Monday, September 30, 2013

Crew Review: Fundanoodle

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I'm perpetually amused at how often my kids don't do things "according to the plan". From the time the twins were little, I have staunchly believed, and still do, in the idea of "better late than early", NOT pushing academics on young children, but letting them learn through play, delaying academics until they're 7-9. BUT, by the time the twins were approaching age 4, they were begging me to "do school" and so, we started. It was right for them, even though I still believe it isn't right for all children at that age.  Little Bit (now 4 1/2) moved things even younger, begging for school "like Sissies" when she was just past 3, and again, it's been right for her . . .

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Then she took things a step further. I am also a strong believer in hands-on learning, for all ages, but especially for little ones. Workbooks aren't something we use much, except when they come along as review products. But, guess what Little Bit LOVES LOVES LOVES!! That's right, workbooks . . . So, when I had the chance to review something from Fundanoodle, I figured she'd love it.  After looking over the various workbooks they were offering for review, I decided that a couple books from the Green (K-1st) would be the best fit for her. While I consider her to be preschool, not Kindergarten or 1st, the younger workbooks appeared to cover things she already knows, and I didn't want her to be bored with them. We ended up reviewing I Can Do Math Level 3  and Max and Alphie's Adventures Level 3.

While there were pages in both books that were still too advanced for her, and we skipped over those, overall, these have been a good fit for her level.

One of the first things I noticed about these workbooks is that they have a very sturdy, cardboard, back to them. That is AWESOME since we rarely sit at a table or desk to do schoolwork, in fact, one place where these have been PERFECT is during her older sisters' music lessons. We can sit on the floor in the room where the girls' have their lessons, and work quietly on these workbooks while we wait. The heavy cardboard backing makes that much easier than most "schoolwork" we do, that I have to remember to bring something along to use as a "desk".   Another thing that I probably appreciate more than most, is that the spiral is at the top, instead of the side.  I'm left-handed, and so is Little Bit.  Throughout my school days, I struggled with the fact that, because we write left to right, it can be challenging to write in workbooks and notebooks as a lefty. Spiral bindings are definitely easier than most, but having the binding at the top, makes it completely a non-issue, woo-hoo!!!

Little Bit LOVED that these books include stickers to put on each page after it's completed, and there's a designated place on the pages, to put the stickers. I think one reason that, most days, she begged, over and over for "just one more page" was to be able to put another sticker on! Gotta love that kind of motivation LOL.

 I Can Do Math Level 3 covers beginning addition and subtraction, along with time, patterns, and other skills. It is geared for K-1st Grade, so I expected it to be a tad advanced for Little Bit, but since the younger grade levels, seemed to focus on counting, which she's very proficient at already (I take no credit for teaching her to count, I don't even know how she learned, one day when she was still itty bitty (2ish), I realized that as she slid down the stairs, she was counting each step as she bumped across it, and could count the entire flight of stairs that way).  This worked well for her, she doesn't fully "get" addition/subtraction, but she could easily understand the picture problems in this book. I loved that, in the early subtraction pages, they showed, for example, for 5-3, 5 flowers, then told the child to cross out three of the flowers and write down how many were left. While the words "plus" and "minus" still confuse, Little Bit, she could easily do that, and seemed to find it great fun.
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The other book we reviewed was Max and Alphie's Adventures Level 3.  It reinforces a variety of skills including handwriting, letters, and numbers.  The first howevermany pages are handwriting, and, since Little Bit is younger (4 1/2) than the recommended age range (5-6), she wasn't real into it, she COULD do it, but didn't enjoy it, so after the first couple pages, we skipped on to other things. But once we got past those pages, she has enjoyed this book as well. Because it does offer more variety, there have been other sections that we skip over, but she's having fun, and I figure we can re-visit the skipped sections in a few months and see if she's ready for them yet.

Each of these workbooks is $5.99, which is a great price considering the quality of the workbooks, and the stickers that are included.

Overall, if you have a child who enjoys workbooks, I think these are a great option. The website has informative product descriptions to let you choose a book that fits your child's skill-level. The site also offers hands-on items, that look great! 

In addition to these workbooks, other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other workbooks and some hands-on item. Click on the banner below to see what they thought.


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All prices are accurate at time of posting.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Williamsburg, Continued . . .

Much as the girls enjoy Busch Gardens, the best part of a trip to Williamsburg is Colonial Williamsburg! I don't think I'll ever get tired of going there. And it's so fun to see the girls continue to enjoy it every time we go.  Little Bit is just starting to get into such things, and one day would've been plenty for her, LOL, but she did like learning about the old fashioned games. At the end of the week, I let her choose something in the gift shops and she chose the game that they're learning in this picture, called "Shut the Box".

The big girls could have spent forever there, in fact, I lost count of how many times they asked if we could move there (the private residences sprinkled through the colonial city fascinate them, every year they ask if we can live in one LOL).  Some of their fun . . . 

Learning about colonial dances. They were so funny, paired with 2 older couples, they were thoroughly disgusted with how confused the other couples were. And my favorite part, one part of the dance has the 3 "men" in the set holding hands and "skipping" around behind the 3 "women".  Lexie was the "man" in their couple, and afterwards she was so annoyed that the 2 men "didn't even know how to skip!" 
 A couple weeks before we went to Williamsburg, Ashlyn found a small basket making kit that I'd gotten at some point and we hadn't ever used. She followed the directions and made a great first attempt at making a basket, and it whetted her appetite for more, so she was excited to see the basket makers at Williamsburg. Unfortunately, they didn't seem too interested in answering questions, which she found frustrating. She did still pick up a few tips just by looking a their baskets and listening to them describe what they do.

Every day that we were there we went to the Plantation, to see what demonstrations and hands-on activities they had that day.

One day we saw them hitch up the oxen and plow the field. Another day we saw how they turn a cut down tree into a beam to use in a house. The carpenter was awesome at answering their questions and showing them how everything worked :) The girls had fun making cornhusk dolls and finally, the last day, they were dipping candles.  I was helping Little Bit with hers, so didn't get any pictures of that, but as always that was a favorite activity!

Last time we were in Williamsburg, one of their favorite stops was the Bindery, so they were excited to go back. We didn't see the same person as before, but the man at the bindery this year was pretty good too. And he ended up showing them different things then they'd seen last year.

This year was the first year that the Brickmakers have been working when we've been there. That was really interesting. They gave people the option to stomp around in the clay to help mix it up, but Ashlyn didn't want to because she had a small cut on her foot, and Lexie didn't want to do it by herself (and Little Bit had stayed at the timeshare with Daddy that day).

Another shop they really enjoyed last time was the cabinet maker. When we were there last time there was a harpsichord there but you couldn't touch it, though they did let one teenage girl who was very interested in it all, play it briefly.  This year, the harpsichord was still there, but with a sign saying to play it gently, so Ashlyn got to play the harpsichord! And again this year the cabinet maker was just as great about answering the girls' gazillions of questions as before.

A favorite every year is the coffee shop. The tour is always interesting, and slightly different every time, and the best part is the drinking chocolate (or coffee or tea) they give everyone at the end of the tour.  YUM!!! This isn't your average hot chocolate! It's thick and rich and spicy and . . . YUMMY!!! And the fact that my girls love it as much as I do is evidence that they are definitely mine LOL :)

The girls wore the costumes they made all week long (the advantage of staying in a timeshare is the washer and dryer that makes that possible LOL). They got tons of "oh how cute!" comments from other visitors, and several people asked to take their pictures, or just took pictures LOL. But what they were most excited about was that the employees' comments were usually something about how authentic their costumes were. They were SOO proud of that :) The one part of the costume that wasn't "perfect" was their hats. They both got hats the first year we went to Williamsburg (when they were 6), but the ribbon to tie Ashlyn's on had come off, so she didn't have a hat to wear. When we started shopping for hats, she really wanted the flatter hats that the milliner told them, a couple years ago, were more accurate for the time period. But the "trimmed" hats were out of our price range. Then we found one shop that sold plain, no ribbons, hats for a much more reasonable price. She bought a plain hat, and we stopped at a fabric store that evening and got ribbon (we chose navy to coordinate with their skirts), needle and threat, and Ashlyn trimmed her own hat!!

 She did a great job, and the next day, when we went back to that shop because Lexie had decided to get a new hat too, one of the customers in the shop commented that she liked Ashlyn's hat best (the shopkeeper was standing right there so we didn't tell them that Ashlyn had trimmed it herself LOL).  That evening Lexie used the rest of the navy ribbon to trim her own hat :)

One thing that I enjoyed, though I'm not sure the girls picked up on it, was that some of the tours had changed. Both the Randolph house and the Governor's palace tours were different from last time we were there, which made it more interesting for me :)

While we were on the palace grounds after the tour, I snapped the above picture of the girls, and then had them sit on a bench for a picture :)

 One afternoon, near "closing time" we stopped by the courthouse. A man was "lecturing" (for lack of a better word) about various "court things" in colonial times. The girls were interested and then when he was done, he asked for questions and they kept him busy asking questions until everyone else had left and it was past closing time. Not only did he patiently answer their questions, and if he didn't enjoy it, he did a good job of pretending he did, but then when he needed to leave, he let them lock the court house doors.  They were pretty fascinated with those big old fashioned keys :)

I must not have taken any pictures the last day, after Lexie had her new hat too.

It was an awesome week!

We finished up our week with another day at Busch Gardens. All 3  girls rode the carousel together :)

On our way home, we stopped in Fredericksburg and the girls earned their Junior Ranger there, then we headed on home :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up - The Williamsburg Edition

We spent last week in Williamsburg, VA. Our "purpose" was Historic Williamsburg's Homeschool Days but while we were there we also got our last bit of use out of our Sesame Place passes, and spent a couple days at Busch Gardens.

Sunday was a Busch Gardens day.

The big girls spent most of their day on the big roller coasters (when they weren't humoring their baby sister), which doesn't really lend itself to pictures LOL. But suffice it to say that they rode every roller coaster in the park. Their favorite is the biggest/scariest one (the one that you couldn't pay me to go on!).

Little Bit enjoyed the Sesame Street area, and convinced her sisters to take turns going on the dragon ride with her. The first time they rode it, she thought the water that arches OVER the ride would hit her, like it does on the water rides at Sesame Place, so that's why she's hiding her face in the picture :)

After we finished at Sesame Place, the big girls and Mama and I went on the big log flume ride. It was cold enough out that we had the ride to ourselves, so we went on it 3 or 4 times in a row :)

Papa took Little Bit on a train ride around the park, and introduced her to the sky ride, which became one of her favorite rides :)

One of the rides Little Bit wanted to go on the last time we were at Sesame Place, but we didn't have time to do was the Cloud Chaser. So when she saw the Wirbelwindchen, she couldn't wait to ride it. Look at that grin! It's the world's SLOWEST ride I've ever seen, but she seemed to like it. Then I took her on Der Wirbelwind, she was in HEAVEN! "Mommy, it's just like flying!"

Monday through Thursday we spent at Colonial Williamsburg.  As always, the big girls LOVED every minute of it.

It occurs to me, as I begin sorting through these pictures, that trying to talk about the whole week in ONE post would be a really long post (and since it's Tuesday night and I'm just STARTING to sort through those pictures, it would probably not actually get POSTED until next week, at the earliest. So . . . stay tuned for the REST of the Williamsburg Edition :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recipe: Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

This is another one of those "so simple it's hardly a recipe" kinds of recipes, but it's also yummy!

My kids have never been much for sandwiches, in fact, for years, I rarely even had bread in the house, BUT now that we have music lessons that finish up right at (or past, if you ask my kids) lunchtime, packing lunches once a week is a part of our routine, and since we then eat those lunches as we're driving, they need to be low mess lunches (when we pack lunches to take to museums or the park or something, I'll often pack pasta salad or something similar), which tends to mean . . . sandwiches.

The kids do like egg salad, and will eat peanut butter and jelly (fruit juice sweetened jam), or peanut butter and (raw) honey, if I'm REALLY low on ingredients and time. And once in awhile, when I can get the Tofurkey vegetarian lunch "meat" on sale, we'll have lettuce, tomato, cheese and lunch meat sandwiches, but that all still gets old after awhile, so I've been on the lookout for healthy, inexpensive, vegetarian sandwich options.

A few months ago we went to a friend's house for a playdate, and she had, along with egg salad, "chickpea salad" sandwiches for lunch. The girls LOVED them (and so did I), she told me she just made it like egg salad only with chickpeas. I did a few searches online for something similar but everything I came up with either was more complicated than  I wanted to mess with, or had stuff I didn't want to use in it, so in the end, I made up my own recipe, based off of MY egg salad recipe. I LOVE this because it's quick (I tend to forget until the morning of lessons that I'm going to need to make sandwiches, at which point getting eggs cooked, peeled, COOLED, and made into salad to put in sandwiches can be a challenge), and uses ingredients I generally have on hand (and everything is pantry ingredients until it's open, so it's easy to make SURE I stay well stocked).

1 can chickpeas, drained
celery salt
dill pickles, chopped fine (or I suppose you can buy dill relish, but it usually has ingredients I don't like. I buy dill pickles w/o added coloring, and don't have to worry about what my kids are eating when they inhale an entire jar in one sitting)
any other seasonings that sound good to you

I found that a potato masher works best to smash up the chickpeas w/o turning them into hummus. Once the chickpeas are mashed stir in mayonnaise, chopped pickles, and seasonings, to taste.

That's all there is to it. Super easy, and all 3 of my kids LOVE it!

I'm linking up to Try a New Recipe Tuesday.

Review: Cross Country Cafe Coffee!

This post contains affiliate links.

Cross Country Cafe has a huge selection of Keurig Kcup coffee at rock bottom prices!

Most of the things I review are homeschool related, and primarily for the kids, but once in a great while I get to review something JUST FOR ME! This is one of those reviews.

I was contacted by Cross Country Cafe about reviewing their coffee. Then came the truly hard decision . . . how to choose ONE bag of coffee to try . . . they have lots of great sounding varieties, but in the end I decided to try Donut Shop Classics Double Dipped Chocolate Coffee.

YUM!!! I am LOVING this coffee!! You can smell the chocolate as it's brewing, and the taste is awesome!! I don't even add sweetener, just some cream, and it's DELICIOUS!

I don't normally let Ashlyn and Lexie have caffeine, but they smelled it brewing and begged for a taste, so I gave them a little bit (they've had decaf coffee).  They loved it too, and now they whine whenever I brew some, that it's not fair that it has caffeine so they can't have it :)

I have been so impressed with the quality of this coffee, and at $9.50 for 1 lb of ground coffee, it's comparably priced with other gourmet brands. Cross Country Cafe also has a large variety of K-cup coffee for Keurig coffee makers, and of course many other varieties of ground coffee to choose from!

Disclaimer: I received the above mentioned coffee in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received, and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this to comply with FTC regulations.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up - September 15

What a FUN week!

Sunday we visited Rodney's mom, always nice to see her :) Little Bit was playing with some dolls that Grandmom has for the kids to play with, and decided the babies were "hungry".  She's never been as "into" baby dolls as her sisters were, so it was fun to see her nursing her babies, like they did so often at that age :)

Tuesday we went to Sight and Sound's production of Noah!! It had been a couple years since we'd made it to Sight and Sound, so the girls (and the grown ups, we ALL love Sight and Sound!) were excited about going again. Little Bit came with us to Creation when she was a baby, and actually sat, mesmerized, by the whole thing instead of nursing to sleep like I expected her to do, but when we went to Joseph, when she was a toddler, she stayed with our neighbor so I could actually watch the show instead of trying to keep a wiggly toddler sitting quietly, so she didn't remember it at all, but since the big girls were excited, she was too :)

We got there, and sat down and right before the show started my best friend, Vicki and her family came in and sat next to us!!! She and Rodney had arranged the whole thing!! Vicki lives near my parents, so we see each other a few times a year, but this year with all the busyness, it had been several months!

Noah was, as expected, FABULOUS! Little Bit was restless for the first part (lots of talking about building the ark and such, not much to catch and hold 4 yr old's attention), but once the animals came in, and then while Noah and his family were "in the ark" with TONS of (mostly mechanical, but still cool looking) animals, including the hoped-for giraffes (Little Bit's favorite animal), she was hooked.

After the show Vicki's family and our family went to Olive Garden together. Sooo good to spend time together! Her husband snapped a picture of Vicki and me and all our kids as we were visiting after the meal (don't mind the messy table, or bad lighting):

So that was our excitement and fun last week. Wednesday Ashlyn and I had a "date" (for every 14 days of chores they do, they get a date with a parent).

Thursday was "exciting" but not fun. I'd mentioned to Rodney on Wed, that the oil light was on in my car. He said as long as it wasn't red, that he'd wait until we got back from music lessons and take care of it, but about the time I got to music lessons, it came on again and it WAS red. I called him, and he said to just stay put and he'd come add oil so I could drive home. So, since I didn't relish the idea of trying to keep Little Bit quietly occupied at music lessons for the 2+ hours that their combined lessons take, I decided to just keep her in the car, watching a video until after he came and added the oil.  While she was doing that, I started gathering up the trash and toys that seem to appear overnight in my car, and when I moved a lapdesk that had, apparently been on the floor under Little Bit's "feet" for to long, I discovered some bug larvae COVERING the floor under it.  EEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!! I just put it back down for the time being, but once we left music lesson, I told Lexie and Ashlyn we had a new "job" for that day. Sent Lina in the house with Rodney and the girls and I got busy taking EVERYTHING out of the car.  Anything fabric, we threw in a laundry basket and I took straight to the washer and dryer.  The cups and such that typically live in the car for me to pass out snacks in, I made a pile of in the yard and later (once we'd finished cleaning out the car, itself, I set to work washing dishes and told the girls to bring me those dishes slowly enough that I could put them straight into the dishwater and not take any cahnce of bugs crawling out of them onto my counter). The trash, went straight to the fire pit and was burned. . . toys and such were checked VERY thoroughly for bugs before taking them in the house . . . HUGE job, once it was done, and I'd "vacuumed" as best I could with our little rechargeable dust buster thingy, I asked Rodney to stop on his way to get my oil changed, and vacuum it out more thoroughly at a carwash, which, being the awesome husband he is, he did, despite being sick (he started coming down with a bad cold on Tuesday and was pretty miserable the rest of the week).

So that was our frustrating Thursday. The "good news" is, the girls are abit in awe of how "clean" the car is after a thorough cleaning out and vacuuming, and seem to be much more motivated to KEEP it clean now. I pointed out that, at age 10, they are most definitely old enough to bring trash in after they have a snack, and to bring in whatever toys, etc. they take with them. And that if they set a good example of that, and encourage her, Little bit will follow suite. So, we shall see . . .

Friday's weather was GORGEOUS!!!! Cool, and LOVELY (even more welcome after suffering with the muggy heat on Thursday, when we were cleaning out the car).  I decided it was a "play outside" kind of school day, so we did circle time, watched part of a "What's in the Bible" DVD (affiliate link) for Bible, and then headed outside for the rest of the morning.

Friday was also Rodney's birthday, but since he was still sick, we didn't do much to celebrate :(

And that was our week. Some AWESOME things (like Sight and Sound) and some NOT awesome things (like bugs), so it all balances out :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: PeopleKeys

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 I've always been fascinated by various "personality test" type things. I find it especially helpful now that I have children, to see how their brains work differently from my brain, and from each other.  So when we were given the chance to review the Children's Profile from PeopleKeys, it was right up my alley.

PeopleKeys offers the "DISC" test in various formats. DISC stands for "Determined Influencing Steadfast and Conscientious" the 4 personality styles in this system.

A few years ago, a group of us from our church, at the urging of a couple members who had seen great success in using the DISC tests in the workplace, took the DISC test, so I was familiar with the test and knew my "type" (though the full test that I took, gives a more complex answer than just which of the 4 styles matches you best).

 photo peoplekeys-childrensprofile_zps4c217fc3.jpgWe received the Children's Profile, intended for children age 9-13. This is a workbook. Ashlyn happened to be nearby, so she took the test first. Without a doubt, the description of her top to styles, described her to a T. As I was reading the discription, Lexie was rolling her eyes and groaning about the things that described Ashlyn to a T, and tend to annoy Lexie (like the fact that Ashlyn is slow and methodical about her school work, which annoys Lexie, who likes to rush through hers).

So, since we didn't have a second workbook for Lexie, we improvised, and I asked the questions verbally. The result, despite being IDENTICAL TWINS, Lexie and Ashlyn are EXACT OPPOSITES in the DISC system!!! Not only are their #1 styles different, but their secondary styles are also different. No WONDER they are at each other's throats some days!

While the test I took (I'm not sure which of the options they offer, I took), was quite complex, both taking the test, and scoring it, the Children's Profile one is wonderfully simple! The test is only one page long, and the scoring is simple enough for the students to do themselves. The rest of the workbook describes each of the 4 styles, what the child can work on, how to interact with other styles,  AND, for the parent, how to parent those styles. AWESOME!! Anything that helps me figure out how to handle these two, is something I NEED!  One thing I found frustrating, because the full version DISC test that I took awhile back, had a more complex scoring system, it's not intuitive or straight forward, at least for me, to see which "style" on the Children's Profile I am to compare to my children's types.  I could, obviously, retake the simplified test and figure out my type that way, but I have always struggled with "simple" personality tests, whether they're something like this or the silly little "what kind of pony are you" type quizzes that were so popular in teen magazines way back when I was a teen. Something about the way my brain works, if I can tell which answer will give which result, I have a really hard time not "cheating" and getting whatever result I think I am (or that I think I SHOULD be), in order to simplify this for young children, it is VERY straight-forward and easy to see which answers will give you which type, that didn't seem to bother my kids, perhaps because they've taken very few such tests AND because they're not me, so I don't see it as a negative for the test, given it's "target" audience, but it did keep me from wanting to try to take it myself. Instead I have been looking more at the general information of how each of my girls thinks and handles things, and skimmed how all types of parents can better interact with that type and pull the pieces I find useful.

The workbook is available for $15, but just buying that one workbook isn't going to do you much good. You really need to know what "style" all the members of your family are, because the most useful information is how the various styles interact with each other.

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this, and several other products from PeopleKeys, click the banner below to see what they thought.


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All prices are accurate at time of posting.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Time4Learning

Time4Learning is a fun, online educational program for grades K-8, and high school. It can be utilized for homeschoolers, as well as after school, and summers for children in school.

The program includes language arts, math, science, social studies and art, in a fun, interactive way that kids enjoy.

See below for the lesson plans of what is included by grade and subject:

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Time4Learning offered members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew a 6 month subscription to the level of their choice. We received a 5th grade subscription. As soon as I set Ashlyn up with the account, she, not surprisingly, headed straight to the art area. Here's her description of the portrait section:

They don't have you DO much art. The part that says you're doing art isn't REALLY doing art. The portrait section tells you alot about the ancient history of art and the paintings and stuff. So I learned about ancient Egyptian portraits and more modern ones. I really like it!

When she says they don't let you "do art" she's referring to the fact that, obviously, it's all on the computer, which isn't going to be as open ended and . . . tactile (for lack of a better word) as actually painting or whatever. There IS an area where the kids can be creative and apply the things they've learned about art, it just wasn't what she was looking for LOL.

Another area that she's spent time in is the Language Arts section. She's been motivated recently to learn more about grammar and parts of speech, so she went hunting for that. Here's what she had to say:

It's fun because they use a "talk show" format, I've been learning about different kinds of words like synonyms are words that mean the same. It has multiple choice questions about stuff. And it says what different words mean.

I think the "says what different words means" refers to the vocabulary section.  I did have to laugh, one thing I heard her listening to said something about it being common (only it used a bigger word, trying to show the meaning of the word) to eat lunch with friends. She muttered "that's not true, we don't get to eat lunch with friends very often."  So, while the program is marketed to homeschoolers, it sounds like some assumptions still focus on typical school environment type stuff :)

One other area she wanted to make sure I mentioned is the "playground".  This is the "for fun" section, and, while I haven't figured out exactly how it works, the amount of time they can spend there is somehow tied to how much time they spend on the regular lessons. She mentioned that she likes the puzzle games and fun things like air hockey.

Time4Learning is available for $19.95/month for your first K-8th grade student, and $14.95 for each additional K-8 student. High school students are $30/month.  There are no long-term contracts.

I have to admit, I was surprised at how much Ashlyn has enjoyed this. Since we don't do much typical "classroom" type learning, I wasn't sure how interesting she would find this program, but she REALLY likes it. I suspect she wouldn't like it as much if I required her to spend set amounts of time on set subjects, but since I let her choose the subjects that interested her, she's been begging to do more.  I really wish it wasn't primarily flash based, since that means it doesn't work on my iPad or her iTouch. Finding time for her to use my laptop can be challenging.

Time4Learning offers free demos, that you can view before signing up, to make sure it's a good fit for your child. If you're looking for an online educational program, this seems like a great choice!

To see what other crew members thought, click the banner, below.


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All prices are accurate at time of posting.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up - September 9

What DID we do last week? I didn't take many pictures so now I have to go on memory . . . sigh . . .

My parents came back up for the first part of the week. Dad got the shelving done in our bathroom (I should take a picture of that . . . but first I need to get things put back ON those shelves . . . maybe by next week . . .). I LOVE how they look! But I've been giving them some extra time to make sure the paint is fully cured before I put stuff on them.

He also got a good start on the vanity light in the bathroom. Since we only have one bathroom, and I'm not the type to take up room in my bedroom with a "dressing table", I needed decent lighting over the bathroom mirror for the once in a blue moon that I bother to put makeup on. AND when we bought the house the mirror, while pretty (the previous owner had handmade a frame around the mirror to match the cabinet he built for the sink) was hung WAY too high to allow for an outlet under the mirror. So, since it IS nice to have an outlet near the bathroom sink/mirror (for people who use things like hairdryers and curling irons LOL) but the mirror REALLY needed to be lower, Dad put in a new outlet, as well as a switch for the vanity light, and did the wiring for that. The mirror looks WAY better, and is much more USABLE at it's new height.  For the vanity light I wanted a light made out of mason jars. Dad got the board for it up and the middle light, so I DO have a vanity light in there, eventually he'll add 2 more lights on the sides, but that didn't make the cut for things to do this week.

And finally, he cut down a couple dead trees by the end of our driveway that were making it hard to see to safely turn out of that side of the driveway.  One of them had a woodpecker nest in it (we knew it had, we'd watched the woodpecker making the hole this spring, it was really cool to watch, but by now we could tell it was deserted, so it was time to cut it down.  The girls decided that the woodpecker "tree" needed to be kept as is, instead of cut into lengths for bonfires. And promptly set to work setting up the old chicken coop behind the garage into a "museum".  It's been their on-going project all week and they did a great job with it :) As an added bonus, in order to do all of that, they had to straighten up the shed area where alot of their outside toys (and other random junk) was thrown, such that it blocked the door into the chicken coop, so they straightened that up without any prompting, much less nagging, from me, BONUS! :)

Friday I took the girls to Sesame Place for one last time this season. Honestly, I wouldn't have gone this late (this time of year they're only open weekends (and that Friday, for some reason), so it's more crowded), and certainly not on as cool a day as Friday was (highs were right around 70), BUT last time we were there, I lost Ashlyn's season pass (I'm guessing that her's was the one I randomly grabbed to show that I got a member discount on popcorn, and either didn't get it back from the popcorn vendor or when I put it back in my pocket I somehow dropped it) and we need it for Bush Gardens later this month. So . . . we went. It actually worked out pretty well. We went on dry rides either together or the big girls went on one while I took Little Bit on one, then Little Bit played in her beloved "Ernie pool" while the big girls went on their favorite water slide (the rubber ducky). Little Bit and I waited while the big girls went on the other "big kid" water slides, though if she hadn't decided to throw an (unrelated) tantrum, that took up the whole time, we could have gone on the nearby dry rides while they were on those slides. The only downside of the day was that the a road closure on the way home meant it took us FOREVER to get home, sigh . ..  but we made it :)

Sabbath, Miss Penny taught the girls how to make coffee filter butterflies and flowers, so when we got home they gathered up coffee filters, markers and pipe cleaners and I didn't see them the rest of the afternoon LOL.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Belated Weekly Wrap-Up - September 4

I'm not sure where this week has gone, but somehow the weekly wrap-up never happened, so here it is, better late than never right?

You got a detailed look at last Sunday, in this post. So we'll move on to Monday . .  .

When we had our "nature afternoon" a few Sabbaths ago, Karin mentioned that her father-in-law, who also attends our church, loves showing people around his butterfly gardens, so we talked to him on Sabbath and arranged to go visit his garden on Monday. What a TREAT!!!! I was expecting him to kind of point us to the garden and tell us to enjoy, or maybe stay close by to answer questions, but he had a whole "tour" planned out for us, it was awesome! Lina was restless, mainly because it was too close to lunchtime for her liking, and of course, details about which kinds of butterflies land on which plants is still abit advanced for her. I'd love to go back another time and plan ahead to bring something for her to do. There was a lovely bench in the shade and I think if I came armed with her own little tote bag filled with a water bottle, some snacks, and some activities she can do on her own, she'd be pretty content to hang out there while we toured the gardens.

Monday afternoon my parents got here to spend the week helping with fix-it projects around here.

In going through stuff in their garage (where we still have stuff stored from when we moved from MD to PA 5 1/2 years ago), Dad found our easel, that I had actually looked for 3 or 4 times, both in his garage and in our storage (before we moved last winter) and hadn't been able to find. When I confirmed for sure that it wasn't in our stuff when we moved last winter, and I THOUGHT I'd looked through Dad's garage enough to confirm that it wasn't there, I'd decided that I must have gotten rid of it, so it was an exciting surprise for Dad to message me before they came up and ask if I wanted the "standing chalkboard thing" he'd found in my stuff in his garage. Woo-hoo!! As soon as Ashlyn saw it, she HAD to try it out. She set it up on the front porch (with our step-stool for a seat, not sure why she chose that instead of a chair) and got out her paints and went to town. :)

Mom's big project was to help Lexie and Ashlyn sew their colonial costumes for Williamsburg in a few weeks. After trying on colonial clothes at Paul Revere's house in Boston this summer, we decided that we wanted to try our hand at making them "authentic" costumes. So we pretty much made up the whole thing from scratch. AND the girls did most of the straight-seam sewing, with mom doing the more complicated parts.

The picture at left shows things "in progress" when the girls decided to give a "demonstration of colonial dress".  Ashlyn's wearing everything they had done at that point (they now have aprons and the vest/shirt  thing has ties to hold it shut). Lexie is showing the "nightwear" that is also the bottom layer of their daytime clothes.  So, they each made a shift (what Lexie's wearing), a drawstring skirt, the vest/shirt that Ashlyn's wearing, and an apron to go over all of it. The mob caps, we actually had in dress-up stuff, so we didn't have to figure out and make those.

The girls are soo thrilled with it all, but it occurs to me that I didn't get a picture of the completed outfits when they wore them, and now they've been washed and the girls ironed them (proof that anything that is a novelty is "fun", since I make a point to not buy clothes that have to be ironed, they've never ironed, or really even seen anyone iron, so now they think it is GREAT FUN to iron, silly kids . .  . Anyway, they've carefully set the outfits aside to take with us to Williamsburg, so I guess you'll have to wait for the pictures from Williamsburg to see what the complete outfit looks like. I did snap some pictures when they were wearing just their skirts and shifts outside, I love how it looks with the neighbor's cornfield for a backdrop :) The straw hats are the hats they got in Williamsburg the first year we went, when they were 6, hard to believe that Little Bit's closer to 6 than they are now!

Little Bit was less than thrilled with Mama being here, but spending so much time with the big sisters. The saving grace was Mama's new smartphone, that we set up a whole folder of games just for Little Bit, Lexie snapped this picture when Little Bit fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon, playing games on Mama's phone LOL.

Meanwhile my dad was busy doing all kinds of awesome projects around here.  When he put the shower in our bathroom last winter he had to take out the existing heat vent in the bathroom because that was the only place the shower would fit. So, with the summer almost over, we figured it might be important to get a heat vent back in the bathroom, so that was one of his projects.

For awhile now I'd sometimes hear a "buzzing" (like bees) that sounded like it was coming from the window frame of the kitchen window when I stood there to wash dishes, but I'd looked around inside and out and never been able to find a wasps nest or anything else to explain the sound, so I had "help me figure out teh buzzing sound" on my list for Dad. He determined that teh windows hadn't been caulked around to seal them off so the wasps were getting into the walls by going into the gap between the top of the window and the house wall. So, he caulked the windows to keep the wasps out AND that should help with cooling and heating as well.

The steps going up to our back porch were starting to rot away. Dad had thought he'd just replace the worst  one (top) for now, but once he pulled it off, he decided they were all bad enough that it made more sense to replace them all, so that was a pretty big project.  It's sure nice to not have saggy steps anymore! :)

AND one of the . . . interesting . . . features of this house was that in the closet in the girls' room, there were some rather odd "stairs" that went to nowhere. When I asked the former owner (when we looked at the house) what they were, he said he thought someone had put them in to be shelves for shoes in the closet. It seemed like inefficient use of space to me, but since the girls have another closet that we use for clothes, and this one is just for toys, I figured we'd give the shelves a try. What we discovered, however, is that because of the way they "step" back as they go up, even I have a hard time reaching toys on the top shelf. So I asked Dad if he could PLEASE rip those out, even if it left the walls looking torn up and unfinished. he did, and discovered that he could tear them out w/o messing up the walls. So now the girls have a much more functional toy closet. Eventually Dad will build shelves into the closet, but for now I have a shelf i had in teh bathroom sitting in there and that's working quite nicely.

Friday was my birthday, and all month long Little Bit has been antsy to go buy me birthday gifts, so Rodney took all 3 girls birthday shopping on Wednesday. When we got home, the lady at the chocolate shop had given Little Bit a bow for her hair, as well as the one she put on the box of chocolates, so Little Bit told me SHE was one of my presents, can't get a better present than that, now can I?!?! :)

She was SOOO excited to have me open my presents right away that I opened them that night even though it was "early" :)  Since she couldn't convince Daddy to buy me the motorhome she REALLY thought she should get me for my birthday (ha!), she settled on flowers and chocolate covered strawberries, and a lamp. The big girls were confused as to why she was so insistent about getting me a lamp, but she explained it when she gave it to me. It's for my bedroom so that when she sleeps with me she can use it for a nightlight instead of my phone. During campmeeting in June, with the big girls sleeping at campmeeting with Mama and Papa, Little Bit slept in our bed, and when she complained that she needed a nightlight, I told her that my phone (set so it couldn't "sleep") would work as a nightlight. Apparently she remembered that and decided to solve that problem for next time LOL.

Friday was my actual birthday so we headed to a YUMMY Amish smorgasboard for lunch (it gives a free meal to anyone on their birthday), YUM!! And as a bonus, after a HUGE, late lunch there, nobody was hungry for supper, so I got out of cooking TWO meals!

So that was our week last week, sorry I was so late getting it posted :)