Our Family

Our Family

Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We did our weekly shopping late Friday afternoon instead of Friday morning because I had to drop Chelsea off in town at 6:00 and I am never doing that again! I knew it would be busy but I wasn't expecting it to be that busy and then Christian tripped over Anthony and fell on the floor and cut his chin (luckily no stitches required, just a minor injury.) Anyway, after all of that, dropping Chelsea off and getting the groceries unloaded and put away, I lost my menu. I remembered what we were having Saturday and Sunday, but actually had to look back in the cupboards and freezer to remember what I had planned for the rest of the week. I think it looks a little something like this:

Friday 2/25: chicken nuggets and fruit (I know, not pizza but we ended up with take out pizza on Thursday)

Saturday 2/26: burgers and fries

Sunday 2/27: lasagna and bread (Chelsea's birthday pick) and chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert

Monday 2/28:steaks, baked potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower

Tuesday 3/1: cheese ravioli

Wednesday 3/2: roasted chicken, rice, corn

Thursday 3/3: grilled cheese and soup

Check out some other great menu plans at www.orgjunkie.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

TOS Review: MathRider

Do you have a child that could use a little bit of an incentive to work at and learn his addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts? How about having them embark on an exciting adventure while learning these facts. MathRider is an adventure game that combines fun with sophisticated technology that adapts to your child and helps them master all 4 operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) using numbers 0-12. Math Rider was developed by parents who wanted to find a way to help their own children who were struggling to learn their basic Math facts. Let me tell you a little bit more about how it works.

In the game your child is in the land of Ray, riding on a horse named Shadow, and setting out on 4 different noble quests. For each operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) there are 4 levels ranging from easy to mastery and each level has a different quest for your child to complete. The quests are the same for each operation but the rewards the child earns for each operation is different. The rewards are displayed on the main screen of the game so your child gets immediate feedback and an incentive to keep doing their best. A quest map shows your child where he is and how many more points they need to earn to complete that level. Points are awarded for correct answers and bonus points are given for speed of completion.

All of your child's responses or unanswered questions are stored in a data base and analyzed by the software. This way, the game can be customized to each child and instead of just giving them random facts they already know it can give practice to the facts that really need to be practiced. Plenty of feeback is given during each ride. You can see which questions are missed and also 9click on an overview map of mastery for each number table. Both the child and the parent/educator can see which facts need to be worked on at a glance.

The game contols were made very easy to operate. All your child has to do is type in the number answer for each question and hit enter. The game does all of the rest. Sound effects (including music that can be turned off for each ride) and animation are all controlled by the game. The speed of your child's answers are even taken into account. The slower the child answers, the slower the horse runs and vice versa.

MathRider runs on Adobe Air Run time and is supported by Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. To see specific system requirements click here. It is available as an instant download for your computer for $37. As many as 10 riders can use a single license. Each rider gets their own user name and password and their quests are saved as they go. MathRider also offers a 30 day money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with their product you can get 100% refund in the first 30 days. For ordering information click here.

Anytime you make work seem like play it is a big hit in this house! I think it is an appealing game for boys and girls because girls love horses and the idea of an adventure quest is exciting to both girls and boys. The game is set up so that all the rider has to concentrate on is answering the math facts correctly. The game is designed to make the rider a success because if you get an answer wrong, it will tell you the correct answer. Then, to reinforce the fact, the rider gets an opportunity to answer the fact again. Nick loved every part of this game. He enjoyed hearing the story of what his quest was going to be. He loved the different background on the game and the map that showed how far he had come in his quest. He loved the rewards that he got for completing each quest. Nick is very competetive and wanted to complete each quest in one sitting and score 100% on each level. When he didn't score 100% he went back and redid the quest to get that perfect score.

One thing to keep in mind about MathRider is that it is a fantasy quest. There is a wizard and other elements of magic so if this is something that your family chooses to stay away from this game is not for you. Also, although there are different quests for each level, the quests are the same for each different operation (addition, subtraction, mulitplication, division.) This was a lttle disppointing for my son who enjoyed hearing the different quests he was going on and wanted them all to be different.

To read what my other crew mates are saying about Math Rider click here.

I received a complimentary trial subscription of MathRider for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 38 Pregnancy Update

Well really I am 37 weeks 6 days but that's close enough to 38 weeks. I laugh when people tell me I don't look big enough to be due in two weeks because I feel enormous! I had a good visit to the doctor today (by myself no less) even though I had a bit of a long wait. I gained 3 pounds in 3 weeks, blood pressure and baby's heart beat were perfect. I measured for 38 weeks and am dilated the same as last time. My Group B Strep came back negative (hooray!) We get to go back next week for another check-up.

Since I was alone I decided I was going to do a little shopping. Unfortunately, we had some pretty bad thunderstorms while I was at the mall. I ended up having to stay there a bit longer than I had planned waiting for the worst of the storms to subside. I also ended up not being able to go anywhere else because by the time the rain let up I was just too tired and still had a very long drive ahead of me.

Am I ready to have the baby? The answer is yes and no. I almost have all of her stuff ready and plan on finishing all of that up this week-end and packing my bag. I am ready to be able to meet and hold this sweet little baby that's for sure. But, I confess that I always miss being pregnant. I will miss wrapping my hands around my belly and falling asleep at night to little baby kicks or hiccoughs. I wish you could bottle up that feeling and keep it with you forever. No matter how many times I have been pregnant, it is special every time and every time I miss it. So I will enjoy the next couple of weeks until this little girl decides she is ready to be born.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Favorite Curriculum Choices

I know that I have written several detailed reviews for TOS this year and really have enjoyed getting to use and review a lot of wonderful products most of which I had never even heard of before. A great advantage of homeschooling is that there are so many products out there to choose from for curriculum. What kind make choosing curriculum difficult is that there are so many curriculum choices out there. I though I would tell you some of my all time favorite curriculum that we have used (not including any TOS products. You can read any of my reviews by clicking TOS Reviews in my sidebar.)

Elementary-5 in a Row- One of my all time favorite curriculum for Elementary. Wonderful books, great activities, easy to use, fun! One drawback may be that several of the books are out of print and may be harder to find. I bought several off of www.half.com, found many at even my tiny library, and was able to get others through Inter-library loan.

The Prairie Primer- Probably may favorite curriculum. A Unit Study based on the Little House Series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Lots of great activities, wonderful books and easy to use. Chelsea loved the year we spent on this (3rd grade) and the only other subject I added in was Math. I can't wait until Lily and our new baby are old enough so I can do it again (not really the boys' cup of tea.)

Science- Apologia- The best Science Curriculum I have used. Interesting to read, fun experiments, notebooking exercises. Elementary books can be use with a wide age range (around k-5) making it easy for large families to teach children altogether.

Math- For a mastery type Math Program Math U See is wonderful. It is done in black and white to be less distracting and uses manipulatives so the child can "see" why the answer is what it is.

For a spiral Math approach we like Abeka Math. Both the boys like it (although we do not do every problem and skip some sections.)

Sonlight- I loved using Sonlight! I have used 3 Cores (3,4,100) The instructor's guide makes it very easy to use, the books are wonderful, you can buy everything you need from Sonlight, did I mention the books are wonderful! The biggest drawback to me (and why I don't still use it ) is the cost and the fact that I would have to buy 3 separate Cores for my children because of the age gaps. We still LOVE the books and choose books from the book list for read-alouds and extra literature choices.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Well we still have children trying to get over being sick and also have a busy week of meetings, dentist appointments, and doctor's appointments so this week's menu is going to be pretty simple.

Fri 2/18-pizza
Sat 2/19- hot ham and cheese sandwiches on burger buns, peaches, cottage cheese
Sun 2/20- spaghetti, bread
Mon 2/21-tacos
Tues 2/22-chicken and biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes
Wed 2/23-soup
Thurs 2/24-deer steaks, baked potatoes, carrots

To see some great weekly menus go to www.orgjunkie.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Review: Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest by Chuck Black

I have just finished reading book 6 in the Knights of Arrethtrae series Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest by Chuck Black( 175 pages retail $9.99.) Sir Rowan is supposed to be a Knight of the Prince, but fame and glory become much more important to him than serving the Prince. He becomes the most decorated tournament knight in Cameria but he becomes captured and left for dead. A bizarre vision of the Prince and a rescue by a woman dedicated to the King keeps him alive and Rowan finds new purpose in his life and becomes determined to serve the King. But, the Dark Knight's tyranny holds Rowan's beloved Cameria. His countrymen need his help to take their cities back from the enemy and Rowan is determined to fight with them. Then, a mysterious figure appears and insists that Rowan's purpose lies elsewhere in an ancient city for a much greater cause. The final battle with the Dark Knight is approaching and Rowan must choose where he will fight.

As with the other books I have read in this series. I really enjoyed reading this book. I didn't want to put it down and actually finished it in the course of a day. The characters are well developed and very easy to relate to. Although the story is one we are somewhat familiar with and ultimately you know that good is going to triumph over evil, there are several plot twists and turns that you don't see coming and keep you in suspense.

This book shows the story of Sir Rowan's pride and the consequences of his behavior because of his pride. But, it also shows hope that even though we are sinners, the Lord can still use us for His work. " And yet the King's ability to recover a heart that repents of even this great an offense is not limited. Be encouraged, therefore, for though you may have failed the King, He will never fail you nor cease in calling you home."

This is not a story written simply for entertainment purposes (although it will entertain you.) The author has a greater hope. That the book will inspire you to live all the more passionately for Jesus Christ as His return comes closer. The book also includes questions for deeper examination and study in the back of the book. I would definitely recommend this book to both teens and adults.

I recieved a complimentary copy of the book Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Wrong Way to Homeschool?

I was telling a friend the other day that there are some questions about homeschooling I don't really like to always answer especially among other homeschoolers. Some of those questions are: How many hours a day to you spend on schoolwork? What kind of Language Arts (or other subject) curriculum do you use? What kind of homeschooling philosophy do you believe? How can you get everything done in 4 days? On the surface these seem like very curious questions, but it also can get a bit uncomfortable when you get into a conversation with someone who believes that their homeschooling methods are "right" and yours are "wrong." I absolutely shocked another homeschooler one day when I told her that we did not use a formal Language Arts curriculum, we did "school" only 4 days a week and for less than 3 hours a day. She had a more formal homeschooling style with a textbook for every subject and spent 6 hours a day 5 days a week on homeschooling. So who's style is right?

There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. One of the biggest benefits to be able to homeschool is the ability to cater our style to our own family and sometimes to each individual child. Some children may learn better doing everything out of a textbook, while others need to do a hands on project to understand what they are learning. Some families don't take a lot of educational field trips or extra curricular activities and some do all of their schoolwork that day. The only way you can tell if something is "right" is if it works for your family. Are you/your child happy with what you are doing? Is the child excited to do "school" (OK maybe not every subject), is your child learning?

There is a danger among homeschoolers (just like anything else) to be judgemental about what other people are doing/not doing in their homeschools. We should be encouraging to others and not make them feel like they are doing something wrong because their homeschool is different than ours. Especially with people that are just getting started and are not very confident in what they are doing. You may end up convincing them that they are doing something "wrong" and they could give up on homeschooling altogether. You also may find yourself in a different life situation (new baby, move, illness, injury) that may completely change your homeschooling philosophy and one of those "methods" you thought was just crazy may become yours.

I admit I have been guilty of this myself at times. Just as some people think I am not doing enough bookwork with my kids, it is hard for me to understand when there is a great hands on fun educational activity, or a community service to participate in why some people feel it is more important to get their book work done. But, again that is not my family and everybody should do what works out best for their family.

That's not to say that we should not give or offer advice (to those who want it.) I have learned so much about homeschooling by talking to other homeschoolers and asking lots of questions. I like to say something like this, "This is what we have found about.....or This is what I have found works for best for us.....In that kind of situation I.....or My son's favorite way to learn .......is....." There are lots of ways to offer advice or suggestions without making someone feel like because their homeschool doesn't match yours they are wrong. Oh, and try not to worry if you are doing OK, or doing something wrong. Kids are like sponges and they will learn no matter what......even if you don't make them diagram sentences :).

Friday, February 18, 2011

TOS Review Kid Scoop Reluctant Reader Solution

Do you have a struggling reader or a child who simply does not want to read? Kid Scoop has developed a product called the Reluctant Reader Solution that might be for you. Finding resources that are both fun and educational can be a bit of a challenge. Also, shifting your child from the computer games they want to play to the printed page that they should be reading can at times be next to impossible. So how do you get a child who doesn't want to read to start reading? By engaging your child's natural interest in learning and making their "work" seem more like fun.

"The Reluctant Reader Solution is designed to expand your child's horizons, jump-start their curiosity about topics they didn't even know they were interested in, and exercise different areas of their brain through age-appropriate puzzles, games, stories, and much more."

The Reluctant Reader Solution comes in two parts:

12 full color issues of Kid Scoop News Online- Each issue has content inspired by the time of the year and is full of games, puzzles, experiments, profiles of kids in the news and more. It also links to other online sources so your child can continue to explore their topics of interest. It is very easy to navigate and you can turn pages with a click of the mouse. There are also audio files for every page so if your child learns better by hearing they can listen and then do the written part later on. Pages are able to be saved to your computer and you can choose which pages you would like to print.

365 Kid Scoop Worksheets- Filled with "pencil grabbing activities" they come in sets of 5,6,or 7 pages. They are delivered instantly to your computer so you can print them out as you would like to. Some of the topics included are: baseball, hockey, otters, gorillas, tadpoles, bubble gum, Columbus Day, Louisa May Alcott, Mother's Day, S'mores and many ,many more. Each set of worksheets contain many different activities for your child to do such as; word scrambles, word searches, fun writing exercises, newspaper activities, and more.

The cost of The Reluctant Reader Solution is $97 and includes both parts (12 online newspapers and 365 Kid Scoop Worksheets.) They also offer a 365 day unconditional money back guarantee. If you do not get measurable results they will refund your money with no questions asked. For ordering information click here.

Nicholas (9) was my Reluctant Reader Solution product tester. Included with the fun sheets is instructions on how to use the Reluctant Reader Solution and a schedule for using them chronologically or by theme. I decided to go with the Chronological Chart and the first topic was Hockey. Nick loves sports so he was very eager to jump in and get started on the worksheets. His favorite was the word search. I printed out, stapled, and gave him the stack of worksheets and asked him to finish them by the end of the week. They were all completed the next day. I was very happy to see that the documents were in black and white to look like a real newspaper and save some money on printing costs. The topics of the worksheets are subjects that children will be interested in learning more about. Nick was not thrilled about the writing assignment (he does not like to write) but he did complete it without excessive grumbling. If/when you complete all of the worksheets, there are not any more available to purchase.

The online newspaper is very colorful and packed full of lots of interesting information, games, crafts, and puzzles. Navigating, turning pages, and reading it online are all very easy to do. One drawback is that because it is so colorful, the cost of printing out the pages with the puzzles and fun activities is expensive and that cost will really add up printing it out every month. I really prefer reading print magazines rather than online so you can take them places with you. Although the idea of having an audio be able to read the magazine to you sounds like an added benfit, the "voice" doing the reading had a harsh robotic sound and was very hard to listen to.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

I received a complimentary subscription to The Reluctant Reader Solution in exchange for a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Over Sickness (I hope!)

I haven't written very much this week due to my lack of confidence in being able to string more than one coherent sentence together. We have had some kind of bug at our house. It started with Christian , then Anthony, then me and Lily. Next was Chelsea and yesterday it got Alex. The little ones seem to be getting over it faster than the bigger ones. We have had a house full of temps, coughs, runny noses, and sore throats. I hardly ever get sick (thankfully) and am starting to feel better today. It's hard when the mommy/teacher is not feeling her best, and the housework is piling up because nobody wants to do anything. Hopefully everyone will be better by tomorrow and we will get all of these nasty germs out of our house and have everyone well before the baby arrives in a couple of weeks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We have some kind of bug going through our house causing low grade temps, coughs, sore throats, and runny noses. So far me and 4 of the children have gotten it. Hoping it goes away very quickly! Anyway, here's my menu plan for this week:

Friday 2/11-pizza
Saturday 2/12- takeout from the Valentine Banquet at church
Sunday 2/13- beef stroganoff, bread
Monday 2/14- grilled cheese, fruit salad, Valentine's Cake
Tuesday 2/15- chili , cheddar cheese biscuits
Wednesday 2/16- BBQ chicken, rice, carrots
Thusday 2/17- goulash

Check out some other great menu plans at www.orgjunkie.com

Friday, February 11, 2011

TOS Review: The Curiosity Files

The conversation started out like this: Guys there is a new review coming up and we can put down our first choice for which topic we would like to have. Here are the choices:

Blue Diamond
Dung Beetle
Puffer Fish
Red Tide
Zombie Fire Ants
Blue-footed Booby
Cicada Killing Wasp

I was pretty sure before they even answered what they would choose. Yep, I was right. Zombie Fire Ants.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has developed a curious new series called The Curiosity Files. The Curiosity Files are a fun new Science based Unit Study series developed for 8-13 year olds. With it your child will study some unusual and interesting subjects. Professor Ana Lyze and her research team lead you through your studies of the obscure, abnormal and bizarre, just the things that children love using engaging information, fun hands on activities, puzzles, quizzes, and games. Included with these units are:

•Bible study and memory verses
•Math, history, and geography investigations
•Literature and suggested book list
•Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
•Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
•Science observations, projects, and experiments
•Discussion questions
•Art, crafts, drawing, and coloring pages
•Lapbook and notebook pages
•Internet resources and video links
•Complete answer key

The Curiosity Files are available in a 9 pack bundle for $46.00 as an E-book download or $49.00 on a CD. Each topic is also available to be purchased seperately. Check http://www.theoldschoolhousestore/ for pricing details on purchasing them seperately.

We all (3,5,7,9,13) worked on the Zombie Fire Ants Study together and took about two weeks to go through it. I started out reading through the 91 page E-book the week-end before so I could pick and choose which activities we would do, pick up any supplies I needed, and print out the pages we chose. Then on a Monday morning we dove into our study. The children were enthralled with the reading right from the beginning. They really listened, paid attention, and learned a lot and they told their daddy all about Zombie Fire Ants over supper later that night (fascinating dinner conversation!) The study comes with lots of exciting activities and work sheets, something fun for everyone!

Click Here to view a sample.

There were many things were loved about this study. I always like to do activities that will be fun and interesting and enable all of my children to work on something together. The style of writing is very engaging for children and has a lot of factual information included. The photos that were included were very colorful and life like. Through all of the worksheets and activities, my children learned a lot of information about Zombie Fire Ants. There are so many activities to choose from you can definitely find something that appeals to everyone. Some of our favorite activities were: Crossword Puzzle, Bible Verses with questions, Fire Ant Week, Fire Ant Flight, Fire Ant Fun, Word Search, Spelling and Vocabulary Activities, Where in the World, Ants in the Sand, Edible Clay Ants, Ant Tunnel Art. I also liked that there was a list of book suggestions for further reading and links to websites to find more information.

I also thought that the In the Lab instructions on making and observing your own Ant Farm with the Journal pages were wonderful. We decided not to do this part being that we live in an area that is infested with Fire Ants, although you could buy your own Ant Farm or make one and order the ants for it.

I would highly recommend the Curiosity Files Zombie Fire Ant Study!

Several crew members received different studies so click here to read more on all of the Curiosity Files Unit Studies.

I received a complimentary copy of this Unit Study for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homeschooling High School

Two words that are likely to strike fear in the heart of a homeschooling mama "High School." For some reason we (and I am speaking of myself too) consider ourselves perfectly capable of teaching during the younger years, but start to get worried somewhere around the 8th grade that we will not be capable of teaching our children. Maybe it's because we just don't remember that much from when we went to school (like Algebra that I hadn't done in 15 years!) Or maybe our child has a talent/interest in something we know nothing about. Maybe it's because we have several younger children also and are worried about being able to spend the proper amount of time teaching High School, or that we won't prepare them properly for the college they want to attend. I remember the first year I started homeschooling and I asked a dear friend, "What am I going to do when her knowledge surpasses mine?" Whatever the reason that we get nervous about this time period in our child's life, it is entirely possible to homeschool successfully though the High School years, and your children will be much better off for it.

What I was told when I asked the question about what to do when her knowledge surpasses mine is that by the time she reaches High School she will be able to teach herself. This I have found to be true for a lot of things. One of the goals of homeschooling is to teach your child to think for themselves and be able to work and learn independently, and by High School they should be able to do this much of the time. Also, with the Internet and multiple courses and classes being offered online, the sky is the limit for exposing your child to any number of classes that you only wished you could have taken in High School. There are also numerous online school opportunities such as Bob Jones or the Abeka Academy that you could enroll your child in and have everything taught and graded by one of their teachers. Also, use the people around you that may have a skill in an area your child would like to learn more about. Other people can be a great resource in the education of your children.

 I thought I would share how I got started and some great resources I have found for those who are getting ready to homeschool High Schoolers. First I think, you have to get a general idea of what your child might want to do. Do they want to go to college, learn a trade, go into business for themselves? This may help you to decide which path to take. My daughter  wants to go to college so that is the direction we are heading. Next, I looked up our state's requirements for graduation. Arkansas has the Education Alliance which is a great resource for Homeschoolers. On their website http://www.arkansashomeschool.org/ there is a great article about homeschooling High School, preparing for College and suggested High School Credit requirements depending on the path your child wishes to take. You can find that article by clicking here. Also for a donation of any amount, they will prepare your High School Transcripts for you. I sat down with Chelsea and drew up a basic 4 year plan so we had an idea of what classes she would be taking when and to make sure we had all of the "required" courses covered.

I have found some great resources  for homeschooling High School. We had the opportunity to review this planner from TOS which I thought was a great resource for any High Schooler. Donna Young also has some great information and planners on her website which you can find by clicking here. Lee Binz has a ton of information and advice for parents homeschooling High School. Go to her website by clicking here.

Don't let the thought of High School intimidate you. Many people successfully homeschool their children through High School and they get to go out into the world as intelligent, confident, prepared adults. You can do it! Enjoy the time you have with your children because before you know it, they will be heading out the door to college or a career.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TOS Blog Walk

For the last several months, the TOS crew has been choosing 10 blogs every week for crew members to "walk" to so we could get to know each other better. Through this "Blog Walk" I have found some really great homeschooling information and inspiration. It has been a lot of fun to see the different blogs and learn about my fellow crew mates. This week I am on the Blog Walk (see me #3!) I invite my readers to visit each of these blogs and leave a comment for the owners letting them know you stopped by. Welcome TOS Blog Walkers! I am so glad you could stop by!

1. Heritage Homestead and Homeschool Academy
2.The McClanahan 7
3.The Happy Homeschool Mom
4. Books \'n Other Stuff
5.The Midlife Housewife
6.Because of Our Children
7.This Day Has Great Potential
8.Ladybug Chronicles
9.Freelance Homeschool Mom
10.Ben & Me

Week 35 Pregnancy Update

I am now 35 weeks and 4 days and cannot believe how fast this pregnancy is going by! I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and everything is looking good. I feel great (although enormous!) I still have lots of energy and am starting to get things ready for this little girl to arrive. I gained 4 pounds in 4 weeks, baby measured for 36 weeks and my blood pressure and her heart rate were perfect. I had my test for Group B Strep and even though have tested positive for it in the past and have had to be on IV antibiotics during labor, that doesn't mean I will test positive again this time. I am dilated to 1 1/2 cm and 40 percent effaced which doesn't really mean anything other than my body is getting ready to have a baby in a few weeks. The doc said baby's head is down which I already knew due to the feet that are always under my ribs! The only trouble I am having is that the baby is pressing on my sciatic nerve in my back (Lily did the same thing) which causes pain in my back and right leg especially when mopping, vacuuming, cleaning the bath tub etc..so I have started recruiting some help in these areas. We are very excited to be counting down the next couple of weeks when we will get to meet and hold our new baby sister!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Friday is our usual shopping day, but as we got an unexpected snowfall we could not get out to the store. Even a few inches is a big deal in Arkansas and almost everything shuts down when it snows as it should in the land of no snow plows or salt trucks. Anyway, we had to stretch what we had until I could get town after church on Sunday although thankfully my hubby did get to stop and get bread and milk on Friday.

Friday 2/4-pizza
Saturday 2/5- takeout
Sunday 2/6- Superbowl Sunday- Homemade subs, potato chips, brownies
Monday 2/7- soup and grilled cheese
Tuesday 2/8-lasagna, bread
Wednesday-pot roast, potatoes, carrots
Thursday- beef and bean burritos

To see some other great menus go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/.

Happy Menu Plan Monday!

TOS Review: VocabAhead


To be successful on SAT, ACT, or preparing for college, good vocabulary is very important. It isn't always easy learning and remembering new words, nor is it usually a fun process. VocabAhead Sat Vocabulary Cartoons, videos, and MP3s are " The entertaining and effortless Vocabulary building solution."

There are two products available from VocabAhead to help build your child's SAT/ACT Vocabulary: DVD Rom ($24.99 from Amazon.com) containing 1000 SAT Videos and MP3s and a 342 page paperback book ($12.95 from Amazon.com) containing over 300 difficult vocabulary words. I received the paperback book for this review.


VocabAhead has created their products with the full brain learning process in mind. The book contains a cartoon illustration and a text script providing examples of the specific word on the page. This creates a visual connection for your brain for understanding and recall. Also, to go with each word you can download (for free with the purchase of the book) MP3 files so you can listen to the words that you viewed. Additionally, all of the words in the book are accompanied by short videos with the illustrations that you can watch on your computer (also downloaded for free.) There also is an App you can download to your iPod Touch, iPhone, or Ipad through iTunes to view the videos. By reading the words, listening to them, and watching them it strengthens your mental connections with the word and helps you to develop your understanding. The more you understand the words the easier it is to remember and use it properly.

The book, videos, and mp3s are all designed to work together and make continuous learning possible by fitting it into your daily schedule. They suggest you work on one chapter (10 words) daily using at least 2 of the 3 modules (book, mp3s, videos.) After you have practiced the words in the chapter, there is a review section at the end of the chapter to check what you have learned.

There are also some great features available on the VocabAhead website. On the home page you can sign up to get an email of the Word of the Day. There is also access to a Study Room, place to view Vocabulary Videos, and see Word Lists. There also is a section for how Teachers can use VocabAhead in their classrooms.

I think the idea behind VocabAhead is a good one. By reading the words, listening to the words and definitions and watching the videos it should help cement the meanings to the words into your head and make it easier to remember. By making the videos available on the computer and various iPod devices you are opening up the ability to have access to the videos to a wider range of people. It is also very easy for your teen to be able to work with and use on their own. I also like that there is a review at the end of each chapter. Using the book gives you access to learning new words whenever you want and where ever you go withou the need for Internet acess, a computer, or other device.

I do have some concerns however. Each page has the word, it's part of speech, definition, cartoon, sentences describing the word, and synonyms and antonyms. The pronunciation is not included in the book, although you can hear the correct pronunciation if you listen to the videos or mp3's. To download the videos to the computer or iPod takes a lot of storage space. Although the cartoons are meant to be humorous, I found a few of the them to be inappropriate and not something I would want my child picturing when they are trying to recall a word. For instance, the cartoon of the word, "Dichotomy" which shows a son beside his messy, unkept, overweight father who has a sign next to him saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." The three examples are ones that show Timmy being very disrespectful to his father. "Young Timmy noticed the dichotomy between his father's belief that "cleanliness is next to Godliness" and his actually sloppy, messy appearance. Another one was the word "libel" where the headline reads , "Pop Star is a Druggie!" These kind of things might not bother some people but I just felt there should be a better way to portray the words.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I recieved a complimentary copy of VocabAhead for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Again!

I really should add some pictures. Maybe in a little while when the kids go outside to play (I'm sure they will.) It snowed again yesterday! Not a surprise to some of you being it is winter and all, but this is Arkansas and it has never snowed this much here in the 8 years we have been here. It snowed for 12 hours yesterday and there is a possibility of more this week. Actually, to be honest the snow made me really nervous yesterday. I know I was born and raised in WNY, but this is not New York. We do not have salt trucks and snow plows to clear the roads. Art went to work yesterday morning in the truck because the car needs new tires and he didn't want to take my van in case of an emergency or I went into labor. He slid several times on the way in and there were several cars in ditches. The roads got worse as he got closer to town and him and a friend ended up helping a lady who was stuck in the snow. I sat here with the children watching a movie because we could not go the grocery store and watched the snow continue to fall and the roads were completely covered. I was very glad when Art got home form work and brought some bread, milk, and diapers. The children were happy to grab their winter gear and sled and take a few rides down the front hill. Even though it is fun for the children I am ready for Spring!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Review: Blind Hope by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher

Blind Hope An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher is a 178 page paperback book (retail $13.99.) The story is about Laurie who had many shattered dreams before she went to work at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch (which by the way is a real place.) The ranch is a place where broken horses and broken children have the opportunity to heal everyday. Laurie decides she is going to reach out to a dog in need of rescuing not realizing it's just what she needs to save her aching soul.

Blind Hope is a true story told through the voice of Kim Meeder that reveals the life lessons Laurie learned through her sick but very brave dog. Through her dog, Laurie finds what she truly needs the most: unconditional love, unconditional trust, true acceptance, and the power of God's Grace.

This a very positive ad uplifting story (although it has some very sad moments.) The story of the courageous dog Mia and the things she taught her owner are amazing. It is wonderful to see God working in some one's life through something as ordinary as a dog. I am a pet lover and have seen and heard of some amazing dog stories, but I admit Mia's to be particularly inspiring. I have to admit though, that I had a very hard time "getting in to" this book. I didn't feel like the characters were very well developed or described. Almost all of the story you don't get to "see" happening, instead you "hear" about it through conversations between Laurie and Mama "K." I felt that telling the story this way disconnected me from the characters and did not make me feel as though I was experiencing the story along with them.

I received a complimentary copy of Blind Hope from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Hunt Begins for Next Year's Curriculum

Every year in February I start looking around for what curriculum I would like to use next year. I have admitted in the past to being a curriculum junkie and I love looking for new curriculum. Why February? Our house is usually relatively calm in February with not a whole lot of outside activities. Also, by February I know if I like what we are using well enough to continue with the same thing or start looking for something completely different. I like catalog shopping better than Internet shopping although I prefer to actually order online. Many companies will send you their catalogs for free, but it could take several weeks to get there. By requesting catalogs early, I know I will have plenty of time to get them and to look thoroughly through them (I have to confess, I LOVE looking through homeschool catalogs!) I also have plenty of time to read reviews on curriculum or to ask questions from people I know who are using something.

I don't think I am going to make it to a Homeschool Convention this year, so I am going to have to rely on catalogs and reviews to make my curriculum decisions. Arkansas has 2 Conventions every year. One in Searcy (May 20, 21st 2010) and one in Siloam Springs (August 4,5 2010.) With gas being as expensive as it is, any money I might save by going to Searcy I would more than spend on gas. The Siloam Springs convention usually is held in Springdale, and I go and visit my parents the same week-end. Even though Siloam Springs is right down the road from Springdale, that convention is so late this year. I usually like to have all of my books in hand by the end of July so I can familiarize myself with them and get ready to start up again in August. I would rather not wait that long and then still have to wait for it to arrive and get it ready to be used at the last minute.

As I am deciding what I would like to buy, I also have to decide what I am going to sell. If we have curriculum that isn't working out very well, or that I know won't work for the younger children I will resell it or even sometimes give it away. There is not a whole lot of homeschoolers in this area, so I mostly rely on selling on Ebay (although I admit Ebay and I have a love/hate relationship.) By reselling things I know we won't use again, I get to have a little more money towards what I would like to buy and hopefully will also get to bless someone else with the books they are looking for.

So, I am building a "Curriculum Wish List." I am writing down ideas for what I want to do and looking for curriculum to match. As I go through and get my catalogs and read reviews/recommendations I will probably change my mind a few times (and the list will grow!) Also last year I did a complete turn around when I had curriculum given to me (who can say no to free?) Budget will play a big part in what I decide to buy, so I am starting to plan ahead for that also. In addition I am making a "Homeschool Wish List" for things I really would like to buy for my homeschool when budget and space allow. Here's what's on the lists so far:

Spelling- All About Spelling
Science-Apologia (Biology for Chelsea not sure for boys yet)
History- I am looking at Mystery of History and Tapestry of Grace
Math-sticking with Abeka


I will post more updates as time goes on and I make final decisions about what we will be using next year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: The Beginning Reader's Bible

The Beginning Reader's Bible is a Children's Bible that takes actual text from the Old and New Testaments from the International Children's Bible. There are 26 Bible stories in this beautiful hard covered book and each verse is accompanied by a beautiful illustration. The retail cost on the book is $19.99. In addition to the Bible Stories, the book also contains these features:

Remember God's Word-memory verses

Do God's Word-activities to help kids learn to live God's word

Pray God's Word-meaningful prayers to teach children how to communicate with God

Favorite Passages-ex.Ten Commandments, 23 Psalm, Lord's Prayer

A Reading Chart-to help children read through the Bible

This book was not at all what I expected. It is beautifully illustrated like I would expect a Children's Bible to be. I thought I Beginning Reader's Bible would be written for young readers to be able to read on their own. That is not true with this Bible. The vocabulary is too advanced for a beginning reader to read on their own, but a beginning reader would enjoy having this Bible read to them. I also didn't expect all of the extras included in this book and those are a big plus. The Bible verses are easily memorized by young children. The "Do God's Word" activities and the "Pray God's Word" prayers are very age appropriate.

Example: The Beginning of the World

The reading comes from selections from Genesis 1 and 2. There is a three page illustrated description of how God created the world. The "Remember God's Word" Bible verse is " God looked at everything He made and saw that it was very good." (Genesis 1:31) The "Do God's Word" suggestion is to "take a piece of paper and pencil and go outside. Look around. How many things can you see that God created? Grass and trees, flowers and birds, sunshine and rain. Draw a picture of something you're thankful God created." The "Pray God's Word" prayer is, " I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well." (Psalm 139:14)

One thing that I thought was a little strange about this Bible is that the pages are not numbered even though the stories have a page number listed in the table of Contents. That makes it a little difficult to find a particular story. Instead of finding the story by page number you have to flip through the book to find it.

I received a complimentary copy of The Beginning Reader's Bible from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Favorite Recipes: Lasagna

My children love Lasagna! Some of them don't like ground meat so I make it half with meat and half without. Here is my favorite Lasagna recipe:

1 (12 oz) pkg. of oven ready lasagna noodles
2 (15 oz) containers of cottage cheese (some people like to use ricotta)
2 cups shredded mozzarella divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs
1 (26 oz) jar of pasta sauce
1 cup water
1 lb. ground beef browned

Preheat oven to 425.
Combine 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, and 1/4 cup Parmesan in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine meat, water, and sauce. In a 9x13 pan, spread 1 1/2 cups meat sauce. Place 1/3 lasagna noodles over sauce then half cheese mixture and top with sauce. Repeat once then top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 9-12 servings.