Tuesday, October 27, 2009

bible timeline

bibletimelinesmall.jpg picture by homeschoolcrew

Timelines are straight lines, right? I have to admit, I am still figuring out the complexities of the Amazing Bible Timeline that TOS Crew members were asked to review. I find something new every time I look at and I suspect that won’t change in the near future. This is truly unlike any timeline I have ever seen and it takes a great deal of time just to begin to take it in. That is not a criticism, just an observation about how incredibly detailed it is.

This timeline has a unique layout that makes sense once you figure it out. (You must look at it online to understand what I am talking about. Trust me.) The coolest thing about the layout is that it correlates the Bible to what was happening elsewhere in the world, providing a grounding and historical placement for stories that can seem abstract in the study of history. The marketers of the timeline say it “gives a whole world view of God’s plan.” I can see that. :)

More information: The original chart was complied in 1931 and was updated in 1971 and 2000. This company sells both the version I received and an LDS version and it appears there may be some overlap. I am not going to dissect that issue here, but if it is an issue for you, you may want to read the authors’ take on the subject. As with everything else in our homeschool, I use what fits and I disregard what doesn’t. The timeline sells for $29.97 and on a practical note, this thing is huge, about 3’ x 4’. We have ours on the wall, but you should consider the size when purchasing. (But I imagine it’s hard to put the history of the world in a condensed format, so there you go.) The timeline includes some additional items available via download, including interactive maps of the Holy Land, a digital timeline and the genealogy of Jesus (very cool).

The best way to know if this works for your family is to go take a look. I think it’s an interesting addition to our world history study.

Monday, October 26, 2009

back from the woods

Our family served at Cub Scout camp this weekend. Spending the weekend at camp kind of gets me over the knowledge that winter follows fall. Kind of.



(Pardon the unmade bed.)






The trees were more beautiful than I have ever seen. 




I found this hot guy on the trail.



sue patrick’s workbox system

bookforwebsitejpgw300h232.jpg image by homeschoolcrew

Unless you homeschool in a cave (do you homeschool in a cave?), you have probably heard of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System – a structured method for parceling out the school day in plastic shoeboxes. Actually, that’s just a small part of it, but it is at the core of the system. It’s as hot as Cabbage Patch Kids circa 1986, but with less dolls and more math and science.

Patrick asked the TOS Crew to review her e-book which details the process. I was skeptical because I thought the system was for young and/or special needs children, but it really has helped our school day run smoother. I can only speak to how this works in my situation – one child, who can work fairly independently – but the system was developed to help Patrick’s son who is on the autism spectrum. As such, it implements several techniques used in therapies for kids with autism spectrum disorders. However, those techniques can apply quite handily to other children as well.

Patrick is fairly adamant that her system of plastic shoeboxes on a rack works best. I don’t know many homeschoolers who use anything straight out of the box (no pun intended) without tweaking it to suit their family. We’re crazy rebels that way, you know. Obviously, the system Patrick details in her book works best for her family and many others who follow it precisely. We use our own method based on Patrick’s system which works beautifully for us. I encourage you to read the book and not just rely on the information available online – but after doing so, you may find that some elements of the system are adaptable depending upon your needs. Some elements (clocking in and out of the school day, for instance) have been entirely unnecessary for us. (Our homeschool is more home-like than school-like, but it works well for us.) But dividing the day into manageable chunks? For that, Patrick has my thanks. The system has given us more organization and has given my son personal satisfaction and encouragement.

This system can be used with any curriculum choice and any grade level. Patrick sells the book alone, supplies or complete starter kits. For details about the system, this presentation says it best – in Patrick’s own words. Sample pages are available here. The books itself is a quick read, but really does explain Patrick’s methods and the reasoning behind them. Patrick’s site also includes pictures that will give you a good idea of the physical structure she recommends. A terrific interview with Patrick is online at Love to Know.

If you choose to buy Patrick’s book and give the system a try, there are many online communities that offer “workboxing” suggestions, including units adapted to the system. If you need more organization in your school day, I encourage you to give it a try. As with most everything else in our homeschool, we have implemented the parts that work best for us and chosen not to use other elements, but I am pleased with the results.

If you’re curious, here’s a look at part of our workbox corner which sits atop a bookshelf. (We use a combination of plastic drawers and boxes to accommodate materials of various sizes. And we use Star Wars box numbers courtesy of the workboxes Yahoo group. Awesomeness.) My son brings completed materials to a plastic tub near my desk. He is free to work at a desk, on the floor, on the couch, at the computer, etc. It works for us. :)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

vintage swap 2009

A package from sweet Anie:




Many thanks to Heather at Shivaya Naturals for hosting Vintage Swaps 2009.

And a sneak peek:





Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

sarah’s wish

SarahsWish-BookCoverjpg.jpg image by homeschoolcrew


If there’s a nicer person out there than Jim Baumgardner, please let me know. My son is reading Jim B.’s first book, Sarah’s Wish, and listening to the MP3 of the audio book as well. The book was written for Jim’s grandchildren, but has turned into an ongoing passion as well as a ministry. Jim looks like a Wild West movie grandpa. He is – but without the movie (so far). A fan of “High Noon” and Zane Grey novels, he lives near the old Chisholm Trail in Wichita, Kansas, and volunteers at the Old Cowtown Museum, playing the part of the town’s barber. Very cool.

But his book goes back a few generations – quite a few – to the days of his Great, Great Grandfather, a time when young people faced the trials of their time (a peck of troubles), including dangers unheard of today and challenges far beyond their years. Saving lives by moving “packages” along the Underground Railroad? Uh, huh.

The dialect in the book may be difficult for some young readers and I do believe it should be discussed with children in the context of the abhorrence of slavery, but Jim B. interweaves history lessons that should not be forgotten with a subtext of God’s hand in the lives of every child.

I get a good report from the boy on this one and he isn’t easy to please. This is the first in a series. So far, Jim has published three “Sarah” books, with a fourth coming soon. I believe we will be back for a second helping.


Sarah’s Wish includes a free download of the audio book.

If you homeschool, Mr. Baumgardner has a special site just for you. Also, he sent us a copy of Sarah’s Wish as part of the TOS Crew. If you want to order books at a discounted rate, just email him at JBaumgardner3@cox.net and ask. He will send you a special order form for TOS Crew readers. Enjoy!

big light


(Gary Fan 6/15/92 - 1 0/19/09. Photo “borrowed” from some kid on Facebook – sorry about that, but really, it’s a perfect photo. Taken on tacky day, hence the outfit, a few days before Gary’s accident.)

Southside High School (Greenville, SC) students, teachers and parents are mourning a wonderful young man. Please remember his family and friends in your prayers. Here’s a terrific story about the team of which Gary was, and my daughter is, a part.

(This story is no longer online but originally appeared at greenvilleonline.com.)

Southside High's forensic team uniquely unified

Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - 2:00 am

By Katherine Dyer
City People Writer

Spend an hour with core members of the Southside High School Forensics team, and ready or not, aware of it or not, you'll inevitably encounter the source of the team's strength.

It's the reason behind the confidence they have as individuals and competitors, the reason they say other teams are drawn to them during down-time at tournaments, and the reason they endured weather “hot enough to boil Oodles of Noodles” in un-airconditioned Birmingham, Ala., classrooms for a weekend in June.

It's also the reason for their incessant, tag-team banter and how they know each others' favorite songs and whose dance moves would – could – should? – be retooled as torture techniques.

Simply stated, they're a family.

“I mean,” Andre Sullivan, a rising senior, tosses out slyly, “I think you can tell we all look alike.”

(They don't.)

Ultimately, though, this bond is also the reason for the large silver trophy sitting triumphantly on the focal fold-out table between them. (It should be noted here that the trophy was also safety-buckled in the front seat of Coach Erickson Bynum's car en route to the meeting.)

By no means the team's first honor, this National School of Excellence Award from the 2009 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham distinguishes Southside as one of only 25 of the 900 participating teams nationwide to demonstrate specific, high levels of performance at the competition.

It's no surprise. This year, the team also claimed the Overall State Championship award for the first time in five years, defeating schools from A-AAAA classifications, and was named the 2009 National Forensic League S.C. District Sweepstakes Champions at the district tournament for the second year in a row.

“This may honestly be the most talented group of people not only in the Southeast, but also across the nation,” admits 2009-grad Rickey Pulley of his teammates.

“We're kind of like the TV show ‘Diff'rent Strokes,” he offers. “We've got people from every different nationality, but we all found a common ground.”

That ground is speaking as a form of art.

And while they each have unique specialties, Coach Erickson Bynum, himself a Southside Forensics team alumnus, fosters the team's unique unity by encouraging the students to participate in events outside their realms of talent. He also provides them a high level of self-governance, which promotes mentoring amongst teammates.

“I love the fact that they're constantly trying to make themselves better,” Bynum says.

“I think that what makes our team so successful,” explains Blair Brewer, a rising sophomore specializing in public forum debate, “is the fact that we have different people from different backgrounds and different walks of life, and that Mr. Bynum is able to unite us all. It creates this sort of unity of ideas.”

“Other teams act as corporations,” reveals 2009-grad Jared Marr, “whereas with us, it's family and self-betterment first.”

“And if we win a trophy along the way,” he adds (they have a whole display case full), “that's great, that's wonderful. But the primary thing is to encourage each other, which usually results in us doing better anyway.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

i am going to need an apple reservation


When an apple orchard is featured in Travel and Leisure, everybody shows up. It was wild at our usually semi-quiet apple picking spot, but I am glad the farmers are getting such a good response. (And selfishly, I wanted to yell, “Where did you people come from? Shoo! Step away from the Mutsus.”)

The visit left me feeling fallish:






What a face:


a home(school)-based business

How cool is this? Virginia Soaps and Scents sent samples of soaps to TOS Crew members for review. (Alliteration not included.) The company is owned and operated by a homeschooling family and it resulted from a unit study on colonial life in Virginia. It was, according to the Spargur family, to be a one-time project, like the time we made butter here in our homeschool. (We may or may not have done that more than once and I may or may not have licked the spoon.)

In any event, the family makes bath soap with olive and coconut oils that are wonderfully scented. The boy even likes them, which says a lot when soap gets approval from an 11-year-old. I have been using the shampoo bar, which seems to have a similar cleaning property as the baking soda and vinegar wash I tried earlier this year. (I loved the way it made my hair feel and I loved not using commercial shampoo, but the baking soda was terrible on my hands. No eczema issues with the shampoo bar.)

Picture64.png image by homeschoolcrew

I also received a sample size of the Spargurs’ laundry soap kit. I will be asking a friend to try that one because the grated cleaning bar included in the kit is lard-based. This vegetarian can’t quite get past that, but as always, YMMV. I can tell you that my own use of soap/washing soda/borax for laundry is something I will use until the end of time or until someone else washes my clothes. (I think the end of time will probably come first.) If the lard doesn’t bother you and you want to try making your own laundry soap with the ease of a kit, this may be something that interests you.

The company also makes beeswax lip balm, all-in-bars (for camping and travel) and an unscented line for my fellow allergic peeps.

VSS now has holiday soaps available, including pumpkin spice scent (made from real pumpkin and cinnamon). Yum. If I buy that one and I smell like pumpkin pie, will that make me eat less at Thanksgiving?


Soaps are $4.50 each, 3 for $12 and 10 for $35. A regular-sized laundry soap kit is $4.95 and makes two gallons of gel – enough to wash 64 – 72 loads.

and now i want wool roving

I have a stack of felted wool sweaters that I plan to make into a blanket (and maybe socks, but that’s a long story), so I was very excited to see “Rainbow Sheep” in my inbox. Yes, it’s a children’s book and a really sweet one at that, but following the story are several pages of felting instructions from author and fiber artist Kim Chatel. Very cool.

rainbowsheepcvr-2X100.jpg image by homeschoolcrew

Guardian Angel Publishing sent several e-books to TOS Crew members for review. Two books I received are for wee littles: “Rainbow Sheep’ and “Maybe We Are Flamingos.” While they are gorgeous (“Rainbow Sheep” is illustrated with fiber art from Chatel) and well done, I am a bit old fashioned about children’s books. I still like to hold them in my hands and save the pdfs for the older kids. (Guardian Angel books are available in paperback – I just received pdfs to review.) However, several Guardian Angel books, including “Maybe We Are Flamingos” are available as iPhone (or iPod) apps. Sounds like a lifesaver for those “waiting” moments at the doctor or the auto repair shop when you need something to distract little ones. (E-books are also significantly less expensive than printed versions and that may make a difference in your choice of format.)

We also received several books for older kids, including “Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair,” “Earthquake,” and “No Bones About It.” The books seem to be representative of the broad range offered by Guardian Angel. All books are for ages 12 and younger and span a wide variety of topics. Illustrations, especially, seem to be of the highest quality. And there are freebies! The free downloads are a good way to explore the site and find some useful titles for your homeschool. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

525,600 minutes, give or take

I have a tendency to take pictures (really bad pictures) with my cell phone and then totally forget about them. How bad am I at this? Well, I downloaded today and it looks like it has been about a year since I last did so.

So here you go – a year in (really bad) pictures:

At Walt Disney World (where the heck was my camera?)


Waiting in line to vote


At the da Vinci exhibit


Fog (yes, I am weird that way)


Snow – and I am driving in it. And apparently taking pictures.


Handsome guy I’m having coffee with at the Inn at Biltmore


At the pool


Hey, the wedding rehearsal has started.


They sell these at Target. Really. I ask you, how could I not take a picture of this?


We are the only people at the pool. My toes, they are happy.


Listening to the iPod at church


These shoes are cute. Do you want them? They’re on sale. Text me fast. Love, Mom


By the end of summer, everyone else had given up.


There’s a story behind this one…


The force is with our dentist.


Friday, October 2, 2009

calling tasha tudor from the great beyond


I had an all out attack of the suburban homemaker crazies last week. I bought more tomatoes. Yeah, I know. And sweet potatoes.

Apples and pumpkins are next. I need an intervention.

master the sat

(Apologies for the long post, but this is good info.)

Ack. I am so ready for the SAT to be over. (Sorry, it’s the truth.) The PSAT is coming up in a couple of weeks, SAT is down the road just a bit. I had noted here that we were asked to review College Prep Genius’ Master the SAT program. Here’s what I have found so far:

  • The goal of this program is to help you score higher on the test and (hopefully) as a result, increase the availability of scholarship money. (Woot!) As such, this is about how to do better on the test – If you want a scholarly treatise, go elsewhere, but I think most of us with SAT-aged kids want a prep program that does just that: prepares them for the test.
  • The course is divided into sections – critical reading, math, writing – with time saving strategies for each.
  • The key component (for me) to this course is the strategy aspect. Much of the course is devoted to understanding the questions on the test and learning strategies, by way of acronyms, for answering them. (Notes can’t be taken into the testing area, of course, but students are encouraged to memorize the acronyms and then write them on the test booklet when the test begins.)
  • This course is comprehensive! The amount of information is designed to be absorbed a bit at a time, throughout high school. This is not a cram course. If you are cramming, you can certainly benefit from the information here, but it is best used over time. Scheduling bits here and there will definitely provide the most benefit.

My daughter is using the program to prepare for her first (and-wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-it-was-the-only) taking of the SAT. I can’t yet speak to the difference it will make in her score, but I can say with certainty that it will have her at ease when test day arrives. Knowledge of the unknown really is power and this program strips away the unknown of the SAT with great clarity. It gets to the meat of the test – what you will see on the page, how to read and understand the questions, what math terminology is key to doing well, and how to dazzle with a strong essay. It also includes information on obtaining scholarships and preparing for the college interview. (I never had a college interview. Did they even do that back in the day?)

Is the SAT about what you know? That’s arguable, of course, but I don’t want my daughter penalized because she knew the material but not the test – and there is a difference. Master the SAT definitely evens the playing field in that regard.

One additional note: If, like me, you took the SAT back in the day when we carved our answers on a stone tablet, the test is dramatically different now. Hang on to your hat. There is much to learn. :)

(As of this writing, the program, including textbook, workbook and set of four DVDs, is on sale for $79.)

For more information, here are author Jean Burk’s ten tips to increase your SAT score.

Waiting to take your first SAT in your senior year is a mistake! But sadly, many students start thinking about this important test in their last year of high school. Preparation is the key to conquering this right-of-passage for college applicants, and it needs to be treated with respect. Delaying the inevitable can add enormous stress to an already taxed final year—full of college searches, career decisions, and graduation. More than that, a good SAT score can have several great benefits, so it should not be put off or trivialized, but made a priority long before a student becomes a senior.

Here are ten tips that can help students prepare for the SAT:

1.) Make the SAT a priority; the right score not only means college entrance, but also could result in substantial scholarships to college.

At many universities, each department offers several full scholarships based on students’ abilities and their SAT scores. Many of these scholarships start with a score of around 1400 (math and verbal). So, make a game plan on how much time you will spend daily or weekly working on practice SAT questions and then stick to it.

2.) Learn the hidden patterns and tricks that the College Board likes to use on their tests.

The SAT has profiles of recurring patterns and hidden strategies in its problems that can be decoded. Students who learn these secrets will usually score higher on their SAT tests. Even smart students can do poorly on this test because they don’t understand how to take it.

Read more here.