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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Save the date

I got an email yesterday asking me to save the date of May 8th.  For what you ask?
Skeese Greets Triathalon
So today I swam 1300 yards and my arms are jello.  Maybe by May they won't be.
I am back to week four of C25K
My bike is still hanging in the garage with the last Skees Greet number on it!
Saving up some change to register myself and get this body back into shape!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Strep........neg Flu ..........positive

Poor Neil.  All the kids tested neg for strep but Neil tested positive for Flu A.  He is on tamiflu and doing well.  Honestly he wasn't sick enough to be dx with flu.  
Clorox wipes, lysol, and hand sanitizer have all been pressed into service.  We are praying he doesn't share..... have I told you I have a surprise weekend planned for just hubby and me?  Yes I do.  I have it all arranged and then the flu germ decides to set up shop in our house.  But by the Grace of God I have an amazing friend who is still willing to watch our kids germs and all because she knows how important a weekend away is with your man (plus there's payback :) )
Prayers appreciated because really when someone volunteers to take all five of your kids for the weekend you really don't want to infect them with the flu.

Monday, February 7, 2011


We had one positive for strep last week and I think she has shared the love.  In a desperate attempt to stave off 6 trips to the ped I am taking 4 kids in for strep swabs.  I am also pounding vitamin c and water.  Here is hoping we can nip this in the bud or tonsil or whatever.  Here's to a fridge full of pink medicine.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


We have change going on in our homeschool  It's all good just different.  After a year from H-E double hockeysticks, what with diagnosis, surgery, more surgery, and depression......  I have finally decided to do something different.  My kids suffered from a checked out mom last school year and I have been having a tough time getting things done in school because emotionally I am recalling last years failures and adding them to this years.
I have moved my eldest into her daddy's home office where she sits and does her work where he can see her and keep her accountable.  She is away from all her annoying and highly distractive siblings.  We had pulled her out of PE as a consequence but she will be joining again next week as a reward for taking this change with a good attitude.
The other change happening is my newly minted teenager, Hannah, will be starting Classical Conversations Challenge A class.  It is a once a week class with instruction in 5 courses.  They then have assignments that  I will assist with for the other four days of the week.  She knows 3/4 of the kids in the class all ready and I think it will be a challenging but good fit for her.
In the fall I plan on signing up the other 3 for the elementary portion of CC, Foundations.  Ian will take the additional afternoon class called Essentials.
I will still be homeschooling but we have a bit more accountability with the tutor and some fantastic classroom discussion that I just couldn't get to at home.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Timberdoodle Review~ Critical Thinking Co.

I was so excited to try out three of the books from the Critical Thinking Press provided to me by Timberdoodle

The first one I opened up was Math Reasoning Level B which is for the first grade level.  My 6 year old daughter was between math books when I received it.  She had completed a first grade math curriculum but I was eager for her to review and master some concepts with a fresh approach.  When I opened up the workbook I was greeted with 264 bright, colorful pages.  The pages were not crowded or chaotic.  My daughter took to it instantly.  I was impressed with Critical Thinking Co's math vocabulary and how they applied it to this level.  For instance, instead of asking the kids to draw a line to match objects, they use the term "line segment" thus laying the groundwork for proper term usage preparing them for advanced math.  Besides that, when your six year old busts out with "that's a line segment" in a group of parents, it makes you look like a fabulous teacher :)
The book itself was written to the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and  offers an introduction for the parent to understand the approach that is being taken.  It goes over numbers and operations, geometry, time and measurement.  It was just the thing I needed to bridge math for my daughter who wasn't quite ready for a second grade level.  She willingly picks up this book and does two pages without being asked.  This book could easily be used with an advanced Kindergartner or an average first grader.  At $39.99 it offers a well rounded math curriculum for one year.

I chose Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural for my 14 year old daughter. I had forgotten that in the past I have previously used Critical Thinking skill books for busy independent work.  When I showed her the book and asked her to work a page a day she gladly agreed.  This book is 259 black and white pages of building figural thinking skills through the use of similarities, analogies, classifications and sequences for $29.99.  I really think of this book as a brain sharpener.  The concepts are presented clearly and again the pages are not crowded.  A full answer key is included in the back of the book.  Building Critical Thinking Skills Level 3 figural can be used for grades 7-12+.  The 12+ is for adults like me who can't help but grab the book and do a page or two just to clear out the cobwebs of the ole brain.

My 13 year old got to help me review Editor In Chief B1 offered at  $16.99.  She is the writer out of the five kids, so I figured this might help her fine tune her writing.  Editor In Chief B1 is a workbook for grades 6-8 which put her in the mid range to do this book.  It has 33 exercises in just as many black and white pages.  Each exercise is presented like the sample page below.  The student is given a picture with a true caption and a paragraph that has errors.  The errors can range from grammar to content.  Each exercise lists how many errors the student should find.  We found it difficult at first to count the errors as we would sometimes count two when the text considered it to be just one.  Despite the initial frustration with figuring out how it was done, this workbook opened up opportunities for us to discuss the errors and talk about what she perceived as errors compared to the answer key in the back.  Some of the errors just plain made us laugh as homophones were used incorrectly.  I added this book in as a busy independent workbook for my daughter to sharpen her writing skills.  I like the concept enough to have her continue working on one or two exercise a week.

All three of these workbooks can be found at You can check out their Free Homeschool Catalog filled with tons of amazing products while you are there.  

 Disclaimer: I received copies of these workbooks for free in exchange for an honest review