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Reclaiming normal

October 28th, 2013

September and October have both nearly passed between my posts here, and fortunately, life is slowly returning to some semblance of normalcy.

I know I have missed sharing about some events as these last couple months have kept me from doing much of anything outside of what needed to get done each day.

As life slows just slightly (as much as it can with 6 kids and homeschooling and working part-time), I look forward to returning here on a more regular basis and updating listings as well as sharing about current happenings for homeschoolers in the Chicago area.

If you have anything you would like to share about with fellow area homeschoolers, please shoot me an email and I will be happy to pass it along.

Thank you for your patience!

~Erin

Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Free Museum Day September 28, 2013

August 25th, 2013

For one day you can enter a museum for free! (I know we are a little spoiled around here with all the great museums and so many with free days for us Illinoisans)

The Smithsonian Magazine hosts this event, so you can check out their site for all the details and to register.

The ticket is good for two people, and is limited to one per household, so please keep that in mind.

However, there are some great places on the list – SciTech in Aurora, Graue Mill in Oak Brook, Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago,  and more!

Check it out and please pass it along.

International Space Day

May 3rd, 2013

Tomorrow, May 4, is International Space Day.

Not long ago I did a review on Janet’s Planet Science program and found out about this unique “holiday” on her blog: http://janetsplanetspacelog.blogspot.com/2012/05/celebrate-space-exploration-with.html

Check out the fun ideas and resources to celebrate the day in style!

Review and Giveaway: The 5 Money Personalities

January 8th, 2013

What: The 5 Money Personalities

Written by: Scott & Bethany Palmer
Available now!
Check out their homes on the web –

About The 5 Money Personalities
The hidden key to a healthy relationship is not just managing money but understanding how the other approaches money.

Every couple argues about money. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for 40 years or dating for 4 months, money touches every decision you make as a couple—from the $5 cup of coffee to the $50,000 car. And when the two of you don’t see eye-to-eye on how much to spend or how much to save, that’s when arguments turn into ugly toxic fights that leave both persons feeling hurt and angry. It’s why money has become the #1 cause of divorce in the U.S. Obviously, something needs to change. The reason this crisis has not been addressed is because it has never been identified, defined, or given a name. Scott and Bethany Palmer, aka “The Money Couple,” have identified and defined this problem and offer concrete solutions to fix it.

It’s not just about money management, and it’s definitely not just about overcoming debt. It is a whole new way of living that will change everything in your relationship. Tens of thousands have already been transformed. Are you ready?

My take:

- Easy read. I flew through this book. Easy to read, lots of real life illustrations, engaging, entertaining, and just plain old well written. Although not a flawless book, at least the reading of it was rather enjoyable.

- Unique perspective. Rather than getting hung up on the nitty gritty of money decisions, this book digs deeper into who you are when it comes to money and why that matters. Understanding who you are, and perhaps more importantly who your spouse is, in the money arena will add some enlightenment to the decisions you have made and the ones you have yet to make.

- Useful tool. While you could read it straight through, it really reads best in separate sessions. Great for a bedtime book for couples, or Saturday morning coffee book. Read a quick chapter together and talk about the action points at the end.

- Written by two spenders. I have to mention this because it stood out to both my husband and myself. My husband and I are one of those rare couples that find themselves in the same category — both savers, both security seekers (although to varying degrees). Reading a book by two self-proclaimed spenders I felt a bit misunderstood, and sometimes even mocked. I could’ve easily written the counter criticism for the spender, but that’s not the point, I don’t think, of recognizing money personalities. They still pour out lots of good advice, but if you read this book as a saver, know that you might feel a little defensive at times, and in my view that’s just fine. :)

- Some personalities overlooked? I also felt like there were some other significant areas of my money personality that didn’t get addressed. Stewardship, generosity, and faith might be hard to classify, but they are a huge part of my money decisions. I don’t know how they could be worked into their paradigm, but I did feel like there were some gaps in the 5 personalities they tried to boil things down to.

- Even more on the website. The website has more great tools for evaluating your money personality and how to come to greater agreement without arguing.

- Significance of dreams. This drew me in right from the beginning. They really nailed it in their discussion of dreams. We do often lose our dreams over time. I think that’s kind of what the movie “Up” hovered around. The Palmers want you to know you don’t need to lose your dreams. You can chase them and recapture them again, as a couple. This book is definitely just as much about a quality marriage relationship as it is about money.

- Practical tips. While a lot of the book is offering information, analysis, and perspective, it does get down to the practical before too long. Getting rid of financial infidelity, dumping, and having a money huddle are some of the practical areas that they offer very real life ideas on building or rebuilding your relationship.

This book offers great tips and perspective on overcoming money differences in your marriage relationship. None of us married our clone, so anyone can benefit from this book. As homeschoolers, living on one income, we at times feel the pinch a bit tighter than others might. I think this book can really help you come together on money issues even while retaining your unique money personality. A great read!

If you would like to enter into the giveaway to win a free copy of this book, please leave a comment on this post with an email so I can reach you if your name is drawn. You are welcome to a second entry as well by simply sharing about this giveaway somewhere else (facebook,  twitter, etc.) and returning here to leave a second comment.
The giveaway will wrap up on Tuesday night, January 15th in the evening.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

An Early Merry Christmas

December 21st, 2012

The-Nativity-Star

While we take a break from our schooling, the most important learning in our house never ends.

As I have shared before, a significant part of the reason that we homeschool is to take advantage of every opportunity to live out our faith in front of our children. I don’t follow Christ flawlessly by any means, but I want my kids to grow up with no doubt about the reality of God as the sovereign, awesome Creator and Savior of this world. And that learning continues and even heightens during the holidays.

I’ll be spending most of my time in the next couple weeks away from my computer (once the rest of the grades are entered and lesson plans for the next quarter are done), and hopefully you will be doing the same.

Enjoy time with family and extra time for hugs and laughter.

Most importantly, I pray that you will have time to drink deeply of the true reason to celebrate this time of year — the coming of Jesus Christ, born to give us a second birth. We get stuck in this physical world too often and forget the eternal focus we were create to maintain.  Christ came to seek and save the lost, which applies to all of us who carry Adam’s sin nature and have no hope of heaven aside from a perfect substitution to take our punishment on Himself as Jesus did.

I pray that you know this most important reality and will bring it to mind as you celebrate the birth of Christ. If you do not understand the true significance of this season which goes far beyond the nativity scene, I pray you too will see it in a fresh, personal way this season.

See you next year.  :)

Merry Christmas!

Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Open swim for homeschoolers in Elgin

November 28th, 2012

While Gym and Swim is taking a break for the busy holiday season, they do still open for some homeschool  swim times at the Centre in Elgin.

Nov. 29th

Dec. 6th

Dec. 13th

Dec. 20th

Dec. 27th

Jan. 10th

From 1-3pm

Prices:

2 & under: Free

Youth (3-17):$ 2.75

Adult (18+): $3.25

For more information: The Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way. Ph: (847) 531-7000

Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Thank you!

September 6th, 2012

Just gotta say “thanks.”

When I started this site 3 years ago it grew out of a passion for homeschooling. Of course, my passion is driven in part by my faith in Jesus Christ that I do not feel could be fully passed on to my kids if I didn’t get the chance to live it out in front of them 24/7. I fail, I learn, I grow. Through it all they see that learning doesn’t quit when you graduate and homeschooling is a whole-family, whole-life endeavor.

Thank you for sharing my enthusiasm. Sharing this site with your friends, relatives, and fellow-homeschoolers at co-ops and support groups.  Thank you for sharing with the rest of us about events, activities, support groups, contact information, ideas, and more.

Looking forward to the continued growth of this site as a helpful resource for Chicago area homeschoolers, and thank you for making that possible!

Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

SciTech needs

July 17th, 2012

Received this via email (maybe you have some items that need a new home, and what better place to donate them?):

SciTech Logo PNG

SciTech Needs Donated Items! 

Oops, our last email was a little confusing!  We have rearranged the list so that you can understand our needs better!

Here’s a wonderful way to help the SciTech Museum and put those unused shop items to great use!  The SciTech Museum is rebuilding exhibits and you can help!  SciTech is a 501c3 charity looking for the following items:

  • 10 inch compound miter saw
  • 10″ circular saw blades with carbine tips for all materials
  • 3 cordless drills
  • 2 pistol cordless screwdrivers
  • Wood lathe
  • Metal lathe
  • 48″ metal brake
  • 2×4 wood
  • 1×1 – 1×10 wood
  • Plywood sheets
  • Medium Density Fiberboard sheets 1/2″ to 1″ thick
  • 2 sets of wood working chisels
  • 1″ to 3″ in diameter clear Plexiglas tubing – all lengths
  • Clear and colored lucite sheets
  • Plastic drain pipes in different sizes
  • Wet/dry sandpaper (extra fine – course)
  • 1/2″ & 3/4″ electrical pipe
  • Electrical rough-in boxes for single and double gang
  • Electrical switches
  • Electrical Outlets
  • 12 & 14 gage electrical wire (different colors)
  • 1/2″ & 3/4″ copper piping Flexible vent lines – 4″ and 6″
  • Sloan Valves
  • Copper fittings, connectors, elbows, caps, valves
  • SOS Pads
  • Shop rags/towels
  • Picture hanging supplies
  • Transformers for fluorescent lighting
  • LED lights
  • Multiple drawer tool cabinet on wheels with extension drawer guides
  • Spray Paint of all colors, Paint Primer, Paint Brushes, Paint Rollers, Paint Sprayer with compressor
  • Paint Spray Booth
  • Two shelf plastic service carts 38″x26″ with flat top shelf and 3 1/2″ top tray
  • 18 Gauge Brad Air Nailer for 3/4″ to 2″ long brads & assortment of Brads Up to 12
  • Air Brush Gun with Air Brush Compressors
  • 1/2 HP Deep Well Jet Pump
  • Flat screen monitors of all sizes
  • 28V Cordless Combo Tool Kit with a drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw
  • Spray rubber cement adhesive
  • 1/2″ to 2″ pvc pipe
  • Foam Board and Gator Board Sheets
All items need to be in good working condition.  Please contact: Gloria at:  630-859-3434 x214 or at scheduling@scitechmuseum.org
Thank you!!
The SciTech Museum Team

ICHE summary

June 14th, 2012

Homeschool conventions have an amazing way of exhausting and exciting me at the same time.

Wanted to share some of the great resources and speakers I enjoyed this past weekend.

Not to overwhelm, we’ll tackle excerpts from two of them today.

First, the College Board rep gave a little lunch time talk on CLEP tests.

She offered lots of helpful info on CLEP exams that made them seem a little more within reach.

CLEP:

- offers huge savings over paying for college, even community college, tuition

- Recommended the book College without Compromise and the CLEP official test book that comes out each year and is available for Amazon.

- No penalty for wrong answers.

- No age restrictions (her kids have taken them as early as 7th grade — earning college credit in middle school!)

- Immediate results. Because it is computer based and you can take it at a variety of times throughout the year, you get an immediate result and know if you pass or not before heading home.

- accepted at 2900 colleges. However, as I was looking at some local ones, the extent they accept them does vary a bit. Some will only accept some of them as elective credits. Others require a higher score than the minimum. So, if you are CLEPping specifically to save on college tuition, do your homework ahead of time with potential colleges.

She gave great tips on actually taking the test including using the practice tests after you have completed high school course work in the subject area. She recommended when practicing to make sure to get two tests in a row with scores in the high 50’s before you attempt the actual test. And, celebrate pass or fail, your kids deserve a reward for all the hard work.

She has a website of her own as well, Credits before College

The official CLEP website has lots of info, or course.

***************************************************

Another speaker, Janice Campbell offered some great insight into grading pieces of writing.

Her website has a number of great resources that you might find helpful, especially in teaching junior and senior high students. She had tips for teaching writing as well as some general teaching tips.

Check out all her info and resources at Everyday Education.

Here are a few of the points that I appreciated from what she had to say:

- In order to evaluate and encourage better writing in your student you need a rubric (which you can find at her site when you give your email), a handbook (to reference specific rules that the student needs to work on), a thesaurus, and a dictionary

- When grading the rough draft you first grade only content. Don’t get bogged down in specific words and mechanics. The rough draft first needs to be adjusted to get the information in an orderly format that completes the assigned writing task. Later revisions will get into the details of style.

- The goal is to teach the student to edit and evaluate themselves (a rubric helps significantly with this because it makes grading so much more concrete).

She shared many more specifics about evaluating writing, but those were the big ones that stuck with me and will have a great impact on how I read and evaluate my kids’ writing.

Did you go to ICHE? Have a favorite workshop?

Staycation Take 2

May 31st, 2012

Each year our vacation budget seems to shrink a little more and we need to get a little more creative with how we spend those hard earned dollars. Fortunately, living in the Chicago area you don’t need to go far to enjoy a lot of life and experience for not a lot of money.

My post last year summed up lots of unique spots to check out around the area and I don’t want to just duplicate that (but feel free to check it out here as much of that still applies), so this year we will look at different categories of attractions that even some Chicago residents might not think about while making the most of life in this great metroplis.

Because I’m a list maker and categorizer, we’ll break this down into Get Active; Grow ‘n’ Learn; and Give Back.

Get Active

Of course there are the obvious: parks, forest preserves, bike trails, swimming pools, and sports teams.  But here are a few places to definitely check out to add active fun to your staycation.

- Trampoline parks. A newer addition to the bouncy world of fun, these parks take trampolining out of the backyard and turn it into a group activity. Many include areas with trampolines made into activity specific areas like dodgeball, basketball, jumping into foam pits, just jumping and smaller tramps for little ones. This is not generally a cheap outing, but check for after hours and holiday specials throughout the summer. This is a great way to spend a rainy day when the kids are bouncing off the walls at home anyway.  Check out different centers (different owners, but similar facilities) in Buffalo Grove and Carol Stream, Niles, South Elgin, and Naperville (note that trampolines do bring an element of risk with them. Encourage kids to jump safely, watch the safety videos, and you should expect to sign a waiver in order for them to jump)

- Disc Golf. Not your mother’s frisbee game, and growing in popularity especially among older “kids.” This is a great activity for families with kids that are a bit older and ready to take on a challenge.  There are currently 163 courses in Illinois, although not all in the Chicago area. Perfect for those cooler days with friends or just family. Check out the Disc Golf Course list with links to locations and more details on some of the courses.

- Bowling. Not as heart pumping or muscle building as the others, but a fun afternoon of bowling keeps a wide range of ages happy and offers a great environment for active fun together. Brunswick offers free bowling to kids all summer long, one game per day per child. Of course you’ll have to rent shoes (unless you’re lucky enough to find them at garage sales or thrift stores), but still a nice deal. AMF also has bowling lanes in various cities. Many cities will have a local bowling alley, but another popular destination is Funway in Batavia which offers many activities from bowling to go carts to roller skating.

Grow ‘n’ Learn

The library deserves a section all its own because it is a huge doorway to tons of fun right in your backyard, most of it already paid for by your tax dollars, but I’ll highlight our favorites. Be sure to check out your own local library for programs, movies, outings, speakers, displays, and reading incentives to keep you learning all summer long.

- Summer reading program (and winter one if they have it, too, but that is not coming soon). Get your kids reading and earn free family outings. From the summer reading program we earn at least 3-4 of our family staycation outings. Each year we get a pass to DuPage Children’s Museum, baseball tickets, Medieval Times passes, water park tickets, meal coupons, and many more exciting and free passes to keep our summer fun at an all time high.

- Museum Adventure Pass. I mention this periodically, and it should not be overlooked. Each museum or location has a different deal that you activate through your library card. Stop in to see your librarian and with a few clicks she presents you with a pass for the Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, Cantigny, Brookfield Zoo, or a variety of other places. We have used these a few times now and have really enjoyed each one.

- Summer classes. Many colleges offer classes for various ages through the summer. Check out the closest one, and also take a look other places like Fermilab for keeping learning alive through this break in the traditional school year.

- Donley’s Wild West Town. Part fun, part learning, Donley’s will teach you to use a slingshot, entertain you with a gun fight drama, take you on a pony ride, and let you pan for gold. Younguns won’t quickly forget all the fun and adventure as they travel back to a little less tame period of history.

Give Back

Hanging with friends, relaxing, and stimulating your intellect are all great parts of vacation, but you can also spend part of your staycation giving back to those less fortunate. We may worry about having enough money to make special memories with our kids this summer, but others worry about just having the necessities of life. Look for a way to lend a hand this summer.

- Feed My Starving Children. We have enjoyed taking part in this program a few times now and cannot believe how quickly 2 hours flies by. Sign up for a 2 hour time slot of packing nutrient dense meals to ship to countries in need. By the end you are chanting, “Chicken, veggies, soy, rice,”  and in so doing are providing food for the hungry. My daughter enjoyed herself so much she wants to have her birthday party there this year. Kids 5 and over can attend with adult supervision. I loved watching my 6 year old scoop, weigh, and count, having fun in the process of making a difference. They have locations in Schaumburg and Aurora, so make sure to get a group together and find a couple hours to spare for this worthwhile cause.

- Food bank. Meeting a need closer to home, area food banks are also always looking for volunteers. Northern Illinois Food Bank is one with multiple locations that are always seeking volunteers of a variety of ages.  Check out their page for other local food pantries that might be able to use your help as well.

- Check out other volunteer positions around the Chicago area at Chicagovolunteer.net. They have listings for forest preserves to museums and more.

This post may spark your thinking for some special ways to spend your staycation this year and may even begin a relationship that will open new opportunities and experiences for years to come. Vacations shouldn’t end with summer. Build some memories that will take you full force into the next school year and beyond. Hope some of these ideas will help your staycation stick with you a little longer.

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