Coolest Middle School YouTube Guy!

I am not a huge fan of YouTube. I know there are many who are, but I just hate the commericals, and the possibility of “unsavory” stuff popping up on the screen while my kids and I are watching funny dog videos. So, for the most part, I avoid YouTube.

I probably still will avoid it, but the other day my friend threw down to me and my kids an “Apple Swan” challenge. Not one to back down, we followed her directions to check out this video, and then send her pictures.

The video is super clear, with easy to follow directions. We watched it once, pulled out the apples and went to town.

This one is mine:



Little’s was the best one (he made a whole bunch of wing cuts, not just 3, it was awesome), and this one is Big’s:


We call hers “Three Mile Island Swan”. They were a blast.

But, more importantly, we found the King of Random YouTube channel. Apparently I am the last person on the planet to find his videos, because each one has about 3 million views. Little and I watched about 5 of them – and later today we’ll make a Lowe’s run to get supplies.


Our plans include:


Middle School science and crafts – particularly with boys – can be tough. You’ve done the “old” stuff, and it’s harder to keep their attention. I have a feeling that these tutorials will keep us busy and entertained for some time!!

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break



Week In Review – 27 March 15


Back in the land of Abita root beer!!

This blog post has been eaten by my server about 4 times so it may be kind of short…

I really liked the backwards week so I’m going to be sticking with that one for awhile. I think it’s easier on my old person memory…lol!

We had an awesome night in a cabin with family on Sunday night that included lots of rest and some excellent card games. The weather was perfect and Little got to complete some stuff for his astronomy merit badge.



It was awesome getting to see a bunch of planets and the constellations were super visible. I love being able to use an app for stargazing!!!

Monday was insane. Little went on his first quail hunt which he absolutely loved. Apparently he’s quite the shot! Big and I enjoyed some time relaxing and taking a boat out on the lake.


After a nice lunch with family we drove straight home to get back in time for scouts, and meetings, and other things I had to take care of at home. On the way home we continued to listened to To Kill a Mockingbird (we started it on the way down). It surprised me that the kids absolutely love it. It’s my favorite book, ever. My Beloved also loved it, not having heard it since being forced to read it in junior high. It’s amazing and the audible version is fabulous.


Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday:
The rest of the week went busily but quietly. We hit our normal activities, worked on catching up on some school work, and tried to get back in the swing of doing math. Little made a load of progress on his astronomy merit badge, which is quite an undertaking.

I really need to blog a whole post about this, but at our house we do Friday School a little bit differently. This week we did math, and loads of fun science projects. I’ll post more on this later but here are a couple pictures:



Friday night closed out with my Beloved heading out of town with some friends for a night and Little heading off to a scout camp out. The girls took the opportunity for a great night out with a friend and catching up on some Horrible Histories.

Saturday is looking pretty quiet. We might need to complete the first lawn mowing of the season, as well as hanging out and relaxing before a busy few days ahead. 🙂

How was your week? Busy, crazy, or a week of easy?

Weekly Wrap-Up

Hattiesburg, MS – Tower Records (Café!!)

When my family and I travel we like to try out new places to eat. We generally have a “no chain” and “nothing we can get at home” policy. We were driving through Hattiesburg, MS recently, so I turned to my trusty Yelp (or Urbanspoon) apps and looked up the most popular local restaurants. We stumbled upon this: T-Bones Records and Cafe.


Seriously – a cafe, and a record store, and great coffee. We had to try it out.

It was, in fact, a real record store. With records. Awesome!




And books. A small selection of books – but great books. Real books. Fun books. Local books. The kids/teen section had great stuff we loved – and ZERO terrible teen vampire love junk. Swoon!



We were there on a Sunday, which apparently, is Jazz Brunch day. The music was awesome.



Then, there was food. We ordered sandwiches – which came with drinks and chips. And we had to get dessert. YUMTASTIC. And though I don’t have a photo – this place has the best iced coffee I’ve ever had. EVER. And they have it in 3 caffeine levels. We added 10 minutes to our return drive so I could go get coffee there again. It was delicious. And well worth the time, despite our crazy tight return schedule.






If you ever happen to be in the area – definitely stop. It’s a super cool place, with great food, and you get to support local businesses! Win – win!

Review: HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage

With my oldest about to enter High School, I was super excited when The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew received a full year access to HomeSchool Office schedule software from Lord Heritage. The review is part of my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.


HomeSchool Office Review


The first time I started working with Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office software I spent about an hour reading through all of the help subjects. I fiddled around a little with inputting information, but I didn’t get very far. I know that learning ANY new software involves a learning curve and time, so when DH took the kids to a Friday night event and I had about 3 hours to concentrate, I was ready. With a good block of free time, I broke out the Lord Heritage software and my piles of paper schedules. My goal for this test run with Lord Heritage is to set up a Lord Heritage computer based schedule to replace my paper inputs for the remainder of our school year. My long term goal is to use a computer based schedule so I can work together a sharp, professional looking transcript for my soon-to-high-schooler.


After rereading the tutorials in the SUPPORT section’s Knowledge Base, and checking out the limited Community section in SUPPORT as well, I set to making my schedule.


TeamHomeschool After inputting our data in the TEAM section, the first step I took was to set up our School Year Plan in the PLAN section. The default schedule starts in September, and since I was starting in March I had to eliminate some days. Each day had to be individually deleted by clicking on it. I think a feature where you input a start and end date would be really helpful, especially for families who have nontraditional schedules.


I designated our school days, then focused on learning how to input lessons in the PLAN section. In the SUBJECTS submenu, I started with math since the lesson schedule is pretty straightforward: 4 lessons, test, 4 lessons, test… When I started to set up Algebra I felt the pull down menu lacked some subject options. There was one “Mathematics – Algebra” option. It would definitely be more helpful if there were more traditional options (like “Pre-Algebra”, “Algebra 1”, and “Algebra 2”), or if you had the ability to enter your subjects manual like “Saxon Algebra 2”. With 2 kids in algebra at different levels, more options would be great.


I added the basic information, then started to add in the daily lessons. PlanLessons Once I got the hang of it, the lessons went in fairly easily, (though I was using “complete the next lesson” subjects for my test run). Each individual lesson does have to be inputted manually. One thing I found challenging was that after a lesson is entered, all the fill in fields for the lesson options go blank. There is no editing of the lesson number, keeping all the other fields (duration, plan, etc.) the same, and entering the edited lesson.  If the data stayed in the fields after saving it, it would be a lot quicker to enter a year’s worth of lessons.


While you cannot copy individual lessons, there is a COPY options with the subject. The option allows you to copy the entire plan to another student. The COPY option can be helpful by enabling you to assign the same class to different kids (at the same time or in a different year), but there are limitations. One limit is that you cannot assign more than one subject to a student. For example, you cannot assign “Mathematics – Algebra” more than once to a student – so you cannot have a student in Algebra ½ and 1 at the same time.  I know that sounds like something that’s not an issue, but with only 3 “Literature” subject options, and high school students potentially taking more than one literature concurrently, not being able to assign more than one subject to a student may be a limitation for some parents.

After I entered all the lessons for math and science, I was anxious to see them on the MASTER SCHEDULE. 4According to the “Entering Lessons” tutorial, “After a lesson is entered in the Lesson planner, a lesson icon   will appear on the lesson tile in the Order screen. This icon lets you know that a lesson has been entered for the scheduled subject.” I ran into a problem here. I could not find the lessons in the Order screen at all. At this point, I decided to try out tech support and enter a “ticket” for help.


The customer support was great – timely, clear, and helpful. After a little chat back and forth, I learned that I had to create a calendar for each kid that represents our ideal week in the PLAN section under MASTER SCHEDULE . This took a little trial and error, but I quickly found the more I used the program, the easier it was to work. I made the ideal schedule for each kid, and that schedule transferred over to the ORDER section so I could order the work and reschedule events as needed.


The ORDER menu is also where you print your schedules. After inputting science and math into our schedule for the remainder of the year, I printed the schedules. I tried printing the schedule in a variety of formats, and they all came out looking the same – a list. Being able to print in a weekly grid would definitely be more visually appealing and easier for the kids to manage their time.




I really felt that after the first schedule was made and printed, I have a pretty good handle on the software. I would guess I spent about 10-12 hours working on the first schedule with the first 2 subjects (math and science – both “complete the lesson” lesson plans). It definitely got easier the more I used it, and adding subjects without too much detail would go faster.  I can see where practice with the software could help a lot! ANY software takes time to learn, and this is no different. This software has a lot of features: grade tracking, reports, and transcripts, so learning to use it well could save you a lot of time in the long run, especially if you have a large family and reuse a lot of curriculum.


What’s my final opinion?


Tech support was excellent.

Easy to copy whole subjects once they’re in the system.

Learning curve, while expectantly steep, is surmountable.



Lack of ability to name your own subject / limited subject options.

Inputting lessons is tedious. The lack of “copy lessons”, leaving data fields full for quick editing of lesson number, or batching of lessons is a negative.

No video tutorials on how to use the system. Written support pages are ok, but I found I needed more than what was available.

The printed format of the schedule (at least the 3 formats I tried) is not user friendly. Changing to a grid or a calendar type set up would be a lot more useable.


I know there is a huge market for scheduling software on the market, and I applaud Lord Heritage for seeking to meet a need in the homeschool community. I want companies to succeed – especially ones with a great vision and focus to help make homeschooling more manageable like Lord Heritage. For my family, without changes to the data inputting and a different look to the printed schedule, this software isn’t a great fit and not one I would continue to use in the future.



In Freedom's Cause Review

Crew Disclaimer

Week in Review – 3/20/15

Do you ever have those weeks when you put the date in your weekly review and, about have a heart attack? This is one of those weeks!! It’s the end of March!!! How did that happen?!!


Cool plastic bubble stuff...

All things considered, it’s been a pretty quiet week this week. 

Monday was the usual with schoolwork and scouts…

Tuesday we were back to taekwondo and I got to attend Bible study for the first time in a while…

Wednesday we had piano lessons at the normal time and a regular school day…

Thursday back to taekwondo and regular school day…

And today is Friday, where we’re finishing up math tests, loose schoolwork, and volunteering at the food pantry. Tonight the kids have apologetics and then tomorrow will be a day out with a friend after time at the food pantry.

It’s been amazingly nice to have a quiet week at home…

With spring break in the books…

No travel…

No appointments…

No strange weather…

DH home most of the week…


Treats from London...


No really unusual things on the schedule.

How was your week??!!

Week In Review – 13 March 2015

This is a super weird, super backwards week in review…

Like a Week In Review for people with a bad memory…


Sunday 3/15/15

Rest. A lot. We even stayed home from church. We needed to recover from the past week.


Saturday 3/14/15

Pi Day!! Lots of pi. And some math. It seemed appropriate.image



Friday 3/13/15

Attempting a tiny bit of schoolwork after a long brake. Nightmare-ish. It usually is, sadly. This the the reason for the math on Saturday…


Thursday 3/12/15

Travel day. A long day. Wicked long. This is Atlanta at sunrise. Yup, I filtered it. 😉



Wednesday 3/11/15

Mall Day. Indoor ropes course. Cheesecake. Time with family. Resting up for the trip.



Monday and Tuesday 3/9-10/15

Skiing. Lots of it. Fairly warm conditions. Lessons. Ski lifts. Shoveling. Sledding. Lots of snow fun for the southern kids.



Sunday 3/8/15

Arrive in Hoth. Or Narnia. Depends on which kid (or adult) is commenting. Long travel day. Driving in snow. Then parking. And not moving the rental!




Saturday 3/7/15

Food pantry. Long drive to Atlanta. Hotel. Terrifying food. Little sleep. Travel stomach.



That’s our week. I think backwards works for me!!

How was your week? or —- Week your was how?

Craftsy – An Awesome Homeschool Art Resource

This winter my sister got me sucked into the remarkable world of Craftsy. I blame her. And now you can blame her, too. Craftsy is awesome and amazing, and (I’m a slow learner) an exceptional resource for homeschoolers!! And before y’all start thinking I’m being paid off for this, sadly, I’m not. No endorsed review here. Just some serious love. But, if you do work for Craftsy and you want to hook me up with free classes to review – please – contact me!!

I know, I know. There are some homeschoolers who regularly get art and baking and photography worked into their weeks. Yeah. And their baseboards are clean, too. For the rest of us these “extras” are hard to get to. Well, with Craftsy I am finding art so much easier to get done – and get done really well. No cheesy projects here. These are real art lessons with real art teachers (or baking or cooking or sewing) – at our own pace. And, they’re all reasonably priced. This is awesome. Seriously. Additionally, Craftsy runs AWESOME sales, and right now all the classes are up to 50% off.

What is Craftsy? Craftsy is an website (and app) where you can take a huge number of self-paced, online, art / craft / cooking classes. Once you register and pay for a class, you have access to the class forever, as well as having access to all the supplementary materials (resource lists, recipes, class notes, etc.). The website also sells class kits and other supplies, but I haven’t bought any of those. I will say that I looked at some when they were running a sale – and their prices were excellent.

What classes do they have? Well, pretty much you name it and they have it (I’m talking arts and crafts here). There are currently more than 700 classes in the following categories: image image image

What do the classes cost? I’m cheap, so I buy my classes when they go on sale – or when they’re free. For the rest of my classes, I’d say I paid between $15 and $20 a class. I buy them on sale, but even at full price they’d be totally worth the cost.

But yes, they have a bunch of free mini classes so you can try out the platform.  I just looked and they’re offering 42 free mini classes right now. Sweet. The first class I took to try out the classes, was “Perfect Pizza at Home” with Peter Reinhart.


This FREE class included 5 video sessions, recipes, and more. It was EXCELLENT. I am a baker. I love to grind my own wheat. And I will say, this class taught me a ton and on a level that my 13 year old totally understood the methods.  I now ONLY make my pizza dough using the Peter Way. They’re so easy, and the results are fabulous. My sauce – it’s Peter’s sauce all the way. He also has a whole lesson on gluten free doughs. This class was really exceptional and totally got me hooked!!


Which classes have I taken? So far I have completed Perfect Pizza and Draw and Sew an A Line skirt. The instructor for the A-Line skirt class was FABULOUS. Big and I are working through Drawing Anime. Today I think I’ll start the Artisan Break Making class taught by the same instructor as the pizza class. I’m super excited about it!!




Any fails with the classes? So far the only bust I’ve had is the Everyday Thai Cooking , and it’s totally not Craftsy’s fault. I live in Podunk and I can’t get 75% of the ingredients I need. When I travel I’ll pick some up. Until then, this one will sit in the “later” file. image

What’s up for Middle School Art? This spring we’ll hopefully be working through 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing, and Close Up Flowers in Watercolor. I think the drawing will be an excellent intro class for all of us, and the watercolor class looks like one where the kids will produce some cool stuff fairly quickly, and that’s always super motivating. image


If it’s classes for you, or classes for your kids, Craftsy is really amazing. Classes are super reasonably priced, the platform is smooth and glitch free (I’ve used it on my android phone, an ipad, and a windows laptop), the instructors I’ve had have been amazing, classes range from beginner to advanced, the variety is remarkable, and the lifetime membership is such a fabulous deal. If you’re leery – try one of the free mini classes. You’ll be hooked – and you can blame it on my sister! Now, go get some homeschool art done!



Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break