Look Up

Thinking about the reunion.
It will be soon.
I hope you will be there.
When we meet the groom.

His dad sent the invitations.
I received mine and accepted.
I proclaimed my reservation to all who were receptive.

Some were willing to hear his message,
But not all appreciated the simple package.

Some laughed and said “about the return of Jesus you must be confused.
There are no miracles today, the prophets died long ago,
and the return of the groom is a long way away.
We would have heard it in our grand churches and in our pews.
Such an invitation would have come from the pastors with mega buildings,
fine words, and also those on TV who speak the news.”

Others hearts were too hard for the seed to penetrate.
Their hearts were filled with pride, bitterness, and hate.
Some laughed and said they’re busy and earning reputations and money
They would rather choose their own path rather than the path of one who willingly hung on a tree for you and me.

Many heard the news but most failed to make room.
Their calendars too full to pencil in the feast with the groom.
His Dad tried again, and again.
To remind them the appointed time of the wedding was soon.

Busy lives and reservations unanswered
But the Father’s love would not be hindered.
So he sent out more.  He even knocked on each door,
Before the end begins, He sent more messengers.
He is still calling and waiting for their answers.

It is just about time.
I am ready to go.  I can’t wait!
Be ready. Keep your lamps full and burning bright.
Look up. To this wedding we won’t be late!

Be Blessed Dear Friends.
Look up!  The time is drawing near for the return of Jesus for his bride.

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1- 14 

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Easy Kid Favorite Waffles

Try this simple tip with kids in the kitchen for a fun breakfast or snack or easy desert.  Let the kids assemble their own toppings on waffles.   Younger kids love to be “hands on” with their food and seem to eat better when they get to make it themselves.  

You can make the waffle base yourself for even more nutrition for your family.  Try using sprouted flours or high protein nut flours in your waffle mix for an even better quality waffle. You can also blend in vegetables and fruits in the flour mix such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas or other legumes, bananas, mashed beets, mashed carrots, applesauce, shredded zucchini, etc.

My favorite nutritious waffle uses pecan flour to increase the protein. But if making homemade waffles is not your thing, or if you are too busy to cook from scratch, then don’t sweat it.  Just find a good quality frozen waffle your kids will eat and use this for your base.

These easy “Kid Favorite” waffles get two thumbs up!

Easy Kid Favorite Waffles

You will need:

Waffles
(either store bought or homemade)

Spread of your choice
(Sunflower-seed Butter, Peanut butter, Almond butter, Cashew Butter, Tahini Spread, Cream Cheese, Fruit Preserves, etc)

Fruit of your choice
(strawberries, bananas, apples, pears, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc)

Mini chocolate Chips
(you can also use chopped nuts, seeds, and coconut toppings)

Optional: Whip Cream
(Optional whip cream or yogurt, honey, or chocolate drizzled over the top)

Allow your kids to assemble their own waffles and toppings.  Set out bowls of sliced fruit, nuts, seeds, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc for them to build their favorite waffles.  You can make it messy by adding whip cream, yogurt, or honey or syrup and eat these waffles with a fork.  Or you can make these super easy and less messy by leaving off “wet” ingredients and be able to eat them with your hands.

Let them Create!

I let the kids do as many of the steps on their own as they are able to do. Depending on the skill level of your kids, you can balance what they can do on their own.  Older kids can make these independently, but you might help younger kids by toasting the waffle for them, and if needed, you can spread the nut butter for them.  Or let them spread it with a spoon if they are too young to use a knife safely.  But kids really enjoy making these all by themselves.

Be sure to “ooh and ahh” over your kid’s kitchen creations!

Enjoy!

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New Day

We got up early and before it was light we headed out to the edge.   

We marched forward in the darkness, walking from hard dirt to shifting sand until we could not go any farther.

We had to stop.  We were created with specific strengths and limits and we had to stop and recognize our habitat ends at this line.  Who set this boundary?  Who drew this line in the sand?

In the darkness one might miss the clarity of this line.  But if your ears are open, then it is unmistakable that even in the dark there was a change in our path.  The roar of the water is mighty.  It’s song drowns out the sound of the city and the night.  It deafens the sound of motors and all other man-made creations. Someone incredible put this line here and gave it a mighty sound so even in darkness it was unmistakable.

It clearly defines the boundary below our feet.  There are no more roads, no cars, no buildings, no houses, no people, not even trees, no…this line of roaring waters defines a boundary line.

The sky was beginning to shine forth with light separating the day from the night.  Standing in one place looking to the east we saw the new day and to the west we still saw the night.  We were standing at a boundary line between domains of powerful waters and land, but also between times, between day and night.

The reality of this moment is surreal and amazing!  It is encouraging and we waited patiently for the light.

It climbed slowly and steadily.

The waters kept roaring.  Their pace was rhythmic and never changing.

The rhythm seemed as if it were trying to lure me to sleep, back and forth, back and forth.

But all my senses were awake.  I could smell the energy in the air, I could agree with the rhythm with each breath I took.  I could feel the steady pace of life just like my own heart beating.  I could taste the salty air as it passed my tongue and as it filled my lungs it electrified and recharged my body.

There is life in this rhythm.  It churns up oxygen and minerals that bubbles and froths and is teaming with new life.

Even the birds were excited.  They instinctively know the ebb and flow of the water brings abundance into their life and they find nourishment.

It bears witness to the Creator.

The living God.  There is none like him.  He is the provider.  He is the daily bread of heaven.  He is the water of life.   All those who come to him will be saved and will never thirst for eternity.

We met many others on the journey to the water’s edge.  They come to enjoy the inspiring moments of a new day as it dawns.

The light transforms our view.  It bounces all around before the sun even appears over the horizon.

Everything takes on a new vibrancy. Colors seem to pop! Details previously unseen suddenly overwhelm the senses and there is a new awareness.

The birds are very excited.  The growing light points out the location of their next meal.  They dance in the air above the waves in anticipation, expecting provision.  They do not worry.  Then when there is just enough light, they quickly dive into the water and select their free gifts for the day.

I am dancing too.  On the edge.  On the line.  In the moment I become part of the the rhythm and I dance and wait.

My feet are wet.  My toes tingle.  My nose is full of sweet salty air that energizes my breaths and my beating heart.  My eyes are drawn to the dawning light and I wait.

My spirit is encouraged.

I wait. I know it will be here soon.

My Father in Heaven set this plan in motion.

I can rejoice and dance as carefree as a little child.

I feel alive.  I trust my Father’s plan and provision completely.  He drew this line.  He put this boundary here.  I trust him.

The waves rise and fall and rise again, washing the shore.  The rhythm is a song in my heart and mind.  It reminds me there is a plan, it is not random.

He sent his only begotten son to redeem me, heal me, and wash me clean. My robe is washed by the lamb, Jesus, my savior.  God sent his son to redeem all those who would believe and call upon him.

It is a new day, a day the Lord God has made.

Sing about his goodness, I will sing about his provision for my needs.  I will tell the world about his love and his mercy.  I will praise his name forever.

In him only will I place my trust.  His plan is perfect.  His plan is in motion.  I will trust him with my life and my eternal home.

I will rejoice and be glad.

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Drive Thru History Review

I have a terrific DVD set of exciting, riveting, hold on to your seat adventures to tell you about!

Drive Thru History® has a new captivating series called Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” that my family has enjoyed reviewing, and I am certain you will learn more about real events that took place when you see history come to life this way. 

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”

3 DVD’s

18 Episodes

1 Study Guide

Who is the most significant person who ever lived?  Why is he or she significant?  People around the world agree that Jesus is the most significant. This series takes you on a historical and geographical journey of the life of Jesus.  It points to Jesus as the most significant person who ever lived because he changed the world in ways no one else has ever done.

18 Episodes on 3 DVD’s:

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” contains 18 episodes on 3 DVD’s.  Each episode is about 1/2 hour in length and can be watched on any DVD player device.   These videos cover history, archaeology, geography, and art surrounding the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  The list of episodes includes:

Episode 1: The Historical Landscape
Episode 2: The Announcements
Episode 3: Jesus is Born
Episode 4: Jesus Grows Up
Episode 5: Jesus Starts His Ministry
Episode 6: Jesus Returns to Galilee
Episode 7: Jesus Begins His Miracles
Episode 8: Jesus Teaches with Authority
Episode 9: The Sermon on the Mount
Episode 10: Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
Episode 11: Jesus Travels North
Episode 12: A Final Trip to Jerusalem
Episode 13: Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
Episode 14: The Last Supper
Episode 15: The Trial of Jesus
Episode 16: The Crucifixion of Jesus
Episode 17: The Resurrection of Jesus
Episode 18: Who is Jesus?

Dave Stotts takes you on a journey like you have never experienced before.   He is a most interesting and funny tour guide.  Grab your snack, I mean “backpack”, put these DVD’s into your DVD player, imagine you are joining him and hop into his jeep and go exploring!   He makes you feel like you are right there with him and he is talking to you!  

Hang on for the ride!  These episodes go by fast and are jam packed with fascinating information.  Dave takes you with him to 50 locations in ancient Israel to explore the truth about the life of Jesus and see history come to life first hand.

Through out these videos, Dave helps you and your family explore specific locations recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  The bible comes to life right before your eyes.  People of all ages will become excited to dig into their personal bible study because they can “SEE AND HEAR” the truth and it will resonate with them.  No one can deny the truth in the scriptures when they experience it first hand and see for themselves what was written down about Jesus two thousand years ago.  These videos are a fresh way to open the eyes and ears of people to see the truth in the scriptures.

Study Guide

After watching each episode, we spend a few minutes going over the short summary and questions for that specific video in the 118 page study guide. The guide has full color photography, a summary of the video, and 5 questions for each video.   This step is not required but will help your understanding and deepen the learning experience.

Who Needs This?

  • Homeschool Families
  • All Families
  • Grandparents
  • Movie Night
  • Church
  • Clubs
  • Schools
  • Nursing Facilities
  • Do you need a gift for any occasion?  Would you like to see ancient Israel with fresh eyes?
  • Would you like to teach your kids, friends, neighbors, and even strangers about Jesus in a real way that connects their life to his when he walked the earth and the message he taught those with eyes and ears to listen and see the truth?
  • Would you like to have a natural witnessing tool about who Jesus is that doesn’t feel like you are hitting folks in the head with a bible?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then YOU NEED THIS!

Ready To Ride?  Then Drive Thru History® is ready to take you there!

We have enjoyed the videos from Drive Thru History® so much.  Dave has a great sense of humor when he is out roaming around the world and it helps you relate to him as a regular normal guy.  He gets your attention.  These videos have helped deepen our understanding of who Jesus is and the life he lived on this earth.

Hopefully when you take “this ride” into history, you will see the truth in the bible.  The only way to heaven and eternal life with God our Father is thru JESUS!  He is the door.  We must believe in him and accept him as our savior and Lord of our life.  Nothing else in this life matters more than that step of faith.

Drive Thru History® is an exciting way to deepen your experience studying the bible and points you toward Jesus.  It is a visual and audio method on the “big screen” that is the dominant way most people experience learning in our modern world.  In the past we have also visited Bible museums that “recreate” locations to give you a hands on experience and this has encouraged our faith too.  But to see and hear Dave Stotts share the bible on the real locations in Israel, and tie specific scriptures and events and places together is an invaluable piece in deepening our understanding of who Jesus was and is and is to come…the king of all kings…and the Lord of all Lords…

One day soon every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus the only begotten son of God is the savior of mankind and Lord of all.

Social Media:

Check out Drive Thru History® social media links for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/drivethruhistory/
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/drivethruhistory
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/drivethruhistory/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using this product in their homes.

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Garden 2017 Aquaponics

Another Garden Project:

While we were building the garden beds for the 2017 garden season, we also got our aquaponics system up and running.   We currently have a small system that consists of one barrel cut into two parts, with a bell siphon, an outlet pipe, an inlet pipe, and a pump.  This simple aquaponics set up is called “barelponics”.

Setting up the barrel-ponics for 2017 growing season. Picture taken before all of the grow bed stone was added.

We have had this system for several years now and it has done a great job of producing salads and greens for us.   This small system can produce quite a bit of lettuce because lettuce is ready to harvest about every three weeks or so. It recirculates water that both nourishes the plants and raises fish.  The plants clean the water for the fish and the fish provide the nutrients for the plants.

Barrel-ponics set up a few years ago when it was new.

It used to looks a lot nicer when it was new. A few years in the sunshine has taken a toll on it.

I wasn’t able to set up the barrel last summer because the pump broke at the end of the growing season the summer before and we did not replace it when we moved.  However I did set it out on my back porch and it filled with rain water and we had the most fun growing tadpoles and watching them mature into frogs last summer.

For my birthday this year, my husband got me a new pump.  So as soon as the weather stayed above freezing during the day,  we got it up and running. We also had some stone leftover from when we gardened with it before to fill the growing bed on top, so the only thing we had to do was install the new pump.  My son built a stand to hold the growing tub above the barrel and this will make accessing the pump much easier than before when we had the growing bed sitting on the barrel.

I loved using this barrel in the past.  It was so easy to grow delicious greens for most of the year.  I had so much lettuce, celery, green onions, and sweet potato greens from this one barrel that it was unbelievable.

Summer 2015

We put fish in the bottom barrel of water and the pump sends the water to the plants in the top.  Then the water returns back down to the fish and the process repeats.  The nutrients feed the plants and the plants help clean the water.

I am excited to have the aquaponics up and running again.  I plan to raise romaine lettuce, sweet potato vines, and other leafy greens as well as fish for the table.

Lettuce growing in my window February 2017

The lettuce in this picture is from my kitchen window in February 2017.  I re-grow lettuce after making a salad by placing the base of the head of lettuce in some water and set it in the window.  Within a week or so, new roots shoot out from the base and new leaves grow and within a couple of weeks they are ready to harvest.  You can repeat this process several times.

I have used different containers to regrow lettuce from leftover lids, leftover water bottles, to basic dishes.  As long as the base of the head has access to water, it will regrow roots and as long as those roots have access to water the plant will provide harvest after harvest of fresh lettuce leaves.  It grows even better in an aquapoinics setup.

But to make a simple system for your window, just cut the top off a used water or soda bottle.  Turn the top upside down in the bottom and fill the bottom with water.  Set you plant in the top with the base of the plant touching the water. Set it in the window or under a grow lamp.  It will soon show signs of new growth and send out new roots and new leaves.

So after harvesting the new leaves off the plants from my window sill, I put the rest of the lettuce heads and the plants I had already grown to the seed stage into the top of the barrel garden bed and will grow them outside now that the weather is warming up. Besides lettuce leaves, I hope to harvest some seeds once they have gone to seed heads too.

First lettuce harvest of the year!  March 2017

The first harvest for 2017 of lettuce from the window sill provided enough greens for 4 delicious fresh salads.  This is a wonderful way to increase nutrition and because you are re-using the lettuce heads you would have otherwise thrown away, it is basically for free.  It is amazing how much additional lettuce it will still grow!  The harvest just keeps going and going!

Do You Love Me?

Someday I would love to have a bigger aquaponics set up and grow more food to give away.  For a small investment, you can grow hundreds to even thousands of pounds of food including fish in your aquaponics gardens and recoup your initial investment the first growing season.    Churches, coops, clubs, etc could set these up too, and if easily accessible to the public like at food pantries, parks, libraries and other places around town,  simple food gardens, food forests, and aquaponics would be great way to increase nutrition for the homeless, the needy, and an entire community of people too.

When we stand before the Lord on judgement day, he is going to look at a couple of things.  He doesn’t care about your house, car, job, education, income, vacations, clothes, etc.   But there is something he deeply cares about.

The first question that will be answered is do we love Jesus as our savior and believe he is the son of God who died for us and his blood cleanses us from our sins.  If we are his, then he will separate us who love him (his sheep) from those who are not his  and did not believe (the goats).

The second question he has for us is “did we obey him and give him food when he was  hungry?”.  This may sound confusing, but he is in the midst of us and he said what we do for others we do for him.  So he will ask us: “Did you feed me when I was hungry?  Did you give me drink when I was thirsty? Did you visit me when I was lonely?  etc.”

“ When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”  

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

“ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:31-40

What will be your answer to his question?  What will be my answer?

Will he find us faithful stewards who fed him when he was hungry?

I hope each person reading this note today will someday soon hear him say “Well done good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of the Lord”.

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Readers in Residence Volume 1 Review

A fun way for kids to learn to become excellent readers is for them to become an expert reading detective and see the material presented with a biblical worldview. The Readers in Residence Series has 4 great courses to get kids excited learning how to be a reading detective.  We were recently sent the first volume in the series Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) by Apologia Educational Ministries .

Readers In Residence Volume 1 (Slueth)

2 Book Set

Student Worktext

Answer Key

4th Grade and UP

Retail $89

This is Volume 1 in a 4 volume series of Readers in Residence courses by Debra Bell and Published by Apologia.  Be sure to check the website for the latest updates in this series.  The four volumes in this series include: Vol 1~ Slueth, Vol 2~ Detective, Vol 3~ Investigator, and Vol 4~ Analyst.  Readers in Residence assumes every reader is a detective.  It focuses on reading comprehension and vocabulary using various literature genres to help students become excellent readers who understand the big picture about the story, the intentions of the author, and real life applications of the story’s message.  Each volume can be used as a stand alone course.

This course is intended to be done by one student, or used in a group setting (such as a book club) with each student having their own worktext. In this course, kids read 6 chapter reader books while using their worktext to answer specific questions to reach their goal of becoming a reading detective.

The course is divided into 6 Units and contains 14 Modules.  It is intended to be worked on 4 days a week and completed in 32 weeks.  However, the course is flexible and you can go as fast or as slow as you want.

Goals of this course include:

  1. AUTHOR’S DESIGN: understand the author’s craft, choices, and intentions
  2. ELEMENTS: recognize the literary elements authors use to create fiction and nonfiction
  3. INFERENCES: make inferences from the details in the text plus their own prior knowledge and experience
  4. NEW WORDS: decode the meaning of unfamiliar words from context clues build a rich and varied vocabulary
  5. FIGURES OF SPEECH: identify and understand figures of speech such as personification, metaphor, and hyperbole
  6. OBSERVATIONS: notice how expert writers employ the conventions of the English language (punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage) to achieve clarity

Kids learn about several kinds of literary genres and then settle in to research three specific fiction genres using six chapter books.  They will specifically research three kinds of fiction: Historical Fiction, Animal Fantasy, and Realistic Fiction.  Through out this process, kids will learn about characters, themes, comparison and contrast, plot development, figures of speech, story turning point, settings and set design, and more.

Chapter Book Readers

The suggested chapter books are available at your local library or can be purchased online.  You may already have these books on your book shelves. Three of the books are suggested for you, and three books are of your own choice.

  1. Sarah Plain and Tall (historical fiction)
  2. Your choice (historical fiction)
  3. Charlottes Webb (animal fantacy)
  4. Your choice (animal fantasy)
  5. Because of Windixie (realistic fiction)
  6.  Your choice (fiction of choice)

Student Worktext

This worktext is huge!  My son was excited to get such a big colorful workbook.  It has 562 pages and from cover to cover it is very well done.  It is a text and a workbook “all in one”.

It has large easy to read print on colorfully illustrated pages.  These bright colors and easy text kept my son interested in the material.  There are a lot of comparison type charts and other visual aids built into the lessons and it really makes learning the material easy to understand.

The worktext is spiral bound and the pages are thick and sturdy so it was easy for him to flip the pages and not worry about tearing them.  The book is soft cover so it isn’t has heavy as you might think a large book of this size would be.  It has a nice feel in your hands.  It is very well made.

He likes to take his schoolwork outside on the porch.  It was nice to know this sturdy book would hold up to him using it outside or inside where ever it best fit his needs.  Our other books are not near as sturdy.

I really like how the questions are layed out.  They have explanations and room to fill in the blank after you “hunt” as a detective for the answers.   He found the worktext very easy to follow and the questions were worded in a way he could find the answers in his chapter books quickly.

Answer Key

The Answer Key is a soft cover book of 232 pages.  This is a very easy to use resource for parents to check the progress students are making in their worktext.

The Answer Key contains the lessons questions written in black, and the answers to the questions written in green colored ink.  

In the back of the Answer Key book is a suggested daily schedule that matches the one in the student worktext.  There is also a Grading Rubix called a “Checklist Point System” for each Module.  Points for grades are earned based on the percentage of tasks completed in a Module instead of right and wrong answers.  A student can earn a top score of “6” for “exemplary in quality and effort” down to a “1” for “incomplete” for each task.

A Few Of My Favorite Things:

Some of my favorite things about this course are:

  1. Sowing Seeds: There are scriptures to study in the Sowing Seeds section at the end of each Module to help kids understand the material from a biblical world view.
  2. Independence: It is easy for the student to follow independently and easy for the parent to check on their progress.
  3. Graphs and Illustrations: The comparison graphs and visual aids and colorful pages that engage the student.
  4. Hands On Projects: There are also projects suggested throughout the course that give it almost a hands on Unit Study feel at times.
  5. Study Skills: The reading and comprehension skills learned in this course will be useful for all courses taken throughout all grades especially in highschool and college and it teach good study habits.

I would recommend this course to all homeschool families and homeschool book clubs and coops.  I found this course to be a very useful method of helping kids learn good study skills they will need throughout life.  Debra Bell has put together a great method and beneficial worktext for teaching kids to understand what they are reading.

Social Media

Be sure to check out Apologia’s social media links for all of the latest updates and news.

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Instagram:  www.instagram.com/apologiaworld
Twitter: www.twitter.com/apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using these products in their homes.

 

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Garden 2017 A New Beginning

Garden Season 2017 Has Begun!

We moved last year just before planting season and didn’t put in a garden in our new location.  Moving is a big job, and it takes a while to get resettled.  It was a quiet summer, and we missed our big garden and fruit trees that kept us busy and well fed.  We didn’t want to go through another summer without a garden and thinking about all those delicious fresh fruits and veggies got us excited! We couldn’t hardly wait to get started for 2017!

Garden 2015

Growing a garden helps families in many ways.  It gives you ample opportunity to move and get some exercise, and it can improve your nutrition depending on what you grow.  If you enjoy watching plants grow, and spice up the garden with some flowers to attract butterflies and bees, and birds, then there is a good chance a garden will improve your mental health and outlook too.

Orchard 2015

With our large family, growing a garden helps reduce the costs of the weekly grocery trips. Though the initial cost of planting a garden can be expensive, you see a return when you are able to harvest during the summer and fall.

Berry Harvest 2015

Starting Over

The homestead we moved to is a quiet lovely location, with tall trees and rolling hills.  But it is a much different environment from where we lived before where we had mature fruit trees and rich soil for a huge garden.   Where we live now, it is hard for grass to grow and it goes dormant very early in the growing season.

We are basically starting over.  One of the biggest needs in this yard is to rebuild the soil.  That can take a while and requires a lot of input of compost. Our current home is surrounded by pine trees, the soil is dry and hard and there is less rainfall here, and it also has has a high clay content .  The soil is quite acidic and there is not much top soil to grow in.  The previous residents had built a few raised beds to overcome these disadvantages, but it has been many years since they were used and the wood has rotted and fallen down and the beds were full of weeds, moss, and small volunteer trees.

Old garden beds

Old garden beds in disrepair

As soon as the weather cooperated in March we got busy mending and expanding a couple of the old broken down raised beds and made them into our new garden.   The one advantage these beds do have is some depth of soil piled on top of the clay that will give room for the roots of plants.  With a few new longer boards put around the sides, and some nutrients added, we will be ready to grow.

I’m going to be honest.  I was discouraged at first.  It was hard to wrap my mind around relying on the broken raised beds when I was used to gardening in a large tilled garden with 100+ foot long rows in rich soils, abundant rain, and fertile crop land.  That garden and orchard was quite large and produced a lot of great fruits and vegetables for our family for several years.  Last summer it was hard for me to wrap my mind around how I was going to grow a garden here in this poor clay soil and in a small space. But now I am excited now that I have some new inspiration with these raised beds to help address these issues.

We put in some new longer boards expanding the size of the beds from 10 x 10  to about 12 x 16 feet.  We will make a second bed not far from this one.   Due to the small size of these beds, we plan to grow more intensively.  In the past we used long long rows with walking paths, but in the raised beds there is not enough room for that method.  Instead we are going to plant the garden with the “square foot” gardening method and not have well defined rows.  We will use as much space as we can in a square foot.  This method allows you to plant a lot of produce in a small amount of space. 

It was a big job to pull off the rotted boards, pull out metal rods and nails, and the heavy shredded matting.  These beds were neglected for many years and in poor condition.  We started off with a shovel to break open the dirt across the entire bed.  We also bucketed many many loads of dirt to the garden. We didn’t have a wheel barrow for this project so my son used my mop bucket and our dolly.  It worked very well, but took him about 100 trips over a few days to get enough dirt to the bed.  We plan to get a wheel barrel soon!

My son took the lead in this garden re-building project, and his younger siblings helped out a lot too.  He is interested in landscaping and loves working outdoors.  He added in some bagged compost to enrich the soil.  He also added ashes from our campfire pit, and dead leaves and mixed this all into the soil very well with a shovel, a rake, and a tiller.  Then he marked off each square foot and divided the entire garden with cord so we can plant with the square foot gardening method.

The garden sits on a small hill, so we only put boards on three sides for now to hold the soil in.  We may add a row of boards to the top side at a later date.  For now, we are trying to keep the expenses of putting in a raised bed garden down as much as we can.

One advantage to leaving off the boards on the top side, is to collect more rain water runoff from the hill when it does rain.  If it had boards across the top side, it would divert the rain runnoff away from the garden.  By leaving this open to the upside of the hill, we hope to maximise the opportunity for more water to run down the hill and end up in the garden.

The soil is prepped!  This garden is ready!

We are ready for our new beginning!

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Color My Conversation Review

Are your kids good verbal communicators of their ideas?  Do you and your spouse have strong communications skills?  Would you like to help your family improve the way you communicate with others? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then check out the Color My Conversation kit from Northern Speech Services.

I was excited to learn there is a fun and useful program available for families to use at home that can help improve communication skills.

Color My Conversation

Instruction Manual & Music CD’s
12 Stepping Stones
50 Game Tokens
100 Picture / Emotion Cards
50 Dry Erasable Wall Display Cards
2 Dry Erase Markers
Printable Worksheets & Activities
CMC BALL
Classroom Poster
Game Board
Cloth Ribbon

Online Training Videos & Support

PARENTS & PROPS

The parent is the “Conversation COACH” and an essential part of using this program.  You will use the manual, songs and props in your kit, and the online training videos to accomplish your role as coach.  Before you begin there are a few things for the Parent / Conversation Coach to familiarize yourself with.

Mannual CD

Online Training Videos

Props & Music CD

The first thing to do when you get your kit is to read through the MANUAL on the CD.  You can print the Manual and put it into a binder so you have it handy at all times.  

Next spend some time watching the online TRAINING VIDEOS.  There are several short videos on the website for each level of the program. These are an invaluable resource in demonstrating how the program works and help you to feel confident teaching and demonstrating each concept to your kids.

The next step is to familiarize yourself with items you will use with your kids. Look over the PROPS that came in the kit and the 12 SONGS on the music CD. These are sung with younger children and spoken with older children.

There is an Assessment Tool you can use to gage where your kids are at and where to begin if desired, or you can just start at the beginning.  This program is meant to be used in 30 minute segments and take as few as 14-16 weeks or it can be used as educational curriculum to last for an entire school year.   It is up to you and your family as to how fast you choose to progress.

LEVELS

There are 4 Levels.  There are also “Adaptations” and additional “Supplements” for each level for kids with varying skills and needs. You can move through the different levels as your kids progress in their skills.

  1. Beginner: Conversation Path (ages 5-12)
  2. Intermediate: Take It To the Table (ages 5-12)
  3. Advanced: Game Board Sessions (ages 8-12)
  4. Expert:  Customized Topics  (age varies)

ALL LEVELS: Disability Adaptations To the Lessons Are Provided!   Also some simple sign language gestures are taught.  With the adaptations, and using a few supplements such as colored beads offered on the website, children with wide ranging abilities and learning levels can participate in this program.

Beginner Level: Conversation Path (ages 5-12)

~ 5 Weeks
In the “Conversation Path”, involves movement and color.  You will use floor pads that are colorful “conversation stones” to guide the conversation.  Children will step on the stone path as they walk through the conversation. These pads can be written on with the included dry erasable markers.

At each stage (stone) of the conversation, the ball will be tossed back and forth to represent taking turns during the conversation.  This also helps to give pause and establish good eye contact and everyone knows to listen to the person holding the ball.

Using the Conversation Path, students learn about simple greetings, and farewells.  They practice body language and nonverbal communication skills too.  They are given opportunities to practice short conversations and longer conversations. 

The beginnings of a Wall Display will be used to represent the Conversation Path in the next less physically active levels.  The Wall Display should remain up as a visual support for the children.  There are also activities for using the Ribbon prop.

Intermediate LevelTake It To The Table (Ages 5-12 years)

~6-8 Weeks
“Take It To The Table” kids will learn to hold conversations at the table. They will continue to walk the Conversation Path learned in the previous level. A visual Wall Display will help children practice the new conversational features being introduced.


In Take It To The Table, kids will learn about “WH” questions, Yes! No! Maybe So! questions, they learn to make important meaningful comments, learn how to change topics, and how to speak clearly to be understood.

Table props are used including worksheets, crafts, artwork, drill work and game activities are provided for each lesson.  Kids will gain increased ability to have conversations on a wider array of topics!

Advanced Level: Game Board Sessions (8-12 years)

~3-5 Weeks
“Game Board Sessions” is a multi-activity conversation game.  Kids will have the role of either active play or observation and comment on those who are playing the game.

The Game Board Sessions focus on improving a child’s ability to initiate, maintain, and close topics.  They learn to use appropriate topic transitions. They also learn to take turns and use strategies taught on a 2-sided multi-activity game board.


While working through the strategies taught in this level, kids will continue to gain confidence as they practice taking on the role of the primary listener or the primary speaker.

Expert Level – Customized (variable ages)

~time to complete varies.
This lesson is intended for all ages.  The purpose of this level is to identify the conversation skills that each child has and is capable of using and helping them transfer them from practice into a natural setting.

This level helps kids practice conversations in the “real world.”
You can also hold specific customized conversations that have not been addressed.  This level helps with further skill development. Customized conversations can be taught at any point after the Beginner Level.

Our Thoughts:

I want my family to be able to communicate well.  We worked on the Beginner Level with my children for this review. I found the program to be very helpful in teaching them when it is their turn to talk (when they are holding the ball) and to be better listeners when it is someone else’s turn.  I am looking forward to advancing into the next levels in the weeks ahead and help the kids share their thoughts and ideas with effective strategies that work for kids from all walks of life and all skill levels.

Our kit arrived in a nice sturdy box that can be used for storing and it fits right on the shelf with our other family games and puzzles.  I was very pleased to see the variety and quality of the props included in this kit.  They have been well made and will last a long time if taken care of.

The process of using this kit is simple and straight forward.  It was easy to implement after I watched about 10 minutes of online introductory training videos.  There is also a 2-10 minute training video before starting each new lesson.  You can print the manual and lessons and keep them in a binder. Each lesson has a Parent Letter, a Lesson Overview, the Lesson, Teaching Overview, and Hands On Suggestions.

I liked the step by step instructions in the lessons for both myself and the kids to follow.  The kids learned how to start and end a conversation.  They learned how to ask simple questions and discussed easy topics such as their day, the weather, etc.  They had a lot of fun playing with the ball and being the one who has the right to speak without being interrupted. These activities provided a great hands on way for them to understand how a conversation works.

One of the best ways I can tell you about this program is to share a short video demonstration with you.  This one is my favorite because it shows how easy it is to engage the kids and follow the steps.  This 4 minute video is from Lesson 3: The Long Conversation.  It is really interesting to see how to start a coversation, move along the path of the conversation (stones), and close the coversation around a specific topic of interest.  They use the ball to symbolize who is responsible for carrying that portion of the conversation and it makes a person think “who has the ball?” “or “who has the floor?” before speaking.

FREE SAMPLE of Lesson 1 and the Lesson 1 Video.

On the website, Color My Conversations offers Lesson 1 for FREE!  It is a downloadable PDF. Read it right from your computer or print it out.  Give it a try with your kids.

Color My Conversation is flexible and can be used in a variety of settings as curriculum for any family in their homes, classrooms, tutors, clubs or community programs, or can be used by professional speech therapists. You don’t have to have specialized training to implement this program.

All of the lesson planning is done. Just follow the step by step progression of lessons to successfully reach new communication goals.  This program has everything you need to jump in and go.

NO matter what your level of training working with kids, this program will help you and your kids (and other adults), become better communicators of the goals and relationships you are working on. This program has a wide range of application and is recommended to be implemented by a Home School Parent,  All kinds of classroom Teachers, Special Education Teacher, Teacher for the Hearing Impaired, Teacher for the English Language Learner, Counselor, Behavioral Consultant, or Speech Language Pathologist.

Social Media

Check out Color My Conversation and Northern Speech Services on their social media links:

Facebook (company): www.facebook.com/northernspeech
Facebook (product): www.facebook.com/colormyconversation/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/northernspeech
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/northernspeech
YouTube: www.youtube.com/northernspeech
Instagram: www.instagram.com/northernspeechservices/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Northern Speech Services with their kids.

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CompuScholar Java Programming Review

Computer skills are almost a necessity in the world we live in today.  Very few interactions in our modern world escape the influence of these devices.  If you want to help your kids get a good foundation learning how to use computers, then check out the products CompuScholar, Inc. has to offer. They have a wide variety of easy to learn computer curriculum for kids from 6-12 grades.

We recently had the opportunity to write a review for CompuScholar.  For this review, they gave us the option to choose from three of their outstanding courses:

Java Programming ,


 Digital Savvy ,

Web Design

My oldest son researched each one in-depth and we found out they are all terrific courses!  He was so excited and wanted to use all three classes.  He eventually chose the Java Programming course for this review.

The course is completely self study online.  We printed off the course syllabus so he would have a physical outline to see as a visual aid as well as using his dashboard on the computer.  The course syllabus is laid out very nice and has the week listed, the reading and objectives of each lesson, and the corresponding labs and helped us get a good overview of the course.

The Java Programming course is easy to follow step by step and understand the goals and what you are working on.  Each lesson has a video as well as written text.  As you work through each chapter lesson and project progressively building upon each concept.  If you make a mistake you can retrace your steps and figure out where you messed up.  Then complete one section at a time, and then a quiz, before moving forward into the next lesson.

Summary From James age 16:

“I like using the Java Teen Coder Course. It has been great for me. I have learned many new things.  I learned the E.N.I.A.C. was the first reprogrammable computer.

I like the fact that there is a video and text to each lesson.  Both the video and the text are very easy to follow and understand. The layout of the lessons is very easy to navigate and find what you are looking for.

I like the lab projects I have worked on so far.  It is cool to see my work on the screen.  I have enjoyed using this program very much.”

Java Programming

Online Course Self Study Course

Retail $15 / month or $120 / year subscription.  If you choose the 1 year subscription, you can add additional children in for $40.

27 Chapters & Quizzes & AP Exam

Projects & 20+ Hours Hands On Programming Lab

Free, Comprehensive Technical Support

Self-Study at your own pace

Step-by-step lessons

Integrated instructional videos

Lesson quizzes, chapter tests

Programming and computing projects with easy-to-follow solutions

Projects & Lessons

The program is flexible and you can complete lessons and projects at your own pace.  There are 27 Chapters that contain about 97+ lessons. Some chapters have only 3 lessons and some chapters have 6+ lessons.  Some chapters have only 1 Lab project and some chapters have multiple Lab projects to complete.   The lessons can be accessed 24 hours a day 7 days a week with an internet connection from any HTML5-compliant web browser on standard computers, laptops, or tablets.

Though it is flexible, it is recommended to do 1 chapter per week plus the final review over the course of 30 weeks.  The way we planned our course is that we decided what time we had available and when we wanted my son to finish the class, and then figured out the number of chapters he needed to complete each week to finish the course at that desired time frame.  If you plan to finish in the recommended 30 weeks for example, you will need to do a chapter a week and at least a lesson every day or so to keep up the pace of completing this course within this time frame.   If you planned to go faster and do the course in about 3 months, you would need to do about three chapters a week.  You can take longer than recommended or finish sooner if desired.  It is up to you how much time you want to spend on the course.

Sky Art Cloud project example from Java Programming

Some of the Java Programming Lab projects kids make in this course include:

Create a Checkerboard screen pattern

Identify and hunt program bugs

Create a race with a track and racer.

Phone Dialer

Create a pizza ordering screen.

Calculate Baseball batting statistics.

Create game pieces or classes.

Create Game for MidTerm project

Create a Math Factory that converts decimals.

Create a program to convert addresses to a file.

Create a method of monitoring algorithyms.

Create a Sky Art Cloud Scene

Create a diagram of a composite class

Create a shared image directory and web page

Create JavaDoc HTML

Final Project

Guided Projects

and more.

Requirements:

Java Programming course requires internet access and use of a computer, laptop or tablet with operating system: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 Mac OS version 10.7 or higher.  It also requires familiarity with using a keyboard and mouse and the basics of how to select and run programs, navigate application menu systems, and generally interact with the operating system on your device.   Kids taking the Java Programming course should know how to load and save files on their computer. If they do not have these minimum skills, then parents are encouraged to consider having their kids take the Digital Savvy course before taking Java.

Video:

Video that explains how Java Programming course works:

AP Computer Science A Exam

If your child desires to take the AP Computer Science A exam, this course is on the College Board recommended list. The Java Programming course will teach them all of the Java skills required for the test and no pre-requisites are required.

Social Media

Homeschool Programming
Facebook – www.facebook.com/HomeschoolProgramming
Twitter – https://twitter.com/HSProgramming

CompuScholar, Inc
https://www.facebook.com/CompuScholar
https://twitter.com/CompuScholar

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using CompuScholar courses in their homes.

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