Saturday, November 23, 2019

Getting Stuff Done

Hello, my friends!

It's Friday night and I'm sitting on the corner of my big comfy couch at the Parsonage. The Muffin is watching Green Bay football highlights on Youtube and Josiah is tearing it up on Guitar Hero in his room. I'm guessing that he should be an expert about now.

I'm soaking up this last little bit of sluggish and slacker homelife that we will have for a while. Basically, I could happily live as a hermit all snug in my house until spring. The Muffin needs more people interaction than I do. At least a little more. Josiah plain gets stir-crazy. He needs people, random Wal-mart trips, and fast food to feel truly alive.

The Holidays (if I'm not careful) tend so soak all the life out of me. In fact, I''m giving some advice over on the Homeschooling With Heart blog at The Old Schoolhouse site today. Actually, it was published yesterday, but I'm a little behind.

Anyhoo. I'm trying to get my ducks in a row for the Holidays before somebody comes along and decides to roast them with an orange glaze and serve them with pilaf. Some of you know how I feel.

I did accomplish a few things today.

1. I ordered Josiah's birthday present. Our boy is turning 18 the day before Thanksgiving. I can't even think about it. We are going to celebrate with family on the day, but we are throwing a shin-dig for him with church folks a few days later. The boy always wants Walking Tacos to eat for his party so The Muffin picked up a box of single-serve Doritos at Sam's today. I feel pretty accomplished at my progress so far. None of this last-minute party planning for me! No sir.

Josiah and I also went and ordered a cake. He picked out a Scooby-Doo cake.😂😂😂 He thought it would be funny.

2. I cleaned out my pantry. Woo Hoo! I am feeling especially accomplished. My pantry was beyond messy. I still need to clean up my spice cabinet. There is some cayenne pepper that has formed into some sort of meteor rock. At least, I think its cayenne pepper.

I do have a list of other stuff I need to be getting done, but I can't look like I'm too efficient. For now, I'll content myself with opening up a pantry cabinet door every time I walk by and gaze at all that organizational goodness before its gone.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

LitWits (A Homeschool Review Crew)

I'm about to share with you a product I have had my eye on for YEARS. In fact, my son (who is a senior in High School) isn't even in the age range for this product, but I begged to review it.

What is it?

The incredibly creative LitWits Kits from LitWits. Today I'm going to focus on the LitWits Kit for Treasure Island. I do have a few others (equally delicious) I'm going to talk about.
LitWits is a company that provides hands-on ideas, academic activities and much, much more for a number of great books. They started holding "immersive" literature workshops for kids in California and it grew into passing these wonderful ideas on to us.

This is a web-based product. You aren't going to get an actual kit in the mail. I'll show you more in a minute. The kits we received were mostly intended for ages 8-12, but you will see that they can be modified for a wider group of ages.

Our homeschool has always been focused on Literature. We read living books on about everything we study. I had the hardest time deciding which LitWits Kit I wanted to request. That being said, you don't have to be especially "bookish" to get the most our of the Kits. In fact, the team at LitWits has done all the heavy lifting for you.

I got to pick out four Kits. Yay! I wanted all of them. I wanted all of the Kits.

I received...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

In this Kit, students will paint red roses (using the illustrations as inspiration), make a bossy refreshment,  discuss conflict using a fun interactive project, create poetry and much more.

The Tempest 

Students tackle Shakespeare with this fun, theatrical kit. Shakespeare can be kind of daunting for the homeschool family and this Kit is perfect for all of us who are hesitant to tackle The Bard. Students create masks, perform to their heart's content and try local dishes of the day.

The Secret Garden

I had to get this one. Students help things grow, talk about "neglected things, create a beautiful collage and even talk about healthy bodies. They also explore the Yorkshire Moore. It's all just lovely.

All Kits encourage the creation of a focal point...complete with props. In the Kit, Treasure Island, we are encouraged to decorate with maps, a treasure chest and plenty of loot.

The students also learn about cartography. One thing I love about LitWits (among the thousands of things) is that they also provide so many wonderful links and resources to outside sources. There are links for some pirate shanty singing to enjoy while creating maps.

We talked about real treasure and the treasure the pirates searched for.  I also purchased a tiny treasure chest to be painted as we talked about that real treasure.

We enjoyed raisins and apples and a wedge of parmesan cheese. We also watched someone tie knots (as opposed to the proposed actually tying of knots).

One aspect of the Kit I utilized the most (simply because of time and necessity) were the academic handouts. These were so handy. They weren't overly exhausting to work through and still focused on important aspects of literature.

I can tell you that these Kits are priceless. They are also reasonably priced. The literature that is featured is easy to find and worth every minute of precious school hours. The web pages are also easy to navigate. You are able to print a PDF of any section. I also loved the real-life examples of the literature workshops. You will too.

So now. You must immediately go check them out. Post haste. There are lots and lots of wonderful options. Look at your school year's booklist or better yet, ignore the booklist and go find a kit at you think you kids will enjoy first. And then move on to the next one.

You will not be disappointed.

You can read more reviews by clicking on the banner below.

LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Alebra I with Thinkwell (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I recently had the chance to review Algebra I, part of the High School Math from Thinkwell.  

I don’t know about you, but finding a math curriculum for my high school student has been a thorn in my side. And many years have passed since those heady days of College Algebra. I have forgotten more than I ever knew in the first place.

I have told this story before, but my College Algebra teacher was a Russian nuclear physicist. I had to pay more attention to be able to understand him (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But he made it clear that “Americans make math too hard.” He told us we just needed to learn how to do it the easiest way and just do it. Such wisdom.

Thinkwell, I feel, has a similar approach. In fact, one of the first lessons talks about how Algebra transfers to the real world. 

Thinkwell is a self-paced online math program that offers 20 courses. They range from 6th to 8th grade, all the way up to High School math.

Before digging in, the student needs to take a Placement Test. It is free and will stick your student right where he or she needs to go.

For our review, we took a look at Algebra I.

My son has struggled in math. He needs it modeled in front of him. He needs to see it. We were so excited to see a real life face on the screen complete with a whiteboard explaining what in the math is going on.  After the video lecture given by Professor Edward Burger (no jumping around…we must do these things in order)…there are downloadable worksheets to accompany the lesson.

Following that lesson, the students are given a “Thinkwell Exercise.” This is basically a quiz with multiple-choice answers. We were able to print out the problems and work them on paper before answering the problem on the computer.

So here is another great part about Thinkwell. The video lessons are less than 5 minutes long. Yes siree! They are quick and to the point. We tend to get kind of squirrely in our house when the math lecture is too wordy and lengthy. I could have used Thinkwell with Josiah’s earlier math grades.

Another BIG plus for us is that Professor Burger is just plain awesome. He is engaging, easy to understand, and as entertaining with Algebra as one is inclined to be. He is not Russian...nor I think a Nuclear Physicist, but he is pretty smart. Keep in mind that there are different professors working their magic at Thinkwell. I am sure they are all just as awesome. 

Thinkwell is very well organized and easy to navigate.  You can check out Thinkwell by taking taking advantage of their 14-day FREE trial. Have your kiddo take the placement test and see what you think.

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

6th to 8th Grade Math (Pre-Algebra) and High School Math  (Algebra to Calculus) {Thinkwell Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, November 15, 2019

God's Mail (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Do you enjoy inspirational readings and poetry? Recently, I had the chance to review God’s Mail Volume 3.  This paperback book contains 96 poems intent on inspiring Christians throughout every season and struggle in life and can be found at God's Mail

The author, Ron Hardin, had some hard knocks and made some poor choices. After he found his way back to the Lord, he felt called to share his experience of God’s mercy and forgiveness through poetry as a way to lift others.

I’m not a poet, but I have spent a good many years exposing many of my vulnerabilities and struggles to the public. It takes some fortitude and a lot of God’s leading to share some of those things that we feel embarrassed, ashamed or confused about.  Ron deals with topics that are prevalent in our society today.

I was excited to read that Ron and I share a Pentecostal heritage (my husband is also an Assemblies of God pastor). The book itself is attractive. It is not a small, tuck in your purse, kind of book. Across the page from each poem are a number of Scriptures that pertain to the topic at hand.

Ron doesn’t sugarcoat his message.  The poetry has a prophetic tone to it. One of my favorites is the poem called Do It Now. If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that I have dealt with chronic illness most of my adult life. This poem reminds me of what I need to do right now.

“Whatever it may be, live for Him like there is no tomorrow
Take care of business today and you’ll leave behind far less sorrow”

Awesome and timely advice.

Just a few notes before I direct you to the Crew blog. I mentioned that the poetry written deals with all manner of heady topics. This being said, it probably isn’t one you want to throw in your morning basket if you have a house full of littles. Some of the poetry is raw. Not obscene or objectionable…just raw and plain-spoken.  

On the other hand, it is perfect for my teenage son who needs a little raw and plain-spoken advice in his life.

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

God's Mail: Volume 3 {God's Mail Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Catching up...

Shew. It's been a long while, my friends. I've had just a few things going on. I promise I will fill you in some time.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to lay low and give myself a good break. I've read 1,000 books, drank 425 cups of tea and visited a doctor's office more times than I can count.  There is nothing too serious...though I did have a little stay in the hospital.

Don't worry. I am not in imminent danger of expiring. Though by that last sentence you can guess that I have been reading entirely too many mysteries set in historical Britain.

The crazy past few months has allowed me to have time to think about my priorities and what I consider to be important. I have come to realize that I have not been taking good care of myself. I also have neglected my own mantra to "live a beautiful life." 

We all have things. Things that distract us from the important parts.

Anyhoo. More of the beautiful things need to be happening in my life. And I'm responsible to see that they show up.

Speaking of distractions, my son has been explaining to me the draw of his current 80's rock band obsession. While I am most certainly a child of the 80's I find I don't speak the language of hair bands. Any guy who used more hair spray than I did in 1987 just isn't my type.

Sweet dreams, my friends.

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