Friday, May 29, 2020

Springing to Life

The weather has held fairly well lately and all the plants are just blooming and growing like crazy.  We've had a lot of rain too so that has boosted growth.  I was able to get one spraying in on the fruit trees but not again since all the rain.  Will hopefully get to spray again this weekend since there isn't supposed to be more rain for at least a week or more.  The plum tree is loaded with fruit as is the nectarine and peach trees. We have never been able to harvest any plums since I always forget to spray on time and the bugs always win.  Looking good so far this year.


The broccoli grew overnight with all the rain and I just harvested our first head tonight.  It was pretty decent in size.  About double or triple what it was in this picture barely over a week ago. We are currently harvesting about 3 quarts of strawberries a day and the asparagus continues to produce.  I have got to get canning.  Gotta get strawberry jam and strawberry rhubarb jam and hopefully, pie filling put up.

Strawberries and Asparagus

The chickens are laying fairly well and I think I have a hen that just went broody.  She is sitting on some eggs and seems to be serious this time.  Maybe we'll have some little fuzzy chick butts in about 21 days from now, time will tell.  The bantams, Claudette and Josephine, are adapting fairly well.  They are so cute!!  I was hoping they might want to sit some eggs for me so time will tell there.  Neither of my main broody hens has shown any interest yet in sitting.  I have a Black Copper Marans and Buff Orpington that regularly sit eggs for me but not so sure this season.  Again, time will tell.

Our sweet outdoor kitty, Katerina, likes to hang with us when we are out working or playing and when we were working on some projects last weekend she gladly helped guard the yard cart.  We finally dug the maple saplings up and got the ones transplanted on the property line that we had planned on last year.  It's nice to have them in, now if they will just survive.  We should have planted them much earlier so we shall see.

Guard kitty

Maple saplings

The clematis is really going crazy and the Peonies are just gorgeous.  Were just gorgeous.  They just don't last very long and this last rain has already taken them out.  So glad the clematis blooms all season long.  Now if I can just learn how to propagate it and have success.  Hopefully future updates on that.


The peonies smell so good!

There's still so much more to do but isn't there always.  There's always another project to do around here.  Still so much garden work and upgrades to chicken and duck areas.  The front walk remains a huge project undone.  Hopefully, we can begin to tackle it again this weekend.  Happy planting to you!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Prima Latina REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 

Little Bug just loves to learn and I really love that about her.  She is definitely one of those kids that "loves" school, as long as things are going her way, LOL.  She loves learning new languages.  She "thinks" she can speak 4 different languages (even if she only knows one or two words in each one).  She tickles me with this.  She was SO excited when she learned she was going to add Latin to her repertoire.  I received the Prima Latina Complete Set from Memoria Press.  You do not need to know Latin to teach this.  It is written for grades 1 through 4 and introduces Latin vocabulary and grammar in a fun and exciting way. It is a precursor course for the next course, Latina Christiana.

Teacher Guide
Student Book

The Prima Latina Complete Set is just that, complete!  It even includes the flashcards that are really needed for the next level but are also very useful at this level.  The Prima Latina Complete Set includes:

  • Softcover Teacher Guide (with answer keys, appendix, teaching guidelines, and reproducible drill sheets and tests)
  • Spiral-bound, softcover Student Book
  • Instructional DVDs for all 25 lessons (3 discs)
  • Pronunciation Guide, Songs (4 hymns from Lingua Angelica), & Prayers (The Sanctus, The Doxology, The Table Blessing, and The Pater Noster) on CD
  • Latina Christiana Flashcards

We keep our flashcards in a little container to keep them neat and together.
I place them in order as we learn each new word.

DVD lessons and audio CD with pronunciations, songs, and prayers.

The course includes 25 Chapters (Lessons) that are recommended to be completed one a week which allows this to be a full year curriculum.  The 25 lessons are divided into 5 Chapters with correlating review lessons (5) and tests (5).  In addition to the answer keys, the Teacher Guide includes many resources.
  • Pronunciation rules (also in the Student Book)
  • An appendix that includes a vocabulary appendix (alphabetical, parts of speech, and practical Latin sayings), and a listing of Vocabulary & Practical Latin Sayings by Lesson
  • Teaching Guidelines that include a sample lesson plan
  • Reproducible Vocabulary and Grammar drill sheets
  • Reproducible Tests (5 tests that each cover 5 lessons) and Test Keys

Pronunciation Rules

Reproducible drill sheets

Student Goals for Prima Latina (from page 7 in both the Teacher Guide and Student Book)
  1. Learn basic Latin alphabet and pronunciation of vowels and consonant sounds
  2. Pronounce, spell, and translate approximately 125 Latin words
  3. Learn 25 practical Latin expressions and 4 prayers in full
  4. Learn numbers 1 through 10
  5. Learn names of popular constellations
  6. Understand the concept of derivatives - English words that are derived from Latin
  7. Grammar
    1. Learn to identify basic parts of speech including verbs, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions.
    2. Recognize that conjugating is associated with verbs.
    3. Recognize that declining is associated with nouns.
    4. Memorize 1st declension noun endings.
    5. Memorize 1st conjugation verb endings.

The instructional DVD is not necessary to complete the course but it sure does help in so many ways.  It is another source of proper pronunciation and it helps to reinforce everything in the Student Book since it walks you through the lessons.  Leigh Lowe, the instructor, is your virtual teacher.  It would definitely allow for an older child to complete lessons on their own with her instruction.  If you do not get the Prima Latina Complete Set and/or the DVD to accompany your books I would highly recommend getting the CD for proper pronunciation purposes.  Having the prayers and hymns are a definite bonus and worth the purchase.

Listening to a video lesson while following along in the Student Book

As we began to use this Latin curriculum it became easier the more familiar we became with the process.  They recommend reading your lesson first then watching the DVD but I found it better to watch the DVD first.  It helped to introduce the lesson from someone other than me and Little Bug was able to hear the correct pronunciations of the words before she tried them herself (or I butchered them, LOL).  We are trying to stick with the one lesson per week, but we have had a few hiccups and are just now completing our fourth lesson this week.  Also to clarify with the DVDs, each Chapter coincides with a Lesson (i.e. Chapter 1 is for Lesson 1 in the Teacher and Student guides).  Leigh is a great instructor and her joy is infectious as we follow the lessons.  It helps to keep things simple and light and that works well for Little Bug and her personality.

Learning new words and proper pronunciation

I scanned the drill sheets into my computer so we can easily print new pages as we need them.  We try to complete these 3 times weekly.  Little Bug thinks its a hoot for some reason and she enjoys doing it.  I think she is just really proud when she remembers the word correctly and its translation.  She won't be ready for her first test for another week if all goes well.

It is also important to note that "proficient reader" is mentioned in the Teacher Guide.  I didn't have to worry about this because Little Bug has been reading since Kindergarten and she reads very well, currently at a 2nd/3rd grade level.  If you have a child who is not yet reading I'm not sure what struggles there might be.  I know with my son when he was this age he was not reading and it would have been very frustrating for him (mostly because of his dyslexia).  That being said, if you have an eager and willing child it would still be a great curriculum to practice on and just take at a slower pace.

Also important to note is the confusion (maybe all me) with Chapters and Lessons.  I may be the only one, but it really threw me at first.  Just know that there are basically 5 Chapters with 5 Lessons within each chapter (25 total lessons).  However, on the DVD there are 25 Chapters (really Lessons).  The Table of Contents lists EVERYTHING as a Lesson.  It lists, for example, Lesson 1 through 5, then lists "Review Lesson 1 (Lessons 1-5)."  I personally think it should say "Review Chapter 1 (Lessons 1-5)."  Just a heads up.

A typical lesson consists of:
  • Practical Latin (introduces a new Latin word or phrase)
  • Lesson (lesson for the day)
  • Vocabulary (5 or 6 new Latin words)
  • Latin Prayers (you learn a line a week from one of the 4 prayers so that you have one prayer memorized at a time)
  • Derivatives (learning English words based on the 5 new Latin vocabulary words) - it is recommended to skip this with younger students but we found it kind of fun and I didn't dwell on it.
  • Exercises (consist of Review Questions and current Lesson Questions, Translation, Speaking Latin, Write and Learn, and Fun Practice

Sample completed lesson

We try to use this every day (5 days a week).  It is recommended to be used 4-5 days per week for older students and at least 3 per week with the younger students.  In our case daily is better for practice purposes and some days we only spend a few minutes depending on where we are at.  We start Mondays by watching the video and practicing the Practical Latin section.  We also read and start to memorize the Latin Prayer line for the week (we do this every day).  Tuesdays we complete the Lesson and quickly review the Vocabulary words (we use the flashcards to practice these once introduced).  Wednesdays we work on the Vocabulary words and gloss over the Derivatives.  Thursday we begin completing the Exercises generally covering the  Questions, Translation, and Speaking Latin sections.  Friday we complete the Write and Learn and Fun Practice sections.  Hopefully, the Prayer line for the week has been memorized at this point and she has a good grasp on the new vocabulary words.  All of this can easily be managed into a 3 day week.

We are loving this Latin curriculum!  I really like all the repetition and how they use the speaking, writing, and seeing to get a good grasp on the material.  I feel it is very well written and we are enjoying the lessons.  We give the Prima Latina Complete Set two thumbs up and we definitely plan to continue with Latina Christiana next year.  I think the only thing I would change at this point would be if the Teacher Guide could also be spiral bound.

You can connect with Memoria Press on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.  My fellow Crew members reviewed this set in addition to others for the upper grades so be sure to check the reviews out by clicking on the graphic link below.  It will be time well spent.

Prima to Fourth Form Latin Complete Sets {Memoria Press Reviews}

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Planting season is well underway and the garden is finally starting to look up.  It has been about a 12-year progress to get to where we are today.  We've tried many things over the years.  So far the raised beds we put in have been our best solution for weed control and healthy plants.  There have been several years where our garden would have flooded had it not been for the raised beds. Unfortunately, our beds aren't very tall, only about 6-8 inches deep, but it has made all the difference in our gardening.

The strawberries are starting to come in!  Yummy goodness!!

I just had to share a few pictures that have brought me joy and happiness over the past couple of weeks.  I just love to see things grow and flourish and there is nothing better than fresh produce from your own garden that you have grown and know what products you have put on your plants that you plan to later ingest.

The plum tree is loaded with fruit again

I try to not put anything at all on our produce, but sometimes it is just necessary.  We tend to fight weeds and bugs in the worst way every year.  I have never been able to harvest the plums because I don't spray the tree.  Well, I sprayed this year and will hopefully keep up with it so we can enjoy a nice plum harvest.  The tree is certainly loaded with fruit!  Our peach tree in the front yard is looking well also!!  We try to go organic as much as possible.

We still need to finish planting the garden.  There's still more work to do.  It's all good.  Happy gardening!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Math Skills REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 

My struggling learner high schooler has needed some help with math lately so when we had the chance to review Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School from Math Essentials I submitted my interest.  I received a physical softcover copy of this 158 page math skills workbook.

I have reviewed for Math Essentials before when we chose No-Nonsense Algebra for a previous review.  I really like the format and the author's, Richard W. Fisher, simple teaching method.  The lessons can be completed quickly (generally within 20 minutes or so) and each lesson has an accompanying video lesson that you have access to.  The video lessons are anywhere from about 5 to 10 minutes long.  Some are a little longer.  To be able to complete a math lesson in about 30 minutes per day is a win.

Online video lessons available for each lesson

When we first received the book I was very disappointed when I realized that the math skills reviewed for most of the book were VERY basic.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are covered in the first section (chapter).  I was sure I had made the wrong choice before I realized (after beginning lessons) that my son had indeed "forgotten" the very basics.  He had become too accustomed to using a calculator and had lost some of his basic skill set, not good!  This review has been good for him.  He completes a lesson a day and I am feeling good about him solidifying his basic skill set.  It has also reminded me and made me realize that I will be taking him back through the Algebra book and any other books I think he might need a review in.  I want his math knowledge to be solid.

Sample workbook pages (we did not do the speed drills for this section)

The difference in this workbook is that each daily lesson consists of 5 parts that include 2 speed drills, review exercises, helpful hints, new material, and a daily word problem.  There are a total of 8 chapters that are as follows:
  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percent
  • Geometry
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Word Problems

Sample workbook page showing different sections covered

The final section in the book includes a review and answer key. The final review section is kind of like a "final" for the entire book.  There is also a resource center at the end of the book and it includes:
  • Glossary
  • Important Symbols
  • Multiplication Table
  • Commonly Used Prime Numbers
  • Squares and Square Roots table
  • Fraction/Decimal Equivalents table
Glossary from the Resource Center at the end of the book

At the beginning of the book, there is a step by step instructional guide on how to use the book and teach the lessons.  It is especially important to read this as it explains how to do the speed drills.  I wasn't able to understand what they were without reading the explanation of how to do them.  There is a total of 110 lessons so the book is easily completed within a school year.  We are using it as a supplement but it could also be used as your main curriculum.  You could also easily use it to reinforce just certain math skills by completing the specific lessons and/or chapter that you wish to gain more skills in.

I am glad we got this book and it is a thumbs up for me.  It works well for my son and I am confident he can get his skills back up to par without a lot of trauma and tears.  The short lessons work well for us and the lack of "fluff" is appreciated.  I recommend you try Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School .  They have complete sample lessons available on their website for you to try before you buy.  You can connect with Math Essentials on FACEBOOK.

There are several other books available from Math Essentials so be sure to check out what my fellow Crew members have to say about the book we reviewed and the others since there are also reviews on the other books. Click on the graphic link below to learn more.

No-Nonsense Algebra, Math Refresher for Adults &  Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School {Math Essentials Reviews}

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Beyond the Stick Figure Art School REVIEW

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE subscription of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

With two budding artists in the family, I had good reason to review Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School.  I am not an artist by any means and the funny thing is is that I would say I can do stick figures and no more.  I received a free lifetime online subscription to this homeschool art curriculum course.

Putting it all together with color

You can navigate to different areas from your dashboard
and see how you are progressing through the lessons

This program was created by Sally Stansfield, a trained, degreed artist from England.  She has 8 children and also homeschools.  My 10th-grade son used it the most and my 1st-grade daughter dabbled in it a little bit.  She's still at the point where she wants to do things "her" way. We have lifetime access to this program so you can go at your own pace.  The lessons are labeled simply as daily lessons (Day 1, Day 2, etc).  The products I received were as follows:
  • Complete Drawing Course
    • Includes 52 lessons broken down into 3 parts
  • 3 Bonus Programs
    • Pen and Ink Techniques and Complete Watercolor courses
      • includes 66 lessons
    • Introduction to Acrylic Course
      • includes 21 lessons
    • Introduction to 3D Design Course (polymer clay)
      • includes 27 lessons
  • Paint Your Own Family Portraits (I also currently have access to this)

Learning to draw faces (family portrait lessons)

Learning about primary and secondary colors

Some lessons include workbook pages to print out and work through.  One thing we found tricky is that you must complete each lesson in the order that is on your dashboard before you can continue.  No skipping ahead or looking to see what is ahead.  Each lesson must be marked as "complete" before you can proceed.

Sample workbook pages

Fairly easy to navigate between completed lessons within a topic

You must mark lessons as complete before proceeding to the next lesson

What happens when you try to move forward without
completing the previous lesson

There is a materials list tab so you can assemble what you need and plan accordingly.  There are also introductory and materials needed videos within a few of the topics.

Materials list tab

Video explaining some of the needed materials

This program is geared for the whole family for ages 5-95.  The basic steps Sally takes you through allows you to build on your skills.  You are able to see how simple lines and curves can morph into beautiful, created artwork.  My 1st grader would do better if I sat down with her to work through the lessons, this is just her personality.  My 10th grader, of course, worked independently and seemed to enjoy it.  When asked what he thought he simply replied it was "ok."  I watched him draw and I think he can expand his current talents by going through this course.  It also looked like he was enjoying it.  I like the way Sally takes you step by step and teaches you to build on your previous skills.  For those who are less than artists, this is perfect!  You can see how easy it is to create art.  I intend to go through it more thoroughly with my 1st grader and allow the 10th grader to continue with it as a fun summer course.

Practicing lines

Working through the lessons

Completed lessons (he did several on one page
instead of separate pieces of paper

I was slow to like this one.  With the frustrations of the menu navigation and the different teaching technique, I was not sure this was a go for us.  In the end, I say yes, thumbs up to Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses because I like the idea of taking a "stick figure" and making something beautiful from it.  I think the techniques taught in this homeschool art curriculum will go far in our artist skills.  I look forward to us working on this over the next year.  I know my son will especially like the 3D Design because he loves working with clay.  I am looking forward to digging into the watercolor lessons.  It's something we can do together, as a family, and that's always a win in my book.

You can connect with Beyond the Stick Figure Art School on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.  Please also take the time to check out the reviews from my fellow Crew members to see what they had to say about this homeschool art program by clicking on the graphic link below.

Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course {Beyond the Stick Figure Art School}
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