Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Is it bad that I'm glad New Years Eve falls on Friday night this year because it's a great excuse to not stay up or otherwise "celebrate" it? I must be getting old, but staying up till midnight just doesn't hold much appeal these days . . . maybe it's because I'm often up AGAIN by midnight with Little Miss Never Sleeps . . . hee hee.

Oh, and a small, thing. Over a year ago, A1 went through a brief phase where she wanted to be called by her full name, which starts with an A, rather than the nickname we'd used for her since birth. At that time, on this blog, I switched from calling the twins L & A, to calling them A1 & A2. It was a brief phase and now she's back to going by her nickname. I think a new year is a nice "neat and tidy" time to switch back to calling the twins L & A on the blog. So, L = A1,  and A = A2.

ANYWAY . . . I've never been much for resolutions, maybe because I never stick with them anyway, but I did want to share a "plan" we've developed for the new year.

I'd been thinking about several things for awhile now. Figuring out a way to  get one-on-one time with each kid when I have a toddler who doesn't sleep and a husband whose job keeps him from being home very much. Figuring out a way to have one-on-one time with my husband once in awhile. While I don't see a need to "separate the twins" significantly (as is considered necessary in some schools), I think at this point it would be good for them to occasionally have an hour or two away from each other.

I already have a book club that I attend on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Little Bit comes with me (though at some point I suspect they're going to want me to leave her home, we'll have to rearrange things then (or quit the book club). So, that week was pre-determined as "Mommy/Little Bit" time and "Daddy big girls' date night".  We fit everything else around that and came up the following (other than book club, we didn't assign a specific NIGHT, just a week, which night it is that week will vary depending on Rodney's work/travel schedule and occasionally our travel as well):

First week of the month = Mommy & Daddy date night. This will require a baby sitter. I'm assuming between various friends, we'll be able to find someone willing to watch our three monsters-I-mean-blessings one night a month

Second week = book club as already mentioned

Third week =  A's week.  On the determined night, she will get to choose to go on a "date" with either Mommy or Daddy. The other parent will stay home with L & Little Bit.

Fourth week = L's week. Same as A's week only for L instead of A.

The girls are SOO excited about this. They love the idea of having a "babysitter", they love the idea of going out with a parent. They already love Daddy date night on my book club night. When we presented the idea, they said "we get something fun EVERY WEEK" so that's a good thing :)

We already have a babysitter lined up for next Thurs night so Rodney & I can go out, woo-hoo! The big girls are excited (they adore Miss Starla).  Fingers crossed that Little Bit does well with it. She did great when she stayed with Judy (our neighbor and the girls' "adopted grandma") for our anniversary but she doesn't know Starla as well. I'm counting on the fact that her sisters will be with her to make it ok.

So that's our main "resolution" for the new year.  I'm also hoping to move us toward more healthy eating. I purchased a nutrition curriculum that we'll be starting in the next couple of weeks and my hope is that, as the girls learn WHY we should limit sugar, eat more vegetables, etc. They'll be more "on board" and it won't be "Mean Mommy" saying we have to eat whole wheat bread instead of squishy white bread, it will be their own choice because it's healthier.  We shall see . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Crafting . . .

When I reviewed the Homestead Blessings Art of Crafting video, I promised some pictures when we actually tried some of the crafts.  Well Christmas snuck up on us this year, but we DID make potpourri and  gave it to a few people as Christmas gifts.

First we went on a walk in the woods to see what great nature stuff we could find for the potpourri. We discovered that our woods have very few evergreens and those we do have don't have pinecones (at least this late in the year) but we did get a couple different types of evergreen branches and some red berries.

We also ate LOTS of oranges (no hardship, all 3 girls LOVE clementines, the 3 of them will easily eat a 3lb bag in a day!) and dried the orange peel. Then we admit defeat in having completely natural, from our property, potpourri this late in the year, and went to the craft store for some little pine cones and red beads and little silver ball things.

We dumped everything together in a bowl and mixed it together and added cinnamon and sweet orange essential oils.

Then we put it all in a gallon jar and shook it a few times a day. Don't we have a cute jar-shaking-helper?  Yes she's sitting in the middle of the table, it's her favorite spot.

Right before Christmas we put the potpourri into little bags, tied them with ribbons and gave them to the grandparents, etc. for Christmas.

And I had great intentions of getting a picture of the 2 big girls with all the pretty bags of potpourri, and completely forgot, so you'll just have to take my word for it . . .

But, bottom line. We had fun, and it was super easy!! You should try it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gratituesday - Snow (that doesn't stay around too long)

Saturday night (you know, CHRISTMAS) Rodney told me that they were calling for snow, up to a foot, starting overnight that night. EEK!!! The whole "go stock up on milk & bread" thing doesn't work on CHRISTMAS!! And to add to it, we buy our milk & eggs from a Mennonite (or Amish, there are so many "levels" of each & I can never tell and don't know how to politely ask, not that it really matters LOL) farm so they weren't going to be open on Sunday either. Now the reality is, we keep a deep freeze stocked and a pantry stocked and we could probably live for a year and not actually starve to death, but we DO like our milk and eggs and I usually stock up on those before any predicted storm.  We live at the bottom of a steep hill and the snow plow got stuck plowing us out once last winter, so after that he left us for last, so we do need to plan for being "stuck" for awhile if we really do get a big snow (and for where we live, 10-12" is a big snow!).

Sunday morning we woke up to no snow, so I at least went to the regular grocery store and made sure we had other food for the week (way to encourage me to get back into menu planning!) I also got a box of powdered milk so at least we'd have SOME kind of milk if we were stranded for very long (dh is a big milk drinker, the rest of us only use milk in things, but those "things" include hot chocolate which the kids like to have when they come in from playing in the snow, I figured powdered milk, while nowhere near as healthy, would do in a pinch for hot chocolate (and still be better than the powdered hot chocolate mixes) and in cooking.

It started snowing Sunday afternoon and snowed all night, but we only got a couple inches. Woke up to a beautiful white world and an already plowed driveway. So we were never stranded, and the kids had a great time playing in the snow yesterday (though the 4 degree F wind chills kept Little Bit and me inside, I figured she'll see snow again this winter).

She was so cute today though, as we were running errands. She saw the snow (what hadn't melted) and kept pointing to it and saying "no" for snow.

So, this week I'm thankful for the beauty (and kid-fun-factor) of snow and I'm thankful that we weren't snowed in on a week when I was feeling unprepared for it.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - December 27

This past week was, of course, all about Christmas!!

We were busy cleaning, getting presents ready, making cookies, cooking and such.  We did continue with school, to keep up with our review items, and our Jesus Tree devotions.

Rodney was home on Wednesday & Thursday so that gave him and the big girls a chance to make dozens of cookies and other such fun things.

The girls were very proud of themselves for making the alpine casserole for Christmas dinner "all by ourselves" (though Mommy DID chop the onions, they haven't yet found a way to do that without "crying" so they don't like to do it)

We celebrated Christmas, with all the grandparents and such here, on Friday, so did our typical "Christmas Eve" traditions on Thurs evening.

They eagerly opened their new Christmas nightgowns (from Mama & Papa, Mama made them and sent them home with us after our anniversary weekend). Little Bit, despite being a confirmed nudist, was excited to put it on (she likes clothes in theory, she just doesn't like keeping them on LOL). And then was VERY excited when, abit later, she realized that hers was just like big sisters' nightgowns. It was so cute to see her realize it and "tell us" by pulling on her nightgown and then pointing to A1's.  And with the incentive of being "just like sisters" she actually kept hte nightgown on ALL NIGHT (and most of the next day LOL, the big girls also decided to wear their new nightgowns all day Fri. instead of getting dressed).

Then they moved on to their Christmas Eve gifts. Which are always books, games or videos, that we can play, read or watch on Christmas Eve. This year I opted to get a game the big girls would enjoy, and a video, Elmo's Christmas Countdown  that I figured was primarily for Little Bit. My thought was that she could watch the video while the big girls & I played the game, without her "help".  As it turned out, while they liked the game, they also liked the video, so we started it over after we finished the game, so they could see the whole thing LOL. I must admit, if we must watch the world's most annoying red monster, this video was less annoying than most Elmo things. After that we made our annual monkey bread, read their new book, and sent them off to bed.

So that was our "Christmas Eve". Friday morning everyone actually SLEPT IN!! We're in a nice little pocket of time where the big girls are big enough to figure the stockings will still be there, so they don't have to get up at the crack of dawn, and Little Bit's too young to know she needs to wake up at the crack of dawn LOL. Got up, the girls opened their stockings, the monkey bread baked, we did some final cleaning & dinner prep type stuff, then read the Christmas story out of the Bible, and the girls put Baby Jesus in His nice, soft manger. At the beginning of the month we made a paper nativity set (since all my other nativities had the baby attached to the manger), minus the baby, and any time I "caught" the girls being kind without being told, they got to add a piece of "hay" (yarn) to the manger, so Christmas morning they got to put Jesus in the manger.

By then family was starting to arrive, and so the present-opening began. I realized when I looked on my camera just now, that I really didn't take any pictures, will have to get pictures from my Dad and SIL. The big girls were thrilled with their new American Girl dolls (A1 got Ruthie, Kit's friend, and A2 got Elizabeth, Felicity's friend (not that she has Felicity, but she wanted Elizabeth because she has "removable earrings" and Felicity and co were being retired as of this Christmas, so if she was going to get Elizabeth it was going to have to be now). My mom surprised me by giving me Felicity (my favorite), so now the girls are quite sure that I should "play American Girls" with them sometimes, we shall see LOL. They were also thrilled with the AG accessories they got from each other, and from us, as well as the plethora of books, Schleich animals, etc. Another hit was the doll A1 got for A2.  When we were in Goodwill a week or so before Christmas, Little Bit was loving all the dolls, and A1 said she wanted to get her one for Christmas. I have to admit, I was less then thrilled, since I knew she was getting several other dolls for Christmas and felt like another one was really not needed, but also didn't want to discourage generosity, so agreed. The doll she chose was a larger, nicely weighted baby doll. Little Bit loved it, and enjoyed carrying it around. But A2 *also* fell in love with it because of it being a good size to be a "real baby" for her, and being weighted enough to feel more real as well.  At some point (I'm not sure when, A1 decided to give it to A2 instead of Little Bit, which was fine with me, though A2 has had to "share" some, since Little Bit does love the doll as well).  A1 was excited to give A2 the doll and A2 was thrilled to get it, so it was a hit all around and fun to see A1 being excited about the "giving" side of Christmas. The picture on the right shows A2 "wearing" her new doll in my Kozy Karrier.

Little Bit loved her dolls and Schleich animals, the obnoxious Elmo puzzle that will be going to live at Mama & Papa's house next time we got there, TWO stuffed Elmos (and yes, we must bring them BOTH with us, everywhere we go), and the felt house that my mom made. It's a fitted "table cloth" to go over our card table (the idea being, it can be folded up and put away when not in use, but that seems to be several months down the road, as much as she's loving it LOL). It's currently in the middle of our (rather small) living room, I'm trying to decide if I should make room for it in the girls' room, or in a corner of the living room. I'm thinking for right now, the living room is the better option. It will allow the big girls to play house in it during Little Bit's naps, and give her more time to play in it since she can't go upstairs to play w/o the big girls up there with her. I THINK with a little rearranging, it will fit into a corner where it won't be TOO in the way, we shall see . . . But she definitely LOVES it!

After presents were open and Little Bit was napped, we fixed, and ate lunch, then visited some more before everyone headed home.

After everyone left, the big girls got dressed (after wearing their new nightgowns all day), and we put together a plate of cookies to take up to our neighbors, and adopted grandparents, the Butlers. I'd told Judy ahead of time which dolls the girls were getting, so she'd made an outfit for each of their new dolls, as well as getting Little Bit a very cool book, and making her a basket bed for the doll we gave her for Christmas.  Then the big girls & I (and the Butlers) headed to the church to go caroling, while Rodney took Little Bit home (he decided watching Little Bit was preferable to being out in the cold, singing LOL. And I was just as glad to not have to keep track of Little Bit during caroling). The girls LOVED caroling, and want to do it every year (I told them that would, obviously,  depend on whether the church does it every year, I don't think they have in the past, so not sure if this was a one time thing because Christmas Eve coincided with Friday night).

It made for a late night after a busy day. Sabbath morning I had to wake all 3 kids (and Rodney) up at 8:30 which meant we didn't make it to church in time for the big girls to do a craft at 9:15, but it was my week to provide the craft, so the girls just did it in church instead (using pipe cleaners and red & white pony beads to make "candy canes").

And that was our week. I hope all the rest of you had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weeky Wrap-Up - December 19

Ok, so I'm a couple days late, close enough . . .

Last week was a good week. SOOOO nice to be home all week! But even so, Christmas is sneaking up on me, yet again this year, sigh . . . oh well.

We're continuing with school, focusing mostly on things we're reviewing.

- Bible (Christmas), we're doing a "Jesus Tree" devotional for Christmas. Each day includes an ornament to color and a short Bible story, going through the plan of salvation from creation to Jesus's birth (we'll read that one on Christmas eve)

- Bible part 2 - we're reviewing a Bible curriculum right now as well, so we're doing that in addition to our Christmas devotionals. We're learning about creation in that study.

- Spanish - we're taking a break from our regular Spanish curriculum, but I got a fun Spanish calendar that teaches us the days of the week, numbers 1-31, and months of the year (by having us say "Today is Tuesday, the 21st of December" in Spanish each day (only using the appropriate day/date/month, obviously). It also has a "sentence per week" split over the days of the week, so we learn a couple words/phrase each day and put them together each Friday to learn a new sentence in Spanish. It's a fun, quick, way to add a little bit of Spanish into our days.

-Spanish part 2 - we're reviewing a series of online Spanish videos. The big girls are less than excited about them so far (it's an immersion-based program, they prefer a vocabulary approach), but Little Bit LOVES them. The "character" on the videos is a purple puppet with no nose and big ears named Speekee, and for some reason, she thinks it's a wolf, so she'll point to my computer, do the sign for wolf and say "bee bee" when she wants to watch it.

- World History - We finished listening to the first volume of "The Story of the World" on CD late in the week (I think I'd mentioned that we were listening to it from the library). We're taking a few days off from World History to get past Christmas, then we will dig abit deeper into some of the events/stories we've heard about (using resources I already have, this is why I save every free resource that crosses my path LOL) while we wait for Vol 2 to be available from the library (I've reserved it, but there are still 2 or 3 people ahead of me, so we probably have a month or more to wait).

- Time Line - In conjunction with world history, we're doing a time line. I printed out the figures from Homeschool in the Woods' History Through the Ages and am working on gluing them onto index cards. Then we took a wall of the dining room and hung ribbons that we can clip the index cards to. My goal was to keep up with the CD we were listening to, but I got behind, so I need to get caught up before we move on to Vol. 2  LOL.  In addition to adding things from the World History CD, if we learn about "history" in other topics (for example, if we continue with the above mentioned Bible curriculum, that I believe is chronological, we can add the Bible events as we learn about them), we'll add those in as well, to help us get a visual overall picture of when things happened. Not sure how much the girls are getting out of it, but I'm finding it fascinating LOL.  I chose to use index cards so that we can adapt it as needed. If we go with American History next school year, we can hang just the time line related to American History, or whatever we're learning about. Whatever cards we're not using, we'll keep in chronological order in an index card file box.

 In non-school news. We're continuing to get back in the "groove" of chores (awwww . . . Mom . . . do we HAVE to?), and laundry and groceries and other fun things.

When our neighbor was over (the week before, I think, but close enough) she snapped this picture of Little Bit "helping" me in the kitchen. It can be challenging to have her able to reach everything (and yes, that's pretty much my only counter-work-space in the kitchen, there's a low "desk-height" counter in what used to be the fireplace, but it's low and dark and you have to duck into the fireplace. It works well as a workspace for the girls, when it's not piled high with stuff, it's a TERRIBLE hotspot for me, sigh . . .). Anyway . . . she LOVES to "help". That is her "toll" (stool) and she gets very annoyed if anyone moves it. While we certainly don't let her stand there unattended when the stove is on, she knows that it is "hot", and will say it before I can LOL.  One time after hubby made breakfast there was an iron skillet sitting on that front burner closest to her and a wood spoon still in it (and the remains of the scrambled eggs stuck to the pan until I got around to cleaning it), and she had great fun "stirring" the cold pan.

Friday, Rodney was home, so he and the big girls had a cookie-baking day.  I had a headache, so didn't get any pictures (or do any of the 101 other things I was planning to do that day, sigh).

Sabbath, the big girls had been asked to tell children's story at church. After much discussion during the week, they decided to tell "the legend of the candycane" and hand out candy canes to the kids. I'm not sure how much the kids got out of the "legend" (there aren't really any kids A1 & A2's age at our church, so when they TELL the story, their audience is primarily 3 & under), but they were more than happy to get candy canes (we printed out the "legend" and tied it onto the candycanes too). And I think the adults enjoyed the story, so it worked well.

Gratituesday - Christmas Edition

I know, I know, I haven't even written last week's wrap-up yet, so obviously I'm running behind (not to mention the things I have to ship, yesterday, and the house that's still not clean (we host the grandparents for Christmas every year), and and and . . . BUT . . . perhaps BECAUSE of the long to-do list, I wanted to take a moment out of all that busyness and just be thankful!!!

We have SO MUCH to be thankful for! And what better time to remember that, and express that, than this time of year, when we're supposed to be remembering the greatest gift of all.

So today I'm just taking a few seconds out of all the busyness to say I'm thankful for family. I'm sitting here listening to A1 "read" a book to Little Bit as Little Bit squeals with excitement (we've found that stories are lost on Little Bit, but she loves to have us describe the pictures and point things out to her, so that's how we read to her right now), and I'm SO thankful for these special children that God has blessed us with.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Tiny Planets

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was asked to review the website  This is a free, educational game site for kids, ages 4-12. It's designed to be safe for kids because they never actually type anything in. They can "talk" to other players, but only by choosing from pre-programmed phrases & emoticons. The site is ad-free too, to keep it safe for kids.

To be honest, the girls haven't spent much time on this site. While we don't limit screen time, they don't spend much time on their computers, and other than helping them set up their accounts, I didn't "require" them to spend time on the site. They've been busy with all our traveling and such, so it may be that once our life slows down, after Christmas, they'll revisit the site some more, we shall see.

The site, which has a space theme, includes online books to read, tv shows to watch, "My Tiny Planet" for your kids to design and decorate, and games to play.

Some of the features require the purchase of "keys" (starting at $1.95 for 10 keys).

My impressions of this site, so far. . . keeping in mind that I've never been a big fan of video games & such.  The user names are chosen from options provided by the site. This is another safety feature, however, the downside I saw was that they were hard to remember, and we didn't realize until after the girls had chosen their user names, that they would have to type their names in repeatedly (perhaps with a different browser, the site would have saved their information, though even then, if they were sharing a computer they would need to be able to type them in. Many of the words in the user names are quite long/difficult. Especially considering that this site is for children starting at age 4, many children are going to have trouble spelling their user names.

The games (at least the ones the girls tried) also require a reading level equal to or above my girls (we don't use reading books, so I don't know what their exact reading level is, but they read American Girl books, and similar on their own).

The "books" I looked at, were easy reader level, so I assume those, and the tv shows are what is intended for the younger children.

I didn't find much that I considered educational on this site, but I might have been looking for more than what they intended.

All in all, if you're children enjoy space and you're looking for a site they can play on without encountering ads, this is worth checking out.

Disclaimer: I was offered an allowance of "keys" to use on this site in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up - December 12

Well, *I* had a quieter week last week, but the big girls were busy LOL.

They were at my parents' house for our anniversary & my parents kept them busy!!  They went to the train museum in Baltimore, the Holiday lights display at Brookside Gardens, took Metro into Washington DC and went to Union Station, the office of the Mint (or something like that, something to do with the US Mint anyway), and were planning to see the National Christmas tree and all the state trees, but discovered that they hadn't been lit yet, were scheduled to be lit, this weekend I think? Seemed late . . . but oh well. They did see the National Menorah, and the trees were in the process of being decorated. Went to several favorite restaurants, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some things.

My uncle was there (at my grandparents')  for the weekend too, so they got to spend time with him as well.

Little Bit and I enjoyed a quiet first half of our week, at home. Just hanging out. Then on Wednesday we headed down to my parents' to pick up the big girls. Little Bit did great on the drive down. She slept the first couple hours, and when she woke up, she told me she needed to go potty & then held it until I could stop at a gas station (it was bitterly cold so I didn't want to have to potty her in the car if I could help it), went potty, then we got back in the car and she ate snacks the rest of the way. She's still rear-facing in her carseat (I figure its safe AND when the big girls are with us, she's as happy or happier rear-facing because that means she can see both sisters, whereas if I turned her around, one of them would be behind her), but she figured out and would sign what she wanted  (water, cracker, or "fish" (for goldfish crackers) in the mirror on her seat, then reach her hand back over her head so that I could hand it to her, it worked pretty well (but is certainly easier when she has a sister sitting right next to her to "hear" her and give her what she wants).

Once we got to Mom & Dad's we spent the afternoon just hanging out with them, and that evening, went to a small, local (free) drive-thru lights display. Mom & Dad had taken the girls another night, but they (the girls) had wanted to go again and thought Lina would like it too.  She did :o)

Thursday we came home. I've been struggling with finding an inexpensive/free not-time intensive, overview of World History for the girls this year, and finally had found that our library has the Story of the World CDs. I'd reserved the first set, and they came in while the girls were gone, so we started listening to them on our way home. The girls enjoyed them, so I think this will work well for us.

Earlier in the week, I'd found out that our neighbor, Judy, was watching the girls' friend, L, after school that week, so we'd talked about getting the kids together once my girls were home. So before we came home, I talked to the girls about it and told them that on Friday we could either go up to Judy's house or have L come to our house BUT if they wanted L to come to our house, then when we got home on Thursday they'd have to buckle down and get their room cleaned up. They wanted to be able to show L their cats, and various toys, so decided to clean their room (I did point out that, if they chose to go to Judy's we'd be cleaning their room THIS WEEK, because it needed cleaned regardless). There was some initial whining, but in the end, we got their room and the upstairs hall and bathroom cleaned that afternoon. And got a good start on the main floor on Friday morning (I gave them the choice of spending the morning doing extra copywork, or helping me clean LOL).

And they had a fun afternoon playing with L, while Little Bit and I visited with Judy. Little Bit was thrilled to have a new "audience" to show her books and puzzles to.

While they had a blast at their grandparents' and all the other "fun stuff" we've done in the last 6 months, I think they (especially A2) are as ready as I am to just STAY HOME for awhile!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Homeschool Review: Apologia Press book "Good Morning God"

Apologia Press sent us the book Good Morning God ($14.00), to review.  This is a cute picture book to help teach children, age 1-8 learn to pray and build a personal relationship with God.

The pictures are nice, and so is the text, for each day of the week, the book has a short "prayer" that talks about things the child does during the day "in the kitchen I make a sandwich", ways the child's parents teach him/her about God "Mom and Dad teach me when I'm sitting, when I'm standing, and especially when I'm walking", etc. I took a week and read each day's "prayer" to the girls as part of our morning school time. 

In my opinion, the age range stated for this book is abit wider than it should be. Little Bit (20 mo) isn't ready to sit and listen to this book yet, and the art work, while beautiful, isn't animals, so doesn't keep her attention. Obviously the animal thing is just her, she loves all things animals, but The concept of having a short conversation with God each day is still beyond her comprehension as well, IMO. I'd say a starting age of 2 or slightly older would be more accurate. I also feel that this book was too "young" for my 7 1/2 yr olds. They didn't dislike it, but didn't love it either. At this age, they already know to have daily prayer time and talk to God, so a short "scripted" prayer seems unnecessary at this age, at least in a family where daily prayer is a part of family life. So I would set a target age range of something more like 2 1/2 to 5. 

In the back of the book, there are short "lesson plans" (for lack of a better word) with a some suggested discussion questions, etc. to go with each day. I chose not to use these with my children since we were currently doing several other Bible things as part of school and, after reading over the questions, I felt it, like the book, was better suited for younger children (and older than Little Bit, who isn't to the point of answering thought questions, hee hee). I did think they were well-done, and can see this book, with the lesson helps in the back, being used as a simple morning worship or homeschool "Bible class" with an older toddler or preschooler. 

This book could be used by any Christian family with young children, homeschooling or not, and would work with any teaching style. 

 In addition to the worship/Bible time idea mentioned above, a parent could help a child to memorize the prayers (the repetitiveness and pictures would make it easy for a pre-reader, to be able to look at the pictures and know what to say for each page), and use the book as a personal devotion/prayer time in the morning. It would also serve to help a preschooler learn the days of the week.

One other thing that I need to mention, as a Sabbath-keeper (and knowing that many of my readers are also Sabbath-keepers), is that this book does refer to going to church on Sunday. This would be a consideration in using it as I mentioned above, where the child worked toward using it on her own. But, depending on the age of the child, could be discussed and the book adapted as the parent saw fit. It would be a consideration though, and might make me pause in purchasing this book, because of it's format.  I've never had a problem reading stories to my children about people worshiping on Sunday, they are very much aware that many Christians do worship on Sunday, however because this book is written in the first person, that makes it more of an issue. 

Apologia Press offers several other books, on topics such as history & geography, world view, and writing. I also wanted to mention that they offer a coloring book (for only $4) to go along with this book, it can be seen here
This product was sent to me to review because I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. You can go to the TOS Crew blog to see what other crew members thought of this product, as well as seeing reviews on a wide variety of other products. 

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bi-Weekly Wrap-Up - November 28 & December 5

Apparently I can only accomplish bi-weekly updates at the moment, hee hee. So let's see.  . .

Week ending Nov 27:

The big girls got home from their Indiana  trip on Monday. They were much more excited to see their baby sister and their cats, then they were me, but I guess that's as it should be, hee hee (and kinda makes me want to go hunt down some of those people who told me I was "ruining" my children by not forcing them to be more independent as babies/toddlers/preschoolers . . . and stick my tongue out at them, but I'll try to refrain LOL).

Tuesday was a farewell get-together for our conference secretary, Pastor Barry. The girls have always enjoyed talking to, and teasing, Pastor Barry when we go to Daddy's office, and at campmeeting, so we went over to let him know he'd be missed (he's going to be a Bible teacher at Southern Adventist University (where I went for all of college & dh went for 2 years), A1 has decided that when she gets older she wants to go to SAU, so she can take classes from Pastor Barry).   To give credit where credit is due, the picture of the girls giving their cards to Pastor Barry was taken by Tamyra Horst.  I swiped it off the PA Conference facebook page, hope Tami doesn't mind :o)

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our quiet, "just us" family Thanksgiving. The girls helped me to make their chosen menu. A1 chose angel hair pasta with browned butter and broccoli, and brownies for dessert. A2 chose Sabbath Roast and Taco Salad, with homemade chocolate ice cream and frozen raspberries on top.

We also put up the Christmas trees (we're using the small pink & purple ones again this year) and otherwise decorated for Christmas on Thurday & Friday.

Sunday, we left for Pittsburgh (for Rodney's work). Hadn't thought that through so well, Sunday after Thanksgiving = NOT the day to be travelling ANYWHERE! But we survived.

While in Pittsburgh, we started back into our school routines (all our travelling has = very little "school time" and now I have some curriculum reviews that are due soon and we need to actually USE the curriculum before I write my reviews, so that is dictating our school-time at the moment), and of course, enjoyed the hotel pool.  I was surprised to see that Little Bit apparently REMEMBERS the hotel/pool from when we stayed there in July. Rodney had taken the big girls to the pool during her nap, so when she woke up, I walked down to the pool to see if they were going to stay there enough longer to be worth getting swimsuits on Little Bit & me. I hadn't said anything about swimming or going to the pool, and we were still wearing our regular clothes, but as soon as I started walking down the hall toward the pool (long before you could see it), she started doing the sign for "swim", so she MUST have remembered, from this summer, that that was the way to the pool.  One of the reasons we went with Rodney on this trip, despite all our other travelling, was because he was going to be meeting with a church treasurer who has a 9 yr old and 5 yr old, and he figured that it would work well for her to bring her kids to the hotel and all the kids could swim together while he went over her books with her. So that's what we did. The kids had a BLAST! L & S taught A1 & A2 how to play Marco Polo and Sharks and Minnows, and they all got along swimmingly (hee hee). Little Bit and I hung out at the opposite end of the pool from all the splashing, and she had fun too. However, I discovered that all floaties are not created equal. I'd brought along a second pair in case the pair we had in FL got popped or something, so when S (the 5 yr old) mentioned that she'd forgotten her floaties (so she could go in the deeper water with the big kids), I loaned her a pair, and she asked for the "pink ones", I figured Little Bit didn't care, so let her use them. BUT discovered that the other pair I'd brought (a pair of that came with some kickboards I got at Ollies awhile back) is designed differently and didn't keep Little Bit quite high enough to keep from getting water in the face all the time, so that was abit frustrating, but she could still jump off the side and stuff, so she had fun anyway.

Some "school" highlights:

We're tripling up on Bible right now as we work to review 2 different Bible resources AND do a Christmas devotional. But the girls don't seem to mind.  For while we were travelling we JUST did the Bible resources, and a math computer program, and another semi-educational, computer program.

I brought along some "tot school" ideas for Little Bit as well (gotta keep her occupied in the hotel room). The main thing was a bag of pony beads, along with a shoe string, plastic spoon, and a couple bowls. She had great fun, pouring the beads between bowls, using the spoon to move them from one bowl to the other, and also stringing them on the shoe string. Great way to help her build her motor skills, easily portable, but of course, requires close supervision since she does sometimes put the beads in her mouth.

A recent conversation with the big girls about "earning money" led to me mentioning that if they would stick with knitting, or sewing or whatever, to the point where they could do it without mistakes, they could sell things even now, on the computer (and to friends & family, consider yourself warned LOL). So, that inspired A1 to ask to learn to knit. So I brought along knitting needles and some cotton yarn to teach her to knit. So we worked on that too. Seeing A1 starting to knit, inspired A2 to want to re-learn (she was very gung-ho to learn to knit when she was 5, and we got her a video, etc to help her learn. She stuck with it for awhile, but then moved on to other things, and hasn't knitted since). I had a second, small ball of cotton yarn and a second set of knitting needles that had been in the car, so I set her up knitting too. She picked it up quickly, since she'd learned before and I think will soon be quite proficient at it. A1 gets frustrated with the learning curve, but is sticking with it.

We went home from Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Thursday was Rodney's company Christmas party.  The big girls enjoyed picking on (and being picked on by) various of Rodney's co-workers. Little Bit's gift from the office was a pop-up toy. By the time the party was over, she'd mastered it, hee hee. And it worked well to keep her entertained. I also was amused, while she was playing with her new toy, the adults were doing a gift swap game (where they go around the circle and people either open a gift off the gift table or steal one from someone who already has one). Needless to say there was lots of laughter coming from the adults, and Little Bit alternated between thinking they MUST be laughing at her (she's a ham, so that's a good thing), and laughing along with them, and then telling me (in sign language) that they were silly.

Friday my parents came down and picked up the big girls to take them home with them for the weekend for our anniversary. For some strange reason, they're not willing to take Little Bit for the weekend yet (something about the fact that she doesn't sleep . . . I don't understand, hee hee). So, the big girls are off on another adventure as we "speak" (errr. . . write). Based on the plans I heard ahead of time, they should be having lots of fun and come back beyond exhausted when it's all over LOL.

We've been enjoying a quiet weekend finding out what it's like to have an only child LOL. As we were getting ready to leave for church yesterday, Little Bit was signing something to Rodney that neither of us could figure out, but then during Sabbath School, I'd taken her out to go potty and when I said "ok, let's go back to Sabbath School" she made the sign again and it hit me, she was signing school, for Sabbath School.  I also had to giggle, during Sabbath School, her friend, J (just turned 1) was standing in a toddler rocking chair, much like she tries to do with our toddler rocking chair at home. Every time he did it, Little Bit would sign and say "sit" because whenever SHE tries to do that, I tell her to sit down. Good to know that she KNOWS the rules, even if she doesn't bother to follow them, hee hee.

Last night, our lovely neighbor, Judy babysat Little Bit for a couple hours while we went out ALL ALONE! It was nice to have some alone time, and I think Judy & Little Bit had great fun together. When I went to pick her up and asked if she was ready to come home, she promptly said "no", hee hee.

And that was our week(s). I'll go down later this week to pick the girls up at my parents' house, and then the plan is to STAY HOME for awhile, woo-hoo!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things - Homeschool Edition

The next Blog Cruise (will be posted on Tuesday) is perhaps my favorite topic yet. The suggested topic is to ask our KIDS the following questions and see what they have to say. Unfortunately Little Bit doesn't talk yet, because I suspect she'd have some great answers, hee hee. But I did ask the big girls (separately). Their answers weren't as LONG as I expected, considering how much they chatter, but that's ok.

A1's answers are in red
A2's answers are in purple

Why does your family Homeschool?

Cause we like it.

We homeschool so you can help us, and we can spend time with our family and have school when we go on trips. And skip school when we need to. And it's shorter so we have more play time. And we can go on our own family field trips and be a family more often.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

Stories, actually everything  but writing.

When we get to color pictures 

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

A preschool teacher

A Mommy, ONLY a Mommy.

From their responses to the "favorite part" question, it occurs to me that, when they think of homeschool as only being the "sit on the sofa and talk about stuff" part of our day, not all the travel and cooking and listening to CDs in the car and playing outside and . . . but I guess that's ok, hee hee.