Friday, September 23, 2016

{Review} The Afters: Live on Forever


The Afters have just released their fifth album with the Fair Trade label entitled Live on Forever. I've enjoyed songs from The Afters before so I was eager to check out their newest offering. I was not disappointed. The title track has already been released to radio so I'm pretty familiar with it.

However, the song that caught my attention while listening to the album was one called Battles (track two). After checking out the "behind the music" video on YouTube, I enjoyed it even more. I've made it easy for you to both see that video plus the lyric video. Just look below.

Official Lyric Video
 

The "Heart of the Song" Video  

Josh Havens, guitarist and lead vocalist for the Afters had this to say about "Battles:" 
"It was the last song we wrote and the fastest we wrote.
We don't typically write songs fast; we'll change
lyrics and melodies and craft our songs carefully. 
But 'Battles' poured out, the music and lyrics,
in one day. It's about standing up against fear and
knowing God is always with us. 
It's one of the takeaways we hope people get:
'Don't give up to fear.'"

That was one reason I really liked that song. The driving beats helped as well. Overall, this was a fantastic album and one I'll enjoy listening to again and again. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Curricula Choices 2016-2017


It's been quite a few years since I've shared what we use for curricula. This year I have a tenth grader and a seventh grader. I am an eclectic homeschooler. We use curricula from various companies at various levels and work where my boys are in their abilities. It's worked for us for fourteen years so we continue.

My 10th Grader:

He will be doing a few of his classes online through Virtual Homeschool Group (VHSG). If you've never heard of VHSG it's an online co-op that offers free classes. It's growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, it grew so much this year that only "early seating" families (those that volunteer to teach, grade, or build classes and/or donate money towards the cost of the servers) were able to enroll in live classes. They do offer "at-your-own-pace" science and math classes that anyone can use and it looks like their "Book Masters" classes will also open for AYOP this year as well (literature studies). 

My 10th grader will be using VHSG for the following classes:
  • Algebra 1 - using Saxon math
  • Spanish 1 - using Destinos
  • Government - using Notgrass (1st edition not the new 2016 edition)
  • Chemistry - using Apologia 2nd edition (which can only be purchased used these days)
I used Saxon when I first started years ago with my oldest son and didn't really like it. We have used all kinds of different math programs over the years. We're heading back to Saxon because it's what VHSG uses and he can attend a live class four days a week as well as go to open office hours if he runs into trouble. Math confuses me. Numbers don't make sense to me so all of this makes me very happy!

Spanish 1 will be using an online program. Although, the students do have a textbook and workbook to use as well. It's actually designed for college level and there are 52 lessons. However, for high school, they will do the first 26 this year and call that Spanish 1 and next year they will complete it for Spanish 2. He will also be attending a conversational Spanish hour through VHSG to practice even more.

Government is only a half semester program. In the spring, he will utilize VHSG once more for the Notgrass Economics course. 

Last year he did biology through VHSG and it worked out very well. He does all the book work through the group and our local homeschool co-op did all the experiments. We will be doing the same set up this year. Our co-op will be doing chemistry. This works great for me as all I have to do is schedule it for him. Although, I am correcting lab reports for VHSG chemistry. I also added in a middle school chemistry book, Exploring the World of Chemistry, that he is going through quickly. However, I felt it would give him a very good overview of chemistry that he can then delve into with the Apologia book. 

Off-line he will be doing Notgrass' Exploring America (2007 edition) program. Once he completes this he will earn a credit in history, a credit in English (literature and composition) and a credit in Bible.  I had actually planned for him to do Rod & Staff English 9/10 this year but dropped it (he doesn't even know this yet) once I realized it would end up being too much for him. However, he will still be doing Writing Strands to beef up his writing skills as well as Rod & Staff Level 8 spelling (his last year to do this). 

I also added in Rod & Staff's Level 9 reading comprehension for him this year. I felt it would be good practice for future standardized tests as we have never done a reading comprehension program before. 

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My 7th Grader:


Just like his brother, my youngest will be taking some classes through VHSG as well. He will be taking: 
I switched to Notgrass for history for this kiddo as well. We will be going through their America the Beautiful program. This program covers geography as well as literature. It's harder than he's used to but I think we've finally gotten over the issues we had when we started last week. He seems more diligent in getting it done.

He is also doing Rod and Staff Spelling (Level 4), English (Level 5), and reading comprehension (Level 5). His work load increased dramatically this year and he's finding his rhythm. Well, that and we had a rather heated "discussion" about stepping up. He tends to have difficulty in focusing so that will definitely play a role for him this year. 

He will be doing Writing Strands as well as a handwriting book this year as well. Lastly, he is doing math practice online using XtraMath, learning how to type with a free online program, and Spanish using Rosetta Stone

This year he will be learning how to focus better when it's time to do schoolwork and making sure he is diligent about completing everything given him to do daily. 

My boys also participate in our weekly Youth Group on Sunday nights, karate twice a week in the afternoons, and weekly music lessons. Both boys play two instruments. They both play the piano. My middle son also plays the drums (yes, we have a drum kit in our basement) and my youngest plays the violin. We also participate in our local homeschool co-op on Fridays. Needless to say, it can sometimes be a lot but they continue to step up.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

{Review} Noble


Nobel is the true story of Christina Noble. The story begins when Christina is a child living in the slums of Dublin. Life changes for her when her mother dies and she is taken from her father, along with all of her siblings, and placed in separate orphanages. 

The story bounces between the modern day Christina and her childhood. We see her as a young woman now living on her own and the horrors she overcomes to finally become independent. Her life was never easy. 

At the age of 26, she had a dream about Vietnam and determined that God was speaking to her. She held that dream for over 20 years until her own children were grown. On a visit to Vietnam she sees the street children and works on finding a way to help them. 

I always love a story that has a basis of truth behind it. This movie has more than just a basis. Christina knew exactly what it meant to live on your own with no one there to help. She was a street-smart child and she uses all of the things she learned as a young child to do all she could to help the needy children in Vietnam. 

Christina runs the Christina Noble Children's Foundation not only Vietnam but also in Magnolia. Her story is how following God's will for your life can reap many benefits to those around you. She took what was seemingly a hopeless story and filled it with hope for others. 



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Visiting the Titanic


There is a great new place in Portland (well, it's been there about a year I think) called the Portland Science Center. They have exhibits that come in and stay for a few months so something new is always there. The first one they ever did (that I heard about) was Body Worlds. The first one we went to, back in April, was one about space and robots. At that exhibit, we were told the next one would be about the Titanic. I was pretty excited about checking it out when it came in.


When we arrived, we were all given a boarding pass. The pass contained information about a real person on the Titanic. At the end of the exhibit, they had lists of all the passengers who survived and those who didn't. It was a great way to make this whole exhibit a bit more real to those of us going through it. 

Throughout the exhibit, we could see the differences between the classes. This was also true at the end when we saw who survived and who didn't. Here are the differences in the menus for each class. 


And even in accommodations...
First class

Third class


Friday, August 12, 2016

{Review} Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann



Today this wonderful book, Told You Twice, releases to Amazon. I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of the first book in the series when it was on sale earlier this year. I devoured it and was thrilled to find out that the author was planning a sequel. It screamed for a sequel!

I was able to get on the launch team for this book and I have to say, I'm beyond thrilled to have been chosen. (All opinions, however, are my own.) Kristen is the type of author that just draws you immediately into the story and makes you care about the characters she has created.

We were introduced to Bo Corrigan, the main character of this book, in the first book, Told You So. Bo is an actor. A really good actor from the sounds of it. He also lives the Hollywood lifestyle of parties, girls, and drugs. He is trying to find something, anything, to dull the pain of his past.

At the end of the last book, his actions had caused some pretty serious consequences. This book starts to deal with all that follows. His star-filled life quickly becomes one of attempted murder and running for his life. He is determined that no one else will be hurt because of what he's done.

Once again, the book drew me right in. I can't recommend this series of book highly enough. And I strongly recommend reading them back to back. It's not necessary to follow the story line. Kristen does a great job of making them stand on their own. However, if you like big books like I do, reading them back to back makes it last that much longer.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.