Monday, January 31, 2011

Blast from the Past


I decided I'd join Debbie's meme, A Blast from the Past, over at Debbie's Digest this week. If you'd like to join up today, or any other day, click on her link above and head on over.
This photo isn't so very far in the past, put Debbie's photo reminded me of it :) Thanks Debbie!


This is my grandson, Charlie. Don't you just love the sweet look on his face? Charlie is 2 years and 2 1/2 months old here. He's holding my youngest daughter, Tawny who is only 16 days old and we'd only had her for 2 days. Charlie just loved her. Even to this day (Charlie almost 10 and Tawny 7 1/2), he still looks out for her. I think I need an updated photo of them together, we have lots of them when they were little like this, but not to many of them older. Not just the two of them anyway.

God's Blessings
Vickie

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Homeschool Mother's Journal




OK....call me nuts but I decided to join another Meme. Why? Because I can and it keeps me posting often :) Sometimes I wrack my brain trying to think of something to write between review posts. Memes help with that. I saw this opportunity over at Brenda's Garden of Learning but the host of the Homeschool Mother's Journal is Sue at The Homeschool Chick. To see the rules and join yourself, click on the logo on my side bar. To link up for the week, click on the logo on top or where highlighted throughout. Let's begin with this week's journal post.


In my life this week ...


I've been pretty lazy. Shame on me. I did have two reviews due this week. One for Holman's Bible Dictionary for Kids and the other one is an online math program called TenMarks.


Thankfully we haven't seen any rain this week and things are beginning to dry up some. Yea!!!


In our homeschool this week ...


Well, what we were doing wasn't working any more. It has been hard to get back into the swing of things after the Christmas break. So, instead of getting back into that swing, we are swinging in a different direction come Monday. A whole new schedule. We are reviewing several online and/or computer based programs and I am struggling to fit them all in. So the best thing to do, drop what we are doing and fix it. Starting Monday, a whole new swing in our day.


Places we are going and people we are seeing ...


Tuesday, Jaime had an ortho appointment. She was told she'll probably be ready to get her braces off in May or June. She's excited to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Next Tuesday is my appointment, praying I get similar news but much sooner than May :)


My parents are coming over tomorrow. Haven't seen them in a couple weeks. Dad thinks he's going to come spoil Donald. Those 2 really hit it off when Mom and Dad stayed here a few days after Dad got out of the hospital. It does this mom/daughter heart good to see it.


My favorite thing this week was ...


Hmmm....can fresh baked french bread be a favorite thing this week? I love everything about fresh bread. Making, kneading, shaping, smelling, and eating it. I should make it more often but then I'd be a lot bigger than I am LOL


Another favorite thing, I helped my sister set up her blog. That was fun!


What's working/not working for us ...


I had mentioned that our homeschool schedule wasn't working and we have worked out a plan to remedy that.


Homeschool question/thought I have ...


How do I .... I don't even know how to word it .... motivate isn't the correct word. How do I "fix" the whiny-ness of one of my students. When she gets a problem/question wrong, she pouts and whines. When she asks a question, she has a baby whiny voice. It sure makes me not want to help her, know what I mean.


A photo to share ... new best buds!

TenMarks - TOS Review


Over the course of our term on the TOS Review Crew this year, we've looked at several math programs. Mostly online and for all ages. This is another one.


TenMarks is suggested for kids in 3rd grade thru High School. It can be used as a supplement to reinforce what is being taught in their regular curriculum, or it can be used as a main curriculum. It is an online program and each student as their own login info and as parent/teacher, I have my own login info. Let's start with the students.


Each week, TenMarks will send you (or the email of choice) letting you know that the new worksheets are up and ready and they are assigned a due date (typically 4 worksheets and one week to do them). During the initial set-up, the parent sets up each student as to their grade and there is also a preference at where they start since each child is made up differently.


When the student signs in to his/her account, their next worksheet will be waiting for them. If it is a new concept, and if the student chooses, there is a video they can watch. Mine use their headphones so they can concentrate better. The video is like an online tutor, a live person, using a white board. Explaining step by step the procedure to working the problems. The student can watch the videos over and over again til they get the concept. Sometimes, something may still be remiss, so the kids can ask for a hint. They do need to beware though, as the more they ask for hints, the more it goes against them and counts on their concept strength. If they ask for more than 6 hints during the whole lesson, they will have a "do-over" assignment. Not necessarily right away, but will see it on their next assignments. The kids do have one chance to correct what they missed. One thing about this, all the answers are multiple choice. Therefore, with T/F questions, miss it once, and they'll automatically know the correct answer. The others have 4 choices. I've watched my girls using this program, and they have scratch paper and are working out the problems. I'm sure with process of elimination, they can narrow it down to only 2 options, but I do encourage them to really try and not "cheat themselves" out of the education just so they can be done with their math. There are games available within the program as a reward and an option to set up your own rewards...say like - after 5 worksheets, we'll bake cookies together. Oh....I nearly forgot....there are tests every so often. The student does have to click on the tests tab to see if there are any tests waiting and these don't count as part of the 4 regular assignments. It does not come up on their page that they have a test waiting. With the tests, there are no videos and no hints. So proof whether the kids are actually "working" the problems or guessing.


Here's a link to see how it works. Check it out. Here's a link to a free assessment. A good place to start.


To the parents/teachers side. We have our own login info. I've already mentioned that we set up each of our students at their starting points, and we do let TenMarks know which state we are in so that we are set up for our state standards. Later, we can login and see what's going on with each student. We will see their strengths, their weaknesses, what needs more work, and even a report card. We see what they scored on each assignment, how many times they watched or didn't watch a video, and how many hints they took. We also see how many times they had a redo.


Going on vacation and don't want to come home with lots of emails that your student forgot to do their worksheets, you can "pause" the assignments for whatever date you set. That's a pretty cool tool.


Other info: I've pretty well covered how a parent / homeschooler could use this program. You can take it for a test drive for $10 / month / student or full price of $49 for 6 months or $89 for a year.


Now here's some info for public school teachers. As a licensed public school teacher actually working in a public school, you can have access to all the videos for every level of math available to you, at any time, and for FREE! That's right....FREE! Check it out here. I know some of us homeschoolers can see this as "not fair" but I understand why.

Our take: I had 2 of my girls signed up for this program. Nicole, age 16, doing 5th grade math. Some of her work on TenMarks has been in the 6th grade range. Ashley, is 14, doing 8th grade math...on TenMarks, this is Pre-Algebra. Ashley just started her Pre-Al text book since Christmas break so a lot of the concepts are new to her and she's had to take advantage of the use of the videos.

With Nicole, I've seen more overall confidence in her math abilities since using TenMarks as a companion with her regular math book. It has been a great reinforcement for her and I'm praying whether we'll continue this program after our 6 month use (graciously given to us thru TenMarks for our reviews) is up.

With Ashley, she has been challenged beyond what she's already been taught, which is great for her. Using TenMarks will help her get thru her Pre-Algebra and she should be completely finished with her regular Pre-Al book about the time our use of TenMarks has expired. I'm praying this will be a huge boost for her as she's been struggling in math the last couple of years.

I did sign up (yes paid for) a year's program for Tiffany who is in 4th grade math. Since I got it for a year, I decided to start her in the 3rd grade program to build confidence and reinforce what she's learned so far. Her password and first assignments just came in this morning (I signed up 2 days ago and it takes 2-3 days for TenMarks to get it set up and out to us). I will be using this as Tiffany's main math starting with these assignments.

A couple things I really like....instant feedback for each student. They don't have to wait for me to grade their assignment (which I do try and do every day...but sometimes that doesn't happen like I'd like); they can see their own progress and watch that bar go up in strength; less paper!!! Praying that someone else explaining a concept will sink in for Tiffany (she's my resistant one when it comes to listening to me in math).

Anyway....that's TenMarks. I'm not the only one who got to review this program and there are lots of different experiences with it. So, don't just take my word for it.....check out what other crewmates had to say here.

Disclaimer: As an independent contractor for TOS, I received a 6 month subscription for 2 of my kids from TenMarks for my honest review of their product.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids - TOS review

There doesn't seem to be any books my kids like better than encyclopedias and dictionaries. I'm serious! When they are bored, these are the primary books they'll bring out. I was excited to learn that we were going to review a Bible dictionary for the TOS review crew. We stalked the mailbox like crazy waiting for this book to come in. We were not disappointed in this book at all. It is awesome!!!!

This book is a good solid, hard cover, thick sturdy 212 pages, world of information that is found in the Bible. There are 750 Bible words, more than 500 of them with illustrations, in this book. And MAPS! Very detailed maps! I loved the maps the most I think LOL Maps of cities. Maps of land. Maps of countries. Cut aways of houses and temples. It sure gives awesome visual of what it looked like in Biblical times. (there are page illustrations to follow). The frog on the front cover looks almost 3D. I half expected it to be embossed when I felt it but it isn't LOL But I digress...back on topic.

This is the back cover of this Bible dictionary. I'm sure you can't read it but it says:
Features:
- 750 Essential Bible Words
- Kid-friendly definitions
- Pronunciation system
- Alternative spellings for words from the KJV
- 500 full color photos, illustrations, reconstructions, and maps.

Special Features (these are full page features):
-Names of God - 12 Apostles - 10 Plagues of Egypt -
- Jewish Feasts and Festivals - Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus -
- Names of Jesus - Parables of Jesus - Plants of the Bible -
- Animals of the Bible - Foods of the Bible -
- Musical instruments in the Bible -
- Armor of a Roman Soldier -

Here is a shot of page 2. It has Aaron, Abba, Abednego, and Abel. Bible references to each word. A couple of photos and descriptions of what the men's purpose was in the Bible. Very enlightening to say the least. Under Aaron's photo it says "the garments of the high priest as described in Exodus 28". Pretty cool huh?
Take a look at this map on page 3. It is the migration of Abraham. I never really thought of it that way before. But you can see fairly well his travels, the map key in the upper left corner is really informative. You can see the other words on the page as well.....pronunciations, definitions, and where needed, Bible references. You can go here and see sample pages and believe me, you'll be hooked and want one or two or more for your home as well.

I really can't say enough good things for this book. I highly recommend it that's for sure and I think it would make a great gift whether you are a homeschooler or not. This book should be a must for Sunday School classrooms, or the church library too. This book is intended for ages 5-10 but ya know, I enjoyed it as much as any of the kids did. I didn't want to give it up and was reading it page by page. Hehe. I saw my 14-year-old son have it sitting there with his other references he prefers to use when doing his Bible study lessons today. I just grinned but I should have taken a photo. Doh!!!

You can get your copy of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids from LifeWay Christian Stores for $14.99 or possibly check out your favorite bookstore for availability.

To see what some of my crewmates had to say about his Bible dictionary, check them out here.


Disclaimer: I am an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse magazine and I received my very own copy of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids for Free for my honest review of this book on this blog. And honestly....it is awesome!!!

I've been awarded......



I am honored to have been chosen for this award. Thank you to Chris at Army of 5. Chris is on the TOS Crew with me and I actually met her on the Maiden Voyage of the Crew for the 2008-2009 school year.
(Before getting this completed and posted, I was awarded this same award 2 more times. I'm humbly honored. Thank you to Jill at ClarkClan Craziness. Jill and her family moved to our little town about a year and a half ago. We also happen to go to the same church. Jill is also on the 2010-2011 TOS Crew. I suggested to Jill to apply for the Crew before finding out I was going to be part of the Crew again. It has been fun chatting in person about the different products. Also a thank you to Lisa at The McClanahan 7. Lisa is also on the TOS Crew. Check out their blogs and leave them a comment. All 3 of these ladies have wonderful posts to read.)


It has taken me a couple of days to get this posted. When you see the rules to follow, you'll understand why :) To accept this award, here are the rules or important criteria of acceptance.


1. Thank and link back to the Stylish Blogger that awarded you this award.


2. Share seven things about yourself.


3. Award 15 great bloggers (now I have to change a couple that were on my list...I'm sure there is a rule about no "tag backs" or something right lol).


4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!!!


So, here are seven things about me you may or may not have known before and you may or may not care to know now:


1. I married young, 17, and Dave and I just celebrated our 32 anniversary a couple weeks ago. We've never separated, not even once. He, nor I for that matter, have ever had to sleep on the couch or in the doghouse. He still remembers our anniversary and my birthday...even when I ask him to forget the latter one.


2. We are working on our 10th child. She is 5 years old. I'll get my 15-18 kids yet LOL (when I asked Dave to assist me in coming up with something different, weird, or whatever about me, he said to put down that I like lots of kids and some people find that kind of weird LOL) We'll have 7 girls and 3 boys....for now.


3. We have 9 grandkids (ages almost 10 down to 4) and I'm not yet 50. At this rate, I'll be young enough to enjoy great-grandkids too. We have 3 boys and 6 girls. I figure if all my kids average 3 kids each, I'll have 30 grandkids. If each of them average 3 each, I'll have 90 great-grandkids. To heck with saving for retirement, I'll need to be saving for Christmases and birthdays :) None of the 3 married kids were as young as I was when they got married.


4. I am shy by nature and in real life. Apparently, get me behind a monitor and I become quite wordy. I've had a journal since I was about 12. I'd write every day for a long long time. Then I'd stop for a long time. Back and forth. I still have nearly all my journals. Going from journaling to blogging seems natural. I do still keep a handwritten journal because there is just something, almost restful and soothing, about actually writing on paper. These journals are inner most feelings I don't share with anyone. Basically between me and God :) I told my oldest daughter, if something unexpected were to happen to me, burn them all. Don't even open them. She promised she would. I wrote that on the outside covers too to be sure.


5. I am the oldest of 4 kids. I am the only one who believes that Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior and that He has forgiven me all my sins. I know that I will go to heaven one day. They are uncomfortable around me to say the least and it isn't like I "preach" to them more than once a year or so (I should more often huh?) I do have two "adopted" older sisters (they don't even know each other LOL). One moved in with us when her and I were in high school. So we've been family for more than 30 years. My other sister, the one I am most closest too, has been my sister for 4 1/2 years. We are more closely bonded than my bio sister or brothers ever thought to be. Thank the Lord that both of these awesome women are Christians. I do have many sisters in Christ, most are from the TOS Crew.....that gives me about 150 more hehe


6. When we do any traveling, I collect shot glasses. I get them when it is the first time visiting. Why shot glasses you ask? Because they are small and the most common (besides spoons) to find most any place. A couple times I couldn't find a shot glass so I got a bell. I keep them in a curio cabinet portion of our entertainment center. It helps me keep track of all the places I've been. I didn't start my collection until about 21 years ago, probably a good thing I didn't start sooner LOL I also collect miniature tea sets. I have many styles from Precious Moments wedding or nativity sets to wolves and Hiway 66 sets. I also have quite a few Noah's Ark music boxes that one of my older sons decided that he'd start for me. That is what I got from him for several years for Christmas. I have many other Noah's Ark things as well. Picture frames, doilies, jewelry, Little People's ark (Dave gave that to me for Christmas when we began having grandkids :) Ahhhh....the memories each can bring. The when, where, and why's that come with each one.

7. Last one - whew these are tough. We are in our 9th year of homeschooling. We have our first high schooler and we still have Preschoolers too. I'm in this for the long haul. At this point, still 13+ years to go LOL For the most part, I've enjoyed every bit of it. When it crosses my mind about them going to public school (admit it - we all think that a time or two) it isn't because I want to, I'm mad or frustrated with them, or they are uncooperative; it is because I worry about my abilities and if I'm teaching them enough; if they are getting the best education possible. I especially worry about the high school years. I know the Lord will continue to guide me to what may be the best for each of the kids and I know He wants me to continue this journey. Each are different, with different interests and abilities. One nice thing about the high school and even upper Jr High ages.....they work more independently, so if they have an interest in something that not everyone might like, they can do it fairly independently with little teaching from me. For example: Jaime wants to be a crime scene investigator. I found a school book....I couldn't believe my luck in finding it but the Lord knew......on Forensic Investigation. It is a science book so she can at least earn a partial science credit with it too. Giving that to her to work with on her own, no one else will have to study it and be bored and at the same time, she gets what interests her.

That's my seven things about me. Thank you if you are still here. Now for my list of 15 to forward this award too....hmmmmm....who shall it be? I decided I'm not doing this times 3 since I received this award three times nor do I want to come up with 21 things about myself. For the most part, I'm uncomfortable talking about myself but I can talk about each of my kids, grandkids, husband, the Lord, etc all day long LOL But I won't do that to you.

1. Jodi at Green Acres
2. Kristi at Clothesline Musings
3. Renita at Homedaze
4. Christi at Reed, Party of 6
10. Shannon at Mom Loves Books
11. Isabelle at Canadian Ladybug Reviews
13. Andria at 1628
14. Gina at Home Joys
15. Shawna at Tenacity Devine

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sanctity of Life Sunday: Hands that Knit - Arms that Hold

Why would anyone want to keep children from the arms of Jesus? The disciples seemed to be doing just that in Mark 10:13-16. Perhaps they thought they were doing Jesus a favor. After all, people were always crowding around Him and now all these children? Give Jesus a break!!

But Jesus was "indignant" with His disciples over this. These children were precious. They were the work of His hands, knit together in their mothers' wombs. Jesus uses these as a picture of all who are vulnerable and in need. Just as we are completely dependent upon Jesus for life, so we are completely dependent upon Him for the new life of His Kingdom. Jesus does not want anyone turned away. He desires to welcome and bless the vulnerable.

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the children's friend!

Psalm 139:13-18

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret.
Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them.
align="center">The days that were formed in me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with You.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.


Lord God, we confess, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." By nature, we are self-centered. This leads us into all kinds of sins of thought, word, and deed. Our love for ourselves often gets in the way of our love for others. Father, have mercy upon us. Forgive our selfishness and our lovelessness. Give us a servant's heart so that we might understand true greatness and what it means to welcome a little child.

Be of good cheer! Your heavenly Father knit you together in your mother's womb. Jesus' great love for you led Him to sacrifice Himself upon the cross where He paid the price for your's and my sins. He welcomes us into His loving and forgiving arms.

Thank You, Father, for welcoming into Your arms
those who Your hands knit together in the womb.


Father in heaven, thank You for creating us
and knitting us together in our mothers' wombs.


We are fearfully and wonderfully made!


Thank You for the suffering and death of Your son, Jesus Christ,
and through His loving arms welcoming us as Your children.


How marvelous are Your works!


When we look upon those not yet born.

Help us see them as children who need to be welcomed
and brought to the arms of Jesus.


When we look upon those struggling with an unplanned pregnancy,


Help us see them as "children", welcome them,
and be for them the compassionate arms of Jesus.


When we are aware of those who are wounded by a past abortion decision,

Help us see them as "children", welcome them,
and be for them the healing arms of Jesus.


We pray for caring pregnancy centers, counselors, pastors,
and all those who have opportunity to serve others
in difficult situations.


Thank You for these people.
Strengthen them in their service
and help them be the caring arms of Jesus.

May we continue to serve You
by equipping us all to be Gospel-motivated voices
For Life.


The Lord bless you and keep you as His children.
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

AMEN!


"You formed my inmost being;
You knit me in my mother's womb."
Psalm 139:13

Have you hugged your child/ren today?
Have you thanked God for forming them,
whether in your womb,
or that of another?
Have you thanked your mother today
for giving you life?

Praise God for LIFE.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Speekee - TOS Review

Hola!
Ven aqui! Soy yo.
Coma estas? Muy bien.
Hablas espanol?
Hablo un pocito espanol gracias a la Speekee!
Estupendo!!

OK - I'm not sure I got that all correct but hey, it was fun trying! Let me tell you a little about what we learned with Speekee and I'll share with you the kids' take on the program as well.

Speekee the world's #1 Spanish course for young children. It is presented along the lines of Sesame Street. Puppets and kids, lots of singing, dancing, and playing. Some of the kids really got a kick out of this. Bet you can't guess which ones! LOL


Hola! Me llamo Speekee! Mi color favorito es naranja.
The kids still debate whether Speekee is a girl (nina) or boy (nino).
Some of the words that is used towards Speekee
indicates girl plus at one point,
she is wearing a dress when they are going over the words for certain clothing.
I think she is a girl.

Aqui es Dino y Lupi.
Dino and Lupi are Speekee's helpers.
They are sock puppets that speak some of the words extra slow
to help them be understood a little better.
They say te quiero alot (this was a bit annoying for me :)
Te quiero means I love you.
I learned I love you as te amo.

There are 10 videos with Speekee online. I had the kids watch each video 3 or 4 times before pressing on to the next one. With this program, it is full immersion meaning nothing is spoken in English. Nothing is translated except with the subtitles at the bottom (written in both Spanish and English). The words can be shut off too so the older kids can't just read it but actually try learning it.

Each 15 minute video takes us to another area of day to day living, starting with going to the el parque (the park). Then el cafe (the cafe). There is also a classroom, beach, garden, zoo, house, birthday party, market, and one more....hmmm, I forgot. Anyway, it is everyday things which makes it more personable in the kids' lives. Words, objects, people they are most familiar with and therefore can use the words more often.

In the still above, you can see the video and the arrow to start in the middle of it.
On the lower right of the video frame is a way to make it full screen.
That was nice.
Below are the other nine.
To the right are printable worksheets and coloring pages.

This online version is $7.50 U.S. currency per month (4.95 pound).
Not a bad price and cancel at any time you feel you've used the 10 videos to their fullest.
The first two weeks are FREE...even better price.
You can subscribe using PayPal.


Speekee is originally done in Spain. So real Spanish kids, and the program was originally on DVD's. The company decided to expand its market and came up with the online version and the TOS crew is the first to try it out, from what I understand. We, in the U.S. can purchase the DVD set but we have to watch our version of DVD players because these DVD's use the PAL format which isn't typical of our DVD players. So if you choose to purchase them, be sure to check your player for compatability. Anyway, there are 4 DVD's plus 1 audio CD, and a 70 page guide for teaching. The price is given as 95 pounds and the American currency is determined by the conversion for the day, or something like that. Contact them for accurate pricing.


Our homeschool experience with it: I've had two years of high school Spanish and one year or rather one semester of college Spanish. Some of the way I was taught to pronounce words does not coincide with what is taught with Speekee. I talked with one of our employees who is from Mexico and asked his opinion of the difference. Here are his comments,

"Spanish is like English.
There are several dialects and accents.
Depending on which part of the country/world you are from to which one would be used.
It is like us here in the northwest listening to someone from the south or from New Jersey,
they sound funny to us.
Doesn't make their speech wrong,
just a different dialect or even slang.
There is formal Spanish and as well as slang Spanish
but everyone can typically understand each other.
Just like in English."

I did use Fabian to assist me in some pronunciations because Speekee is a puppet
and kids speek fast and I couldn't watch the movements of their lips
to get proper pronunciation.
He was very helpful.
Thanks Fabian.

So, although I learned one thing, Speekee taught it differently,
doesn't make them wrong or be forgetful.
Whew!

The kids' take on using Speekee:

Nicole (16) - I really like Speekee. It is fun to do and I learned a lot.
Jaime Rose (15) - It is a good learning program....for little kids.
Ashley (14) - It is a good program but some of the words are hard to understand.
Donald (14) - It is okay. I don't care for puppets. Puppets are little kid-ish.
Tiffany (10) - I like Speekee because it is fun. I think it would be good for anyone who wants to learn Spanish. This is a fun way to learn it.
Charlie (9) - I don't like it. It is weird talking to puppets and I don't like puppets anyway.
Tawny (7) - I like Speekee because he sings alot. No lo se. (yes, this is her actual wording lol)
Hailey (7) - I like all of it.
Megan (6) -I like all of it too.
Max (4) - Me too.

Yes, I made all 10 kids watch it. I figured if the bigs watched it they'd be able to assist the littles in their practice. It worked out fairly well that way but the bigs weren't thrilled with it. It is a bit Sesame Street-ish which is good for the younger ones. Tiffany is probably the one who "uses" it the most. Asking when she forgets a word or phrase and trying her best to use the words she remembers regularly, not just during Spanish class.

I may continue this program for another little while so the littles can have more experience with it. The bigs will begin a "big kid" program later this semester and I have a feeling that the littles will be teaching them a thing or two LOL This will be fun to see :)

Several others from the crew reviewed this product too and there are many other views and kids' take on it. Every child varies so much in their preferences so I would definitely take advantage of the two weeks FREE and see what your kids think before subscribing. But then again, subscribing for one month at $7.50 is cheaper than a Spanish workbook would be and at least the kids would be able to "listen" to it and get a feel of the pronunciation before trying to read it. They can see it in print on the screen and with the print outs.

Me gusta. Hasta la vista.

Vaya con Dios

Vickie

Disclaimer: As an independent contractor for the TOS review crew, I received a FREE 2-month subscription to Speekee for my honest review.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jason is home!!!!


Jason is home from Afghanistan!!! I'm so excited and praising the Lord big time that he is home safe and sound. I got to speak to him for a little while this evening.


He's not happy about how things are for the military over there. We sacrifice so much for the "enemy". Please continue to keep the American, and all ally soldiers, in your prayers.


Anyway, I'm thankful he's back stateside. Still about 1500 miles from me, but he's out of the war torn country right now. Praise the Lord he received no injuries.


I just had to share! Thanks for rejoicing and Praising the Lord with me.
As you know, we homeschool. Do you know what is so frustrating about homeschooling??? Getting workbooks that have the answers in them!!!

For example: I gave Tiffany a grammar workbook. One that she has only five questions/sentences to fix each day; Monday - Friday. On the 6th portion, is the answer key for all five days!!! What's the purpose? Can't cut if off. I could cover each and everyone I suppose but what a lot of paper to do that with. It is bad enough to include answer keys in the back of the book that the first page of answers is on the backside of the last page, but to include it right there with the lesson!?! I like tearing out the answer keys and I staple them together, label the top with who and which book it belongs to then I stick it in the folder. But when tearing them out, I tear out the last page of the last assignment!

Grrr.....very frustrating and you know, just know that a 10-year-old can't resist peeking especially when they are having a bad day.

OK....I've been wanting to vent about that for awhile now. I feel better :) Off to find another grammar book for her.

Have you run into something similarily frustrating?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rain, rain, and more rain

Will this rain ever quit?!!!! Where's our snow!!!?!!! Oh yeah, the south and east are getting it. They can give it back at any time now LOL I don't mind rain for the most part. Truly I don't. Beautiful foggy mornings and evenings are great. Preparation for beautiful spring bloomings in the not to distant future is awesome. The smell of the first rains when it first settles the dust is heavenly.....but all this rain also means mud! Our driveway (remember, it is a mile long) is practically a river bed so without a good 4-wheel drive vehicle with ground clarence, no one goes up and down the road. The ruts are deep, that's why the ground clarence is a must as well. Our dumpster hasn't been emptied in so long because the truck weighs nearly 30 tons and just can't make it up here. The vehicles are always muddy, which means getting to and from church, means muddy tights and hems of dresses getting in and out of the truck. Not to mention when getting out there or even doing chores in boots, the shoes get stuck and sucked down in the mud that we walk right out of them before we know it.

I remember Travis making a comment when he was a little boy that when he grows up he wants to live where it rained all the time because he likes the smell, the rainbows, the winter fogs, and makes the world look brighter some how. Now, he lives near Seattle. I need to ask him how he likes the rain now that he's lived there for just over a year. lol It is just not the same as we get here I'm sure.

Well, I just needed to grumble this morning. I won't melt in the rain, drown in the driveway maybe, but I won't melt. The kids are actually doing very well being cooped up in the house. Good thing I sent them outside on a scavenger hunt while the ground was still frozen a couple weeks ago. They'd like to get that finished up sometime. Today we'll start studying Blue Diamonds, a unit study in the Curiosity Files from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Look for a review in February. We'll also do a small unit study about MLK today too.

Jasmine will be going home today. She's in public PreK and had no school today so we were able to keep her one more day. I can't wait til this transition is over and she's here permanently so we can get her settled in our school routine. She likes the socialization of the public school because she is such a social butterfly lol but she'll do well here too with this one room schoolhouse of only 10 other students. We picked her up last Friday, early afternoon, and she was with us when we finished up our school day. We did our Spanish class with Speekee (look for a review coming up soon) and she really got a kick out of that one. We'll see what we can get done before she has to go home today.

OK....better get our day started. Praying all ya'll have a blessed "dry" day. What are your plans for today? Taking a school holiday like the public schools or continuing with your school week?

God's Blessings
Vickie

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Working and homeschooling


Technically I don't "work" but we do own our own business. The TOS Blog Cruise question this week is "How do you juggle working either in the home or outside the home and homeschooling?" Let me explain what we do:

As you know, not only do I homeschool my 6, I homeschool 4 of the grandkids with them. So 10 kids and an occasional "borrowed" one, as Dave likes to say it. Brandy drops her kids off about 9:30 a.m. and we try and begin school about 10:30. This is Monday, Wednesday - Friday. On Tuesdays....different story.

Brandy is our bookkeeper, receptionist at our autobody shop. So I watch her kids. On Tuesdays, we let Brandy have the day off. Generous of us huh? lol It gives her a day of the week off so she can get things done that need work week hours and her day to clean her house (like me, doesn't like the house cleaning on weekends). So, I go to the shop on Tuesdays.

On Tuesdays, I take Tawny to Brandy's house and Brandy schools her 4 and Tawny. I take the other 5 with me to the shop. We have a back room that we've named the schoolroom, that is right next to the main office. I can still answer the phones, greet customers, make phone calls, etc and the kids are working on independent work. Between any of my activities, the kids can come out and ask questions as needed. I've gathered certain ones around the counter and given spelling tests or other activities. We don't do "group" work on Tuesdays. I try and plan our group work the rest of week so it works out there is a test/quiz or something else that the kids can do on Tuesdays. Most of the time, this kind of thing wouldn't include the littles anyway so it works out and the littles have certain things that work with their schedule that can be done on Tuesdays. Win/win for us all.

We also have an at home business as real estate investors. At this time, there isn't much going on. All our rentals are rented and we aren't actively looking for more at this time (we will be in the future). When we have to attend to a property, the kids go along and help where they can. So it is more like a family business....actually both of them are. When the kids are done with school at the shop, they enjoy sweeping and cleaning the shop and interacting with the guys (one of our employees was homeschooled his whole life so the kids really enjoy talking with him :)

Well, that's how we work it even tho I don't technically "work" hehe I love being home with the kids, but in my humble opinion, where there is a will, there is a way. So if a family really really wanted to homeschool but needs to work as well, the Lord will provide a way to make it all happen.

To see how other crewmates handle working and homeschooling, check out what they have to say here.

God's Blessings

Vickie

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Virtual Nerd - TOS review


Face it....as homeschooling moms, well even as public school moms, sometimes we need assistance in teaching a concept to our kids. Math and writing especially comes to mind. I remember when I was a kid in school hearing my parents say "I don't understand this new math, I can't help you". Today, I find myself in somewhat the same circumstance. Although these days, I have the teacher's manual and that does help, but I have run across times or problems that the kids just aren't "getting it" the way I explain it or the way I understand the book to tell me to explain it. I can't afford a regular tutor and putting the kids in public school isn't an option I'm willing to consider because they will bring home homework and I'm expected to be the know-it-all come then too.

This is where a program like Virtual Nerd comes in handy. It is like an online tutor. Cheaper than a real life tutor and accessible anytime, not just certain days, or hours each week. One flat rate per day ($5), per week ($19), per month ($49) or even by the quarter ($129). That's convenient. Not something you have to stay subscribed too for a year if it isn't needed. Pay for just one day if you want or keep it for a month to get thru the whole chapter. Pretty cool huh?

Virtual Nerd covers Pre-Algebra to Physics. Pretty intense stuff. First, you click on the grade of your choice then you are given a list of material that is covered in that segment. With each topic there is a drop down menu for more detail type problems. See the chart below of the material covered and you can see the arrows on the right for the drop down menu.

Then.....there is a live person at a white board to walk the student thru the process. With this process, a portion or all the video can be replayed and replayed until the concept is understood. One complaint Jaime had when she first began "this isn't how you taught me". I told her exactly, a second opinion doesn't hurt since she is struggling in that area. Maybe coming from another angle from someone else might help it sink it. To her and my amazement, that is exactly what happened!!

Jaime's review: "Virtual Nerd is a helpful math source. They walk you through the steps one-by-one. They also show you how to solve the problem one step at a time explaining how they figure it out. I like this math source." (Jaime - Pre-Algebra)
I'm going to keep Virtual Nerd with my list of favorite helps and I really like the idea that I can have it on an as needed basis and not be paying for something long term when we don't need it. To check out what some of my fellow crewmates who also got to take a look at this virtual tutor, go here.
Check out Virtual Nerd. They have FAQ's. Testimonials. Press releases (Virtual Nerd received the Parent Tested Parent Approved award). Check out their blog as well. Loads of information to be gained from there too.

Disclaimer: I am an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I received a temporary subscription to Virtual Nerd for my review on this blog. All opinions are mine and Jaime's from our experience.

Friday, January 7, 2011

See-N-Read Reading Tools



Improves reader focus on the line being read
while reducing distractions on the page.

Reduces word and line skipping and glare.

Helps reduce eye strain and fatigue.

Do you know anyone who has these issues? Maybe someone who has to constantly use their finger to keep track of where they are when reading....no matter the age? Then these little handy-dandy tools may be just what you are looking for!

See-N-Read's have a clear reading window and is surrounded by a non-glare tinted transparent finish allowing the reader to see a line at a time verses only the word their finger is under. It makes for more fluent reading when it is a whole line to focus on. The tint keeps the other words from becoming a distraction while reading.

This size See-N-Read is for books and fit well with paperbacks. I have a couple finger trackers and they really enjoyed using these and they make great book marks too.
You can purchase these individually for $2.99; a pack of 3 for $8.99; packs of 10 that would be good for around the home for $27.99; packs of 25 for classrooms for $64.99. You can also get a combo pack with the document size of 3 each for $17.99.

This is the document size See-N-Read. As you can see it goes all the way across a regular sized paper. This is great for reading those hard to understand documents that you have to read and reread the same statement to be sure it is understood.

These are $3.49 each. $9.99 / 3 pack. $29.99 / 10 pack. $69.99 / 25 pack. Or a combo pack with the smaller version for $17.99 and you get 3 of each.


There is also tools called Memory Mark. The Memory Mark is just like the See-N-Read tools but the window is an open slot so that you can put the line/word you need to highlight and use a highlighter to mark it without messing up any other line. Cool huh? This neat tool comes in the same two sizes as the See-N-Read.

The cost for these are the same prices as the See-N-Read.
Ever lose your place when reading on the computer? Well, now there is the same handy-dandy See-N-Read tool for the computer called eSee-N-Read. No! No! No! You don't tape your plastic physical See-N-Read to your computer screen, silly! You actually download this one. It will put an icon in your tool bar and voila! Bring it up anytime you need it. Keeps you focused and improves data entry accuracy because data can only be typed in the clear window and not the shaded area. The movement is controlled by the keyboard, mouse, or both. It is not available for Mac's quite yet but they are working on it.

The cost is $29.99

Personally, for me, I'm a fast reader and these tools slow me down but, when I'm reading aloud to the kids and we need to stop and discuss something, it is a great thing to use to "highlight" the spot we need to discuss. It is a benefit to my finger trackers and keeps them on the appropriate line especially for reading out loud. I have one child that have eyes that like to flit about when she's reading, this sure helps her in being able to keep her eyes on one line at a time while keeping the rest of the page from distracting her eyes.

I recommend these for students and/or adults that have a hard time tracking, beginning readers that still use their fingers, for those that need to practice reading fluency, and those that have wondering eyes or are easily distracted with other things on a page.

Check out more research data, statistics, See-N-Read's story, etc on their website. To see what my other crewmates had to say, check them out here.

Disclaimer: I received one each of these products plus a download of eSee-N-Read free of charge for my review.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Change of Plans - TV show Review

CHANGE of PLANS
a made for TV family movie airing on FOX
Saturday January 8, 2011 8/7c


Up to this point, Sally Danville's life has played out just as she hoped it would. A beautiful and free-spirited musician, she and her fighter-pilot husband, Jason, live life on the go, free of domestic responsibilities. But with a single phone call from Child & Family Services case worker, Dorothy (Phylicia Rashad, The Cosby Show), she learns that things don't always go according to plan. Sally (Brooke White, American Idol) is met with the news that her best friend from college has died in a tragic accident on a Peace Corps mission and has named Sally the legal guardian of her four kids - 3 of them adopted from third-world countries. Now Sally and Jason (Joe Flanigan, Stargate Atlantis) must quickly learn to parent this instant family and help the kids deal with the culture clash of life in America. The story is both humorous and heartwarming, revealing how fulfilling life can be when you look beyond your own plans and invest in the lives of others.

This is a must see made for TV family movie. It is awesome! It is on FOX this Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 8/7c Bring out the pizza and everyone gather around to watch this. Everyone will take something away from this movie.

This movie is close to my heart. As you know, we've adopted a few kids. Four of them came to us as a sib group in need of temporary foster placement. Even though our plans were for only two adoptions, we had a change of plans as well when these kids became free to adopt, so we put our name in the pot too. It didn't put a damper on our career plans, but a change on our family plans. I'm OK with that as you all know and now praying for more.

Anyway....Check out the Family Movie Night website. With the things on TV these days, it is a nice refreshing thing to be able to turn the TV onto a movie and not worry about its contents. This is what they are trying to do.

Like their Facebook page. Here's a YouTube sneak peek too.

Enjoy! After you've watched the movie, come back here and leave me a comment on what you thought of it.

Have you had something unexpected happen in your life to have a change of plans?

God's Blessings
Vickie

Disclaimer: I received a free download of this movie from Family Movie Night so that I could help get the word out via this blog.