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Just SLOWing Down

Just taking time to SLOW down.
 We decorated our gingerbread houses. Of course mine was a Coffee House.
I'll share more soon. One of my SLOW goals is to stay off the computer during the holidays. And I'm so proud of myself. Through the Thanksgiving week I've been very careful NOT to jump on the computer.
Which means we actually decorated our gingerbread houses early this year.
Normally we don't get to them until New Years Eve.
 When I pulled out all the gingerbread houses Lance said, "But it's our tradition to decorate them when we stay up all night", which translates to New Years Eve, hah, He made me laugh.
I guess I might have to buy some more for our "tradition" (me laughing and smiling).

Flip to Fun-Schooling for High School using the Thinking Tree!!!

I'm so excited my daughter Annette is flipping to Fun-Schooling using the Thinking Tree journals and books.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
She has picked some of the more supplemental journals to use with Heart of Dakota. Right now she's still finishing some subjects from Hearts Through Him High School: World History. Once done which she estimates around CHRISTmas time she'll move onto U.S. History 1 also from Heart of Dakota.

Annette has picked out several but for this post I'll concentrate with the one she's using most right now. Once she starts U.S. History 1 she might not use the 10 Subject Portfolio very much. The reason she picked it for now is she LOVES the history pages. We are praying that Sarah will create the History Handbook and Portfolio which will be similar to the Science Handbook and Portfolio by the time she starts U.S. History 1.
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
What she is doing is loosely using the Heart of Dakota schedule. She reads the through People, Places, & Events World History text and because Annette is a what I call "digger" because she loves to dig deeper in her studies she reads from, From Adam to Us or the Mystery of History series. Now my younger boys, they (at their ages now, 16, 15, 13, & 12) just read the text, hurry and write something and move on (sad I know, sniff, sniff).
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
In fact I originally purchased the Portfolios for my boys but because they are "hurry-ers" ~ meaning they just want to get it done they work better using the Curriculum Journals.

Hey, that picture of the lady below looks familiar, bwahahaha. Funny. I looked at it and thought, hey, that looks like Hillary Clinton. I think it's great that Annette was listening to what Mrs. Hillary, President Obama, and President Elect Donald Trump were saying after the election and recorded it in her portfolio.
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
Annette loves the Who? What? When? Where? pages and has almost completed all the History pages in this portfolio so she may use the pages from the Business & Technology section or another section within the portfolio to complete the rest of her World History studies.
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
 She is also using the Literature section. Sometimes she'll do a character study or a character comparison. Other times she'll write a written narration. Then again she'll answer questions from her Heart of Dakota program but answer in written format instead of directly answering the question.
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
 I love how she has really made this work for her. She takes her time writing and illustrating what she has learned.
10 Subject Portfolio by The Thinking Tree
This is one way we are using the Thinking Tree's 10 Subject Portfolio with a high schooler. The 10 Subject Portfolio was originally created for the younger students (but all ages/grades can use it). Annette chose this one over the 12 Subject Portfolio because she noticed it has more History pages.

Blast Off to Reading (Review)

Blast of to Reading by Reading Specialist of Long Island uses 50 Orton-Gillingham based lessons for struggling readers and those with dyslexia.
The recommended age is 7-13. This is in full color. If you have an older child you may want to try this one. It has less color for a more "mature" look. I have a video at the bottom of this review comparing the two.

This phonics program is meant for the parent to be involved and work with the child. It is not a hand-to-your child to complete on their own type workbook.
Blast of to Reading lessons consist of 2-4 pages sometimes 5 depending on the lesson. Each lesson usually consist of a new topic. Your child will review a list of words and sentences and then complete some exercises.

Starting with lesson three at the end of the lesson you are instructed to do dictation. All the dictation passages can be downloaded and printed at the Reading Specialist of Long Island website. What's neat is it's all on audio as well, so you can simply hit play!
Although it is suggested to work at your child's pace for 30-45 minutes, the lesson is not meant to be completed in one sitting. With that said, if your child is older like mine (12 years) it is okay and will happen. Especially with the short two page lessons. You know your child and know what's best the main thing is to work at their pace.
Not all of the 30-40 minutes will be in the book. You are encouraged to play games with your child all provided for free at Blast off to Reading or you may purchase physical games as well. Choose online games or download for print-at-home games like the Monster Phonics card game.

Flash cards are free too! You can purchase a set as well but there are more in the FREE version. I myself prefer to purchase and did so.
This is a complete reading program for your child so again, go at your child's pace. If he needs to spend time parked at a lesson that's okay. Play the fun games and let him enjoy the process of learning to read.

The Blast off to Reading book includes the instructions at the beginning of the book. This program is meant for a variety of ages, if you have an older student there are more word lists in the back of the book.

Several features that I would love to see is an answer key and if the book used the Dyslexie Font. The Answer Key can be found on their website which you can download.

Take a peek at the video below to compare the two books and see the pages. The Blast off to Reading website has a lot of sample pages as well.

My Final thoughts: A great value for what you receive and the company is very generous with offering free online games. Usually you need a code to access the extras or have to pay for them so I thought it was just super that you don't need to pay extra for those.

The pages are fun but not overwhelming. I know some kids get distracted with colorful pages, so this program has the right mix. Fun but yet it doesn't take over the pages.

Visit From My Sis!

My sister MaryEllen came for a visit. It was totally a God thing because she was here on business and it so happened that she normally would have worked Friday but didn't because it was Memorial Day. Meaning she could come with us to see Josh on Advancement Day  from ALERT Academy. We were all so excited.

She arrived Saturday and was able to stay the weekend with us. Monday Lupe and I dropped her and Annette off in Fort Work at the Hilton. Annette stayed with her from Monday-Thursday. Thursday night we picked them both up.

Friday-Sunday she stayed with us. Friday going to the ALERT campus to see Josh. We stayed overnight renting three dorm rooms (wish I would have taken pics). We came home Saturday and dropped MaryEllen off at the airport on Sunday. It was sad to see her go. BUT, we made the most of her stay.

Since she was here for a quick visit, we had to hit all the coffee shops in one day!
Our first stop was Shoemaker & Heardt Coffee Shop. A place that sells antiques, gag gifts, and other fun stuff (like the Elf on a Shelf, bwahahaha!). This was our first attempt to take a selfie of us. It was hard. We look like we are peeking into a window, haha.
 Next stop was Coffee Connection. It was literaly down the street from the first coffee house so we just walked there. We both ordered an iced coffee. The one pictured is MaryEllen's mine had cream. We actually met up with my brother so it was the three of us.
Later around 4:30 P.M. my dad dropped us off at a Starbucks that is a few minutes from Lupe's work. Lupe and I were going to take MaryEllen and Annette to Fort Worth. I was all coffee'd out and ordered a Passion Tea. My sis ordered some sort of Peach Tea, and Annette a Frap.

My sis totally beat me with the whole coffee thing. Boy can she drink her coffee. I use to but can't drink cup after cup anymore. So I made her the #1 Coffee Drinker award and bought her a pretty mug/cup from Starbucks with Texas on it. She REALLY liked it.

It was so nice having my sis here for the week even though she had to go to work. Thankfully it was only three days.

He Made It!

Look who made it through the nine weeks of ALERT Academy!!!
Lupe and I are so very proud of Joshua. This was not easy. He had to learn to rely on his squad and they on him. Learning to work together was key or else they could or would be dropped (50+ push-ups) or worse what they called 'smoked' and you didn't want to be smoked with all the intense exercises and drills that come with it.

Josh even showed us a log that a team/squad would have to carry around to learn teamwork. Thankfully Joshua had an awesome team where all the guys worked together.
 Week 3 ~Honor Squad.

His squad worked so well together that they were the Honor Squad for the whole time. I thought that was huge and it says a lot about their character.

When we first got there we could see Josh but not talk to him. I cried. It was so good to see him.
I just stared at him because it was all I could do. I couldn't call out to him. I'd have loved to run up to him and give him a hug but that would not be a good idea ;)

We got to see a skills demonstration. Each Squad had a certain skill to demonstrate. ALERT stands for Air ~ Land ~Emergency Resource Team so the skills they are learning are how to serve, rescue, and help others in an emergency whether it be from fire, flood, or just someone needing help. They will know how to respond.

ALERT Academy men are deployed when help is needed from something like a national disaster. They have been called locally for help to as far as Greece!

Below is part of the obstacle course Joshua had to go through.

He had to memorize 1 Peter and recite it at Advancement Day.

Lupe and I are so proud of Joshua. He set his mind with completing ALERT and he did it (with the help of lots of prayers from family, friends, our church family, and many of you all whom I've not even met, so thank you so much!)

 We didn't receive a call asking to come home and I'm so thankful for that because my mama heart would have really hurt with saying, "No,you can't come home."

We are so thankful to Jesus that he memorized 1 Peter. We are so thankful that Josh has grown so much in his relationship with Christ. We see him maturing in so many ways.

It was a tough nine weeks not only for Josh but me, his dad, I know his siblings missed him. It was like boot camp for this mama. Just knowing that he was going through so much without us! It was hard.

50 young men to start their journey. One that will be life changing and that won't be soon forgotten.

Week 1
First Physical Training Test

Week 1 was the Navigational hike

Week 2, I think they did a micro hike which was an hour one. Each hike doubled. They started with the 1hr. then 3hr, 6hr, 12hr, and the 24 hour Endurance hike.

Week 3 was the 6 hour hike.

Week 3, I think it was propelling and things like rock climbing and such.
During the Unit’s Third Week of Training the men participated in Ropes and Knots training, Rappelling, Rocking Climbing, River Crossing, and their Six Hour Hike. The Unit Guidon was also handed out this week with Recruit Josiah Moy of Zulu squad being chosen as Guidon bearer.
Joshua was on Zulu Squad.

My happy guy ~ always smiling for the camera.
The smiles really helped me through the 9 weeks!

Week 5 was Survival Week.

The 24 hour endurance hike, oh my! I can't even imagine. Josh said it was so painful at times. His legs burned and he wanted to quit but his fellow recruits encouraged him on. It was wonderful to hear how the young men encouraged each other and prayed for one another.
Week 6 was the Endurance Hike a 24 hour ~56 mile hike.
In most ALERT Basic Training units, one or more recruits will drop out of the Endurance Hike, usually due to fatigue or a prior injury. But when Unit 56 completed their hike early this morning, EVERY MAN MADE IT!!! Well done!!! Many thanks to everyone who prayed for us throughout this challenge, especially the ALERT Moms prayer loop!

Week 7 was Navigational/Medical Drill week. Not exactly sure what it was called.
The Unit was put to the test last week with a nighttime evolution where the men were required to navigate across campus finding gear to rescue a "victim" lost in the woods. This evolution requires the men to utilize many of the skills that they've learned up to this point, and can take anywhere from 8 to 15 hours to complete.

During this week of training the Unit will be put to the test as they are given different scenarios to practice and hone all of the skill they have learned up to this point in Basic Training.

Week 8

Week 9
Unit 56's final hurdle of Basic Training is known as the Criterion. A 24 hour long event where the Unit is divided into six different teams and given Nine different evolution's to complete within that time frame. Team FOX ended up wining with a total time of 23:16.

He made it!
Little brother & big brother.

Just Rambling

I'm enjoying my morning cup of java made with butter, MCT Oil, and gelatin powder. It taste so yummy. I am finally at the point where I don't need to sweeten it at all. Yay! It took long enough, haha. It was so hard chasing after that real sugar sweetened taste. As much as I love Stevia it just wasn't the same. I tried exylitol and xylitol too but again it just wasn't there.
I got this really good quality mug free when I took the kids to downtown trick-or-treating. I love it! It's not a cheap one but heavy duty. Nicer than some mugs I paid for. And actually it was only Lance I took this year. He dressed as an Army guy.

Annette, Caleb, and Brent went with out church AWANA youth leader to pass out tracts. I love seeing them grow up and do things like this.

Joshua is completing his 8th week at ALERT. I'm so excited to know I'll be seeing him. As much as I loved my two scheduled phone calls and once a week letters it's not the same as being 'free' to call, text, skype, or email back and forth.
Joshua is in the back row second. Lupe and I booked a private dorm room on the ALERT campus in Big Sandy TX. We paid for our non refundable meals and are ready to see our son. I know he's going to come back a different young man. I know he's matured A LOT. I know his walk with God has gotten deeper and I'm so thankful for that. I miss him but wouldn't change what he's gone through for anything. I know he misses us and our emails are a lifeline for us. He's mentioned a few times in his letters to keep the emails coming.

I can't believe this was taken in 2013. How I wish I would have done this every year. My Annette is now in 11th grade, wow! I remember Ethan didn't want to smile. I don't know why but he didn't. I do remember that it was about that time he started becoming camera shy. Mentioning things like "you're not putting that on your blog" type comments. Even now when I bring out the camera to take a picture of his work he scoots back.
Speaking of homeschooling, now that the kiddos are getting older I don't know where this blog is heading. My post are more few and far between because I just don't have anything to say these days. The kid's schooling isn't 'fun' anymore. No crafts or colorful workbooks to share. That's why most of my post have been about The Thinking Tree (my new babies, lol).
My latest favorites ~pocket sized journals or smaller ones. Annette and I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and I bought this little basket for $4.99 to put my little journals in on my nightstand.I still need to add a few pens. Maybe I'll get another one to keep all my writing goodies in like gel pens, crayons, colored pencils, and a fine tip pen.

Wordless Wednesday ~Silly Lance