8/30/10

Home Education and Technology

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It’s time for another TOS Blog Cruise.   This week’s question asks: “Do you use technology (iPods, Computers, Videos, Digi. Cams,etc.) in your home school?”

Yes!  We do use technology in our home school.   Slowly, over the course of several years we’ve added more and more technology to our home school.

We started with simple computer games to reinforce what we were learning.   The girls had games for learning math facts or playing with the idea of typing or even learning some spelling words.

As we added more Sonlight Cores to our day, I needed help with reading aloud.  Technology to the rescue in the form of audio books!   I found myself checking to see which books were available on CD’s.

More time passed and we discovered that the computer could be used to play downloadable audio books directly from our library using Overdrive.com.   So now we check Overdrive.com before checking the regular library.

For the 2008-2009 school year we added a computer based curriculum to our home school.   Now three girls were using the computer daily for certain subjects and we were frequently listening to audio books on the computer.

To see how my Crew Mates are using technology in their home schools click here:

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Here we are beginning our 12th year of home schooling and we have become even more dependent on technology.  In addition to the above mentioned computer based curriculum, I’ve got two girls taking science through an online class.   We’re using a wireless home network that connects to the internet.  We are using the internet daily as part of our studies.   We’re also using an online subscription to a writing course.   Having a computer with internet access is now a necessary part of my home school.

One more bit of technology that we’re adding in this year is the digital camera.   We’re using the digital camera to take pictures of projects and creating digital portfolios.  We’ll use the portfolios to document work done and award high school credit for elective subjects like photography and cooking.

I find it amazing that 5 years ago I debated whether or not my children needed to spend any time on the computer and here we are today wondering if we need another computer so that we can better schedule the classes.

8/23/10

Making Homeschooling More Affordable

BlogCruiseButton There was a time when I really don’t know that I could have written this post.  We had the flexibility in our budget to not really need to worry about financing our home education plans.  I had the freedom to choose what I wanted, when I wanted and I could purchase it new. 

Things are very different for my family now.   We no longer have the same level of income and the economy affects everyone.  Publishers must increase prices and consumers have less money. I am no less committed to providing the best education I can to my children but now I must work within the confines and restrictions of a budget so tiny it is almost nonexistent.  I must find a way to make homeschooling more affordable for my family.

So what am I doing to make homeschooling more affordable?

  • Using the library-  I prefer a literature rich approach to education.  This means that I like to use a lot of books.   I’d love to be able to own every book that we will use but that is out of my budget, but I can use the library for many of the literature books I need and/or want. 

My library does not just give me access to books; it also gives me access to audio books through overdrive.com and netbooks.   The library also gives me access to online foreign language programs.  My 10th grader really wants to learn German.   She’ll be able to do some studying of German by using the free online library resource.

  • Paperback Swap-  My friend Debra has been talking about paperback swap forever and I finally broke down this summer and registered.  I really do want to build my own library and some books are used for a length of time that makes the public library not the best option.  While cleaning and decluttering this summer I found many books that I could list on PBS.    Many of those books have found new homes giving me the credits to request several of the books I need for my oldest.
  • Using non-consumable materials-  This means an investment at first but it translate into savings in the long run.  This means that I can divide the cost between the number of times I’ll use that product.   I saved money this year by only having to upgrade my Instructor’s Guide and buy one workbook for TailorBear’s history.  We already own all the other resources because BooBear and Turtlegirl have been through the program.  
  • Purchasing new materials only on sale-  I am using a computer based program for several subjects this year.  It is non-consumable and I am re-using some of it from past purchases but I did have to buy some new for this year.   I purposely planned out my purchase for when the publisher offered their 20 % off sale.  In addition I did my research to find a retail provider who offered free shipping.   I’ll be able to re-use these materials in future years so it’s a double savings.

Speaking of sales, I also only purchase school supplies like paper and pencils during those extra super cheap back to school sales.   I feel like I have a life time supply of spiral notebooks and number 2 pencils so this year I won’t be purchasing paper or pencils but I will be on the look out for deals on white board markers.

  • Networking--  Getting connected with other home school moms through the internet has helped me to make home school more affordable.   Because of internet forums and email groups, I’ve become aware of some free home school resources.

Another positive are the friendships that come from the networking.  A dear friend that I “met” years ago on a yahoo group has loaned me a language arts program and a math program and a book here and a book there.  All I have to pay is postage to mail it back to her when we’re finished!

  • E-Books--  I really prefer my books in “real” format with pages to turn and to snuggle with my children while we enjoy a book.   E-books have been one way that I have compromised.  E-Books are a great way to use a book while still searching for an affordable copy or waiting for my copy to arrive from Paperback Swap.

There are many ways to make home school affordable.  There are websites and groups dedicated to providing FREE material.  I’m sure that I’ll be learning more and more ways to save money, cut costs and still provide a stellar education.

For more ideas on to how to make home schooling affordable be sure and check out what my fellow crew mates have to say:

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8/10/10

Blog Walk Tour Week 7

Blog Walk

(Thanks to Debbie at Debbie’s Digest for the Blog Walk graphic.)

All of the blogs in this blog walk tour belong to Crew First Mates.  FM’s are crew mates who have served on previous voyages of the TOS Crew.  As FM they are assigned a mini-crew and serve as mentors to those of us who are new to the crew.

Though I prefer to give individual introductions to blogs in my blog walk posts, this group introduction will have to suffice.  

1. One Blessed Mamma
2. El Cloud Homeschool: Busy Minds, Busy Hands, Busy Feet
3. Alive in Spirit
4. Ozark Rumblings
5. Army of 5
6. Fenced In Family
7. Debbie's Digest
8. Footprints in the Butter
9. Got Chai?

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8/8/10

Soup Experiment: A Success Story!

Soup Aug 8, 2010

Even though it is August here in the PNW, today was not really a summer day.  It wasn’t cold exactly but it was a bit on the cool and dreary side.  It was the kind of day that almost cries out for a warm filling creamy soup.

I had some leeks that needed to be used and a fennel bulb that was starting to look a little past due.  I’ve had leek and potato soup.  Could I make a leek and potato soup with fennel?  What about adding in some carrot and celery too? 

I’m not much for measuring but Tailorbear tried to take some notes so that if we liked it, we could try again.  We liked it. 

In rough format here’s what we used and what we did:

  • 10 potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped *
  • 4  celery ribs (sticks.. not 4 whole stalks LOL) chopped *
  • 6 leeks, sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb (also called anise)
  • water to cover potatoes. plus a little more maybe… I think maybe 8 cups?
  • vegetable broth powder (I just dumped… a couple of tablespoons or so?)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used some Johnny’s Seasoned Salt and some Sea Salt.. I served fresh ground pepper at the table to taste)

* I used my Slap Chopper to “dice” up the carrots and celery as I wanted smaller pieces than my usual soup slices. 

I sauted (I don’t know how to manipulate my keyboard to make that look right!) the veggies except the potatoes in some oil in the big soup pot until the veggies were limp.  I removed them from the pot and added the potatoes, veggie broth powder and Seasoned Salt.  I added enough water to cover the potatoes by about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.  For a thicker soup, I’d use water to just barely cover the potatoes.  You can always add more if you need it. I brought the potatoes to a boil and then turned it down to less than a boil but slightly more than simmer (I told you I am not precise LOL… I cook by feel, smell, taste and sometimes touch!)

When the potatoes were just starting to think about becoming soft (the point where you could poke a fork in them but they were still too hard), I added the other veggies and simmered until they were all nice and tender.  Be careful with potatoes.  Though for my more traditional potato soup I cook them until they are falling apart, I want these chunks for this soup to hold their shape.

I put several cups (3 maybe?) of soup into my Vitamix and blended it all up to make the “creamy” part of the soup.  Stirred that into the soup and added salt to taste.   It wasn’t quite as thick as I wanted but it had a creaminess that was quite filling and satisfying.

This soup nearly filled my 6 qt pot.  In this picture, the pot doesn’t look as full as we had already started serving the soup. If you look closely, you can see the line where the soup was. 

Soup 8/8/2010

Now, I need your help!  I don’t know what to call this soup.  It needs a name.  “Leek and Potato Soup” doesn’t really work for me and Soup Experiment isn’t really a name.  Please leave me a comment with your name suggestion.   I’d offer a prize for the winner but  instead how about a blog post with a great big thank you?

Blog Walk Tour of the Crew Week 6

Blog Walk

(Thanks to Debbie at Debbie’s Digest for the Blog Walk graphic.)

1. Deanna over at  Deanna’s Corner is a member of the same mini-crew!  TOS Crew has small mini-crews assigned to a First Mate Mentor.  You can check out what her latest post is by checking my sidebar.

2. Denise blogs at Light, Liberty, and Learning.   She’s been experimenting with different templates and background designs.  I enjoyed reading her quotes tab.

3. At Bunny Trails, Diane posts about her “meanderings [as] a woman who often finds herself on life’s bunny trails.  She even has GPS: God’s Positioning System to guide her back!   I’ve enjoyed the pictures she has posted as part of Wordless Wednesdays!

4. Flowers N Plaid Homeschool is the blog of Donna.  Donna lives in Australia and is the mother of 6 children.  I’ve been reading a few of her posts about her love of crafts.

5. Gadow Ohana---this crew member is just getting this blog off the ground.  I enjoyed the post about her son wanting to do school.  

6.  I stopped by this blog: His Wonderful Works at least twice during my blog walk for this list.  I very much enjoyed reading about her children playing with a freezer box.  She’s also inspired me to pray for my neighborhood.  She posted a challenge that her Pastor issued at church.


7. Elizabeth blogs at  Expand.   She established this blog in Feb of 2010.   Check out the great button her husband created for her TOS Mini-Crew.


8. Confessions of a Homeschooler is a well established blog with some great ideas!  I especially liked the post about aluminum foil art.


9. I don’t recommend visiting  The Sojourner when you are hungry!  Oh my it’s getting close to diinner time here and my mouth is watering over Blackberry Freezer Jam and Maple Carrot Spice Cupcakes!


10. I wasn’t sure what to write about  A Full HeartErin certainly does write from a full heart.  I just finished reading a slightly older post about the Western Church and persecution.  Well worth the read!

11. Erin is currently hosting a Blog Hop over at  Closing TimeIf you are a homeschooler you may want to check it out!

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8/5/10

At what speed does time fly?

“Time flies” is a common phrase.  I hear it often. I say it often. But I as I ponder the question “where did this week go?” I find myself asking “at what speed does time fly?”

I’m familiar with the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun”, but I’m finding that the fun factor is only one part of flying time.   Sure, the more fun I am having, the faster the hands on the clock spin, but at 42 I find that time flies faster than it did when I was 12.  Why?

Is it because I am more aware of the passing of time?  Or is it that I am more aware that I have less time now then I did then and I want to make the most of it while I still can?

Really, I blinked and here I am with a blog that hasn’t had a new post in over a week.   Just where did that time go?  At what speed did it fly?  I’m sure it was faster than light.  (Oh.. great.. now I hear Simon LeBon’s voice from over 20 years ago singing “Faster than Light”.. that’s what I get  for showing Turtlegirl how to use you tube! {for those who don’t know… that would be Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon} I could’ve sworn that it was only yesterday that I posted.

Perhaps, I’ll learn the secret someday of how to control the passing of time.  Until then, I think I should get better control of my planner and set a date for blogging!