Sunday, April 24, 2016

Carnegie Science Center

Last Monday, after dropping Daddy off at a client's, we headed to Carnegie Science Center. This has been a hands-down favorite ever since Lexie and Ashlyn were Little Bit's age! One minor disappointment was discovering that none of the exhibits have changed since last time we were there (over a year ago). I'm not sure what's up with that, in the past, they've changed more than once a year. Perhaps budget cuts, but it's too bad, part of our love of this museum is learning new things every time we go. Little Bit still had a blast, but the older girls have been often enough that the main draw (at least in the main museum building) is to see what's new.

One area that never gets old there is the Sports zone. A whole separate building full of interactive sports type stuff. To make it even better, when we go on a week day during the school year, we generally have the Sports zone almost to ourselves! There are very short lines, if any. Little Bit's favorite is the big trampoline. I think she went on it 8 times all together that day. By the last time, when she got there the employee just laughed and said "you know the drill" instead of going over the steps to get her ready to jump.

She was also willing to try the rock wall this year, though she didn't go very far up. She DID find out that it's fun to rappel back down, so she climbed up (just 5 or 6 feet) several times and rappelled back down.

Lexie and Ashlyn have been climbing that rock wall since they were Little Bit's age or a little older. So they can easily climb to the top of the 2 easy climbs, and get very close to the top (there are hand/foot holds missing that make them not quite tall enough, even now) of the medium and hard climbs.

Lexie also did the way up in the air bike thing again (both Lexie and Ashlyn did it last time we were there (that was the first time they were tall enough to do it).  Technically it was closed, but when Lexie asked about it, the girl said she could do it since there wasn't anyone (other than Ashlyn) there who was even tall enough (I think there was one other kid and his parents in the whole building). To give some perspective, the yellow beam going through the rock wall in the picture above is the beam the bike is on. So it's about 15 ft in the air. It's attached to the beam, and you're buckled in, so you can't actually fall off of it, it's just the whole heights thing. The employee who let Lexie do it, was impressed that Lexie went the whole length of it and back. She said most people only go part way and get scared and come back.

Since we didn't spend as much time at the regular exhibits as we would have if there'd been new stuff there, we decided to go to a "class" on making ice cream. It was nothing too earth shattering, just demonstrated making ice cream by shaking it in a bag of ice/salt, and then also demonstrated making it using dry ice. But was somewhat interesting. I would have liked her to get into more of the science of WHY you put salt in with the ice, for example. And what dry ice is. But oh well . . . the big girls already know it, and Little Bit probably wouldn't have paid that close attention to the "why it works" parts anyway. Little Bit did go up and help make the ice cream in a bag.

All in all, it was a very fun day!

Wrapping Up . . . Field Trips Galore!

A couple weeks ago, Rodney asked me if the girls and I wanted to with him when he went to Pittsburgh and Erie for work. It's been over a year since we've traveled with him, so I really wanted to make it happen. BUT . . . it's been over a year since we've traveled, so we didn't have an active museum membership, and he'd only given me a little over a week's notice. Most museums will give you a receipt when you buy a membership and then mail you a permanent membership card. The receipt generally works to get you back into THAT museum, but it's iffy, at best, to try to use that receipt to get into reciprocal museums. Buying a membership at one of the Pittsburgh museums doesn't work because there are 2 museums we love and they won't reciprocate with each other. So I dove into researching nearby museums that we might be able to get a membership card in time. And settled on the Lancaster Science Factory. 

It's reasonably priced, nearby, and the website said that if you came in and bought a membership they'd give you your membership card that day. Perfect! So, Tuesday before last, after music lessons and lunch, we headed to the Lancaster Science Factory. It's not huge, but we had fun. BONUS they give a homeschool discount on the membership, so it was even less than I'd expected! The "Factory" in the name means it's in an old warehouse/factory building (or maybe just a building that was built to look like one?) So everything was in one big warehouse-ish room. Which was AWESOME because it meant I could keep an eye on everyone while they each did what they wanted, instead of having to all stay together. Lots of the exhibits were things we'd seen before at other museums, but Little Bit didn't remember them, so she had a blast. Lexie found some robotic cubes that she spent most of her time figuring out and building with. Now she wants to add them to her Christmas list :) Ashlyn spent time figuring out how to run a sound board, but had trouble convincing her sisters to talk into the microphone so she could figure it all out. It was a nice afternoon, and is close enough that on super hot or super cold days when we need a change of pace, we can pop back over there. And, as promised, we got our membership card the same day, woo-hoo!

Later that week when we went to Sonya's for co-op, Ashlyn found out that Heather (the other family that comes) was bringing their dog Maggie (the lab we watched over Christmas). AND since Maggie would be there, Sonya was going to at least try having their dog (whose name I can never remember how to spell) out and see how he did with Maggie. The dogs did fine together. The weather was gorgeous so we spent most of the time outside soaking up the sunshine and fresh air, and Ashlyn was IN HEAVEN! And Lexie was pretty happy to get to play with the baby without having to share with Ashlyn :) 

Sabbath afternoon we loaded up and headed to Pittsburgh. It occurred to me that Little Bit is now older than the twins were when Rodney started travelling. It's definitely worlds easier now with 3 big kids instead of a baby and two little big kids. One of the things Little Bit remembers from previous trips is her "hotel breakfast". I shudder a little bit about the huge quantities of simple carbs and other things that I try to limit, but it doesn't happen often . . . she spreads yogurt on a waffle and then sticks fruit loops into the yogurt *shudder*!! I have faith that, like her sisters, she will eventually realize that fruit loops are nasty, and move on to at least slightly healthier options when eating at hotels (but our hotel breakfasts are most definitely not up to our usual health standards). 
Sunday we hung out at the hotel, went swimming, and did some school. I figured crowds would be worse at the museums and such on Sunday, and didn't feel like fighting them. 

And . . . this is getting long, and we had a BUSY week last week, so I think I'll wait and continue our adventures in a second post :) 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review: Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth

Recently Little Bit has been asking me more about where babies come from. My older girls got to experience learning about how a baby grows from conception to birth when I was pregnant with her, but she doesn't get that experience. When I was given the opportunity to review Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley, I thought it would be a great way to help Little Bit learn about this miracle!

Danika Cooley is the creator of our Bible Curriculum, Bible Road Trip, as well as the author of a book we reviewed last year, When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther.

As the title suggestions, Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth walks through the weeks of pregnancy showing how the baby develops from conception until birth. The book is meant for ages 5-11 and is currently $9.99 on Amazon.
It is written as if the child's mother is talking, telling her child about how he or she developed through the pregnancy. While this worked well for me to read to Little Bit, it wouldn't work as well for her sisters, or daddy to read it to her. Also, if I was pregnant, and looking for a book to help my child understand what was happening with their new sibling, growing inside me, I think I would prefer a book that didn't specify that it was about the child bring read to.  With some effort, a reader could modify the book, while reading it out loud, to make it 3rd person (saying "your mommy's" instead of "my") or to make it about "your new brother or sister" instead of "you", so not a "deal breaker", just something to be aware of.

Little Bit enjoyed the book, though one thing she is currently interested is how the baby comes out of the Mommy's tummy, and this book doesn't go into the details of how the baby is born. I assume this is either because some babies are born c-section and others are not, or because some people would be uncomfortable with the discussion of female anatomy that would be necessary. I should also note that it doesn't go into any details of how the daddy's sperm joins with the mommy's egg inside the mommy, so again, there is no concern about introducing more about sex than you might be comfortable with at a young age. So, while Little Bit was looking for more, I think these omissions were handled well. The lack of information didn't stop Little Bit from asking to have the book read to her several times in the first couple of days after we received it. And I had to tell her that I needed to keep it on the bookshelf in the living room until after the review was written, she was planning to take it with her to keep in her room. She'll be glad to know I've FINALLY written the review so she can have her book back :)

Each page of the book includes artwork and a Bible verse. I wasn't sure how to handle the Bible verses, it would make the story very "choppy" to read them, so I didn't. You can see how the Bible verse is included on the sample page to the right.

Something else I hadn't thought about being an issue, but maybe I should have. We didn't have ultrasounds or find out Little Bit's gender before she was born. This book assumes everything that is done during a typical "mainstream" pregnancy, so I had to do some editing while I read, to explain that while yes, many people have the doctor take a picture of the baby inside mommy's tummy at this point, we didn't . . . etc.

Overall, if you're looking for a book to walk your child through how a baby develops throughout a pregnancy, this would be a good choice.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wrapping Up the Week of April 3-9

We had a quieter week last week. 

Spring decided to leave and it's been COLD, so we haven't been able to be outside as much as I'd like. Ashlyn and I did manage to get the raise bed built, though we haven't filled it yet. 

Last week was the final week that my parents could be here helping get our old house ready to go on the market, so they were working over there all week, and bringing the last odds and ends from the garage, so I spent time rearranging things in THIS garage to make room for them. Now I need to get serious about getting through stuff and getting rid of stuff we don't need! 

On Thursday we went to a homeschoolers archery class. Little Bit decided, at the last minute that she didn't want to participate, but Lexie and Ashlyn enjoyed it.
Rodney found out late in the week that he'll be travelling to Pittsburgh and Erie soon, and asked if we wanted to come along. It's been over a year since we've traveled with him, so we're overdue to visit our favorite western PA museums, so YES! BUT . . . it's been over a year since we've traveled with him, and we've MOVED in that year. And because he's not travelling as often, doing more day trips, or quick overnights that aren't practical for us to join him on, I didn't bother to keep all our "travel stuff" together during the move. And since it's been so long, our museum membership has expired. So, as soon as I found out, I started working to figure out what membership to buy (if I could buy a membership to one of the Pittsburgh museums and use it at both of them, I'd LOVE to do that, and give them the revenue, but they don't allow reciprocity between them, so I always buy a membership somewhere else that will let us go to both Carnegie Science Center AND the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh). And what food we need to make ahead and buy ahead and such . . . we don't like to have to eat out much while traveling, so plan meals that can be heated in the microwave and lunches to pack to take with us to museums that allow it. So, lots of "figuring" to do related to that trip.

Little Bit continues to love doing crafts. It's definitely her favorite part of her "school bins" (shhh . . . don't tell her, but I'm also "figuring" to have craft-ish stuff for her to do on the drive to and from Western PA, and any days that we're in the hotel room long enough for her to do things). But this week she also discovered Uno. We have been playing LOTS of Uno ever since :) 

We ended our week with SNOW!!!! Seriously! I saw it in the forecast but didn't believe it would happen, but sure enough, early Saturday morning, it started snowing! Snowed a good part of the day. It was warm enough that the roads were fine, thankfully, but by the time we got home from church, and helping with crafts at the boys and girls club, the ground was covered. To make it more amusing, Amazon sent me pictures of this time 3 years ago and the kids were playing in the CREEK! What a difference! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wrapping up Last Week, Including Lexie and Ashlyn's 13th Birthday

Technically speaking, we celebrated all three birthdays on Sabbath. But in reality, since it was Little Bit's actual birthday, and she's much more into being the center of attention, it was mostly about her.

When I asked Lexie and Ashlyn how they wanted to celebrate their birthday (on Monday), they didn't have any major requests. Lexie decided she was going to make cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast, and was so excited when it turned out great! Lexie also wanted to make meltaway cabbage for lunch, and Ashlyn requested beans and rice for supper. I had to laugh when I looked at my menu calendar and realized that the normal menu for Monday was . . . meltaway cabbage for lunch and beans and rice for supper. Guess I don't have to worry about my kids getting bored with our normal menus when they request the same things LOL.

Two thirteen year olds and their cats! Monday was a nice quiet day at home. The girls read, and did some school, and snuggled their cats LOL.  Lexie's birthday gift was part of the cost of her new violin, and a couple weeks ago Ashlyn asked for a set of caligraphy pens and picked out what she wanted last time we were at a craft store, but she also requested some Lord of the Rings Legos. I have to admit, having Amazon Prime has made me lazy. I procrastinated, figuring I could order them a few days before their birthday and get the 2 day shipping. Only to realize that in this case, other sellers were a good $10+ cheaper, including shipping, but NOT the 2 day shipping of Prime. So I told Ashlyn that I'd ordered her Legos, but they'd be getting here late. Monday morning I was sitting in the sunroom and noticed a box by the back door (I think our postman makes a game out of putting packages by different doors every time he delivers something too large to fit in the mailbox). 

I went to get it, and it was the Legos! So I left the box in the laundry room and when Ashlyn walked through the kitchen I casually mentioned there was a box for her on the freezer. She and Lexie spent a good part of the afternoon putting "Weathertop" together.

Tuesday was music lessons. Wednesday was co-op, and an afternoon of yard work at our old house (it will hopefully be on the market very soon!). 

Friday while we were doing school in the living room, one of Ashlyn's cats, MiLady Underfoot, came around the corner with a dead rabbit dangling out of her mouth! EEK! I'm beginning to re-think my plan of leaving the garage door open enough that the cats can come and go as they please when the weather is good. I love that they can come and go as they please without us having to let them in and out, but I do NOT love them bringing dead critters into my house! Ashlyn tried to catch her to put her outside, but she went back through the cat door into the garage and we decided it was easier to just let her eat the rabbit in the garage.

A little while later I walked past the laundry room and saw MiLady sitting in the doorway with a dead rabbit on the floor next to her. As I called Ashlyn to come get the rabbit OUT OF MY HOUSE, Little Bit, went a little closer and said "Mommy, it's foot moved!" figured she was imagining things, assuming it was the same dead rabbit she'd had earlier and she'd just brought it BACK into the house. But when Ashlyn went to get it, sure enough . . . this one was ALIVE! And appeared to be unhurt. The girls thought we should keep it, but I vetoed that idea and Ashlyn took it back outside and let it go. 
We finished up our week with Little Bit's first week in Primary Sabbath School. She was a bit nervous about the change, but when Sabbath School was over, she came bubbling into the Kindergarten room where I was cleaning up. She had a BLAST, it was the best class ever! She loved it, and can't wait for next week. Whew! My baby's growing up . . . :) 
Little Bit and her cat, Joy

Monday, April 4, 2016

Wonderfully Made Giveaway!

 A few days ago we received an awesome new book to review. Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth is a brand new book by Danika Cooley. The book begins with conception, and then progresses through the pregnancy week, by week, presenting, in simple language, how the baby is growing and developing, preparing for birth.

This would be an ideal book for any family preparing to welcome a new baby into their family. While we aren't planning to have any more babies in our family, we ARE excitedly awaiting the arrival of some new babies into our church family, so Little Bit is enjoying learning about how those babies are growing.

While you wait for my full review of the book, coming soon! I want to tell you about an amazing giveaway you can enter to win your own copy of the book and so much more!


To celebrate the release of Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley, I am hosting a wonderful giveaway with the rest of the launch team. The giveaway includes a hardcover copy of the book, along with several other books and products your family is sure to enjoy. The total value of the giveaway is nearly $600! Wonderfully Made Giveaway Here is what you could win: 

Wonderfully Made: God’s Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley – hardcover $9.99 value

Wonderfully made is an excellent book that introduces a young child to the wonder of God's creation - the wonder and miracle of birth. From conception in the womb through the nine months within the mother's womb Danika Cooley takes us on a journey of discovery... the discovery of life. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Touch of Life First Trimester Fetal Models $89.95 value

Sculpted from real-life photos, these four fetal models representing weeks 7, 8, 9, and 10 after conception have a personality of their own, and the life-like feel of the skin brings home the humanity of the preborn baby in its first trimester of life. Accurately portrayed thanks to medical descriptions and photos, these little samples of life are a great educational tool for helping to understand the wonder of the early stages of human development.

Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum (includes Lower and Upper Grammar Notebooking Journals $60 value

The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum is a 463-page digital PDF download of the full Bible Road Trip Year One curriculum for all five levels, preschool through high school. The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum includes the Parent / Teacher Guide and 32 weeks of curriculum schedules for all grades.

$100 Amazon Gift Card $100 value

Enjoy shopping with a gift of $100 + an adorable bookmark.

Big Bible Science: Experiment and Explore God’s World by Erin Lee Green (Ages 5-11) $12.99 value

Big Bible Science helps children and those who teach them to explore God's World and God's Word through real live science experiments. There are twenty-one different units taking students through scientific concepts such as Gravity, Friction, Animal Classification and the Nervous System. 

My 1st Books and More by Carine MacKenzie and Philip Ross (ages 4-7) $15.99 value   

Who is God? What does he do? Can I know Jesus? Why did he die? Children always have questions about God. They want to know what it means to be a Christian and who Jesus is. My 1st Books and More gives a year's worth and more of bible readings, devotions and memory verses.

Living Water in the Desert: True Stories of God at Work in Iran by Rebecca Davis  $8.99 value

One man was overcome by the missionary's kindness. Another was stopped by a vision of men in blue.  One became sick and tired of his own religion. Another saw a man named Jesus in a dream, coming to him on a donkey.  A girl found a strange book on the floor of the library and visited a secret prayer meeting. All of them eventually came to Jesus Christ for His full and free salvation, becoming missionaries to their own people. Seventeen chapters tell true stories of the Living Water pouring out on the country of Iran, even up to the present day.

Lights in a Dark Place: True Stories of God at Work in Colombia by Rebecca Davis (ages 7-12)  $8.99 value

Colombia has been known as a land of violence, but God is at work! Even though the Colombian people have reacted with violence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has delivered people from burning houses . . . God has healed ones who cursed . . . God has given people dreams and visions . . . God has rescued kidnapers . . . God has conquered demons of darkness. Read fourteen true stories of the Light of the World shining in the land of Colombia, South America.

Jungle Doctor’s Monkey Tales by Paul White $8.99 value

The wisdom of monkeys is proverbially small. They never could remember not to get too near to the hind feet of zebra, nor to throw coconuts at Chewi the leopard, nor to look into the eyes of snakes. Luckily for his little nephews, Uncle Nyani, the only survivor of a family of seven, is always near at hand to tell them how they can live to be as old as he is!

Jungle Doctor’s Tug-of-War by Paul White (ages 5-11) $8.99 value 

Even by monkey standards, young Toto is pretty dim! Those baddies of the jungle, Crunch the Crocodile, Mbisi the Hyena, Slinki the Jackal, Vibi the Vulture and Gnark the crow look as though they are going to have an easy time finishing him off. However, Toto soon finds himself in the middle of a tug-of-war, for his real friends, Elephant, Giraffe, Parrot and Hornbill are determined to rescue him from the clutches of the jungle underworld.

The Bible’s Big Story: Salvation History for Kids by James M. Hamilton Jr. $4.99 

With easily remembered rhymes and Bible verses take your child through the span of Salvation History from Creation to the Fall, the Flood to the Exodus, the Exile to the Crucifixion and beyond... James M. Hamilton writes about real history, God's Salvation History, and our future.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership $97

1000s of topical pages, themes, and designs . . . Perfect for any subject or study A to Z! Art Study ♦ Copywork ♦ Character Study ♦ Famous Men & Women ♦ Geography (state/country studies, continental, world maps) ♦ History of the Ancient World, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Modern Times ♦ Music Study ♦ Nature Study ♦ Science ♦ Timelines ♦ and more!

Mom's Toolbelt Lifetime Membership $24.95

A customizable home management planner for every area of your life that craves order.

Hal and Melanie Young: Mom & Dad Special: Raising Real Men (book + audiobook) plus a free registration to both Boot Camp 9-12 AND Boyhood Boot Camp. $101 value

If this is God’s chosen gift to us, then why does it seem so hard? How can we prepare these boys to serve God when we can barely make it through the day? Isn’t there a better way? The answer is yes.

When You Lie Down: Lullabies and Scripture Songs CD $12.97 value

These twelve songs remind us that true rest, comfort and hope come from God alone. This music is an awesome way to experience God’s Word with your baby, kids and family. You will discover that this album will be a powerful addition to use in your personal time with God.

Seeds Onesie- Psalm 139:13-14  $14.97 value

Seeds Family Worship Onesie featuring Psalm 139:13-14 on the front with a small Seeds logo on the back.

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification.

Elementary Foundations: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 5-8by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

Many new things happen during the ages of 5-8. Children start school, develop significant friendships, learn to think abstractly instead of just concretely, and have a greater ability to draw close to God. Parenting during this stage produces a number of challenges and opportunities so you'll want to be prepared.
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, age 18 and older. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, April 20 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced at the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party (winner does not have to be present to win, but we hope you'll be there!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You're Invited!

Join us for the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party on Thursday, April 21. We'll have even more giveaways and freebies, too! The party begins at 9pm EST, and you can RSVP on the event page Please RSVP!

  Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party, Thursday, April 21, 9pm EST

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Little Bit Turns 7!

I'm behind again . . . sigh . . . after traveling, we spent Thursday and Friday settling back in at home , and getting ready for Little Bit's Birthday.

Her birthday was on Sabbath this year, so this made it a bit different from normal. We eat breakfast at church since Lexie & Ashlyn help serve it, so rather than having breakfast ready for Little Bit, I just fixed some strawberries and hot chocolate for a special birthday morning treat.

I also got her some cut flowers and a tiny little potted rose bush.  Lexie made her a "rosebud circlet" to match the one with Samantha's birthday outfit. Her "big" gifts were all the American Girl stuff, but she still got her annual teacup from us. And, a couple weeks ago someone offered Lexie and Ashlyn some old costume jewelry they were getting rid of and one piece was a heart shaped necklace that the girls, correctly, thought Little Bit would like since Samantha wears a heart shaped locket, so that's the little white box.

Little Bit and Lexie dressed Samantha in her birthday dress, that Lexie made, first thing, since of course, Samantha was coming to church with us.

At church, I asked Lexie and Ashlyn to play the parts of Abraham and Sarah and act out the Bible story for the Kindergarten class.

We also celebrated Little Bit's birthday in Sabbath School and then, at the end of class, had a special prayer for Little Bit and her friend, K, on their last week in Kindergarten before promoting to Primary.

After church we hurried home to greet the grandparents and get lunch on the table.

Little Bit's first request had been for petit fours like Samantha had, but Lexie convinced her to go with one "big petit four", otherwise known as a square layer cake. Lexie made the cake on Friday, and then when we got home from church, she made whipped cream and sliced strawberries. She put strawberries between the layers, and then used strawberries and M&Ms to make flowers on top, as per Little Bit's request. I thought it turned out great!

Meanwhile, Little Bit was busy setting up all her Samantha goodies on the hearth to show the grandparents.

After lunch, and cake (with candles, but no singing, because she does NOT like being sung to!), we enjoyed a nice afternoon visiting with the grandparents. Lexie showed off her new violin and gave the grandparents a nice "concert". Little Bit showed them her American Girl goodies. A good time was had by all :)