Huntsville Girls Weekend

This past weekend Big and I had a real, live ALL GIRLS WEEKEND!! The Boys were off on a scout trip, so we decided that instead of staying home we’d head out on an adventure. We considered a trip to the beach, but our last minute planning made that impossible. Camping was an option, as were a few other things. I came up with the BRILLIANT idea of heading to Huntsville to visit the Space and Rocket Center. Big is a HUGE space buff so it seemed like the perfect place.

For her birthday recently Big received the movie Space Warriors and the kids have watched it 2 or 3 times. [I will say, as an aside, that while the tween crew loves the movie it’s so amazingly awful that I can’t stand to be in the same room when it’s playing, LOL!!!] So, the idea of going to the place where it was filmed, and where Space Camp is held, was a pretty huge win.
We drove the long haul over on Friday afternoon, hoping to arrive at our hotel and hit the pool…. Well, booking hotels online isn’t always a win – so we spent an hour once we got there looking for a new hotel. I’m not super picky – but it was creepy! Thankfully my first reservation was refundable! We found a new place, checked in, swam, and headed out for dinner. It is always fun for us to hit a “big city” (yes, Hunstville qualifies for us!) and do some shopping, eat out, and – yes – hit Target! At the hotel we were able to watch some Food Network (no cable at home – so we binge when we can, LOL!). Needless to say we went to bed tired and late.

Big was so THRILLED to head to the Space Center in the morning, so we got up early, ate breakfast, and headed to be there when it opened. That turned out to be a BRILLIANT call because when we were leaving at 1 the lines were much, much longer. So, the Space Center is, in my humble opinion, expensive. It cost nearly $45 for the two of us for one day. Our fee included the museum, a few rides, and one IMAX movie. They had a small military discount, but nothing great. The rides that were included were: a one story rock climbing wall, a Mars simulator ride (not super scary according to Big – no seat belts, even), a g-force simulator, and a shoot in the air type launch simulator. After riding them Big was generally unimpressed and as an observing parent I’d say there were on par with carnival rides. Again, getting there early was huge as Big could ride what she wanted with no line.

We are huge museum people, so we hit all the displays. I enjoyed reading up on Werhner Von Braun and looking at the life of astronauts. Big played a little on their “interactive” Mars display. Without the rides the museum and display parts would take two hours to go through slowly and read everything. With the rides, the IMAX (which was one of our favorite parts – we did the one on Hubble), all the displays, and an enthusiastic tween – we were done by 1:30. That included a little time for a snack and an attempt at shopping. Sadly, Big didn’t like the shirts so we didn’t get anything at the gift shop.

Overall, our weekend was amazing – but the Space Center was a huge disappointment. It just struck me as a huge ad for Space Camp, and it really looked like nothing had been updated in years. Frankly, the kids I saw at Space Camp did NOT impress me (think tweens running wild), nor did their “leadership” (think disinterested college aged chaperones). The idea of “interactive” apparently only means “screen” – and there wasn’t a lot else. Yes, there were a couple of Gemini pods the kids could climb into – but no shuttle they could climb on, only a few displays on astronauts, and just a general disappointment for the cost. Needless to say, I would not make the effort to go there again.

But – our Saturday disappointment did not ruin the weekend! More shopping, more swimming, more adventure! We had an amazing time. I will cherish the time I spent this weekend with Big – the coolest 12 year old in the world!


The School Year Ahead (in which I share my curriculum!)

I shared yesterday that I finally picked a history curriculum for this year. I am now very excited as IT HAS SHIPPED! I can’t wait for it to get here!

So what are we using for the rest of our stuff? Most of the subjects the kids do together, such as:



Sonlight Core F – 4 Day which I shared about here.


Junior_SS__06353.1276051630.1280.1280This year we’re doing 2 of the older studies from the National Bible Bee. The materials are AMAZING and the study is so RICH. I am super excited about this! We’ll be studying Colossians and 2 Timothy.


bbw thumb

Both Big and Little are currently working on the IEW Bible Theme Based Writing. We are all enjoying it. They’ve done the IEW SWI A, and SWCC A, so this is a nice break from the videos. My plan is to work through 2 of the the theme based writing sometime in the next year. I figure if we work on this during the summer, the fall can be a little lighter..

Science –


BJU Press Grade 7 with distance learning. I will admit, science was falling through the cracks until last year. We used the BJU 6 online with rave reviews online, and I am so glad we did. I love it. The kids mostly love it. It’s super solid. Mrs. Vick is interesting. We skip any obvious busy work – but keeping a notebook, review, etc. has been great for the kids. I loved it so much that this is the only class we’ll be doing online this year.

Language Arts –


We’re back to Christian Light Education this year! I fiddle last year. The kids and I were a little burned out from the intensity and thoroughness of CLE. But it’s so concise! It’s easy to manage! It’s thorough! Man, is it thorough! It has spelling! It teaches TO the kids. So, this year, I’m back. I want to travel and have fun, so this is an easy pick. We’re using it on grade level and as published.

Reading –


Both kids will be using CLE reading on grade level. Ok, when I say “reading” people cringe. It’s not so much reading, as literature. CLE “reading” covers all the literary terms and devices that can easily fall through the cracks. Stuff the kids need to know for college and tests. It covers comprehension, work roots, map stuff. Here’s the Scope and Sequence for the FIRST book of Grade 7 reading:

Labeling similes and metaphors

Interpreting similes and metaphors

Identifying the main ideas of paragraphs

Learning to form correct mind pic-
tures from the story
Reviewing alliteration
Working with the Latin word parts co-, con-, com-, col-
Learning about theme
Learning about imagery in poetry
Studying etymologies of words
Identifying internal and external conflict
Learning to accept differences in others
Working with personification
Working with the Latin prefix pro-
Learning to correctly read poetry
Reviewing mood in a poem
Working with humor in a story
Interpreting various dialects
Learning good judgment in reading
Learning about symbols
Working with the Latin word part trans-
Studying about history and legend
Working with rhyme scheme in poetry
Learning qualities of parables
Thinking about fads
Studying humor in language
Reviewing internal and external conflict
It’s really an amazing curriculum and takes about 20 minutes a day two or three times a week. This is a hidden gem!
And now – the one subject that’s sort of different between the two kids – math.

Big – 7th Grade Math

artalgebra 12

Math – Saxon Algebra 1/2 with Art Reed dvds. We are about two thirds of the way through this book. It’s our first year with Saxon and I really like it. I’ve read complaints that it’s not conceptual enough, but having done almost every problem alongside Big, I think those critiques are bunk. We are loving the Art Reed dvds. He’s very succinct and interesting, and surprisingly funny! When she finishes this one we’ll move on to Algebra 1.

Little – Sixth Grade Math


Little is working through Horizons 6 math. He’s about 1/3 of the way through. I am a HUGE fan of Horizons. We have used it for all elementary grade and I am very pleased with it. The kids are super solid in math, apply it well. test great, and Big moved to Algebra 1/2 with no problems at all.

That’s what I have for now. I think there’s more since there are books EVERYWHERE in my house… and merit badge books… and art supplies… and piano music… But for now, this is my plan!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I did it!

I committed to history for this school year!

It was a tough choice. We have L-O-V-E-D the Veritas Press online self paced courses for the past 2 years. LOVED them. But, Big is getting a little too old for them, and Little is a little too young for the online self-paced Omnibus

So that left me in a conundrum.

We *could* do another self paced course, even with it being easy for Big.Their reading beefs it up and I could add geography or something else for her…

BUT… and here’s the other factor… I want to travel this year.

A lot.


Throughout the US.



And because of that I don’t want to be tied to a set schedule for history. Or a computer. Yes, we’re doing BJU Science 7 with a computer. I’ll deal with that somehow. But history and writing this year I really want to be book based. And the kids are voracious readers.

So I committed…


Lots of books. Great stories. I can edit as needed. None of the material will be redundant in Omnibus 1 next year. A good gap year.

And who knows – maybe we’ll travel to Asia!

National Bible Bee 2013 – Part 1

I won’t even go into the BILLION reasons why I haven’t blogged in forever. It’s great to be home, to be back to the blog, to sort of get back to normal! LOL!!!


One thing I’ve wanted to blog about has been our participation in the National Bible Bee. This is our first year participating, and we’re all a little anxious. I searched the internet for blogs on the Bible Bee and didn’t find too many entries, so I want to share our experiences as we go through it. Hopefully someone will find this helpful (please comment if you do!).

Our first step was registration. I did all of our registration online which was super easy. The first step is to search through the NBB database to find a local contest. Unfortunately we don’t have ANY contests anywhere near here. It’s not a huge deal for a church, homeschool group, or school to host an event, but I figured this year we’d participate and maybe next year try to bring it to our area. So, we’ll be attending a “local” event about 5 hours from home. Can you hear “ROAD TRIP!”. LOL!! You also need to register your kids in a category – and there are three: 7-10 (Primary), 11-14 (Junior), and 15-18 (Senior).

The next step to the Bee is BOX DAY. Assuming you register early (registration opens 1 April), the boxes arrive on or slightly before 1 June. You are asked not to open the box until the 1st of June for the big reveal. Our box sat in the front hall for a couple of days for both the wait and we had company. It was super cool to open the box and see the book of the bible we’d be studying this summer. This year the book is 1 John!

In the box were our study materials, shirts, bibles, Parent Guide and other stuff I ordered. This year’s registration fee is $30 – which included a t shirt, button, bible, Parent Guide and the study book for the student. You can pick your version of the bible from the NIV, KJV, NASB, and ESV. I ordered an extra Junior book for me so I could do the same study every day as the kids were doing, and the optional Sword Drill cd.

We’ve finished the first 5 weeks of the Sword Study book and I can say that it has been AWESOME. We’ve done a lot of bible studies with the kids, and for an inductive study this has been the most challenging and most thorough so far. It really does take about 20 minutes a day Monday through Friday – which I will admit does not really include our memory time. With all the travel, camps, etc. we got seriously behind – but with some effort we’ve caught up with the daily study. I have gone ahead and ordered 2 of the older studies for us to use for school this year I love these study materials so much!

For memory work, there are 2 passages a week. I say “passages” because some of them are longer than 1 verse. I looked through the materials, and for the Junior division that my kids are in there are a total of 60 verses that they’ll learn during the 12 weeks. At the back of the kid’s books are the study cards – one set for each bible version. There are verses on both the front and back of the cards (I missed that detail and we are still a little behind on memory work). I’ve laminated our cards and we have a set for home, one for the car, and an extra. I also have all the verses in my phone, which leads me to….

The Sword Drill cd. I  would consider the optional cd an OK purchase. I have an iphone and I already had the Fighter Verses app installed – so the same games and quizzes could be done on my phone or ipad. I like having the study materials on my phone so if we have some down time, etc. we can work on review or prep. I don’t think I would buy the cd again. There is a Bible Bee app for the iphone and android, and for my family I think that would be more useful than the cd in the future.

The last part of this review I’ll add is that the local sponsors (you know, 5 hours from here) have been awesome! I wish we lived near there! They’ve had welcome parties, review sessions, a BBQ, and more for their local families. They’ve been very clear with communications (as has the national office – with useful, encouraging email, but nor being ridiculous, LOL!) and it’s been great to be signed up with them. I am looking forward to the “local” competition since they’re so organized and thoughtful. I really look forward to meeting them and the other families who will be participating.

So for now – we must study! We have a few passages to catch up on!