2013 Bible Bee Local Contest – It’s in the Books!!

I’ve been wanting to write this post since we got home, but time’s been tight and it’s been nutty around here. Yesterday (Monday) school required a lot of effort. We’d shelved a couple of things with Bee preps so yesterday was our first “real” day back with a full schedule. Ouch! LOL! We also had laundry to finish up, unpacking from the trip, etc… It’s always good to be home after a trip – long or short!


OK, so Bible Bee stories!

First, before leaving I thought we were fairly well prepared. The kids KNEW their verses, we had finished our study and reviewed it a few times, they knew their Greek words cold, and they had practices on Quizlet a bunch. They were nervous, but excited…

On Friday of the Bee we traveled about 3 hours to the “local” Bee and stayed a hotel. It was too far to drive for a 7:30 am check in, so we made a fun day of it and hit the pool, went out for pizza, and stayed up too late watching Food Network (we don’t have cable, so hotel tv is a treat, LOL!!!).

The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel buffet and headed to the Bee location. We had scoped it out the night before so we’d know where it was and how long it would take to get there. On the way I spied a Dunkin Donuts, so a nice iced coffee was picked up on the way!

We got to the check in at 8, which was well planned. They were super organized and had all out our schedules, name tags, etc. ready to go. After check in we went to the chapel and had a welcome and prayer time. I was so impressed with our coordinator and his family – they were so kind and encouraging throughout the whole process!


After check in the three groups met with their Commanders (escorts). The Junior division went to take the written test while the Primary and Seniors did their orals. Parents can sit in for the orals, but not the written, so while the kids were testing  I was a judge for the oral round. It was awesome!! I highly recommend volunteering if your kids participate in a Bee. It was a huge blessing to me! (There is a training video you have to watch to be a judge. The kids and I watched it together and it helped all of us so I highly recommend watching it before your local bee!)


After the kids and I finished up the first round they headed to the oral round. Our Bee had a lot of judges so the kids could cycle through pretty quickly, which I thought was great. I think as a contestant the hardest part would be the waiting after the months of prep work! I got to sit in and observe the oral rounds (parents are seated where the judges can see them, but the kids cannot). It was super fun and interesting to see how the kids did after all their hard work.


Our morning Bee session wrapped up around 12:15. All testing was done and the contestants were free to head out to eat lunch. Some went out to restaurants in town, many packed picnics and hung out at the location. We had about an hour for lunch, then reconvened for the awards. I LOVE how they did the awards. Each kid was called up for their participant certificate, and they had the option to recite a passage they had learned. Some did one solo, some families did one together, and some kids passed. Mine passed. They were pretty worn out by that point! LOL!! After all the kids were brought up, they did the division awards. The top 5 in each category were awarded special prizes. Following all the awards there was a reception, but we had a long drive home so we headed out.


How did my kids do? Well, they said they got destroyed on the written test, LOL! I have no idea how true that it, since the official results don’t get released until Wednesday. They did struggle with time (it’s a TIGHT test) but I think next year it’ll be a lot easier. The oral round did not go as well as I had hoped. One kid shocked me with a couple of bumbles that were out of left field, and the other stumbled a little bit with closing references. I think nerves hit them both a bit. SO, competition wise neither placed in the top 5 for their division.


Overall –

Bible Bee was an AMAZING experience for our family and I HIGHLY recommend participating. We loved it so much we hope to have our church HOST next year!!  The kids and I learned a TON about 1 John and we memorized (COLD!) 61 verses. Yes, we worked pretty hard (I would estimate we did 20 minutes on the study 5x/week, and memory/review 20-30 min 6-7x/week), but it was so worth it!! As we looked over the summer on our way home from the Bee we counted up that our family was gone from home for nearly 5 of the 12 weeks of Bee prep time. For us to have completed the study, memorized all the verses, and prepped a bit extra – that’s HUGE!!


I will admit that I think we were all a little disappointed that the kids didn’t place better at the local round. Then we went to church Sunday morning… The pre-sermon which the man leading (we are men led – no pastor) just felt he needed to cover had… maybe half of our memory verses in it… and a whole bunch of references from 1 John (which the kids could quote, too!). I told him later what a blessing his lesson was. Then the lesson itself was on John 8… which was covered (and memorized a lot) in the Bee. The kids and I all saw firsthand that the real victory was knowing God’s Word better and growing closer to Him. For the kids to see their work pay off in connecting so closely with a sermon, that’s pretty sweet. I think it was pretty awesome of God to set that up for us!!


How We Do Upper Level Math

Mine’s on the right and I haven’t checked it yet! No comments about wrong math, please! LOL!!!


I have a dear friend and mentor who has successfully homeschooled 4 kids from birth through high school. All have excelled in college academically, and more importantly, they are warriors for Jesus. My friend is humble, kind, and very patient. She’s also very hardworking, focused, and diligent. Man, is she diligent!! One thing she has impressed on me is that homeschooling is a job, and one that needs to be taken seriously. The work has to be done every day. Trips and days off are great, but we’re called to educate our kids and we need to DO IT! I just love her honesty!


One of the many things I’ve taken from her is how we do upper level math. Starting in Algebra 1/2 I do math nearly every day with my student. We use the amended schedule from My Father’s World, (if she tests about an 85%) ad do all the assigned problems. Yes, some days are long. Today looked short, but it was long! Some of the problems were tough! By doing the problems myself I can explain them better to her, my skills are honed and I’m up-to-date, and I’m much more patient about how challenging the problems or overall math day are for her. We watch the Art Reed dvd together, and then work side-by-side. She loves having me nearby, and some days we so friendly competitions. If you’re not good at math – no problem, just take the course alongside your students. Yesterday Big was thrilled when she did better than me on a test (little stinker!). I know – this method isn’t easy – but it’s so worth it!!!

Dim Sum by a Dum Dum

When we were in Boston Little was dying to try Dim Sum. He had seen it on Ruff Ruffman and since it’s filmed in Boston he was all over trying some of their adventures. We were in the area already (the Museum of Fine Arts isn’t far away) so I decided we’d park there and have lunch….

Parking anywhere in Boston is a nightmare. Enough said about that.

After we parked, and I exhaled, we walked to Chinatown. Using my trusty smartphone I googled “best dim sum Boston” and found Winsor Dim Sum. They had great reviews and I could find it. Off we went!

When we go there we were seated at a large table and handed slips of paper. I had NO idea what I was doing so I asked the one lady near me who looked like she spoke English what to do. She said “mark what you want and they’ll bring it to you.” “I can do that!” I thought! Apparently, no I can not…

The items on the dim sum menu were each about $3. Since this is inner city Boston, I assumed that meant 1 item per order. So we ordered 10 different things…

Then the food started coming…

And coming…

And coming…

And yes, coming… (there was more but I was too embarrassed to take more pictures!)

I WAS HORRIFIED!!! Apparently each item had 3 pieces – not the 1 I had thought! We had enough food for 8 people, and there were 3 of us (2 being kids!). I just felt like everyone was laughing at us for being so wasteful and gluttonous, and I cannot blame them! I was so embarrassed. We tried everything, but it was very authentic and while we liked trying everything we didn’t clean our plates. I felt horrible, but it was a fantastic experience.

The fumiest part of the whole experience, was that on the way out I spied a picture menu on the other tables! We just didn’t have one. The picture menu showed each item, and how many pieces came with it! THAT would have been handy, LOL!!!

In the end I would HIGHLY recommend the Winsor Dim Sum Cafe if you’re in Boston. The food is really reasonably priced and very authentic. The staff was very kind. I really liked the BBQ roll and the spring rolls. Just make sure you get the menu with the pictures!



How We Do Bible Memory

Where in FULL swing prepping up for the local Bible Bee contest this weekend, so I thought I’d do a post on how we do scripture memory here. We’ve been doing scripture memory since the kids were little and over the years we’ve honed in on a few techniques that have made memory work MUCH easier.



Our “normal” system for memory is to write the verse on a dry erase board first. Then we read through the passage (or verse) three times aloud, together. Then… we take a word out. After the word is removed, the kids then read the verse to me. We leave blank spaces, but no other indication of where the word was (blank lines, etc.). When the kids were little we’d pay a mini m&m for each word removed. It made memory work the highlight of the day! Usually when about 80% of the words are removed the kids have the section memorized and we just erase the rest. For reinforcement the kids have say the passage perfectly 3 times to be considered “done” with memory work for the day. Later, we review and review.



This is basically a variation on dry erase, but it’s for when we travel or don’t have a dry erase board with us. In this case we flip the words over. It’s fun!

Paper Phrases

Sorry, no picture here. For paper phrases we do just like the words but split the verse into sections that make sense. We do this for repetitive passages (“with all your soul, and with all your heart, and with all your mind” Matthew 22:36-40) or passages where it just makes more sense or is easier to memorize it as phrases. Sometimes I’ll copy the verse from biblegateway.com and paste it into Word, blow it up, then print and cut. It saves a little work and time that way. With this system you can also scramble all the phrases and the kids have to put them in order. With phrases, you have to be careful that you don’t rush learning the passage. It’s easy to appear to “get” the verse, only to find out when you review it that they really didn’t get it.

Flash Cards:


We’re not a huge flash card family, but I found this summer reviewing with the Bible Bee flash cards was a great help. I laminated ours so I could mark with a dry erase which kid had reviewed which card, words, missed, etc. It was very helpful. The Bible Bee materials came with the cards so it made it super easy.


By far our favorite memory app is Fighter Verses. We actually don’t use the verses supplied, but added all of our own. The quizzes are great (fill in the blank, word bank, etc.). The only annoying thing is that you have to have internet to load new verses, and if you make a mistake you have to delete it, then reload it. But, it was TOTALLY worth the $3 we paid for the app. The kids have used it at the pool, in the car, on airplanes, etc. I think the kids DEFINITELY learn the verse the best by us sitting and learning it together, it’s a great review tool.

That’s the review. We LOVE scripture memory here and I hope something I shared here might help your family hide God’s Word in your heart.

Big Trip…. Good to be Home

We got home this weekend from a 10 day trip North. We saw my parents (who are in assisted living – that’s it’s own post…), my two sisters (one I have not seen in years), nieces, nephews, went on field trips, tried new foods, and celebrated with old favorites. It was a good trip but a hard one. It is so good to be home!!!


One stop we made was to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was amazing. I was brought to tears by a few of the pieces. We did the audio tour (which I HIGHLY recommend for any major museum that offers them – particularly if there’s a kid’s version!) and it was fabulous. I love the Dutch masters, but in the MFA the Egyptian section was awesome. Here are some pics (all legal – no flash, personal use) from the visit….


An AWESOME map of ancient lands on the floor in the Egyptian display. VERY cool!!!


Rembrandt sketch that reminded me of a friend’s pyrography work.


I have no idea the name of this work, or the painter, but I love it.


Van Gogh in real life. Insane.


Monet. Such a sharp contrast to the Dutch. Love.


I cried. It’s huge. And breathtaking.



It’s been a little while since I’ve posted… We’ve started back to school here. We’re at about 80% capacity this week. I have not ordered science yet, and I’m pretty sure that is going to add 45-60 minutes a day to our schedule. I think today I will actually get on ordering that one!!


So far the rest of the schedule is going fairy smoothly. Math is math. Big is struggling through Tween Brain to remember both math facts and how to do pre-algebra. We’re making great strides. Little is racing though his lessons every day, so I think that’s a good sign.


Language Arts how I love…hate…love…hate you. We’re back to CLE this year. It’s just so thorough and efficient! It is hard, though, so we’re readjusting to that. We have a little relearning (diagramming… very specific grammar rules, etc.) but in the long run I think it’ll be a good thing. I am NOT relenting and going easy on this one this year!


Reading and Wrtiting… We’re also using CLE reading this year, and alternating it with IEW writing. I think it’s going to be a great balance and so far the kids are enjoying the alternating system. For other “reading” the kids have, in 3 days, read nearly the first 2-3 weeks of our Sonlight books. Yikes!


So that’s what we’re up to! Busy. Relearning. Trying to be patient. Deep breathing. Getting into a routine. And then… Friday we travel. LOL!!!!