Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crew Review: See the Light

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All my kids like art, but MiniMe is my "ARTIST". She loves all things-art. When See the Light came up as a possibility to review, I knew she'd be over-the-moon! I also realized that I actually already had 2 of their videos that I'd won in various blog giveaways (or something) and we'd never used. The "downside" of reviewing so many great products is that we have less time to pursue non-review-item interests so they often get pushed aside.  So . . . to help decide which product we wanted to review, we watched, The Crossmaker one of the videos we already have. The girls were SOOO excited about it after watching that video. Since we already have God's Runaway, we decided to request Shipwrecked for this review.

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While we waited for the video to come, we went shopping for art supplies from the list on the website. But there were a couple items I wasn't sure about so once we got the video, we watched it, including the art lessons before I went back to the craft store. That cleared up my questions, made me realize that my original plan, to have the girls share one set of art supplies wasn't practical, AND (we found out later) the girls watching it all the way through helped make the actual art project go more smoothly when we got to the art projects.

Since the suggested age range for this video is 3+ for the story and 6+ for the art lessons, we invited our neighbors, J (age 3) and E (age 6) to join us.

We all settled in to watch the story. It held everyone's attention, even J and Little Bit! For this video, the story portion tells the story of Paul's shipwreck from the point of view of a boy on the ship. The pictures to go with the story are artwork done by the See the Light artists.

After we'd watched the video, we set Sassy, MiniMe and E up at the table in front of the TV to do the first art lesson. Meanwhile we set J and Little Bit up at a card table nearby with watercolors to do do their own thing :).

The first art lesson we chose to do was watercolors. One thing we noticed, especially since E was joining in without pre-watching the video like the girls had done, is that there are times when the art instructor says things in the "wrong order" since the video is designed for the student to follow along.  For example, the instructor tells you to add a yellow boat to the picture. E decided he wanted his boat to be orange, not yellow, and starts painting. THEN the instructor explains why you want to use yellow. Obviously, as an adult, I would probably realize that there must be a reason to make the boat yellow, and either go with it, or wait and listen abit longer before I started painting. BUT since this is designed for children E's age to follow, I think it would be helpful if the instructors explained things THEN told the children what to do.  This is easy to work around, however, by pre-watching the video (since E's at the bottom age of the suggested age, and an active little boy, I suspect that he wouldn't stay "tuned in" if he were to pre-watch it, but if your child falls into that category you can pre-watch and then help the child remember to wait before they change things up.)

The really super cool thing about See the Light is that when you're done, the pictures GLOW!!! I wasn't able to find a black light locally, so I ordered one from See the Light. The day it came ( a couple days after the kids painted their lighthouse pictures) I realized that our house has windows in EVERY. SINGLE. ROOM!!! Nice big windows in the bathroom, a window in the pantry, closets don't have doors . . . even the basement has windows. I finally figured out that we could go, a couple people at a time, into the storage space in the eaves upstairs, and that is dark enough to test out the black light. It is VERY COOL!!! And it's just using the Crayola Extreme Color pencils and crayons that you can find in any craft store! I didn't try to take a picture of the black light, but the picture below shows our first art day's masterpieces. Little Bit and J's "paintings" are the scribbley ones, but as you can see, the lighthouse pictures turned out nicely!

Over the next couple of weeks, on rainy days (because it's spring, and we spend as much time as possible outside) the 3 kids also did the creative lettering art lesson and the chalk pastels lesson. Our one disappointment was that we couldn't get the chalk pastels to glow in the blacklight, even with using flourescent chalk pastels that we purchased from See the Light.  The picture is still cool, and the children still learn great chalk pastel techniques, it was just disappointing that they didn't glow.

I didn't think to ask E what he thought (the proof will be when we ask if he wants to join us for the other videos we have), but the girls LOVED this video!! They are anxious to do the other 2 videos we have, and we will, we're just waiting for more rainy days LOL.  The girls are already asking if we can get the rest of the Bible story DVDs and THEN move on to the art lessons :) If you're looking for art videos, AND some nice Bible stories as well, this is a great choice!

The video is $14.99, or you can purchase all 5 Bible story DVDs for $74.95

To see what fellow crew mates thought of this, and other See the Light videos, click the banner below.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One Pot Pasta


While we were visiting my parents this past weekend, my mom and I were looking were a quick meal we could fix before we headed to Harper's Ferry. I remembered a one-pot pasta recipe I'd seen where you add broccoli to cook with the pasta instead of cooking it separately, and mom remembered a recipe she'd cut out of a magazine that had olives and tomatoes mixed with pasta.

We looked at both recipes, and pulled pieces of each of them and added a few ideas of our own, and this is what we came up with. We decided it was a keeper (but we forgot to take a picture of it, maybe I'll remember and take one next time I make it, because it's a very pretty dish!).

1 lb pasta of your choice
1 lb frozen broccoli
a generous "glug" of olive oil
1/2 c chopped black olives
2 c chopped tomatoes
1 c feta cheese, crumbled
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed. When there is 4-6 min left in your cooking time, add broccoli and cook with pasta. Drain and return to pot.  Stir in all other ingredients except Parmesan. Serve with Parmesan on the side for each person to add their own.

That's it. It was yummy and super quick and easy. I have the very small serving that was left, sitting in my fridge, I'm planning to have it for lunch today to see if, as I suspect, the leftovers make a good pasta salad!

Monday, May 27, 2013

You Can Never Have Too Many Books . . .

I don't do this often, but just wanted to make sure my readers see this! Schoolhouse Teachers is offering a "Schoolhouse Library" 175+ resources for a one time purchase of $25! Sounds like a great deal. I do wish they listed the exact titles you get, but they do give a more general list of what's included, check it out here:

Weekly Wrap-Up - May 26

Another busy week (shocking, I know! LOL). . . 

We've enjoyed watching our ladybug larvae grow, and learning about ladybugs.

For Bible we're learning about the Fruits of the Spirit.

The big girls have been enjoying learning about Davy Crockett, and Joseph Haydn.

With a recital coming up this week, the girls spent lots of time practicing piano and violin.

And we spent lots of time outside. I couldn't resist snapping these pictures of Little Bit and J (neighbor), playing with the wagon. 

J was pulling Little Bit

Then Little Bit jumped out (the wagon WAS stopped, thankfully LOL)

And then Little Bit pulled J
It got HOT this week! And not only do we not have a/c in this house (working on that), but some of the windows don't have screens, so it wasn't the most comfortable week we've ever had. By Wednesday, I just sent the kids out and they spent all morning in the creek LOL.

Another picture I couldn't resist, Little Bit was eating while we watched tv and I guess she got tired . . .I glanced down and she was fast asleep LOL.

On Tuesday, Rodney left to take his mom to Indiana to visit his grandfather. It occurred to me, after he left, that he was gone, it was hot, and this was a week when we didn't have Friendship meal after church, so we didn't HAVE to be here. So, we decided to head down to my parents' for the weekend.

We headed down after music lessons on Thursday.
Friday morning we headed to Arlington House (Robert E Lee's house before the Civil War). We didn't even think about it being Memorial Day weekend, and Arlington Cemetery being extra busy then. We got there, and the cemetery visitor center was CRAWLING with people, sigh . . . but we were there, so we figured we'd at least try it. So we headed up the gazillion and one steps from the parking lot/visitor center, to Arlington House. The girls liked the benches along the way, with 3 seats, so they had to test them out :)

Once we got up to Arlington House, there weren't any crowds. We toured the house, and gardens and the girls earned their Junior Rangers.

Friday afternoon, we went to Wings of Fancy. Little Bit was so excited to go see the butterflies. When we first got there, and saw the butterflies flying everywhere, they all sat down on a bench and said they were sitting there to wait for the butterflies to land on them.

But the butterflies were more interested in flying, than in landing. One DID land, for about 5 seconds, on MiniMe's collarbone, and Sassy said that one landed on her knee, flew around her, and then landed on the other knee.

Little Bit did a LOT of sitting still for surprisingly long times considering she's 4 but whenever butterflies got close to her she got so excited she wiggled all over, so none ever landed on her.

She did manage to put her hand on the rock right next to a butterfly, don't you love her expression :)

Sabbath, we went to Mama and Papa's church. Since Little Bit is 4 now, she went to Kindergarten for the first time (since our church combines Kindergarten (age 4-6) and Primary (age 6-9), and right now Cradle Roll (birth thru 3) is just her and J, we're keeping her there abit longer). She did great, and who doesn't love Sabbath school that serves muffins and fruit :)

Sabbath afternoon we decided to finish up the Harper's Ferry Junior Ranger.  Harper's Ferry has their junior ranger set up in three levels, instead of by age. Awhile back we were there and Sassy and MiniMe earned the first 2 levels, Apprentice and Journeyman, but we ran out of time that day for them to finish the last part, to earn their "Master" Junior Ranger, so we went Sabbath afternoon to do that.

The weather was GORGEOUS, so we sat outside while the girls worked on their books.

Since even after completely all THREE portions of the Junior Ranger, the girls STILL felt like they hadn't really really seen/learned much of anything about John Brown while in Harper's Ferry, we spent a little while in the John Brown museum before it closed, and promised the girls (mainly MiniMe) that we could come back again sometime and just see whatever we want to see without having to worry about the Junior Ranger requirements.

While the big girls were working on their Junior Ranger, Little Bit had great fun jumping off one of the rock walls into the rubber mulch that filled in the outline of the armory (I think, that was the building anyway).

When she got bored with what she convinced Papa to give her piggy back rides :)

And that was our week. Busy and fun! Can't ask more then that :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Molly Crew Review: Simplified Pantry

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I love planning! I couldn't begin to count how many different planners I've tried over the years, and how many times I've started to set up a home management binder, or gotten it all set up, only to NEVER use it, sigh . . . I'm great at planning, not so good with the follow-through. I've tried palm pilots, and computer software, you name it. . . never stuck with it . . . but I still love the idea of it all, SOOOOO . . . when Simplified Pantry, specifically the Paperless Home Organization ebook, came up as a review for the "Molly Crew", I was very excited. Especially when I downloaded the sample, and read this in the introduction, "I have put together at least three household management binders . . . All three times I thought it through, made it well, and used it for about 2 weeks."  That is SOOO me!! I couldn't wait to get my hands on this ebook!!!

 photo book_cover_zpsea3c0ac1.jpgAs the title suggests, Paperless Home Organization is a step-by-step guide for using your computer, iPad/iPod, and/or smart phone to set up a user-friendly, paperless, home organization system.

The system can, in theory, be set up using all free programs. I found that, for MY use, I did need to pay for the "fancier" version of one program, Remember the Milk. And I was already using, and paying for, the paid version of "Evernote" (which has been my "brain" for several years now).

The book is short, easy to follow, and laid out so that you can "dive right in".  The biggest challenge I found was because I WAS already using Evernote, and had it set up somewhat differently than she suggests, I needed to tweak that to make it work, but even that didn't take very long.

I can't say I'm suddenly Miss Organization, or that I've used it PERFECTLY (today, for instance, I've ignored all but the To Do List, completely, BUT . . . I'm at my parents' house, so none of my normal household chores AND we spent all day on a field trip, so none of our normal school routines. When I'm home, I still don't remember and check things as often as I'd like, but I do, at least, check things, and update, morning and evening which is a vast improvement over how I normally did things.

With the upgraded version of Remember the Milk, everything can be accessed smoothly from my laptop, iPad (when I'm at home, if I'm out, my iPad doesn't sync, so that is something to keep in mind), and (android) smart phone!

I am sooo thrilled with this system. It's user friendly, keeps a record of what I've done (one thing I like about paper planners, that they become a "journal" of sorts) . . . and I can access it anywhere, and I actually USE IT!!! I'm still tweaking things and don't do everything the way she describes, but it's a great starting point and got me started down a path that I think I can actually stick with. . . woo-hoo!!!! And the best part, the e-book is only $3.99!!!!

In addition to Paperless Home Organization, we also received 2 additional ebooks from Simplified Pantry, Simplified Dinners and Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free.  I haven't spent a lot of time with these, but did look through them. It's a different approach to menu-planning, and I see some merit to it IF my family wasn't picky and IF we weren't vegetarian. These ebooks are $12.99 each. The recipes are similar, so even if part of your family is gluten free, and the rest aren't, you probably wouldn't need to buy both books. If you do buy one of the Simplified Dinners AND  Paperless Home Organization, the author will send you the recipes, already in Evernote, ready for paperless menu planning, upon request, I thought that was pretty cool.

AND Mystie is offering our readers a special discount! You can get 30% off any or all of her ebooks now, through June 3, 2013, using the coupon code TOS2013 at checkout! How cool is that?!?!?!

Click on the banner below to see what other crew members thought of all 3 ebooks.


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Monday, May 20, 2013

I Wanna Be an Orange Rhino!

The other day I was reading the one parenting forum that I still make time for, Gentle Christian Mothers helped me figure out how to move forward from the baby stage into the toddler/preschool stage with my twins, and I still find myself turning to it for advice and encouragement. So anyway, I was reading the forum and there was a discussion on something that so many of us struggle with, yelling at our kids. . . and someone mentioned the Orange Rhino Challenge. I was intrigued, so I googled it, and found the site, and wasted spent a good part of the afternoon reading her site.

Yelling is definitely something I struggle with, and the older my kids get, the more it sinks in why yelling is such a bad idea, because it means they yell at each other, and their little sister, and me . . . and that's NOT good . . .

So, as I was reading the site and contemplating when, I wanted to take the challenge, and how to broach the subject with the girls, and how long I wanted to start out with. . . and MiniMe walked by and saw the bright orange on my screen and asked me what I was looking at. So, I told them about it, and we talked some, and decided to start right away.

And so, I'm working on being an orange rhino. I've committed to my kids to try to go one month without yelling. We haven't decided yet what the "reward" will be when I achieve 31 days without yelling . . . I suggested that, since one month from now we'll be in the middle of campmeeting, which my kids love but I . . . don't, that if I made it to the month, my reward could be that we went home and didn't say for the rest of campmeeting, but they didn't like that idea LOL. So we shall see . . .

I handed the girls a stack of orange sticky notes to have them stick around the house where they think I might need reminders. I REALLY want to get some orange nail polish (who are we kidding, I love the excuse to get a fun nail color), for the moment, I used an orange sharpie to color one thumb nail, and it DOES catch my eye (I generally have wild colored toe nails, but almost NEVER paint my nails because they chip so fast and that annoys me). . .

I know myself well enough to know better than to 100% commit to a schedule for how often I will post about this, but I do plan to post every week or so, and just let you know how I'm doing with the no yelling thing. . . and if anyone else out there struggles with yelling too much, I encourage you to join me :)

Book Review: Hunt for the Devil's Dragon

Last fall we reviewed a couple of Imagination Station books, and the girls really enjoyed them, so when another one came available for review, I requested it as well.

In Hunt for the Devil's Dragon, Beth is conflicted about how to handle a situation at school. She knows the other girls are being too mean to one girl, but she's afraid to stand up for the girl, and have the other girls pick on her too. When she tells Whit about it, he sends Beth and her cousin Patrick on an Imagination Station adventure to 13th century Libya. They make friends with some children there, and go home with them. Upon arriving in their village, they learn that a large beast has been stealing the villagers livestock, and the villagers believe it to be a dragon that lives in a cave nearby. The villagers have decided they must offer a human sacrifice to the dragon to appease it, and one of Beth and Patrick's new friends is chosen.

Beth stands up for her friend, and as a result, both girls are tied up outside the dragon's cave and left there.

The adventure continues as Patrick and the girl's brother work to get help in freeing the girls. In the end, it is discovered that the dragon is not at fault (and of course, the girls are rescued in time).

Beth and Patrick return home confident in the importance of showing courage and standing up for what is right, no matter what.

I was disappointed that this book didn't have the "meet a famous person in history" aspect that the other books had, but it was still a fun story that teaches children the importance of standing up for what's right.

Sassy's said she liked that the story was based on ancient legends (and at the end it gives some information about the various versions of the legend) but she wished it was an audio. I'm guessing, since she loves to read, that she thinks the excitement of them fighting the dragon would have translated well into an audio adventure :)

MiniMe feels like the story wasn't finished, because it doesn't say what happens to the dragon in the end. Being the person she is, that disturbs her greatly, LOL. It doesn't seem to bother Sassy though, so I think it's just a MiniMe quirk :)

This would be an especially good book for a child who's struggling with how to handle bullying at school or similar situations.

Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine, and my children's. I'm disclosing this in accordance with FTC requirements.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up - May 19

Ahhh, finally a calmer week :) Don't get me wrong, we've been having a blast with all our busy-ness, but we all need some down time too!

So let's see . . . Sunday was Mother's Day, but Rodney had pulled a muscle or something in his arm and couldn't really even move, so no pampering for me (and honestly, while I appreciate when he and the kids voluntarily do nice things for me, in general, I consider Mother's Day to be abit of a "Hallmark holiday" so no big deal . . . ).  That afternoon our awesome neighbor, not only loaned us his super-duper weed-eater/mower thingy, but mowed a good bit of the back yard with it for us too, since Rodney couldn't! And they stayed to help me rake most of it too!

The rest of the week was school and such as normal. Nice weather, so lots of outside time. One day (Thursday, I think?) even got warm enough for the girls to spend the afternoon in the creek.

The big girls are enjoying listening to the homeschool seminar cds I got this year.

Little Bit, who flat out refused to wear leggings or tights all winter long, has now decided that the one pair of pink tights that I still had in her drawer are "ballerina tights" so now, instead of being nakey whenever we're home, without company, she wears a shirt, those tights, and the "tutu" that was in a batch of freecycle dress-up stuff I got for the twins when they were her size. It's just like a thick tulle belt, but it's been a pretty versatile dress-up item, so it's stayed. I have to admit, it's pretty cute to see her dancing to whatever music happens to be on the tv or our computers in that get-up :)

At music lessons this week the girls found out there's going to be a recital at the end of the month. Sassy is over-the-moon excited about her first recital. And the two of them MIGHT play a duet, though at the moment they're not quite there yet, so we shall see . . .

Friday morning about 15 minutes before we normally start school, Penny stopped by and said they had just chased "the helicopter" and we HAD to go see it too. Background . . . a few times since we moved in, we've seen a helicopter with something hanging down off it, flying around, but staying in the area, going up and down. So that morning, she'd loaded the boys into the car and they'd gone to see if they could get close enough to see what the helicopter was doing. When they got closer, they discovered that the helicopter was actually trimming trees! The thing we'd seen hanging down was a huge chain-saw-like blade, and the helicopter was trimming the trees along the power lines. It WAS very cool!

When we all got back from watching the helicopter, the weather was soo gorgeous, and I knew it was supposed to be rainy this week, so we scrapped school and the kids spent the morning riding bikes and otherwise playing outside.

So that was our week.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crew Review: Luke's Life List and Luke's School List

 photo joyceherzog_zps3c5942dd.jpgI love planning and lists. Much as I believe in our eclectic way of homeschooling, I believe in it, because I believe it's best for my kids. If it were "all about me", I'd have every single subject planned out through 12th grade for all three girls. So, when I was given the opportunity to review Luke's Life List, and Luke's School List from Joyce Herzog, I was intrigued.

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Luke's Life List is a book full of checklists of the things that the author believes are the most important for our children to learn as they are growing up.  The "Luke" in the title is referring to Luke in the Bible, and the text, Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased, in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. KJV, this is the only verse that tells us of Jesus' growing up years. The author organized this life list to go along with the verse, "wisdom", "stature", etc.

 photo LukesSchoolListCover_zps277b7b9e.jpgWe also reviewed the companion book, Luke's School List, that is the same concept, but for school subjects.

Both books include "goals" throughout childhood, from baby things, like first steps to teenage things like getting a driver's license.

The books are designed such that you can either have a separate book (or set of books) for each child, or suggestions are made to use one book/set for up to three children.

Since I was sent one set to review, and I have three children, it was pretty easy to decide which option to use, and it's working well for me.

I read through both books, then began filling them in. Even as much as I love marking off checklists, I opted to skip the pages that all three kids were WAY past (baby/early toddler stuff). Ideally, a person would start this when their child was VERY young, so that there isn't any "catch-up"

There are also several sections in the Life List book, that I prefer not to use. I feel pretty strongly that it would be counterproductive to use a "checklist" of what my children "know" in their walk with God. I believe that would be a slippery slope toward legalism. WHAT my children know isn't important to me, WHO they know is important, and while family Bible study is a very important part of our days, I trust that God will lead them to learn what He wants them to know, so I don't need a detailed, extensive checklist to make sure they know all there is to know about Christianity. But obviously everyone needs to decide for themselves how they will train their children in the ways of the Lord, and I know many people would value this tool in that process.

I did notice some repetition (same concept listed in more than one place), and there were some things that I'm not sure what was meant by the item. I think she mentioned, in one place, that she explains the terminology in one of her other books.

All in all, I like the idea of this. I am planning to continue using it, glancing through it once or twice a year to jog my memory of skills that we should be working on. I would say this would work with any style of homeschooling, and even those who don't homeschool might find Luke's Life List helpful. I would caution those using this, to recognize that it is tool . . . you will need to tweak it and adjust things to make it work for you (our children don't take gymnastics, or participate in organized sports teams, and there are some rather large sections that relate to these areas that we'll be skipping, for example).  You can purchase these books for $30 each.

Joyce Herzog provided the Schoolhouse Review Crew with a wide variety of items to review, be sure to check out the crew blog (link in the banner below) to see what everyone else reviewed, and what they thought of the items.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

Recipe: Banana Bread Muffins

Interestingly, while Sassy doesn't like bananas, she DOES like banana bread. So every so often we make banana bread. And, sometimes we make muffins for breakfast. So the obvious solution, when there's not time for lots of baking, is to make banana bread muffins!

1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/3 c honey
1/4 c butter, melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir dry ingredients together. Mix in mashed bananas, honey, butter and eggs.

Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake about 20 min.

If you'd rather make this as bread, you can put into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50-60 min.

Yummy either way!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Crew Review: Spanish for You!

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A couple years ago, the girls wanted to learn Spanish. We spent a year or so working on it, but then, when we needed to pare down what all we were doing, Spanish is one of the subjects that we dropped.

I was torn when Spanish for You came up to review. On the one hand, we'd decided to take a break from Spanish this year, on the other hand, this curriculum looked REALLY cool! And I do want them to learn Spanish at some point . . . So, we agreed to review, Spanish for You, Estaciones!

Spanish for You is a flexible curriculum that can be used for all your children, grades 3-8. The themed units can be used in any order. Each unit provides lessons for 24-30 weeks, depending on which grade level you are using. The unit, for grades 3-8 is available for $64.95 or if you only need one of the lesson guides (for 2 grades, instead of all 6), that's available for $39.95. You can see a sample here.

Spanish for You - Estaciones photo spanishforyou-estaciones_zps3adcc14c.jpgAs mentioned above, we reviewed the Estaciones (Seasons) unit. I found that some days, we moved through the suggested lessons very quickly, and ended up adding abit from the next day, and other days, we found there was more suggested than we had time for, so some days we split between 2 days. The first day, we listened to the mp3 of how the words are pronounced, then the girls made flash cards for the first batch of words, then the next few days were spent learning those words using games, songs, flash cards, and worksheets, so there was something for all learning styles, and not enough of any one thing to get bored :) And that's the basic approach, learn new words, make flash cards, review said words in  various ways, and move one. The various activities make sure the children can translate the word in either direction, and also that the child hears the words, speaks the word, reads the word, and writes the word.

Overall, I liked this curriculum. It taught the words thoroughly and in fun ways. It can be used with multiple ages/grades. Most days I could spend a few minutes giving instruction and the girls could do the rest on their own. As I mentioned above, Spanish isn't really a subject we're wanting to focus on right now, but MiniMe is enjoying it enough that she asked if we continue using it, at least a couple times a week. Sassy said she'd like to use it if/when we decide to learn Spanish again in the future.

One thing I found frustrating is that there are several different files/ebooks to keep track of. There's the main ebook that lists the vocabulary and such, then the specific "lesson plans" for the various grades, that tells you what to DO with the book information for that day. AND there are other files for the audio files and workbook pages. So to plan a day's lesson it's necessary to flip between multiple .pdf files. It's not horrible, and you could get around it by printing things out, but, IMO the benefit of .pdfs is not having so many books/papers around, so I try to minimize the printing.

To see what others thought of this, and the Fiesta unit, click the banner below.

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Weekly Wrap-Up - May 12

This was a BUSY week! I'm still trying to catch my breath . . . 

At the beginning of the week we were still at my parents' house, so we'll start there.

Sunday was the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival! We've gone several times, and it's always alot of fun! My parents came with us. We watched the sheep dog demonstration, and sheep shearing, then Papa, took Little Bit to see all the sheep, and the big girls, and Mama and I went shopping :) It's kinda fun that they are old enough to want to wander through all the vendors with me now :) MiniMe wanted to learn how to do every handcraft she saw :) I finally started making a list for her in Evernote LOL. Sassy was more selective, but joined in as well.

Monday we visited our friends Monica & Eric. They have 4 kids, and some mutual friends were there as well. Between the 4 families represented there were 15 kids :) The kids had a BLAST fishing, catching salamanders and tadpoles, cooking hotdogs over a campfire, exploring in the woods, and hunting for fossils. Here are some pictures from our day:

Cooking hot dogs for lunch
Little Bit tried fishing.

MiniMe and Sassy had no problem touching the fish!

Little Bit didn't have the patience to catch her own fish, so she snuck into the picture of one of Sassy's :)\ 
Tuesday we headed home from Mama and Papa's with a stop at another friend's house on our way home. We hadn't been over to Kim's house for awhile, so Little Bit didn't really remember the kids, but before we left, she and Z were best of friends :)

When we got home Tuesday night, we had to check out the caterpillar/worms on our bushes. Penny had noticed them while we were gone, and told us to be sure to check them out. They are COVERING the branches of one kind of bushes (and stripping it, but it was a bush that I wasn't sure I wanted to keep anyway, so I can live with it).  Since Daddy was home, I left the kids at home with him and headed to the grocery store to get a few essentials. By the time I got home, they'd googled and figured out that the worms were sawflies worms, and what kind of bushes they are on, and that they turn into things that look kind of like wasps but are harmless . . .so guess we had science class that day LOL.

Wednesday, E & J came over to join us for school. It was rainy, so we did some more of the art video we're reviewing.

Wednesday afternoon when MiniMe went to get the mail, she called me over, there were MILLIONS of ants in the mailbox moving eggs or larvae around and "storing" it in the folds of a food drive paper bag that was part of the day's mail.  I'm still at a loss as to why the ants decided to live IN the mailbox all of a sudden, and how they SO QUICKLY decided the folds of the mail was a good house . . .Sassy had gotten the mail the evening before and there weren't any noticeable ants then, so it was all very fast. Was cool to be able to see though.

Thursday was music lessons, I couldn't resist catching Little Bit being quiet and calm for once :) She'd been drawing, and then was waiting for me to take a picture of her drawing, and I snuck this pick in too. I LOVE it! :)

Thursday evening I left for CHAP (homeschool convention). Little Bit was NOT at all happy about me leaving for so long. She doesn't even like me to go to the grocery store without her. But she handled it pretty well. She sent me off with several of her toys "to remember me by" :) I got her a new puzzle and wrapped each piece individually with a little note and put times on them, so that by the time the puzzle was done I'd be home (or stuck in traffic, LOL). I think that helped alot, and the big girls did a good job of "playing mommy" and helping her out.

Friday, Rodney took the girls to Grandmom's. I had a busy day of curriculum shopping and seminars at CHAP. It was fun, and I was able to get the Life of Fred math books that we needed, and alot of other ideas and such :)

I am so proud of how the big girls stepped up while I was gone. MiniMe asked me, before I left, how to make coffee, so she could make it for Daddy while I was gone. Sassy, knowing that Daddy usually leaves for church later than us (long story, but our SS class starts earlier than his), "bribed" him, by telling him she'd make him eggs for breakfast if he got up on time :) Both girls helped with Little Bit. Sassy can't find her iPod at the moment (sigh), but MiniMe had hers, so all 3 girls could e-mail me from that.

They were finishing up the chocolate chip pancakes they'd made for supper when I got home Sat. evening. Little Bit had been so busy that she hadn't opened her last couple of puzzle pieces :) Sassy was very excited to have her Life of Fred math books! She ran right upstairs and started doing math :) and MiniMe started reading one of the Sonrise Stable books I'd gotten.

After I read one of Little Bit's new books to her, we went up and played with her puzzle some more :)

So that was our week.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Papa's Pearls

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When I first started researching homeschooling, way back when the twins were toddlers, one of the first books I read was Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith. It's a book that still lives in my car! So, when I saw we were going to be reviewing a new book by this author, I was intrigued.

 photo papaspearls_zps509cd1df.jpgUnlike Carschooling, Papa's Pearls, isn't a homeschooling book.  It is a book about the author's father, and the wisdom he passed along to his children and grandchildren, in the form of "pearls" of wisdom, short sayings that he said frequently, and modeled in his life.

When I received the information about this review, it indicated that this book was written for adults, but many families have ended up using it as a family read aloud and discussion-starter.

I read the first chapter on my own, to get a feel for it. I was pretty sure the girls would enjoy it, so we added it into our bedtime routine. I read a chapter to them each night.

Because this book wasn't written for children, and, I assume, to keep it as "authentic" to Papa's life as possible, there were a couple places where I "edited" the language as I read it to the girls, because of that, and some of the other concepts, that required some explanations, at least for my children, I wouldn't recommend handing it over to children to read on their own, but it was a great family read aloud.

Many nights, the girls wanted me to read a second chapter, and when I read the last chapter, Sassy immediately said "she should write a sequel!" So, it was a hit. I enjoyed it as well, Papa had great advice, and it made me think, and re-evaluate, and make some changes in my life. It led to some wonderful discussions with my ten-year-olds. We were blessed to have the opportunity to read this book together, and I'd recommend it to everyone!

You can purchase an autographed copy of the book, here, for $21.97.

To see what other reviewers thought, click the banner below.


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Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up for May 6

We are continuing to enjoy as much outside time as possible with the great, if sometimes chilly, spring weather.

In addition to that, here are some highlights from our week.

On Tuesday we had art class. The littles painted with water colors at one table, and we set the bigger kids up at a table in front of an art DVD we are reviewing. It worked great, and everyone had fun :) I am LOVING the versatility of my drop-leaf table and our open floor plan. I can drag it in front of the TV for a project like this, and it folds down out of the way when it's not in use.

I can't wait to tell you about the art video! For that matter, I can't wait for the kids to do the rest of the projects on that video :)

On Thursday we headed out to music lessons, and from there, on down to Mama and Papa's house. While we've seen lots of Mama and Papa with all their help on our house renovation projects, we hadn't been to their house since Christmas, and even longer then that since we were down to see friends, so this has been a trip of catching up with old long-time friends :)  We had hoped to stop at Kim's house on the way down, but some of her kids were sick so we're hoping to see her on our way home.

With all the bike-riding the kids have been doing, it occurred to me that the twins were about Little Bit's age when they got their first bikes. So one of the first things we did when we got to Mama and Papa's was dig one of the twins' old bikes out of the garage and let Little Bit try it out.

She is LOVING it! And the bonus of being the little sister of twins, she can keep one bike here and take one home with her LOL.

Friday we went to see Miss Vicki and her kids. They just moved into a new house, so we got to see the new house. E & K had great fun showing the girls around, and all the girls had fun playing in E & K's fort! Little Bit kept going back and forth between playing with the rest of the girls outside, or playing with Baby L, inside. I wish we lived closer, she ADORES him, it would be fun to see them interact more often :)

Sabbath was my 20 year reunion from high school, and Rodney's 25 year. His class did a LOT more than mine LOL. He had a whole day event, and wasn't home until bedtime. I just went over for part of church to see people. Sassy and MiniMe chose to go to church with Mama and Papa instead, but Little Bit decided to come with me, I think she regretted it LOL, but she did well, standing around while I talked to people.

Sabbath afternoon, the girls, Mama and Papa, and I, went to Shenandoah National Park for their wildflower weekend. The wildflowers weren't out, but we had fun hiking around, and Papa got his passport stamp :)

Little Bit is obviously related to her Uncle Dan, she wanted to climb right out to the edge of all the rocks. Mean Mommy wouldn't let her LOL.

We looked into doing the Junior Ranger, but you had to either buy the book, or print it online (and we hadn't printed it ahead), and it was a pretty involved one, so we decided to wait and print it out at home and do it another time. Then at the other visitor center, I saw that they have "explorer backpacks" that you could rent, and when you rent the backpack, you get the Junior Ranger book with it. So I asked about it. To rent the backpack, full of fun things like binoculars, for a day only costs $2 more than buying the Jr Ranger book, so I think sometime when we're down here we're going to take a day and go do that :)

So, that was our week. Our fun has continued this week, but I'll wait and tell you about that in another post :)