Our Family

Our Family

Friday, October 29, 2010

TOS Review: Buckets O Fun

Wondering what on earth these pictures are of? We recently had an opportunity to review a sampling of Yuck! from Buckets O Fun. Buckets O Fun carries unique products for recreational and social events. "From things that fly to a bucket full of slime we are your source for fun and unusual products for all your events."

Chunky Yuck- starts out the size of rock alt and hydrates to the size of machine ice cubes. Takes 24 hours to completely hydrate.


Saucy Yuck- starts out as a powder and turns into the consistency of applesauce.

Snowy Yuck- starts out as a powder and turns into fluffy white snow that can be formed but not packed.

Sticky Yuck- super sticky yuck

For Yuck game ideas click here.
For a free sample of Yuck (one per person/organization) email orders@buckets-o-fun.com.

The price of Yuck starts out at $16 for a pound and also can be purchased in 5 pound and 50 pound amounts. There are also Yuck accessories such as tints and water ballons you can purchase to enhance your Yuck fun.

What We Liked- Most children (especially boys!) like to play with things that are gooey or sticky. The children enjoyed measuring out the water and seeing what the powder was going to turn into. They had fun freezing and thawing the snowy yuck, dying and blowing bubbles in the sticky yuck, and playing with the chunky and saucy yuck.

Some Things to Consider- The Yuck products absorb water and cannot be poured down the drain because it will clog your pipes. This can make cleanup a little difficult. We used disposable containers and threw them out when we were done instead of trying to clean the bowls. We also worked outside so we could clean up the picnic table with the outside faucet and water hose. I did not want to take a chance of Lily putting any of this in her mouth, so we did the experiments while she was napping. The sticky, snowy, and saucy yuck absorbed the water right away, but the chunky yuck took a long time (about 24 hours) to absorb.

My Final Thoughts- With 6 children messes aren't anything new to me. I personally would not buy something just for the "fun" of getting messy and gooey. If it has educational value (like a scientific experiment) I would. I think Buckets O Fun is tapping into that market with the suggestions for scientific experiments that were included with our samples and as they expand on that it may bring even more interest into their products.

I received complimentary samples of Yuck products for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's A Girl!

What a day! It sure was an exciting one! Art took a half day of work so we could load up the children and go to the doctor to have our ultrasound. After driving over an hour to get there, they informed me that they had me down for yesterday. The lady that did my appointment scheduling over the phone made a mistake and out me down for the wrong day. So, they squeezed me in for the ultrasound and to see the Nurse Practitioner since my doctor wasn't there. we got into the ultrasound room when the tech had to step out for a minute. 30 minutes later she finally returned. I must say how good the children were even though they had to sit quietly in room without even a window to look out of or one book or magazine for all that time. Then they had to sit through the 30 minute ultrasound. The baby looks great! All of her parts are present and functioning the way they should. She is measuring a little small right now but I am sure she will catch up later on. The children are very excited that we are going to have a sister! The tech felt bad that we had to wait so after she took all of the pictures for the doctor, she switched to a 3D ultrasound and got this picture of her face and made me a DVD. Isn't that sweet? I told her it was no problem to wait. It was a great lesson to work on our patience (adults and children included.) I had never had a 3D ultrasound before and it was pretty interesting (the children thought she looked like a skeleton.) In the picture the baby s opening her mouth and bringing her hand up to it, and you can see her eyes, nose, and ear pretty clearly also. After the ultrasound I had my weight and blood pressure checked. I did gain two pounds making my total weight gain 5.5 pounds so far. With the holidays coming up I am sure I will make up for that later on. After being at the doctor for a total of 2 hours, we went to Pizza Hut for supper and then to Lowes to get some things for the house. The children and I were too tired for Walmart so that will have to wait for another day. We did get to eat a chocolate bar on the way home because everyone was so well behaved all day. Now they are all in bed and I am heading there myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Dinorama (Dinosaur Diorama)

Last week I shared that we would be working on this creation based unit study on dinosaurs. To go with the lessons, today's project was to make a dinosaur diorama. We used an empty diaper box and the boys covered the bottom with green construction paper and the back with blue (they didn't think anything needed to go on the sides.) Trees were also constructed and taped to the back. After I took the picture Anthony added some clouds and drew God sitting on one of them (isn't he cute.) The boys made a volcano, a pond, and some nests with eggs out of modeling clay. The dinosaurs I printed off of this website. After it was done Christian and Anthony had a lot of fun playing with the dinosaurs in the diorama. Tomorrow we will be making fossil prints and later in the week dinosaur eggs.

Menu Plan Monday

This week is a little uncertain because even though our 6 and under soccer team is finished, our 8 year old's tournament starts today and how long we play will depend on how they do. So I planned some meals that are quick and easy or can be made in the crock pot.

Friday 10/22- pizza
Saturday 10/23-meatball subs, sliced peaches, carrot sticks
Sunday 10/24- ham, mashed potatoes, creamed corn
Monday 10/25- tacos and rice
Tuesday 10/27- chicken spaghetti and homemade bread
Wednesday 10/28- Dr. appt. Picking up Pizza Hut (free for 3 of the kids with reading certificates)
Thursday 10/29- Bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, fruit

Check out what others are cooking up this week at http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Friday, October 22, 2010

TOS Review: Brill Kids Little Reader


Usually when we are working on our regular school work or review items, I have to keep Lily occupied with something else so she will stay out of trouble so we can get our work done. Not this time! We got to review a product just for Lily (well Christian and Anthony like it too) Brill Kids Little Reader Learning System.

Description: Brill Kids strongly believes in early learning and that parents can do many things with children at an early age that can help them achieve their full potential. They have a line of products for early learning including: Little Reader, Little Math, and Little Musician. We have been using the Little Reader Basic Learning System for the last several weeks. The cost of the Little Reader Basic Learning System is $149 for one semester or $199 for a full year curriculum with a lifetime license key that is able to installed on two computers. The full year curriculum contains over 3000 words in 180 categories. The software is compatible with computers using Windows only.

The Little Reader Basic Learning System is:
  • engaging and fun for your child lessons are never the same
  • easy for a parent to use just load the software and follow the lessons
  • parent and educator approved
  • able to be used in just minutes a day
  • taught with the Flash method, multisensory method, and phonics method
  • able to grow with your child progressing from words to simple sentences and stories
  • able to be personalized with your own pictures and videos

Benefits of using Little Reader:

  • helps your child read at a younger age by sight words and learning natural phonics decoding
  • help your child develop clearer speech
  • helps foster a geunine love of reading
  • can teach your child different languages using content files downloaded off of the Brill Kids Forum

There is a Deluxe Little Reader System also available. Click here for more information.

For a free 14 day trial of Little Reader click here.

What We Like: The program is very easy to use. Click play and the lesson begins. The lessons are fun and engaging for children and do not take long to do. Each lesson only lasts around 5 minutes. Lily (18 months) absolutely loves the program. She wants me to turn it on everytime she sees me open the laptop. She interacts with the program often laughing and pointing at what is on the screen. She also makes many of the animal sounds and will repeat many of the words. Her vocabulary has definitely increased over the last couple of weeks. Christian and Anthony really like it too and will crowd around the computer to be able to listen along. Their tech support was great when I had a question. I received an email respnse the next day with very clear concise directions. Good tech support is very important especially when working with computers.

Some Things to Consider: One thing I thought was a little strange was what categories some of the pictures were in. For instance, two of the categories are common animals and kids' things. But chicken and rabbit are in the kids' things category and not in the common animals category. Also, there was a glitch in downloading the files using Internet Explorer as your web browser. Using another web browser to download was recommended or tech support offered a way to solve the problem.

My Final Thoughts: The baby really enjoys using this program and her vocabulary has definitely increased. It only takes a few minutes a day and all I have to do is follow the lessons already planned out. Will she learn how to read at an early age? I guess we will find out after we continue using the program for awhile. In the meantime she is having fun learning.

I received a complimentary download of this product in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review:TOS High School Student Planner E-book

Over the summer I made a confession that I had never written lesson plans before, but now that Chelsea has entered High School I felt that I really needed to be more organized. I purchased the TOS Homeschool Planner and wow was I impressed. It was everything I could have wanted in a planner and more. Now TOS has taken it one step further and come out with Student Planners in 4 age groups: Primary (K-3), Secondary (4-6), Middle School (7-8), and High School (9-12.) I have had the opportunity to use the High School Student Planner.

Description: The High School Planner E book comes with a 14 page parent pack and a 293 page High School Student Planner for $29. The Parent Pack contains four great articles: The 4-1-1 on Dual Enrollment, High School: Time to Prepare, How to Create A High School Transcript, and You Are the BEST High School Guidance Counselor. The Planner comes with everything your High Schooler needs to learn to balance their home and school responsibilities plus "must know" lists to help remember important facts and figures.

A Wide Variety Homeschool Forms Included Are:
  • goal sheets (daily, weekly, monthly, semester, yearly)
  • daily, weekly, quarterly, marking period, 4 year planning pages
  • to do lists (today, tomorrow, next week etc.)
  • week at a glance
  • calendars (monthly, yearly 2010, 2011)
  • marking period planners
  • log sheets (field trip, audio video,reading, extracurricular activities, musical instrument practice, etc)
  • wish list
  • science experiment sheet
  • general book report
  • chore charts
  • future plans
  • Vocab study sheets
  • Test Preparation checklist
  • journals
  • high school transcripts
  • test recording, assignments and due dates
  • attendance
  • GPA calculating and tracking forms
  • address book
  • Bible study/memorization
  • website log in/password
  • family tree

Examples of some of the "must know" lists included are:

  • common Latin and Greek roots
  • basic Roman Numerals
  • kitchen conversion sheet
  • famous artists, composers, authors
  • basic sign language
  • US Presidents and their wives
  • 13 colonies
  • Elements, planets, cloud formation
  • wars involving US
  • timeline, miracles and parables of Jesus
  • States and Capitals, Countries and Capitals
  • bodies of water, mountain ranges, wonders of modern and ancient world

To see a sampling of the planner click here.

All E books published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine come with a 7 day 100 % money back guarantee.

What We Liked: The High School Student Planner puts some of the organization and planning back on the student shoulders. By this age they should be responsible for a lot of their own work and having a place to write it all down and keep it organized makes life much easier. Any kind of organizing/planning form you could think of that you would need for a High Schooler is included in this planner. There are different options for several forms so you can pick what works best for your family. You only have to print out the forms that you need/want to include in your planner. We like the "must know " lists. They make finding specific information on the included topics easier. I found the articles in the parent pack to be informational and encouraging.

Some things to consider: There is of course going to be an added cost for printing out the forms. I did not print out all 293 pages, just what we needed and I didn't find that each page used a whole lot of ink. Many of the forms and "must know " lists are the same as in the Homeschool Planner planner so you could create your own High School planner out of the pages in the Homeschool Planner if you already have one.

My Final Thoughts: A great way to help keep your teen and yourself more organized. Chelsea is very glad to have a planner of her own. Includes any form you could possibly think of and more!

I received a complimentary copy of this planner in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Favorite Recipes: Pork Chop Parmesan

We eat pasta once a week. Pasta is cheap, easy to make, and can feed a lot of people. Usually I switch between Spaghetti, Goulash, Cheese Ravioli, Lasagna, and Pork Chop Parmesan. The Pork Chop Parmesan changes up the ordinary a little bit and is one of my dh's favorite meals. While I don't use an exact recipe, here's how I make it.

1 pkg. thin boneless pork chops (I usually get the breakfast cut chops)
Italian Breadcrumbs
Spaghetti Sauce
Pasta (what kind and how much depends on your family we use I box of angel hair)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Whisk a couple of eggs in a bowl. Dip chops in egg and then in bread crumbs and place them in a 13x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 until done (usually about 25 minutes but will depend on what kind of pork chop you are using.) Set a pan of water to boil on the stove. Cook pasta according to directions. Remove pork chops from oven and pour a generous amount of sauce over top then a generous amount of cheese. Return to the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve pork chops with a side of pasta. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Digging For Dinosaurs

Yesterday, during our work on our Dinosaur Creation Study from Homeschool Share, we were talking about Paleontologists and what they do. A recommended activity to go along with this was to either bury pieces of a dinosaur puzzle in a container full of sand and have the children put them together without a picture, bury dog biscuits and have children dig them up, or make bones out of paper and have the children find them. I had a pack of twelve mini dinosaurs that I had found at Dollar General for $1 and the boys wanted me to bury them in the back yard so they could find them. Wouldn't you know it, it rained (and thundered) yesterday for the first time in a very long time so we did not get to do this activity. So we postponed until this morning. We headed out and I buried the little dinosaurs in and around our sandbox and the children (except Chelsea) dug them back up. They thought it was so much fun that they wanted to do it again. Alex buried the dinosaurs and did such a good job that we couldn't find one of them. Finally after about 15 minutes of looking Nick unburied the missing dinosaur. While it isn't the same as what a Paleontologist actually does it did give the children an idea of what they do and it was a fun activity to go along with wha they are learning.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here's whats cooking up for supper at my house this week:

Fri 10/15-Pizza
Sat 10/16-Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, sliced peaches
Sun 10/17-Meatloaf, baked potatoes, cauliflower
Mon 10/18- Chicken Quesadillas and Rice
Tues 10/19-Baked Cheese Ravioli, Homemade Bread
Wed 10/20-Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Thurs 10/21-Egg Casserole, Biscuits, and Fruit

Check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/ to see what others are cooking up this week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Unit Study on the Creation of Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are mysterious and fascinating creatures and children always are interested in them. Unfortunately, most of the movies, books, coloring books, about dinosaurs all come from an evolutionary perspective.I believe the Bible. I believe that everything contained in the Bible is true from Genesis 1:1 all the way to Revelation 22:21. 2 Timoth 3 :16 (NIV) says All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. I believe the account of creation as listed in Genesis and that dinosaurs were created with all the other animals on the 6th day (Genesis 1:24-31.) I do not believe that the earth is millions of years old, that dinosaurs came before everything else, or that we were all formed from single celled organisms. I think it actually takes a lot more faith to believe these things than it does to believe in God and the Bible. I know also that there are many Christians who try to make both be true. They try to merge God and the Bible with some scientists theories and many believe that dinosaurs came millions of years before humans. You can't pick and choose which parts of the Bible are true. A great website to answer the most common questions about the book of Genesis is http://www.answersingenesis.org/.

It is very important that your children know the Truth. They need to be prepared with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) Even at a young age they can understand a lot and can start to be confused and swayed by "worldly beliefs." I can remember being in middle school in a public school and being very confused by what I was being taught in Science class and what I had learned in Sunday School and trying to make both of those things be true. I don't want my children to experience that same confusion.

I found this Unit Study on http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ on dinosaurs from a creation standpoint. Over the next two weeks we will be working on this study and making a lapbook on dinosaurs. I think this is going to be a lot of fun and that the children will really enjoy it. I will be posting some of the activities as we complete them and their finished lapbooks when we get to the end of the study.

Friday, October 15, 2010

TOS Review: Soli Deo Gloria Resources William Tyndale Unit Study


Unit Studies work out great for our family. Since we have so many different ages (13,8,6,5,3,1) it is a great way to take a break from our every day work and get everyone together to work on a topic. It is even better when the work has already been done for you the teacher and you don't have to come up with it on your own.

From the website:" Soli Deo Gloria Resources provides unit study curricula, Bible studies, and teacher resources for homeschooling families. Soli Deo Gloria is Latin for "To God Alone the Glory." It is one of the benchmarks of the reformation and necessary for the reformation of our thoughts regarding the education of our children."

To go to their main product page to see the different items they have to offer click here.

We were given the Unit Study on William Tyndale to review. This study is a "get your feet wet" type of unit study for people just starting out with unit studies, or just as a shorter study for those already used to doing unit studies. It covers the subjects of: history, science, geography,character study, Bible, art and language arts. In addition to the activities included in the study, there are several links to websites for more in depth study. It is set up to be completed in 5 days and has activities for children in K-12. It is available as a 21 page e-book and the cost is $8.

The objectives of this study are to:
1. Teach students about William Tyndale and how the importance of what he did affects our spiritual growth today.
2. Teach students about what was going on in the world in the 16th century.
3. To learn to appreciate the sacrifices of martyrs such as William Tyndale and others like him.
4. To learn the importance of Bible translation both then and now.


To complete this study a few other resources are necessary. A book and/or video on William Tyndale. Videos are available from Netflix and the book suggestions can be obtained from http://www.cbd.com/, or a library. Click here to see the recommended resource list. Access to the Internet is very helpful because their are several printable worksheets that utilized in the study.

To view a sample of this product click here.

What we liked: I love the philosophy behind Soli deo Gloria Resources. We really enjoy working together as a family, so it's always good when we fnd a study that includes activities for a wide variety of age ranges. The children really enjoyed the movie and the worksheets that went along with it. We learned a lot about William Tyndale (who by the way I had never heard of before) and even Anthony (5) at the end of the week could tell me the basics about him and why what he did was important. The only advanced preparation I did was to read through the study, gather the resources we needed, and printed off the worksheets.

Some things to consider: I was unable to get any books on William Tyndale to go along with the study. My book budget already being spent for the month, I attempted to get some through inter-library loan, but after several weeks of waiting, they still have not come in. I do think between the video and the information included with the study it still gave the children plenty of information. Some of the links to websites to go along with the study were no longer working. Websites can change and the author of the unit study is going to make the necessary changes in a revision of the book.

My Recommendation: I think unit studies are a great inexpensive and fun way to teach children of all ages. This was a very informative study with a lot of fun activities that we all enjoyed.

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Christmas in Octcober

A friend of Art's is getting ready to move. As they were cleaning out their house to get ready for the movers, they found a twin bed they wanted to get rid of and asked if we could use it. So Art went over to pick up the headboard, foot board, rails, and mattress for the twin bed (we need to move Lily to a bed in a couple of months to make room for baby in the crib.) When he got there she asked if we could use a set of book shelves (always need room for more books!) and she had 3 big boxes set aside for us. What did those boxes contain? You guessed it, Lego's! In the boxes were several sets of Lego's still with the boxes, the Lego's in zip lock bags with the instructions still with them. There also was a marble race set and a mega blocks race track. It was just like Christmas for the boys! They love Lego's! They have been spending a lot of time trying to get all of the Lego's built and actually grumbled when I sent them outside to play. Now the only problem will be finding places to put them once they are all built. Maybe the bookshelf won't get to hold books after all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This was easy to make and it tasted great!

6 tbsp butter
a small onion finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
4 cups of milk
1 bag of frozen broccoli (I had 1/2 bag frozen cauliflower and threw that in too)
1 lb processed cheese (Velveeta) cubed

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour. Add milk slowly and stir until thick and bubbly. At the same time, bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan. Add broccoli and boil for 10 minutes. Stir in to milk mixture until smooth. Add cubed cheese and stir until melted over medium heat. Do not let soup boil after adding cheese or it can separate.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu:

Friday 10/8-Pizza

Saturday 10/9- Baked chicken, rice, corn

Sunday 10/10-Beef Minute Steaks with Swiss Cheese on Burger Buns, Carrot Sticks with Ranch. Noodles

Monday 10/11- Sandwiches and chips (eating on the run)

Tuesday 10/12-Broccoli and Cheese Soup with fresh bread (will post the recipe if it turns out good)

Wednesday 10/13-Pork Chop Pamesean

Thursday 10/14-Slow Cooker Swiss Steak over Mashed Potatoes, Applesauce

To see what others are cooking up go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/

TOS Review: Talking Fingers

One of my favorite things about being able to review products for the Homeschool Crew, is that I am finding out about great products from wonderful companies that I have never heard of before. I would have never even gone looking for a product like Talking Fingers, but after using The Read, Write, and Type Learning System with my boys over the last several weeks, I can't imagine not having it as part of our homeschool.

Description: The Talking Fingers Read Write and Type Learning system is a reading software that includes phonics, spelling, reading, writing, punctuation and keyboarding. The program uses a multi-sensory and motor approach using the child's eyes, ears, mouth, and fingers. This helps to stimulate learning and is great for a variety of learning styles. The software is geared for ages K-3 but also can be enjoyed by older children and ESL. Some of the features of the program include:

  • Children learn to hear individual sounds and associate these with a letter and fingerstroke on the keyboard.

  • They develop fluency by making phonics associations

  • Children are engaged by the fun and colorful characters Rightway, Lefty, and Vexor the Villain, plus games, stories, animations, and music.

  • There is instant auditory and visual feedback for children to help correct their errors gently.

  • Children sound out, read, and write any word they can say.

  • Progress is assessed and tracked by the program. Children do not move on to the next level until they master the one they are working on. Games and activities are targeted for problem areas.

  • Parents can track children's progress and set up different proficiency levels based on the child's individual needs.

Rightway and Lefty help guide children through 40 fun levels to try to stop Vexor the Villain from stealing all of the letters and stopping the storytellers from writing down their stories. There are 40 levels and after every 4 the children receive a certificate of advancement. In the Spaceship Challenge, Vexor invites children into his spaceship to play fun games that strengthens the skills they have been learning.

There are 2 ways you can purchase the Read, Write, and Type Home Software.

1. The online version. Prices for 1 user is $35 and goes up to 5 users for $100. This price amount is for 5 years of usage. To see the online pricing information click here. The Activity Book, Reading Books and Practice Keyboard can be downloaded here.

2. The CD Version (not compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6) Includes: 1 Read, Write, and Type CD, 1 Spaceship Challenge CD, 1 Activity Book, 18 stories (online), 1 laminated keyboard, and 1 set of stickers for $79. Click here to see this information.

The International CD Program: Contains 1 Read, Write, Type CD and 1 Spaceship Challenge CD for $39. Click here for this information.

Other products from Talking Fingers are Word Qwerty and the K-4 Reading Bundle.

What We Liked: We are using the Online Version of the software, and nothing has to be downloaded to your computer. The price is good for 5 years of usage! The boys (8,6,5,3,and Lily too) love the music and sing the opening song all of the time. They love the characters especially Vexor (who even though is a villain is not scary at all.) They have a great time typing and listening to the stories. They love the games and sending and receiving emails from the email tower. Mistakes are corrected gently by giving helpful hints and through repitition. The program teaches the sounds not just at the beginning of words, but also in the middle and at the end. It is very engaging for children and keeps them interested. I have to set a time limit for the boys or they would try to play it all day. Alex (almost 7) even traded his Wii time one day to play Talking Fingers instead. Alex has made more progress in his phonics and reading in a few weeks of playing Talking Fingers then he did all last year. I am very amazed at how much he has learned and remembers from using this program.

Some things to consider: They program says it is geared for children K-3. I think that age range is off a little bit. Although my K loves to watch and listen to the songs and stories, it is too challenging for him to do on his own. On the other hand, Nick 3rd grade is having a great time with it and I think it could be fun for children who are even a bit older. Even if they have good phonics skills, the games would still be good reinforcement and they could still work on finger placement and typing skills.

My Recommendation: It really takes a lot for a program to amaze me with its results. This one really does. It is a wonderful program! Highly recommended! I already have it on my wish list for next year.

I received a complimentary trial of the Talking Fingers Read, Write, and Type Learning System in exchange for my fair and honest review of the product. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our Favorite Field Trips

This week's Blog Cruise Topic is What are some field trips your family has enjoyed? I love taking field trips. My favorite kind of learning is hands on and what better way to experience that then to get a chance to "go and see" what you have been learning about? There have been many great field trips and here are some of our favorites.

My favorite field trip of all time was at the end of our first year homeschooling. We had been studying the Little House Books using the Prairie Primer (highly recommended) and I found out that we lived only 3 hours from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield MO. So, on a Saturday morning we loaded up and headed out. It was such a great place to go and see. Many of the items you read about in the book were kept in that museum and it was so cool to actually see those items first hand and that they were actually real and where they lived. I would love to go back again sometime.

We have taken fun trips to Mid America Science Museum, Historic Washington State Park,Crator of Diamonds State Park, a Pumpkin Patch, and a Christmas Tree Farm. We have taken wonderful educational camping trips to Devil's Den State Park, Galveston Beach, DeGray Lake, and Lake Catherine State Park.

Great Field trips don't have to be expensive. We have also enjoyed many fun free local field trips. We have gone to Crispy Creme Doughnuts taken a tour and got to make our own doughnut. We got to go to the Pizza Place and see how they make pizzas and got to make our own. We have gone to the post office and saw first hand how the mail delivery service works. We took a tour of a Greenhouse and saw first hand the different kinds of seeds and how different plants and flowers grow.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I Started Homeschooling

Over two years ago, I wrote this blog post here explaining what started my Homeschooling Adventure. During that post, I wrote about how God took care of convicting Art along with me that we should homeschool our children. I thought I would share more about that story.

I had borrowed several books on homeschooling from my dear friend Janet and was reading everything I could get my hands on. I was pregnant with Anthony at the time and one of the places I got most of my reading done was in the waiting room at the doctor's office. I was reading the book, Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto and was absolutely amazed at how true all of his points about Public Education were. I left the book in my truck to read at my next week's appointment, but in the mean time, Art had to go to a business meeting that was more than two hours away. As true for a lot of families, I had the newer vehicle with better gas mileage to drive the kids around in (he only had a 2 mile drive to work everyday) so he drove my truck to the meeting. Arriving at the meeting more than an hour early, Art had nothing to do so he picked up Mr. Gatto's book and started reading. That night when he came home he told me we NEEDED to start homeschooling our children. Isn't it amazing how God works everything out?

I'm sharing this story today, because tonight at the Schoolhouse Expo, the keynote speaker is John Taylor Gatto. If you have never heard of him or read any of his books you can go here to find out more about him. His books are amazing and reveal a lot about the how's and why's of Public School. Tickets to the Expo are still on sale if you are interested in hearing him speak tonight 6-8 CST. I am looking forward to it (it's pizza night so the kids will be watching a movie.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homeschooling When Its Hard

Just because something is the right thing to do, doesn't mean it is always the easy thing to do. Homeschoolers (me included) want to be an encouragement to others and often have something to prove to those who don't agree with our decision to homeschool. We don't often talk about our difficult days or challenges we face. Guess what? We all have them. Whether you have been homeschooling 2 months or 15 years there are going to be bad days and challenges you have to face. We are imperfect people trying to train/teach imperfect children. When things go wrong it doesn't mean you are not "cut out" for homeschooling or you should put your kids back on that big yellow school bus. I thought I would share some of my more common trials and how I try to solve them.

1.Being tired. You are up all night with a teething baby and now you have to be coherent enough to teach Algebra?

2.Too much to do. The house is a wreck.. Every room you walk in the children have gotten there first. How will I find time to do school and find the floor before my dh gets home from work?

3.If I have to look at one more multiplication table, I am going to lose my mind!

4.There is a whole lot of whining and complaining in the house today and we haven't even begun to talk about the children's behavior yet.

5.Every time we try to get started on something, we are constantly interrupted by little ones. How can anyone learn in the midst of this chaos?

Okay. So now you know what kind of things go on at my house. What do we do to solve the problems that come up in the course of any homeschool day.

1. Lack of sleep is nothing new to any mom, but having to teach can make it a bit more difficult. If I have a difficult night, I try to switch my day around so all the "easy" stuff is in the morning. When baby is napping. I turn on a show for my little guys and grab a short rest on the couch. Hopefully after that my brain is functioning enough to handle Algebra.

2. Simplify what you can. Pull out something for a quick and easy meal to give yourself more time to get things done (grilled cheese and soup never killed anyone.) Gather everyone together to do a "quick cleanup." Set a 15 minute timer and have everyone pitch in and clean up as much as they can. You would be surprised at how much you can get done.

3. Tired of the same thing everyday? Chances are so is your child. Take a day or two and change things up a little. Do a fun hands on Math unit with money by playing store. Use M and M's to teach addition (my kids personal favorite.) Small changes in your everyday curriculum can go a long way to making some boring things more fun.

4. Bad attitudes don't always come from the children. Nobody wants a grumpy mom or teacher. When I need a pick me up before the school day begins, we head outside. (when possible.) Fresh air and sunshine can do a lot for your mood. Head out and get some exercise before the school day starts. Or, head to the park for a picnic. Take a surprise field trip.

5. Interruptions are a part of life especially with a house full of little ones. Some can be headed off before they start. Get your little ones involved in a quiet activity before you get started. Grab a sippy cup of juice for your baby. Check diapers. Silence the phone. Make sure older children understand what they are supposed to be working on. If you can head off some interruptions, the ones that can't be helped don't seem so bad.

6. Find a fellow homeschooler or a group that you can talk about your struggles with. It is very helpful to share these things face to face with a supportive person who has walked in your shoes.

Most of all remember that you are not walking alone. Pray about your homeschool daily. Ask God to give you the grace, patience, strength, and energy you need to get through the day. Ask him to help you prioritize your day. Remember He will always give you everything you need to compete every task He has called you for.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tag You're It: I Want to Know

Our Village Is A Little Different has tagged me in this fun game. Thanks! She has asked 8 people 8 questions. I get to answer her questions then tag 8 people and ask them my own list of questions. What a great way to get to know more about the people whose blogs you read every day.

What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Lily. She is such a funny little baby. Right now she is trying to speak in sentences and babbles nonstop. It is so funny when she even starts waving her hands to try and get her point across.

Do you have any pet peeves?
I do not like to be late or have to wait on people who are always late.

What is your favorite domestic duty?
Cooking. I love to be cooking or baking in the kitchen.

Is there anything you'd like to do when the children are all grown up?
I honestly cannot imagine what my life will be like when my children are all grown up. I hope I will have some grandchildren to babysit and maybe do some volunteer work that involves children.

What can always cheer you?
A hug or a snuggle from one of my sweet children.

Are you a very organized person?
People assume that because I have a big family I must be very organized. Not true. It doesn't come naturally to me and what little organizational skills I have I have had to work hard to develop.

Do you have a special thought that helps you in your daily life?
When my day seems hard and I wonder if I can really do all of this, I always try to remember that whatever He has called you to do, He will equip you for. God has given me everything I need to complete the tasks He has put before me.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
More of a morning person. I usually go to bed pretty early as the children are up pretty early.

My eight questions (that I will answer too)

How did you meet your spouse?
We went to the same High School and officially met when he was dating a friend of mine (long story.)

Birth weights of your children?
In order from oldest to youngest 8.8, 8.6, 8.7, 9.5, 7.14, 8.1

Favorite Subject to teach?
I love history especially American History. My favorite time period is the Pioneers.

Favorite TV Show?
19 Kids and Counting

Last date you were on with just your spouse?
Last May Art took me to a work function.

Least favorite household chore?
Folding socks.

What do you like to do in your" spare" time?
I don't have a lot of "spare" time right now, but I like to read, sew, and scrapbook.

Small town or big city?
Although cities can have lots of great advantages, I prefer living in my small town any day.

I am tagging:

Guiding Light Homeschool
A School of Our Own
Because of Our Children
Moms Mustard Seeds
I Can't Decide
All American Family
Homeschool Success

TOS Review: Lanschool

  • Photobucket

    Parents today are faced with unique challenges due to amazing technological advances. Computers can be wonderful educational tools allowing us to have information at our fingertips whenever we need it. But, it can also be a huge time waster and even a danger to our children. That's why it is necessary for companies like Lanschool Technologies to be available to us in our schools and homes.

    Description: Since 1986, Lanschool Technologies has been a provider of classroom management software. Lanschool v. 7.4 Home allows you to teach, monitor, and manage up to three computers in your home. It is a downloadable product that is able to be used on Windows, Mac, and Thin. One computer will act as a "teacher" computer and monitor the other "student" computers. The cost of having Lanschool in your home is $99 and can be used on to monitor up to three computers. Three years of technical support and upgrades are included. Lanschool Home is available for free for teachers, administrators, and tech coordinators, but ONLY with a valid school email address. Hotmail, GMail, AOL, and Yahoo addresses are not accepted.


  • Web Limiting- limit, block, or allow specific websites

  • Application Limiting-limit, block, or allow specific applications

  • USB Limiting-block ability to use USB devices

  • Printer Limiting-limit or block print capabilities

  • Keystroke Monitoring-monitor keystrokes on computers

  • Blank Computer Screens-stop computer access by blanking screens

  • Remote Control-help family members by taking control of their mouse

  • Send Messages-send a message to all family computers

  • Question/Chat-students can ask the teacher console questions and chat sessions can be initiated

  • Muting-ability to turn speakers on or off

  • Send and collect files to and from family computers

  • Power Features-shut down, log off, or restart computers

  • Internet History-view all running applications and internet browsing hisory

  • Screen snapshot-take a picture of family member's current screen

  • Anti-tampering controls-prevents tampering with the software

  • Show Screen-shows parents screen to student computers, browse internet together

  • Show Family Member-allows a computer to take over and show other computers what is on their screen

What we liked: The software was quick and easy to download and start using. The console on the "teacher" computer was easy to figure out. The blank screen feature came in very handy when the children went over on their computer time. The first time I used it they were very surprised since they didn't know I could do that. The same reaction of surprise happened when I "took control" of Chelsea's mouse. I liked that not only could you see the screen your child was currently on, you could also see a complete history of every site they had been on. I liked that I could share my screen with the children's screen and they could see exactly what I wanted them too. I also thought that the ability to block internet browsing was a great feature.

Some things to consider: Although you can share files from each computer and show your screen to other computers, this does not work for videos.

My Recommendation: My children do not use the computer unsupervised and are only allowed on a few select sites. When we use the computer for school we use it altogether, so this product would not be a necessity in our homeschool. I think if you are using a curriculum that requires your child to use the computer frequently, or if you have children or teen-agers that use the computer quite a bit this would be a great product for you.

I received a complimentary download of Lanschool Home in exchange for my fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Is My Homeschool Organized? Hmmmm....

This week's Blog Cruise topic is How is Your Homeschool Organized? Hmmm...I had to think about that for a few minutes. Right now, with our Schoolroom still under construction, I don't feel very organized. All of our books and supplies are scattered in various places I could find room for them throughout the house. Our schoolbooks that we use every day are kept on a small table in our dining room. I use my Homeschool Planner form TOS to write out weekly lesson plans so I can gather any additional books or supplies we need for the week and put them in the dining room on Sunday or early Monday morning. If there is something special I need to purchase for a project, I put it on our shopping list the Friday before. Each child has their own notebook or in some cases notebooks to keep all of their schoolwork organized. When we finish working on something, they punch holes and put it in their notebook. The hole punch and stapler are also kept on the china cabinet in the dining room. Each of the children also have their own school box with a pen, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue, and glue sticks. Other Art Supplies are stored in easy reach in a drawer in the kitchen.

This is the first year I have written out lesson plans (I know some homeschoolers out there may be shocked by that.) I laminated a weekly planner sheet and write out daily plans for each subject. This only takes a few minutes out of my day and helps keep us all on track. Chelsea really likes having her plans written. That way she can work ahead if she wants to.

We also have a large wall calendar in the kitchen that we keep track of all of our activities on. I fill it in as soon as I know about an activity and keep the calendar on the wall where everyone can see it. If we have something in the afternoon, we plan all our work for the morning, and vice versa. It also keeps me on track so we don't plan too many things for one day and I can plan our menu according to our activities.

Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu is pretty simple. We are still eating on the run because of soccer season, and many days during the week I have to feed the children supper at 3:30 in the afternoon and take food along with us to the soccer field to feed Art. Saturday I had planned on having chicken, rice, and corn, but the chicken never got taken out of the van and put away with the other groceries (I didn't find it until the next day) so we had to change things around a bit.

Friday 10/1 Homemade pizza
Saturday 10/2 (not chicken!) Blt's, french fries, fruit
Sunday 10/3 Chilli, Homemade Bread, Fruit
Monday 10/4 Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs
Tuesday 10/5 Homemade Pigs in a Blanket, Noodles, Corn
Wednesday 10/6 Spaghetti
Thursday 10/7 Leftovers, Grilled Cheese, Fruit

Get great cooking inspiration for your meal planning at www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

We tried this new recipe last week and I said if we liked the recipe I would post it. We loved it! It definitely is something I would make again. The preparation was very easy especially since I had cooked a whole chicken the day before and split it into two packages and chopped the onion. The original recipe called for green chilies and jalapeno peppers but I left those out not being able to eat anything spicy right now, plus the children don't like really spicy foods. I found the recipe here on www.lifeasmom.com. I have made a few other recipes from her website and they all have turned out delicious.

Here's how I made it:

2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion (could've cut back a little on these)
1 cup shredded cheese
10 flour tortillas cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups cooked diced chicken

Mix soup. sour cream, milk, onion, and cheese well in a mixing bowl. Stir in chicken and tortillas. Spoon into greased 13x9 pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Our First Homeschool Art Class

There are many things we love about living in a small town. I love my house and the property that goes with it. I love being able to call a doctor who knows right away who you are. I love driving down the road and waving to people you know. I love the friendliness, community, and support of living in a small town. I could keep going on and on but you get the idea. There are disadvantages to living in a small town too, and one of them is the lack of resources for homeschoolers. Even though we have started a homeschool group it is very small and if one or two families can't participate in an activity, it gets cancelled. Our library is teeny tiny and not as kid friendly as you might expect. The only sports we have are through the City Park, and there are no classes offered to homeschoolers.

A few months ago, I received an email from a homeschool group about 30 minutes away. I am the secretary of our group and am listed as the contact person on the Education Alliance website. They were letting local homeschoolers know that they were trying to get an Art Class for Homeschoolers started. There is a lady who teaches Art at one of the local colleges who was interested in teaching a once a month Art class to homeschoolers of all ages. The class was going to be 2 hours long with a charge of $5 per child per month with a maximum per family of $20 per month. The classes were to held about 40 minutes away in a fire station community building with no charge to use the building. The only supplies we needed to bring were markers and an Art pad. I thought this would be a great opportunity for my family to get out and meet some other homeschoolers and to learn Art techniques that I am not familiar with. Tuesday was our first class. I am ashamed to say I forgot to bring my camera to take pictures with. There was a great turnout with 26 participating children and a few tag along younger siblings. The teacher was very nice and good with children. She taught them how to do a story board, draw a picture of a story being told, and an Art technique called Pointillism. I was worried that it would be mostly younger children and Chelsea would be the oldest and feel out of place, but there were 2 other girls that were her age and a few others just a little bit younger. My children enjoyed the class (Anthony (5) did the first project then just drew his own thing, Nick had a little bit of a hard time on one project but did ok on the others.) The class will meet again at the end of October and we look forward to going back again.