Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Student Logbook {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

It sometimes seemed like no matter what sort of instructions I gave regarding schoolwork last year, I'd hear the excuse, "But I didn't know you wanted me to do that." This year, Brennan has been using a daily student planner from My Student Logbook to keep up with his assignments, and I don't hear that excuse nearly as often.

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook is designed for the student to use on a daily basis. It doesn't take the place of the teacher's plans for the year, instead it translates my plans into an assignment checklist that Brennan can use on a daily basis. More importantly, it helps me to make sure that Brennan is actually completing all of his work each day.

The main thing that sets My Student Logbook apart from other planners is its simplicity. I wrote his subjects/assignments on a paper that attached to the first sheet in the book. It folds over the side so that dated part of the logbook is still showing. The student then marks off the boxes as he completes a page. As long as the subjects stay the same, the same flap of paper will work for the following weeks in the logbook.  On Mondays, Brennan just tucks the next page into the flap and continues marking off assignments. If I ever change the assignments, I can fill out another checklist page and start using it to fold over the remaining pages in the book. (If you find my brief explanation confusing, there is a step-by-step setup guide with pictures on the My Student Logbook website.)

Brennan's Logbook is so useful for keeping up with his assignments that I can't believe I struggled for years without it. I don't have detailed lesson plans for our school year. I don't even have detailed plans for each week. Basically, I have a set amount that I expect to get done each day, and My Student Logbook helps me make sure that it was completed.

The Logbook works well for subjects that have an assignment due each day. For instance, "finish one math work page" or "read the assignment in your literature study." For those subjects, we often write down the page number so that I can have a general idea of where he is in the materials. Writing down the page or assignment number also helps me make sure that he did a different page today (and isn't hoping that I won't notice if he tries to show me yesterday's homework instead of doing a new assignment each day).

For a few subjects, though, we've determined that they'll only be done three or four days a week. The logbook excels in keeping up with courses like this. His weekly computer programming assignment usually only take three days to complete. I often forget how many times that he tries to tell me that he's already worked three days or that I've bugged him about an assignment on a day that he planned to take off, etc. With the records I now have in his logbook, I can easily tell if he can take a day off or if he needs to work on that subject. In the page shown above, I can tell that he needed to work on programming both today and tomorrow to finish his work for the week.

Brennan's schoolwork only takes the top half of the logbook page so we decided to use the bottom half to keep up with some of his work towards Boy Scout merit badges. He's been trying to get his Family Life badge for quite some time now, but it's been hard to keep up with the required chore checklist. He did all of his chores, but he didn't keep the records he needed for scouts. Now that the checklist is on the bottom of the page he's using for school, we're having a lot more success getting him to keep up with the chore chart. In another couple of weeks, he will have kept records for long enough that he can finally finish this badge.

The creators of My Student Logbook recommend using it for any student that can read their own assignments (approximately 2nd grade and up). It could be used by a parent or with a parent's help for even younger students.

My Student Logbook comes in either a dated or undated formats and with a variety of cover choices for $15. It is also available as a pdf download for either $10 (single use license) or $20 (family use license).

Brennan's My Student Logbook has made a big difference in our school days. He knows what I expect in terms of his schoolwork, and I can keep track of all the assignments so that I make sure that they are all completed. I finally feel like I'm able to keep up with his schoolwork so that I won't be easily fooled by any of his attempts to get away with doing less than expected.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thirty-three weeks, three days {Years Ago}

Every week, Lauren asks me what I'm going to write for the next letter of the alphabet. I told her this week that I might write about 33 weeks, 3 days, and she didn't know the significant of those numbers. I guess that's reason enough to share the story.

Lauren was born at 33 weeks gestation, actually thirty-three weeks and three days by my calculations. I don't think I've filled out a medical history form in the past 8 years that hasn't asked for that number.

A few years later, she was admitted to CHoP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) to be listed for a heart transplant. She waited for nearly seven months.

Finally, after being in the hospital for exactly thirty-three weeks and three days, she had recovered from the transplant surgery and was discharged.

I remember doing the calculations and being shocked at the numbers. She spent thirty-three weeks and three days in my belly, and then exactly thirty-three weeks and three days on the cardiac floor of the hospital.

God took care of Lauren the whole time, and even took care of all the little details. I don't believe it was just a coincidence that her hospital stay was exactly the length of my pregnancy. I think God was telling me he was in control the entire time and that his timing is always perfect.

I never used to have a favorite or "lucky" number, but thirty-three will always be special to me.

I recently noticed that Jeremiah 33:3 has those same numbers. Perhaps God is telling me to pay attention to that verse.
"Call to me, and I will answer you. I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own." (MSG)
We've definitely seen marvelous and wondrous things over the past eight and a half years.

Ben and MeI'm sharing a "years ago" story corresponding to each letter of the alphabet for the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. I often tell my children stories of things that have happened in our past, and now I'm taking the time to write down those treasured stories.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today's Special {Wordless Wednesday}

Found amongst some old vacation pictures:

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Subway for Lunch (and Back Again): Years Ago

There are certain milestones in a child's life that show parents that their little kids are growing up -- the first day of school, losing a tooth, etc. For Addison and Brennan, the milestone that sticks out in my mind is the day they got Subway for lunch.

When Lauren was younger, it was not unusual to spend long days traveling to Walter Reed for appointments. Normally Addison and Brennan would pack backpacks full of schoolwork or toys and come along for the day.

I remember one day when I woke them up early because Lauren was sick enough to go to the Emergency Room.

As our time in the ER drug on, Brennan started complaining that he was hungry. I had a supply of snacks in my purse, but it didn't last very long.

Before long the doctors started talking about whether Lauren would be admitted to the regular peds floor to the Pediatric ICU. Meanwhile, Brennan was talking about lunch.

Knowing that I couldn't leave Lauren by herself on a stretcher in the ER, I promised Brennan that I'd go buy him lunch just as soon as we got Lauren settled in a room.

A little while later, we all followed as Lauren moved upstairs to the PICU. Immediately as we walked through the double doors to that unit, Brennan pipes up, "Can we get lunch now?"

Obviously I hadn't thought things through when I promised lunch as soon as Lauren moved out of the ER. It was going to take some time to get her settled into a new room, talk to her nurse, etc.

I looked at Addison who was just nine years old then. "Do you think you can find your way back downstairs to Subway?" She seemed confident and told me that they would watch while they were going down there so that they could find their way back up to the PICU.

I knew they wouldn't leave the hospital and a military hospital is rather secure. I handed Addison a $20 bill and told her that she could ask anyone in scrubs or a uniform for help finding the PICU if they got lost.

Thankfully, they rose to the occasion. They came back about a half an hour later with sandwiches for all of us. Addison even told me how they remembered to order Brennan's sandwich on safe bread and without any cheese (he was still allergic to milk and eggs at that time).

I'm proud of how my big kids grew up just when I most needed their help.

Ben and MeI'm sharing a "years ago" story corresponding to each letter of the alphabet for the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. I often tell my children stories of things that have happened in our past, and now I'm taking the time to write down those treasured stories.

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Under Drake's Flag {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

When Addison and Brennan were younger, we spent a lot of time in the car driving to appointments on the other side of Washington DC. We nearly always had an audio book (or two) in the car to make the drive more enjoyable and the inevitable traffic jams less bothersome. Even five years later, they still talk about some of the books we listened to.

On our recent family trip to Colorado, we all listened to Under Drake's Flag -- a story originally written by G.A. Henty and now a new audio dramatization from Heirloom Audio Productions.
Under Drake's Flag tells the story of two young boys who set sail in the 1500s with the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake. I knew that Ned Henshaw would face adventures along the voyage, but I did not imagine the full extent of them. He was lost at sea, survived a shipwreck, fought off a shark, befriended a Spanish princess, joined a band of escaped slaves, battled against Spanish soldiers, and faced the Spanish Grand Inquisitor in Peru before returning home. In true G.A. Henty style, the history of this time period came alive.

These CDs stand above many of the audio books we have listened to in the past because these are audio dramatizations. Each character is portrayed by a different voice actor, and the action is enhanced by sound effects and a fabulous musical score. In some ways, it seemed like we were listening to a movie instead of merely hearing a story read to us.

Brennan was slightly disappointed that the story was about the two boys and not about Francis Drake himself. In some ways, though, the boys had a greater variety of experiences because they did not spend the entire time on a boat with the famed sailor. I found it interesting to experience a wide variety of historical events, instead of focusing on a single historical figure.

The story gets "thumb's up" ratings from most of our family. The producer recommends it for ages six through adult, but we found that the story line was a bit too complex for Lauren (8 years old) to follow along with. Also, several of the action scenes might be a bit too intense and some of the subject matter might be a bit too mature for younger children. I recommend it for ages 10 and up, including adults.

Since we listened to this audio drama on a vacation trip, I did not use the study guide materials included with the CD or available to download. The study guides both include vocabulary words, simple listening questions, and thought-provoking critical thinking questions for each chapter of the book; the pdf version, however, contains nearly twice as many questions to discuss. They both include ideas and scripture references for three separate Bible studies. If I had taken full advantage of the electronic resource, I could've used the Under Drake's Flag dramatization at a pace of one chapter a day for nearly a month.

Under Drake's Flag is available as a two CD set for $29.95, which includes the study guide and several other free downloads. It can also be purchased as an audio download for only $20.

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day Photos {September 2014}

This might be the most pathetic collection of First Day Photos that I've ever posted. I remembered to set out my camera in preparation for the first day of September, and I remembered to take pictures that morning. Unfortunately, I started thinking about school assignments, an empty refrigerator, and a cookout with friends, and then promptly forgot about taking pictures.

I guess this month will just be a tiny peek into our day. Special thanks goes to my friends who not only adopted Brennan for the day but also sent me pictures to show how much fun he was having.

If you want to join the first day fun, you can visit Nicole's Journey to Josie blog or click the cute paper airplane button below.

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