Friday, April 21, 2017

5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 5

Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  This week I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool over the past year or so to make it much more successful.  I hope sharing our story helps you as we walk through piece by piece knowing when and what to change in your school.   

Monday I shared about knowing when things need to change in your homeschool and some signs that I saw that led me to change things in our school.  You can read that post here.  Tuesday I shared about deciding what to change in your homeschool and you can read about that here.  Wednesday I shared about planning the changes in your homeschool and you can read about that here.  Yesterday I shared about how to implement the changes and you can read it here.  Today I am going to end this series with:
5 Days of Knowing You Need Change In Your Homeschool,  A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Evaluating
The last step of changing anything should always be evaluation.  There is a lot to think about when you make changes to anything.  Is it working?  Is it working like I thought it would?  Do I need to make other changes?  Is our school getting better?  You get the idea.  We have to reflect back on the changes we made otherwise you could end up in the same situation you were in when you realized you needed change to begin with.  Stop the vicious cycle by evaluating the changes you have made.

I wish I could tell you that I started the habit of evaluating our school years ago.  If I had maybe it would have saved us from having a rough year.  The truth is that in the past I didn't evaluate our school enough and we did have a rough and rocky year one year, but I learned from it.   So now I personally have started evaluating how our school is going every 6-8 weeks.  This gives me a chance to make small adjustments along the way before I have to make huge changes.  It has really helped me so that I don't feel like our school is spinning out of control anymore and I catch things before they become a big issue.  I don't have a formula or formal system of evaluation, I really just ask myself the following questions:
  • How is school going for each child?
  • Is there a subject that either child is struggling in?
  • If they are struggling, it is because it is a hard concept or is it because of the materials we are using?
  • Is there anything I can change that would make our school run smoother?
  • Am I giving out too much work?
  • If I need to make changes, do they need to be temporary or long term?  (Temporary changes would be adjusting school load due to sickness or field trips.)
I really just try to step back and look at our school from the outside.  I want it to be a nice balance between learning while being challenged and learning while having fun.  Homeschooling gives us the unique opportunity to customize our school to what works for our children and what works for us.  Don't be afraid to make the changes that truly make your school work for your family.  

I hope that I have been an encouragement to you this week.  I hope that if you feel stuck in your homeschool, you will use my topic of change this week to break out of being stuck.  Take it one step at a time and start small.  You can do it!  You aren't in this alone and I don't want you to feel like you are.  I would love to encourage you in your journey so feel free to contact me by email, leave me a comment, or reach out to me on one of my social media pages.  

This week I am participating in an Annual Blog Hop with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is our goal this week to fill you with encouragement and we are all chatting about homeschooling.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the link below the button to Hop on over to the next blog and read more encouragement.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 4

Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  This week I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool over the past year or so to make it much more successful.  I hope sharing our story helps you as we walk through piece by piece knowing when and what to change in your school.   Monday I shared about knowing when things need to change in your homeschool and some signs that I saw that led me to change things in our school.  You can read that post here.  Tuesday I shared about deciding what to change in your homeschool and you can read about that here.  Wednesday I shared about planning the changes in your homeschool and you can read about that here.  Today I am going to follow that up with:
5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 4, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
All week long we have been talking about making changes in your homeschool and now it is finally time to implement those changes.  Let's put them to use and get headed towards a school that works for you and your family.  Here is how we implemented the changes we made in our school so that it started working for us again.
  • Develop a Plan - Yes, I do know we did this yesterday's post, but just in case you missed it, get a plan together before you try to make changes.  I am truly a "plan on the fly" type of girl and I get it, but this style and method doesn't usually work well long term for homeschooling.
  • Pick a Start Date for Your Changes - Like I mentioned yesterday, in my opinion it is best to start the subjects you made changes to after a break of some sort.  This break can be the weekend, a Holiday break, or after summer break.  Just be sure to pick a date and stick to it.
  • Get You Materials Ready - Since you have done all this planning, don't forget to get the materials you intend to use ready and have them available on your start date.
  • Introduce the Changes You Made - Let your student know what changes you made, what you expect from them with the changes, and be excited to try something different.  This will get your student(s) excited too.
  • Get Going on The Changes - Whatever changes you made, get them going.  Dive in and see what happens.  
  • Be Patient - The changes may not seem to be working at first, but give it a little time.  You know the saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day,"  this applies to your school too.  You can't just try the changes one day and determine they aren't working.  Give your students time to adjust while you adjust too.  
  • Don't Give Up - Sometimes change overwhelms everyone involved and that doesn't mean the change you made is bad, it just means you need more time to adjust and that is okay.  Buddy is way better at adjusting to change now than he was just a few years ago.  So even if what you have planned doesn't seem to be working, don't throw it out the window, just make what ever tweaks you need and keep trying.  
  • Adjust as You Go - I had the first few weeks of our unit study for History ready to go with our new school year last fall.  Buddy was excited to be studying the Civil War and learning about a topic that interested him, so he worked faster than I had thought he would for the first couple of weeks.  I had to quickly plan out the next steps we would take on our studies to adjust for him working faster.  Later on we were studying Gettysburg and for that I had him put together a newspaper as his project about it.  This ended up taking him longer than I planned because he was really planning it all out and perfecting his newspaper.  Again I had to adjust and move back the next subject I planned to give him more time to work.  I was okay with it because he wanted to do a really nice job and I could tell he was taking it step by step and not just dragging his feet.
  • Repeat - Keep planning out a few weeks at a time so that you are working ahead, but still able to monitor progress as you go.  In the past I totally would have told you to plan out the whole year and have it ready, but that can be completely overwhelming for you the teacher when you need to make changes.  So I suggest planning just a few weeks ahead at a time.
This is the process I used when I implemented changes in Buddy's school.  It is the same process I will use as I make changes for Little Miss for school too.  Taking school step by step and adjusting as necessary helps when it comes to making changes.  Don't let it overwhelm you because I know that if I can do it, you can too.  I have faith in you!

This week I am participating in an Annual Blog Hop with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is our goal this week to fill you with encouragement and we are all chatting about homeschooling.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the link below the button to Hop on over to the next blog and read more encouragement.  Don't forget to come right back here tomorrow for more.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 3

Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  This week I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool over the past year or so to make it much more successful.  I hope sharing our story helps you as we walk through piece by piece knowing when and what to change in your school.   Monday I shared about knowing when things need to change in your homeschool and some signs that I saw that led me to change things in our school.  You can read that post here.  Yesterday I shared about deciding what to change in your homeschool and you can read about that here.  Today I am going to follow that up with:
5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 3, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
You've already recognized that you need changes in your school.  You went through the steps of deciding what needs to change.  How do you plan the changes for your homeschool?  That is exactly what we will be discussing today.  I would never want to encourage you to make changes to your school and then leave you on your own.  So today I want to walk through how I planned out the changes in our school so you can get some ideas.
  • Make Minor Adjustments Where Necessary - When we were super unhappy with the curriculum we were using, the attitudes we were getting, and every day seemed to be a battle, I looked at what minor adjustment(s) I could make to help.  I didn't want to do a major change mid-year and it wouldn't have worked because it would have been overwhelming.
  • Do the Research - When the idea of Unit Studies was given to me, I had an idea of how they worked, but I wanted to be more knowledgeable before I jumped in.  So I started researching what they looked like, what they required students to do, and how you went about finding materials for them.  It doesn't matter what curriculum you choose to use, just make sure you do the research to see if it will be a good fit for your family.  
  • Research Specific Companies - If you have a favorite company that you get your math books from (for example), research them.  They may offer curriculum in other subjects that are also a good fit for your family.  If they don't offer other curriculum, they may lead you to partner sites that do.
  • Pick a Start Date For Your Changes - We chose to start our new changes with the beginning of school last fall.  It seemed like a natural fit and we had already made minor adjustments the previous year and felt with these little tweaks we could make it until the next school year.  If you can't wait until the next school year, I suggest implementing the changes after a break or at the beginning of a new week unless you desperately need immediate change.
  • Talk Over the Changes With Your Students - We didn't always do this.  When the kids were little we just picked what we thought would work best.  Now that they are getting older and can really understand when and why we need to make changes, we do want their input.  It would be easy to be a school dictator, but that would just make my kids hate school and I don't want that.  We take their suggestions into account and weigh all the options to make sure the things we are choosing are a good fit for all of us. 
  • Plan Out Several Weeks of the Subject You are Changing - This will help you be prepared, but also give you a chance to make adjustments as you get going with the changes.  Think of it as baby steps and you just take a couple at a time.  If it is working, plan out more weeks.  If it isn't working, tweak the changes as you need to.
  • Gather Your Supplies - Get what you need to use for the changes you made.  This might require trips to the library, craft supplies, borrowing books from friends, and other ideas.  If you can get them in advance do so because it will make everything easier when you need to use those supplies.
  • Give the Changes Time and Grace - Try out the changes for a few weeks and then access if they were the right ones.  If they are not, don't beat yourself up or give up.  It doesn't mean you are a bad parent or a horrible teacher, it just means that specific plan didn't work.  Remember that each child learns differently and sometimes what we think will work, we end up having to throw out the door.  Other times the exact thing we don't think will work, is what works beautifully.  I think it keeps us on our toes.
  • Don't Forget to Pray - I prayed over our school before I made changes, when I was deciding what to change, and after we made changes.  God is an important part of our school and I do my best to put Him first in it. 
This is the exact process we went through when I switched Buddy to Unit Studies.  It is the process I plan to use this coming school year when I switch Little Miss to Unit Studies too.  Unit Studies just seem to be what works for our family.  It gives the kids some freedom to research topics they are interested in and it allows me to fit in the curriculum that works for us.  I make necessary changes as we go, but overall it works.  Little Miss is looking forward to changing up her curriculum and being able to do more hands-on activities.

Do the changes you want to make still seem overwhelming?  Walk through each of these steps and just take them one at a time.  You are not alone and you CAN keep homeschooling.  I had those days where it felt like it was all falling apart, but after I started making changes they are almost non-existent.  Don't give up on your dreams of homeschooling, take a breath, and pray.  Seek what you need to change and go for it.  As always I would love to encourage you on your journey.  Leave me a comment, reach out to me on my blog social media pages, or pop me an email.  You CAN do this!!!

This week I am participating in an Annual Blog Hop with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is our goal this week to fill you with encouragement and we are all chatting about homeschooling.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the link below the button to Hop on over to the next blog and read more encouragement.  Don't forget to come right back here tomorrow for more.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 2

Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  This week I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool over the past year or so to make it much more successful.  I hope sharing our story helps you as we walk through piece by piece knowing when and what to change in your school.  Yesterday I shared about knowing when things need to change in your homeschool and some signs that I saw that led me to change things in our school.  You can read that post here.  Today I am going to follow that up with:
5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Change
Homeschooling shouldn't be a struggle, but sometimes in your heart you know that if something doesn't give, it just isn't going to work.  You see the signs and you know it is time for a change, but that thought just stops you dead in your tracks.  I know, I have been there.  

I saw all the signs that we had to change Buddy's school or he was going to hate school forever, but I was frozen.  If I changed what we were doing then I had to take on planning again and did I really have time for that?  Then God really pricked my heart and kept asking "Do you want your child to hate his school experience?" and the answer to that is NO!  So I really started praying about what I should change and how to change it.  I also had many, many conversations with my hubby because he totally supports our school and wants the best for our kids.  He also has great ideas because he can see our school from a different perspective since he isn't the one teaching every day.  I also started consulting friends, especially ones that had older students, to see what suggestions they might have.  The answer I kept getting over and over was that I had to do what worked for us.  So what did that mean?  I had to look at the following areas to find out what we needed to change.
  1. What was the biggest struggle in our school? - I had to really access what our biggest challenge in school was.  When it came right down to it the main issue Buddy had was the amount of time he spent reading each day.  When he was spending 4+ hours reading, he wasn't getting anything from it.  He had started to read to "just get it done" rather than reading to understand.  Once we narrowed down the problem(s), we could figure out a solution to the problem.2
  2. What part of our school was working? - Buddy didn't hate everything we did for school, he was just burnt out on the reading portion.  We read for 4-5 classes of our day and that was just too much.  Some of our classes were working fine the way they were and didn't need to be changed.  You know how the saying goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  There is no reason to change what does work, focus your time and energy on changing what is broke.
  3. Can your curriculum be modified? - I did modify our curriculum to finish out the difficult year, but modifying it every year would not make the curriculum we were using beneficial.  It is a curriculum that I felt could be modified temporarily, but to adjust it every year would mean that a quarter to half of the curriculum would not be used and that was not cost effective.  Since it didn't make financial sense to only use half of the curriculum each year, but have to pay for an entire curriculum, it didn't make sense to continue in that direction.
  4. Start Small - I knew I didn't need to change everything.  There was really only a couple of subjects I needed to change up.  I had already switched out our Language Arts thanks to a great product I found from the reviews I do.  The only other change I needed to make was to History.  I needed this to be more hands-on and more interactive since this is how he learns best.
  5. Commit to Making One Change - When I first decided to change up our History, I didn't know exactly what it would look like, but I was committed to finding what would work best for Buddy.
  6. Give Yourself Time to Change - If you can plan to make your change after a break, do it.  This gives you prep time and time to figure out how it will work.  If you need to make the changes immediately, that is okay, but give yourself and your student grace as you figure out the changes.  
  7. Adjust and Tweak as Needed - Not every change you make will work perfectly, keep that in mind.  Sometimes I have a plan in my head for our changes and it blows up when I implement it.  It happens and then I go back to the drawing board.  I adjust our plan as needed so that it keeps working. 
Are you stuck in that spot where you know the changes need to be made?  Ask yourself what is working, what isn't working, and what can be modified.  Start small, commit to making one change, and then adjust from there.  Don't let changes scare you.  Find someone that you can bounce your ideas off of and just take it one step at a time.  If you need someone to bounce ideas off of or someone to encourage you, email me or leave me a comment, send me a message on one of my social media pages, I would be happy to chat with you.

This week I am participating in an Annual Blog Hop with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is our goal this week to fill you with encouragement and we are all chatting about homeschooling.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the link below the button to Hop on over to the next blog and read more encouragement.  Don't forget to come right back here tomorrow for more.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Days of Knowing You Need Change in Your Homeschool: Day 1

Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  This week I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool over the past year or so to make it much more successful.  I hope sharing our story helps you as we walk through piece by piece knowing when and what to change in your school.

Today's topic is:

I think one of the biggest questions we have as homeschool parents is how do we know when it is time to make changes in our homeschool.  I know for years I wrestled with this question because I was afraid that I would try something and it wouldn't work and just end up being a waste of our money.  As I started becoming more confident in my homeschooling ability (yes, homeschool moms struggle with our homeschool confidence), it got easier for me to see that I needed to change our school to make it more successful for both the kids and I. 

Years ago when I first started homeschooling, I pieced together our curriculum and it worked okay.  It took a lot of time to plan out lessons and grade everything, but those were the early years and I was homeschooling just one child.  As Buddy got older and around third grade, the curriculum that I pieced together didn't always have books for that grade.  I found out that they switched what they did for third grade and up and it really made a headache for me.  It would have been tons of piecing curriculum together and just wasn't worth it in my book.  We also had a little one in the house at this point and I didn't have the time to be spending hours and hours putting everything together each week.  About that time, a friend introduced me to a boxed curriculum (everything comes in one big box) and it had worked great for her so we jumped on board.  We used this boxed curriculum for Buddy for 4th-7th grade.  I have also used this same boxed curriculum company for Little Miss for K-3rd grade.  This boxed curriculum is from a great company that I really do love, but in the past couple of years it just hasn't been working for us.  It isn't because the material isn't great, it is truly a great curriculum.  It just didn't work because of the time it was taking to complete school each day with each child.  School was starting to take us over 8 hours each day and really weigh us down.  Long before I realized how long school was taking us each day I started noticing other small signs that we need to make a change.  

The things I noticed that made me realize that I needed to make a change were:
  • Attitude Changes - everything about school was a big deal in our house.  Attitudes and emotions were all over the place because of school.  The project that was okay last week was end of the world this week.  The book that was horrible yesterday was today's favorite.  You get the idea.
  • Inconsistent Schoolwork - grades were all over the place, even when my kids had a full understanding of the subject matter.
  • Boredom - doing the same routine every day was producing boredom when it came to school which led to poor focus, poor grades, and poor attitude.
  • Time - School really did start taking 8+ hours every day.  Buddy would spend 4-5 hours reading and then I read with him for another hour or so in addition to reading to and with Little Miss which meant between the 2 kids over 8 hours of school each day.
  • Dread - I noticed that Buddy who used to not mind school and was happy to tell everyone he had favorite subjects really started dreading each school day.  It was long and tedious to him and he felt like there was no end in site to the day, to the work, and to the reading.
  • Lack of Enthusiasm - If I dreaded something every day, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about it either.  The thing that bothered me about the lack of enthusiasm was that it was rubbing off on his sister and making her say she didn't like subjects before she even had time to really dig in them.  It was contagious and nothing was exciting anymore for either student.  
  • Daily Battles - Not everything became a daily battle when it came to school but it was truly starting to feel like it.  It felt like every little thing in school was a battle.  When one child was complying the other was complaining and vice versa.  It just wasn't working.
As you can guess, school became a real chore.  I noticed that these things were happening more and more often.  It wasn't just one bad day because those do happen.  It was more bad days than good days.  That is when I started really looking at where and when we were going to make changes because it was clear that it wasn't a matter IF we needed to make a change, a change HAD to happen for both the kids and I.  We had to get our school back on track and I felt so burdened to help the kids regain their love of learning.  Quitting isn't an option as I know that God has called me to homeschool.  

Is this where you are right now?  Are you struggling through every day of school thinking something has to give?   Do you feel like there are more bad days than good days?  Stick around this week, because I am going to continue telling our story tomorrow.  Come back tomorrow to read about deciding what changes to make.

This week I am participating in an Annual Blog Hop with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is our goal this week to fill you with encouragement and we are all chatting about homeschooling.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the link below the button to Hop on over to the next blog and read more encouragement.  Don't forget to come right back here tomorrow for more.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sneak Peek

So we have been very busy working on the living room floors of this old barn.  They are turning out amazing.  While it took us forever to decide which flooring to get and we went back and forth for what seemed like forever, I am very glad we did.  I love the flooring we picked.  We will be finishing it up today so hopefully next week I can give you a full progress report.

A Glimpse of Normal Blog, flooring, update

#ireallyliveinabarn

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Next Week Will Be Hopping...

Now that I have your attention, I am excited to tell you that next week from April 17-21, 2017 I will be hopping.  Blog hopping that is!  I will be participating in an Annual 5 Day Blog Hop with some of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  This year our topic is "5 Days of Homeschool...." and we will be discussing a multitude of Homeschool topics to encourage you.  I am very excited about my personal choice for a topic for next week's blog hop because I picked it from our own experience homeschooling and we have been figuring it out over the last year or so.  I love it when I can write from real life.

My topic for the blog hop next week is:


Changes in our homeschool can seem like such a big deal, but they don't have to be when you know what to look for regarding changes in your school.  I am sharing our personal story of the changes we have made in our homeschool to make it much more successful and I hope it helps you to know when and what to change in your school.

Wednesday:  Planning the Changes in Your Homeschool
Thursday:  Implementing the Changes in Your Homeschool
Friday:  Evaluating the Changes in Your Homeschool


Each day next week I will be posting about these subjects and how it has affected us personally.  I hope you will come back and join me for the Annual Blog Hop.  I intended to come back to this page every day once the Blog Hop opens and add the link for my daily post.

Please come back next week and join me right here, each day as I discuss this topic and share our experiences on it.
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Review of Digital Savvy from CompuScholar, Inc.

Let's face it, we live in a digital age where it seems everyone is connected to a computer, tablet, smart phone, or other device much of the time.  Since we live in such a plugged in age, I think it is very important to have solid computer skills.  We were happy to receive the new Digital Savvy course from CompuScholar, Inc. to review recently so that Buddy could build his computer skills.
CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy, computer skills, coding courses, learn to code, programming for kids, computer science for kids, learning computers
CompuScholar, Inc. has a vision to teach and prepare students for the computing jobs of the future by using real world experience.  They strive to publish computing curricula that makes it fun and easy for parents and teachers to teach their students about Computer Science and Digital Literacy.  They hope that their classes will be the first step towards a lifelong hobby, career, or passion for the students that use their courses.  CompuScholar, Inc. was formerly known as Homeschool Programming, Inc.  They offer many different computer courses from general computer skills to web design to game programming and more.  The Homeschool Review Crew was asked to review Digital Savvy, Web Design, and Java Programming.
I chose the Digital Savvy class for Buddy to review.  The Digital Savvy course is designed to teach students about computers and the applications that run on them.  Some of the skills and concepts taught in this class include: hardware, software, and operating systems, manging files and folders, basic networking, online safety and computer security, using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs, creating simple databases, image editing, and more.  It is very thorough and really helps students learn all about the computer.  The courses are a combination of reading, videos, hands-on activities, quizzes, and exams.  It is a one-year (two-semester) course with approximately 36 weeks of instruction.  It is self-paced so if your student works on more than one lesson a day, they can complete it faster.  It is recommended that students have minimal computer usage skills before they start the course.  It is for 6th grade through 12th grade students.  They offer 2 different payment options for this course for Self-Study, which requires the parent to grade the hands-on assignments while the system grades the tests, quizzes, and exams.  You can choose a monthly subscription and pay a few every month for one student for as long as it takes them to finish the course.  You can choose a yearly subscription and pay one fee for the entire year (this is a reduced rate from the monthly).  This gives your student access to the course for one year and they can complete it in this time frame.  They also have options for adding siblings on to each plan if you have more students.  They also have Teacher-Led options for this course too if you want CompuScholar, Inc. to take care of all the grading and more expert support for your student.
Buddy was quick to jump into the lessons for Digital Savvy.  He really liked learning more about the computer that he uses for school.  He liked it being a self-paced course because there were a few things about the computer he already knew so he was able to work quicker through those lessons.  Then there were a few things he work on that he needed to go slower through because they were new to him.  He is already into Chapter Five which means he has already covered: Fundamentals of Computer Hardware, Fundamentals of Computer Software, Operating Systems, and Computer Files.  In Chapter Five he is learning about Computer Maintenance and Troubleshooting.  He really likes the variety in the lessons.  Sometimes he has to read a selection, sometimes it is watching a video, and sometimes it is both.  There is a quick quiz after each lesson to check for understanding.  Near the end of each chapter there is a hands-on activity.  Usually it was to research something he had learned about in the chapter and then type up a report about it.  Then he submitted the report for me to access on the parent dashboard and grade.  The chapters concluded with an exam to check his understanding.  When I asked Buddy what he thought of this program he said that he really liked it because it was divided into short lessons that were easy to follow.  He liked being able to get instant feedback on the quizzes, but wasn't always happy with me because I didn't always grade his hands-on activities right away (moms are busy people).  He said that he definitely wants to finish the course and finish learning about the computer because it is really interesting.  He likes knowing how things work and what makes them work so this is a great course for that.  The only complaint he had was that he said the instructions would tell him to watch the video and read the text, but the text was just the video transcript so he didn't understand why he had to read it, if he had already watched the video.

As a parent who should be great with technology, but isn't, I appreciated this course.  I like that he knows the how and why about the computer.  I appreciate that the course encourages him to explore and learn about so many different parts and features of the computer.  I feel that this course is very well-rounded and it encourages him to learn the why and how before proceeding with more in-depth topics like word processing, digital images, Internet communication, and basic web design.  I also appreciated that it is self- paced for Buddy so that he can work quicker on the things he does know about and slow down when it is a new concept.  As a busy mom, I like that most of the grading is done for me and the part that I have to do gives me a rubric to use so I know exactly what I should be checking for.  I watched a couple of the videos for the course with Buddy and they were very thorough and easy to understand.  I truly believe this course is worth the cost and I will definitely have Buddy complete it as I think it is very valuable knowledge to have so that in the future he can take other computer courses if he chooses.

In our opinion CompuScholar, Inc. offers great computer courses.  Once Buddy finishes working through the Digital Savvy course, we will look at the Web Design course and then the Java Programming course as computer courses he can take in high school because they are quality courses.  You can learn more about CompuScholar, Inc. on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can also learn more about them under their former name, Homeschool Programming,  Facebook and Twitter pages.  You can learn more about the Digital Savvy course we reviewed by clicking here.  You can also learn more about what the Homeschool Review Crew thought of the different courses that CompuScholar, Inc. offers by clicking the banner below.  We got to review different course so be sure to click the banner.
Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I'm Overwhelmed, but Encouraged

The goal of my blog has always been to be real, really real, and honest.  So today I come to you and tell you as I sit here typing I am feeling a little overwhelmed.  I am not sharing to make anyone feel sorry for me or to have a pity party.  I am sharing because I want to be real with you.  I am a real person with real feelings writing this blog.  I have days where the to-do list is so long that I can't even look at it.  I really just ignore it because it feels like I can't accomplish it.  So as I sit here today, being one of those days I have a to-do list a mile long, I feel overwhelmed and I just need to get it off my chest.  I sit here with one more cup of coffee, procrastinating (sort of), and let my brain unwind while I type.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Jesus
Realistically I know that my to-do list isn't a mile long and it is not a list that anyone other than me knows about or is expecting me to get done.  It is a self-inflicted list and it just keeps rolling through my head.  If I were completely honest with you, I would tell you that my self-inflicted to-do list has been nuts since December when we first started this whole process of moving.  I am really loving our new house and I saw God's hand on our every step throughout the process of moving from finding our house to negotiating the details for our house to selling our old home and all the details for that.  (That is a whole other blog post though.)  But the whole process has been very overwhelming and I have not gotten into a great routine since we moved.  I think that is where my problem is.  I really need to get back into a good routine now that we have settled into our new house more.  I need to just start tackling things one at a time:

  • The pile of grading that I seriously just went through last week and now my kids have buried me in grading again.
  • Getting grades entered into the tracking software I use.  I DO have the grades recorded, but I just need to enter them into the tracking.
  • Laundry....seriously, does it ever end?
  • Dishes - yes they are last night's dishes...don't judge
  • Catching up my calendar....more accurately my calendars - I have a great planner I use daily, but I don't carry it everywhere with me so I add dates to my phone.  I was texting back and forth with my aunt yesterday and figuring out a meeting time for the horse club we are in and realized that I was really glad that we couldn't have the meeting on the day I had said okay to because we did ended up having a commitment I had forgotten about.  It is just a matter of sitting down and double checking all the areas I keep track of dates.
  • Blogging....it is something I am always working on in the back of my mind.  I just need to get it written down.  I have plenty of posts coming up, it is just getting the words to flow.
  • Easter projects 
  • Picking out recipes for Easter dinner.
  • Cleaning
  • Forms I need to get filled out
  • ....
The mental to-do list just keeps going on and on.  Can you see why my brain is mush right now? But the really cool thing about all of this is this... 


As I was sitting here feeling frustrated because my brain feels like mush, God very promptly put this verse in my mind and on my heart.  Matthew 11:28 "Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (NLT Version)  God knows I feel overwhelmed and weary today.  He knows exactly what I am feeling.  He also knows that I can either keep feeling this way or give it all to Him and let Him have it all.  When I let Him have every burden I carry, HE will give me rest.  That is exactly what He is doing for me today.  As I started feeling overwhelmed I started praying and as I started telling God there was no way I could get everything done by myself, the more peace I started feeling.  It sounds crazy, but when we give God our burdens, worries, fears, lists...He can fill us with peace and rest that only He can provide.  My prayer today is:

Father God - Today I feel overwhelmed and I know I am not the only one who does.  It feels like there is so much to do and not near enough time to get it all done.  I feel tired and weary before I ever start doing the things I need to finish, but I know you don't want me to feel like that.  Your word tells me when I am weary and have heavy burdens, I can come to you and you will give me rest.  I pray for your rest today not only for me, but for anyone else that might be feeling like me today.  Help us to give you all of our worries, fears, lists, and burdens so we can feel your rest and your peace.  Thank you for the peace and rest that only you can provide.  Help me see you in all that I do today.  Amen.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Review of Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver--Author

In my humble opinion, a good book tells a story and gets your attention, but a great book is one that pulls you into the story, makes you feel like you are right there with the characters, and keeps you flipping the pages.  A great book is exactly what we received when we were given Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver--Author to review.  This 375-page book kept us captivated and flipping the pages.
Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}, Bible, history, family, bullying, sibling rivalry, archaeology, geography, survival
Peggy Consolver relied on her experience teaching Sunday School and her knowledge of the Bible to form the beginnings of the book we read.  She had started the book featuring the Gibeonites of Joshua 9 and 10 by studying insights given in the Bible from Genesis to Psalm.  The book really came alive and became a complete story when she had the chance to participate in an archaeological dig in Israel in 2010.  She got a chance to explore and learn more about the places she was writing about and it inspired her to finish the story.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer tells Keshub's story.  Keshub is a shepherd boy from Gibeon.  He comes from a family of potters, but he longs to be a caravanner and see the world around him.  He wants nothing more than the adventure of travelling from country to country selling the pottery his family makes.  Then his family learns that the Hebrews are moving closer from the caravanners they host.  This news is not good news to Keshub's family because they have heard that the Hebrews have been conquering many lands and no one knows how.  They see the Hebrews as potential enemies.  Keshub's family does not bow down to idols like many of the surrounding people do, instead they believe in the Star Namer, as his Baba (father) says.  They also believe that good will triumph over evil.  As the Hebrews get closer and closer, Keshub's role in his family becomes more important and he is faced with many situations where he has to choose what the right thing to do is.  To find out more, you will have to read the book as I don't want to give away any of the good parts.
Buddy and I have both been reading this book.  He finished it at the beginning of this week and will not spill the beans about how it ends.  I am over half-way through and I can tell you that I have a hard time putting this book down because the story really pulls me in.  I feel like I am right there with Keshub seeing everything happen as it unfolds.  I can almost smell the fire that the family sits around and feel the clay between my toes like Keshub did while helping his Baba.  Buddy said he could picture the trips to Jericho and how boring and lonely it might be to serve as a lookout.  We were able to discuss these ideas more after using the research links that were provided in the study guide, Digging Deeper Into HIStory, that the author created.  We looked through the links and used the ones that showed where the story took place.  After viewing these, Buddy said that the places were pretty close to what he had pictured in his head as he read the book.  There are several other valuable links in this study guide that we have not gotten a chance to explore yet.

The interesting thing Buddy and I have been able to discuss while reading this book is how the different characters in the book view God.  There are characters that believe in idols, characters that believe in the Star Namer, and characters that believe in God.  The book clearly shows each of these beliefs through the descriptions, actions, and morals of each of these types of characters.  There is a clear difference in the lives of those that believe in God and those that believe in the idols.  We appreciated the discussions we had talking about how the characters lives would be different if they chose to believe differently.  There is a great Biblical foundation to this book that we both really appreciated.  I knew it would be safe reading to just let Buddy read at his pace.  I didn't have to worry a bit about the content that he would be reading.  We also liked the fact that we could put down the book and pick up our Bible and find some of the characters in the Bible and read their true story from the Bible.

Buddy and I definitely recommend this book if you want an exciting adventure book to read.  Buddy enjoyed the book and liked that it was packed full of adventure.  Even though I haven't quite finished the book yet, I am very eager to do so.  I like the Biblically based story line and I like that it pulls you in and makes you want to keep reading.  You can find out more about Peggy Consolver-Author on her website or Facebook.  You can find out more about Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by clicking its title.  You can also read what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew think of the book by clicking the banner below.
Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 2017 Menu Plan

April is here already and once again I am late posting my menu plan.  It is probably because I can't decide what I want to fix for dinner this month.  Anyway, our weather so far is all over the place so for me it makes menu planning difficult.  I don't want to plan a hearty soup on a warm day and I don't want to grill on a cold day.  So I am hoping this menu plan that I have thrown together works.  Here it is:
  1. Tacos
  2. Cookout 
  3. Jambalaya
  4. Meatballs
  5. Chili
  6. Quinoa Taco Bowls
  7. Cast Iron Pizza
  8. Beef and Sweet Potato Chowder
  9. Chicken, Bacon, & Avocado Chopped Salad
  10. Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
  11. Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
  12. Chicken and Kale Linguini
  13. Easy Chili Cheese Frito Taco Bake
  14. Calzones
  15. Sarah's Sausage & Peppers Pasta
  16. Soup & Salad (We do an easy carry-in for Easter)
  17. Monterey Chicken
  18. Shepherd's Pie
  19. Buffalo Chicken Bowls
  20. Smothered Baked Burritos
  21. Pizza Casserole
  22. BBQ Bacon Onion Beef Balls
  23. Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad
  24. Beef Taco Tortilla Soup
  25. BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
  26. Cheeseburger Tater Tot Cups
  27. Slow Cooker Carne Asada Steak Tacos
  28. Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  29. Slow Cooker Chicken Quinoa Chili
  30. Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad
You can find all the pins for these recipes on my April Menu Plan Pinterest board.  What is for dinner at your house this month?  

A Review of The Story of the the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set from Memoria Press

History can be a tricky subject to teach because there are so many topics to cover and it can be hard to figure out how to break it down so that your students really understand it.  I am thankful that Buddy does like to study History, but I still sometimes have trouble trying to break it down into manageable parts for him.  This is why we were both excited to receive The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set from Memoria Press to review recently.
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set, classical christian education, classical christian curriculum, classical christian homeschool curriculum, memoria press, first form greek, iliad, odyssey, american history
Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that was started in 1994.  They produce simple classical Christian education materials for homeschools and private schools.  Since 1994 this company has grown a lot and they offer various subjects of study for preschool through twelfth grade.  They even offer an online academy for grades 3-12.  The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set we received comes with the student text by H.A. Guerber, the student guide, and the teacher guide.  It is recommended for grades 5-8.  It covers the time period from Christopher Columbus up through the Spanish-American War.  The book is broken down into manageable chapters that focus on one topic of history at a time.  It also has pictures and illustrations of the topics so students can see who or what they are reading about.  The Colonies guide is broken down into four parts: Facts to Know, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and Enrichment.  The Facts to Know are great reminders of important facts from the reading text.  The Vocabulary are words that were read in the reading selection.  The Comprehension Questions check your student's understanding of what they read.  They are detailed, but not too hard to answer.  The Enrichment section has different activities for each lesson.  They might include map activities, writing, or research activities.  The 200 Questions About American History Set comes is a supplement to The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set.  It comes with a student guide, a teacher guide, and flashcards.  It contains 200 questions that every one should know about American History.  It consists of Drill Questions, Timeline of American History, Notable Quotes from American History, and Presidents of the United States.  It also includes selections for reference like The Star-Spangled Banner, Old Ironsides, and O Captain! My Captain!
200 Questions About American History Set
Grades 5-8
Buddy started reading Thirteen Colonies as soon as we received it.  Hr really enjoys History and I though this would be a good change of pace from all the Civil War material we have been working on.  I also thought it would be really good for him to find out what happened in our country before the Civil War.  I looked in the teacher's guide to see that each lesson told which sections he should read and that each reading selection was followed up with questions.  There was also a suggested reading schedule in the 200 Questions teacher guide that would help him work through that resources as well.   After Buddy read sections in the text book, he would answer the appropriate questions in both the Colonies student guide and the 200 Questions student guide.  He really liked the reading because it was filled with facts and then he could use those facts to answer the questions.  He also started studying the flashcards to get the facts down.  He flips through a small stack of them each day that he works on this curriculum to help him remember the facts from the books.  He is about halfway through the Colonies text book and on the corresponding lesson in the student guide.  We plan to use this as our history for the rest of the school year.
My hubby sat down the other night and picked up the Thirteen Colonies book.  He was reading through some of it as he likes to see what we have been working on in school.  This is what he had to say about the book:  "It is short, concise, and right to the point which makes it perfect for boys.  Boys typically do not want long drawn out descriptions and large amounts of backstory, but rather prefer facts and interesting short stories to paint a timeline in their head.  This is exactly what this book gives and it grabbed my attention quickly because I didn't have to sift through tons of words to get to the meat of the lesson."  As Buddy's teacher, I really appreciate that this curriculum is easy enough for him to work through by himself, but challenging enough that he has to pay attention while he is reading.  I think it is very well balanced and I have already been checking to see what other History curriculum Memoria offers.
We definitely recommend that you check out this History curriculum we received from Memoria Press.  It has been one of Buddy's favorite products he has worked on this school year.  You can learn more about Memoria Press on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  You can learn more about The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set we received by clicking each individual title.  You can also check out what the Homeschool Review Crew thinks about the Memoria Press products we have been reviewing by clicking the banner below.  Some of us got to review the History products and some of us got to review Literature products.
First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}