Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Letter to Josh

Dear Joshua, 

I got your letter!!! I was super excited and couldn't wait to rip the envelope open. I'm so glad to hear you are doing well and they are feeding you wholesome food. You know how I am with wanting you to eat healthy. 
Land Navigation Training
Guess what, today (Tuesday) the ALERT Facebook page posted pictures of your first week. It was nice to see what you've been up to.  I heard you all had your first PT test, had three days of Catalyst, and started your Land Navigation training. I'm so excited for you. Praying that you will understand and do well with all that navigation learning. I know it can be a lot with having to be accurate with your calculations and all. You'll do well. I know it!
Physical Training Test- Josh front row on the right
As for us, we've been busy. Dad with the house, screens, work, AWANA, ALERT Cadet, and so forth. Me with homeschooling, reviews, making homemade goodies, and dinners. I actually made a dinner menu, made a shopping list too, and bought all the ingredients 😁. It's nice having all the stuff and knowing what we will eat. 

The weather has been hot but I think it's hotter in Big Sandy. We've been praying for you all about that. I don't know how long you all are outside but I can imagine it's a lot and with the temperature being close to 100* well I can only imagine. 
I've been keeping your little Unit in prayer as well as the whole Unit 56. I noticed one guy by the name of J., he has a pack that looks a bit uncomfortable, so I've been praying for him daily. I know if the pack doesn't fit right it can affect the whole hike, just like a blister on your foot can. If I could I'd send him a backpack myself.  

Annette will have her first soccer game this coming Saturday. She was suppose to play last Saturday but the game was canceled. ⚽

Know that we are praying for you. Every push-up is for a purpose, a purpose to make you stronger not only physically but mentally. 

Love you lots,
God will meet all your needs Joshua, it says so in Phil. 4:9

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fun Monday

I had planned to take the kiddos to the coffee shop last Friday but it didn't happen. Annette ended up being with my dad and we wanted her with us, so we went today.

It was a sort of back-to-homeschool end-of-the week type splurge.

And guess what? Later like around 9:00 P.M. we went to Braum's. The kiddos were happy about that. It's not everyday we splurge twice!

Annette had a soccer game tonight. When we arrived at the part where she as to play it wan canceled because of a lightening storm, so we decided to go to Braum's.

I even let Ethan order a banana split. He was so excited. Awe, it's the little things.

I  have been splurging a lot these days. Like yesterday I had a burger and fries, so today I started back strict on my "diet". No ice cream for me. Thankfully I had packed a few low-carb cookies I made last night. I stayed up making a few goodies so I'd stay on plan.

School is going great. I haven't had the kids start all subjects yet. We are adding things in slowly. For instance with Caleb and Brent they started their health course. The two younger boys we added in some history.

I found this picture of Lance on my phone. That silly guy.

My friend made the image below. Not sure how, I think it's a facebook thing.

Lance likes to add more to the picture. On the one above I think he meant "Eat more Chicken" not "Eat more cow", he made me laugh.

Here are some more. These pages are from the Asperger's Journal.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bible Bunny Learns to Read by The Thinking Tree (Review)

This post may contain affiliate links.
please read my disclosure.
The Thinking Tree has a new journal out. It's super adorable: Bible Bunny. It's a wonderful companion book to Teach Your Child to Read, Write, & Spell: 100 Easy Bible Verses.

Your little one can learn to read 30 Bible verses with Bible Bunny and all the siblings!

Each Bible verse is centered around a word like: trust, fear, hope, needs, confidence, and so forth. There are six activities per verse. Each page has a different activity. All fun and adorable. Your child will:

  • Color a picture
  • Read a verse (mom can help if needed)
  • Dot-to-dots
  • Color words
  • Complete logic puzzles
  • Trace and color a picture
  • Draw a picture about the verse
  • Copy the Bible verse
  • Thank God or write a prayer

 I love the dot-to-dots that are included in this journal:Bible Bunny. 

The verse correlates with the "main" word ~used for the week (a week if your child is doing 1 page a day). For beginning readers, can read the verse several times first. Point to each word as you say it. Everyday before starting a new page, I'd suggest to go over the verse with your child again.

A fun way to remember and memorize the verse is to copy each word on a separate piece of paper. Then have the child hop on each paper with the word you called out. Depending on the child's age you can put the words in order to memorize the verse and then mix them up to help remember the word. You'll have your little bunnies hopping all over the place.

Use index cards to put the verse in order on the table. The possibility are endless with using the verse as a springboard with teaching your child to read.

Again depending on the age of your child use magnets to spell words like 'trouble' for older kids and words like 'not' for younger ones. If you don't have magnets write the words on paper or index cards and cut the up. Use cubes with letters on them too!
 Tracing the bunny helps with fine motor skills related to writing. Coloring gives your child time to be calm and in a more relaxed state which can help a child remember what he's learning.

 Drawing a picture about the verse is another way to retain what the child is learning and grasp the meaning of the verse. I have a friend who has her child draw pictures in order of the verse to help her child memorize it.

I love the little logic puzzles too. They are non stressful but has a purpose too, working those little minds.
Google copywork and you'll find many articles and blog post of the benefits of copywork. It's amazing that a simple concept can be so powerful with learning how to put words together, spell, read, and write. You can even go over a few grammar and/or punctuation rules (keeping it fun of course). Say, "Why do you think that comma is there?" let your child think about, encourage, and explain it always ending with, "Great job!" or some other words of affirmation.

Thank you God for, what a great way to end a set of activity pages !

Another wonderful journal by The Thinking Tree. These books are amazing. I love the non stressful way the Thinking Tree helps children learn to read, write, & spell.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I've been stalking the ALERT site daily for this picture to show up. My glimpse to see how he looks now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Week 1 of 2016/2017

We started homeschool this week. Monday I was up at 6:30, Tuesday at 6:45, and today (Wed.) 7:00, hehe, I guess tomorrow it'll be 7:15, ack! Nope, I won't let that happen. I need to get up and start waking the kids.

One thing that helps us get started is me NOT getting on the computer first thing (so sad I know). Now I wait (except this morning because I really needed to blog about Josh and needed some alone time).

I am having the kids start off with a half load. This way I am not stressed. I want to spend some time with each of the kiddos.

 This was what the table looked like a few days ago. I'm still putting schoolwork together. Yes, I STILL don't have our school year planned out. Two weeks before school started my Mother-in-law arrived and at the same time we were in limbo with Josh. We didn't know if he was going to be able to go because of a medical issue. We didn't get the go ahead till the day before he had to leave!!! So yeah, it was a bit hectic and homeschool planning took a back seat.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
 Below is all of Ethan's work. Some in the tub and on top. He won't be using everything daily or even weekly. I'm still figuring out how to schedule his weeks.
 Below is how our table looked the first day of school. That little can of Dole Pineapple was turned into a single upside down pineapple cake. Yum. It was my lunch.
 It was so deliciously  yummy. Today I made a lemon cake (single serve).
Here are some pictures of our school work. Most is from The Thinking Tree. The boys worked in other school books too but since I had fun coloring with them those are the things I took pictures of.
I know Lance is a little bit old for this book: Teach Your Child to Read 100 Words, but it's great practice and a fun way to review words like clouds, worms, and high. He did know the other words. 
 These pages are from the Asperger's Journal. Lance completed the logic puzzle and I had fun coloring it.
While I colored Lance worked on his Intermediate Language Lessons.
He had to rewrite the story about two seeds. He mainly copied parts but that's okay. We'll work on his written narrations.
I interrupt this blog post to insert two pictures just because they are of my cute kids: Caleb and Lance.
I don't think Lance understood what he was suppose to do on the page below, haha. 
Asperger's Journal by The Thinking Tree
I enjoy completing some of their pages in the journals. One because it's fun and two because I want them to see what I expect. Not that they have to do it exactly like I do but what kind of "work" as in caring and doing their best.
Library Based Journal for Boys by The Thinking Tree
 Ethan is working through the Library Journal for Boys.
How to Make Money by The Thinking Tree
Ethan will work his way through the How to Make Money journal.This week (because he is not doing history) I have scheduled the How to Make Money journal 4 time.
How to Make Money by The Thinking Tree
Ethan and I completed these pages together. While he completed the Thinking Questions I sat beside him and colored. This really was a neat way to spend time with Ethan AND get some school done. I think it made it more relaxing for him too.
Ethan's pages from the Library Based Journal for Boys.

Brent started the Travel Dreams Journal. Here is a page (he still needs to finish labeling).

During homeschool hours the kids are NOT allowed any computer time (unless it's for school) and ALL their devices are put into a basket. At 4:00 P.M. they are allowed to play for an hour to an hour and a half (this is when their cousins come over). At 8:00 P.M. all the devices go back in the basket.

Things were getting out of control over the summer. I mean like the kids were playing ALL DAY!

Next week I hope to add in history and explain a bit more with how we are using The Thinking Tree journals and scheduling other curricula in (but we'll see). 

How is your homeschooling going?

ALERT Academy

Yesterday more photos were posted to the ALERT Academy Facebook Page. Yay. They are all of the same night (R-Night). It's been five days since my Joshy left and I miss him so much.
photo credit: International ALERT Academy
 I couldn't wait to see a photo of Josh with super short hair. I have never seen his hair so short. As excited as I was a whole new set of emotions came forth that I wasn't expecting. One was CHANGE. This experience is going to change my son. I know it's a good experience but I also know he will come home a bit different. Josh was mature in many ways but still their were areas for growth.

Growth that I want for Josh but will miss that last bit of immature-ness. While in ALERT they are not allowed to "horse" around. Will Josh still be fun loving?

Most of all I'm worried about our bond. I know that some day Joshua (and all my boys) will go off and get married. Love someone more than mom (as it should be), but for now, what if it's gone. What if that love for mom is more distant. I don't know - I just have a lot of heart issues with missing Josh.

I think for dads it's different. When Josh was little and needing to be more of a dad's boy than mom, I was and am willing to let him go and grow up to be the man God wants him to be. I understand that boys need their dads but this is different. I am not trying to keep him close and not let him become his own. I just miss him.
 Out of all the gear to take a picture of IT'S JOSHUA'S. I was so HAPPY. These photos are all I have to SEE Josh. Even a photo of his gear makes me happy. Auntie Cynce and Uncle Don the backpack is what Josh purchased with the money you sent.

We were so blessed to have family and friends help out financially. Thanks to a friend we were able to put $200 in an ALERT credit account for Josh. If he needs more socks, a shirt, or even shampoo he can purchase some at the ALERT store.

Auntie R & Uncle C and Grandma/pa helped buy the tent. Auntie V bought him some awesome hiking socks and has been a huge encouragement to Josh.

I'm so proud of Joshua. He worked hard and saved the $3,465 and the application fee. I so wanted to pay it all for him but am thankful he was so willing. I know it will be a great motivator for him.
 Here the guys were told to obtain their gear which was outside and return to their designated spot.
Here is a picture taken before they cut his hair. Joshua was introduced to his Squad Leader and the guys that will be in his squad unit. The binder books on the floor contain the book of 1 Peter, hymns, and some patriotic songs I believe.

And that is another set of coveted photos of Josh and what he's up to. What makes it hard on this mama is not being able to hear his voice over the phone, receiving a text message, or email. Not being able to ask, "What did you have for supper?" or "Did you forget anything?" or "How did your first day go?" just simple things like that. 

I can email him but he will have to write snail mail which I'm thankful for but it's not the same. Okay, enough about how much I'm missing Joshua. I'm not all sadness. I'm happy for him. I know he will really lean on God and his relationship with Him will grow. I know he's in for an amazing adventure (as we like to call it). There will be homesickness but also growing. His walk with God is just getting better. I pray daily for him. I write him too. I pray that writing him almost daily via email does not cause more homesickness. I don't want to do anything that will make this harder for him. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Alert Unit 56

I was so super excited to see this picture posted on the Alert Academy Facebook page Saturday the day after we dropped Joshua off.
Photo credit: International Alert Academy
Joshua is in the red shirt, bottom row, on the left. He's so cute!!! Look at the handsome group of young men. I'll be praying for his whole unit.

Today the pictures were posted on the Alert blog. I was so disappointed that we didn't know we could stay for R-Night. If you notice in the photo below there are people in the stands.
Photo credit: International Alert Academy
Those are family members of the recruits. No one told us we could stay while our sons are learning some of the commands and such.

Did you see we found Josh in the above picture? He's waaaay on the other side.
My letter to Josh. Of course anything super personal will have been deleted. I thought my letters would be great as blog entries to keep as memories for all the kids.

Dear Joshua,

I was going to write earlier today but it got busy. Around 6:40 P.M. your dad and I took Annette to soccer practice. She did pretty good. Of course she needs improvement because she's never played on an official team before but for her first time she did great! We had to get her some soccer shoes after she was done. We went to Sports Academy. Annette tried so many before she found the pair that fit just right so we were there for a good hour and a half. She also needed a navy  blue shirt. We hunted for one at Sports Academy but weren't able to find one. Imagine that. In the whole store there was no navy shirt. 

I did find all kinds of stuff for you, haha. You know, right now everything is about Joshy, Joshy, Joshy. I'm always on the hunt for something you might "need". I found a soap dish but I'm not sure if you even need one. The one I found is a bit sturdier, so maybe I'll send it. Although it has holes to let the water seep out and that might not work for you. Anyway . . . 

I found some of the dehydrated food too. Are you allowed to take that on your hikes? If so I can send some after three weeks. Let me know.

After Sports Academy we went to Walmart and didn't find a navy shirt there either . I did find some Atkin bars though .

We finally arrived home after 10:00 P.M. I was bummed because I wanted to get a letter out to you in hopes that you might get it before the days end but I know as I write you will be sleeping.

Today was our first day of homeschool too. It went really well. I did Bible with each of your four brothers. All their devices go into the blue basket till 4:00 P.M. at 8:00 P.M. the devices go back in the basket. We woke around 6:30 A.M. (shocking I know), by 8 most everyone was ready to start. Can you guess who was still sleeping? Yup! Lance.

Well it's late son. I should get to  bed. I am suppose to wake up at 6:30 again. I'm praying for you and think about you all day. Everything is about Joshy, Joshy, Joshy, right now, (grin). We do miss you and are so proud of you. I'm looking forward to your letter. 

Love you lots Josh,
Mom <><

Novel Thinking from The Critical Thinking Co. (Review)

The Critical Thinking Co. never disappoints! I love their stuff. Lance will use the Novel Thinking~ In Their Own Words: Abraham Lincoln.
My son has been having it on easy street when it comes to a literature program, so this year I thought we'd better get him started.

In Their Own Words is geared toward grades 3-6, perfect for Lance who will be in grade 6. The guide will help your child with reading comprehension and vocabulary covering:
  • Main Idea & Supporting Details
  • Characters, Setting, and Plot
  • Cause & Effect
  • Making Inferences and Predictions
  • Drawing Conclusion
  • Comparing & Contrasting
  • Sequencing
As you can see your child will cover a lot while reading about Abraham Lincoln and completing the 100 page workbook.

In Their Own Words: Abraham Lincoln there are 14 Lessons (chapters) each Chapter has between 3-4 pages of activities to be completed.

Depending on your child's age, reading level, and writing skills you can pace your child, have him complete one to two chapters a week. 

Each workbook chapter starts with Vocabulary. Your child will find the parts of speech and match the vocabulary word to the correct definition.

Sometimes your child will use Word Play using the vocabulary words to complete analogies, unscramble words, or practice synonym/antonym.
Children will study the characters, problem & solutions, drawing conclusions, these are just some of the many ways your child will delve into the book.

Your child will answer comprehension questions like: How did the Sumpreme Court rule in the Dred Scott decision? How did the court explain that decision? Give two reasons. As you can see these questions are thought provoking. Your child will have to think and not simply write yes or no and/or fill in the blank. 

Another assignment has your child summarize briefly the main points chapters 1-6 in complete sentences.

When completed your child will have completed a:
  • compare/contrast writing paper
  • creative writing assignment
  • research paper
There is a lot of processing and learning within the 100 pages of the Novel Thinking book!

An Answer Key is included in the back which I love because you don't have a separate book for answers. Keep it simple for this homeschooling mama!
With Lance I plan on him completing a chapter a week. I'd prefer two chapters to get done but with his reading and writing skills I think one is plenty. Now if this was my daughter in 6th grade I can see her completing two or three chapters/lessons a week because she was very independent and grade levels above in reading and writing (she's now in 11th grade) so these Novel Thinking books are pretty flexible.

Novel Thinking Lesson Guides do not include the actual reading book.

Final thoughts: I love how the Novel Thinking guide really gets the child thinking. It's not a lot of fill-in-the blanks. Instead there's thought provoking questions.

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