Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free All About Homophones E-Book

All About Spelling is offering a free All About Homophones E-book {retail $27.95} with any order placed through Monday, November 1st. 


They had some storms come through their area last week that caused power outages…so shipment of orders placed last week was delayed.  They wanted to thank their customers for their patience during the delay…and they’re extending the free book offer to any one who places an order of any size!

Here’s how to get your free All About Homophones E-book:

  1. Add any product(s) to your cart.
  2. Do not add the All About Homophones e-book to your cart quite yet.
  3. In the upper left corner of the cart, you'll see a box that says "Special Code." Type in these three letters, all in capital letters: AAH. Then click the "Apply" button.
  4. The free All About Homophones ebook will appear just above where you enter your shipping information. Click the orange "Add to Cart" button.

You will receive your free All About Homophones e-book as an immediate download!

I love all of the products that we have bought from All About Spelling.  We just received The Runt Pig and I can’t wait to begin using it with dd6.

I am an affiliate with All About Spelling, if you use any of the links above in order to purchase an All About Spelling product I will earn money from your purchase.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

by Mary Ann Hoberman

That praying mantis over there

is really not engaged in prayer.

That praying mantis that you see

Is really preying (with an e).

It preys upon the garter snake.

It preys upon the bumblebee.

It preys upon the cabbage worm,

The wasp, the fly, the moth, the flea.

(And sometimes, if  its need is great,

It even preys upon its mate.)

With prey and preying both so endless,

It tends to end up rather friendless

And seldom is commended much

Except by gardeners and such.

Taken from The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems


Last weekend, I was enjoying a warm fall afternoon {watching the kiddos play and planning our school week} on my front porch when I looked over and noticed this praying mantis hanging out next to me.

IMG_0312Of course I ran into the house to grab my camera…hoping he {or she ?} would be waiting for me when I returned.

IMG_0314The kiddos ran over to see what I was doing…and still the mantis hung around…


I love it when nature study comes to my front door :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Two Week Edition

It seems that I am better at doing bi-weekly wrap-ups than weekly ones…hmmm.

Well, last week {the one beginning 10/18} began normal enough.  We were just coming off a two-week break and we were all ready to get back into a regular routine. 

Monday went well…but Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday were marked down as sick days on my calendar. 

This week we were all healthy, and we were able to get a lot done…

Bible Study

I think we have finally found a rhythm that works for us with our Bible study program {Bible Study Guide for All Ages}.  We’ve been studying the life of Joseph…this week we read about Joseph’s brothers bowing down to him when they arrived in Egypt to buy grain during the famine.

Reading & Spelling

Dd6 is moving along in All About Spelling {this is her spelling and reading program}.  This week she completed Step 10 in her Level One book.  I got her new AAS reader in mail {Runt Pig}.  It looks fabulous, we can’t wait to start reading it :) 

runt pig

Ds8 just completed lesson 7 in his Rod & Staff spelling program…I am still procrastinating about transitioning him to All About Spelling, and our Rod & Staff spelling is just so easy to implement.

I’ve also added God’s World News to his daily reading assignment…each day I choose two to three pages for him to read {in addition to his other assigned reading}.  This has worked out really well so far.


We’ve been having a blast learning about India with Sonlight’s My Passport to India program.  The kiddos and I are really enjoying the on-line videos.  We usually watch the short video clips after lunch while we’re all still gathered around the table.  


We’ve been reading a lot about castles and knights in our history program {Sonlight Core 2}.  Our current read-aloud is Castle Diary…I’ve been reading from a small paperback copy that we received with our curriculum, but yesterday I discovered a huge hardback copy of this book at our library.  This version has large, colorful illustrations that I knew my kiddos would love.  Last night when I read from the paperback chapter book, ds8 and dd6 looked at the corresponding illustrations in the large hardback book.

Carrie at Live, Learn and Love Together provided a wonderful list of books about knights and castles in her wrap-up post yesterday…I requested some of the books from our library…I hope to add them into the mix next week.

I also picked up a box of Kix cereal and a bag a marshmallows so we can try our hand at making our own castle :)


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This week we began learning about Venus…the hottest planet {even though it’s not the closest planet to the sun}.  We had fun learning about lava {Venus has lots of volcanoes} with a simple little experiment suggested in our science text {Exploring Creation with Astronomy}. 

In addition to all of the book learning we’ve been doing, we’ve also had plenty of real-life learning taking place around here…sick days, apple orchard stops, doctor appointments, library visits, and much more!

This post is being linked to Weekly Wrap-Up hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Four Years Old

We recently celebrated our youngest’s birthday…the past four years have absolutely flown by!  Please forgive me, but I must take a walk down memory lane for a bit.




When choosing each of our kiddos’ names, dh and I paid a lot of attention to the meanings of names.


We found a lot of different meanings for the name that we chose for ds3 {now ds4}…but the meaning that we came across this past summer fits our little guy perfectly…

A Hebrew name meaning ‘bold’.


He has a great exuberance…


and a great sense of humor.


A fiercely independent person.”

Happy 4th birthday sweet boy!  You definitely live up to your name.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Um, I was tagged a while back, then I was tagged againI’ve had this post simmering but it’s taken me a while to add the final touches {I edit a lot!}.  I have to admit, I’ve cheated a bit too ~ instead of answering all of the questions from my two taggers I’ve decided to answer just a handful…and I didn’t tag anyone else…yep, I’m such a rule breaker :)

Well, here we go…

Have you ever gone to a homeschool convention? If so, did you have fun?  Yes and Yes!  We have one very small homeschool convention {no speakers, just vendors} that takes place about 20 mins from us…dh and I try to go to this convention every year.  We also have a larger homeschool convention {with speakers and lots more vendors} that takes place about one hour from us…dh and I usually use this as a weekend getaway for us.  I love the atmosphere, being surrounded by hundreds of other families who have made the choice to homeschool…and I must admit, I love being surrounded by thousands of  books for sale :)

What are some of your child’s God given gifts? or talents?

My oldest son {age 8} has amazing athletic ability…and amazing balance.

My daughter {age 6} has a wonderfully creative imagination.

My youngest son {age 3} is the funniest kid I know…God has given him a great sense of humor.

What character issue is God working on in your life right now?

Kindness, being kind to the people I love the most here on earth…my kiddos and my husband.  Lately it seems that every devotional that I read to the kiddos convicts me about my need to be more kind.  Every time I prepare to correct my kiddos about their unkindness to each other, I am reminded of the importance of my example to them :)

Do you watch a TV series?  If so, which one? or two? or three?

I have to admit that my dh and I stay up late to watch Criminal Minds reruns… 

Do you plan to homeschool "forever" or just for a season?

The plan is to homeschool forever…but we have learned that God has a way of changing our plans when He needs to :)  Right now we know that God is calling our family to homeschool right now…the future is in His hands.

What is your biggest homeschooling challenge, and how do you handle it?

Hmmm, I think my biggest homeschooling challenge is finding a way to juggle all three kiddos…right now my 3rd grader can do some of his work independently, but there are still many subjects that he needs my time for{grammar, some writing, some math}.  My 1st grader is still learning to read and most of her subjects require me to be right next to her.  And while my preschooler does play independently during much of our school time, there are times when he needs me also…and usually it works out that all three kiddos need me at the same time :)

If you have multiple children, how do you find one-on-one time for instruction? (I mainly mean for younger children and reading.)  Good question {see above}…I am still working on this one :) 

How do you find time for your own pleasure reading?   Honestly, some nights I stay up way too late in order to finish a really good book…

Boxers or briefs? Just kidding ... sweet or salty ... your favorite snack. 

I discovered the joy of dark chocolate when I was pregnant with baby #3…I have since become quite a dark chocolate snob :)  It must be Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate ~ although they recently changed the recipe {why mess with perfection I ask???!} and I am not as fond of the new one :(

Thanks so much to the ladies that tagged me {Beverly from The Cow Queen and Monica from Discover Their Gifts}…this was a fun game to play!  I hope you enjoyed it too :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PG Key ~ A Review

pg key box

PG Key is an easy-to-install plug-in device that allows you to create a safer “computing environment” for your kiddos.  According to the PG Key Website,

[s]imply plugging PG Key into a child’s or teen’s computer allows parents to follow the advice so often given by law enforcement and parenting experts: 1) Control when and how long the computer is used, 2) Properly setup your system with filters and web site blocking, 3) Create the “over their shoulder” environment that encourages kids to act the same way “on line” as they do in every other part of their life.

When PG Key is plugged into a USB port on your kiddos’ computer, it provides parents with ten parental control features including:

pg keyTime Allowance ~ set a limit on how much time a particular password user can use the computer each day

Content Filtering ~ filter the information provided by online searches

Site Blocking ~ block specific sites that you do not want your kiddos to visit

Activity Tracking ~ review all activity that has taken place on the protected computer

Activity Notification ~ receive notification via email or text of any activities that you previously “flagged”

Chat and Email Logging ~ have access to both sides of online conversations {chats and emails}

Our Experience

Since my kiddos are relatively young {8, 6, 4}, there are only a handful of sites that we allow them to visit on the computer…mostly educational sites.  Because they do not surf the web, I didn’t feel that I needed to block any specific sites or filter online search information. 

When I researched PG Key's capabilities a bit more, I was very pleased to find a feature that I thought would work very well in my current situation…with PG Key I can set up a list of allowable sites that my kiddos can visit ~ any sites not on this list cannot be visited.  I immediately set to work and within minutes I had listed about five sites that our kiddos are allowed to visit while on-line {this is much easier for me than listing thousands of sites that I do not want my young kiddos visiting :)}.

Whenever a site other than the ones that I placed on the allowable list are attempted to be visited, a message comes up that states that the site is blocked and I have to enter my administrative password to choose to “always allow” or “always block” that particular site. 

I appreciate the fact that PG Key can be adapted to fit your particular situation.  At this point in time, we do not need to utilize the majority of the parental controls that PG Key offers.  However, as our kiddos grow and access the computer more often and more independently, we have the option of enabling the PG Key features that we need.

More Information About PG Key

Because of it’s adaptability, I believe that PG Key has a wide range of age appeal.  It can be used by parents of young children {like me} as well as parents of teenagers.

You will need to purchase one PG Key for each computer that you want to protect.  Once PG Key is plugged into your computer’s USB port, you have the ability to create individual accounts for each user that you want to protect, and assign unique protection to each of those users {site blocking or allowing, time limits, etc.}

You can purchase PG Key online from the PG Key website for $49.99 plus $8.95 for shipping and handling ~ no additional annual fee is charged.  It is also available at other retailers, both brick & mortar and online.  Check out their store locator page for more information about which retailers currently sell PG Key.

PG Key also offers a free trial of this product.

post banner Please click on the above banner to read what my fellow crewmates are saying about PG Key.

I received this product for free in order to provide an honest review of my experience with this product.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Allergy Story ~ Week One

I have to admit, when the nurse asked me to remove all dairy and eggs from ds4’s diet for a week I was overwhelmed…I honestly had no idea how I was going to be able to make it through an entire week of cooking and baking for my family without dairy and egg.

Well, some of the non-dairy substitutions were pretty easy to make.  Dh brought home some almond milk a few days into our non-dairy week…and ds4 LOVED it!  I had some with my cereal the other day, I think I actually prefer it over cow’s milk :) 

It also seems that there are many different foods that you can use to replace eggs such as vinegar, applesauce, and even a flax meal and water mixture.  The dairy-free and egg-free cake that I made for ds4’s birthday called for vinegar, which I assume replaced the egg…and it turned out pretty good.

However, I was having a very hard time coming up with non-dairy butter substitutions that I was comfortable using.  Many of the recipes that I came across used non-dairy margarine, non-dairy shortening, or vegetable oil to replace butter.  I have not used margarine or shortening in my baking for years…and I did not feel comfortable using it now.  So what to do?

Then I  remembered that I had an unopened jar of coconut oil in my cabinet…didn’t I read somewhere that coconut oil can be used to replace butter, shortening and oil?  Maybe it’s time to do some experimenting…One night I replaced the butter in one of our favorite fall recipes, Apple Crumble, with coconut oil…and it turned out great.  There was a slight coconut taste to the dish, but it was still very yummy :)

I wasn’t sure that we could do it, but we have managed to survive our first week of being dairy-free and egg-free…well, a couple of us non-allergy people have eaten a little bit of cheese {I have a fridge full of the stuff}, and my dh and the two older kiddos are still drinking regular dairy-full milk {I had picked up two gallons of the stuff the night before the nurse called}.  But for the most part we have eliminated much of the dairy and egg from our meals this past week.

It has taken a bit of pre-planning on my part, and a lot of research.  Thankfully I have found some very helpful resources that are making this change a bit easier.  I ordered a wonderful resource on going dairy free, aptly named Go Dairy Free ~ the author also has a website entitled One Frugal Foodie which features some really yummy sounding dairy and egg free recipes.  We had the Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes for dinner one night…dh and ds8 declared them to be delicious…maybe even better than our regular pancake recipe!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

He’s Allergic to What??!

When our youngest {now 4} was two, he had what I assumed to be a reaction to peanut butter.  It was a very minimal reaction…just a small rash on his left cheek…I checked with our family doctor and she confirmed that the cheek rash looked like a food allergy.  Needless to say, I kept the little guy away from peanuts and peanut products after that.

Our doctor suggested trying to introduce peanuts/peanut butter again in about a year.  Once again, a small rash appeared on his cheeks the day after he had peanut butter.  Ever since then we have just assumed that he had a peanut allergy…albeit a very slight one.  My other two kiddos still ate peanut butter and he never reacted to the oils that I am sure he was exposed to. 

We never had his allergy confirmed by allergy testing…and I had not yet exposed him to any other nuts for fear that he would react to them.  A couple weeks ago I figured that it was about time to get a referral to an allergist…I wanted to find out the severity of his peanut allergy, and also see if he was allergic to any other nuts.

Our primary doctor recommended that he get a blood test to determine the severity of his peanut allergy before heading to an allergist.  Imagine my surprise when a nurse from our doctor’s office called me last week to inform me that the blood test showed no allergy to peanuts!  Instead, it showed that he had a very slight allergy to milk and eggs…what?!! 

Um, wow…this little guy eats yogurt for breakfast at least three days a week, he has a cheese stick for a snack almost daily, lunches and dinners at our house usually contain at least some cheese, I use some form of dairy and/or egg in most everything that I bake {butter, buttermilk, milk, eggs}…ds4 has never complained of stomach aches, never had an ear infection, never vomited after eating dairy. 

Needless to say, I was shocked by this information.  The nurse asked me to remove milk {and all milk products} and eggs from ds4’s diet for the next week, and then make a follow-up appointment with our doctor.  So this past week I have been working hard to remove all dairy and eggs from what I feed ds4…not such an easy task considering almost all of the meals that I regularly serve {breakfast, lunch, and dinner} contain at least a small amount of either dairy and/or egg.  We also celebrated ds4’s birthday this week…so I had to find a dairy-free and egg-free cake recipe so the little guy could have a piece of his own birthday cake :).   

When I first began researching dairy-free and egg-free recipes, my initial thought was extreme gratefulness that my son’s allergy to milk and eggs is very slight.  In my research I have read about children who have severe allergies to not only milk and eggs, but also nuts, wheat, shellfish, etc. 

It also made me aware of how much I use dairy in my cooking…not that I think dairy is bad, but too much of anything can’t be that good. 

So now I am on a mission to adjust my cooking and baking…a mission that is just beginning…and one I will most likely be writing about more on this blog.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ A two week break {kind of}

For the past two weeks we have been taking a bit of a break from the three r’s  so that we could spend a bit more time on some other stuff…

During our “break” we learned about the life and times of William Tyndale.

We spent time enjoying our beautiful autumn weather…and completing a couple of Autumn Nature Studies…

IMG_0027 We looked for signs of autumn


we compared apples to apples

IMG_0027 100_7280

and we observed autumn leaves.

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We took advantage of our little town’s abundance of fresh, local apples and  canned a whole bunch of applesauce…

100_7210We hiked our favorite trail…

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And hung out at our favorite park

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And we even picked a couple of pumpkins at our favorite pumpkin patch

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We’ve been refreshed  by our little break…and we’re ready to resume the three r’s.  Now I just have to go clean up the big blanket fort in our basement so there’s a place for us to work :)

This post is being linked to Weekly Wrap-Up hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Saturday, October 16, 2010

At the Patch

One of our family’s most favorite fall traditions is taking a trip the pumpkin patch.  We began the tradition when our oldest {now 8}, was just a little guy, and our middle girl {now 6} was just a toddler.


October 2005

We continued the tradition the following year when I looked like I was carrying my own pumpkin around {Ds3 was born in mid-Oct that year}.

HPIM1058 HPIM1061

October 2006

I couldn’t find pictures of 2007’s trip to the patch, but I found evidence that we had indeed been there :)


October 2007

We celebrated our youngest’s birthday there in 2008.


October 2008 

Every year I attempt to get a good picture…one that may make it on the Christmas card {this one didn’t make it}…


 October 2009

But the 2010 pumpkin patch picture may just make the cut…all three kiddos smiled for the camera…at the same time :)


One thing that I love about this yearly tradition is that our visit always follows the same pattern.  When we first arrive at the farm the kiddos usually stick their heads through the wooden background props…



Then they check out the animals in the petting zoo area.

IMG_0152 And there are always some really cool hay bale creations at this farm to investigate.

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Then it’s time to catch the hayride out to the pumpkin patch.

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Once we arrive at the pumpkin patch we begin our search for the perfect pumpkins and gourds…

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Then it’s time for mama to get the kiddos to pose for some pictures.

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This year my mom joined us too…

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We came home with a pumpkin for each kiddo, a pile of cool-looking gourds, and a bunch of fun memories to add to our collection :)

What are your favorite fall traditions?


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