Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday's Maybe

Caweb and his bwankee

Back in December I decided to make myself a fleece blanket. Oh is it ever yummy! I had so much fun making it and it was such a hit around here that Caleb asked for one for Christmas. Rachel actually made her own blanket out of pink camo fleece. It's absolutely adorable!

So Mr. Wonderful wanted to know when I was going to make him his very own blanket. We actually went to the fabric store together where he picked out his own fleece! It's so cute (zoo critters) and brings a smile to my face everytime I see it.

But poor Mr. Wonderful is still waiting for his bwankee because I've been so occupied with everything else life has brought my way. Well, maybe I can work on it tomorrow while the big snow storm is hitting us. Maybe. Just maybe.

As a little FYI, did you know there's almost one yard of fleece just in the fringe? Yep. This is one very warm blanket. And the fringe...the fringe is very snuggly and cozy and soft. I think it's my favorite thing of all!

Here's to cozy bwankees...and cozy friends,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Girls Day Out...Michelle's Platter

Here's part two of our Girls Day Out!

Roses that turned out to be more like lollipops!

Just when I thought I was about finished, I started going crazy with dots. Dots and dots and dots!

I had no idea how to finish the edges of the platter, but was pleasantly surprised to see how this little scroll work and dots helped to pull it all together.

Of course, the date stamp as our reminder of this wonderful day together. I just couldn't help myself and continued the dot dot dot thing!

Love the dots!

Rachel modeled the finished platter for me since it was Saturday morning and I decided my "yesterday's hair and make-up" wasn't picture worthy.

I had fun being creative with my little girl! I'd try something a little different with the roses next time. I think that special pencil we used to write on the back of the platters might be helpful for shading rose petals. We'll see. Maybe next time!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Girls Day Out...Rachel's Platter

The boys were going to be gone the entire day. Hmmmm. What to do. A girl and her mama all alone in an empty house. We never get to be alone really. We wanted to do something special that would take us out of the house. We've been cooped up inside for so long! We thought being creative was just what we needed and so headed out to a great little "make your own pottery" place.

We thoroughly enjoyed lingering over our projects and spent three hours painting together. Three whole hours! We loved every single minute of our time together. It was simply wonderful!

After all that hard work, we went out for a late lunch and then headed home to watch a chick-flick, The Young Victoria. What a great movie! We sipped our hot cocoa and snuggled on the couch until the boys finally arrived back home later that evening.

Here's a look at Rachel's project, from beginning to end...

Starting with a blank "piece of paper" which will become a platter to be used for homemade cookies.

Rachel sponged on a baby pink background and then added big sponged dots which later become beautiful flowers.

The platter is really starting to take shape as the flowers bloom right before our eyes.

Three hours later, the finished platter is gorgeous even before being fired in the kiln.

Isn't it just stunning! I think we both squealed with delight when we arrived seven days later to pick-up the finished platters (I made one too). We both agreed this is something we want to do together again in the very near future.

This little note on the back of the platter will help us remember when we had our fun afternoon together!

A beautiful girl with her beautiful creation!

Tomorrow I hope to post photos of my platter...stay tuned for more creativity!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday's Maybe

Do Not Disturb!

We have a herd of deer that come through every morning and every evening. Over the almost 14 years that we've lived here, I've never seen anything quite like what we've been witnessing over the past month.

There's a spot behind our house where the deer have decided to start sleeping. The first time this happened it was late at night and there was a full moon. The trees cast long dark shadows against the sparkling white snow. It was simply beautiful!

And there they were. A dozen deer. All nestled down in the snow sleeping. They seem to sleep alone or huddle with just one other deer friend. One might think they'd all snuggle in together to try and stay warm, but they don't. Probably for safety's sake. They start their beds by kicking away the snow down to the leaves. Then they kick the leaves around and slowly sink down, down, down. It is an amazingly peaceful sight!

So imagine our surprise to see six deer decide to take a morning nap in plain sight out our back window. I tried taking a picture, but the reflection kept bouncing back into the camera. The deer were alerted that something was going on. They must have seen the flash go off. So, I snuck around to a small side window and very slowly lifted the frame. I stuck my camera out and clicked. A tree was in my way! I clicked again. Blurry this time. So, I snapped a couple of more and was able to get this one. They knew something was going on! I messed-up their little nap (sorry about that!), but I did manage to get a little token for posterity's sake. Deer do sleep! It's an amazing thing to behold.

I hope your Monday is going well. It's snowing here. And it's still close to zero. But they say tomorrow it's going to be almost 30 degrees. Heat wave! Looks like it's time to pull out the bathing suits! Mmmm hmmm.

Stay warm where you are,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Caution: Vent Post

Good morning, my sleepy heads!

I snuck in the room to take this picture a few mornings ago. At the very moment Caleb heard the little beep of the camera, he turned and I caught his sleepy eyes in this photo. Awww!

In case you are wondering what on earth my children are doing, this has become a regular first-thing in the morning scene at our home. The kids both grab the books they are reading (Rachel was nearing the end of The Hidden Hand and Caleb is finishing up The Lord of the Rings) and head to the heater vents located on the floor in front of the big window. They usually sit on the vents, but this particular morning they both huddled over them. This very well might have been the morning it was -7 degrees outside!

It's been way too cold here for way too long.

Usually there's a chair and a half positioned in the center of the big window. When the Christmas tree was up, the vent on the left was opened up (there's usually an end table there) and Rachel claimed it as her own. After the tree came down, she asked if we could leave the big chair and end table where they were so the vents would remain open. Why not! I told her when spring arrives (please hurry!) and the heater vents aren't needed so much, we'll move the chair back.

It's funny how these little things can catapult you back in time. When I was a young girl, I can remember getting up in the morning, wearing my long flannel nightgown, and finding my way to the heater vent located in the floor of our kitchen (which was right in front of the sliding glass doors). The warm air would fill my nightgown into a big soft puff and I would stay all warm and cozy. At least until the heater turned off.

As a side note, I'm sure everyone is familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's, The Lord of the Rings. But did you know The Hidden Hand, written by E.D.E.N. Southworth, is considered by some to be one of the greatest pieces of literature written in the 19th century? It was penned in 1859. I think Rachel would not hesitate to tell you that it is one of her all-time favorite books...ever. She could hardly put it down! Having read the last pages, tears rimmed her eyes when she came to me with the book closed. Even though the title of the book never appears within the text itself, the story leads the reader to understand fully how God's hidden hand was upon the life of a young girl named Capitola.

It's snowing here...again. And another winter weather advisory has been issued.

Did I mention that spring arrives in eight weeks. Eight weeks. Please, please hurry! Until then, you might find us (at least the kids) on the vents!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Tip for Tuesday

If you happen to have a canine friend who suffers with paw problems (allergies which lead to chewing which can lead to infections) then please feel free to make use of this FREE tip.

Wash or soak your sweet doggie's paws in warm water with a tablespoon or two or Dreft laundry soap. Do not rinse after washing. Thoroughly dry the pads and between each toe with a clean towel. If you can wash your sweet doggie's feet each day, all the better.

The vet told me this was the cheapest way to handle this common problem.

Please keep in mind that a few minutes later I left the vet's office with $235 less in my checking account. Yes, that's right. I'd really hate to find out the expensive way to handle this problem, wouldn't you?

There's more to this story, but I'll spare myself the torture of reliving the details!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday's Maybe

Peanut brittle...and more!

Let me start by saying I find myself in a bit of a dilemma on Mondays. I practically live in my car on Mondays. And so, not being home much, I have found it hard to post a blog on Monday, which then carries over to Tuesday, and sometimes, as you know, beyond that. I find that if I get behind on Monday, I'm behind the rest of the week. Trust me, it's not a good thing.

Hence my thoughts for future Monday posts which I have aptly entitled "Monday's Maybe." Why maybe? Because maybe on Monday I can squeeze in a quick picture and a short blog post. Brilliant, I know. If you see a Monday's Maybe somewhere else out there in the blog-o-sphere, just remember, it started here with Yours Truly!

So, that picture was taken on December 23rd. This was my very first try at making homemade peanut brittle. Our dear friends brought some with them one evening when we got together and, well, we all loved it. They were kind enough to share the recipe and so we just figured it would be a nice little treat over the Christmas holiday.

The recipe was easy enough. Actually, I followed it to a "T". At some point, however, I realized something wasn't quite right. As I stirred the very hot mixture (after it had cooked in the microwave for about 10 minutes), I started seeing little flecks of white. I dismissed it as part of the process (you know, the nuts mix in with the hot stuff and something changes temporarily). That is, until I pulled out the spatula and a portion of it was missing.

But never fear, I thought quickly, grabbed the camera, and made sure I could turn this disaster into a future blog post. Who knew?

I let the entire mess cool into a giant hard mass of rubber and brittle all mixed together. The spatula was stuck right smack dab in the middle! I couldn't help but wonder what poor sorter at the recycle facility would think as it passed him by on the conveyor belt. "Huh? What the heck was that?"

Lesson: Use a heat proof spatula when making homemade peanut brittle.

Here's the great part...our neighbor came over on the afternoon of Christmas Eve with a gift bag for our family. Imagine our surprise to find two boxes of world-famous peanut brittle! And, no, they had absolutely no idea of the disaster that had occurred in my kitchen less than 24 hours before.

Don't ya just love a story with a happy ending?

Here's to Mondays!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Positive Action for Christ TOS Product Review


Positive Action For Christ
P.O. Box 700
Whitakers, NC 27891
(800) 688-3008

Positive Action for Christ seeks to supply Bible study materials that teach the heart as well as the head. Because knowledge alone cannot change a child, we strive to equip teachers to magnify the majesty of God before their students.

Bible study curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Life of Christ
From the Gospel of John

Student Manual: $17.95
Teacher's Manual: $41.95
Teacher's Manual on DVD: $29.95


As stated by Positive Action for Christ...

To many people Christ is merely a historical fact, rather than a living, personal reality. We know that Christ lived, and we know much about what He did; however, even we as Christians seldom experience His presence as we should.

The purpose of The Life of Christ from the Gospel of John is to make Jesus Christ real to your students. Our hope as you journey through this material is that your students will not only know Jesus more, but also love Him more.

If one can judge a product by the way it's packaged, both the outside packaging and the inside packaging, then we knew we had something special the moment it arrived. Positive Action for Christ made an impact on me just by the way they represent themselves and the One to whom all of their materials are meant to glorify. Beautiful. God-Honoring. High-Quality. Professional.

I will start by saying that I have taught Sunday school for many, many years. I have taught my own children since they were very young, even as they memorized entire Psalms, Proverbs, and selections of scripture as gifts to their father for Christmas and Easter. I remember during our first several years of home-schooling, I used a character-building curriculum that based each character trait on a memorized Bible verse. I can remember looking at some of the passages I was to read to them and I would tell the Lord, "This is your Word. You said it and I believe it, but you are going to have to do the work to help my children understand." Some of it was heavy stuff! But you know, I always found God to be faithful.

This Bible study on The Life of Christ is not fluff. Actually, the Scope and Sequence is vast. But, once again, I am finding the Lord to be faithful as we sit together each morning and study The Life of Christ. Do we actually think for one moment that the Lord will not answer our prayers when we ask for our hearts and minds to better understand and live out His Word in our lives each day? Of course not!

Here's a little snapshot from the scope and sequence...

In Lesson 1 we are introduced to John. The aim of the lesson is to reveal the unique characteristics of the Gospel and to compare John with other Gospels. The Life Application is seeing Christ as more than a man and to learn how to see themes in Scripture.

In Lesson 14 (John 5:17-47) we prove Christ's deity. The aim of the lesson is to explain the witnesses to and proofs of Christ's deity and to show that faith saves, not knowledge. The Life Application is knowing the Christ of the Bible, not just the facts of the Bible and recognizing that our obedience (or lack of it) demonstrates who we are.

In Lesson 29 (John 14:1-31) we learn Christ's last words and promises. The aim of the lesson is to show what great things God can accomplish through us, to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and to contrast the world's peace with that which Christ offers. The Life Application is living in confidence in light of the reality of Christ's promises, praying faithfully, and expecting to see God's power.

The student's manual includes:

•Content age-appropriate for middle school or high school
•Illustrations and notes from the teacher's lesson
•An introductory section with reading and homework to be completed in advance
•Additional student research for each lesson
•A Digging Deeper section with further ideas for expanding each lesson
•A recommended reading list
•Original artwork to introduce each lesson
•Full-color pages with charts, maps, and photos
•8 x 10 inch size
•277 pages

The teacher's manual includes:

•35 lessons (one lesson per week)
•Plans for 3, 4, or 5-day a week Bible classes
•Full copy of student's manual with answers
•Reproducible quizzes and unit tests that use a variety of testing techniques
•Overhead transparency masters
•342 pages

In Lesson 3 we learned about the geographical and political situation at the time of Christ's ministry. You have probably read these verses many times before:

John 4:54-5:1
This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee. Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.

Well, when we studied the terrain and geography where Jesus walked from Judea to Galilee and then went up to Jerusalem, it made quite an impact to learn that Jesus walked about 90 miles over coastal plains and hills to get to his destinations. That's about how far we drive to church and back! The climate varies so much that when snow is falling in Jerusalem, only ten miles away tourists might be baking under the sun in 90-degree temperatures at the Dead Sea!

These are the kinds of things that help bring the Bible to life. Pictures have been painted in our mind's eye that will long stay with us.

In addition, each lesson has a corresponding quiz as well as unit tests. I wondered how well my students would remember everything they learned in such a short amount of time, including the Bible verses they memorized with each lesson. Teaching the Bible Descriptively, Dramatically, and Devotionally really helps God's truth become real. I have been amazed at what we have learned and remembered!

As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about Positive Action for Christ's bible study on The Life of Christ. We are learning so much and plan on continuing our lessons long after this review has been posted. Needless to say, I highly recommend this Bible study. If you find the cost of the Teacher's Manual a bit pricey ($41.95), the Teacher's Manual on DVD for $29.95 would work quite well and might even be easier to use than the 3-ring binder.

Positive Action for Christ exists to equip Bible teachers to magnify the majesty of God by publishing God-focused Bible curricula and resources that will dazzle the next generation with His glory and grace.

To learn more about Positive Action Bible Curriculum, click here and here.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Virtual Nerd TOS Product Review


Computer Science Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network

A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept

Well, let's just forget the "socially inept" part of this definition since it certainly doesn't apply in this case!

If you have a child that is struggling with algebra lessons, physics problems and other math and science subjects, Virtual Nerd provides hundreds of interactive, video-based tutorials that offer a friendly, interactive and accessible way for students to learn.

If you want to get a better understanding in a short minute, click here and then click on the "view our intro video." Sorry, I can't imbed the video here in this blog, but it's only two tiny clicks away and well worth your time if you really want to see what it's all about.

I have used YouTube a few times to try and find more detailed explanations for our homeschool math curriculum. I have found YouTube to be very helpful as long as the explanation was clear and precise. If it wasn't, well, I kept looking around until I found something I thought might be helpful. Often times, after viewing a minute or two of the video, I realized it wasn't what I was looking for after all.

So, let me make this clear...while Virtual Nerd uses video tutorials, it is nothing like watching a video on YouTube which merely allows you to pause the video, skip around and repeat segments. There is no way to immediately and directly drill down to a related video for more detail about a particular step. This is what really sets Virtual Nerd apart from the competition.

Virtual Nerd's individualized learning platform combines step-by-step video tutorials with supplemental explanatory text and graphics. The text and graphics are synchronized with the video, and they provide an additional level of detail around each step in the tutorial, which students can access anytime they want. Links in the form of frequently asked questions are also available for students to click on. Clicking these links calls up new tutorials which help with the specific part of the tutorial they are confused about. This is what allows different students to get different levels of help with different concepts and drill down for even more help in areas where they have a specific need.

Here is a screen shot (click on each photo to see the entire image) from "What is the distributive property?" so you can see what happens while watching an interactive video...

Full Screen 3 Areas

and another showing additional video tutorials available on the subject...


Here's an excerpt quoted in part from an interview in edtech digest of Joshua Salcman and Leo Shmuylovich, the creative geniuses behind Virtual Nerd...

A student can simply click for more detail during a step that confuses them, and the e-learning platform will pause the main tutorial and superimpose a more detailed and focused tutorial that fills in whatever conceptual gap the student may have.

This unique feature allows students to customize the level of depth and detail they see. Different students may start at the same point and each take a completely different path. One student may get everything she needs from a single 3- to 7-minute tutorial. Another student may drill down to review two or three tutorials covering supporting concepts. Students can branch out, drill down, dig deeper, and find their own way through the material in the order that makes sense to them.

Another thing that’s unique to Virtual Nerd is that their system makes possible a bi-directional connection between instruction and assessment. What this means is that, (1) while reviewing a tutorial, a student can request a practice problem to test their comprehension of the concepts covered in that tutorial; and (2) if a student gets a problem wrong while taking a practice quiz, they can click a link to review a tutorial that explains the process for solving that exact type of question.

Virtual Nerd is completely free for teachers. Unfortunately, this does not include homeschool teachers at this time.

Virtual Nerd offers the following options:

1 Day Plan: $5 one-time fee

1 Week Plan: $19 one-time fee

Monthly: $49 recurring

3 Months: $129 one-time fee

Basic Plan: The Basic Plan is free and provides access to a sampling of about 20 percent of the tutorials in Virtual Nerd's library, mostly focused on basic concepts.

Premium Plan: The Premium Plan has a monthly subscription rate of $49 per month. In many places, that is equivalent to a single hour (or less) working with a private tutor. All Premium subscribers have unlimited access to the entire library of tutorials in all the subjects offered, as well as practice problems and other new features as they are released.

Virtual Nerd accepts Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, and PayPal, and their 3- 6- and 12-month packages provide substantial discounts of up to 32 percent.

For additional information and to find answers to commonly asked questions, click here.

I will end by saying that Virtual Nerd is way cool. Although the monthly premium membership is too pricey for our homeschool budget right now, I really like the fact that we have the option to pay for a day or a week of instruction should we find ourselves needing a tutor.

If you're stumped by concepts in Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 1 and Physics, Virtual Nerd is just a click away!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year? Yep!

The back of Rachel's handmade card to me on Christmas morning...

I suppose it's a little late to be saying "Happy New Year", but since it's still January, and it's officially 1/11/11, I guess it's OK.

Happy New Year!

I am trying so hard to get things back to normal since our Christmas break. Every time I turn around, there's something else that pops up and demands my attention. I guess this is just one of those times in my life when constant juggling no longer works well. I am finding I must set a few things down and walk away. Just walk away! Oh, is that ever hard to do!

I have hated not blogging, but I just haven't been able to fit it into my crazy schedule. I have given up on checking Facebook. I just don't have the time. And it all takes time, doesn't it? I think it's somehow meant to make life easier, but I have found that oftentimes it just complicates things for me.

I send my warmest greetings on this wintry snowy day. Thank you for stopping by. I've so missed my blogging friends!