Friday, October 24, 2014

Rejoicing in this day!- 52 Weeks of Family Scripture Memorization

Each day has been given to us by God.  
Each day we should wake up and rejoice in that!

Because let's face it, otherwise there is a lot to be discouraged about.  If we take our eyes off God and put them on our circumstances or the circumstances of those around us, we will not feel much like rejoicing.  It is just that simple.  Life is hard.  Days are hard.  Sometimes minutes are hard.

But we have a God that loves us.
He has given us our time on this earth to love Him, glorify Him, and tell others about Him!

To rejoice in Him and the day He has made.

Each day.  No matter our feelings, no matter our circumstances.
Or maybe, despite our feelings and despite our circumstances.

God is bigger than any of that!

Teaching that to my kids and myself this week!!


Missional Call

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages- TOS Review

It is no secret that we love foreign languages in our house.  Well, Spanish in particular.  Our youngest was born in Guatemala and came home speaking only Spanish at 21 months.  Since then we have worked to keep him exposed to his native language and to keep his sibling familiar with the language as well.   (They all need at least two years of a foreign language to graduate from high school anyway, right?) When one does not have a bilingual background it can be quite difficult to do so, but hey, I am determined to try.
Which is why I was so excited to get to try and review Middlebury Interactive Languages.
We were given a semester's worth of classes from any one of the available courses, so naturally we chose a  Spanish Course.  Because CJ is currently in the middle of a very busy semester we decided to try the middle school program for our 7th grader.  Lucky for you, you can use Middlebury for ages K-12th grade!
Here what is available!
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

This self-paced program is pretty amazing.  The K-2nd grade program consists of 35 lessons for a semester and the 3rd-5th grade program has 45 lessons per semester.  Middlebury recommends that you cover one lesson for 2-3 days per week.  The middle school and high school programs both have 90 lessons per semester, allowing you to cover a lesson a day for 18 weeks.  
Since the program is self paced, you can slow down if needed, which is what we had to do several times.  Some days are pretty heavy in vocabulary and I wanted to make sure my son was retaining the information presented rather than just checking off lessons.  After sitting with him for the first week and following along, he was able to continue the program on his own.

One of the things that attracted me to Middlebury Interactive Languages was the audio and visual content.  Since two of my kiddos learn best with those mediums, I knew this would be a good fit for them.  The content is visual pleasing and yet stimulating and the sound is good quality.  I especially appreciate the use of videos to show real life interactions.  After traveling to Guatemala several years ago, we realized that you can know all the vocabulary in the world and still not be able to communicate effectively.  By exposing ourselves to more natural settings and conversations, we hope to better be able to function in a Spanish speaking country.

Some of the things I like about Middlebury-
  • The lessons are broken down into sections that are less intimidating chunks of information.  Each lesson follows a similar pattern but with enough variation to not produce monotony and boredom day after day.
  • There is a little fun sprinkled in between some more challenging sections.  Let's face it, matching is a lot less intimidating than writing.  I think Middlebury has done a good job of finding that balance.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

  • There is a recording function!  Phrases were said and then my son could record himself and play it back to see how he sounded compared to the native speaker.  Love it!
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
  • Once a section has been completed, the title gets checked off to indicate it has been done, making it easy to keep up with where you are when accessing from the table of contents.
  • There is automatic grading which is then recorded in a gradebook you can access in the sidebar.  Here you can see not only the grades of your student, but go back to view the items graded as well if you desire to see where exactly they are having problems.

Some challenges we encountered.
  • Typing in words and sentences.  This just may be my son, but these sections discouraged him.   It is hard enough to type and spell in your native language, but when trying to do so in one you are just learning, it can be frustrating.  Through a necessary evil I guess.
  • There is a calendar with assigned lessons listed that put a lot of pressure on my son to keep up.  We eventually stopped using that calendar and accessed the next lesson in a different sidebar area.  Again, there were a few times we felt the need to repeat a lesson and the calendar was making him crazy!
Hmmm, that really is about it.  Overall, we really are enjoying using Middlebury Interactive Languages and will continue to do so.  By completing a lesson a day, we are well on our way to better comprehension and speaking.  Maybe even a step closer to a trip back to Guatemala!  I am actually eager to add CJ to an account in the spring semester, as after doing some more research on the younger levels, I think he will really enjoy it as well.  It is a user-friendly program that kids should have no problem using. 
You can purchase Middlebury Interactive Languages for $119.00 per semester without a teacher (self paced).
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Z is for Zoo, Of Course!

Z is for Zoo - what else? What is funny about that is I had been struggling with what to do our last Blogging Through the Alphabet post on, and in God's perfect timing, we spent the day at the zoo with friends last week.
Hey, it's the little things, right?
So there were animals...

And children who pretended to be animals...

And then a pack of kids...
Yes, we might have been as big a spectacle as the actual animals.  When you travel in packs that seems to happen!

Yep, that is a big group! But let me tell 'ya, the zoo is much more fun that way!  Thank you T family for spending the day with us!

Ben and Me

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Family Toolbox Review- Teaching 16 Life Success Principles

Let's face it, parenting is hard.  And parenting preteens and teens can often be even more difficult.  But there is help out there to help us navigate the difficult times and issues we often face.  The Family Toolbox,  produced by the National Center for Biblical Parenting, for ages 10-18, is one of those resources.  And a GREAT one at that!

I recently had the pleasure of being on a promotion team for The Family Toolbox and able to use the resources in my own home with my family.  This DVD based program is meant to teach parents how to handle issues with their kids as well as help children learn to modify their behavior.  Each of the 8 video lessons teach two Life Success Principles.

Each lesson taught is broken down into two separate video clips.  This first clip for each lesson is a 10-12 minute discussion with authors of the program, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joannne Miller, RN, BSN.  These discussions are meant for parents to view alone.  In them, they discuss the two life principles being taught and strategies for teaching those lessons.  Biblical background and examples are used when applicable.

The second video clip is 1-2 minutes long and intended to be watched together as a family.  That video is a dramatized family scene, highlighting two Life Success Principles that need to be addressed.

Once your family watches the videos together, you turn to the accompanying workbook.  In there you will find a few different resources for each of the 8 lessons.  The first is a general overview of the lesson, telling you what two Life Principles are being taught and what to look for in the video.  You as the parent should read through this section before beginning.  The next thing you will find is a teen success worksheet.  On that worksheet is a scene introduction and discussion questions.  The discussion questions are broken into two parts, one for each of the Life Principles.  These questions cover things from "what did you see?" to "what would you do?" type questions to help facilitate family discussion.  Each of these life principles is related to a bible verse and a question is tied to that part as well.  The lesson concludes with some thoughts and a prayer.  

The final resource you will find is a parent page.  This page helps you as a parent to think about and respond to not only things you heard in the parent portion of the video but also the family video clip.  It allows you to work through some of the strategies and put your thoughts and plans on paper. 

What did we think?
Wow!  I have to admit I am impressed.  Many years ago my husband and I taught a parenting program that we loved and this reminds me of it in many ways.  Powerful ideas but in an easy to learn format.  I like that the video clips for the family are short, but can be used to get a conversation flowing.  They do portray some pretty harsh scenes with arguing  and harsh words, so I would suggest you preview them beforehand to make sure you are comfortable with them as well as be careful using them with younger children in the room.  The questions are good, solid questions that will be helpful if you feel you need guidance.  Otherwise, I would encourage you to listen carefully to your children and let them help direct the conversation.  As the authors state, "Behavior is a symptom of a heart issue", and I think we all often get so caught up in just "fixing" the problem that we forget to fix the heart.

My favorite lesson?  Lesson 6- Accepting No as an Answer! The authors point out that we must teach our kids to live within limits.  After all, that is a skill that we will take with us into adulthood.  By teaching kids to accept no as an answer and by teaching kids to be problem solvers rather than whiners, we can say goodbye to arguing, badgering and whining.  Sign me up!  I love that there are real life solutions taught as well.  In this chapter an example is saying to your children, "That's whining, come back to me with a solution."  By equipping ourselves with simple statements like this, we are helping children take control of their own behavior and responses.

The Family Tool box can be purchased for $99.95 or downloaded for a suggested donation of $79.95.

You can also connect with the national Center for Biblical Parenting-

Friday, October 17, 2014

Say Thank You- 52 weeks of family scripture memorization

We love manners in this house.  Between a military dad and southern roots, we are sticklers for manners.

One of the first things we teach our kids is the phrase thank you.

"What do you say when someone gives you something?"  Thank you

"What do you say when someone does something nice for you?"  Thank you

We drill it into their heads and, hopefully, eventually into their hearts.

So much so that once while playing UNO with our first born son, we asked him what he needed to say with just one card left.  His response..."thank you?"  Ummm, no, in this case, UNO will suffice! ;)

People like to hear the words thank you.  People need to hear the words thank you.

So it makes sense to me that God, the giver of EVERYTHING, deserves to hear the words thank you as well.

Thank you, God, for life.
Thank you, God, for family.
Thank you, God, for all that you have blessed us with.
Thank you, God, for loving us.
Thank you, God, for salvation.

What are you and your children thankful for today?


Missional Call

My Joy-Filled Life


A Little R & R

Motivation Monday Linky Party #113