Thursday, February 23, 2017

Four Eyes: Learning to look past what you can see

Good morning, my friends.

Today I am bringing back another blog post I have written. This one is from 2012. It showed up in my Facebook feed this morning and out of curiosity I clicked on the link. I have been struggling, myself, recently with some issues (health related) that have crept back into my life. I have to say that while I am being proactive and trying not to complain too much, I have had some questions.

Why now? When we've had such a change in our lives.
What do I do? I need wisdom.
How can I keep my problems from consuming me? I want to focus on the Problem Solver...not my problems.

I hope you enjoy it.

I am really nearsighted. So much so that without my contacts in I am incapacitated. I can see shapes and colors, but that's about it. I started wearing glasses when I was in 2nd grade and got contacts when I was 15. Changed my life.

Thankfully, my contact prescription has not changed much over the past 2 or 3 years. I am at a -11.50 in both eyes and they don't completely correct my vision.

Anyhoo. I had an appointment with my Eye Doctor today (whom I absolutely love). She is one of those energetic gals who loves what she does and has this contagious fascination with all things Optical. I am always a little more than impressed with women in science so I always enjoy visiting with her. Plus, she is so excited to see me come." Ah! The Crazy Nearsighted One Who I Have To Warn About My Rollie Chair Everytime She Comes!" Let me just put it out there. Backless Rollie Chairs are a sin. Especially for blind girls with gimpy hips. I can't tell you how many times I have about rolled myself out of that particular chair.

Enough of my Backless Rollie Chair Rant. As with every visit, the lab tech took me off to a little room to have me remove my contacts. And since I haven't had a pair of glasses I could actually see out of since the early 90's I groped my way out of the little room and sat myself down in the waiting room. Next to some guy in a red shirt. Sorry guy. I didn't get a really good look at you. Though I am sure you were kind of weirded out by the bizarre wide-eyed looks I was sending your way. Those of you who suffer from any kind of myopia will understand. "Maybe if I try and focus hard enough that thing I am looking at will suddenly appear." I'm sure I looked like a nut. But I'm used to it.

After a few minutes of that, I was escorted to "test room." You know. The one where they perform all the little tests. I usually get pretty stoked with any test. I am a bit of an overachiever. Even these vision tests. I don't care if I'm practically blind! I'm going to be the best practically blind test taker you've ever had! And what is up with the glaucoma test! I have taken that test every year of my life for the past 33 years of my life. I still practically jump out of my Rollie Chair everytime that little puff of air shoots in my eye. It's a tricky one.

So I took my tests and settled back into the waiting room (I just followed a white lab coat into what I assume was the waiting room). The red shirt guy was gone. So other than various white lab coats floating around the room there was nothing I could really "look" at. I tried my Kindle. I held it up to my nose and changed the font to the largest font. Well that helped (insert sarcastic sigh). It made the font so big that only 4 or 5 words showed up on the page...and I couldn't even see those. So I passed the time checking for split ends (did you know that extremely near-sighted people can see incredible details up really close?) and marveling at the condition of my cuticles. They are really bad. I think I need an emergency manicure intervention.

Well. It came to attention a bit later that I had failed one of my "vision tests." The peripheral vision one. Don't despair. My doctor let me take it later with my contacts in and I passed with flying colors. What I didn't do so well on was the whole eye chart business. But I never do. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be able to see past the 4th line. While I was struggling with the 5th line, I had an inspiration! I have seen this particular chart so many times throughout the years. Why do I still struggle with that 5th line? Why do I keep guessing?  I'm tempted to google "eye exam" chart so I can finally see what is below the 4th line once and for all.

I did a little contemplating while I was sitting in the waiting room investigating the appalling condition of my cuticles. I think sometimes we can have a hard time "seeing" things for what they truly are. Instead of taking in the whole picture we focus on that tiny speck or that single dot. And everything around the tiny speck and single dot becomes blurry and unfocused. We miss so much around us. So much beauty and opportunity lost because we become focused only on what we think we are cable of seeing. Or what we want to see.

Here is something else to consider. We can't see the whole plan God has for us. We might consider a trial we are experiencing as something horrible and unnecessary. We can't see that it is building our faith, shining God's light and ministering to some one else. Remember...You might not be able to see the beginning from the end...but God does.

Oh well. That was my bit of reflection for the day. It was short lived. I am wearing a brand spankin' new pair of contacts (I wear the breathable kind that you have to change regularly...sounds like a Depends). I have more coming in the mail and I am fairly certain I know where I have stashed my cuticle oil. One never knows what kind of "enlightenment" one will find at the Eye Doctor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Study Ancient Greece with Home School in the Woods ( Homeschool Review Crew)

Folks. By now you must know how much I absolutely ADORE history. I Wuv it. And if you have followed the blog for very long you know that some of my favorite product reviews have been from Home School in the Woods. That being said, I was beyond tickled to get the chance to review the BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study:Ancient Greece.

Home School in the Woods is just plain cool.

Amy Pak, veteran homeschooler, has taken her background in graphic design and made the most beautiful products…just for us to add a bit of “flavor” and panache into our history lessons.

So what is a HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study? And how is it different from a standard history lesson.

Basically, it takes us on an adventure through time with 25 Lessons packed with hands-on activities and explorations.  

If you like Timelines there is one (a pretty great one, too).

If you like lapbooking, there are lapbook components.

If you are a notebooking family there are plenty of pages to do just that.

There are games to play, listening sections, newspaper articles to write and recipes to create.

I received a download of the study. It contains everything about anything that you need to complete the project.  As I mentioned before there are 25 stops within this study.

Stop 1 - Laying the Foundation Part 1: From Noah to the Minoans
Stop 2 - Laying the Foundation Part 2: Mycenaeans to Dark Ages
Stop 3 - The Archaic Period
Stop 4 - Greek Government
Stop 5 - Athens
Stop 6 - Sparta
Stop 7 - Everyday Live Part I
Stop 8 - Everyday Life Part 2
Stop 9 - Farming, Business, Transportation
Stop 10 - Education, Oration, Literature
Stop 11 - Science
Stop 12 - Medicine and Disease
Stop 13 - The Arts
Stop 14 - Philosophy
Stop 15 - Religion - Part I Titans, Gods and Monsters
Stop 16 - Religion - Part 2 The Heroes and the People
Stop 17 - Warfare
Stop 18 - The Greco-Persian Wars
Stop 19 - The Golden Age and The Peloponnesian War
Stop 20 - Sparta, Thebes, and the Coming of the Macedonians
Stop 21 - Alexander the Great
Stop 22 - The Hellenistic Age
Stop 23 - The Greeks and the Jews
Stop 24 - Rediscovering Ancient Greece
Stop 25 - Packing Up

One of the benefits of a study like this is that you can truly tailor it to fit your homeschool. You can use it everyday, once a week, a few times every week or make into an intense weeklong event.

Ancient Greece all day…every day!

The product is intended for grades 3-8. Josiah is in 9th grade, but I decided that this would be a great hands-on study for him. I mentioned that I did receive the download in a PDF. If you chose to do the same you will need a supply of plain printer paper, colored paper and card stock. You will also need scissors, stick glue, a variety of office doo-dads and art supplies. 

I always operate under the "use what you have" mantra so I used just the paper I had on hand. 

How We Used It

When I first received the download I went to the folder to peruse its contents.

You can go through all the files and try and decide what you need to do first, but I recommend using the Start file to help you go from stop to stop. I found that they  have organized it such a way that makes it easy navigate.

I did print off those itineraries and project masters (including instructions) that would assist me in getting ahead of the ball game. I suggest you give yourself an afternoon to print and sort. 

Being chosen for this review was so timely. We have been studying Ancient History and this came at just the right time. I decided to use the product a few times a week. This Stop #6 - Sparta happens to be where we are right now. You can see how well it is all laid out. It tells you exactly what you will be doing for each stop. 

Notice the Audio Tour at the bottom. This particular Audio Stop took about 11 minutes. It was a fun little activity that added a some extra sparkle to the lesson. 

By clicking on the photo icon I get to see an example of a finished activity. 

I want to share with you just a few glimpses of some of our finished projects. 

If you never purchase anything else from Home School in the Woods, a "must have" are the timeline figures. 

They are expertly drawn and easy to use.

This seemingly innocent notebooking page on the Governments of Ancient Greece holds a surprise.

 It's a little pop-up book! Not only is the student learning, but he or she is doing a bit of art, as well.

There are also plenty of hands-on activities that don't require any cutting and pasting. This is a recipe from a cookbook (known as The Greece-Y Spoon).

We took advantage of the yummyness inside.  Presenting a teenage boy peeling cucumbers. He actually made a delicious Greek salad. 

Don't you just love kids in the kitchen! I am thrilled that not only did we learn history, but we got to cook good food. 

This is an excellent product all the way around. It does involve some work on the homeschool teacher's part. You need to be able to print and print some more. However, the results are well worth the effort. I have also found that any of the Home School in the Woods products are adaptable to your particular needs. One thing I love is that I can just print out the booklet pages that already have the "correct answers" written out. Some require the student to fill them in. Because Josiah is dyslexic and has struggled with dygraphia. I would rather let Josiah enjoy learning history and not worry about his handwriting. 

The Homeschool Review Crew is reviewing other HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studies. 

You can connect with Home School in the Woods via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more excellent reviews. 

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

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Monday, February 20, 2017

When Momma's Having a Bad Day (12 things to do)

We’ve all had those days.

Those days where it would have been best just to have stayed in bed.

Unfortunately, for most of us, indulging in a Netflix-binge-watching-day under the covers just isn’t possible.

And, as much as I would love this, I don’t have a “spa day” in my near future.

Sometimes we just ‘gotta’ deal. Our families deserve a more pleasant version of ourselves.

So I’m bringing out my favorite tricks to get me through “one of those days.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of regrouping. Other days I need to distract myself from life. Then there are those days I simply need to channel my stress into something else besides yelling/throwing small objects/raging against the world.

We can do this.

1.       Take a good soak in the tub. I can’t recommend this enough. You might be more of a shower person.  I, however, appreciate the therapeutic effects of a hot bath. I like to use Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt with just a few drops of lavender in my bath.  The benefits of Epsom Salt are just astounding. Dr. Axe has a great article on the Epsom Salt miracle. 

2.       Read a good book. I know you have heard me talk about this before. Here are a few I always go back to.

Chicken Every Sunday: My Life with Mother’s Boarders by Rosemary Taylor
Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography (Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill)
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin (keep your Kleenex close)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (I could care less that these are considered books for kids. They are still some of my favorites. We all need stories of evil being defeated and happy endings)

Just a note: I also suggest turning a portion of the day into a 'read aloud.' And YOU don't have to be the reader. There are many wonderful books on CD. In fact, there are many that have found their way on to Youtube if you are in a pinch or can't find one you think your kiddos will like. Some of Josiah's favorite audio books are actually audio dramas. I have the entire collection of audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. I also have several from Focus on the Family. They are all excellent. 

3.       Color. You heard me. Bring out those colors, find you a comfy spot and color. I have had many extended stays in a hospital or sick bed. I can’t tell you how relaxing I found it just to color. You don’t have to think too hard when you color. You just have to make something pretty.

I do have a few free Zendoodle downloads you can check out. Print them out. Color to your hearts content. You can find one here and another one here.

4.       Have a dance party. There are just some days you need to shake it off. Put on some music and dance. Your kiddos will love it.

5.       Fix a cup of hot tea. This is my momma’s answer for almost anything. She is also responsible for making me believe that a hot bath will solve most woes. I think she’s right. Make sure that you have a tea collection worthy of brewing. Did you know that there are certain calming properties in chamomile? Or that Oolong tea promotes weight loss? Oh, yes. I can hear your kettle singing now.

6.       Pull out a journal and list at least 5 things you are grateful for. Put things in perspective.

7.       Watch something funny. We enjoy comedies that are tame. The Muffin is a big fan of Jerry Lewis. We also enjoy the comedy stylings of Tim Hawkins. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Hawkins, I suggest looking him up on youtube. My personal suggestion is the Gods Must Be Crazy (circa 1980). This is a favorite from my childhood. I showed this movie to Troy when we first got married. It was like revealing a precious family secret. He wasn’t as impressed.

8.       Take a turn in the garden. Or the yard. Or the parking lot. Let some sunshine or at least the great outdoors permeate your soul. Take a walk if you have time.

9.       Unplug from technology for an hour. It’s only an hour.  One hour without depressing news, Facebook drama and emoticons.  You can do it.

10.   Put on something cute. Get dressed up for no reason whatsoever. If you are like me…the stretchiness of your pants mirror the “stressyness” of your day.

11.   Is your house a mess or overwhelming? Throw away 5 things right now. Don’t ask questions. Just make sure they aren’t important documents. Been there. Done that.

12.   Meditate on a favorite verse or sing a hymn.  I like to bring out Psalm 91 when I need encouraging. My hymns of choice would be He Leadeth Me and It is Well With My Soul.

So my friends. Don’t let that bad day conquer you! Try a few of my tricks. They may not change the world, but they may help you change your mind. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Another Valentine's Day Zendoodle! FREE

Dear Friends,

It's almost time for one of my favorite holidays of the year.

Yup. I'm one of the "those." It could be because I have "Wuv, True Wuv."

I am going to share a few Valentine's Day treasures for you to enjoy in the next few days.

This is one of my momma's beautiful creations. She is sooo talented. This Zendoodle is just in time for Valentine's Day.

Don't you just love the Peacock? They seem to be everywhere nowadays.  Just click on the picture and the link will take you to google drive. There you can download the PDF and print off as many as your heart desires!

Have fun coloring! I'll be back later on with some more goodies.

Learn Times Tables the Fun Way (A Homeschool Crew Review)

2x2 is 4. 4x4 is 8. 8x8 is 16.

Anybody else remember chanting their times tables? For most of us, this was how we learned multiplication…by rote memory. However, I found out (as a homeschool momma and teacher) that rote memory doesn’t work for everybody. Especially Josiah. He does better with hands on experiences and games.

For my very first review post of 2017, I was really excited to get the Times Alive program from Times Tables the Fun Way.  Times Alive provides online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way!

Here is a few things you might need to know before we get into the nuts and bolts of the program.

1.   Times Alive requires an internet connection. If you are reading this review you probably have an internet connection. You are already half way there!

2.   Because it an online subscription you can use more than one computer at a time. For example, Kid A can use the computer in the bedroom, while Kid B can use the computer in the Living Room. At the same time.

3.   But fair warning. If you want to keep track of any records Kid A needs to keep on using the computer in the bedroom. And the same for Kid B.

5. You will need speakers. Times Alive is all about the creative stories that will teach Kid A and Kid B their multiplication tables. 

Let’s see what an example lesson looks like.

First off, I was given a username and password that allowed me access to the magic site.

 Josiah has a user name of his own that allows him access. He can move anywhere over this magic page. I will say that if your student is learning their times tables for the first time they need to proceed in the order of the lessons given. Each lesson will quiz on previous lessons. For the purpose of this review, I am going to show you bits and pieces of a lesson on the 2 family. 

Here is the story portion of the lesson. The student is given a fun way to remember. They also read along. Math AND Reading! At the same time! 

Take a look at the pic below. Now the student is given the opportunity to practice what they have learned. One of the benefits of this program is that the student can do this lesson or activity over and over again. Notice that "Do Again" button at the button. The "Do Again" button was employed quite a bit at our house. 

 Now here is what you have been waiting for. Did your beautiful angels retain anything? Has it all been in vain? This is The Quiz, my friends. 

Here are the results. The individual taking the quiz might have been distracted while taking said quiz. Or possibly forgotten she  he was taking a quiz. Notice it also gives the number of problems correct and the percentage AND the time. I love this. It allows the student to work towards a goal. 

 And just for fun! Who doesn't like an online coloring page? 

There are couple other things that might be of interest to you. You can print out the student's progress report for your records. There is a handy key on the lesson that keeps you up to date on what lessons have been completed, viewed, which one has a movie, song or coloring sheet.

Here is screen shot of another fun activity that helps the student retain the information.

 On a personal note, my son is one of the bright funny kids who has trouble retaining math facts long term. He does so much better when he can have "helps."  

This is one of those "helps" that is making a difference. It is an affordable option for the frugal homeschooler. 

It is also super simple bimply to use. Which is just my speed. 

Go check it out! You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below. You can connect with Times Tables the Fun Way via the following social media outlets. 

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}
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