Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin'

Folks, we're coming down to the wire.  The popular Google Reader will cease to exist July 1st.  If you are an avid blog follower/reader as I am, then you may be scrambling for a new way to manage the blogs you follow.  I suggest considering Bloglovin! 

With one click, I was able to import all of my Google Reader subscriptions to Bloglovin.  The transfer of such a large amount of information took mere minutes.  Painless and easy, I was impressed! 

Follow on Bloglovin

Day of Change

A summer vacation really wasn't on our radar, but guess what... we're headed to Florida in July.  With some life changes on our end and the extreme generosity of my parents, a vacay will take place.  The kids are SUPER excited, and we want this to be an enjoyable, super fun, memory-making trip for them.

Sitting at the kitchen table one day, I happened to eye the large coke bottle bank that landed there and never found a new home after the move.  I believe, Jon had this bank long before I was ever in the picture, and it has been the receptacle for a lot of our spare change over the years.  We've dipped into it from time to time, but it had been quite awhile since we counted our collection.  Insert bright idea... let's use this spare change for the kids to do something "special" of their choice on vacation.  Maybe something this Mom & Dad would usually veto due to cost.  This will truly be FUN MONEY.

Thus began our morning of change....

When we started this task, I had no idea what an educational gem it would morph into, but it turned out to be stellar.  Actually, I'm quite proud of my "in-the-moment" lesson planning.

First, we reviewed the coins and their values.  Then, sorting began.  I envisioned 4 coins & 4 people, so we each claimed one and would collect them.  Kids vetoed that option.  Instead, we each grabbed handfuls and sorted among the change among representative of my Rubbermaid stash :-)  I suppose this actually gave them each more sorting practice.

Then, it was time to count and roll.  This allowed us to count by 5's, 10's, and 2's.  We figured out how many nickels it took to equal $2, dimes to constitute $5, and quarters to comprise $10.

When we got to quarters, a brilliant idea struck me.  Geography!!!  You see one of the kiddos seemed to be having a bit of trouble sorting the quarters and nickels.  The child would flip the coins and look on the back.  However, the fact that not all quarters had the eagle on the back caused confusion.  Then, it hit me...  let's see if we have a quarter from each of the 50 states.

The kids put together a puzzle of the United States while I worked on rolling all the quarters with the eagle backs.  Once the puzzle was put together, we had a brief reminder of where we lived...  Continent, Country, State, City.  Once we were all on the same page, we set out of find quarters for each state.  I'd flip a quarter over, say the state, and then give cardinal direction clues (northeast, southwest, etc.) if needed.  For a time, we thought we wouldn't have all 50.  California, Colorado, Ohio, and Maine seemed ever elusive, but in the final coins we locked them in.  It seemed like such an accomplishment to match a quarter to each state. 

Geek alert!  I was excited by that, and the kiddos were excited by the final total of our rolled change!  I know we'll be able to do something really fun with these "found funds" while we are on vacation.

So...  do you have some change lying around your house?  How about an educational moment and then a fun treat?  Your kids will LOVE it!

Lilla Rose Hair Accessories Giveaway!!!!

Like many of you, I'm a busy Momma.  My bigs keep me on my toes and the little one is rarely far from out from under my nose.  Our house is hopping, and we are on the go quite a bit.  Therefore, I don't have a lot of time to fuss with my hair, and on many days, I realize it shows.  I rocked (or resorted to) a ponytail days on end.  It was my quick, no-fix style.  I got tired of that, chopped off all the hair, and got in a new rut.  Wash, gel, scrunch - done!

Now, I don't ever anticipate being on the cutting edge of hairstyling, but I may have just found a solution for tired Mom hair.  Have you heard of Lilla Rose?  It's hair jewelry!  A little bling, bling for your hair :-)  Hold up though... don't think tacky.  Think classy, feminine, beautiful.  These versatile products are perfect for polishing a tired "Mom-Do" or adorning an elegant style for a wedding, prom, hot date with the hubby, or any fancy affair. 

I received a size small Enchanting Copper Rose flexi hair clip.  The centerpiece is a pretty copper rose that is then surrounded by a variety of petite copper, amber, brown, and green beads.  Isn't it just darling?!!!

While the bar seemed sturdy, the clip also seemed dainty.  I wondered if it would be able to hold my thick hair and keep it in place. A quick trial, and I found that it was secure and supportive.  However, to be Mom-approved, I truly had to put it to the test.  I decided to rock it with one of my typical Mom-hair styles for a day on the run:  library, grocery store, and park play date.  I'm happy to report that it did the trick without budging.  Even better, it was a wonderful replacement for my tired old plain hairband.  Wow...  I'm sold!!!!

It is important to note that the affordable Lilla Rose line isn't limited to just flexi-clips.  (Although you should know that the clips are available in 7 various sizes ranging from mini to mega!)  You will find bobbies, you-pins, sticks, clips, bands, and more!  Such a variety among products, this is a company that appeals to young girls, tweens, teens, co-eds, moms, and grandmas.  You need to take a look!

Consultant, Sarah Graw was an absolute joy and pleasure to work with.  Her customer service was fantastic!  She was quick to respond to me and even followed up to make sure I had received one of her messages.  Efficient, attentive to detail, and understanding, Sarah was both professional and personable. I know I plan to contact Sarah for all future Lilla Rose purchases!

Visit Sarah's website today to view the myriad of hair jewelry available.  Birthdays, weddings, proms, girls night out, moms groups... You'll find the perfect hair accessory to keep and enjoy or give as a gift.   Also, you'll be thrilled to know that Sarah is offering an exclusive giveaway for my readers!!!!  The winner may choose any hair accessory up to $16 dollars for free!  YIPPEE!!!! You are going to want to enter below and be sure to share with all your friends! 

Disclaimer:  I was provided complimentary product in exchange for my honest review.  There was no monetary compensation and all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Father's Day Frosty Helps Fatherless

So often I hear, "I don't believe I'm called to adopt."  And guess what?  Often, I'm inclined to agree... not that it really matters what I think :)  However, Christians are all commanded to care for the orphan.  There are so many ways for families to get involved, but I wanted to share a "SWEET" and simple opportunity available this weekend.


Over Father’s Day weekend, Wendy’s will donate 50 cents of every Frosty sold to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. You can also donate by purchasing a Frosty pin-up for $1. Additionally, Wendy’s donates 25 cents to the Foundation for every Frosty Card sent.

In 2012, the Father’s Day Frosty campaign raised more than $1.4 million.  Let's do our part to help raise even more money this year!  Grab Grandpa, Dad, Uncle, Friend... any special man in your life and enjoy a Frosty!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Let's Make a Webpage (Review)

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It's a new day and age in education.  Unlike when I was in school and it was still optional whether or not to type research papers, children are quite tech savvy.  More often than not, it is the Momma that is behind the times.  I plead ignorance in all things video game and handheld device related.  Computer based items, I may still have a slight edge.  However, I'm finding there are so many things that I am unfamiliar with that my children have the access to learn.  Thankfully, I'm not left high and dry.  Wonderful companies, like Motherboard Books, exist to "take the mystery out of computers." 

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As a Schoolhouse Review Crew member, I had the opportunity to review Let's Make a Web Page.  While I maintain a blog, I've never had experience constructing a web page.  Admittedly, this is not a task I would attempt to teach or tackle with my child on my own.  Thankfully, Let's Make a Web Page, held my hand the whole way!

Jeremiah is the resident techie among out children.  From his first day home, my lil' Ethiopian prince has been completely enamored by all things electronic.  If there is a button to push, a flashing light, a beeping sound, he is all about it.  It was a no brainer on my part to complete the Let's Make a Web Page with him. 

Let's Make a Web Page is a 60 page e-book that takes children ages 8-12 through the process of creating and posting a web page.  This is done using a 30-day free trial of the Coffee Cup software which is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and later (not Mac).  I appreciate that the book utilizes free software.  This allows parents to survey their child's interest before making a costly investment.

In working through this project, I chose to print off one lesson at a time.  It was nice just to have a few pages to flip through and reference as we worked.  The e-book is written directly to the child.  It is conversational in tone and fairly easy to understand. However, being that Jeremiah was at the very youngest age on the recommended spectrum, he required quite a bit of assistance... mainly with reading the content.  He didn't struggle as much with the technical aspects - just the way the kid is wired :-)  

The book includes an introduction for parents and is broken down into 10 lessons.

Table of Contents: Introduction for Parents
Lesson 1: An Interview
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program
Lesson 3: Add Text
Lesson 4: Make a Table
Lesson 5: Add Photo
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos
Lesson 8: Sound
Lesson 9: Links
Lesson 10: Post Your Work
Appendix: How to Upload to the Internet

To begin the project, the child is to complete a simple interview.  Then, it is that information that becomes the content of the web page.  I'm glad an easy task was given to provide the content base.  If a lot of research was necessary, I probably would have lost Jeremiah's interest before we even began.  It was obvious the focus of this e-book was definitely web page applications.

While adding text, pictures, and sounds were all enjoyable tasks, surfing the Internet for animations was the highlight for Jeremiah.  For safety purposes, our kiddos don't really have free reign to surf the web at their leisure.  Because the options are vast, I appreciate that author, Phyllis Wheeler, offers some excellent suggestions for where to look.
Let's Make a Web Page retails for $19.95.  Motherboard Books offers other products to make computer learning easy and enjoyable.  Be sure to visit the website.  Also, click below to read what the Schoolhouse Review Crew Members are saying!


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Math Mammoth (Review)

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When given the opportunity to review Math Mammoth products, I already knew I was a fan!  During a previous review period, I was completely won over by the excellent level of customer service and personal attention I received from Maria Miller.  In a past review, I used materials from the Light Blue series, so this time I chose to have my children work in titles from the Blue series.

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Ms. Miller generously allowed us to review four titles from the Blue series.  The books in the Blue Series cover elementary math topics suitable for grades 1-6.  (You can see the suggested study order for the books.) These are worktexts (explanations of concepts and lots of varied problems) on specific topics.  Basically, the books within the blue series serve as both textbook and workbook.  Because the blue series is topical in nature, it is not intended to be a complete curriculum.  Instead, it should be used as a supplement to another math curriculum, remediation material, and/or content review. 

I am very happy with my children's current math program.  Although being that it is spiral in nature, they are often introduced to subjects and mastery doesn't come until much later.  So for my kids, I selected topics that I felt they could use some remediation/review in, and hopefully they will move toward mastery.  All could brush up on their money and clock skills.  Then, since the boys began multiplication this year, they could definitely benefit from more practice.  And why oh why are fractions such a beast???

Math Mammoth Clock workbook cover

Math Mammoth Clock
grades 1-3
78 pages
Sample pages
PDF download: $4.00
Black & White Printed copy: $10.85

Rachel spent time practicing reading the clock to the hour and half hour.  The boys worked at reading by 5 minute increments.  In order to utilize this program, you will need a practice clock with movable hands.  You could use an old alarm clock, find a practice clock in education sections at a local store, or you could be resourceful and create your own.

Math Mammoth Money workbook cover

Math Mammoth Money
grades 1-3
51 pages
Sample pages
PDF download: $3.25
Black & White Printed copy: $9.50

Rachel continued to work with coin name and value recognition, but the boys focused on making change.  While there are picture representations within the text, it is recommended to manipulate real money for a lasting impression.

Math Mammoth Multiplication 1 math book cover

Math Mammoth Multiplication 1
grades 2-3
99 pages
Sample pages
PDF download: $5.00
Black & White Printed copy: $9.20

Only my boys used this product.  No way to avoid it, multiplication involves straight memorization.  Not a bad thing, but this book gave specific strategies for oral drilling that proved extremely helpful.  Memorizing the skip patterns was also stressed!

Math Mammoth Introduction to Fractions book cover

Math Mammoth Introduction to Fractions
grades 1-4 (predominantly grades 3-4)
100 pages
Sample pages
PDF download: $4.00
Black & White Printed copy: $10.50

This worktext proved somewhat tough for the boys.  After the fact, I realized that the majority of the concepts were geared toward 3-4 graders.  That explains why the boys only completed the first lessons.  I'll definitely keep this PDF tucked away for future use!

One important thing I want to highlight - because we reviewed the downloadable PDF versions, I was able to operate as an ink-saving Momma.  If the page was predominantly text and explanation, I did not print it.  Instead, I had the child in front of the computer screen.  Always for Rachel, I printed the actual pages that had problems to solve.  For the boys, I printed pages that would require paper/pencil computation... think "show your work" types of tasks.  Then, for pages that had problems that could be figured out in their head ("mental math"), I chose to take advantage of the enabled annotation.  Yes, this means that the boys were able to input answers using the computer keyboard.  This is done by utilizing the typewriter and drawing tools available in Acrobat Reader version 9.  With this feature in place, your student could actually complete their math lesson on a tablet or device by simply using a PDF app.

In my opinion, Math Mammoth works as a great supplement for remediation and review in our family.  However, I know other families use Math Mammoth as their sole math curriculum.  Be sure and read what other crew members are saying!  Because of the unique make-up of each crew family, you will find reviews reviews representing Math Mammoth's various product lines including the:  Light Blue series, Blue series, Golden series, Green series, and Real-Life Math series.  I'm confident you will find many helpful reviews.


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

June Issue of Adoption Today - FREE

The June issue of Adoption Today is free online. Lots of great articles... especially addressing attachment and trauma. This is a great resourse for families considering adoption, in process, and/or at home with their kiddos. 

The Campers Go It Alone

I really didn't believe I was a helicopter Mom, but just maybe I lean that way a tad bit.  My kids have been going to Camp Calvary for a few years, but I have always attended with them.  I didn't completely hover... "sometimes" they were on other teams. Ha!

With Eden in the picture now, there was just really no feasible way for me to be at camp and stay in the dorm.  Honestly, I didn't worry (much) about my boys, but I had fears that I'd be getting a phone call to pick up Rachel in the middle of the night Sunday.  Even though my brother was the dean, my sister-in-law would be there, and the boys would be with her, she was definitely hesitant about going "by herself."  A few weeks in advance, we arranged for cousin Allison to go to camp, so she'd have a buddy in the dorm.  Even still, the weekend prior to camp, she was really having a hard time, and there were tears on the drive down. 

Upon arrival Sunday afternoon, I got the boys settled in their dorm.  Bunks made, yet another run through explaining the drill... 1.) Brush teeth, shower, and use deodorant (a new phenomena for the boys) EVERYDAY!  2.) Choose a pre-packed outfit to wear. (Yes, I packed Ziplock bags with shorts, shirt, underwear, and socks.  This ensured they would at least wear clean underwear while away!)3.) Towels, washcloths, water-slide clothes, offering money, Bible - I helped them find where all were located.4.) One last reminder not to drink soda with caffeine at canteen time.Afterwards, they were released to play.  Hmmm... should I add a bit neurotic to the helicopter mom description?

Attention back towards Rachel, she had already had help getting her bunk made.  She scored a top bunk, with Allison, and friend Tori right beside her.  She was also surprised to see her friend/neighbor from Frankfort, Ember, at camp again.  Having these girls there as well as recognizing Ms. Angie from Graefenburg and several of the teen/college faculty from previous camp years, eased her fears.  She went off to play, and I chatted a bit.  Seeing that she was still happy, I made our goodbyes quick and made a swift exit.

Guess what... NO PHONE CALL Sunday night!  Rachel did FABULOUS!  In fact, it was when it was time to come home that the REAL tears fell.  She had such a great time that she did not want to leave the camp or the friends and family she loves!

On the 3 hour trip home, the kiddos shared about their week.  They sang new songs they learned and recited memory verses.  They recounted Bible lessons about Peter walking on the water, Samson, Moses, and the Ten Plagues in Egypt.  I heard about the waterslide, the wagon ride, the nature hike, carpet ball, Red Rover, and faculty members being thrown in the pond because the campers reached their missions offering goal.  I saw their crafts, new t-shirts, and pictures.  They spoke of new friends and the cool faculty members.  The list goes on and on... well until fatigue set in and they zonked out in the van.  Fear not though, they recounted it all again for Daddy when they got home.

I'm so grateful for Camp Calvary.  I have such wonderful memories as a camper, faculty member, and dean.  It truly is a special place where one can connect with Christ and His followers and experience amazing spiritual growth.  I'm thankful that my parents always made it possible for me to attend, and I'm thrilled that my children have the same opportunity.  The camp season is just getting started!  There is still at least one option left for every age camper.  Check it out!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's Summer Reading Time!!!

Of course, local libraries everywhere host summer reading programs.  I know my kids always look forward to participating, attending the special activities and presentations, and collecting their rewards.  In addition, there are some fantastic online programs available.  Some of these are tried and true Wells' family faves, but I actually came across some new things this year as well.  Happy Reading!!!!

1. Barnes & Noble
  • Read and record 8 books.  Turn in the completed reading journal and receive a free book!

2. Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program
  • Read for at least 15 minutes each day for a month.
  • Add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week.
  • Once you've read 300 minutes, turn in your completed reading log to earn your $5 HPB Back-to-School Bucks reading reward for the month.

3. Exodus Books
  • $5 a participant.  Any student grades 1-12. Younger students may also enroll, but the booklist starts at first grade. 
  • Download a copy of Outside of a Dog (PDF) and a book log for each student (feel free to print more). Registered participants will get 20% off the retail price of new books from the booklist from June 1 - August 31, but you are under no obligation to buy a single book from us.
  • - Everyone who reads 3 books from their grade level booklist (or above) will receive a $5 gift certificate to Exodus. - All kids in grades 1-6 who read 25 books will get a second prize.
    - For grades 1-6, there will be one grand prize for most books read.
    - Kids in grades 7-12 who read 5000 pages will get a second prize.
    - For grades 7-12, there will be one grand prize for most pages read.
    - Finally, there will be one grand prize random drawing taken from all participants who have read three books or more from Outside a Dog or our website. The prize drawing will be on the second Friday of September.

2013 Reading Program Sign-Up

4.  Tyndale Summer Reading Program

Here’s what the Tyndale Summer Reading Program will get you:
- For every 5 books you read and submit proof that you shared about them (blog/social media), you’ll receive a free book of your choice from the summer reading list.
  • The top reader at the end of the summer will receive a $75 gift card towards books.
  • The 2nd through 4th place top readers will each receive a $50 gift card towards books.
  • Everyone who earns at least one point will be entered to win a free e-reader
Program will run June 1st through August 31st 2013.
This is a great reading program for the whole family... mom, teens, kids :-)

Tyndale Summer Reading Program

5.  No Time for Flashcards "4th Annual Summer Reading Challenge"
  • Use the printable tally sheet to record weekly reading and each week fill out the online form.
  • The goal is for the participants to collectively read 30,000 books.
  • Monthly Book Prize Packs !  On June 15th, July 15th and August 15th an entry will be drawn and that person will win a prize pack to say thanks for participating. The books will be chosen based on age of the children in the winning family.  The packs are worth approximately $20 each.
  • Grand Prize - $50 Gift Card  Winner will be drawn from all the entries on September 1st 2013 using
Summer Reading Challenge - Read and Win

6. Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge
  • Download the reading list and track your child's progress.
  • Download a certificate of completion.
  • Visit local store to receive free book and enter to win a backpack full of books.

7. Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op Summer Fun Reading Program
  • Complete and submit a daily reading record for your child online. 
  • Your child earns a chance to win a prize for each hour read.  Every Wednesday in June, July, and August two prize winners will be drawn.
  • At each drawing, your child gets one chance to win for each hour she or he has read from June 1 up to noon on the day of the drawing. (Hours spent reading to a child or listening to audio books also qualify.)
  • On August 31 at 3:00 PM, we'll do our final drawing to select our GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the NEW Apple iPad (16 GB Wi-Fi model).
  • In early September, your child will receive a Reading Champion Certificate proudly stating how many hours he or she read during the summer.
8. Sylvan's Book Adventure
  • Read a book, take a comprehension quiz, earn points, and claim prize.

9. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
  • Read, Log Minutes, Win Prizes 
10. Chuck E. Cheese
  • Read daily for two weeks and earn 10 tokens. 
11. Summer Reading Community Challenge from iVillage

  • Join our free 4-week program and starting June 17 you’ll get daily emails with literacy-building tips from the experts at Sprout, games and activities to help foster a love of reading, printables and crafts, and a daily chance to win great prizes. 
12. Book It! Summer Reading Challenge
  • Sign up to receive an email when the challenge launches.  No details currently available.