Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Happy 16th Birthday C

C turned 16 this week!  I’m so proud of him and all his accomplishments.  He is now taller than both David and I (and he may have another inch or two to go - who knows).  He passed his driving test yesterday with a score of 98. We love you C!!

 Singing to C

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Level 6 Gymnastics

Level 6 is in the books for D and what a season!  She was suppose to compete at State last week and 2 days prior she ended up spraining her ankle.  While we were all bummed for her, we are so thrilled with the amazing season she had and all that she accomplished.  Way to go D, we are so proud!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Happy Birthday David

David's cake!

We celebrated David's birthday last week.  He's finally catching up to me 😉.  A was able to make David a cake and come home for a few hours on his birthday to celebrate, so fun!

Just a few candles...

45 looks good

Happy birthday David, we love you to pieces!

CompuScholar Java Programming Review

I have a fun high school product to share with you today from Timberdoodle, Java Programming.  We were blessed to receive a one-year subscription for both B and C to use for 1 high school credit.  This introductory programming course using the Java language requires no previous programming experience.  You may remember our review of CompuScholar's Python Programming back in January 2020.  This course can be used as an introductory coding course or it can be used to prepare for the AP Computer Science A exam.  There are different syllabus options available for both options.  As previously mentioned, this course is intended to last approximately 2 semesters (1 high school credit upon completion); however, students can move at their own pace whether that be faster or slower.

The format for this Java Programming course is simple.  This course contains 24 required chapters and lessons with an optional additional 9 chapters and 4 supplemental chapters as well.

What topics are covered?


  • Chapter 1:  Computing Concepts
  • Chapter 2:  Getting Started with Java
  • Chapter 3:  Data Types and Variables
  • Chapter 4:  Working with Numbers
  • Chapter 5:  Introducing Objects
  • Chapter 6:  Working with Strings
  • Chapter 7:  Numbering Systems and Java Math
  • Chapter 8:  Logic and Decision-Making
  • Chapter 9:  More Complex Logic
  • Chapter 10:  Handling Exceptions
  • Chapter 11:  Debugging
  • Chapter 12:  Iteration
  • Chapter 13:  Algorithms
  • Chapter 14:  Creating Java Classes
  • Chapter 15:  Working with Methods
  • Chapter 16:  Static Concepts
  • Chapter 17:  Mid-Term Project
  • Chapter 18:  1D Arrays
  • Chapter 19:  Lists and ArrayLists
  • Chapter 20:  Searching and Sorting
  • Chapter 21:  2D Arrays
  • Chapter 22:  Inheritance
  • Chapter 23:  Polymorphism
  • Chapter 24:  Recursion


  • Chapter 25:  File Access
  • Chapter 26:  Object Composition and Copying
  • Chapter 27:  Team Project
  • Chapter 28:  Running Java Locally
  • Chapter 29:  The Eclipse IDE
  • Chapter 30:  Graphical Java Programs
  • Chapter 31:  Swing Input Controls
  • Chapter 32:  Vector and Bitmap Images
  • Chapter 33:  Program Efficiency
  • Supplemental Chapter 1:  Enrichment Topics
  • Supplemental Chapter 2:  Software and Industry
  • Supplemental Chapter 3:  Computers and Modern Society
  • Supplemental Chapter 4:  Computer Networking 
Every chapter contains multiple lessons.  Each lesson contains an instructional video, lesson text, followed by an automated quiz.  The lesson text is required reading, whereas the instructional videos are optional and made to re-enforce lesson text and I think really adds to this course.
Above you can see the beginning of the instructional video for the first lesson in Chapter 1.
And here is a snippet of the lesson text.

Within the lesson text pages there are live code boxes where students can write code directly into their web browser,  After executing it they can see the results.  Within the lessons are "Work with Me" sections for additional hands-on practice.  And each chapter also end with an auto-graded test.  Most chapters also contain additional homework exercises as well as a larger hands-on coding project where students demonstrate skills learned.

I really appreciate that all lesson quizzes, chapter tests, and hands-on coding projects are all auto-graded in this course.  Everything is completed online in a web browser.  I do want to mention that there are optional chapters that do offer projects that require and external IDE and would be teacher/parent graded if completed, but there are rubrics provided for that if you choose to have your student complete them.

I like that through my teacher account I have access to teacher's guides for lessons, both quiz and test answer keys, activity guides, etc.  We are using this course as a self-study so I am pretty much hands-off but I really appreciate having everything so if one of the kids needs help or a hint on something I can easily do this.

Java Programming is currently included in Timberdoodle's 11th grade curriculum kit.  If you are looking for an introductory programming course, this one is great.  CompuScholar's courses are well organized and makes coding very approachable for those with little or no previous programming knowledge.  It has become a go-to in our homeschool.

Disclosure:  Huge shout out to Timberdoodle for selecting me as a Timberdoodle Blogger.  I received CompuScholar Java Programming in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


The bluebonnets are out and blooming in Texas!  It's been a few years since I got some good photos of the kids in the bluebonnets so I made sure to get a few this week.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Nomadic Professor: US History 1 & 2

I have another homeschool product to share with you today from Timberdoodle, The Nomadic Professor: US History 1 & 2.  This digital course is geared for high schoolers (grades 9th and above) or students aged 14+.  This course qualifies for high school credit and /or can also be used to prepare for the AP and CLEP tests.

US1 or American History 1 is broken into 10 units starting before Columbus looking at the pre-Columbian Americas through The Constitution and its ratification.  US2 or American History 2 is similarly broken into 10 units beginning with Washington's presidency through the end of the Reconstruction era.

I really like the "nomadic approach" outlined above - guided, flexible, transparent and content-rich.  I also really like the organization of this course as well.  Each unit has materials needed or specific to that portion available for each session.  I appreciate that the course material is easily accessible and available in print-friendly versions for the students to use!  These courses use a combination of engaging videos and text to help history come alive.

Every unit includes a unit preview, pre-quiz, the unit material, summary and structure terms, post quiz and a document lesson.

Above you can see what will be covered in Unit 8: European Rivalries

I have really enjoyed that there are both pre-quizzes and post-quizzes to test the students knowledge of the material so they can see what they are learning and check that they are understanding the information.  The document lessons are great as well.  This is where students will look at historical literature and focus on different skills for historical literacy.  They are taught to look at the source, contextualize about that source, read and infer about the claims/evidence/implications, and corroborate if other sources agree or disagree.

I really love the building your structures concept.  It’s where you take the historical concepts and piece or connect them together, you need to be able to explain the definition of each of the terms and how they connect.

So for this first unit, students will need to be able to define or explain Mesoamericans, the Neollithic Revolution, Olmecs, Teotihuacan, Maya, glyphs, and Tenochtitlan.  This can be done a number of different ways but it’s such a great way to solidify what you have learned and understanding how it fits together, so neat!

If you are looking for a US History curriculum for your high schooler or a course to help prepare your student for the AP and CLEP tests The Nomadic Professor would be an excellent choice!

Disclosure:  Huge shout out to Timberdoodle for selecting me as a Timberdoodle Blogger.  I received The Nomadic Professor in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Happy National Tile Day

It seems random but today is National Tile Day! Do you have a favorite type: ceramic, porcelain, glass, marble, granite, natural stone, or something else?  I’ve always enjoyed mosaic tile.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Laser Chess Review {Timberdoodle's Customized Curriculum Kit}

I want to share with you today one of the fun thinking skills components included in D's customized Timberdoodle kit, Laser Chess.  Laser Chess is manufactured by ThinkFun Games and is recommended for kids 8 and older or 3rd grade and up.  Similar to standard Chess it is a 2 player game.

What's included in our game?  Our game includes one game board, 26 playing pieces, and instructions.  The 26 pieces consist of 2 lasers, 2 kings, 4 switches, 14 deflectors, and 4 defenders.  Instead of the standard black and white colors in normal chess, the two teams consist of gray/red pieces and blue/white pieces.

I love how easily the pieces fit inside our box.

Above you can see what the pieces look like.  I appreciate that they are durable.

How do you play?

Determine which player will be gray/red and which player will be blue/white.  Select one of the 5 board set ups to begin the game (choices include in increasing difficulty Ace, Curiosity, Grail, Mercury and Sophie).  

Above you can see the board set up options as well as the board set up in Ace format.

The blue/white team goes first.  Player 1 chooses one of the following actions:  move one of their own pieces in any direction, rotate one of their pieces 90 degrees without moving spaces, or rotate their own laser.  Afterwards, the player must then fire their laser by pressing the button on the top.  If the laser lands on pieces (opponents or even their own), they are removed from the board (essentially killed).  Then Player 2 takes their turn in the same way.  The first player to strike their opponents king with a laser wins!  I say a laser because it is totally possible to strike your own king and sabbotage yourself inadvertently.

C and F playing, you can see F's laser is hitting C's wrist
Above C has won by taking out his opponents king.

Laser Chess is quick and you learn a lot every time you play it!  Like many strategy games, I feel like there is so much learned from trial and error and after playing a few times you really start developing your strategies and get the feel for how to use your laser and pieces.  Laser Chess is great for logic and problem solving, visual perception and helps develop reasoning skills.

Check out the video below to see more about Laser Chess.

I also want to note that while there are 5 starting board set ups presented in the instructions you can also make up your own so the possibilities are really endless.  Laser Chess is a really fun take on Chess and the kids enjoy having it.  I think my boys appreciate it the most and it is a great resource to have within our homeschool!

Disclosure:  Huge shout out to Timberdoodle for selecting me as a Timberdoodle Blogger.  I will be refunded the purchase price of our curriculum kit in exchange for my honest reviews of our kit.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

F's 9th Birthday {Lego Party}

We finally celebrated F turning 9 with family and friends over the weekend!  He had a fun LEGO themed party and David made him a green LEGO cake at his request.  Unfortunately I did not get many pictures but a great time was had by all.

One side of F's cake had his name.
Another had his age

And here's a good view of the top of the cake!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

D's Meet Season (Level 6 Gymnastics)

We are so beyond thrilled for D.  After overcoming 2 elbow surgeries in the same year (January 2021 for one elbow and November 2021 for the other) for OCD, Osteochondritis dissecans, she is finally able to compete a meet season!  It's hard missing several in a row.  We are so proud of her dedication and all the work she put in and I truly believe she is stronger because of it.  It is a blast seeing her compete again.

At her 1st Meet (Texas Shootout) she received 1st for Bars, Beam, Vault and All Around, and 3rd on floor!  Check it out below.

At her 2nd Meet (Houston National Invitational or HNI) she received 1st for Bars, Beam, All Around, 3rd on Vault and 5th on floor (and her All Around score was higher than the 1st meet).

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Region Band

B and C both tried out for Region Band this year and made it!  They both made 6th chair, which I thought was funny.  Their concert was over the weekend in Houston and David was able to take them.  Thankfully, he took videos so I was able to watch their performance afterwards.  They did so great and I'm so proud of them!

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Happy 9th Birthday F!

F turned 9 yesterday!  We didn't get to do everything that we had planned because he wasn't feeling 100%.  Thankfully he seems to be gearing to go today.  We should be having a party to celebrate him in a few weeks.

F is currently in the middle of building his big Christmas present from us, a giant LEGO Tree House.  I cannot wait to see it finished.  Happy 9th F - you are a truly amazing kid!