A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Unstoppable DVD Giveaway --CLOSED

You will never look at the Creation story the same way again. 

When the opportunity to review movie this came up, I was interested partly because it was Kirk Cameron who made it. Now, if you're too young to remember him from Growing Pains, or if you weren't exposed to secular tv growing up, maybe you'll remember him from Left Behind, or more recently, Fireproof.  I was curious to see what he was up to now.  Turns out, he and his wife have 6 kids, and this film was inspired by the death of one of his close friends.  

In trying to answer why do bad things happen to good people, the movie takes us back to the beginning of history. With artistic flair, it portrays God making Adam in a way I hadn't seen or thought of before.  It goes on to show powerful images depicting the creation of Eve, the Fall of Mankind, and the first murder. This is the point where Paul said, "This is not a movie for the little kids to watch."  He's right; the movie is geared toward ages 12 and up.  

Part sermon, part drama, part satire, this was a really different movie.  Samuel watched it with Paul and I, and Sam said, "It was very artistic and visual."  

Kirk's closing thoughts on the question, "Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?" were worth considering.  God can and does use these hard things for good, the same way the biggest injustice of all time, the death of a perfect, sinless man, has become the hope of the world. 

I would love to share a copy of this movie with you!  To enter to win, simply leave a comment with your email address.  You can share who you would watch this with, or a hard circumstance that you're struggling with if you like, but really all I need is a way to contact you.  Next Friday, 2/7, I'll write the names down and have one of the kids randomly select one.  

This DVD has just been released, and you can visit the official website for the trailer or to purchase.  You can also connect with the film on Facebook or Twitter.  

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Keyboard Classroom - Teaching Children to Type

It's always such a blessing when we get the chance to review curriculum that teaches something I've already been wanting the children to learn.  Such is the case with Keyboard Classroom.  I've been wanting the kids to learn to type, since typing is such a vitally important skill in our computer-driven world.

I asked Brianna if she would be my reviewer this time around.  We received a CD ROM and a pair of finger positioners.  Keyboard Classroom is also available as an instant download.  It is designed to work with Windows.  They do not recommend using the program on a laptop, because a laptop's keyboard is different than that of a traditional, desktop computer.

The finger positioners didn't fit the kids' keyboard as well as they did mine, and Brianna didn't like them, so they didn't get used much, but I like the concept, and perhaps when she has completed the program, one of her brothers will choose to use them while they work through it.  

The basic idea is that the finger positioners train the student's hand to stay in the right place and use the correct fingers for each letter.  

You begin as a cadet, and progress through the ranks, hopefully all the way to general, as you learn new skills.  

There are 5 main learning areas, and you earn tokens in those, to be used playing games after practicing.  Brianna's favorite game was Zirch.  The object is to collect the moving letters that spell Zirch.

Although she learned a lot from the program, being 13, she felt like it was better suited to younger kids.  However, since she's off to school next year, I'm guessing she'll appreciate the skills she's learning when it comes time to start typing her high school homework papers.  

The family license is a great deal if you have several students you would like to use the program with, since the price per person goes down quite a bit.  The single user license and the family license each come with one set of finger guides.  Additional finger guides can be purchased for $15.  Keyboard Classroom also offers a school license tailored to fit a traditional classroom's needs.  

I found this to be a good addition to our homeschool, and I look forward to having Eli work through the program next year, when Brianna is done with it.  

Keyboard Classroom

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Large Family Living: Time, part 1

Okay, so it's more than a little ironic that it's taken me such a long time to get around to sharing a post about how I organize my time.  It seems I still have a lot to learn about balance in time management.

On the last Large Family Living posts (here and here), I had several people ask questions about how on earth I manage my time, or how I give each of my children enough "quality time" each day.  I want to address the time issue in two pieces:  what my day looks like, and spending time with my kids.  

Like most moms, I have 2 different daily schedules.  No, not weekdays and weekends.  In our house, it's Daddy's Home or Daddy's At Work.  Let's start with a Daddy's At Work weekday.

6:15  Alarm goes off.  I go wake Hannah up and lay her clothes out (if I haven't put them out the night before).  Hannah takes longer than anyone to get dressed and moving, so she gets up first.  

I take my shower and get dressed.  After I get out of the shower, I wake up Eli & Jack, then I fix Hannah's hair and wake Brianna.  Next, I open the door to the Panda Room.  Katie yells, "Hi Mommy!" and Luke starts whining.  I say, "Hi Katie!  Take your jammies off!" and start getting Luke changed and dressed.  Katie has learned to undress herself and take her night AFO off and take her laundry out to the basket in the hall.  Once Luke is dressed, I dress Katie and fix her hair.  
Little people go downstairs for breakfast, I run a rake through my hair and get ready to walk out the door.

7:30  Everybody in the van!  One of the kids goes across the street to get the Chinese exchange student our neighbors are hosting who goes to Sam's school.  I love, love, love carpooling!  
We drop off Sam and V, and when Hannah is on track, we circle around and drop her off next, then we head home to get started on the day.  

Jack empties the dishwasher, Eli cleans up after breakfast, Brianna usually hops on the computer (supposedly to hit XtraMath or our new foreign language program, but just as often, there's a tab with Pinterest or Tanki or Mini Clip open).  Hannah brings the upstairs laundry down, and then she, Katie, and Luke play in the playroom.  Often, during this time, I'm vacuuming and sprucing up downstairs and starting a load of laundry.  Other times, I get sucked into the computer, and I'm dealing with the bazillion emails that stack up almost instantly.  

Once the boys are done in the kitchen, we start school.  School usually consists of reviewing our memory work, then reading from either the Bible or Journey Through The Bible for historical context, and then we have history/science/art/read aloud as needed.  It's a flexible schedule.  Somewhere in there, the kids rotate using their computer for their "math vitamin" (like online flash cards) and their foreign language program.  

11:30 is lunchtime.  Whatever group stuff hasn't happened by then is just going to have to wait until another day.  The older kids make their own lunch, I make lunch for the littles, and after we eat, Brianna cleans up.  Then we start NAP TIME.  

Nap time means quiet for a couple hours.  Luke sleeps.  Katie is about half and half as to whether she sleeps or not, but she's quiet in her bed (for the most part) during that time.  Hannah has been playing on her Leap Pad during naps, but we had to go back to napping when she was zombie-like after naps were over.  Tired kids are cranky.  I'm not big on cranky.  She still falls asleep about half the time, so I think she needs it.  When she's in school, she doesn't get to nap, so weekend naps are her "catch up" sleep.  

During nap time, Jack is supposed to work on Math and Word Building (spelling).  Eli has math and sometimes a journal assignment to complete, if he had writer's block earlier in the morning.  Brianna has math and assigned reading.  All the kids can do free reading and quiet activities when they're done with their work.  For Bri, this usually means computer or knitting.  For Eli, it could be making airplanes or paracord bracelets, or reading, or napping.  Jack usually ends up playing cars or Legos.  

After naps, Luke often has therapy, Samuel comes home from school, and the other kids play.  Once the therapist leaves, I'll start dinner.  The little kids get baths next, and then get ready for bed.  Sometimes there's a Netflix on my computer, sometimes they play for a while, when it's been crazy, they can read in bed for a bit.  

Hannah, Katie, and Luke go to bed at 8.  The older kids are supposed to go to bed at 9, but some of them are horrible about actually doing so.  Pretty much every night, I end up with at least 3 knocks on my bedroom door after I've gone to bed.  Sometimes it's all different kids, sometimes it's the same one over and over and OVER.  

Often, in the evenings, I'll watch Netflix with one or both of the teen boys as our time to unwind and laugh together and hang out after the littles are in bed.  They're both good about helping me with the younger kids, and I know they need the quieter, down-time as much as I do.  

That's the basic skeleton framework of my day.  When Paul is at home, it's a little easier, because he does morning carpool, so I don't have to get everyone out the door at 7:30, but we're still up and moving.  There are always other things that come up; park days, medical appointments, Mommy-needs-a-trip-to-Target-to-reset-her-batteries, etc, but this is pretty much how things flow.  

In my next Large Family Living post, I'll address spending time with the kids, and "quality time."  

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Curriculum Check Up

As we are half way through the year, I thought I'd share what we're using, what's working for us, and what isn't.

Our main curriculum, or spine, is Creation to the Greeks, from My Father's World.  You can see their materials at www.mfwbooks.com.  This covers Bible, History, Vocabulary, Science, Music, Art, and Literature.

For MATH, I have the kids in A Beka.  They don't like it, but then, they didn't like Aleks Math, or Math U See (although that's MY favorite, not that it counts) or math paces (workbooks) from ACE/School of Tomorrow.  They just plain don't like math.  Additionally, they get further practice online.  We've done Splash Math, IXL.com, XtraMath.com, etc.

I mentioned that we're supplementing our current science from MFW with Magic School Bus science kits.  We're still limping through the book we dislike, but I'm not stressing myself out trying to gather supplies to attempt all the experiments.

Jack is the only student currently doing a formal spelling program.  At the beginning of the year, I had him in A Reason For Spelling.  Again, this is a program that I like.  But I'm not the student.  It wasn't working for him.  So I had him take the placement test and put him back into paces.  Hopefully, Word Building will help him make progress in this subject that is a struggle for him.

We aren't using a formal English program this year.  I'm not thrilled about that.  It just never happened.  What we're doing instead is a lot of journal/creative writing prompts, that I then correct for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, and have them fix their errors.  It will be interesting to see how they score on their standardized tests this spring without nouns and verbs being drilled into them all year.  And I know, I could be hitting parts of speech with Mad Libs.  I'm just not feeling it right now.  Maybe as we get closer to testing.

The vocabulary course included in MFW is good, but we're probably not getting the most out of it that we could be.

Social Studies/History is the backbone of our program this year, and it's actually really interesting.  We loved last year's Exploring Countries and Cultures!  This year is the start of a 4 year chronological history of the world.  It's neat to collate different events happening around the world at the same time.  Because we're starting at the beginning, most of our year has centered around the fertile crescent, Egypt and the Mediterranean.  I think we'll enjoy next year even more, as we get more bits from around the globe.

For "electives" Brianna has been learning piano.  I've been brushing up a little, myself.  As I come across printable sheet music for her, I hunt & peck my way through and play it, too.  Last night, I was at the keyboard while the kids were playing downstairs, and Paul called up, "Is that you playing, dear?" ...just as I hit a wrong note, of course!  I hollered down, "Nope!" and kept playing.

Three of the children are currently working on a foreign language program online.  I'll be sharing more about that in a few weeks.

Brianna has also been working on learning to type with Keyboard Classroom.

I like that the bulk of our work is done together, and that we're finished with that work before lunch.  I sometimes feel like we might not be doing enough, but I think that might be a hold over from the days when I could quantify our learning by checking off 12 workbooks in each subject for each child every school year.

I know it's not "spring" yet, but I've started thinking about next school year already.  With different students to plan for, our year will look a bit different, of course, but it's nice to peek ahead and see what we'll be doing in MFW and get an idea what will go along with that.  It looks like next year's science will be MUCH better than this year's.  This is almost a little disappointing, because I had been wanting an excuse to try Reason For Science .  Looks like that will have to wait.

The tentative plan at this point is for Samuel and Brianna to go to private school, Eli, Jack, and Hannah to be homeschooled, and Luke to be in special ed preschool.  We still have plenty of time to make firm decisions and plans, though.  I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom as we make choices for each child.  We've always said that education is a year by year, child by child decision.  Please pray that we make the best decisions for our family in this season.

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Book T-shirt GIVEAWAY

These books are a little spicier than what I would normally promote, but I know people have diverse tastes in reading.  As summer approaches, we all want to have a book on hand for leisure reading in the great outdoors. 

Celebrating the new release of the sixth Braden book, Hearts at Play, author Melissa Foster brings you this fantastic giveaway!

2 Winners will each win one of these 'limited edition' Braden T!
(Sizes available Medium, Large, X-Large)
Open to US 
Ending on Tuesday 4th February at 11.59pm EST

Book #6 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series #9

Brianna Heart has a six-year old daughter and a twelve-year plan to keep her life as simple as possible until Layla turns eighteen. That means swearing off relationships and the drama that goes along with them, working two jobs, and being the best damn mother she can be.

The last thing Capital Series Grand Prix racer Hugh Braden wants after dating media-hungry leggy models and money-hungry fan girls is a blind date. But how could he turn down a favor to one of his best friends? Hugh expected the date to go poorly, but he didn’t expect to be intensely attracted to the beautiful brown-eyed bartender who completely blows him off—and steals his every thought thereafter.

When Brianna’s perfectly orchestrated life turns upside down, Hugh is there to help, softening the turmoil, and maybe even rescuing her heart from the lonely place where it has been hiding. Can a man who doesn’t believe in fate and a woman who doesn’t believe in true love find happiness in each other’s arms forever? .

HEARTS AT PLAY is part of the Love in Bloom series.
**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Buy the book from...... 
Amazon.co.uk,     Amazon.com,     Barnes and Noble,     KOBO

More hot and steamy Braden reads

Enter Below and Good Luck !!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

InstaNatural Argan Oil GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.  

Okay, so you know I have a huge heart for adoption, right?  Recently, there was a family doing an adoption fundraiser with a beauty products company.  I was browsing, hoping to find something I "needed" so I could help out with their fundraiser.  I came across an argan oil product for hair, and decided to try it.

A few weeks later, the opportunity to review InstaNatural Argan Oil popped up.  Well, I was already happy with the effects of argan oil, so I decided to try this brand.

Replacing what I'd been using, I mainly used my InstaNatural Argan Oil on my hair.  Unlike the essential oils we've been talking about lately, argan oil can NOT be consumed internally.

To use, I put a few drops in my hand after washing my hair and toweling it dry.  Rubbing my hands together to disperse, I then run my hands over the "ponytail" section of my hair first.  

A puddle smaller than a dime is enough for my long hair, so this bottle will last me a long time.  

Argan oil leaves my hair soft and manageable.  But InstaNatural Argan Oil also has other applications.  It's good for skin and nails, as well.  You can read more about how to use this versatile product at the InstaNatural blog.  

You can purchase InstaNatural Argan Oil from Amazon or from their website.

Are you ready to win a bottle?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Homeschool Weekly Wrap up #19

I feel kind of silly calling this a homeschool wrap up, since it's been a weird week for us, and I don't really have much to show as far as homeschooling goes.

Tuesday, Hannah had her annual eligibility review to prove that she's still "disabled."

You know, just in case she grew limbs during the last 12 months.  I'd blow it off and let her enrollment expire, but CCS pays for DME, which is a lot of initials that saves us a ton of money.  Prosthetics are expensive.  

It's not very often you hear your teenaged son say, "I want to be an African woman."  

Josiah was teaching Katie how to be a redneck.  Food on the face, and a camo hat, and she's still cute.  

Hannah started on XtraMath.com.  (She goes back to school the first week of February.)  I've got 4 kids working on it now.  Brianna has progressed to the next level.  It's a great, quick review for basic math facts, and it only takes a few minutes every morning.  

Speaking of computer, we have a very cool review happening around here now.  

I can't wait to tell you more about it later.  

This week we read the book of Ruth in the Bible, and did the Ruth section in Write Through Ancient History.  Our next work in that book will be the story of David & Goliath, which isn't for a couple of weeks.  

We're still working on memorizing the 23rd Psalm, reviewing the 10 Commandments and the books of the Old Testament.  I love that they're getting building blocks they'll use for a lifetime.  

The weather has gotten up to 70 degrees here lately, and I'm loving letting the kids play outside again more often.  

But sometimes, you just gotta sit at the table and do your spelling work.  Doesn't he look thrilled?  I put him back into Word Building paces this week.  Jack is my reluctant reader/speller.  I had him take the placement test, and we're working really hard on building his reading/spelling skills.  I like A Reason For Spelling better, but it wasn't working out for us.  Hopefully, we'll be able to switch back to that at some point.  

Starting to think about what next school year will look like.  Next month is registration at our private school, so I need to get Brianna in for her test/interview soon.  

Paul took these 3 on a field trip to the aerospace museum today.  They had a great time.  Eli is totally into aircraft right now, so this was especially fun for him.  

Linking up with Great Peace Academy and:  

For the Display of His Splendor

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