Random Five on Friday ~ May 22nd Edition

It's been a week and these random thoughts center on Supergirl and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

1.  Supergirl had her routine follow up for neurology about two weeks ago. She's still being treated primarily for "partial seizure disorder."  While we haven't witnessed an episode as severe as some we've seen in the past, we are still nowhere near the goal of seizure free for two years.  We are still on anti-seizure meds and no changes in doses. At least not yet.

Supergirl being silly!

2.  This week she had her regular follow up with her cardiologist. Glory to God for all things, she is still very stable cardiac wise.  She's growing too.  That's got to be in part to the meds her Endocrinologist has her on for thyroid. She's over 60 lbs. now and 4 feet tall.  I am really hoping she can grow another 6-10 inches.  Her genetics and her alphabet soup list of medical issues all contribute to being on the short side. We've always known this.  It's still tough though when she says "I want to be as tall as you, mama!"

3.  Doctors appointments and the month of May have sent Honeybear on a trip down Memory Lane. To quote Honeybear "too bad it became a stroll down Nightmare on Elm Street."   At least the open heart surgery 15 years ago (the month of May) wasn't the "Nightmare" that the first two were.  Not easy.  Not without complications but oh so much better than the previous stages.  15 Years ago (May 2000) Supergirl had the 3rd Stage: Fontan surgery to complete the restructuring of her heart.

4.  Did you know that Dr. William Norwood first started doing the first surgery of what would become the 3 staged Reconstruction Surgery for HLHS in 1979?  Stage one is now known as the Norwood. It wasn’t until 1981 though that the first baby survived surgery. In the early 80’s only 1 baby out of 10 would survive.  I spent some time googling and found the story of Jeni who was the first baby to survive from UCLA.  She'll be 30 this year. She's married. I found her story to be very inspiring.  It brought back scary memories but gives me hope for the future of my own HLHS baby.

5.  HLHS is uncommon.  It's rare enough to be listed in the database of rare diseases.  It's also full of variants. Technically Supergirl is HLHS-Variant.  Some of her issues are related to her 22q11.2 microdeletion like the aberrant right subclavian artery and her ventricular septal defect.  Basically her heart is pretty messed up but thankfully she was still a candidate for the Reconstruction Surgery.

May 22nd Edition of Random Five on Friday


Diving into the Middle Ages with Knights & Nobles {Crew Review}

A few years ago I had the opportunity to review a Once-A-Week Unit study from Homeschool Legacy. I used it with all four girls and we loved it so when I saw Homeschool Legacy on the upcoming vendor list I got very very excited. They offered several choices but I knew that Supergirl would enjoy diving into the Middle Ages with the Knights & Nobles the most so I begged for that one.  You’ll want to be sure to check out all the Schoolhouse Review Crew posts to see all the different options we crew members had!

Knights & Nobles Once-a-Week unit study review by Tess at Circling Through This Life

Sharon Gibson, a veteran homeschool mom, founded Homeschool Legacy to provide Biblically centered educational materials. These materials provide fun and creative hands-on assignments and activities. On the Welcome page of the Study Guide she states “Once-a-Week Unit Studies are designed to help you inject fun and creative learning activities into your homeschool lifestyle.”

The Once-a-Week Unit Studies are very flexible and at the same time very comprehensive so you can use them to supplement or enhance your current studies or use them as your main resource for history studies. I am using the Knights and Nobles study as our history program with Supergirl. There is plenty here to keep us busy beyond just four weeks!

About Knights & Nobles

Knights & Nobles is a four week study with an optional fifth week for a medieval feast. Each of the four weeks has a specific focus:  Castles, Kings and Queens, Knights, and Life on a Manor.

The study guide begins with a page of reasons to use Once-a-Week studies followed by a table contents. There is a Getting the Most out of Your Study section at the end of the guide. This section contains information about how you can use the study to meet Boy Scout and American Heritage Girl badge requirements. You’ll also find tips and suggestions such as creating a lapbook and how to modify writing assignments for children of various ages.

Read Tess's review of Knights & Nobles at Circling Through This Life

The assignments section begins with a list of Read Alouds for Non-Readers. Then it goes week by week.  Each weekly focus begins with a list of Library Reading and Video Choices.  Each book has the library call letters/numbers so that if you can’t find the exact title, you can substitute a book by the same topic. I had to do this for a few books and it was very helpful to know that I should be looking for books within a certain call number.

Most of the video choices are for the Family Movie Night and are available on DVD from Netflix. At least one suggestion has a library call number. The assignment lists begins with the Daily Activities:  The Weekly Focus Library Reading and the Family Read Aloud.

The Once-a-Week activities are the bulk of the assignments. The first activity is the Family Devotional. Each Family Devotional ties into the weekly focus. For example you can read the Book of Ester (a queen) during the Kings and Queens focus week.  Spend some time on the armor of God from Ephesians while studying about the Knights. These would be very easy to adapt to any denomination, or from a Catholic or Orthodox perspective.

They rest of the activities are listed by subject or type and some have multiple options to choose from. There are activities that can be used for History, Language Arts, Music, Art, and more including Field Trip ideas! 

Using Once-a-Week Unit studies

Although these are called Once-a-Week Unit Studies, students are not actually only doing history one day a week. Ms. Gibson includes a suggested schedule in the front part of the study guide. She lays out a plan that includes doing your regular daily studies 4 days a week along with doing your unit study reading and family read aloud each day.  On one day of the week you would do the family devotional and your unit study activities. This is a guideline and she also gives suggestions for those who want to do a little bit each day instead of all the activities in one day.

We choose to spread out the activities over the week instead of trying to do multiple activities in one day. It was far easier for me to spend two to three days a week doing activities with Supergirl.

I did have to adapt some activities.  For example, we couldn’t do the field trip for Biltmore Estates and I couldn’t find the recommended book, but I was able to find some virtual tours on line.

I also choose to add some DVDs because Supergirl is not reading independently. We were able to find some DVDs to replace books that she couldn’t read to herself or that we couldn’t find that fit the topic. 

We also choose to make this more hands on for Supergirl by lapbooking our way through the study. She especially liked dictating to me to create mini-book about Queen Elizabeth. 

Some activities were able to do as written such as build a castle out of Legos.

Once-a-Week unit study Knights & Nobles includes fun activities like building a lego castle! See Tess's Review at Circling Through This Life


Our Thoughts

I do not consider myself a “unit studies mom” so I was very skeptical when I first reviewed Native America. Sharon Gibson’s Once-a-Week unit studies convinced me that I could do unit studies. Supergirl and I are loving Knights & Noble just as much as we loved Native Americans. I do disagree about the prep time. It takes time to hunt down the reading choices and to plan out how to do some of the activities and to gather materials. For me it is a jumping off point and is just what I need to put together a fun, but educational, study that my daughter will both enjoy doing and learn. If you like unit studies, you’ll love the Once-a-Week studies and if you are like me and not really sure about unit studies you’ll still love Knights & Nobles.

Making a Lapbook is just one of the many suggestions in the Once-a-Week Study Guide! ~ Read Tess's review at Circling Through This Life


The Details:

  • The Vender:  Homeschool Legacy
  • The Product: Knights & Nobles
  • The Author:  Sharon Gibson
  • Format:  We reviewed the digital PDF Option (Grab-N-Go buying option) but there is also an option for a physical Paperback version
  • Age Range: Appropriate for grades 2 through 12
  • Price:  (Digital) $14 (physical) $18.95
  • Also Available: See the image for a sampling of the many different options! Or visit Homeschool Legacy to see all the available titles!
  • NOTE:  While the guides are written from an explicitly Protestant Christian worldview, they are not anti-Orthodox and the recommended books and dvds were from a neutral, secular point of view. The only overtly Christian aspect are the family devotions which I chose not to do. The family devotion activities, however, would be easy to modify to be from an Orthodox perspective. I think my Orthodox Home Schooling readers looking for a short unit study will want to check out these Once-A-Week Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy.


Homeschool Legacy Review

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You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.


Memories, Stories and Books Random Five on Friday

1.  This past Sunday was Mother's Day.  I didn't make it to church but my daughters' brought home a rose corsage for me.  It was beautiful.  I also got to talk to my mom for quite a while on the phone.  I miss her.

2.  May is a time of remembering for me.  Daddy's birthday was May 5th.   His Daddy's birthday would be tomorrow May 16th and Grandma passed from this life to the next in May a few years ago.  She was an amazing lady with a gift for story telling.  I was missing her on Mother's Day and wanting to hear just one more story.

Grandma and Poppy from 1945

3.  According to GoodReads I got behind on my Reading Challenge.  It says “you are three books behind schedule.”  Oops!  I was ahead of schedule going into April and I was reading but I just never finished a book.  Perhaps I was reading too many.

4. So speaking of reading books.  I plan to finish Incriminating Evidence by Sheldon Siegel this weekend. I might even be able to finish another book or two.  I just have to be disciplined and not start another book until I finish some of my “currently reading” books.

5. And still speaking of books, I don’t know if my love of reading came from my mother or from both of my grandmothers.  I only know that I loved hearing Grandma Elsie tell her stories. She was a writer. She encouraged my love of poetry and stories. I have fond memories of going to the library and picking out books to read.  Mom, Grandma W, my sister, and I off the to library.

Memories and books May 15th Edition


Music, Flowers, Life ~ Random Five on Friday May 8th

Let’s just jump in shall we?

1. It’s been a busy musical week for BooBear.  Of course I don’t have pictures. That would mean that I actually was organized enough to make sure we had the camera and cornered her before she changed.  On Tuesday she performed in the Keyboarding Student’s Recital.  It’s called Keyboarding because it includes more than just the piano.  This time it was about half piano and half organ.

BooBear and Music ~ Music, Flowers, Life ~ Random Five at Circling Through This Life

2. BooBear performed yesterday as part of the Piano Ensemble. Earlier in the term her partner had to drop out so her partner was the director. There were 15 students involved.  Most were duets but there was one quartet.  I had never seen a piano quartet before.  4 students, 8 hands, two pianos and they played an arrangement of the Brandenburg Concerto.  It looked so fun to play and it was so fun to listen and watch.  I love the Brandenburg Concertos.

3. The last piece of the Piano Ensemble involved all 15 students. I am not sure how to do it justice in words. Two pianos with students coming and going. Most of the time there were 8 hands at the piano.  For the final few measures they managed to get ALL FIFTEEN students arranged at the two pianos.  It was quite a sight and very fun to watch.

4. Last week I mentioned that the rhododendrons were blooming. I even had pictures to include but I didn’t get them into the post. Oops. The pink flowers are nearly done but the red ones are in their full glory this week. These are pictures from last week.

Spring is here~ Random Five on Friday at Circling Through This Life

5.  This has been a crazy week with real life interfering with our home school life. Add to the chaos that I am having a flare up of fatigue and pain and it’s been a long difficult week. I look forward to enjoying my Blue Sky [stevia sweetened] Creamy Root Beer and a snack and snuggling with my Honeybear while we watch some streaming on Netflix.

Music, Flowers, Life ~ Random Five at Circling Through This Life


Lapbooking Made Simple ~ {A Crew Review}

As a home schooling parent I had heard the name Heidi St. John before but I wasn’t familiar with her or her materials. I’ve heard of lapbooking. I’ve even done some lapbooking with the girls though we never completed a lapbook “from scratch.” Supergirl loves lapbooking so I asked to review Lapbooking Made Simple by Heidi St. John and published by Real Life Press.

Read the Review of Lapbooking Made Simple at Circling Through This Life

At first, as I skimmed through this short eBook, I found myself thinking, yeah, yeah I know all that already. It’s not like we haven’t created lapbooks before, but in the past I had always purchased a pre-planned lapbook.  When I slowed down to really read this little gem, I realized that I really could use help in creating our own lapbooks based on our current studies or interests.

Lapbooking Made Simple ~ Read Tess's review of this Heidi St. John ebook at Circling Through This Life

This fifty-four page digital resource includes a preface, six chapters and an extras section where readers will find lapbook photos and mini-book templates.  The chapters cover:

  • What Is Lapbooking
  • Unit Studies and Lapbooking
  • Getting Started
  • Lapbooking Elements
  • Lapbooking Versus Notebooking
  • Your First Lapbook Step by Step

Sprinkled throughout the book are orange colored squares and rectangles with tips and suggestions.  One of my favorites is found on page twelve in chapter three: Top Five Lapbooking Tips. She and I think alike because she suggested to keep completed mini-books in a zippered bag to keep safe until you put the lapbook together. We currently have a zippered bag going with the mini-books we are creating for our Knights and Nobles unit study for history.

In my mind lapbooking has always been something that goes along with history or maybe science.  All of the pre-planned packaged lapbooks we’ve used have tended towards, literature, history or science. When I read Chapter One, it’s like a light bulb went off in my head. Supergirl has some gaps in math and we’ve been working to close those gaps.  She is learning some vocabulary for elementary geometry. I realized that creating a lapbook would help solidify those definitions and give her more practice with cutting and pasting.

Making a lapbook using tips, suggestions and ideas from Lapbooking Made Simple ~ Read Tess's review at Circling Through This Life

In Chapter Three Ms. St. John details out five steps to getting started. Step number four “Write out Ideas” has been my hang up in the past. With pre-planned or pre-packaged lapbooks, I don’t have to come up with the ideas of what to include. Ms. St. John writes that she and her family like to write ideas down on a white board. She also gave a sample of suggestions for a specific topic. When I broadened my thinking to include math concepts as a topic, I was able to brainstorm ideas for mini-books with Supergirl.

Now that she knows we are going to be making more lapbooks, Supergirl is starting to come to me with ideas for lapbooks and mini-books. My preferred method for tracking these ideas is to use a free note app that syncs with my phone, Kindle, and PC.  I can then have the Kindle or Phone at the table so I can reference the idea list when we are making mini-books or planning a lapbook.

My favorite part of the book is on page six.  She lays out the Golden Rule of Lapbooking “Your lapbook belongs to your child. Don’t take over and do it for him.” This has given me permission and freedom to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. While working on our Geometry notebook, I found myself saying “it’s your lapbook. You can put that anywhere you want.”  I did help her by being her scribe and I did any cutting or trimming she needed but in essence it is Supergirl’s lapbook and she knows it.

Lapbooks do not have to be just about history or science topics ~ Read Tess's review of Lapbooking Made Simple at Circling Through This Life

One last thing that I am taking away from this eBook is the idea that lapbooking isn’t just for younger students.  My 17 year old high school student, Turtlegirl said “I loved lapbooking when I was younger.”  I told her that she could still do lapbooks so she has decided that she will be creating a lapbook for her nutrition studies. It may end up being more of a hybrid cross between notebooking and lapbooking like described in chapter five but it will be her creation.

This short simple eBook is a great overview and introduction to lapbooks and lapbooking. If you are new to homeschooling or new to lapbooking this book can get you started quickly. If you are like me and have some experience with lapbooking, mostly using the pre-bought kind with the templates and guides, this guide can take you to the next level and help you get started making lapbooks from scratch.

The Details:

  • The Vender:  Real Life Press
  • The Product: Lapbooking Made Simple
  • The Author: Heidi St. John
  • Format: Digital (PDF)
  • Price:  $7.95
  • Also Available: The Crew reviewed several products from Real Life Press. Be sure to click on the banner below to read reviews about all the different products. 
Real Life Press Review

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.