peer pressure or bullying while homeschooling?  How do you handle it?
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teens, Technology and Socialization (Five Days of Blogging)

Technology plays a huge role in our homeschool.  We use the boys’ computers for online classes, CD based curriculum, internet based research and interacting with others.  The wireless going down is no small crisis for us. 

While technology overload can be a bad thing, I do believe that having your teens actively using technology will benefit them long-term.

Online classes are one way that technology allows homeschooled students to keep up with and sometimes surpass their counterparts.  Colleges today are moving many of their general education courses to the online environment.  It’s cheaper, requires fewer resources and allows them to service more students at once.  For some students who are self-motivated, this is wonderful.  For those that aren’t, online classes can be a real struggle.  I highly recommend having your student take at least one or more classes online as a high school student.  This can be through dual-enrollment at the community college or through the numerous homeschool offerings.    As a parent, help your student create a calendar of due dates, walk with them through the syllabus to understand what is expected, initially help them to stay on top of the assignments, and encourage them to engage their professors.

Another aspect of technology is the ability to be in touch with others – the dreaded “socialization”.  Of course, for most of us, socialization is a non-issue.  There are literally too many things for homeschoolers to do – we have to pick and choose to ensure they are getting the academics in addition to all field trips, activities, clubs and co-ops.  However, I do endorse online interaction.  It should be monitored because humans will do and say things online that they wouldn’t do in person.  However, if you know who your student interacts with, then using Skype, Facetime, Facebook and Twitter can be excellent ways to have on-going engagement with peers.  Two of my youngest child’s best friends have moved out of state recently.  He still talks to them daily.  What a big difference from when we were kids and moving meant saying goodbye.

Finally, technology is clearly the future.  Students should understand the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and, obviously, keyboarding.  Additionally, learning the fundamentals of programming, gaming, web development or database design gives students the opportunity to determine if that avenue is an option for their future.

Clearly, you are reading this because you are online.  You use technology.  Make sure your teen knows that technology is about more than downloading the latest dubstep and watching YouTube.  It’ll be an investment in their future.
To see other 5-Day Blog Hop Topics by the TOS Crew - click the button below:

 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Teens - On Their Own (Five Days of Blogging)

This month has been a challenge in our Raising Teens life.   We actually have two “official” teens and two that are 12 and 21 – the almost and just past teens.

It’s the two older ones that we are learning from this month.  They are both totally broke.  That wouldn't be so much an issue if they lived at home; however, both have opted to live outside the home. 

One, the nineteen year old, is moving back home in June.  He’s experienced highs and lows in his eight months on his own.  For eight weeks he was without a job making paying the rent a challenge.  He’s now on the downhill run and is gainfully employed and has gleaned the reality that living on your own isn’t quite the excitement it first presented itself to be.  Empty pantry, no time for fun, no money to have fun with, and bills coming at you right and left. 

My oldest, who is twenty one, decided to move out against our suggestion and head back to college.  Yes, college is a good thing, but it’s been a long haul.  Despite mom’s nagging ad infiniteum that living on her own required a 25 – 40 hour a week job, she’s had a job with much fewer hours this first semester.  Thus, broke.  Scrambling to get that job now, she’s hoping to be back on top of the finances, but the issue then becomes handling a college load and a full-time job.

If you’re like me – you always want to “save” your kids.  My kids know this and take advantage quite often.  I’ve learned through this past year that sometimes letting them sink is the right answer.  If they are never given the opportunity to learn that life requires a lot of effort and money as young adults, then how can they grow up to be functioning older adults? 
If they are so broke they can’t buy food, we offer gift cards for food.  If they need gas, we offer gift cards for gas.  However, they MUST pay their own bills. 

I’ve co-signed on leases in the past.  My son’s lease is over in June, and that’s the last time I do that.  You can’t go down with a sinking ship.   It’s a tough balance – supporting and teaching. 

Our plan right now is to provide a home base, to make sure they have food and gas, and to “nag” ad nauseum when it’s appropriate to help steer them in the right direction.  Beyond that, we have to sit back and let them learn.  Otherwise, we are enabling not teaching.    That’s been a hard lesson for all of us!

BTW - don't think the two younger ones aren't paying attention.  They see not only what mom and dad offer, but the struggles of their sibilings.  We use these teaching moments as well. 


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Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Go Science and Library and Education Services


Go Science / Library and Educational Services

Price:  $8.97
Age:  6 to 14

The chance to review two science CD’s also gave me the chance to discover Library & Educational Services.  This is a web site that sells wholesale to resellers, educators, libraries, churches and schools.  The best part – home educators are included!  I’ve always believed that as a home educator we should have the same opportunities to purchase wholesale as the public and private schools.
Per their web site:

“For over thirty years, LES has been committed to excellence in both our customer service and our product selection.
With our variety of Christian, wholesome, and educational DVDs, CDs, books, games, and more—PLUS our personal, superior customer service, we are confident that you will return to LES again and again!”

I’m impressed with the amount of stock they offer.  What I like best is that I can find DVD’s on topics that are hard to find in the local library or store.  For example, we’re considering taking a trip to Yellowstone and there are numerous videos available on that location.
For this review, I received two videos from their science section.  Go Science Volume 4 – Chemistry, States of Matter, Life Sciences and Go Science Volume 6 – Water, Space, Solar System.  We were allowed to pick from their selection of Go Science videos choosing the ones we felt worked best for our family.

Each video on the back states: “Even kids who claim an aversion to science will be engaged by the high-energy science demonstrations of Ben Roy! Ben teaches science methods at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is the former director of a science program on television. With this expertise, Ben captivates, motivates, and inspires students to be excited about science, while providing effective instruction based on science phenomena. Each spectacular demonstration of physical or chemical science has a spiritual application and points to our Creator!”

My boys ages 12 and 14 and I watched both of the videos.

What we liked:
  • The experiments were interesting and fun.  He uses fire, explosions and interesting approaches to teach different concepts.  For example, he did an experiment with root beer floats.  However, it wasn’t what you’d expect – he was showing that a can of regular root beer will sink while diet root beer will float. 
  • Ben Roy, the presenter, obviously has a passion for what he is doing.  It’s great to see someone motivated by his love for science.
  • The students in the video were asked to help with the experiments.  The boys enjoyed seeing young people engaging in the experiments as well, not just as an audience.
  • Mr. Roy often connects what is happening in the experiment to God and creation. 
  • He always reminds us that we are learning about God.  In fact, in Volume 4 – he relates much of what is going on to Biblical truth.  This video was more about biblical story than science, but we did enjoy the way he made the connections!  For example, he shows how fire burns paper and leaves ash.  He states the Devil tells us that our sin is still left over like that ash.  However, he then lights flash paper that totally burns up and uses that to show that God cleanses us of our sins.  Nothing is left. 
  What we didn’t like:
  • While the experiments are applicable to older students, the presentation is very much an early elementary format.  
  • With some of the experiments, he shows the outcome but doesn’t go into detail about why it happened.  What was the chemical reaction, what caused the result.  For older students, the why is very important.
  • Additional camera shots would help the home audience see the results of experiments.
  • Sometimes he says science helps us learn “about our Creator God!” but doesn’t say how so.  The experiment alone isn’t as evidential as explaining how unique and intricate the world is and how it points to design.  Again – for older students, he needed more depth.
Here’s an example of the videos:



We enjoyed the opportunity to watch the videos.  The experiments were interesting, and it was fun to try to figure out the outcome before he revealed it.  As noted throughout, these videos target young or early elementary students in their format.  However, the experiments, if taken into more depth would be applicable for older students as well.
If I were to use these when my boys were younger, I would have used them as part of apologetics.  Showing how God is in the details.  The biblical stories he provides and examples he uses through his experiments would be great jumping off points for in-depth discussion of how we see evidence of God in everything.

To see additional reviews by the TOS Homeschool Crew – click here.

Disclaimer:  I received these two videos free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review - Judah Bible Curriculum

Judah Bible Curriculum

Age: K - 12

Price:  $44 Online, $74 Hardcopy

The Judah Bible Curriculum is based on the model of the “Principal Approach” to Biblical study.  The “distinctive” for this approach as noted on the web site are:

  • The BIBLE is the textbook. The student studies and learns the Bible.
  • The student learns God's purpose in history, studying the hand of God in the lives of men and nations through the Bible.
  • The student develops his reasoning ability, helping him to apply Biblical principles personally.
  • The curriculum helps you shift from rote learning to Biblical reasoning.
  • The student learns the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the personal responsibility of the individual.
  • The student learns the relationship between individual character and national liberty.

While we have spent time each school year studying the Bible, the Judah Curriculum approach was new to me.  This is an extensive approach that requires a great deal of time investment by the teacher/parent in order to be prepared to teach the students.
The curriculum comes with a manual, an example elementary notebook (my boys are beyond this age level) and downloadable lectures.  There is no textbook because the Bible is your textbook.  The author notes that any translation of the Bible is acceptable.

I have to admit I found myself a little overwhelmed with the content of this curriculum.  The initial step is to listen to the eight teacher training lectures provided on the site.  Each lecture is about an hour long.  There are accompanying visuals for some of the lectures found at the end of the manual, but this isn’t made clear.  I didn’t realize this at first and would have benefitted from these illustrations.  I’m not an auditory learner, at all.  So, this approach was more difficult for me than it would have been for someone who learns auditorily.  My impression while listening to the videos was that learning to teach this course is a lot like taking a college instructor's commentary and notes, trying to intake all of the content and then replicate it to your students.  I would love to see the author, Bill Burtness, make videos of his lectures and include videos of using the curriculum in a class setting.

A Teacher Walkthrough section is provided online that helps the teacher grasp the week-by-week approach to teaching the concepts learned through the lectures.   The walkthrough provides a step-by-step approach for the first four lessons and a template to follow for lessons 5-40.   

The curriculum divides the Bible into five themes – Creation, The Plan of Redemption, The Kingdom of Israel, The Kingdom of God, and The Early Church.  Theme One , Creation,  is separated into five weeks each with a theme for that week.  Theme Two is broken into ten weeks, Theme Three is five weeks, Theme Four is eight weeks, and Theme Five is six weeks.  Again, each week has its own theme as well.  This is the first year.  Judah is a multi-year curriculum.

The curriculum provides the instructor with a weekly breakdown that includes the scriptures to be covered each week and the focal verse(s).  A study template is provided to help guide the teacher as he/she presents the material.  The guide suggests the following approach (simplified):

1.  Pray for God’s revelation of the passages

2.  Read the listed Bible passages

3.  Print out Key Sheets (I’ll cover this in a minute)

4.  Read passages again and fill out key sheets

5.  Read supplementary teaching when provided

6.  Expand your study – this can be done through the teacher finding supplementary content, maps or exercises for the student (not provided).

7.  Write down significant things learned this week

8.  Apply the knowledge to your own life

9.  Write an essay (if age appropriate)

10.  Build your notebook (I’ll cover this too)

Key Sheets (see below) noted in steps three and four are an important aspect of the research approach.  Blank sheets are provided to identify key individuals, events, institutions and documents for each weekly theme.  The author provides examples for each key sheet so that the instructor can see how they might be filled out.  I would note I’m disappointed that the examples are scanned, hand-written or typed documents (this is also true for the elementary example notebook) (See below).  I would prefer the author take the time to type up the sheets making them more legible.  Additionally, the blank sheets should be in an editable format .   Printing is fine, but an editable PDF or a Word processing document would make more sense for those that prefer typing to writing.




As a person who loves organization and lists, I really like the key sheet approach.  As a long-term, in-depth Bible course, really breaking down each set of scripture and analyzing the who, what and why is a terrific way to provide real depth of learning.  I especially like this approach for high school or adult learners where they can explore the implications of what the Bible is saying and do some comparison to today.

The Notebook in step 10 is another focal component of this curriculum.  The notebook allows the student to assemble a tool that he/she can use for lifelong Biblical reflection.  The key sheets along with any supplementary exercises provided by the parent are included in the notebook.  It is meant to be done neatly so it can be kept and used.   I did find it surprising that the curriculum doesn't provide the extras that students use for learning.  This may be because it is aimed at K-12 aged students.  However, when I purchase a curriculum, one of the things I look for is what is provided.  If I have to do a lot of extra work on my own, then the value of the curriculum lessens for me.

As I initially stated, I found this approach to be overwhelming.  It is clear to me that using this process in a thorough manner for several years would result in a very in-depth understanding of the Bible for both the student and the teacher.  If I were to use this long-term with my high schooler, I would first want to invest time throughout the summer understanding the approach, the themes, the breakdown of scripture and finding appropriate supplementary materials.  Be aware that this is a teacher intensive approach. 

To see how other TOS Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this curriculum - click here.

Disclaimer:  I received access to this curriculum free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Legislating Discrimination - No on Amendment I

Here in NC, Amendment I is on the ballot on Tuesday.  The amendment verbiage would change the NC constitution to state:

Sec. 6. Marriage.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
I am voting against it.  Here’s why:
·         There is already a law banning gay marriage; therefore, there is no need for a constitutional amendment.  The amendment serves no other purpose than to reflect anti-gay opinion in NC. 

·         Amending the constitution is a big deal.  It should not be taken lightly.  It should not be done simply to reflect popular opinion. Amending the constitution should only be done to extend the rights of Americans living in NC, not limit them.

·         There are further reaching implications from this bill than just preventing those who are gay from marrying.  It removes health insurance benefits to government employees from partners and their children, it prevents children of domestic partnerships from receiving government benefits after the loss of a parent, it muddies the protections against domestic violence, and it inhibits unwed couples from making hospital and end-of-life decisions.

·         It will cost taxpayers money.  There’s no doubt the courts will be the first recipients of the ramifications of passing this amendment.  Since the wording is unclear, courts will be clogged with claims.  We, the tax payers, will be paying for this.

We had a long discussion about this amendment in Sunday school class this past Sunday.  Some felt it was their “Christian duty” to vote for the Amendment.  I don't believe Jesus ever argued to legislate discrimination – I believe we are taught “Judge not lest ye be judged”.  This isn’t a Christian amendment – this is a legal amendment.  Separation of Church and State is clear.  Yes, my faith plays a role in my decision making; however, when a law is already in place I'm not choosing for or against faith, I'm choosing for or against discrimination.

If the church were voting on legalizing gay marriages performed in the church, that would be different entirely.  However, to enact public legislation purely to enforce a belief system on fellow American citizens runs counter to the freedoms that America was founded on.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mountain Flowers

I just love going to the mountains in the spring time.  The blooms are behind what we have in the piedmont and so delicate.






Friday, May 4, 2012

The Best Choice I Ever Made...

was marrying my husband!  Today is our 16th Anniversary!  I'm blessed to have a husband who loves his family with all his heart, supports each of us the best way he can and never lets me forget we were made for each other.  From dunking a basketball to laying down a cool bass riff to debugging unending lines of code - he amazes me.  I'm one lucky lady!




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Homeschool Library Builder


I’m always searching for a bargain – it’s in my nature to never pay full price for anything.  This is also true when it comes to our homeschooling materials – I want a good deal!  When new ways are brought to my attention to save money – I like to share!
The TOS Homeschool Crew is doing an informational review of the Homeschool Library Builder (HSLB) site.  This site is run by two homeschooling moms and offers new and used books for sale at discounted prices.  After searching through the library, I can see where those using a Charlotte Mason approach, or using curricula like Sonlight, Beautiful Feet, Heart of Dakota, Ambleside, etc. will find this site very useful!


Here's an example of the savings you will see on the site!

We used Sonlight for several years, and one of the challenges was finding all of the required books at good prices.  I wish I had known about this site then.  Walking through the lists of books was like stepping back a year or two and embracing those times on the couch spent reading award winning books to my boys!

Homeschool Library Builder offers a free membership that offers several benefits.  First, you earn points for purchases.  One dollar spent equals one point.  Fifteen points equals $1 credited to your account for future purchases. 

In addition, their Savings Program allows you to earn points for referring new customers.  When a new customer makes a purchase and lists your name as a referral, you earn 45 points ($3) of credit.  Additionally, if you are a blogger, 75 points ($5) can be earned by linking to HSLB on your blog.
Currently, HSLB is offering 25% off purchases for May!  If you are starting to assemble your homeschool library for next year, now is a good time to check them out and reap the benefits of discounts on already low prices.

Disclaimer:  I completed this informational review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Time Flies

We made a trip to the mountains this past weekend.  The boys and I hopped out and hubby decided to snap a pic.  My profile picture in Facebook has been a similar pic from two years ago.  I can't believe the change in my boys!  My goodness - time does fly!