Thursday, January 19, 2012

The boy.

I know I have written about Malcolm often. I promise it's not a favorite thing. I will however admit it is a first born thing. There is such a learning curve with him. There are always new firsts, often I am scrambling to evaluate, and to top it off, he is a boy. And that just overwhelms me at times. So I share things about him here. It helps me process, and gives someone the chance to offer me some sound advice. Or at least commiserate with me.

This is the boy I call my Man Child. Malcolm is 13 years old, and already far taller than me. He was hoping to be taller than his father by the new year, but just made it to the same height. His feet look like they belong to a full grown man, but he still has that boyish smile. He enjoys having younger siblings because that means he can still watch cartoons without embarrassment, and at the same time, raids his Grandfather's library of history and science books. These are those awkward years of the in between. And mostly, he is handling it all with grace and dignity. There are moments, however, that the dam breaks and the emotions run raw. It is in those times I am so lost.

So, we started a blog for him. He isn't a feeling kind of guy. He won't spill his guts. But it is a place for him to understand himself. For now, he is writing most of his school essays there. Giving some opinions on art. And the goal is for him to begin growing. As a writer, as a person. Being able to fit into those big shoes. To understand himself, and the people around him. So join the Son of the Preacher Man. It is a hard journey growing up, and he is just beginning. And join this Momma in prayer. For him, and for herself!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Maestro Classics

When our first child was born, we were braced for little sleep, topsy-turvy night schedules, and complete chaos.  But Malcolm was never that baby. He didn't get his days and nights mixed up, he would sleep for 4 to 6 hours a stretch at night, and surprised us all when he began sleeping through the night when he was 3 weeks old.  He was this mother's dream come true!  That is until he was about 4 months old. Then suddenly he couldn't go more than a couple of hours without Mom or Dad, fussing in his sleep even.  And all we had to do was go in his room, pat in on the back a little, speak soothing words, and he would settle down. Until the next time.  One night, when we were all exhausted and at wit's end, my husband marched in his room with radio in tow. He plugged it in, tuned it to a classical station, and left the room.  Malcolm was asleep in seconds, and slept soundly again. The classical station was chosen for it's lack of commercials or questionable lyrics, and the sweet babe was able to calm himself and go back to sleep on his own.

Photobucket It is now 13 years later, and we no longer have that radio in the room.  But that dear child still lists classical music as his favorite, and jumps at the chance to listen whenever he can.  We recently were introduced to a company named Maestro Classics, and I do believe they have a customer for life.  We listened to Swan Lake on a recent errand run around the city, and the kids and I were captured.  The music is of course, superb. But the narration was icing on the cake. Paulee, our four year old, still talks about the princess and wonders what it is like being a swan.
You can buy the CD for your family or an MP3 version. With the music, you also get a 24-page activity book, and a narrative about Tchaikovsky.  My children absolutely loved this. It is difficult to find things all the ages in our house will like. And Malcolm?  He is sleeping fine, and has downloaded the musical story to his MP3 player!


*I received this product for the purpose of review. All opinions stated are mine. For further reviews, please visit The Homeschool Crew Blog.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zeezok Publishing Review

We are huge movie watchers at our house. But we watch nearly all movies for shear entertainment value.  Rarely do we watch them for educational purposes.  As a homeschooling parent, that is something I would like to change this year in our home.  So I was excited when asked to review a movie guide for Zeezok Publishing.

Zeezok offers many different Z-Guides ranging from elementary levels to high school levels.  There are also many different movies available as well.  We were given the Luther guide to review, and so we found the movie and began our review.

We began with a pre-movie synopsis, that basically gets the child prepped for the show. Things for which they need to watch, what to expect, etc.  There are 10 different activities given to be accomplished over a week's worth of time.  There was activities regarding historical setting, research skills, writing skills, hands-on activity, a worldview study, critical thinking skills, and family discussion questions. There is also a section called The Filmaker’s Art activity that helps the student recognize the tools being used to influence the viewer.


*I was given a copy of this curriculum for the purpose of review only. All opinions are mine. For more reviews, please see The Homeschool Crew Blog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

REAL Homeschool Spanish


One of the areas I feel least confident in as a homeschooling parent is foreign language. I had two years of high school Spanish, but honestly, I just learned what I had to for the test. Plus that was ***** years ago. If you don't use it, you lose it. I was able to teach my Dad a funny line or two, and know just enough words to impress my sheltered children.

Because of this, I know that I will lean heavily on solid foreign language curriculum throughout school. Whatever my children learn, I will need to learn along side them.
R.E.A.L Homeschool Spanish, by Dr. Karen Williamson-Coria, is designed to teach Spanish to the whole family. The goal is to allow the parent to learn alongside the child. Created for use with multiple ages, the curriculum provides a flexible framework for foreign language learning.

Homeschool Spanish teaches practical Spanish vocabulary and language skills. The goal of the program is to enable you to incorporate Spanish throughout your day, with “Home Educator Tips” and “Ideas” to use Spanish in an immersion environment.  It is fun to point out words and phrases as we are about our day. And the kids always giggle when their Dad doesn't understand what they have said. And that gives them a chance to explain, which further solidifies their learning.

The unit lessons are made up of vocabulary clusters and phrases. There are a total of 33 vocabulary clusters and 15 sections of ideas (3-4 pages each). There are fun and practical ideas for incorporating Spanish into your day.

The company’s website has an excellent selection of online resources, including puzzles, games, songs, recipes, videos, history and culture, and much more. The activity sheets for each lesson make learning and reviewing the vocabulary and grammar fun. This, combined with the practical vocabulary and language selections of the lessons creates a great mix for learning the language.

Pronunciation is always difficult. How are we supposed to know how a different language is actually said?! The audio files were difficult for us. The lists were said very quickly, and it was hard sometimes to really understand exactly what was being said.  But if you have a little background in Spanish, I think you would be okay.

I have found that I struggle with downloaded curriculum.  I just need a book in front of me. But I don't know that I would spend the extra money for the hard copy.
Homeschool Spanish is available as a download or hard copy purchase:
You can purchase the program and read more about all it has to offer here.
You can also read more reviews at the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

Disclosure: I received the download package of Homeschool Spanish for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received, and the opinions expressed are my own.