Tuesday, December 2, 2014

We had an unexpected visit from Hubby's Dad at Thanksgiving

I'm copying and pasting from Hubby's facebook:

    It has been 26 years since my father died. In one way or another he's always around especially at this time of year. This year he decided to come join us for Thanksgiving.
    My son, Mason, had some Sailor Jerry's spiced rum. I noticed a pinup girl on the label and thought it looked familiar but didn't really think much about it. Later in the evening Mason asked if I'd ever had or seen Sailor Jerry's before. I hadn't and he told us that all the labels are different and show the work of a famous tattoo artist by the name of Norman Collins.
    Anyone that knew my father is likely to remember the half naked hula dancer he had on his forearm. The pinup on the label bore a striking resemblance to this tattoo. I figured there was no way that Norman Collins could have done my fathers tattoo but decided to look him up anyway. It turns out he mustered out of the navy in Hawaii a few years before Pearl Harbor and then spent WWII tattooing in Hawaii. I have to think that this is the person who did my fathers tattoo.
    It was good to have my father with us at Thanksgiving and for that I have to thank Sailor Jerry.
    Anyway here's his story.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Choral Society Christmas Concert

Morgan and Maggie are members of the Sevier County Choral Society.  This program offers a generous scholarship for high school students who participate in their rehearsals and concerts.  This is Morgan's third year participating and Maggie's second year.

 I think he needs a haircut, but he is still very handsome in his tux.
 Maggie is growing up right before our eyes.
 The first portion of the concert was a little too soothing for Melanie.

Blue Manor Pre-K and Kindergarten Curriculum Review-Giveaway!

We were recently given the opportunity to review The Blue Manor Preschool curriculum
eBook Set includes 23 individual books and an additional "how to" teaching manual

and the Kindergarten curriculum 

I was provided with a free digital copy of each curriculum in exchange for this review.  Blue Manor offers several freebies on their website and has graciously offered to give one of YOU a digital copy of either the Preschool or the Kindergarten curriculum.

My youngest is 7 and while she excels in some areas, other areas have been more challenging for her.  As a homeschooler, I try not to pigeon hole her into a specific grade.  Instead, we work based on her needs and abilities.  We are thoroughly enjoying both of these sets.  We have not encountered anything in these books that was completely new to her, but they have been a fabulous reinforcement for concepts we've previously covered. Melanie enjoys looking at them on her own and reviewing them with me or one of her older siblings.  They have been wonderful for building her confidence in both reading and basic math.

The quality is incredible, beautiful pictures and easily understandable concepts.  Even my 9 year old has enjoyed reading them.  I can easily see how this would be a full year curriculum for a preschooler or kindergartener. The e-book format makes it easy for us to take it with us without fear of losing anything. 

Blue Manor also offers other sets, individual books and games, some of them are for older children.  I am very impressed with the quality of these books and will be purchasing the next level when Melanie finishes working on level 2.

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I will pick a winner on December 9th. The winner will have 48 hrs to get their info to me or I will have to pick a new winner. If your e-mail isn't in your profile, be sure to put it in all your comments so I can contact you if you win.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Math App Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click the rafflecopter above to enter.  We are using the FREE version because my little girls are not quite ready for 5th grade math yet.

Here is the description: With more than 3575 activities, iTooch 5th Grade Math is a fun way of practicing and learning Math for fifth graders.

Used by more than 2,000,000 users, iTooch apps provide comprehensive learning solutions which help parents, teachers and students to identify and address learning needs in a fun and motivating way. 

Unique features:
  • A clear, simple and engaging interface so that children learn with fun
  • Speech synthesis option to help users in reading and text comprehension
  • Multi-player managment
  • An embedded scientific calculator
  • A virtual blackboard
  • A lesson summary attached to each chapter
  • In-app feedback to send suggestions to the author
  • Font size adjustment to suit everyone's needs

Friday, November 14, 2014

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 This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Free Unit Study for Teens on the Villians of Pilgrims Progress

I first heard of Pilgrims Progress when I read Little Women as a child.  At the time I didn't realize it was a REAL book.  A few years ago I acquired it as a free Kindle download.  I have always meant to use it with my kids and now I have found the perfect way to introduce it to my teens.  From now until Nov 11th, Intoxicated on Life is offering this unit study for FREE!  Use code pilgrim  at checkout to get your free copy.

Foes, Fiends, and Failures is a study for teens that focuses on the most memorable villains of Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan had a knack for creating memorable characters, and in this story we meet many devilish, deceptive, and dangerous characters on our way to the Celestial City. From the battle with the demonic creature Apollyon to the trial at Vanity Fair to the dark dungeons of the Giant Despair, teens will be given an in depth understanding of these and other villains and their relevance to our lives today.

What this study guide includes:

  • A brief introduction to the book itself
  • A brief biography of the author, John Bunyan
  • 13 lessons, each providing detailed outlines and character sketches
  • Reading assignments for each lesson
  • A list of Scriptures to explore with each lesson
  • A list of application questions for each lesson
If you don't own Pilgrims Progress, there are several options to obtain it for Free as well. 

Does the Elf on the Shelf put too much emphasis on Santa?

Over the years we have tried to distance ourselves from Santa.  He still brings gifts for my kids stockings and leaves something small under the tree, but Christmas at our house is NOT about Santa.  I have watched the Elf on a Shelf craze over the last few years and while it looks like a lot of fun, it doesn't fit with our Christmas.

Soon I will be reviewing an alternative product that puts the emphasis on Advent and Jesus.  Stay tuned, I'm really excited about this new product. If you are wanting to focus more on the true reason for Christmas, this may be the perfect product for your home during the upcoming Advent Season.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homeschooling Update

School is going even better than expected for us.  The kids are LOVING Co-op.  It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know more homeschooling families. The kids are learning new things in new ways that I never would have thought to teach them and I am assisting in two classes that are very different from my previous experiences.

In addition to our weekly Co-Op classes we are thoroughly enjoying our homeschool PE class at the local community center.  This is the first year it has been offered and the response has been HUGE.  Most of the things we did last year seemed to be centered around the youngest kids, this class has as many teens as it does elementary age kids, sometimes MORE.

My favorite materials that we are using this year so far are: Apologia Science and Explode the Code.  My 7 year old has been a resistant reader for the last 2 years, but thanks to Explode the Code we are seeing rapid progress.  We are also using the Brain Quest workbooks, I like the way they are laid out and the girls like that they are not overly repetitive.

The teens are now involved in Homeschool Student Council and preparing to start on a brand new local homeschool newsletter that will be produced through the library.  Book Club is still the highlight of their month, but Student Council events have also become a priority.

4-H is another area that we have started to explore this year.  The little girls are enjoying their once per month horse project.  All of the kids earned community service hours collecting canned food for the local food bank.

Morgan earned his lifeguard certification and is getting work experience through his new lifeguard job.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Pictures

I worked on Halloween, Hubby took the girls up to Gatlinburg for some Trick or Treating
 Marissa is a vampire, Maggie is a pirate cat and Melanie was a fairy
Hubby was a very scary Scarecrow.  Lots of people stopped him on the streets of Gatlinburg to have their pictures taken with him.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pictures from Wizard of Oz

Morgan, Maggie, Marissa and Melanie all auditioned for the Wizard of Oz this past Summer and were cast.  The Celebrity Youth Theater is a new program in Sevier County.  Our experience was not completely positive, but the kids enjoyed performing.

 Maggie got sick the week of the performances and was unable to participate, her head shot is included on this board.

Morgan was the Tinman.  His costume was amazing!!!

Melanie and Marissa are Munchkins 
Melanie was also a snowflake
 Marissa and Melanie were also citizens of Oz

 The cast worked very hard and put on an extremely cute show.

The male leads at Denny's after the final performance.
 We are not able to devote the time and resources that it takes to continue to participate in this program, if it ever truly becomes a non-profit organization that helps kids learn about theater through performing, we will be eager to audition again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A few things I LEARNED at the homeschool conference?

Organization Skills:  I need to make a loose daily schedule for chores and assign (delegate) chores for each child.  Amazon sells a timer that has 6 alarms with verbal (recordable) prompts....this can be used for frequent reminders to help keep everyone on task. The kids and I had a planning meeting on this subject and have come up with a few ways to implement this on a daily basis.

Multi-Level Teaching: teaching everyone the same things (on their own levels) will make it easier to remember what we've covered and it will allow me to have more time to enjoy my kids. Letting the kids check each others work and practice skills together will encourage team work and reinforce what they are learning.

Notebooking: Creating a journal or notebook for any or all subjects is a fun and creative way to keep track of what the kids are learning, give them a way to display their work and encourage them to do their best.

Micro-Business: Creating multiple streams of income not only helps the kids to figure out what they want to do when they are grown, it also helps to provide them with spending money and would give us a cushion should we have any unexpected expenses.

Aquaponics: Year round gardening is possible using a green house and live fish to keep the plants healthy.  The fish can also be eaten.  I need to do more research on this one, but it definitely touched a nerve for me.

Physical Fitness: We are not martial arts type people, but EVERYONE loved learning about Krav Maga self defense. With very little equipment this is something that Hubby could do with all the kids as part of our PE time this year.

Survival Skills: This guy was very informative and covered quite a few things that Hubby and I hadn't considered. 
We both have military training, but have never made a disaster plan or even discussed survival skills with the kids.  As a direct result of attending the survival training sessions, we are discussing food storage, planning to take the kids hiking and planning a once per month "survival day".  On Survival day we will practice living without electricity, running water and electronics.  We also plan to teach them basic first aid skills.

Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed the Home School Conference.  We are already making plans to attend again next year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting closer to a PLAN

I collected every catalog I could get my hands on at the recent homeschool conference and I have been eagerly browsing them ever since.  I also really like Amazon and several other websites that pop up at the bottom of the Amazon pages whenever I search for a particular textbook or workbook.  There are simply too many options!

What I am finding is that I DON'T want a curriculum set and I DON'T want a program that tells me how they think I should present the material to my children.  Some of the programs have impressive claims, but as soon as they start talking about their step by step instructions, I am turned off. I like to do my own thing and I have found my kids learn the most when things are only loosely structured.

I am sure that I am over analyzing.  Most of the catalogs have the same exact books, some offer free shipping, some offer discounts, some have package deals.  There are certain books I MUST buy for courses the kids are taking at the co-op and there are other books that I just really like.  There is also the list of books that appeal to me, but I'm not sure are worth the money. Of course, I'm also looking at used books on Amazon and trying to decide if they would be "good enough" for what we need.

Math is figured out.  Morgan and Maggie will be using Saxon Algebra through the local co-op.  Marissa and Melanie will be doing Life of Fred and supplementing with a variety of math workbooks.

Science is figured out.  Morgan will be taking a dual enrollment Chemistry, Maggie will have Biology through the co-op, Marissa will be doing an eclectic general science and Melanie will be learning about flying animals at the co-op while also participating in Marissa's general science.

PE is figured out.  Our homeschool group has arranged a weekly time slot at the community center for a small fee.

English (language arts) I am still working on.  Morgan will be taking a dual enrollment English class, Maggie will have a writing class through the co-op and will be reading classics in the Fall, not sure about Spring for her yet.  Marissa will be starting novel studies and she will have an Institute for Excellence in Writing class at the co-op. I also want to find a spelling program for her and we will be working on cursive writing. Melanie is not yet reading independently, we will continue with reading eggs, we'll be working with all the phonics readers we've collected over the years and I'll be trying to find a way to make her WANT to read.  I also want to find a good beginning spelling book for her, she currently has more interest in writing than reading.  She will be in a Five in a Row class in Co-op.

History/Social Science is NOT figured out.  Morgan was going to be taking Econ/Government at the co-op, but between the cost for the books and his reluctance we are looking for another option.  Maggie will be in 9th grade and I'm not sure what she should even be studying in history this year.  We may continue Story of the World with Marissa, but we will need to do some extra supplementing because it is not interesting enough for her on its own. Melanie will be studying Native Americans at the co-op.

Art is figured out.  Our homeschool group has an arts and crafts day twice a month at the library for Marissa and Melanie.  Maggie sometimes participates.  Morgan has no interest in Art, other than anime.  He will probably take a dual-enrollment art appreciation course either in the Spring or next school year. We have tons of art materials at home that the kids use in whatever way interests them.

Music is figured out. Morgan and Maggie are members of our County Choral Society.  All 4 kids will be in the Wizard of Oz musical this Fall and other productions that will be put on by the new local Children's Community Theatre program the rest of the year.

Foreign Language is mostly figured out.  Morgan has completed 2 years of German.  Maggie will be learning French, I can not afford Rosetta Stone, or any of those types of programs.  We have French workbooks and will be using Duolingo, but I'm still looking for an affordable textbook.  Marissa and Melanie will be participating in a French Playgroup at the library.

We are going to have a very busy schedule in the Fall, I am hoping to get it finalized and everything purchased by mid-August.  Our target start date is August 20th.

Children's Community Theatre---The Wizard of Oz!

We received an exciting e-mail today! Our four youngest auditioned for the Wizard of Oz last week and the casting list has arrived.  Morgan will be the Tinman, Maggie will be the Wicked Witch of the West and the little girls will be Munchkins.  They all love to sing and everyone except Maggie also loves to dance.  This is a brand new program in our community and we can't wait to watch it blossom.

Here is the picture Maggie attached to her theatre resume for the audition.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Homeschool Conference was WONDERFUL!!!

I had been anticipating attending my first homeschool conference for MONTHS.  The first day finally arrived this past Thursday and I have to say it was even more amazing than I had dreamed. The exhibit hall had all the books I wanted to see, the sessions were presented by "famous" homeschool veterans whose writings I have long admired.  I was able to get all my nagging questions about our upcoming school year answered and to top it off, Hubby was able to get time off from work to attend with me.

There were so many great sessions that we had to play divide and conquer several times.  The Outdoor Adventure Tent ended up being our favorite.  We learned about self defense skills, survival skills, Revolutionary War Re-enactment, Project Appleseed and even aquaponics.  I definitely see greenhouse gardening in our near future.  I have a better idea of what our PE class will contain this year and I'm excited to start planning a once a month survival practice day for our family.

John Joslyn, one of the co-founders of the Titanic Museums gave a stunning presentation about the time he spent recovering artifacts in the North Atlantic Ocean.  Marissa and Melanie were as fascinated with the presentation as Hubby and I.

On top of everything else, we came home with tons of information about additional resources and of course lots and lots of secondhand books from the consignment sale.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Planning my days at the Home School Conference

The Appalachian Home Educators Conference begins in FIVE days!!! Today, I dropped off my consignment items.  I couldn't believe how easy it was to create an account, list the books online and then print and attach labels.  The drop off process was super easy too.  I've never sold anything in a consignment sale, mainly because I thought it would be difficult.  Now I have room on my shelves for new curriculum for the upcoming school year.

The next thing I need to do is figure out which sessions I most want to attend. Hubby is very excited about the Outdoor Adventure Tent, he will probably spend most of his time there with the kids.  I need to clone myself, there are so many things that I want to see and do.  I am going to TRY to plan out a schedule that allows me to hit the highlights.

We will have two high schoolers this year, so sessions on High School will be my top priority. I am also very interested in the sessions about starting a microbusiness and Encouraging Entrepreneurs. Of course, the organizational sessions need to fit in someplace too.

We are all excited to see John Joslyn and hear his Titanic Dive Presentation. We went to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge last Fall, it is awesome! It is going to be an extremely busy 3 days and I can't wait.

If you haven't registered yet, you can still use my discount code: FULLNEST to save $5 on either an individual or a family registration. Click HERE to go to the registration page.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Home School Conference Facebook Party

Thursday night will be the 3rd Facebook party for the Appalachian Home Educators Conference. They always have GREAT door prizes and even a chance to win a Family admission to the conference. This conference will be held in beautiful and FUN Pigeon Forge Tennessee, June 26th thru 28th.

Use code: FULLNEST to save $5 off on an individual or family registration.


Home School Curriculum Choices

We are considering an eclectic mix, here is what I've decided on so far:

Reading Eggs
Reading Express
Spelling City
Story of the World
Excellence in Writing
5 in a Row
Saxon Math
Apologia Science

I purchased the subscription to Reading Eggs/Express and we are very happy with it so far.  I am not sure if we will purchase a subscription to Spelling City, the free version seems to meet our needs at this point.  The little girls really like Story of the World and have requested that I buy the Kindle version so they don't have to keep track of the book.  We will be using Excellence in Writing, Apologia Science and Saxon Math through the co-op.

I will probably add more things as we get closer to the start of the new school year.  I also have a ton of supplemental workbooks for the younger girls.  I am tentatively planning to start August 20th.  Co-op starts on August 26th.

Melanie will be doing mostly 2nd grade
Marissa will be doing a mix of 3rd and 4th grade
Maggie is a high school Freshman
Morgan is a high school Junior

Monday, June 9, 2014

Knoxville Zoo

One day last week Hubby and I took the four youngest kids and my mom to the zoo for the afternoon.  It has been a couple years since our last visit.
The red panda is one of my favorite animals at the Knoxville Zoo. They look nothing like the giant black and white panda bear we usually think of when we hear the name panda. A red panda looks a lot like a raccoon.

The turtle statue is a favorite with Marissa and Melanie.  Maggie didn't want to be in the picture.

The elephant was distinctly ORANGE from rolling around in the red clay mud.

Although you can't see them in this picture, there were two female lions in the enclosure too.

The kids and I and my mom all piled into the jeep for a group photo.  Marissa and Melanie had just finished playing on the splash pad.

Much of the zoo is currently under renovation and the parts that aren't are broken up into small dead end sections.  We were a bit disappointed by our visit, but we will give it another try in the Fall. The Knoxville Zoo has a lot of potential, hopefully when the construction is completed it will be much more enjoyable.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homeschool Planning

This will be our 4th year schooling at home.  It will be our FIRST full year doing everything on our own.  There is sooooo much planning and organizing that I want to get done. We will be using an umbrella school this year mainly because we will have two high school homeschoolers. I want to be sure they have awesome transcripts. It will be our first year using a co-op.  The older kids (9th and 11th grade) will have math and science classes in co-op.  The younger kids (2nd and 3rd grade) will have language arts, speech and social science.  I am also hoping they will all have PE, but we don't have the details yet for that. If the co-op doesn't offer PE, we will meet that requirement through the teen social group for our local homeschool group.

An acquaintance through the local homeschool group (not the co-op) is starting a French playgroup and I'm hoping to fit it into our schedule.  I took 4 years of French in high school and a semester of conversational French in college, but have never really used it. We will also be attending the arts and crafts days run by the homeschool group and some of their field trips.

The high school kids are members of our county choral society and will be moving to adult choir at church.  The little girls may both be in the kids choir at church this year.  This means at least 2 days of practices to fit in each week, plus performances and special events.

Morgan will be in 11th grade and will be taking dual-enrollment courses at the local community college. I was advised by the mom of a homeschool graduate that the junior year of high school is THE best time to pack them full of math and science courses to maximize ACT scores.  Morgan did very well on his trial run of the ACT and we plan to test again next Spring. Maggie will probably take the ACT for the first time next Spring as her trial run.

I will be attending a homeschool conference for the very first time later this month. I can't wait. I.will have a chance to look at a variety of curriculum in the exhibit hall, talk with the umbrella school representative IN PERSON and attend workshops given by experts. There will also be tons of fun activities for the whole family.  Luckily for us, this conference is happening right here in the Smoky Mountains!!!  We love living here and everyone we know who has ever visited this area has thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesday.....First Baseball Game!

Many THANKS to the Tennessee Smokies Baseball team for their Summer Reading Incentive Program.  Melanie and Marissa attended their first ever baseball game and thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In just a few weeks....

I will be attending this amazing conference!!! Use coupon code: FULLNEST when you register and receive $5 off on either an individual or a family registration!


My kids are getting so grown up!

This was taken at Thanksgiving.  Next time I manage to get them all in one room, I'd like to get a picture of them standing together.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sale on Homeschool Conference Tickets!!!

The Appalachian Home Educators Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee June 26-28th!! 
Register between May 22 and May 26 to save $10 off the regular price.  (sale price shown in graphic below)
Use coupon code FULLNEST to save an additional $5.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Reading Programs

Incentives aren't really necessary when it comes to reading in our house, BUT since they will be reading anyway I have no problem signing the forms so they can receive the rewards.

Barnes&Noble Read any 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal take the reading journal into your local store and choose a book from their list.

Tennessee Smokies Baseball Read 10 chapters or books per level, reach level 5 to attend the end of summer picnic event at the ball park!  If you don't live in East Tennessee, check your local minor league baseball team to see what they may be offering for kids this Summer.

Scholastic Read and log minutes all summer. Take weekly challenges and earn rewards. Help set a new reading world record!

BJU Press Ages 4-17, log 40 days of reading to be eligible for great prizes, including a Kindle Fire!

Pizza Hut Book it! Read 5 books to be eligible to win a prize!

Don't forget to check your local Library, ours always has a GREAT Summer program for all ages!

I'm sure there are more, these are the ones we've signed up for so far. 

School is OUT for Summer!!!

This was a very exciting school year.  We started the year with all three girls in K12 virtual school.  In October we decided to let Maggie give regular 8th grade a try at the local public school.  She hadn't been in regular school since 5th grade.  She did very well academically, she made some friends and she learned that being at home really is best for her learning style.  By the middle of November she was back at home doing traditional homeschool.  In early December, the younger girls also became traditional homeschoolers.  The State of Tennessee requires 180 days of instruction for homeschoolers and we finished up the first week in May.

We have started meeting other homeschooling families and getting involved in local activities.  The library is our second home. We also have participated in a Flat Stanley project for homeschoolers and a postcard exchange group for homeschoolers.  Learning Geography was never so much FUN!
Morgan remained in his virtual high school that is run by a neighboring county school district, for his sophomore year.  He took the ACT in April and scored very well.  He finished the Spring semester this week.  He scored a 96 on his English II EOC and 100% on his final English project. He also completed 2 years of German for his foreign language requirement.  He struggled with Algebra II, so we are planning some changes for him next Fall.
Over the Summer everyone will still be learning, but we won't call it school until mid August.  We plan to continue with traditional homeschooling, adding in co-op classes and registering with an umbrella school.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Have you ever been to a Homeschool Conference?

I have wanted to go to one for YEARS. In June, I will finally get the chance.  The Appalachian Home Educators Conference will be held in Pigeon Forge!!  June is a GREAT time to visit the beautiful Smokey Mountains.  In addition to the conference, there are tons of fun things to do in the area.

This is our first year doing traditional homeschooling and I can't wait to go to listen to all the amazing speakers, browse the used curriculum and talk with homeschooling experts about all the wonderful options available to us as a homeschool family.

AHED is having a Facebook party on Tuesday, February 11th from 7-8pm EST.  Several of the speakers appearing at the conference will be at the party and there will be prizes to win.