Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Negative Review of the My Well Planned Day Software

I have searched and searched for a negative blog review on the My Well Planned Day software that was released this past summer. While there are plenty of complaints to be found in forums and social media pages, there has not been one official negative review written....until now.

Back in May when I first heard about My Well Planned Day's software, I was excited. I could not wait to try it out. One of my favorite planners was coming out in digital form!

I purchased the Beta-version at a reduced price (the full version was going to be about $25 more beginning in August). Knowing it was in Beta, I was able to deal with a lot of the glitches as I assumed they would continue to get better. The potential of this program was fantastic and I waited for each of the promised updates to come to pass.

Sadly, the honeymoon is over. Not only for me, but for many users, as evidenced by Facebook and various forums.

At the beginning, communication was fantastic. E-mails, webinars, updates on the MWPD site about recent and upcoming updates were plentiful. However, since August, those things have dwindled to almost nothing.

While I first looked forward to each update, I began to dread them. Each new update seemed to bring about five new glitches. Every time a spokesperson would reveal what would be included in the next update, I would set myself up for disappointment as many of those things would not (nor have they, yet) come to pass. It now seems that most of the updates have been reduced to fixing each new glitch that pops up.

Where do I begin with the list of annoyances? There are several.

1. While the notorious IT is making updates, they may want to consider updating their main website. Back in August, it was announced that the program was no longer in Beta. Nor were the "updated" versions being dubbed "1.0, 2.0", etc., but, rather, that is was fully launched and would be continually updated throughout the year as so many computer programs and apps are. So, the software went from Beta to full-release with little change. To this day, almost 2 months later, the website has the software labeled as Beta. It announces the full-release to take place in August. Not only is the version outdated, but so are the "recent" updates. The last one listed is dated July though several have occurred since then.

2. At first, if I had a problem, it would be fixed almost immediately. However, I've had an issue with not being able to delete certain things for almost 6 weeks. I mentioned to them twice. While they've definitely tried fixing it, they have obviously given up on it. Clue #1,578 that they have way too many problems to fix.

3. This was a small issue to me earlier, but, small things are magnified when added to with other things. It takes a tremendous amount of time to set the program up. Curriculum and books are required to be added in before you can lesson plan. With seven children and the fact that the program has to "think" about each item added, it is extremely time-consuming. I have seen many people mention this, but, like me, they were patient as we hoped it would pay off in the end. I am guessing that this may be one of the reasons people are so very frustrated at the lack of progress in this software. So much time invested with little return, at this point.

4. I have kept up with updates, news, and problems with the software on the. MWPD Facebook page. If I had a problem, that was the first place I would go to see if anyone else was having the same issue. When the problems seemed to mount, so did some of the negativity on the site. The solution the MWPD staff had for that was to announce that any technical problems brought up on the site would be deleted as they felt all of those things needed to be e-mailed directly to their IT department. While I understand that the FB moderator is not able to answer all the tech questions, this didn't seem an appropriate way to handle such things. I've seen this method of handling things on FB before, and it's usually a major defensive move on the part of a business who is embarrassed by their failure in an area.

I must say, I liked how it was coming along. Many of the problems others were dealing with never affected me. My biggest disappointment is the fact that it is so very time consuming and many of the nicer features seem to be forgotten. Understandably so, with the amount of time they require to fix what should already be working. However, it just seems to be becoming more bother than I have time for.

In general, however, I am more disappointed with how the whole project seems to have gotten out of control and I have begun to pity those in charge. If one has paid attention to the various things said throughout the past few months, one would realize that the head of MWPD has simply bitten off way more than she can chew. Mrs. K publishes a major homeschool magazine, does interviews for an on-line homeschool convention, home schools her own children, moved to another house in August, and is now trying to develop what could be the most complete homeschool planning software ever. There are just too many balls being juggled and this one keeps being dropped. Either someone else is going to have to take over this project completely or, I fear, it will be given up.

I hope, for many of us, this planner will meet all the hopes and dreams of its developers and users. With time, it may very well do that. However, I think any one trying to rely on it this year may be severely discouraged. Maybe if we all backed off with our expectations, MWPD could really concentrate on making this thing great without having to put out so many fires. Then, when it's right, they'll forego the 2nd year subscription fee to all those who bought it this summer.

In the meantime, I'll post tomorrow about the new planner I've begun using.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pack Lunches for Home

I haven't posted here in a while and now that I am, I'm going to send you on over to another blog.  I don't normally do this, but I just have to pass this helpful hint along.

Jenna is new to teaching her children, but not new to homeschooling.  She was home-schooled from K-12 grades and is very aware of how much time it takes out of the homeschool day to prepare, eat, and clean-up from lunch.  With a need and desire to make things simple in her growing family, she has found it easier to pack the lunches for her children (& for herself).  This post on her blog gives some great ideas for lunches that are healthy and kid-friendly.

Take a look.  Try it out.  Happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Who's Making the Decisions?

It never ceases to sadden me when I hear of women who are in total control of their family's homeschool. It doesn't matter the reason - single mom, widowed, or that's what they and/or their husbands have decided - all of these women have a difficult task in front of them.

I would dare say it almost angers me when married couples don't share in the responsibility.  I'm not talking about both parents teaching the subjects or grading papers.  I'm just talking about TALKING to one another, bouncing ideas back and forth, encouraging one another when there's a bump in the education road, & both being involved in the curriculum choices.  I've spoken with several dads who have no idea what curriculum their child is using for various subjects.  For some dads, the only involvement they have is telling their wives to spend as little money as possible and give the kids a good education.  *I will address this in another post in the near-future*

Marriage and parenthood takes two involved people.  That is God's design.  We are to work together in the raising of our children.  Couples often balance one another in many aspects of life, including academically.  For instance, I'm strong in the areas of English and Social Studies while my husband's strengths are in the subjects of Science and Math.  When we go to conventions, we seek out the curriculum choices in our areas of expertise, consult with one another, and then decide.  Normally, the one who is stronger in that subject-area makes the final decision.

If a mom decides that she wants to make all of the decisions for her children's homeschool, she is missing out on some very valuable insight from her husband.  If a dad decides that homeschooling is his wife's department, he is putting a very heavy burden on her shoulders.

Last week, I was planning on attending our local homeschool convention with our older two girls.  My husband had strongly suggested that, because they've been so diligent in getting their school-work done throughout the years, they should choose their own curriculum (with a bit of guidance from us).  While I never would have thought of that on my own, I totally agreed that it was a great idea.  However, in the weeks leading up to the convention, I had very little time to sit down and plan our day or talk to the girls about the various decisions they would face.  Hence, Thursday night found me at the computer trying to figure out what I was doing the next day.  I was checking out the vendors that would be in the shopping hall, trying to figure out parking in the city with my mammoth van, and getting stressed about paying $72 just to walk in the door.

In the midst of my hysteria, I realized that I had spoken to my husband a total of about 30 minutes in the last two days.  Because this is one of his busy seasons and I had been so busy running here and there with appointments and activities with the children, we had not had a chance to sit down and really discuss our goals for next year.  I realized how much I depend on my husband's ideas and feedback when I was suddenly without it.  I went to bed that night praying to God for direction while my best earthly counsellor was in a deep sleep beside me.

Early on Friday morning (the day we were going to the convention), I walked in the rain to the barn where my husband's office is located.  I knew he would be enjoying his morning coffee and having his quiet time.  He was happy to see me which, I'm happy to say, is normal for him when I make an early-morning visit.  I asked him what he was doing that day, knowing that the rain would limit any farming activities.  He wasn't sure and was eager to accept my invitation to the convention.  Immediately, I felt as if a weight was lifted.  No longer would I have to worry about parking and walking miles in the rain.  No longer would I have to text him back & forth like mad while deciding between two curricula.  No longer would I have to worry about how much money to spend.  My husband was, again, more than willing to take an active part in OUR children's education.  After that decision was made, I was able to tell him what I was thinking concerning next year's homeschool & we had that much-needed conversation in the quiet hours of the morning.

When I left the barn to head back to the house for a little bit more sleep, few of my questions regarding next year had actually been answered.  We still had to pay the $72/family rate for the convention.  I still had no idea what curriculum I would be purchasing.  But, my heart was at peace because my husband would be by my side and we would be making decisions...together.

As I think of it, the people who will benefit the most from our team-work are our children.  After all, we homeschool so that they will learn how to be godly husbands, wives, citizens, and servants of Christ.  Knowing that their parents are on the same page, supporting one another for their benefit is one of the greatest life-lessons we can teach them.

Parents, begin working together if you aren't already doing so.  If you are, don't give in to the false assumption that one of you is unnecessary.  You depend on one another just as your children depend on you - both of you - for their education.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Political Science?

Tonight, I overheard my husband explaining Beta Radioactive Decay to our 14-year old son.  Obviously (or not), this has to do with the parts of an atom - the neutron losing the electron and keeping only the proton.  This is how he explained it:

The neutron is a Moderate.  It really doesn't know where it stands so has both a proton & an electron. It's kind of wishy-washy.   The protons are positive, and are otherwise known as the Republican party.  The electrons are negative and are known as the Democrat party.  The neutron kicks out the electron and keeps the proton.  In other words, the Moderate decides to get rid of the sin in his life (the negativity) & kicks out the Democrat (electron).  He now gets right and becomes a Republican (proton).

Political Science at its best.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yes, I'm Still Here

I have been a bit busy with birthday party planning, birthday celebrations, school, illness, etc., etc.  You know, the same thing all you other homeschool moms are busy with. 

I have a couple of children who are just about finished with all of their planned school-work for the year.  How can that be?!  I'm not complaining...just a bit shocked.  With the warm temperatures we've been having, it really feels like we're close to summer & I am so excited!

I've been checking out the 24/7 Homeschool Convention over at the Home Educating Family.  So far, I really am enjoying it and can see it as a very instrumental tool in my school planning and encouragement. It's free, so go on over and check it out.

Speaking of Homeschool Conventions, will you be attending one (or more) this year?  I was really hoping to make it to either the Midwest or Northeast convention, but it really doesn't look like that's going to happen.  However, with all of the information, blogs, virtual conventions, etc., I've been able to find on-line recently, I'm thinking I just may take a weekend in June to hunker down in a coffee shop near-by and get some encouragement and make some decisions.  

Hope your school-days are going well.  Let me know what you're up to!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

App Week - Times Tables

Category: Education
Seller: 24x7 digital LLC
Cost: FREE

Knowing the multiplication tables is key if our children are going to progress well in Math.  Most curricula do not give children a lot of time to learn them before going on to division concepts and the students who have not learned the multiplication tables begin to lag behind...quickly.  Each of my children has had a difficult time memorizing the multiplication tables.  Maybe it's because I didn't drill them enough.  (Maybe THAT'S because I've always had at least 2 or more other students to teach, laundry to do, dinner to cook, babies to change, etc.) However, once they realize how critical they are to the rest of their Math assignments, they begin to learn them.

Enter the Times Tables app.  This is a great app for the children who are just learning multiplication as well as a review tool for my older children.  With this app, just like all 24x7 digital apps (see my Teach Me post), you may track the progress of several different students.  You can take their photo, type in their name and they just click on their own avatar when they're ready to play.

Let's use my daughter, Katrina, as today's example.  She is my fourth grader and ready to dive in deep with division, but has been struggling with multiplication.  She will take my phone (with permission - ALWAYS!), tap on her avatar, and tap on the "learn" option.  Instead of messing with a bunch of flashcards (which you always have to put back in order after drilling randomly), she has 4 options to help her learn.  The first is a "grid" with all of the multiplication facts on it.  She taps on a fact, it shows up at the top of the screen (answer included) and a voice reads the fact.  This is great for all types of learning styles.  The "flash-card" option is just that - Katrina will see a card with a fact (no answer), try to answer it & then double tap on it to see if she is correct.  The third option helps her see the concepts at work as the app uses "apple trees" to illustrate the multiplication tables.  Choose a factor, multiply it by another, and the answer is given.  Again, the voice is heard to read the facts.  Tapping on the trees allows the student to skip-count in order to see how multiplication works.  Lastly, there are "list flash cards" where there will be a list of each multiplication family (without answers).  She will go through and give her best answers, then, again, double-tap to check her work.

All of this can be done independently while I am free to work with the other children on their school. *smile & happy dance*

After Katrina goes through some drills, she is able to play games.  In the "Times Tables" drills, she can choose how many facts she'd like to be quizzed on in each family.  While a timer runs, it only does so for her to gage her own progress and speed.  On "Random Problems," Katrina can choose 10, 20, 30, or 40 random problems to be tested on up through 11x11.   Or, she may choose to be quizzed randomly on all the facts up to 12x12.  Again, the timer in this game is only for her to know how quickly she is able to answer.  "Multiplication Challenge" tests Katrina on each fact family in order and she must get each level perfect before she can progress to the next level.  The last game, "Timed Quiz" gives random facts from each family and she must do it within a certain amount of time (which I set).  Obviously, some of these games are more challenging than others which makes this app so great for all ages & levels!

While I am not sitting there doing the drills and games with Katrina, I am able to check her scores, times, and the dates on which she did them for each "quiz" or game.  This will tell me what she needs work on the most.

Though simple without animation, etc., (often, that's a plus!) I believe the Times Table app is useful in our homeschool. I highly recommend it for beginning multipliers or older students who just need some review or who need to increase their speed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

App Week - Merriam-Webster Dictionary (free)

Category:  Reference
Seller:  Merriam-Webster Inc.
Cost: FREE

What school is complete without a dictionary?  Our homeschool has at least 4 physical dictionaries that I can think of off the top of my head.  We have two 1828 Webster's, a regular dictionary (sorry - don't remember the name & I'm too lazy to go search for it), and a children's illustrated dictionary (that is fantastic!).  I have taught my five oldest how to use these dictionaries and they have.  In fact, 2 of the children just used one of them yesterday and today.

However, one of my son's favorite apps is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  The one I have is the free version that is supported with advertisements.  However, I didn't realize that until I was reading the difference between my version and the $3.99 version...the ads are minimal and in a very small space at the bottom of the screen.  Totally useless on this app-user!

Anyway, we all remember well the feeling as children of being told to look up something in the dictionary; that book that weighed twice as much as we did, whose pages numbered more than we even knew to count, and which had its own prominent spot in the classroom (due to the fact that no one, adult or child, really wanted to move it around too much).

And, didn't you just love asking how to spell a word and your teacher answered, "Go look it up in the dictionary"?!  HOW IN THE WORLD WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary app makes the use of a dictionary less frightening.  First, it weighs much less - in my case, it weighs precisely 4.8 ounces.  This makes it much less painful if you actually drop it on your toe.

Searching for words is a matter of typing.  My son, Seth, will type in the word he's looking for and as he's typing, the dictionary will begin to "guess" the word.  So, instead of typing the whole thing, he usually can just click on the word once it pops up.  When he clicks on the word, the screen will bring it up along with its phonetic spelling, part of speech, definition(s), sentence examples, origin, first use, and a list of its synonyms & antonyms.  Just like a "real" dictionary! (I must say that having a list of synonyms negates the need for a thesaurus much of the time.)  This saves quite a bit of time for a younger student which saves on frustration.

When Seth doesn't know how to spell a word or is tired of typing so many words with his stubby fingers, the dictionary has a "voice search" feature in which Seth just speaks the word and it comes up with the definition.  However, he must speak very clearly or he will not be understood.  As children sometimes have a difficult time with pronunciation and enunciation, I often will speak the word for him (and even then it sometimes doesn't comprehend!).  It is a great feature, though.

Another audio feature is "word pronunciation."  When the word you're looking for comes up with it's definition and other information, there is the universal speaker symbol next to it.  Tap on it and you will hear a voice give you the correct pronunciation of the word - a fantastic tool for kids looking up words they've never heard.

While I love this app, I still believe it is important for children to learn how to use a physical dictionary.  Learning alphabetical order and having the patience to really look up a word is essential in educational growth.  This is why I had my 3rd & 4th graders using the BIG BOOK today - to keep them familiar with the "real" thing.

That said, this app is great for those days when your child has quite a few words to look up or you're pressed for time.  (Ok, so we're always pressed for time...use discretion.)  Sometimes, learning vocabulary is the goal...not the frustrating task of lifting and perusing large books.  Make the job more fun and get it done quickly with Merriam-Webster's app.

Do you use this app?  Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 12, 2012

App Week - Teach Me: Toddler-2nd Grade

*NOTE* The apps I will be reviewing this week are mostly designed for iPhone & iPad.

When I purchased my iPhone a year or so ago, I ignorantly assumed that it would be my phone.  How simple I was!  After finding some great educations games & activities, I basically have to wait my turn for the phone! Which, is hard to argue with when they're learning things and I just want to check my Twitter-feed.

App of the Day:  Teach Me: Toddler, Teach Me: Kindergarten, Teach Me: 1st grade, Teach Me: 2nd grade
     Category: Education
     Seller: 24x7 digital LLC
     Awards:  Best App Ever - 2nd place in education (Teach Me! Kindergarten)
     Designed for:  iPhone & iPad
     Cost:  $.99/app

One of the first apps I got for the kids was Teach Me: Kindergarten.  The little mouse "tells" my daughter what she needs to do on each screen.  Math, spelling, & reading (sight words) are the subjects that she works on and whenever she gets something correct, she earns a coin.  After receiving a certain amount of coins, she gets to go "shopping."  She'll pick out a scene and buy various objects for it.  She's even made me an aquarium and brings it to me whenever she thinks I need to feed my fish!

After Gloria enjoying the activities so much, I found Teach Me: Toddler for Zane.  He works on number recognition, letters, shapes, colors, counting, and phonics.  He doesn't have to work as hard for rewards, so has quite a few of them.

Both apps are very easy for the children to learn and to use.  In fact, as I was going to be doing this review, I decided to see if 24x7digital LLC.,  had released any other grades in the Teach Me series.  Good news - they have!  They now have 1st and 2nd grade...still focusing on math, spelling, and reading sight words, but each grade level become more complex.  What I love about the 1st and 2nd grade is that they children actually get to "write" on "paper" using their index finger to spell words and do "fast math."  Very cool!

And, yes, I just downloaded those as well.  It was good to know that I was able to spell all of the words & do the math problems correctly.  Ok, well, except for one.  I made the age-old mistake of not looking at the sign and added instead of subtracted.  It happens to everyone.  *ahem*

Whether looking for something to begin your child in letter/number recognition, reviewing math facts, or needing to supplement your busy homeschool day, I highly recommend the Teach Me series.  Find it on iTunes or go directly to 24x7 digital's website!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

App Week

Throughout the coming week, I plan to review a few of the apps my children and I enjoy using in our homeschool...and maybe a couple we use during our free-time, as well.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - March 10, 2012

In my life this week...
   While I was feeling much better, my husband has been battling the World's Worst Cold this week.  Thankfully, everyone else seems to be on the mend.  
In our homeschool this week...
     The days seem to be getting shorter as children are finishing up subjects.  I counted days this year for school, though I have no idea what day we're on; however, I'm pretty sure we're right on track as they are finishing up!  I am a bit frustrated, however, that my oldest son's science seems to have all but come to a stand-still.  But, daddy should be feeling better this week, so I hope it kicks into gear again!

Places we are going...
     Our four girls went with their daddy to a Father/Daughter night at our church on Friday night and had an absolute blast doing various relay races, playing soccer, and creating their own pizzas.  Meanwhile, the three boys and I went to a dulcimer concert at a church in my mom's town.  Absolutely wonderful!  So good to have some special time with our children.

My favorite thing this week was...
     When my 4 year old got into the van as I was putting the groceries in the back, he raised up his mittens and shouted, "Yook, Mommy," (he says his Ls with the "y" sound), "I found my mittens!"  
"Good!"  I said.  I then heard him say, as he was sitting down, "Praise the Yord! I found them!"
They say kids repeat what they hear...this was a good thing!

What's working for us...
    My kids learning how to use Google Earth, as described in this post.

Questions/thoughts I have...
     What am I going to use next year?  I'm leaning towards a unit-study for missions/geography and creating my own language arts curriculum...so much to think about.

Things I'm working on...
   I read Romans 12 today and am thinking about doing a study on verses 9-21.  That will take some time, but I think I will learn so much on truly practical Christian living.

I'm reading...
     A couple of things.  Mostly, a biography on Eric Liddell as my son was to read it this week.  He finished it.  I'm only on chapter 5!  "Chariots of Fire" is in our near future! Raise your hand if you plunked out the theme song on the piano when you were a kid! *my hand's raised*

I'm cooking...
     Right now, I have a chuck roast in the crock-pot for tonight's French Dip.  It will be served with a green salad, mashed potatoes and a veggie (not yet decided).  Brownie sundaes for dessert - the brownies just came out of the oven & the house smells heavenly!  Thrilled to be sharing this meal with good friends who have just returned from Barrow, Alaska!

I'm grateful for...
     Good health!

Things I'm praying for...
     Hurting families, hurting friends, & missionaries.

A link to share...
    OK - for the third time this week....SchoolhouseTeachers.com ---  check it out!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Google Earth

At risk of sounding a bit redundant, I encourage you all to check out SchoolhouseTeachers.com. No, I'm not getting paid for promoting this site...it's just a site I really foresee having a huge role in our homeschool as it's practical, useful, and easy to access & use.

The technology assignment this month is having the kids explore and learn Google Earth.  This can be done by going to the website via a Windows computer or getting the free app on a Mac (which I love!). While my husband has used this site for a couple of years, I've never even got on it until a few days ago when I saw the assignment for this month.  I needed to see if this was something that, indeed, my children could do and would be interested in.

I never knew all the cool features on Google Earth!  The technology teacher mentioned that you could go to the "layer" section, click on "oceans" and "animal tracking" and you can discover various fish in the oceans.  My 8 year old son, especially, LOVED this feature.  He "discovered" leatherback turtles, a blue whale, tuna, & various other fish that he's learned about in his science this year and was able to "swim" with them.

My 12 year old daughter had fun finding our house and church along with other interesting places in the United States.  Seeing things from the air gives her a whole new perspective of how things are laid out, especially in local areas that she's familiar with.

My older son enjoyed viewing photos of Iwo Jima and Civil War battlefields and checking out where a missionary to whom he writes in Germany lives.  My favorite thing today was hearing him say, "I have to get my Geography book," and seeing him run to his school shelf and get it.  So cool to see him running to get a book he normally dislikes and putting it to use!!

While we could have learned all of these things on our own, I probably would never have taken the time if it weren't for the simple and fun assignment on my new favorite site!

My only complaint is that I now have to share my computer even more with my kids!  But, that's ok...I love that they are learning more about our world!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Netflix in the Homeschool

I have a Netflix account.  Right now you feel a common bond with me.

Or, you're praying that I get right  with God.

Either way, I have one.  I don't allow my children free access to it.  My husband or I choose what they see and when they see it.  They are not allowed on it without supervision.  So far, so good.

Why do I bring this up?  What does Netflix have to do with home-school?  In our life, quite a bit.

This year, we have found many documentaries and dramas that have supplemented what our children are learning in science, history, and language arts.  Is this a good idea?  I think so...being able to SEE what they are reading really helps to cement things in our students memories.  Think back to when you were in school.  We LOVED when a video/movie/film-strip (for us old-timers) were shown.  It was fun, out of the ordinary, and helped us learn.  I still remember the one I saw about Mount Saint Helens back in the late '80s (& have shown it to my kids)!

Some of our children are learning about ocean and land animals in their Apologia curriculum.  There are many documentaries that we have either ordered or watched instantly via Netflix.  Yes, some of them have evolution, but the kids are getting good at identifying the fallacies and appreciating God's creation.
     Coral Reef Adventures
     Dolphins: IMAX
     Wild African Cats: Wild Cats
     David Attenborough: Wildlife Adventures
     & many more

A couple of days ago, my son watched a documentary on Sitting Bull as he had just enjoyed and finished a biography about this "last indian" for his history assignment.  The children also enjoy "Liberty's Kids" and the show is basically right on concerning the founding of our country.
     The Best of the Real West: Sitting Bull
     Liberty's Kids

This week, my oldest son is reading a biography on Eric Liddell.  Wouldn't you know it?  Netflix has a documentary and it's on the way to our house.  (We're getting "Chariots of Fire" from the old-fashioned library.)
      Eric Liddell: Champion of Conviction
     A Man Called Peter (watched after reading excerpts of the book)

Netflix has provided several hours of schooling for our children this year.  It has more than paid for itself, in my opinion.  If you have an account, look at it as more than a means to entertainment, but another home-school resource.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - March 4, 2012

In my life this week...
I feel like a complainer as I feel like I've mentioned this a few times in the last seven days, but...I've been sick.  Got hit hard with a head cold last Sunday and am just getting over it now.  This sore throat is making me nervous.  Strep?  I hope not!

In our homeschool this week...
We persevered and all of my children were able to finish their assignments; even on Wednesday when I was in bed most of the day.  I am blessed that my children are older and do fairly well with independent learning.

Helpful homeschooling advice to share...
Encourage your children to do as much school on their own, especially if you have more than one or two children.  This way, you can be as involved as time permits, but their schooling does not solely rely on your daily involvement.  When you're sick in bed or have unavoidable appointments, school days are not lost.  Better to use free days for something fun and useful...for everyone!

Places we are going...
We did get to a special church meeting on Saturday night (I made sure to keep my distance from everyone).  My husband had caught the bug and we felt our kids needed to get to the service aimed towards young people.  Afterwards, there were a couple of games of Human Fooseball (a totally fun game)!  I was able to co-coach/organize the 8-14 yr age group....the group all of my children were involved in.  While that's not usually something I get involved with, I realized how much fun kids really are and I can't wait to spend some time with that bunch like that again!

My favorite thing this week was...
Starbucks coffee on Saturday morning.  I'm pretty sure if I had one earlier in the week, I would have healed much more quickly.

What's not working for us...
Apologia Physical Science.  My husband, who has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering & loves science, has taken over our son's science and says that this program gets too involved in things that don't even need to be dealt with at this age level.  We will plug away until the end of the year, however.  That's just how we roll.

Questions I have...
What science curriculum do you use for your high school students & why?

Things I'm working on...
This week, I'll be cleaning my desk and my son's room.  I hope.  If you don't hear from me next week, send out the search dogs...

I'm reading...
Too many things at once.  

I'm praying for...
A missionary family from our church who have been home the last 9 months and are returning to their field tomorrow.

A link to share:
I posted about this fantastic site this week.  I'm planning next year's curriculum around it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Recently, I've become a huge fan of The Old Schoolhouse.  I used to get their print magazine & loved it.  Kind of like a homeschool convention you could snuggle up with while drinking a hot cup of coffee.
While I enjoyed their magazine, I am LOVING their new app that makes the magazine digitally available on the iPhone (also on Kindle Fire, iPad, and Android).  I can now take it with me wherever I go and enjoy reading an article here and there whenever I have a moment.  An added bonus is that I can annoy all my Twitter followers with links to the articles.

Have I mentioned I love Twitter?  Yeah, well, that's another post.

Anyway, since I've been able to carry the TOS magazine with me on my phone, I've been more interested in its website and e-mails.  Today, I found out a great resource that they are making available March 1, 2012.  Note the time:  that's only 1 hour and 12 minutes away.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is being unveiled on Thursday.  It is an incredible resource of a variety of lessons and ideas created by dedicated and talented teachers.  I've already become a "Premium" member.  For less than $5.00/month (face it, two Starbucks coffees cost more than that!) I get all the past & present issues of TOS magazine, all the lessons for each month (Geography, Home Ec., Technology, Writing, Literature, and more), each Expo to Go (I've been dying to check those out), and more!

I've already looked into the classes being offered this month.  Amazing!  I hope to have my kids learn about Google Earth with the Technology lessons...I've already spent the last 45 minutes discovering things on that which I never knew existed.  Seriously, with all the extras on that, one could spend an entire school day learning history, science, geography, etc!!  The Home Ec looks absolutely fantastic and I love the idea of having new writing assignment ideas each week/month when I come up empty.

I seriously think this website will help me a lot in making up my curriculum for next year.  I hope they'll be continuing throughout the summer for those days when my kids just need something to put their minds to!

Check it out & let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Feb. 19, 2012

In my life this week...
     My husband went to Louisville, KY for the National Farm Machinery Show.  He left on the morning of Valentine's Day & returned on Friday.  Being a farmer, it is not often that we are without him for days at a time.  But, now that the children are older, I didn't feel like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and we actually had a good time.  Texting back and forth with my husband made the distance seem less, as well.  
In our homeschool this week....
We took a bit of an unscheduled Winter Break due to my husband taking this trip.  We did school on Monday and Wednesday with our bi-weekly homeschool co-op on Friday.  We needed a break, so the kids enjoyed the more relaxed week....as did I!

Places we are going & people we are seeing...
     To fill up our time without Daddy, we had some fun things planned.  Valentine's Day is my absolutely favorite holiday, so we had our second-annual Valentine's Party with about 40 friends.  You can read more about that here.  On Thursday, we headed to the local science museum and just had a great time enjoying the different exhibits and hands-on activities.  Not having a schedule to worry about made for a nice few days.
     On Saturday, we all headed out to my mom's small-town and had a wonderful down-home breakfast in their local cafe.  
     Truly a week of fun & family.

My favorite thing this week was...
My husband returning home.

Questions I have...
Did you all do anything for Valentine's Day this year?  Also, how do you single homeschool moms do it day after day?  God's grace is sufficient...but what is your best tip for keeping on track and not exhausted?  

Things I'm working on...
Some e-mails concerning our Homeschool Fair.

I'm reading...
I'm kind of in between books right now.  Just can't seem to get into any at this time.

I'm cooking...
Let's see...while my husband was gone, we had pizza (ordered out) on Tuesday, French toast on Wednesday night (we often do breakfast for dinner on Wed), and Arby's on Thursday.  My hubby came home and I did make him a nice ham dinner on Friday and we had lasagna while friends came over on Saturday night.  What's for dinner tomorrow?  Suggestions welcome.

I'm praying for...
All to go well with doctor appointments we have this week.  Struggling friends.

A photo to share:
My hubby took this picture of me, my mom, and our girls after breakfast on Saturday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Know What I Love?

I love seeing some of my children helping their younger siblings with their school work - voluntarily!  No, it doesn't happen every day, but it has begun to happen more frequently as of late.

I'm pretty sure my position as head-teacher is secure, but it sure is nice to have some help from time to time!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Math Argument

I've mentioned before that my children are doing Mathletics this year.  Along with the on-line activities and games, I also print out their worksheets for each grade level.  One of the best aspects of this curriculum is the different ways they have of getting students to view problem solving.  They include many real-life applications and fun games for the younger ones.

This week, Seth is reviewing counting.  Yes, a bit below his level, but, sometimes it's nice to do something a bit easy.  Anyway, one of the activities was to pick a number from a given list and count up to the next 100.  We chose the number 922.  The spin was to do it with a partner each person alternating numbers (i.e., he'd say 922, I'd say 923, he'd say 924, etc.) and say them as if you were arguing.  This was a ton of fun!  Mike got the camera out about half-way through our argument.

Just another day of homeschooling!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Feb. 6, 2012

In my life this week:
I did little else besides school & get ready for our first day of our second semester of our homeschool co-op (HOPE).

In our homeschool this week:
My husband took over much of our son's science, for which I am very grateful.  I get so frustrated with the fact that I haven't improved much in that subject area since I was in 9th grade.  Desiring to be better at Science & Math is just not enough to make it so.
My 2 older daughters wrote short stories for Language Arts and I was very pleased with their final copies.
My middle children have come far in working independently this year and I am very happy with them.
My youngest daughter finished her First Grade Science & History...already.  Took her a total of about 4 weeks.  Very reminiscent of her 2 oldest sisters.

Helpful homeschooling advice to share:
If you can find a homeschool co-op to join that is like-minded...join! It breaks up the monotony and helps with areas you may be weaker in.

My favorite thing this week:
My husband telling me he liked my hair.  If you know him...this is a rare thing.  Made me smile.

Things I'm working on:
Last week, it was HOPE.  This week....Homeschool Fair.

I'm reading:
Still on The Lamplighter.  Didn't have a lot of time to read.

I'm praying for:
My friend to receive good news in her test results concerning her breast cancer.

A video to share:
Just being goofy with my 2 youngest one day.  (NOTE:  I have no idea why Zane was trying to pull his tongue out.  I swear, it is NOT a threat I use!!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - January 29, 2012

In my life this week...
Though it was a rough week with school, in the grand scheme of things, my life is good.  And uncomplicated.  Wednesday, my good friend's life became complicated - she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  What have I to complain about?

In our homeschool this week...
This was a week I'd rather not repeat or remember.  Interestingly, it seems that many homeschoolers had a trying week.  Just when everything had been going so well.  While my children did FINALLY complete all of their assignments, I'm ready for a new and better week.

Helpful homeschooling advice to share...
When scheduling doctor appointments, schedule them for the afternoon when most (if not all) of the school-work is done.  If it's an emergency & there's no way around it....just call a sick day.  Maybe I'm uptight, but after driving an hour, getting checked by the doctor, and filling a prescription, I'm not in the mood to pick up school when I get home.  Therefore, I try to cram as much as I can in the short time I have before leaving for the morning appointment I so stupidly made.  This only raises my blood-pressure.  Not a good thing.

Learn from my mistakes.   Schedule appointments during non-school hours.

I am inspired by...
Michelle Duggar.  Proverbs 15:1 in action.

Places we are going...
We headed to the Federal Building in our city for a great field trip in which we met a Federal Prosecutor, a US Marshall, a bomb dog that works for the US Marshalls (one of only 19 in the country), and a DEA agent.  Very cool.

My favorite thing this week...
Getting ALL of my laundry done on Saturday.  With a household of 9, this is no small task.  Nor is it one that happens often.

What's not working for us...
Morning doctor appointments.  Do you sense the frustration? ;)

Thoughts I have...
If all my kids went to school, I'd get so much done & they'd like me better.

Oh, please, don't tell me you've never thought that!

Things I'm working on...
The final roster for our 2nd semester of co-op, lesson plans for co-op, speaker schedules for co-op...I guess I'm working on co-op.

I'm reading...
The Lamplighter.  This is an old Christian fiction book that I was able to get for free from the Kindle store.  According to the review, this book was second only to Uncle Tom's Cabin in sales during the 19th century!
I'm cooking...
Check out my blog post on my Triple Chocolate Cake!

I'm praying for...
My dear friend and her family.

A photo to share...
See?  Told you it was a rough week...

...but I may have recovered.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - January 20, 2012

In my life this week...
I took care of a couple of sick children, took one to the doctor, consistently got up late, but am glad to say that I'm still staying on my goal to read my Bible every day this year.  Some days, it's more than others, but God has spoken each time I've gone to Him.

In our homeschool this week...
We had the day off on Monday due to MLK Day.  This was not a planned vacation, but as my niece & nephew had off of school, my brother asked if they could come to our house for the day.  Like my kids were going to get any school work done and I'm sure my niece & nephew would have loved for me to make them do extra school work!  So, they all had a blast playing outside and enjoyed tubing with my husband.

Due to illness and kids just feeling "blah", I didn't rush any one out of bed.  We had no plans to go anywhere at all, so we just got school done as we could.  Haven't double-checked, but it appears most of the children have finished all of their assignments.

Helpful homeschool advice to share...
The Homeschool Chick reminded me of this one.  HSLDA.  If you are not a member, become one.  In this world of ever-changing laws, it is essential to have legal advice and advocates if ever you need them.  The membership is about $120/year.  We never have had to use them, but we don't feel we've wasted our money.  It's worth knowing that they're there if we need them & our cash allows them to help those who are in need currently.

Places we are going...
Does the grocery store count?  How about the doctor's office?  Piano lessons tomorrow?  That's about it.

What's working for us...
Having few outside activities planned.  One more week of this bliss and then all activities pick back up.  This rest has been like a high-carb meal before a marathon.  So glad to be rested before the busyness gets going.

Thoughts I have...
*this space free*

Things I'm working on...
Getting info out about our second semester of co-op and organizing details.  Getting more serious about planning the annual Homeschool Fair.

I'm reading...
I'm finishing up "The Heart & the Fist."  Other than some profanity (which I don't recommend and is why my 14 year old won't be able to read this book), it is a fantastic book in which the author knows how to balance compassion and warfare.  Sadly, in this fallen world, one needs the other.
I also read a newly released e-book written by the author of a blog I regularly read.  Her blog is the Parents Magazine winner of Best Blog about children with special needs.  Her new e-book, Dreams Change, is a must read for anyone desiring to understand the heart of a mother with a child who had Down Syndrome.  It is a poignantly real look at the emotions that come with the diagnosis and the love that grows along the journey.

I'm cooking...
Black beans, at the moment, for chili.  Does anyone else think that cooking beans smell like dirty feet?

I'm praying for...
A friend who is having a biopsy Monday to find out if she has breast cancer.

A photo to share...
My kids, niece & nephew tubing with my hubby.  I think the caption is a perfect reminder for the rest of this homeschool year!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Checking in

We ended up taking yesterday off due to the fact that my niece & nephew (who go to public school) had off for MLK Day and they came here for the day.  It was nice to have a bit of an unplanned day off, but today I feel so...unmotivated.  Three of our children completed their work today.  Two are sick in bed.  And, the youngest...well, she did educational activities on my iPhone.  That counts, right?

Good news...Mike made #1 in the USA on Mathletics.com for the second time in a week!!!  He was listed as #52 in the WORLD last week.  Not sure where he places (if he does) this week.  So very proud.  His accomplishments spur the other children on and Katrina made it to #12 in the USA this past weekend - the first time she has made the list.  I'm so thrilled that they are motivated to do math and continue to improve their skills.

So, any good news in your homeschool? Anyone else having an "off" day?  I'm grateful for the fact that we have no plans and I haven't been stressed about "lost" time.  I'm really learning to let things go and just enjoy my time with my family.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal - January 13, 2012

In my life this week...
I've been a bit under the weather.  Fighting the 3rd ear infection in 1 1/2 months (or is it the same one?).  I'm on my 3rd round of anti-biotics which, so far, seem to be doing the trick.  I am so pleased with how my children really focused on their school and picked up the slack around here as I went to my doctor then crashed in bed on Monday.

In our homeschool this week...
It was our second week back to school after the Christmas break and, though the schedule was a bit off due to illness and appointments, it went very well.  This is our first week of our 3rd quarter (yee-haw!) and it's good to be able to say that we are more than halfway through our school year & right on track!!

Helpful homeschooling advice to share...
I am really finding out how having less scheduled outside the home is making things a lot less stressful during our homeschool days.

I am inspired by...
This will sound cheesy, but I just finished reading Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar's book "A Love That Multiplies" and they truly inspire me to take things as they come, focus on the joy of family and the Lord, and care more about the things that really matter - such as children's character and happiness - rather than the superficial things many of us focus on - such as how perfect our house looks.

Places we are going & people we are seeing...
Doctors and their offices.  Not much else.

My favorite thing this week...
The fact that my family was able to really pitch in together and allow me to rest when I needed it.  Those days when I had 5 children 6 and under are still in my recent memory and it was nice not to have to call in back-up from outside the home.

Questions I have...
Why is it that, if Christian teens have Jesus Christ in their hearts and lives, they still want to look "cool" by frowning and looking miserable?  Our countenances should be different than those who have no hope in Christ.  If our children (and us) look as miserable as the world for the sake of fitting in, why would the world want Christ?

Things I'm working on...
Not much.  I've enjoyed taking some time off.  I think it's about time I get back to co-op lesson plans and Homeschool Fair plans.

I'm reading...
"The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL" by Eric Greitens.  I've been contemplating reading this book for some time, but have hesitated as I'm not much into reading military books.  However, this book is amazing and - dare I say it? - life changing.  Truly a book that takes a real look into what life is all about and how we need to care for our neighbor.  No, it's not written by a Christian, but, so far, I see little that would go against what is meant by "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

I'm grateful for...
My family.

I'm cooking...
Working on Chicken Pie right now.

I'm praying for...
My friends who are on the mission field and my friends who are going through difficult times.

A quote to share...
"Without courage, compassion falters...without compassion, courage has no direction." -Eric Greitens "The Heart and the Fist"