Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All About Reading - TOS Review

I couldn't believe it!!!  The TOS Crew was going to be reviewing products from All About Learning Press, and I was on the list of reviewers.  I received not only the All About Reading Level 1 Kit but also the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit.  Oh my... how incredibly generous and what an absolutely tremendous blessing for our family.

The All About Reading Level 1 Kit ($99.95) includes:
  1. Teacher’s Manual (View sample)
  2. Student Packet (Activity Book sample)
  3. Run, Bug, Run! reader (sample)
  4. The Runt Pig reader (sample)
  5. Cobweb the Cat reader (sample)
The Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit ($48.95) includes the same items as the Basic Reading Interactive Kit ($28.95):
      1. Letter Tiles
      2. Magnets for the Letter Tiles
      3. The Basic Phonograms CD-ROM
      4. Reading Divider Cards
as well as three additional items:
      1. Reading Review Box
      2. Reading Tote Bag
      3. Star Stickers

I must say that after a couple months of using this reading program I am seeing wonderful results with my boys and am 100% completely sold!!!  Upon my purchase of a magnetic whiteboard, my quick assembly of the letter tiles, and tearing the perforated flashcards, I was all set to teach the boys.  I love that All About Reading is truly an "open and go" curriculum.  Minimal prep time on my part is always a positive, and I was so impressed by the ease of implementation.  The lessons are systematic, scripted, and very simple to follow.

All About Reading focuses on the five key components of reading:  Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Decoding, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Reading Comprehension.  To teach these Big Five Skills, the curriculum uses a multi-sensory approach.  For this reason sight, sound, and touch are utilized in every lesson.  This combination guides students in mastering exciting new concepts including: letter sounds, phonograms, consonant teams, blending, syllables, sight words, consonant blends, plurals, and compound words.   

From my initial flip through the teacher's manual, I realized that Caleb would find the first half of the lessons incredibly easy.  Honestly, I debated whether to start him in the middle or do the early lessons as a review.  I'm so glad that I opted to start at the beginning.  Caleb likes a challenge and LOVES to sound out and decode "big" words but has never been one to focus on reading fluently.  He did move very quickly through the initial lessons, but I found the attention All About Reading gives to fluency has improved his reading so much.  He is now working on lesson 34 of 49 and is doing splendidly.

Jeremiah started from the very beginning.  He's often hesitant sounding out words for fear of making mistakes or saying something wrong.  Having the tactile activity of manipulating the tiles to form words eased some of his anxiety, and he is attempting word-building and reading with more confidence.  He really enjoys the activities and games in the student book.  Also, the reward of a sticker on his chart for every completed lesson is motivational and an easy form of positive reinforcement.  Additionally, it allows him to see how much he has accomplished in a glance.   


All About Reading has proven to be effective, engaging, multi-sensory fun for my boys.  While they are each working at their own pace... neither one is frustrated but instead filled with a sense of achievement and accomplishment. All About Reading is the real deal!  I WILL most definitely be purchasing the All About Reading Level Pre-1 for my daughter and Level 2 for my boys to continue reading.

Aside from my review products and future purchases, I'm pleased that All About Learning Press offers many helps to parents and teachers at no cost.  The website hosts a forum where Mommas, like myself, can connect, share, and learn from one another.  It's always beneficial to see others interpretation, implementation, and interaction with curriculum.  It can serve as a trouble-shooter if things aren't going well, a catalyst to press on, or the conductor of "ah-ha!" moments that can be transferred to your own homeschool.  In addition, an online Reading Resource Center can also be found offering video and a number of supportive articles addressing reading pedagogy, suggesting activities, and providing encouragement.  Likewise, the All About Learning Blog provides a wealth of information, extends support, and promotes a positive learning environment. 

It's also important that I note that All About Learning Press doesn't focus only on reading.   The company also has available All About Spelling.  This mastery based program has seven levels, and it also employs multi-sensory lessons to best teach students.  I find it user-friendly that the spelling and reading programs correlate and utilize many of the same materials. 


Contact Information
Phone:  715-477-1976
Email:  use contact form

While I absolutely love and highly recommend All About Reading, I don't want you to rely solely on my experience.  Visit the TOS Crew Blog and read the thoughts and feelings of others using this curriculum in their home.  Then, take advantage of the Go Ahead and Use It One Year Guarantee!  Wow - that's an unbeatable offer!  

Disclaimer:  I was provided the All About Reading Level 1 Kit and the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit in exchange for my honest review.   

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"The Farmers" & "The ABC's"

 The boys...

 and the girls of our DRASTIC Co-op.

January and February was a wonderful time of making music together.  In my K-1 class, we sang and danced to folksongs as well as some praise and worship songs.  We studied instruments of the orchestra and read some music themed literature.  Also, we learned to write, read, and perform rhythms composed of eighth, quarter, and half notes and rests.  Most of all, we had such fun with the rhythm instruments.  

 My sweet K-1 class ready to make music.

Our final class together, we did some improvisation/composition.  We split into two groups and the kids came up with their own song to be performed for the others.  Following a quick mini-lesson on concert etiquette, self-named as "The Farmers" and "The ABC's," the kiddos took the fictional stage to strut their stuff.  They were too cute!

 "The Farmers" performing.

"The ABC's" take the stage.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Growing List of Gifts

And the list continually grows - more and more gifts for which to be grateful!  Thank you, God!

138.  shared interests
139.  Ms. Jessica - Rachel's wonderful, bubbly, encouraging, speech therapist
140.  SonRise Church in Cincinnati for offering to host our April AWAA seminar
141.  cuddling in bed with my kiddos and a pile of books
142.  Women's Bible Study
143.  clearance racks
144.  proud of a student performing
145.  Rami, Sagi, & Nathaniel - my kiddos sweet classmates
146.  sweaty, happy, tired kiddos after fun at a friend's BounceU Birthday
147.  field trips
148.  safe travels
149.  Mom watching the kids overnight when I needed her at the last minute
150.  no more hamsters :-)
151.  plans for Wait No More to come to Kentucky
152.  adoption preached from the pulpit
153.  joining SCC members in prayer for the 3000 students who attend our church
154.  9 year old - Courtney P. - may never meet her but I will faithfully pray for her
155.  knowing my kiddos each have someone committed to praying for them by name
156.  a little helper tagging along to the grocery store
157.  coupons
158.  watching my hubby playing Guess Who? again & again with Caleb
159.  coconut oil
160.  my Dad's safe return from his mission trip to Guatemala
161.  hearing my son ask God in prayer to "help him spread the good news about Jesus"
162.  the surprise opportunity to send a care package to our sponsor child with a family traveling to Ethiopia
163.  the clear night sky - perfect for planet/moon/star-gazing
164.  gorgeous weather for a day of play at the zoo
165.  a picnic lunch
166.  spontaneous, contagious laughter


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Better Health in 90 Days

Notice a name change?  Marcy, at Bought With a Price, realized that while some are trying to lose weight for others the goal is actually to live in better health.  For me, the two should go hand-in-hand.  Losing weight = Healthier me.  However, the name change does make me feel like I don't have to go AWOL if I have a bad week.  Yeah - did you miss my post last week?  Valentine's chocolate and sweet treats resulted in a 1.5 lb gain.  Thankfully, this week, I was able to reverse that gain.

So here's the less than impressive weight loss recap...
Lost 14 lbs in Dec. - Jan. prior to the challenge
Week 1 - lost 2 lbs.
Week 2 - no loss
Week 3 - gained 1.5 lbs.
Week 4 - lost 1.5 lbs.

I'm looking at a little less than 2 months left in the challenge.  My goal is still attainable, but I better get busy if I intend to succeed. 

With the name change/shift in thinking... rather than re-list my prior 3 goals, I'm going to add a new one.  A few weeks back, I nabbed Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave on the Bargain Books shelf for $6 at LifeWay.  I've heard wonderful things about it, so it's my book to read for the week.   

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Prayers for Children

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
  • I attended a new Women's Bible Study at church.  We are working through Angela Thomas' BRAVE.  Week 1 - "I am worn out!"  Hmmm... is that a relevant topic or what?  I enjoyed table talk with my life group pal and 4 other new friends.  Looking forward to the next 5 weeks together with these ladies, and praying for many "fresh" words from the Father!
  • I have played a lot of games of "Guess Who?"  Daddy picked this game up for the little ones, and Caleb has a wee bit of an obsession.  The kid has wanted to play non-stop the past couple days.  He's getting much tougher to beat.
In our homeschool this week…
  • We met with our DRASTIC Book Club for some Dr. Seuss books & treats.
  • I finished teaching my DRASTIC music classes for the year.  The kiddos will enjoy an art class in March/April.
  • Visited the "SPACE... Imagine That!" exhibit in Danville with homeschool friends from M-I-N-D, CACH, and CHIL.
  • We gazed at the clear, night sky to see Jupiter and Venus.  Pretty cool!
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
  • Avoid comparisons.  I've had to remind myself of that a lot lately.  1.) Don't compare the kids to one another.  2.) Don't compare the kids to other children.  They are each individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made by God, with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and abilities.
I am inspired by…
  • my children!   
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
  • Monday - Zoo Trip
  • Tuesday - Rachel's speech
  • Wednesday - Light Will Rise meeting & Bible Study
  • Thursday - DRASTIC & SCC Adoption Group
  • Friday - Galloping-the-Globe co-op
  • Saturday - celebrate Dad's birthday
Things I’m working on…
  • Finalizing & Scheduling our Spring AWAA Seminars
  • Planning a long weekend, March, get-away trip for the fam (possibly friends too) 
I’m reading…
  • One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda
I’m cooking…
  • I made a Cinnamon Streussel Cake this week... yes, it was totally out of a box.  Add egg, water, and oil - but for me, that's pretty awesome.  It was quite yummy!
I’m praying for…
  • At our church, we were all challenged to invest in a younger generation.  There are 3000 students within our church and each of their names were suspended on a small card near the exits.  We were each able to grab a card on our way out and commit to pray for this child.... not just for today, not for the week, month, or year, but for LIFE!  I pulled 9 yr old - Courtney P., and I'm praying for this sweet daughter of the King.  (**Side note - my 3 kiddos names were out there somewhere as well, and it thrills me to know that they are also being prayed for by name.) 
I’m grateful for…
  • An Ethiopia adoptive family will be traveling to meet their son and appear in court this week. Like us, they sponsor a child at Children HopeChest's Kebron Carepoint. They are going to be able to visit, so they offered to take care packages to all the kiddos. We were excited to put together a bag of snacks, candy, little trinkets, a picture of us, and most importantly our letter reminding Eliham that she is beautiful, dearly loved, and God's precious child. 
A photo to share…

Are you involved with child sponsorship? If not, I'd encourage you to prayerfully consider! Children's HopeChest is doing incredible, life-saving, God-honoring work.  There are still Kebron Carepoint kiddos in need of a sponsor.  Got questions?  I'd LOVE to chat with you about it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apologia's Who Am I? (TOS Review)

Attending a Christian College, one of the dreaded classes students had to take was "Christ & Culture."  The class in and of itself wasn't bad at all, but no one looked forward to writing their Christian Worldview paper... oh my, it was a beast!  The culmination of your Biblical studies on campus and for many students (including myself) their entire childhood and personal faith journey all summed up in a clear and concise manner on a number of typed pages.  With that class behind me, I consider the fruits of my labor invaluable.  However, I wonder why I never really heard mention of my need for a Christian, Biblical Worldview prior to college?  Sure, I heard some stellar sermons, recall some memorable object lessons, and spiritual experiences, but a focus on building a Christian worldview seemed lacking.  I don't recall much this is "what we believe" and "why we believe it" being taught.

Thankfully, Apologia sees the flaw in that!  What a second... Apologia???  When I think Apologia, several words come to mind. High quality, student-centered, informative and engaging, and... SCIENCE.   However, after having the opportunity to review How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids and Educating the WholeHearted Child, I have thought otherwise. Apologia is so much MORE than science! Point proven by the incredible curriculum Apologia generously provided my family most recently for review. The textbook Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? as well as the accompanying Notebooking Journal, MP3 Listening CD, and Coloring Book truly knocked my socks off!
Apologia partnered with Summit Ministries to bring us the "What We Believe" series.  As the website aptly states: It is more important than ever that young children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth. The "What We Believe" Series is an outstanding way to teach your child the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but it’s so much more! With this student-directed, Bible-based curriculum, your children will learn how to use Scripture as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it—and know the truth.
The hardbound text, Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?, retails for $39 and focuses on the fact that we are made in God's image, what that means, and how we can know and pursue His will for our lives.  The book is recommended for students 6-14 years of age. However, it is adaptable for both older and younger students. It is also a curriculum that can be used with multiple multi-age students at the same time. 

View the Table of Contents and a sample lesson.  Each lesson, first, introduces the theme and what the student will learn.  A short story follows that illustrates what is being taught through the lives and experiences of child characters.  Comprehension questions conclude the story as well as vocabulary words and memory verses.  There is an integrated learning section that introduces famous artwork, history, science, and math that pertains to the topic.  Next, Biblical character traits are highlighted so children may learn and demonstrate them followed by a prayer.  Then, children are introduced to world religions through fictional characters from around the globe.  At the conclusion of each child's story, there are questions that help children identify how in comparison our Christian worldview differs.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Now, check out all the cool extras available to enhance your children's study! As a busy homeschool Momma, the utilization of the Who Am I? MP3-CD ($19) allowed me 1. to rest my reading-weary voice and 2. the freedom to be up moving and multi-tasking while still present with my kiddos. My little ones are on the younger end of the spectrum of this curriculum, so only some of the Who Am I? Notebooking Journal ($24) activities could they complete. However, I could still use the material, but rather than writing we simply discussed, or I wrote their narration. View sample pages as well as the Table of Contents. The resource that proved most age-appropriate and enjoyable for my artsy kids was the Who Am I? Coloring Book ($8). See sample page.
Because I'm so impressed with what this curriculum has to offer, I'm actually going to halt using it at this time only because I desire to use the entire series with my children.  While each title in the series could serve as a stand alone, it is recommended to use the books in sequence as they do build upon one another.  Therefore, the number one item on my list of purchases for the upcoming homeschool year - the first title in the "What We Believe" series - Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him?  Once we work our way through this book, we will return to Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?

I'm highly recommending this curriculum, but I encourage you to read through the FAQ page.  Please note that the curriculum is written from a non-denominational viewpoint.  Therefore, for my family, there are times when I need to supplement specifically with our independent Christian doctrine.  Also, take the time to read other TOS Crew Member reviews and learn from their experiences.  
Need more information? Contact:
Apologia Press, a division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
1106 Meridian Plaza, STE 220, Anderson, IN 46016
Phone: (888)524-4724
Fax: (765)608-3290

*Disclosure: I was provided these products in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

May Gratitude Increase

I'm personally getting so much out of my list of One Thousand Gifts.  Actually, before posting each Monday, I go back and re-read my previous week's list.  What a joy to re-live special moments and be reminded of God's goodness.  May my gratitude only and always increase!

119.  Icy-Hot No Mess Vapor Gel for Kids (good stuff!)
120.  the TOS Valentine Exchange (my kids LOVE mail!)
121.  a heart shaped diamond necklace from my Boy
122.  Godiva chocolate
123.  flower buds - soon to bloom
124.  antibiotics
125.  fulfilling a committment
126.  playing a recorder - minus squeaks :)
127.  an online community
128.  my children's prayers
129.  sweet memories of Meetcha & Gotcha Day
130.  a brief re-connection with some of our AWAA travel buddies
131.  sharing adoption stories & info with a small group
132.  being an AWAA Seminar speaking family
133.  my Kindle
134.  educational & charitable websites
135.  a Dad willing to serve and share God's love in Guatemala
136.  the boys saying memory verses
137.  Caleb's excitement from a game played in church

Educational & Charitable Websites

Cruising along with my TOS pals, this week the topic is "What is your favorite free or cheap homeschool resource?" 

When our family made the choice to go from 2 incomes and 1 child to 1 income and 3 children, obviously, we had to become more cost conscious... especially combined with our decision to homeschool.  Utilizing the library, hitting used curriculum sales, completing product reviews, and taking advantage of all the world wide web has to offer have all proven to be financially responsible, frugal ways to educate our children.  While we have been exposed to and blessed by so many wonderful resources (and I really should blog about them in the future), for this blog cruise I really want to highlight a couple of websites that are not only educational but charitable as well.  Yes, I want my kids to be proficient mathematicians and competent, confident readers, but most importantly, I want them to have God's global worldview and a servant's heart.  I love that these websites accomplish both!

I know in passing, I've blogged a bit about We Give Books.  A friend from one of our co-op's just recently introduced me to this website, and I LOVE IT!  The premise:  Read a Book!  Give a Book!  This site combines the joy of reading with the power of helping others.  There are thousands of books available to read online... award winners, series, seasonal books, fiction, non-fiction, read-alouds, early readers, etc.  Once a book is read simply choose the charity you want and a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf.  Several campaigns will be running at a time.  Once the goal is reached a new one is added.  Currently, my kiddos are reading for Tinga Tinga Tales, promoting literacy in Africa.  Obviously, very near and dear to our hearts!

While the titles on the We Give Books site will appeal mostly to the 10 and under crowd, I have another recommendation for teens.  Free Rice is a non-profit operated by the United Nations World Food Programme.  It operates with two goals:  1. Provide education to everyone for free.  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.  How is this accomplished?  A question is asked, and if you answer it correctly 10 grains of rice are donated to help eradicate hunger. 

I, personally, use Free Rice since my kiddos are a little young yet.  (In fact, anyone under 14 must have parent permission to create an account.)  I like the English vocabulary the best, but there are several subjects available including:  Humanities, Geography, English, Math, Chemistry, and Language Learning.  Grab your teens, your spouse, or simply enjoy yourself.  Test your knowledge, gain new knowledge, and help fill an empty belly. 
Play Freerice and feed the hungry

Both of these websites are educational and completely free, but they GIVE so much!  Isn't that what we really want to instill in our children?  Empower them to be the change.  Cultivate a servant's heart within them.  Teach them to freely give as God has freely given.

Do you know of other educational/charitable websites?  Please share in the comments below!  I'd love to visit them.  I'm linking up with the TOS Blog Cruise today.  Find other free & cheap homeschool resources loved by others.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Sicklies :(

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
  • I ate too much chocolate & candy... the downside of Valentine's Day.
  • Sickness hit our household :(  Jeremiah and Rachel have been on antibiotics for upper respiratory and ear infections.  Feeling crummy kept us from going to our Five In A Row co-op and Bible Study this week.  I'm hoping that we're all on the mend and able to get lots accomplished this week.
My favorite thing this week was…
  • Talking adoption with old & new friends at the Light Will Rise couples social (even though I went solo) and with prospective adopting families at the America World seminar

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
  • Monday:  Life Group 
  • Tuesday: Rachel's Speech & Celebrate Lee's birthday
  • Wednesday:  New Women's Bible Study at Church - BRAVE
  • Thursday: DRASTIC Co-op & Birthday Party for a friend
  • Friday:  Space Field Trip, Visit Mamaw, and Dinner with friends
A question I have…
  • In March, Jon's work schedule will change at the hospital.  Instead of working five 8 hour shifts, he will be working four 10 hour shifts.  This means that he will be off either on Monday or Friday each week.  Looking ahead to March, he already has one 4 day weekend :-)  While I think I am going to like this schedule, it does mess with our routine.  Yes, it will be nice to be able to schedule appointments and run errands during the week without having to tote the three kiddos around. However, I'm not sure how this will effect our schooling.  Usually when Daddy is home, we take off.  Ummm... can't do that every week.  So...  does Daddy help with school?  Do we school longer 4 days a week to have a day off with Daddy?  Do we plan field trips on those days?  Any suggestions?
Things I’m working on…
  • Our March/April calendar - appts., to-do's, speaking, trips, etc.
  • TOS Reviews
  • Dr. Seuss activities for my kiddos in preparation for our Feb. DRASTIC Book Club
I’m reading…
  • One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda
I’m grateful for…
  • my precious family!
I’m praying for…
  • My dad is serving with a mission team in Guatemala.  From his emails, it sounds as if he's really enjoying this trip, and he has been able to spend time with his sponsor child.  When he travels, he is able to do veterinary work.  This trip he will be doing spay/neuter clinics with the help of a local vet student - who he really seems to have hit it off with.  I pray that the remainder of the trip is filled with opportunities for the entire team to serve and show others God's abundant love.  Also, I pray that his travel home is smooth and safe. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meetcha Day Memories

Two years ago today....  Meetcha Day!

I held my precious little ones in my arms for the very first time.  God is sooooo good!

I held their hands, hugged, squeezed, and loved. 

I cried with joy.  Rachel cried silent tears in fear, and then Jeremiah cried right before we left because he took a spill and scratched his belly. 

We took a walk, played ball, blew bubbles, colored, bounced balloons, and ate LOTS of fruit snacks and crackers.  Sweet Rachel and I even shared a song... matching pitch on "La" spells bonding in my book.

These memories are etched in my mind forever.  There is beauty even in brokenness.  God is the Giver of Life.  He is more than able to restore, rebuild, and REDEEM.  I am humbled, grateful, and continually amazed by the adoption story He has written for our family and continues to write each day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Many Thanks

 98.  meeting new friends
 99.  an "all clear" from the dr.
100.  Steven Curtis Chapman's music, genuine heart, and bold voice for the orphan
101.  Josh Wilson's instrumental version of Amazing Grace
102.  the KY AWAA Associates
103.  a new pillow
104.  potlucks
105.  the gift of music
106.  well-behaved children
107.  the opportunity to help a friend in need
108.  little boys and their Lego creations
109.  homemade pizza
110.  holding & loving on baby Myles - an answered prayer!
111.  Jane's potato soup
112.  being in good company
113.  connection
114.  late night chats & giggles with my hubby
115.  fabulous take home materials from Children's Ministry
116.  a vision cast
117.  browsing at Joseph Beth
118.  a Sunday afternoon nap

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Late Nights

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
  • I enjoyed time with my hubby.  My "early to bed/early to rise" Boy stayed up late a couple nights this week.  While we enjoy family time, it was great to have some Hubby/Wife time.  We enjoyed watching movies, chatting, laughing... just having fun!  It's not always easy or economical to get a sitter for three little ones, but date night can definitely be achieved at home.  Looking forward to lots more!
In our homeschool this week…
  • Kiddos still love Reading Eggs (review coming soon). 
  • At DRASTIC, I taught the K-1's the song/dance "Draw Me A Bucket of Water."  They love it, and I've heard my 3 littles singing it ever since.
  • We concluded our study of Italy and met with our Galloping the Globe friends.  The kiddos enjoyed discussion time, mirror writing, an experiment, and cooking homemade pizza.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
  • A friend at co-op introduced our family to WE GIVE BOOKS.  The premise is easy... Read a Book! Give a Book!  There is an extensive library of children's books for your children to read and enjoy online.  By doing so, they also have the joy of giving to those who don't have the luxury of access to books.  I love this!  I encourage everyone to check it out! 
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
  • Monday:  Craft Night (Just for Momma!)
  • Tuesday:  Rachel's Speech
  • Wednesday:  Five In A Row co-op & Church
  • Thursday:  DRASTIC Co-op & CACH Learning Fair
  • Friday:  Possible KJHS Field Trip & Light Will Rise Couples Social
  • Saturday:  America World "Adopted By Design" Seminar

My favorite thing this week was…
  • Steven Curtis Chapman in concert!  I have the utmost respect for this man.  SCC is a fave for sure. 

What’s working/not working for us…
  • Late nights...  the kiddos have had a few this week.  While they have been really well-behaved, it still throws us off.  One a week, we can handle.  Several in the same week takes a toll on the amount of school word we are able to accomplish.  Hitting the books hard this week!
Things I’m working on…
  • I have some upcoming TOS reviews.
  • Making some contacts/scheduling AWAA seminar
  • Dr. Seuss activities for my kiddos in preparation for our Feb. DRASTIC Book Club
I’m reading…
  • Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman (finished)
  • Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half by Rick Johnson (finished)
I’m grateful for…
  • Time spent with very dear friends.  Great food & great conversation.  We miss being with them each week!
  • New friendships growing and forming through Life Group.
I’m praying for…
  • A former co-worker is in the hospital battling pneumonia and fighting for her life tonight.  My prayers are with her, the family, and her students.
  • My littles who are currently coughing & snotting!  Praying it doesn't develop into anything more.
A picture to share...
  • Actually an event... won't you join us?!  We'd LOVE to see you at the America World "Adopted By Design" seminar.  It's free and a great place to learn and get your questions answered about international adoption.

No Loss

After losing weight each week since the beginning of December, this week I simply maintained. While this kept me from putting a dent in my weight loss goal for the 90 Day Challenge, at least I didn't gain.  I suppose that is a success in and of its own right being that this week before Valentine's Day has been full of tempting sweet treats.  At times, I exerted great will power.  At others, I caved without another thought.  

My goals for this week will remain the same as last week.  While I did work at each of them, I found that only one day did they actually functional in tandem.  Seems like more often than not, I'd achieve 2 of my 3 goals.  This week, I want to successfully complete the goals I have set forth and have better results to report. 
  1. Actually wear my Body-Bug every day to track my calories burned and activity level.
  2. Drink 8 glasses of water everyday.
  3. Physical activity 5 days this week.

Monday, February 6, 2012


77. the feeling of accomplishment after working hard
78. the Body-bugg strapped to my arm counting calories burned
79. a spur of the moment park trip with the kiddos
80. pushing Rachel on the swings so as she said, "I can see God."
81. watching Caleb using great strategies on his own: process of elimination, inference, etc.
82. Jeremiah finished his phonics book - "hallelujah!"
83. The Hundred Dresses read aloud & discussion
84. chips & salsa
85. catching up with good friends
86. a fabulous gift - matching infinity scarfs for Rachel & I
87. speaking at adoption group
88. hubby saying he's proud of me :-)
89. a beautiful bracelet
90. a dinner date with BOY
91. meaningful conversations with my Love
92. my parents, siblings, and kiddos all together
93. text messages
94. unleashing a love revolution
95. movie theatre popcorn
96. the Chipmunk induced chuckles of my kiddos
97. accountability

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hello "ONE"derland!

Sweet, Sweet, "ONE"-DERLAND!
It's good to be back, but I NEVER, EVER should have left.

I'm a names and faces kind of gal rather than numbers.  If your phone number isn't safely tucked away in my cell, I can't call you.  Addresses, road numbers, etc. - totally lost on me.  Aside from important dates, there are only a few numbers etched in my memory forever.  I can tell you how much I weighed the day I got my license, on my wedding day, when I got pregnant with Caleb, and what I weighed right before giving birth.  Then, this past year, I reached my heaviest, largest number ever.  Ick... this is not a number I want to remember, but I will with plans to never return. 

Being that I was nauseaous and had little appetite the month of December and beginning of January, I lost 10 lbs.  Capitalizing on that situation, I decided to get myself in gear.  Since then I've lost an additional 4lbs, and this past week I re-entered ONE-DERLAND.  Woohoo!

Last week, I was a lurker only participating on the sidelines, and I lost 2 lbs.  Now, for accountability's sake, I'm going to link up with Marcy's 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge.  By April 30th, I'd like to lose 18 more lbs. to reach my goal of 20 lbs. in 90 days.

My goals for the upcoming week.
  1. Actually wear my Body-Bug every day to track my calories burned and activity level.
  2. Drink 8 glasses of water everyday.
  3. Physical activity 5 days this week.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Back Up to Par!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
  • I felt back up to par!  Good to get back in the swing of things :-)
  • Special activities included:  Celebrating my nephew's 4th birthday, Mexican food with two lovely ladies, a spur of the moment trip to the park, a planning brunch with the LWR gals, speaking on Transracial Adoption with my fave adoption peeps, a date with my hubs, visiting with my family, and a Sunday afternoon family flick at the cheapy theatre ("Chipwrecked") 
In our homeschool this week…
  • We utilized a great reading website online... review to come soon!
  • We read aloud several Nate the Great books and The Hundred Dresses.
  • Jeremiah finished his phonics book.  He's making headway!
  • We began studying Italy.
  • The kids had music class with Mom and learned about their feet in science class at DRASTIC.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
  • Read aloud, read aloud, read aloud!!!  Did I say read aloud?  I always have the best intentions, but I know I don't do this as much as I should.  Cuddling up with my kiddos and enjoying a good book is the best!  One of our favorites this week was The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  Yes, even my boys liked it, and we had a great discussion about not making fun of but rather standing up for others.
I am inspired by…
  • My church!  It's so good to be challenged... to feel a part of a growing, spiritual, missional body.  This past Wednesday night's Bible Study was one to make you question and think.  It generated some good discussion for Jon & I - love it!  Then, today began a sermon series outlining SCC's direction.  We're ready to Unleash a Love Revolution.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
  • Monday - Life Group!  We're excited since we missed the last get together.
  • Tuesday - Kiddos are having a Grandma day.  Follow-up Dr. apt. for me.  Then, Jon & I will head to church for the Steven Curtis Chapman Songs & Stories Concert.  We're super excited to attend the VIP pre-show and work the America World booth.  Stop by and see us if you are there. 
  • Wednesday - Rachel has speech, and we continue our Not A Fan Bible study at church. 
  • Thursday - DRASTIC co-op
  • Friday - Galloping the Globe co-op, and we'll have dinner with good friends that we miss a lot!!!
My favorite thing this week was…
  • Seeing friends at our Adoption Support Group at church... just LOVE these folks!
What’s working/not working for us…
  • Reading Eggs is the bomb diggity!  I can't wait to share my review of this online reading website.  Much love <3  
Things I’m working on…
  • Valentine's with the kiddos to exchange with other TOS Crewbie Kids.
I’m reading…
  • Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
  • Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half by Rick Johnson
  • More by Heidi Marshall (finished)
I’m grateful for…
  • Some quality family time this week
  • Deep, thought-provoking conversations with my hubby
I’m praying for…
  • Good news on Tuesday!
  • All those who will attend the Steven Curtis Chapman concert.  May their hearts be both broken and renewed.  May we all draw closer to the Father to the fatherless. 
  • Lots of opportunities to talk about adoption and America World with concert attendees!
A video to share...
  • Many of you probably gathered around a TV to watch the Super Bowl tonight.  In case your get together didn't involve Tony Dungy's halftime message, I want to be sure and share.  I love when people speak out boldly on behalf of the orphan.  Will you listen to his short message and be challenged? 

Friday, February 3, 2012

KinderBach - TOS Review

As one might infer from the name, KinderBach is a music program for children.  Quite specifically, it is an introductory piano program targeting children ages 3-7.  Utilizing a group of animated characters, Karri Gregor, the creator and founder of KinderBach, engages and teaches young students the fundamentals of note reading, rhythm, singing, composition, and ear training. 


Currently, there are 6 levels of KinderBach available.  Together, they total 240+ video lessons - an impressive 22 hours of video.  Videos may be viewed in a variety of options including: computer, iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, or Nook.  Furthermore, DVD's are available as well.  In our home, we were able to take the laptop to the piano to complete each lesson. 

To accompany each of the KinderBach levels, there is a corresponding workbook.  Being PDF, it is easy to print off individual pages as needed or an entire level at once.  The worksheets aren't time consuming at all and are age-appropriate with mainly coloring activities.   

In order to fully appreciate this program, access to a piano or keyboard is important.  However, it is stressed that making an investment in a piano or a keyboard with lots of "bells & whistles" is unnecessary.  A keyboard with 3 octaves would be more than adequate if you are in need of an instrument purchase.  As a music educator, I do appreciate the fact that full-size keys are recommended opposed to the smaller ones often used on toys.

In our home, music matters.  Having a degree in Music Education, enjoying singing and playing piano, I do wish to instill a deep love for music in my children.  Of course, I'd love for my kiddos to be musicians, but I never want to force that upon them.  I do have high hopes though... Rachel is definitely my singer, Jeremiah got an electric drum set for his 7th birthday, and I believe, Caleb may become my guitar player with his long fingers. 

However, when using KinderBach, I found that my 6 and 7 year old boys found some of the videos beneath them.  (Actually, Caleb asked if this was something off of Blues Clues. Since I never was a fan of that show, I'm unsure what correlation or reference he was making.)  Through our homeschool co-op class, I've already been teaching them to read notes, so possibly it was that they were familiar with some of the content already.   On the other hand, my 5 year old daughter was completely enthralled and felt like quite the ROCK STAR.  From these initial observations, I decided not to force this upon my boys and went with the willing participant.  Rachel sooo enjoyed KinderBach.  I'd hear her humming songs throughout the day and find her meandering around the piano for a quick tickle of the keys every now and then. 

From our experience, I would recommend this program to parents wishing to give their 2-5 year old children a fun, no-pressure, introduction to piano.  This program would be especially helpful to parents who have no formal training or background in music.  I'd caution parents of 6 and 7 year olds to be sure and utilize the free trial before committing to purchasing something that may not be a good fit for your family.  See what other TOS Crew Reviewers are saying about their experiences with KinderBach.

Kinderbach at Home is an affordable $7.99 a month if purchased at the annual price of $95.88. It may also be purchased monthly for $19.99. DVD and CD packages start at $40.45. 

KinderBach is generously offering 30% off - using the code TOSCrew2012 - that can be used for ANY order placed from now until February 2, 2013!!!!

Disclaimer:  I was provided a complimentary subscription to KinderBach in exchange for my honest review.