Friday, August 26, 2016

Random Five on Friday August 26th

1. Last weekend, my friend Meg (Adventures with Jude) mentioned running a virtual race to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th birthday. While I couldn't commit to paying for a race this month (no matter how cute the medal was), I told her that I'd run alongside her. "Alongside" being loosely defined as running at the same time, even though we were in different states and going different paces.

2. What better way to celebrate the National Park Service's birthday than to go camping? Brennan's Boy Scout troop has a family campout this weekend, and we'll happily be pitching our tents in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hopefully, Lauren can earn another Junior Ranger badge while we there, too.

3. Fall is going to be here before we know it. There was snow on Pike's Peak this week:

4. Addison seems to be doing well at Oklahoma Christian. We've heard from her a few times, and I managed to spot her in a few pictures that were taken at an Honors event earlier this week.

5. Today is our thirteenth day of school. I'm thankful we snuck in a few academic days this summer so that we've already gotten this many days that count. I struggle with the fact that Lauren has to do more days of schoolwork (according to CO homeschooling laws) than her friends who attend a public school.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eating Out Favorites {52 Lists}

Our family rarely eats out. There are only a few restaurants where we can find a meal that Lauren can eat with her allergies, and we don't want to risk her getting bored with those. Generally we only eat out when traveling and even then we opt for picnic lunches a lot of the times.

I don't have the same complicated set of food allergies as Lauren, but I avoid milk and gluten. This week I've listed some of my favorite restaurants -- ones that have good options that I can eat safely.

1. Chipotle
2. Chick Fil A

2. Five Guys
3. In-N-Out (sadly we no longer live near any)
4. Smashburger (great gluten-free bun option)

5. Panera
6. Which Wich (freshest salad ingredients I've found)

7. Noodles & Co.

I've missed a few weeks of joining the 52 weeks of lists challenge, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things. I've even started working on next week's list -- random/quirky things about me.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

FlipStir Puzzle {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

We've spent quite a bit of our summer on the road -- either "short" trips to Denver for appointments (a little more than an hour away) or our longer road trip across the country. One thing that Lauren consistently packed for the trips was our new Rainbow Pencils FlipStir puzzle from Enlivenze LLC.

FlipStir puzzles are all-in-one puzzles with no loose pieces to get misplaced. All of the pieces are enclosed in a clear plastic tube. After shaking it to mix up the pieces, the stir rod is used to manipulate the pieces into place. Sometimes it's necessary to bang on the top or tilt it different directions to get the pieces to fall into better positions.

All five of us took the challenge to solve the FlipStir. With only ten pieces, I thought it wouldn't be very hard at all to solve, but it ended up taking quite a bit of concentration and maneuvering to get everything lined up correctly. 

I left the FlipStir sitting out on the kitchen table for a few days where people could pick it up and fiddle with it throughout the day. Even those of us that had solved it a first time, picked it up time and time again to see if we could solve it faster, arrange the pieces facing the opposite direction, etc. Lauren often timed herself solving it so that she could see if she beat her record of 6 minutes, 17 seconds.

Lauren often used our FlipStir puzzle in the car, but it could be used lots of places -- doctor's offices, waiting for a sibling to finish sports practice, and more. Shaking the pieces is a bit loud, though, so I wouldn't recommend it for quiet places like museums or libraries.

In addition to using FlipStir puzzles for on-the-go entertainment, they would be a perfect way to pass the time in the hospital or a doctor's waiting room. The outside casing would be easily disinfected and there aren't many nooks or crevices where germs could linger.

Our Rainbow Pencils FlipStir puzzle is one of the Level 1 options in terms of difficulty. The Level 2 puzzles also have 10 pieces, but the pieces have curved edges that are more difficult to work with. Each FlipStir puzzle costs $24.95 and is recommended for ages 7 and up.

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

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First Day of School {Wordless Wednesday}

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

When Addison was in high school, she studied several different foreign languages -- German, Chinese, Sign Language. Thankfully, she didn't need much of my help with any of these. I studied Spanish for several years in High School but don't remember much.

I'm now learning Spanish again with Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids. Lauren (our rising fifth grader) is enjoying the Starter Set 1 as she learns some Spanish phrases, and Brennan is using it as a fun introduction before he starts a serious high school course this fall.

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids excels in making learning languages fun. The strongest part of the program is the video instruction which immerses the student into Spanish speaking situations. I thought the video reminded me of an episode of Sesame Street in that the background and characters changed frequently. It's all one big story, but there are many separate clips that illustrate the concepts (similar to the way that kids talk to Big Bird in one scene and then it cuts over to Cookie Monster counting and then on to something different).

We've primarily been watching "Basketballs are for Breakfast." Most of the story takes place as three brothers sit down around the breakfast table. (Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids only shows kids in the videos, but the mom was off-camera cooking eggs.) When a child used a new Spanish word, the video switched to another scene that helped the viewer decipher it. For instance, the main character asked, "¿Donde está Andy?" and the film switched to an outdoor scene with a girl repeatedly asking "¿Donde?" during a game of hide-and-seek.

In addition to a DVD containing the first three Foreign Languages for Kids, we also received three student workbooks, a set of flashcards, a set of stickers with vocabulary words, and three teacher guides (one for each video).  By following the lesson outlines and activity suggestions in the teacher guides, the three videos will provide the backbone for fifty Spanish lessons.

I found these Spanish videos to be fascinating. One of my Spanish teachers refused to speak any English at all, and I perhaps learned more from him than from any of my other language teachers (including my college French professor). By being immersed in a new language, I was forced to figure out the meanings of words. Thee words I deciphered meant more to me than any of the words I tried to learn simply by memorization. As I watched the videos with Lauren, I resisted the urge to tell her what the word meant. Sometimes I gave her hints to help her think through what was going on in the videos, but I didn't just tell her the meaning. (The videos do an excellent job of providing enough clues to figure out the meaning; she just struggled a bit to come up with more than one possible idea if her first thought didn't quite match what was going on.)

Lauren enjoyed watching the videos, but balked a little at watching the same video more than one time. She falsely believed that she had picked up all of the vocabulary and concepts after a few viewings, even thought I knew she hadn't mastered the material. Thankfully, the student workbooks allow me to extend the lessons by showing the video (or part of the video) and assigning a page or two for her to complete. The next day, she watches the video again "as review" before moving on with more workbook activities.

Despite Brennan's grumbling the video being intended for an elementary audience, he did learn a few Spanish vocabulary words and phrases when he watched it. It gave him a boost of confidence going into his high school class because he could understand the general idea of the story without knowing any Spanish at all beforehand. I saw firsthand the benefit of him having to figure out the meaning for himself versus having it spoon-fed to him. Although we won't be using these videos as the only source of instruction for his high school language credits, I'll make sure that he watches them at least a couple of times each.

The Spanish Starter Set 1 costs $140.25 and includes the DVD with first three videos, three student workbooks (one per video), flashcard set, sticker set, and three teacher/parent guides. Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids also offers a membership option that allows you to stream videos online instead of purchasing the DVDs.

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

When Adventures with Jude Meets Through the Calm and Through the Storm

Before either of us were bloggers and about the time Lauren was born, I met Meg on the internet through Kids with Food Allergies. We've been by each other's sides virtually for a long time.

Meg and her crew have been traveling from #seatoshiningsea this summer and stopped through Colorado this week. What a special treat to get to hang out with all of them in person for a while.

Google maps says it's 1727 miles between our houses. Thank goodness it doesn't seem quite so far when we're online.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

When it rains ~ Random Five on Saturday

A little over a week ago, a late afternoon thunderstorm turned out to be more than just a little rain. We had about forty-five minutes worth of hail, some of which was golf ball sized or bigger. The base sustained quite a bit of damage. I heard that the housing area has more than 1400 broken windows to fix.

I've been busy dealing with the mess left after the storm and haven't blogged since then. I'll catch up tonight with a few random thoughts about our crazy week.

1. Seven windows on one side of our house were broken. The hail broke through both panes of the glass in two of the windows. Thankfully we were at home and able to pick up the hail that had fallen on/near our piano and then cover the broken window with a tarp.

2. We had two cars left outside and both of them were beat up rather badly. Both of them were declared total losses by our insurance company. We've spent a lot of time drinking the complimentary coffee drinks at one of the local car dealers this week.

3. Lauren is currently at chorale camp. It was quite a job to pack up all her food for the weekend (meals and snacks that would be safe for her allergies) and all her medical supplies. I'm very thankful for the camp nurse who didn't panic when I dropped everything off.

4. In addition to the window damage, the sprinkler system messed up this week too. I left home one morning and told Addison not to freak out if they started digging up the yard while I was gone.

5. On Thursday, we woke up to find the kitchen sink clogged and nearly overflowing. I finished up all of Lauren's camp meal preps without being able to use the sink in the kitchen. That afternoon it took the maintenance guy over an hour to clear out the clog.

I sure hope this coming week is a little less crazy and a lot less stressful!

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