Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 29

This afternoon I was thankful for a homeschool project that interested both big kids.

We even enlisted Tim's help this evening:

I'm pretty sure that they both realize that they're learning something. Hopefully they are thankful that I didn't just settle for a boring way of teaching them circuits and electronics.

I'm also thankful for The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew who plays such a huge part in making school so fun.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29:11
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Goal Planning Monday: November 28th

In the all of the busyness of Thanksgiving preparations, I neglected to check in last week. I did have a scribbled to-do list and managed to get most of my little projects done. Our big accomplishment was finishing all of the photo gift projects that we wanted to order for Christmas gifts -- no easy undertaking.

Goals for this week:

1. Continue the habit of cleaning the kitchen (including the peninsula) and preparing school assignments before going to bed at a reasonable time. I need to work on the "reasonable" part of this goal.

2. Christmas preparations: address Christmas card envelopes, order the last few things that I want to buy, and start wrapping presents

3. Blog: continue my thankfulness posts and write three reviews

4. Print out the December 2011 and some of the 2012 pages for my planner so that I can make sure I'm not mixing up too many commitments.

5. Go get a flu shot (and drag the two big kids with me).

If you'd like to join me in setting some goals, be sure to visit Mama Manuscript's Goal Planning Monday here. I find that I get a lot more done if I set goals for myself (and make them public) than if I just make mental lists of things that I'd like to accomplish.

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 28

While I was rushing to cook dinner this evening, I accidentally knocked a salt shaker out of the cabinet. Unfortunately it landed on top of one of our polish pottery soup bowls. One of the ones we bought in Poland about 12 years ago when we were living in Germany.

I had already had a frustrating day, and I was upset about breaking something that isn't easily replaced.

I'm thankful that my husband didn't say anything. He understood that accidents happen and wasn't mad at all.

I'm even more thankful that my husband searched online until he found an exact replacement for the broken one.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 28

Proverbs 28:13
"The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 27

I'm thankful for meaningful worship services today.

I'm thankful for my husband who carefully selected songs that would focus our minds during our time of prayer together as a church this morning.

I'm also thankful for the lesson tonight, a lesson packed with practical useful tips on strengthening our own personal prayer lives.

If you'd like to share something (or lots of somethings) that you are thankful for, you're invited to join Brenda's linky at Garden of Learning.

Gratitude Challenge --- Day 26

I am thankful for the long weekend that we got to spend with family.

We had lots of fun playing games, shopping, shooting hoops, hanging out, and watching a movie.

We also managed to get a lot of little chores done around the house. Tim fixed the cabinet door in the kitchen, took some parts leftover from another project back to Lowe's, and even fertilized the yard. My mom took pity on me and sewed all of the patches onto both Brennan and Tim's scout uniforms. Tim and I spent several long evenings organizing and creating photo gifts for Christmas. We also managed to put up the Christmas tree, a stressful event that included two trips to a store to buy more replacement strands of lights.

It was fun to relax, but it's also a great feeling to see all that we accomplished over the past few days.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 27

Proverbs 27:1
"Don't boast about tomorrow, for you don't know what a day might bring."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 25 and 26

Proverbs 25:11
"A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray."

Proverbs 26:4
"Don't answer a fool according to his foolishness or you'll be like him yourself."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 25

Today I'm thankful for laughter, at least three specific instances today.

1. While heading out shopping this morning, my mom requested that we go through the McD's drive-thru to get her a cup of tea. I ordered 2 senior sweet teas, but the order accuracy screen said unsweet. I double-checked that they were sweet when I paid and then again when I picked them up at the next window. The guy at that window said that they were sweet tea, and I replied that it was a good thing because the crazy people in the car would make me go back through if their drinks weren't right. He said if that was the case his name was Nicole.

2. While leaving the mall, I heard a lady talking (rather loudly) to the security guard. Apparently he asked her if she had found everything. She said she was mad about the whole thing. "I couldn't find anything for myself. I had to start shopping for my husband, and I'd much rather be finding stuff for me." She went on and on. We laughed all the way to the car.

3. This afternoon Brennan was playing basketball with my dad and Tim. At one point Tim made a shot, turned around, and said, "Who's yo daddy?" A few minutes later Brennan piped up with, "Who's yo son?" Not to be outdone, yes, my dad said, "Who's yo granddaddy?" Maybe you had to be here to appreciate the three of them trying to talk smack while they played horse.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 24

All month I've been posting about the things I'm thankful for.

Today I'm thankful for a day set aside in our country so that we can count our blessings. I pray that today's Thanksgiving holiday is not overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of shopping for the upcoming Christmas season. I pray that everyone took time to thank God for all the blessings He has showered upon us.

As we sat around the table this afternoon, we all took turns sharing what we were thankful for. (Note: we did let Addison eat some of the Thanksgiving dinner -- she was taking the picture and didn't get in it herself.)

Among the things we mentioned: health, family, food, friends, trees, the great people that Tim works with, and much more.

If you'd like to share a Thanksgiving post, you can join the link Brenda has at Garden of Learning. (You can easily get to it by clicking on the button in my sidebar too.)

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 23

I'm thankful that my parents came to visit this week. While Mom and I went shopping one morning, Dad stayed home to play with his grandkids. I'm not sure who had the most fun.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 23 and 24

Proverbs 23:12
"Apply yourself to discipline and listen to the words of knowledge."

Proverbs 24:3
"A house is built by wisdom and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 22

This morning I was thankful for Betty, or as Lauren calls her, "the nice lab lady." An eight o'clock blood draw is a lot easier when Lauren and I know that she gets to go to the outpatient lab. Lauren asked me this morning why Betty can't do all the labs for children in the hospital because she always gets all the blood she needs on the first try. 

We're also thankful for Buzzy. About a year ago, a special friend sent Buzzy to Lauren because she knows how often Lauren needs blood drawn for labs. The idea behind Buzzy is that as his body vibrates against the skin, the nerves get confused and can't figure out how to transmit pain signals. I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes in terms of feeling the pain, but it makes a huge difference in terms of how it gives Lauren control over the situation. 

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 22

Proverbs 22:17
"Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge."

Family Movie Night: Game of Your Life

Every few weeks Brennan will ask if we can have a movie night. If the calendar is relatively clear, we consent and the movie negotiations begin -- negotiations about who picked the movie last time, what new movie is out that's appropriate to watch, etc.

I'm marking next Friday night, December 2nd, on my calendar for a movie night -- no movie negotiations required.

Walmart and PG have teamed up to present Family Movie Night, a night where family movies are broadcast on network TV. Family Movie Night promises great quality movies, good for the whole family, teachable moments, and even family friendly commercials. Game of Your Life premieres Friday, December 2nd at 8/7c on NBC.
Game of Your Life synopsis (taken from the website): 
When industrious high school gamer Zach Taylor lands a prized scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute of Game Design (DIGD), his future breaks wide open. The opportunity to study under gaming legend Marcus Bentton and alongside the country’s most creative minds will certainly propel him into a successful career as a video game designer. That is, if he can pass the infamous freshman project that eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months. 
Paired with brilliant yet socially awkward teammates Phillip and Donald, the trio persuades Sara Ramirez – a determined and striking team leader with whom Zach has a history (and possibly a future) – to join their team. Working off-campus in the teched-out Lincoln Alley loft, the four set out to involve the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game. But as the group becomes entrenched in the project, Zach learns that his father Billy, a widower, is facing growing financial woes at home. To help out, Zach accepts an opportunity to work directly with Marcus Bentton on a secretive side project that seems too good to be true. The effort requires nearly all of Zach’s time and energy, which he should be devoting to the project. Struggling to keep it together, Zach is torn between his responsibility to his team, his admiration for Bentton and a chance to help his father. 
Everything comes to a breaking point when Zach’s team threatens to remove him from the group and the deceptive truth behind Bentton’s project comes to light. With the guidance of Professor Abbie Lambert, Zach must make a decision that not only affects his future, but the lives and livelihoods of the people around him as well. It’s a revealing story that recognizes the magnitude behind the choices we make and the importance loyalty plays in making good decisions.
We've already seen the movie, and I can assure you that it does live up to the Family Movie Night promises. It was a hit with all of the movie-watchers in our house. (Lauren still isn't interested in watching full-length, non-animated movies.) It is a great quality movie, not necessarily packed with action scenes but exciting none-the-less. It is good for the whole family -- no drinking, no partying, no profanity, etc. The teachable moments were real, not faked. It gets thumbs ups from all of us, and we'll definitely be watching it again when it shows next Friday night.

You can see the Game of Your Life trailer here and find more information on the Family Movie Night website. If you'd like you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received online access to view this movie prior to its premiere so that I could share this review. I was not required to post a positive review, and I received no other compensation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 21

Tonight, like so many nights, I'm thankful for the special treat I have stashed on the very top shelf of the pantry.

Yes, peanut butter -- white chocolate peanut butter. A dear friend sent me my first jar when Lauren was in the hospital waiting for her new heart.

Because of Brennan's life-threatening peanut allergy, we don't normally have any peanuts or peanut products in the house. I make candy with sunbutter and have come to enjoy a good sunbutter sandwich. Nothing comes close to the creamy goodness of my white chocolate peanut butter, though. I wait until after the kids are in bed before carefully pulling down the jar. In order to keep from contaminating any surfaces in the house, I don't make a sandwich or even spread it on crackers. I just scoop it out by the spoonful, being careful to clean the spoon afterwards.

I'm not sure I could count how many jars I've been through over the past two year, one spoonful at a time.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21:3
"Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice."

Review: The Reading Game


Although I strongly believe in teaching phonics when a child learns to read, I also recognize the need for children to recognize the most common sight words in our language. By learning to read sight words, a child can get a jump start on reading and improve their reading fluency.

The Reading Game uses a series of fun matching games to teach children to quickly recognize or read common words. It teaches 88% of the 25 most commonly used words in our language and 63% of the top 100 words; 54% of the words on the PK, K, and 1st Dolch sight words list are included in these games.

Even if you aren't a homeschool family, this product would definitely make the sight word practice that your child does at home more fun.

The Reading Game consists of six decks of cards used to introduce 30 new words. The cards are dealt out ten at a time to form a small memory game. When two cards are flipped over, the player reads them and determines if they match. At first, the parent (or older student) will help the beginning reader identify the words. Eventually the child will know all ten words and move on to the next set of cards. After every ten new words, there are test sentences so that the parent can tell if the child truly knows the words. After learning all thirty words in a deck, the child is ready to read the corresponding book. The decks and books move in a progressive manner from easiest to harder.


Lauren loved playing the memory games. Even before we started using The Reading Game, she loved playing memory games with her sight word flash cards. We both liked that the games were short; it only takes a few minutes to match up the 10 cards in each mini-deck. A part of me, however, wishes that the games had a even set of matches so that more of our games ended as ties, instead of always having a winner and a loser.

I was quite impressed with the books. I'm not sure I've ever seen beginning reading books that didn't look babyish and that didn't have overly simplified stories. I would have no problem introducing these books to an older child who is struggling to read. The stories were much more than simple sentences that describe the picture. For instance, in the first book, a skunk without a stripe is sad because the other skunks refuse to play with them. He finds a group of cats to play with and later saves the cats by spraying the dog who tries to chase the cats away.

My only objection to the books is that the sentences don't use any punctuation or capitalization. The lack of the punctuation marks Lauren has learned to expect sometimes made it difficult for her to read the stories.

Although the Reading Game is not a complete reading program,  it does do a fantastic job of teaching children to identify by sight some of the most common words in the English language. It also gives beginning readers an easily achievable mark of success when they can read whole books by themselves -- books that have interesting story lines and don't look babyish. Later, once a child has experienced reading success, phonics rules can be introduced so that the child is able to decode unfamiliar words.

The Reading Game is available on their website for $24.95. If you do purchase The Reading Game, be sure to visit the educator part of the website to download worksheets with the test sentences for each book and before/after assessment sheets for the individual words.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about The Reading Game, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received The Reading Game as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 20

This weekend I'm thankful that the kids had a fun weekend visiting with Nana and Papa. As a military family, we don't often get to live near our extended family. It's a special treat to only be two-and-a-half hours away from them.

As for what I did with my free weekend... traveled over the river and around the mountain, ate out with a bunch of people from the squadron, cheered Tim on during the half-marathon, took a nap, bought groceries, ate at another one of my favorite restaurants, did some kid-free shopping, watched part of the OU game, went to bed early, wrote a review for my blog, went to church, and ran another errand. What more could a tired mom ask for?

I'd love it if you joined me in counting your blessings during the month of November. If you blog, you can add your link to all of the ones that Brenda is collecting at Garden of Learning. You can also find her blog by clicking on the button in my sidebar.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20:11
"Even a young man is known by his actions -- if his behavior is pure and upright."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 19

This weekend I'm thankful for the great people Tim works with and their families.

About a half-dozen people from his squadron all ran in a half-marathon this morning. The whole group of us went out to dinner last night and cheered each other along as they ran.

I'm also thankful for the other wife that was waiting near the finish line. Just as I was wishing that I had brought a camp chair to sit in, she offered to let me wait with her family in the warmth of their van.

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 18

Today I am thankful for a lunch outing with a friend. We had a wonderful time visiting and laughing (with no kids underfoot or interrupting).

I'm also thankful that we now have a Chipotle in town. I'm sure everyone that heard me grumble over the past year about living more than four hours away from the nearest one is grateful too.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 19

Proverbs 18:21
"Many plans are in a man's heart, but the Lord's decree will prevail."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 18

Proverbs 18:21
"A man's spirit can endure sickness, but who can survive a broken spirit?"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 17

Earlier today, I shared about World Prematurity Day.

I'm obviously thankful for a special little girl that proves that God still works miracles.

Tonight I'm also thankful for all of the friends and loved ones that have supported us when we started on a journey that began with a sick little baby in the NICU.

And thank you to everyone who wore purple today and thought of Lauren.
(Isn't my niece just the cutest thing ever?)

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 17

Proverbs 17:22
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."

I'm wearing purple!

I sometimes forget that some of the first steps in our journey with Lauren were nearly six years ago when a young NICU resident talked to me about pre-term labor and the likelihood that our baby would be in the NICU.

We knew 33 weeks was far too early for Lauren to be born, but we didn't know how sick Lauren was.

Lauren was perhaps the biggest and sickest baby in our NICU that day. Due to heart failure, she had swollen to 8 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. She was somewhere around five pounds when she came home six weeks later.

I will forever be thankful for all of the doctors and nurses that took such good care of our not-so-little girl.

Today we're wearing purple to show support for World Prematurity Day. I'm praying for all of the preemies who are spending today in a NICU,  for all of the preemies who still spend part of every day dealing with lifelong health conditions, and for all of the families that miss their preemies in heaven.

I'm also rejoicing for all of the preemies who prove every day that miracles do still happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 16

Today I'm thankful for books.

Lots and lots of books.

Recently, Addison challenged herself to read all of the books in our house. Yes, every book. One of her friends asked how many we have, and so she counted them all.

All the books in the living room:

All the books in the schoolroom:

All the books in my bedroom:

All the books in her bedroom:

All the books in her brother's closet:

And all the books found in other various places around the house.

One thousand, ninety seven.

We certainly have a lot to be thankful for!

Review: Math Mammoth, Make It Real Learning


During all of the upper-level math courses I took in both high school and college, I often wondered how any of the abstract theorems and formulas I learned would apply to life. It's fairly easy to figure out why you need to know how to add or multiply. It's also fairly easy to understand how you'd use percents in your daily life. It's quite a bit harder to grasp how you'll use linear functions, other than to complete your math homework. Thankfully, Math Mammoth has stepped up to help answer those sorts of questions.

Math Mammoth offers other math materials for all ages, including supplemental materials to fit specific needs and complete curriculum packages for elementary grades. I was especially interested in the Make It Real Learning workbooks. The goal for these materials is to answer the question, "When am I ever going to use this?"

Addison is about half-way through Algebra 1, and she recently took a break from her regular lessons to work through the ten lessons in the Linear Functions 1 workbook (suitable for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students).

Both of us were impressed with this workbook.

I liked that these were real problems. All of the data was taken from actual situations; it wasn't just pretend numbers included to make sure that the math worked out nicely. I also liked that these were real situations that a student can believe that they'll encounter in real life. Two of the lessons dealt with choosing a cell phone plan, and another one dealt with pricing plans for music downloads -- not only real situations, but real situations that are of interest to my children.

Addison really liked the way the lessons were real statistics and not made up like in her regular math workbooks. She had to skip one of the lessons because it was a little advanced for her, but she thought she would have understood it if she had already finished Algebra 1. In the end, she decided it would be a great product to use for review at the end of the year.

The Linear Functions 1 eworkbook contained 10 lessons, each two pages long and containing 6-10 questions. Addison easily worked through them at a pace of one lesson per day. Each lesson was followed by several pages of explanations showing exactly how to work out the problems.

There are eleven options in the Make It Real Learning set, including Arithmetic; Fractions, Decimals, and Percents (two different difficulty levels); Quadratic Functions; and even Calculus 1. I'm quite impressed with the extensive offering for upper grade math; seven of the books are for students working at an Algebra 1 level or higher.

As Addison continues to move through higher level math courses, I'll definitely be purchasing more Make It Real Learning materials for her to use. I will probably also purchase the Fractions, Decimals, and Percents workbook for Brennan to use in conjunction with his regular math program later this year.

Each Make It Real Learning workbook is available to download for only $4.99. There's also an option to purchase the complete set of workbooks for $39.99.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about Math Mammoth products (at all different levels), please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received Making It Real Learning: Linear Functions 1 in an eworkbook format as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 16

Proverbs 16:3
"Commit your activities to the Lord, and your plans will be achieved."

Proverbs 16:9
"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 15

On a rainy day like today, we are all thankful for our garage.

We're thankful for a new swing and thankful for our Occupational Therapist that found some extra chains when she heard ours weren't quite long enough.

We're thankful for the old swing, the place where Addison prefers to do her schoolwork and Brennan likes to hang out.

And, of course, we're thankful for a large empty space when the van is pulled out into the driveway.

I'm adding my thankfulness list to Brenda's post at Garden of Learning. Please join us in counting our blessings this month.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 15

Proverbs 15:1
"A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath."

Proverbs 15:9
"The Lord Detests the way of the wicked, but He loves the one who pursues righteousness."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 14

I was looking through my iPhoto library this evening in the hopes of finding a good picture to share on my thankfulness post today, and I realized how thankful I am for photos so that we can remember all the crazy times, a good camera, and a daughter who's willing to take pictures for me.

Goofing off on a Civil War Battlefield
Picture taken on 11/11/2011 at approximately 11:11 am
(we kept resetting the clock when it took too long to get the camera settings the way we wanted them)

Birthday dinner
I'm thankful for Chipotle, too.


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