Friday, November 22, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 11/22/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday! It's been a busy week for Tyler: pulling the vent off the wall and dropping toys inside, climbing in and out of his exersaucer, throwing shoes in the fish tank, dumping toys all over the floor, climbing across the kitchen table, dumping crayons, throwing toys in the fish tank, throwing toys in the toilet, coloring on toys, spilling water, coloring on bed sheets with lipstick, throwing apples and oranges around the house, splitting a wooden spoon, emptying drawers . . . You get the idea. Dumping. Throwing. Breaking. Yeah, that just about sums it up. I hope your week was just as eventful, but not so much destructive, haha. 

1. Jake, after I kissed him: "I'm never going to wash my forehead."

2. Alyssa: "I know what fart means."
Me: "You do?"
Alyssa: "Yeah, like Papa fart in the army."
(That's when I realized that she was saying fought, but because her Rs often sound like Os, my ear is trained to hear her that way.)

3. Alyssa, giggling because I gave her 3 hugs & kisses and gave the boys only 2.


5. Me, holding up a dress: "Do you want to wear this one?"
Alyssa, concerned: "Are you going to iron it first?"

6. Watching Jake stop and silently pray before eating a piece of chocolate.

7. Jake learning the art of the double negative: "Tyler is un-un-awesome." and "Your cooking is not not good." and "I'm not not going to do that."

8. Zac: "Are aliens real?"
Me: "No."
Zac: "Yeah, but are they outer space real?"

9. Alyssa: "Mom, just so you know, it's not fun being sick."

11. Alyssa: "I know a lot about the vowels. {singing} There's a, e, i, o, uuuuuu."

12. Zac, excitedly: "Mom! That couch cushion {points to the curved part of our sectional couch) has more volume than the other cushions!"

13. Jake: "What if someone didn't let their kids watch that movie?"
Me: "Oh, I'm sure there are people like that. Anyway, not everyone even owns a tv."
Alyssa: "What?!? No tv?"
Jake: "How can people live without a tv?"
Me: "You don't even watch much tv."
Jake: "Yeah, but . . . What if someone didn't have an iPad?!? No one can live without an iPad!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 11/15/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Wow, does it feel good to be caught up! I hope you're enjoying the weekend and finding reasons to smile.

1. Jake: "Is there really such a thing as a shoo fly?" 

2. Zac, who has always struggled with dressing himself, put on his pants backwards, his shirt inside out, and his socks twisted, but he did it, by himself.   

3. Zac, about his train track that splits into 2 separate parts: "Look! It's a two-headed track.


5. Zac, while pretending to be a My Little Pony: "I'm Rainbow Butt!"

6. Zac, showing me papers he brought home from church: "See, Miss Sandy let me bring this home. I didn't stealed it. She let me. Wasn't that nice?"

7. Jake, after Tyler woke up from his nap, hugging him: "I missed you! But you're naughty."

8. Me, filling in birth dates on a survey: "What is Tyler?"
Alyssa: "A trouble baby."


10. Zac: "Mommy, you make the best toast!"

11. Zac: "I love you. Do you have a cheese face?"
Me: "Uh, no."
Zac: "I wish you had a cheese face so I could eat you."

What made you smile this week?

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 11/8/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday! I'm still trying to play catch-up, so here's last week's list. The good news is that next week is pretty open (yea!) so I'll have a chance to get this week's posted soon, too. It'll be nice to relax a little before the craziness of the holidays begin. I hope you've had a great week!

1. Zac: "You guys can have some bread if you want to, but I don't want any bread with my butter."  

2. Me, sternly: "Zac, didn't I tell you not to run your toothbrush across the mirror?"
Zac, sincerely: "I didn't. I flinged it."

3. Jake wrote new soot on his birthday list. (new suit)

4. Jake looked out the window and saw the neighborhood kids walking to the school at the end of our street on a cold, wet morning and said,"I just woke up and they're already going to school? And they'll be there until almost dinner time?!? Thank you for homeschooling us!"


6. Alyssa: I'll help you empty the dishwasher."
Jake: "Do you like helping?"
Alyssa: "Yeah. It's what I do."

7. Zac, while putting on his shirt: "It smells kinda dry."

8. Dora, on the television: "Do you have a favorite stuffed animal?"
Alyssa: "Of course I do, a lamb."

9. Me: "What are the states of matter?"
Jake: "Um, I don't know."
Me: "Well, what are the states that water can be in?"
Jake: "Oh! Michigan, Texas, and . . .um, oh! Florida!"

10. Jake, singing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious": "If you say it loud enough, you'll always sound atrocious."

11. Zac: "Sometimes when you get cold, you get moose bumps."

12. Me: "What's your favorite thing for the chocolate fountain?"
Jake: "The chocolate."
Me: "But what's your favorite thing to dip in it?"
Jake: "My fingers."

What made you smile?

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

It's not too often that I get something to review for myself, but this last review of the year for the Schoolhouse Review Crew is just that, a book for me. At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is a three volume series by Franklin Sanders. 

Nothing That Eats is the first book of the series. It follows Franklin's journey as he leaves the city life and brings his wife, Susan, and their 7 children to life in the country. They start by leaving Memphis, and eventually find their way to Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee. He gives the history behind the name of the town and gives an analogy to the cross of Christ and grace. That starts the tone of the book as it is filled with stories of faith and love. The title comes from Susan's admonition that they acquire "nothing that eats," but life changes drastically as they gain dogs, chickens, horses, cows, pigs, ducks, and sheep!

The books are comprised of a collection of letters that Franklin wrote over 17 years for the readers of his newsletter, The Moneychanger. He says, "Together monthly letters paint a picture, but only as life does, adding experience, wisdom, and faith along the way. Life happens; later you figure out what it means." This book is filled with short snippets and each portion is independent, which makes it easy to grab and read even when you have only a little time. 

The book reads more like a journal. Franklin is honest and makes you feel like he is speaking directly to you in his letters. He shares their struggles as they adjust to life on a farm, relates anecdotes that happen along the way, and saturates the pages with their testimonies of their faith. He and his family love history and participate in Civil War reenactments. The book speaks often of the Civil War from the Southern perspective. There was a little too much of this portion for my taste. Though I do enjoy learning history, there was a bit much of his opinion of "Northern Aggression." As I said though, he is honest and isn't putting on a show. 

What first drew me to this book was their desire to live-off-the-land. Years ago, I never would have thought I'd want that for myself, but as time has gone on, I realize how much of a dream it's become. My husband and I talk about purchasing a piece of land, instead of our little home in the city. I'd love to plant a large garden and have room for my children to run. And I want chickens! I, who doesn't like any animal that I'd have to touch, want chickens. I want to get farther away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I want the quiet. I want the peace. I want a slower lifestyle. I love the idea of a multi-generational farm. While At Home in Dogwood Mudhole was written during preparations for Y2K (or TEOTWAWKI, The End of The World As We Know It, as Sanders likes to call it), I believe it's still a good idea to be prepared for the unknown.   

Many parts of the book are supposed to be funny, but I just didn't get it, I guess. Maybe it was the lack of fluidity from the short sections, or maybe it was the deep Southern thinking, or maybe it's just me, but I was left confused at times I knew it was supposed to be humorous. It just wasn't my writing style, I suppose.

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole: Nothing That Eats costs $29.95 for the printed version and $16.95 for the kindle. You can also read a sample chapter to get a feel for yourself. Then even offer a money-back-guarantee:   

If you don't laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we'll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.


Not everyone has the same opinion. To get an idea of what other thought about this book, you can click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. 

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Review

My kids love science. They thrive on experiments and hands-on projects. They long to understand how and why things work. They enjoy examining and discovering just about everything. My kids naturally are drawn to all things science. While I am pleased that they are science-minded like their daddy, I instinctively lean towards language arts and math. I am always looking to balance my passions with their interests. I was ecstatic to be chosen to review Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics from Apologia.

Apologia Educational Ministries is well-known in the homeschool realm for their science curricula and other biblical worldview products. This Christian company believes "that every educational subject in your home school can and should be taught from a biblical worldview built on the solid foundation of God’s Word and centered on Jesus Christ." It's always best to use products that reinforce your beliefs. We have loved everything we've gotten from Apologia in the past, so I was looking forward to this curriculum, as well. 

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics ($39) is part of their Young Explorers series for K5-6th grade. This study uses the Charlotte Mason method to give students an introduction to chemistry and physics and teach how God made everything in the universe. Topics such as atoms, molecules, simple chemicals, laws and motion, electrical magnetism, and simple machines are covered. This hard cover glossy book is filled with colorful, eye-catching pictures, most of which are kids in the middle of conducting a fun experiment. Each lesson is broken into small sections that can easily be completed alone or in conjunction with another part of the lesson. The book is written directly to the student, so it's very easy for the parent to read and the child to understand. 

While my little ones (7, 5, 4) thoroughly enjoyed the how and why teaching parts of the text, their absolute favorite was all the experiments. There are dominant blue boxes marked try this! that are sprinkled throughout the book and list all the supplies and directions for completing the experiments. Directly under the box is the explanation. Most of the experiments use things that can be found around the house and can be set up and completed easily.

Along with the textbook, they offer notebooking journals ($24) to further the study and reinforce the information. These spiral-bound, consumable books are filled with fun, supplemental materials. The regular notebooking journal is for upper elementary grades and those efficient at writing. It provides a place for the student to record experiments, display artwork, and take notes. There are mini-books, crossword puzzles, and more fun activities. The junior notebooking journal is for lower elementary grades and those with limited writing skills. It has much fewer writing activities and offers big lines for the student to complete the work. This journal also includes mini-books and more experiments, but swaps the writing puzzles for coloring pages. 

This science curriculum is perfect for our family. There is so much great information given with age-appropriate language. It makes it easy for the little ones to understand and gives them a greater knowledge of God as our Master Designer. There is a sample schedule given in the front of the notebooking journal to do two lessons a week, but I found it works better for us to do shorter lessons more often. My kids rush through the rest of their studies so we can get to our science book. Jake (7) has been working with the regular journal and Alyssa (5) and Zac (4) have been using the junior edition. Each level fits perfectly where they are. Jake has always been my why? child. He truly wants to understand the hows and whys, of everything. So often, I'm not able to give him an answer without looking it up. Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics combines his love of experimenting with his longing for understanding. This will be a book that we enjoy for many years.     


If you'd like to research some more, please click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 11/1/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5½), Zac (3½), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday! Wow, have things been busy at our house. Zac turned 4 earlier this week, today is Leighton's birthday, and we're having a party tomorrow! Between birthdays and parties, I've made 5 batches of cake/cupcakes in the past week. I'm finishing up the reviewing year with the Crew this week and will get a break for the next month. We have an international dinner at church on Sunday and a missions conference throughout the week. This list should have been posted last week, so I'm a bit behind. This week's list should be up sometime this weekend, too . . . as long as I can find a moment or two!

1. Zac, pointing to an outlet: "Why can't I plug it out?"

2. Jake: "I know what some rich people should do. They should make a huge catapult, fill it with money, and fling it so all the money flies to people who don't have any money."

3. Zac, after I prayed for Tyler to feel better and his ear infection to be healed: "That was a sweet praying."

4. Zac, out of nowhere: "I like broccoli."
Me: "You do?"
Zac: "Yeah, because I have teeth."


6. Alyssa, proudly: "I teached myself."

7. Zac, eating lunch: "Mommy, you are the best chef-er in the whole wide world."

8. Zac: "Toys Arrest -- It's where the police go to arrest the toys." (aka Toys-R-Us)

9. Me, to Zac after he had licked the chocolate batter off the spatula: "Don't wipe it on your clothes. Get a napkin."
Alyssa: "It's ok if I do it though because my shirt is brown."

10. Me, while talking to Leighton about Tyler throwing things in the fish tank: "The kid is something else."
Zac: "The kid is trouble!"

11. Zac, practicing his Bible verse: "Wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the juice. Hey, can I have some juice?"
Me: "It's Jews, and no, you may have some water."
Zac, dejected: "Maybe he should have destroyed all the water instead."

What made you smile this week?
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

IXL Math

My little ones love when they can do school on the computer. It always feels more like a game than work. They've been pleased to have a subscription to review IXL the last few weeks. While the site does offer language arts for 2-4 grades, we used the math section.

IXL is a math review site for Pre-K through algebra. It is broken into sections for each grade level. Each grade is then divided into different skills. Jake (7) practiced using the third grade level, Alyssa (5) reviewed the kindergarten part, and Zac (3) had fun with the pre-k questions.

I sat at the computer with Zac when it was his turn to practice. I read the questions for them and clicked the answers he chose. The program is set up so that the parent does not have to help though. There is a little volume button that the child can press and it will read the question to him. Another thing that is helpful is that you don't have to click directly on the circle to choose an answer, but instead can click in the general vicinity and the answer will be selected. That makes it easier for the child who has a hard time controlling the mouse.

Both Jake and Alyssa completed their sections daily by themselves. Of course, there were some skills they needed my help, but they mostly did it on their own. The site is easy to navigate. The student can see which skills he has completed and which are new. Jake especially liked wandering into higher levels like variable expressions in 7th grade and parabolas in algebra II. 

There are 42 skills for pre-k, 127 skills for kindergarten, and 230 skills for third grade, so the student can practice a long time before ever getting bored or even seeing all the questions. Also, the questions will increase in difficulty as the student improves.

IXL tracks the student's progress. There is a section on the site where the parent can see exactly how the children are preforming, what skills they practiced, and even where their trouble spots are. If gets specific enough that you can see the exact questions they answered incorrectly. You can also get email updates to keep you informed. There's also a way for the student to keep track of his own progress. As he answers questions and advances skills, an award will show on his board. My kids all loved finding the star and clicking on it to see what they "won." They also liked comparing their awards to their siblings' and got excited for each other.

IXL memberships start at $9.95 a month for the math levels (plus $2 each addition child) and $79 a year (plus $20 each additional child.) Benefits include:
  • Comprehensive coverage of K–12 math curriculum. 
  • Interactive language arts exercises for grades 2–4.
  • Unlimited questions in over 2,000 skills.
  • Fun and colorful practice formats.
  • Questions that adapt to your child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve.
  • Immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept.
  • Audio for all pre-K to first-grade math skills.
  • Weekly e-mail updates on your child's progress.
  • Informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and trouble spots.
  • Awards and certificates for you and your children to print out as they reach important milestones.
  • iPad app for mobile math practice.

My kids ask every day if it's time for their computer school. They enjoy doing math and they're their improving at it. I'd say it's working out well.

If you like to see how IXL is working for other families, click over to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Crew.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If You Were Me

It's always fun to learn about other parts of the world and how the people there live, to learn bits of the language, and the types of food. My kids are fascinated with other cultures. They love looking at maps, globes, and books. The love learning how differently others live. Naturally, we were all excited that Carol P. Roman with Away We Go Media sent us the first four books of her If You Were Me series to review.
Each book is dedicated to a specific country: If You Were Me and Lived in Mexico, If You Were Me and Lived in France, If You Were Me and Lived in South Korea, and If You Were Me and Lived in Norway (brand new title). They are around 25 pages each and are filled with bright, vibrant pictures. They feature a boy and a girl from their respective countries and give us a glimpse of their lives.

The books follow a distinct pattern. My kids enjoyed seeing the countries on the globe in the book, and then finding the countries on both our regular globe at home and the blow-up globe we received with the books.

After seeing the country on the map, you'll learn briefly about the capital city.
Did you know that Oslo, the capital of Norway, has 343 lakes?

Next, you'll learn what you may have been named if you had been born there. Since reading the Norway book, my oldest keeps begging me to rename him Gunnar. 
Can you guess where these names are popular: Clara, Minjoon, Alejandro, Birgitte? 

You'll learn what you'd call your parents in each country.
Do you know where you'd be from if you said Appa and Omma?

Then, you'll find out what kind of money you'd need to purchase things, like at a boulangerie, for instance.
My kiddos enjoyed looking at my pesos. Do you know in which country they are used?

Next, you'll learn some of the best places to visit.
Did you know that Chichen Itza has 365 steps, one for every day of the year?

After all that knowledge, you're sure to be hungry. You can decide which country's food you'd like best.
You could try a vafler topped with krem in Norway or bulgogi and kimchee in South korea.

You'll need to take time to play, too. So you'll learn the most popular sport and what to call a baby doll.
Football is popular in France, but do you know what we call the same sport in America? 

You'll read about a special holiday celebrated in each country.
Have you ever worn hanbok while celebrating Seo-nal?

Finally, you'll learn the word for school in each language.
Can you match the words--skole, escuela, ├ęcole, haggyo--to the countries?

The last page in each book is filled with the pronunciations of the foreign words used. I found the pronunciations helpful, and my children loved repeating the words after me.

This group of books is such a fun series and is a good introduction to cultures around the world. Each book can be purchased for around $9.00 and is geared for kids preK-8 years. My kids fall into that age range, and they all enjoyed reading these with me. I would often find them flipping through the pages on their own and they would request them frequently. If you're looking for something to broaden your children's view of the world, the If You Were Me series will meet that need.   

You can read more reviews of these books on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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