Monday, January 20, 2014

New Year - Back to an old friend and a new friend - curriculum wise....

By the end of December - when we took our Christmas break and I finished up the last of my reviews for Mosaic Reviews - I knew we needed a change. I needed a change. I felt we were spinning our wheels and getting nowhere fast. 

A couple of years ago I bought Tapestry of Grace Year 1 Unit 1 after looking the 3 week DE sample. I entered the 'TOG Fog' and never emerged. The boys didn't really seem interested in that era and I could not let go of trying to do every. single. thing. on. the list.

Now bear in mind this curriculum reminds you that no one can do every single thing on the list and you should not attempt to do so. It does this a lot. I put it aside and sighed heavily, thinking my kids would never get the Classical Biblical education I wanted for them. 

Then I read TOG was finished tweaking the curriculum (for the most part) and was now starting to train support staff. Since my reviewing days had come to a halt I went to check it out.

Suddenly the TOG fog lifted and I saw how to make it work for us. I started Advisor training at Tapestry University and even if I don't wind up going past Advisor the training has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for this curriculum. This is it for my younger two. We are home.

We started with Egypt last week and are into our second week and loving it.

Well, two of them do. Oldest was working very hard but I just could not really make TOG work for him - not at Year One - and I'm not comfortable doing two different years of TOG with two kids. I happened upon Pandia Press' History Odyssey Early Modern Level 2 and Modern Level 2 at the local resale shop.  I ordered Kingfisher - thinking you can never have enough reference books and something about it clicked with Oldest - even though it's not on Learning Ally (an invaluable resource if you have a dyslexic child that is an auditory learner!). IEW finally clicked with him as well so I see lots of KWO and summaries in our future. The time period interests him. Yes, it's secular but I'm adding in Bible and pre reading as well. He's also my most grounded child and very nearly a man so I don't worry much about him.  It's a good curriculum and can be beefed up if need be. 

Today I got a new God wrinkle, someone gifted me the Classic TOG - Years 1, 3 and 4. I've been reading it and gaining an even greater appreciation for Tapestry of Grace - how Lampstand Press has refined it and I just love it more than even. I'm hoping to dovetail Oldest back to Tapestry when the time periods line up again. Perhaps I'll luck up and find Classic TOG year 2 used too!

We are still using Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred, IEW SWI and Fix It Grammar and we've added Sequential Spelling. The boys really like the DVD and the program. 

I've also been exercising regularly and Jerry and are taking a walk every evening. We plan to do at least a mile a night and keep adding on a quarter mile every day. 

I've been pretty quiet because I've been busy planning and training. I hope to update more regularly and soon. This Friday is Youngest 12th birthday and I made him a special cake.

Til then I am THANKFUL!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014! My One Word for the Year - Thankful

Last year was the first year I focused on One Word. 2013 was the year of Faith and I got plenty of opportunities to exercise that faith that God will always provide in every circumstance.

My husband was laid off from his job - he'd been with the same company with nine years and at that same time was scheduled for knee surgery. God provided - the surgery was covered with the severance package through a month's worth of paid benefits. God also provided the money for us to keep him on Cobra until we could see about the insurance for his new job.

Because the company was smaller the insurance was more than we could afford and I was having no luck on the healthcare exchange website. It appeared we were not eligible for a subsidy because his employer offered insurance - even if we couldn't afford it. We were not eligible for Medicaid. I thought we were stuck and would be entering the year uninsured.

A friend referred me to a wonderful insurance agent who helped me navigate and get us health care at a very affordable cost.

My brother moved to a new town and he did it all by himself. He also - thanks to our agent - will have health insurance for the first time in many years.

I distanced myself from just about everyone I knew - including our church and our new Pastor. I distanced myself from God. But God did not stop having faith in me and made sure I got His messages - in unlikely places - two funeral sermons that involved people dearly loved who died young.  I was moved to apologize to the Pastor and I've not been back to church as much as I would like due to chronic health issues but I'm hearing God there again.

I had times of fear and doubt in 2013, despite me wanting it to be a year where my Faith was strong and unwavering. But as usual, the joke was on me. It wasn't about me having unwavering Faith in God - it was God telling me He had unwavering Faith that I was His and I would make my way back.

He put Thankful in my head early in November. I'm quite the pessimist and I don't look at my blessings as much as I should. So every day for this year I will take time to be thankful for a blessing God has given me.

This week - I am thankful for family. This is a picture of my Daddy - he's the youngest boy there on the end in front of the truck (A Ford - no doubt) - and his brothers and his Daddy.  There were thirteen of them that lived to adulthood and seven were boys. These are my people. My roots. And I love them dearly.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - HelloFresh

So who wouldn't jump at the chance to try a delivery service that not only sends you fresh food but everything you need - including recipes - to make three meals?

In exchange for my review I was sent a 'Classic Box' of three meals via the weekly home delivery offered by HelloFresh. The cost of three meals is $69. per weekly shipment (The Veggie box is a bit cheaper). The service is not available in all areas so be sure to check before signing up. You have the choice between the 'Classic Box' and the 'Veggie Box' for two persons or four persons. Once you sign up then you view the menu for the coming week and make your selections of three meals from the five choices. Please be aware that HelloFresh cannot guarantee allergy free or cross contamination free products. I understand this can be a downside. We have no food allergies - or none that I was aware of until now (more on that later) - so it wasn't limiting our options as far as menu choices.

If you don't like the choices or are going out of town then you can pause your deliveries. The website is VERY easy to use and navigate. If you decide the service is not for you cancellation is also quick and easy via email. Do be aware of time deadlines for choosing or pausing your meals if you decide to continue with a subscription.

I was hugely impressed with the packaging of my box. There was no way anything in this box was going to get warm - it was surrounded by icepacks and very nicely insulated. Deliveries are via Fedex and this came on a Wednesday. 

I decided to make the Chicken Polpetti first and pulled out all the ingredients. 

I then followed the clear and step by step instructions on the great recipe cards. 

We had never tried ground chicken before so I was a bit worried about getting it done well enough - and I'm not a very good meatball maker - LOL.

The results were extremely yummy and there was plenty for Hubby and I for dinner and lunch the next day. This recipe was a keeper for sure.

Next I made the Shrimp and Chorizo Stew with Kale. Shrimp is a particular favorite of mine and I love stews especially with a bit of cold weather headed our way. 

The dish turned out well except that I discovered that I am allergic to Kale. No worries - DH just took it to work for lunch and enjoyed it.

Finally was the Spicy Thai Beef which I thought DH would enjoy. I'm do not like coconut so I made this for him to take to work for lunch.

This was not a particular hit but two out of three is what I consider a success. 

I confess that I do not like cooking with a lot of prep work involved. Both my husband and I like our dinner to be easy prep. But we really enjoyed cooking these dishes together (and eating them). I think this would be a great gift to send to friends and family that like to try new dishes or have just had an addition to their family or an illness.

HelloFresh has been a great company to work with! Please check them out:

Website - HelloFresh

To see what the team had to say about this product - and there are a lot of good recipes described with  100 reviewers with different weeks involved - click here.

I'm sad to say this is my last review for the Mosaic Review Team. I really enjoyed my time with them and this was a great way to end.

Mosaic Reviews - A Tale of Two Kingdoms - God's Unfolding Story of Salvation

I was pleased to receive A Tale of Two Kingdoms and God's Unfolding Story of Salvation by Heather A. Kendall to review as part of the Mosaic Review Team.

Both books are part of a Bible study written by Heather Kendall who wanted a Bible study that helped Christians see the big picture of the Bible and God's plan of Redemptive Salvation. It's very easy to get bogged down in topical Bible studies and miss the entire tapestry of Salvation God has woven for us.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms can be used as a stand alone but I got the most out of using with God's Unfolding Story of Salvation. I like to read the Scripture, the main book and then go back and use the study questions to help me delve deeper.

Even though it can be confusing to match the study guide with the main book, I did find it easier as I went along. I'm not nearly done with either book as I really like to stretch out my Bible study and the Bible is a large book with a full and rich story. I've done other Bible studies in the past - Beth Moore studies and the United Methodist Churches Disciple series and I believe this one is just as enriching and deep as any other I've used.

Our story starts - of course - at the beginning with Genesis - God as a Creator, His plan for Creation, and the Fall. We then start to see how God foreshadow's the coming of the Savior through Abraham and his sons.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Melchizedek. I learned that he was the king of Salem. I had learned before that he was the Priest of God to whom Abraham tithed. I did not know before this study that Melchizedek means 'king of righteousness' and Salem means 'peace'. I did not know that Salem is the oldest recorded name for the city of Jerusalem. I love learning more about the Bible - it is a book that you get something new from every time you study it.

We then study how Israel was established as a nation, about David, the two kingdoms of Israel, the fall of Judah, the captivity and the years of silence before Jesus birth. The second part of the book covers the ministry of Jesus and beyond to Revelation.

This set is perfect for any group that would like to get the big picture of God's redemption of Creation or an individual wanting a deeper understanding of God. It was written for teens but I would believe it would be more well suited for young adults and beyond. It is a meaty study. I plan on finishing this set as my main Bible study.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms can be purchased from Amazon or the author's website. Amazon has the Kindle edition for $9.99 or the paperback for $18.86 plus shipping and handling.  From the author's website it is $23.00 with free shipping and handling in paperback.

God's Unfolding Story of Salvation is only available in paperback from Amazon for $20.70 plus shipping and handling and for $22 from the author's website with free shipping and handling.

To find out what others on the team had to say about this Bible study, click here.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - See The Light Art Projects - Peaceful Seas

As part of the Mosaic Review Team we got to choose an Art Project DVD from See The Light.

 I chose 'Peaceful Seas' because we live next to the ocean.  In this lesson you will create a sea scene in the style of Winslow Homer - an American Artist whose mother was an artist herself that specialized in watercolors. Homer was taught by mother as a child and grew up to be a commercial artist and illustrator for Harper's Weekly. He vacationed in Massachusetts and that was where his love of sea scales started.  The mini biography was a great highlight of the lesson as were the way she weaves the Bible and Scripture into the lessons.
From the moment it arrived in the mail I was impressed - The DVD was broken down into four lessons and the time each required right on the DVD. The back of the DVD case listed the supplies needed and I was happy to see I had all of what was needed on hand. Almost all. I tried substituting some paper we already had and - just say no. Water color paper is needed. Trust me.

Even better was the enclosed letter detailing how to use See The Light Art Projects to create a half credit Art elective for my high schoolers. Since Oldest enjoyed this product so much I will probably use others in this series and we will take some trips to the local Cameron Arts Museum and the NC Museum of Art in the future.

Confession time: Despite taking art for two years in High School I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler. My boys would love to do art projects but it's one of those thing that has gone by the wayside. I loved the layout of this product.

There are a series of four lessons and they go step by step. I appreciated the handholding and so did Oldest. What we did was watch the lesson all the way through before starting, pausing if he had any questions. Then we rewatched and actually did the lesson. This meant it took much longer for me to finish the review but this is one of the ways I adapt things to help lessen frustration. (One note - the drawing lines do not show up clearly on our large TV but I simply played the DVD on my Mac and that was a perfect size for him to see the light pencil markings.)

The first part of Lesson 1 goes over the supplies you will need and how to best lay them out. Then Pat Knepley, your instructor, gives you some background on the artist behind the Art Project and adds in lessons about art itself - this project uses mixed media because it combines water colors and pastels.

We did the pencil sketching and then the graduated wash according to the instruction. (Note: We left our pencil marks much more darkly than the instructor recommends due to vision issues)

 In Lesson 2 we worked on our sandy beach and started the texture on our rock.

Lesson 3 was tricky as we worked on the water itself.

And then we added some trees along the horizon line:

Lesson 4 was adding the finishing details to the Boat and the Shore.

And it's done! We did have a few hiccups but all in all not bad at all. Dad wants to hang this in his office at work.  What really pleased me was how clear the instructions were. It would be very easy for my boys to get frustrated with this type of art due to fine motor issues but it was enjoyable.

There are so many ways to purchase this curriculum. Art Projects can be purchased as:

9 DVD Boxed set for $99.99.

A 9 month subscription for $12.50 per month for 9 months.

Purchase one out of the set of 9 at $14.99 each.

The only cons were visual problems due to our poor eyesight and me trying to use the wrong paper at the start - regular paper and water colors do not mix well. Again, these were user error and not due to the product.

Oldest and I really enjoyed using this project and I will be using it for the other two as they grow ready for it. I still can't draw a straight line with a ruler but I can't help but be pleased at how our finished product turned out.

To see what other Art Projects from See The Light the Mosaic Reviews team tried out, click here. We have a really good variety of projects to see and some great reviews!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - iTooch by eduPad Educational Apps

I was part of the Mosaic Reviews team that took a look at iTooch Apps by eduPad. They offer a variety of products:

iTooch Elementary Grades 3 to 5
Language Arts, Math and Science - all Common Core Aligned

iTooch Middle School Grades 6-8 - Common Core Aligned.

Math, Language Arts and Health (Grade 6)

iTooch French as a Foreign Language - Grammar, Vocabulary and Pronunciation - Preps for the DELF exam

iTooch TOEFL - Prep for the TOEFL exam through Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing Questions.

iTooch SAT - Critical Reading, Math, Biology and US History practice for the SAT exam.

All of these Apps are available for a variety of platforms - Apple, Android and Windows (Windows 8 and RT tablets). The basic App is free with samples and in App purchases are usually $4.99 each for more content and tests. Complete grades are $9.99 on the iPad for Elementary Grades.

We tried the 6th Grade Language Arts App. It gave us some samples to get a feel for the program. .

The Trial gave us two free activities in Reading - Writing and Composition - Grammar - Vocabulary Booster and Communication. It was very easy to use - the prompts are great and the visuals are clear but not overwhelming.

I believe it would make a nice supplement to any curriculum and a good review tool at a reasonable price. I would like to see it enabled for text to speech as it seems to help my auditory learners tremendously to have that feature.

To see what other Team Members had to say about this product please check here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - Math Mammoth 6

As a long time owner of the Math Mammoth Blue series, I was happy to have the chance to review Math Mammoth 6.

Math Mammoth is a versatile spiral based math program that comes in a variety of forms:

Light Blue Series or Complete Curriculum 

Blue Series or Books By Topic

Golden Series or Worksheets By Grade

Review Workbooks

Real Life Math

It can be purchased as a download or  CD or in printed form. I always choose downloads as a personal preference. I find them more convenient storage wise (thumb drive or CD) and I have a laser printer so it's economical for me to print what I need.

We used Math Mammoth 6 for Youngest for the review period. I have been using worksheet from the Blue Series that I purchased sometime back to fill in gaps for all three kids. The Blue Series is based on topic and is designed to be used to shore up or reinforce any gaps or concepts that a student struggles with.

I loaded the worksheets onto out iPad via Google Drive. In order to work on the sheets on your iPad you will need an App that will let you 'annotate' or write on the PDF file. I use Notability which is $2.99. I can also print or email the completed sheet from the App.

Using a stylus makes a much thicker mark than a pencil would so I wound up printing out the worksheets. But I took a screenshot so you could get an idea of what it would look like if you did work the sheets on the iPad.

Using Math Mammoth really helped Youngest understand he doesn't know it all when it comes to Math. It helped uncover gaps in his math learning I didn't know he had. He liked the clear and varied explanations of concepts. I will be using the previously purchased Blue Series to help with those gaps while we use this for the rest of our school year for his primary math curriculum.

In short, I find this is an affordable, flexible product that works very well. I have used the Blue Series with all three of my kids - all differently abled learners. It is cost effective - even when figuring in the printing cost. 

The author makes it very easy for you to get a good feel for the program prior to purchasing it. She advises giving your student a placement test. Then you can sign up for Math Teaching Emails or Math Mammoth Tour to get further information. (Scroll down to the bottom of this page.)

Prices vary for Math Mammoth depending on what you preferences are:

Printed versions can be found at Rainbow Resource  or Lulu.

Lulu pricing is as follows for a printed version:

Part A $14.95
Part B $14.95
Answer Keys $14.95
Tests & Cumulative Reviews $12.95
Part A - REVISED Edition - $17.95 - bound

Downloads or CD packages from Kagi  (CD or Download) or Currclick (dowloads only) from $34.00 for the complete Grade 6 Curriculum (including tests & answer keys) or $39.00 for CD. You can get 6A or 6B for 17.50 for Download.

There is a REVISED version of 6A available from the above retailers.  The link will explain the difference between the old and new versions and give you a timeline for when 6B REVISED will be published.

I highly recommend this product as a complete curriculum or as a supplement. It's visual and easy to understand and follow. I will continue to use this for my youngest and the Blue Series to supplement Middle and Oldest in their Math studies.

To check out other reviews of Math Mammoth from the Mosaic Review Team go here.