Poking Fun In The Homeschool

With the Homeschooled Young Man going into his junior year of high school in the fall, I've been doing a lot of reflecting and thinking back on our homeschool years.

We have been downsizing our homeschool materials for an upcoming used curriculum sale and it has brought back some fond memories of days gone by.

Just today as I was sitting in my rocking chair, a chair that holds many fond memories (our church nursery was remodeled and they bought brand new rocking chairs and gave away the old ones. They were delivered to my house and what a blessing it was to sit down in one, pick up the phone and call my out of state friend and say "Guess what I am doing? I am sitting in one of the rocking chairs that we both rocked our babies in!" It was a precious moment, remembering back to those days, for her 19 and 16 years ago, for me just 15 years ago.

Ok, rabbit trail here, back to the title of this blog post Poking Fun In The Homeschool...lol.
Finger Pointer Thingy
My son walked up to me this morning and poked me in the side with that finger pointer thingy. I am very ticklish and I was just giggling like a school girl as he kept poking me with it. The more I laughed the more he poked. I was not so much giggling at the tickling as I was at not having seen that finger pointer thingy in a very long time! He came across it as he was digging through his closet the other day.

I remember the day I bought that finger pointy thingy, we were at a Scholastic Book Fair sale and I was buying my teaching supplies, like a real teacher don't ya know? Hahaha, it was one of our first years of homeschooling, ya know the one where you have the Homeschool Momma dress on (actually I wore a cute denim apron that my Mom decorated up with buttons that had pencils, school bell, books and cute stuff like that on them), the student desk, decorated classroom, student with feet flat on the floor, pets banished from the room until school was over, ya, you're gettin' it now! lol. Yes, I was one of those 8:20am-3:00pm homechoolers. We even had school colors and a school mascot, we were Home of the Pugs!

I had big plans for that finger pointer thingy, it was going to keep my boy's eyes on the board, keep him engaged and force him to learn. I was going to fill that bucket (child) up as full as I could with information that he could spit out on a test!! You bet ya, he was going to learn!

Long about October of that same year, the Homeschooled Young Man asked if he could do his history on the couch with the dog, I told him as long as he got his work done. Then next thing you know he was under the kitchen table (his all time favorite place) on the floor with the dog doing science. A short time later he discovered fort making with sheets, blankets and kitchen chairs to study in. These shenanigans nearly ended our homeschool career before it really got off the ground when Homeschool Dad saw what was going on. Because you know, homeschooling dad's think that learning can only be done in a straight backed chair, a desk and feet flat on the floor.

Over time I sold the desk, took off my cute denim apron (I still have it), took down the classroom decorations and started HOME schooling. That is school at home, or better known now in the teenage years as car schooling since we live in the middle of nowhere and I am driving the Homeschooled Young Man back and forth to job shadowing, 4-H, hospitals, doctor's offices, the medical school, and volunteering. We just pack up the school books, pile into the car and off we go! His chemistry book seems to be intriguing to many doctors and starts up some interesting conversations with them. They have shown him apps that they still have on their phones for the Periodic Table and chatted with him about struggles in O Chem.

After attending my first homeschool conference, I also realized that teaching is not simply filling a bucket with information that can be spit out on to a test. That one really rang my bell.

My homeschool decor has also changed, I have cute laminated quotes and pictures all around our homeschool bookshelves. They perk me up on a long day and get me through the tough times. The picture below is from WWW.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com I've had it for years on my refrigerator and no matter how bad my day is, I can look at it and just laugh, I don't know why it makes me feel happy, but it is just so funny!


You can see how our homeschool has evolved over time, changed and morphed into something wonderful and unique to our family, now do you see why I was giggling so hard when being poked with the finger pointer thingy? It is amazing how a little finger pointy thingy can bring back so many memories.

Moe

Adoptive Momma Tears Flow

Spring time makes for wonderful fresh and new memories. Like the memory of the very first time our son brought me a Taraxacum officinale, a weed, better known as a Dandelion. I remember that day quite well, he was around 18 months old and we were walking home from an errand. Thinking back to the nine long years that we waited for a child and Spring days of wondering, "Will I ever be brought a bouquet of Dandelions, picked by eager chubby little hands?" The day I got my beautiful yellow weed was a day that will stick out in my heart and mind forever. That day my little man learned the difference in tears, happy tears and sad tears. As a teenager he can discern the difference in them with regards to his Momma pretty well now.


Just yesterday the nearly 15 year old young man brought me a Taraxacum officinale, a weed, better known as a Dandelion. That little yellow weed filled this adoptive momma's heart with love and her eye's with tears, happy tears that is. It made me thankful that he thought of me, stopped during his busy day and took the time to smell the flowers, even if they were just weeds. These are simple little pleasures a Momma gets and uses as teaching moments for her son. I remind him that his wife will enjoy getting a simple bouquet of flowers on a rare occasion, just because he thought of her. 

I treasure these moments as the days are fleeting and soon those Dandelions will be untouched. But I think that somehow I will be getting a bouquet of flowers in the Spring from my little man when he is all grown up, no matter where the Lord plants him.

Moe

 

Am I A Homeschool Snob?

Am I just a homeschool snob? Stop me now if I am!

I’ve had an interesting time with the Homeschooled Young Man during a volunteering opportunity. We spent 2 days with around 140 kids ages 8 ½-11 years old. These public schooled kids took part in engaging and hands on activities over the course of two school days. The presenters were upbeat and kid friendly. The kids were well behaved and quiet...too quiet actually for my liking.

Here’s where I wonder if I am just a homeschool snob, over the course of 8+ hours I spent with these adorable 8 ½-11 year olds, I did not hear the usual giggles from the girls that I am use to hearing, nor small talk amongst boys that I am use to hearing. I saw emotionless faces, frowns and blank stares from these children. But, I saw a hunger for attention from the presenters, when those men and women engaged with these children. Each boy and girl was eager to talk with and spend time with these adults. But after each session they became like little robots. Back to frowns and staring at the floor while being told to line up against the wall. I know that public school teachers will say that this is a must to keep order. But it makes me think of when we had 4,000 adults and children for a homeschool meeting at the state capitol a few years ago. There had to be order and quiet voices with almost 2,000 kids involved, there were no robot children in the group nor forced line up against the wall, yet there was no chaos.

The Homeschooled Young Man was a group leader of about 25 children and 2 public school teachers. He held the door open for the group on 11 different occasions and was told “Thank you.” only 3 times over the course of 2 days and 8+ hours.

I was pushed and shoved numerous times throughout the days without so much as an excuse me, sorry or anything.

Then after awhile I had opportunity to sit back in a chair in the back of the room and sort of take it all in. It was then that I noticed the clothes that the teachers were wearing. Skin tight workout pants that stop at the calf that showed panty lines and a bold written word across the backside, another one wore a similar pair of pants that were way too small and every time she bent over her pants came down and her shirt went up to expose her bare backside (she looked like a plumber, KWIM?). Yes, these were teachers of 8 ½-11 year olds.

I guess I could look past that, but the thing that really struck me was the manners that the teachers displayed, yes these are the people that are entrusted with most American children for 7+ hours each day, 30+ hours each week and nearly 1,300 hours per school year. I saw teachers not sitting properly in chairs (ya know one of the things that drives us parents crazy at the dinner table when our kids don’t sit properly), teachers talking to each other during the presentations (ya, know it drives us crazy when our kids do this), teachers yawning like roaring lions (ya know how many times you have been trying to teach your child to yawn with their hand over their mouths?). I saw so many kids being grabbed by the arm and yanked around like dogs on a leash and teachers yelling in the face of the kids and the blank looks on the children’s faces while they have an adult standing over them yelling. This must go on often because the other teachers never even looked over to see what was going on.

The icing on the cake was the way that the teachers spoke to the children. Every time there was an instruction of “Throw your trash away, PLEASE & THANK YOU!” I thought to my self that “PLEASE & THANK YOU!” really comes out sounding snide and rude no matter how you say it. That phrase seems to be up and coming. We were eating out about a month ago and the waitress said that to us when she gave us our check. The Homeschooled Young Man commented how rude that sounded, even though he knew she was not meaning it to be rude. 


Now mind you this is NOT a representation of all public school teachers, I happen to know some fine teachers. But this was a peek into the system and I do think this was a typical day in many school systems.

As we drove home I was thinking about all this and here was my take away. Hey Homeschool Momma, are there things that you are doing during your homeschool day that might be negatively effecting your children? Are there things that you are unknowingly passing on to your children?

This brought to light a few things I need to work on in my homeschool. Hope this makes you think and improves your homeschool for you and your children.

Moe

Love is in the air...Homeschool love that is...

Today is Valentine's Day, but in our home today was like Christmas. Our package arrived from High Country Christian Depot!!

I have not received any compensation or benefits for writing this blog post.

 The Homeschooled Young Man could not wait to tear open this package and see what was inside!


When the Homeschooled Young Man see's bubble wrap, he knows it's gonna be a good day! 'Cause any boy knows that bubble wrap serves 3 purposes.

1. Bubble Wrap protects our purchases
2. Bubble Wrap makes for great workout routine jumping up and down on all the bubbles
3. Bubble Wrap drives a Homeschool Mom crazy with the popping sounds and the jumping up and down in the house!


The box is not yet unloaded and the Homeschooled Young Man has the book open and is reading through the lessons...lol...ah, the glory of homeschooling. 


Have you ever seen a child hold up in classroom all day, 180 school days per year that is excited when their Apologia Physics Instructional DVD arrives in the mail? Yes, I know, we are weird, we homeschool, need I say more?

Praise the Lord for the learning everywhere about everything mindset. Our world is our classroom and we are loving it. Learning is not a chore it is a lifestyle.

Moe
p.s. High Country Christian Depot carries both the Apologia Biology ($95.20, regularly $140) & the Apologia Physics ($100.80 regularly $140) Instructional DVD's. I could not teach either of these subjects very well without these instructional DVD's. Now through 5/31/2015 you can save an additional 10% off by using the coupon code HOMESCHOOL10. 

I have not received any compensation or benefits for writing this blog post.


Apologia Science Book Review & A Coupon Code


We had seen Apologia in the vendor hall and heard them speak at our homeschool convention. We sort of drooled over the Apologia curriculum, but in keeping with tradition we continued with our ‘boxed curriculum’ that we always used. “Why change?” Well let me tell you, once the Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology showed up in the mail, it was like Christmas at our house, ripping and tearing of the mailing bag, paper flying all over! Our son was just going crazy over the color pictures, upcoming fun experiments and the activity pages in the Anatomy Notebooking Journal $19.44 (for either the junior or regular).

 My readers will receive a special discount when shopping through the High Country Christian Depot's website using the coupon code homeschool10 one coupon per order, one time use only, valid through 05/31/15.
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Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (hardcover) by Jeannie Fulbright and Brooke Ryan, M.D. Grades 4-6.
The student textbook is hardcover and looks as thought it would hold up well for use by more than one student.
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Young Explorer Series Anatomy Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology $19.44 (spiral bound) by Jeannie Fulbright. Grades 3-6.
The Journal is spiral bound with a soft cover and it has yet to tear by the spiral, most of our spiral bound textbooks/workbooks from other companies seem to fray quickly and eventually tear at the first few spirals.



Even though our student is in the 7th grade, I felt that this would be a good fit for him since science has always been a struggle for my normally sharp student. The boxed curriculum that we had been using pretty much focused on memorizing terms and answering questions: BORING! Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology teaches from a different angle. “This K-6 science curriculum uses the Charlotte Mason methodology to give young students an introduction to the incredible human body.”

1) The book is hardcover “I can toss it in my book bag to take in the car and it does not get all bent up.”

2) I like the full color photos and crisp pages.

3) “You always get to do something fun in the Try This section. ”
 4) The course website book extras were GREAT!!! “I had fun going to these websites to read more about what I was learning in each lesson.”
 
Things that our student did not like about Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology:
 
1) "NOTHING, I LOVED IT AND CAN'T WAIT FOR TOMORROW'S LESSON!"

What this Momma did not like about Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology:

1) I thought that the MP3 audio would be great, until I found that it would only play in our computer. The MP3 does state that “you must play it in an MP3-compatible CD player or on a computer”. I was thinking that it would have been great to take it on car trips or for our student to be able to listen to it in his room on a CD player.

2) I did not care for some of the printing fonts used in the Anatomy Notebooking Journal, I thought that they were very hard for me to read. And might be especially hard for younger children that are not yet seasoned readers. The fonts used on many of the pages are bubbly or squiggly shaded fonts that are really hard on the eyes, otherwise the rest of the type is fine throughout the journal.  I get that the digestive system is squiggly because it's the intestines, but for a struggling reader, this might be hard to read. They are very cute and fun though.

Things that this homeschooling Momma liked about Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology:

1) Penmanship, it always seems like such a chore in the homeschool, read just about any homeschooling blog or website and you will see Mothers chatting about handwriting. The Anatomy Notebooking Journal incorporates copy work right in to their lessons. It’s all blended together in the learning process and as an added blessing the copy work consists of Bible memory verses!!

2) I like the answer key being in the back of the textbook, it’s nice not to have an extra book (answer key) to hunt for when grading work. The lesson planning guide is included in the Anatomy Notebooking Journal, yet again one less thing to have to hunt for :O)

3) Love, Love, Love the different skin tones of the paper dolls to pick from in the Personal Person project.

4) The section of the student textbook called “How To Use This Book: A step-by-step guide and the Items Needed to Complete Each Lesson were WONDERFUL!!! There was no hunting for supplies or starting a lesson only to find out that there is an experiment that day needing XYZ that you don’t have on hand to complete. It’s all right there in the front of the book listed by lesson. How easy is that for a busy homeschooling Momma!!

5) I like how the Apologia website offers sample pages of all the textbooks so you can look through them before buying. Very nice feature.

6) I had to have surgery during this review and ended up with a post-op infection, and was hospitalized for 13 days, many days of laying and doing nothing on pain meds. My son was able to move forward all by himself in the material, that was a huge blessing and he learned a lot. I was very impressed with his drawings of the human cell, normally he hates drawing in science and would whine and carry on if he had to draw anything besides a Star Wars action guy! lol. But he really had a fun time with the Anatomy Notebooking Journal.

Looking back at our years of struggling with science, I wish we had decided to use Apologia Educational Ministries, INC long ago!! Our son would like to go back and do the other Apologia science books: Zoology, Astronomy, Botany, Flying Creation and Swimming Creation. So I think we will be spending our summers under a shade tree or at the beach with some new Apologia science books.

 My readers will receive a special discount when shopping through the High Country Christian Depot's website using the coupon code homeschool10  one coupon per order, one time use only, valid through 05/31/15. Our mission at High Country Christian Depot, is to provide affordable products that teach, inspire, and encourage the hearts and minds of believers.

Taming The Electronics Monster

I thought the blog title Taming The Electronics Monster is pretty telling. Electronics can become a monster in our home and eat up lots of our valuable time. I recently read a blog post by Sports Mom Survival Guide. She has a really cool idea and a printout to make your own printed "Electronics Tickets" for your children. You can print out 15 minute or 30 minute tickets to give to your child.

click here for FREE printable
Up until 7th grade we had implemented no media during the week and then 30 minutes per day on Sat/Sun. After that we have done 30 minutes per day and 60 min on Sat/Sun. For our family media means radio, TV (which we only have FREE TV channels), DVD's, VHS, Internet, Amazon Prime, video games and educational games). An extra 30 min can be earned through extra chores.

There are two areas that I am lenient on, one being in the car I have on talk Christian radio, Dave Ramsey, Medical School HQ podcast or a CD with a homeschool convention speaker.  The other being on Saturday mornings, the Homeschooled Young Man likes to listen to some young adults Christian radio programs. So while he is doing his chores or lounging ni his room he has free rein to listen to those programs.

Now on rare occasions (Mom is ill, Dad is off a day etc) then we will have a media frenzy, but it's very rare! Maybe 3x per year. It's usually either a Bugs Bunny or Deadliest Catch marathon...lol...yes, I know weird picks, but we like them!

I have printed mine out and and laminated them. Pretty cool idea!

How does your family Tame The Electronics Monster?

Moe

Review of my favorite place to shop for homeschool supplies!

As a single income family and busy homeschooling Mom, I am always looking out for the best deal on homeschooling supplies. Today I am sharing with you my best kept secret and my favorite place to shop for homeschool materials. I have received a gift card in exchange for my time to write a review on my blog about my personal experiences with High Country Christian Depot.
A bonus for my readers is that you get a discount coupon code good to use on anything from their website. Heather from High Country Christian Depot offers a wide variety of products for kids, youth and adults including gifts, homeschool resources, books, church supplies, and Bibles all at everyday low prices. She says, "Our mission at High Country Christian Depot is to provide affordable products that teach, inspire, and encourage the hearts and minds of believers." Heather goes on to say "we are a group of fellow believers who understand the importance in having a Kingdom mindset in the midst of everyday distractions and view our business as our ministry to serve you."

A little background on how I came across High Country Christian Depot on the web. I've always been an avid Amazon.com shopper looking for the best deals on Christian supplies for my home and homeschool. A couple of years ago I started buying from High Country Christian Depot on Amazon and have experienced great customer service.

Fast forward to 2015 and I am still buying my homeschooling materials from them, but now they have launched their own website with a GRAND OPENING! I am really excited about this! They still have the same great deals on gifts, VBS materials, homeschool supplies, home decor, toys, books for children, youth and adults, Bibles, video titles  and more (over 7,000 items) all at up to 50% savings everyday! Keep reading, my followers get an extra special savings coupon code!!

Heather and staff offer great customer service at High Country Christian Depot. You really never know just how good a company is until you have to deal with their customer service department. As a crazy busy wife, Mom and homeschooler, I get a tad bit disorganized in the area of what curriculum I own and what I need to buy. Imagine that! I had the homeschooled Young Man sort through our materials for the upcoming school year and he told me what we needed. I ordered it and guess what? The box came just a few days later and I knew that I had seen that Apologia MP3 somewhere before, oh, yes right there on the bookshelf. GGRRR!! So I emailed High Country Christian Depot and got a quick phone call back saying that I could just exchange the item. I picked out a few new items that had been on my wish list and mailed back the still in the shrink-wrap MP3. Simple as that. I got some very helpful and fun Study Guide Flippers in exchange for the MP3.

Their website is very easy to navigate and best of all they have very reasonable shipping rates! Before you buy your curriculum at a homeschool convention this year, checkout the prices at High Country Christian Depot on over 7,000 items and use your exclusive coupon code found below. I think you will be surprised at the savings. If you don't see what you are looking for on their website contact Heather at  (800) 682-5031 or contact@HCChristianDepot.com. You can become a follower on Twitter too.

Thanks for taking the time to check out High Country Depot's website, I would also like to ask you to head over to their Facebook page and "LIKE" them. They have deals of the day and deals of the month. Now for an exclusive coupon code for you, homeschool10, use this code on your next purchase to save an extra 10% off now through May 31, 2015. Please feel free to share this code with your friends, on your facebook page and in your homeschooling groups.

Moe