Picture of the Week: Laundry Basket Car

The little boys have been having so much fun together lately. It’s been really great watching their relationship develop beyond “just brothers” and truly into “friends” as well.

This picture shows just one such incident. Dragonfly, being a toddler, loves to sit in the laundry basket and pretend it’s a car. Small Fry took it upon himself to play with his little brother and push him all over the house.

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Blessings,

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Unit Studies for Upper Grades (Creation Illustrated review)

When my older kids were much younger (around the time when they were in K and 2nd grade – Small Fry was just a tiny baby back then, and Dragonfly wasn’t yet even a thought), we loved doing unit studies together. This was before my time with the Homeschool Review Crew, and before I really knew anything about homeschooling that didn’t consist of buying workbooks from Lakeshore Learning and having us just work through the set each year. (They hated that, by the way.) Because I knew nothing about doing school any other way, or where to find resources, when I first learned about unit studies I was very intrigued. I “wrote” a few of my own unit studies for us to do, always revolving around a book. We did one on penguins with Mr. Popper’s Penguins as the backbone. We did one on newspapers using Henry and the Paper Route as our basis (that one was my favorite – we did so many cool things, including touring the local newspaper office and making our own paper). That time was one of my absolute favorites as a homeschool mom.

So when the opportunity to review a new (to us) set of unit studies designed for older grades (5-8) arose, I was interested. These unit studies, from Creation Illustrated, have been a neat way for the big boys to remember the early days of our schooling careers (now that they’re older, a strict unit study option isn’t always sufficient). For this review, we received two unit studies: Pine Trees and Snow Unit Study. We focused on Pine Trees because we have lots of them where we live. In addition to the unit studies, we also received access to Winter ’18 Digital Edition and Fall ’17 Digital Edition of Creation Illustrated’s magazines.

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Because Seahawk is in 8th grade and Munchkin is in 6th grade, they both fall into the suggested age range for these unit studies, so I had them both work on it. I started by downloading the files and printing two copies – one for each child. The file is only 16 pages (including the answer key), so it wasn’t a hardship to print two copies. I printed the cover of the study on its own page and then did the rest double-sided. Each of the aspects of the unit study is presented separately, and it didn’t take very long to work all the way through it. The boys worked on one subject within the unit study each day or two, depending on how long or involved the subject was. Subjects included are Vocabulary/Spelling, Bible, Geography, Science, Math, Writing/Penmanship, Art, and a Puzzle. There is also a full page of reading supplements and educational video links to help further understand the topic at hand. We just started at the beginning and moved through in order, and didn’t use many of the links.

The first page was Vocabulary, and while the boys knew several of the words, there were several others that they didn’t, so I helped them find the definitions. This lesson was two pages. The first page was a list of the words with space for students to write the definitions; the second was the definitions and the kids wrote in the words. We did this over two days.

Moving on to the Bible portion, there is a list of Scripture references that all deal with pine trees of some sort. Students are instructed to read the verses, determine what the tree in the verse was used for, and then whether it was a pine or a fir. There are also “extra credit” critical thinking questions on this page.

Geography is fairly straightforward in a study like this – what kinds of pine trees are located where in the world? Science is similar, teaching students to identify different types of pines based on their needles and cones. Math includes several story problems around pine trees, including one that we used for real life learning a year or two ago: determining the height of a tree using right triangles and a known height (a person, for instance).

Writing and penmanship go together. Rather than being copywork, students are instructed to write an essay based on what they learned using their very best handwriting. For art, similar story – students draw a picture of their favorite pine tree, using what they learned to make sure the needles and cones are scientifically correct. The last bit is a word find puzzle for fun.

The Snow Unit Study has many of the same components (subjects), including activities that are much the same as in the Pine Tree study. I will say that I like the Bible study better in the Snow Unit Study though – it has students do  similar activities (read the Scripture that mentions snow, and then determine whether that usage is literal or symbolic), but then it goes a step further. Kids are instructed to choose their favorite verse from the selection and memorize it, and even offered the idea of making a bookmark decorated with snowflakes showcasing that verse (either to keep or bless someone else with). The science portion talks all about the water cycle, which is a good thing for students to grasp and goes perfectly in a unit study on snow. There’s also a hands-on project on the science page to make snow-looking crystals. We don’t get much snow around here, which is why I chose to focus on Pine Trees for this review, but I definitely think my boys would find the Snow Unit Study really neat, so we’ll definitely be doing that one soon as well.

There is a lot of good information in this unit study, but I’m not sure it’s quite as involved as the ones I made up when the kids were little. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using this as a core curriculum for the upper grades, but it’s a really fun supplement/extra little something if you want just a little bit of information on a specific topic. The whole thing could easily be done in a week or two, depending on how much your student does each day, but in my opinion you would still need to do “regular” studies as well. This wouldn’t be enough to be an “everything school day” like the unit studies I did when the big kids were small.

The digital magazines (which admittedly, I haven’t spent tons of time with) look really neat. They’re chock full of gorgeous pictures and great articles reminding us to appreciate and glory in God’s creation. Each article is riddled with Bible verse pullouts, driving their points home. It really is a beautiful thing. Purchase of any of the unit studies (there are eight altogether, not just the two I mentioned here today) automatically includes a link to the digital magazines, or you can purchase just the magazines for $4.99. On top of the articles being inspiring, the pictures would make amazing collage components (or good pieces for any other art project you have in mind). From the little I’ve seen so far of these magazines, I’m very impressed with them.

Sixty members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing Creation Illustrated this week. Some are focusing on Pine Trees (like I did) and others are focused more on the Snow Unit Study. Make sure to click the banner below for more information on both of these unit studies.

Blessings,

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Creation Illustrated Unit Studies {Creation Illustrated Reviews}
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Just in Time for Easter: Paul, Apostle of Christ

Paul’s writings were vital to the spread of early Christianity, and it was Luke who helped him get the word out. In a new film from director Andrew Hyatt comes Paul, Apostle of Christ, the story of how Paul (in prison) and Luke work tirelessly to get the message out.

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen this movie yet as it doesn’t open until tomorrow. The information I’m sharing is from the website as well as the promotional material I was provided.

The filmmakers took great pains to keep this film as biblically accurate as possible, using only scripture as their source material. After having seen a few Bible story movies in the past few year that were definitely not biblical (*ahem* Noah *ahem*), I’m really impressed with this statement. 

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This historically accurate film brings to life two very different men, bonded together by their love for Jesus. They realize separately that the city of Rome is being overtaken by evil, so they struggle to finish their respective books, leaving their writings for generations of people after them.

There are two main themes in the film that are very relevant in today’s culture. Number 1, evil is all around us. It can manifest very suddenly and without cause. We see that weekly (or more often…) in the news, especially things like school shootings. Number 2, and the main lesson to learn from Paul and Luke: God’s love is the only answer.

I’m also excited that Paul is getting a nationwide release; often, these types of films don’t come to my area. (We don’t have a small population here in the Portland area, but we’re not as big as NY or LA, so we often get skipped.) To see if the film will be in a theater near you, the movie website has a spot for you to enter your zip code and it will pull up locations and showtimes (it opens tomorrow, March 23, 2018). If it is near you, you can buy your tickets from there too.

Blessings,

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC, Collide Media Group and Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. for providing tickets to see the movie on its release in exchange for this promotional post. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

10 Years of Casey and Kyle

My husband’s comic strip (which has been largely supporting our family for nearly 10 years) celebrated its birthday last month. It’s hard to believe that the two kids who were the original inspiration are now 14 and 11!

To help commemorate the occasion, we had a party at the local library. The children’s librarians there have been immensely supportive of the comic for years (including letting us have the last book launch party there two years ago), so it was a natural choice. We had quite a few kids come to do Casey and Kyle themed crafts, and all of them really enjoyed it. It was super fun to see the kids excited about the characters and to hear them recite their favorite jokes (from the strip) to their parents. He even wrote a new book for the celebration (though it wasn’t quite back from the printers… we’ll actually see it the first week of April).

Our older boys were each in charge of one of the craft tables; the younger set got to participate by making crafts and otherwise just enjoying the party. Small Fry loved getting his picture taken with the life-size characters.

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From its conception, Casey and Kyle has been a really fun ride, and we’re looking forward to (at least) 10 more years 🙂

Blessings,

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Flood!

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The past few weeks have been rather… interesting. About 4 weeks ago, the kids and I were at the house doing their lessons (we’ve been staying with my in-laws), just us. The washing machine was going, not unusual for that time of day (around 10 a.m.). Suddenly I heard a gushing sound. Assuming the washer had pulled its hose from the wall, I ran over and turned it off. Nothing happened. Well, the washer turned off, but that didn’t stop the water from continuing to gush. Seahawk rushed over to see what was going on. Being younger and more agile than me, he was able to climb up onto the top of the dryer to get a peek at what was going on. All he could tell was that the water was coming straight out of the wall. All the while, water is building up on the floor, and is several inches deep at this point. We found as many towels as we could and built a dam between the laundry room and the kitchen (it’s just a regular-width doorway separating them) to try to mitigate the spreading of water. Seahawk got to work trying to find a way to turn the water off. When it became clear that that wasn’t working, he tried to figure out a way to divert the water instead. Munchkin was on the floor in front of the washer and dryer, sweeping as much water outside as he could (fortunately there’s an external door in the laundry room). I was on the phone trying to get either Will or either of my in-laws to come and help.

Seahawk finally gets the water diverted. He was so clever! He used the foil tube coming out of the dryer and jimmied it up to the leak. Since that tube already led to the outside by way of the dryer vent, the water started pouring outside instead of continuing to come inside. This whole process took about 30-45 minutes from the start of the leak. Not long after, Will arrived back for lunch to find us all frantic. He took over the calling of his dad and stepmom as well as anyone else he could think of (church people, mostly) who might be able to help. No luck. (Being a Monday morning, everyone was at work – except my FIL, who was a doctor’s appointment.) Finally his stepmom called us back and told us how to turn the water off at the street, so Will did that. This was nearly 1.5 hours after the initial outpouring started. It was such a relief to have the water stop! With no more water coming in, the four of us got to work cleaning up the pool that had taken over the kitchen. When we went into the master bathroom looking for more towels (we’d used up literally every single towel, blanket, and clothing item we owned besides what we were physically wearing at the time), another unpleasant surprise awaited us: that room was on the other side of the laundry room wall, and water had escaped under that wall and flooded that room too.

It took us another 45 minutes to an hour (and about a dozen Costco rolls of paper towels) to get the laundry, kitchen, and master bath dry. Right around the time we finished, my father in law called and let us know that he’d be there in 15 minutes and had gotten hold of a handyman-type from church who was also coming over to help. When they both got there, we left to get some lunch (it was nearly 2 p.m. now). We came back to a very frustrated FIL and friend. They’d tried several times to fix the pipe, but every time they turned the water back on to test their work, everything exploded again.

We had only a few minutes at the house this time, because it was the big kids’ ballet day. We took them out there, and I bought a few groceries while they were dancing. When we got back to town at around 7:30 that evening, the house was vacant. Will went into the bathroom while I put the groceries in the pantry. The water was still turned off – not a good sign. So he called his dad. His dad made an insurance claim, and they were putting all of us up in a motel that night and sending a work crew over to assess the damage the next morning.

Because it’s not my house, I’m not going to go into too much detail into the damage, but suffice it to say that with nearly every step the crew took (as in, step in the process, not footstep), they noticed more and more damage that would need to be repaired.

So, we’ve been living in a hotel for the past 4 weeks. Just this past Saturday, the insurance company found us a rental house (furnished) that was available for 2 months, so that’s where we are now. After that, who knows. It’s possible (though no one is holding out much hope for this) that the house will be done by then. If not, we just might end up back in the motel. Time will tell.

Tips on long-term hotel living will be coming next week. Hopefully you won’t find yourself needing them, but just in case…

Blessings,

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Nutcracker Marionette

In the midst of Nutcracker season, my boys were also really into making puppets (they still are). Munchkin combined these two interests and made this Nutcracker Marionette. It’s made from mostly all refurbished materials – toilet paper tubes, straws, cereal boxes, and string. I love his creativity here!

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Blessings,

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Quick Update

So sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Late last week, Will got quite sick. I ended up driving him to the hospital (30 minutes away),  it he talked to the nurse advice line while we were driving who recommended he not go in after all, but instead had the on call doctor send in a prescription for flu medicine to Walgreens. They insisted that we go to the one that was an hour from where we were (half an hour back to the house, then another half hour to the pharmacy) because she was “positive” it was open 24 hours. So we hustled to the Walgreens, arriving at 10:05 p.m. only to discover that they’d closed at 10. Quite the opposite of being open 24 hours, and especially ironic since we’d passed two other Walgreens on the way there that were also open until 10 and could have filled the prescription that night. This all happened on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, I had his prescription transferred to the Walgreens near us and got it picked up. He stayed in bed all day, and Seahawk babysat while I went to a baby shower for my sister in law that afternoon. By Saturday night, I was feeling a little wheezy, but not bad otherwise, so I didn’t worry.

Sunday morning, I still felt decent and Will felt better but we decided to stay back from church just to be safe. It was a good thing we did! By 3pm, my temperature had spiked to over 99. I know this isn’t super high, but I tend to run low normally, so we took it pretty seriously (Will’s had peaked at 102.9) and went to Urgent Care. By the time we got there, my temp was up to 101 – while at the height of fever reducing medicine. The PA diagnosed me with Bronchitis and gave me some prescriptions. We were able to pick them up that night (at the actual 24-hour Walgreens), and now, after almost 2 days in bed an one more taking it very easy, I’m running at about 85-90% today.

All that to say, I’ll be spending some time this weekend getting some posts prepared for the blog, and it should hopefully be a little more active again. 🙂

Blessings,

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