Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CTC Math 12 Month Family Plan Review

CTC Math Review

I love math!

Well, not really.  Not me anyway, but my kids do.  What a blessing that is, and what a blessing CTC Math has been to our family.  It blesses me, the "I really don't see a point to all this math" person, just as well as it does my children.  It even helps me like math just a little bit more, and that's pretty cool!  ( Don't worry!  They have NO clue that I'm not so thrilled about math.  What kind of homeschooling mom do you think I am anyway?)

It gives me pleasure to see how CTC Math and the 12 Month Family Plan has ignited a passion for math within my children.  For those of you that do not know, they are eight, four, and three.  Yes, even the three-year-old has gotten in on things a little.  She enjoys watching her siblings do their assignments, and she enjoys having them help her try her hand at the kindergarten level.  It is a bit beyond her capabilities, but it is exciting enough to engage her at least for a little bit.  With her busy, little self, that is saying a lot.

My eight-year-old, our primary focus for this review, enjoys working independently and choosing her assignments.  This detail oriented, homeschool mom would like it a little better if I could actually assign the various lessons within the program itself, but we've learned to just work with it the way it is.  On the plus side, if I had been limiting her to my ideals it would have taken much longer to discover that she knows much more about math than I realized.  It is nice that she can watch the lesson as many times as she needs to in order to completely understand the skills being taught.  She can do the assignments as many times as necessary should she be struggling with a certain aspect of things allowing her to thoroughly understand the concepts she is learning.  Another portion of the program that I just love is that you can skip skill sets and return to them later.  You don't have to go in a certain progression.  This has been especially awesome for us as the eight-year-old is not quite ready for the more abstract aspects of math.  So, we moved along and will revisit them later when the time is right.  One thing that I would enjoy is to be able to print worksheets for the kids when we are unable to be online but still want to keep up our math.  That would be an awesome addition to the program as well.  For now, we just supplement with workbooks I already had on hand, and it is working out just fine.  What do I get out of all this?  At the end of the week I get a nice little update with a summary of all she's accomplished as well as the grades she's achieved.  She even gets the opportunity to learn mastery certificates if she so desires.  It's a beautiful thing!

My four-year-old has been in love with all things math related for quite some time now and will even request to "do math" from time to time.  In the past this meant I would scramble to get him a preschool level worksheet from my stash and let him explore away.  With CTC Math things just moved to a whole new level for him.  He loves getting online and using the manipulatives on screen to learn about numbers and counting at a kindergarten level.  Who knew he could do kindergarten level math?  Not this momma!  We're just a little more relaxed when it comes to things like these, and we don't normally pay attention to grade level and things like that.  We know what we know, right?  Even though the CTC Math 12 Month Family Plan is organized by grade level and skill set, there is this same flexibility.  Despite us knowing the actual levels of the kids now, they are still arbitrary in that there is still the freedom to work at your current level no matter if it's at, above, or below grade level.  The only testing required is what you choose.  This system is designed for you to be in complete control of what you do when, and we love it for that.

Having the eight-year-old help the younger two with their math assignments further fuels her passion for math.  One of the best ways to become a master at something is to teach others.  Teaching her siblings has helped cement their bond as well as build her confidence further.  These are benefits to using this program that we didn't foresee.  Watching the kids work together to solve problems is heart warming.  They all love math now, and they love learning it together!  It will be fun to see where this leads.  I have always enjoyed watching younger children bloom more fully from the love and care of the older ones.

CTC Math for Homeschoolers covers the entire gamut from kindergarten through trigonometry.  How I would have LOVED to have had this for my older children when they were completing high school.  What a difference it would have made for all of us.  (Who knows?  Maybe I would have actually gone past geomotry and tried something a little more challenging.  Maybe I will when this next batch reaches high school.  I guess you'll just have to stick around for a few years and find out!)  I love that there is one low price for the entire family with no need to purchase separate levels.  We have full access to all levels all the time!  There are single student options as well as options for families with two or more students.  The annual family plan is affordably priced at just $118.80 for 12 months.  With what I have invested in math the various math curriculum we've used over the years I can truly appreciate the flexibility and affordability of this particular program.  It is certain to be used in our homeschool for years to come.

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The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions - A Review

Home School Adventure Co.

Home School Adventure Co. "creates and offers resources designed to inspire and equip parents to educate and raise children to be loving, compassionate, strong, and wise."  The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions fits fully into this description.  I was very excited to be chosen to review this book with my eight-year-old in mind.  She does fall just short of the recommended age group of 9-11 for a family read aloud, ages 12 and up for family discussion and/or parent teacher guidance, with high school aged young people able to work independently with the material, but I was so inspired by the character content of the story that we took the plunge and read several chapters per week together as a family.

The Wise Woman Literary Analysis  Journal
We do a lot of reading in our home.  It was my ambition to read a chapter per night and just blaze right through the book.  However, with an eight-year-old, four-year-old, and three-year-old my intention was not very realistic.  I had dreams of sitting on the couch, printed chapter in hand, with the toddlers quietly playing at my feet and the eight-year-old  cuddled next to me intently focused on the story.  Yeah, well, it wasn't quite like that, but we are thoroughly enjoying the story.  The language takes a bit more focus for us since it is the older English style of writing, the story was originally published in the 1800's after all, and my eight-year-old is still reaching fluency in reading.  This type of writing is a bit of a challenge for her to focus on and comprehend.  The discussion questions help a lot.  I do change up the wording a bit to help her grasp what the questions are asking and even go back to the part of the story the question is referencing as a refresher.  They really do inspire deep thought, require real critical thinking, and challenge the reader with some serious self reflecting.

The story makes no biblical reference, but tying biblical principles into the discussion is simple.  With a fable like telling of the story of the princess, the shepherd's daughter, and the Wise Woman we easily travel into the tale finding ourselves watching every move of the characters; ready and willing to learn the lessons taught both by the poor example of the Somebodies and the purposeful instruction of the Wise Woman.  As the story unfolds we find ourselves challenged by the discussion questions as we analyze the behaviors, choices, and character of the young women in the story, as well as the discipline and guidance of the Wise Woman.

Exploring the story of The Wise Woman has given us plenty of opportunity for reflection and discussion.  Though my brood is a tad young for this resource, we are thoroughly enjoying it, and I will be saving my printed copy in a binder for use at least a few more times throughout our homeschooling journey.  My review version is in PDF format, and I am a paper in hand kind of gal.  So, I printed out each chapter along with the corresponding analysis questions in advance of each reading.  However, you could have easily read it directly from my laptop or my Kindle Fire.  The chapter reference is super handy since it lists the chapter and the questions with separate links.  It made my job of printing the days materials a breeze.  We will be using corresponding vocabulary resource with our future readings.  With its chapter and page reference for each word it will be easy to work into a more thorough lesson plan as my children grow and mature over the years.  Such a valuable resource!  Speaking of value, how about an extra 10% off downloads at Home School Adventure Co. for my readers?  (The print edition is available for $28.95 with the e-book download, which we used, priced at $14.95.)

Home School Adventure Co.
We have just a few chapter left, and we cannot wait to see how it ends.  Will the girls finally learn their lessons, be reunited with their families, and become quality young ladies with something to offer others?  Or, will they remain imprisoned by their poor character and self-absorption?  What about the Wise Woman?  Do her lessons finally get conveyed?  If not, how does it effect her?  What about the parents?  Do we learn more about them and what they gain from the experiences with their daughters?  Do they all come together in the end and realize how alike they are despite their station is society, or not?  We do have questions awaiting answers!  It will be fun to see how it all plays out, and my excitement remains for the endless possibilities that exist with this fine piece of literary material.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reading for Pleasure

I am a book worm.  I have always been a book worm, and I will always be a book worm.  It was a sad realization for me recently when I concluded that there are not enough hours in my lifetime for me to read everything I want to read and learn everything I would like to learn.  I could easily wile away my days curled up almost anywhere consuming book after book, article after article, blog post after blog post, and novel after novel.  I love to read almost anything I can get my hands on.  It gives me great pleasure.

Being a mom of ten and a nana to nearly a bakers dozen of wee ones it has also sadly dawned on me that there are rarely enough hours within my day to feed my need to read even just a little.  This current season of my life finds me wanting desperately in the word bank department.  I am one of those people that typically has a bookmark of some sort tucked inside a half dozen or more books at any given moment.  I won't even begin to try to figure out how long it took me to finish the last novel I read.  It had been so long that when I picked up the next book to read today I discovered that it was already marked nearly 30 pages in.  Stumbling on this always leaves me in a quandary.  You see, I really didn't remember having read those 30 or so pages, but I knew that I would remember the story if I started reading again.  So in lies my dilemma.  Do I start over and spend precious time re-reading the story, or do I try to move forward from where I left off and hope I could pick the story back up?  This time I opted to read from the beginning.  I am glad I did.  As I predicted I did remember the story after I started reading, so I skimmed a little where I remembered well and read more in depth where I didn't.  No harm, no foul.

The book I just finished reading is titled The Language of Sycamores by Lisa Wingate.  I so thoroughly enjoyed it that I actually plan to look for more titles by this author.  I don't often do that, so that is a big plug from me.  The Language of Sycamores is quite the treasure.  Our local party store in our little small town, so small we don't even have a gas station, is just around the corner from our home.  They have a little lending library there, and I grabbed it on a whim last summer.  Well, you probably noticed that summer is right around the corner again.  So, yeah, that's how long it took me to read it, which is a total and complete reflection on the season of my life, and nowhere near a reflection on the writings of Lisa Wingate.  Did I mention yet that I LOVED this book?  Well, I really did love it!

Karen is a middle-aged career woman totally caught up in the rat race of career and marriage.  She is ignoring some important aspects of her life when something big and unexpected takes place that knocks her off her feet and gets her full attention.  This sudden change has far reaching implications that she never could have imagined.  Through self-discovery, soul searching, family history, and a few other unexpected sources her life is diverted and changed in a way she never could have imagined.  Whenever I was without this book in my hands I was wondering about the characters and what was in store for them next.  It was thought provoking and touching in a very timely way for me.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  It would make an excellent summer read.  Under normal circumstances I could have easily read it in a night, or at the very least during a few lazy days at the beach or campground.  If only I had had that opportunity.  Ahhh...a girl can dream...

I am excited to continue my efforts of adding fiction back into my reading rotation with Irish Princess by Mickey Clement.  There are many characters present at the onset, and I love being steeped in American-Irish culture.  There's a little more watering of my roots going on with this novel.  You'll have to check back later, hopefully not next year, to learn what I think of this one.  With any luck, I may actually finish it by the end of the weekend.  Again, a girl can dream!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Fuzzy Water

Our family has been learning a lot of new things about living a more natural lifestyle.  We desire to be a little closer to our roots and create a more simple existence.  With that desire has come a lot of information.  It's like a tidal wave at times.  The most recent "new to us" discovery is water kefir.

I have the most amazing friends that are so willing to share their "different than mine" knowledge.  It is such a blessing to be surrounded with such passionate and caring people.  Recently, our family was struck by a stomach bug.  My poor, little guy got it the worst.  I actually stayed up the entire night with him as he vomited his way through to morning.  It was horrible.  What helped him in his recovery process?  Water kefir, and a good friend willing to share her supply.  (Hop on over to her blog, Think on These Things, to learn more about how she makes water kefir.)

What is water kefir?  Water kefir is a fermented, probiotic beverage made from kefir grains or a powdered culture.  The grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship.  It is packed with vitamins and is an excellent immune booster.

As my little guy went throughout the night ridding his body of fluid I had him slowly start sipping the water kefir.  At first he couldn't even keep down a sip, but within an hour  he started keeping it down for a while and was slowly able to drink more and more.  By morning the vomiting had ended, and he spent the day sipping his "fuzzy water" as he likes to call it.  It made him feel better, and it was all he needed to help him down the road to recovery.

Since then, my other two came down with the same bug, and we kicked it out using "fuzzy water".  Having the water kefir has been a tremendous blessing.  Today, we began the process of making our own.  Soon, it will be a staple in our home.  We are joining in the centuries old tradition of fermenting water and juice with kefir grains and sugar.

Another of my wonderful friends wrote a very thorough and informative series on making the best choices we can for our families in regard to food.  This is a timely topic and really provides some thought provoking as well as helpful information to help us make informed choices when we feed our families.  It gets harder and harder to feel good about the food we purchase and consume.  I am certain you will enjoy reading her series, The Switch at her blog, Where My Treasure Is.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Road Trip Therapy

There is nothing, I mean NOTHING, like a road trip with a good friend.  I am feeling blessed in so many ways.  The Lord has been teaching me abundantly lately, and for the most part I have been receiving the lessons with open and willing arms.  It is so freeing when we just go with the flow and do not force life into our own skewed idea of the way things are supposed to be.

That being said, I am learning to let go.  Let go of my ideals.  Let go of my agenda.  Let go of my expectations.  Let go, and be free.  What is more fitting than a road trip with no real agenda?  Part of it is planned, loosely.  As a Seventh Day Adventist woman that resides in Michigan I am richly blessed to have an amazing church camp.  This weekend marks the first of three weekends this month that Camp Au Sable will host Women's Ministries.  It is an amazing opportunity to feed your soul.  Women, Adventist and not, gather from all over Michigan and beyond to fellowship together.  We eat, we laugh, we cry, we worship, we learn, we connect, and we grow.  There is so much beauty at Camp Au Sable, in the natural surroundings as well as the people.

So, the Women's Ministries Weekend is the planned part.  Well, loosely.  Normally I am packed and ready to go by now, but alas that is not the case for me with this journey.  I just determined when check-in is last night, and I've no real clue what the real topic of the weekend is, or what the seminars are, or what the schedule is, or what the special plans are, or what I want to do in my spare time.  I mean nothing.  I just made my packing list last night.  Last night!  Our washing machine is broken and will not be fixed until next week, so I still have to go out and do laundry.  This is SO not me!  But, I am okay with it and just going with the flow.  It is almost surreal.  It's like I'm looking in from the outside wondering who it is that I am.  In years past I would be so stressed in this circumstance.  Not now.  It is what it is, right?  It will all work out.  It always does.  No biggie!

So, the super unplanned part begins when we leave Camp Au Sable for our return journey home.  Guess what?  Not going home!  WOO-HOO!!!  This mamma needs a break, and my best gal pal and I are taking one.  You have no clue, or maybe you do, just how much I am looking forward to a full 24 hours to do just as I please.  See, we extended our weekend through Monday evening.  Yippee!  What do we plan to do?  I am really not sure, and that is uber cool!  Will we leisurely browse through a used book store?  Will we eat lunch while gazing out at Lake Huron, will we lounge around at a hotel as long as possible, will we find a cool cottage somewhere, will we, will we, will we?  I have no clue, and it is SO beautiful.

My time has been consumed with illness, school lessons, house cleaning, errand running, bill paying, cooking, and the slew of other things that have landed in my lap.  Responsibility has reigned, so I have spent ZERO time planning for my much anticipated extended weekend of freedom.  How refreshing!

A quote worth pondering:

God is looking for imperfect men and women 
who have learned to walk in moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit. 
Christians who have come to terms with their inadequacies, fears, and failures. 
Believers who have become discontent with ‘surviving’ 
and have taken the time to investigate everything God has to offer in this life.

Charles Stanley

May your weekend be richly blessed, your soul wonderfully fed, and your spirit lifted high.


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