Friday, July 22, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Healthy Changes

Ok ya'll, we finally did it, we got a family membership to the YMCA!  I've been looking at it and trying to work it into the budget for a while now.   Then, last week the husbands work gave us incentive, as in they waive the sign up fee ($100 savings) and give you a 15% per month discount AND, if you go 8 times in a month, the following month you get reimbursed 50% of the cost.   Yeah, we're SO doing this. I've been there 5 times this week, and I've signed both girls up for 4 sessions each with a personal trainer (only $20).   I have some major weight to lose, and of course I'll count this as a P.E. credit for the girls as well.    Cheer us on!

Olivia went to a 2 hour wood working workshop at the museum on Tuesday and worked a full day on Thursday.  Unfortunately, she also had her first accident with her pocket knife on Thursday, when the knife folded up on her and caught her middle finger.   Thankfully, I've told her many times that if that ever were to happen, NEVER pull your finger out, but be calm and open the knife back up.   Had she not remembered that, it could have been a really serious cut.   She learned that when you're working in 100+ degrees, you bleed a lot more freely than normal, and that direct pressure really does help slow the bleeding.

Like much of the country we're sweltering here in Virginia.   My gardens are trying their best to keep hanging on.   We've had zucchini in mass, but the tomatoes are slow going.   I've focused my watering efforts on the veggies more than my extensive flower gardens, but I do have a photo or two to share.

I found a golden zucchini variety this year.   They taste just the same as the green, but are so much easier to spot among the foliage, see? 

The fence line in the garden is dwarfed by the 8ft. tall sunflowers.  Even with our 6ft privacy fence around the yard, these beauties can be seen from all ends of the neighborhood.

Be sure to pop over and check out my review of Beric the Briton.   We REALLY enjoy these audio dramas a great deal!

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Beric the Briton (TOS Riew)

Today's review of Beric the Briton is produced by one of our favorite vendors, Heirloom Audio Productions.    This audio drama gives you  two and a half hours of non-stop action.    Once again the folks at Heirloom Audio Productions have created an amazing collage of history, drama and creativity that leaves the listener mesmerized for the entire two and a half hours.

Beric the Briton takes place during the early days of Christianity and the clash with the Roman Empire.  This audio drama covers everything from Nero's taking the throne, gladiators and Christians being fed to the lions, Queen Boadicea, the burning of Rome and the death of Nero.   That's a LOT to cover in two and a half hours, but it's done in such an exciting way that the kids don't even realize how much history they are learning!

The accompanying (digital) study guide is a wonderful way to delve deeper into the history, character and vocabulary that are part of this production.   There are three components to the study guide.   The "Listening Well" portion asks questions to see how well the listener has paid attention, and retained information.  Answers to the questions can easily be found by listening to the audio drama again.   The "Thinking Further" questions require more thought, critical thinking, a little theorizing and some research to answer.   Lastly the "Defining Words" section gives listeners an opportunity to increase their vocabulary.    At the beginning of the study guide you'll find biographies of author G.A. Henty, Nero and also Queen Boadicea.  There are also a few recipes sprinkled throughout the study.

One thing that I find especially handy is that the study guide is broken up by disc, track and time.   This allows you to quickly go to the section of the CD that is being studied.  If students are having a hard time remembering information, you can quickly look at the study guide and then use your CD player to pop over to the correct spot.   This alleviates the dreaded play, fast forward, rewind loop that can be ever so maddening when searching for something on CD. 

At the end of the study guide is a reading list for those who want to continue in their studies of Britain and Rome in the 1st Century, A.D.   There are also three brief Bible studies to help the student recognize and better understand the Biblical themes that are woven through the story line. The graphics throughout the study guide are also great visuals to help tie the story line to people and places of old.

Olivia, the history lover has thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audio production (over and over).   This has been labeled her "absolute favorite", grins.

The audio drama can be purchased for $29.97.   This price gives you the compact disc set, and the following downloadable online products:   Beric the Briton MP3 set, Beric the Briton e-book, MP3 soundtrack, printable cast poster, study guide, inspirational verse poster, unlimited access to the "Live the Adventure" newsletter and behind the scenes video.

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product, click here.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Freebie Week

The second week of July proved to be a bit better than the first.   Momma is home from the hospital and is stable.  Monday was July 11....yes, 7/11...meaning free Slurpee's from 7-11 all day.   Their new "birthday cake" flavor is awesome!  Then it was "dress like a cow day" Tuesday at Chick-fil-a.  We are not too proud to moo for a free meal, grins.

Olivia's youth group had their annual "mud ball" tournament this year.   I'm grossed out by the thought, but this one seems to love it.   Lindsey who is moving up to youth in August just can't wait until next year as well.   Bleck.

I spent part of the week helping to plan a new co-op that we're starting at our church.   We're planning on having classes once a month for three hours, with field trips thrown in and a workshop every quarter.   This will be an enrichment program, with this year's classes being ASL (American Sign Language), cultures and art.    The workshops that we have planned thus far are health and nutrition, personal self-defense,   frog dissection and home fire and safety.    We will also be working on several missions projects over the course of the year.    I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes!

On the blog this week, I shared information on Concurrent Enrollment for your high school student.  I also shared a review of ArtAchieve, we LOVE this program!

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

ArtAchieve - Level II (TOS Review)

Today I'm sharing our experience in reviewing the Entire Level II online art program from ArtAchieve.  The description for Level II says "moderately easy art lessons that teach beginning art students..."  My girls are ages 10 and 13, I think that's a good age range for this particular level.

The Entire Level II package contains 14 lessons, and your online membership is good for a full calendar year after purchase.  Each lesson features an art project from a different country.   By clicking on the "Art Lessons" tab (shown in the photo below) you can look at the lessons in each level, and also find corresponding information about supplies needed, suggestions for cross curricular connections (geography, history, writing, literature, music, cooking and science).   This allows you to pull together a great unit study to go with your art lesson, if you so desire.

Once you begin your art lesson, you have options as well.  You can choose to watch a video lesson, or use the power point slides to teach at your own pace.   There are also warm up exercises (some to do with actual drawing, some as finger exercises).  In the photo below the girls are working on the warm up exercise for the Swedish Dala horse.   This exercise has portions of the drawing in various boxes, and the student copies that portion only into the box directly below it.

For this first lesson (the Dala) we used the video portion of the lesson,  pausing it when necessary.   While it did show the procedure very well, we didn't care for the video a great deal as we were either having to slow it down, or waiting for it to move one.    My mother was staying with us at the time, and she did the lesson with us.  Below are the results from a 10, 13, 48 and 67 year old working on the same project.  I won't say who did which one, but I thought they all turned out very well.

For our remaining projects, we decided we'd go with the PowerPoint lesson option.    This would be a great option if you are teaching a co-op.  It gives you the freedom to move quicker through the easier steps or to slow down when needed and wait for your students to complete the step.  You of course can also skip ahead a couple of slides to get a sneak peek if you aren't 100% sure if you're doing it right, grins.   The average project takes about 20 minutes to draw, and then another 30 or so minutes to color, paint or embellish.

The PowerPoint still walks you through the warm up routines, encourages you to draw silently and to listen to soft music, just as the video.   I must admit I enjoy the rub your hands together rapidly until they are warm and then place them on your eyes warm up.  I don't know that it relaxes me, but it does help tired eyes, grins..

In theory, based on the video and the PowerPoint, you are supposed to do all of your drawing in permanent marker in order to resist the urge to erase and correct.   Um, yeah, in theory that works, in real life, not so much.   We drew lightly using our charcoal pencils and then went back over it with the marker.   Rebels, that's what we are.

One thing I absolutely LOVE about this program is that it goes in bite sized, easy to complete steps.  These steps then build on each other until, before you know it, you've drawn the entire thing, and it actually LOOKS like what it's supposed to look like.  This is HUGE for my 10 year old as she is not an overly artistic person and she is usually very discouraged by how her work turns out.   That was not the case with ArtAchieve, she even said "Hey, mine really DOES look like it's supposed to."   See the smile?

Below are examples of some of the artwork we've created using this program.   I've shared these photos on my social media sites and have gotten LOTS of compliments.

To read reviews of other TOS Crew members, click here.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Concurrent Enrollment for High School Students

If you have a high school student, you may want to look into the benefits of dual (or concurrent) enrollment at your local community colleges.   Typically this applies to students in their junior and senior year of high school.   Rules and regulations may vary by state, and possibly by school; however, here are a few things to think about.

Community colleges often have guaranteed enrollment programs with 4 year colleges. What this means is that if your student graduates a 2 year program, they are guaranteed transfer to select 4 year colleges.   In theory, your student could graduate high school and college with an associates degree and transfer into a 4 year college as a junior, at age 18.

The biggest pro, of course would be getting a head start on college, while still being in the comfort zone of home.

Your student can begin to expand his horizons and grow academically and socially, with the safety net of still being at home.

Students can use their college classes for high school credit.   One class, twice the return, that’s a good investment!

Academic advisors can help students to get the classes that are needed to get them into their 4 year school of choice.


Students must be high school graduates in order to apply for financial aid. You would be footing the bill for these two years of concurrent enrollment.

Students cannot take “developmental math” while concurrently enrolled.   A student should be proficient in Algebra II before taking the college placement exam, and equally their language arts/composition needs to be pretty firm.   A student placing lower than Algebra II would need to develop their math skills through their homeschooling, not by taking Algebra II during dual enrollment.

Community colleges also offer several types of degrees/programs.   Associate of Arts & Science as well as Associate of Science Degrees are typically transfer oriented programs.   Associate of Applied Science Degrees are typically “go to work” degrees.   There are also career study certificates, diplomas, and continued education certificates.

Like with any other thing, dual enrollment is not a one size fits all scenario. Make sure your student is emotionally and socially mature enough to handle college at an early age.   If your student isn’t ready for college at 16, don’t sweat it, don’t push it and don’t treat it as a failure.   College will be there if and when your child is ready.
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