Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Our Week - End of April


Last week of April!  The calendar year is 1/3 over, the school year has only a month left.  Time is flying!


We've got a new computer based learning program that Jack and Katie are working on.   Review coming in June.


If you missed it, we had a BIRTHDAY this week!  Even though she's 9 now, she's such a little peanut that I just last month bought her a high backed booster carseat instead of her harness carseat.


This was a project that we started last week, but didn't finish until the weekend.


Our art DVD called it Figure 7 in Gold.  I believe Jack used bronze paint.  Hannah used gold, but our gold is a bit see through, even after a couple of coats.


We also made mandalas on Bristol board.  This was Jack and Hannah's first time working with a compass.


Exploring the concept of Radial Design.  I tried to explain that if you cut the finished circle in half, both sides should be exactly the same.


Perfect timing for Jack's new headphones we got free to review.  He's using them while he does his computer work.  They help cut out the distractions of the world around him, and keep the overall noise of the house down since we're not ALL hearing his computer programs.


Paul was trying to get Luke to clap.  After about 10 minutes of Paul clapping Luke's hands then clapping his own hands to try to get Luke to mimic him, Luke did actually clap a couple of times.  I haven't been able to get him to repeat it, though.

He has an appointment with a new pediatric neurologist next week.  It will be interesting to see if they've ever heard of Luke's condition or not.


We're pushing through our curriculum at a slightly faster pace than laid out in the manual, in order to finish when the high school kids do.  That spring break evaluation page I filled out was a big wake up call for me.  We're going to start trying to do at least one spelling lesson on the weekend, and when we do second dictation day (the 5th and final day of the passage) we're going to "double up" and do A of the next passage, too.  Not back to back, but in the same day.  Taking time off for our LOE Essentials review was good for all of us, but it's come back to bite me in the butt, now that we're left with more book than year.  I don't want Jack and Hannah to have to do summer school.


Katie will need to do summer learning work because we've been really relaxed about her Kindergarten year, but she won't put up a fuss like Jack would.  She's on week 23 of 30 weeks in Math and week 14 out of 36 in Spelling.  She'll finish her Handwriting book, though, and she's using up several leftover Kumon workbooks that Jack never finished when he was little.  It's nice to clean those off the shelves.  I think she's got Mazes, Numbers, and Dot to Dot going right now.  The cutting practice book that the photo above is from was actually Sam's when he was in K.  Definitely time to get that used up!  (He's 17 now.)


Our review of Kwik Stix will be live on Tuesday.  Be sure to come back and check out all the masterpieces the kids have been making with them and enter to win a set of your own!


In God and the History of Art, we were reminded again to practice drawing lines and eggs to gain greater control.  We did it in pencil early this week, and then today, for some extra practice, I had them draw lines and eggs with the Kwik Stix for a different feel.  


This doesn't sound like much, but these Post-it flags make me so happy.  We use them as bookmarks in all the many books we have going around here at any given time for school.  After a while, they lose their stickiness and have to be tossed.

About a month ago, I used the last one out of a pack I bought 2 school years ago.  A couple days ago, I got an email from Staples with an extra $5 bonus coupon.  Plus I had a $5 Staples reward coupon.  So I took my 2 $5 coupons and went to Staples today.  I picked up these flags, on sale for $10 (reg. $14.95, and even higher on Amazon).  While we were there, I picked up another 10 pack of poster board for the high schoolers, since Eli recently used the last one, and I got a 3 pack of half size poster board, since sometimes their school projects don't call for a full sheet.  Oh, and a little treat from the checkout candy display.  $8 bucks out the door.  We actually saved $11.90 since the cashier scanned an additional coupon behind the register.

Sometimes it really is the little things.  I know every time I open the drawer and pull one out I'm going to smile.


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Friday, April 29, 2016

Happy Birthday, Hannah!


Hard to believe my baby girl is 9!  And yes, she's my baby, too.  They're all my babies.


We had Panda Express for birthday dinner.  Hannah usually uses the "cheater chopsticks" but now that she's a big 9 year old, I had her try regular chopsticks.  She did pretty good for a few bites, and then switched to a fork.


She can read her own fortune cookies, and has quite a sense of humor.


Year of the Baby, sequel to Year of the Book from Buddy & Grandpa Gino in Nevada.


Katie Woo's Big Idea Journal.  She likes drawing and writing in her sketch pad, so I thought she might like this book full of questions, writing prompts, spaces to doodle, etc.  We'll have to check out the other books in the Katie Woo series.  Looks like there's a bunch of them!


Legos!  Girly ones!  This was Daddy's idea, and suddenly Jack and Eli want to play with her more than usual, lol.


Connect 4, also from Buddy & Grandpa Gino.  We used to have one, but after years of use, it got destroyed.


We ran out of candles!  So she's pretending to blow for the picture.


Mmm, cake & ice cream!


And now for a series of


random family member shots


while they're all


just trying to

enjoy their cake!


A good time was had by all, and the birthday girl is happy.  I've been wanting to take some new pictures of her.  One of these days, we'll get to the park with the big camera.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning About C. S. Lewis with YWAM Publishing


We reviewed for YWAM Publishing last year (Columbus), so when the chance to review again this year came up, I knew we'd be getting another quality biography to enjoy.  This year, I selected C. S. Lewis, Master Storyteller from their Christian Heroes Then & Now series.  Paul is currently reading the Chronicles of Narnia aloud to the children after dinner, and I thought this would be a perfect fit for us.  We received the physical book and the digital unit study that goes with the book.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

I began reading the biography aloud to Jack and Hannah (ages 12 and 8), but when we got to C. S. Lewis' time in WW1, I read when Eli (age 14) would be around to listen in, too.  Although the website says ages 10 and up, the vocabulary is pretty advanced.  There were plenty of words Jack would not have been able to define, but from the flow of the story, he could pick up the gist of what happened.  You can read a sample chapter online to get a feel for the vocab level.

C. S. Lewis was born in Ireland, but educated at some rather horrible boarding schools in England.  Academic life suits him, however, and he goes on to teach at college, where he makes friends with another of our family's favorite authors, J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy, etc).

His name was actually Clive Staples Lewis, but he commonly went by Jack.  (I think I would, too!)  His mother died when he was a child, and he was closer to his brother, Warren than to his father.  During The Great War, he makes a pact with a friend, Paddy Moore, that if either of them die, the other will see to his family.  Paddy does not survive the war, and Mrs. Moore (Paddy's mother) and Paddy's little sister, Maureen become Jack's family.  I kept expecting Jack to marry Maureen, but in fact, Maureen marries someone else, and Jack doesn't marry until late in life, when he marries the same woman twice!

Hannah points out where the events of the book took place.

The digital unit study that goes along with the book has maps, pertinent Bible verses, comprehension questions, ideas for a display corner and further study within your community.  It also lists related themes, books and other resources, and makes suggestions for a culminating event at the end of your study.  Honestly, the chapter questions, while written with 2 levels of difficulty, are all a bit advanced for the academic level of my current students, but the study guide would be great for teens.

One of the neat things I really appreciated within the digital resources was the extensive list of YWAM biographies organized by country/geographical area.  It also lists the relevant time periods of each book.  This would be a great reference for adding a biography to history or geography studies!  In fact the main curriculum we use calls for the addition of some of these fine books in 3 of the years of their 5 year cycle.

Authors Janet and Geoff Benge do a great job of bringing C. S. Lewis' life story to tweens and teens in a story-like but fact filled manner.  I enjoyed this book, and I feel like I have a deeper understanding of the life experiences that he allowed to peep out of the pages of his writings.  I think I will get more out of reading the Chronicles of Narnia this time around, now that I know the back story behind them.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

You can connect with YWAM Publishing via their Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.  Other Crew families received many different biographies, and you can read their reviews by clicking the box below.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Song of Silence book review and #giveaway


The night I picked this book up, I read 3 or 4 chapters, set it down, turned off the light, and thought, "I don't like this book."

Maybe it hits a little too close to home.  Although I'm not an empty nester (by any stretch of the imagination!) my children are starting to leave home.  If Paul has his way, my "active duty" parenting term is already 2/3 over.  I'm starting to wonder what I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life.

Basically, Lucy loses her job and gets depressed.  She has no respect for her husband, Charlie, whose every word and deed annoys her.  Her adult daughter needs to move home.  Then her adult son, Sam, springs a new fiancee on the family a week before the wedding.  She wants to be happy for her son, but his new wife is deaf and brings an autistic child to the marriage.  The complex that Sam lives in is a child free zone, so he brings his new little family home to live in mom and dad's basement.  It's a lot for Lucy to take on, all at once.

She enters therapy, and her Nigerian, Yoda-like counselor suggests a group for women whose husbands are retired, and teaches Lucy to sign "Welcome to the family."

Just to show that sometimes life kicks you when you're already down, Lucy has an accident, and wakes up in the hospital seriously injured.  Having taught music for many years, and been asked to sing at countless weddings and funerals, you can imagine how she feels upon learning that while she will likely regain the ability to speak, her lovely singing voice is gone forever.

Fortunately, Lucy's family and friends rally around her, and she forges a path to healing, both physically and emotionally.

There were parts of this book that made me chuckle, and parts that made me tear up.  Some bits I could really relate to, such as Lucy's dislike of the "between," that time when a project is in progress, where it's neither the before nor the after.  I feel stuck in the between sometimes.  When Lucy fears she's slipping into "an ugliness she won't be able to crawl out of," or argues that she's not depressed, she's "incredibly, deeply, soul-woundingly sad," I found myself thinking, "I know how that feels."

Other parts I couldn't relate to at all.  There's a scene in which Charlie (who comes off as mostly annoying in a very clueless sort of way) tells Lucy it's lunch time, and the obvious implication is that she's supposed to fix him something to eat.  Do households actually work like that?  Seriously?  They raised children together.  She must have catered to him all those years for him to expect her to make his lunch for him.  My 12 year old has been making his own lunch (and let's be honest, lunch for his little sisters, too) for quite a while now.  How is it that a grown man can't whip up his own meal?  

Maybe I'm jealous that Lucy figured out her Happily Ever After while mine is still shrouded in mystery, but this was not a book that I enjoyed reading.  Someone in a healthier place would probably like it much better.
~

As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, will Lucy's faith song go silent, too? Find out in Cynthia Ruchti's new book, Song of Silence. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.

Celebrate the release of Song of Silence with a blog tour and giveaway. Two winners will be chosen!

song of silence - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Song of Silence
  • A $150 Visa cash card
One second place winner will receive:
  • A copy of Song of Silence
  • A music-themed prize pack filled with goodies hand-picked by Cynthia
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on May 9th. The winners will be announced May 10th on Cynthia's blog.

song-of-silence-enter


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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Our Week with Wacky Weather


Monday was a high of 90* and Friday was thunderstorms and a high of 63*.  Welcome spring.  I'm glad I didn't take all the long sleeved stuff out of Hannah and Katie's closet when I started bringing out the short sleeved clothes.


So you remember how last week we got a new dryer?  Well, I asked the delivery guy to leave the box for Katie and Hannah to play in.

Only Eli totally claimed it and he and Jack made a tank out of it and were shooting stomp rockets and nerf guns from within it.


Maybe when we can replace the dishwasher the girls will get a box.  (Although, now that I think of it, when we replaced the dishwasher in the old house, there was no box.)


This week's lesson on our Home Art Studio DVD was the color wheel out of oil pastels.


Last year, we painted the color wheel, but blending oil pastels is a bit more challenging.


Even though this was is "fourth grade" disc, I find that most projects appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities.  Katie is 5, and although she didn't exactly blend the the overlapping areas, she did get the experience of working with pastels.


See the water in the bag?  That's tree sweat.  We learned about transpiration this week.


The leaves' stomata (which breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen) release excess water back into the air.


This week is Terra Nova testing at the high school.  Since the seniors aren't tested, Sam has late start, and has been home until 10 am most mornings.


This gives Sam free time in the mornings, some of which was spent playing with younger siblings.  Katie is "fishing" for Sam with links.


This coming week, I'm going to be posting a review for some art supplies that we've been thoroughly enjoying!


In God and the History of Art, the kids reproduced "The Bird Cage."


The idea being to blend colors and capture realistic details.


This book is part of our My Father's World, Exploration to 1850 curriculum.


It's nice to have art related readings and projects that go along with what we're learning about in history, but some of the work is a little beyond my artists.


You know, it's funny.  I make these rice trays for Katie, since they're designed for toddler/preschooler play, and everybody ends up playing with them.  In fact, even Paul picked it up while we were talking in the school room one day.  Jack has developed a game where he'll ask someone to hide a lid under the rice, and then he'll search for it using a magnifying glass and the dig tool from his bug excavating kit.


The Magnatiles continue to be a favorite around here.  The boys like to build structures and drop "bombs" of more Magnatiles on them to see how the buildings collapse.  I'm calling this hands on engineering.


We got outside to do leaf classification just one day before the weather turned into rainy thunderstorms.


I brought Lukey out with us to pet the grass and rock in the sunshine.


The cat answers me when I meow at him.  I hope I'm not saying something offensive.


This was actually a pretty interesting project, where we looked at how the leaves are situated on the plant, what shape the leaves were, what kind of veins they have, and what sort of edge they have.  It's really made me pay more attention to all the variety in plants we see when we're out and about.


My teens' school has uniforms, but they allow their athletes to dress up for game days.  I thought Brianna looked particularly cute this morning as she headed out the door.  Her game will probably get cancelled, as the weather is icky, but it's nice to get a break from the polo shirts once in a while.

Now that we're back to our normal curriculum, we're moving along nicely.  We got 6 days of work done this week.  I need to absorb a week of work by the end of the school year if we're going to finish when the big kids do, so I'm hoping we can keep up this pace.

Fortunately, we still make the time to bird walk.  Today, Jack asked me how pencils were made, so we googled it, and watched a rather interesting video.  I love it when I get to learn something new right alongside the children.  We may need to watch some of the other How It's Made videos, too.

Next week, we'll get into the dawn of the steam engine and machinery, touch briefly on China, continue our state by state look at the USA, and begin learning about Napoleon!  Sounds fascinating!

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