Week in Review : 21 October 2016

Fall arrived!! Today no less!! It’s absolutely AMAZING out. It’s one of those rare Southern days that are so gorgeous that when the kids were little we’d skip all schoolwork, pack a picnic and the dogs, and head to the wildlife refuge for the day. I miss those days. Honestly, I’d still do it now if it weren’t for the looming move and the need to us to be as diligent as possible until we’re settled. Alas, we’ll stick to the schedule and work outside!

Breezy. 60. Sweatshirt weather.

And apparently Chemistry in an ENO weather!

School this week:

We were SUPER diligent Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday Big (a sophomore this year) took the PSAT for a trial run. I think it’s great to be exposed to these tests before they are “for real” so she went to a local private school and took it there. Apparently the hardest part for her was the admin stuff and “when did you take Algebra 1? What is your parent’s highest degree?” etc. Homeschool teen. Pretty funny. The test took a lot longer than we thought it would so most of her day was lost. After piano lessons I think she did a Chemistry lesson later in the day. Big will likely have a little “homework” over the weekend, but we’ll get through it.

Little wasn’t feeling well on Wednesday so we got as much done as we could. He slept in and then knocked out a bunch of work on the computer. He rebounded late in the morning (my guess is Fall + allergies + teen growth spurt + busy schedule + move prep  = TIRED) so he made it to piano. He did have some good help while on the couch…

And later in the week when it was Math Test on the Porch Time.

I am noticing a trend with Red the dog following him around…

The rest of the week was school work as published! Online classes are fine. We’re pushing through!


Other Stuff:

I’ve been getting in the swing ofmu walking the dogs a lot more than usual in prep for the move. Our rental does not have a fenced yard, so we’ll be walking the dogs. With that I busted the FitBit back out. With that I had to buy a new charger as the old one is “packed”. Thankfully a two pack was $5.88. I also broke down and bought some new sneakers. My old shoes were getting NASTY and making me hurt, so they got chucked and I got these…vibrant…new shoes. Yes, they’re ugly. But, I’m killing the budget lately and these were $50 (marked down from $160). They’re SUPER comfortable.

Robotics is still going strong. This week is VIDEO week so tonight Big is directing a shoot and will spend the weekend editing. She’s getting REALLY good at video work. It’s so cool. We also finished the orders for the sweatshirts and they’re on order. I can’t wait until the arrive!

The Move:

Big Box week is 3 weeks from Monday. We haven’t packed anything more (I think we’re almost at a standstill until about a week out) but house prep is moving along. The contractor was here yesterday and due to return. We have some repairs than need to be done and we’re moving in the right direction. DH was amazing and did a bunch of little stuff (trims, faucets, etc.) that have been lingering forever. He’s awesome!


+ Productive school week, all things considered.

+ Little’s Birthday DOT arrived and he LOVES it. It’s very cool.

+ PSAT round 1 done.

+ The weather!! Even Big Weasley is enjoying it…


If you’re inclined to join us in prayer we’d HUGELY appreciate it!!!

+ House preps, repairs, and sale. That God’s presence would be all over this move/house sale and every decision we make. And for me to WORSHIP more than I WORRY! It’s really starting to get real.


How about you?? How was YOUR week?



Week  In Review : 14 October 2016

Wow.  It’s been just about FOREVER since I’ve posted a Week in Review!! I needed a blog break,  but I miss writing and I miss getting to look back on what we’ve accomplished,  so I hope to stay consistent. 
Last Week:

We took a sweet field trip last week to…Germany.  It was awesome. We traveled Tuesday,  and returned home Sunday.  We visited Frankfurt,  Heidelberg,  and Mainz. Big is taking German 1 this year so we rationalized that it really was educational! 

School this Week: 

This week was a SERIOUS buckle down week. We started tired,  but we had to press on. With robotics,  travel,  more travel,  and a huge move upcoming the next 4 weeks are critical . 

This week both kids (a little grudgingly)  did full math lessons each day.  With that we rocked out  9 school days of math this week.  Since both kids are in upper level math (algebra 2, and trig) the pace isn’t a big deal.  We mostly go half speed for pacing and to not make our days last forever.  Both kids killed their tests,  so we’ll keep this up until the week of November 13.

Online classes (Big – German 1 and filmmaking on Landry Academy; BJU distance learning Chemistry,   Coursera Academic Writing; Little – English,  programming on Landry  Academy )  went well this week,  too.  The kids were well prepared before we left,  so it was mostly attending.  I’m super pleased with how the classes are going this semester. They’re well paced (chemistry is easily AP level,  so that one’s tough), and the kids are learning a ton. 

I think we’re making it with other classes.  We may have a little home work over the weekend, but such is life. I feel like homeschooling high school is a little like whack a mole – and keeping the moles at bay is tough!

Other Stuff:

Little’s birthday was Tuesday.  With our need to buckle down we didn’t take the day off.  Tomorrow he and his buds are having a video game binge day.  I think they’ll have a blast. I’ve purchased a load of requested junk for them…

Tonight the kids have robotics.  Our team made it through the state competition with an overall second  place so they need to prepare for the regional cometition.  Big is preparing for the team videos,  and Little is a spotter and strategy guy.  They’re thrilled and excited about the next level. 

The Move:

Countdown for Big Box Week (when we move the junk to the rental)… 4 weeks from Monday. That’s move (and school in the car) week.  Yikes.  


* Amazing trip to Germany.  Great travel.  Fun memories. 

* Time with bible study ladies before we move.  I can’t think on it or I’ll cry. 

* Great school week. 

* Progress on the garage clean out.  Yikes. That’s huge. 

* Amazing fall weather in the Deep South.  Sweatshirts in the morning,  80 for a high temp. 
How was your week?

Online Classes – Communicating with Teachers

My kids have taken, and are taking, some online classes. We love Landry Academy, Coursera, and other providers. 

One skill I wanted my kids to learn with the online class is how to appropriately communicate with an instructor/teacher. I know this will come up on college, so I want them to practice now. So far my kids have needed to ask for help on assignments, clarify assignment requirements, ask about grades and much more. In these emails I wanted them to be clear, polite, respectful, and purposeful. I was happy to help them at the beginning of their online careers, but after a few emails I wanted them to handle it themselves. 

Thankfully, as my kids were in the throes of learning these skills a friend sent me a link to a GREAT article. The article, from a college professor, is entitled How to Email Your Professor to Get a Response. It’s a must read for any student, but most definitely for online students. We’ve actually printed out the graphic and the kids use it as a guide for every email to their teachers. Now I can be nearly hands-off and know the kids are communicating clearly and respectfully on their own. I hope you and your kids find it as helpful as we have!

Homeschooling High School – Coursera and Other Options

As I start planning Big’s second year of high school, I am starting to think outside of the box more. There are some areas where we need some reinforcement, and others where she needs a jet pack and a maybe a parachute. One area I really want to shore up is writing. We’ve done a couple levels of IEW, an online course through Landry Academy, and other bits of instruction, but I want her to be STRONG. Math is easy for me to implement and grade, but writing is not. For that reason writing will be our major emphasis this upcoming year.

One short course she is taking toward this goal is the Adventures in Writing course through Stanford. It’s free, fun, and short. Big thinks it would be more effective for a younger crowd, but she is enjoying it. Unfortunately, it’s about writing, but doesn’t actually HAVE any writing assignments. It’s about a week long course and a good way to break up some early spring blahs. Reviewing the basics is almost always a good thing, and this course did it quickly and in a fun way.

I am also planning on signing Big up for the Coursera Academic English: Writing Specialization courses. This specialization is a set of  4 courses and capstone project. I’m not super sure what it all means, but I think it’ll be more rigorous than anything I can do locally. I am planning on having her work through the summer (you know, spring optimism and all), and then using any unfinished portions for her fall writing course. I think it should take about 6 months to complete. There is a fee for this series, though I am a little confused about how it works. I thought I read online it was $10/month or $50 total, but today I was reading $50/month. Honestly, $50 a month is pretty steep, so I am enrolling Big in the first course (for free – not an “enrolled” course) to get a feel for it, and then decide if we’re going to use it as a full course and pay the full enrollment fee. I have no idea if they run sales, but it might be worth watching over the summer.


For an art credit Big wanted to take the Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR specialization series. Again, with this being our first go at Coursera, (she’ll start this one Monday after the ACT), we decided to enroll in the first class ($79) and see how it goes. If it’s a good fit, we’ll continue on with the 4 fill courses and capstone. She really wants to improve her photography for the fall robotics season, so I think this will be a great series for her.

I know there are lots of other courses out there: Edx, MIT OpenCourseware, etc. and I am hoping to explore those throughout the summer and see how they might fit into our school planning.

How about you? Have you or your kids used Coursera or any other cool online platform?

5 Things

I’ve been reading all these blogs where people are sharing five things that they’re loving this week so I decided I would join in!



I received this is a birthday gift and when I’m able to pry it out of the hands of the two teenagers in the house, it’s absolutely amazing! You can talk to it and have it give sports updates, play Pandora, adjust my calendar, set alarms… It’s just absolutely fabulous, and the sound quality is awesome.

2. Spring Weather.


Low 80s. Low humidity. Low pollen. It’s rare those collide here so we’re soaking in as much as humanly possible!

3. Summer Jobs


I’ll wrote more about this in a whole post, but I’m LOVING the kids running their lawn service. It’s great. So many lessons. So much good about it.

4. Surprises.


This morning I came home from my walk to this. It was so delicious and we were so stuffed we ate lunch at 2. Another surprise? A dear friend came by unexpectedly with her toddler. Another friend received good news and we got to celebrate. It’s a good day!!!


5. Tony Chocoloney.

I love you. Salted caramel. Real chocolate. Amsterdam I miss you.

How about you? What’s blessing you this week?

Landry Academy Biology Lab Intensive – Review

This spring my two kids, 8th and 9th graders, attended a Landry Academy Two Day Biology Intensive. I have seen online where a lot of people have questions about these events, so I figured I’d share our experience. I wasn’t paid or compensated for my review, and every opinion is mine (or my kids).


A while back I jumped on one of the Landry sales and it included two intensives as “free” add ons. I was intrigued by the idea of knocking out all the labs in a couple of days, stretching my kids a little, and providing some social time with other homeschoolers. So I plunged in and registered Big. She would be taking Biology online with BJU this year so it seemed like a great idea.


Then I shared it with her. Well, she wasn’t thrilled. It wasn’t the idea of the intensive, but the idea that she wouldn’t be doing biology labs until the spring. Science nerd drama ensued. I relented. I bought the BJU Bio kit ($246…. and the microscope from last year). Now, I don’t begrudge spending the money and I am a HUGE proponent of labs – real live, gross, dissecting labs – but I had a plan. Wah. My plan was foiled. The Intensive became an add on for Big.

As the time drew closer to attend I decided, nearly last minute, that Little should also attend. I figured he would take Bio next year and we could pre-lab with him. He’s less finicky about science, and apparently Big shared with him what she learned this year – that Bio labs can be a hassle, and watching them on dvd with an intensive on the side would have been a descent plan after all. I also realized that if he attended I would have 2 DAYS of alone time. Seriously. A few emails, some money sent, and he was registered.


Now, the city with the Intensive was, for us, about a 2 and a half hour drive. We would have to hotel it – so with Hotwire at the ready we booked  a place fairly nearby and with a free breakfast. (In hindsight the free breakfast needn’t be mandatory – the kids fast for a lab on the morning if day 2.) We arrived the night before the first class since the kids had to be there at 8:45 am.

Upon arriving at the lab location the kids received a lab notebook and some lab gear. They needed to carry a sack lunch, but otherwise everything was included. Really – for the two days my only job was to make sure they had food, get them there, and pick them up. (I see the appeal of a traditional school now….really….wow.). This was new to me. I enjoyed it. LOL!!

OK, so, the set up was great, everything was well organized, and the amount of pre-check in material and communication was great – but what about the labs?



Well, both of my kids really enjoyed themselves. They both say they learned a lot, and it was a great experience. Big, Science Nerd, loved the hands on and thought the teacher was fabulous. Little, less science-y but more social, enjoyed the other kids in the class, the material, and a couple of days of “fun” school. Both kids learned a lot about having lab partners – a rite of passage for high school IMHO – and both really liked the other kids in the class. It was a great group. One thing that surprised me was that ALL the kids in the class commuted from at least a couple of hours away. I was a little concerned it would be a pack of kids from a local group and my kids would be outsiders – but that was not the case at all. ALL of them were at hotels for the class.


Will we do it again?

Yes, we will be attending another Landry Intensive in the future. It was a great way to break up the spring blahs, to meet some new people, and to knock out some labs that are harder to do at home. The quality was great, the teaching excellent, and overall the whole experience was one I would HIGHLY recommend.

So, have your kids attended an Intensive? Have