Thursday, April 28, 2011

day 30: movies you can watch again and again.

This is another hard one.  I liked Titanic a lot.  I like a lot of Disney movies-The Little Mermaid and Alice in Wonderland are two of my favorites.  Some of the Pixar movies are good too and I can easily watch again. 

I do enjoy a good movie with a good message but honestly, sometimes when I'm watching a movie, I'm interested more in just being entertained.  I can't even explain often why I like certain movies. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

day 29: favorite tv shows and why you like them

Lately I haven't been watching much TV.  World Traveler has me watching movies with him.  But one show I tape is The Office.  The earlier seasons were better.

Lost was definitely a favorite but I am one that was disappointed with the ending.  Personally I felt it was a cop out so the writers wouldn't really have to explain anything. I enjoy a show with good cliff hangers that make you want to keep watching. 

Let's see, what else? An shows I loved when I was a kid was Little House on the Prairie.

I'm sure there are more but I don't keep track of these things well.

TOS review: Writing Tales


Writing Tales is different than any other writing program I have seen.  It takes classic fables and stories (including at least one Bible story) and uses them to help teach writing, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.  Copywork is also included in the lessons.

I was given a copy of both the level one and level two books as well as the teacher's manuals for them.  I had Precise Prince, my 11 year old, work in the level two book and my 9 year old, Creative Princess work in the level one book.  The website recommends level one for grades three or four and level two for grades four or five.  You can go here to look at the scope and sequence of both books. 


Your child takes two weeks for each story.  During those two weeks, they will re-write the story in their own words and then embellish the story a bit with their own imagination.  Each day they are given one or two assignments.  Usually the first day is reading the story and then telling it to you in their own words.  The next day is often copywork.  Soon they are writing out the story in their own words and using their story to make a spelling list.  They use words they misspelled to be the list of words they practice.  I absolutely love this!  It makes so much sense.

Grammar lessons are included each week as well.  For example, they may learn about nouns and have a worksheet or two learning about nouns.

The teacher's manual is comprehensive. There is a bit of teacher prep most days-but it is small.  Usually you are listening to the kids repeat the story to you or playing a game to help them learn. The manual also includes a large section for using Writing Tales in a co-op setting.  Although we didn't use it as a co-op, I think it would be fun to do so.  

The student workbooks are spiral bound making them easy to write in.  The teacher's manual is not.  This is my one issue with the program.  I would love the teacher's manual to come spiral bound-it would be much easier to use, especially since there are pages meant for copying.  The student workbooks are consumable so you will need to purchase one for each of your children.

Creative Princess enjoyed this curriculum more than Precise Prince.  This isn't surprising.  She is my writer and can often be found writing her own books.  She would occasionally work ahead in the book when I assigned her pages and she really enjoyed being able to embellish the stories a bit on her own. 

This review was an answer to prayer!  I had been praying for a Language Arts curriculum that would be easy to use for next year.  This is exactly what I wanted!  We will be continuing with this program into the next year.

If you go to their main page, you can click on sample pages.

The level one workbook is $19.95 and the teacher's manual is $24.95.  The level two workbook is $24.95 and the teacher's manual is $32.95.  Go here to purchase.  

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Writing Tales.

(I was given book level one and level two teacher's manuals and student workbooks in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS review: Growing Healthy Homes: Nutrition 101: Choose Life


I received an electronic copy of Nutrition 101: Choose Life from Growing Healthy Homes to review.   This 448 page book is full of information. 

When I first received this book, I spent some time reading the first 17 pages as recommended by the authors.  These pages include an introduction, information about the authors, the table of contents and a getting started guide to the book.  It was definitely the right place to start.  The introduction discussed why we should be taking care of our bodies, citing Bible verses.  One of the suggestions given was to read the chapters in advance especially when dealing with younger kids to determine if you want to read the chapter to them or just summarize the information. I highly recommend summarizing if you have younger children. This book is full of technical information.

The book is divided into six main units:
  • the brain and nervous system
  • the digestive system
  • the respiratory, olfactory, auditory, and visual systems
  • the skeletal and muscular systems
  • the cardiovascular and immune systems
  • and the endocrine systems and emotions.  

Each unit is further divided into "bite sized" chapters.  The chapters include a "power recipe" to try and other activities to do to expand on the lesson.  It is not necessary to start with Unit one.  You can choose any unit to begin with. The book also includes information on exercise and health and beauty products as well.

There is an appendix section with many good resources including (but not limited to) the authors own food pyramid, nutritional recommended daily allowances (RDA) for men, women and children broken down into age, a grocery shopping list to print out, vitamin and mineral charts, a guide on selecting fresh produce, information about the use of microwaves and information about health and beauty products, such as shampoo and soaps.


Our experience and opinions:

This book is not simply a nutrition curriculum-it's a health curriculum.  The chapters take one part of the body (i.e. the brain), explain how it works and then discusses foods that are good for that part of the body, why it's good and what nutrition the foods provide.

Personally, I don't think this is really an elementary curriculum-at least not lower elementary.  I would say it's more for grades  6 and up.  But I also think it's a good resource for parents-no matter what age their children are. The chapters do include elementary activities that are appropriate for the younger ages.  With younger kids, it would be best to read the chapters yourself and use your own words to explain it to them.  Then do some of the fun activities suggested at the end of each chapter.   

I asked my kids what they thought of the book so far.  Precise Prince said it was interesting.  Creative Princess didn't like it as much.  If you read my blog or know my daughter, this should not surprise you.  As mentioned, this book is technical and I just think it's a little too much for her to comprehend, although she definitely has been learning from it.  She is able to answer simple questions about what we have read she also enjoyed the few projects we did from the book.

One of the things we did that the kids really enjoyed was to make one of the recipes suggested in the book.  We made the Greek Salad in Unit 1, chapter2.  They both enjoyed making it. Creative Princess didn't care for the taste though she willingly tried it.  She is my more picky eater and usually doesn't like salad though so this wasn't a surprise.  Precise Prince and World Traveler really liked the salad and both had second helpings.  I enjoyed it as well.

One of the other things we did was I printed out the shopping list in Appendix 3.  I had the kids mark off all the foods they would eat.  The list is full of healthy foods and I am impressed with how many foods my kids actually marked.  I haven't had a chance yet, but when I do the next big grocery shopping trip, I will use their list to buy some of the foods they have chosen.  We did a similar thing after reading the first chapter of the book.  The kids picked out some of the foods recommended in chapter one and I bought them.  This really encouraged them to eat healthier since they were the ones choosing the foods.

This book really emphasizes healthy eating to the point that I can see some people may feel guilty for that occasional store bought cookie. I am all for healthier eating but I am one who will eat my occasional candy bar and not feel bad about it.  There is food pyramid in this book that the authors made that is not the same as what you will find on the USDA website.  For example, their daily recommendation for vegetables is 10-13 servings per day-much higher than what the USDA recommends. 

The bottom line-this is a good, comprehensive curriculum.  The price is a bit steep for my household but there is a LOT of information in this book. 

Nutrition 101: Choose Life is available as a bound book for $99.95.  The CD-ROM version only is $79.95 and the combo book/CD-ROM is $129.95.  I recommend the bound book or combo.  It is much easier to read in book format rather than reading on it on the computer.  The CD-ROM as an extra would be nice though for easy printing out of the recipes and other resources.  Growing Healthy Homes is offering a 15% discount for you if you use coupon code TOScrew11.

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Nutrition 101: Choose Life.

(I received a free e-book of Nutrition 101: Choose Life in exchange for my honest opinion.)

day 27: my day job verses my passion

This one is easy.  Growing up I wanted to be three things-a wife, a mom and a teacher.  I am all three as a homeschooling mom.  Therefore, my day job is my passion.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April in review--so far

I actually started this post last week.  But I wanted to add pictures and never got around to it so I figure I'll just add to the post and make it a review of our April so far.

I want to share our April Fool's.  The kids and I thought it would be fun to make a meal for World Traveler.  So off to the Family Fun website I went and I found some things I thought I could actually pull off.  We made peas from Airheads-Creative Princess made most of these.  Precise Prince worked on the fish sticks and I made the french fries

World Traveler came home and we weren't quite finished with dinner so we send him upstairs to change.  At this point, he had no idea something was up.  We all sat down to eat and of course World Traveler asked questions.  "What kind of fish sticks are these?  How did you make the fries?"--something like that.  The kids had been giggling off and on but still, he wasn't too suspicious. However, I started giggling.  I could not stop.  He asked the kids "who would like to do prayer tonight?"  I couldn't stop laughing.  He knew something was up.  I had to confess.  It was a fun evening.  The kids loved having dessert for dinner.  I had real fish sticks and sweet potato fries in the oven so we had those as well.

The other thing I was to share is the wonderful weekend World Traveler and I had.  My mom picked the kids up Friday afternoon after work and took them for the weekend.  (They had a blast with grandma and her boyfriend. Dinner out on Friday, breakfast out on Saturday, videos games, Pictionary, movies...)  World Traveler and I headed downtown to a hotel for a weekend alone and away from the house.

Friday night was dinner at a Thai place and then a little shopping and back to the hotel.  Saturday was busy.  We shared a crepe for breakfast.  Then it was off to an art supply store to look for some art for the house.  We didn't find anything but enjoyed looking.  Next it was off to the soccer game.  It was the first I've been to.  I must say, I never knew soccer was so comical.  It was funny to see the guys pretend to fall and be hurt.  We had a lady (term used loosely) about 4 rows behind us who was screaming at the top of her lungs throughout the game.  It was actually more like screeching.  Yes, fans yell, but most of the people around us looked at this lady like she needed help.  The game was fun and I would definitely go to a game again.

After the soccer game, we had an early dinner reservation so we went to the hotel to change and go to dinner.  Then we ended up going to a movie.  Unfortunately, I started feeling unwell during the movie so we stopped to get something to eat.  It was an outdoor crepe place.  I ordered a crepe with eggs, spinach, herb butter and cheese.  The poor girl asked if I wanted it on a plate, in a box or in a napkin ready to eat.  I started crying.  Really?  I was so nauseous that I couldn't think so I cried.  Of course, once I wiped the tears we all laughed.  After I ate we went back to the hotel.  It was early-9:00 so we turned on the TV.  World Traveler watched a documentary about Lincoln's assassination-I was asleep by 10:00.

Sunday was simply breakfast and a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond before heading home to get the kids.  The weekend was so nice.  We really enjoyed the chance to talk uninterrupted.

This last week we went with some friends to the Science Center.  They had a Star Wars exhibit.  Sadly, my camera did not take good pictures but I will be getting some from our friend, Dean who takes awesome pictures.  If I remember, I'll add a few to this post later but no promises.

This last weekend my sister came over with a bunch of baby stuff for us to borrow.  I'm so thankful!  As I walked through our bedroom to get ready for bed last night, I saw the stuff laying around and got a twinge of excitement for this baby.  By the time she is ready to come, I believe I will really be ready for her!

Then World Traveler's sister came over for dinner.  Her birthday is today so we had a steak dinner for it yesterday.  It was a very fun evening.

Day 26: list 10 things that you are thankful for

1. my Savior
2. my family
3. shelter
4. food
5. my husband's job and the fact that he likes it
6. that I get to be a homeschooling mom
7. my church
8. good, running vehicles
9. good friends
10. just living

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 25: what I would find in your bag

My purse pretty much contains the usual-wallet with mimimal money, checkbook, pens, tissues, cell phone, keys, a comb, misc. papers, receipts and of course, Tums ( a good friend of most pregnant women!)

TOS Review: Kinderbach


Kinderbach is touted as online video piano lessons for ages 3-7.  When you sign up for Kinderbach you are given access to 60 weekly lessons-with each week containing 4 lessons for the week (and they are working on adding more lessons.)  Of course, with 60 weekly lessons, that is over one year of lessons.

Each group of 10 lessons include an online activity book you can print out to use with the lessons.  These activities are used during the lessons to assist in teaching.  There are coloring pages, activity pages designed to help your child remember certain concepts, memory playing cards, matching games and other activities.  You need not print the whole book out however.  You can print each day's lesson as it comes and print out only what you think will benefit your child. 


Kinderbach also uses cute characters consistently throughout the lessons to assist in teaching.  You are first introduced to Dodi the donkey who "lives" above the two black keys on the keyboard.

PhotobucketMy two children and I watched the first two weeks of lessons together and then I had them continue to watch some on their own.  Over the next few weeks, the kids and I watched some of the videos together.  As there are over 200 videos in the program, we didn't get to watch them all but I skipped ahead and looked at some of the later videos too.  My children are 9 and 11 years old-above the recommended age for this program.  They had a hard time putting themselves in the shoes of a preschooler.  They found the videos too slow for their taste.  However, I do think that Creative Princess would have enjoyed this website when she was a preschooler.  She would have enjoyed the activities too. 

The instructor definitely talks to a preschool audience. I personally found her a bit too perky but putting myself in the shoes of a young child, I can see the appeal of these videos and I think most preschoolers will like the instructor.  The videos are slow moving-you are introduced to one concept at a time, often reviewing it with the next few videos.  This is a good thing for very young children.  For my children, they wanted things to move quicker.


That said, I really think this program is geared towards preschool age and would put age 5 at the top of the ages I would start this program with.  I think most 7 year olds starting this program would feel as my children did-it's too slow paced and simplistic.

I do think this program is more a music program than just a how to learn piano.  Children are learning rhythm and key music information. It actually takes quite a few lessons before the child is playing on the keyboard. You can access the first two weeks for free.  Go to the front page and click on the free section.

You need high speed internet to access the online program. The cost for one year of these lessons is $95.88 (which is equivalent to $7.99 per month) or you can go monthly for $19.99 per month.  Another good option is to purchase the DVD's. There are several options so go here to see what would best fit your family.

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates had to say about kinderbach.

(I received a free online subscription in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 24: post your favorite quote or verse of scripture and why

This is an easy one.  These verses are "my verses."  I know I was one of the people God had in mind when this was written.  It has given me comfort many times when I've been worried about something I shouldn't be worried about.

Matthew 6: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 23: Something you crave a lot

Normally, peanut butter and chocolate.  YUM! However, during this pregnancy, I haven't really had many actual cravings-except maybe juice.  I have been eating a lot of steak but not because I crave it, because it helps quell my nausea.  Strange, yes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Registering for the baby

We decided to register for things for the baby.  I have two friends who are giving us a baby shower.  I am very grateful.  God is blessing us a lot with this baby.

My little sister has a 10 month old.  She has quite a few items for me that she won't need in the next few months-car seat/stroller combo (just like my older kids, her baby is outgrowing the infant seat before one year old and she has to get a convertible seat), pack-n-play with a co-sleeper, swing, a glider and several other items.  Our biggest purchase will need to be a crib.  We already picked it out-just waiting for a sale or coupon.

Anyway, the point of this post is to whine.  hee hee When we were pregnant with Precise Prince it was a bit easier to pick out things.  There were only two of us making decisions and World Traveler and I agreed easily.  This time, I keep getting out-voted!  I wanted a ladybug theme for the baby's area (she'll be in our room for the first year.  She isn't getting an official nursery).  Nope, the kids and hubby liked this. So that is what the theme is.  I like it too-I just wanted ladybugs. 

It was fun going through the store.  I was outvoted on a few items, but alas, it's fine with me.  I did get to register for a cute ladybug blanket too.