Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - October 30

Yes, this week's wrap-up is a day early (at least if I get it finished & posted it will be, otherwise, it will probably be quite late LOL).  I don't THINK we'll have internet access on the next part of our trip, so figured I'd update through now while I can . . .

The trip down was uneventful. Kids did fine. Nothing real exciting to report.

We spent the last 2 days going to Busch Gardens. Little Bit enjoyed seeing all the animals. The big girls loved it all.  Thurs. was HOT but the park was empty! Little Bit fell asleep in the stroller so while my dad stayed with her (he didn't want to get wet anyway so it worked well) the rest of us went on the River Rapids ride 3 or 4 times. We got soaked but it was great fun.  We went on both log flume type rides too. A2 tends to be hesitant about new things (understatement of the century), but was hot enough (we did the log flumes before the river rapids) to try the smaller log flume. And enjoyed it. But then she didn't want to go on the bigger one. We finally talked her into it & as we got off she said "can we go again" LOL.

Also in the "trying new things" category, the big girls went on their first upside down roller coaster. It looked like a good "starter" one for them, and A2, surprisingly enough had said she would "think about it" when we first saw it. So when we were back in that area we looked at it again. A1 said no way, but A2 was still thinking about it. Daddy upped the ante and offered $5 for going on the ride. That was all it took to get A2 on board. A1 was now upset because she didn't want to go, but didn't want to lose out on the $5, especially with sister getting it. My parents had gone to a music thing at that point so one of us was going to have to stay with Little Bit anyway. So I pointed out to A1 that since we could only go one-at-time anyway, she could wait until A2 & I came back and THEN decide once A2 told her what it was like.  A2 kept her eyes tightly closed through the first drop & the loop, but then loved it!! Once A1 saw that A2 had liked it, she was ready to go (and told me, as we stood in line, "if the loop isn't too scary on this one, then I want to go on THAT one (one with a 90 degree vertical drop (I'm not going on that thankyouverymuch!), drops don't bother me!) silly kid (she's not big enough for that one, so it's a non-issue at this point).

In other news this week, Little Bit's doing great with potty training in the midst of chaos.  I had NO idea what this trip would do to our progress. I brought plenty of cloth diapers, as well as some disposables, 2 portable potties . . . and figured we'd play it by ear.  On the trip down, naturally, she had wet diapers (and honestly, that's easier than having to stop for her to potty when we're on a long trip like that LOL). BUT she did generally go on the potty when we DID stop, so that was a huge step in the right direction (on shopping trips & such in the last month or 2, she's been more interested in whatever's around her in public restrooms, other people's bathrooms, or the car, than actually going potty). Another big step in the convenience dept, is she will sit on a big potty without the seat reducer (potette plus), I'm thrilled to not have to carry it with us everywhere. AND these past 2 days at Busch Gardens, she's had a wet diaper sometime during the morning at the park, then stayed dry the rest of the day, with me taking her with me when I went to the bathroom, or if she asked.  So, we've been having 1-2 wet diapers per day, not too shabby . . . and it means I brought WAY more cloth diapers than I needed since we'll have a washer & dryer in the time share this next week. I also discovered that for some reason, the flatfolds that I use in my flip diaper covers have been drying overnight when I rinse them out in the sink.  What's odd about that is, when she was a baby & we took a trip, I took flatfolds with the intention to wash them in the sink & let them hang dry overnight, and on that trip, they took 2-3 days to dry (so didn't work out as I'd planned). This time, I had not intention to be able to hang them DRY, but, since I wasn't going to be doing laundry at all this first week, I wanted to rinse them out before putting them in the wet bag so that it didn't get stinky. First night in the hotel I rinsed that day's flatfolds &, just to reduce bulk/weight in the wet bag, hung them over a hanger overnight, figuring they'd be damp, but not sopping wet in the morning & I could throw them in the wet bag then. But in the morning they were DRY, so I re-used them . . . and have been doing that all week. So, instead of having a jam-packed wet bag of dirty diapers now, I have 3-4 in there & a whole bunch of CLeAN diapers in my suitcase LOL.

Today we head to the beach, then on to Orlando and a week of Sea World, Disney, etc . . . we should all be throughly exhausted by the time we make it back home!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gratituesday - Windy Fall Days!

Yesterday my parents, the girls and I headed out driving to Florida. We're splitting it up over 3 days, to keep the days from being too long for Little Bit, and she did wonderfully for her first day of the trip! Which is something else to be very thankful for LOL!  But, mid-afternoon we stopped for a potty break and then let all 3 girls burn off some energy at the rest area. It was a beautiful sunny, windy fall day & they all had so much fun running around the grassy hills of the rest area. Little Bit has been my "wind in the face" girl ever since she was itty bitty, and much as she was loving RUNNING, every so often she'd stop and turn her face into the wind and just seem to be soaking it all in! It was adorable and a beautiful day!

(I'd have loved to get pictures but my phone was in the car and I was too busy enjoying watching the girls have fun to go back to the car and get it)

See other Gratituesday posts here. (for some reason blogger isn't letting me add pictures, so I can't include the Gratituesday banner)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - October 23

Is it really almost the end of October?  Didn't October just START? Sigh  . . .  where does time go?

Anyway . . . this was a busy, but not especially newsworthy, week. Daddy was travelling for work all week (he invited us along, but since the girls & I leave Monday for Florida with my parents, we figured we better stay home this week and get ready for that trip), and us holding down the fort here at home.

In addition to the normal packing and making sure we're caught up on laundry & such that comes before every trip, we also made some granola bars & whole wheat vanilla wafers to take along on our trip (I had hopes of making more then that, but it didn't happen, oh well. .  .).

Interestingly, when I told the big girls that space would be a premium and they could each bring a small tote bag of toys, A1 opted to bring an even SMALLER than specified tote bag & only put the current series of books she's reading and her mp3 player in it. A2 did fill the specified tote bag but I think it mainly has a doll (in case Little Bit needs it . . . though A2 still likes dolls too) in it. I am bringing along some other surprises for them in the car but they don't know that LOL.

Another thing we did this week was to make a "cat house" for the girls' cats. This summer I gave up on litter training them and they became outdoor cats instead (the plan all along was for them to be at least partially outdoor cats, the lack of litter-learning just made it more absolute LOL), so now, as it's getting colder, I wanted them to have someplace outside that was warm(er). So we took a big box & taped the flaps to create a house just big enough for the cat bed we got awhile back. We put it on the (covered) porch where it shouldn't get wet when it rains. The cats were in it the next time I went outside, so apparently they figured out it's purpose LOL.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kids Need Organizational Tools Too!!!

Awhile back I posted about the workbook/planners I made for the girls for school this year. And they have been working out WONDERFULLY!! So much easier to keep track of than multiple worksheets & notebooks and the girls love them.

Then a couple months ago I heard about a STUDENT PLANNER from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  I've already told you how much I love MY Schoolhouse Planner from TOS and now they had one (actually several) for kids too?!?!?! I was SOO tempted to get the Primary Student Planner (for grades K-3) for my girls, but I told myself that we'd already pulled together planners for this year and we didn't NEED to re-do them. I definitely filed it away to consider for NEXT year, but decided for this year I should go with what we had (I can't tell you how many times I went back and looked at it and thought about getting it, and convinced myself that I really didn't NEED to spend that money this year . . .)

So then, the TOS Crew gave us the option of reviewing the Student Planners!! I was so excited, and quickly volunteered to review the Primary Student Planner!! Then ext day during school time I told the girls we had a new planner and they could go through it and choose any pages they wanted to add to their school books. We all had SO much fun with it!! Since they already had calendars in their book, we didn't use the ones from the Schoolhouse Planner, but it's very nice, 2 pages per month, lined or not lined , so even young children can write things into their own calendar!

Both girls went nuts over the "information" pages, they were so excited to have their own lists of Jesus' miracles, Jesus' parables, the Presidents, sign language alphabet, invention timeline, and I don't remember what all else.

A1 (who actually USES the calendar she has) also liked the idea of having weekly planner forms so I printed those, and "to-do lists" for her too. And the planner includes the cutest "pizza planner" page that is just too cute & a great way for young kids to realize that if they "don't have time" for something, they just need to prioritize their time. So I printed those for each of the girls as well, since they are always saying they "don't have time" to play with their American Girl dolls, or Schleich animals, or sew, or whatever . . .

I was planning to take some pictures of the new pages in their planners, but my phone's acting up so I can't take pictures with it, and I'm not sure where my "real" camera even is, since I always just use my phone these days. But , if you go to the TOS Store, you can see their sample pages there.

In addition to the Primary Student Schoolhouse Planner (grades K-3) that I received, they also have a Secondary Student Schoolhouse Planner for grades 4-6, the Middle School Student Schoolhouse Planner for grades 7-8, and a High School Student Schoolhouse Planner for grades 9-12.  Or go here to see additional bundle options, or to purchase the planners on CD instead of as ebooks.   The ebooks start at $9.95 for the Primary & Secondary planners (Middle & High School are slightly more).

This is a GREAT way to help your students learn to take responsibility for their own schoolwork, chores, etc. And because they're ebooks (or on CD), you can print out whatever pages you do or don't need, and as many or as few of each page as you need, what a great value!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the Primary Student Schoolhouse Planner ebook in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Review: Homestead Blessings - The Art of Dairy Delights

***** This Giveaway is now closed. Winners (have been notified. Thanks to all for entering!*****

The Winners are: Kimberly and Heather.

Soon after I reviewed Homestead Blessings The Art of Cooking, I was lucky enough to WIN Homestead Blessings The Art of Dairy Delights  from another blogger.  So I thought I'd go ahead & review it for y'all as well.

This one was so fun! They even show you how they milk their cow! Though my girls were disappointed that they didn't also show the whole process of straining the milk, etc. LOL.

While it may explain why the West Ladies are all significantly thinner than me, I don't agree with them that HAND-churning ice cream and HAND-churning butter is "fun", I'm quite happy with my electric ice cream maker & using my blender or food processor to make butter. But still, it's a very cool video! We haven't exactly tried any of the recipes on it, but it DID inspire us to make ice cream, but I used a coconut chocolate recipe that we like instead of the one on the video (I'm lazy, I like ice cream recipes that don't require me to cook and then cool down the "ice cream" prior to freezing it). It also nudged me toward making our own butter again, which I've been lazy about these last couple years. So next time we need butter I may just have to get back to doing that. I think the girls will have fun with it now that they're older too. Yogurt's another thing I already make, though again, with a slightly different "recipe". And finally, the mozzarella. . . YUM . . .I DO want to try this!! But I think, all things considered, I need to wait a few months. That will have a double benefit of hopefully we won't be travelling so much and Little Bit will be a few months older and hopefully easier to for me to do "big" kitchen projects. It really doesn't look all that difficult though, and I'd love to try it!! We eat a LOT of cheese around here, making some of it ourselves would be a healthier AND cost-saving move!

So, I don't have any fun pictures this time (guess I could have snapped some pictures of us all enjoying our yummy ice cream, but didn't really think about it as being "for the review" since it was a different ice cream recipe).

As with The Art of Cooking, this DVD's bonus features include the recipes on screen, and the ability to put the DVD in your computer's DVD drive and print out the .pdf of the recipes.

Buy it: Now is a GREAT time to pick up this video at Franklin Springs Family Media, it's on sale right now for only $12!!!! (Regular price is $16.95)

AND . ..  when I found out that I'd won this video, I contacted the wonderful people at Franklin Springs Family Media  and asked if they'd be willing to provide another giveaway to go along with this review, and they agreed!!!

So, I have up to 3 copies of Homestead Blessings The Art of Dairy Delights to give away from Franklin Springs Family Media.

The Rules:

  • This giveaway will close on October 25, 2010.
  • Winners will be picked on October 26.
  • Please make sure that I have an easy way to contact you, if I can't easily determine how to e-mail you or post to your blog, I will have to choose a different winner.
  • You will have 2 days to reply to me with your addresses or another winner will be chosen.
  • This giveaway is open to US residents only.
  • I have up to 3 copies to giveaway, if I have up to 30 entries, I will give away one copy, 31 through 60 entries, I'll giveaway 2 copies, 61 or more entries and I'll giveaway 3 copies.
And now, how to enter:

Mandatory first entry:  Visit Franklin Springs Family Media and tell me one other video from their site that you'd like to see 

Additional Entries: (leave a separate comment for each entry)
  • Follow my blog with Google Friend Connect (if you already do, just leave a comment letting me know)
  • Follow my blog using Networked Blogs (below the Google Friend Connect in the side bar)
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - October 17

Another week at home, woo-hoo!! I could get used to this LOL.  . . even A2 has commented that we're travelling TOO MUCH . . . really hoping that we can start out the new year with some non-traveling for awhile!

Little Bit has also used this non-travel-time to take huge strides forward in potty training! She's now diaperless (nakey butt) all the time during the day at home, and we only had one accident all week. She's much less consistent when out though. It's a combination, she has a diaper on, so both she & I are less worried about misses . . . (A2 was like this too, perfect when nakey butt, but then when we tried panties, she had to "re-learn" that even though she was wearing something, she STILL needed to tell me every time, A1 was less consistent when nakey butt, but then once she figured it out, didn't seem to matter if she was nakey butt or wearing underwear). Also she can't do it herself, she has to tell me, both because of having clothes & a diaper on and because we're not at home so she doesn't know where the potty is &/or can't use it alone (we use the Potette Plus as a seat reducer when we're in stores or at other people's houses, I love how sturdy it is, but obviously she's not tall enough to get up on the toilet by herself.  Also, she thinks toilet paper is great fun and it's so nice and accessible when you're sitting on the big toilet, so I think she gets distracted playing w/ the toilet paper and "forgets" to actually GO potty (since there've been a few times when she's told me she needs to go potty, not done anything on the potty, and then gone in her diaper a few minutes later).  But we're working on it. . . just having her diaper-free at home greatly reduces how many diapers we go through, and when we're out she doesn't try to take her diaper off, so that, my main reason for "encouraging" the potty training at home, is a non-issue at this point.  Still, not sure what our FL trip (starting next week) will do to all of this . . .

This week was my monthly book club, but Rodney was scheduled to attend a board meeting (for a client) that night, so checked with a co-worker, Starla (she helps at VBS every year so the girls know her from that and adore her), and she agreed to come watch them. They were excited (their first non-family babysitter, well actually, now that I think about it, when they were 3, a friend's baby was in NICU and I really wanted to go see her (she was still in the hospital from her c-section) and see for myself how they were doing (had been getting updates from her husband, but still . . .) so a mutual friend, took the girls for a couple hours while I went to the hospital. She'd planned to leave her own boys (about the same age as my girls) at her mom's and go shopping, but the girls balked at staying with her mom (even though they knew her from church, they didn't know her as well as Angie) so she left her boys at her mom's and took the girls shopping with her instead LOL.). I'm not sure what all they did,  they were playing monopoly when Little Bit & I got home, seemed to have had a good time.

We're keeping on with the same stuff for school. Nothing too momentous with it.

Friday Rodney had some errands to run, and had promised the big girls a "date" sometime to make up for not being around Tues. night (my book club night is typically their date nite), so he combined them and took the big girls with him for errands and then to Chuck E Cheese. He asked if Little Bit (and Mommy) could come to CEC too,  but they wanted it to be just Daddy time, so Little Bit & I ran our own errands and hung out together.

We're continuing to enjoy the playground on nice days (fall seems to be an ideal playground time, not too hot or too cold and with school in session, we generally have the place to ourselves for the most part).

Rodney was cleaning off an old laptop & found some of the old stuff off my "lost" website. The pictures are low resolution (because I'd resized them down for easy loading on the website, but still fun to see the old pictures.  Here are a couple of the twins when they were the age that Little Bit is now:

Also an excerpt from the "journal" I kept on that website from when the big girls were this age:

I'm not doing so well at regular updates these days am I? Life's just too busy. The girls' language is really exploding these days. We were cooking broccoli for supper the other night & as soon as Lexie saw it, she said "occoli!" she was very excited that we were having "occoli".
We got them a cheapy tent to play in (I'd figured we'd just to sheet tents over the table until I realized that both our tables are pedestal tables which doesn't leave much room for a tent underneath) & they are LOVING it! They take their toys in there, their snacks, play peek-a-boo out the door of it, etc.
We also got them a small table & chairs set and they like to have their snacks & color at their table.
Last Sunday we took them to the corn maze near our house (pictures aren't on my camera, I'll get them posted eventually). The girls had a blast! The actual corn maze got a bit long for them, although they had fun running down the paths for quite awhile. But then they got to slide, play on big tires imbedded in the ground, see all kinds of animals (since seeing the (very vocal) rooster, Lexie's been trying her hardest to tell me what a rooster says, it's abit complex for her though, hee hee) and playng in a giant sandbox. As we were leaving they had pumpkins for sale & the girls discovered that pumpkins make wonderful "chairs" so they went around sitting on all the pumpkins.
I need to get a picture of them in their new "learning tower" it's essentially a fancy stool, but gives them a way to be up high enough to see what I'm doing in the kitchen while still being safe. Took them all of about a day to learn to climb in & out of it, so now any time I'm in the kitchen they run & climb up on their tower & eat snacks or play while I cook or clean.
Yesterday was such a pretty sunny afternoon! Although chilly when the wind picked up, so we took the girls to the playground near our house and then just let them run on the walking path to burn off energy. They had a great time! And we got some cute pictures.

So that confirmed what I was remembering, that they were talking more at this age than Little Bit is, but on the other hand, other entries indicate that they were sliding down the slide on their tummies (feet first) rather than sitting up like Little Bit does, and sometime in Nov, I mention that they are just then learning to climb up onto kitchen chairs, which Little Bit has been doing for a LONG time! Though part of that might be a size-issue. At their 18 mo check-up (when they were 19 mo old (and umm . . . I still haven't made an appointment for Little Bit's 18 mo check-up, so guess we're going to keep with the 19 mo tradition LOL) they weighed 21 & 22 lbs respectively, which is about what Little Bit weighed at one year (not sure what she weighs now, but she's outgrowing clothes at a pretty good pace, so I'm thinking she's more in the 25 lb range). So it might just be that they weren't tall enough to get up on the chairs until this age, still, they were never as interested in climbing as Little Bit is, so that's a factor as well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons . . .

It's been a few weeks since I've participated in the TOS Blog Cruise, life's been busy and some of the topics haven't been ones that I have much to say about (and others, like last week's . . . tell about your field trips" I have TOO MUCH to consolidate into one post, since we go on "field trips" so often LOL).  But anyway . . . this week's topic is homeschooling during illness or other difficulties.

This is where our unschooling leanings really kick in and are invaluable!! We've been blessed to not have to deal with any major illnesses or other big difficulties. But, big or small, my firm belief that children (and all of us) learn from life, comes into play and means that "doing school" doesn't become an added stressor in already stressful times.  

Sick kids can mean a few days of educational videos and tv, computer games, and, book reading.  Sick Mommy (or siblings, or Daddy) can help the non-sick child(ren) learn selflessness (why yes, I do consider character-building to be an important part of our "school"), as well as learning more about herbs and other natural remedies. Having Mommy out of commission or needed to take care of whoever's sick can also mean asking the non-sick child(ren) to do more of the cooking (so much great math can be learned in the kitchen! Why do boring old worksheets when you can just go back some cookies for math class?). 

As the big girls get bigger, they are also able to do more "school" independent of Mommy . ..  their typing, lap harp, copywork, etc. And by the time Little Bit is ready to "do school" the big girls will be able to take over for Mommy and help her with her schooling if necessary. 

Since my children ask 1001 questions about anything and everything, a "new to us" sickness or other out-of-the-ordinary happening in our lives, can also be educational as they try to understand what's happening, and we can learn more about that, either at the time, or after the fact, by looking things up online or getting books from the library (my pregnancy & Little Bit's birth was a 9 month anatomy lesson!).

So to summarize, we handle illness and disruptions by just going with the flow, and we all learn together as we work together to get through whatever life sends our way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tag, it's not just for kids anymore

Blossom at North Laurel Home & School  tagged me in a game of online tag.  Basically each "tagger" tags 8 "tagg-ees" and asks them to ask 8 questions. Blossom's questions (and my answers) are:

  1. Do you prefer breakfast, lunch, or dinner? I've never really thought about it, then again, I've also been known to eat pizza for breakfast and eggs & (vegetarian) bacon for supper, so I just think of the different meals as referring to the time of day that they're eaten.
  2. What do you like the most about your house? I love our house!! I love that it's set in the middle of a huge piece of undeveloped land, we have a pond, a creek, woods, meadows, and very few neighbors . . . and I love the neighbors we do have! Inside our house, I love the wide (approx 18") windowsills (and the way those thick walls insulate the main level), I love all the hooks and shelves added into every possible space for extra storage, and I love thinking about all that these walls have "seen" (the oldest part of the house is over 200 yrs old!). 
  3. Do you have allergies and if so, how do you cope with it? Nope, no allergies here.
  4. What is your favorite subject to teach in your homeschool? Why? I love teaching all subjects, perhaps because we are delight-directed, so we don't focus so much on what "subject" it is, and we just all enjoy learning together. I love learning right along with my girls, I think I'm learning more even as young as they are, then I did in all of my formal schooling, it's great!
  5. What is your favorite meal time memory? When I was a kid, for whatever reason we rarely spent Thanksgiving with extended family, and another family that we were friends with was the same way, so our 2 families often got together for Thanksgiving. We were (are) all vegetarian so didn't have a "traditional" meal, and at least once or twice we made homemade pizza for Thanksgiving dinner. Thinking back, it probably really was only once or twice, but all of us kids always think of pizza together when we think of Thanksgiving dinner now.
  6. Do you homeschool for religious reasons? Yes and no. I believe it is God's will that we homeschool. Public school would be an absolute last resort for us. However, our church has a church school and I love the teachers that I know there, so there is another option that would provide an education generally in keeping with our religious views. That said, one of the reasons we homeschool is because I feel strongly that character building and such must be a major focus of our children's education. We have more leeway, in homeschooling, to emphasize our relationships with God and others, in our education. We spent the past school year studying Proverbs 31 for our Bible class, that would be difficult to do in a classroom. I also have learned that the overall "education model" used in both public and private schools in this country (and most of the western world) is modeled after the pagan influences of the Greeks & Romans, I like being able to model our methods more after the Hebrew methods handed down by God. So, religion is a key element in what we do and why we do it.
  7. If you could take only one homeschooling magazine with you to an appointment where you had to wait for an hour to be seen, which one would you take? Why? I agree with Blossom that both The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Home School Enrichment Magazine are great magazines, if I could only take one, I'd probably choose TOS over HSE just because TOS is generally a thicker magazine and I'm a fast reader LOL.
  8. Like the last question but a magazine that isn't homeschooling? Why? I'm not much for magazines in general, homeschooling ones are really the only ones I get. In general, if I'm going to have to potentially wait, I bring a book (and now that I have an android smartphone, I have Kindle on it, so I always have a book that way). Books I'm reading at the moment include: Homeschooling for Eternity, The Joyful Homeschooler, and The Untold Story of the New Testament Church (this one is IDEAL on Kindle, because it has you flip back and forth between the book and the Bible, so since I have a Bible on my phone too, I can do so wherever I am).

And now I get to come up with 8 questions and tag 8 other people, but I'm realizing I don't know that many bloggers, so I'm going to tag 4 people, and if you're not tagged & want to participate anyway, go for it, and leave me a comment letting me know (or don't, but it's fun to read people's answers), so here goes . . .

I'll tag: 

And now my questions (and my answers)

1. What is your favorite Bible verse?  One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

2. How did you meet your husband or wife? We met through mutual friends at our academy (high school)'s alumni weekend, when I was a student and he was in college.

3. What's one of your pet peeves? One of mine is when people use the wrong form of there/their/they're or to/too/two.

4. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Close to family, way out in the country.

5. What's one feature your "dream house" would have? I'd love to have a "bonus room" (over the garage or something), that has an easy to clean floor, lots of counter space &/or several folding tables), a kitchen . . . a place to do all kinds of  messy projects, experiments, etc.  I'd also like to have a very open plan main level except for a large "library" with shelving for LOTS of books, and also things like the printer & copier, and a table in the middle to spread out school work, and close the door on it if company comes over.

6. If you could hire a cook, nanny or cleaning person, which would you choose?  Cleaning, as long as that included cleaning up the clutter, and cleaning up the kitchen after meals, I don't mind cooking if I don't have to clean-up LOL.

7. What has your favorite vacation been? We went to Maui on our honeymoon and LOVED it, and would love to go back!

8. Where would you like to go on vacation that you've never been? I'd love to tour Europe's castles and all the history that is so much older there than anything we have in the US. 

Enjoy! Can't wait to learn more about everyone else!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - October 10

We had a nice week at home this past week.

We wrapped up our "study" on Halloween (we found a couple different books at the library that give the basic history of Halloween at a child's level, and read them together, then discussed our findings), the girls have decided that we shouldn't celebrate Halloween at all, which I certainly support, but wanted it to be their decision, not just "Mommy says we can't" (now I'm thinking I need to find a good, elementary level, whole foods nutrition class, so far I haven't found what I want, but I think that would help get them on board for healthier eating, instead of whining about it).

Signing Time Volume 1: My First Signs DVDLittle Bit's "school" is still Signing Times she LOVES the videos and asks for them pretty much any time we're home. And she is learning tons of signs!! She signs "bath" not only during her bath, but whenever one of us is in, or getting into, the shower. She was also able to tell me that her foot is "hurt" (she has a little scrape on her foot that's bothering her a little bit). And of course, animal signs continue to be a favorite. When she's playing with her Schleich animals she will sometimes ask me where a specific one is, if she can't find it.

The big girls are still enjoying their typing program, as well as playing the lap harp. They finished book one of their cursive handwriting program this week. We've also been reading A Child's Eye View of History, and we're all enjoying that.

On Friday we finally found time to dry apples.  We got a bushel of apples from an orchard near my parents' house when we were down there a couple weeks ago. All 3 girls have been enjoying eating them fresh, but we also wanted to dry some to have for snacks later, so the big girls took turns playing with Little Bit in the family room, or laying apple slices on the dehydrator trays, while I used the apple peeler, corer, slicer on about half a bushel of apples. We also sprinkled cinnamon on the apples before we dried them, YUM!!!

Little Bit continues to move toward potty training. She's nakey butt all the time (except at night) when we're at home, and we have very few accidents here at home. BUT she's nakey butt, so can take herself potty, and the potty is handy (in the family room downstairs, and in the bathroom upstairs). When we're out, I still keep her in diapers of some sort, and actually have found that the trainers I was using some of the time before don't work well now because she does hold it, so then when she goes, she goes a LOT and the trainer just isn't absorbent enough to handle it, so right now we're mostly using Flip diaper covers with our trusty old prefolds & flatfolds as filler.  I've also found that I can pin a  flatfold into our wool soakers and then they work kind of like a leak-resistant, trainer (as long as I'm pretty sure she won't poop).  She DOES tell me she needs to go potty when we're out, but often she seems to tell me "every other pee" so when I take her potty, her diaper is already wet, but then she does pee again while she's on the potty. She also generally tells me she needs to go potty AFTER she poops, when wearing diapers. But we're getting there.  I tried leaving her diaper free in the car one day this week, just laid a prefold under her (w/ a plastic bag under that to protect the seat) because usually we can run errands and she'll stay dry. Naturally, when I tried taking her w/o a diaper on, she peed, but no biggie since I had the prefold in the seat under her.

We finished off our week by spending Sabbath afternoon with friends from church. The girls were thrilled to find out Miss Karin and Miss Tina are great storytellers and have had lots of interesting experiences in their lives. After supper Miss Tina brought out the Uno Attack game and the girls had a blast playing that with Daddy, Tina & Rolland, while Karin and I visited and kept Little Bit away from the breakables, hee hee.

Computers and Homeschooling

Currclick, one of my favorite sites for unit studies (and freebies!!! Gotta love a weekly freebie!) now has a blog!  And to kick off their blog, during "Computer Learning Month"  what better than a blog hop and giveaway!

Their question is  how do you use computers in homeschooling.  I've talked about this quite abit recently, since I just finished reviewing Lanschool AND Read, Write, Type.

But I wanted to recap abit of how we are using computers for homeschooling right now.

I keep our lesson plans on my computer, using Homeschool Skedtracker

I download freebies whenever I can, from Currclick, Homeschool Freebie of the Day, Blue Behemoth, and others.  I keep these filed on my computer by subject, so that if we want to do a unit study on a specific topic, I can check and see if we already have a unit study, or other study materials on that topic (often, I do).

I LOVE our library's website as well. From my computer, I can search the county-wide library for books we need, reserve them online, and receive an e-mail when the books are ready to pick up at our local library. The e-mails reminding me when books are due, come in handy as well, hee hee.

While we didn't do any formal "school" on the computer prior to the Read, Write Type, from the time they were toddlers, they have enjoyed the computer for learning games on CD or sites like,, starfall, and others.

And those are just a few of the ways that we use computers in our homeschool.

Review: Read Write Type

I've been thinking for a year or so that, in our computer dependent world, the girls needed to learn to type much younger than was needed back in the dark ages when I was in school. I'd done some looking for free online options but hadn't done any serious hunting, then when I saw Read Write Type from Talking Fingers on the list of possible reviews for the TOS Crew, I decide to hold off & see if we were lucky enough to review it. And we were!! Woo-hoo!!

We received a one year license for 2 users (since we have 2 children in the product's age range - 6 to 9) for the online version. Both girls are loving it! I sat with them when we first installed it, to make sure they knew what to do, and emphasized the need to put their fingers on the right keys (at least at the beginning, it told them the proper fingering but didn't put any emphasis on the importance of using that fingering all the time, I would have liked to see frequent reminders at least in the first few lessons, as they learn more letters, the benefit of proper fingering becomes more obvious). Since then, I've pretty much turned them lose with it. The online version is set up such that I can log in as the parent (administrator) and check their scores. The main screen tells me which lesson they're each on, and their overall percentage in reading, phonics, spelling, and overall. If I click through to each child individually I can see how they did in each of those areas on each lesson.

I have noticed that the girls often will ask me about spelling for things like words ending in ck, or some with a silent e. So, if you are looking primarily for a spelling/phonics program, this would at least require more parent-participation than I've provided, if it has given them the phonics rules to know which is which, they haven't picked up on it. Since my main desire for this program is that they learn the typing, this isn't a concern for me. I've seen their spelling and reading improve on it's own, just from reading and copywork, so I'm fine with that. They love playing the "games" and are able to advance quickly, which is a key for A2 especially in keeping her from getting frustrated.

As I mentioned, I have pretty much turned them lose with it. Each day during "school time" they have time to work through however much they want to. They love finishing a level and getting to print off the next certificate.

We received a one year online license.  The online pricing is shown here  Our 2-user license costs $55.  I think we definitely won't need more than one year's use per child, so families with one child or 2-3 closely spaced children, would probably do well to get the online version. There is also a CD version available for $79, so families with lots of children, or children who would be ready for it different years, it seems like this might be a better option (although I notice it says it's not Windows 7 compatible so that would be another consideration).  Additionally, for us, an advantage of the CD version would be the ability to use it off-line.  We travel alot and the girls like to use their netbooks in the car, so an offline version would be nice when we're in the car.  Additionally, sometimes when we travel there are limits on our internet access (for example, in Williamsburg, we used a friend's timeshare, and only had access on dh's computer while there), so again, the ability to work offline would be nice.

So it's a trade-off each family would need to consider based on their specific situation.

Talking Hands also offers a sequel to Read Write Type, called Wordy Qwerty

This has been a great, fun, way for my kids to learn typing. I think the stated age range of 6-9 is about right, an early reader might enjoy it at a younger age, I think older children would prefer something less "cutesy", but I would recommend this program for teaching typing to this age range.

Disclaimer: I received the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Adventures in Booga Booga Land Vol 1 DVD by Richard Milner

I received the DVD,  Adventures in BoogaBoogaLand  by Richard Milner to review through BookSneeze It's an animated video from Tommy Nelson, featuring a monkey and a giraffe. The 3 short stories on this video use these characters to teach lessons loosely based on 3 parables of Jesus.  This DVD is geared for children ages 4-10.

I watched this DVD with my 7 yr old twins. They thought it was funny and asked if there were more videos in the series , so I guess that's a thumbs up from them. I don't think they learned the "lesson" of the various parables from this video though. I thought there should be more of a "conclusion" to each story.  The stories also utilize the classic cartoon "humor" of rocks falling on the monkey & squishing him, but he bounces right back, and things like that. My children thought it was funny, but a younger child might be disturbed by this, and some parents might object to it.

We will watch this video again, if I found a good enough bargain, I would purchase additional titles in this series. However, this is far from the "best" of the Christian children's videos I've seen from Tommy Nelson, and wouldn't be at the top of my list to recommend to others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this DVD free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Homeschool Review: Lanschool Software

This week's review for the TOS Homeschool Crew is for Lanschool classroom management software.  When I first looked at the software after I heard I'd be reviewing it, I wasn't sure how we'd use it. The big girls each have their own netbook but we don't really use them for school per se. When they use them, I'm in the room with them, and even if I can't see the screen I can hear what they're on. . . so I wasn't sure how it was going to be helpful to us.

And to a large extent, I was right . . . for us right now, it wouldn't be worth buying. BUT . . . that doesn't mean it's not a great program!!!

In a nutshell, Lanschool is a way for a teacher/parent to:

  • see what their student(s)/child(ren) are doing on the computer from the teacher/parent's computer
  • show students what's on the parent/teacher computer
  • blank out the student(s)'s screen to get their attention
  • remotely take over the student(s)' computer to fix a problem
(you can read about all the features here)

So far I've used it to peak at what the girls are doing online. I also love the blank screen feature. And the girls think it's fun too, when I "surprise" them with a blank screen (you can write messages on it too, they love getting little notes from Mommy that way!).  And when we all need to see the same thing on the computer, instead of them having to cluster around my little computer screen, I can just share my screen with them and we can all see the same thing.

I definitely see it's usefulness increasing as the girls' reading and writing improves so they are more likely to "surf" the internet a little bit. Where I see it being extremely useful is if a family was doing a significant piece of their curriculum (or all of it) on the computer, allowing the mom to make sure children were doing their school work and not doing other things online. 

A one house license is $99.

Disclaimer: I received a one house license (for up to 3 computers) for Lanschool in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up Oct 3

How in the WORLD is it October already? Seriously? Where did this summer go?  Of course a very warm Sept. made October creep up on us all the more unnoticed . . . And now here we are, it's OCTOBER!! And it's starting to get chilly!

We had a nice week. I've already told you about my grandparents' anniversary celebration on Sunday.  We spent Monday at my parents' house. Went and got a bushel apples from a nearby orchard and relaxed after all the busyness. Tuesday we went with my parents to meet some friends for lunch at Chipotles (yum!) and then headed home.

Once we got home, it was a week of playing catch up (I think I finally got caught up on laundry TODAY). The girls have been loving having a big box of apples in the basement to snack on, so I'm putting off drying apples for the moment, while they have fun eating them, hee hee. Even Little Bit points to the basket on the counter and says "appa" (complete with the sign for apple).

The girls had asked me a week or 2 ago, what Halloween "celebrates" so I decided this would be a good year to learn a little bit of the history of Halloween. I was hoping to find a nice compact unit study/lapbook that gave an unbiased look at Halloween,  but I couldn't find one, so instead I got some books out of the library and we've been reading them together.

Little Bit is rapidly moving toward a point where I'll be able to say she's "potty trained at home" . . . she still doesn't always tell me she has to go potty when she's wearing a diaper (and often when she's wearing a diaper she will sign "potty" AFTER she's pooped (and doesn't bother to tell me at all that she's wet), but at home she's naked, and even without reminders she goes and uses her little potty when she needs to. So that's exciting.  I'm not sure how this will work when we start traveling again, just playing it by ear . . .

And that was pretty much our week :) Girls are enjoying playing outside while the weather's not too hot or too cold, and I'm enjoying just being HOME!