Friday, September 30, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile 9/30/11

1. We went to an outdoor art festival with games and crafts for the kids, various vendors, and multiple shows. After the magic show, the elderly lady who sat next to us said,  "What lovely and well-behaved children you have. It was a pleasure to sit with you."

2. While at the festival, we bought hot, freshly-made kettle corn. Jake said, "We shouldn't call it popcorn; we should call it hotcorn."

3. Alyssa told me, "I can say 'thank you' in Spanish." She scrunched up her face and said in a  high-pitched silly voice, "Thank you!" 

4. Listening to Jake sing "Bringing in the Sheets." (sheaves)

5. Alyssa: "Whenever I see flowers that are ripe, I pick them for you."

6. We had just made cherry Kool-Aid, and Jake asked, "Is it wild cherry? 'Cause it tastes wild."

7. Alyssa put on her dress for church backwards. When I told her to turn it around, that the bow went in the back, she was very distraught. After she turned it around, she said with her head down and barely a whisper, "Mommy . . . I'm heartbroken."

8. The kids were eating breakfast at the table. Leighton opened the pantry door, took out what he needed and left the door open. Zac looked at the door, looked at him, and said, "Daddy, no. Uh-uh. Uh-uh." He then climbed down out of his seat, walked over to the pantry, closed the door, and went back to his breakfast. That's my boy! 
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 9/28/11

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Tasty Tuesday: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

To celebrate Alyssa's half birthday, we made ice cream cone cupcakes. These treats greatly up the cuteness factor of regular cupcakes. Plus, they are so simple to make. Easy enough for my 3-and-a-half and 5-and-a-half year olds to make by themselves.

Normally, we make our treats from scratch, but I sometimes get free cake mixes after sales and coupons. I like handing the kids a box and say, "Here, make some cupcakes."

Sometimes, it's nice to just sit back and take pictures, while they do all the work.

 Besides, I think they do a pretty good job.

And they have lots of fun, knowing that they made them by themselves.

(It's even more fun if you stay in your pj's all day, just because it's your half birthday!)

Once the batter is made, either from scratch or a mix, place ice cream cones with flat bottoms into the cups of a muffin tin. Pour batter into cone until wide part is 2/3 full. Bake as normal. 

The cones tend to get mushy if not eaten the first day. We made a few in cones, some regular cupcakes, and lots of mini-cakes. The mini ones are always a hit with kids. Also, you don't have to worry about them eating too much or wasting some. 

Once they're cooled, frost as desired. I like to use my dessert decorator to make them look like soft-serve cones.

I learned something new this time . . . 

If it's an 80 degree day, the frosting even melts and looks like real ice cream!

Messy, runny cones could not deter my 3 little ones from devouring the sticky treats.

* Here's a tip to give the frosting some height and look realistically like ice cream:

Put a dab of frosting right in the middle of the cake. (A bigger glob is better. Unfortunately, I was working with melting frosting that was oozing out of my decorator. Not so easy.) Then, start swirling the frosting at the edge of the cone, working in a circle toward the center. As you get to the middle, cover your initial dab as you build upwards.

VoilĂ ! Soft-serve ice cream! 

Hope that helps. Happy Baking!

Linked to Whatcha Making Wednesdays.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Make It Monday: Ears of Corn

The kids were very excited to make this craft. After all, it did involve some of their favorite things: painting, gluing, and . . . popcorn!

I drew a cob on a piece of paper. (Actually, I printed a cob off the computer, cut it out, and traced it onto the paper. My drawing skills are greatly lacking.) Then Alyssa and Jacob painted the ovals yellow.

Once the paint was dry, we squirted some Elmer's glue on the cob and covered it with popcorn. 

The kids thought this part was so silly and fun! Alyssa told me it was her "favorite thing ever!"

 Of course, they ate their fair share of the popcorn, too. 

Once the glue was dry the and the popcorn was securely in place, they painted the popcorn yellow. Many references of mustard popcorn soon followed. And then lots of giggling.

Can you see how the glue made the popcorn shrink? Where once there were full kernels on the cobs, there now are empty spaces.

Uh oh! We realized the paint had made it even worse. It didn't even cross my mind that the poor popped corn wouldn't like getting wet. Oh well, I guess this was a craft and a science lesson in one. Bonus!

After we discussed the shrunken popcorn, they squeezed strands of glue around the cob.

Then, they added strips of crumbled tissue paper for the husks.

If at any point you're feeling stressed or that the work is too strenuous . . .

. . . please take a break and make your own stache. You'll feel better if you do. 

Then proceed with your craft.

Aren't they cute? We hung the ears of corn in the kitchen in place of our tissue paper butterflies. Such stylish decor we have . .. so unique . . . so earthy . . . so fun!

Not only did we get new art for our wall, we also learned something in the process. And that's what homeschooling is all about.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

42 Months

We had reason to celebrate . . . Alyssa turned three-and-a-half!

We started the celebration with a nutritious delicious breakfast. We replaced our beloved letter-shaped pancakes with balloon ones and topped them with powdered sugar and chocolate sprinkles. (Hey, at least I overrode their choice of pop for a beverage!)

We spent the day reading books, putting together puzzles, playing the Wii, playing dress-up, and filling the house with the delicious smells from our play dough bakery, "Leafs' Treats." The pictures show our very own cinnamon rolls, strawberry pie, and apple pie (featuring 2 kinds of apples.) Also for sale in our bakery are cookies, rolls, cakes, doughnuts, and ice cream. We were very busy rolling, cutting, preparing, and baking. It was worth it! It was all sooo delicious!

We always give the half-birthday-ers one present. Alyssa was very happy to get clothes for her baby dolls. And for a total of $3.00, Mommy was pretty happy, too. 

Our little Sweetie Pie wanted personal pizzas for dinner. Fresh homemade dough, tons of cheese, and lots of favorite toppings - what could be better?

And for dessert?

Ice cream cones???

Nope! Ice cream cone cupcakes with pink icing and sprinkles! Yummy!

Happy 3-and-a-half birthday, Alyssa! We've enjoyed calling you ours for 42 months. Looking forward to many, many more. 

Want to read about more half-birthdays?  Jake 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 (rainbow cupcakes), Alyssa 2 1/2 (cream-filled cupcakes).
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile 9/23/11

1. When we told the kids the big announcement, I made the mistake of teasing Alyssa that if the baby's a boy, we're going to have to hide since we'll be so outnumbered. Oops. Kids take things so literally. Every time the new baby is mentioned, Alyssa says very seriously, "If it's a boy, we're going to hide, right, Mommy?"

2. Jake said, "You never know until you find out."

3. Leighton shot his first deer! Jake wanted to eat it for dinner, but we were going over my brother's so they could butcher it. So he asked, "Then can we eat it for dessert?"

4. Jake had a hand on either side of his head, squeezing it. Why? Because he was "trying to wake up" his brain, of course.

5. The kids have been very helpful in deciding a name for the baby. If it's a boy, Jake has settled on Rocket. Alyssa has chosen Lys for a girl. Although, they're not any worse than the names Leighton and I like to joke about: Dewey Leaf, Daisy Leaf, Ima Leaf, Autumn Leaf . . .

6. We pulled the sections of the couch into the middle of the living room to make a tent. After the kids played for a while, Jake said, "I feel sad for my missing tooth. It's missing out on everything!"

7. Celebrating Alyssa's half-birthday. (post coming soon)

8. Last week I found $31 in a pair of pants I hadn't worn in months. This week, I found another $20. I figure we must be really rich and not know it! I just need to empty all my pockets.

9. Zac is usually very good about giving kisses. I asked him for one, but he told me no. I covered my eyes and pretended to cry. He came right over, very concerned and asked, "What's wrong?" He then ran and got his pillow (his lovey), gave it to me, and then gave me a kiss.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And the Tree Grows

I've been wondering how I'd say this . . .

So, I guess I've been eating too many Tasty Tuesday treats lately 'cause I just keep gaining weight.


Knock knock.
Who's there?
Baby who?
Baby Leaf coming April 2012.

But neither of those do this announcement justice, so I'll explain.

When Leighton and I got married, we planned to have 4 kids, God willing. After Alyssa was born (our second) I decided 3 kids would be plenty. Then, when she was 10 months old and waking up 3 times a night to nurse because she was a horrible sleeper, we found out I was expecting again. Lack of sleep and an abundance of hormones strengthened my decision for 3 children.

I had a difficult time balancing things the first couple months after Zachary was born. I had a newborn, a 19th month old, and a nearly 3 year old. No more was I able to keep up with my clean house, empty sink, and laundry once a week. Being a perfectionist only made it worse. I felt awful when toys were scattered all over the house or when I had a load of clean laundry that sat untouched for days. It took a couple months before I could better handle it all and accept the fact that my house could not always be perfect, but that spending time with them was what truly mattered.

Still though, I knew 3 babies was enough for me. I had a couple wise women with multiple children tell me "If you can handle 3, you can have as many children as you want." They also said things like, "You'll know when your family's complete." And it was . . . or so I thought.

A few months ago, I got what I thought was the baby itch. I began really wanting another baby. At first, I attributed this feeling to a bunch of different things: we were planning a yard sale that month and selling all the baby stuff, I was able to care for a couple newborns in the church nursery, this was the longest stretch that I hadn't been pregnant since we started having kids, etc. But the feeling continued. I started to realize that it wasn't a passing thing, but that I truly thought we were meant to have another one. We began to pray. And pray and pray. I needed to know that it was the nudging of the Holy Spirit and not just a fleshly whim. We understood that life would be easier for us with 4 children than with 3 and disobedience. Of course, I know that God could have given us a fourth child regardless of what we planned (Trust me, both our boys came when we were trying to prevent getting pregnant!), but God always honors obedience.

We came to the conclusion that our family was not yet complete.

Two weeks later, I stood with a positive pregnancy test in my hands. God was indeed blessing us once again.

So, here we are almost 10 weeks into my fourth pregnancy. Alyssa told me the other day, "Look! You have a big belly." Thanks, Sweetheart.  Sheesh, I'm not that much bigger, but apparently it's enough for my 3-year-old to notice. Out of the mouths of babes. (I highly doubt that if Leighton would have been the one to announce it, it would have brought a smile to my face.)

We told the kids Sunday night. They were ecstatic! Jake keeps saying "That is so cool!" and Alyssa has asked over and over if it's going to be a girl. The next morning they both asked if we were getting the baby that day. They might be just a little bit excited. And now they understand why mommy hasn't been feeling well and hasn't been playing very much.

We had thought that our family tree would be dormant for many years, but here we are waiting to meet another little one that God has entrusted us to raise. And now the tree grows.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Before Five in a Row - Review

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.
- Strickland Gillilan

Children love listening to stories. I can remember as a child growing up, my parents read to me every night before bed. I can still hear my dad's silly voices as he mimicked Goofy or Donald Duck. I have precious memories of cuddling with my parents as we shared in these stories together. Now, I have the joy of making memories with my own children. Generally, Leighton reads them a single bedtime story, but I have the privilege of being sandwiched between 2 little ones with another on my lap and reading multiple books during the day. Pure bliss.

We had the opportunity to review Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) by Jane Claire Lambert. It is used as a guide to enhance your child's awareness of the world around him and help create memorable times of interaction between you. The purpose of this book is not to instruct or teach per se, but to have a happy introduction to many different topics and to build intimacy between the reader and the child.

The design is to choose one of the 23 mini-units, each based on a classic children's story, and read it five days in a row. Each day, you choose one of the corresponding activities covering areas like Bible, art, math, science, language, music and more.

Some of  these books are already my kids' favorites. Books like Goodnight Moon and The Snowy Day I've read more times than I can remember. There's just something about the simplicity that draws the children in and makes them beg to read them, "Again, again!" (and quote it along with you from memory.) We also own several other books that are used in BFIAR, but not all. So of course, we just had to make a trip to the library. (Mention the word library in our house and there will be smiles all around.)

I used BFIAR with Jacob (5), Alyssa (3), and Zachary (22m). They had a lot of fun rhyming words with The ABC Bunny, recognizing shapes in Goodnight Moon, playing Monkey See Monkey Do like Caps for Sale, performing the action words in Corduroy, and much more!

I absolutely love part 2 of this book: Parent's Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Resources. I am constantly checking out books from the library, buying books from yard sales, and perusing the internet in search of creative things to do with my kids. Making a craft every Monday, baking every Tuesday, and conducting a science experiment every Thursday keeps us pretty busy. I am constantly looking for ideas to spark a project. The second half of this book is all about that. It lists many, many, many ideas of play-based learning, building fine and motor skills and all-around life-skills, and just plain fun. It lists activities as simple as sitting on the floor, facing each other and rolling a ball back and forth to playing Shopping List Bingo to making your own play dough (like we did here.)

BFIAR can be purchased from Rainbow Resource Center for $35.00. They also sell Five in a Row (PreK-3 grade), Beyond Five in a Row (3-7 grade), Above and Beyond Five in a Row (7-8 grade), and some of the corresponding children's books. 

I highly recommend Before Five in a Row to anyone with young children. Whether you use the ideas in this book or devise your own, make sure when your children are grown they can say "Richer than I you can never be--I had a Mother who read to me."

Check out what my fellow Crew members said about BFIAR here.

* I was given a copy of Before Five in a Row in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile 9/16/11

Here are the highlights from this week. 

1. Jake said, "I can't wait to lose my tooth so I can get $100! Then I can pass it out and share with everybody."

2. Zac got a little piece of chocolate for going on the potty. He celebrated by singing the Batman theme song with a twist. "Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, Choc-choc!"  

3. Jake was sitting next to me in church, using his hand to "scoop" out the red verses (Jesus speaking) in my Bible and put them in his heart, right where Jesus is supposed to be.

4. Zac was watching me cut up a watermelon. With each slice, he became more and more concerned for the poor fruit. "Oh no! Oh no! Owie!" After a few more minutes, it became, "Stop it, Mommy. Owie!" He certainly had no problems eating it though.

5. Jake made up his own joke by himself. Q: What do trains' pants say? A: Toot toot!

6. Cuddling with all 3 of my precious children on the couch.

7. Jake lost his first tooth! (Post coming soon.)

8. We were listening to an announcement during church about a children's workshop. This caught Jake's attention.
                 Jake: "That means I can go!"
                 Me:   "No, it's just for the teachers."
                 Jake: "But I can build things." 
At this point I was confused. In my mind, it is a seminar to learn things about serving in those ministries. But, I realized that in his mind, a "children's workshop" meant the children get to work in the shop.

9. Jake told Zac, "I'm old enough to shoot an apple off your head."

What made you smile this week?
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

BigIQKids - Review

BigIQkids is an award-winning online learning program for K-12 grade students. It provides academic lessons in a fun, interactive format. For the best results, children should log into daily and complete their lessons. This “daily" strategy builds invaluable study habits, leads to better grades and greater self confidence.

The program has three sections: spelling & vocabulary, math, and U.S. states. The spelling and vocab section is absolutely free! The other two sections have both free and premium options. To see the difference between the two options, click here. To see the price for the premium math and states, click here.

Spelling & Vocabulary
For the spelling and vocabulary section, you can use one of the grade appropriate lists already on the site or you can import your own list. (If you choose to import your own, the program will automatically create a week's worth of lessons, quizzes and tests.) This section has all sorts of ways to get your kids to learn and review the spelling words. Jacob (5) especially liked the word search lesson and asked to play again and again. There are also lessons of hangbot and word jumble. Combining fun with learning always makes kids retain more information.

The math section is strictly for drilling math facts. No fun and games this time. Again, you can use the pre-set settings on the site, or you can adjust the lesson. For example, if your child is on double digit addition and single digit multiplication, you can alter the lesson to  focus on just these two areas. You can also set how many problems to complete. The default setting is 50 problems. That seemed so overwhelming to my 5-year-old! He was very thankful when I lowered the amount. Still, this was his least favorite section, surprisingly too, since he loves math. I think it was because the other areas had "fun" lessons.   

U.S. States
Jacob is fascinated with maps of the United States. We have 3 different states puzzles. He loves talking about different states. This was a good section for him. The students learn the state's location, capital, spelling, abbreviations and general state facts. It even allows parents to add additional facts which will be included in the child's lessons. While the child is learning how to spell each state, the name is clearly on the screen. This helps the child to visually see the correct spelling as he spells it. Also, during the location lesson, the state on the map turn green as it is called. The child hears the name of the state and simply clicks on the green. As with the other sections, the lessons get harder as the student progresses.

One thing I did not really like about this section was the emails I got. While it is wonderful to see the progress your child is making and where he is struggling, it is not necessary to tell me every time he gets something wrong. For instance, on the facts lesson, the student picks a state off the interactive map and listens to 30-60+ seconds full of facts. Then, the student is asked about one of those facts. Do you know how many facts are given in a minutes time? Lots! I did not feel discouraged if my 5-year-old did not get the answer right the first time. Yet, I received an email that Jacob did not answer the summary question correctly on the first try and to please let Jacob know that the state summaries are important and to pay close attention. While this is not a big deal, I was slightly annoyed. I think it would be better to have it set up like the other sections and have it age appropriate.

The site is a little difficult to navigate. If you'd like to go from the math or states page over to the spelling or home page, you have to log in again. It's a little frustrating. Also, the characters who tell the students how to accomplish each lesson sound very robotic. It didn't bother Jacob, but it might other kids.

Overall, I do think it's a great program, especially if the student completes the lessons every day. This takes 10-15 minutes. The program includes tracking and progress reports and is completely customizable and adapts to a student's progress. Jacob's favorite thing was the game page. For each lesson he completed, he earned a coin to play one of the 78 mini games. He liked saving them up to use all at once.

Even better? BigIQkids won't help your child with just spelling, math, and the U.S. states, they also have a list of 10 Steps to Better Grades. This guide will help you help your child achieve better grades. And who doesn't want that!

 Find out what other reviewers of the TOS Crew are saying about BigIQkids here.

* I received a subscription to this program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Peanut Butter Cream Pie

I must be on a peanut butter and chocolate kick. Last week, we made these. And now we have a peanut butter pie. Maybe next week we can stray away from the super rich desserts. 

Maybe not.

8 ounces chocolate cookies                                  1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
4 tablespoons butter, melted                                 1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips                   1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup chopped peanuts                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream                                                1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces cream cheese

1. Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

I started with chocolate sandwich cookies and scraped the cream filling out using a butter knife. Good thing I had plenty of helpers to eat all that cream! Zac was in heaven since that's all that he eats of the cookie anyway.

We then tossed the cookie halves into the food processor and had perfect crumbs in less than thirty seconds. Afterwards, we dropped in the peanuts to chop those as well.

If you'd like to spread the chocolate to the edges, like the recipes states, add some heavy cream or milk to get it to a spreadable consistency. Otherwise, you'll have glops of unspreadable chocolate that sticks to the cookie crumb crust and breaks it up as you try to spread it. The sad thing is that I knew that, but was feeling a little lazy and since the recipe didn't call for it . . . I ended up with glops of chocolate.  Honestly though, I would leave that chocolate layer right out. The pie is incredibly rich and certainly doesn't need it. And I like rich.

As soon as Zachy saw the mixer on the counter, he ran right over and stood by my side. The cream from the sandwich cookies was long forgotten. He had his eyes on the whipped cream. Sad thing was that it was unsweetened and not nearly as yummy as what he normally experiences from the beater. Not to worry, big brother was right there to finish it off.

The next few steps were all about measuring, beating, dumping, mixing, folding. Pretty self explanatory.

Then I dumped the deliciousness (and yes, of course I tried it!) into the prepared crust, topped it with some melted chocolate (with milk this time!) and placed it in the fridge overnight. 

Hours later, an innocent child opened the refrigerator to get a snack, something healthy like yogurt. Instead, his eyes fell upon the finished pie, now decorated with melted chocolate. All thoughts of yogurt were forgotten. His healthy snack was replaced with a piece of peanut butter pie. 

Can you blame him?

This pie is not meant for photographing. 

But it's certainly meant for enjoying. The kids informed me over and over again just how good it was. They also made statements of how chocolatey and peanut-buttery it was. No one finished his small piece - not even Zac!  Jake kept telling me that he was going to save the rest of his for later. Every time, just as I was putting it back in the fridge, he was right there saying, "Welllll, maybe I have a little more room in my tummy."

I was leery of the peanuts under the filling since we're not big fans of things with nuts. It needs them though. They add that little bit of crunch to an otherwise total creaminess. It's a lovely contrast.

Go ahead and join in the peanut butter and chocolate kick that we're on and make this pie!

Just make sure to have lots of loved ones nearby to help you eat it all.
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Wordless Wednesday 9/14/11

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Camping Trip 2011

Every year, we go camping on my brother's property with his family and a bunch of friends. It is a blast! It's something that everyone looks forward to. As soon as the last of the snow melts and the buds begin to form on the trees, Jake asks (almost every day!) when we're going camping.

And let me tell you, this is camping, like really camping. No running water . . . no bathroom . . . no shower . . . no refrigerator . . . no lights. It's just us in a tent with a bucket in a pop-up deer blind for a bathroom, melting ice in coolers to keep our food fresh, and baths in the water-filled gravel pit . . . And a bonfire, and stars, and s'mores, and fishing, and swimming, and four-wheeling, and relaxing, and quality time spent together. And laughing, lots of laughing. 


Alyssa caught her very first fish with my brother's help. Jacob caught many, many fish - no help required. Zac had fun playing in the sand, throwing mud, and chasing the dog. We saw many frogs, toads, deer, geese, turkeys, and other wildlife.

I've spared you the 700+ pictures and shared . . . just a few.

Now can you see why we love to go camping???
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Time4Learning - Review

Time4Learning is an online home education program for Pre-K-8th grade that combines learning with fun educational teaching games. It can be used as a full curriculum, as a supplement, or as a tutoring session or refresher course. It covers language arts, English, math, science and social studies. The majority of the curriculum is web based, so there is no software to download, no CDs and nothing additional to purchase. Members can access the program 24/7 from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection.They also offer printable worksheets for reinforcement.

Students are given access to one grade above and one grade below their grade placement. This helps to customize the program for each individual student. With more than 1,000 interactive animated lessons, there's something for everyone.
Time4Learning also keeps progress reports for each child. This is a wonderful way to keep a record of the lessons they have done and how well they did them. You can see where they excel and where they need more work.

The cost is $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child. Because it is a fully comprehensive program, there is nothing else to purchase.

I really, really want to say that my kids loved this program . . . but they didn't. Alyssa (3) enjoys it somewhat. The lessons for her age are colors, alphabet, shapes, fruit, space, and many more. There are so many game-like lessons for her to choose. Jacob (5) fights me every time I tell him it's Time4Learning. Once he's logged in, he will complete lessons without complaining. After the lesson time is over, the kids can proceed to the "playground," an area filled with many games for them to play. Both time amounts (lesson and playground) can be changed under the parental controls.

I really cannot say why my children don't care for this program. (There is another online program that they absolutely love. Maybe that's why?) I think it's a wonderful resource . . . for those with children who will take advantage of all it has to offer. As with anything though, it's not for everyone. That's why it's so wonderful that Time4Learning has a 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you are not completely satisfied, you can cancel your membership within 14 days for a full refund. You can even try some demo lessons here.

Head over to the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog to read more reviews of Time4Learning.

I was given a one month subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Things That Make Me Smile

Here's a few of my favorite memories from this week.

1. Jake was playing Mario on the Wii. He got to the bad guy at the end of the level. In order to prepare himself for the battle, he removed his sweatshirt, cracked his knuckles, and loosened up. It must have worked - he won!

2. I was reviewing some Bible stories with the kids. I gave them clues to guess who I was talking about, "It was a Philistine who was reeeaaally big." Before Jake could say "Goliath," Alyssa yelled out, "Delilah!" How did she remember that???

3. Jake asked, "You know what's sweeter than pancakes and cinnamon rolls? . . . Mommy!"
5. I was practicing Ephesians 4:32 with the kids for their Bible verse. Before I could even finish helping Alyssa, Zachy yelled, "My turn, my turn!" He made it through about half the verse (repeating every couple words.) It was so sweet!

6. The kids were watching Super Why!. When the pig asked where the letter P was, Jake said, "It's next to the O, ya Goof. Why is he asking us anyway?"  About 2 minutes later he said, "Why am I even watching this?" Apparently Super Why! is too babyish for 5-year-olds.

7. Jake played his first soccer game. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard or had so much fun. Little 4-5 year olds are absolutely hilarious! The game was filled with players kicking the ball the wrong way, scoring goals for the opposite team (and then high-fiving anyway!), pouting when the ball was stolen away, completely missing the ball, and constant crazy running. Jacob played so well! He had many break-a-ways - that kid is fast! He scored 4 goals . . . 3 of which were on the correct net! Ha! He had tons of fun and we were very proud of him.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School 2011

We started another school year today! We've been easing into some extra learning activities the last few weeks, but we officially started full-time today.

We began our morning with pancakes and powdered sugar. That's what the kiddos requested, so that's what they got. Of course, each child's pancake is always in the shape of the first letter of their names. Is there any other way to eat them? Letter pancakes taste sooo much better than circle pancakes!

Little did I know that a princess and Superman were going to school with us. And a faceless child.

We had told Alyssa last year that she was in preschool. She's only 3 and still in preschool, but it's a new year. So, today would be the second first day. Make sense? Jake is 5 and in first grade. Little Zachy is not even 2 yet, so he's in pre-preschool. 

Overall, today went well. It's certainly going to be a challenge to keep Zac busy and out of  in as little trouble as possible. Toddlers are just so inquisitive! He loves to learn, and I love helping him. He's doing well recognizing colors and pointing out letters. Today, he picked up a magnetic letter off the fridge and said, "X!" And he was right. Makes his momma proud.

We're excited for the 2011-2012 school year and all that we will accomplish!
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Wordless Wednesday 9/7/11

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