Friday, February 25, 2011

Homeschool Mother’s Journal ~ Entry #6

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week

The spring weather we experienced last week disappeared over the weekend…and we actually got about 6 inches of snow this past Tuesday!  But today I can see patches of green grass under the snow…here’s to hoping that this may be the last white stuff of the season ‘cause I am ready for spring :)

In our homeschool this week

Spelling, reading, grammar, math, history, art, music…and we even succeeded at adding our new Latin program into the mix. 

We crossed a couple more read-alouds off our read-aloud list {Good Queen Bess and Dr. Doolittle}.  The number of books in our read-alouds box for this year is dwindling, yay! 

I was also able to squeeze a couple of Latin lessons into ds9’s schoolweek…we are both really enjoying the Latin curriculum that I was given to review so far{Latin for Children Primer A}. 

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

The two older kiddos attended their first art class on Wednesday afternoon…and they had a great time :)  On Wednesday evening we spent time with friends at Truth Squad {our church’s scripture memory program}.  Later today I am heading to the dentist, and  tonight there are plans for a grandkids’ sleepover at my mom’s house :)

My favorite thing this week was

Listening to excitement in my two oldest kiddos’ voices when they told me about everything they learned in their new art class.  We signed ds9 and dd6 up for an art class that is taught by a woman in her home and they went to their first class this week. 

I have not been very good about including art in our homeschool and I am very relieved to have found this class.  My kiddos love to draw and they loved their first class :)

What’s working/not working for us

Organization is not working :)…organizing all of the books that we have accumulated so far, and hope to accumulate in the next 12 or so years of homeschooling :). 

But hopefully the Ikea shelves that I ordered over the weekend will help.  I have been drooling over the Expedit shelves for over a year now and dh gave the go-ahead to order a couple sets last weekend.  Now I am just waiting for them to be delivered.  We may have to declare an early spring break from school so I can work on getting them organized when they arrive!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I get to learn along with my kiddos.  I was a pretty good student way back when, but I am learning things in our history studies this year that I don’t remember learning in school. 

This week we learned about Queen Elizabeth by reading a delightful book by Diane Stanley, Good Queen Bess {from SL Core 2}.  It is so much more fun to learn history from rich literature and picture books than from dry and boring text books, IMHO :).

I feel so blessed be able to spend my days learning with my kiddos :)

A photo to share…

IMG_0872Last week it was short sleeves and bubbles…this week it was snowsuits and  snowforts :)

MathRider ~ A Review

MathRider is a downloadable software program that makes mastering math facts fun.  My ds9 is not fond of the daily paper and pencil speed drills that accompany his math curriculum, so he was excited when he learned that we received a free trial of MathRider to review.

math rider box

How it Works

Let’s face it, paper and pencil speed drills can be a bit boring sometimes.  MathRider puts a little spice into learning math facts by adding the excitement of quests.

Once your kiddo’s account is set up, you create “quests” for your kiddo to complete.  For each quest that you create you can choose the math function  and the number range {0-5, 0-10, 0-12} that you want your kiddo to work on. 

MathRider has four different quests that your child can undertake {the quests are determined by the type of math facts they are practicing}.  Each quest has your kiddo traveling on his/her faithful horse Shadow around the magical MathLands in search of a special item that is desperately needed  {in one instance it is a magic flower that is needed to cure an illness}.

As your kiddo and his/her horse travel through the MathLands, there aremath rider play  number sentences {obstacles} along the path that they must jump.  When the correct answer is typed, the horse and rider are able to “jump” the obstacles. 

The quest is not completed with just one “ride”…your kiddo must complete a series of rides before they can complete the quest.   At the end of each ride {math fact test}, your kiddo is able to view what percentage of the quest they have completed.  This keeps them motivated to complete more rides so that they can finish their quest. 

Click here to read more about how MathRider uses your child’s answers {and non-answers} to adapt the game to your child’s needs…as your child is playing the game.  This makes MathRider not only a fun math game, but a math game that is actually tailored to meet your individual child’s needs.  

My Thoughts

This simple math software has put a bit of zing back into my ds9’s daily speed drills.  Math facts must be learned and speed drills help get the facts into your child’s head…but my ds9 is forever complaining about his “boring old speed drills” {even though they only take a minute, literally :)}.

MathRider has made math fact practice a little easier to digest for ds9…and that makes teaching math a bit easier on me :)  Math fact practice has also become somewhat of a family affair in our home since MathRider has entered the picture…ds4 and dd6 love to gather around the computer while ds9 “plays his game” :).

math rider stats I really appreciate the fact that MathRider has made is very easy for me to check my ds9’s progress.  By simply clicking on the “statistics” icon on my ds9’s main page, I can view my ds9’s top five challenges, his mastery level of a particular math operation and more.


More Information

MathRider’s goal is for your kiddo to master their math facts in each of the four basic math operations {addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division}. 

MathRider can be used with any child who still needs to obtain mastery in any of the four basic math operations. 

An instant download of Math Rider is currently on sale for $37.00 at MathRider’s website {regular price is $49.95}.  One Math Rider license can be used with up to ten individual children.

MathRider uses Adobe Air Runtime and is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.  See this page for more information about computer system requirements for MathRider.

post bannerClick on the banner above to read what my fellow crewmates are saying about MathRider.

I received a free subscription to MathRider in return for my honest and unbiased opinion of our experience with this product.  I did not receive any further compensation for my review. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a Difference a Couple Days Can Make…

Last Friday…

IMG_0851 Today {Tuesday}…

IMG_0870 Last Friday…

IMG_0853 Today…

IMG_0867 Last Friday…




What a difference four days can make…I guess spring is not here yet :)

What We’ve Read Aloud So Far…

From Core K:

My Father’s Dragon ~ We all loved this imaginative read about a boy who rescues a dragon from an island full of wild animals.

The Family Under the Bridge ~ Sweet story about three homeless kiddos who soften the heart of a homeless man.  Perfect read-aloud while we were studying France.

The Boxcar Children ~ We actually listened to this one on an audio cd that we borrowed from the library.  The kiddos were already familiar with The Boxcar children {and I remember loving the series from when I was a kiddo}. 

B is for Betsy ~ My dd6 especially appreciated mama choosing a book with a girl as the main character…it seems that many of our read alouds have more boys as the main characters.

The Apple and the Arrow ~ Talk about courage and trust…we loved this story about the legend of William Tell.

From Core 2

Red Sails to Capri ~ We read this while we were studying Italy…great book that we all enjoyed.

Ginger Pye ~ Another audio cd from the library…My animal loving dd6 really liked this book {the boys did too}.

The Minstrel in the Tower ~ A short chapter book about a courageous brother and sister during the times of the crusades.

Castle Diary~ We found an oversized, full-color version of this book at the library.  The kiddos loved looking at the pictures while I read aloud.  This was an excellent addition to our study of medieval times.

The Cricket in Times Square ~ We listened to the audio cd from the library.  I love it when I can find an audio cd of a book on our read-aloud list…then I can listen along while I work :).

The Door in the Wall ~ Another great addition to our history studies.  Excellent story about a courageous young boy during the middle ages.

The Apprentice ~ Great book about an young apprentice during the Renaissance period.  This book was a great precursor to another book we just finished reading…

Michelangelo ~ Great picture book about Michelangelo.  We read it in one sitting :) 

Missionary Read Alouds

Catching Their Talk in a Box ~ An excellent read aloud from Sonlight Core 2.  This tells the story of Joy Ridderhof who was led by God to “catch the talk” of people who had no Bible in their own language and put their talk on records so they could hear the Gospel in their own tongue…an amazing book that was enjoyed by all of us.

New Toes for Tia ~ We really enjoyed this short picture book that I had bought from Sonlight many years ago. 

William Tyndale: Queen’s Smuggler ~ an amazing biography about William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English.  This was a part of a unit study product review that I did for the TOS Crew…but it fit perfectly into our history studies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homeschool Mother’s Journal ~ Entry #5

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week…

I am not sick and the kiddos are healthy again {for now}…but poor dh is suffering from a cold or allergies :).  But still, it’s nice for the majority of us to be healthy :) 

We’ve also been having some awesome spring-like weather around here for the past couple of days…which means we’ve been able to spend lots of time outside running off lots of kid energy :)

In our homeschool this week…

We’re still plugging away at the basics.  Both dd6 and ds9 finished up math light units, ds9 crossed another book off his reading list, and we are almost finished with our latest read aloud {The Apprentice}. 

This week I also introduced a couple new resources to the kiddos.  I am trying a new handwriting program with ds9 {he’s had a hard time with the one we’ve been using ever since switching over to cursive}.  We also did our first couple lessons in a new worldview curriculum {this is a review product} and a week’s worth of lessons with Kinderbach {another review product}.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We finally made it back to the library this week after a three week hiatus due to colds, sore throats, and the cold weather :).  While we were there, dd6 received her very own library card! 

Last night dh took ds9 to a local college basketball game…and even though the home team lost, ds9 had a blast!

My favorite thing this week was…

I found my favorite dark chocolate at the grocery store!  A little background info…I developed a slight addiction :) to dark chocolate when I was pregnant with ds4, and after trying many, many dark chocolates, I found the perfect one for me. 

Then last year the company changed the recipe…and it was not a good change IMHO.  Ever since then I have been trying to find a replacement.  So I was delighted when I walked into the grocery store and found my old favorite on the shelf and it did not have the big “New Recipe” banner across the top. 

What’s working/not working for us…

Computer time…it’s working and not working.  Right I have a bunch of online resources that I am reviewing…an online reading program for dds6, an online educational site for both d9 and dd6, an online reading readiness game site for ds4, and an online music program for all three kiddos.  The kiddos are lovin’ all of these resources, and they are learning some new things…but it also means that they are on the computer an awful lot! 

Granted, the kiddos don’t watch much tv and they don’t play with any handheld game systems or other video games…but lately it feels like the computer has taken over.

Any suggestions for helping me limit the amount of screentime my kiddos are getting?

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Is it spring break yet :) ?  The weather we have been having here for the past two days has made me so ready for spring…I told my dh last night that I am not sure I can handle more winter after having a couple of warm, sunny days :)

A photo to share…

IMG_0860 Making the most of our warm weather :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine’s Lunch/Party for His Siblings

Ds9 rushed into our room first thing this morning to wish me a “Happy Valentine’s Day!”.  And he could not wait to give me my Valentine’s Day gift this morning.  He has been in the mood to make the most of Valentine’s Day all day :)

This morning after he finished his school work he asked me if he could set up a Valentine’s party in the basement for his brother and sister.  I thought about it for a moment, and quickly decided that he could set up a special Valentine’s lunch/party.  I gave him some paper plates and napkins that I had put aside for today and let him get to work.

I gave him some extras to make lunch a bit more special…drink boxes, and little bags of pretzels.  He added a balloon and cut out some paper hearts…IMG_0821 IMG_0824  IMG_0833

Ds9 is such a sweet big brother…it warmed my heart to see him make today special for his little sister and brother :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homeschool Mother’s Journal ~ Entry #4

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week…

Sunday was a warm{er}, sunny day…but since then the weather has gotten increasingly grayer and colder.  Needless to say this has been a “stay inside and keep warm” kind of week :). 

The sore throat that hit ds9 last week struck dd6 and ds4 this week.  Ds4 and I stayed home from a SuperBowl gathering at a friend’s house on Sunday because he had a fever.  And on Tuesday I looked over to find dd6 asleep on the couch…in the middle of the day!  That is definitely not a regular occurrence around here :). 

In our homeschool this week…

The kiddos and I have been plugging away at the three r’s.  Dd6 is really coming along in her reading/spelling program.  She is very close to finishing up the first level of All About Spelling, and her reading has greatly improved over the past couple of weeks.

We also started a new read-aloud {The Apprentice}, and we’re reading a missionary biography at lunchtime {Gladys Aylward}.   

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

The two older kiddos and dh spent Sunday afternoon at a friend’s house watching the SuperBowl.  Well, dh watched most of it, ds9 watched some of it, and dd6 spent the whole time playing with her friend :).  Ds4 and I spent the evening at home because of his fever.

We headed out to Truth Squad on Thursday evening {our church’s scripture memory program}.  After the devotion, the kiddos had a fun time with their friends decorating and then eating heart-shaped cookies {a special combined craft/snack time}.

My favorite thing this week was…

Cuddling with dh on the couch, watching library dvds of Lark Rise to Candleford episodes after the kiddos went to bed.  One of my favorite bloggers mentioned this series on her blog a couple weeks ago, I checked it out of the library and now I am hooked {and so is dh :)}.

What’s Working/Not Working for us…

Winter is not working for us right now :)  I really can’t complain, the snow is starting to melt around here, and we haven’t gotten slammed like we did last year…but I am SO ready for spring and warm weather and sunshine :)

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I am quite content with most of the resources that we are using this year…as I make out my lists for next year there are only a couple of changes that I am contemplating:

  • handwriting ~ we have been using Getty-Dubay Italics since the beginning, but ds9 seems to be having a hard time with it lately, especially since he’s switched to cursive. 
  • writing ~ {I mentioned this one last week}  I am considering adding IEW into the mix next year {for ds9}, using it in addition to WWE.
  • science ~ Do we continue with Apologia’s Elementary series {I just got a great deal on Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day} or look into some other science curriculums {I’ve heard very good things about Nancy Larson Science}.

A photo to share…


A much-anticipated review item arrived on our doorstep this week and ds4 indulged his mama by posing with our new pile of books :).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And the Winner of the CSN Gift Card Is….

…the random number generator picked comment #12 ~ congrats to Our Homeschool Reviews :).  I have already sent an email to the winner.

Thank you all for participating in my very first giveaway!  And thank you for helping me reach 100 followers too :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Are We There Yet?

Halfway through our school year that is…I’ve seen many people announcing that they’ve finally reached the halfway point and I am wondering “are we there yet?”

Since we’re using a bunch of different resources and I stagger our start for different subjects, it is hard to determine if we have reached the halfway point yet.  We may be halfway through spelling and writing but not yet halfway through history and science. 

So I sat down one afternoon last week {while poor ds9 was on the couch/sickbed and dd6 and ds4 were playing} and figured out where we are in each of our resources and here’s what I came up with…

Ds9 {3rd grade}

  • Writing ~ currently in week 21 {of 36}
  • Spelling ~ currently working on lesson 17 {of 34}
  • First Language Lessons ~ currently working on lesson 49 {of 89, plus 21 optional lessons}
  • Reading List ~ has finished 15 of 25 scheduled books
  • Math ~ has 4 light units left in current grade level {out of 10 light units}

Dd6 {1st grade}

  • Reading & Spelling ~ this resource is not really a grade level, we just continue on to the next book once this one is finished
  • Math ~ almost finished with 3rd light unit {out of 10}
  • First Language Lessons ~ currently working on lesson 49 {out of 100}

Family Subjects

History ~ working on week 19 {out of 36}

Read Alouds ~

  • completed 6 {out of the 16 that I plan to read this year} from Core 2
  • completed 5 additional read-alouds from Core K
  • completed 3 additional missionary related read-alouds and are currently working on a 4th one

Science ~ currently on lesson 6 {out of 14}

Bible ~ this resource does not have a grade level, we just continue to the next unit once this one is completed

So I guess that means that except for dd6’s math curriculum, ds’s FLL resource, and our read alouds {although a few of these read alouds are optional in my mind}…we are officially over halfway through our school year…yay!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Homeschool Mother’s Journal ~ Entry #3

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week

I finally got rid of that nasty sore throat and weird sounding voice that I had all last week…and poor ds9 woke up with it on Monday :(. 

In our homeschool this week…

Since my voice was working again this week, we doubled up on all of our read-alouds, we finished up The Tales of Robin Hood, knocked out a couple of chapters in A Child’s History of the World, and I even read a couple of picture books to the kiddos.  I did give poor ds9 a break early this week due to his sickness…but he did complete most of the spelling, writing and math that I had planned.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

On Wednesday night I went to my book club {a small group from our church is reading John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life}.  This is the first book club I have ever been involved in and I am really enjoying it.  The book is very thought-provoking and quite convicting ~ and knowing that I have a book club meeting keeps me motivated to keep reading :)

This weekend is a big one for dd6 ~ she is going to a birthday tea party to celebrate a friend’s birthday on Saturday and returning home just in time to head out to a Daddy-Daughter dance with her daddy…that is if the weather does not interfere {they’re calling for freezing rain}.

My favorite thing this week was…

The big pot of bean soup that I cooked up in the crockpot on Thursday.  I love me some bean soup {even though no one else in my family does}.  I also baked a couple loaves of homemade bread…so they didn’t starve :)

What’s working/not working for us…

I absolutely LOVE the Well-Planned Day planners!  I have been using the homeschool planner for myself for the past couple of years, and this year I also purchased the Middle School Planner for my ds9.  He’s is not in middle school {not even close}, but it still works well for him. 

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I am in the midst of making lists for curriculum to look over for next year.  I have heard a lot of wonderful comments about Institute for Excellence in Writing and I am considering adding it next year.  We love Writing With Ease also {that’s what we’re currently using}…I wonder if it would be too much to do both…hmmm….

A photo to share…

IMG_0785 Dd6 posing for a picture before heading out to the Daddy Daughter Dance :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Sickness, Snow and All That Jazz

I have to admit, I am having a hard time keeping up with weekly wrap-ups…so this time I decided to take a lesson from a fellow blogger and just wrap up the whole month of January :)

January’s accomplishments:

IMG_0706Ds9 {3rd grade}

  • finished up another math light unit
  • over halfway through his 3rd grade reading list {crossed off Frindle and Medallion}
  • blew out nine candles on his birthday cake :)
  • had a blast practicing math facts with Math Rider {review coming in late February}
  • learned about {and practiced diagramming} predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives in his FLL3 curriculum
  • is more than halfway through his Writing With Ease and spelling books
  • earned a bunch of money shoveling the driveway
  • suffered through a cold


Dd6 {1st grade}


Ds4 {Preschool}

  • painted about 1001 pictures with his do-a-dot markers {well, that number may be a bit exaggerated, but boy does he love making pictures with those things :)}
  • used a lot of paper for cutting, pasting, and paper airplane making {this boy LOVES paper, glue, tape and scissors}
  • read lots of books with mommy  


  • finished reading The Door in the Wall
  • began our new read-aloud The Tales of Robin Hood
  • had a blast learning Spanish with Speekee
  • had lots of fun on roller skates
  • finally made it back to the library
  • finished up our study of the Middle Ages…now we’re moving on to explorers
  • learned about the moon in our science curriculum
  • survived mom’s week with a strange-sounding voice
  • dealt with unplanned sick days and snow days…

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CSN Stores $55 Gift Card Giveaway!

I received an email from CSN Stores a couple days ago asking if I’d like to host a giveaway…of course I jumped at the chance :).  I have never, ever hosted a giveaway on my blog before…so this is a pretty exciting first for me!

CSN Stores has tons of merchandise to choose from…from modern bar stools to baby cribs and almost everything in between.

So what can you win?  It’s a $55 gift certificate from CSN that can be used on anything from any of their stores {cannot be used on shipping and handling}.

Are you ready to enter?  Just follow the link above and check out CSN’s modern bar stool selection then come back and leave a comment on this post telling me if you found anything that interests you.  But remember, if you win you can spend your $55 gift certificate on anything from any of the CSN stores.

You can get a second entry if you are a follower of my blog, or if you become a follower of my blog ~ just leave a 2nd comment letting me know :)

I’ll be closing this giveaway and choosing a random winner {using} on Wednesday, February 9th {U.S. entries only}. 

Please make sure that you provide a way for me to reach you {email address in your comment or through your profile}…if I can’t reach you within 48 hours I’ll have to choose another winner :(.

Disclosure ~ I am not receiving any compensation for this post.

God Loves Me More Than That ~ Book Review


God loves me moreI have to admit…I am a pushover for children’s picture books with rhyming text…I am :).  So needless to say, I was very excited to get the opportunity to review God Loves Me More Than That, a lovely hardcover picture book written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by David Hohn.


Who hasn’t asked themselves “How much does God love me?”  This book tries to answer that often heard question through sweet, simple rhyming text…

How much love does God have for me?  More than the letters between A and Z.

God’s love is so deep, and so high, so loud, and so wide…

Wider than the prairies where the cowboys ride.  God loves me wider than that!

The simple rhyming text and delightful illustrations in God Loves Me More Than That will definitely appeal to young children, but I think they will also provide a sweet reminder to the adults who read it to their favorite kiddos…a reminder that God loves us so much more than we can even imagine :)

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January in Pictures

I love the 365 project…you know, the one where bloggers post one picture a day each day of the year.  I love the idea, but posting a picture a day is not something I can add to my “to do list” right now. 

So instead, I’m going to try to do a “month in pictures” post at the end of each month.  It may contain four pictures, it may contain six…hopefully it will contain at least one :)

Here is January’s post…

IMG_0641 Our New Year’s Eve tradition ~ make your own pizza and game night.


You gotta love a free Amazon Prime membership, especially when the old vacuum dies and we need a new one ASAP :)


January was a snowy month around here…great for sledding fun


and building a snowman…


but I was able to find a bit of color amongst our winter white landscape.


This month we also celebrated ds’s 9th birthday…where oh where does the time go?

100_7768 Around here we celebrate birthdays with a day of family fun, chosen by the birthday kiddo…ds9 chose roller skating.  The only reason ds4 was able to stay on his feet {or skates} was because of this cool contraption {which was basically a walker on wheels} :).

IMG_0731 We ended the month with ds9’s birthday party which we celebrated at a nearby college’s indoor gym…ds4 is getting ready to run “super fast” and he needs to get ready with his best “super fast” face :)


Happy Birthday to my sweet oldest son!

Well, that wraps up January.  Can’t wait to see what memories February will bring us :)


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