Friday, September 19, 2014

Appointment Time: At the Dentist

I think Gess has to be the only kid I know that just loves going to the dentist. We got our appointment reminder in the mail which was a little clock with a smiley face saying it was your appointment time! Gess read that card and went around telling everyone that on September 9th she was going to the dentist. She was super excited!

As it turns out her teeth are great and she has no cavities. Her 12 year old molars and in and guess what? She is 12 so that is good!  She really follows directions and takes great care of her teeth!


Last year at this time I reminded you of some resources we used to teach these skills. Be sure to check that out so your child can also have great results at the dentist!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: My Student Logbook

This year is bringing lots of change in our lives. My daughter, who as most of you know has Down syndrome, has entered the 6th grade! This transition is exciting, but also a little frightening. I am always trying to find ways to give her more independence and responsibility when she needs it, but I also need to be on top of what tasks she is doing. Thankfully my latest review introduced me to a tool that works beautifully to meet both of those needs.

My Student Logbook has come up with a simple, but thorough system of tracking your students work and activities throughout the day. This will not only help you keep them on task but it will allow you to track their progress and hours spent in each subject. This will come in handy when you have to make those transcripts that are necessary to get your child into college one day! Having all this information at your fingertips makes homeschooling record keeping a breeze! It also just helps you keep your child accountable in the day to day work, which is exactly what I used it for. For the purpose of my review I received the undated version of the My Student Logbook.


These actually have several colorful cover styles, but Gess is really into dinosaurs right now so she chose this one. There is a clear plastic outer cover to protect it from spills and tearing. Gess actually thought it was the cover and wrote her name on the plastic. I had to show her how to move it and actually write on the cover. It was too cute!

As I mentioned these are a great tool for tracking information and in the front of the book you will find directions on how to actually create a high school transcript. In the back of the book there are also sections to track other important information such as information about the student, prayers and goals, books read through the year, test scores, and a page for other related activities like field trips and presentations.

The middle section of the log book is for tracking when a lesson, chore, or other task has been completed. It's a simple check box system. When the task is done you mark it with an X or whatever mark you would like. I tried doing a check mark but Gess struggled with that. She had trouble making them to her satisfaction so we used an X. You can also have them record scores or other information in the box.

Since I am using this to give Gess more independence I only use it to track her homework assignments, chores, and a few other activities. The bulk of her schoolwork is tracked elsewhere. I had tried other methods of getting her to do unsupervised assignments but she would always forget and not get them done. With the My Student Logbook she has the accountability she needs in a format that is easy to use.

The set up is fairly easy. You make a check list that you can use for an indefinite period of time. I really like that because it saves you from having to rewrite the entire list week to week. The list is assembled as a flap and each week you just place your page under that flap. While it is handy to have the list stay consistent there are several master list pages so you can change it periodically. What is nice is that all the pages you used with each list remain under that list in a very organized fashion. It's hard to explain with words so let me show you.

When Gess completes a task she marks it in her book. Since several of her independent assignments are on the computer she keeps it on her computer desk.


The page will look something like this.


Now, when I am done with this week all I need to do is turn the page and place the new week under the flap on the left.


You can also see that under the flap is a place for notes. Monday of this week was labor day so I didn't have Gess do any tasks that day. I explained in my notes why. You can use that for all sorts of information.

Since our homework tasks sometimes vary I came up with a sticky note solution to help Gess remember what each assignment was. Over the homework worksheet blank, I will write specifically what subject that is.


If there is no assignment that day I color the box in rather than mark it with an X. However, I did catch Gess coloring boxes in when she didn't want to do her work so now I make sure we use different colored pencils. That way I know if it was really not a task or if she just didn't do it!  To make it fun, Gess chooses a different colored pencil each day and I stick with pens if I can.

Here is a short video that explains it really well.


This system has been a tremendous help and is very easy to use for both of us! When you have a child with special needs, easy is always a good thing. To make sure that Gess does not forget to check her list we have a system in place where she is not allowed to use any media until her work is done. She can take breaks from school work and play outside, build with legos, color, read, or many other fun activities but she gets no television, video games, or computer time until her work is completely finished. Whenever she asks, our first question is to check her log book! She pretty much knows to just do it first by now and having this visual reminder helps her keep on task without getting upset with me when I do say no. She sees that the reason the answer is no is because she has not completed her work.

You know, as mothers we have our own lists to remind us of tasks. I live by my calendar book and utilize chore and grocery lists. I think this logbook is a great way to introduce students to the same concept. As they say on the video, this system is automated because once you fill out the actual task list it pretty much just runs itself. That claim was pretty much proven to me because Gess adapted to this system fairly quickly and easily. The key is to have a place where it is kept in sight and have some accountability to make sure it is implemented.

While Gess has the system down you can see from some of the pages that she didn't always do every thing, every day. There are days where that happens and this book helps me to know when that happened and why. Sometimes it was not her fault. There were days spent at the hospital while my mom had surgery and other various activities that sometimes pulled us away. Other times though, Gess just didn't complete her list because she forgot or didn't care. It is nice to have this tool to know the difference so we can work on those goals. If she did them all the time anyway, we wouldn't need the book!

The My Student Logbook costs $15.00 each and comes in 3 different formats. They are dated by the school calendar from August to July, dated by the yearly calendar from January to December, or undated. I chose the undated version. They also offer dated versions in PDF. While you can use them with any grade they are geared for grades 2 and up. They are an excellent tool that I plan on using year after year.

To learn more about My Student Logbook visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Fun

We had our first official Co-Op on Friday. It went really well. Gess was included in everything and seemed to like her new friends. Our class was a lesson on where our money comes from, how it is minted, how it is protected and things like that. It was quite interesting. Then they painted self portraits during art.


I had a miserable day Saturday but was glad to get out of the house for awhile. Since I was not feeling 100% I decided to sit and watch while Gess and daddy played tennis. They played at the racquetball court so they wouldn't have to chase as many balls. Gess is getting so much better. She still is not up for any challenges, matches, or serious play, but then again neither are we!


Sunday I was feeling better and went to church. We get there early to help prepare some things and so I can drive the bus. When I went to fetch Gess I caught her playing Sunday School teacher. She was teaching her imaginary class about the Behemoth found mentioned in Job 40:15 which was probably a dinosaur! She had every Bible in the room open to the same chapter. It was too cute.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner

I think we are all familiar with daily planners but I bet you are wondering what 7 minutes has to do with it. Well, let me tell you about it. The 7 Minute Life is a time management and productivity company which offers tools to help moms organize their lives. They have a unique approach that I am sure many people will find helpful. One of the tools they offer to do this is The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner which I received for the purpose of my review.


The point of The 7 Minute Life time management system is to take at least 7 minutes to organize and plan your activities for the day. It sounds simple enough and yet so often we aren't willing or simply don't think about taking the time to do it. It is, however, a little more complex than that.

At the beginning of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is a very detailed guide about The 7 Minute Life time management system. It explains how it works, how to implement it, how to use the planner each day, and how it will benefit you. While the goal is to utilize your 7 minutes on a daily basis, the beginning takes a lot more time than that. Of course anything useful will take some time and study. While the information in the book was very thorough they also have some videos offered on their website that are extremely helpful as well. I really suggest utilizing all the tools before you begin.

After you read how to utilize the system you still have some prep work to do before you are ready to begin. This was my favorite part of the planner. There are several areas in the front of the book where you work on prioritizing your life and discovering what your purpose is. They define purpose as what you do for others and how you use your gifts and talents to change the world. Love then is the foundation of your purpose. Next you write down what you think your purpose in life is. I found that tough at first. I have never before sat down and thought about what my purpose was, other than to bring glory to God of course. But to expand on how I would do that was very challenging.

Once you have it written down you step back and look more closely at it focusing on words that stand out to you. These become your purpose words. Some of mine were "every day, honoring, service, compassion, and love." The things I loved were "God, family, church, the Bible, writing, teaching and learning." They also have a neat check list to help you learn what your priorities really are. These are not simply what you think they should be, but what truly is important to you. Where you focus your time and energy are good clues!

There are several more areas to explore before you begin such as Your Highest and Best which look at the best use of your time and your Mental Clutter. Then you work out some 90 day goals for your personal time, work, finances, and life. Beyond all that they have some other handy tools like a master grocery list, home repair contact list, a place to list all of your connections for home or work, annual projects tasks, and so much more.

While this is a daily planner there are also yearly, 90 day, and monthly calendars included. The daily section is divided into individual days with several areas of focus laid out for you. They call this your daily progress report and planning that out the day ahead is where your 7 minutes comes in. Of course that is an average of the time it will take to do that. Some days may take more, others less, but that is the idea. Here is what the first page of the daily section looks like.


The other page has a place for appointments, thank you notes, a place to jot down your voice mail and an open section for notes. My favorite part about the daily progress report was the place to keep up with my exercise, daily bible study (reflection), reading, and nutrition. These are tools I use to watch my health anyway, so having that there was great. The rest of it, well, I really had a hard time adapting to it as my life is not as busy and connected as a working mom, or even a mom who lives in a big city. Our rural life is kind of settled. Others might find it dull and boring, but I find it fulfilling although pretty routine oriented.

The 5 before 11 is a place to write down 5 things you want to get done before 11:00 a.m. As a homeschool mom, I pretty much do the same things every day before 11. Outside of school work all I had time for was my bible study and exercise which I generally do anyway.

The huge list of Daily Contacts was way too large for me, so I instead used it to list people I prayed for. I did try to utilize the 7 minute life contacts to remind me to take time for friends each day. I did things I always wanted to do but never seemed to get around to. I sent out a few cards, made a couple of phone calls just to say hi, and even made time to invite a friend out to dinner. That section really did make a difference for me.

The Unfinished Tasks and the check box at the bottom that read, "Did I do what I said I would do today?" were more discouraging to me than helpful. Maybe I didn't do what I said, but what I did do was important too. It all goes back to the priorities I guess, but in my case I was trying to utilize aspects on the page that didn't necessarily match my list, but felt was necessary simply because it was on the page.

I also had trouble focusing on the day to day. I am always thinking ahead and never really adjusted at only looking at what I do today. This day, and this day only. As I mentioned before, my days are already pretty much routine so besides reminding me of chores and regularly scheduled activities it sort of felt pointless. I also didn't use many of the other calendar sections because they were so small. They were too small to put everything on one page and the daily things were too large that it made it seem wasteful. I guess I need something more in between. I did at least learn a lot from the program itself, but the book just doesn't help me implement my personal goals. Of course working mom's, those who have a home business, or even homeschool mothers with more kids at home than I have might find this way more beneficial than I did.

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner sells for $24.95. You can learn more about it and even watch some of their videos by visiting their website. You might also want to see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought it by clicking on the banner below.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Art Musuem

Gess has been taking oil painting lessons so when my son wanted to show us around the art museum on campus last week, I was thrilled.


As we walked through gallery Gess was interested in about every piece of art.


She was, however really drawn to the paintings. I didn't take many pictures because I wanted to just enjoy the experience. However, there were a couple that really drew drew her attention so I took a shot of them. Knowing my daughter's love for weather and meteorology can you see why she got excited about this painting?


But around the corner we found one that she liked even better. She declared that this one below was indeed her favorite.



Is think this will give her new perspective as she makes her own paintings. She actually has painted clouds before. Below is an original Gess painting. I love her clouds!




Friday, September 5, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Under Drake's Flag

Don't you just love a good adventure? I certainly do! Thanks to my recent review of Heirloom Audio Productions I have an exciting one to tell you about! Their Under Drake's Flag audio drama is a captivating way to immerse yourself in the compelling story of Sir Francis Drake.


I love audio books and dramas because they help my daughter improve her auditory processing skills. Since she has special needs, that is something important to us. However, I was blown away at just how good this particular drama was. It was definitely professionally done and executed perfectly. My whole family was engaged in the entire story. I could listen to it again and again!

Under Drake's Flag is based upon the novel by G.A. Henty. His story of Sir Francis Drake is compelling for many reasons, but mostly because through it you learn real life lessons in character, courage, faith, and commitment which comes from a belief in the God of the Bible.

The story begins in England with two modern day boys, Ned and Gerald, who are studying Sir Francis Drake in school. One is anxious to get to his studies, while the other would rather be playing cricket. These two friends happen upon a gentleman that offers to share a story about the captain and two boys who happen to also be named Ned and Gerald.

Ned and Gerald end up having the same characteristics in the story as they do in the opening. It is fun to listen to them interact. Their personalities are completely opposite and yet they get along so well. The way they define history is a great example.

Ned defines history as: "dead men and dates."
Gerald defines history as: "the parade and pageantry of daring and decadence, of dreams and defeat, brightening and bridging the eons of time!" 

You get a sense through the whole program that Gerald has a tendency to go on and on about a topic while Ned is a man of fewer words. You will often hear Ned asking Gerald "are you quite finished now?" To which Gerald will respond, "No, but that will do for now."

In this story these two lads end up having quite the adventure along side the "dreaded English privateer, Sir Francis Drake" as well as without him. Even when the captain is not with them, they strive to be like him and remember all that they learned from him. They find themselves in many adventures both at sea and on shore, in storms and in battle. They even end up before the Grand Inquisitor during the Spanish Inquisition!

I won't spoil more of the story for you but simply compel you to listen to it. It is truly an enjoyable adventure full of suspense, intrigue, humor, and good sense.

You also get the Under Drake's Flag Study Guide which has a few colorful illustrations, lots of questions for further study, and three Bible study segments. You get a booklet with the physical CD that has some of the information in it, but if you download the E-Study Guide you get a whole lot more. As a homeschooler I love tools like this that help me study the story more completely.


They warn you that the questions are in depth and will require listening to the story more than once to answer them all. These go beyond checking comprehension. They really make you think about the lessons the story has to teach us. We first listened to the entire audio drama and then went back and listened to one segment at a time. I would stop and ask the questions that were from that section. Since the pages are so graphical I didn't print them off but merely read them aloud and then discussed them. With my daughter having Down syndrome I felt discussion, rather than writing was the best way to get the most out of it.

We then went on a road trip and listened to the entire story again. You gain so much more from listening to it in its entirety after having examined it bit by bit. There is so much there that everyone needs to learn, both children and adults. I highly recommend it to everyone!

I am looking forward to more great dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions. They hope to be releasing In Freedom's Cause in the fall. It is the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. I can't wait to experience it!

The Under Drake's Flag audio drama CD set sells for $29.95 and is geared for ages 6 to adults. I do believe the entire family will enjoy the adventure as they did such an incredible producing it. To learn more about Under Drake's Flag visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another College Campus Visit

Gesserine's brother is now attending his third college. At first he went to the junior college in town, then he went on Fort Hays State University to earn his bachelor's degree. Now he is attending grad school at Kansas State University. We took Gess to see him this weekend and he showed her around campus. She really does want to go to college someday "like Tim." He is a great example to her!

Here are a few shots of us on campus and having lunch at Aggieville. We ate at the Keltic Star and enjoyed some traditional Irish food. Gess tried lamb for the first time and seemed to enjoy her lamb slider, but she did have to dip it in ketchup because she didn't care for the pesto they put on it. I had a traditional shepherds pie which included lamb as well which was very good. We also enjoyed Irish Soda Bread with a truly "awesome sauce."


Our family is not very sports oriented and I felt like we were the only ones in town not wearing purple. It was in fact opening day of football season. I will have to grab me a shirt before my next visit!  Here is the logo for the K-State Wildcats.


We also visited the on campus art museum. I will share more about that later in the week. It really was a great experience. I am proud of Tim and wishing him the best!

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