Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Poppins Book Nook ~ Planes, Trains, Automobiles .. and Rafts?

In 1942 an American plane went down in the South Pacific while it was on a submarine hunt. Three men survived the crash with little more than the clothes on their backs. They were crammed into a raft with less room than a bathtub for 34 days.

The Raft by Robert Trumbull is a first-hand account of the crash and the ensuing survival at sea of Harold Dixon, Gene Aldrich and Tony Pastula. It was our choice for Poppins Book Nook for the month of April with the theme Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

I have to admit I picked this book based on an exhibit the kids and I have seen multiple times at the National Musuem of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida. It was a stretch for April's theme but worked in perfectly with our plans to go to Florida this month. Poppins Book Nook is a monthly-themed virtual book club for kids of which I am co-hosting. There are a lot of us who are reading a book within the month's theme and sharing the book and corresponding activities.

Poppins Book Nook

Survival Skills

A great majority of the airmen's time at sea was just trying to survive. We learned how they caught fish, how they baled water and collected some for drinking when it rained, and how they navigated their tiny vessel. They were very resourceful and it paid off as they, ultimately, survived the ordeal.

We learned how to find directions by the sun, moon, wind, and stars by using the information located at

One of the greatest challenges was staying hydrated. The survivors caught water with their shirts and wrung it out to drink. They also stored larger quantities in a pocket-type device that they fashioned on the inside of the raft. The kids and I talked about ways we could trap water should we ever be in the wilderness or without water because of a disaster.

We made rainwater catchers using 2-liter bottles. We also discussed how much more water we could catch with something even bigger, such as a tarp that funnels water into a bucket.

We intended to also make a water filtration system that could be used in the wilderness, but we ran out of time. Here are the instructions for it if you would like to give it a try.

A Field Trip

Of course the highlight of this book was visiting the exhibit at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida. If you are ever in Pensacola, I highly recommend that you visit the museum. It is free to attend and is absolutely fabulous! There are tons of crafts for the kids to climb into and the Blue Angels practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. (also free) and then come into the museum to sign autographs. It's an awesome experience!

Right next to the U.S.S. Enterprise exhibit, which is the aircraft carrier that the three mens' airplane took off from, is The Raft exhibit. The actual raft is there for viewing, as well as more information about the ordeal. This exhibit is where I first saw the book and knew we needed to read it. We go to the museum every year and try to learn about something new at each visit.

If you look closely, you can still see the pencil tally marks made by the men to document how many days they were lost at sea.

This book was special to the kids and I and very personal for us to read. We stood in awe at the exhibit as we knew from the personal writings of the pilot of the downed plane exactly what they had to endure. May God bless all of our veterans for their devotion to our country and fellow men. Also, please be praying for the folks in Pensacola today as they are enduring their own level of survival with massive flooding.

Meet all of my lovely co-hosts:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Faith and Good Works ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~  Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom's Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

You can join in on this monthly activity. All you have to do is go over to read all about Poppins Book Nook and the fun you can have while joining us! Updates and fun ideas can also be found on the Poppins Book Nook Facebook Page and Poppins Book Nook Pinterest Board.

Here is a reminder of all of the themes for 2014-2015. Next month's theme is "Folktales". I have our book checked out from the library. Now I need to get busy thinking of some activities.

If you have read a book within the theme "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" this month, and did some fun activities to go along with the book, please link up with us!

An InLinkz Link-up

Poppins Book Nook Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a Fort Magic Kit! With Fort Magic you can bring all of the planes, trains, automobiles, and anything else your child can think of from your storybooks to life to interact with, play with, and make reading fun. The possibilities are only limited by your child's imagination. Jump into a world of books today with Fort Magic! You can read a review of Fort Magic HERE.

The winner must reside within the United States. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook, in partnership with the Fort Magic. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms and conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosure found HERE. Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Clip Art by Melon Headz

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Brinkman Adventures {Schoolhouse Review}

The kids and I have had the opportunity to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 this past month. The Brinkman Adventures is a fun and exciting radio drama show based on real life missionary stories. Season 2 follows the adventures of the Brinkman family through adventures that show them exactly how big their God is.

Brinkman Adventures Review

Remember "back in the day" when families would gather around their radio at night to listen to their shows? Other than a couple of small toys, mom's sewing, and dad's cigar, there were no distractions, so the family would be engrossed and completely involved in what they were hearing. And they had to pay attention because there was no pause button, rewind button, or DVR capabilities. Today there are so many things vying for our attention that just sitting together as a family and sharing in a good story rarely happens. Listening to The Brinkman Adventures was a unique experience for us.

Brinkman Adventures Review

What We Received

We received a digital download of Episodes 13-24 of Season 2 of The Brinkman Adventures. I downloaded it onto my computer and we listened to the episodes on iTunes. The episodes we received were:

  • Episode 13: The Mystery Ring
  • Episode 14: Blue Hat and T-Shirt Bible
  • Episode 15: How Big is Your God 1
  • Episode 16: How Big is Your God 2
  • Episode 17: Mexico By Bus
  • Episode 18: Treehouse Academy
  • Episode 19: Pirates of Mayan Island
  • Episode 20: Sapphire Slave 1
  • Episode 21: Sapphire Slave 2
  • Episode 22: Hadi's Choice
  • Episode 23: Castle of Secrets
  • Episode 24: On the Run

How We Used the Product

In place of our regular Bible lessons each morning, we listened to one of the episodes of The Brinkman Adventures. We would grab our cups of tea and a blanket and snuggle up in the living room to hear about God's work in the lives of the Brinkman family. It was a moving and special way to start our school day and gave us things to talk about throughout the day and week. And as is usually the case with God, there were many opportunities that arose throughout the day and week that corresponded directly to what we had learned in the episodes.

Our Opinion

Overall, I enjoyed the The Brinkman Adventures. The kids … not so much. Eli and Brynne are 8 and 10 years old and they just never seemed to get into the stories. I found myself having to pause the episodes to make sure they were paying attention. I got hit with lots of, "this is kind of boring." I didn't find the stories boring at all. I did feel like the stories were a little obvious and a tad in your face about God's involvement in the adventures of the Brinkmans. All of the stories involved outrageous circumstances where God showed up in a miraculous way. I personally prefer stories that reveal God's glory and love in the ordinary things of life. We are pretty ordinary people. I know that The Brinkman Adventures is like a television show and big stories are what draw the viewer/listener. I just think that my kids couldn't relate to the continuous miraculous stories and didn't feel that the stories were believable and relatable to their little lives. That doesn't mean we didn't talk about the correlation between the big miracles of the Brinkmans and our daily situations. God shows up in small ways and big ways. It's up to us to see Him in the midst of our circumstances, now matter what they are. 

I think their lack of enjoyment might also go back to what I had mentioned earlier. There are just so many things vying for the attention of our kids. It was difficult for my kids to just sit still and listen. We do read alouds every single day and that time of day is their absolute favorite. We always have so much fun reading good stories. And I am not one that allows my kids to do anything else while we are reading, no extra toys to play with, etc. That's why I was confused that the kids did not enjoy listening to The Brinkman Adventures.The cd player in our car does not work so we couldn't burn the episodes onto cds and listen to them while driving. I think that might have helped if we were able to listen to them in the confines of the car.

Product Specifics

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 are recommended for families of all ages. The physical cd set is available for a suggested donation of $25.00 and the digital download is available for a suggested donation of $17.00. Both can be obtained at The Brinkman Adventures store.

Click to read Crew Reviews

To read more reviews of The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24, go to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Accomplishments

We jumped right back into real life this past week, and we were ready to tackle it after our couple of weeks off. In fact, we were pretty energized all week.

The Past Week in our Regular Life

There was a lot of practicing softball this week, as Brynne's season has begun. She decided a few weeks ago that she wanted to try to be one of the pitchers on her team, so she started practicing. We all practiced with her all week. Turns out she isn't half bad! The girl set a goal and worked for it. I am so proud of her for that!

My sister and I also started running again. It's the first time I have run since last August when I fell and tore a ligament in my knee. It was a long road to recovery as I chose not to go to the doctor and go through all the nonsense I was sure they would put me through. I was patient and it paid off. It has felt great to run again!

The Schooling Basics

Bible - We learned all about Daniel this week. This has been one of our favorite stories in the Bible to read.

Grammar - We learned about Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Pronoun Adjectives with lots of diagramming.

Spelling - We learned about words with "x" and "z" in them, as well as continued working with Wild Tales with vowel chunks, copy work, and dictation.

Science - The kids completed a module in Science4Us on Animals.

Math - In Math U See we learned about composite and prime factors, began learning about division with remainders in CTC Math, and simplifying fractions.

The Schooling Fun Stuff

We are working on two literature units right now. One is on The Raft and we are learning about survival skills. And the other is on The Courage of Sarah Noble. I will be posting about both of these literature units soon!

Kyndal has achieved her goal of becoming a Level 2 student at her cosmetology school. This is a huge jump in her career and took a lot of hard work on her part. I am very proud of how good she is doing in school and know she will be a successful stylist! Only a few more months of school!!

The Kitchen

I know I cooked last week, but for the life of me I have no idea what I cooked. Oh yeah, one night we had barbecue meatballs, baked potatoes and corn. And another night we had beef and bean burritos. We did eat out this weekend since we were in St. Louis and I feel so yucky tonight. We ate too many fried foods. My body is not used to eating that kind of food. Although it was good while we were eating it, I find that I definitely prefer eating a little healthier at home.

The Days Ahead

Eli and Brynne only need 16 more hours before we are done with school for the 2013-2014 school year. We will be finishing up on Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday we will start our month long summer break before we start back to summer school the first week of June. I have a LOT of projects I am wanting to do during the month of May so my mom and I will be starting the first one on Wednesday. It's actually going to be a very busy week. Then on Sunday I will be speaking at our church's annual Mother-Daughter Banquet.

The Books We are Reading

Mom: The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Living So That by Wendy Blight.

Brynne: A Surprise for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Eli: Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce.

Read Aloud:  The Raft by Robert Trumbull, The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh.

The People and the Places

What a fun weekend we had! Eli and Brynne have been bowling in a league every Saturday since last September in preparation for the state tournament that was this weekend. We went to St. Louis to compete. They bowled six games on Saturday in singles and doubles and three games on Sunday in the team event. They bowled so fantastic! In fact, as of the end of this weekend, with only one more state tournament session to go next weekend, our team is in FIRST PLACE in the state in our division! It is possible that Eli and his partner may be in contention for placing in doubles and in singles! It was such an exciting weekend and a lot of fun! The kids were thrilled with how they performed and the parents had a blast watching our kids do so well!

The Savings Jar(s)

I put $1.74 in the change jar this week.

The Bible in a Year

I got caught up on my Bible reading and finished reading 2 Samuel.

The Favorite Things

Bowling wasn't the only fun part of this weekend. We took the kids to City Museum on Friday night. It is one of their favorite places to go and they had a blast!

My mom went with us, and she and I were able to spend some time shopping, which I haven't done in two years since we moved to Missouri. Rick took the kids swimming in the hotel pool and to McDonald's to eat and play while we shopped. We had a nice time just browsing and picking up some bargains.

Linking up

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Teenagers

Being a parent is the scariest job in the world. I left the corporate world 13 years ago to be a "stay at home mom". Little did I know that managing a department of eight adults would be a snap compared to parenting four children. Those two little kids I came home to care for are now 19 and 17, and we have added two more.

I laugh now when new moms say they will stay home with the kids until they go to school and then go back to work. I cannot even imagine sitting at a job all day worrying about how my school-aged kids are doing in this world. Bandaids do not heal the wounds of teenagers. They need daily guidance. They need you to be at home when they come home from school. You need to see so much of your teenagers that you know in an instant when something is not right that requires you to push until you find out what it is. I can tell within seconds of when my teenagers walk in the back door whether something is wrong. I wouldn't know that if I wasn't here. Dawson's friends all come to our house to hang out in the afternoons and on the weekends. Why? Because we are here and we have taken an interest in them as though they were our own kids. They know we have a safe place for them to be teenage boys.

Every decision I have made in the past 13 years has haunted me as to whether it has been the right one for my kids. Of course they haven't all been. I have been learning this parenting thing right along with them. As they have approached the ages where they are ready to make the decisions about what they will do with their futures, I have agonized over whether I have taught them enough, guided them enough, prepared them enough.

At some point you have to just let them start to make their own decisions and trust that you have done all that you can. I think I have. I have loved them with everything I have attempting to make every decision with their best interest at heart. Rick and I have sacrificed so much for their happiness and their well-being, and we just have to trust that it has all been enough.

Kyndal is over half way through with her cosmetology education. In just a few short months she will be in a salon building her clientele and moving forward with her career. Her and Collin have been together for over two years and they will, no doubt, get married and have children in the not-so-far-off future. I am so proud of her. I hear her talk about her plans and she knows what she wants and what she needs to do to get there. Of course I still worry about her every single day. But, I trust her and I know that she will do fine.

And now Dawson is getting ready to be a senior in high school. He has kind of gone back and forth about what he wants to do with his future, but he knows that he wants to stay here in this small town where we live and marry his small town high school sweetheart. Just in the past few weeks he has begun to narrow down his chosen career path. And just this week he and I formulated a plan to complete it. He has worked to receive an A+ scholarship that will allow him to obtain an associate's degree at a nearby community college for free. He plans to major in Construction Technology and go on to receive his Pipe Welding certification. He wants to work in some level of construction, hopefully following in the footsteps of my dad's business. And he is so excited about his plans! He's telling everyone who will listen what he is planning to do.

I look at these two little kids who are all grown up now and I think, "We did it!" We have been successful. These kids are making smart plans to do the things they know they will enjoy, are thinking along the lines of contentment instead of "making it big", and will likely marry their high school sweethearts. They are doing it right.

I am so blessed and so happy for my kids. Their futures look bright and I am thrilled for them and excited to see their lives unfold. (Almost) two down and two to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CTC Math {Schoolhouse Review}

We found our groove with math this year. I found a curriculum that both of the kids respond well to and seem to enjoy (as much as one can enjoy math). We have spent the whole year learning the ins and outs of multiplication and were just a few lessons away from being ready to move onto the next year-long level on division. And then an opportunity to review the 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math became available.

CTC Math Review

To be honest, I wasn't very enthusiastic. I mean, why mess with the methods that have worked so well? When I was chosen to review the product I didn't go into it with the level of enthusiasm that it deserved. We have been using a dvd/workbook curriculum with great success. The 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math is a web based curriculum. As we have not had a lot of luck with those types of programs, I went into this review with a negative attitude.

And then my socks were knocked off by how great it is. In fact it is so great that we are going to continue to use it past the review period.

CTC Math Review

What We Received

We received a full year subscription to the 12 Month Family Plan with unlimited access to all lessons across all grade levels. These included Math for kindergarten through 6th grade, Basic Math and Pre-Algebra, Elementary Measurement, Elementary Geometry, Algebra 1, Pre-Calculus, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. The product is intended for children of all ages from kindergarten through Grade 12. The necessary materials were all within the online format.

How We Used the Product

When we received access to the 12 Month Family Plan, I registered both my 8 and 10 year olds. They each received their own username and password.

I looked over the program thoroughly to try to decide where we should start. I could either start them at the beginning of their grade levels (3rd/4th grade) or I could pick and choose what topics I wanted them to cover during the review period.

I decided that for the purposes of the review that I would have them start with the very beginning lessons of Division in whatever grade level it started. That happened to be 3rd grade.

I had each of the kids start there with the first video lesson and then do practice problems for that lesson for 15 minutes. That usually had them going through three levels of practice problems which was enough for me to gauge their understanding of the concepts.

The next day they went on to the second division lesson in 3rd grade, then the third lesson on the next day, and so on until they completed all of the lessons on Division for 3rd grade.

Then they moved onto the lessons on Division for 4th grade, which included two separate levels with multiple lessons under each. As of the date of this review, they have completed 2/3 of the lessons on Division for 4th grade. Today they learned Remainders by Grouping. Next week they will start Remainders by Division Facts and by the end of the week will be doing 2-Digit Division, 3-Digit Division, and Short Division with Remainders.

Do you know what? My kids have learned how to do division without me having to give the first lesson or grade the first problem! The video instruction is thorough and succinct enough for them to understand the concepts and the practice problems are graded and corrected as they go along.

What will we be doing next? After the kids complete the 4th grade division problems, I will have them move on and complete the 5th grade division section. Then this summer I plan to have them go back to 4th grade math and start at the beginning to go through all of the 4th grade math concepts. CTC Math will be our exclusive summer math program.

Some Neat Features

One of the things I really appreciate about this program is the Weekly Report I receive to my e-mail. It tells me how much time each of my kids has spent on the program each day and their progress on the lessons. Although I check what they are doing each day, these reports are a nice touch.

The kids are also working towards a Certificate of Completion with each set of lessons. There is a Platinum Certificate, Gold Certificate, Silver Certificate, and Bronze Certificate based on the cumulative percentage of correct answers. Each time one of the kids receives a Certificate, it is e-mailed to me so I can print it off and award it to the kids.

I can also print off Summary Reports and Detailed Reports. These are fantastic if you live in a state that has reporting requirements. I plan to print them off and keep in our portfolio. I am treating the reports as assessments.

There is a Search feature whereby you can enter a keyword and the program will pull up each lesson that covers that search topic. For instance, when I typed in "Angles" it provided me with 12 different lessons from Grade 2 to Grade 6 from which to choose. You can also search by Lesson Number if you know it.

There are Speed Skills whereby you can choose a level between 1 and 4 and then the concept. The kids can then play speed drills to test their quick knowledge.

At the end of each set of lessons, there are Standard Tests and Comprehensive Tests. I have used these as a Final Exam at the end of each set of lessons.

My Opinion

The 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math is a winner. If we continue to have success with it, we will likely purchase it as a supplement to our regular curriculum. I do believe that it would be an appropriate stand-alone and full program. If I had kids in high school, I would be all over this for their math curriculum.

Product Details

The 12 Month Family Plan includes full access for one child. The regular cost for one child is $197. However, at this time there is a special pricing for homeschoolers of just $78.80 for one child. For two or more homeschooling children the total regular cost is $297. But the current sale has a full-year subscription for two or more children for just $118.80. That is a phenomenal deal and I would grab it while it lasts!

To read other reviews on this product, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Click to read Crew Reviews

My Husband

I talked with my husband today as he shared news with me of just another injustice he and I have to deal with on a daily basis. He tries to shelter me from the consequences of his past, as I try to shelter him from the consequences of mine. We each have enough to deal with of our own.

It made me realize how blessed he and I are to have each other. I am thankful for the daily sacrifices he makes for me and his children each and every day. He works hard, is away from us all week, lives as frugal a life as one can, and exhausts his body and his car every weekend as he drives four hours each way to be with us. His life is not easy. But he sacrifices much for the ones he loves.

While the majority of society manipulates it and/or fails to stand up and face their responsibilities, Rick and I take it all head on. The consequences of our actions are many, but we don't shirk the responsibilities attached to them. We sure wish we would have done things differently … lots of things …. but know that we can't change the past but can only hold tight to each other and make a better future for ourselves and our kids. Lord knows we wish we could leave some things and people behind.

I am just blessed to have those I do have. I have a good family. Rick and I have a strong marriage. And we have kids who love us and want to spend time with us. Those are true blessings. All the hardships make those blessings so much sweeter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrating Easter

I have to say that this is the best Easter we have ever had as a family. The weather was beautiful all weekend and we spent all of our time together outside playing games and just hanging out. I couldn't have asked for a better day spent with my family.

We spent Saturday evening coloring Easter eggs. Kyndal and Collin joined in and Dawson stepped up to make a Pokemon and Spiderman egg.

We got up bright and early so the kids could check out their Easter baskets before I had to go to early service at church to play bells.

The Easter Bunny usually brings video games and dollars for the Easter baskets. A family favorite was Frozen on dvd.

Then we celebrated our risen Savior at church. My kids in Sunday school helped hide eggs for the younger kids, and I played bells in service. It's always so great to look out and see my whole family filling a pew.

We came home from church and the kids hunted Easter eggs.

Then we went to my parents' for a family fish fry. My grandma and uncle joined us, as well. We played a few games outside as a family and just hung out and ate and enjoyed the day.

My WHOLE family

And my original one

I am one blessed mom

My sister and nieces

Grandma and Papa with the grandkids, minus Bell who is in South America.

The big cousins. We have this same picture of them as they have grown up.