Friday, December 31, 2010

Math for 2011 updated as of 7/11

Our Additional math games:

Additional board games:
Connect Four
Princessopoly (not as fun as Monolopy it seems)
Toy story dominos
Toy story Yatzee
Regular Yatzee
Mighty Minds
There may be more but those are the ones that come to mind at this time.

Nintendo DS games 
Tiger does not have a DS game but my parents are giving him one for his birthday in December. He will be getting a few games as well.
Lovely Lisa
Wonder Pets Save the Animals
Vet Life
Animal Genius
Barbie Horse Riding
Farm Frenzy Animal Country
Rubik's world
Jewel master Egypt
Diner Dash
Babysitting Mania
Cheer We Go
Cake Mania
Wedding Dash
Ener-g Dance Squad
Salon Superstar

Additional Wii games 
Just Dance (all three of them and the summer version)
We Cheer 1 and 2
Animal Crossing City folk
Cook Wars
Cooking Mama

Leapster Games:
We pretty much have every Leapster game so far.

Apps for the Iphone:  (There are so many cool apps out there. We have a ball with these)
Motion Math Zoom
Math Puppy Bingo and Math Challenge for kids
Angry Birds
Angry Birds Rio
Labyrinth LE
Paper Toss
Paper Toss World Tour
Dot touch
Cut the Rope
Free cell
Glow Hockey
Faces I make
Bead Friends
Fish Frenzy
Cake Doodle
Cookie Doodle
Spawn Lite
Pocket God
Stickwars 2
Fashion Math
Glow Stick Pro
Flash to pass
Matching Zoo
Pocket Phonics
Sandwich Maker
Rush Hour
Doodle jump
Flick bowling
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 2010

We had a nice holiday with my family who was visiting. I love the holidays but for us it almost feels like everyday is a holiday : ). The kids play, enjoy each other, spend time with family. We celebrated Decklin's fourth birthday. We had a little family gathering and he opened his gifts and had cupcakes. Then on the 28th, his actual birthday we took him out to a fancy dinner where he ate lobster bisque and shrimp cocktail and had a huge piece of turtle cheesecake. Santa gave him some school stuff he had asked for so he'll be having some fun once we start up again (he does things as he wishes not directed by me).
On the 3rd we begin our new year. I'm going to be going in a different direction for some things. Of course we'll keep up with Robinson reading and writing but I'm thinking of maybe doing nothing else. Robinson, as I always say, is amazing and I could not imagine not using it.  I'd love to dive more into child led learning in regard to things the kids pursue in their free time, they are making lists of things for me of things they'd like to learn more about on their own. This is also Robinson since his children pursued their own interests as they did no TV. Though we don't do that, we keep it limited.
One thing I'd love is to unschool for math. Math on the Level looks great so I'm in decision mode on that. In the meantime, I've found some books that I'm thinking to order for Skylar (my 9 year old). She loves to read so much that math via reading books that connect in story form might be of benefit to her. So we'll see how that turns out as far as math goes as that's my big concern as far as if I, who am not math minded can do something of this fashion for math. The creator of Life of Fred should have his books for the younger set out soon so I can't wait for that.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ah the holidays...

Usually I wait and wrap gifts Christmas Eve with my Mom when she's here. This year I opted to follow Flylady and wrap early. I made a gift log system and numbered the packages (wrote the numbers on the bottom of the gift wrap) so when placing under the tree I'd know what is what. (There is just no way I'd remember any other way LOL).

Our sweet looking little puppy Alice is 11 weeks today. I once heard the owner of the local German Shepherd Rescue refer to puppies as terrorists. Boy all I can say after 3 weeks with little Alice is "Amen Sister!!" boy she nailed it. I know puppies are cute, but darn I can't wait for her puppyhood to be over, ah the vision of a house broken dog...... I see it far off in the distance and can't wait for it. : )
Ya'll know me, I have her on a schedule, well the best one I can and she is for sure coming along nicely. : ) Last night I only had to get up with her once during the night. Yeah she can hold it for 5 hours. You go Alice! LOL

The girls are getting a special treat today. I'm taking Skylar and Summer to get their hair cut by my hair stylist. Normally my dad does it (he's been a hair stylist all my life) but I wanted him to be able to relax when he visits and not have to work at all. Though I might enlist his help in cutting our puppy's hair, LOL (just kidding dad... or am I?)

The girls will be taking some time off (we school year round) and take off at holidays when family comes in. So off from Monday the 20th until about January 1st.
Skylar started back up with Christian light math. She was having a spot of trouble memorizing her flash cards so I thought the two would go nicely hand in hand. Summer is loving ACE math. I created cards that say "I have the day off I worked ahead" so if they work ahead from their workbox schedule, they get the following day off and only have to do a quick flash card peak and their usual reading to themselves.

Decklin asked Santa for more school stuff. I hope he gets some great fun things to do.

Well I have to wake the girls with my Iphone morning jam. They don't wake to a nice "time to get up" so I've taken to playing some Itunes to help them rise. So much better than me having to go in over and over to wake them up. : )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Preschool for Decklin

I think Decklin is ready to start a bit more of a structured preschool time with me. For a while now it's just been learning through play, his workbox items and the girls reading to him a lot. This is all great of course but I wanted to plan some special time that I can spend with him in the morning before everyone else wakes up, since he seems to really be bitten by the school bug and seems disappointed that he does not have things to do like his big sisters.  He always pulls out papers and says, "Mom I have to do my math page". 

I took some time this morning to make a schedule up based on resources I have on hand already. I only went up to about 6 weeks as I am going to give a spin with him using the Explode the Code Primers and I only have book A on hand to add to the schedule. I will be adding more as we get further or dropping if we need to. 
We are going to do the primers orally as I did with my girls. 
He'll continue on with workboxes as he wishes and I'll fill them with items I scheduled in and other things like puzzles, file folder games and other various hands on we have on hand. 

Homeschool - Preschool Age 4

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The kindle

I'm reading various books with techniques I'd like to put in place with our new puppy. I've been highlighting notes and even then jotting notes down by hand. After about 15 notebook pages I threw in the towel. My writing got less legible as the evening went on.
I found a way to be able to print the items I wanted to refer to instead of having to do it the old school way.

(This is taken from PC world)

Copy Kindle Notes and Bookmarks to Your PC

If you're a Kindle owner, you've probably discovered the device's enviable ability to bookmark pages, highlight passages, and add notes (aka annotations).
What you may not know is how to do anything useful with that data. For example, students might want to include annotations in a school paper. And if you're part of a book group, your might want to share those bookmarks and notes in, say, a Word document.
Either way, it's possible--it's just a small matter of copying that stuff to your PC. Here's how.
  1. Connect your Kindle to your PC.
  2. Open My Computer (or just Computer if you're on Vista or Windows 7), then look for Kindle in your list of devices.
  3. Double-click the Kindle icon, then open the Documents folder.
  4. Look for a file called My Clippings.txt. Copy it to your desktop (or folder of choice), then open it in your favorite word processor.
You'll see that the notes are sorted by book and by date--very handy.

An easy yummy breakfast

I had seen Bethany Frankel demo this recipe on TV once and it's so good. As I'm making it I thought I'd post it.

To make the Brown Rice Breakfast combine ½ cup brown rice 
1 tbsp sliced almonds
1 tbsp raisins
¼ cup soy milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
dash of vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon. 
Heat the mixture on the stovetop or in the microwave.

I use organic milk. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The search for the perfect dog, Blank weekly assignment sheets, other ramblings and changes

We had been using the Ur the Mom planners for a spell. I love the planners, but having to write out everything on my end for the girls to check off was becoming tedious. I also noticed that my younger daughter was skipping things written in the planner, losing track of what was to be done what day, etc.
So for now I threw something else together which I think will suit what we need.

Blank Weekly Assignment Sheet

The ones I did for each of my girls are customized. I typed in what is done each day. Left a space for things like Explode the code for my younger daughter so I can jot down which pages I'd like her to do that day. And then printed about 20 or so of them. I wrote in any pages that need to be done today in anything that has page type assignments that is. And I put it all in a 3 ring binder. In that binder I put a folder that has her math pace and her copywork.

I recently started having the girls working through Ace math in addition to the flash cards. My older daughter was having trouble retaining some of her flash card facts so I added the ACE in (since I have it and it's self directed), She also is doing a page of the 2 Plus 2 is Not 5 book daily. I had thought to move her on to Saxon but she's just not ready for 54. I like that the paces are colorful and not overwhelming as far as amounts of work. My younger daughter is also doing the paces for math and her flash cards. She just really likes the set up of the Paces.

We had birthday week this week. Summer turned 7 and Skylar 9.
Yesterday we went to the city for the day and spent the day with family, having Skylar's choice of lunch and a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

It's been crazy busy around here the past month or so. We've been on the search for the perfect puppy. Those who know me know I live to research LOL. So after much time, we narrowed it down to a Pomeranian (which we had had in the past and adored!), a Havanese, a Coton De Tulear or an Imperial Shih tzu.
As I was researching I kept my eye on Craigs list to see if a puppy mix of any of the breeds above, but you know it's hit or miss there.  As I kept searching, I came across some really odd folks as well. Some folks didn't want to answer a thing about the pets they were re-homing. I have found out that in the city folks are stealing dogs from yards and then selling them there. I surely didn't want to be a party to taking someone else's missing pet. I was talking with one person who would not tell me where she got the puppy she was re-homing and something just seemed off about the whole thing. She also never gave her first name. That puppy was a shih tzu pom mix.
A local pom breeder in the city didn't have the colors we were looking for (black) and was anti crate training.  I met with another local breeder who was raising her pomeranian dogs outdoors on her farm, (which I didn't know until I arrived at her home). They really are not outside dogs. They were about 5 months and really seemed like they were not getting very basic interactions that they should from the breeder. I would not have taken one of her dogs if she gave it to me for free, that's how out of control her puppies were. It would have been an uphill battle to fix a puppy from that litter. The havanese breeder wanted a fee in the range of $1800 to $3000 for her puppies. No way Bry was going to be on board with fees like that so my research ended there with that breed. On a fluke while searching for breeders in my state I happened upon a breeder of imperial shih tzus. I emailed her and she invited me by. I went to her home (first thing I noticed... no doggy smell at all). And she had several dogs in her home. (We really wanted an odorless dog). I played with some older puppies. They were like little stuffed animals. So calm, friendly, and very secure in themselves. I went to the puppy playpen where the rest of the available puppies were. (I had inquired after a black female - she had two at the time). So she let me play with the puppies, hold them, see the parents, we weighed them, I asked questions and she answered. I spent a good hour there. You could tell she really loves the dogs she breeds.
I told her I'd let her know by the next day if we were interested.
I went home and began to go over our options. The other puppy from Craigs list was less money, and so cute. But the folks would not let us meet her first (which was a red flag). And with the breeder puppy I was not only getting a health screened quality dog but a lifeline to the breeder when/if I needed her guidance. So even though the cost was more. We opted to go with the breeder puppy.
Also the puppy will not come with any behaviors we have to un-teach her. She will be a blank slate so we can train her our way. She will be tops 5 to 8 lbs. And the breeder is going to teach us the puppy clip so we can keep her coat easy to care for. (Bry's going to be doing the puppy haircuts LOL). And she has agreed on not doing any more puppy vaccines since I prefer a specific delayed and more minimal vaccine schedule.

The breeder had some really neat things that I'd never seen before. One was a puppy playpen:
And this Iris:
I have a puppy playpen arriving today (instead of just having her in a crate all the time).
The kids and I have her food bowls, toys, clothes (target had clothes on sale for $2.50 an outfit), bed, and food all set to go. We have named the puppy Alice. (From Twilight and from Resident Evil) I named her not the kids LOL.

We also adopted a fantastic orange kitten (3 months old) from the local shelter on Election day. He is such a great little guy. Doesn't even flinch in our somewhat noisy house. Sleeps with one of the kids at night, (he goes from bed to bed). We have named him Biggie. (We had a friend who had a cat named Biggie Smalls after the rapper and always thought that was a riot). But you can tell he has a big heart so the name fits. And we already had our cat who is going to be 4, Bones. He's taken to the kitten well.

So that's about what's been going on in our neck of the woods.
Happy Homeschooling!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Photo slideshow personalized with Smilebox

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New workbox set up

Well this was our set up for about a week LOL. But as our needs change I always change our system. So I've created a different set up. As you can see by looking over the blog I've used many different ways of keeping the kids on task with workboxes so this is just another for us to give a spin LOL.

Workboxes using Robinson

When a workbox set up no longer fits our needs I find another way to use the system.
Here is what we put in place today:

Workbox Cards Summer Checklist Form

Here are some pictures of the set up and how we will use it:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our fall nature table

We have a book that shows the lovely leaves changing. We don't have that where we live so books have to suffice. The Year at Maple Hill Farm (Sonlight Core B/ P4/P5 book) since it has such a nice story of life on the farm through the seasons. 
We picked up a container of gourds which the kids think are the neatest things ever. 
And all the pine cones were gathered by my older daughter when she was golfing with her Dad one day. 
I found a cute little scarecrow and the pumpkin with fall flowers at the local Walgreen's in their dollar fall bins. (and thought, on nature table for sure! LOL). And then we have a little bear figure made of wood. This is from a playset of lead free, American made toys my son receive for Christmas. I had two cloth brown place mats that I used under everything. I know some folks use playsilks but I like to work with what I have on hand first and only buy as needed. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lead in slow cookers?

So I was reading on a blog yesterday which I've fallen in love with. This Mom did a 365 day crock pot challenge and has some fantastic recipes.

On her blog she mentioned in the FAQ a concern about lead in the slow cookers.
So I began trying to find one that is in fact lead free and does not cost upwards of $60.
It seems Hamilton Beach has a zero lead tolerance in their pots, as far as they say anyway:

And then I stumbled upon options for lead free dishes at this blog:

And this website has all lead free items as well:
I contacted them and they responded:
"Our products are safe and lead free.  Some of them are microwave safe and dishwasher safe.
Thank you!!"
Looks like they have some neat options for lead free dishes. I believe all our dishes are lead free but I like some of the colors of the items that were listed and might have to make a purchase soon.

Edited to add: That the Pfaltzgraff website has this to say about their dishes:

"Are my dishes safe?

Pfaltzgraff, a Lifetime Brands company, stands behind the safety and quality of all of its products. It is our Company Policy to use only lead-free glazes, pigments or decals. All of our products are tested by accredited, independent laboratories."
Here is some info from World Kitchen, who are the makers of corning and pyrex. I had sent them an email asking if their products contain any lead or are lead free:

Thank you for contacting World Kitchen, LLC.

Our specifications are that stoneware products and glazes are made of clay-based materials and glazes used throughout the industry. Decorations, if present, are made from low-lead enamels and fired at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F, which binds any heavy metals both physically and chemically so that their release is minimized.
Please note that to satisfy requirements concerning consumer warnings on packaging at time of sale and/or advertisement in the state ofCalifornia (so-called California Proposition 65), only traces of heavy metals (including lead) are permitted. The current limit for presence of leachable lead in order to satisfy California requirements is no more than 0.100 ppm (1 tenth of one part per million) when obtained under test conditions. At no time have our results exceeded those which are permissible under the guidelines mentioned above (which are believed to be the most stringent in the world). Also note that tests for the presence of heavy metals are conducted for World Kitchen by internationally certified, third-party laboratories under strict conditions, by trained technicians, and using atomic absorption spectrophotometry analysis following carefully monitored preparation. These steps are necessary to minimize any possibility of contamination or false reading during preparation, testing or analysis.

edited on 10/21/10 with more info from world kitchens. 
I had emailed them for some follow up, Here is that email:

Thank you very much for taking the time.

Can you tell me if the corelle plates made with decorations and Pyrex made in the USA are lead free verses the information you provided for the current lead levels in the items made in china now? Is there any lead in the all white plates made in the US and what about those from china? I have older items and newer and am trying to make heads or tails of the difference as I've read conflicting information on the Internet.

From what I understand, Pyrex was created using a lead free formula, is that same formula used making Pyrex lead free presently or would you say it's the same measurement of the scale you provided previously?

Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.

Here is the response I received:
Dear Melissa,

The Pyrex® and Corelle glass products that World Kitchen currently manufacture meet the most stringent technical, statutory, and industry standards for lead content. Please note that to satisfy requirements concerning consumer warnings on packaging at time of sale and/or advertisement in the state of California (California Proposition 65), only traces of heavy metals (including lead) are permitted. The current limit for presence of leachable lead in order to satisfy California requirements is no more than 0.100 ppm (1 tenth of one part per million) when obtained under test conditions. At no time have our results exceeded those which are permissible under the guidelines mentioned above (which are believed to be the most stringent in the world). Also note that tests for the presence of heavy metals are conducted for World Kitchen by internationally certified, third-party laboratories under strict conditions, by trained technicians. These steps are necessary to minimize any possibility of contamination or false reading during preparation, testing or analysis.

Pyrex® products have always met (and continue to meet) the most stringent technical, statutory, and industry standards for lead.  Definitions have changed over the past 30 years regarding where and what must be included for testing as well as what is an acceptable level.  The fact that the outside of the bowls are covered in enamel met all statutory and legal requirements of that time.  Use of the product in its intended manner and in accordance with the Safety & Usage instructions will minimize risk and you may not need to replace them.  However, as the legal definitions of acceptable levels of lead have changed over time, you may wish to save the Pyrex® vessels as a momento of an earlier time and consider replacing the vessels with new, up-to-date Pyrex® products which, like thos referenced, meet the most recent, stringent statutory requirements for lead.

For further assistance, please contact our Consumer Care Center at 800-999-3436.  Representatives are available from 8am to 6pm Monday through Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Friday, EST, and will be more than happy to assist you.


World Kitchen Consumer Care Center

Hope this info is helpful to someone else.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


We had a trip to the city yesterday where I picked up my own spin on Flylady's office in a Bag. I set that up last night. I had previously used a basket which tended to fill with junk that I didn't have another place for.

I also got a neat looking pocket that we can mount on the wall. That way when Bry gets the mail he can dump it in there for me to sort from. (This will keep it off that front entryway bench).

It was so nice coming home to a clean house after being gone for the day. A great feeling and then I didn't feel so bad just putting my feet up to relax.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I made a few changes to the school room.

I was inspired by looking at blogs of Waldorf homeschooling Moms. I really loved the natural feel to many of their school rooms and wanted to incorporate a few changes to our school room as well.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Digital slideshow customized with Smilebox

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weight Loss

I had been doing the No S diet for quite a few months. Not really a diet just an eating plan. While I was not gaining weight I was not losing either so I began to look for something else.

I've been reading a book by Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D called Outsmarting the Female Fat cell. What a fantastic book! Not a diet book but a really great walk through of why we ladies tend to hold on to weight gain and guidance on helping to turn off our fat cell as she calls it. I began on 7/15 opting to add in her smaller meals to the first two weeks. I have already noticed a difference in how I feel overall.

Key points:
-Do not diet. Every time a woman diets she gains more weight.
-Eat only when hungry. Do not eat beyond the feeling of being comfortable. Overeating goes right to our fat cells.
-Eat smaller meals spaced out through out the day verses 3 large meals. She says to "eat like a child" they burn energy, get hungry and snack.
-Eat during the first 12 hours of your day. At night we need less calories, this is specifically geared at any of those of us who sofa snack at night watching TV. So anything we eat at night when not truly hungry, feeds our lovely fat cells : (.
-She eases you into changes in week stages. Such as eating, for those who have been dieting, she says eat in weeks 1 and 2. And in the first two weeks she asks that you add in about 10 - 15 minutes of aerobic exercise.
-Weeks 3 - 4 you'll increase your exercise time to 20 minutes each session.
-Weeks 5 - 6 begin eating smaller meals, what was once 3 meals now becomes 5.
-She has more weeks broken down, at some point (I think it's toward the end of the book) she talks about trying to foods lower in fat for some of your meals but you can eat that cookie or cheesecake for dessert. And she just gives a general guideline to watch for not a strict you must not eat such and such. We don't use Margarine here due to the GMO's in them and prefer butter. I can still eat butter as long as I'm not loading it on. She does not tell you any foods are off limits.

I'm keeping a food diary in a spiral bound notebook (I picked up a bunch at the Walmart back to school sale for 10 cents each).
I was especially impressed with her detailed information of how we women tend to gain fat and how we are made up that way hormonally verses how men are made up. She has a great chapter on this that I think any women would read and say "wow" that makes so much sense. She has a nice whit to her and keeps the book enjoyable, makes it feel like an old friend with a nice sense of humor is talking to you from her own experiences.

If anyone picks up this book I'd love to hear your thoughts, feel free to comment or drop me an email.

Happy Eating!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I added a bit of Waldorf spin to our school room this weekend

I have always had a love for Waldorf inspired toys but have not really extended that much into the school room. I was reading some homeschool blogs by some Waldorf Moms and really loved the nature tables they had set up. I opted to add a little spin to the nature table to suit our needs and adapt to what types of things are available in our area. I set up a summer themed spot of books for my older two girls (didn't snap a photo of that). But it contains books relating to beach, magazines relating to pretty birds we see here in the summer, etc.
And this is what I set up for my son:

This one was more for him to have some hands on. I was not sure on this one so changed it a bit to the second picture.
But looking at the two I think I like the first picture better and will add some of that stuff back on.
The tulip flower is a puzzle I made him out of craft sticks. I made him one with a sun on it also and wrote the word "sun" in the middle of the sun for him to make the connection between word and object. The set of puzzles is in the small flower pot on the left side. I put sea glass, shells and some wood animal figures we have. The Rainbow stacker is my younger daughter's but they like to play it together. And the African Violets, one of my favorite plants (they act as a nice filter and take junk out of the air. No, I'm not crazy, we have plenty of plants in our home which we picked up just for their filtering purposes LOL.)
I'm glad I have the picture with the lovely flower on it, as our cat decided to rip it off.

Here are some little guys we have been watching as part of nature study, family science (for those who like educationese)  and well just pure fun to be totally honest.
These two guys had a battle royal over food we had left out for them. The little one kept going back for more and more food and the bigger one would just knock him out of the way and take it. My kids were cheering for the little guy. It was a lesson in survival of the fittest and what happens out in nature. No one was hurt and they each got to eat so it ended happily.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eating Green

I find produce to be one of the hardest things to get organic in my area. With a family my size, cost is a factor, though I do my best. I did find this neat guide today which tells what non organic foods are not toxic to your health. I thought it might be helpful to others: at this site you can also see the worst foods as well. But here is a little handy shoppers take along:
Also please check the safe foods list as there are some who made that list that are not on the EWG safe shopping side. And the Daily green gives how to's on picking, which I found helpful.
Hope this is of help to others!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I came across this list today from BJU Press

It's a list of readers for younger children. I found this to be especially nice for those of us using Robinson Curriculum who wonder "what do I use with my child who is not ready for the RC list?"

Here are a few other links from BJU that have some nice reading suggestions: 
(These seem great if you want to add on to the RC list for required reading, looking for additional pleasure books to add to your library, or are looking for a substitution for one of the RC books.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Surely this must be something common in the homeschool of others?

Our little Ember. Ah just another day in our school.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: A baby on the table
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Free slideshow made with Smilebox

A few pictures of our Father's day and July 4th.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Happy 4th of July
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Customize a slideshow

I love my Iphone

Obviously you can tell by the title this is not homeschool related..... however there are some neat Iphone apps which can be used in the homeschool, such as ABC Pocket Phonics (99 cents), Flash to Pass math flash cards (free), Kindle and Stanza (to read books on the Iphone) and a million other education related apps that you could use in your homeschool, if you can imagine it, it's there.

What makes me think on how much I love my Iphone (you might or might not be wondering, but I'll share anyway : ). We purchased the Iphone 4 for my hardworking husband for father's day. This little gem arrived yesterday. To say the new phone is awesome just does not quite cut it. And I am just a bit bummed that I am not free to upgrade without paying twice the cost of the phone until February.
So since my husband has his new toy (his other Iphone now has become a tool for the family in place of a phone). I have an Iphone already and didn't want to change to his. So now I've made his prior phone basically a mini computer for use in the school room and to help me with bills, and other household tasks (these would be things I don't want on my Iphone for day to day use).

There is Home routine which is great for anyone who is keeping house and likes a little check list.
Billminder which is a great calendar type way to keep track of bills.
Pageonce free Finance (which I love so much as I can see all my accounts in one place).
And Icheckbalance which is like a virtual checkbook with back up feature. (essentially a check register to replace your paper version).

I'm sure there are some great apps I have not seen yet, and I look forward to adding more for the kids to use as I think it's a great way to add some easy fun to the school day.

Our Typical Day

I really enjoy reading what other homeschool families do and for any others who feel the same, I thought I'd share our current typical day. Right now we have ages 8.5, 6.5, 3.5 and 14 months in play.

  • I get up about 6 or 7 A.M. I have no idea why or how since I don't usually go to sleep until after midnight.  Ember is such a night owl and gets in "I want to play" mode when the sun goes down. Kids are all asleep when I get up. I make some decaf coffee, catch up on emails and chat with some of my fellow homeschoolers online. Sometimes I exercise during this time.  My little guy is usually the first one up, maybe by 9:30 or so. We talk a bit when he gets up. I might read to him if he's interested or he goes off to play a bit in his room. If we are making a big breakfast that involves baking, he and I will do that together usually as well. 
  • About 10:30 or 11AM everyone else is up and ready to eat (except the baby). We have a nice large family breakfast (which I tend to view as much brunch due to the late hour). 
  • After the kids help clear down from breakfast I give them a choice of chores, play or starting school. I'm pretty relaxed about order of things. As long as they get done at some point I'm happy. 
  • Today they did chores first, and I fed the baby while they did so. 
  • After they all just zipped out of the room and went to play together (baby included). I'm blogging and then I'm going to check over their school work from yesterday. 
  • So after some play time I imagine we'll do school later in the afternoon or we'll have an early dinner and they'll do school after. 
  • About 4 pm we'll have an early dinner. And if school was not done earlier, they will do that. If it was then they go off and play a bit. 
  • If they are going outside to play, after 7 p.m. works best here as it's much cooler. So they'll do that, come in for baths after and then get to bed maybe by 10:30 or so. 
We tend to like this later schedule for summer months. I'm not sure if it will stick for winter, probably in winter it will be outside to play in the afternoon when the weather is warmest. 

Happy homeschooling! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saxon math verses Math-u-see

For those using or reading about Robinson curriculum, you know that Dr. Robinson recommends Saxon math (54) once the child has mastered the math facts of all four operations up through the 12 facts.
I'm the kind of girl who does better making a judgement call of our materials when I have them in hand. So I went ahead and purchased Saxon 54 so that I could read over the lessons and get a feel for it. We have family visiting in town so I've put that on pause, but to the point I've read so far, I've just felt luke warm about Saxon. I do see the pros of using it, open and go, teaches directly to the student. But in many of the lessons I've read, I've found myself thinking, oh yes I remember that lesson in MUS, and pulling from that knowledge base verses getting the concept from the Saxon explanation. It could be the way MUS explains things in many forms that I find appealing. First you have the visual and hands on of the (blocks), the auditory (Mr. Demme teaching on the DVD) and for those who do better reading (there is the teacher's manual which does not have the answers where the lesson is being taught and explained), and the program is mastery but prior concepts are reviewed in the review sheets and extra review pages can be printed from their website.
The price is quite a difference but I'm thinking that using MUS without the kids writing in the workbooks would stretch them and make it more affordable.
The new Teacher's guides are a nice hardback version.

I'm reserving my final judgement until I need to make a choice. I'm thinking to add MUS (Alpha) back in rotation in a bit to help cement the facts the kids are learning. So I might be doing that next week or waiting until they have more facts down pat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stopping to smell the flowers

Everyone once in a while I take some time and reflect on how lucky we are to homeschool our children.

Just yesterday I was watching the connections my 4 children all have with each other, such an amazing tight bond. I don't think it would be like this if my kids were not together all day, and taught the important value of a sibling. My son, at just 3, so kind and gentle with his 13 month old baby sister, hugging her gently, moving the hair that had fallen into her eyes softly away, saying in his cute toddler voice "You're so cute, You're so cute, You're so cute". (He likes to say it several times LOL).
All the kids but the baby were outside playing and she was standing there watching them through the open window. She began saying my older daughter's name, so clear as a bell. The kids came running to the window to applaud for her. She giggled and did a little dance in her excitement.
In the kitchen last night, while the older kids sat to have a snack before bed, the baby was walking around the kitchen island several times, without a fall. They came running to her and gave her a standing ovation. She was thrilled and begun to clap for herself as well with a huge smile on her face.

She is our last baby and we are all making sure to suck up every last moment of life through the eyes of a baby with her.

As she learns all these new things, I can't help but think of the new homeschooling Mom, or Dad, who has such doubt in themselves. Teaching your child to feed themselves, crawl, walk, talk, is such a testimony for the parent and their ability to homeschool. If we can teach them all that, everything else is gravy : )

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some workbox tweaking

Our newly walking little Miss (13 month old) likes to rip the velcro tags off the schedule strip and the number and picture tags out of the pockets of their workboxes, (enjoying crushing them into wrinkled messes). So I was brainstorming today for a spin on the system we could use which she can not get her sweet little baby hands into.

I settled on something that I hope will work well.
Ya'll know I love nothing more than a good project LOL.

Please excuse the mess you might get a glimpse of in the background in the picture on the right. I was working on the workbox cut and paste project there on the kitchen island.
I love reading how other workboxers put together their creations. So just in case anyone is wondering what I did: I had black construction paper. I used two for each project. And glued them so they'd be one long continuous piece. 
I then printed out: 
Workbox Wall Strip
I printed this form twice for each of my girls. I glued these together to make one long strip. I then laminated this long strip to the black construction paper. (this gives us 8 blocks for work that needs to be done, and 8 blocks where they mark it as complete).
Then I added the velcro coins on each square. And the bottom clear pocket is one of those clear name badge tags. I had purchased a huge box of those cheaply, for a chore system I was trying,  so I had tons of them left over. They have a metal clip on them but I removed that. I used velcro coins to attach them to the construction paper at the bottom.  This holds their "jewels" for checking off the completed work, instead of the happy face or check mark. None of the work tags will leave the schedule, just jewels added to mark off. The work tags will change order some days but never come down completely (if they are not in use I have a basket with a file box where I have all the tags sorted).

My older daughter had the jewels as her numbers for her other workbox set up, so I cut the number portion off of both sets (yeah for recycling).
Workbox Jewel numbers

I have the flowers I made my younger daughter in case anyone would like to have access to those. She wanted jewels this time instead of the flowers though. We gave the baby the left over numbers in a clear pocket since she is such a huge fan of taking them from the girls. Now she has a few sets of her own to add to the one set I had already given to her.
Workbox Flower Cards

The work that used to go in the kids workboxes will stay in the Sterilite boxes with the lid on next to their desk. They basically just have flash cards, books or E-Readers, copywork and at times a math page, science journal and writing journal in those. They will work on order from the schedule strip and just grab what they need.
Happy workboxing!

I came across this today while looking for something else

I think this could be used for workboxes for those who prefer things up on the wall out of the way.

A place to order some of the Robinson books in print form

This Mom runs a site where she prints and ships books. I don't know more than this, but I wanted to mention her here for any who prefer the print book but not printing the books themselves option.

Book Blessings

Thursday, June 17, 2010

E-books for Robinson Curriculum

I'm getting the E-books (free) from a few places online.
This one is not free but offers some great books for those looking to add some others to RC:

If you have different types of Ereaders and need the Ebooks in differing formats, for this I'd recommend a free program for your computer called "Calibre"
With this program, after you download a book from one of the sites above you can then have Calibre "get books" from your computer and then uploaded the books into the program. This is a great feature because you can download any format at all and the Calibre program will convert it to your specific E-reader. So for example most of the google books that are free are in Epub, but Kindle for example does not read that format. So Calibre converts the books so they can be opened in Kindle and read just as any of the other books. Also any books already on your E-reader can be added to the Calibre library.
Hope this is helpful to some.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Some of my favorite homeschool Quotes:

"For thousands of years, in thousands of places, families educated their own. This tradition changed not because a better method was found but because economic conditions required it. To work one had to leave one's children; one's children furthermore, had to be trained for tasks no-one in their purview could be seen doing. For these reasons institutionalized schooling was invented' and while it adequately addressed a set of economic problems it inspired a new set of human ones that are psychological, emotional, and even spiritual in nature. "
--David Guterson 'Family Matters - Why Homeschooling Makes Sense'

“Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents."
--John Taylor Gatto, former New York State Teacher of the Year

“I believe it would be much better for everyone if children were given their start in education at home. No one understands a child as well as his mother, and children are so different that they need individual training and study. A teacher with a room full of pupils cannot do this. At home, too, they are in their mother’s care. She can keep them from learning immoral things from other children.”
--Laura Ingalls Wilder

" Homeschooling and public schooling are as opposite as two sides of a coin. In a homeschooling environment, the teacher need not be certified, but the child MUST learn. In a public school environment, the teacher MUST be certified, but the child need NOT learn."
-- Gene Royer

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Robinson Curriculum workbox

In Skylar's schedule on one of the days I have copywork after reading. That is a little typo that I have not gone back to fix. But reading is the the last thing they are doing for their school day. It's something they love doing and look forward to it.

They do one science element together twice a week. Skylar reads it out loud, they talk about it and journal about it in their own books.

Workboxes using Robinson

Friday, June 11, 2010


I had balked at the first Kindle that came out, and just shook my head each time it was staring me in the face when I would log in to shop at Amazon. I felt that nothing could replace a good old fashioned book. However other things have since come into play and now an E-Reader has become a most sensible choice: 

  • I'm using Robinson curriculum which basically uses older out of print books. So my options are that I must print the books myself,  have the kids read on the computer, try to find them used, try to find reprints or have to replace many of the books with books I could easily purchase. The books are mostly all available for free online for print or download but again the reading on the computer factor or printing comes into play. 
  • Space is an issue if I opted to print all the books. As well as the cost of printer and ink and paper, and report covers or binders (which is how I would bind the books, the lazy way LOL). Where would I store everything? As our bookshelves are already well stocked. 
  • I love the idea of having so many books in such a small compact area. I did a test run using Kindle for Iphone and loved that.
So we opted to give the Kindle a try. My 8 year old is very responsible with her items and we felt she would take good care of it. It's a bit steep at a price tag at $259, however when I add up what I spent in one year of homeschooling using materials for just one year, I exceeded the price tag of the Kindle. And I didn't end up with 1500 books on my shelf. So when I looked at how many books I can store on the kindle, all free books of course, the price tag of $259 (the price has dropped on or about 6/20 or so to $189)seems to be very cheap for all the material it will hold. 

My 8 year old is loving the Kindle. She is reading about 2 Robinson books average on it per day. So since that is such a hit for her. I've been considering if an E-reader would be a good option for my 6 year old in the near future. Now I can't see getting her the kindle because I would say she is not quite as careful as my older daughter in regard to something so pricey. But I have found a few that would work well for her age group, you know the kind that you would not cry over if it did end up damaged LOL. 

Here are what I've found so far that are not as pricey as the Kindle or the Sony: 
If anyone comes across anymore I'd love to hear about them so I can look them over and make my decision. Here are some charts I found to do side by side comparisons:

So I've opted to purchase the Aluratek Libre from Amazon for my 6 year old. I just watched a nice Youtube on the feature (disclaimer that some of the comments under the video are quite rude but the video itself is great for giving a good overview). I went with the white not the black version. The black version is on sale though at Borders for $119 free shipping. 
****Well Fed Ex lost the package that was to arrive tomorrow which contained my Libre E-reader. So I asked for a refund verses a replacement on this from the seller on Amazon. I opted to order another Kindle. The price on the Kindle just dropped to $189. I have asked for a refund of the price difference (which I am told Amazon does within 30 days of purchase). So that will be a $70 refund on the first kindle, which I will be happy about. 
Another update as of 6/23 the Libre showed up, however I am not happy with the lack of font adjustment. It is also not as user friendly as the Kindle. It is going back but I wanted to at least take a look at it before sending it back. It would be fine for an older child I think. 

Here is a tip I just found for downloading the Gutenberg books right to Kindle verses having to use the computer to do it:
Below is copied from A Kindle World Blog: 
OH, for the Kindle, try this instead:

After downloading "The Magic Catalog of the Project Gutenberg E-Books (MOBI Edition) to your Kindle (or transferring it from your computer to the Kindle if you don't want to type in the long URL on the Kindle), follow James's instructions which are:

"Use your Kindle's Search Feature to find your favorite Author and/or Title.  Click to go to that page.  Click again on the Author: Title listing and your chosen E-Book will automagically download directly from the Project Gutenberg website to your Kindle..."