Jennifer

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a homeschool mom to 2 energetic boys. She, her husband and boys, love playing outdoors exploring new places and making new friends! Being a homeschooling mom, she considers travel a perfect extension of her children’s education. You can find Jennifer tweeting about life and her adventures at @jennparkerson.

Road Trip to St. Augustine!

This week we met Stef Layton, over at Educating Laytons, and Alli, over at Simply St. Augustine, in St. Augustine, Florida for a fun day of exploring! Alli was our guide, of course, and she put together a fabulous itinerary for all of us. We visited the Colonial Quarter, hung out on the green at the Castillo De San Marcos, went miniature golfing at Bayfront and road Ripley’s Red Train for their Night of Lights tour.

The Colonial Quarter was the perfect place to immerse ourselves into Spanish and a bit of British history. Our guide told us all about the 16th Century boat he was building, he showed us how to load and fire a 17th century musket, how a blacksmith worked with metal, what a printing press looked like and so much more. After the tour we were free to roam the grounds. The kids loved digging up artifacts in the archaeological dig area and I really enjoyed the view of the Castillo De San Marcos from the watchtower.

Colonial Quarter

 

MiniatureBayfront Miniature Golfing Click For Video golfing at Bayfront Mini Golf was so fun and relaxing.  Yes, mini golfing with about 14 kids was relaxing.  The course was the perfect size for our crew.  Alli, Stef and I were able to relax while the kiddos golfed.  The course was laid out in a way where you have a perfect view of the bay from every hole.  Here’s a fun fact.  Bayfront Mini Golf was founded in 1949 and is the oldest miniature golf course in Florida! They even have a little spot for you to wash your golf balls.  I think that was my son’s favorite part of the entire course.

TandhisTwin

We relaxed a bit in between our excursions.  We had a delicious lunch at the Taberna del Caballo, then hung out on the green in front of the Castillo De San Marcos. The kids ran off some energy while we enjoyed some girl time.  We grabbed a delicious cup of coffee from The Kookaburra and sipped it while relaxing at the Plaza de la Constitucion.  We had a wonderful cuban meal where my husband met his twin.  For real ya’ll, this is the first time these two met and look at them.  They dressed the same, both are programmers, both are homeschool dads and both created homeschool software.  Crazy right? Anyway, it made for a fun story and evening.

After dinner, we visited Ripley’s for their Red Train Nights of Lights Tour.  It was a blast!  We didn’t have to wait in line at at all.  We grabbed our magical glasses and boarded our train.  Christmas lights in St. Augustine are breathtaking! After our tour we enjoyed marshmallows dipped in chocolate, Christmas movies, Polynesian fire dancers and more.  This is a unique Christmas time event that you will not want to miss. We had a blast and created so many fun memories.

Ripley's Nights of Lights

After our day of fun we crashed at the Jaybird Inn. We grabbed an Express Deal on Priceline which means we received a great rate for a decent hotel.  Our room was nicely remodeled.  I loved the contemporary decor.  Our neighbors were a little loud so it was hard for hubs. to get the rest he needed but aside from that I recommend this hotel.

After breakfast we decided to take pictures of the fort and walk around a bit.  We stopped by the St. Augustine Visitors Information Center .  My boys enjoyed walking through the fabulous art collection that was on display. One of the pieces really drew them in.  Interactive, touch screen, table top monitors were available for us to “play” with.  Again, great for the kids.  There were gift stores and discounted tickets available for the attractions.  You will want to stop by the Visitor’s center plan and start your St. Augustine, Florida visit.  For the remainder of the day we just walked around the city.  We stopped by Claude’s Chocolate for a treat and I’m so glad we did. Their cSt. Augustine Visitor Centerhocolate is to die for!  After that we had to head home as the boys had a special date with  grandma and grandpa.

Thank you so much to Simply St. Augustine, Ripley’s and the Colonial Quarter for hosting us.  We had wonderful time and we will definitely be visiting again!

 

 

Check out my reviews of our St. Augustine adventure on Trekaroo.com.

 

 

 

 

Ice Skating and Book Club Fun!

Ice Skating, Advent, Book Club, Greek and Latin roots oh my!

iceskating

Did you know that you can go ice skating in Florida’s Space Coast?  You can, and you can do it  anytime of the year at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, FL!  We  went with our homeschool group and had a blast! The rink was all decked out with holiday decorations, Christmas music was playing in the background and green and red lights danced around our skates as we slid across the ice.  One of the things I love about this rink is that in addition to the friendly staff, they provide walker rentals for those in need of a little help out on the rink.  My youngest took full advantage of his walker and I know it saved him from a whole lot of bumps and bruises.

 

We continued our Truth in the Tinsel Advent study last week.  My boys are loving it! If I’m one minute late in starting they let me know!

Here are their creations.

TruthinthTinselSecondWeek2

TruthinthTinselSecondWeek

 

We are part of a book club that meets once a month.  It’s hard for me to read to my children as I’m just not that into it, so I’m thankful to our book club for keeping me accountable and encouraging me to read with my boys.  Last week we discussed the first five chapters of Rush Revere and the First Patriots.  This is the second Rush Revere book  that we’ve read and both myself and my boys are really enjoying it. We have had so much fun learning American history through the eyes of Rush Revere, Liberty, Tommy, Freedom and the gang.  Last week I lead the discussion for our club and here are a few discussion questions for chapters 1-5 of Rush Revere and the First Patriots.

Book club questions:  RushRevereFirstPatriots1-5

Last week my boys really enjoyed their WordUp! lesson.  My youngest wanted to write out the words that went along with the Latin section and my oldest asked to play the word games that followed the lesson.

 

 

I must say we had a pretty fun week!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Minecraft Christmas Tree

MinecraftChristmasTree

 

 

MinecraftMagazineSo, last Christmas we decided to go against tradition and create a Minecraft Christmas tree.  It was so much fun and my boys absolutely loved it!  This year we decided to go the traditional route and pull the fake tree down from the attic.  The day after we finished setting it up we received the Craft Projects for Minecraft and Pixel Art Fans Magazine in the mail and guess what?  Our Minecraft tree was in the magazine!!  We were so excited!!

Of course we think our tree is the best part of the magazine but, in addition to that, there are a lot of really neat and easy Minecraft projects/crafts that you and your kids can work on together.  There are several different projects to choose from and many different materials that you can use.  Kind of like the game.  You can use everything from perler beads, duct tape, modge podge, yarn, foam and more! Hey, Craft Projects for Minecraft and Pixel Art Fans would make a great stocking stuffer for your little, or big, gamers!

Unlike the picture, the directions on how to make your own Minecraft Christmas tree didn’t make it to print.  So, if you’re curious to know just how many blocks that it takes to create a Minecraft Christmas tree then check it out here.

I almost forgot!  There’s a video too!

 

 

 

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

This first week of December has been a fun one!

Each Christmas we do something a little different.  One year we chopped down our own Christmas tree and one year we celebrated Minecraft style. This year we decided to keep things simple.  We pulled the fake Christmas tree out of the attic and set it up.  It stills needs to be fluffed and the ornaments still need to be hung but it’s out!  We also decided to create memories during Advent this year.  We haven’t really made a big deal or talked about Advent in the past.  We’ve always read stories and talked about the birth of Jesus but this year we decided to use Truth in the Tinsel to prepare our minds and hearts for Christmas.

Truth in the TinselMy boys are 9 and 6.  Truth in the Tinsel is geared for the younger ones but can be adapted to any age.  It is a 24 day study.  Each day  you will read a bible verse with your kids, talk about  what you read and make a craft.  The first day we started Truth in the Tinsel I  told my boys they could create a craft, build a LEGO creation or build a Minecraft creation.  They chose Minecraft and LEGOs.  So, our mornings go like this:

My boys open an envelope that contains the word they need to listen for during our bible study time.  When they hear the word they can do whatever they want.  Jump, make a noise, whatever.

We talk about what we’ve read then address any questions that may have come to their minds.

We pray and then instead of doing the ornament/craft that goes along with the study they create it in Minecraft.

Here are this weeks Truth in the Tinsel Minecraft and LEGO creations.

Advent with Truth in the Tinsel

Advent with Truth in the Tinsel

We love movies in this house so I wanted to start watching a few Christmas movies with the kids this week as well.  I was a bit disappointed with some of the movies that I chose for my boys from Netflix.  They appeared harmless but  let’s just say we had to talk about issues other than Christmas once the movies were over.  So I hopped on over to RightNow Media and found a fabulous movie from Phil Vischer called Why Do We Call It Christmas.  It was great!  It answered so many questions about Christmas like:

  • Why do we have Christmas Trees?
  • Why do we hang stockings?
  • Who is Santa Claus?
  • Is December 25 really Jesus’ birthday?

If you don’t have access to RightNow Media you can purchase the movie from Amazon. I think both you and your kiddos will learn and get a kick out of Why Do We Call It Christmas.

 

Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom

Our homeschool groups have gone on Christmas break but that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped our schooling.  We have decided to change things up a bit though.  Learning Latin and Greek roots along with vocab words has been such a chore for my boys which is why I was super excited when asked to try out  WordUp! by Compass Classroom.  It is awesome!  It’s so much better than the boring flip cards that I’ve been using.  Dwane Thomas keeps my boys entertained with his hilarious comedic style of teaching.  My boys don’t even realize this is a part of their “school”.  You can try out a sample lessons HERE if you’d like.

I plan on sharing more of our Christmas season in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links.

Western Civilization With Brimwood Press

This summer we had a lot of fun traveling, relaxing by the pool, visiting with friends and learning about western civilization.  We read through the book Calender Quest by Brimwood Press. It is a fabulous story filled with adventure, mystery and fun! The perfect combination for my 7 year old.  We had the opportunity to review three of their books which allowed us to learn about western civilization through the story of the calendar.  The books we reviewed were Calendar Quest, What Every Child Needs To Know About Western Civilization and Color The Western World.
Calendar Quest
This book covers 5000 years of history through the eyes of two children and their pet as they are transported through time in a refrigerator box.  As they travel to several different eras in history they actually get involved and experience life during that time period.  They take on different jobs, end up in jail and take part in important meetings.  This book really brought history to life for my son. At times he didn’t want me to stop reading which is a big deal for him.Brimwood Press -Caleb
What Every Child Needs To Know About Western Civilization
This is a workbook that blends nicely with the Calendar Quest book.  Each chapter contains the following sections: Teacher Preview, Learning from Literature, History in a Nutshell, and Games and Activities.
  • The Teacher Preview gives you a list of items you need in order to prepare for each lesson and explains which objectives will be covered during the chapter’s lesson.
  • Learning From Literature tells you which chapter to read from the Calendar Quest book, lists discussion questions and writing activities for the chapter. It also explains which Timeline Activity to follow, provides a Geography Activity and keeps you on track with your Hats of History Cards.
  • History in a Nutshell explains on a deeper level what you and/or your child read in the Calendar Quest book.  This section lists all of the information you or your student will write on the Hats of History card for the time period/chapter you are studying.  It lists what you will need to do for the Color and Stick Activity and the Sticker Activity.  It also provides  Review Questions for you and your child to think about.
  • Games and Activities or “Optional Activities” are listed at the end of each chapter in the workbook.  They have lots of activities listed including ideas for creating visual displays, research activities and online activities.
Color The Western World
This was one my boy’s favorite parts about this curriculum.  He loves to draw and color and this HUGE coloring book allowed him to do that.  As I read Calendar Quest he would color the corresponding pages in the Color The Western World coloring book.  Each picture has a corresponding description so we would go back and read the descriptions and talk about them.  Additionally, the back side of each coloring page is blank which allowed my son to draw about the things we talked about.  Drawing solidifies things for him so the blank pages were a big plus for us.Calendar Quest2
As a former Classical Conversations teaching momma and tutor I can definitely say this curriculum is wonderful!  It re-enforced many of the history lessons that we learned in CC in a fun and enlightening way. There were many times when my son would say, “Hey mom! I remember him.”  My favorite part about this curriculum was the  Hat’s of History cards.  Placing them in the proper order was fun for my son and really helped him connect the “historical” dots in the story.  My son’s favorites were the Calendar Quest book and drawing and coloring in the Color The Western World coloring book.  We will be using this curriculum again as my boys get older and look forward to enjoying more Brimwood Press stories and products in the future!
BrimWood Press history and worldview curriculum for homeschool
*I received the products listed above from Brimwood Press in exchange for an honest review.  Brimwood Press did not require that I express a particular point of view.

Finish Strong!

The end of our 40 Mile Challenge is here.  Did you meet your goals?  Were you able move for 40 miles?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

I am happy to say that I made it to the 40 mile marker this morning.  It feels fabulous to have reached my goal!

My son set a goal a few months ago.  He said he wanted to compete in a triathlon.  Hearing him say that made me a little nervous at first, but he really wanted to do it so he started his training. I wasn’t able to consistently train with him but that did not matter.  When his daddy brought him to the pool he would swim laps, do jumping jacks, swim more laps, then do push ups and so on.  When I told him he could go outside and play he would bike, run, bike and then run some more.  He really wanted to compete so I signed him up to participate in his very first triathlon.  On the day of the race he was nervous but he jumped into that pool like a pro.  He wasn’t the fastest but he gave it his all and finished!!  My son is officially a triathlete.  He is so proud of himself and we are so proud of him for accomplishing his goal and Finishing Strong!!

Tri

If you haven’t reached your 40 mile goal yet keep going so you can Finish Strong as well!

 

Move It Monday – Week 4

It’s Week 4 of Move It Monday!  The month of April is almost over.  Are you meeting your 40 mile goal? I’m almost there. Last week  I ran a total of 10.5 miles so my monthly total is currently 32.25. WooHoo!

So exercise is great but in order to stay healthy we also need to watch what we eat.  There are a lot of great weight loss programs that will help with weight loss goals but if you don’t have time to go to meetings or want to spend a bunch of money you can try an app. I’m sure there are a lot out there but the one I’ve used is called Lose It!

You can track your weight, the food you eat and yes the calories.  You can set weekly weight loss goals for yourself, up to 2 pounds, and the program will tell you how many calories you can eat each week to achieve your goal.  It’s great and if you have the will power to stick with it you will reach your goal.

Have a fabulous Monday and just Move It!

Move It Monday – Week 3

We are moving into Week 3 of our Move It Mondays!  Are you meeting your goals? This week I ran 9.75 miles so I was just under my weekly goal of 10 miles. I will have to make it up this week!
I’ve noticed when I run I get a lot of aches and pains because I’m working the same muscles over and over again so last week, I decided to join a hula class with my friend.  I  joined mainly because she asked and I thought it would be super fun. But, I also joined because I’ve been having some back problems and I thought it would be a great way to work my core muscles and hopefully get rid of my pain.    After an hour of class I could feel the burn in my core, my hips and my arms which was awesome!!  Hula was so much fun and quite a workout.   Stepping into class was like stepping into a different world.  I was greeted with a hug, a kiss and a huge smile from complete strangers. I was given a hula dress and told that I had to put in on over my head and could not step into it. There was chanting, there was singing and of course dancing.   It was so much fun trying something new.  I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new as well.  Who knows you may like it!

40 Mile

As you are exercising this week please remember to pray for everyone affected by the Boston Marathon Explosions.

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Move It Monday – Week 2

Today begins our second week of Move It Monday!  How are you doing?  Were you able to meet your goals last week?  Tell us your story and let us know how you are doing in the comments below.

Last week I ran 8.8 miles and rowed 3.2 so I was able to get in a total of 12 miles of exercise.  Hooray!

Ab Workout

I wanted to tell you all about an app. I found.   It’s called Ab Workout. I’ve only been using the free version but it’s a pretty good abdominal workout.  You have a choice of a 5 minute, 7.5 minute or a 10 minute workout.  You can start your workout from the beginning or choose to start at any one of the  ten 10 different exercises that you will be doing during your workout. I downloaded the app. to my phone so it’s very convenient for me to use anywhere and at any time during my day.  I recommend giving it a try!

 

 

 

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When Your Doctor Says, “Oh, That Doesn’t Look Good”

It was one of those days.  My oldest woke up with two red puffy eyes that needed the doctor’s attention, my youngest needed to get to school,  my husband had a lot that needed to get done at work and I had a doctor’s appointment that I had to get to.  Looking back at everything it probably would have been best if we all just stayed in bed!  You’ve had one of those days haven’t you?

My husband and I were able to get everyone to where they needed to be, pick up the necessary medicines and accomplish a few things before my appointment, which was thankfully one of the last things that I needed to get done.  I noticed some red spots on my skin that I thought I should get looked at by my dermatologist   My friend said they were just old lady spots but I figured I would get them checked out anyway.  The dermatologist confirmed my friends diagnoses.  She didn’t call them old lady spots, she gave me the medical name for them, but she said they were hereditary and nothing to be concerned about.  Then she started looking at my freckles, stopped and said, “Oh, that does not look good.  We need to biopsy that.”
sick
Apparently, a freckle with a shadow beneath it indicates a possible growth under your skin. So, she cut a small chunk out of my arm and sent it off for testing.  I don’t expect it to be cancer but when my mother’s doctor found a suspicious lump I didn’t expect her to have breast cancer but she did.   She is “all clear” now but when my doctor says, “Oh, that does not look good” those words carry a little more weight now than when they were said before.
So, I go on with my day. Even though I really don’t think the test will be positive for a malignant growth I’m a bit more tense.  Things agitate me a little more than normal.  When my son isn’t paying attention during our homeschool lessons the way I think he should it is harder for me to ignore, but I try.
It will take the doctor about 10 to 14 days to get back to me with the results so for now I try to ignore the slight stinging in my arm caused from the biopsy.  I trust that whatever happens the Lord is in control and when some random guy in the mall asks me if I am trying to quit smoking because he thinks I have a nicorrette patch on my arm I laugh.  After all, laughter is the best medicine, right?
How do you cope with the unexpected inconveniences that pop up in your life?