Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Living Room Accountability

I had an idea to help ALL of us (I'm as bad as the rest), make sure we put things away as soon as we're done with them. For now, we're starting with the Living Room. I have my phone/computer calendar set to "remind" me once a day, at different times depending on the day of the week, to take a picture of the family room. When the reminder goes off, I take the picture THEN (or as soon as we get home if we're away from home when it goes off), our goal is to have 30 days of clean room pictures. If we meet that goal, we all get a treat (not sure what, I'll decide that if/when it happens LOL). My HOPE is that, if we can do this for a full month it will have become a habit, then we'll move on to another room and eventually perhaps our house will stay neater w/o so much "work". So . . . I'm going to try to keep adding pictures to this post as the month continues, we'll see how it works. Below is our Day 1 picture (today is actually day 3), I'll try adding yesterday's and today's now.

We're trying something new.


Trying out Blogaway on my new phone.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What We've Been Doing . . .

Obviously NOT blogging LOL. Rodney finally managed to figure out my computer issues, by completely rebuilding my computer, so I'm working on getting my links and everything set back up the way I like it LOL.

So, in no particular order . . . things we've been doing . . .

  • Gardening: The girls got gardening tools & seeds & such for their birthday, so we've been figuring out our gardening for this summer. My parents were here last week and helped. We (and by we, I mean the girls & my mom LOL) have peas, lettuce & radishes in. Plus I got catnip & catmint for the kittens (have I mentioned the kittens yet?), and some calendula. We're also adding a new flowerbed where we'll plant some mixed flowers along with lavender & rosemary.
  • Philladelphia: While my parents were here, we spent a day in Philadelphia. We went to the Mint, as well as the historic area. The Mint was abit of a disappointment, it's so automated that you can't see much. The historic district was better. The girls found a wonderfully helpful ranger at the Liberty Bell who took time to explain to them how it got cracked, etc. And was impressed with their understanding of history. He was very surprised that they knew the first president was George Washington, and gave them each a George Washington "trading card" as a result. We chose not to take the Independence Hall tour because there was a large school group going through at the time we had tickets for, and we figured the girls wouldn't be able to see or hear enough to enjoy it with all those teenagers.
  • Valley Forge: Another day of my parents' visit, we spent at Valley Forge. The girls were old enough now to be fascinated by the museum there (cooking utensils, etc that would have been used at Valley Forge). We bought a CD that was a driving tour of Valley Forge (there's a free cell phone tour, but we figured that would be hard to use with all of us) and it was very well done. Informative but at a level the girls could understand. They had great fun climbing on the cannons & being "redcoats". One girl would be on the cannon (because cannons are, of course shot while sitting on TOP of them, LOL) and the other would go down the hill a ways and run toward the cannon. When girl on cannon shouted "bang", the "redcoat" would fall over dead. One of the activities for the Junior Ranger program was to keep count of how many deer we saw. I wasn't expecting much, but we saw over75 deer!!! I stopped counting at some point & would just estimate that the herd across the field was around 10, or whatever, so 75 is probably low . . . We also saw a red fox, much better than I've ever seen one in the wild! It was running across a field and we were able to park and watch as it ran along, stopped to pounce on some critter, play with said critter briefly, and keep running. So cool! By the time we'd finished our driving tour, the visitor center was closed, so we'll have to go back another time and actually GET the girls' Junior Ranger badges and certificates.
  • Kittens!!! When we visited my parents for Easter, my brother & his girlfriend had kittens who were ready to leave their mommy. So after much discussion, we decided to let the big girls each choose a kitten. So now Socks and Moccasins have joined our family. I must say it's beyond adorable to see how baby kittens and Baby Little Bit interact. They're so curious about each other, very cute!
And I'm sure there's more, but I better get this posted while I can.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Little Bit's 1 Year Check up!

I'm SOO behind on posting, life has been hectic AND my computer's acting up, not a good combo for getting things done. Anyway, before I forget the stats . . . Little Bit had her 1 year check-up this past week. The official numbers are:

Weight 20lb 8oz
Height 29"
Head Circ. . . ok, I don't remember this one, but it's roughly in the 97th percentile LOL

All are right in line with her growth curve all along. I LOVE having a dr. who actually uses a breastfed chart, I can remember the big girls being all over the chart because it was a formula fed chart, duh! Now her slowed weight gain is right in line with what is SUPPOSED to happen, what a novel idea . . .

I had to laugh, she has a mole on her leg, that she's had all along, but the doctor noticed it this time (it's kind of in the line of her diaper, and I think depending on the diaper she's wearing, some months the diaper covered it, even when the doctor pulled it down or to the side to check the "diaper area") and I never thought to mention it. Anyway . . . she's not concerned about it, but did want to document it's size for future reference, if needed. So, she pulled out her iphone and took a picture LOL. Gotta love technology :-)

The only other thing the dr. talked about was ticks, since we're going into tick season. So passing along her information . . .

Check daily for ticks, "think like a tick" and check warm, dark, hiding places (creases in the skin, etc) . . . she recommends getting a lighted magnifying glass (like they sell in the map section) to make it easier to check. She also recommends having scotch tape handy, if you do find a tick pull it straight out (do not try to "smother" it with vaseline or burn it or anything, if you "traumatize" the tick it will disgourge it's stomach content into it's victim, increasing the odds of passing on lyme disease, etc) and put it straight onto the scotch tape, and fold the tape around it. Flushing ticks down the toilet is NOT a good idea, they can survive and crawl back up the pipe, eek! But if they're trapped in scotch tape and thrown in the trash, they won't come back to bite again. So, there are the "tick tips" of the season.

Oh, one other tidbit. Talking about Vitamin D supplementation, she said the rule of thumb is, if you can't see your shadow at noon, the sun is strong enough to provide your Vit D needs, just make sure to get 15 min of sun on exposed skin (no window in the way, no sunscreen), if you can see your shadow at noon, then you need to supplement. And of course, when getting Vit D from the sun, be sure not to burn, using multiple shorter time periods if need-be to avoid burning.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homeschool Resource Review: Download n Go Expedition Australia

TOS Magazine's Schoolhouse Store asked us to review their Download n Go e-book Expedition Australia. This is just one of many Download n Go resources TOS has available, see the whole list here.

This e-book is designed as a 1 week (5 day) unit study for grades K-4th Grade. It's available as an instant download for $7.95.

I'd seen Download n Go ebooks advertised often, and was excited to see one in person. Because we were reviewing this in connection with other homeschooling, and didn't want to lose momentum on our regular studies, I opted to spread it out over several weeks rather than using it as our main curriculum for one week. Since each day was separated into a variety of "subjects" (an animal of the day, Australian word of the day, etc) this was easy to do.

Overall we enjoyed this unit study. My nature-loving girls LOVED learning about the Australian animals & geography (Great Barrier Reef, desert, etc). Also many of the lapbook activities included drawing which is always a hit with them.

I found the layout not conducive to using with 2 (or more) students. The actual lapbook pages are all in the back of the e-book but there are many "worksheets" throughout. This is a LARGE e-book so I hoped to avoid printing the entire thing out twice, but essentially that's what I had to do, because so many of the pages included SOMETHING for the child to write/draw (draw a picture of a wombat, answer questions about the Great Barrier Reef, etc).

Another frustration I had was with the recommended books. I would have found it very helpful to have brief descriptions of the books or at least an age/grade designation next to them. There were a couple that even my K/1st grade children found much too "young" for them (a simple counting book of Australian animals, for example, a year from now my 1 yr old would have enjoyed being a part of things, but I wouldn't expect most K-4th graders to be interested in such books). Additionally, the books were listed by which day to read them, but some, I wished I'd looked through sooner as they were about Australian geography in general and included sections on things we'd covered on an earlier day. So, rather than sorting them by day, or in addition to it, a brief synopsis of the book, including which areas of study it pertained to, would have been very helpful.

Despite those minor frustrations, we learned alot about Australia, and enjoyed it. Personally, I don't think I'd want to use these as our main curriculum (but then, I tend to not like using any one thing as a main curriculum LOL) but I will definitely keep them in mind and if my children show significant interest in a topic that Download n Go has a unit study for, will consider using it, there is a ton of information included and a variety of activities for different types of learners and different interests.