Friday, November 30, 2012

Think Back Thursday - Self Portrait

This week's theme is self-portrait. I am so happy to be able to say I have my "ducks in a row" for this one. I don't have a scanner, so my apologies in advance for any photos that are lesser quality -- I have to create them by photographing the photograph with my digital camera. 

Newborn me: 
First year:
Kindergarten -- apparently I was not happy that my mom hadn't gotten my bangs trimmed and I took things into my own hands. She tried to even them out, but I had gone straight up the middle with the scissors. (Every one of my children has found a way to do the exact same thing at one time or another! ::sigh::) --
2nd Grade -- I remember this one --  I remember being so upset with my hair. She found time to swing by the 7-11 to buy special barrettes for me so that I would look nice for my photo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wonders of Old - A Product Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review a product called Wonders of Old. Wonders of Old is an heirloom quality timeline book that the student fills out himself.

Wonders of Old was created by Terri Johnson for Knowledge Quest and Bramley Books. For many years now I have been working my way through the Ambleside Online curriculum with my son. It is a Charlotte Mason style program, and one of the areas I have struggled to implement is the "Book of Centuries", also known as a time line.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We are never, ever, ever...

Just saw this funny, funny spoof on Taylor Swift's song. Don't drink coffee while watching.... Just saying.... (Prewatch before your kids see it...)


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Think Back Thursday

As far as following the "Think Back Thursday" theme of the week this week, I fail. The theme was "Doorways", but I'm doing my own thing.

Ancestry; Geneology... I am working on unraveling a mystery... 

I haven't yet figured out the best way to work on "Family Tree" stuff on my blog in a way that doesn't cause the reader to get lost. So I'm going to keep this entry short and sweet, and try to keep it clear for the reader.

On my father's side of my geneology I do not yet have information going any further back than my great-grand parents (born and married in the 1800's, died in the 1900's). I have memories of my grandfather's parents, but I do not think I ever met my grandmother's parents. They lived in Canada, and I in the northeast US, and though they visited at some time, I don't remember them.

I have a big box of photo stuff from my dad that has been buried here in my house for the past six years, and I am finally working my way through it to throw away what I can (a lot - photos of buildings, cars, flowers, trees, dogs I never knew...) and to try to make sense of what I can. 

In the box I found a couple of gems that have started my geneology curiosity to start flowing.  I found this picture of my great grandfather and great grandmother, Herbert (Sr.) and Carrie Hall on the occasion of their 50th anniversary in 1955.
There was also an obituary of my great-grandfather. Although it doesn't tell me when he was born or who his parents were (I will continue working on that), it does give me some information I did not previously have:
I know you might have trouble reading this without enlarging it. But here is the new information I can glean: Date of Death and state--with this information I can acquire a death certificate, which might tell me his birth date and the names of his parents and where he was born. This also gives me his address when he died, which interests me because I might try to go see the place sometime. I have a vague recollection of visiting him when he was sick, before he died, of a large apartment building, and going up in the elevator. (I was six.)

And what really excites me is that this obituary tells me that my grandfather had one brother and two sisters. I never knew that! I am SO close to getting a subscription to!... They are having a free fourteen day trial right now...

Here is another thing I learned from the materials in my box from my dad: My grandmother's parents knew my grandfather's parents! I mean, well enough that they visited them when they were senior citizens!
 I don't know all the folks in this photo, although I am confident they are all my relatives, but I can identify in the back row, from left to right, Great-grandfather Alfred Morris, Great-grandmother Bessie Morris, Great-grandmother Carrie Hall, and Great-grandfather Herbert Hall, whose obituary is above the photo.
The above photo has, from left to right, my Grandmother Dora (Morris) Hall, my Dad Herbert William Hall, and my Grandmother Dora's sister Betty Morris, who served in World War II. Throughout the family photos, I frequently find photos of my grandfather being very friendly with lots of my grandmother's sisters (there were 11 or 12 Morris children), and I'm beginning to suspect the two families lived nearby and knew each other growing up. I may never know. And my grandfather looked so much like my dad that I often have trouble knowing who it is in the photo until I enlarge it.

Now, just for fun...
The above photo was taken in the summer of 1959. From left to right, Ida (Holien) Hall, aged 26, holding baby Diana (me) aged about six months; standing is my older sister Lois (Hall) Anderson, aged 5, and on the right seated is Herbert William Hall, aged 32, holding my brother Bruce William Hall, aged 3. I was so happy to find this photo. There are very few family photos in my collection, and very few pleasant or good photos. My dad liked to use the camera as a threat, "You better quit crying or I'll get the camera!" Yeah, I know... That doesn't make any sense, does it? So I have a box full of photos he took of me crying, but very few pleasant photos. So sad.

So that's it for now. Oh, wait! Here's one more -- these photos illustrate my memories of my earliest childhood. Life was spent in Grama Hall's back yard where we regularly had Sunday afternoon family picnics.

By the time you had my mom and dad and us three kids, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Carole and their four kids, my Uncle Eddie and wife Mary (Maurica) and their two kids, Great Grandad and Great Grandma, Gram and Grandad, you have quite a crowd. I can identify many of the folks in this photo, but there are some more I am not sure of, so Gram might have been having more of an open house. I need to pull out a magnifying glass. I actually think I see some Canadian relatives in this photo as well, so that might be what it is. 

I am planning to scrapbook these photos and label as much as I can for my kids and my niece and nephew. So I'll do the best I can. That's it for now. Ta! Ta!

Visit Debbie's Digest  to join in with Think Back Thursday, and to see what other bloggers are sharing for this week's theme.  Next week's theme will be Thanksgiving.  Upcoming themes include:   Yourself/Self-Portrait.
Think Back Thursday is a photo meme that encourages sharing something from the past.  It is hosted by Debbie's Digest.  You can find out more about it, and how you can participate, by clicking the link or the button below. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vocal Coach: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

In October the Schoolhouse Review Crew was given the opportunity to try out some music programs by Vocal Coach. I was selected to review a program called Vocal Coach Singer, which was created by Chris and Carole Beatty.

The Vocal Coach Singer program is available as an MP3 download for $99.99 or in CD format for $119.99. (Of course, you also save shipping if you select the MP3 format.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

growing up wild - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

(As you can see from the Logo above, the title does not have capitals. This is why I did not capitalize it in the title of my review. :)

Growing up Wild is DVD/CD series that was produced by a missionary family in Papua, New Guinea, in Indonesia, chronicling the missionary life of the four Wild brothers (and their parents) in their life among the natives of that area.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Living Books Curriculum Sale!

Living Books Curriculum is a curriculum affiliated with Simply Charlotte Mason website. They are a Charlotte Mason education materials provider.
 CM Digital Library
 They are having an amazing sale:
they are offering their Charlotte Mason library, ebooks and audios, for 90% off -- for $27 you can 79 classic titles for your homeschooling! These are PDF and MP3 downloads, that you can transfer to your iPad, Kindle, or MP3 player.

Just go to Charlotte Mason Helper to find out more! I did this last year, and I have been very happy to have these books on my computer. Very worth it, and very affordable.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Collector's Edition: 7 Favorite 19th-Century Children's Stories -- A Homeschool Crew Review

In September I was informed that I would have the opportunity to review a book published by Grace & Truth Books, entitled Collector's Edition: 7 favorite 18th-century children's stories, and is a collection for children ages 8-14.

I was reviewing many products simultaneously, and as I

journeys of faithfulness - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

This month I have had the blessing to have been chosen to review journeys of faithfulness, by Sarah Clarkson. (The failure to capitalize the title is intentional, to mimic the cover -- reminds me of studying ee cummings, who never used capitals...). This fabulous book is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 
I knew, as I read the sample chapter provided on the Apologia website, that I was going to love this book. I was right. I love that Apologia provides, on their website, sample chapters of books I might want to buy. They also even provided the Table of Contents to the book. The book's "subtitle" is "stories of life and faith for young christian women". I thought that was a little unfair -- at 53 I am certainly not young, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book... (In other words, it could just have appropriately said "stories of life and faith for christian women".) So, yeah, the book's target is young Christian women, but older Christian women can also enjoy and benefit from it. This book also makes a good study for mom's to do with their teenaged daughters.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Monday - 11/5/12

Last week we ended up eating out one night, so the menu plan was bumped by one day. (Last week's "Saturday" became this week's "Sunday".) Then I had a plan for tonight that didn't happen, and hubby brought home FKC. Here's how it went and what is planned for the rest of the week (Vegan options in parentheses):

Sunday (yesterday):
Steak, baked potatoes, broccoli, salad (stuffed baked potato topped with broccoli and leftover vegan chili is the vegan selection for me)

KFC chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy and cole slaw (vegan chicken patty, mashed potatoes, cole slaw)

 Lasagne roll-ups (a Weight Watcher's recipe), salad, Texas toast (vegan roll ups with whole wheat noodles, salad)

Tacos, bean burritos , salad (vegan bean burrito)

garlic lime chicken, rice, green beans (brown rice, fake chicken patty vegan servings)

Shepherd's Pie (Recipe from the E2 Diet Book -- I'm sneaking a vegan meal in on hubby or else it will be part vegan, part beef)

Pork Fried Rice; stir fried bok choy (stir fried bok choy with tofu, onions, over brown rice)

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my menu plan!

Decorating for the Holidays - Blog Hop

Welcome to Day 1 of Preparing for the Holidays. Today's focus is Decorating For the Holidays. For the next five days 25+ members of the Schoolhouse review Crew will be posting daily posts to help you get psyched to start getting ready for the holidays!

Everyone is welcome to link up with this Blog Hop. We would love to have you! 

I have been working on this post (in my mind) for weeks. There won't be many photos, but I wanted to pass along the most important points on decorating for the holidays that I think might help those who are looking for ideas.

First and foremost, I will be shamelessly plugging FlyLady, as I love her and her system. Similar to the 12 Week Holiday Planner by Sheri Graham, FlyLady has a plan for "Cruising Through the Holidays", as well as a Holiday Control Journal.

In my home I never manage to decorate for Thanksgiving. Sorry. In November I am majoring on hosting Thanksgiving and pulling off an almost simultaneous birthday for the only child in the house. (Yes, he was actually born on Thanksgiving Day.) And with my sister (who lives with us) having Stage IV breast cancer, we will be hosting the family meal here this year. Clean house, Thanksgiving meal, 13th birthday party. That about wraps up November. My focus for "Decorate for the Holidays" will focus on Christmas.

Christmas meal will also be here this year, for the same reason Thanksgiving Dinner be. See above. So, starting at the beginning of November my focus is on decluttering, cleaning, and being ready to decorate for Christmas.

The biggest thing I have gleaned from these tools (notice the "12 Week" in the title) is spread the work out over time so that you don't burn yourself out.

So here is how I decorate for the holidays:
  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Take time each day. Put away, file, throw away school papers, books, scraps, clutter, junk mail, magazines. Right now I have not finished, but I am working on my living room. My goal is to clear all flat surfaces so that they no longer have anything on them that does not belong there, so that we are ready when it is time to decorate.
  2. When it was time to decorate, I used to pull all the decorations out and crowd them onto the already cluttered surfaces, trying to make everything fit. I learned the idea from somewhere (FlyLady?) to remove the normal decorations to put out the seasonal decorations. I put the everyday decorations into the boxes that the holiday decorations came out of. They will come back out when the holiday decorations get put away.
  3. Once there was a day the boxes from the holiday decorations would then sit in a pile at the end of the hall waiting for the holiday to be over. What an eyesore! It took me awhile, but I finally learned, this is part of decorating: When the decorating is finished, the boxes get put back away! Let them stay put away until you have finished enjoying a peaceful holiday.
  4. Every year add to the decorations collection one new ornament per the child. When we were younger, and at times when cash was less available, this ornament would be homemade. We would do ornaments at our home school group's annual Christmas Craft Fair. We would make an ornament at home. When we have money but no time, we buy each child an ornament at the local craft store.
  5. Every year we go to a local Christmas tree farm and cut our own tree. We have a small house, so we have to totally rearrange to fit a tree into the house. This includes relocating the big bird cage, totally removing the corner end table, moving couch and chairs, and letting the furniture be crowded for a month for the joy of a nice tree every year. 
  6. Every year we also like to make or get a wreath of fresh greens. It is nice to make it yourself, but I can't. I'm very happy if I can just get one. If I can't, I have a fake one I pull out to put on our door.
When my kids were little we took all of December to do Arts and Crafts, Baking and making Christmas presents. So, if you are able to do that, I highly recommend it. I look forward to giving you ideas on those topics later this week. So, I hope you enjoyed my ideas, and I hope you check back again tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Activity Bags - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Have you heard of Activity Bags? I first learned of Activity Bags when my (almost) 13 year old was five years old. I had the blessing of participating in a Preschool Activity Bag group project. At that time the way our group did the project was that one mom put together the bags for all of the 25-30 activities, calculated her cost, and we divided that cost (plus postage) by all the moms participating. It must have been a real chore for her (Amy B., I think, who is in the credits by the author), but it was such a blessing for me! I had the money to do it that way, and I didn't have the time to do any organizing myself. I was homeschooling two high schoolers!

Reading the story behind Activity Bags makes me wonder where I fell in the creation of the company. Activity Bags had its beginnings in 2002 when two moms began brainstorming about how they would keep their preschoolers occupied productively during the upcoming school year. They came up with an idea, shared it with some friends, and it mushroomed! All us moms of preschoolers wanted a piece of the action! They tried it, tested it, expanded it, and then published it, and it has been a big success.