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

I'd love it if you would follow my blog!

28 December 2011

Weighing in After the Holiday's....

...wasn't as brutal as it could have been, but not entirely what I thought. I expected that I would as least lose a little bit of weight, but, alas, staying stagnant is all that I pulled off. So, for this week my numbers are identical to last week:

Waist: 37 1/4"

I definitely could have worked harder and had less fatty foods to eat, but all we can do is move forward right? This week I've put in a little more effort than before. I picked up some heavier weights for strength training (very important for EVERYONE. Strength training is huge for building muscle... which will burn fat... and helps keep you together better! Muscles are good!)

Mine have been a bit sore as of late, but that's not necessarily a bad thing :-). I can get in about 2-3 miles a day on the treadmill, usually I can run it... yesterday not so much though... so I walked. Walking is great! If you do nothing else a 30 minute walk a day will do you good. I chose to add an incline to mine as a way to burn more calories faster as well as get a good burn in the legs!

I've also been lucky enough to have a husband willing to take on all of the kids so that I can hit the pool. Yesterday was the first day that I could go and the low impact workout was so awesome I actually felt like I as breaking a sweat over the laps! It was great... the most painful part?? Well, that'd be seeing myself in a swimsuit in a public place. Ugh! Talk about some motivation... and irritation! It was after that sight that I picked up heavier weights :-D.

Here's to hoping and working towards a better week!

How have things been for you? Will the New Year find you making resolutions towards better health?

26 December 2011


...is an always changing, daily opportunity to learn and grow and adapt (hence my blog name). Life for us has definitely followed this definition lately! At the beginning of October we were informed by the military that my husband was needed in Japan before the end of February... I was 8 months pregnant... and we had 4 children ages 6 and under. While excited, the prospect of having to acquire passports for everyone and the mere idea of having to be ready to move in January was/is a bit daunting. The last time I moved overseas I had to follow my husband by myself later with an 8 week old baby because his passport hadn't come in yet... and I'll tell yah, once I go to our layover in Seattle I was very tempted to have my in-law's pick me up and to call my husband and tell him that I would come only when he came to get me! It was terrible! Not really because of the baby, more just the people and airline etc., it was nightmarish, I was never happier to see Korean soil then when that flight was over! Anyway, thanks to that experience I had this horrible feeling that because of our time frame that I'd be moving not only with an 8 week old but also a 23 month old and 3, 5, and 6 year olds.... SO GRATEFUL THAT WON'T BE THE CASE! (Although, my husband did mention that if it was that while it would be difficult he would be willing to take one for the team and fly to Japan alone :-D).

Anyway, as the calendar screams at an alarming pace towards January I have at least one "AAHHH we're moving!" moment a day. I've grown accustomed to having to expect the unexpected thanks to the military, but this one really caught me off guard. We were given every assurance of being here clear into 2013, so we were planning for the baby, I had a race calendar all planned out for next year, we both had plans to start on our masters, we were planning our garden.... HA! They just wanted me to get cozy :-). In any case, I really do have to care for a 1 month old (as of yesterday), the rest of the kids, and make sure that our house is separated into storage, unaccompanied baggage (the smaller shipment of necessities that gets there faster), our household goods (the everything else stuff that goes on the slow boat and we get whenever it shows up), and to ensure that all the stuff we need stays separate from all that because if not IT WILL GET PACKED. So, I need to pack everyone's bags for about 2 months worth of clothes etc. Good times! Yes, "freak out moments abound here."

The one thing that I thought I had figured out was lifestyle once we got there. I got in contact with another American couple in Japan who attends a Japanese church that we wanted to go to. She was excited to hear of our coming and was encouraging of our patronizing the church. So, case closed, we're good right?! NO! *laugh* She asked me if our children would be attending Japanese school. Well, my husband and I talked about it briefly... he brought it up and I didn't turn down the idea but I certainly wasn't entertaining it either! I figured we could find some extracurricular classes to get the kids into etc. that wouldn't require them to be gone so long everyday.

Anyway, she's in the same situation that I'm in.... a husband that speaks Japanese, kids with squishy brains, and a slow go at learning the language herself (my brain LITERALLY hurts after studying Japanese). When she mentioned that her oldest children are fluent and both read and write in Kanji something in my mind clicked. I knew that our children needed to go to school there... but I still don't like the idea! *laugh* I talked to my kids about it, they're enthusiastic to go, and then I tried to talk them out of it! They'll be in school all day being immersed in Japanese, then come home to Japanese homework and they'll still be home schooled in English reading and writing. They were all still up to the challenge. THAT ONLY LEAVES ME WITH 2, COUNT THEM 2, CHILDREN FOR THE MAJORITY OF EVERYDAY! So not happy about that! I can't stand in the way of a great opportunity for them though. They'll pick up the language and culture in a way that we can't provide for them otherwise. We know we'll be there for at least 3-4 years with the potential of more, so now when their brains are squishiest and able to pick up the language is the best. My husband had offered to have them start when we go back after this assignment when they were older, but that's just not fair of me. They'll have a much easier time now. My husband's been speaking and living in Japan on and off for the last 13 years, has a degree in Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese, and is still learning new things everyday. What a gift that my children won't have to struggle to learn as much. My father-in-law speaks Japanese as well... he told me that he expects the children to come back speaking better than him too :-D.

Because of the way the schools run, my older 3 will be there to start the new school year IN APRIL. Yes, school runs from April to March. BOO! Pretty sure Heavenly Father knew that I needed to know that now instead of when we hit the ground there so that I had time to take it all in. It helps that there's a huge running group on base, all kinds of running events and triathlons between them and the nearby Naval base, and that because of the move I had to push my Master's work until April/May. Boy will I need that distraction then! No wonder my brain couldn't put aside going back to school this last year... I needed everything in place for when my children go to school and I'm with my little guys that both nap during the day. It's weird to be faced with so much quiet when you're use to chaos!

In the meantime we're all on Japanese learning track.... we have a bunch of movies by studio Ghibli (recently they came out with Ponyo which was pretty popular in the US, also Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle) and some other selections that the children watch in Japanese.

We also scour the Hiraganamama website like crazy! I enjoyed her website before, now it's more of a lifeline. She has links to youtube videos that have been helpful, worksheets, and overall information. I love this one, definitely something to check out! She has a New Year's card up on her site.. it's a dragon and she provides how to write a message for the New Year, we'll be working on that today! Your kid would enjoy it too I'm sure!

I also have access to Rosetta Stone and try to login to that regularly. (If you're military you should look into getting access to this for free. The library also has Mango that you can use from home). It does make my brain hurt, but I am picking up on a lot more.

My husband also found several apps in the iTunes store that he uses on the iPod of iPad to help him learn additional Kanji (which I am SO NOT ready for... I'm still trying to master Hiragana and trying not think about learning 2 more alphabets thank you very much!)

We also have a few learning books that Nathan picked up on his last stint in Japan.

Anyway! Life's been exciting here and definitely NOTHING like I thought it would be. Learning to change and be adaptable it good though :-). I know my children are headed for an amazing opportunity and one that Heavenly Father had in store for all of us. I'm resistant to change and really don't care to have someone else dictating my schedule, but perhaps there's the lesson for me in all of this! Who knows. Either way we're off for an even bigger adventure than I had imagined! It's a good thing that the one sailing this ship knows where it's headed because we'd surely be lost otherwise!

I hope your holiday's have been wonderful and that you're able to see the working of God in your life at this time to in whatever it may be that you're doing!

21 December 2011

And Thus it Begins!

Today marks the first day of Weighing in Wednesday! This was the brain child of yesterday's workout... I was trying to come up with a good way to track myself, as well as provide motivation for others. So, every Wednesday I will be getting a weight and waist measurement on myself and sharing it here, as well as giving a rundown of what I was up to excercise-wise for the week, and probably offering some kind of tips/advice/goals. I have no problems throwing all of this out into the abyss and just for my own use, but if you'd like to come along you can either leave comments below whenever you feel so inclined, or let me know that you'd like to start your own Weighing in Wednesday blog post and I'll pay to add a linky tool to my blog so that several people can blog hop each week (which would be even more fun! Motivation AND accountability :-D)

To start with, here's a little info on me. Our 5th child was born 3 weeks and 5 days ago. I am just shy of 5'9", pre-pregnancy I weighed 149lbs (I'll explain the significance of that number later), and the day our son was born I was about 216lbs. No, I didn't have gestational diabetes, my body just likes to gain about 60lbs in my belly and legs with each pregnancy... Which is probably why I find something physically crazy to get it off each time! Last year it was triathlons... This year it's triathlons (I'm hooked after last year!) and long distance races (the ultimate goal is a marathon late next year... Still trying to get the base that we're moving to to schedule one for me :-D).

As of today my numbers are:
WEIGHT: 185lbs
WAIST: 37 1/4"

Last week I was 190 lbs and my waist measured over 40" (I don't remember how far over, enough that I quickly forgot though!) Over the last week I've put in a few miles walking, usually with baby in a sling (because he can smell that I'm trying to workout, so even though he's fed and I've laid him down he'll start crying about 1/4 mile into things! Oh well, I figure he helped me put it on he can help me take it off!) Yesterday I got in 3 miles... actually getting to run 2 of those miles because baby did sleep, and today it was an agonizingly slow 2 miles, but it got my heart rate up, so I can't complain too much. In addition to walking/running a minimum of 1 mile a day... minus Sunday... I love the boot camp DVD put out by Lindsay Brin from Mom's Into Fitness (I have this set, the Bootcamp one goes through 6 weeks of increasingly harder workouts for your core and another set for toning and cardio all in one DVD and only taking 10 minutes a piece!). Her philosophy is that MOM'S CAN GET INTO BETTER SHAPE THAN THOSE WHO AREN'T! I've found this to be absolutely true for me. With each baby I've weighed less at the start than with the previous one and I've been stronger and able to do more physically in the meantime. Case in point? I was something like 167lbs when my husband and I GOT MARRIED, and, asa I mentioned, I was almost 20 lbs lighter than even that prior to getting pregnant with baby #5. So, if you use pregnancy and motherhood for any excuse, let it be the excuse that those things have made you stronger and let's get to work!

My biggest tips for you today goes towards new moms, since that's the phase I'm in. The recommended weight loss for new nursing mothers is 1 lb per week. You'll probably notice that my numbers don't follow this, but consider that "the recommended weight gain" is about 35 lbs... my body just doesn't like recommendations! If yours are lower or higher, then they are. As long as you are listening to your body (i.e. if you're beginning to bleed bright red, pull a muscle, anything hurts unnecessarily... we like good pain though!), slowing or stopping down as needed, and baby is getting fed as normal then you should be fine!

Thanks to the men out there who were willing to sift through that in order to get to this tip for everyone:
Be sure to stay hydrated! Lack of hydration is a big factor when it comes to weight loss, the pounds have a hard time dropping off without it! I reposted from a blog last year on how to find out how much water you need each day... the typical "8 glasses" isn't suitable for everyone so make sure you're getting enough... your body will thank you!

My personal goal is to get back down to at least 149 lbs. I don't have a timeframe for this... I just focus on healthy behaviors in eating, exercise and sleep (when I can). Healthy living is a lifestyle and weight loss and maintenance will be a lot easier if you look at it that way now. I don't do anything when I'm losing weigh that I don't do when trying to maintain :-). The 149 lbs is a number that I strive for because in triathlon you can usually race by age group and then there's the Athena's and Clydesdales. To be an Athena you have to weigh 150lbs or more... there are some absolutely amazing athletes in that category, but I don't want to be one. Mentally knowing that I HAVE to compete in my age range against people who haven't had 5 kids (or usually any for that matter), and can spend more time training makes me work harder!

Let me know if you'd like to "weigh-in" next week either physically or metaphorically!

19 December 2011


I've been thinking a lot about children lately.... don't suppose it has anything to do with being surrounded by them everyday? Who knows?! :-).

In the post I wrote yesterday I mentioned how a few of my friends had lost babies in their second trimester that were due the same time as me. It's one of those things that reminds me how fragile life is. When you think about it, the fact that a little human with all the same characteristics and organs etc of an adult can grow from a two tiny cells is AMAZING, and not to be taken for granted. I think it's interesting how trivial people can make this miracle, and how we think that we're so smart in staving off having such a blessing in our lives. Outside of medical/psychological/emotional/spiritual situations where you know you shouldn't have anymore, it's interesting to me to overhear conversations... I think the most interesting being "I think I want my kids to be "x" amount of years apart, yah, that sounds good!" or "I don't want them to close". It's fascinating to me that we think we're that in control of this process! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on children... mine certainly aren't what they used to be! And when it comes right down to it, you and only you are responsible for your decisions, not me :-). You know what you can and can't handle for whatever reason, so don't get offended by anything I write here. You, your spouse and the Lord are all that matter when it comes to your family and I won't ever judge you for that... just wanted to throw out some things to think about and places to find encouragement if you want it.

I read a post a while ago written by Misfit Cygnet called Faith and Fertility: Mormon Ark Culture and The Choice to Have Children. While I don't always 100% agree with everything that she writes, I do find it enlightening and thought provoking. I'd take a gander through more of her site if you choose to go and read her thoughts on the subject of children. If you agree with what she says then great and if you don't you at least have a chance to think through why you don't and see if that's really the stance you want to take. I love stuff like that!

Another post I read is from Christina at handsfullmom called "Why am I doing this again?". She copied and linked to as story by mother of 10 Janene Baadsgaard... I loved the story and even had my husband read it. At the end of the story Christina has a chart that shows the declining fertility rate of women with age and her feelings about how once she was so sure that she'd have more children because "there was time" and then how lately she'd felt like that time is slipping away. (She's pregnant with her 9th by the way, so excited for them!) Reading Janene Baadsgaard's blog is a joy too!

Another blog I wanted to direct you to is Tristan's at ourbusyhomeschool.blogspot.com. Tristan is pregnant with their 7th baby and found out a little bit into it that he has some complications including spinal bifida. I bring up Tristan because I remember an email sent back and forth with her or a comment that she left on my blog one day that mentioned how she felt she shouldn't be on the TOS Crew this year, even though she'd done it previously and enjoyed it. Then, a little bit later she wrote and said that she figured out why she felt like she shouldn't... she was pregnant again after just having a baby last year! Then they found out about the complications the baby was having, and what a blessing it was that she didn't have one more thing to do. God really is in control and can guide us to what we should and shouldn't do in order to care for His children. Tristan to me is a testimony of that! People always tell me how they could never do what I do, or just shake their heads when it comes to not only the amount of children that we have or that we want more.... but really, God will direct our footsteps if you let Him! Some may be blessed with only a few children or may not be able to have any, but allowing His will to be done will be a blessing regardless of the trials that may attend.

Lastly, here's the link to the Duggar's blog. After the miscarriage of their 20th child, Michelle wrote and recorded a message to her baby girl. Here she expresses her love for her daughter, tells her she was greatly wanted by everyone, that she was a blessing, and that none of the children saw her as competition but loved her dearly. I think it's important to hear these words. All too often children are seen as a burden. Which actually brings up a post that I read this morning: How Not to Look at Children.

Children really are an heritage of the Lord. We read in the book of Moses that God's work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.... how is that possible if we keep denying children in our homes or shooing them away to be taught by other people and rejoice that they're gone for hours on end? Child rearing is far from easy, but they really aren't ours are they? These children are the Lord's and will return back to Him... we're just here to help them on their journey. What an honor! We may not do things that other people think of as normal, but we're happy!! And we have each other and the joy that comes from family. For me, I find joy in "collecting diamonds" and the memories that came from that which I can take with me forever. I wouldn't trade any one of my children for a nicer car, home, or a dream vacation... I am living the best dream that I could ever imagine, and one that I never knew that I wanted!

Again, enjoy what you have, don't take a single breath for granted. Every day is a gift and every child is a blessing! The comments, especially that I receive from those in the church make me sad. Eve gave up her easy life in the Garden of Eden so that we could be here, she was commanded to multiply and replenish the earth.... and we learn from Elder Andersen in Octobers General Conference that this commandment has not been revoked.

Your choices and decisions are between you and the Lord, as are mine. Please be kind to those around you who are following their convictions, and don't make comments or choose actions that make their lives harder then necessary. We each have different callings and abilities, what's right for one isn't right for another. My message here is meant as one of encouragement to those who find it hard to continue to have more children, or just haven't thought about having more than 2 or 3 because "that's the norm." I was given a chance to rethink my stance on children (I never wanted any, and then when I got married we MAYBE wanted 3 or so and even then we were going to wait 5 years), so I wanted to share the gift and lessons that I've learned over the years. Prayer and quiet contemplation is good. :-)

TOS Review - Vintage Remedies for Kids

I recently have been able to have a product called Vintage Remedies for Kids by Jessie Hawkins in my home. This is a book that is full of information and ideas that help parents teach their children about healthy lifestyles (food and habits).

I would recommend this book to anyone that has ever asked me about how we have such good eaters in our home. The beginning chapters introduce the concept of real foods... my children could have written this section :-). Not because it isn't in depth or written at an adult level, but because we discuss why we eat what we do often. I'm pretty particular about what foods get eaten around here, and thus our home (and the grocery store) are constantly giving us a chance to talk about these things as my children see the difference between what we choose and what their friends do/what others buy... my children are walking nutritionists as a result! *laugh* I'd never really meant for that to happen, but they were curious and health is important to their dad and me, so there you have it! I don't discuss what goes on their plates however... I make plates, they eat what's on it or leave the table, and that's the end of that. That's the way it's always been and I have really good eaters as a result because my husband and I are obnoxiously persistent about that. Our kids eat what we do, period! So, should you not have been so "obnoxious" this book gives you ideas about how to get your children to eat new foods and how to transition them to real foods from things they've been used to. i.e. if your child eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, going to one on wheat bread is going to provide completely different texture and the jelly doesn't seep into the bread quite the same. I can definitely see how this would be helpful. And if you're just starting out foods with your children, then this book will give you a solid start in getting your children the proper FUEL for their day :-). Food=Fuel, who knew?! Well, seems like a lot of people don't actually understand that connection or how to get the best source of fuel as opposed to inadequate/cheap stuff! This book will help you sift through that....

The set up of this book gives a section for parents that gives information and the purpose of the chapter, a section to read to your children (or to have them read), as well as additional things to think/talk about/or do, and questions. In addition to teach about food and choices in that direction, the book also contains things like information on bugs, herbs, cleanliness, conservation (i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle). I'm actually going to be using one of the ideas from there without my children... the project is "Old Crayons Become New!" which as you can imagine takes your old/broken crayons and melts them down into new ones. The idea in this book has you use muffin tins so they have fun circle crayons... I'll be making these for Christmas and pairing them with a "coloring book" that I'm making for each of the children from another product that we're reviewing.

So, this book is great for lots of different things! You can definitely use it as a curriculum on health and wellbeing for your child(ren). The target age for this book is 2-6, but could be used for older depending on what you've taught your children thus far about themselves and the world around them. I think the biggest thing older children would have a problem with is "wording." The book is definitely written towards a younger audience, even for the younger audience parents could easily add in proper words, i.e. tummy=stomach or intestines, but I think there's a great balance overall.

Vintage Remedies for kids can be purchased for $25 from the Vintage Remedies website.

To see what other crew members are saying about this product you can go here.

*As a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here, and they were not promised a positive review.*

18 December 2011

The Way's Been Long... But I'm Blessed!

I've had a hard time taking the time to come and write here... it's not for lack of things on my mind... perhaps it's been because there has been too much on my mind? I don't know. But, I figure I'd better come and write something and hopefully get a little bit better about writing.

My post title comes from a song that plays in my mind on a daily basis. If you're familiar with the Duggar family then you're probably aware of their friends from Tennessee, the Bates, who have 19 children. I found a video of the Bates singing (well, a few actually) and one in particular made a big impression on me. I LOVE watching this family sing together and the song they sing in one particular video has the lyrics "It's been a long journey but I have been blessed, walking with Jesus I have no regrets, He is so good to me I must confess, the way's been long, but I'm blessed."

My personal blogging tapered off most significantly after an unplanned trip to California at the beginning of October. I knew I'd be taking this trip after a phone call came through on my husband's birthday that a cousin of mine had passed away, I just wasn't aware how quickly it'd happen or how. I had just celebrated another year of life of my sweet husband that I am so blessed to have, only to find out that my cousin (who was only a year older than my husband) was no longer with us on Earth. I did find solace in knowing that he was in a better place, and I could literally see him in my mind being embraced by my grandfather who left us many years ago... but there were still a lot of feelings running through me and thoughts in my mind that still haven't quite settled.

In any case, things turned out wonderfully... my husband was amazing and asked for time to take our little family out to California all together (including his 34 week pregnant wife). He even stayed back at the hotel with all of the children so that I could go to the viewing and funeral. As I walked into the room that my cousin lay there were a lot of different emotions that hit me. It's a pretty sobering experience to be looking at someone you love and who you can remember up and smiling and so full of life, to just seeing a shell. Things were made better by being greeted by ALL of my family members.... my parents and sisters had come in from AZ that morning and my brothers were both there. Being the 7 of us (well 9, plus 2 with my brother-in-laws) was strengthening and uplifting not only to each of us, but it made a big impact on our extended family that we were all there with them. To not only grieve and mourn with them, but to rejoice in life.

I think since then I've reviewed my own mortality quite a bit. What legacy will each one of us leave to those around us? As we walked with family into the chapel after the casket had closed, my heart was full to see that every bench in the chapel was full and that every chair in the extended area had been filled.... the people that had come out on a Thursday morning despite work/school or whatever else they had going on had literally amounted to hundreds of people. Hundreds of lives that had been touched by one man, and that doesn't even count those who couldn't come or who hadn't heard yet. Who are we touching with our lives? What stories and memories will be had of us when we no longer inhabit this body?

We really have no idea what each day holds for us. We have no say as to how long we will be on this earth or what conditions we will live in as we do. Life is such precious gift! As I look at my husband and children it always makes me want to be a better person, but I've tried to increase that resolve as of late. What words will be the last that I say to them? What will they remember me by? My greatest desire is to raise sons that are like unto the Stripling Warriors who have strength and faith in the Lord because of the foundation they were given early in life. And my greatest desire is for my daughter to be like Mary... willing to tell the Lord that His will be done and being worthy of the blessings and trials that He sees fit for her.

I am grateful for life! As the lyrics of this song say: "I've had my share of sunshine and rain, days filled with laughter and nights filled with pain, but with every mile as I travel each day the journey gets sweeter each day."

So, as the kids are yelling, things have been spilled, the house isn't as picked up as we'd like, babies have been up all night (meaning you were up all night) and now you have to be up all day, let's choose joy. The spirits we get to come in contact with each day are so choice and so worth every ounce of our goodness and once that's gone they're worth every minute spent asking God to help buoy us up. Life is precious! We just welcomed our 5th child not too long ago... I have to admit, he had me a little scared along the way. I have 3 friends that were due with babies at the same time who lost theirs into the 2nd trimester, and with out little one's track history of having to endure me having surgery and Nathan being gone I had no idea how this would end. With every pain I was seriously questioning whether he would make it until I was able to hold him in my arms. His name is Zane, it means God is gracious, and that's certainly how I feel!

As you watch this video just think of the words and look into the faces of these wonderful people. Are they perfect? No. But they do have a great perspective on life. While I'm sure my husband will never outright go for having 18 children, and who knows how many more we'll have being one ovary down now, but I look at this family and greatly desire the same. Why? Because raising children is easy of course! Oh, wait, no, that's not it :-). It's because despite the challenges that arise I believe that there are spirits waiting in heaven that need body's and if I can bring them into a home that will teach them that they are children of God and help provide them with the tools they need to return to him then I should. My husband feels this way too... he'd just rather take them one at a time while I'm a big picture kind of gal! In any case, whether this one is our last or if we're blessed with 1 or 2 more I'd be just as happy... God is in control of all that kind of stuff. My job is to enjoy and give thanks for what He's given, improve each day, and learn all that I can so that my children and others can benefit from that knowledge!

Don't take for granted what is given each day. Every breath is a gift, use it wisely and in singing praises to He who gives life.

14 December 2011

TOS Review - Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting iPad App

I can't believe how IN LOVE I've been with the products that I've been sent to review lately. I promise, my only compensation is being given the product to review and I am only asked to give an honest opinion of said product. So, with that disclaimer reiterated....

I LOVE THIS PRODUCT! Why do I love this product? That'd be because 1) There is no objectionable content and is straight forward and because 2) MY DAUGHTER LOVES THIS APP!

No, seriously, she BEGS to "play the letter game." There's no traditional "game" anything about the app, and yet she calls it one!

When you first download Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting App onto the iPad you'll see a colorful icon that says "Letters into Words." After opening the app you'll have the option to get more information about how the program works or to click on "choose a letter." Either way you'll find yourself with the first option of writing letter "u". As most writing programs start with letters that are not set up alphabetically, this one is no different. The "u" sits perfectly onto a curved pattern that the children learn and practice, so it gets to go first. The child is talked through the motions of the pattern and given audio cues as to what is happening (i.e. "down around and, down around and) which I think are great because it gives the child something to think about and visualize as they're later recreating the letters on paper.

One of my favorite features about this program is that as the child "starts at the hole in the letter" and traces the pattern on the screen, whatever they're writing changes color as they follow the right way and makes a little ping sound and makes a "sparkle" when they finish. Perhaps that's what makes it a game for my daughter? I don't know! But I do know that she loves it and has a gigantic smile on her face at the end! Something about that sound and sparkle makes her all kinds of giddy.

This app can be purchased from the apple store for $2.99 (which is also AWESOME).

To see what other crew members are saying about this product you can go here.

*As a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here, and they were not promised a positive review.*

06 December 2011

TOS Review - Artistic Pursuits

It's no secret... my artistic ability, and understanding of it in general, is not that great (yes, I'm the one who looks at things and says "I don't get it"). How does that play in when you have children? Well, I'll tell yah.... it's probably not the best when you look at something your child draws (because they love to draw ALL THE TIME), and cock your head to the side and ask what it is... then hear, try to figure out where they got that from... then say "oh, okay" as enthusiastically as possible (which is lacking), and then wonder where in the world you're going to put yet another drawn on piece of paper or wonder how long until you can throw it away. Yes, it's a hard knock life in the art department here at the Jorgensen household! Mom just doesn't appreciate it, but I'M TRYING!!!!!!

Anyway, my confession (not that you probably hadn't already gathered what it was from reading other posts) is to illustrate how deficient I am in the art department and how crucial getting a copy of Artistic Pursuits: The Way They See It was for me. I knew I needed some help (okay, a lot), in this area, so I was excited to be able to use this product (and I'm sure my children's response could be described as nothing less than ecstatic!)

This version of Artistic Pursuits product is focused on children preschool aged or more specifically for 3, 4, and 5 year olds... and really, that's where EVERYONE is in our home thanks to mom's stellar ability as mentioned above.... To start with, reading through the first few pages gave me a perspective on children's art that I've needed. I learned that for children creating art is a process in which they enjoy, it isn't about a finished product. There's a scenario illustrated in the beginning about a child who made a great project for grandma, he and his mother worked on it for hours, and by the time they reached grandma's the child had completely disassembled the whole thing. His mother thought over the time now wasted and obviously thought the project was now ruined. The child's point of view? Well, once at grandma's he asked for some supplies and had repurposed the project into a new creation that he had been planning out in the car. Surely you and I have never had those moments?!

Anyway, I was able to let go a bit after reading that story. I do try and throw out craft items to the children and just let them create whatever. I don't really care what the end result is, but I do get caught up in the mess and of course storage. It's important to remember how much children learn by creating things, and it really is impressive what the children come up with. What I appreciate about Artistic Pursuits is it's ability to speak to an academic like myself while tying in the creativity of my children and expanding their scope and vision of what is possible.

There are several great color photo's of great paintings in the book and a dialogue across the bottom to engage your children into the art. Admittedly, there is one of a mermaid that I don't like (while you can't "see anything" she's not modest :-D), you can always rip that page out if it's offensive to you... the pages are thick and printed on only one side into a spiral bound book. Other than the one photo the rest are great and factor well into what you're trying to get the child to consider (the difference between real and fake, use of color, different mediums etc), I happen to be a sucker for Monet's and there's quite a few in the book (yes, I don't get most art, but Monet is pretty straight forward for me... what can I say?)

I think we'll be buying additional materials from Artistic Pursuits, I live with a lot of artists! I love that they can explore different things (crayons, markers, paint, dough), and I get an explanation of what they're thinking/how they perceive things in a non-consumable book (also a bonus for me). It's almost like I have a page in front of me that says "it's good that they're doing this, it means that they are learning "x"". It's a lot more fun too that I get to have a part in the learning/growth and can appreciate the innate exploration/creativity of my children. So, definitely a win for me! I wish I would have bought this book earlier... I had heard it touted as a great resource for art but wasn't really up for paying the price for it... well, I missed out! I'm excited to share more time with my children on these endeavors and I'm glad that I've gotten the chance to let you know that it really is worth it! I like that this book changes things up around here too... it's a great way to enjoy our "Christmas break" as we get ready for the school year to start again in January and a nice way to shake things up in general. I think Artistic Pursuits will be making my bag of "school items" getting on the plane with us shortly.

You can buy Aritistic Pursuits (and their books for older children) for $42.95 by going here.

You're more than welcome to see what other crew members are saying by going here. I know many were able to get pictures of their children creating the art as well as samples of what they created.

*As a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here, and they were not promised a positive review.*