Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Student Logbook - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In late July I learned that the makers of My Student Logbook were letting the Schoolhouse Review Crew review My Student Logbook and that I would be receiving a copy!
I was really interested in getting this Student Logbook, because my son is getting to a place where he can be a little more independent, but he needed a little structure. I've been trying to work with a daily lesson planner, but I hadn't gotten all the assignments filled in. There were assignments that were not getting done without my laying each assignment out as the previous subject was completed. And we wanted my son to be doing certain chores, but it was difficult for him to remember to do them. There were meetings to go to, and they would sneak up on him suddenly...
My Student Logbook looked like it was just what we needed in our home to help him become a little more self-sufficient and responsible.

We received My Student Logbook in mid-August, and I immediately began working my way through the book to familiarize myself with it and to figure out what would be the best way for us to use it. The beginning pages of the book thank the reader for their purchase and then explain how the logbook works and gives links to web pages to go to for more information.

The logbook next gives instructions for setting up your logbook. Being a visual person, I found it easier when  I learned that there is a great tutorial on how to set up the logbook on YouTube:

I followed the instructions, tearing out my first checklist, trimming it, taping it into the logbook, and figuring out what to write on each line. My initial checklist included our school subjects: Bible, Algebra, Biology, Literature (actually listed by the book titles), History, Grammar, Writing, and Latin. I also added chores, and I added weekly meetings, crossing out the days the activity would not occur or the days the chores did not occur (such as bringing in the recycling and trash cans).

The next page at the beginning of My Student Logbook talks about how to use the logbook for a student in high school. So I looked to see if the makers had made YouTube videos, and sure enough they had. There is a 3-part series on using the logbook for high school; here is the first video:

So I had my logbook filled out, and it was time to start using it. Day 1, I opened my logbook up and slapped it down on the table... only to see a blank page! 
Yeah, I was a little dense. When you get the Logbook set up... The spiral, for the rest of the year, goes on the left whenever you are using the weekly pages. I'm so silly! So I began our week one -- I wrote subjects down and we worked our way through the week.
When week 1 was finished, we  reached week 2 and my son asked me what to do with the Logbook. I told him to flip the page and start the new week on the next page. So he flipped the page, and then...

he was concerned because he didn't want to write everything in! Well, I showed him how to flip the checklist over the new week and you are ready to go. I do still need to write in the dates for the next week.
The logbooks actually come with these columns where the dates are blank or a version where the dates are filled in. The logbooks also come in a selection of covers. I chose the cover that has a mapmaker-theme. There are also other themes -- cartoon ponies, stars and planets, fish and underwater scene, jungle scene, jets, dinosaurs, butterflies, swirls, and patriotic (flag and eagle). You can see we are pretty hard on our logbook!

So we really did find My Student Logbook helpful. I am still trying to determine the best way for us to use it. It has been working fairly well having Miner look at the Logbook to see what he should get done during the day, and then go to the Lesson Planner to get the specific assignment. In some subjects it is easy enough to just do the next assignment each day, like Algebra lessons. However in Biology, one day's assignment might be to read pages 36-40, and the next day be to define the chapter's vocabulary words, and there is no easy way for him to know the exact assignment without still using the lesson planner.

Even if we always use the logbook combined with the lesson planner, it is an improvement over not having the logbook.
1) My son finds the logbook easy to use;
2) My son sees that he needs to do a reading in the literature book and is beginning to understand to go to the lesson planner (or me) to find out what chapter to read that day.
3) My son has evening meetings, and using My Student Logbook he is able to be aware all day that he has a meeting that night. Previously once a week meetings would catch him by surprise and he wouldn't want to go (to something he should really go to) because he felt like he hadn't known he had a meeting, and that would be enough reason for him to want to not go!
4) When I put chores on his Logbook Checklist, that he looks at throughout each day, the chores are more likely to get done. (Another way of saying this: Because of the checklist his chores are getting done more regularly.)

 But wait! There's more!

At the back of the book, after enough pages to get you through your school year (40 weeks worth?), there are additional helpful pages: after a colored divider page there are the following additional pages:
  • All About Me page;
  • Prayers and Goals page;
  • Bible Verses Memorized page;
  • Books Read page (3);
  • Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, Activities pages (3); 
  • Test Records pages (3);
  • and lastly, Year Highlights - My Favorite Memories from This Year page.
So in our family, this product is a winner. When our review period is over, we will continue using this product. I love products like that!

My Student Logbook is a spiral-bound 8-1/2" X 11" softbound cover with a clear plastic front cover and a sturdy black vinyl back cover. It has about 80 pages. The price is $15.00. The creators have posted many YouTube videos to teach you how to set up the logbook, how to use the logbook, how to use the logbook to help you keep track for a high school student, and how to use the logbook to create a high school transcript. So, in addition to the low price, you get lots of free helpful stuff.

So if you have a student in your family that is having difficulty keeping things straight to be self-sufficient, I can highly recommend  My Student Logbook to you! Give it a try.

Happy Birthday to my first born

Today's Think Back Thursday is dedicated to my oldest.

Born September 16, 19XX (for privacy)

Happy Birthday, "Baby"! Hope you have a great day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu Monday for 9/15/2014


Here are our meal plans for this week. For vegan, I am not really able to make many adjustments this week. I'm trying to make a batch of black beans and rice, but I'm not sure if I'll get it made. If I do, I'll eat it as a substitute for the meaty meals.

Sunday: lasagne (left overs), salad, garlic bread

Monday: Macaroni & Cheese Dinner; Broccoli

Tuesday: Seafood dinner

Wednesday: Chicken al fredo over noodles

Thursday: Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw

Friday: Cheese Burgers; baked beans; lettuce and tomato

Saturday: Stir Fry Chicken over rice

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner - A TOS Homeschool Crew Reiew

Back in July I learned that The 7 Minute Life was going to let The Schoolhouse Crew review their product, The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner, and that I had been chosen to be one of 90 Crew members to do the review.

This product might change your life.
I want to tell you all about this daily planner, how to use it, why you want it, and how it will change your life. I need to tell you, though, that the planner's author, Allyson Lewis, has done all of this in video format. Now maybe you don't have time to watch videos right now, or maybe you do. So to please each type of reader, I am going to alternate how I tell you about this product.

First, let me give you the option of watching this 7-minute video by Allyson Lewis that tells about The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner:

What is the concept? Well, I think back to a farcical song a local church performed, to the tune of "I Am Pretty..." from the musical West Side Story, with the words changed this way:
"We are busy! Oh so busy! We go out every night of the week!"

I don't remember the rest of the words, but you get the idea. I know everyone feels busy,

 especially we home school moms. When The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner arrived at my door quite honestly I felt like I didn't have time to learn how the system worked or time to watch the videos. But I knew I had to, so I got myself stated. As I said, the author has created videos to help you every step of the way.

In addition to the above video of how The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner works, the author created this series of videos to help the user succeed at her system: 
So I started by determining my top ten values in life and then creating a "Purpose Statement".

Looking next at 90 Day Goals  (work goals, personal goals, financial goals), I fudged and skipped it for now. I don't work outside the home, so my work goals would all be schooling goals or review goals (many reviews coming that I don't know I am doing or not), and housecleaning goals. Many of my personal goals are currently in limbo because of a health issue I am trying to take care of. So, I guess I could put "take care of health issue" down as a personal goal for the next 90 days, because that's what it amounts to. I don't have any finance issues; my husband and I have already worked out financial goals and how to reach them. The health issue is the is a major goal for the next three months (and then some). I guess I wouldn't go into what goals I had set, if I had set them, so I will move on.

I found the "Unfinished Tasks" really helpful. I was able to list one very important unfinished task that has a specific deadline, as well as upcoming reviews that will need to get written, reminding me of specific products I currently have that we are to be working on at least 3X each week. And I also listed some long-term unfinished tasks, such as a quilt I am working on, that has a "squishy" due date.

The mental clutter section was very helpful, too, but some of the mental clutter items I put were also on the "Unfinished Tasks" list because those tasks were still cluttering my brain.
 I also loved the grocery list page to help me remember what needs to go on the list. There were so many pages I cannot take time to name them all.
When you get to the daily pages, you get to the nitty gritty of getting things done. The big tool is "5 before 11". I had to tweak this and just consider it "5 important things to get done today", or I couldn't list my real "To Do"s, since I do most of mine between 3:00-5:00 p.m. Things I get done before 11:00 have to get done before I start school at 9:00, so my list would only contain things like: shower and dress; make bed; take vitamins; eat breakfast; check email.

I used the 7-Minute Life Connections to get a few things done, but not being in business I still had difficulty figuring out how to use it. And, I rarely have occasion to write a thank you note. Occasionally I filled something in for Connections or Thank You Cards, but not often.

For me, the most successful tool was 5 before 11. I tweaked it to be my own, as I said, by making it, in my mind, "5 important things I will do today". Once I did that, I was able to allow myself to do things that were happening after we finished home school. Using this method, over the five to six week period I tried out the 7-Minute Life Planner, I got to the Orthodontist three or four times (brackets kept popping off, and one was our regular visit); I got my son's teeth cleaned; I got work done on a crown and a filling done; I got to a doctor and a test for my current physical challenge that I mentioned, and I got other very important (to me) items done, such as certain books for our school purchased, etc. 

There were times I felt overwhelmed and didn't use it at all for a weekend, because I felt like I wasn't using it "right" or up to its full potential. I realized, though, that the actual issue was that I was trying to implement too many new changes into my day all at once. I learned a long time ago that in a situation like this, to prevent that feeling of being overwhelmed I need to focus on one new change at a time, and add a new change when I have fully been able to implement the first change. Using this method I started with the 5 before 11: writing them down, and getting them done. Some days they weren't done, and I'd adjust my list the next day to try to be more realistic. Some days I'd get more done than I expected, and I'd adjust my list for the next day to stretch me more. It was a month of trial, error, trial, success, etc.

I am still working to manage as many aspects of the program that apply to me, but am not there. For someone with a home business, this program would be real life changing. For me, a home school mom, it was also life changing. It helped me to see that I did have moments that were wasted that I could redeem. I learned I am sometimes able to find energy to get just one more thing done before I go to bed, because it was on my list. I found a satisfaction in getting a neglected task accomplished and checked off my list. And that is definitely part of the success -- getting things accomplished, and giving yourself a check mark!

In Summary:
The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is life-changing and can help you to:
•   improve your time management;
•   boost your daily productivity; and
•   organize your  life.

The 7 Minute Life is about taking time to slow down and think about what is most important to you in life. What are your priorities and values? This planner gives you that opportunity to re-connect with your priorities.

If you are ready for change in your life, if you are willing to take the time to learn how to use this system and take seven minutes a day to follow the daily practice of evaluating your day that has ended and planning out your next day, you, too, can experience life change that will help you to get more done and accomplish your goals. Are you ready to give it a try?

The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a spiral-bound book with cardboard-pocket front and back covers protected by plastic sheet. It measures about 7"x8"x3/4" and has 271 pages full of life-changing materials. The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a 90 day planner, and is priced at $24.95.

This is a product for Mom or Dad, or for a very entrepreneurial teen.

My Take:
  • Did I like it? Yes!
  • Will I consider using it now that the review is over? Yes, I think I will.
  • This product can definitely be a life changer. If your thought is that you don't have time to implement a new system, you are probably the person who needs this the most!
So that's my experience and what I think. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letters from Esther - Letter 4

I am writing up a series of letters my grandmother, Esther, sent "home" to her siblings in North Dakota as she traipsed around the world working for the State Department as a working woman before it was chic. Letters were chosen over phone calls because long distance calls were expensive, and it was sometimes difficult to hear well at a distance.

This letter is the next letter I have from Esther by date.

USOM Vietnam
Progress Support Div. Box 32
Navy 150, c/o F.P.O.
San Francisco, Calif.

July 14, 1958

Dear Folks:

I'm going to take you at your word and write to everyone at once with carbon papers.Of course this way some of you will get a repeat cause I have written in longhand to some. Anyway, the reason I want to write en mass just now is to send you some pictures that I took. I think they're pretty good. I'm anxious to see some of those taken in the church in Ironwood with all of us. The two in the picture with me on the edge of Saigon River are a Belgian fellow and a Vietnamese movie star. She was acting as a guide on a tour I took on the first day I got here and the Belgian happened to be on the tour too.

Then there is the picture of Bill and his wife, Jerry, in front of their house -- which in case you didn't get a description of it before is just beautiful. Its a rambler type but hs a full basement with a fireplace and even a juke box. There's a huge living room and dining room, with a dinette that is as large as many dining rooms are at the end of the kitchen; three bedrooms and an immense bathroom with two wash bowls. There's a fireplace in the living room and also one outside on the patio. The yard is large and lovely too,, with all kinds of plants. Jerry is very nice 00 she has five children by a previous marriage but only one (a 2-1/2 yr. old boy) lives with them. I didn't get to see him cause they had just moved in the day before I got there and he was with a baby sitter. Saw his picture though and he is rel cute. One of Jerry's daughters is married and lives in Rhode Island and is going to have a bab.y in September and she is going out to be with her. Darcy works at Bill's shop and Jonny occasionally too.  Judy and Dawn and Jane would make a good trio -- they're all built alike.

My trip was very nice. I got a thrill out of stopping in Anchorage, Alaska and seeing it daylight at 2 in the morning. Tokyo smells foul, but Hong Kong was beautiful. By the way, Saigon does not smell. When I got there was no one at the airport to meet me and very few who could understand English but I finally decided the only thing to do was to go to a hotel, which I did. And then the next day I went on this sight-seeing tour and during that time the people from the office had gone to meet me and realized that I had come in the day before since there was no Air France flight on the 5th. They found the hotel where I was registered and left me a note and finally caught up with me Sunday and brought me to the little temporary apartment they had arranged for me. They even had a maid, Hai, and had gotten some groceries. I think I will like Saigon very much. Its not too hot, I still have to see all the bugs, etc. that are supposed to abound. Of course the worst difficulty is not being able to talk the language but I am starting classes in Vietnamese tomorrow and French classes in August. I do hope Loraine, the girl from Washington I told you about, is coming cause it would be nice to have someone to do things with.

July 15 - page 2

I didn't get this finished for this morning's mail after all. Since then I have decided against the Vietnamese lessons -- everyone says its a waste of time. Anyway, the job is pretty terrific to catch on so I think I'll just relax in the evenings for a while. Tonight I plan to go to see a movie -- The Ladykillers -- with Alex Guiness. There's a gal in the same apartment building with me from Aurora,,, Ill. by the name of Ann Streit, who doesn't seem to be dated up to the hilt and she and I are going together. We also went to see a play put on the teenagers of the American community last week. It was pretty lousy.

This seems to be quite a large city -- very flat -- something like Washington with a lot of circles and squares and streets going every-which way. The streets are also very wide for the Orient and there are lots of trees. The buildings though look to be in need of repair. They seem to be quite old and all the little shops have iron-fence fronts that fold up during the day and are pulled shut at nights.

The buildings all have very high ceilings, about 12 feet and every room has at least one big fan up in the ceiling. They're very effective. You can regulate the speed. Neither the office nor my apartment is air-conditioned but so far I haven't minded. They say though that May and June are much hotter than it is now and that from October to March its very nice.

All the people still look alike to me, I suppose because they seem to dress all alike. The women wear long black or white pants with a long-sleeved, high mandarin neck and long tight sleeved garb over it. They are split up the sides to the waist.  That is the well-dressed costume. For work my maid wears a short jacket with short sleeves over the black pants. The jacket is usually white for work -- the dress up ones are any color and sometimes flowered. In the office the girls dress in the native costume  but the men wear American type clothes. Also on the street you see many American men in shorts, but never women. The little kids -- some have only pants, short or long, and some have only shirts, short of long; and I've seen a few with nothing on -- especially out in the country.

The coolies have a very odd way of squatting on the sidewalk, both men and women (I'll draw a picture on the end) and they all wear those crazy looking hats.

Well, enough for now. I hope to hear from you all soon.

With love,


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Under Drake's Flag! - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

This summer I learned that I had been selected as one of the100 Crew Members who had been chosen to review the audio drama by Heirloom Audio Productions, Under Drake's Flag.

I was excited when it arrived, because I was certain my son was going to like it. 
What Did We Get?
We received the 2 CD set of Under Drake's Flag, as well as the digital download of the Study Guide.

Upon receiving my package in the mail, I opened it to find an attractive CD jacket, very colorful! When opened it revealed two CDs and an enclosed Study Guide.

The Study Guide has a section that tells you about how to use the study guide, followed by a section by section breakout of the drama, with exercises in "Listening Well", "Thinking Further" and "Defining Words". It is broken down into 19 subject areas to discuss that are contained within the story on the CD.

I thought the Study Guide was great, but then I received as well the on-line study guide, which is greatly expanded over the one that is included in the CD pack. It includes a section about G.A. Henty, the author of Under Drake's Flag (the book that is being dramatized), as well as a section about Sir Francis Drake, the individual the story is ultimately about. Each section of Listening, Thinking and Defining is expanded over the one included in the CD set.

How Did We Use It?
My efforts to introduce the CD adventure of Under Drake's Flag were initially rebuffed by my son. He wanted to be on break from school for the summer, and he felt like I was trying to "make him do school" during summer break.

The opportunity to introduce the CDs arose, though, as we took a day-trip to the beach. "Stuck" in the car for hours on end, and beginning to get bored, he reluctantly agreed to let me pop in the story CD to listen to.

When we had finished listening to the first CD, I asked him if he wanted to continue listening to the story, and he said yes, but with a ho-hum sigh as if meaning, "There's nothing else to do right now..." In truth, though, it was an act he was putting on. At some point in the listening he reluctantly confided that he really was enjoying it and was glad I had brought it to listen to.

In fact, my husband (at this point listening by default) was totally hooked by the story as well, listening to the very end and commenting here and there about the content. He is not very familiar with this period of time. None of us actually know very much about the "Spanish Inquisition", which is part of the story, and hearing this drama left both of us interested in researching the matter further.

As far as using either study guide at this time, though, we did not. It was, after all, summer. My son will have the opportunity to cover Admiral Drake again as we get to him in our History rotation, and I can't wait to pull this CD set and Study Guide out again and really dig in and get to the meat of it (and especially defining vocabulary words) at that time. Why? Because my son resigns himself to the necessity of deeper study during the time we traditionally call the school year, but if I tried to do it during the summer he wouldn't be focused. It would be like having a conversation with a brick wall.
Any Special Issues or Concerns?
Under Drake's Flag is presented from a somewhat Protestant view. My husband, in his faith, is a Catholic believer, and I am a Protestant. He does not know the history between Protestants and Catholics all that well, although he is aware there have been events or practices in the past of the Catholic Church that were wrong (indulgences, for example). Listening to this drama tends to leave the listener thinking that it was terrible the way the Spanish Catholics were handling anyone who disagreed with the way they saw things. Now this is not a slam against the Catholic Church, but rather a slam against something that truly existed within one group of Catholic believers at that time. And I have still not studied the Spanish Inquisition any further to get further information. My previous experience with materials by G.A. Henty, though, is that they are well researched and accurate, even if presented from a Protestant slant (which might sometimes make them uncomfortable for Catholic believers to read or listen to).

Age Range for this Product?
These videos are ages 6 to adult. Some of the audio might have subject material you are not ready to discuss with your younger ones. Personally, I am glad my sensitive son didn't listen to this when he was younger than 12 years old. Each family, each child is different. You listen to it yourself first to decide.

Specifics about the Product?
  • 2 CDs and a Study Guide for $29.95;
  • 2 Hours of non-stop adventure!
  • Digital Study Guide PDF is available as a part of other offer combinations available on the Under Drake's Flag page. The Study Guide itself is worth $20, but for $20 you can get the Study Guide AND the mp3 download of the audio adventure. There are also other offer combinations on the page to choose from. 
Heirloom Audio Productions was very kind to let me review Under Drake's Flag. I really enjoyed this audio adventure. If you go to their page you can see snippets about how they created the recording and you can listen to small sections of the audio adventure.

If you would like to read more reviews of Under Drake's Flag, click on the button below.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Menu Monday for 9/8/14


Here are our meal plans for this week:

Sunday: Hot dogs, beans, sour kraut
Mondaygarlic lime chicken, noodles, broccoli [faux chicken patty]
Tuesday: Teriyaki burgers, [page 102 OAMC] rolls, lettuce, tomato, pickles, chips

Wednesday: Grandma's Chili (page 127 OAMC) [vegan chili] salad, cornbread

Thursday:  roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans (brown rice, fake chicken patty vegan servings)
Friday: Cheddar Broccoli Soup in bread bowls [Ridiculously easy cream of broccoli soup]

 Saturday:beef enchiladas [bean enchiladas], chips, fresh veggies

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Letters from Esther - Letter 3

I am writing up a series of letters my grandmother, Esther, sent "home" to her siblings in North Dakota as she traipsed around the world working for the State Department as a working woman before it was chic. This letter is the next letter I have from Esther by date.

July 5, 1958

Dear Jennie and all:

I guess, since you heard of no plane crashes, you know that I arrived safely. There was no one to meet me at the airport & scarcely anyone who spoke English so I took a cab to the hotel I knew the Melody's had stayed at. They have moved now but don't seem to have a phone & the Embassy is closed for a long week-end so I'm batting around on my own as a tourist & having a fine time.

Where Tokyo &  Hong Kong were set in mountains, Saigon is as flat as a prairie or like the Red River Valley. Its about as warm as it was in Wakefield last Saturday.

July 8
I don't remember what happened at that point but something interrupted. I guess I went on the last half of my tour of Saigon & surroundings. Saw lots of things. A rubber plantation, a buhdist monastery, the "America road" being built here, well just so much its impossible to list it all. The people on the tour were interesting too.

The office had things fouled up so that the word received here was that I was arriving the 5th. So when the Melody's went to meet me & there was no Air France flight that day, they immediately checked at the Majestic & found I was registered but didn't catch up with me till Sunday. They had rented a temporary apt. for me & hired a temporary maid & even got some groceries. The apt. is not too nice but will suffice temporarily. My trunk & Hi-fi were here ahead of me. I hope to get the Hi-fi converted to 50 cycles today. ["Hi-fi" short for "high fidelity" and referred to a record player. 50 cycles must refer to electrical conversion.]

Its the rainy season & every once in a while lets loose with a bang but in a few minutes the sun is out again. I keep waking up terribly early. They say its the time change but I think its the noise. There are no windows in the houses, just the street & trucks, cart & motor scooters start passing shortly after 3 a.m.  This morning slept till 5:00!

People at the office seem real nice. Lots of them live in this building. The USM bus comes by & picks us up at 7:45. We work from 8 to 12:30 and 2:30 to 6:0.

Mail to the States goes out at 9:00 this morning so thats why I decided to get up & write since I couldn't sleep any more. I got 2 letters from Lucille & one from Sandy & Robbie yesterday.

Well, so long for now.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Menu Monday for 9/1/14

Menu Plan Monday for the week of August 18/14 - Join Us!
Celebrating daughter's first anniversary today!

Here are our meal plans for this week:

Sunday: Hamburger/baked bean casserole, steamed carrots
Monday: Lasagna, salad, bread
Tuesday: BLTs, milk shakes
Wednesday: Barbecued chicken, rice, broccoli
Thursday: Tacos
Friday, Saturday: away from home
Sunday: Hot dogs, beans, sour kraut