It's Tuesday Mama!

Today like many other weeks Supergirl looked up at me and said "It's Tuesday Mama!  You're supposed to call your mom."  And like many weeks since October she goes on to say "but you can't cause she's gone."

Sometimes I can't tell if she brings it up because she misses my mom?  Maybe she brings it up because it was part of the routine we had.  She very rarely got to talk to Nana on the phone but she was always very excited when I told her that yes I would tell Nana about this or that or the other thing that Supergirl was convinced that Nana needed to know in order for all to be right in the world.

It's been a couple of weeks since she commented on it being a Tuesday and that I call my mom on Tuesdays.  I don't know if is because something made her think of her Nana today.

Sometimes she'll see me crying and she'll say "you miss your mom don't you."  Yes, peanut I do.  A lot.

She continued her conversation with "who will do school with me if you die?"   Huh?  I tried to brush it off.  "Well let's just not have me die ok?"

"but Mama,  I'm just saying what if you do?"

"Well maybe Turlegirl can do school with you then."

"But mama, she's already away doing her own school."

I saved by the bell.  The timer of the microwave dinged and her Pirate Killing Soup was heated through.

We all grieve in different ways and sometimes I forget that my children are grieving too.  It doesn't help that today is the 3 month anniversary of the funeral.  I wonder if she had some type of internal timer.

We all miss her.  The girls miss their Nana.  I miss my Mama.  Memory Eternal Mama.  I love you!

 My Mama with Tailorbear and Supergirl May 2000


Where have I been? A Random Five style Update

I know I've been missing.  I only wrote a handful of posts in 2017 and most of those were reviews I wrote for the Homeschool Review Crew.

I mostly blamed my blogging silence on being too busy.  But I think the real reason goes much much deeper.

2017 was a hard year for me.  Harder than I want to admit. And it was busier.  Yes I was very busy with homeschooling and doing the Crew but the busyness of 2017 was different.  Harder.  It's taken so much more out of me.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was worried about 2018.  The new level of normal busyness doesn't seem to be slowing down at all but I'm hoping I can learn to manage it better.

In the style of Random Five on Friday here's a rundown of what's happened in the last year:

1) December of 2016 ~ very near the end of the month, my older brother passed away.  I intend to blog about this sometime maybe.

2) Supergirl got very very very sick. She was diagnosed with Protein Losing Enteropathy or PLE a complication of being HLHS post Fontan.  She also didn't want to walk anymore.  This turned our world upside down.  PLE crisis has resolved and she's stable. We've had 6 months of OT and PT.   She has spiffy new green custom built for her wheelchair. 

3)  BooBear graduated from university.  This most definitely needs a dedicated blog post if for no other reason for me to gush and post pictures.  I am so proud of her!  But the month of May was so busy with her finishing up! 

4)  Tailorbear graduated from high school!  So busy trying to get things figured out for her to attend a local technical college and so in September she started a new job and a new school.  The Taxi Driving keeps us all busy. 

5) My Mama went into hospice and I went into denial.  Mama passed away on October 16. I still don't think I'm ready to talk about it.  Memory Eternal Mama I miss you so much.

I do hope to post more regularly in 2018.  My blog might be less about homeschooling and more about random bits of my life but since I am still homeschooling Supergirl and still part of the Crew I am sure that I will still be talking about homeschooling.


A Wild West Audio Adventure! {Crew Review}

Have you heard of Heirloom Audio Productions? If you are a regular reader of my blog you may recognize the vendor name.  My family first encountered these fabulous audio dramas when we reviewed In Freedom's Cause.  I also reviewed Beric the Briton on my blog. We've also enjoyed several titles such as In the Reign of Terror and The Cat of Bubastes.  This time we received Captain Bayley's Heir.

Captain Bayley's Heir

Confession time!  As much as I have loved Beric the Briton and Cat of Bubastes from Heirloom Audio Productions I wasn't too sure about Captain Bayley's Heir.  You see it is set in the Wild West of America and I'm not terribly fond of that time period.  Mostly because of all those old Western movies my dad would watch. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself not only enjoying this new title but shocked when I discovered that it has become my favorite one! Here is a short summary of the story from Supergirl:

The story is about Captan Bayley's Heir.  The story talks about how Mrs. Hall found a baby and took care of it as their own.  The baby's mom died.  Frank is Captain Bayley's nephew and he is at school. He might get expelled for stealing the 10 lb note.  He didn't do it.  His cousin is Fred and Fred was helping him. Fred gave him money to go to America.  Frank wants to be like his Uncle.

Frank goes to America He met some people.  They were friends with him and they sang a song called Amazing Grace. His sweet uncle found him.  He has at the hospital. He was hurt.  Alice didn't believe he was guilty she said "he didn't do it."

Uncle Harold was my favorite because he was crying over his daughter who died.

I love this title the most because it is a tale of grace and forgiveness.  We even learn a little bit about the history of the hymn Amazing Grace.  Supergirl loved hearing the references to the song and hearing it song and played.  She said "you sang that to me."   When my girls were babies, I sang Amazing Grace as a bedtime lullaby.   It is a protestant hymn but still one of my very very favorites.  God pours out His grace on us wretched sinners.

The theme is established in the very beginning when Mr. George sets up the story.  A young American named Frank is chatting with Mr. George.  He tells Mr. George that he isn't much for religion.  He doesn't think he'd ever be good enough for God.  I've thought that!  I've felt that!  When I didn't understand the relationship of faith and works (read the book of James!) and thought if I have to do all these things to earn God's favor I'll never be good enough. I might as well give up!  But Mr. George responds with: "It's not about what you can do for God.  It's about what He's done for you."

There are two plot lines in this adventure woven together and connected by Captain Bayley.  Supergirl shared more about Frank but referenced the other with her comment about Uncle Harold and his daughter dying.  Both story lines exhibit grace: both giving and receiving.

The audio alone is well worth listening to but Crew Members were also given access to the Live the Adventure Club which is a treasure trove of wonderful ways to dig deeper with each of their titles.

One of the best extras available is the Study Guide.  It is available as a PDF download or you can view the PDF online.  Some parts of the Study Guide are available as Questions and an online Quiz.  If you are part of the Live the Adventure Club you can access the Heirloom Audio story and answer questions or take the online quiz.  You can even follow along with an online script.

Back to the Study Guide.  This 38 page document starts off with a short biography of G. A. Henty.  The bulk of the study guide are the two types of questions and the vocabulary section title Defining Words.

The questions and vocabulary are arranged by CD Track.  This very helpful if you need to go back to the CD to re-listen to answer the question.

One type of question, Listening Well are comprehension questions such as "What request does Harry have?" or "What does Frank do with the money?"

The other questions are Thinking Further and may require some research or ask the student to draw conclusions. Some examples are "Harry has grown up in poverty. He is severely handicapped. How can he demonstrate such happiness and joy?" or "What were “dime store novels”? How influential were they in shaping eastern America’s ideas about the Wild West?"

Sprinkled through the pages of questions are sections called Expand Your Learning.  Some topics include Manifest Destiny, Gold Mining Camps, and Victorian Money.

The Study Guide also includes a one page list of additional resources and three one page Bible Studies: God's Grace, Becoming a Christian, and Honoring Your Parents.  All three of these topics are themes woven into the story.

Whether you choose to add Captain Bayley's Heir as a supplement in your home school, or just want to have a wonderful audio drama for entertainment, this is an excellent production with a beautiful message of love, forgiveness, and God's Grace! 

 Check out Heirloom Audio on Social Media:

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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Even a House Full of Adults Needs A Chore System! {Review}

Five years ago I had the opportunity to review Everyday Cooking from Everyday Homemaking.  This time, as a Crew Leader, I received an updated digital version of Everyday Cooking as well as a digital copy of Everyday Family Chore System.

Like the Ninth Edition (revised in 2011), the new 12th Edition of Everyday Cooking,revised just this past July 2017,  is full of recipes and tips.  This new edition has 203 pages and more recipes!

I know I said this 5 years ago but I must say it again. Vicki Bently cooks like me and I think that is one of the reasons I love this cookbook!  When I think of old fashioned home cooking, I think of things like Mom's Roast, Chicken and Dumplings, or Hamburger Gravy.  Yes, those are all recipes included in this book.  When I think of everyday food or meals, I think of hamburger stroganoff, sloppy joes, and "unstuffed" chicken breasts.

One of the new recipes is for an Asian Sweet and Sour Sauce.  I also spotted new Skillet Chicken recipes and a Low-Carb Biscuit recipe. These are all on my to-try list.

During the review period we adapted the Banana Muffin recipe to be Banana Chocolate Chip.   When Boobear was lamenting that she hadn't had baked oatmeal in a long time I pulled out the Baked Oatmeal recipe.  It was as good as we remembered.

But what I really want to share with you is the Everyday Family Chore System. In 2012 when the Crew reviewed Everyday Homemaking last, I only had the opportunity to use the Everyday Cooking eBook.  I needed to see the Everyday Family Chore System to perform my duties as a Crew Leader but I didn't think I would actually use it.  I was wrong.

My family is in a new season of life.  We started transitioning a year ago when Turtlegirl went away to college.  Now we have to find another new normal for us as Boobear is an adult living at home.  Tailorbear started classes at a local technical college.  It will be just Supergirl and I home alone many days.

We are all busy.  We all live here.  Chores still need to happen.  We still need a system.  We may not be in the season of chore training but just because the girls grew up doesn't mean the need to do chores has stopped.

I don't know about your house but at my house I frequently hear the lament "I don't want to be the only one doing chores."  Everyone feels like they are the only one who does it so they don't do it.  That means nobody is doing chores.  Things are just not getting done.

I needed inspiration.  I needed a jump start.  I think I've found it with th Everyday Family Chore System.  This book is divided into three parts plus the introduction.  The three parts are:

  • Laying a Foundation
  • Implementing a Plan
  • The Actual Chore System

Laying a Foundation:

In this section Mrs Bently shares four basic principles that need to be understood.  These principles are the foundation that lays the groundwork for the how-to sections.   These principles are:

  • Have Age Appropriate Expectations
  • Establish Rules or Standards
  • Have a Working Knowledge of Family Discipline
  • Tie Strings to Their Hearts

Implementing a Plan:

In Part Two Implementing a Plan Mrs Bently includes a Life Skills Checklist.  This checklist is divided into sections based on how old the child should be to start learning those sills.  She also includes the age that the child should be proficient.  For example she lists that a 7 year old should start to be responsible for washing and drying own hair and by age 10 should master this.  She also lists that a 7 year old could start to clean bathrooms but not necessarily be able to fully accomplish that task until around age 12.  She emphasizes:

The age category under which an item falls lets you know the age at which you might consider beginning to train a child at this task; the age in parentheses is the age at which you might expect him to be able to fully accomplish the task. (p. 15)
This checklist should be a guideline and not a strict measuring stick.  I love that she keeps it real by acknowledging that she is not competent in all the areas that she includes in the checklist.  That made me feel better about the gaps I've noticed in my children (and myself!).

In this part she has sections titled:

  • Delegate/assign Responsiblities
  • Suggestions for the actual "set up" of the system
  • Teach them How to Work
  • Make it Easy to Succeed
 Each of those sections are full of information! Even though much of this is focused on young children and teaching them how do the chores, I found reading this section to be what I needed to jumpstart my brain into thinking about possible systems.

I keep coming back to the Delegate/assign Responsibilities section because I think this is the heart of what I need.  There are 4 of us plus Supergirl.  Even Supergirl is capable of doing some chores.

Before we can divide up the chores (assign them!), we need to know what it is we need to do be doing and deciding how often it needs to be done.  She does have a list of possible jobs in Part 3.

Like with the cookbook, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read through some of her tips and ideas in the Make it Easy to Succeed section in Part 2.  I am glad I am not the only one who says "don't put it down, put it away!"   I wonder if she is more successful with that in her family? I know several of my family members who really struggle with this concept.  We once found math homework in the refrigerator.  Still not quite sure how it ended up there but usually the object gets put down anywhere and we can't find it when we need it.  This also means clutter and things laying out everywhere.  Even as adults this is something we need to work on.

The Implementing a Plan part of the book is the heart of the book. It is the longest section and it is filled with practical tips and ideas including suggestions for rewards.

The Actual Chore System

Before moving on to part 3 The Actual Chore System Mrs Bentley gives a quick review of parts 1 and 2.   It is very tempting to jump right in with Part 3. I encourage you to read through parts 1 and 2 no matter what season of life you are in.  The author does state that you may want to refer to Part 3 as you read through Part 2 and I agree that was helpful but do not skip over Part 1 or Part 2 just to get to Part 3!

The Chore System has two parts:  The How-To Cards and the Job Labels.  I really wish I had used How-To cards when I was teaching the girls different chores.  I'm thinking a few of those now would not be a bad idea.

She included several pre-printed how-to cards such as Setting the Table or Wash Bathroom Walls.  She also included job labels for the most common tasks.  Some of the job labels are: Groom Animals, Sort Laundry, and Cut Grass.

I love that she included job cards for Help Brother and Help Sister!  Vicki Bentley even included Assistant Cook as a job label.

What I love best are the blank cards.  Because my copy is a PDF Download I can just print however many sheets I need directly onto Card Stock.  If you purchase the printed copy she encourages you to photocopy the blank pages onto card stock though you can use them straight from the book.

There is a Suggested Resources page after the last page of blank cards but with the new website design I couldn't find the referenced list of resources.  Hopefully Everyday Homemaking will put the list back on their website or better yet include it in the next printing or edition of the book.

Our Chore System

So Boobear, Tailorbear and I brainstormed how to take the ideas from The Everyday Family Chore System and put together something that we could use.  Something VISIBLE.  Something easy.  The original Bentley system used clothespins on a large board. Mrs Bentley describes several ways you can use the Job Labels.

We decided we liked the board idea.  But instead of having the names of family in the center with weekly chores on one side and daily on the other we would color code them.   We put names in different sections.  We also decided to laminate the job cards and use velco.

Our Family Chore System is still in the "working out the kinks" and "testing".   It's a work in progress.  I'm excited though. It's a step in the right direction.

Do you have a chore system that works for you?  Do you have a cookbook that will help you teach cooking skills to your children?

Go read more reviews!  I think you'll want your own copy of Everyday Cooking or the Everyday Family Chore System!

Visit Everyday Homemaking on Facebook!

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

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Studying Marine Biology Just for Fun! {Review}

Many years ago when my girls were still very young, I was introduced to Apologia Educational Ministries through their Elementary Science Series of books.  We used Exploring Creation Through Astronomy and followed it up with Exploring Creation through Botany.  As the girls grew we continued to include Apologia Science in our home school and in high school all three of the "big" girls used Exploring Creation Through Biology.

Recently, as part of my role with the Homeschool Review Crew, I received Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set.  Apologia generously included the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD.

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that I don't have any high school students anymore.  Boobear graduated from University in May.  In June Tailorbear graduated from our home school high school.  Turtlegirl graduated last year and is away at college. All of them said the same thing "oh man, I wanted to study Marine Biology when I was in high school!"  Much to our mutual disappointment we had run out of time.

Funny how things work out though.  Boobear came to me and asked if it would be okay if she read the textbook.  She still wanted to learn more about Marine Biology.  A few days later she asked me "mom, would it be okay if I wrote in the Student Notebook?"  So my college graduate daughter has started studying Marine Biology just for fun!

So let me tell you about this Marine Biology Course!

The Textbook:

The author is Sherri Seligson with technical editorial contributions from Dr. Robert Carter, PhD Marine Biology.  The text is written to the student in a conversational tone.  It begins with Student Notes that describe the course.

Marine Biology is divided into 16 modules.  The recommend pace of approximately 2 weeks per module plus tests and has students finishing the course in 34 weeks.

When I think of biology I think of studying life forms.  I imagine studying respiratory systems and digestion tracts. I think of dissecting frogs or in the case of Marine Biology fish.  I don't necessarily think of studying the composition of the ocean or the continental drift.  I love that this course covers the geology and ecology of the ocean as well as exploring the all the life forms that live there!

Here's a list of what is covered:
  • Module 1 ~ The Oceans of our Planet
  • Module 2 ~  Life in the Sea
  • Module 3 ~ The First Four Kingdoms
  • Modules 4 & 5 ~ Marine Invertebrate
  • Modules 6 & 7 ~ Marine Vertebrates
  • Module 8 ~ Marine Ecology
  • Module 9 ~ The Intertidal Zone
  • Module 10 ~  Estuary Communities
  • Module 11~ Coral Reefs
  • Module 12 ~ Continental Shelf Communities
  • Module 13 ~ The Epipelagic Zone
  • Module 14 ~ The Deep Ocean
  • Module 15 ~  Ocean Resources
  • Module 16 ~ Effects of Humans on the Sea
 The Text also contains  a Glossary, Index, and several Appendixes.

This is a lab course!

The laboratory exercises fall into one of three categories:  microscope labs, dissection labs, and household labs.   Just as the name implies the household labs use only household equipment.  You'll need a microscope and prepared slides to complete the microscope activities and for the dissection exercises you'll need a dissection specimens kit and tools.  Since Marine Biology is an advanced biology course it is assumed that the student has completed high school biology.  It is also assumed that since they already took Biology they would have a microscope and dissection tools.

This course can be completed without doing the Labs but most colleges and universities require multiple science courses with a lab so this course would fulfill that requirement.

The Student Notebook:

This enormous soft cover spiral bound notebook is divided into four sections:
  • Introduction ~ This section includes a note for parents, rubrics for grading labs and a beautiful schedule that includes all the readings, questions, labs, and tests.
  • Modules Notes, "On Your Own," Study Guide, and Optional Summary ~ This section has pages for students to take notes and has all the questions from the text but laid out with space for the student to write out their answers.
  • Lab Reports ~ Includes the details such as the procedure as well a place to write out observations, and make drawings and diagrams.
  • Presenting Your Research: Creating a Presentation Poster

Solutions and Tests:

In addition to the textbook and the Student Notebook the Advantage Set also includes the paperback Solutions and Tests for Exploring Creation with Marine Biology 2nd Edition.  This came shrink wrapped with a smaller paper pamphlet of just the tests.

The larger solution manual is more than just answers to all of the study guide questions, copies of tests, and answers to tests.  The front section contains helpful information about the course and how to administer the course including grading information.

I love that they included a test only booklet.  If I were using this with my high school students I would not want to administer the test from the Solutions and Tests book nor would I want to deal with trying to make copies of the tests. (It specifically states that you are allowed to make copies if you do not want to administer the tests from the solutions and tests manual.)

The MP3 Audio CD:

The Advantage Set contains everything you need to be successful with the course but Apologia also sent us the Audio CD.  This is sold separately.  It is MP3 Format and must be played with an MP3 compatible cd player or computer.  We found that our DVD player which also plays CDs is MP3 CD compatible.

The CD is  complete audio recording of the book and is read by Marissa Leinart  Students who have difficulty reading the text or who might be auditory learners will find this very helpful. Boobear is very visual so prefers to read the text herself.  For her it would be too difficult to listen to the audio and try to take notes.

For the purposes of this review I listened to a couple sections of Module 1. I noticed that the reading was clear. She was easy to understand. She read at a pace that was fast enough that I wasn't lost but too fast for me to stop and pause. She reads the text including vocabulary definitions and On Your Own questions but she doesn't read figures or captions.  I really wanted her to pause so that I could pause the CD to study the Figures.  She doesn't read the experiments.  Again I wish there was some type of pause built it or a "please stop the CD now and complete the experiment."

I asked Boobear for her thoughts and opinion.  She said:
I really enjoy how this text book is laid out and how the author was clear with the description. I also appreciated that the first module was laying down a very through foundation, while this sometimes was boring I appreciated making sure that the students starting the course knew all the information that needs to be known. 

My favorite thing though is the student notebook. It would have been so much easier in high school to have had that. I was not sure that the note taking was something that I cared about but for students that are unfamiliar to note taking it is great training. I really appreciated the questions being in the note book and the chapter summaries plus study guide. Maybe I take too many notes but I do wish it had more of the Notes pages.  Overall it is so much easier to have a note book that has all of that that you can use with the text book.

There you have it!  A program so well put together that it inspires the learning to continue even after college!  We both recommend Exploring Creation with Marine Biology as an additional science with a lab credit for your biology loving students!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

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