Thursday, October 31, 2019

We Bought a Farm: I HATE predators

On Monday morning, JB went out to do the chores on our ducks, geese, and one turkey. (We had one turkey mysteriously show up with our laying chicken order and we've been raising him in there with our ducks and geese for a few months.) John made the following discovery:

We also realized that our lone turkey was nowhere to be found. Eaten. Totally gone.

I know predators are a fact of life and when they kill to eat, I get it. But I hate when I find dead animals that were killed and not eaten. These three ducks have just one puncture wound. Bummer! The one on the top right is one of our five new runner ducks. The two in the bottom were ducks we inherited from a friend when he moved.

The next night, we decided to leave the dead duck carcasses in the paddock. We moved the ducks and geese to a new paddock closer to the house. And then we put up our game cam. We found the guilt party. A coyote!

In this picture you can see that he's actually carrying the dead duck in his mouth.
Definitely a coyote
Deep down I get that we have to share our world with wild animals. But it's just hard when you work so hard to raise these animals and then you lose them. We keep trying to outsmart them, but coyotes are cunning little fellows. It is open season to hunt them anytime of the year. However, as you cut down their population, they actually have bigger litters to compensate with their loss. So you simply cannot defeat them. 

This part of homesteading may be something I never come to terms with. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Calvert Homeschool

Okay, this is a bit of a different review for me. This is for Calvert Homeschool and specifically, this is their Calvert Homeschool Online program.

I was given access for three students to use the program. Available for PC or Mac (we use a Mac in our home), it is compatible with most web browsers on both systems. We actually have access with the program to over 45 courses!

Amazing customer service!
Let me start by saying this: this program is INTENSE. It is deep. It is huge. It is designed to be the core of your homeschooling program in one website. It is full of everything you need. When I first opened it up, I couldn't help but think, "I'll never figure this out. It's SO much." But folks their customer service is second-to-none. I had a wonderful gal call me and check on me. She spent nearly an hour on the phone answering every question I had and showing me how this program worked. She encouraged me to call back and ask any questions I needed. I truly felt like, "Wow! I can do this now!"

Easy setup
Setting up the program was really pretty simple. The program really walked me through it. And if you have any trouble? Check the note above regarding their customer service!

Some really cool features include:
  • Automatic grading: yay for the teacher!
  • Automatic updating: (as content needs to change, it changes, unlike with textbooks!)
  • No installs: We can just log-in and use it. 
  • Placement tests: More about that below!
  • Totally green: Forget all the paper and textbooks. It's all electronic!
This program runs $39.95 a month for one child. You can also purchase it yearly for $399.95 for the year. If you want to get the maximum three students, it would be $699.95 for the year. Or you can purchase it monthly for $69.95 a month. While this may seem like a lot of money, when you consider that this could be your family's complete cost of homeschool education, it actually isn't very steep at all.

As mentioned above, there are over 45 programs that you can choose from with this program. Here is a breakdown of what those programs actually are:
  • Kindergarten:
    • Language Arets
    • Math
  • 1st Grade and 2nd Grade:
    • History & Geography
    • Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science 
  • 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Grades:
    • History & Geography
    • Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science
    • Spelling 
  • 7th Grade:
    • Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science
    • World Civilizations
  • 8th Grade: 
    • History & Geography
    • Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science
  • 9th Grade: 
    • Algebra I
    • Coordinate Algebra
    • English I
    • Integrated Physics & Chemistry
    • World Geography
  • 9th-12the Grade:
    • Consumer Math
    • Goverment
    • U.S. History Foundations to Present 
    • World History (9th-11th)
    • Analytic Geometry (10th)
    • Biology (10th)
    • English II (10th)
You can see from the chart above that the programs basically around the four major "core" classes for students: English, History, Math, and Science.

What it looks like inside
In order to show you how this program works, let's just into 14-year-old Gabe's work. He is an 8th grade. Here is a screen shot of the science program he is working through:

You can see that Gabe is working through History and Geography 800. It shows his start date and all the different sections that he is working through.

Now let's skip over to 12-year-old Ana who is taking World Civilizations. Here is a screen shot of one of her lesson pages:

My second-grader, Abigail, who is 8, was working on a spelling program while she tried out the program. Here is a screen shot of one of her assignments:

A few last details
I wanted to take a second to note that this is not a Christian program. I did not find anything to be a problem, but there may be things you don't see eye-to-eye with the program on. However, please note, that you can skip over anything you don't want your student to study. It's super simple to do that.

Also, I honestly could only touch the surface of this program during this review. It is such a HUGE, BIG program. So you really need to dive in and look for yourself. As always, feel free to message me with any questions or concerns or comments you have. I'm glad to give you more information!

You can also find out much, much more about Calvert at the following locations:
And, as always, don't take MY word for it. You can read tons more about Calvert Homeschool and specifically, their Calvert Homeschool Online program via other Bloggers.Read some of the reviews from my friends over at the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the image below:
Calvert Homeschool Online {Calvert Homeschool Reviews} 
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Review: Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks

A fun review is going up today. This is for Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks. Our group reviewed four different products which included:
The last one was the one that we reviewed here at our home: One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication Practice (Grades 3-5)!

This is a VERY simple product. I honestly keep trying to figure out what to say about it, but there is so little to explain and so little to show because it is just that NEAT and SIMPLE! We LOVED this product and think it is a fantastic idea to include in your homeschool curriculum. It is a consumable workbook designed to help teachers/parents simplify multiplication learning. Here is a sample page for you to see how the workbook looks:

That's it. The student tears out a page and does the sheet. That's it!  There are 50 pages in the workbook. Each page has 25 problems all that are 2-digit. The workbook starts very easy as seen above and then moves to pages like this by the end:

I used this program with my second grader, Abigail, who is just starting to work on 2-digit multiplication. Here are some things we both loved about this workbook:
  • Color Coded! This really helps guide the student and keep them from being confused!
  • Lots of Workspace!  Big space to work is so helpful!
  • Easily tears out! No possible rips. Very easy to do the worksheet on the front and then the back and then just throw it away!
Here is a picture of Abigail working through one of the pages:

In addition to the One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication Practice workbook, Channie's gave us (just for fun for doing the review!) a book on fractions as well. You can find our more by visiting them on Facebook or Instagram.

***I also wanted to note that the vendor is working to create a brand new app that is compatible with their product. I was unable to view this, however, this could be another fantastic addition to your product usage as well so stay-tuned!!!

Also, please take a moment to click on the link below to find out much much more about all the wonderful products that Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks has to offer.

Alphabet, Number & Sight Word Dry Erase, Neat Numbers & Page a Day 2 Didgit Multiplication. {Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks Reviews}
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Anni’s Acre

Our friend Anni comes to help us on our farm so much. So we decided to schedule a day when we could all help her on her little acre in Knoxville. 

We had our family of six, the grandparents, and Gabe with us, and it was amazing how much a group can get done! Many hands do make light work. Ten people working nine hours is 90 hours worth of work!!! We got so much done. We got most of the things on Anni’s list done and so much more! 

Community is a wonderful thing. Serving others is vital to us as people. It brought us such joy to help Anni as we did. We hope we can do this for her regularly to keep her farm in tip-top shape! 

I am so blessed by the wonderful people God has brought us here in Tennessee. It really had become home!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Boo at the Zoo 2019

2019 Anni made these adorable Dalmatian costumes for the girls and the boys were a hamburger and a hotdog :)

2015 with our friends Jada and Joshua. Mr. Shane was there too. I had an adorable Dorothy costume for Abigail but she made her own costume at the last minute. Sidge was Optimus Prime. Isaac was Spiderman but I didn't get a picture of him without his coat on. Hannah was some sort of princess, but her costume didn't last long.
2015 our friend Shane was with us so we got a family picture.
2016 with just us (and it was PERFECT weather!) Hannah had a little mermaid costume but decided to be a ballerina at the last minute. Sidge was a night. Abigail was Ana. Isaac was Captain America. 

2017 with the Trantham family (and it was WET!) Abigail was Sophia, Sidge was a ninja, Hannah wore the Anna costume Abigail had worn the previous year, and Isaac was batman.
2018 we went with Anni (and it was COLD!)
Here are some more pictures from THIS year's Boo at the Zoo at Bright's Zoo. This is our fifth year going, and we always have such a good time. The weather this you was FAN-TAS-TIC!!!!

Right at the front door, we ran into our friends Caleb and Elliana and got a picture with them!

And here is a look back at our Halloween's past:


Friday, October 25, 2019

Review: Excelerate SPANISH -- Excelerate SPANISH Streaming

In our home we decided to let each of our kids choose their own foreign language. I really wanted to do Turkish with my kids as that's my second language (barely!) but we decided that it probably wasn't the most useful and wanted to give the kids the opportunity to choose their own language. Isaac is learning French. Abigail is taking sign language on her own and with Ms. Anni. And Sidge is doing Spanish. For this review we therefore had Sidge use this program for this review: Excelerate SPANISH Streaming from Excelerate SPANISH.

We received a one-year streaming membership for both levels 1 and 2. The program is $14.97 a month. You can also buy the entire level and watch it on DVD if you prefer not to use the streaming service.  

Your purchase of the streaming service includes:
  •  24 Lessons in Spanish 1 (averaging 45 minutes each)
  •  24 Lessons in Spanish 2 (averaging 45 minutes each)
  •  Vocabulary review and practice FREE on the Quizlet website. This includes flashcards, games, and quizzes.
  • Unlimited personal support. 
***Physical books are also available and option for purchase which provide reinforcement, practice, and review.

Excelerate SPANISH is super easy to use. It is possible for children of all ages to use this program which makes it perfect for a homeschooling family. You simply login to the program and see the videos along the right side of the screen as shown in the screenshot below:

You then click on the video you want to watch and get started:

Excelerate SPANISH uses gestures, action sequences, skits, and stories to help bring success. You can read more about their method by clicking here. But to quickly summarize, I'll say this: 

The program uses a TPR or Total Physical Response theory to help with learning. This is a gesturing activity used with the idea that it is activating various motor cortices of the brain making it easier to learn a language. In each lesson, there is an introduction of new vocabulary and structures. The student sees the word on the white board, hears the pronunciation, and then models a gesture for each word or phrase. The program does not force the learner to speak. The TPR method sees this as anxiety-provoking.

We are going to continue to use this program in our home as I think it offers a lot of positive aspects. However, I am a still a bit up in the air regarding this program. I was hoping that it would be something Sidge could just sit down and do on his own. But he often felt overwhelmed with how much was coming at him in the program. I really think this is something that parents need to be sitting with the student and helping them pause it, discuss it, and take notes with them. I also think the "optional" workbooks are something that we should use with the program and that they really aren't so optional. 

Personally, I am more of a hands-off homeschooling Mama. I like programs that allow the child to "mostly" work through it without my direct involvement. This is necessary because there are so many children in my home that I am schooling. I think that if I was using this with all my kids at once, that would be possible. But without that, it's pretty challenging. We are going to keep trying the program, but I am honestly unable at this point to give a totally positive or negative review. I am a bit torn.

While I didn't see a free video on the website, I would encourage you to see if you can view one of the lessons before deciding if this is the right fit for your family. I think the TPR method is something I am unfamiliar with and so I can't really speak to its success. However, it appears to really have some substantial background that could be very helpful for learning a new language.

You can also find out more about Excelerate SPANISH from:
Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews}
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