Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Healthy...

Several years ago I lost quite a bit of weight. About 45 pounds to be exact. Unfortunately, I eventually went back to my old habit of eating whatever appeals, and not exercising enough to compensate. I started back on my healthy lifestyle choices last August, and lost 8 pounds. Then, late the night before we went on vacation to Florida, while carrying bags to the car, I fell down the stairs. After spending hours in the emergency room, I found that I had sprained my left ankle, and tore the ligament in my right. No broken bones though. Its been a VERY long recovery, and my ankle still bothers me daily. But, I'm finally getting back in the healthy groove.

So, here's my goal, and here's how I plan to accomplish it. I want to lose at least 50 pounds by my 43rd birthday in October. I've done the math and at a rate of 2 pounds per week, I could actually lose more like 60 in that time, but I'm allowing for the fact that I might not always lose those weekly 2 pounds. Besides, I'm realistic and don't honestly expect to ever reach my perfect body weight. I would be happy, no, make that ecstatic, to lose 50. So far, I've given up all carbonated sodas, made a point to drink mostly water, cut my portions, added lots of fresh fruit and veggies to my diet, walk on the treadmill at least 5 days a week, bike ride with my son, Adam, who is absolutely the best at begging me to ride our 3 mile neighborhood loop, and act like an idiot trying to follow along with my Zumba for Wii game. My kids get a big kick out of that last one, let me tell you!

So, I've told my family, my friends, and all of you out there in cyber world. I'm going to do it! I don't want to be fat anymore! Do me a favor and pray for my continued motivation and success.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Curriculum Choices

Yesterday I talked about math and why we are sticking with Saxon. Today I will touch on another favorite piece of curriculum that I have stuck with for the long haul... Story of the World. We started using this Haley's very first year as a homeschooler. No idea what prompted me to make my initial purchase, but its one I've never regretted. It might have been the glowing review in my ginormous Rainbow Resource catalog that never fails to enthrall me with all its awesome, homeschool goodies. Regardless, we are just about to finish the 2nd book in this series, and already have third sitting on my shelf ready to go for next year. Susan Wise Bauer truly brings history alive. She takes what I perceived as a dry, boring subject and makes it exciting and captivating. My kids will sit and listen to chapter after chapter without a complaint. It really does read like a story...hence the name.

Another huge part of the this curriculum that I love is the activity guide. Each chapter features maps, coloring pages, activities, narration activities, discussion questions and so much more. You can do as much or as little as you like. They also offer a test booklet which we used some the first year, but don't use any longer. Let me just say that I was amazed at how much my little 1st or 2nd grader retained and learned just from me reading a chapter out of a book. She's even retained that knowledge years later. She recently impressed the heck out of me during an episode of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader. She was able to recall many facts and names from our ancient history text.

So, if you're looking for a wonderful resource for history, something effective, yet easy to use, look no further than Story of the World.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Curriculum Choices

Its that time of year again...the time when I start thinking and planning for next year. In doing so, I thought I would share some of my favorite, no brainer, curriculum choices. Before I do so, let me just say that I am one of those people who loves trying different things. I'm always trying new products, ideas, and ways of teaching. There are only a handful of curriculum choices that I have stuck with and love from day one. This is not to say that I haven't tried to find something different, it just means that I have yet to find something that I like better. Because some of my ideas on certain curriculum choices could be quite extensive, I'll do this by touching on one product or subject per day. I'll start with my (and Haley's) least favorite subject...math.

Saxon Math - This is one area that I can say that I have explored extensively. You name it, we've tried it, seen it, heard about it, or currently own it. Here's just a few of the math programs we've tried: Horizons Math, Math U See, Teaching Textbooks, and Math Mammoth. No matter how good the program seems, or how much my kids liked or disliked it, we've always come back to Saxon. Why, you ask? Bottom works! It might not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other, fancier programs, but it has proven effective and solid in my household. I recently added the DIVE CD for Saxon 5/4 to our math lessons, and so far we're loving it. I looked at both the teacher CD's that Saxon offers and the DIVE CD's, and chose to go with DIVE. I really like the fact that he explains it in his own way. He uses different examples from those found in the text. The Saxon CD's are just going over exactly what's in the text itself. I can do that. The DIVE CD's are using the same method's but different problems. This way we can read over the lesson in the book, listen to the DIVE CD lesson, and then work through the problems. Its just an additional tool that works great for auditory or visual learners. It has greatly reduced the complaining about math in my home!

In summary, Saxon is a well rounded, solid, proven, spiral method of teaching math. I feel it prepares them well for standardized testing, which some of the others don't in my opinion. I've heard people complain about the extensiveness of the lessons. In the K through 3 program, we simply skipped portions of it. I never did the daily meetings, the second worksheet, and skipped anything my kids were already proficient in doing. This really cut down the time it takes to complete the lessons. Keep in mind, nobody is policing really don't have to do everything in the lessons. Some people try to do everything and burn out quickly. The teacher text is a guideline...not something you have to complete and do from cover to cover. So, even though we've looked and tried so many math programs, we're sticking with Saxon. Next year we'll be doing Saxon 6/5 and most likely using the DIVE CD's again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Time 4 Learning

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

All About Spelling/All About Reading Giveaway!

Having personally used All About Spelling, I can attest to the fact that this product works.  By now, you'd just about have to live under a rock to have not heard something about it.  Its simple, effective, and guaranteed to teach the teacher something new as well!  Better yet, you can enter to win a $50 gift certificate to use towards the purchase of either product.  So head over to All About Learning Press and enter to win.  This contest ends at 12:01 am EST on Tuesday, March 12, 2012.  The winner will be announced later that day.