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Monday, May 31, 2010

Classical Legacy Press' The Great Latin Adventure Review

As a member of the TOS Crew, I've received a few different Latin programs to review. Each one has a different approach, and each one varies in the complexity of their system. Classical Legacy Press' Great Latin Adventure was the most recent Latin program we were asked to review, and I have to say, it has some very unique features.
The Great Latin Adventure was written by Katharine Birkett, a language lover who really knows her Latin! It offers two levels, and each has a teacher's manual and a student's manual. The level one teacher's manual spends 13 pages explaining the program-what it is, and more importantly, what it isn't. It ISN'T a video program, a self teaching program, an immersion program, or a Roman Culture or history program. It IS designed for students in 4th-6th grade (but could be used with advanced 3rd graders, or anyone older than 6th grade who wants to learn Latin). It is also decidedly Christian, and is one of the rare Latin programs with no focus on Roman Gods. It follows the Classical pronunciation (although pronunciation is not the main component of the curriculum), and Mrs. Birkett chooses to use macrons where many programs do not. (I must admit, although I've had exposure to Latin in other programs, I had never HEARD of macrons...or of alternative ways of pronunciation for Latin...and I appreciated Mrs. Birkett about both.) There are 12 lesson in level one, with each lesson taking about 9 days (or 3 weeks with a three-day-a-week lesson plan). That makes it a one year curriculum. The Level One course teaches students to:
•conjugate first conjugation verbs
in the present tense
•decline first declension nouns
•translate lively sentences featuring
subjects and predicate
prepositional phrases
adjectives and adverbs
•translate from and into Latin
Each lesson contains, in the student manual, vocabulary and a grammar lesson, study sheets, derivative worksheets, and translation worksheets.
The pros: The program is well organized and thought out. It is amazingly affordable for a Latin curriculum ($15 loose leaf/$22 in binder for the Student Manual and $30/$40 for the Teacher's manual). There is a pronunciation CD to help you pronounce the words correctly, but the program is also flexible enough to allow for the ecclesiastical pronunciation if you chose to use it. The teacher's manual gives you all the information you need to teach each lesson, including the answers to the student worksheets as well as pre-quizzes and quizzes for the student to take as they progress.
The cons: This is NOT a "jump right in the day it arrives" sort of program. You must read the teacher's manual, and allow for a small learning curve as you begin the program. And it's not a self-directed program. The parent MUST be an active part of this curriculum, so if you are looking for something that is a self-teaching curriculum, this is not it.
The bottom line: I wish we had received this curriculum at the beginning of the year. It arrived as we were winding down, and honestly, the kids did not get a chance to try it. But I intend to, because I really do think it is doable-even for someone like me who has no Latin experience of my own. And I love that it is so affordable.
To check out The Great Latin Adventure for yourself, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say (some received both levels, I got only level one), go HERE.
Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received The Great Latin Adventure Level One to review. The student and teacher manuals were the only compensation I received for this review.
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Kregel Publications' Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure

Back in the fall, the TOS Crew was asked to take a look at another book by Kregel Publications called Bertie's War. You can find that review HERE. This spring, we were asked to read and review Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure.

The Trouble with Treasure is one of several books about the adventures of Andrea Carter, Andi for short. The series is called The Circle C Adventure Series and it currently has 5 books with the 6th book set to be released in August. Each book can be read as a stand alone book-you don't have to read the other books in the series to follow the story. Here is a blurb from Kregel's website that sums up the story line for The Trouble with Treasure:

When innocent horseplay temporarily lands Andi and her friends in jail, they decide that a trip into the mountains will leave their troubles far behind. Accompanied by big brother Mitch and armed with a map showing old gold diggings, they can't wait to strike it rich. What could be better than two weeks of camping and horseback riding?

But instead of gold they find heaps of trouble -- trouble that leaves Mitch gravely wounded. Andi needs help fast. But who can she trust? And what good is a bag of gold when her beloved brother lies near death in the middle of nowhere?

The pros: I really enjoyed this book. It's a page turner-keeping you involved and drawing you into the story so you just have to keep reading. It's geared toward kids ages 8-12, but it could easily be a family read-aloud. The book, and each other one in the series, is $7.95, but there is also a FREE 24 page supplemental material pack that you can download from Kregel's site to help homeschoolers draw out the educational aspects of the books.

The cons: There weren't any-it was great!

The bottom line: I tend to be very frugal, and $7.95 for one book sounds steep to me, but this book was really good, and the bonus free supplemental materials (think unit study type activities) could and would easily be sold by many other curriculum vendors for at least as much as the book, so given that it is kind of a two for one deal, I think it's worth it. I'd advise you not only to read it, but the others in the series too.

To buy Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure, or see many of Kregel's other publications, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure for me to read and review. That book was the only compensation I received for this review.
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Lobster Network Review

If you are like me, you hear Lobster and think Maine...or at least a good Seafood restaurant. But Lobster Network is a different kind of Lobster entirely.

Lobster Network is an acronym that stands for:

The basic idea behind Lobster Network is that it is an "item networking" site-you can do any of the things above for FREE...just by visiting and joining their site. Obviously, for homeschoolers, this means having a place, for free, to lend, borrow, sell or buy curriculum, books, or other learning related items. But it's so much bigger than that. You can use it personally to keep track of anything in your life you want to inventory-insurance items, collectibles, books, etc. Or use it to create a "community" where only community members can see the items listed-or open the community's items to the world-it' your choice. Joining is easy-create a user name and password and you are on your way.

The pros: I think the potential for Lobster Network is unlimited. I can remember when I was in La Leche League and we had a library of books available to borrow-but the person in charge of the library had to schlep the library around to every meeting so people could see what was available. And then they had to remember to get it back from that person when they were done. If we had had Lobster Network, the library books could have been entered and then anyone who wanted to check them out could have requested to borrow them and the librarian would have only had to bring a book or two each time instead of the whole bin. And Lobster Network is free-what's not to like about that?

The cons: Lobster Network is new, so right now there aren't a lot of items for sale/swap out there for the general membership, but that also means this is your chance to get in on the bottom floor before it becomes ridiculously popular.

The bottom line: What's not to love about a service that's free? Some local homeschool friends and I swap materials from time to time, and this will give u a place to keep track of that. And, between us, we have a good sized library of convention speaker audios that we could enter so they are easier to loan out and keep track of. And I know I have some used curriculum to sell, so I will have to try that this summer too!

To check out Lobster Network for yourself, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I was asked to take a look at Lobster Network. Because it is a free service, I received no compensation for my review beyond the free membership that is available to anyone else who visits their site.

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Peterson Directed Handwriting E-worksheet Review

Being a First Mate on the TOS Crew meant that this was my second year to have the chance to look at Peterson Directed Handwriting. My first review of their overall program is HERE, and I still stand by it. I HIGHLY encourage you to check out that review for a detailed idea of how the program works as I won't go back over everything in this review.

Peterson is a handwriting program that has been around since 1908. It is vastly different from most other handwriting programs out there because it focuses on a multi-sensory approach to ingrain the muscle movements involved in writing so deeply in students that they don't ever have to "think" about writing again once they have mastered it. The actual motions will become automatic, freeing them to focus on note taking or creative writing without ever losing time to the mechanics of actually forming the words. It's a process I can appreciate. I use American Sign Language to sign praise music with a choir I sing in. While I could sign most songs the first time I hear them, they would be rough for sure. But with each subsequent time I practice, the movements become smoother and smoother until finally I no longer have to focus on the mechanic of properly forming the signs and transitioning from one sign to the next, and I am freed by that muscle memory to actually WORSHIP, much the same way a writing student using the Peterson method would be freed once they have mastered the strokes and letter formation to CREATE or rapidly record with their writing.

This time around, the Crew was specifically asked to take a look at Peterson's new PDF by Hand program and the e-workbooks that accompany it. The full PDF by Hand program involves a fancy-schmancy electronic pen and writing tablet, but the electronic workbooks that go with that system are also available as a download that is usable by anyone with the free Adobe Acrobat program. Since technology and I clash, I opted for just the e-workbooks.

One of the best things about Peterson's is that they (or really Mr. Pencil, a.k.a. Rand Nelson) are passionate about you understanding their writing system, how it works, why it works, and what products will best meet your needs. They are so passionate that purchase of the e-workbooks (and most of their other products) includes free one on one consultation with Mr. Pencil himself. He listens to your challenges, assesses your needs, and recommends the products that will work best with your children. And he's no skimp on time. He spent an hour with me discussing my four children and their writing challenges, making recommendations, and setting up our downloads. And he did all that with me having NO VOICE, so I had to type all my responses. The e-workbooks offered by Peterson Directed Handwriting cover the gamut from kindergarten early letter and number formation to slanted print writing to cursive at all different sizes depending on age/ability level. They focus extensively on proper paper placement for ease of writing, proper pencil grip, proper posture, and the actual mechanic of writing so that everything your child does sets them up for success and ease in writing.

The pros: The e-workbooks are instantly downloadable and non-consumable. You can print the same pages over and over for multiple children, or for the same child who just might need a little more work on some letters than others. Mr. Pencil's consultation is available free of charge as you purchase your writing books or at any time you might need guidance. I like the way the program works-it's multi-sensory, it breaks letters into small parts, and it uses the voice to guide the stroke. It's unique but successful. And I LOVE their Word Masters books that allow specific practice of hundreds for high frequency words that student encounter.

The cons: The one thing I would still note is that some of the letters in the cursive program are odd looking-particularly cursive "c" and "p". I personally decided though that I just wouldn't be dogmatic about it if my kid made them the more traditional way instead of the Peterson way. And I figure that they will likely adapt their handwriting as time progresses anyway-I know I have-but that Peterson gives a firm foundation for them to work from.

The bottom line: I don't think you can go wrong with Peterson Directed Handwriting. With a century of experience in teaching kids to write, they certainly know what they are doing and have the research to back them up. And the e-workbooks, while they vary in price, might seem expensive in price (none are more than $19.95), but if you remember that they are reusable and allow you to reprint as needed for more practice work, I think they balance out. I know my old handwriting program had print workbooks that were $5-6 a piece, but they were consumable and that was per child, so with four kids, it all works out for me.

To check out Peterson's e-workbooks or their printed materials, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew thought, go HERE.
Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received several e-workbooks to review. Those workbooks were the only compensation I received.
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cerebellum Corporation Chemistry AP Exam Prep DVDs

Let me confess something right now; I don't love upper level science. Oh, I studied it all, but I never really enjoyed it. So when I found out that of all the videos Cerebellum puts out, I received the CHEMISTRY AP Exam Prep video, I was, to be frank, less than enthused.

So, I procrastinated. Especially since I didn't have a child at the high school level who might need to watch it with me.

But one day, when the mountain of laundry was almost visible from outer space, I decided to watch the DVDs and fold some of the ever-growing pile.

And are you ready for this? I really enjoyed it. Seriously! Even though I didn't understand half of it!

The Chemistry AP Exam DVDs are part of Cerebellum's line of Light Speed Advanced Placement Videos. Other subjects available include English Language and Composition, U.S. Government and Politics, and History of the U.S. Each is a two DVD set with the first DVD containing the test prep information including strategies for taking the test well based on student knowledge, question weighting, and how credit is given, as well as featuring a "30 in 30" list of the most popular 30 test topics and the basic facts students should know about them. The second DVD is a Digital Workbook that includes handouts, quizzes, and activities to reinforce the topic before and after the video. Each DVD set is $14.98, but is currently on sale for $11.24..

The pros: Oh my GOODNESS. I wish these DVDs had been around when I took AP Chemistry (which CLEARLY has changed some since I took the exam many moons ago). The information is presented by high school age student who are not at all awkward, nerdy, and superior, but instead are smart, energetic, and delightful to listen to. They made the information interesting just by being good communicators. The test taking tips were great, and the 30 in 30 is priceless in it's value. The Worksheet DVD is icing on the cake to help students actually take all the DVD's knowledge and make it their own. Some of the topics the Chemistry DVD covers are:

Atomic Theory and Structure
Chemical Bonding
Nuclear Chemistry
Stoichiometry (oh my, I had never even HEARD of this!)
Equilibrium & Kinetics

I found the information was helpful to help me remember many of the concepts I learned 2 decades ago and had promptly forgotten!

The cons: Not a one. Great product at a great price.

The Bottom line: If all the videos in the Light Speed collection are this good, and if you have students who will in the next few years be looking to take some AP exams, I'd buy them ALL, especially now while they are on sale. Compared to how much credit hours at college cost, even at $14.98 a piece, these DVDs MORE than pay for themselves. And while I don't have an AP student, so I can't speak to their specific experiences, I WAS an AP student, and I can very much appreciate the value of these DVDs.

TO buy these DVDs, or others by Cerebellum Corporation, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about this or other AP Exam Prep DVDs by Cerebellum, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the Chemistry AP Exam Prep DVDs for free in exchange for my honest review. Those DVDs were the only compensation I received for this review.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Busy, Busy!

The past two days have been actioned packed! Memorial Day weekend is always the big homeschool conference here in FL. I was on the fence about attending, but then fully committed at the last possible moment, and for the first time ever we were able to arrange for the Hubs to go one of the two days also.

If that wasn't crazy enough, Sari "graduated" from preschool Friday evening, so I had to leave for the conference at 7AM, be at the conference all day, and then leave there at 4:30, drive home, and be at graduation at 6:30.

Bam-Bam REALLY got into the singing, LOL.

Sari and Ms. Christine, who owns the Preschool.

We got home around 9:30 from graduation, and then had Marie's son arrive at 10:30 to stay the night. Then I debriefed from the first day at the conference-looking at things online that had piqued my curiosity to see what the best price was, and headed to bed around 11:45, just to wake up at 6 and do it all over again, but this time with the Hubs too.
I loved having him go with me (I should also say my friend S rode down with me/us both days too). I was afraid that the Hubs would HATE it, but he loved it. He got to meet my "boss" from the TOS Crew, and see several of the vendors from this past year. FPEA's conference is one of the largest in the country, and the vendor hall is HUGE. I loved that he got to see that, and see the thousands of other crazy homeschoolers out there too.
I learned why God had me go to the conference. Dianne Craft. She had such words of wisdom to share that I feel like I practically stalked her, hitting all three of her sessions. I can't wait to start some of her ideas with my kids, and I bought one of her audio CD sets to listen to too. I NEVER do that, but I think this one will be really helpful and I can't wait. Another bonus was that Mark Hamby, who wasn't even supposed to be at the conference, ended up presenting 2 sessions. Sadly, I missed one, thinking it was a duplicate of one I'd already attended. He realized he had already done that one in FL, so he gave a brand new talk...and I FORGOT to buy the CD before I left. I'm trying not to beat myself up over that too much. Trusting God to work it out, because S said it was GREAT.
Hold on to your hats, because this blog is going to a busy place over the next two days as I have 5 reviews to post. I actually can't wait to get them up, because then I have a short break before the next year's Crew begins. The place where we post the blog links has been in transition over the past week or so, so that is why there will be a cluster of reviews posting in a short time, but I think it will be worth it!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Random Friday Thoughts

From the category of, "You are going to think I'm making this up, but I'm not" comes the fact that Scott's bike was stolen again this week. Just his bike. From our carport. With a ripstick a few feet away and Mimi's much nicer bike a few feet away too. The Hubs wouldn't let me call the police, but I'm totally OVER being a doormat for some sleazy thief. I keep trying to give it up to God and pray for the thief. It's one of those living sacrifices that keeps wiggingly off the altar though.

The cops were at a house across from Bella's a few days later. The house was broken into AGAIN. You'd think I live in the 'hood. But because of our newest "pets" we need to stay on the down-low.

We are having a "House Party" tomorrow night for Schwans. I wish I could have invited the world, but it doesn't work that way. At least not until the money tree in the backyard starts producing. If you didn't get invited, but love Schwans, or have always wanted to try them out, and you're local, I have coupons I'd be happy to share.

The House Party is also going to be Scott's birthday party. It's a month early, but given that we haven't had a party for him in two years, you could say that it's actually late. One year and 11 months late. Again, we weren't able to invite everyone he'd have liked, but I'm having to make peace with the limitations of our life, and my personality, LOL.

I stink at keeping house. It shows. And getting ready for this party is KILLING me. it doesn't help that I have spent 3 weeks sick and the house disintegrated beyond it's normal horrible state during that illness.

I feel like my auto-immune issue is flaring up. I had been doing SO much better-and not even taking the anti-depressant for the pain, but now it is flaring again. Between that and being sick, I think I know why God kept hitting me over the head with the "wait upon the Lord" message. I'm still waiting on Him now for healing. My voice is still not normal,especially for singing. And tonight I'm to the point where just walking is an act of mind over matter. So I wait.

There's a used curriculum sale tomorrow that I dragged a bunch of stuff to. PLEASE, join in praying that it all sells. I don't want to have to deal with it again, and I could really use the money for NEXT week at the FPEA conference. I don't need much, but it would be nice if this year's cast offs could pay for next year's curriculum.

Speaking of FPEA, it's a week from today, and I'm not all excited or worked up about it. I know I'll enjoy the conference once I'm there, but right now it's just one more thing on the to-do list.

The fleas this year are IMPOSSIBLE. Seriously. I feel like my skin is crawling with them. We've treated the cats, the dog, the yard, and still little hopping biting black bugs. OVER IT!!!!

I just finished reading Isreal My Beloved by Kay Arthur. It took me longer to get into it than I would have liked, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I've moved on to the newest Sarah book. I used my birthday money to order the next two because we enjoyed Sarah's Wish so much. I can't recommend them highly enough. And Jim Baumgartner, the author, is SO nice. That was definitely one of the high points of the Crew's reviews this year.

SO much more I could write, but that's probably more pointless dribble than you wanted to know already :-).
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

iheartfaces Flowers and Faces Challenge

There's a rule that you can only use each picture once in the iheartfaces challenges, so my FAVORITE flower and face picture was off limits, but this is a close second. I just LOVE C' eyes and the faintest of smiles. This was just a fluke. She was picking flowers at a photo shoot of her family just before Mother's Day and I grabbed a few pictures of her.
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TOS Crew Awards

Below are the products the Crew voted the best of the best in their catagories. With it being the season of homeschool conferences and time to think about next year's plans, I hope this helps some of you make decisions.

Favorite Language Arts Product : Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS)

Favorite History Product :Bright Ideas Press (All American History and Mystery of History)

Favorite Science Product:Nature Friend Magazine

Favorite Math Product: Math Mammoth

Favorite Online Math Product: Mathletics

Favorite Handwriting Product: Zeezok Publishing (Presidential Penmanship)

Favorite Fine Arts Product (art, music, etc.): Artistic Pursuits

Favorite Pre-school Product: Time 4 Learning

Favorite Elementary Product: Critical Thinking

Favorite Upper-Grade Product: Professor in a Box

Favorite College Prep Product: Cerebellum/Standard Diviants

Favorite Special Needs Product: Super Star Speech

Favorite Health and Beauty Product: Virginia Soaps and Scents

Favorite Christian Product: Grapevine Studies

Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: StudyPod

Best Homemaking Product: Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Best Customer Service: Great Software Tools

Best Online Resource: ABCteach

Best e-product: Growing Healthy Homes: Nutrition 101

Best Office and Technology Resource: Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-Ups)

Best Homeschool Resource:Apologia Press: The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

Best Map Resource: Home School in the Woods

Best Book, Novel or Magazine: Sarah's Books

Best Children's Book: Children's Bible Hour: Season's of Faith Series

Best Hands-On Resource: A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks

Most Adaptable Resource: Sue Patrick Workbox System

Most Unique Resource: Lobster Network

Most Family-Oriented Product: Family Mint

Kid's Choice: Maverick Books: Hank the Cowdog Series

All Around Crew Favorite: All About Spelling (All About Reading)
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Ideal Curriculum review

It always amazes me the sheer number of resources of available to homeschoolers today. I am on my fourth "preschooler" and even in the few years between my first child and this one, there are SO many more options available.

Ideal Curriculum is a researched based preschool curriculum designed to prepare your child for academic learning. Ideal Curriculum's mission is to help every child be successful at learning. Below are some of the curriculum's goals (as stated on their website):

•Letters and sounds- Learn letters very fluently; upper and lower case, quickly and accurately, recognize letters from different fonts and sizes
•Learn basic sight words- There are about 30 level one sight words that provide the foundation for reading and writing. There are about 100 sight words that build reading fluency.
•Exploring the ability to write- Develop motor skills and hand strength, gain a concept of themselves as a writer, learn to write their own name, learn to write the letters and move into writing sentences and stories.
•Be able to hear, recognize and manipulate sounds of language- Develop skills in rhyming, breaking sentences into words, breaking words into syllables, breaking syllables into onset and rime, breaking words into individual sounds or phonemes and blending them back together
•Oral language and vocabulary- expanding their vocabulary, understanding concepts, increasing their ability to express themselves using higher level language structure.
•Science and social studies- Developing concepts of how the world works.
•Math- Build and use a mental number line, master rote counting (counting in order, forwards and backwards), one to one correspondence (be able to touch and count pennies or m&m’s), cardinality (how many), adjacent values (what is next to 7? 6&8), basic Shapes, number recognition.
•Calendar- Learn basics of scheduling and remembering and learn parts of the calendar .

Each month's curriculum is themed and covers reading/language, math, science, and social studies. Some of the themes are transportation, color, weather, animals, and the world around us, just to name a few. The curriculum is detailed, and lays out what the teacher should cover either daily or weekly depending on the subject. Lessons incorporate different methods of learning such as music, dramatic play, and art projects as well as the more traditional reading and writing. The curriculum is available either in print or as a download. You can buy it by the month, 3 months, 6 months, or a year (9 months). In print version, each month is $55. The download is $30 a month. Three months at a time is $156 in print or $85.50 as a download. If you purchase the whole year (9 months), the price is $440 in print or $240 as a download.

The pros: This curriculum is very comprehensive. The goals are well defined and the methodology is thoroughly explained. Each topic has its own teacher's manual. Supplemental books are recommended that tie into the theme.

The cons: While I try to remember that everything is relative, I have to say the price blows me away. I guess if you were going to pay to send your child to preschool but chose to do this curriculum instead, it might not seem so astronomical, but $440 (or even $240) for a PRESCHOOL curriculum??? I just don't understand that, no matter how good it might be. Beyond that, the curriculum definitely seems more geared toward use at preschools than in a homeschool environment, unless your homeschool style is to recreate "building school" at home. If you are new to homeschooling and afraid you might "get it wrong" you might find the thoroughness and stiffness of the curriculum reassuring, but I for one was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of a preschool curriculum that requires three different teacher's manuals each month. And yet with all that, I thought the math part of the curriculum was a bit light, although we only got to see one month, so perhaps it beefs up as time goes on.

The bottom line: I want to be clear that I tend to be in the "better late than early" camp when it comes to early childhood education. Preschoolers by their very nature are inquisitive sponges. It is literally impossible to KEEP them from learning. So to devote so much time and money to their education at such an early age is foreign to me. But with that said, my youngest currently goes to preschool, and IS getting a lot more formal education than she would at home (prekindergarten is free in our state-even at private providers, and family issues dictated that having her at school for half a day was best for all of us), and if you want to give your homeschooled preschooler the same experience, this curriculum would be a good resource to check out. Ideal Curriculum currently is offering a one week free trial if you sign up for their e-zine HERE. I'd recommend checking the curriculum out that way, so that you can decide for yourself if it is right for you.

To see more about Ideal Curriculum and check out their free resources available on their website, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a download of Month One for the purpose of writing this review. That download was the only payment I received for my review.

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Homeschoolers, visit the Virtual Vendor Hall

If you're researching or buying homeschool curriculum, you have to check out the Vendor Hall at the Schoolhouse Expo! It's open to everyone. Browse through companies such as Rainbow Resource, WriteShop, Apologia, Latin Road/Phonics Road, Multiplication Shake, Go Phonics, and MANY MORE!

Latin Road/Phonics Road has freebies in their booth. Rainbow Resource has a free shipping offer. Spears Art Studio has a free CD (LOVE THEM!!!). Real Science by Gravitas has a 25% discount coupon.

There is just so much to see. Stop by and meet the virtual hostess from each company, browse their selection, and look for "conference specials".
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

AWANA Water night

TJ and J
Fearless Sari

Of course, my daughter has the cheesey smile!

Packin' heat.

It makes me smile to see the "big boys" having so much fun.

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Scott is working on Apologia Astronomy this year for science. We started in January, our homeschool schedule is pretty erratic, and we are doing the lapbook with it, so he's only on chapter 2, but he wrapped that up today with an activity-making a pinpoint viewer to safely look at the sun. He wanted to get some pictures, so I thought we'd share.

The little white circle is the sun. I know it doesn't look very inpressive, but it was really cool to use the viewer to watch clouds move over the sun.. I just couldn't get a picture of that because we were too busy watching it :-).
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crazy catch-up post

So the yard guy (who is mowing in trade for computer services rendered by my husband) came today. It turns out our gate (which we chose BASED on the mower width) is too narrow...because the mower guy didn't know his mowing deck was 3" wider than he thought. Looks like my son will now be mowing the fenced yard...we put a positive spin on it with the idea that once he knew how to mow, he might be able to spin that into some money with a neighbor or two.

Today was the last day of our Precept Isaiah part one class. Never have I so NOT kept up with a class. I'm hoping to go back and do it justice over the summer, but we will see. I still have gleaned quite a bit though and look forward to part two in the fall.

I had a bit of a relapse Sunday night and Monday with a horrible cough. I thought I was going to cough my eyeballs OUT. I'm doing better today. But being sick made me totally forget my plan to have gifts for the kids' Precepts teachers. I felt like such a heel!

The kids are LOVING the trampoline. Loving it! The Hubs even gave it a try tonight. Given my...ahem...leakage issue, I think I'll wait to try it until I get my first endorsement check from Depends, LOL.

Today Mimi found a dragonfly at the park. It's wing was broken, so she befriended it for quite a while. She went to play with friends and left "Flipper" the dragonfly on a bush. She was dismayed to find it was not there when she got back.

Sari on the other hand spent her time collecting baby toads and grasshoppers. So much for being a girly-girl!

Sari came home and told me she wanted to show me another bug. Turns out it was a ring neck snake she found right outside the back door! She took to that too. She's calling it "Takie" (that would be "Snakie", but she can't do the blend) Something was not quite right with it, but it's currently in the empty fish bowl in the kitchen, and we'll see what happens. As enamored and obsessed as she is with Takie, she did ask more than once to feed him to the chicks, LOL. Guess he figured it's the whole circle of life thing, and if he's going to die, he might as well go to use.

I put the chicks in with Thumper tonight. They ignored each other quite nicely. Unfortunately, I think they have a digging competition going on. Between the chicks, Thumper, and Riley, we may soon have tunnels to rival Kiwi's son's-but far less intentional :-).

The chicks are changing daily. They are losing their fluff and gaining their feathers. They can fly quite well-too well if we aren't careful! We got the roof pieces for their "Playhouse" so we can get it finished and they are have use of the real deal instead of the brooder.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

BeeYoutiful Laveshmint Lotion and Toner Review

Every once in a while, being on the TOS Crew has perks for ME, and not just my kiddos and our homeschool. Getting to review these products from Beeyoutiful was one of those perks!

Beeyoutiful is a company that makes a host of products designed for "healthy living in the real world". Their wares run the gamut from vitamins to probiotics to baby lotions to skin and hair products. Since I currently have a company that I am happy with that I use for my natural supplement needs, I decided to give their Laveshmint skin care products a try.

I received two products, a toner and a daily moisturizer. Let me start with the toner.

According to their website, Laveshmint Hydrating Toner is used to "restore proper pH balance, close pores, and ready skin for moisturizing. Peppermint and Lavender essential oils leave your skin feeling fresh and cool while pure organic Aloe Vera hydrates and soothes dry skin naturally. Excellent for all skin types. Specially formulated to bring cool relief to sunburned skin!"
My experience was that I did not enjoy the scent at all. I'm WAY into peppermint, but not at all into lavender, and the toner is very lavender heavy. BUT, the scent wears off fairly quickly, and I did like the way the toner performed. It did not leave my face feeling tight at all, but soft and refreshed. The toner is $14 for a 4oz spray bottle and seems like it would last a good amount of time. I did manage to get a little too much sun one day, and it did feel nice on my skin (the main ingredient is aloe), but again, I had to overcome the scent. If you enjoy lavender, I am certain that won't be a problem for you.

The second product was the Laveshmint Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Their website says, "Gently scented with peppermint and lavender essential oils to bring cool relaxation while aloe and coconut oils smooth and nourish skin. Perfect for all skin types. Watch your complexion shine!"
Remember how I said I LOVE peppermint? Well, I reviewing this product, I found out that there is such a thing as too much peppermint. I never knew that was possible. I liked the way the lotion worked. It was light and soaked in nicely. And my skin did look good and had a shine to it. But I did not like the tingly-ness of the lotion on my skin. It almost made me feel sweaty. Maybe it's because I live in Florida, and sweaty comes all too easily, but I wasn't keen on the feeling. Once that faded though, I did like the lotion and the way it worked. And I used it on my legs after shaving, and the peppermint oil did not bother me at all in that situation. The lotion is available for $12 for a 4 oz. canister.

So what's the bottom line? I did really like the WAY the products worked, they just had too much essential oil for my skin. Once the oil wore off, they were both very nice. I don't know if I'd personally order them again, but I would check out their other products. In fact, many members of the TOS Crew got the chance to check out some of their other offerings, so I highly encourage you to go HERE to check out their reviews. And go HERE to see all the different products Beeyoutiful has to offer.

Legal Disclaimer: A a member of the TOS Crew, I received the Laveshmint Daily Moisturizing Lotion and Toner so that I could offer my review. Those products were the only compensation I received for this review.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Over it!

Walking pneumonia, that is. If my blog, and the real, live me, have seemed unusually quiet, it's because I've been battling "community acquired", a.k.a. walking, pneumonia.
I'm over it. Not the illness. The lack of energy and lack of caring about anything that the illness is bringing on. I had a big day today, and I'm paying for it by hacking my head off now. OIY!
I cried "uncle" this week and called in the big guns, so I'm now on an antibiotic and a steriod to help me get better sooner, but I'm still just "pooped" a lot of the time.

In addition to all that, I've been struggling to keep up with my real life. I've had pictures to shoot, and kids to teach, and kids activities to taxi them to, and a going away get together, and a bazillion other things. Those "things" have gotten the rare bursts of energy I have had, so my laundry and my dishes and my house in general are looking like I've ignored them for the past 2 weeks because, well, I have.

I'm not a "name it and claim it" sort of gal, but I'm ready to be well :-).
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Christmas came early this year!

Look what went up today!!! And the trampoline was rolled across the street on Saturday. Everybody is happy around here. The kids spent all day jumping on the trampoline and watching the fence go up. Even Riley was happy. For the first time ever, he got to run free. And given his freedom, he didn't maul the children! He didn't even jump on them. Hey, it took 2 years, but we are making progress :-).

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

"The playhouse" has moved

A week or so ago, I suddenly realized that the Playhouse had to move BEFORE the fence went in, or it was going to have to be disassembled to get it in the yard.

So here it the yard, and still just framed. There will undoubtably be an inspection of the fence, and we want to be sure there is no incriminating evidence of it being anything other than a playhouse. How we are hiding the ummmm, playmates, ummm I have no idea. Probably the shed.

Somewhere right in front of these two sheds is where the playhouse will end up-once the fence is in:

Here's the Hubs' finished work on the fence for the carport wall:

Flowering Peas!

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