Saturday, April 27, 2013

Me and C in B :)

A sweet family, who I had never even met but their cousins are clients, invited me to Branson to do their daughter's senior pictures in exchange for a week at a condo there in town. We planned to do them over Spring Break but the weather turned icky. Then we were going to do them last week but I was sick, so Tuesday, C and I finally headed east together. We were just able to spend one night but had a great time and plan to go back with the family and "redeem" that week stay.

I felt badly leaving T and P but knew it would be tough for them to just hang out while I did pics for people I didn't know, in a town I didn't know. They normally take turns going on most of my shoots with me and one at a time is great. All three....I just knew there were be fighting and didn't want to mess with it. So, they got some Grandma and Grandpa time, and C and I had some "grown up" time.

And "grown up" he is getting. I know he is just 13 but it was like bringing a friend with me. I really enjoyed the time with him and he navigated for me like a champ. Although he tried to distract me with some Duck Dynasty on the ipod - lol.

 I sure do love this kid young man and thank God for him daily!

In today's episode of "Choose Your Battles"...

In our family, we, as parents, tend to choose our battles and then make sure we win the ones we choose. So, when P asked for the nine millionth time to get a pink stripe in her hair, we said yes. She was shocked! But it is summertime...and it is hair. If we hate it, or it makes her start smoking and stealing cars, we can dye it back to her normal, beautiful brown pretty easily. And she is pumped.

The way we see it, it's what's on the inside that matters and we spend hours each day investing in their "insides" (heart and mind) so if they want to have some fun on the outside, we are ok with that...within reason. Piercings and tattoos will have to wait since you can't just part your hair differently and hide those. haha. ;)

And....with this "yes" I figure we've bought ourselves a truckload of free "no"s, right?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

~GIVEAWAY~A Cry From Egypt

In September, I was given a fabulous book to review called A Cry From Egypt by Hope Auer. You can read the whole review here, but in a nutshell, we loved this book! I have recommended it to so many people and loaned my copy to several kids at CC.

Briefly, A Cry from Egypt is a beautiful, historical fiction book that takes place during the time that Moses was trying to free the Israelites from Pharaoh (roughly Exodus 5-12). It tells the story of Jarah, a 12 year old Israelite slave, and her family and friends as they all intermittently  suffer at the hands of the Egyptians and watch in amazement as Yahweh rains down plagues on the Egyptians because their stubborn and arrogant Pharaoh will not let God's people go free. Jarah's mother is the only one in her family who does not believe in Yahweh and it is very interesting to read about this "house divided", so to speak.

It brought this portion of Scripture to life and I'm so honored to have been able to have my family read it.

And now, Hope has so graciously offered a free autographed copy of her book to one of my readers! Just fill in this Rafflecopter below and it could be you.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Stocking up for a certain someone for Disney. You know who you are....and no, you will never live that down. Love ya!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The blog post that never was...

I was in a majorly snarky mood yesterday but thankfully had the good sense to not post a blog that I wrote in my head. Sometimes people just really surprise me. By now, not much should surprise me, but it still does. I was hurt and mad and just flat grumpy but reminded today that people are, in fact, human, no matter who they are. And I have been given grace and need to extend that to others too.

So, with that said, I'm going to suck it up and look for the good in people, even when I have to look really, really hard.

Thanks for letting me NOT rant - haha! Love you guys! I'll be back with more non-review posts soon.

I'm on day 10 of feeling like crud, but again, so blessed that this is all I have wrong. Praying for dear friends with much greater health problems. Wrapping up the CC year this week and wrapping up a crazy busy photo season with tons of seniors and families wanting spring pictures. And going to take a quick trip with Captain C about 4 hours away to do one last Senior session this week. I'm looking forward to the one-on-one time with him.

Review: Math Rider

Math Rider is an online "game"' where kids can review their math facts in a fun, exciting way. As I mention often, I love, love, love when companies make learning fun, fun, fun! Math Rider is a great way for kids to drill and review their basic math facts and can supplement any curriculum. It drills addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts from 1-12 as kids journey through an enchanted land and finish their quests.

 photo mathrider-product-box-v5-200x209_zpsf141caec.jpgWhen we received the game and loaded it on our computer (PC, but it works on Mac too!), we were then given the option of adding up to 8 riders. We decided to use this for T and P (4th and 2nd grade). The game is suggested for 2nd - 6th grade, or anyone that has a good grasp of at least their addition facts. You can choose what operation you want each "rider" to use - for T we did multiplication and for P we did addition. That means when each kiddo logs in, it will start them reviewing what we chose for them. You can then choose from three different levels of problems - we started them each with "easy" so they could get a feel for the game - and finally become a "master" at their operation.

When they start their adventure, they are asked a math fact and have to type in the answer. There is a rider on a horse that is heading towards a hurdle. They must type in the answer (and press enter) before their horse needs to jump. It's that simple. There are no crazy directions to guide Shadow, the horse, you just answer and move to the next one and the computer keeps him moving forward toward the next hurdle.

If you answer correctly, it keeps going. If you answer incorrectly, you can continue to try to answer correctly until Shadow is right next to the hurdle, then it will tell you the correct answer. I liked that it said/wrote out the problem and answer for you when it corrects you instead of just saying "wrong" or just telling the answer. I think that "5x5=25" is more beneficial to the kids long term memory than just "25."

The quicker you answer, the quicker the next hurdle comes up for the horse to jump. If you take a long time, it keeps going slowly. It is very responsive to the child and goes at their pace. Also, the game remembers what problems the kids answer easily or struggle with and continues accordingly. I love that. If they miss 5x5, you can bet they will see it again a few more times in that round! Genius! There is also a screen that shows their progress and any problems they are struggling with. That was helpful for me to see when I wasn't sitting there to know what they missed.

T did really well with this and enjoyed it. He enjoyed it SO much that it is the only math he wanted to do everyday. I had them each spend about 15 minutes on Math Rider, in addition to their normal math lesson. That didn't fly with him. He wanted to ONLY do Math Rider, he liked it so much. He liked the rewards at the end of the quests and watching his progress on the trail. We are starting division on there now and I'm hoping he takes to it quickly.

P, on the other hand, loved the idea but it was a HUGE struggle to make her do it each day. I mean, tears sometimes. Granted, she is slightly dramatic - lol. But she got very frustrated with the timed part of it. She is on the low end of the age range though so I do think she will continue to do better and better as she gets quicker with her facts. She just doesn't have all the facts memorized so the horse would get to the hurdle before she could figure up the answer AND type it in AND push enter (hear the drama in that sentence?). I started sitting with her, or letting T sit with her, and typing in the answers after she said them. She liked that a lot better as she was more successful on her adventure this way. She could get the answers out in time, but not get them typed in time and was getting too frustrated. This was a good compromise until she can a) answer faster and b) type faster.  I'm ok with that!

Overall, I'm sold. It is great to have a way to do rote review without having to do flashcards. It is very easy to use and bright and fun for the kids. I do wish it went all the way to 15s instead of stopping at 12s since that is what they are learning in CC. And I wish you could have it give even more time for the younger ones so they don't get frustrated. I like that it is timed and pushes them, and love how proud they are when they can do it alone. I just think it could be expanded to a younger age if the timing could be slowed a bit.

Math Rider currently sells for $47 for a lifetime license with free upgrades for life. You do not have to be connected to the internet to play, but will need to for upgrades.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: TimelineBuilder for ipad

Knowledge Quest is an awesome company that fits right in with the classical model we have chosen for our kids.We were given their new TimelineBuilder for ipad App to review. It is currently $4.99 in the app store  but is normally $6.99. I have a first generation ipad so was excited that this would work on there too. Yay!

The kids were excited about this and are always up for using the ipad for school! We watched the video on their site that explained how to use the app (love this!) and we were off. It is a very "pretty" app, in my opinion and well organized.

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It has optional background music and everything is very user friendly.The kids didn't care for the music but liked the "sound effects" of files opening or selecting things so we turned the music off and left the other noise on.We I immediately started thinking of all the fun things we could make into a timeline. :) We started with making one about my life (that I won't post - haha). I put when I was born (the mail reason I won't post), graduated high school, college, met and married big Daddy, had the kids, etc. It was a fun way to learn.

To make a timeline, you click on the new timeline tab and fill in the blanks. Easy Peasey! Each entry lets you include a title, description, dates (start and end, but you don't have to do both on all of them - ie. birth had one date, but college had a range). Then for the fun part, pictures. :) They have a link to wikipedia where you can get a picture for your post. When you find your picture, click on it, and it puts it in your photos folder on your ipad. Then you just have to upload it to the timeline post. For the one about me, I used pictures I already had in my photos folder instead of searching wikipedia. If you planned ahead, you could have all the needed pictures already ready for the kids so they don't have to go online to look. IF you planned ahead. I didn't, so I saw with them while they searched. I liked that it went straight to the wikipedia link that matched your title to minimize the searching. I don't let the kids get online unsupervised so putting the pictures in the photos folder is a good option to avoid that. Otherwise, they click on wikipedia and it won't open.

Here was the next timeline we made about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

We found it interesting how much time there was between the building of the first and the remaining six "Wonders." It was cool to see it laid out like this. This is a screen shot, but we also emailed the timeline to my email account with a click.

We then started putting our history sentences from CC into a new timeline. It is good practice for the kids to have to type the sentence into the description and see where they fall in relation to each other. We did this on Tuesdays, after learning them on Mondays. Then reviewed them all on Thursdays and added or corrected anything we left off. We didn't spend a lot of time on them, once we finished our initial playing. Just about 15 minutes a couple of times a week and we had a nice timeline going!

I can't wait to start our next CC cycle having this at the beginning. I plan to have the kids each make one and add to it each week as part of their memory work time. I also have visions of us putting the entire 160 point timeline in there over the course of the year.  The kids have already made one about their lives too that will be fun to add on to over the years.

Overall, I love this. You can have so many timelines all in one place, and not all over your walls. We have a huge timeline on our walls in the school room, but rarely go in there, honestly. But, we ARE on the ipad most days so it is easy to add on to this. What a great idea and great way to add in more visual review for our lessons.

The options really are endless. We are going to Disney World this summer and I even see us using this too keep track of which parks we go to each day, etc. Love it!

My only complaints are that if you touch anything outside of the "input box" for a new event, it closes. Doesn't save it, just closes. I wish it would remember where you left off when that happens so they didn't get frustrated having to put the same history sentence in several times. Other than that, we loved it!

Thank you, Knowledge Quest, for making this fantastic and reasonably priced app!
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Supercharged Science = Superfun Science!

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I had never heard of Supercharged Science before it came up for review, but am SO thankful to have found it. Aurora Lipper is the brain child behind Supercharged Science. She has such an amazing passion for helping kids have FUN with science that you can't help want to jump right in. She takes all the fear out of it for us moms, which is awesome. We were given their K-8 e-science program to review, which is an online subscription to their site that runs $37/month.

 photo escience-full-600px_zps738b5d59.jpgI wasn't scared really, but a little nervous about starting a new science program. Would I need tons of supplies, prep work, etc? After we watched the Getting Started video, my mind was at ease and we were ready to begin.

We were given full access to all the study units right off the bat so we would have all we needed for the review. The full access includes 19 units, plus bonus units on The Scientific Method, Math and Science Fair Projects. Normally, when you sign up for the program, you receive access to the first 7 units, then get access to 2 more each month you are a subscriber. One of my favorite things so far about Supercharged Science, is the customer service. Say you want access to unit 18 but have only subscribed for a month, you can email them and they will give it to you. Also, you can contact them anytime with any questions you have and they are great to answer (I tried a few without telling them I was on the Crew and got great, quick replies!). If you get stuck in the middle of an experiment and can't figure something out, contact them and they will walk you through it. Love that level of customer service.

OK, so back to us...I decided to start with the lessons on The Scientific Method, which is before even unit 1. We printed out page after page of EASY experiments that used things we had at home. We all had a great time exploring science and solidifying the Scientific Method in their heads. We use it each year in CC so it was good to get to practice it at home. Our favorite during this session was determining how many drops of water you can fit on a penny. We were WAY off - haha. We guessed around 10 and got 40!

Then we tried it on dimes, nickels, and quarters. We had almost 80 drops on this quarter before it spilled over. So fun!

I loved that we had the things laying around for almost all of the experiments. Since we are studying biology at home, we skipped ahead to units 18 and 19.The units are broken down into lessons. Unit 18 was broken into 3 lessons, which took us about a week to do each one. They include reading, videos, experiments and exercises. I would read the reading information aloud to all of them (C usually sneaked downstairs for our lessons - haha), then move on to the video and our first experiment. Some were quick and some were longer, but we usually tried to keep it to less than an hour or we really could have JUST done science all week.

One day we made an insect aspirator. Their simple directions (with a video included!) included again, things we had laying around. And it worked! We used it to suck up rice and sugar - lol.

Another day we made a robotic hand - haha. It was a little tougher, but very cool when we got it done. T kinda gagged when we were using it and showing how our tendons can pull our fingers up, just like the string pulled the robot fingers up. He will not likely ever be a doctor ;o)

Unit 19 has more lessons so we haven't quite finished that one yet but will keep working through it the rest of the month. This has matched well with what C is doing in Challenge A this year at CC. Depending on the experiment or exercise, they all three could do it or some C had to really take the lead on (like this hand). It was a great time of working and learning together.

This summer, I'm planning to let the kids take turns picking the units they want to do. This will be awesome summertime fun. We don't stop schooling during the summer, just add in more of these "fun" things and this is perfect for that! They have all loved science since we started reviewing this program. Mission accomplished! I even got them doing some math with the Mathmagic unit. We have some cool ways to "trick" our friends now and a fun number game to play that includes logic and reason.  In Challenge B next year, C is going to get to participate in a science fair. Normally, that scares me half to death as I know it is supposed to be the kids' projects, but come on, we all know mom and dad play a big part. I was pumped to see a unit on science fair projects - woot! Look out Owasso CC, we've got this. ;)

Bottom line: This is the perfect science curriculum for someone like me, who isn't overly science minded. Aurora took all the "work" out of it and the kids and I both had such a good time learning together. 2 or 3 times a week, we get emails with tips and ideas in them, or sometimes they just direct you to the site for more fun. You could definitely use this as your complete science curriculum, but if you would like to use it to supplement your current curriculum, they have even taken the work out of that for you with their conversion chart. Here they take the most popular vendor's books and show which of their lessons would match up. Love it!

Like I said, it is $37/month and you can cancel at any time. She also offers a full 30 day money back guarantee so you can try it and if it isn't for you, you aren't out anything.  What do you have to lose?

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

God is...

...My Shield:

...King of the earth:

T and P drew pictures during Bible this morning showing some things about God. We are learning about David and the verses in the Psalms that describe Him.  Loved their pics. You can't tell in P's that Jesus has a crown on as He is holding the earth. T's made me tear up when I read it. He has such a sweet heart. Love these kids and love homeschooling them where this can be part of our school day!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Who I Admire

Here is Terrific T's essay for this week.....

The One that I Admire
By T......
Noelle, who is my cousin, is someone I really admire. She is 10 years old and my industrious cousin. One day, after we went to Disney, when she was 6 years old, she became very sick. Sadly she was diagnosed with a horribly so-far-incurable disease called Diabetes. I was very sad. About one year later, we visited her. She was as happy as a pig in mud and as thankful as a praying mantis. Still today, she is happy and trusts in God. Noelle plays soccer and loves others. I know if I had Diabetes, I wouldn’t stand a chance. Even though she receives shots and has insulin hooked up at all times, she has a smile through it all. I really admire my cousin, Noelle.

He sure loves his cousin! 
If you missed P's essay last week, check it out here.

Jesus' got a plan

P went with me to do some pics tonight. On the drive home, we heard Audio A's Kings and Queens on the radio. If you haven't heard it, stop right now and watch this:

We were singing along and got to the "if not us, who will be like Jesus, to the least of these" and I said something about wishing we had our foster kids already so we could be like Jesus to the least of these.

Princess P says, with 100% confidence in her Jesus, "Jesus' got a plan. He knows what kids we need."

OK, wow. She is so right. I made all these plans and timelines and whatever. Jesus' got a plan! I need to quit trying to work it to fit into MY plan and wait for HIS plan, which will obviously be a zillion times better than mine would ever be!

Here are all the lyrics. I so love this song!

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open


If not us who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free shout your name in victory
We will love we will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these

Saturday, April 6, 2013


We have been looking at trading our van in for quite a while. The dealer didn't want to give us enough for it so we decided to sell it on our own. That's a scary thing since once it is gone, you have no car. So, Thursday night, I listed it on craigslist and in 30 minutes, someone had emailed wanting to see it.

Big Daddy took it to work the next day and the guy met him there and test drove it and offered more than the dealer, but less than we wanted. In the meantime, 4 more people had emailed with interest (I so love craigslist!).

He set up a time to meet with one today and while I was doing pics this morning, I got a call from him saying, "Guess what I'm doing?" He and Princess P had just sold the van and were walking the mile home (met the guy at QT instead of our house). LOL!

So, now we have only the truck. Sweet. We had found a new van we were interested in and ran out there when I got home to test drive it. It is owned by a sweet Asian man who was fun to drive around with. I wasn't sure where exactly he was from so asked him after we had been driving for 10 minutes. He said he was from South Korea. Well, what do you know? I happen to know exactly TWO phrases in Korean so I whipped them right out. I told him, in my best Okie-Korean, "thank you" and "it is very delicious."

He sat straight up and froze. Then said with his thick Korean accent, "What is going on here?"

I think we scared him 1/2 to death. Poor thing! I quickly explained that my sister lived in Daejeon, South Korea for almost 2 years and we had a little boy from there live with us for 3 months about 9 years ago.

He relaxed a little and said that he is from the same town! What a small world. We chatted for a bit and he approved of my Korean restaurant choice in Tulsa (and was impressed with what I order - always the same thing  to be safe!). We ended up buying the van - well, promising to buy it on Monday. He had to call the bank where his loan is through and get it all in order. He, wisely, didn't want to take our money when he didn't outright own it. He was so sweet. I can't wait for Monday though.

I'm so excited to get a new vehicle after 7 years. I really hoped we were out of the minivan stage, but after looking at lots and lots of different styles of minivans and SUVs, the minivans won out.

Goodbye, Rhonda Honda. You were a good car and will be missed.

 Hello, ______ (gotta come up with a name after we get to know her a little).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Computer Science for Kids

Those that know me know that I am a computer geek. I love them. We have more computers around our house than I care to admit...and most of them work even! So when Computer Science for Kids was offered up for review, I was excited to get to share my love for computers with Captain C. We were generously given their Beginning Microsoft Small Basic program to try out. 

This came as downloadable ebook that includes both PDF and Word documents of each chapter, as well as all the "code" you will need to do the lessons. They came in a .zip format so they were very quick for us to download and unzip. We had to download Microsoft's free Small Basic software, which reads the "code" we are learning to write before we started. photo Beginning-Microsoft-Small-Basic-1937161196-By-Philip-Conrod-and-Lou-Tylee-Cover-Small_zpsb94fb127.jpg

I wasn't sure how intense the lessons would be. When you think of computer programming, I know many people shudder and C was the same way. He thought it sounded cool, but that it would be too hard. I printed off the entire first chapter and three hole punched it before we began. We sat down and started going through it together, page by page. It is written in easy to understand language with screen shots of what you are doing so you know if you have done it correctly. He caught on quickly. YAY! 

He blew through the first chapter so I rethought the printing each chapter idea. Instead, starting on the second class, I had him open the PDF instructions on one half of the screen and open Small Basic on the other half. This worked great. He was breezing through this and really understanding it. He would do the activity included, then change it up a little and personalize it. 

For example, in this lesson, they were taught to write the code that said "Welcome to Small Basic!" He changed it up a little the second time - lol.

Instructions on right and his workspace in small basic on the left. I highlighted the part he was "copying."

The result after you push "Run" is this screen pops up and does what you told it to do. Fun.

There are 11 chapters in this program and we are over 1/2 way through it. He is excited about the games he gets to start making. The chapters are definitely getting harder and taking more time. The first two chapters only took about an hour or so to complete. The rest are taking him closer to 4 or 5 hours and we are breaking it up over a couple of days each week. It might not take as long if he didn't play with each example and tweak it, but I think that is the fun part of learning. Once he learns how to do it, he can then make it his own. 

Beginning Microsoft Small Basic  is recommended for kids ages 10 and up. Terrific T is 10 and was slightly interested but I think this is better suited for a little bit older, unless they have previous computer programing knowledge. Captain C is 13 and this is perfect for him. I don't have to sit with him and do it all, but he does it at the kitchen table so I can be close by to help if needed.

One thing about computer programming is if you are just BARELY wrong (like a missed letter or dot or anything), it won't work. That would frustrate T too much, I think. What I love about the Small Basic program, is if you make a mistake, it immediately tells you what line the mistake is and what needs to be fixed. Once C figured that out, he really got moving on it. He would put in random things, hit run, and then see what needed fixing to make it work - haha. Small Basic also has a great feature where it offers help as you go. 

Like here, he started typing "textwindow" and the program guessed what he was writing and offered all those "helps" for him. What a great tool for learning programing!

As you can see on their site, there are several options offered for Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. We received the 2nd option, which was the instant download. The normal price for this is $59.95 but it is currently on sale for $34.95. The sale price is good until July 4, 2013! They also offer one that includes Bible Games that looks cool. If you check it out, let me know what you think.

C is really enjoying it and I'm glad we got to review this. I think the price is very fair considering the quality of the lessons. I can't wait to see what he can do after he finishes all the lessons. Kids these days have such a bend towards video games and computers so I'm thrilled to have found this where he can still have that outlet, but be learning and building too. And also thrilled to have another computer geek in the making here....someone to speak my language. ;o)


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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Who I trust

T is writing a paper for Essentials this week about someone he admires. Princess P wanted to write one too but I'm not sure she understands what "admire" means so switched it to trust. So glad she "trusts" us.

Who I Trust

By Princess P

I trust my mom and my dad. I can trust them for lots of things. For an example, if my dad says we are going to Subway, then I can trust him that we are not going to McDonalds. I trust my mom when she takes pictures of me, that she doesn't make me look ugly on the computer. That is some ways I can trust my mom and dad.

Hey! It had an opener and a closer and stayed on topic. I credit CC weekly presentations for that!