Tuesday, April 30, 2013

End of Year Crazies

Hip Homeschool Hop Button
Today I'm linking up with Hip Homeschool Moms

Anyone else have trouble staying focused the last few weeks of the year? I know both my son and I are having issues right about now.

We have a cruise coming up the first week of June (to celebrate my husbands retirement from the Air Force) and all of us - hubby included are kind of distracted. Ok, really distracted! =)

When I brought my son home again this year I promised he could have summer break - so he could hang out with his PS friends and just relax. Now that time is getting closer and we just want to be finished. But I'm not a "let's say you did this when you didn't" kind of person. Even if I was the boy would have none of that!

So, we are plodding along, desperately trying to stay focused and on track until the end.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Essays (or Why I'm Pulling My Hair Out)

I'm not a writer "Thanks Captain Obvious" but I do have to teach writing. I'm so bad at teaching writing skills that I sent my son back into the public school system to have them teach him the basics for me.

Do I need to say it? You know it was an utter fail. As a matter of fact all his teachers knew how bad he was, but because he was so advanced in everything else we couldn't get him remedial help. Just let me point out that his teachers were exceptional and tried to help as much as they could within the system. 'Nuff said, right?

So I've tried all kinds of writing programs. And I mean at least a whole school year of curriculum money on writing alone. It's out of control. But he has to be able to write. He's a great speaker - the boy can talk about something and we're great. Putting it on paper - well, not so much.

So last week I assigned him a 500 word essay. "What?" Why would I do that to a non-writer? I let him use the computer to type it and I let him pick his favorite subject - video games. I gave him a short list of rules:

1. Don't worry about punctuation and spelling
2. Just type what you would say if you were telling me (for the zillionth time) about these games

and I set him in front of the computer and walked away. And he did print me out three sheets of paper, of more than 500 words all about Sonic the Hedgehog and his various game incarnations. What he actually handed me was a 500+ word sentence.

So we've been editing the 500 word sentence this week. We started with capitalization. We moved onto punctuation (this took two tries so far - one for commas and one for periods and other various missed punctuation). Breaking one long run on sentence into normal sentences is hard! Today we tried to make some paragraphs. He's making corrections right now and then we will have to proof read one more time.

Did either of us learn anything from this exercise? I learned I probably should not say "type like you talk" because he rarely slows down, and saying "no punctuation" was probably too vague. I'm hoping he learned he can write. Even if we have to fix it, getting it from head to paper was the point of this particular exercise.

Will I do this again? Yep - and I'll even give the same directions, because my son hates reworking his stuff, so I'm sure he's learned that some punctuation should be included in the first writing. And I'll keep doing it until I have no hair left to pull!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Really Starting to Freak

This week my husband is in TAP class. No, not the dancing kind (although that would be an instant hit on You Tube!), but the getting out of the military kind. I think it stands for Transition Assistance Processing, I'm not sure though. Someone out there can help me out with that one.

And this one week class (four days, really) has got me freaking out so bad. My husband heads out with a laptop carrier in civilian clothes - which of course had to be bought because really - why would you have business casual just hanging out in your closet when you wear a uniform every day?

So he heads off in these spiffy clothes and I see what's coming up. This will be our life. No more combat boots. No more name tag across the front of his shirt. No more hat wearing. My honey will be retired. And I'm happy because I know he won't have to go to some nasty war torn place anymore, but I'm scared because this has been our life since we've been married. Well, since before we got married. Actually, it's been our life all our lives since we're brats. And now what happens? What's next? Why is my freak factor growing bigger every day? Most of all, why do I feel like vomiting every time we discuss this?

I don't know the answer to any of those questions. I don't even know if there's a point to this post. I do know I feel better now (at least for a little while!).

I also know that some of you, my readers, may have been through the whole military retirement thing. If you have do you have any advice for making my freak out factor less?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Curriculum!

It's that time of year, when all the homeschool parents are looking at next year. Everybody has probably made some changes during the year ~ I know we have! ~ and are now spending hours upon hours hunting down the steals and deals on curriculum for next year.

I've done all my ordering and have started receiving our books for next year. That always makes it harder to stay focused on this year and finish strong (at least for me!). Now that my items have arrived, I feel I can now share what we've decided to do for next year (7th grade folks - it's a biggie!).

History, Geography, and Language Arts:

We opted for Winter Promise American Crossing for history and geography. I chose this particular program for a variety of reasons. First, it includes a state study (yes, my son recently asked if Connecticut was a state or a country - it's time for a state study!), it was easy to remove the Bible portion and still have solid reading and other activities, and most importantly, the Language Arts is sold separately. We are doing Digging into Paragraphs, which is 5th grade LA. My son still has so much trouble writing a good paragraph that I know he couldn't do the 7th grade language arts. I love having the option to choose up or down with Winter Promise. The shipping has been slow, but what I've received so far looks really fun and put together well, so I'm looking forward to starting this adventure. This will be the first time we've tried WP and I've seen mixed reviews, but I've learned that everyone is different and this particular choice seemed to fit us perfectly for next year.


Sticking with Teaching Textbooks. This is another curriculum that gets mixed reviews, but it works well for us so we aren't going to fix it if it isn't broken. We will finish Math 7 the first half of the year and start Pre-Algebra after Christmas. We did the whole switch up mid year from Horizons to TT which is why we are a little off. 


We used Monarch Elementary Spanish this year (Alpha Omega) and Zach did well. He's very interested in continuing Spanish, but not on the computer. Since I don't speak Spanish this left me in a weird place - the computer was the teacher. After a ton of research I decided on Lifepac Spanish I (with the CD's - also from Alpha Omega). He is familiar with the Lifepac format and comfortable with it plus if he's listening to the CD's I might actually pick up some Spanish too, which would be helpful. I was a little worried because this is a high school level course, but if it takes longer than one year, I'm ok with that.


We stuck with Alpha Omega on this one too. I also let Zach choose. He really loves science and he really is at an age where he should have some say. We chose the Lifepac Select this time. For the first semester we'll be doing Astronomy and for the second we will be doing Geology

Other Activities:

My son is a Boy Scout, so we will be working on Merit Badges and rank requirements throughout the year. I know that he should earn Astronomy and Geology plus we will work on Citizenship in the Nation as we work our way through early American history. Who knows what else we'll discover to do. We also live in a state with lots of Revolutionary  War sites (civil war too - but that's next year!), so I know we will be doing a lot of exploring locally and within the state.

Clicking on any of the links will take you to the websites for the products. I earn nothing if you click and choose to purchase, but AOP is having their huge spring sale now (20% off everything) so it's a good time to buy if you're so inclined. The links are there purely for your amusement and/or curiosity.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review ~ The Romanov Cross

Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.
Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.
Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.
The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed. 

What I thought: First, I chose this book because it involves one of my most favorite things, history, specifically Russian History. I'm a sucker for all things Romanov! When it started I wasn't sure how it was going to all come together, but it really did. I loved how the book moved from Anastasia's point of view during the Revolution, to the desert of Afghanistan, to Alaska. It was very fluid with no weird jumps in the story line. It was long (450 pages on my iPad) but really good throughout the entire read.

I've never read anything by this Robert Masello before, but I enjoyed this book very much. I will have to find some of his other work and see if they are all this good. I love finding new authors!

*I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion*

Friday, April 5, 2013

March Round-Up

It's not like I've been crazy busy or anything - actually the opposite - but I still don't get on here and blog the way I used to. *sigh* I guess that means I'm running out of things to say! So, I thought I'd give you a few highlights of our March here in Caddickland.

The first weekend was Hornaday Weekend. This is a big scouting thing where the boys spend a whole weekend working on merit badges. Scouts come from up and down the state (and even from other states!) to earn these and spend a weekend having fun and fellowship with other Scouts. I enjoy it because I get to spend time with Nicole! Her son and husband always come so we get a girls weekend!

And my son earned three more environmental merit badges, one is his first Eagle merit badge (Environmental Science!) He is my environmentalist for sure, so this weekend fits him to a 'T'.

On the Cub Scout front we had our Pinewood Derby. Zach can't race anymore, but Erik did race in open class and won 3rd place! He was also the official weigher of cars. Zach got to come hang out with his friends on the Cub side of the house for a few hours.

And we wrapped up March celebrating our 17th year as man and wife. I know, shocking - huh? But before you think we did anything special here's a shot of Erik doing what we were doing on our anniversary - working at the Scout Hut!

Movies From Books - A Learning Lesson

We finally finished reading The Lightening Thief. As a fun learning moment for Zach I decided to rent the movie and have him compare. I know this may seem like a no brainer to most of us - the movie rarely lives up to the world you've created in your head. But for my reluctant reader I thought it was something that needed to be pointed out.

Some comments - "I imagined Annabeth with blonde hair.", "They took almost all the good stuff out.", and lots of "That's not how it happened in the book.". His final review - "If we hadn't read the book that movie would have been pretty good.". Yes son, it would have.

What I learned while listening to him comment was that he remembered a ton of stuff from the book. Way more than I thought he would. That makes me so happy! I always wondered if he was paying attention or not - I guess he was.

This week was our spring break. We have about two months left of school. I've been busy buying next years curriculum, labeling books for LA or History, and poring over the new instructors guides. No, I didn't go back to Sonlight - but I came close. More on that excitement another time!