Our Holiday Traditions

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So our family is still getting ready for Christmas.  We have several traditions that we try to keep every year.  The first tradition is starting to decorate the day after Thanksgiving.  Usually, our tree goes up first.  Every year we try to buy the children a new ornament with significance to that particular year.  For example, this year I will be on the hunt for a saxophone for our youngest son and a baritone for our second son.  They have both started playing in our local homeschool band along with their father and me.

Another family tradition is going to a Candlelight Church service on Christmas Eve.  Being military, we have moved several times in the last eight years, so that does not necessarily work all the time.  Fortunately, this time last year, we found a new church that does have a Christmas Eve service.

Finally, another tradition our family enjoys is driving around to look at Christmas lights in the area where we live.  So of course, we have to put up Christmas lights outside ourselves.

What are some traditions your family enjoys at Christmas time?

This post is part of the Homeschool Review Crew’s look at our family traditions.  If you would like to check out some other posts, click here or on the graphic below.

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Getting Ready for Christmas

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So as has been the tradition of our family for a number of years, the day after Thanksgiving marks our movement into Christmas decorating.  Up until about two or three years ago, my husband took care of putting the lights on our tree.  But the banner has been passed to our oldest son.  The most crucial part of putting lights on our tree is that it has to pass the “Mom” test.  If I do not approve the person stringing the lights must improve upon it.  This year our son did a decent job with the light.

Here are some pictures of the tree going up and being decorated.

Here are some more pictures of the tree.

And here is the final product of our tree for 2017.

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Stay tuned to see the decorations for the outside of our house and the rest of our indoor decorations including our Nativity scenes.

When does your family decorate for Christmas?  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Review of Writing with Sharon Watson’s Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

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For quite a while now, I have followed the blog for “Writing with Sharon Watson”, so I was thrilled when our family received the opportunity to review one of the literature products from “Writing with Sharon Watson”. I  have loved reading about all of the products from Writing with Sharon Watson so I was super excited to add Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis to our homeschool curriculum list!  Considering that I have a son who loves anything from Shakespeare, I was very excited to see “Much Ado About Nothing” was among the selections included in this course.

In addition to “Much Ado About Nothing”, a short story entitled “A Jury of Her Peers”, another assortment of short works, and the full works of “Frankenstein”, “Silas Marner”, “Sense and Sensibility” and “The Hobbit” are included.  The materials our family received include a Teacher’s Guide, text, Quiz and Answer Manual, Novel Notebook (downloadable from the website, and online quizzes (which may be accessed on the website).

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Illuminated Literature: Characters in Crisis” is not grade-specific, but is instead designed for any high school student.  So the beauty of this program for our family is that all three of our high school students could use the same program.  On the website, you can download sample chapters, grading grids, quizzes on the course page.

The first component we received was the Teacher’s Guide, which recommends using the coordinating versions of the literature books that can be found on the Writing with Sharon Watson website.  This is because the textbook matches up with the page numbers in those versions.  This eliminates wasting time or becoming frustrated.  If using an e-reader or tablet, students should be able to use the search function proficiently.  The first pages provide a list of the books and short works that will be covered in the course.  A Grade guide and sample grading grid are also included.  This makes keeping up with requirements simple.  Course objectives are also included.  Suggested schedules, a book-of-the-month club guide and more are included in this guide.  This truly is a guide meant to direct the teacher in what students need to go along with providing an answer key.

 

The next component is the textbook, which is to be used by the student.  It includes an introduction to the course.  At the beginning of each lesson, there are certain activities the student is to complete prior to reading the assigned literature.  Some of these our children enjoyed, while other ones did not capture their attention as much.  A suggested reading and homework schedule is provided as well.  Information, descriptions and more are included for each lesson.  Our children felt the amount of work per lesson was reasonable – even if they did not always enjoy everything.  Then the students read the selection while reading the extra information along with activities.  Students complete additional activities along with a group of final selection of activities the parents or students can choose from.  For our family, I narrowed the number of choices down and then let the children select the ones that caught their attention the most.

Next, is the Novel Notebook, which is the only free downloadable component from the website.  Parents can select what questions the student answers.  Then during a discussion time, students share what they found. Or if a student is doing it alone, the teacher/parent may simply look at the novel notebook.

The final component of the program is the Quiz and Answer Manual.  Students may either complete quizzes on paper or online.  The benefit of completing the quizzes online is that feedback is immediate.  Plus, for our family, it saves paper and printing costs.  Each quiz contains approximately ten questions that demonstrate how much the student is retaining what they read.  Our children found them relatively painless to complete.

 

All-in-all, our family has been very pleased with Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson.  I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  You can read other reviews by other members of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking here or on the graphic below.

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You can find Writing with Sharon Watson on social media at the following Links:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WritingWithSharonWatson
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/writingwithshar

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Fill My Cup Lord

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This past weekend our church had a ladies’ retreat, which I was privileged to attend.  The theme for the weekend was “Fill My Cup Lord”.  I truly needed to have my cup filled.  I am a wife and homeschooling mother, so the majority of the time, I dedicate my time to my children.  This was only the second women’s retreat I have attended.

The retreat was held at a Catholic Retreat Center.  The setting was beautiful and the words touched my heart and soul.  I was so glad I was able to attend.  The messages, the worship music, the meditation stations and the speakers blessed me tremendously.  Furthermore, the time with like-minded ladies was important.  I came back refreshed and ready to help fill the cups of those around me – including our family.  I pray you have been blessed recently.

Review of Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD

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Even though our youngest is only fifteen-years-old and our oldest son is twenty-one years old, we have various ones in our family who have difficulty remembering things.  My husband is active duty in the Army Reserves and constantly has things he needs to remember.  Our four children also have times where they have difficulty remembering things.  On top of that, I have a desire for our family to memorize Scripture.  So I was excited for our family to have the chance to review this product. Over the review period, we found that our family could improve their attention with Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD.

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Forbrain is a headset designed for anyone over the age of four years old to use.  However, the headset is not adjustable so I am not sure how well it will work for younger children.  It is important to understand this headset does not go into the ears.  Instead, it rests on the bone in front of the ears.

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This product is designed for those with speech and language difficulties, those who need brain stimulation, those with auditory processing disorder, those will reading difficulties, as well as those with ADD or ADHD and more.  It is a bone conduction headphone as well as an extremely sensitive microphone.  It also has a dynamic filter designed to create a perceptive content.

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One of my favorite things about this headset is the case it comes with to protect the headset as well to keep the charger and paperwork together neatly.  At http://www.forbrain.com, you can find exercises to assist in using the product correctly.  All that is required is to read aloud.  Proper posture is also required.  This means resting the head naturally, sitting up straight, feet placed flat on the ground, while breathing calmly.  My husband did not find this difficult to do at all.

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Because his goal was improving memory, he concentrated on using the headset to memorize Scripture.  He picked out some of his favorite Scripture passages to use and then used the headset for fifteen minutes a day.  The case made it easy for him to take the headset with him even when he went to work.  Unfortunately, I did not remember to take any pictures of him wearing the headset while using it.

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The training suggestion is either a session of six or ten weeks.  Younger children should use it for approximately ten minutes a day for pronunciation and speech difficulties.  For children five years old to fifteen years old should use it for fifteen minutes a day.  They can use it to improve concentration and attention. Also, it can be used for reading or memory problems or even pronunciation or speech difficulties.  For those who are teenagers to adults, Forbrain can be used for speech or oral problems, those needing confidence or energy.  and more.  It is great for preparing for oral presentations, homework, and preparing for exams. For seniors, it should be used for thirty minutes a day to help with energy, memory or speech issues.

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All in all, my husband was very pleased with his results from using Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD.  I look forward to using it for our Family Bible Study and memorization efforts as well as using it for practicing speeches and more.  If you would like to read more reviews of this product, click here or on the graphic below

 

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Flat Stanley Came to Visit

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When we lived in Pennsylvania, we were part of the Lock Haven Salvation Army Corps.  One of my favorite activities our family assisted with was the after-school program.  So when I received a request from someone at the corps asking for families who lived out of state to host Flat Stanley.  I immediately said yes.

So last week Flat Stanley came to visit.  He helped us cook dinner.  Here are some photos.

He also attended Youth Group at our church with our youngest two.  He decided to hang out with the pastor.

He also decided to go exploring in a violin belonging to one of the young ladies in the Youth Group.

Then on Thursday, he was supposed to go to Homeschool Band with my husband, middle two children and myself.  However, he felt like it would be better to stay home and relax on my husband and my bed.

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He also took a trip to work with my husband.  However, I am waiting to get all of those pictures.  So stay tuned for additional updates on the adventures of Flat Stanley.

Review of the Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

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We have several children who love completing art projects of all types.  However, there are times when getting out acrylic paints and dealing with all the hassles of getting things set up and then cleaned up is not practical. Also, being a military family who homeschools, things that are portable and that can be used while we are traveling are fantastic.  I am always looking for ways for my children to do mess-free art so I was thrilled to receive Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review this time.

When I saw the opportunity to review the Thin Stix Creativity Pack come up, I instantly knew I wanted these for our family.  This is our second time reviewing a Thin Stix product, so I knew we would love them.  This set contains twenty-four tempera paint sticks. There are twelve assorted colors, six neon colors and 6 Metalix colors.  As soon as the package arrived, my daughter and I both instantly began to try them out.  Here is our first project, which was a joint effort.  We loved how easy the stix are to use and how there is no mess to clean up afterward.  We were able to simply open the package, select a color, take off the cap and then twist up the stix before starting to create.  If you would like to check out our review of the Thin Stix 6 Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc., click here.

Another thing that I love about this pack is that our fifteen-year-old daughter, our seventeen-year-old son, as well as myself, were able to work on art creations at the same time.  We had fun creating together.  I love the way the Metalix stix showed up on our paper.  Since I wanted to use what we had on hand, everyone used mixed-media paper.  However, I would love to try this pack on wood such as Christmas ornaments as well as other mediums.  The colors are bright and vibrant.  Every color I used looked exactly the way I expected them to.  My daughter would still love to have something that allows for finer detail work.  But in the end, she was thrilled with the way her picture of a pillow turned out.  Now I just get the fun of trying to find or make a pillow in real life that reflects her creation.  Here are pictures of her working on her creation along with the finished product.

 

Our son loved how the colors turned out in his creation.  He felt like the stix were too fat to allow for a lot of control when he was working on his creation. Here are some pictures of him working on his creation along with his finished product.

I do not claim to be a world-renowned artist, but I had a lot of fun using the Thin Stix Creative Pack.  Here are some pictures of me working on my project along with the finished product.

 

So if you are looking for a great product that dries quickly, gives the texture of actual paint but in the disguise of a marker, check out the Thin Stix Creative Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. for yourself.  If you would like to read additional reviews from other Homeschool Review Crew members, click here or on the graphic below.

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