Planning for Teen Pact


Along with planning out the spring semester, I needed to get on our TeenPact planning. Last year we attended our first TeenPact event – the one day event for younger students. It was FABULOUS. The kids loved it and learned a ton. This year we’ll be stepping it up with kids in both classes. I know from last year the homework is pretty long, especially for the week long class. So with our normal school planning I’ve made a schedule for us to get the work done for TeenPact . My goal is for the TeenPact work to have a minimal pain and impact on our normal school schedule and to get it done well before it’s due. I thought others might need this – so here’s the schedule I’ve come up with:


Week 1: Read- Chapters 1-4 of Real Citizenship; Complete Assignments-  #5,# 2 (4 Day), #4 (One Day)

Week 2: Read- Chapters 5-8 of Real Citizenship; Complete Assignments-  #9,#3 (4 Day)

Week 3: Read- Chapters 9-12 of Real Citizenship; Complete Assignments-  #4,# 3 (4 Day), #2, #3 (One Day)

Week 4: Read- Chapters 13-16 of Real Citizenship; Complete Assignments-  #8 (4 Day)

Week 5: Read- Chapters 17-19 of Real Citizenship; Complete Assignments-  #7 (4 Day)

Week 6: Complete Assignments-  #6 (4 Day), #1 (One Day)

I’m trying to make it a little more front loaded, just in case we get behind. I don’t think it’ll add much time to our weekly schedule, as long as we say on it!! I guess that’s always the case, eh?!?

Are your kids doing TeenPact this year?!


Planning Time

Christmas festivities are done.

We have a week before we travel for the 3rd Annual Downton Abbey Marathon Weekend.

So this week I plan on getting caught up… And relaxing… And working on some projects…


The first project I started working on was getting my weekly plans ready for the new school year. First, I had some planning and coordination to do for Sonlight Core W. We’ll be starting in on Week 17 when we get back to school on the 5th. One thing we’ve found that we really don’t like in Core W is the use of Hillyer’s Children’s History of the World. It’s a great book – but much too young for the age of kids who should be in the core. So, today I will spend / have spent some time online researching and then assigning the appropriate parts of Human Odyssey Volumes 1 and 2. We started with Volume 1 in the fall and the kids loved it, so I’ll finish my alignment project and getting at least the next 12 weeks prepped up.

The other thing I’m changing for the spring is the addition of Foundations Bible Study for the bible portion of our school day. I liked Sonlight in the fall, but it’s moving slower than I’d like so I think we need a change. I bought the efile, printed the first 8 weeks, and cut and pasted that into my kid’s weekly schedules. I am anxious to see if it’ll be a good fit or if we’ll need to edit it a little. There is a LOT of reading, so we’ll have to see if it’s too much or a good challenge.

Once I get the plans done, we should be in great shape to start up with school. We’re planning on doing some traveling, so I definitely want our week to be as “open and go” as possible on the 5th. As always, I’ll plan on the 5th to the 7th taking FOREVER – but that’s pretty normal. Some families ease into school by starting with a couple of subjects, but I’ve found over the years that just jumping in the deep end is the best way for us to return from a long break. As a mom and teacher, I make sure I am well prepared with all our schedules, meal plans, books, resources, etc. before the break is over. I also mentally prepare myself for rough spots and pray about those beforehand.  Knowing that things WILL move slowly and attitudes WILL falter – that certainly makes me be more kind, patient, and make plans to help schoolwork move along. If I expect everyone to bound our of bed, scream through math, and be cheerful after a long break – I am seriously deluded and am setting us all up to fail!

Next up on the planner – planning out our homework assignments for TeenPact. I’m trying to balance those in with our regular work without crushing the schedule. That’s it’s own post – and one I hope to share soon!

What are you doing in the lull before Christmas and New Year’s!? Anyone else in planning mode with me?!


Rocket Kids

As part of space science this year we HAD to build and launch rockets!! DH did this a ton as a kid, so he led the charge. If you don’t have a rocket veteran, check out YouTube for building tips.

We bought our kits at Hobby Lobby using 40% of coupons. We bought a basic kit that had a launch pad and everything except the engines and igniter. The igniters come in the engine package. On the front if the rocket box it’ll tell you which engines fit your rocket. Usually there are 3 or 4 listed. DH recommend starting small (usually the first one listed, or the starred one), and building up. You may also need wadding, though we used toilet paper just fine.


Estes makes about a billion rockets of all different skill levels. Here’s a chart from their site to explain the levels:


I wanted a super easy rocket. One in the kit was pretty close to snap together, one was a little harder. DH ran the show on the harder one, but after watching I think I could build it.


We packed up all our stuff on a pretty day…


…pretty but freezing. One learning point – new batteries for the launcher are a must. We had to go buy new 9 volt batteries because ours lacked the juice to launch. Apparently a faster camera man would have helped, too.


It was SO COOL!!! The next time (since we went and bought more engines and more rockets after that!!!) I’ll pick a warmer day.


I HIGHLY recommend building and launching rockets if you haven’t dove it before. It’s a blast!!! Maybe we’ll take pictures of round two and our new rockets!!


Kind of a Bad Day


A couple of weeks ago I had a “Kind of a Bad Day” kind of day. It could have been a Terrible Day. But it wasn’t. I am grateful to God for His protection. The verses are from Psalm 139, NASB.

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

It was a Thursday morning. I had just eaten breakfast with a friend in a town about 20 minutes north of my house. The weather was clear and cool. I was driving home along a sort-of country road. It’s a 45 mph road, but people usually FLY on it.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

As I got close to town there was a trash truck in the middle of the road. IN THE MIDDLE! I had to come to a complete stop. On a two lane road. I was annoyed… (Thank you, God.)

5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

After I waved to the trash guys, I headed up a small hill, and then down a straight part of the road. I was going slower than the speed limit due to the trash truck. I was not on the phone. I was not distracted in any way. (Thank you, God.)

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

From the left I saw a flash of white. I laid on my breaks as hard as I could and turned to the right. I was trying to not t-bone the other car and to dissipate the impact of the crash. BAM.

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Well, it didn’t take long for it to all stop. We both ended up in the grass. We both got out of the cars. We were both, essentially, fine. (Thank you, God.)

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

I got out and checked on the other driver, as well as asking a guy at the stop sign to please stay and be a witness. He (witness) was great about it and agreed to stay. The other driver was older, but fine, and very apologetic. He was headed to the ER. His son was there. He needed to get to him. He had stopped at the stop sign and then pulled out. He didn’t see me coming. I had him call his family and I called the police. We met up after and talked. I asked if I could pray for him and his family. He said yes. (Thank you, God.)

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

I called DH. He was home. He was dressed and putting his boots on. He was able to be there in 5 minutes. This is a huge deal as DH travels a TON and is OFTEN inaccessible. (Thank you, God.)

15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

The police came, and all the reports were made. The witness came and told me how impressed he was with how well I handled everything. (Thank you, God. for making me a witness to You!)

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

The cars were towed. The witness took the other driver to the hospital to meet his family. DH tok me home. (Thank you, God.)

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

When I got home I called the insurance company. The other driver was insured. That’s rare here. And huge. (Thank you, God.)

21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

The other driver admitted fault. He was honest and kind. It was an accident. Accidents happen.

Everyone was safe. (Thank you, God.)

There were no passengers. (Thank you, God.)

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

And it gets even more amazing.

The guy who owns the tow company where my car was towed is a good friend. When I called him to release my car – he took the time to tell me all the stuff I needed to do before I let it go – down to taking my license plates. He saved me HUNDREDS of dollars. HUNDREDS. And he made the process so less scary. (Thank you, God.)

About 2 weeks before the accident, my brakes sounded weird. Bad weird. I took the car in the tire shop said they were fine. So we drove to TX. They still sounded HORRID. When we got home I impounded the car until I could get the brakes checked. Monday – three days before the accident – I had 4 new brakes installed. I am certain those brakes saved me and the other guy A TON of injury. (Thank you, God.)

We took the brake guys cookies on Friday the day after the accident.

So the car was totaled. I was sore – for about 36 hours. I actually saw the other driver less than a week later and he looked totally fine. Insurance did their thing. (Thank you, God.)

I have a new car I LOVE. (Thank you, God.)

And I had the privledge of seeing, first hand, the hand of God working in my life.

I saw it.

His fingerprints.


Thank you, God.

BJU Middle School Science – What’s it like??

Sometimes here on the blog I try to give a review or answer on a curriculum that we’ve used that others want to know “What’s it like?”. No, I wasn’t compensated or paid to do this. We use BJU and I just wanted to share what it’s like. With BJU (Bob Jones University Distance Learning) offering an AWESOME winter sale on their Distance Learning products, I thought it would be a great time to give a “users perspective” on BJU Middle School science.

Which products have we used?
BJU Science 6, 7 and now 8.

What version?
We’ve done the streaming “online” products.

Why that one and not the dvds?
I love having access to the online Teachers Manual, all the printables, the efiles, etc. I like that everything is organized and easy to access. I SERIOUSLY considered switching to dvds for the ability to speed up the lessons. It’s frustrating to the kids sometimes when the same material is covered more than once, but with the streaming you can’s skip content or fast forward. With the streaming you also can’t have it run at 1.1 or 1.2 speed like we sometimes do with math. (I’m a Yankee… I talk fast…) With the grade 9 lessons being 45 minutes, I think saving 5-10 minutes a day would be awesome. But, the benefits of the streaming outweighs the draw of the dvd so we’ll stick with streaming.

What does a parent need to buy?
OK, first, there’s the online streaming. With the $99 deal that’s one part of the puzzle. You definitely need the student book. One per studdent. The activity manual is now included in the student book, so each student needs one. If the streaming uses an older edition of the books, you’ll need to make sure you get the student text AND the activity manual for each student. The TM is in the streaming, as are the online tests.

What about labs?
Up front, I am a lab person. I think science HAS to have labs to be a rich, full class. We’ve made our own kits, and bought kits. I think alternating buying and making is a good system year to year to use up old stuff. I am NOT a fan of watching the lesson and considering the lab done. Even if you pick 5 per year (and BIG ones – rockets, dissection, etc.) do them. Please, don’t skip them even if they’re a hassle…make a mess…seem worthless…are expensive…fail… Team up with a friend, combine kids, but do them!! (If you can’t make yourself do the BJU ones, buy a related ASK Kit. They’re amazing!!!)

If you aren’t a lab person – don’t skip the lab videos! There are questions on the tests that are covered in the labs, so the kids do need to watch them at a minimum.

How long does a day take?
The lesson itself (streaming) is 30 minutes, but often there is a need to stop and do some reading, so I’d say the lapse time is about 40 minutes. The after class work takes about 10-15 minutes. We budget an hour a day for BJU science.

What do the kids think?
My oldest kid is a SCIENCE NUT. This year we started with “something else” and after about two weeks she begged me to go back to BJU. More than once… No sale then…but, I bit the bullet and registered her. She LOVES BJU science and it’s extremely likely we’ll use it through graduation.

Other Stuff:
I like that BJU has a traditional approach with a lecture, quizes, tests, etc. Other than math, we haven’t taken a traditional approach to anything academic, so this approach is a great change. I have taught a lot of study skills using the text book and teaching understanding of things like: chapter objectives, chapter summaries, bold words, section reviews, chapter reviews, etc. These aren’t things my kids would have seen otherwise (we’re Sonlight users… so pretty outside the box!), so it’s been great to get them exposed to more “normal” school stuff and to prepare them for college textbooks. Yes, the science is awesome, but the variety of study skills your student will learn makes taking the online class even more profitable!

Summary –
I love BJU science. My science loving kid *LOVES* BJU science. I think it’s super thorough, interesting, challenging, and fun. Yes, it takes some time. Daily. But, if you have a science lover, or you fear teaching upper level sciences, or you want to cover study skills in a traditional manner, and want it ALL done well – BJU might be a great fit for your family.

REVIEW : Annual Membership Review

This is a product review for a Yearly Membership on the website I completed this review as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Review

So… what exactly IS

IMG_0532.PNG is a website which serves as the curriculum site for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. At you can take over 100 online classes. The classes that are available cover every age level from Pre-K to High School. These classes aren’t live – you can start them at any time and complete them at the pace of your student. [I love that option – since I’ve felt SO tied down to “live” online classes my kids have taken.] Some classes are more “core” – like math or history, but there are tons of fun, supplemental classes for all ages like Art, Guitar, or sewing.  There are also amazing classes and options for parents – like Nutrition, Homesteading, or College Choice Guidance. When I say “there’s something for everyone”, its not a platitude!


Here’s a link to the pages with the class offerings for each age group so you can see what’s available:


Middle / High School


Since I’m a mom of Middle Schoolers, I was drawn to the Middle School/High School offerings. For the full year content the following courses are available:

Animal Science French Music Theory
Architecture Geography Nature/Outdoors
Art Techniques Geology Play Production
Asia: Safari Guitar Pre-Algebra
Biology Imperial Russia Renaissance History
Classics-Based Writing Lapbooking Spanish
College Choice Guidance Literature Studio Art for Teens
Computer Science Literature Kits  Violin
Economics Mock Trial Writing

After registering I showed the list to my 8th grader and she was instantly drawn to Film Making. Totally cool! It’s not anything I can teach, but it’s useful, productive, and cool. Recently Big has been very into making shorts and trailers with my ipad, so she was thrilled to get a chance to learn actual film making… She started nearly immediately.

I will freely admit that we haven’t been registered with very long (a coupe of weeks), but so far I really like what I’ve seen. Big has completed nearly the first week of the filmaking class – in a couple of days. It’s not “easy”, she’s just thoroughly enjoying it and finding the material engaging. The beginning work is pretty academic – and while she can be a reluctant writer, she took on the brainstorming assignments with enthusiasm. I didn’t assign the class, (it’s totally voluntary – for a 13 year old!), and she mentioned to me today that she wants to get back to working on it. Sweet! I want so much for my kids to have “interest led” learning, and I am seeing where this class is a great fit for that. I call that a win!

Since has classes for parents, I decided I’d take a look around and see what I could find that interested me. WELL!! I was shocked!! First, there is a “Supplementary Curriculum” for parents called MONTHLY MENU. I am so all over that. I looked through all of December and January and found a LOT of recipes I know my family will thoroughly enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I can get pretty stale with my menu planning, so this was an exciting find for me.

Another class I am TOTALLY having my kids start (this week actually) is the “Whole Food s Cooking with Sue Gregg“. I LOVE Sue Gregg and her totally down to earth approach to cooking whole food recipes. I have a number of her cookbooks and have always enjoyed the recipes. She’s all about health and nutrition – but in a totally approachable way. I am THRILLED this 14 week class is available and I can’t wait to add this to our weekly schedule.  I KNOW this will be a great fit for my kids.

Anything I didn’t like?

After looking through the Pre Algebra class, I wouldn’t consider it a full math class for a 7th or 8th grader. We’re math heavy here, so it wouldn’t fit us well at all. I think it could make a nice supplement or be used to help flesh out concepts a student is struggling with. For the elective classes I looked at, the syllabi looked great and struck me as appropriate for the suggested grade levels.

If you’re interested – you can check out more of the offerings, class samples, and site information HERE. Make sure you have a cup of coffee and a snack – there is a ton of great information there.

How much does it cost?
One membership (normally $12.95/month or $139/annual membership), is good for your WHOLE family. Since I’ve paid more than that for a live online 8-week class for one kid, I think it’s a great value. But, right now it’s on sale. Like a SUPER sale. Right now, is having a huge sale. From now through Christmas Day at 11:59pm ET they’re offering 40% off the monthly membership ($7.77/month) or 50% off the Yearly Membership ($64.26/year). Homeschool families who join at this rate will keep it forever as long as they maintain a continuous membership. Review

My final thoughts after the first couple of weeks? I’m excited about this website and the enrichment class options for my kids. I am DEFINITELY having the kids do the nutrition course, and I am looking forward to Big enjoying the film making class. I’m sure in the spring, when things get a little dull, we’ll explore more of the class options. Since we live in a fairly rural area and we don’t have a lot of cool “extras”, I think this is a great way for my family to round out our homeschooling experience. And the price? In my opinion – excellent. For less than the half the cost of an 8 week live course for one kid, provides access for your whole family – for a year. I think that’s an awesome value.


Goal Setting Monday – 15 December 2015


Please consider following my blog! The link is at the bottom on the right. (It’s a goal for this year to grow the blog… so since it’s Goal Setting Monday I figured I’d push it. 🙂 )

On to the Weekly Goals…

Review from last week…

Seriously. I have no report from last week. LOL!! I’m resetting the clock!! Please join me!!

The Week Ahead

+ Daily time in the Word – 30 minute challenge11`123
+ Finish Romans 12 memorization with the kids
+ Get caught up with our Advent readings.

+ Get through the appointments, with cheer. Monday. Dual ortho. Piano recital. Scout party. Sunday is the church play. We’re shockingly unprepared. Recitals are this week. We need to get ready without me being snippy.
+ Complete math, science daily. I have an “I don’t want to do schoolwork” attitude. We need to finish strong.
+ Accountability with encouragement…. keep it up…

+ Walk 5 times this week, 2 miles each, foot permitting
+ Make my coffee before bed.
+ Complete 2 hours of video sessions in the Lightroom Class – I haven’t been doing this and want to get back to it.
+ Sew and/or scrapbook at least 3 times this week.

+ 2 trips to Starbucks this week… Not a minimum there.
+ We’ve been bleeding money. Car wreck. Dryer out. Freezer defrosted and we missed it for 5 days. New braces. Christmas. I’m just overwhelmed.

+ meal plan
+ minimize grocery shopping this week as much as possible
+ MORE fruit and veg
+ stay up on laundry so I can hang it until the dryer is fixed.

+ Focus on the season. Make time for tea and little quiet breaks with the kids. Rest well. Don’t overspend. Play some board games. q11

Linked up at The Modest Mom Blog, Raising Homemakers