Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

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29 April 2011

TOS Review - The Curiosity FIles

I'm excited for the opportunity to review The Curiosity Files that is put out by The Old Schoolhouse. I received an E-book on the Platypus and I have to tell you, I'm pretty impressed! I had never heard of this series before, but it looks like there are about 9 "books" and you can take a look at those here: The Schoolhouse Store.

So! What was so impressive?? First off, after downloading the file I realized that I was looking at an 87 page PDF, I definitely didn't expect that. How much could one really delve into on the Platypus? Well, I learned a lot and quite frankly I'm science challenged so this was an experience that had me looking to find out what other subjects "Professor Ana Lyze, Expert in Outlandish Oddities" had to offer because she had really done her work!

What's more, is that I quickly realized that this curriculum was extremely Family Friendly! Included in this e-book you'll find information and activities that are made with your Elementary through High School student in mind. Honestly, besides reading and discussing the classics, I have yet to find any curriculum that is actually tailored specifically for each learning level in your home without having to buy extra packets along the way. I think the other appeal for me on this one is that because of this set up, I'll be able to use this same book for years to come! With 4 children and 1 on the way it's VERY appealing for me to know that when my younger children start on the basic information, that my older children can still be involved with our studies but in a way that builds upon their current knowledge and challenges them so that they don't get bored from doing and hearing the same things over and over again!

Next, I was pretty taken back by the pricing (since I was definitely out to buy some more once I saw this one!), and at $6.95 I think this product is a steal! (Some of the other Curiosity Files are going for $1 right now!) Additionally, I read on the TOS website that all of their e-books come with a 7 day 100% guarantee.... so, if you don't LOVE your product, they will happily refund your money. You really can't lose with that, they really stand by their products.

Okay, so what do you get in The Curiosity Files: Platypus E-book?
-You get all the information you could possibly want to ever know about the platypus in addition to full color pictures of everything from the platypus itself to how it feeds it's young to different photos that relate to your child (food, other children, letters, etc.). You'll receive complete information on what the platypus eats, where it lives, and walk through the many mysterious parts of the animal that made it tricky to classify as to whether it was a mammal, or a bird.
-You get questions AND answers (answers in the back of the packet of course :-D), to test what your child is retaining... if you feel so inclined to do so. They could use it just as a normal worksheet while you're doing something for a younger sibling, or as a family you can just sit and chat about the answers... which is more our style, I'm not a big fan of worksheets unless it's a collaborative effort. I like that this gives you options!
-You get application into other subjects:
**Math: For example, figuring out a table of how much food family members would need in one night to eat 30% of their weight and then figuring out how many pounds of flour that would be. There's a challenge to find a recipe with lima beans and double it... and of course make it, because that would be the most fun part! Right in the packet as well you can count by 10's, figure out probabilities, do a worksheet on sunrise and sunset and more. Again, you can find what projects are best for your child's age(s).
**English: There are limericks to play with and they are well dissected so that you know how to write your own, there's spelling and vocabulary lists for all grade levels, younger children can draw pictures of what they find most interesting about the platypus and for older children there are prompts to write about their favorites and link to a website that helps give an idea of how to write funny riddles. Children can also fill in missing vowels for words that they've learned, do a word search and crossword, and junior/high school students can spot misspelled vocabulary words and write those words in reverse alphabetical order (I may or may not have done this myself to give my brain something tricky to work on... keeps you young right?)

And every child's favorite: ACTIVITIES! This book is chalk full of them! You may need to purchase a few items if you're like me... there's a great section on the nervous system, and they walk you through making a neuron, but I don't keep marshmallows and fruit by the foot-like food on hand, so those kinds of things are special. For the most part there are art supplies and other extras that I'm sure you'll have laying around. I really like that there are pictures for all of the activities and there are quite a lot of things to do! You'll color pictures (links provided for extras but there is a platypus to color right in the book), design a coin, be encouraged to write in your nature journal (or start one if you haven't already! :-D), test out map skills, learn about the olympics (the platypus was the mascot at the 2000 games, I had no idea!). you'll craft paper bag puppets and model them out of clay (which I need to buy as well, but playdough works well in a pinch... my children aren't picky, but I think it would be fun and be more sturdy, and for the recycler in you there's an activity that shows your child how to turn a cereal box into a duck-billed platypus! There are a ton of activities here and we'll be doing a lot of them this week since we didn't get to do as much this last month as I wanted to this month thanks to a crazy start.

Speaking of which! The whole emergency surgery thing, recovery, and knowing that November will be yet another tricky month with a new baby and bouts of nausea along the way, I have REALLY enjoyed having this product. I printed it out so that I could easily grab what I needed and we could just sit and discuss and look at pictures, or have a list of things that needed to be gathered right in front of me that I could send the children to go and get. Easy, yes, easy is the operative word here. I wasn't really up for getting together my own information over the last few weeks, which is what I would normally do to save a buck, but at these inexpensive prices and the completeness of the e-book (LOVE the internal hyperlinks that automatically take you to whatever outside source you may need), this is one of those products that keeps the children learning/having fun/exploring new things, with very little effort on the homeschooling parents part. It is also very accessible so I can give information to my husband and he could easily take over (I'm a little more hesitant about him doing things like spelling, math, etc., he just doesn't know the technique, that's my job :-D), so this he can take over and have fun and not have to worry about if he's doing something right. It's all right there and he can just have fun with it! They can even keep track of their investigations by printing out an information card and creating a booklet of all they've learned about this interesting animal!

The only part of this product that I really don't care for is the amount of scripture/copywork, I do like some, but for us we aren't going to finishing every last page of it. I like that they include both manuscript and cursive examples for the copywork, and of course the nice thing about an e-book though is the ability to print out what you want and leave what you don't! If you love copywork then your child may enjoy the fact that there's plenty of pages to choose from and if you're like us and just a little is sufficient, then you do less! We'll also enjoy going over some of the scriptures, but again, not all.

My last comment about this product really is what pushes it over the edge for me. There are a few pages in the book specifically for children with special needs. I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be to teach a child with special needs and what kinds of things need to be taken into consideration to help them get the most out of what you're trying to present to them. Here TOS has helped ease this pressure by giving you ideas of how to teach, and it gave me a little more insight into how a child perceives things. Included in this section there are more of those lovely internal links that parents can use to help their children. That gives this product an extra gold star from me!

Overall, you really can't go wrong with The Curiosity Files! At a price of $6.95 for the Platypus and other selections at only $1 with a 7 day 100% guarantee I think you'll really enjoy having all of this information right at your fingertips! You could spread this out over a month or two or just have it on deck as something quick you can pull out when everything has gone awry and you haven't planned a lesson, or you're looking for something fun to do to shake things up. We'll definitely be getting a few more to help bridge the gap over "emergencies," and when I can't bolster the energy to do much more than hang out in bed :-)

16 April 2011

Free Books!

I've been meaning to post about this... better late than never right? (In my defense the husband, and full caretaker of house and wife at the moment, came down with a nasty stomach bug that's kind of turned our house upside down, so my mind's been in survival mode!)

However, this is too fun to not share now that things are a little less crazy. Scholastic and Kumon have teamed up and are bringing your child an opportunity to earn 2-5 free books. By visiting their website you can download a math and/or reading worksheet and once your child completes it all you do is send in their worksheet(s) and they'll send you the books that were selected. Now, this really is cost free to you, but there are a couple of rules that are displayed in their "how it works" section. Only 5 books can be awarded per household and you can only have one entry per age-group (which I don't really know why you would send in more than one, there's about 8 books in each category to choose from, so the selections would get a little old unless you thought you could resell them). Anyway! The only other catch is that you're releasing your child's work for them to use however they'd like... promotions, advertising etc.

We haven't had a chance to do ours yet, and we should probably get on it sooner than later since it'll take 6-8 weeks for the books to get here anyway, but the work is pretty simple, and a few of the book selections are just enticing enough at the great price of free, that I'll be having my children complete these this week!

I LOVE Kumon. Well, I'll rephrase, I bought my children a few Kumon workbooks at the bookstore last year just for fun and THEY love Kumon, which in turn means I do. My first exposure to them as a company was when my best friend from the age of 5 would go to their after school and work on math and reading (yah... she was Asian, how'd you know? *laugh* NO, not trying to be offensive here, but she was WAY ahead of the game and these kinds of programs that most of us know nothing about are the reason she was/is. PLUS, I lived in Korea and can tell you firsthand about the lengths parents will go to give their kids a leg up.... I went from teaching 3 children English to 32 in a matter of days at know encouragement of my own... in was INSANE. They were all in piano and Taekwondo too). Anyway, after my children leeched on to these products I told my friend (who of course hated to go), and she had a good laugh about them enjoying it.... which I think proves that these tools can be incredible under the right circumstances.

So! If this looks right for you then I hope you'll share your experience! I'm excited to try!

08 April 2011

Frog and Toad and Magic Treehouse

I picked up some Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel at the library our last time out and was pleasantly surprised. I thought I was picking these up to read aloud, but instead my 5 year old read them to me. Not only did he read them, but he chuckled while he read the story and while telling me where we were in the book (what's not funny about Toad yelling at seeds to grow and then worrying that they're scared at night so he goes out with a light and read poems and sings songs all night to them?). Anyway, these books were fun and improved his word recognition significantly, so I wanted to share that with you! I plan to get them for his birthday this year.

As for what we actually have read aloud, we're about 25 books into the Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne. While I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, these are fun because they're very short and the children can get a little taste of some historical happenings and that sets us off on a learning adventure as they ask more in-depth questions about things. My 2 year old even says "let's find out what happens to Jack and Annie next!" We've been exposed to everything from Mount Vesuvius to the Titanic and the adventures are still coming!

Oh, I also found a book at the book at the library called Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. I like how she laid out her book and there are some really great book recommendations in there as well, and she breaks them down into age groups, which is awesome! I'm going to have to find a copy of this book to come sit on my shelves permanently!

07 April 2011

Government Shut Down

Lately I've been consumed with following the government shutdown issue as best as I can. I have friends that are glued to CNN and FOX, but since that's not an option for me, I have read many articles and repost them on Facebook to try and educate others as to what's happening.

The best information that I've come down to thus far has been what to do in the likely event that things will shut down, and that you can find via the National Military Family Association: http://www.militaryfamily.org/feature-articles/government-shutdown-what.html.

I think what bothers me most about this whole issue (yep, there's something that bugs me more than that the obvious of my husband not getting paid and us not being able to meet our bills), is what is holding up funding and threatening to shut down our government... which honestly is incredibly irritating since not running the government means they aren't making any money either so it's kind of counterintuitive to cutting the budget, no?

ANYWAY!! The real issue I'm having right now, is that something like ABORTION is one of the main issues holding all of this up. Really? Really?? Can someone actually say that we're going to shut everything down so that people can have tax payers dollars to kill children?? Yep, I'm just going for it in this post. If you don't agree with me, then there's an "x" or red button in the corner of your screen. I SAW THE HEARTBEAT OF MY 6 WEEK OLD FETUS ON MONDAY... THE HEARTBEAT. When does life begin?? I'd say a heartbeat is pretty convincing. With us "viable people" the end of life comes when the heart is no longer beating, how can we not say that a heartbeat marks the beginning of life?? I'm so confused on that reasoning!!

We've called our representatives to tell them to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, and they've heard us and they've fought tooth and nail to cut this funding. Now, people are calling their representatives and telling them that we have to solve this budget issue and make sure the military gets paid (this doesn't even include all the contractors that won't actually get back pay like we would if they're not essential personnel). My biggest concern at the moment is that the representatives that have fought so hard for the right to life are now in a rough position as their getting villinized for holding up the bill based on ideology. INCREDIBLE. Seriously, do you know how abortions are performed? I'd check into that before you fight me about a woman's right. Not okay! Deliver the child early and give it a shot and if it dies then so be it, but don't just kill it, especially by the horrific ways that are out there. If you even talked about doing that to someone that was "alive" you'd be locked in a dark cell far from humanity.

This is a hard one for me. Yes, I'd love to not worry about what will happen to my family financially come next next week and beyond, but at what cost? Is it worth giving tax payer money to murder defenseless babies in order that we can go along being comfortable? I would really hate to see a compromise on this one. While I don't agree with abortion on any level I SAW THE HEARTBEAT OF MY CHILD WHO'S ONLY 6 WEEKS ALONG, I'm not asking that there be a law against it, I'm asking that we don't funnel millions of dollars into it!!!!!

Better yet, if we could have two separate bills: that funds government organizations (like the military) and another that funds government programs (medicare, medicaid, welfare etc), I'd be a happy momma!

Thanks for letting me vent :-). Please pray for our government and those in control of things that will effect everyone. Also, take note of how your representatives are handling things right now. Have they showed any stand up behaviors that make you proud they're representing you, or are the part of those that say "the won't sleep until there's a resolution" and happily take breaks and continue to take their own pay throughout a shutdown.

P.S. Obama.... you didn't get my vote in 2008 and not only will you not get it in 2012, but I will do everything in my power to campaign against you if you so much as hint that you will take a shot at the presidency again!

05 April 2011

How I Save Money Teaching Letters

Since I'm pretty much useless to my family for the next 2-3 weeks (I can't lift anything over 10 lbs, and even sitting up makes me dizzy), I figured I would try to send some tips your way!

First, I've shared before how fun Confessions of a Homeschooler is, but I don't know if I've written specifically about her letter "curriculum." (We call them letter activities :-D). You can download each letter individually for FREE or you can buy them all at once via download for $10 or they'll send you a CD with everything for $16 (buying the files does come with some extras, but you aren't missing much). So, you start there, downloading the letters one way or another.

Then?? Well, my old Cannon Printer did about 1 letter per cartridge and it cost me about $52 to buy both a black and color cartridge. Yah, I ended up buying some on Amazon that saved me a little, but it was still A LOT of money for these things (and yet cheaper than having them printed in color at the local Staples..... the only place that we have available for printing in town). Thankfully that printer died (unfortunately as my husband was trying to print out a talk for church!), and we were in the market for a new one. Mr. Wonderful wanted us to get a laser printer since he too didn't care for the money we spent on cartridges, but after a week of researching EVERYTHING and finding mixed reviews on EVERYTHING, I was stuck. I finally made a leap and we bought an HP 8500 A Office Jet Pro. Staples even offers a discount if you bring them your old printer, working or not.
HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-All-in-One Printer This puppy duplexes printing (there's one that even duplexes copies, but that wasn't worth the extra money for us especially since most of our printing comes straight from the computer), scans, faxes, is wireless, AND -THE CARTRIDGES ARE CHEAP AND PUT OUT AS MANY COPIES AS MOST LASER PRINTERS BUT WITH INKJET QUALITY. Simply put, it's amazing! The upfront cost is way cheaper than a laser printer and the upkeep is way cheaper for the same amount of work. I've done SEVERAL letter activities as well as printed out whole Discover the Scriptures curriculums, plus a ton of other things and I've only changed out the cartridges once, and they weren't even full to begin with. Don't waste money! This is the printer you want, promise!

Then, how to protect them? I picked up a Scotch Thermal Laminator at Walmart for around $25 a couple years ago and it's worked like a champ. The only trouble I ever had was buying the pouches for it, because at Walmart buying 50 will cost you about $13. Thankfully my fellow homeschooling buddy sent me a website where you can buy the pouches for a fraction of the price. My trip to laminator.com had me so excited. They have a buy 2 get one 1 free sale going on, and their boxes come with 100 pouches.... I bought 4 :-).

I guess the only other thing I can offer you is a time saver. Buy yourself a cheap straight-edge craft cutter from Walmart and you'll save yourself a lot of cutting. Works great even through the lamination.Craft Lite Cutter

Oh! My last tip is for storage. I use the cheap ziploc's (Great Value brand), and put different activity pieces in there. Then I put them in a nifty crate (they come in LOTS of colors!) with a hanging file folder for each letter and viola! Everything has a home and is easily accessed. The kiddies LOVE these activities. They're definitely worth having around whether you homeschool or are just looking for something fun to supplement with at home!1693 - File Crate

02 April 2011

Goodbye Ovary....

....you'll be missed! Yesterday I went in to the hospital with back and stomach pain and came out short an ovary due to an ovarian torsion. I figured I'd share what I know just in case this ever happens to you or someone you know because it's rare and can get misdiagnosed.

Wednesday night I was finishing up a workout and noticed a little cramping in my stomach. I went to bed that night not even thinking about it, but when I woke up and started moving on Thursday I was in pain to the point of tears. The right side of my stomach and back were extremely cramped and there was no relief. I took Tylenol, tried to lay down or stretch, had children sit on my back, nothing. The worst part is that I had a few things I wanted to get done because my husband was due back in town that night after having been TDY for a few weeks. So I did dishes in intervals and tried to take care of things all while trying not to pass out. Thursday evening rolls around, I go pick up the husband, we come back and enjoy pizza and a movie with the kids (he already knew how I was feeling and was very helpful in making the night as easy as possible). At this point I'm wondering if I'm just severely constipated, have an ectopic pregnancy, or kidney stones. So, I wait things out, try to get comfy and sleep a few hours. Anyway, hubby gets up around 2 to take some Ambien since they were on the night shift while he was gone and is now wide awake, and I realize that this pain is getting out of control so I go to find some Tylenol. By the time I hit the kitchen I had just a few moments to digest the fact that I wasn't going to stand any longer so I quickly walked to my bathroom and hit the floor voluntarily before I officially passed out there. (Might I add that I will ALWAYS have tile floors in the bathroom, nothing like something cold when your body is freaking out!)

So, even though my husband has taken a sleeping pill he realizes that we need to go to the hospital and that he'd be the safest driver since he can tell when he's getting tired and I can't tell when I'm about to pass out. We get to the hospital, I use him to walk since my body is so weak I can't function, and eventually I end up on the floor there... which apparently was good timing because that was right as some nurses were walking by and I was immediately put into a room. Still writhing in pain and now throwing up profusely no one knows what to do. One clever nurse (sarcastically speaking) says it's a bladder infection as that's common cause for pain on the right side.... yah buddy.... my first delivery choice for my babies in all natural and I can't handle the pain of a bladder infection... sure. Anyway! The real doctor comes after I've asked for pain meds and have moved positions 50 million times to try and get comfortable and have gone through crying fits (I don't even cry during labor and delivery), and he orders an ultrasound since he fears an ectopic pregnancy. The ultrasound tech sees something weird and can't figure out what it is. She knows my right ovary is inflamed and there's a cyst, but there's something else going.

Later the doctor comes in, calls in a specialist, and the radiologist weighs in. The original doc says it's just a cyst and will eventually burst and cause some relief, but it's the biggest cyst he's seen in 19 years of being a doctor.... and then the OB specialist comes and takes a look. He realizes that he can move the cyst from inside and that it doesn't hurt but when he presses from the top that it's really painful. SO, now he's worried about appendicitis and maybe an ovarian torsion, but he doesn't think it's that, and the only way for him to figure out what it is would be to set a scope. Well, in my dazed state I wasn't really grasping what was going on here. I didn't know that meant they were going to cut into me!

The husband finally gets me around enough to know what's going on (in the midst of him getting people to take care of our children, getting our Bishop to help give me a blessing, trying to counteract his sleeping pill, and watching his wife go through something he's never seen before... poor guy!) and wants to make sure that I'm aware of what can happen if I let the vultures (my loving nickname for my doctors) go inside me. I'm told they can wait a few hours to see if the pain goes away or they can go in now. Well, seeing as how I feel like my ovary, or something in that area is about to explode, I opt for them to just go in and see whats happening. What they saw was surprising for everyone (they even took pictures for me :-D).

The cyst was actually a lot bigger than they thought and my ovary had wrapped around itself making it black and blue. The doctor tried to untwist it for about 20 minutes but then after consulting with other surgeons decided it was best to just take it out. They don't know how long it'd been twisted and couldn't risk the likely infection that would spill over into my blood by opening up the flow again.

So, here's some information for you:

-ER's will generally not diagnose ovarian torsion because it is so rare, but it can be deadly, so it's worth asking about! I was going to be discharged with the information that eventually the cyst would burst and I'd be fine... we were even arranging for the people that had got the kids from the hospital to come and pick us up. I'm so glad for the prayers that were offered for them to find the cause of the pain, because going home would not have been good!
-Your ovary CAN explode and cause big problems.
-Ovarian torsion happens on the right side 60% of the time (which is where my really bad/intolerable stomach and back pain was).
-20% of ovarian torsions happen in pregnant women.
-Ovarian torsions can end up causing the same issues as strangulation does in a hernia (which we were well spun up on since my husband had hernia surgery at the end of January).

In hind sight I should have gone to the hospital when the pain started instead of trying to wait it out. I had no idea what was happening, so hopefully me sharing this will help someone who is dealing with uncontrollable pain. Ovarian torsion can only be diagnosed via laprascopic scoping (i.e. cutting a couple holes in your stomach... they even put on in my belly button, ow!), but it was definitely worth it. The first thing I remember was waking up and feeling relief in my back and stomach (until I moved and felt the incisions), but the insane pain that I'd had for over 24 hours was gone.

I'll spare you pictures here, but you can look up ovarian torsion in google and see what happens. So, some types of pain are definitely worth looking into sooner than later! If they would have diagnosed this earlier there would have been a higher chance that they would have been able to save the ovary. For now, I'm just happy that I have one healthy one and will be incredibly protective of it from here on out!