Monday, May 30, 2011

Unexpected Moments

Sometimes something surprises you so much it practically knocks the wind out of you. Sometimes you go along in life, thinking you have it under control and your current plan is working just as you imagined, or at least pretty close. And sometimes God has another plan for your life and thankfully He has it under control and His plan is working just as He imagined.....however we know that does not always make the shock of unexpected change any easier.

We knew going into the union years ago that a life in the trade industry would involve layoffs. We were warned and expected them. We have been blessed to have only had a few in Scott's long career. We have also been blessed that through this economic downturn Scott has had work when so many others did not. When he recently got laid off from one company, he was picked up by another very quickly. Things slowed down for the new one so they "loaned" him back to the first one...with the intention that they would want him back soon. Which they did, they hired him on with a guarantee of 1 year of work, it was truly an answer to prayer....but God had another plan. On Monday Scott shot me a quick text, "I just got laid off". It came as a complete shock. So much so I wanted to get off the road and park so I could talk to him. In the past the smell of layoff would meander through the air a few weeks before, not this time. It was completely out of the blue for us, and for all the other men laid off from this job site.

Last week was a bit of an adjustment, but thankfully, God has shown us that this time is precious and holds far more value than the amount we are losing in income. We are having time together as a family. Our children have their dad home all day, he can participate in our homeschool time. Praise God, we already own the materials to add on to our deck, so Jordan and he will be building a deck! He has time to just relax and enjoy his family and home.

As I have said God is good. He has already shown that He has plans to provide for our needs. I was already working a small cleaning job on Sunday mornings and that will continue. I have a friend who will be giving me the coupons from her newspapers (which she gets 2!) so I can do some serious coupon shopping! I have the possibility of working for Weight Watchers very part time, but it will bring in a little extra income without a huge time commitment! In addition, we have already had some amazing memories all together! This week alone we have gone to a museum, ate at a fabulous Italian restaurant (gift card!), gone swimming, heard a speaker at the holocaust survivor forum, enjoyed brunch with some amazing friends, gone to a concert and of course Atira's recital performance! I am so excited to see what is next!

As we heal from the shock of this layoff, we look forward to many fun memories as a family. Scott has never had a summer layoff before and we look forward to some fun days hiking and spending time outdoors, as well as checking off the many projects on our to do list. We pray the Lord gives Scott work in His time and not ours and that we walk in peace on this journey. I plan to post more about our fun family adventures during this precious time! I know there are lots in store, so stay tuned! :)

Moments in the spotlight

This last school year Atira decided she really wanted to try an instrument. Scott and I thought this was a great idea since she is so very musical. It was a great decision. My friend Chloe is a Kindermusic teacher and she decided to put together a class for older students (she usually teaches preschool and lower elementary grades) that would focus on learning about classical music, composers and learning to read sheet music while playing the recorder. These were all things that interested Atira very much! What a blessing! Atira attended this class once a week for the entire school year and loved it. She has learned so much and astounds us regularly with her ability to recognize composers and their music when watching television, a movie or just our and about when she hears the music. She also mastered the recorder beautifully! The culmination of this class was a little recital today. What a precious time! Each of the four children chose a piece from their repertoire to play as a solo, Atira's choice was Amazing Grace.

The event started with a fun silly song and one of the students then introduced us to one of the composers studied, then we would have the joy of listening to a solo, Atira was up last. Finally we got to her piece and she played beautifully! It was such a sweet, proud moment for her family! We have learned just how much she loves music and has a passion for it, something we look forward to encouraging in her in the future. Our hope is to move her to piano lessons.

I hope in a few days to be able to perhaps put some of her performance up on my blog....but that is only if I can figure out how to get it from the camcorder and into this computer!

We are so proud of our little musician! She amazes us with her God given talents everyday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Excellence in Writing Review

Let's start this review for the Institute for Excellence in Writing by saying "WOW". What an incredible program, it is so unique from every other writing course we have ever tried...and there have been more than a few! I homeschool two children, our son is 15 and our daughter is 10. Our son is what I would call a reluctant writer, while my daughter enjoys writing stories just for fun, their differences continually amaze me...and force me to be a more creative homeschool mom!

I am blessed I had the opportunity to review IEW, we received the Student Writing Intensive Group B. It looks like this:

We received a binder and inside are tabbed sheets with each section pre-labeled for us.. We also received a manila envelope which contained the instructions for the curriculum as well as the lesson plans and student handouts. In addition we received four DVD's that would be our classroom as we journeyed through our lessons.

I used this curriculum with my son, as my daughter is too young for this particular series of lessons. We both absolutely LOVED Mr. Pudewa! He is an incredibly engaging instructor, funny, kept our attention and at the same time WE WERE LEARNING! He truly opened my eyes to some amazing insights into the teaching of writing. I was always under the impression that children had to always come up with their own ideas, that my help would not be beneficial, I was very wrong! He started the lessons with ideas and allowed the children to write based on that. He would even give hints and encouragement along the way, it is all apart of the learning process and that made my son so much more at ease when it came to working on these papers.

Classes are held on the DVD, it is a classroom or seminar feeling as you sit and watch in the comfort of your own home. There is a chart in the lesson plans that tells you when to pause, I found this a bit difficult as I would forget to be watching the time (and my DVD does not have the count running on the screen all the time), so I found we frequently went over a class....which did make my son feel like some of the classes were way too long. That was not the products fault but my own. I did find this a bit confusing at first I do admit.

So, does my son now love writing? Honestly, no. He would much rather sit and have a conversation with you about a topic, it is just his particular style. Did this program help our family, YES! I would also highly recommend Institute for Excellence in Writing to any family looking for an outstanding curriculum for their homeschool!

The exact program I used can be found here: Student Writing Intensive Group B
This particular program retails for $99.00 and you have the option of purchasing additional binders and packets for more than one student for just $18.00 each.

IEW is a full language arts curriculum resource, in addition to writing they also offer lessons in grammar, literature, poetry and spelling.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. As such I have received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of this product. I have not received any additional compensation for my review.