Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 21

This day marked two years since my double mastectomy at the hands of Dr L.  and the start of the reconstruction process by Dr S. Three months later all surgery would be complete.  One year following that I would have a final procedure to normalize my look.
Two years later I still struggling with the whys?, the what ifs?, the shaking of my head and the sobbing over what was lost.  On this day two years out I was serving some beautiful women on a weekend renewal.  I had asked my team to cover me in prayer because anniversary dates are difficult and I really didn't want to go down in a sobbing ball of messy while serving women.  I made it about halfway through the day without a thought to what the day meant in my history.  And then....I glanced up.  A simple black t-shirt with a large pink ribbon caught my eye and my breathing became shallow and the tears started pouring.  I quickly excused myself from the room and headed for fresh air.  I pleaded with God to make it short, this weekend wasn't about me and I didn't want it to turn that way.  A few of my team mates saw me hit the door and prayed for me.  The attack was blessedly short lived and did not reappear the rest of the weekend.
I learned a few things this past weekend.
1.God is present even when I am pushing Him away
2.Prayer is powerful
3. Good friends who pray are powerful
4. Pray now not later
5 Time does heal wounds but scars are always present.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Girls Weekend

Once a year I get together with a few girlfriends and head out on the town.  We are homeschooling moms who live about as far away from each other as you can get.  Between us we leave 15 kids in the capable hands of our husbands.  I literally breathe deep the whole weekend.  These two women have listened to me whine, rejoice, cry heavily over broken dreams, and laugh.  At their feet I glean wisdom.
This year one of friends couldn't make it.  Logistics just couldn't be had.  God has a reason for that....but it sure was a different time without her, besides we all know how much getting away recharges us.
I plum wore myself out this weekend.  Time was spent walking all over the riverwalk, and alamo.  Eating whatever I wanted, and doing whatever struck our mood.  We also managed to run a 5k at Sea World after the above walking!  Good times.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bright Ideas Press WONDERMAPS

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press is well, wonderful!  This is a fabulous product that makes finding and printing maps for your specific need very easy.

This year my kids are studying American History with a little bit of world thrown in to set up some timeline correlations.  As we study each time period of American History I need to find about a dozen different maps with the detail or with the click of a button lack of detail that I need.  Wondermaps provides that and more.

So let me give you an idea of what I mean.  We are currently studying a bit about the Civil War.  I needed a map that showed confederate and union states as they were at that time.  Navigation is fairly easy in the program.  I searched using the thematic maps.  I also browsed over where the Mystery of History  and All American History curriculums are mapped out to see how easy it would be to use if I was using those curriculums.  Once I had the map I could decide how much detail I wanted.  Rivers, key, labels etc could all be selected.  This works beautifully for quizzes.  You can use the same map for teaching and then remove the labels and present the same map for testing.  No more white outing!

Here my son is coloring in the confederate states

A close up of the maps. This one is from the All American History II.

As I briefly mentioned above if you are a user of Mystery of History or All American History then the maps for those are organized for you in their own section of Wondermaps.  

WonderMaps isn't just maps.  There is a teachers guide as well that has ideas, mapping projects, how to make a salt dough map and much more.

Below is a video that Wondermaps created that gives a fantastic overview.  See for yourself how the program works.

I really enjoyed getting to use Wondermaps.  Not having to search all around the internet for a clear map of exactly what I need to teach my kids is a blessing.  I love the fact that you can select more or less detail as you see fit.
You can get WonderMaps from Timberdoodle for $44.95.  This is a product that will span the entirety of history teaching.  You can get a Free homeschool catalog from Timberdoodle as well.

Disclaimer: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of WonderMaps in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Been and month in some regards...

....six months in regards to other things.

I have several posts waiting for me to finish them up and publish but my heart hasn't been into writing lately.  But that is fairly obvious given the month between posts here.  School is going, not as smoothly as it was in the beginning but it is going and for the most part we are enjoying our new curriculum and the addition of Classical Conversations.  I am thoroughly enjoying the community aspect of CC.  During Essentials class I feel like I'm back in high school writing notes on my white board to the other moms sitting back there with me and stifling giggles.  The competition is fierce in those chairs along the back wall during math drill time :)

Speaking of CC.  I had my first day tutoring last week.  I subbed for the 6 year olds.  It went well but I have a lot to learn!  I am learning to let go of my procrastination habits but that is going to take awhile to chip away at those old habits.

As for the six I had a six month checkup at the oncologists.  I had forgotten about it due to the fact that it never made to my calendar.  A phone call Wednesday afternoon sent my heart racing and my head traveling down all sorts of paths.  You see an e-maginary friend announced this week that breast cancer is claiming her life.  She supported me through my mastectomy with helpful advice and prayer, so how is it this damned disease is taking her out of this world and I got off with surgery?  Don't get me wrong I am grateful for my health but incredibly sad to watch someone go through it and not come out ok.  Some might chalk it up to survivors guilt.
So with dread I walked into my appointment.....after drying the tears that fell on the way there.  I barely made it through the blood draw as two bald women walked by me as my hair fell past my shoulders.  The doc spent all of 5 minutes with me and really didn't discuss my iron issues when I brought them up.  He claimed the low numbers for me were a result of menses and nothing to be concerned about.  WHAT???  Then why did he comment almost two years ago that my red blood cells were puny weak and any other negative adjective you could imagine.  Why did he say I probably had an absorption problem an recommend iron transfusions??  Why in the past two years have I wasted over 24 hours getting said infusions stealing 6 days from my family?  So I am done with this doctor.  Finding a new one brings on all sorts of other issues.  If you have never had to sign on with an oncologist then consider yourself blessed.  The questions they ask feel like you have one foot in the grave and are just waiting to give you a shove the rest of the way.  Did I mention that my husband is out of town so I dealt with the emotional trauma that these damned appointments bring on my own?  Friends stepped up and heard me out, helped with the kids etc but John gets me, nothing in this world makes me feel better than to be wrapped in his arms.  Must be what it feels like to be wrapped in the Fathers arms.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Character Traits

We spent one day in the Magic Kingdom with our two youngest.  The older three hung out with their grandparents all day at their home and then drove over to downtown Disney to have dinner together.  The park was not that crowded and the littles found a few characters to hang with.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goodies I love in our school room

I have a few things I love about our school room.
The Room~
First off I feel blessed to have a space dedicated to the purpose of schooling my children.  This room was originally designed to house a pool table but educating 5 kids seems a better purpose, my 8 year old disagrees.  I don't have a current picture of it but will in the next week as I reveal all the changes I made this year to our setup.

My walls~
I convinced my sweet husband that gluing cork to the top half of the school room walls was a brilliant idea.  He went along with my plan and we corked the walls several years ago.  Now my kids can stick what they want up there.

My Timeline~
I stole this idea from a friend of mine.  The timeline is from Knowledge Quest and I zipped it down to our local Mardels to laminate it for sturdiness.  The figures are from Sonlight.  Amy Pak also has them.

My storage containers~
I picked these gems up at Garden Ridge I think after seeing the idea in a pottery barn catalog.  I spray painted the lids red and voila storage containers that hold crayons, markers, pattern blocks and whatever else I need them too..

My maps/window shades~
I picked these maps up at our local school district surplus store for about $20 I think.  They fit perfectly over our windows and store up out of sight behind the cornice when not used.  We live in Texas and our state is a little prideful so we have two huge maps of Texas on each one :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trial Run with the younger set

I affectionately call my younger two "the littles" and my older two "the bigs".  Poor Ian is the middle child and can be lumped into either category given the event.  This school year he will be part of "the littles".  This in no way indicates he is doing "little" work.  He will be doing grade level work if not above.  This year I have the littles using My Father's World 1850-Modern times (portions of it).  We took a break from Sonlight as a whole and are trying something new, not because Sonlight wasn't working for us but because I was burnt out on Core 3 and juggling more than one core.  With MFW I can instruct all three in the area of history.  I am using a different Bible curriculum than MFW but again all three will be using it.  Apologia Who Is GOd?  is what we will be using.  I did a review on it for TOS last year and liked it enough to pull into our school year.  I ordered the notebooking journals as well.  I am also using Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy for science.

Today I am doing a trial run of the first day.  My bigs are away at church bootcamp so I have my littles undistracted.  I gave them the option of which subject to start with and they chose math.  We started with our Classical Conversation math facts.  This is how it went down
Avery skip counted by 2's to 24 and skip counted by 3's to 36
Neil did the 3's times tables
Ian did the 4's times tables.
They all listened in while the others recited, gotta love the one room school house set up.
I then set the timer for 30 minutes and had Avery work in some old workbooks I found while cleaning out the school room.  Mostly addition and other simple stuff to keep her brain working.  Neil corrected and rewrote some tests from the end of last year that I couldn't read :/  Ian wrote out the times tables 1-4.  The timer rang and they voted for History next.
I printed out 3 US maps and gave them a pretest.
Avery got 5/50
Neil got 12/50
Ian got 28/50

Being a pretest I was glad to see lots of room for improvement.  It means they won't be bored as we learn some states this year.  So with those results in hand we move on in our history lesson to the Northern States Song and some history review.  A little later we will hit the store for some colonial cooking supplies and eat something from the past.

This post is mostly for me to look back on as we tackle this new journey with a new curriculum and some piecing together of some other subjects all while doing Classical Conversations.

Friday, June 24, 2011

School room changes

I'm in the middle of cleaning out and rearranging my schoolroom.  My idea was to pull everything into the hall and only put back in what I wanted.  The result of that brilliant plan was what my husband lovingly refers to as "hoarders hall"
It only looks slightly better at this moment.  However you no longer need to hurdle to go watch tv ( I am too old to hurdle). 
The rest of the room is coming together.  I moved the furniture around with the help of my dashing husband.  Good thing he works from home as my pec muscles just aren't what they used to be before surgery.The other half of the room I haven't photographed.  But it is set up.  This week I am purging hoarder hall and moving books onto all those empty shelves.  The coffee table will hold manipulatives and science supplies, the shelf behind will hold school books and manuals.  Most of what you see furniturewise is IKEA  I LOVE IKEA!  
 I will post final pics when it is all done and when hoarders hall is cleaned up.  Coming up soon will be a list of what we are using this year too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


After trying to get information last night from the office it closed without a return call.  Friends of ours called us up and treated us to a movie for John's birthday and brain distraction for me.  The movie ended at 11 which left me exhausted.  I gratefully slept hard all night and woke just after 8.  I called the office and got voicemail again.  I called the automated number, it must still be down because the receptionist answered....I cried she tracked down the nurse.  Turns out she was calling to say all results were good!  UGH!   I am ecstatic over the good news but don't hand me a slip of paper saying call the automated results line in 10 days and then call me in 4.  I cried to the nurse too and begged her to flag my chart to allow release of all information to my husband if he answers the phone.  I had signed the release to leave a message on a machine  but he picked up both lines.  So now my chart is flagged.  God willing I won't see another doctor until September when I return to my onc for a check up and blood draw.
Thank you all for your prayers.  I truly felt them as  I was able to sleep all night with out anxiety.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Confession......I'm scared

I came home from a perfectly enjoyable afternoon at a friends pool to the news that my doctors office had called not 10 minutes before.  I had failed to grab my phone when I left earlier, an unusual event for me.  So with that news I quickly hit call on my cell and was greeted with the nurses voice mail.  I grabbed the little form they had sent home with me asking me to call back in 10 business days (still 6 days away) and dialed that rang.....and rang.......and rang while my blood pressure climbed.  The third time I attempted the number the nurse picks up and says the line is down and transfers me to the nurse whose voicemail I get again.  My heart races and I try to repeat I Peter 5:7 to myself and I.just.can't.
Why?  Why am I panicking over a missed call?  Two years ago a simple doctors visit sent my life into a tail spin.  That simple little fibroid adenoma my surgeon removed "just to be cautious" turned out to have Stage 0 LCIS attached to it.  Even typing that out my throat is thickening and tears are welling like it was yesterday.  Even then a simple visit to the oncologist leads me to a decision I had rebelled again over cheesecake with a dear friend who was walking me through my diagnosis.  Even after I was cleared my oncologist dropped another bomb of my iron being very low and needing infusions twice.  I had let my guard down last week when I stepped into the office of my GYN for an annual appointment.  I was overdue by a year and figured I needed to get in there again.  I say a NP, my doctor was out on maternity leave, who was very understanding and supportive of my decisions.  So a simple doctors visit just isn't even in my vocabulary anymore.  Now 6 days before I am supposed to call in for results of blood work and other female tests they are calling me...and I'm scared.  I missed the 4pm cutoff so I won't hear back until tomorrow.
Dinner has gone unplanned so hubby is cooking.....he shouldn't have to.
I'm crying and paralyzed......I shouldn't be.
I'm creeping towards the edge of a pit I promised I would never go back to.....I shouldn't be.

The only good I see in this is that my hallway full of stuff kicked out of the schoolroom might get cleaned up tonight with all my nervous energy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer is here

Summer is here and we have spent it being lazy, swimming in friends pools and working over 40 hours at Cub Scout Day Camp.  This week has been the first one that we are mellowed out.  So mellowed out I decided to make doctors appointments now rather than later in the summer.  Avery was first up with her orthopedic.  Everything looks good on her, so good that she doesn't want to do surgery or see her for a year!  Fabulous news.  The other appointment was for me.  I dragged my sorry self to the GYN.  Haven't been since I was diagnosed so it was time.  I had to laugh when she went to warm her hands before doing a breast exam :)  For the record they are no longer looking for lumps but just examining the scars and implants.  Next up is chiro appointments for John and Ian.  The rest of us are looking forward to more water days and lots of ice cream.  If I don't blog you can find me at the nearest pool.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I have made progress in my Bible reading.  I had a friend step up and volunteered to hold me accountable.  It helps knowing that if I don't read than she might wake up on the Pacific coast and question my lazy rear! So here is my progress.  Ok and because I am struggling with rearranging pics on the blog this morning you have the after first.  Scroll down for before!
 I have almost closed the gap in March.  Today's reading is partially done because I was busy in the March readings. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Still Behind

Going on record to say that I did manage to get up this morning and have some quiet time.  Now that BSF is over I am trying to catch up on my chronological reading plan via youversion on my iPhone.  So heres the deal........I'm behind!  Nothing new there.  But for the first time ever it bugs me to be behind.  The next few weeks will find me doubling and tripling my reading in the morning until I am caught up.  Then I will take it day by day and journal some of my thoughts on the passages I have read.  Since I am lacking blog material I might post a few of those notes here.
Just to show you how far behind I am.... the red is all dates I haven't completed.  I didn't realize I had missing dates in March this morning or I would have started there.  I did connect March with April this morning.
Hold me accountable if you feel led.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting Closer

We are getting closer to the end of our school year.  We have about three weeks left.  Hannah has wrapped up her classical conversations Challenge A class so she spends her days helping me read to others, reading books that she never go to, or working on some project or other.  I have senioritis still!  My new curriculum guide is here and I have been looking it over.  My planner also arrived so I have been working on setting that up.  Plans are being made to gut the school room in June and start over fresh.  Not with furniture but with supplies and books.  A little rearranging is in order as well, i think.
I'm excited about next year.  It will be a new program for us both with My Father's World and Classical Conversations.  I needed change.
I need to get back on the bandwagon of getting up before seven and doing my quiet time. With BSF over I have become very slack in my daily time and since my iron tanked I haven't been able to manage getting up before seven except for when I served on a Tres Dias weekend where I lived on caffeine for seventy two hours!
Growth is happening in this house.  Growth in our kids character and John and I's.  Honestly sometimes it would be easier to just be my old self.  So pray for our family as we work on our relationships.  Rebuilding some damaged bridges, finding joy in being a mom, wife and homemaker again.  True joy not just a fakey "yep wouldn't change a thing" joy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

TOS REVIEW~ Student Writing Intensive Level C

Oh my a review for a writing program!  That was my first thought as  I received Institute for Excellence In Writing's  Student Writing Intensive Level C  for review.  You see I have a 9th grader who strongly dislikes, ie hates, writing.  You can’t blame her, as I strongly disliked writing in high school as well.  I still do, although I am no longer in high school!  With my dislike for writing, it trickled down in our homeschool to me not wanting to teach writing and thus avoided doing so.  Obviously that was not beneficial to my kids.  So with Student Writing Intensive Level C in our possession we dove into the first video lesson.  Level C is geared towards 9-12 graders. The reaction was this....

yes that is a smile on my “I hate writing” daughters face.  My other daughter is a camera avoider but it’s a good shot of the binder :)
Here is a brief video introducing Student Writing Intensive.  I think you will find it helpful to see and hear Mr. Pudewa himself.

The videos were shot live in a class setting so your child feels as if they are in the class with other students and Mr.  Pudewa.   Here is a short you tube video giving you an idea of the setting for level C.
Mr. Pudewa is engaging and  light hearted with the students.  He encourages, directs and teaches in such a way that my 9th grader just had to join along.  Yes, they thought some of the jokes were corny but they were smiling.  We didn’t make it through the whole program yet but plan on taking the summer to wrap it up.  Just in the amount we did though I saw a confidence blossom in my daughter’s writing.  As we continue with the program and broaden her skills to enhance her writing, I believe that moving into her 10th grade year she will be a more confident writer.  
SWI Level C is $99.  It contains four DVD’s, a binder with dividers, and a packet with the teacher’s notes, handouts and checklists.  The handouts were able to be copied for same family use.  There are 15 lessons included.  You can choose to do one lesson over one or two weeks making this program anywhere from 15-30 weeks long.  
I also received Structure and Style Overview DVD.  It introduces you to the style of teaching writing that this program uses.  Available for download off the website are additional handouts to help you teach the course to your students.  The DVD is available for $10.  IEW also sent along a portable wall (pictured below).  This portable wall offers several bulletin boards full of information to be used in conjunction with the structure and style program.  It offers synonyms for overused words, strong verbs, prepositions, -ly adverbs.  It also gives highlights for each of the 9 units.  So compact that it fits inside the students notebook.  A great resource for $7
Institute for Excellence in Writing offers many other writing products for all levels of writing. 

Come on over and see what my crew mates thought of the program here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for review purposes only.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011



GoTrybe is a web based fitness program that incorporates fun easy workouts that kids can customize along with health and wellness related questions.  You can read their full description of their product here.

I prefer my kids to get outside and play rather than be in front of a monitor doing exercise.  But some circumstances like months on end of snow on the ground (not here in Texas mind you), or no yard could make this a great fit for a family,  For us it was a hard review because we are active outside.  GoTrybe, being web based,  required us to set up the laptop in an area where the kids could move around while viewing a small lap top screen.  It was not an ideal situation for us.  However the workouts were challenging and got the kids heart rates up.  We were signed up for the high school level which was  nexTrybe.  Other levels were zoodoos up to fifth grade and Trybe180 for 6-9th grade.
My 14 year old daughter enjoyed being able to pick her warmup and activity videos.  She could customize her workout based on a particular sport or mood.  There were so many videos to choose from a teen could easily find something of interest to them.  She would choose a video for warmup, cardio, strength and flexibility.
In addition to the workout videos they could move on to nutrition, motivation and wellness questions.  For nutrition a small paragraph would be presented with a multiple choice question.  A correct answer would earn them points, which I will discuss in a minute. The motivation portion is a video that offers insight from some of the instructors.  The one I just watched was silly with no real motivation. Wellness is also a brief video that offers advice and information.  Being that this is for high school level I found these last three parts basic and not challenging at all.
Everything they do on the site earns them points which they can use to customize their avatar.  If racking up points on a video game is a good motivation for you kid then the point system might work for them.
Like I said we are big on getting outdoors and moving.  GoTrybe isn't a great fit for our family but it might be for yours. You can try them out for free with the code GETFIT.  If you like it you can then subscribe for $19.95 which is a reduced price.  Cheaper than P.E. classes or a gym membership but still screen time in my book.
See what my other crewmates thought of here.
Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to GoTrybe for review purposes only.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all!

I'm without electronics this weekend serving on a retreat but I have this auto posting (hopefully).  My present this year came early.  John and I had been discussing getting a chair/recliner for our bedroom for me to read and relax in.  We picked one out, fabric and all, last January or so but never moved forward on it.  We were going to use the tax return but never did or so I thought.  I'm pretty sure I brought that point up in a disagreement we had as well.  John came to pick me up from one of my iron the van. It is a 14 year old vehicle but I thought it odd that he picked me up in that.  He knows how much I love the ride in the truck.  But whatever, I was high on benedryl.  He treated me to lunch at Jason's Deli and we headed home to eat it.  I walked into the bedroom and the first thing I noticed was how clean the dresser was!  Seriously observant.  In the window bay was this beauty
It's a lazy boy if you can believe it.  It reclines while still looking like a chair.  It has the yummiest fabric on it too.  The dark brown is actually fuzzy.  My kids try to pet my chair but I tell them not to touch.  This baby is mine all mine.  Of course John was the first to recline in it, a privilege he earned by carrying it by himself into the bedroom.  And here are the reasons he bought it for me
I plan on locking this one up before she discovers boys!

I love this picture.  She NEVER lets me take her picture. 

Tree climber

Another tree climber

Girl has her own style!

Friday, April 29, 2011

TOS REVIEW ~ Latin's Not So Tough Level 3

Latin's Not So Tough is a product of Greek N' Stuff.  As part of this review I was sent the Level 3 workbook ($21.95),full text answer key ($21.95)and pronunciation cd ($10.00).
Latin's Not So Tough Level 3 is geared towards the beginner Latin student in upper elementary or above.  I started this program with my 3 oldest (14,13,11) and let my two younger ones (8,6) tag along.  At first we were going along great.  The beginning lessons are mostly vocabulary and my children were picking up the vocabulary quite quickly.  The pronunciation cd was very helpful with pronunciation.
Where Latin got tough for us was where the conjugation began without teaching how to conjugate.  According to the teacher guide "the third level uses an inductive (parts to whole) approach...Level four transitions to a deductive(whole to parts) approach".  So the kids are learning conjugated verbs and are just memorizing what the all ready conjugated verb means.  For example, Amō nautam, means I like the sailor. Therefore the kids are memorizing that Amō means I like.  On the same page they learn others as well all with the ō , being told to recognize it but it will be explained later.  It is just a different approach than I am used to and one that caused a stumbling point for us in our studies.
That being said we enjoyed the large font of the sprial bound workbook.  The minimal exercises per day were enough to sharpen their vocabulary skills without boring or exhausting them.   The flashcards were invaluable as well.  The little checkbox on the bottom of each page reminding the student to study their flashcards was a great way to remove me from the nagging role :)  I went ahead and ordered the accompanying test booklets as well available from Greek N Stuff.
This was our first exposure to Latin studies and it did seem tough because no one in our household is versed in Latin. Latin is tough but it is made easier with this program.  After just a few lessons my kids were spotting Latin everywhere, root words in English, on coins etc.  
In the end though, Latin's Not so Tough is a good program.  

See what my crewmates thought here

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the workbook, full text answer book, and cd for free for review purposes only.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mothers Day Giveaway

Holy bag of loot Batman! Check out this mothers day giveaway over at Econobusters!  Seriously great stuff. The cute pillow :: drool::, the bloom necklace ::drool::  get over there and drool for yourself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Feeling blue and very non metal binding

I have been remiss on blogging.....why?  Because I just haven't plain felt like it.  You see I was once again diagnosed with low iron.  I've shared it before.  But this time it has me reeling.  I was feeling fine until I got the diagnosis and THEN I needed sleep every afternoon!  I have my last iron infusion today.  I'm probably sitting in the recliner watching the metal drip ever so slowly into my veins.  I'm lucky if I can focus for very long on it as the benydryl takes over and makes the whole world just a little wonky.
This process has had me in a mini depression.  I need to take steps to get to the bottom of this iron issue.  I need to find a doctor who will take time and talk this out with me.  I have a lead and I need to follow up on it.  But I am currently in a mode of procrastination or rather denial.  I'll get through it and once that little red bag of iron isn't hanging over my head once a week I will once again grab life by the horns and the Good Book and get myself off the edge of this pit where I have plunked my happy behind on the edge to dangle my feet in the abyss.  I will graduate C25K, I will finish up the last six weeks of school with the kids and I will start cooking again.  Just let me get a little metal in me and I should be good to go.
Please accept this as my apology for not boring you with more posts on my life :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS Review ~ Nutrition 101:Choose Life!

What an honor to review Nutrition 101:Choose Life! by Growing Healthy Homes.  This a a fabulous 448 page Biblically based book chock full of information.  I hate to call it a text book because it has such valuable information.  I would call it a christian family resource, one well worth the price of $99.95 for the book version and $79.95 for the electronic version (the version I received for review).

Nutrition 101 is labeled a "family nutrition and health program" and I couldn't agree more.  This is a book you can use for the whole family.  If used by a high schooler it counts as a nutrition/health credit.
Within the book you will find that 12 main body systems are covered in 6 units which are then broken down into four chapters.  The 6 units are:
The brain and nervous system
The digestive system
The respiratory, olfactory, auditory and visual systems
The muscular and skeletal systems
The endocrine system and emotions

Each chapter includes information, scripture, discussion questions, activities, resources, fun facts, word power(vocabulary), power recipes and illustrations.  Folks these are jammed packed chapters, however you will not feel overwhelmed.  The book held my interest and kept me coming back for more.  It made me call out to the kids "hey did you know this cool thing about the digestive system?"  The recipes at the end of each unit are designed to go with the system just studied. It motivates the parents to get the kids involved and in the kitchen making healthy food with the explanation of why we need healthy foods for our bodies to work the way God designed them.

As if 6 units with four chapters each isn't enough, this book has appendices.......from A -EE!  They cover a myriad of charts, share debates on milk, talk sugar alternatives, spices, etc.  This is the section you will keep coming back too.  For me personally I plan on printing out the appendices and placing them in sheet protectors and putting them in a kitchen binder for easy access.

This resource has made me think about the food I feed my family.  It has encouraged me that change in habits takes time, that each step taken in the right direction is good.  It has given me a tool that I can use to share with my family the interesting systems God created in our bodies.  I plan on making it a portion of our science curriculum for my high schooler in the fall .  I also plan on pulling details from it as I do anatomy with my younger set as well as trying the recipes that go with each system as way to reconnect with my kids in the kitchen.  This resource has me digging deeper into health issues that I have experienced since being diagnosed with and surviving breast cancer a year and a half ago.  This book, this wonderful resource, has me seeing scripture and knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

But wait did you tune out just a bit when I mentioned the price tag of this resource?  Don't  Growing Healthy Homes has offered all the readers a 15% discount coupon using the codeTOScrew11! 
To see what my other crew members thought go here.  I'm sure you will read many more positive reviews of this product as last year it was voted best e product of the year by the crew.
 Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this product for review purposes only.

Friday, April 1, 2011

TOS Review ~ Zeezok Z Guide

The latest review is from Zeezok Publishing. Zeezok provides a host of products from penmanship to movie guides.  The product I was asked to review was a movie guide.  I chose the high school guide for the movie "The Hiding Place"  My seventh grader had read this book for an English class and I thought it would help her with understanding the time frame.  The guides are priced at $12.99 for an e-book download.
I was impressed immediately with the guide.  It had questions to answer during and after the movie, activities for understanding the time period, and an answer key.  The company does strive to "develop your family's love for God and Country" which means faith is talked about.
I asked my daughter Hannah to write about the guide.  Here is what she had to say:

The Hiding Place movie guide was fun. It allowed me to learn some new things about the different aspects of the movie and life in World War II. I learned that Ravensbruck was just as bad as it was portrayed in the movie, if not worse. The guide made me explore details of the hiding place in Corrie's room in detail,
and challenged me to pick a room in our house that would be best for a hiding place of our own. Would I hide Jews if it meant going to Ravensbruck?
Where would I hide them? It challenged me with these questions and more. It made me respect the Ten Boom family even more than I used to.
They sacrificed so much, and expected nothing in return. This movie guide was great because it made me look beyond the surface of this movie.

 So there you have it.  Two thumbs up from my girl for Zeezok movie guides.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this movie guide for free for review purposes only

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pumping Iron again

I had my six month check with the oncologist last week.  Everything is fine except my iron.  I am back to iron infusions.  I had my first drip yesterday.  It took four hours for them to pump it in.  I react if it goes in too fast.  They load me with benedryl but it wasn't enough to stop a reaction.  So for me it has to go in slow or I react.  One down two to go.  Then I plan on getting  to the bottom of my iron absorption issue.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tos REVIEW ~ Big IQ Kids

Big IQ Title Banner
Big IQ Kids is a internet based program for kids K-8 helping them "become and stay A+ students".  It offers math, spelling, vocabulary and US Geography lessons and quizzes.
From the Big IQ Kids website:
" turns your computer into an online learning academy by providing daily academic lessons for young learners in an interactive, easy to follow format. For the best results, children should log into daily and complete their lessons and quizzes. This “daily” strategy builds invaluable study habits, leads to better grades and greater self confidence."
There is a free version and a premium version (we were reviewing the premium)  Big IQ kids has it's pricing options here.  My two boys were the ones who helped me review this product.  Ian is 11 and in 5th grade while Neil is 8 and in 2nd grade.

The format was indeed easy to follow, so much so that once I got my kids on and showed them around they were independent with the program.  The enjoyed the study of the states the most because of the interesting facts presented as each state was introduced.  The lessons build on themselves each day of the week gradually getting harder.  If I found the boys were breezing through the lessons giving them ample time for the games then I went in and changed things up a bit increasing the difficulty.  Below is an example of the page where I was able to customize Neil's math.
The cute little blond in the corner is Neil's avatar.  He can customize it using his game coins.
How we used it in our homeschool
I let my two boys, second grade and fifth grade, use this program independently.  I did go in and plug a week or two of their current spelling lists into the program just to play with that feature.  Since they don't really struggle in spelling I let them do the progressive lessons that were pre-programmed.  My boys would sign in with their own log in and password and go through each of the four categories.  As I was working on my computer emails would ping in with their results of each lesson or quiz.  I knew immediately if they were getting the lesson or if I needed to help them out with a concept.  I had to laugh one Saturday morning while my husband and I were on a getaway weekend.  A friend was watching my kids here at my house waiting for one of mine to be 24 hour fever free before combining my brood with hers.  I get an email at 9:30 in the morning telling me Neil had just scored a 100% on his vocabulary!  I knew right then that Neil had woken up and was "playing" on the computer, but he chose Big IQ Kids as an outlet.
The boys loved earning coins to use play the games.  I would have to say for Neil that was the big motivator for him to do the lessons.

Overall I enjoyed the fun, easy atmosphere BIG IQ kids provided.  My boys really enjoyed using it.

See what my other crewmates thought of Big IQ Kids here.

Disclaimer: I received a free premium membership for review purposes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOS REVIEW ~ Apologia Who is God?


Bible time.  As a Christian homeschooler I know that Bible time should be the first subject we discuss each morning.  But in reality I had hit a slump.  With five kids in five different grades ranging from 1st - 9th it was difficult to find a curriculum that challenged the olders while informing the youngers.  I had resigned myself to teaching two different levels but had sent my olders to be independent.  NOT what they needed.  The youngers got stories but I felt it was repetitive of their Sunday School.  Then Who is God? and How can I know him?  Biblical Worldview of God and Truth from Apologia Press showed up in my mailbox to review for TOS.  Oh happy day.  We have started using Apologia's science curriculum this year and loved its narrative style.  Who is God? has that same easy narrative style.  It is engaging for my 1st grader up to my 9th grader!

The book is a hardbound, 252 page text that Apologia offers for $39 on their site.  It is divided into 10 lessons which have many sub sections in them.  Each lesson contains a Big Idea, a story that applies the big idea, several sidebars exploring the idea, think about it questions, memory work, vocabulary and notebooking ideas.  There is a lovely amount of information in each chapter that each of your kids is bound to have a favorite part.  I'm really finding it hard to put into words what I love about this book.  It has brought our Bible time back to the family unit.  The kids enjoy it.  I enjoy it (which means we actually do it:) )  Who is God? is the first volume in a series.
A lesson is taking our homeschool about 2 weeks to finish using the book 3 times a week.  I don't have a hard and fast schedule of what I read each day.  We just read, discuss and then stop when I feel we have learned and explored the idea.  Apologia offers notebooking pages on their site available to purchasers of the book.  We use these pages to help the kids solidify the lesson.  Also as book extras, are the teacher help pages,valuable information to help you get the most out of the lesson.

We loved Who is God? by Apologia but stop by the crew site to see what my mates thought.
Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book as a member of the TOS crew for review purposes only.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3 goals......28 days

There is a saying from somewhere that after 28 days of doing something it becomes habit.  Well I have tried to make all sorts of things habits and it just never seems to stick past day 4.  In an attempt to be more productive with my day I had to do something.  In the past I have always made huge lists of what I wanted to change and by day 4 I was discouraged and gave up.
Around the internet I have seen people doing 3 goals in 30 and it got me thinking about the fact that maybe I was not designed to bite off huge chunks of new endeavors and be successful.  So I chose 3 things a little over two weeks ago to take a shot at.  One was easy enough, two were things I have struggled with in the past.
I am happy to report that 16 days in and I have had success each day.  Two days ago I did forego one as I had run out of a supply but I made up for it that afternoon.
So what are my three goals?
1. Get up before 7am.  For any of you that know me you know how difficult this is for me.  I homeschool for a reason people!  But I needed to set this goal in order to get my day started and functioning before kids got up otherwise goal number two would never happen.
I've accomplished this by setting my alarm for 6:45 and hitting snooze twice.  Now some of you are doing the math and saying "if your snooze is 9 minutes like mine you are getting up after 7am".  My clock, however, at some point got set 5 minutes ahead.  I've also given myself permission to take short naps during the day if needed.  It has helped me adjustSo there you have it.
2.  Do my Bible Study.  I am attending BSF this year.  There is daily homework for 6 days of the week.  In the past I would get up super early Wednesday morning and hammer the whole thing out ...or not.  It only took the lecturer sitting next to me with a blank sheet to decide I needed to change some habits around.  So now I do the daily assignment and on Wednesday mornings  I do a little reading from the chronological reading I am doing (but am desperately behind in)
3.  Start a load of laundry.  My 14 year old is in charge of laundry around here.  It doesn't always get done in a timely matter though.  She also only pulls the chute of which my husband and I's clothes are not a part of.  I have taken to getting up in the morning, letting the dog out of her crate (she resides in the laundry room) while I load up the washer.

There you have it my 3 goals.  Waking up is harder to do especially since we are heading into spring break next week.  But I am determined to make this a habit so it will be up and at em even during spring break.

Monday, March 7, 2011

TOS REVIEW ~ Reading Kingdom


Reading Kingdom is an online program that teaches kids ages 4-10 to read using Dr. Marion Blank's method of reading.  From the website:
"The Reading Kingdom uses new teaching methods pioneered by renowned literacy expert, Dr. Marion Blank. These methods do not rely on standard phonics techniques which have yielded a national 40% reading failure rate. For better or worse, the vast majority of words in English cannot be sounded out. To adapt phonics to this reality, it uses almost 600 rules which are almost impossible to memorize and riddled with exceptions. The Reading Kingdom, on the other hand, has no complicated rules and empowers children to learn using simple and easy to follow techniques that leverage the tremendous skills they have mastered in learning spoken language. In addition, the Reading Kingdom is the only program that customizes itself to a child. In this way children do not become bored learning something they already know or frustrated by material that is too advanced for them."

I used this program with my two youngest kids ages 6 and 8. The program has a cute owl mascot that leads your little learner through their lessons.
The lesson pages are very engaging with bright colors and fun animations and sounds. Many giggles commenced as they answered questions and saw how their response triggered sounds and silliness.

While using this program in the beginning my kids were frustrated as they had to listen closely to whether the program wanted them to "type" or "click".  Also the child could not be too quick to respond nor too slow or the program would count it as a wrong answer.  Learning these nuances took time.

I teach reading using the phonics method so the approach the website took was different for my kids.  Avery was doing the mouse and keyboard training and I found that helpful for those skills.
Neil is all ready a proficient reader and seems to be stuck on Level 1 of the program.

The parent can check the progress of the student on the parent tab.  Here is Avery's progress as of this morning.

Reading Kingdom gives you 9 Reasons to sign up.  The pricing is  $199.99 for the year or $19.99 a month.  They offer a free 30 day trial to check them out.

Overall my kids had fun with this program.  If you are looking for a phonics based program than this is not for you.  If your child learns better with Blank's method than this program would be a good fit.  I highly recommend you give the 30 day trial a go before purchasing.
See what my other crew members thought of Reading Kingdom here.

Disclaimer: I received a free one year subscription to Reading Kingdom in exchange for an honest review as a member of the TOS Crew.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Avery got a lift

Avery got her lift Thursday.  It is a 1cm (~3/8 inch) lift.  It is shaped like a shoe insole and goes under her insole in her left shoe.  It makes her legs line up so she doesn't have to pop her right leg out when she stands (her right leg is longer).  It is taking some getting used to as her foot rides higher in her shoe.  She is also not used to having her legs the same leg so she still compensates by popping the leg out but that should resolve itself as she becomes more aware of the lift.  This lift should last for a year.
Interesting information I got yesterday though via an instructional paper from the orthotics place.
0-2 cm LLD (leg length discrepency) no action required, however a lift might make one more comfortable
2-5 cm LLD surgical procedure to temporarily stop the long leg from growing.  (we have been informed of this procedure)
5-15cm LLD surgery to lengthen the short bone
>15 prothesis.

My other favorite tid bit from the day.  Signs all over the waiting room about the patient being late would classify them as a walk in and they would be seen when possible.  However, we waited for an HOUR beyond our appointment before we were seen.  Nice.  The actual appointment took 10 minutes.  John ended up having to grab the big kids from PE since I still had a second errand to run in that part of town.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Avery News

Avery went to the orthopedic today for a recheck (we go about every six months) this appointment has only been about 4 months since her last one.  Anyways she had x-rays done of her arms.  There are 5 osteochondromas up by her shoulder joint total.  4 on one arm one on the other.  Right now one of them is too close to the growth plate so no surgery.  Her right knee is also causing problems again.  The original bump is back and another one is causing numbness and pain occasionally.  The plan is to wait about 4 months and head in for surgery.  Hopefully the one osteochondroma on the shoulder will have moved away from the growth plate enough for Dr P to be comfortable going after it.  Surgery will be at all three sites.  Two arms and a leg.  While that sounds like a lot it means one time in the OR, one hospital stay, and one bill.  Avery is a trooper when it comes to recovering so I have no qualms about having all three sites done at once.
The bad news is our beloved ortho is leaving the practice and will not be able to see Avery come winter.  This saddens us immensely as this ortho has been with us through this whole journey and Avery absolutely loves her.  She will however do Avery's surgery in a few months.
Avery as far as we know does not verbalize her pain from these osteochondromas.  She has slowed down on our walks which lets us know that she is feeling some pain, but that pain is a normal feeling for her.
On another note the ortho thinks Avery has enough of limb length difference to have recommended a lift in one shoe.  It is a small lift but should help even out her hips a bit and help alleviate any posturing that she does to compensate.
This all sounds awful but in reality it is not.  Avery functions normally and is very active.  She loves life and embraces it fully.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tos Review ~ Math Rider

PhotobucketSaddle up kiddos its time for math!

Do you have a kid who likes horses or quests?  Do they not share the same passion for math drills?  Math Rider will have your kids drilling in their free time.  I never once had to ask any of my kids to launch this program, they were standing in line waiting for their turn!
Math Rider is a downloadable program available for $37 on their website.

Math rider drills addition, subtraction, multiplication and division math facts.  It isn't some drab flashcards popping up on the screen either.  You are a rider on a horse in a magical world, questing for objects.  The screen is colorful as the rider rides through the world answering math facts so the horse can jump hurdles.  My only complaint about the screen is that the equation is small and off to the side, so as the player you don't get to enjoy the scenery because you are concentrating on the equation.  However, those watching you play certainly get the pleasure of it.  Math rider uses every response given to adjust game play.  The horse slows down if the child's answers slow down and speeds up if they are answering quickly.  Parents can go in and see a screen like the one on the right to see where the weaknesses are.  The red indicates trouble areas, green indicates mastery.  The nice thing about math rider is that it drills more of what they are struggling with than those they have mastered.

Although it is a single player game up to ten players can be riders.  When a rider logs in with their password their quest screen pops up.  As they complete more and more quests they earn things like flags, flowers etc.  Up at the top a parent can quickly see how they are doing with rides completed, quests completed and how much math they have accomplished.

I used this program as busy work.  It can easily be done independently by the child after set up.  I preferred to have the sound muted because the horse neighing grated on my nerves after awhile :)  My kids opted for headphones instead.  

All in all this program is a great way to reinforce math facts without the drudgery of flash cards.  My five kids would choose the horses of math rider over mom and paper flashcards any day.  I promise not to take it personally!

Check out what my other crew mates thought of math rider here

Disclaimer:I received a copy of this program free for review purposes only.