Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Veritas Press

Veritas Press Review

Veritas Press is a well-known company in the homeschool community that utilizes a classical Christian education approach. Starting out with flashcards for Bible and History, Veritas Press now offers kindergarten through high school classes and resources. They've also recently delved into online learning with self-paced and live online courses. For our review, the Schoolhouse Crew got to try out some two of the self-paced courses: Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I and Veritas Press Self-Paced History. Both are completed online. Omnibus I is for children in grade seven (or around age 12) and up and Self-Paced History is for students in grades two through six.

My second-going-into-third grade son Zeke and I were chosen to review Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. We also received the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation flashcards. The self-paced class covers thirty two different events from that time period - each event has five individual lessons making a total of 160 classes. Each lesson is about 20-30 minutes long, which I feel like is the perfect time period.

The teaching in the class is very interactive - Zeke played games and watched videos of actors talking/portraying events from the time period. The actors for our class are two monks which present the lesson by talking amongst themselves and with the student. There is also mapping for each lesson - the student has to label different areas by dragging the names. I really liked this as Geography is not one of my strong suits. There's music which Zeke wasn't super keen on (I think it was just a little bit long for his taste) but the games were great - he had to answer questions about his class in order to rack up time to play games like tic tac toe, puzzles, word searches, and more. There are tests and worksheets (done within the class) and optional readings which I went ahead and tried to do, if the books were available within our house or the library.

The flashcards were chock full of names, dates, places and events which was also right up his alley - he loves reciting facts he's learned to me. Each one has a picture of an event or person on one side and facts on the other. It also lists resources at the bottom - other books the child can use to learn more about the subject. We took these with us to the library and checked out a few to go along with our studies.

Zeke is a HUGE History buff and really regarded this as more "fun" than a class. It is very in-depth and I would definitely consider using it again in the future. I think that it would be great for all types of students really but it's especially good for a visual type of learner or for busy kiddos, as it draws them in and holds their attention.

Each very thorough, year long course is $199. Veritas Press also offers a sibling discount of $100 off. You can follow Veritas Press on social media at the following places - Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Google+

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baby #4: Week 10

I'm in one of those stages where I have little to no time to sit and write to my heart's content...but I am embarking on a new pregnancy and I'm hoping to document the weeks here, much like I did with my last one. I would like to do it weekly but in the beginning it may be every couple weeks since not too much is going on. :)

Today's Date: June 24, 2014
How many weeks pregnant? 10 weeks and a few days

Which trimester are you in? First
Have you told anyone about your pregnancy yet? Yes. We just told immediate family (and a few close friends) when I first found out, around Mother's Day. We told the world at large not long after. I know not everyone does it that way, but I have a hard time keeping secrets. :)

Bump photo: None of those until Week 12! I got pregnancy stickers that start then and am hoping to do one in the same/similar location and clothing so we can document the growing belly better. :)
How big is baby? Baby is currently the size of a prune.
Pregnancy symptoms: Puking daily, upon waking. One I could do without BUT at least it's not all day or all night. Some moodiness. Occasional nausea.
Cravings/Aversions: No cravings really. Mostly food just doesn't sound appealing.
Best moment this week: Visiting the midwife today! I was not expecting to hear the heartbeat - since it's still relatively early - but she found it! I was soooooo excited. 156, for those who are curious. We go back next month, toward the end of the month.
Are you wearing maternity clothes yet? I don't know that I ever stopped after my last pregnancy, honestly. I have some "regular" clothes but the maternity clothes were also very comfortable for I still wear a lot of them. *ducks head in shame*
Have any stretch marks? This is the ONE time I will answer this question for this pregnancy. Yes. I have lots. From previous pregnancies. I have stopped counting and imagine I may get a few more this time.
Weight Gain: -1. I'm down one pound from my pre-pregnancy weight.
Movement: None yet. That would be a bit freaky!
Know the gender yet? What are you/Dad hoping for? We do not. I also don't know that we'll be finding out this time. We're set on baby clothes and although it goes against my intense need to plan...I feel like it may be worth the wait. We'll see. We would be glad with a boy or girl. My intuition says girl at the moment. I've been right every time thus far. :)
Decided on any names? This is also the last time I'll answer this question. You all will know the name after he/she arrives Earthside. We don't reveal the names ahead of time, much to the chagrin of others. ;)
How are your other children? They haven't said too much. They're both (the older ones I mean) excited and happy, but since I don't have a belly yet they're not constantly reminded of it.
Sleep: I love sleeping. I have periodic days of exhaustion where I'm just dragging all day long but luckily they are few & far between. And all the kids are good sleepers so I think that is really helping.
Nesting: None yet!

My Joy-Filled Life

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Myth of Busy

I can't wait for June to be over. I hate saying that...but I did something I said I wouldn't do.

My husband listens to Chip Ingram. He's a great pastor and we enjoy listening to his program Living on the Edge. I tried to find the specific program I'm talking about in this blog post but I can't find it. Anyway, we listened to one of his program quite awhile back where he was talking about parents who put their kids in "stuff" - classes, practices, sports, groups, clubs - because their kids need to do all that, to be busy, to be fulfilled. They get stuck thinking they need to do all these activities or they're going to miss out and then everything starts falling apart. This isn't the *exact* quote I was looking for but it's close:

“I was beginning to experience this deep sense of passing in the night with the people I love the most — the ones under my own roof,” he said. “It seemed important that our kids participate in sports, church and music lessons. The more stuff we were involved in, the more I knew I needed more margin for time with God, for myself, for friendships, and deep family relationships.”

I'll admit, I was a bit smug upon hearing this program. I was proud to say happily that we weren't like that. I KNEW parents like that but thankfully, I was smart and we were content with our not-packed schedule. Ha!

Fast forward a year or two. My kids are a bit older. Opportunities arose. LOTS of them. And guess what?

I've got my kids in too many activities. I suppose to some it wouldn't be seen as too many but for our family it is. I was afraid they'd "miss out" and said yes to almost everything that came my way. Don't get me wrong - they're all good, meaningful activities. But we've got practices and games, classes, camps and projects, and a place (or multiple places) to be every single day. Morning sickness and my sinus headache probably aren't helping but the house is falling apart, the kid's rooms are disaster zones, they're so tired every night, I'm snippy, and I'm not sure when we last did devotions.

So last night after we got home from a ball game, when Zeke almost fell asleep standing up while trying to pick up his room before bed, when the baby was fussing because he was overtired, when Ellie said, "When are we going to read that book?" that's been sitting on the table unread for night after night...I thought, when do we get to have plain 'ol ordinary summer? Simple, unstructured, spontaneous summer! You know - popsicles, swimming, taking nature walks, reading books together on a blanket in the shade, having picnics outside, playing in the sprinkler....when does THAT get to happen?!

I tucked them all in and instead of collapsing in front of the TV and falling asleep like I have been, I put away my laundry and then laid down, read my Bible, and prayed. I prayed and asked God to give me direction. I confessed that I felt very worn out and oh so tired of running everywhere. Then I turned out the light and went right to sleep. And it has really made a difference today. Maybe not in my schedule but definitely in my outlook.

Today is still an insane day. Zeke has 4H camp all day, a 4H bike rodeo in the late afternoon, and a baseball practice tonight. I also have to run to the store, do dishes and laundry, pick up around the house, take care of the two other kids, make lunch & dinner, throw up from morning sickness, and whatever else I'm forgetting...but I've got a better perspective now. I know that (as cliche as it sounds) "this too shall pass" and this month will be gone. I also know that the "busy bug" can happen to anyone and that it sneaks up on you. Being busy for the sake of not being able to say no or because you think you NEED to do all those things does not fulfill anyone or make their life better.

So I'm taking it one day at a time now and spending time reading & praying each night before bed about the following day. I'm not making summer bucket lists or really planning much at all for the rest of the summer. We've got a family vacation to look forward to in July and my kids won't be scarred for life if they don't do every activity under the sun. I'm now looking forward to the rest of the summer.

Review: We Choose Virtues

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we recently had the opportunity to review We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards. The Parenting Cards are to be used by the parents (obviously) to instruct their children and are available in both King James and New International Readers Versions. (We received the NIV.) The King James Version Parenting Cards uses Old Testament verses only, as they were created for Jewish families who teach their children from the Old Testament. The International Readers Version has verses from both Old and New Testaments. Both sets of the cards however teach the same set of virtues: diligence, helpfulness, perseverance, gentleness, contentment, attentiveness, honesty, kindness, self-control, patience, obedience, and forgiveness.

Each card is much like a big flashcard and has a "Virtue Kid" on it along with story about them, a challenge to the child, what to do or say when practicing that virtue, and and ideas on how to incorporate it. Along with the Parenting Cards, we also got the Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book, Family Character Assessment, Teacher’s Handbook, and Butterfly Awards for Kids, all of which were PDFs that I printed off. (You can see that bundle of products here - We Choose Virtues.)

The Kids of VirtueVille coloring book has a different coloring page for each virtue and three puzzle pages. The Family Character Assessment is a form for each family member to use to evaluate where they might need work on each virtue and to set goals. The Teacher’s Handbook includes tools and ideas for how to teach the virtues to your children. And lastly, the Butterfly Awards are cute certificates for you to give to your children when they have succeeded in a certain virtue - just fill in their name and the virtue. This set is recommended for children ages three to eleven.
We Choose Virtues Review

My kids have really been enjoying learning about the different virtues. We had done a character study before on virtues but it wasn't very in-depth past the scripture. I feel like the characters and their stories in We Choose Virtues really drove home the points of what the virtues were about AND what they were not. They really helped the kids to grasp it. I chose to read aloud the cards and discuss the virtue with them while they colored. (Zeke also really enjoyed the puzzle pages - they were a little bit hard for Ellie to do yet.) We have been choosing one virtue each week to "study" and try to apply throughout the week - for instance, we started with obedience. We read the card and colored on Monday and then made a point each day to discuss it first thing. I would remind them of Oboe Joe and the phrase on the card ("Ok, whatever you say, I will obey, right away") and then say, "Let's see how we can be obedient today."

The Parenting Cards are available for $38.49 and the WCV Download Bundle is available for $7.99. Click the button below to read more reviews from Crew Members who also received this or who reviewed the Youth Journal!

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