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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

EDUDPS Review


I'm in love.

Really.

Head over heals in love with this company whose initials I always confuse (being dyslexic). If their initials confuse me, their books add a clarity to their respective subjects in a way no others do. EDUDPS is the abbreviated name for Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services. Those big words seem a little highfalutin' to simple old me, but don't let that stop you. I'm sure their name speaks to the diagnostic assessments they offer for learning styles, total language, and grade placement, just to name a few, but the four products they sent the TOS Crew to review have little to do with their diagnostic services (although if they are as great as the rest of their products, I'd check them out too) and more to do with the sheer genius of simplicity.
Because we received four products, and because I LOVE them all, I am going to briefly run through each one for you.
Roots and Fruits is an e-book that addresses the Latin and Greek roots of many of the words we use on a daily basis. Unlike most "root" based texts though, this one focuses on what the root looks like in our English usage. For example, most root studies would tell you "astro" means star or heavens, but Roots and Fruits says "ast, astro" and as a vocabulary word lists asterisk. DUH! I never connected that little start shaped symbol with the prefix for star! Anyway, Roots and Fruits suggests taken 1-2 roots a week to learn, and gives a suggested weekly lesson plan (you choose the words to cover, they just suggest HOW to cover them). There are TONS of suggestions for games to make the learning fun. And there are WAY more roots in this book than I've seen in any other-673- with multiple vocabulary words for each root-1716 vocabulary words total! Because you choose what roots to work on and what vocabulary words and activities to do, this truly is a K-12 curriculum. The author even points out the most common SAT words from the vocabulary lists and notes the easier roots to learn for younger students. At $14.98 for the e-book, and currently on sale for 25% off so it is $11.25, this is a MUST OWN for every homeschooler, and should be required learning for EVERY student no matter where they are schooled. Go HERE to order it.
Write With the Best is such an amazing writing curriculum, I've told three different people about it TODAY alone. It comes in two different volumes, so it accounts for two of the four books we received. Because both volumes function the same way, I'll focus on volume one here, but know that they are the same in their approach. Write With the Best takes great works of world literature, and uses them as the basis for instruction in different areas of creative writing. The author's goal is to teach students to be great writers by exposing them to great writing and having them examine it and duplicate the process. That might sound incredibly boring, but the approach Write With the Best takes is anything BUT boring. It is designed so that each volume takes half a year to complete, and each unit within the volumes takes 2 weeks. It does not take two weeks because of copious amount of busy work, it takes two weeks because the steps are broken down into very manageable bite-sized pieces. This is a writing curriculum even the busiest of homeschoolers can fit in. Each day is laid out for you and has clearly stated objectives. Because this curriculum is for grades 3-12, multiple "assignments" are listed, but not all will be applicable, and are marked as such. Just some of the topics covered are writing a descriptive paragraph, writing a friendly letter, writing a speech, writing different kinds of poetry, and writing a persuasive essay. These books again should be REQUIRED for anyone who wants to learn the skills it takes to clearly express yourself in the written word. They are a STEAL at just $19.95 ($14.95 right now) for volume one and $24.95 (or $18.65 right now at 25% off) for volume two. Less than $50 for a writing curriculum that will take you through 10 grades? Unheard of! Go HERE for a complete list of what is covered in volume one, and HERE for volume two. You can also purchase the e-books from the links above.
Finally, we received The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers (Includes Middle School through Adult). I was sold on this one from page 12 where the author includes a personal note. In it, she clearly states that she does NOT advocate the use of the information her guide presents to go AGAINST God's word in terms of the roles of men and women/husbands and wives/fathers and mothers. Her words are beautifully expressed, and if her guide offered nothing more, it would be worth it. But the guide offers SO much more. It truly is the most complete career guide I've ever seen. I wish I had had this when I was deciding "what I wanted to be when I grew up", especially since there is a whole section about jobs mothers can do to turn a profit from home. I always KNEW I wanted to be a mom, and there was nothing I could major in in college that would assist in that. Boy, do I wish someone, anyone would have given me the guidance this e-book provides. There are TONS of surveys/profile to take based on personality, learning style, work environment, and many others. And then there are lists of occupations to go with each of those results. Then there are lists of bazillions of potential occupations. Then there are lists of high school/college classes to take to learn the skills needed for each occupation, along with clubs/activities to join, and different specific occupations that use those skills so you can try to interview people in those fields to gain information. I know I've said it before, but this too is a MUST HAVE. The e-book is $34.95 (on sale for $26.20). Go HERE to view sample pages or to order your copy.
I know it's my usual "schtick" to list pros and cons, but did I mention I'm in LOVE? There just aren't any cons. I guess the thing that impresses me the most, being ridiculously frugal myself, is the affordability of each and every one of these books. All four of these are worth their weigh in gold, but are bargain bin priced. It's unheard of. Typically people who believe they have a quality product try to charge you a ridiculous amount of money for it because in our society we have bought into the thought that the best things in life are the most expensive. But here is proof that you don't always get what you pay for...sometimes you get WAY more. Please, please go check out these resources. Their homepage is HERE. You won't be sorry!
To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

A Journey Through Learning Lapbook Review


A Journey Through Learning was kind enough to allow the TOS Crew to review five different lapbooks from their numerous offerings. Of those five, each of my older children chose one to work on, so we were able to be working on three different lapbooks at the same time.

If you aren't familiar with lapbooking, it is a way of taking information that your student is learning about whatever they are studying, and summarizing that information in small foldable booklets that you glue into a larger "lapbook". (Usually those larger lapbooks are made out of file folders.) Lapbooks allow the student to preserve the knowledge they acquire about each subject in fun "bite sized" pieces that are usually quiet colorful in presentation too. Anyone can make a lapbook about anything, and you don't need a purchased kit to do it, but it SURE is helpful to have someone else create all the foldables and gather all the graphics and plan the layout, etc.

That's where A Journey Through Learning comes in. Their products are really unit studies and lapbooks combined, in that most of the lapbooks that you purchase from them also contain a study guide, so ALL the information you need to complete your lapbook is ALREADY THERE. It's like "Lapbooking for Dummies". This type of lapbooking even an inexperienced lapbooker like me can do! Now, if you want to supplement what your child studies, they also have suggested resources to go to for more information, but you can completely cover the subject of the lapbook you buy from A Journey Through Learning without ever cracking open another resource, which is great for me, because it means we might actually get it done! They offer more lapbooks that I can count, so the best way to view all their offerings is to go HERE, where you can view sample pages as well. The lapbooks we have been working on are "Autumn", "Reptiles", and "Amphibians". Since these lapbooks are designed to take a month to complete, we aren't done with ours, but the kids and I have really been LOVING working through them. Wondering what a lapbook covers? Autumn covers holidays, recipes, the science of leaves changing colors, bird migration and the first Thanksgiving, just to name a few topics.

The pros? These lapbooks come in 3 formats: e-book, CD, and print version. You can chose which one you want, according to your particular needs. We received the e-books, and they are great. These lapbooks contain FULL color mini-booklets -not the regular black and white like some. They feature unique shapes and graphics specific to the study (in the Reptile Lapbook, one of the mini-booklets is shaped like a turtle and another has photo images of the life cycle of a snake). You receive step-by-step directions on each page for how to fold the mini-book and what to write on it. You also get a full color layout guide for the finished project which is 3 file folders large. They really are VERY impressive. And I LOVED that I could take a page of information and the corresponding mini-booklet, and put that in each child's workbox, and viola! Science was done for the day! Amazing! Most of their lapbooks are geared toward 2nd/3rd grade through 7th/8th grade, so that is perfect for my kiddos too.
The cons? Some of the images, like the above mentioned "life cycle of a snake", are hard to see clearly. That may have been my printer, but still it's hard to see what one of the pictures is meant to be. And there are a few typos, particularly in the Amphibians book. Also, I found in the Amphibians book that the page order was not nearly as intuitive as the other books were. But other than that, which just taught me to carefully look over the whole thing before selecting assignments for the kids, we used them without problem.
The bottom line? These lapbooks have solidly made me a lapbooking fan. And they showed me that having each child work on a different book was something that worked for our household. And because everything is included in the lapbooks, I was able to let each child have their own and not make myself batty in the mean time-it was really revolutionary in our homeschool. At $13 for the instant download e-book, $14 for the CD, or $21 for the print version (shipping is free and that includes 3 file folders too), I don't know that it is really feasible for us to buy a TON of them right now, but by buying 3 e-books (and letting them rotate) I would have 3 months worth of science or history or literature for my kids in an easy, fun format that we are all enjoying. I don't think that's bad, cost wise, and it certainly is worth it from a sanity perspective!
To purchase or view a lapbook from A Journey Through Learning, go HERE.
To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
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I ♥ Faces contest-Blue



I had the PERFECT picture in mind for this challenge...and then I couldn't find it (don't you HATE it when that happens?). So in my searches I found this one (which I LOVE) and decided it too fits the "blue" theme. She's obviously not "blue" in mood, but the dress (for a themed birthday party) and the lake just surround her in blue, and with the other colors in the picture, I just think it's beautiful. Her mum likes it too, which always thrills me, and it's her blog header photo right now :-).
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a Glimpse...

into my week-end.

I share this NOT to impress people, or to gather sympathy, or for any other reason than to remind MYSELF that there is a reason I feel like my life is crazy, and it's NOT all in my head.

Saturday we had a worship team open jam session. The hubs was running the sound and power point, and so we both were there. He got there at 8:20ish...I got there at 8:45. We brought Sari with us, Kiwi's husband picked up Scott for sailing, and the "books" (as we call the middle two) opted to stay home ALONE. This was a big deal, as we NEVER leave them that long, but church is about 5 minutes away, and they get along well, and they had both our numbers, so we felt like it would be okay. (As an aside, Mimi called half way through to say I'd left the oven on and was it okay for her to turn it off? Oiy! They are FINE...it's ME you should worry about! Luckily, it was on WARM-185 degrees, but still....)
Okay, so I left the jam session at 11ish and drove about 40 minutes south to an event for LFM (I'm the new "Staff Photographer"). LFM had a booth, and I took pics of the event. It was fun, but I was glad I did NOT have my kids at this "Kids Fest" since it was CRAZY busy.
So that event ended at 2, and I got out of there by 2:15ish. I then stopped to get a MONGO drink-did I mention that Sept. in FL is still over 90 degrees?-and then I stopped at JoAnn's on the way home (the fabric store, just to clarify). I got a few things I need to make something for my camera (I'll post pics when I get around to making it). I got home around 4:20. In the meantime, the hubs had gone home after the church thing, fed the kids, gone to pick up Scott and Kiwi's son at 12:30, brought them back to our home, and then worked all afternoon on a website for a friend.
So I get home, go lay down for 30 minutes, and then the hubs leaves with the older boys to run to Books A Million for a book he needed for this website and then to go to church for a Boys2Men kick-off.
Like the good mom that I am, I feed the kids Presley's awesome apple dip with some apple slices, call that dinner, and head out the door with the three younger kids to go take pics of a local lake front for our church's website. On the way home, we stopped at Publix for some groceries, and we got home around 8:30-just in time for the kids to go to bed, and the hubs and I to watch a movie (FREE from Redbox). Oh, and me to make a giant cookie cake for some festivities on Sunday. And burn a CD for my editor (LOL-it sounds so strange to say that) to give to her at church in the morning.
Off to bed around 11:30.
In the middle of the night, I started not feeling well with allergies, and this morning that was not getting any better. So I dragged myself out of bed, got the kids fed and dressed for church, took them, gave the CD for LFM to the hubs, signed the kids into their classes, and headed HOME to go back to bed.
Except.
Of course, there are always things to do. Like put the stuff from the washer into the dryer. And make a cake...or two. See at 2 today, my family (sister, b-i-l, bam-bam, mother, and brother) came over today to celebrate TJ and Mimi's b'days since my brother is only in town very few months. So I made a bee hive cake, and one layer of a chocolate cake, and THEN I laid down.
The family got home at 12ish, and I laid down until 1:20...then I had to drag myself up out of bed, make frosting, help Mimi decorate HER cake and TJ do HIS cake, and then everyone arrived, and we sang and had cake and visited and my brother stayed for dinner (I ran out to get more allergy meds, another FREE movie, and a rotisserie chicken and hummus for dinner), and then my brother left, and the hubs took Scott to youth group (apparently Scott fell asleep there-NICE!) and I TRIED to organize coupons, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. So I laid down again, the hubs went to pick up Scott and we got the kids off to bed and watched our movie, and now I'm doing this when I should be asleep again.
No wonder I'm tired. And I still don't have our homeschool day planned for tomorrow. I'll do that bright and early in the morning.
I'd post pictures to go with this litany, but I am too tired to do it now. Do you think MAYBE if I cut out just a few things I'd be less tired? Yea, me too. But I don't know how to do that, so I'm going to have to develop a caffeine addiction to keep me going, LOL. JUST KIDDING.
See you in the morning!
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Growing Healthy Homes-Nutrition 101: Choose Life! Review


We are a nation of people who are seldom hungry but seldom well nourished at the same time. We eat too much of what we shouldn't, and not nearly enough of what we should, and it shows in the every climbing rates of illness and disease we see each year.

Growing Health Homes is a company that was founded to educate and train families regarding God's plan to optimum health as outlined in the Bible. Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a complete nutrition/health curriculum they have developed to teach students and families about making healthy choices in nutrition to live the life God intends for us to live.


Nutrition 101: Chose Life! covers 12 main body parts in 6 units. The units each have 4 chapters with each chapter taking about one week to cover. The entire curriculum takes about a year to do, but because there are so many activities (some for elementary and then more for secondary) you can easily do it over and over and not repeat yourself. Beyond the 6 units, there are literally over 100 pages of appendix resources. At 448 total pages, this is a serious curriculum.

The pros: This is an amazing curriculum. Really. I'm close to speechless. The more I look at it, the more I am floored by the depth of information it presents. Beyond that is the fact that it is Christian, and chock full of scripture references to back up the nutritional concepts they are talking about. There are tons of color graphics interspersed with the text to allow visual learners to "see" the part of the body they area talking about. Each chapter has recipes to reinforce the concepts, and they are really interesting. The authors are well educated in the field of nutrition, and they also address the realistic concerns of parents who might question whether their picky eater children will actually eat any of this "healthy" stuff. This curriculum could easily count for a high school health credit, and is essential reading for ANYONE wanting to know more about how and why to eat healthy.

The cons: While there are elementary activities listed, if you use this with elementary students, I think that mostly it would be parents reading the information and then reteaching it to their students. Middle school students could probably use parts of it themselves, and high school students would truly be able to use it independently. So while it is usable across the grade spectrum, it is definitely geared toward higher level learning. The biggest con though to me is the cost. I am totally in LOVE with this curriculum, but if I hadn't received it to review, (being the frugal person I am) I probably would never have bought it. The cost is $79.95 for an e-book on CD, $99.95 for the actual print book, or $129.95 for the print book/CD combination. YIKES! I just don't typically spend that much on anything other than my math curriculum. And though I really do need to make changes in how we eat, and the information in Nutrition 101 is soooo complete and informative, I know I personally would not have bought it now thinking it has better application for older students.

So what's the bottom line? If you are looking to make changes in your diet or to train up your children in better eating habits than you, yourself have, this book is essential, no matter what your children's ages. You really have to see it to believe it, but it is such a complete resource, your eating habits will never be the same. And given that it is more than just a nutrition curriculum and really covers science (all the body parts and how they function AND different information about things like amino acids, etc.), health, home ec (cooking), just to name a few other subjects it really is NOT that expensive. I know many people pay WAY more than that for the different components of their curriculums, and they don't have nearly the multi-year application or the life changing information. If you can swing $100, I'd get the print form of the book because you will refer to this over and over and over. And if you really take the lessons to heart, you may well save well over the $100 cost in the Doctor's bills you won't have because you will be eating better. Check it out, you won't be sorry!

To read what other members of the TOS Crew have to say, go HERE.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

STUDYPOD Review



This is a bit of a different type of product for the TOS Crew to review, in that it is not a curriculum, or even an educational "toy". It is, however, something that has become indispensable in my house, and I'm thrilled to tell you about it.

Developed as a means of relieving some of the real, physical pain involved in doing homework, STUDYPOD is a neat book-sized plastic box that opens up into a book holder. It is truly ingenious in its simplicity. A fold out metal arm braces it from the back and two more metal arms swing out once you open it up to hold your book open. Because it's book sized, it's very easy to store and carry, and it weighs next to nothing. But, it is fully capable of holding open MUCH taller books than the STUDYPOD itself, and it can hold open thick books (like Harry Potter or my very thick paperback Good Housekeeping Cookbook) up to about 2 1/2 inches thick.


Inside, it has room to store a few pens, and other small objects (index cards, notepaper, calculator, etc.).

The potential uses are endless, and even though it's portable, you'll want more than one, or everyone will be fighting over it. We've used ours to hold up the kids' reading and copy work while they are working at the table, to hold Mimi's sheet music for her Hammered Dulcimer, and to hold open my thick cookbook that I mentioned above, in addition to using it to hold open books I'm reading for pleasure. (As an added bonus that your kids won't pick up on, but you will, it encourages good study habits by fostering proper posture since the reading material is at eye level. Gotta love that!)

I highly recommend STUDYPOD to you. It's one of those products you will use so much you'll wonder how you ever got by without it. It is available HERE, and the normal price is $19.95. BUT special for you, my lovely blog readers, is a $5 off code. Just type in TOSBLOG5 at checkout. They also have fund-raising opportunities available.

When you visit their site, you will notice that a BOOKPOD is also available. They are the SAME product, just available in different colors. The STUDYPOD comes in black, pink, and blue, and the BOOKPOD comes in black, grey, and beige.

To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I ♥ Faces contest-Completely Candid



This week's theme is completely candid. Unfortunately, since I ALWAYS have my camera with me, even candid shots end up not-so-candid. This shot though, they were totally unaware I was taking. The kids were at art class, and had gotten done a few minutes early, so they headed out to the trampoline. They were playing "bounce TJ" (my son, in the red jacket), so he was curled up in a ball, and they were all jumping around him to try to bounce him off the trampoline. I love the action in the photo, and how much fun they were having.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

TJ's B-day at Disney

If you follow this blog for any length of time, you'll notice that most of the pics of the hubs involve some funny face.

The proud birthday boy :-)

This attraction was my first job at Disney. Now it's a shadow of its former self-automated tour guides and a seriously abbreviated trip around the now-non-existent backlot. When they opened the car show, they plowed down most of the backlot, but still my kids like to do this ride. I hadn't noticed Scott's sensory issues still extend to loud rides like this until I saw the pictures.

Disney's best idea in decades was to give pass holders a gift card worth the value of the free admission they are offering the general public for their birthday. TJ had $68 to spend. His first purchase was a "build your own" light saber. It was every Star Wars fan's dream.

Just a picture of Mimi to prove she was there :-).

Daddy splurged and took us to T-Rex for TJ's birthday dinner.




I don't think TJ's ever been sung to at a restaurant for his birthday before. And keeping with the theme, the waiters "roared" at him after they finished the song.

The lego statues at Downtown Disney are always a hit. Above is Scott clowning around with a shark and below is Sari with the lego family.

My little princess with two of her Disney favs.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jodi's kids...and Jennie's niece and nephews

This was the first response to my request for a picture. What you have to know is that this pretty little girl was BORN with this scowl...and she'd scowl as a baby whenever she concentrated on something...but NOW? Now, it's totally INTENTIONAL, LOL.

Here are three of the kids making a "fire". LB was the ring leader, and she informed Kiwi that they were digging in search of a lighter so they could make a REAL fire...oh my ;-).


LB and Bam-Bam were intent on collecting anything they could find and piling it as high as it would go so that they could climb up into this tree. It was HYSTERICAL to see them drag spare bike parts and anything else they could find. They also planned to "fix" the bikes afterward, but we nixed that.

This is pretty LB when she's not plotting arson or scowling at me :-)


Snot and dirt...does it get any better if you are a boy?


That cute face hides some really clever (and mischievous) thoughts.
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I know, I know-random thoughts and happenings

First I whine about not having followers, then I give them nothing to read once I get them. Sorry guys and gals!

Well, hold on tight, 'cause this is some really random stuff :-).

  • I ran Easy Worship and the sound at church today by myself. Maybe not a big deal to you, but for not-so-technically-proficient me, it was huge. I did okay, but I'd get into the worship myself and forget to click on the next slide...silly me...other people need the words too.
  • Mimi had a piece fall out of her tooth on Thursday. I was on my way to pick up Sari and Bam-Bam and she said, "I think a piece of my tooth just fell out." And it did. ARGH! We have a fabulous dentist though and they got us right in and then worked her in to do the filling that day too. She also got a lesson on the importance of brushing...
  • SO there I was with 4 four year olds at the dentist and my boys at home alone. The boys WOULD NOT answer the phone, so I had to trust they were alive and okay. The 4 year olds had not had lunch since we went right from pre-K to the dentist, but I had granola bars in the car so they had some of those. We were at the dentist for about 2 hours. And anyone who knows my nephew knows quiet and calm are NOT his strong suit, but he and Sari were AMAZING. They sat and played and spoke in appropriate voices...and the waiting room full of geriatric patients all smiled...except one man who came in about 1:30 into our saga. HE "humpfed" and "humpfed", and even "shushed" the kids several times (they REALLY were being quiet, I COULD NOT believe this guy). He finally went and complained and they took him back to a quiet room to wait. The front office gals said he complains about stuff all the time and that they couldn't even hear the kids. I really had to pray for that man though so I would keep my fleshly mouth shut and not say what I was tempted to say.
  • For the first time EVER, both my older kids have the Precept work DONE for the week (so we can go to Disney on Monday).
  • We are going to Disney, God and my various health issues willing, to watch my pastor tap dance in pastel pin stripes on Main Street...some opportunities to laugh just can't be missed.
  • My house is beyond infested with bugs. It is making me NUTS. First it was the ants that came in with the rain. They are pharaoh ants and they like to live in houses and can't easily be gotten rid of without bombing, and I refuse to do that, so we might just have to start naming them. Then came the fleas...actually they came in with the last influx of kittens and Abby, but their population exploded while I was in NC, and they were everywhere. Luckily they don't find me appealing to eat...my husband on the other hand...SO I bought some food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is also called "shell flour" and is made from ground up shells. This really is as fine as flour is, and it apparently is VERY deadly to bugs because the tee-ni-nee particles are rough and scratch the bugs and they dehydrate. But it's totally safe to humans and pets, so I sprinkled it on the cats (outdoor and in), on the rugs, on the animals' food (it kills intestinal parasites too), and anywhere else I could, and the fleas are GONE. LOVE IT.
  • The final (I hope) plague has been wheat moths. Luckily I have all my wheat and wheat like products in plastic bags, but they came in in something, and infested an old box of cheerios, and YIKES, we have moths everywhere. They are easy to kill, but they stain the ceiling when you smooch them, so they are a pain. That, and they end up dead in glasses of water that I leave out on the counter for ME to drink. THEY MUST GO!!!
Okay, this is probably pretty long now. I have more to say, but I'll do it with pictures in another post.

obm
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Monday, September 14, 2009

I ♥ Faces contest-pets




This week also features a "pets" category. As all my friends know, the local feral cat population has sent out some kind of message that all kittens and wayward cats should make haste to my doorstep, and below is one of the 7 kittens we found ourselves raising this spring. He now lives with my friend Jennie in VA and he's sooo sweet and cute, just like he was in this picture.
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I ♥ Faces contest-Contemplative



Ohhh, I LOVE this theme. It was soooo hard to chose ONE picture, as most of my favorite shots tend to be "contemplative".


I chose this one though because this boy is such a dear friend of my son, and he's amazingly kind and quiet and athletically gifted and a good friend and I could just go on and on. He's also turning into quiet a looker, LOL. He'll be 14 in a few weeks, and this picture was not at all posed, that's just how he is, either scoring the winning soccer goal or quietly contemplating all sorts of things. This photo was taken at Disney during a break to eat our PB &J's. After he ate, he just sat that and stared off toward a quiet corner-and I caught him doing it :-).
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Contest to enter

I'm conflicted...I get extra entries to the contest by telling y'all about it (and I really want to win) BUT the more people who know, the more people who will enter (and I really want to win, LOL).

Anyway, Homestead Originals is having a contest. Below is the information from their blog post:

Franklin Springs Family Media is THE best when it comes to family films that are encouraging, uplifting, educating…we love ‘em! I have a ‘hot off the presses’ set of the new “Homestead Blessings” series on the art of Canning, Gardening and Herbs. They are WONDERFUL!!!!! Hosted by the West Ladies, and their sweet, simple charm and they are so easy to learn from-I just love this DVD series….!

So….would you like to win a set for yourself? You can, and it’s SIMPLE.

If you’d like to win a copy of this 3 DVD Set….just post a comment here, with your first name and email addy….you’re entered! Want another chance to win……? BLOG about this contest and get TWO more entries, just post your comment with your name, email and link!

We’re running this contest the until September 25th! On that date, my handsome 2 year old son will draw a winner out of the ol’ hat ;) We’ll post the Winner on the 26th!

So go check out their site...it's really cool. But don't enter the contest because I want to win, LOL. JUST KIDDING. You can enter too, but if you win, you have to invite me over when you watch the DVDs.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I ♥ Faces contest-First day of school



The theme this week for I Heart Faces is "Back to School". Not an award winning photo I'm sure, but this was Sari's first day of Pre-K. Since we homeschool, we don't have the traditional "first day of school" stuff, but she is going to pre-K this year, so it was a big deal. We got to the school, and they had the flag above outside the door...and we call her "B" a lot, so it made her smile to see a bee on the flag-hey, anything that helps easy those first day of school jitters.
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I ♥ Faces contest-First day of school

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine for only $7.95!

Homeschooling is a Labor of Love, and the Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine is celebrating your hard work as a parent by putting their one-year print subscriptions on sale! For a very limited time, you can subscribe or renew for $7.95! (US only). International customers can subscribe to the digital edition for only 7.95!

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Happy Birthday TJ!

Have you ever know a kid who just makes you LAUGH???

One of those "physical humor" kids (like a young Jim Carrey) who throws himself to the floor for fun?

One who has no inhibitions and never worries about whether something makes him look silly-he HOPES it does make him look silly?

That's my TJ...and he's one really cute kid too...aside from that yellow tooth he broke as a baby, LOL.

He's a good friend too-very easy going and easy to have around.

I can't believe my "small boy" is 8. I remember when his big brother turned 8 and I thought that was so old :-). We had a great time today at Disney for his birthday. Our whole family went, and he got to blissfully spend $68 (complements of Disney) any way he wanted. He's home now with not a penny left, but the proud owner of a light saber HE got to build, 4 new matchbox style cars shaped like Star Wars characters, a new Webkinz Dragon, and a bag of salt water taffy. Plus, Daddy treated him and the rest of the family to dinner at T-Rex. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event given the bill, but he thought it was really cool. I'm glad because we'll be eating beenie-weenies for weeks to make up for it, ;-).
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Missing them already...

Grandfather Mountain






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ALEKS Review-Revisited



You may remember several months ago the first TOS Crew reviewed ALEKS, an online math curriculum which my son Scott really enjoyed. You can find my first review HERE.
This year, they've asked the new Crew to also review ALEKS, and those of us who are First Mates to tell you a little more about the Master Account and how they've improved it. to be honest, in my first review, I don't even think I talked about the Master Account, so here's the run down:

The Master Account is where you, the parent, can get all the information on how your child is doing using ALEKS. You can view their pie chart-showing you their initial assessment and the progress they have made. You can edit a student's level, add a student, change your billing set-up, change passwords, etc. All your normal administrator-type stuff.

New to the Master Account is the ability to make quizzes for your student(s). You can either make them yourself, or have ALEKS make them based on recently learned materials. Also new is the ability to designate when and to whom progress reports are e-mailed. Also, you can now track "attendance" on ALEKS to see when your child was logged on and for how long.

The Master Account makes it really easy to be in control of you child(ren)'s account and to see what they are learning and how much time it is taking them. While you still can't "assign" work to do by limiting their choices about what they can work on each day, it does give you the chance to make sure they have worked on what you have asked (if you chose to direct their learning) by allowing you to "check-up" on them. It's very easy to use, and is part of what your monthly membership fee includes, so there is no extra charge. I like that you can change their level yourself both for their quick tables and their subject-you don't have to ask the ALEKS people to do that for you.

I still really like ALEKS, and can see that day when it is the preferred math around here for at least one of my students. And I like the features the Master Account offers, so I know what my kids are learning even though they are doing it on the computer and I am not necessarily part of the process.

To check out ALEKS yourself, go HERE. They often offer a free one month trial which can't be beat. To see what other members of the TOS Crew have said about ALEKS or the Master Account, go HERE.
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