Monday, July 27, 2009

Exercise, exercise... Week 2

Okay, so I got through one week. Now to do another one.

After some discussion of how much I really hate the Cardio Party workout that is in this rotation, I decided to go ahead and substitute for it. I might be able to handle it once a week for a month, except that the Hard Core Fusion workout incorporates some of the same things I really detest about Party. So... I'm going to force myself to continue Fusion, but sub for Party.

I think I've decided to use Cardio Inferno. It is a shorter workout (30 minutes vs. 40 minutes). It uses light weights, but no other equipment, and it isn't "dancy" at all. As much as I love my "old" Firm, I don't like dragging equipment out and putting it away. I love the idea of getting through one month with no boxes and such.

Again, please, if something stays red, please ask me about it... Saturday is the only day where I won't always be able to update my blog shortly after finishing a workout (not sure how I'm going to handle next Saturday at all... I'm supposed to be picking Connor up at 7:00, which means being out the door before 6, and then he's volunteering until noon... so the earliest I'd be home would be about 1:30. Maybe I can get everyone to go outside that afternoon so I can workout inside ALONE.

I do think I need to adjust my schedule so that I have Saturday as a rest day, instead of Saturday as the longest workout of the week.

Anyway, this week's schedule:

Monday: Hi-Def Sculpt (weights upper body only) DONE
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Hi-Def Sculpt Express (weights for upper body only) DONE
Thursday: Cardio Overdrive Express (no weights) DONE
Friday: Hard Core Fusion (weights for upper body only)
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Hi-Def Sculpt

Today's workout was a struggle. Trina and Richard got up before I started to work out, and they were totally obnoxious and difficult. I called Dale and cried, he told me to put their noses on the wall until I was done working out... and voila! I did get through my workout. (I did even let them leave the wall before I finished.) I pre-watched Cardio Inferno, mostly to be sure it wasn't going to be as frustrating as some of these others.

ETA: Wednesday: well, yesterday was a bust. My head was pounding, I felt absolutely miserable all day, and I would have stayed in bed if I thought I could get away with it. So, I did not workout. I decided to use this opportunity to alter my schedule so that I'll have Saturdays off. So, the above is revised to reflect my new plan. Today's workout was great. But the sculpt workouts are always my favorites.

ETA: Friday: I admit it. I didn't complete the workout. I hate it. I have to find another option. I did the first 10 minutes. In that time, Allie admonished me to be "funky" four times, to give her some "attitude" and to give it some "personality." I didn't even get to the Latin dance part, well, not exactly. There was one little cha-cha-cha move in there.

I CANNOT DO THIS WORKOUT! Yes, I'm shouting. I don't care. I'd rather be fat than subject myself to this.

So, I'm writing today off. I'm sleeping in tomorrow and taking my rest day. I'll do the sculpt workout on Sunday morning early (love that one!). And next week? I'll be subbing for Hard Core Fusion. I know I own Firm Cardio+Sculpt workouts that don't leave me standing, watching, saying, "No way, no how" in total frustration. The C+S workouts don't tend to be my favorites, but I don't remember absolutely detesting any of the others.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reading Victories -- Enjoying the little things

In the continuing saga of my 10 year old struggling reader, I have to report on a couple of things here.

First, Thomas was playing some math game that lists out questions and you have to pick out the correct answer. He's past the point where the game reads the question to you, but he is very overwhelmed by the very small print and all the big, scary math words. Apparently, he's been playing with Connor nearby, so Connor can read him the questions. Well, Connor is in the middle of an assessment test for ALEKS (we are blessed to be reviewing ALEKS for the Review Crew now, YAY) and I told him not to interrupt.

And... here is the reason I'm writing...

William says, "Come here, Thomas. I'll read it to you."

I tried very hard not to fall out of my chair.

He has also been working at reading the Hank the Cowdog book, which is going better than it started. And his attitude about Explode the Code Online has improved drastically too. He's making progress. Too bad the subscription expires in about 3 weeks.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Random stuff going on

I've had about a dozen half-formulated blog posts swirling through my mind lately. So, here is a random thoughts type of post, with not a whole lot about any one thing.

First, we started using the Grapevine Bible Study I blogged about a couple weeks ago. We love it. The kids (and MOM!) are enjoying stick figuring through the Bible. I do believe this is something we will continue, long after this review is done.

Another Review Crew opportunity is to receive a Sue Gregg cookbook to try out. They wanted us to do a couple things before saying "yes" to this opportunity. Mostly, that involved seriously reading the website, picking a recipe to make with one of the kids, and then rating it as a family. Dale & I had to agree to trying this out for the Crew, and email them back.

So, we've made four recipes now from the website, and none have been duds. On Thursday, Thomas helped me make Yogurt Pie and William helped me make Parmesan Chicken Nuggets. Last night, Connor helped me make Country Creole Peas & Corn. And this morning, I made Scones myself.

It was great to be talking about the food and coming to a consensus about whether or not it is a recipe we want to repeat. They suggested we have each family member rate the recipe from 1 to 10. Trina keeps insisting on ranking the things she likes as a 3, so we can't exactly do an average! After everyone gives their number, we discussed it, using words like "dry" or "stringy" instead of yuck or yummy. (Dry was the chicken, we all really liked it, but we are going to do the regular recipe next time, not the low-fat one; stringy was the coconut in the pie... I was the only one who liked that optional ingredient, so family consensus is that we opt not to include it next time). Finally, everyone is to say how often they think we should eat this in the future.

Basically, the Sue Gregg philosophy seems to line up incredibly well with what we were trying to do as far as food anyway. AND, Connor is working on his Cooking Merit Badge and needs to do some menu planning anyway. And, William has been wanting to seriously learn to cook for quite some time. I think this is exactly what we needed.

Today was one of those 'how do you homeschool when Mom is sick?' kinds of days. Richard was throwing up this morning. Midday, I started feeling miserable. I slept. Kids did not get much done while I was crashed out. We desperately need schooldays this month.

Over the weekend, I cut out the fabric to make an apron for Trina. I've never used an ePattern before, so that was quite the experience. I have to figure out when I can work on getting it sewn up. Looks pretty straightforward though. The Sense & Sensibility link on the upper right shows you the pattern.

Our gardening efforts are yielding fruit. Of the peppers and tomatoes kind. We have all of two pepper plants (banana and jalepeno), and two different tomatoes. The banana pepper has about a half dozen peppers at the moment, with a couple dozen buds in various stages of flowering. The jalepeno has a couple dozen flowers. And one of the tomatoes is starting to flower. It's going to be expensive produce, I think, but we had to start somewhere. The plan is for Connor to get a 4x8 bed put out in the next couple weeks, and then to grow some lettuce and such as a fall crop. He needs to get some flowers happening too, if he wants his gardening merit badge this summer. I think that will be happening NEXT summer at this point.

Exercise, exercise...

Okay, I have to be accountable to someone. So, I'll post on my blog and hopefully feel guilty if I don't continue to workout.

I'm in miserable shape, I don't fit into most of my clothing, and I'm just tired of it. What worked for me a few years ago was The Firm, so seeing as I have ignored those DVDs for so long (and never more than opened the Cardio Weights set), I'm dusting them off and getting busy.

I'm not tweaking. I opened the little booklet, and I'm following their advice, which is also listed out here. So this week, I have to do:

Monday: Hi-Def Sculpt (no weights) DONE
Tuesday: Cardio Party DONE
Wednesday: rest DONE
Thursday: Hi-Def Sculpt Express (weights for upper body only) DONE
Friday: Cardio Party DONE
Saturday: Hard Core Fusion Express (no weights) DONE
Sunday: Rest

I can do this, right?

Please, if the above list stays red and doesn't get marked DONE, yell at me, would you?

ETA: Tuesday: Obviously, the workout yesterday was tougher than I thought. I started feeling pretty sore late in the day. Not horrible, but definitely sore. I did not get through all of Cardio Party. It's split up into 5 different segments of about 8 minutes each. I did the first two, about 2 minutes of the 3rd one, and the stretching part of the last one. It didn't help that I had an audience of four (all but William). I will work up to the point of completing this workout, but I do not think this will ever be a favorite. Ugh, I hate "get funky" in a workout. I don't want to dance, I want to workout. (uhh, well, I don't want to do that either. I have to.) I may sub something else cardio for Cardio Party later in this rotation.

ETA: Thursday: the "upper body only" thing is weird... there is only one exercise in the entire video that uses weights for the lower body only. Whatever. Used 5 lb dumbbells. I like 25 minute workouts. :)

ETA: Friday: I did the first two sections again, maybe 30 seconds more of the third section than Tuesday. Decided I really dislike this segment, so I skipped ahead to do section 4. Did about a minute of section 5 before determining I was falling over my feet and needed to be done. Fast forwarded to the end and did the stretch. All total, I did about 30 minutes of the workout (which is 40 minutes, I think). I really don't like this workout. I don't want to do Latin dancing, I don't want to dance at all. I want to workout. Dale says I should sub a cardio I can stomach for the next three times this workout is scheduled. I do like Emily's ab section though (segment 2). I'll see what I think on Tuesday. My arms were a bit sore from yesterday's workout.

ETA: Saturday: I did it! I got through the week! Yay, me! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: Hank the Cowdog

Oh, how fun! A package arrived from Maverick Books today, and inside that package were three items (prices are as listed on the Maverick Books website on 7/18):
Well, I told the kids that if they picked up the living room, we could listen to the tape from the game, and then we could play the game. You know what I discovered? We have green carpeting. Who knew? I thought it was lego-colored...

So, for the uninitiated, Hank the Cowdog is the Head of Ranch Security -- and the narrator of the stories -- at a Texas ranch where there is always something going on. Hearing about it from Hank's point of view is a lot of fun, as his perspective differs rather dramatically from the perspective of the ranch-hands and other humans he encounters. John Erickson, the author of the series, knows his subject well, being a former cowboy and ranch manager. While a story about a talking dog can hardly be called realistic, well... the stories do feel like they could be being told by a ranch mutt. (And yes, I know the basic plot summary below doesn't sound remotely realistic.)

The tape that came with the game is fantastic. It's 30 minutes of the audio for The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado. I had three boys (Connor is camping, Trina really isn't listening) rolling with laughter. They cannot wait to play the game. Seeing as I'm still not quite sure what color the chair is, well... that will have to wait.

The basic plot of The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado is that the dogs are at the house when a tornado is coming. They investigate, and bark at the tornado. Failing to scare the tornado away, they end up flying around in the funnel with a couple of buzzards, eventually landing in a tree. The story is told in typical Hank the Cowdog style, which has substantial boy-appeal. Not saying that girls won't like it here, just stating that it definitely appeals to boys.

Okay, so now for the game itself (it's been a couple hours, and the chair is cream colored, by the way). First, a minor complaint. The spinner takes some getting used to. My 3 year old can't do it (yeah, the game is for ages 5+, but you try stopping her from joining in!). My 5 year old usually has to try a couple times to get it to spin right. I had the kids practice spinning before playing the game, so the older two had very few problems anyway.

Otherwise, the kids are having a ball. Basic rules: each player has two dogs at home and a buzzard elsewhere. You spin the spinner to move your characters around the board, trying to get all three safe in your tree. Other players can knock you back to the beginning, or a tornado can send you forward or backward. We did have a couple of hurt feelings incidents when a character got sent back home because another player landed on him, but that got worked out.

It's a lot like Sorry. Only it is far more adorable (don't tell the boys I used that word!) And it folds up nicely and can go with you in the car. The character pieces fit into little holes on the board, and the spinner is attached. The game is well constructed, and well thought out.

If your kids are already fans of Hank the Cowdog, this game is a fun product. If your kids don't know Hank yet, well, this is a good way to introduce him, as the tape gives a good feel for the characters, and is fun even if you don't like the story.

The other items included are a CD which is sort of a "best of" from various Hank the Cowdog audiobooks. The kids did not enjoy this as much as the actual story tape included with the game, but if (when!) we work through a bunch of the books, I'm sure they will enjoy this product more, knowing the context of the excerpts.

My reluctant reader took one look at the book (after finishing the game) and asked if he could read it (yay!!), and I know when my Boy Scout gets back from camping, he'll polish it off in one sitting. I did.

One thing I do need to note is that the stories do involve name-calling. Usually, that is directed at the dog, but not always. In the book we were sent, the toddler (Little Alfred) calls his mother "Dummy" and is punished for it. The other issue is phrases like "Dadgum it." They aren't terribly frequent, but they are there. I would love Hank more if these two things happened less, but it isn't like my kids aren't exposed to name-calling in real life. They know they aren't supposed to do it themselves. For my family, it is something we can discuss, and move on. If name-calling is an issue for your family, you might want to get a copy of a book from the library before spending any money on audio or books.

Visit the Maverick Books website to see all 54 (!) books, also available on audio (and the author does a fantastic job of creating voices for the assorted characters). Of course, there are other Hank items available too, such as backpacks, stuffed animals, and other toys.

ETA on 7/22: So, Connor read the book this morning in between customers at the bookmobile (he's volunteering there this summer). As expected, he loved it. We discussed it on the drive home, which was a lot of fun. I told him he had to tell me more than "it was good" since I'm supposed to be reviewing it!

What he brought up was how Hank is always taking credit for things he really didn't do, or only played a minor role in doing (scaring the horse off), and he's always blaming someone or something else when something goes wrong. We talked about how that is a natural tendency among people in general, and maybe it isn't all bad, but when taken too far (like Hank!) it can be annoying, or even hurt your credibility.

He brought up how the other characters do this too... Sally May is really frustrated on Thanksgiving, and steps on the dog and twists her ankle. She takes it all out on the dog, blaming all her problems on him. It wasn't exactly Hank's fault that she wasn't watching where she was going. And isn't that a lot like what we all do? We are frustrated with something that isn't working right, and we end up lashing out at whoever or whatever is convenient... generally blowing their wrongdoing all out of proportion.

Fascinating conversation. Seeing as this wasn't a lesson *I* picked up on in my reading of the book, it was even more interesting. And something I most certainly need to work on. I don't want to be Hank... I want to take credit for the good I do, but not for things I didn't really impact. More importantly, I need to not get upset with the slow driver who makes me late, when reality is that *I* didn't leave on time.

Otherwise, you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Hank the Cowdog and Maverick Books at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Rocket Phonics

The joys of spring cleaning -- we discovered our Rocket Phonics kit in the back room! I had totally forgotten I even owned this, as it didn't work out for William a couple years ago and had just packaged it all back up and put it on a shelf.

While looking it over again, Richard (age 5) asked if he could use it. He is reading a bit already, all self-taught, and I thought, "Sure, why not?" Well, it was FUN. Thomas (age 8) saw it, asked if he could do it too... and after just a couple lessons, I'm already seeing his reading improve. He LOVES it.

Back to Richard... I told him he only had to read one line of the words in the first lesson, and he refused to stop. He loves the little rocket thing (what a fantastic boy-appeal device!) and he was SO thrilled at some of the words he was able to figure out all by himself.

Okay, so after that, what is Rocket Phonics? It is a phonics program, obviously. Apparently it is similar to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which has the dubious honor of being the only phonics program I've ever sold. You start off by learning an Initial Teaching Alphabet where every symbol makes one and only one sound. There are pictures to go with those sounds, and the program has a lot of great games to use to reinforce the sounds. You start to do some blending of basic words in this phase also.

Then you move into more real reading, and here is one of the best things about the program... the reading is great stuff. Goofy jokes, wise sayings from kids, stuff with lots of kid appeal. So you read things like: "What is the best way to paint a river? --with watercolors" Or, "Never trust a dog to watch your food."

And yes, with the whole ITA thing, the child can read this pretty early in the program. (The first example was one of the first things in Section 2, the second example was one of the last things in that section).

At the end of section two, there is a list of words to read that the child should now be able to read without "helpers" (the little code thingies of the ITA).

So, for section 3, they start reading Aesop fables. At this point, the first list of words are printed in regular text, so words like much, the, boy, and your are in plain fashion, while the newer words have the ITA and color coding. What does that mean? A word like "walked" would look something like:


(the dots are there to keep the spacing somewhat right)

The idea is that the blue letters make their normal ITA sound. The grey letters say something else -- indicated by the black helper letters below (and I can't seem to make letters black).

Anyway, section 3 gets into a lot of great stuff with suffixes, apostrophes, comprehension questions, and some great games where the kids have to figure out where the spaces are supposed to be.

As you go through the lesson, the stories start to appear twice... once with helpers, followed by comprehension questions. And then again as plain, normal text. I love this.

What I like, so far: The cards are colorful, fun and durable. I have the old version, so they are a little more cartoon-y than I would prefer. I love that they suggest a number of games to play to learn the sounds. The cards are not just for single letters, but also for combinations (sh, ea, oo, etc.). Very hands-on and kinesthetic. Richard loves the rocket and wants to zoom it along each and every row on the reading pages, making him willing to read more than he would otherwise. I love that from the very beginning they are not being limited to the standard beginner words -- you know, Sam, sat, fat, rat. The very fist page starts with those types of words (an, man, fan) but even in that very first row, they get to "lank" and "hank" which are certainly not common.

I like the silent letters being a different color when first learning the words. I do like the idea of the little "notes" to show the sounds made by alternate spellings. And they do seem to ween off those "crutches" at a good pace.

I am so very impressed with the reading selections, and I really, really want this program to work just for that reason. The fact that this is getting the kids reading at a more advanced level by the end of the program than most other phonics programs, and they use interesting vocabulary is an added bonus. I love the humor, and I love using Aesop.

Where I hesitate. First, there are a lot (A LOT!) of little errors in my edition, but I assume those have been cleaned up in more recent offerings. For instance, I had to create my own Bingo cards for the first level of Bingo, because while there were two provided, they had completely different set-ups, so I couldn't have two kids playing at once -- and they contained letters we hadn't learned yet. I'll skip all the details though, as it won't apply to anyone who purchases the program now.

More significantly, I lean towards the thought that using pictures to help kids learn the sounds of a letter isn't the best idea. On the other hand, the pictures aren't used except in practicing the sounds... they are not in the reading part at all.

I also am unsure about the idea of teaching one letter/letter combo per sound (or one sound per letter/letter combo). I don't mind it for the basic sounds... when you first encounter "cat," the c is going to be faded grey, with the a and t in blue. Underneath the faded c is a small k in black. Okay, that makes sense to me, no problem.

But some of the vowel combinations just seem, well, wrong. Actually, there is only one symbol I have a serious issue with. They learn that "oo" says the /oo/ in food. Sure, that makes sense. But then you need a different symbol for the short /oo/ in foot. Rocket Phonics uses "ou" for that sound. I find that terribly confusing. "Ou" usually says /ow/ as in how (or long o like in soul, or ew as in you, or even uh as in country) and I really have a problem teaching them that ou says /oo/. I guess with an 'l' it does the could/would/should words, but where else? I don't know... and I have serious reservations about teaching a symbol/sound relationship that barely exists in the real world.

The other non-existent symbol/sound relationship doesn't bother me. They teach that "zh" makes the middle sound of treasure. While it doesn't occur as zh in English, that is the representation given in dictionaries for words like pleasure, and it makes sense.

Is this one symbol in the Initial Teaching Alphabet enough to make me not use the program? I don't think so. But... I really do wish they would have done something else. For the two different sounds of "th" (voiced and unvoiced), they differentiate by underlining it differently. I wish they had done the same thing with "oo" and I am still debating going through the entire book and changing it myself.

But I'm just a mom, who has only successfully taught one child to read so far, with three others in various stages of reading instruction. And clearly, this program works -- and works really well -- for lots of people. So maybe I'm assuming a problem that won't actually be one.


I will update this as we go. And I may be getting the new Rocket Phonics to review for the TOS Review Crew. I hope so, as it looks like they have made a lot of improvements in the past few years.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Current Events

Someone asked about Current Events on the Sonlight Forums, and since I responded with what we do, I thought I better copy my post over here so I can get at it all organized nicely instead of the hit or miss stuff I have going now.

We try to keep reasonably up to date on current events. So some of the things we do:

  1. We watch CNN Student News. It's a 10 minute broadcast, we podcast it, so I don't have to go finding it, and it pretty much follows typical school year schedules. Starts up in August, takes off major holidays, goes into early June. I wouldn't label it as "fair and balanced" by any stretch, but they are fairly reasonable. The puns are well-loved.
  2. We subscribe to God's World News at the appropriate levels. I like the older two levels, but I get the younger ones so my littles feel included. I also tend to pass these on to other families (non-homeschooling usually), so I feel a lot better about the money that way.
  3. We started using Student News Daily in May or so. Their biweekly publications (Scholastic News) are pretty good at the older levels too as far as current events go.
  4. Time for Kids is another website They have magazines too, for kids up through 6th grade.
  5. One I discovered fairly recently is Pitara I like the world news focus of this one, and am considering making it the home page on my kids' computers
  6. I want to get World again, and have my jr. high kiddo reading at least some of that. Not in the cards for this year. However, their website does give you a decent amount of content.

I am not using all of these at any one time... I rotate a bit, though the first two are a given for us. What I intend to require is that they are watching something (CNN Student News), reading something daily (the Scholastic and Pitara basically) that is kinda sorta like reading the daily paper, and doing a more magazine format too (God's World News, Time for Kids seems more news magazine-ish, and World online).
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The best lessons of all

This is just a quick post. I'm at my parents' house, and was thinking about the school we aren't doing this week, and more importantly, the things we are learning. (We school January through October, so we are still officially "in school" this month.)

  • All of my children are over at my brother's house right now, playing Nintendo or some such thing. They are learning to take turns, to laugh, to cheer on each other, and who knows what else.
  • Two of my boys worked with Grandpa on building little pliers holder thingies for my mom's beading tools. They got safety lessons in power tools, and learned that they can make something truly useful. And they had so much fun talking with Grandpa while sanding and staining.
  • My big guys have played two games of Risk with various combinations of aunts and uncles. They learned that maps aren't always accurate, and they got to see various strategies and how those played out. They watched people losing - and winning - graciously.
  • They are getting a ton of PE in at the park. Again, mostly with aunts and uncles.
  • They learned that things don't always turn out the way you thought they would, but usually you can still salvage something from the experience (specifically chocolate chip cookie dough that was far too sticky/soft when made with soft margarine instead of butter)
  • They learned a bunch about flowers by hanging out in the backyard with Grandma
  • They had the chance to visit with relatives they had forgotten that they had, and were able to hear all kinds of stories about when Mommy was a girl (uhhh, not so sure this was one of the good lessons this week!)
  • And they even managed to learn that just because something contains green peppers and onions, it doesn't necessarily mean it is inedible... now that lesson was priceless
  • The biggest lesson of all was how much fun it is to visit now that Grandpa has retired...
We need more of these lessons.

I'm a guest blogger!

Go check out Kelli's blog... she has people guest blogging on a regular basis, and she just featured something I wrote on dyslexia :)

And I'll repeat something I wrote there. Go visit this site:

Read it. Bookmark it. If dyslexia does not affect your family, it does impact someone else you know.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Splish's Scavenger Hunt

This recommendation doesn't cost you anything... and you gotta, gotta, gotta go do it.

I posted about the summer reading program that TOS is doing this year. Well, one of the "prizes" in this program is weekly scavenger hunts. You go following the clues, and there is a prize of some sort at the end. You can get to Week 6 here.

Do it. You have until Monday, I think, as I'm pretty sure new clues are posted on Tuesday.

Okay, I have to give you a huge hint. TOS has a new line of ebooks -- the WannaBe series. They are on sale this week... but even better than that, well... just go do the scavenger hunt, would you??

I am very impressed with these books, though I have only read through the Firefighter one and have not used it with my kids yet. Let me tell you what is in it though:

  • There is some introductory stuff
  • about a seven page article about the history of firefighting, equipment, and building codes. Very detailed, but totally kid-friendly
  • about a four page story called "My Life as a Firefighter" which is fantastic
  • Requirements for becoming a firefighter, generalized "for most departments" which is a nice list
  • An article about how much firefighters are paid, with space for you to graph out salaries
  • a story about a firehouse dog, two pages, very kid-friendly
  • a quiz
  • four storytelling/writing prompts
  • science activities on robots, very detailed, using pretty basic supplies in building a model arm
  • three pages of firefighter math
  • a section of vocabulary, with a fill-in-the blank story, word search, and crossword puzzle
  • bunches of pages of copywork
  • a couple coloring pages
  • suggested memory verses
  • a bunch of activity suggestions, which could easily make for a fantastic theme birthday party
  • a couple pages of suggested books and websites
  • and answers, of course, to the various worksheet type pages
I'm very, very impressed... especially for $4.50 on sale right now. But seriously, go send your kids on the scavenger hunt before you spend any money :)

The Old Schoolhouse subscription

If you have considered subscribing to The Old Schoolhouse, right now is the time to do it. This is the only homeschooling magazine I pay for, and I really love it. Right now, for $39, you get:
  • a two year subscription to the magazine (4 issues per year)
  • for new subscribers, all four back-issues from 2008 (if you subscribe by midnight, July 4) (see here)
  • for new and renewing subscribers, a slew of really cool free gifts (see here), including such things as free spices (I want the taco seasoning and spaghetti sauce blend), Quarter Mile Math software, an Apologia gift card, a math DVD, a cooking with children CD from Sue Gregg, Digital Frog software... and those are just a few of the things I'm most excited about
The subscription starts with the Fall 2009 issue, which includes a lot of wonderful people and topics... People like Dr. Ruth Beechick, Dr. Jay Wile, and Amanda Bennett. Topics like college prep, calculus, and homeschool entrepreneurs.

Check it out!

(Notes/Disclaimers: I am not an affiliate -- click my link, search through google, whatever, doesn't matter to me. I will, however, get a free ebook for posting about this... but I promise not to post about a special just to get a free ebook. If I don't think a special could be worthwhile, I won't mention it.)

Little Things, Part 2

So, we had dentist appointments on Monday. It's been way too long, we had issues with our previous dentist and honestly, I was gun-shy. But what an awesome day! The highlights:
  • they took all five of my kids at once. Believe me, even if I'm in a coma, my kids will not miss an appointment. I am that appreciative of a place that does not insist on making me drag the kids in two by two.
  • the dentist is an Eagle Scout. I know it shouldn't matter, any dentist has gotten through schooling and all. But my older sons' respect for the man shot up substantially when we found that out. It meant the boys truly listened. And they have been incredibly diligent about brushing and flossing, though it has only been two days.
  • the dentist treated all of them, even the 3 year old, like people who deserved to understand what was being done to them, and who deserved to have their questions answered. Wow.
  • and if you go check out my Sonlight Moments post, you can see that the dentist easily switched from talking to them at what he assumed was their level to talking to them like kids who expected to hear correct vocabulary.
  • and best of all, not once did anyone in the office do a single thing to make me feel like the worst mother in the world for not getting them to the dentist as often as I should. No guilt at all.
Ahhhh... we've finally found a dental home...