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!

20 October 2012

A Few Thoughts and What Homeschooling Looks Like Around Here Now

I had planned a grand exedous from the blogging world. Okay, maybe not grand, but you know what I mean?! And then all of my favorite bloggers all did it at the same time, so I chose to remain silent :-). SO, what am I doing now?

Well, trying to figure out life really! I used to profess to people with their kids in school away from home that their lives were busier and just thinking about all they had to do gave me ulcers. Well, it still does, but unfortunately I'm one of those people and the busyness/ulcer inducing/craziness is exactly what I had always thought it would be.... if not worse (And I imagined it was pretty bad in the first place! No joke!! People would wonder how I home schooled, I said my life was easier that way and I meant every word!)

I spend about 3 hours everyday taking kids back and forth from school, then there's homework, and getting stuff together (did you know that there's a million bags to pack for Japanese school? And stuff to wash bi-weekly... or more... including indoor shoes, PE clothes, smocks, uniforms, hats, handkerchiefs and towels, cleaning towels, silverware sets for kindergarten), and that all this stuff you ask your children about, they profess that they have everything, then you walk by a pencil box or the little vinyl zip bag that has the notebook that you send back and forth daily as communication between parents and the sensei... or I magically become in possession of 15 papers that came home from the school the day before (that I can't read). It's almost more fun then I can relate :-D. So that takes another hour or more each day and usually leaves me feeling less than overjoyed about this whole "school" business. Around all of this I feed my husband lunch everyday, somehow feed everyone else at least 3 times a day, grocery shop, and try to keep up on English studies with the older ones (cause if I don't they start writing their names backwards), the 3 at home are still trying to learn, but I rarely have time for that with running, and then cooking, we're lucky if they get naps in, which makes them oh so very cranky. The ones at school are also cranky when they get home, my daughter has more sass then is healthy for a teenager and my son is either being bullied or bullying someone to the point where we were having nightly phone calls with his sensei. They cry and whine when they're asked to pick up THEIR OWN clothes, and my head threatens exploding at least once daily :-)

In any case! I've had to revamp and rethink and try to figure out everything from square one... again. I've come up with a few previously less then ideal options that have since become golden for me!

My 4 year old wants so badly to learn, but I can't sit and do things with him because there isn't time.... it's literally ridiculous... I now know why fast food was invented, people are overly exhausted, kids don't like working, care more about friends then family, and why parents don't really like their kids. It's all because of SCHOOL!! Okay, okay, I digress. My solution has been the computer. Time4Learning and Ooka Island have been wonderful for our family. I've signed everyone up, and have dropped some of the guilt that comes from not having two seconds to think. I know they're getting information in, even the 2 year old is getting a lot out of it just being in the background.

We're also going over the Confessions of a Homeschooler Daily Learning Packets and I found a really cool other option that we're going to start implementing. My friend linked to a fantastic resource that allows me to put the kids work into binders easily. Which is great! Because we are on a perpetual time crunch this allows us to have everything for each kid all set up and ready to go (as opposed to being able to switch out things with kids and work together on the wall/board.... yes, I mourn my full-time homeschooling life... sorry...) Anyway, that site offers cheap resources and is having a giveaway right now, so I thought I'd let you know!

On top of that we try to read often. I've been reading a shortened classic each night at dinner. It's not how I want to do things, but it works :-). Trying to using my Discover the Scriptures worksheets more too. I've taken a break from them and it's time to get back into it. Our scripture study has be dismal and that plus all the kids face at school just isn't cutting it. We're going to start focusing on gospel stuff more in the morning to prep them for school and then thanks to the internet programs everyone can get in other lessons afterwards... which then frees me up a bit to teach them and help with piano.

*laugh* On a happy note, we have a fantastic dog that we reduced in June (right after Grayson was released from the hospital... mommy needed a friend that doesn't go TDY or get Deployed :-D). He's been wonderful and goes everywhere. The beginning was rough since he came from a bad situation, but he's great now.

Our baby will be a year next month and just got his first haircut today... the other kids are amazing me with their ability to learn Japanese, we have a wonderful ward and it's helping me to pick up Japanese as well, Nathan's job is going pretty good. Can't really complain! Just having to take time to try and keep things moving! So, maybe I'll be back to update or maybe not, but in the meantime, know that it's been fun and I still stalk some of your blogs in the moments that I sit to take a breath :-). Thanks for your inspiration!


15 August 2012

TOS Review: Thomas Jefferson Education

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY!!! F A N T A S T I C resource. Rachel DeMille from A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJed), has put together an incredible weekly email FULL of wonderful links and information to help your family dive into history.

Over the last few weeks I've been receiving emails from Rachel DeMille that have made me wonder why I never tried this before! We love the TJed philosophy, their focus on leadership education is what caused us to commit to homeschooling 6 years ago, it just made sense! The TJed focus is more on mentoring/sharing information with your child, as opposed to a particular curriculum. Here you really get see how to put this method into work by taking one topic a day and really exploring it. Through This Week in History you and your children are introduced to cultures, foods, people, math, science, reading, poetry, history all by something(s) that happened related to that on a particular day that week.

You can see samples of This Week in History here.

Another great thing about this program is that with their archives and website options you can choose WHEN you'll get the emails, as well as research other days so that you can better prepare for the week or special day ahead.

I will definitely be adding This Week in History to our budget. I find that it's a wonderful gem because there's a collection of information all put together in one spot and presented in such a way that I could only dream of! With so many young children, and few hours of sleep, I don't really have the time to research the way that I'd like to. Here, Rachel DeMille has shared her "mission" with us and has done the work for me that I could only hope to do on my own.

As we head back into the school year here in a few short weeks I look forward to being able to scale back and just play/enjoy subjects. One days email was especially fun... it talked about a festival in Japan that involved tying streamers to trees, and that totally explained what I had seen just days earlier! It also involved links to origami instruction websites and maps of Japan. I just so happen to take that lesson to heart :-), I was living it and seeing it firsthand!

Having access to This Week in History taught me a lot about so many things that I didn't expect and it got me excited to see what was coming next. We had fun conversations about San Francisco's streets this last week after my children saw a picture of a trolley car on my email. It sparked conversation about a trip I had taken there with my mom and sister 15 years ago. From there we had many questions to ponder that were placed as prompts, there were mazes/coloring pages, and links to more things to help explore the topic. This is what education should be! And here having it laid out for me is more than I could ask for.

For the price of $10 a month you can have access to all of the amazing work that's already prepared for you. To sign up for This Week in History you can go to the TJed Website here.

To see what other crew members are saying about TJed's This Week in History, you can go here.

**Disclaimer: I was given free access to This Week in History in return for my honest opinion. I have not received any other compensation and the opinions expressed are all mine.**

13 August 2012

TOS Review: Math Made Easy

I've been really blessed with the last reviews that I've been on... I never would have thought that I needed these products or that they would be perfect, but here we are! Yet another wonderful addition to our home and I couldn't have imagined how well this would fall into place.

Math Made Easy puts out products in addition and multiplication to help children learn math facts easily. The product I received is "Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy." This book was created by Glenda Brown James, the outside cover isn't flashy (it actually feels quite 70's/80's which makes me like it even more... although, in fairness, it was originally published in 1995 and then revised in 2003), there's no tricks, it's just straight forward and fun.
I prefer hands on math... After all the years that I've been in school just so I could learn a few things that were crammed down my throat and not remember much of anything, I've always been on the look out for something different. I do own a math curriculum that I really like and fits the bill nicely, but with our move we ended up putting our children in Japanese schools and where we were with our currently curriculum wasn't cutting. Hence what I meant about the timing of this product being perfect!

The "Philosophy of Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy" takes the stance that memorizing addition facts is essential. Over the course of 6 weeks children learn 6 facts a week, in a random order, to help them really know the addition facts without using their fingers to count... they also avoid repetition, hence there being only 36 facts (6+0 and 0+6 are the same thing, teach redundancy and leave it at that!) The learning without counting on their fingers was important to me. The curriculum we already used encouraged using an abacus and learning to visualize the problems in ones mind citing that using fingers to count was inefficient. I totally agree! With Addition Made Easy I've also been able to add to that the understanding that memorizing addition facts (as long as it's fun!) can not only help things stick, but give your child a good solid basis that will help them reach higher in math. There are drills with flashcards involved, which I told myself I would never do, but it works! And it's fun!

Okay, so the moral of my babble is that the Japanese schools keep working on addition (and subtraction), so my oldest is doing that a lot at school and then in homework.... and he gets them all right.... and he counts them all on his fingers :-). Drives us C R A Z Y, to watch him do it this way. It's not only inefficient, but it goes against everything that we've tried to establish at home. We're currently on summer break (YAY, THERE WAS AND IS MUCH REJOICING IN THE LAND!!!!), so we've been able to work with Math Made Easy in an attempt to add some of our philosophy back in with the repetitive work of the schools and the result is exactly what I've hoped for.

The book that you receive includes an addition pre-test and post-test so that you can gauge where your child is at. The instruction is to only answer the questions that are known and to not count on your fingers. From there you find that there are Lesson Plans for each day and activity sheets, as well as tests for each week. The writer recommends creating your own tests daily and says that if your child can complete the problem in 8 seconds or less that they're not counting on their fingers and will be successful in higher levels of math (I hope so! No, not cause I know math or have a burning desire to be knee deep in calculus anytime soon.... It's because I think everything is worth learning and if my children have the building blocks now that will open up the doors for great ability and enjoyment in math then I'm game!)

Okay, focusing now :-). By drawing pictures of math problems, to coloring, to word problems, to puzzles, to breaking codes, pinning hair bows on clothes pins to a card stock cut out of a girl with pigtails, spinning a wheel to answer a math fact, a "gum ball machine game, this book is full of wonderful resources to help your child memorize the addition facts. My favorite learning is the kind where you don't even know you're doing it, and this product allows for that. I'm VERY happy with it and will no doubt buy the multiplication book. Even the flash cards that are provided in the book are on good card stock and written nice and big. Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy is completely un-intimidating for parents and child and helps you to relax with your child. You can take lessons on their schedule, whether that's one lesson (or less) a day, or more per day. After using it for a few weeks I'm confident that my son will be able to step back in to the classroom and find himself making quick work of the worksheets he gets and eager to learn more!

Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy can be purchased for $24.95 from Math Made Easy. The HomeSchool Addition Book is what we have.

To see what other Crew members have to say about their Math Made Easy experience you can visit the crew blog here.

**I received a copy of this product for free to use with my family in exchange for my honest opinion.**

01 August 2012

TOS Review: Zane Education

Zane Education is a company that specializes in providing educational materials to K-12 students. Their philosophy is that visual learning helps children of all needs and background and as such, they've developed not only a large library of educational videos, but have equipped all of those videos with subtitles. Studies have shown that children learn better when having access to media presented this way... I know that I have really benefitted from subtitles here (Japan has them on pretty much EVERYTHING! And that's all we watch, so I've learned quite a bit and associate information much better than I did before). Anyway, here's more information on subtitles and how they benefit students:

*The video list under catalogue found on this page pulls up a 40 page PDF with all of the video titles in small print (there's actually 41, I'm just not counting the title page :-D).

To name a few from the list that may be of interest: there's Drama, Art, Understanding Poetry (this will be for my personal endeavor, I seriously don't get poetry... especially if it doesn't rhyme, I know... I know... you don't need to actually say anything about that! I'm working on it!), Math, Music, Science - Animals, Plants, Earth, Solar System, Human Body (this is more where my kids are, hence listing more of what interests us at the moment... for older kids there is more that focus on Ecology, Life Sciences and more, all kinds of History (That's where we're headed to next! Haven't had to a chance try it out on them yet, but I have no doubt that it'll be received well).

Along with their large library of videos, Zane Education also offers lesson plans and quizzes.

There is also a Study Center tab that offers additional sections of helps like: World Fact Book, Video Glossary, Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia and catalog.

I think that the Zane Education videos have the potential to be very helpful. The biggest downside to me is that there isn't a way to expand the video screen to a whole screen... with so many people needing to see, that's important to me. I also know that this program is targeted to all different settings (schools and home schools alike), and I fail to see how their format would project well. The videos may also not be that "exciting" for a lot of audiences, but we're documentary geeks around here, so they are just fine by me! If you'd like to see for yourself information on Zane Education Membership can be found here.

A Basic Membership can be purchased for FREE and gives you access to:
-demo versions of Zane's 1,000+ subtitled curriculum videos for K-12
-all non-subtitled curriculum Math videos for K-12
-all 260 online interactive curriculum quizzes for K12
-all of the K12 educational resources in the More Resources section including the World Factbook, World Leaders Guide, Historical documents and much more.
**A NOTE FROM THE WEBSITE: A Free Basic Membership only provides access to demo versions of our 1,000+ curriculum videos for K-12 for Art, Music, History, Science, Biology, Literature, Geography, Social Sciences, Library Skills, Health and Religious Studies. To use the full versions you need to upgrade to a Gold, Silver or Bronze Membership.**

Another great option to get a good look at if this program is right for you would be the A Topic Taster Membership for $5 a month. With the Topic Taster you can select a topic and watch all the curriculum K-12 in that topic as well as the Free Lesson Plan in addition to all of the above.

More information and offerings on membership can be accessed here. There are also Gold, Silver and Bronze options.... so, something for everyone!

Because it includes everything that Zane Education offers, here is the explanation of a Gold Membership:
Access to ALL of Zane's 1,000+ subtitled curriculum videos for K-12*
Access to the non-subtitled curriculum Math videos for K-12
Access to Free Lesson Plans for all 260+ curriculum Topics for K-12
Access to online Video Study Tools
Access to all 260 online interactive curriculum quizzes for K12
Free downloadable copy of Zane's Learning Video Catalogue (worth $49.95)
Free downloadable copy of Zane's Christian Home Learning Guide (worth $49.95)
Access to all of the K12 educational resources in the Study Center section including the World Factbook, World Leaders Guide, Historical documents and much more.
24-Hour Tech Support
Cost: $17.99 per month or
$197.89 per year
Either recurring payment of $17.99 per month or single payment of $197.89 per year (saves approximately 10% - you pay for 11 months and get the 12th month free).

Comment: A Gold Membership represents the best value for money providing an 84% discount (Saves $1,225) on buying the use of each video topic separately and a 93% discount (Saves $3552) on buying each CD-ROM separately.

We aren't really much for watching things on TV/Computer, but I would like to use these videos a bit more and work them into our curriculum more. I appreciate the closed captioning, and I've noticed over the last few years just how visual more children are. Being able to see a place or person/state/what have you, helps them better gel together what they're learning. So! While I don't necessarily want to use screen time too teach, Zane Education does help to reinforce information and they're lesson plans help me think through subjects that I hadn't considered/figured out how to go about.

An added bonus? I can see this program being awfully handy when anyone is sick or when we're looking to relax for a few minutes!

To see what other TOS Crew members are saying about Zane Education, feel free to go here.

**I was given free Gold Membership access to Zane Education in return for my honest review of their product.**

23 July 2012

TOS Review: Knowledge Quest Maps

When asked if I wanted to review a product that would offer Maps that helped overlay History and Geography... and I could have 6 sets that included the US edition... there was really no question!

Knowledge Quest Maps offers several different products either in CD-ROM or e-book form to help you in teaching your children about time periods throughout history. In their words:

"Map Trek is an atlas plus historical outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school."

I LOVE history, but I'm relearning everything and then some. On top of that my children are pretty quick and asking lots of questions so that I'm constantly trying to keep up with them. We're currently working through a states curriculum from a different source, but being able to pull out more specific maps and see changes that have happened over time has been really handy. With the MapTrek US Edition I have 53 historical maps, 50 state maps, 3 full U.S. Maps, 109 student maps and complete lesson plans at my disposal at any time. I also like that I don't have to scour the internet for a clear map... please tell me that I'm not the only one who's done that?! Seriously, I can't tell you how many google searches I've done in hopes of finding the perfect map that's in my head. These are nice because they aren't overly detailed and the main ideas that I'm trying to get across are clear. The main objective of this company is to enhance learning, and I think that they complete this pretty successfully.

A Sample Map can be downloaded from here. There are only 4 provided here, but at least you can see what some of the maps look like.

If you'll notice, the maps are designed to not eat up too much ink, which is a bonus, and it allows you some freedom in how you/your child chooses to color the map. I find it a lot more effective in teaching geography to let my children fill in the details they thought pertinent (i.e. if they want to use it to draw the topography then great! OR the state flower and bird, or main commodities, whatever! Here they can fill in what's important to them, and I like that :-D).

Map Trek can also be easily used along with many curriculums like A Child's History of the World, Story of the World, Veritas Press, Streams of Civilization, TruthQuest History and more. You can find free curriculum integration guides for FREE here.

The Map Trek products can be purchased here. The Ancient World, Medieval World, New World, and Modern World can all be purchased for $14.95 per e-book or as a complete CD-ROM collection for $39.95. The US Edition CD-ROM or ebook is $19.95. Or you can purchase a 6-EBook Set (that includes the US etc) for $47.00... which, I think, is the best value.

To see what other crew members have to say about MapTrek you can visit the crew blog.

*As a member of the TOS crew I was given a copy of MapTrek in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no other compensation.*

20 June 2012

TOS Review: Creation Illustrated

Creation Illustrated is a magazine put out quarterly by the Ish family for the last 19 years.

I wasn't too sure how these would work in our home... it didn't have as much photography as I'd expected (But what is there is impressive), and it has quite a bit of advertising (which is understandable, I can't imagine the overhead costs of publishing a magazine as a family).... but then in the Fall 2011 issue I learned that cheetah's are, in fact, not he fastest land animal (hello, when did a prong-horn attain the same speed and how did I not know that they could keep it up longer than the cheetah? And gazelles can out run cheetahs? Yes, this mom is once again humbled and needing to brush up on her science) So, learning something new made me see more of the benefits of having these magazines around.

I like that the covers of the magazine, as well as the pages, are printed on good thick glossy paper. I can see these standing up through the punishment of being in a home with little ones better than other subscriptions that I receive. Inside Creation Isslustrated you'll find a table of contents breaking down the selection into the sections of:
-"... In Nature",
-."... In Scripture",
-"... In Living"

All of the portions of this magazine hit on Christian principles put into use, which is expected, and teach valuable lessons that relate to our lives. I liked that aspect of things. Admittedly, the scripture section doesn't fit our beliefs or how we explain things, but it does give the children something and I to talk about... I don't know that I'd be reading it verbatim out to my little guys, but when they're older/motivated to read those sections on their own, we could discuss them in more depth. For now, I kind of skip it or give a summary of the information in better alignment with our belief system. This alone wouldn't deter me from purchasing the magazines, since the in nature section is pretty awesome and informative and the recipes provided in "... In living" are fun!

Although I enjoy having these around for the kids to thumb through, I don't know if I'm all that sold on buying more right now. They don't pick up the magazines as much as I thought they would, but maybe they will when they're a bit older?

Creation Illustrated is available to purchase here in 3 different options:
1 year (4 issues) - $19.95
2 years (8 issues) - $37.95
3 years (12 issues) - $53.95

and will ship to Canada for an additional postage fee of $5.00 per year, or for foreign purchasers it's $10 per year.

There is a special being offered now for a $5.00 discount for subscribers and.... of course, my personal favorite thing a company can offer.....

A FREE INTRODUCTORY ISSUE FOR BLOG READERS. I LOVE when you can try out something free of charge to see if it's a fit for you. Here's the fine print on the free issue:

"YES! Please send me a Free Trial Issue of Creation Illustrated (retail value $4.99). I understand that my order will be placed as a subscription, and I will receive a notice with the opportunity to pay and continue receiving Creation Illustrated. If I like it, I'll pay just $19.95 for a full year, 4 more issues, PLUS my Free one makes 5! If I choose not to subscribe, I can write "cancel" on the bill, return it, and owe nothing. The Free issue is mine to keep."

Go check it out, what have you got to lose? With a free copy it might be what you're looking for to keep around the house to help inspire your children's curiosity in the world around them.

To see what other crew members are saying about Creation Illustrated you can go here.

**As a member of the TOS Crew I was provided with a free year subscription to Creation Illustrated in return for my honest review of the product.**

11 June 2012

TOS Review: Rainbow Sentences

Mobile Education Tools sent our family a link for their "Rainbow Sentences" app to review recently. Our iPad has been doing quite a bit of world traveling over the last month with my husband, so he ended up playing around with the app for this review more than anyone else in our family :-).

Rainbow Sentences is a product that is made for the iPad and specifically targets special needs and then general education students. The recommended ages are 3-6 and 6-10, but we disagree. While many of the parts of the program have the ability to "speak" this app isn't really going to help a child who can't read/doesn't have a good idea about words. For example, while the words that you're moving to make a sentence are said, if you don't know that there's a horse in the picture, you won't be able to build "the horse is jumping." It would also be nice if the pictures were interactive. We can see this app being a good one to supplement whatever teaching is being done at home/school for special needs children, but given a few hours our 6 and 7 year olds could complete all of the sentences this product has to offer while our 4 year old (with Aspergers) would find this difficult.

This program works by providing 3 levels of learning where they build pre made sentences by looking at a picture, then dragging jumbled words from the bottom of the page to the blank lines on top. In the setup for the app you're able to turn color coding of the words on and off... which also adds a degree of complexity since you can go through the product with the words and lines color coded, then go through again having turned one or both sets off (I hope that makes sense!) The visual support is nice and is potentially very helpful.

Along with this concept we learn that "the who" of the sentence is red etc. While this feature is great, at no time do we actually connect that this "who" is the subject of the sentence. This one thing was my husband's biggest issue with the app. He wanted to hear at least a mention of subject, noun, verb, but only got "who, what, when, where, why" and that bothered him. A connection between what is being learned visually with the word that is used in real world application would be great! While you could get away with this method of introducing sentence parts in homeschool for a while, in our minds you would need to at least throw out the word "subject" just so that the child at least hears the word in relation to what they're working with. Just a thought :-)

This video provides an overview of the product (I'd skip ahead to about minute 2 to see the app in action):

The other thing that I would tweak would be to add the ability to have students create their own sentences, or at least add updates for free that would allow children more practice. As it stands right now there is an end to Rainbow Sentences, once all the sentences/levels are gone through there isn't any more that can be done with it. While this probably wouldn't bother me if the app cost was cheaper, I think the price (listed below) begs to have a littler more versatility or added lifespan of use. Personally, at the given price I wouldn't be interested in the product, but then again, if my older children that are in a position to use this app currently, had special needs I would probably reconsider. Many of the current reviews on Rainbow Sentences state how wonderful it has been for many children on the Autism spectrum.

Additional features on the app include:
*the ability to record your voice, or child's, saying the correct sentence and then save it for later use.
*statistics (how many tries it took to get the sentence correct)
*the ability to email statistics
*a simple reward system of getting a puzzle piece for completing a certain number of sentences, and then at level completion the puzzle is finished and does a short animation (this is neat, and I like that it's rewarding without being lavish... one thing that would be nice is to say the goal "get 5 sentences correct for a puzzle piece" otherwise, again, the non-readers are left out if mom and dad aren't right there).

My husband happily reported the design is SOLID. He spends quite a bit of time helping developers to improve their app designs, and this is one that he enjoyed from the aspect that it didn't have any crashing issues and that it performed exactly the way that the information page said it would. All that means a lot coming from him! (I've seen the back and forth emails between him and programmers :-D).

While we do have some things that we would change about this app, and most likely won't give our older children a lot of time with it without being nearby to throw in additional information (like what parts of speech are actually called), this is probably a great app for those looking for something more to help their children with basic sentence structure. As my 4 year old gets a bit older I may find that this is perfect for his needs and I'll be sure to update this accordingly :-). As with anything else, it's worth going to take a look!

Rainbow Sentences can be purchased from the iTunes app store for $7.99

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

**This app was provided to me free of charge for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been received.**

30 May 2012

TOS Review: Dive Into Your Imagination

Hi there! The latest obsession of my family is nature documentaries… (we don't normally watch much of anything, but we've needed lots of distractions lately and nature documentaries not only provide entertainment but they're also educational! :-D).

Annie Crawley with the Dive Into Your Imagination company sent us a great ocean DVD for kids. I was slightly nervous at first to watch a show entitled "Dive Into Diversity", thanks to how the term has been used to push other agenda's, but with a little research I was soon excited with the opportunity. Annie Crawley's knowledge of sea life, and her ability to capture what happens under water with a camera, is pretty amazing. Not only did the DVD contain information perfectly suited towards children on the topics of sea life, but there were also segments that showed and explained the equipment used in the making of the film (scuba gear and an underwater camera…. which thanks to the video I now know works similarly to the eye, i.e. needing a pocket of air in front of it… no, I did not know that before, please keep your laughing to a minimum! *laugh*), as well as a look at how a musical score is made (WHAT A COOL JOB!). For your knowledge, diversity is addressed a like so: "Diversity means variety. It means differences in shapes, sizes, skills, and colors. Diversity in nature helps protect the balance that is necessary in the world. In the animal kingdom, animals rely on their distinguishing features in order to survive.
Some animals might be fast, while others are slow. Some might be long, while others are short. One might be purple, while another is green.
Can you think of one way that you are different from another person? This is diversity." Later in the same tidbit in the written material (which I talk about further down)... not the video.... it's briefly mentioned how there a couple different fish that are born one gender and then turn into another. That's all that's said, I'm not going to try to read too much into the mention of that... it's a true fact, so, that's that :-)
I LOVED the segment of the DVD that goes over sea life that are out at night. We were all pretty captivated by the amazing color show that happens underwater! I felt like we learned a lot and got to enjoy some great filmography. I'll definitely be buying the other DVD's in the series: What Makes a Fish a Fish and Who Lives in the Sea? Older kids may not enjoy these as much, but I found them interesting and so did my little guys. Personally I didn't need to see video of kids swimming etc., but I know younger children like the correlation between what they see and personal experiences.

Along with the DVD I was sent a link to the PDF Educator Guides that are meant as a companion for each selection. All of the guides are around 300 pages long and are full of additional information, pictures to color, activities, and additional photo's for grades K-6. As with any material, there is need to make sure that you've done your homework before presenting it to your children. The educational guides are not from a Christian perspective, but they're not really evolutionary either... on page 116 of the guide under "Imagination Value" the idea is to visit a kelp forest in your mind (which is a pretty cool idea), but then it says "Remember to give GRATITUDE to our Ocean... (all capitalization came from the guide there, nothing tweaked by me, so yah, I think Ocean with a capital "O" isn't what we'll be discussing :-). For us it'll be thanking our Heavenly Father, but I can't really blame the curriculum itself for those issues I suppose). These guides are also geared toward a classroom setting, but could easily be changed for a homeschooling environment... as said above. The introduction of new vocabulary and new animals with pictures to color is fun and I really like the projects.... I DON'T, however, like that they cater to "common core curriculum", but that's another story in and of itself, and doesn't really effect this guide from what I've seen so far (I'll let you know if something comes up in the future, but for now, what I see is easily adaptable and safe for your home).

The Dive Into Your Imagination DVD's may be purchased here for $19.95. There is also FREE SHIPPING for the month of June for our readers.

The guides are available as a printed version for $299 (for the whole set of them) or as individual PDFs for $69.95. As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, she will gift you a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!

I would definitely take advantage of the free educators guides by buying a DVD now. As packed with information as they are, I wouldn't actually buy them myself. I'm happy that I have them and I'll be using quite a few things again over the years, but the pricing is a bit steep for us, and I'm not 100% sold on everything in it enough to make the kind of investment that the printed matter or PDF's require. I'm sure it's not that big of a deal for a school district, but as a homeschooler who'd have to do quite a bit of changing here and there, I'd probably look elsewhere.... the DVD is great though!

To see what other Crew members are saying about this product please go here.

**As a member of the TOS Crew I was provided a copy of Dive Into Diversity and access to the educator guides free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no compensation for this review.**

27 May 2012

And.... We're back!

What happens when your husband goes TDY back to the states two days after your two oldest children end up having surgery (for tonsils/adnenoids + tubes because of severe hearing loss).... well, your two year old develops a high fever that you stave off valiantly but he's still miserable and you're up all night with him AND your 6 month old who must be teething, of course! A few days after all this begins you take said two year old into the doctor because even though he seems to be feeling better things aren't quite right (like he moves his whole body instead of just moving his neck when trying to look at something). Long story short, you think you're maybe going to get antibiotics.... then you may have to be at the base hospital a day or two.... then you end up in a Japanese hospital in Tokyo for a while and your son needs surgery (and dad is still back in the states for 3 more days). Anyway!!! I have about a thousand people to thank for keeping my older kids and for coming traveling two hours each way to hold my baby round the clock (because he was not allowed in the ICU but still needed to nurse every 2 hours), but we're finally home! Craziness! In any case, we're home, not quite normal but at least happy that we're all here together! The two year old was relinquished to the base for recovery (which is a whole other story! I was persistent and MANY prayers were offered... said two year old was supposed to still be sedated and intubated in Tokyo as I type this, but instead he is resting comfortably in his bed... yes, I'm feeling VERY blessed!) So, I have a few reviews for you, random thoughts and just a need to write/type in general! For now, it's time to get ready for bed and set things in place for tomorrow! Thanks for hanging in there! ~Cherie

09 May 2012

Blogger Question

All of my posts are coming out as one long novel despite them being broken up by paragraph when I write them. Are there any suggestions out there? This didn't happen pre-blogger changes. I'm using a Mac, does that effect anything? Any suggestion will be helpful! As you're aware, my posts are a little lengthy at times, it's nice to have them broken up so they aren't so intimidating... and feel less like the run-on sentences that they are. :-D Thank you!

The Lessons from Learning a New Language as an Adult

There's nothing like feeling like you know nothing to help you learn :-D. I get a lot of time to quietly reflect as well as to listen wholeheartedly as of late. While I'm trying to be diligent about studying Japanese, let's face it, I didn't grow up here, serve a two year mission as a young adult, or work at it at all during the last 8 years that I've been married to a Japanese speaker (but, in my defense, a few of those years said Japanese speaker was living and working in Korea where he spoke Korean everyday.... yah, that's the other part of my defense, I'm married to a talented linguist who hears and picks up on things that are a not even on my radar! It's intimidating, he does his best to help, but he's having to work with someone that isn't naturally good at non-romance languages and some days are better than others :-D. Things went about the same way when I tried learning Korean, and just like those years, I found that the Koreans were a lot easier to learn from. Similarly, using my caveman Japanese (a term a friend here coined), the Japanese people have been very patient and helpful in expanding my understanding. From there comes the listening part... I understand very little! The phrase that I use more often then I'd like to is わかりません "wakarimasen" .. I don't understand :-). I'm getting better with hiragana and can type it etc., so I'm leaps and bound ahead of where I was, but still not where I want to be. The people here are AMAZING! It pains me that I can't converse with them more. So, I listen and try to pick up on context and words to help me decipher what is being spoken. This especially applies to our time at church. Most of the time I have NO CLUE what's going on, but it's good though. I listen and reflect more than ever and for that I'll be forever grateful. Again, it's hard that I can't communicate as I'd like, but just being a quiet observer has taught me a lot I've also noticed how this experience has increased my desires and abilities to teach my children language. It's tout learning a new language! That total applies to the little people in our homes... I think I took for granted the ability of children to pick up on language. There brains are definitely squishy and able to learn quickly (my 4 older kids all have honed into the Japanese sounds and diction and are mixing Japanese words with their English... which I totally encourage, it's been so fun! And we're only like 12 weeks into about 3 years of being here!) Anyway, my patience level with teaching reading and writing has increased by a million and my efforts to teach language to my little ones in both English and Japanese have been infused with more vigor than ever. Anyway, I don't know how many of you are going to drop what you're doing to move to a foreign country and immerse yourself, but I absolutely recommend learning a new language and conversing with someone that speaks it regularly. I've learned a lot about myself and my chidden over the last few weeks! It's hard to grow and stretch... it hurts!... but we're better for it in the end. Might I also extend a challenge to those whose husbands speak a foreign language? LEARN IT NOW :-D. I'm LDS and all worthy men asked to serve missions for two years when they're 19 (women can also go at 21 if they so choose). One of the things that I keep hearing over and over is how men have been reproved for not teaching their wives the language that they learned. Elderly couples are asked to serve missions as well and the message that keeps coming through is that the Lord needs couple missionaries to serve in foreign countries and that it's especially important for the wives to be able to communicate with the people there. So! If you're husband served a foreign mission maybe it's time to start learning? Definitely pray and talk to your husband about things at the very least, it may surprise you what you find :-). (And might I add, while my brain isn't as squishy/able to learn language as easily as when I was a child, I'm sure it's a lot easier to do now then it would be later in life!) We have a senior missionary couple here right now that's reminded me of this. The wife (Sister) and I work on Japanese once a week. She's studying hard and getting better everyday, but it's HARD! She remembers a prayer her husband taught her when they were first married and things like that, but the new stuff is difficult. She wishes she would have learned more then when it stuck. She also shared an experience from the MTC of her husband getting reproved for not teaching her Japanese. I keep hearing these stories! So, with the aid of much prayer and my dear husband who prays to know how to teach me, we're trying to move forward and prepare ourselves to serve the Lord wherever he may need us. For now, He needs us here and prepping our future missionaries by also helping them to learn a new language diligently (and to help their mom be better able to teach them their current language :-D). He's also teaching me to love all people and cultures, to find beauty in small things, and to quietly watch and listen. I'm grateful for these lessons. They're not easy... especially with an infant, still moving in, 2 kids in 2 different schools (where I also can't communicate with anyone effectively yet!), and a husband's who's business trips take up a lot of room on our calendar... but I'm learning! Are you learning a language or have you tried in the past? What keeps you going?

TOS REVIEW: Homeschool Library Builder

I crave books and LOVE having them in my hands... I'm sure you know the feeling! I especially enjoy sharing this experience with my children because, I'm sorry, there's no e-reader out there that warms a moment in the same way that cuddling with a good book does (I've tried, we own a whole family of such products and there really is no replacement for flipping through pages for me!) Anyway! I came across a TOS opportunity to review Homeschool Library Builder and went to take a look at what was offered because I had never heard of them..... and let's just say things got a little crazy! I wasn't sure what the concept behind the company was at first (I'm pretty sure I still have jet-lag or something like that ;-)), but they weren't kidding! The Homeschool Library Builder website is tailor made for us homeschoolers (with, dare I say, book addictions? :-D), who are looking to add to our libraries and do so on a budget. After poking around the different tabs on the website I found myself staring at a whole list of books broken down by curriculum. While we're kind of an all over the place family when it comes to homeschooling (like most of you), I was really curious when I saw a hyperlink for Five in a Row, and then a sub-link to Before Five in a Row (a "curriculum" that I wanted to start with my little boys again soon). Yep, I was hooked! There were books that I have desperately wanted... if you saw my Amazon.com wish list you would know that I'm in no way kidding about that.... but have yet to purchase because the pricing was too much. I was able to get ALL of the books that I wanted for a FRACTION of the price through Homeschool Library Builder, and oh so much more! My package shipped immediately and got here to Japan incredibly fast. While the library here is a good one, taking 5 little kids into it with a specific list of books to find isn't one of my favorite things to do :-). Needless to say, having these in my home "to keep forever!" (as my children noted when I told them that I bought these), have brought much joy! This picture was in no way staged... I sat down to finish this post, the books were stacked up by the piano, and the children just grabbed them up and went their own ways... my house is still really quiet as they gobble up their new treasures. The Homeschool Library Builder history and mission statement can be found here: "Homeschool Library Builder is co-owned by two veteran homeschool families dedicated to Christ-centered education. Our desire is to help homeschool families affordably collect books for their literary-based educational needs. We stock both new and used books found in popular literature-based homeschool curricula, as well as select titles to supplement your unit studies. Whether you're looking for educational or leisure, inspirational or reference, self-help, activity, or classic reading, we are committed to providing wholesome materials that will enrich the entire family." We've certainly found this to be true and hope that by writing about these fantastic women will guide you to getting affordable books for your family! I had personal interaction with the lovely Gayla of Homeschool Library Builder... she had been out of town when I initially placed my order, then I sent an email asking if I could add to my order (because I went scouring in their other sections that are broken down by age etc... yah, I'm surprised I didn't buy them out!). Anyway, I hadn't heard back from them, but I did get a call one morning at 3am after having just hopped back in bed from being up with our 5 month old. On the other end of the line was the sweetest voice you can imagine! She was telling me that I could add to my order, but I was trying not to say too much because Nathan was still asleep... poor Gayla was horrified when I told her the time and apologized over and over. I had a good laugh about it, and we talked again the following week and laughed about it together (this time at about 9:30 am :-D). For some reason her emails weren't coming through to me, so she took the time to personally call (and adjust her work hours so she could call at a good time for me), and we had a great chat! She also let me know of additional books that she had gotten in for the genre that I was looking for. I'm ABSOLUTELY happy with the order that I received from Homeschool Library Builder and will definitely be ordering from them again (actually, I should probably just add it to the monthly budget at this point!). Signing up to be a member (for FREE) on the website will allow you to get updates on upcoming specials going on with the company. They also provide a military discount! The books all vary by price and condition... there's a description on the page to tell you if the book is new, used, or if there's a crease somewhere etc. Many of the books that I received were used and in exactly the condition that I was told they would be in. Being a member also allows you to accumulate "book points" that will add up to free books! ALL ITEMS for the month of May are 25% off! I'd check back in with them often, when I found the site they had $1, $2, $3 and $5 bins... we found A LOT of treasures there! Happy Reading! To see what other members of the Crew are saying about Homeschool Library Builder you can go here. **This review was of my own honest opinion. I did not receive any compensation or items in return for this post.

10 April 2012

TOS Review - AIMS It's About Time

Last year I wrote up a review on AIMS (Activities Integrating Math and Science) Primarily Magnets, and now I've had the chance to work with their "It's About Time" program.

I was sent a fantastic 176 page book full of information, with 22 activities, and an accompanying cd to reproduce print outs and am looking forward to using it more! (Our move has gotten in the way of using this book the way that I would have wanted to, but we've still enjoyed it anyway!) The format of It's About Time is one that we were familiar with coming from the Primarily Magnets Book, you can see a preview here.

It's created for use with children who are grades k-2, but we involve everyone around here... the little guys love to color pictures, and I think that because of the way the lessons are written that they also understand a lot of what we're working on. Through this curriculum we've been able to introduce a lot of new vocabulary as well as concepts that I had no clue how to address before (if you read my Primarily Magnets review you'll understand where I'm coming from!)

The first few Concepts and Skills covered in "It's About Time" include:
-Developing a Sense of Time: The Long and Short of It *identifying long time and short time* (HELLO! This one is HUGE!!! My children used to think that everything takes F O R E V E R... I'm sure you've never heard that right? :-D. Thank you AIMS!)

-Ordering Events: Before and After *indentifying before and after* Line Up the Time *ordering events in the school day*

-Quantifying Time: Time Counts *timing by counting swings of a pendulum* Time in a Bottle! *timing with a sand timer*

-Developing an Awareness of Clocks: Clocks, Clocks, and More Clocks *comparing and contrasting a variety of clocks and watches*

We're excited to continue on in our learning which will include Reading an Analog Clock, Reading a Digital Clock, Elapsed Time, and more "Playful and Intelligent Practice" (where we can use fun activities to put our new knowledge to work!)

I really enjoy AIMS products and have found them to be very affordable. I would highly recommend It's About Time! We have a section on time learning in our regular math curriculum, but I love that AIMS specifically focuses on in and supplements in such a way that it could be a full curriculum for us in and of itself. These are so fun, straight forward, and leave my children inspired and excited about science and math! Plus the hands-on teaching method means a lot to me... I want my children to REALLY learn these concepts and not just fill their minds with information quickly and move on.

The "It's About Time" book+ CD can be purchased for $21.95 from the AIMS store, or you can also purchase a downloadable e-book for the same price.

To see what other crew members are saying about "It's About Time" as well as other AIMS products, you can go here.

*As part of the 2012 TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review."

01 April 2012

TOS Review - Amazing Animals by Design

My children and I have had the chance to review a new book put out by Debra Haagen, (who is also a fellow homeschool mom and military wife!), called Amazing Animals by Design.

Amazing Animals by Design is a children picture book that provides a Christian view to explain why certain animals have such different unique features..... for example, the back cover reads: "Why is a giraffe’s neck so tall? Why do zebras have stripes? Did all of these things happen by accident? When John and Sarah visit the zoo, they ask these questions and many more. Their parents and the zookeepers keep using the word design, but what does that mean? With its relevant message and exciting presentation, this is the perfect book to help introduce children to intelligent design."

I definitely have to agree with this synopsis. My children were engaged throughout the book and we all learned a lot (I'm really jealous of Debra's kids, and a bit embarrassed that I hadn't taken the time to consider all of the fascinating things that this book brings up to teach to my kids). I appreciate the way that Amazing Animals by Design introduces the concept of intelligent design... I also appreciate that it is a good mix of information. While I believe in creation, and that is what I teach my children, there are times when Christian based texts lack factually.... I was very pleased that this book was presented in a straight forward way that made sense.

The night before our first encounter with this book we had watched a documentary on penguins, and while reading this book my children started bringing up what features God had given them. It was great to see that they were making correlations with the information in the book without any prompting from me. As far as I was concerned I was just reading them a nice book about a brother and sister who go to the zoo together... what they got out of it was so much more than I had even hoped for. My children (to include my 6, 5, and 3 year old) were all able to tell me about the things they had learned... like why an elephant has a trunk and what would happen if it didn't, and about cheetah's and caracals (yah, I've seen caracals but I had know idea that they weren't like your typical "cats"! Who knew not all cats had great balance?)

I don't know that there's anything that I would change about Amazing Animals by Design, except to say that it should be made into a series. We would enjoy being able to read more about different animals through a story book and in a way that highlights the fact that God created all things for His purpose.

I think Amazing Animals by Design would be a great addition to any family's library... I reviewed an e-book version, so that was more difficult to just have the kids sit down with while I read, but you're really lucky because now the book is in print and can be purchased here for $8.99. (The e-book is also available for $7.99).

To see what other crew members think about this product please feel free to go here.

**As a member of The Old Schoolhouse homeschool crew team I was given this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.**

25 March 2012

TOS Review - I See Sam


Where does one start with "I See Sam"??? How about the part where I read the instructions the first night I got my "I See Sam" box, tried it with my son the next morning, then immediately shot an email off to the vendor because I NEEDED this for my daughter ASAP, and am getting ready to buy the next set for my son?

Yes, I'm THAT impressed. After trying so many curriculums, book sets, methods, apps, online programs, you name it!, I have finally found a "go to" product. I have had lots of things that I like being offered in various programs for different reasons, but I feel like "I See Sam," a part of theReading for All Learners "Little Books" program, combines them all into one cost effective curriculum that's easy to use.

In preparing for this vendor, crew members were asked to have their child take a placement test to see what set of books would be appropriate for their child. After some thought, I decided that I should try the product with my oldest son because his reading had become stagnant over time, and I wasn't sure what to do to get him moving forward again. So, I followed the assessment instructions found here, and remembered really quickly why I chose him for this product! He was making silly mistakes throughout the assessment, and I knew he knew better! After some time as the assessment progressed, I realized that these mistakes were why I needed to use this product with him and I requested Box Sets 3 & 4. While he tested fine for Set 3, the assessment for Set 4 was giving him a lot of trouble. I'm so glad that he got placed where he was! Initially I didn't understand why I would need him to read through a set that he had already "mastered," but it was clear that the Academic Success for All Learners people know what they're talking about :-D.

The books challenged my oldest while not being overwhelming, he looked forward to them everyday, loved the story, studied the pictures, enjoyed talking about them, and was THRILLED to see his reading advance!

Here is Set 3 "our yellow books":

And Set 4 "our green books" (Original names for us to use, I know, but I do enjoy the colors on the outside, and that the pictures inside are fun, but are black and white so they're not distracting):

How do they books work? Why am I so sold on this for reading??? EASY:

Once you've had your child take the assessment and get the set that fits them best (be honest, when it says they can only make "x" amount of mistakes just go with it, even if you think/know your kid knows that or can do better), you'll get a box with up to 27 books and a teachers/parent guide telling you HOW to use the books, along with a cute chart for your child to track the books they've completed.... my son got to a point where he was planning how he was going to color in the shape with the number book he read in it... I didn't realize how big that would be for him to visually see where he was at.

In the guide there is a copy of a full book that is diagramed to show you what you'll encounter as you go through the series. What stuck out to me as I was reading through the instructions was that each book starts with a section that reviews sounds specific to the book that you're reading that your child should already know (and that they must know before they move on), then it adds new sounds for them to master before moving on, then it provides words and new words that the child must know. I hope that's not confusing! (Look at it here!) The process is simple, and what happens is that your child has all the skills in hand, once they've finished with these pages, to successfully read the book! It's B E A U T I F U L!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are no surprise words hidden here. I've enjoyed other series of beginning readers that build on basic phonics and are not throwing out words like "said" etc that the child has no basis for knowing what it is! (*cough* I learned that lesson early on thanks to another homeschooling mom :-D). So, your child starts reading, and then at the bottom of the page there are prompts for questions to ask your child to help their comprehension, as well as a little smiley face to remind you to praise your child... and, in the guide, it lets you know that specific praise is vital. This was a BIG help for me.... it's easy to say "good job" it's hard to remember to do it frequently or point out "you're doing a great job figuring out the word "x".

The other thing that I think is unique to this system of learning is how they advise you to go over words. They have you go about teaching your child "the slow way" and "the fast way" of sounding out a word. By doing this, you aren't teaching your child any irregular words.... for instance, "the" is sounded out the slow way letter by letter "t" "h" "e" and the fast way it says "the." While I appreciate sight words, there's something liberating about your child still being able to use their original phonics knowledge... it helped my children gain more confidence by not discounting what they already know. There is even specific guidelines for how to say these sentences as you go through these steps (my kids are sleeping, maybe I can type those up for you later!) The books run in sequence, each one building on the next, and you have a progressing happy reader on your hands!

Everything is laid out before you, you can't fail with this program! After passing through the "slow way/fast way" a couple of times with my oldest who was making silly mistakes, he QUICKLY learned that if he wanted to continue on without stopping to do this on words he already knew that he was going to have to put forth a better effort.... and he did! He completely despises having to stop to review words (which you're instructed to do each time they get a word wrong i.e. "this word is 'Sam' we sound out this word the slow way "s" "a" "m" and the fast way it's "Sam"). It's SO clever!! This system does not have any down side in my eyes. My son finished out set 3, started set 4 (which is pushing him in a great way and building AMAZINGLY well on the skills that he already solidified in the previous set). He loves all the stories and it was a happy surprise that set 4 has multiple stories in each book! Additionally, there are assessments along the way, and it's great to see how far he's coming. He notices his progress and enjoyed that bump in the right direction! Have I mentioned how much I love these books?? Here's a video for you too:

Now, while I wasn't technically given sets 1 and 2 to review, I can't not say something about them!!! My daughter is my super dyslexic, we didn't even know if she could learn how to read because it's so frustrating for her even though she really wants to, kid. SHE'S READING!!! I could cry! Not only is she reading, but since she has learned how to read she spends more time figuring other things out because this has opened such a big, heavy, door for her that she's felt has been locked for so long! It's been amazing, and I am a life long I See Sam user. I'll be purchasing sets 5 and 6 in April, and I look forward to walking all of my children through these books. I've yet to see my husband really truly be impressed with a program.... her progress left him SPEECHLESS. The Sam hand puppet is even a member of our home... he's cute and fun for even my little guys. The name "Academic Success for All Learners" is definitely one that describes this company! I am so grateful and feeling so blessed to have been able to review this program. The results that I saw with this program have been priceless and almost instantaneous! I can recommend this program to ANYONE and feel great about it. These books are a welcomed addition to any home with readers who are at or trying to be reading at a K to almost 4th grade level.

If your curious to see the scope and sequence of the books you can find it here. As for price? Each set (of up to 27 books) is $30 and can be purchased through www.iseesam.com. Would I pay a bunch more for these books... you bet!... am I glad I don't have to, absolutely! The low cost, especially when factored into how many times these will be used over and over with all of my children, makes this homeschool mom very happy!

If you'd like to see what other crew members are saying about I See Sam please go here.

*As a member of the 2012 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.*

21 March 2012

Weighing in Wednesday: Post Move Edition....

What does weighing in after an international move, an unpredictable baby, lots of snow, rain, freezing wind, a husband who's at work all day and into the night, no house and therefore no workout equipment look like? Ummm.... U G L Y!!!!! :-D. The last time I was able to hit the gym I weighed in at 188lbs... I think that I've lost some since then, but not having a scale here in the house hasn't helped watching that.

So, in trying to not make too many excuses, I ordered some workout videos. I love toning, and if you survey enough videos on Amazon you'll find some through reviews that will get you exactly what you need. Personally, I have a thing for the Biggest Loser tv show.... as in, we don't have tv, I have no desire to ever have tv and we don't actually own one for that matter, but I do just about anything I can to find access to be able to watch it on the computer (it's on my screen behind this post at the moment, in case you were wondering :-D). Anyway!!!! There was a trainer on the show for most of the seasons named Jillian Michaels, and I absolutely loved her. So, since I couldn't watch her beat people up, I decided to look into some of her offerings and let her beat ME up :-). Yes, masochism does run deep in my family... I thought we established that?

I bought a set of hers and then added an additional one... the one came first and I've done that a few times, and hurt pretty good the next day or two (it's a good pain :-D... especially since my core leaves much to be desired at the moment), and the set came recently so I haven't delved into those yet. I also got a Bob Harper video (Bob is still beating up on people though).

Anyway, I've also tried to be better about what I eat. I suppose going off the notion that if I can't read the label then it has no calories doesn't work so well! (I still believe though!!!!) *laugh* What can you do? We've never been to Japan as a family, and my husband hasn't been here since 2000, so we've been hitting his nostalgic hotspots and goodies... maybe a little too often. We also attend a Japanese church and have been invited to members homes, where we eat more delicacies. Yah... on top of that we aren't in a home, so just imagine living in a hotel without even enough utensils and flatware to put food out for everyone, so cooking isn't that high on the things to do often. It's bad. I have bought quite a few things to rectify that (spices, kitchen stuff etc), but it's not perfect by any means. I'm mourning my cast iron sitting in storage waiting to be delivered... don't mind me :-).

So, despite all that.... I ran into a lecture the other day that has helped shape how we eat a bit more, Enjoy!:

We don't buy into all of what is said, but it is compelling. The statement "moderation in all things" comes to mind when you finish this. While he has really good points that shouldn't be dismissed, but I'm not going to freak out or make a fuss when I eat out (unless of course it's at the Chili's on base... I looked up the nutritional info online one night and about died!)

This weeks goal is to do at least one exercise video a day and be careful about what I eat (unless of course the day in question is Saturday... which I've designated my leeway day... unless of course you count today when I took the kids out for "Japanese Fast Food" in mourning my husband having to be in Okinawa for a few days and therefore not here... hey! It shook things up and I'm pretty impressed with myself that we ventured out quite a bit to different places outside of the base and that we didn't hit anything or anyone and I found where I wanted to go! Just imagine a single driving lane in the states... now turn that single lane into a two lane road.... fun times!) Okay, yes, that's a gigantic excuse, but we'll move on and get better!

How are you doing???

20 March 2012

Mothers/Young Children

Here is a part of a talk from Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God by Elder Holland. His message is one that I'm trying to keep in mind lately and in response to the below babble :-). Being cooped up with 5 little ones, not getting very much sleep, not being in our own home, and a husband's sporadic schedule has me a little worked up... this brings some solace to me.

19 March 2012

Time Keeps Going....

... and if I never take the time to sit down and blog when everyone is sleeping it'll never happen!

There's been lots of reevaluation in my life right now. We currently don't have a permanent home... we have a temporary home, supplied with standard items and the only sense of "home" and "familiarity" is in the clothes that were brought in our luggage for this grand adventure. We sent the kids blankets and other things we use frequently in our unaccompanied baggage shipment (the military's way of saying a few things that you want flown over without you and delivered soon after you arrive at your destination... as opposed to all the rest of your things, to include furniture etc., that will get there when it gets there). Anyway, said shipment has been here since we got here (and the rest of our household items for that matter), but without a home we have yet to have them delivered. Is there really no housing here? No, not necessarily. The majority of it is tower buildings (like the one that we currently reside on the 6th floor of), and we need to be on a certain side of the base in order to have our children go to school with out Bishop's children off-base in the Japanese schools, there's a lot of renovations happening, the housing offices doesn't really know what is and isn't available and/or when, and there's very little officer housing... so things are complicated. It's a headache to say the least. I have a lot of mixed feelings on the whole thing. I'm a bit more than stressed out but trying to keep calm for everyone else.... 5 kids 6 and under in a 3 bedroom place with nothing familiar to them and a dad who is gone pretty much from when they get up to when they go to bed has left many of them a little more than stressed out (out of control behaviors and comfort habits like finger sucking etc are at an all time high at the moment). No end in sight for this extended TLF stay and TDY's (temporary duty assignments i.e. husband going out of town for extended periods of time) set for every month for the next few months and deployment(s) on the horizon, have me about tapped out.

Now, on the flip side? I am extremely grateful to have a place to live at all! It's hard to live like this... my children desperately need normalcy, schedules and some stability... but we have a roof and protection from the weather (not necessarily earthquakes, but that's another story all it's own!). I read about the unrest in Syria, I think about the industrial revolution and how many family members and even families lived in one small home. I think of those who lost homes in the slew of natural disasters that have come in full force all over the world over the last year and have no where to go, and no hope of recovering the things that were swept away. I may be uncomfortable (and desperately wanting access to my treadmill), but I don't have to worry about so many things that others do. So, I am blessed, and I am grateful, and I'm praying daily (multiple times usually) that I can handle this the way that I need to!

On another note... I handle things better when I'm distracted :-D. Yes, yes, you know I'm quirky, and this is one of those things that I just do (and I KNOW others do to), deflection can be good sometimes! I still get what I need to done, but when faced with many things that I don't' have control over, I have to find something somewhere. Perhaps the lesson here is that I just need to let go? Maybe... I'll have to revisit that sometime. For now, I have to deflect in order to keep from going truly insane. I read Thomas S Monson's biography "To The Rescue" a lot faster than I thought I would.... it was one I brought on the plane thinking it would keep me busy, and it did for a bit, but it's over sadly (Fantastic read though! You should pick one up!)... I ordered some more books to keep me company until we get a home and I get my other books that have been waiting to be read. Here's what's on it's way, feel free to comment if you've read any!:

-A Watchman on the Tower (Elder Boyd K Packer's biography... the other book I was reading before we shipped our things was Teach Them Diligently, he was also referenced in President Monson's biography and a few CES Broadcasts that I've heard, so I wanted to read more about Elder Packer in the meantime).

-Increase in Learning by David A Bednar

-Return to Virtue by Elaine Dalton

-Being George Washington, The Indispensable Man, as You've Never Seen him by Glenn Beck.

Yah.... I can't do anything on a little scale can I? This isn't even the half of what I wanted *laugh* I'm waiting to see if Deseret Book has a sale for Conference to see about getting the rest (I want more biographies :-D).

It'll be really nice to get these books, reading things like this is a huge stress relief for me. I also thought the George Washington book would be especially nice seeing as how I'm delving into my Master's in American History for another distraction. Yes, being taxed down with papers to write and due dates helps me cope with life, what can I say? It's that or training for races... and with a bunch of little kids and no treadmill I can't do the latter at the moment. So, multiple avenues of stress relief are being visited at the moment.

I'm also learning Japanese through a BYU Independent Study course. We attend a Japanese church and the people there are incredibly kind and very helpful with my struggling language abilities. I'm enjoying learning and being able to communicate more, but have to focus on one day at a time so as not to get too overwhelmed with how much there is to learn!

You know that phrase at the top of my blog "the more I learn the more I realize that there's a lot more to learn"? That phrase is not just there because I like the way it looks! It definitely describes how I feel about everything. I'm at a constant run trying to catch up and wanting to learn everything in one day, but that's not how it is to be. We learn step by step, line upon line, here a little there a little, right? And sometimes the lesson is just to be patient and work a little each day? Anyway! There's a lot more to learn, but I know more now that I used to! That counts for something right? :-D

We've also been revising eating habits here. We watched the Forks over Knives documentary before we left NM, and when I went looking for it while at the gym one day I stumbled on this lecture. So, after having Nathan watch it we've been trying to adapt to more vegan eating habits. While we don't agree with EVERYTHING the guy says, we still agree with quite a bit. We weren't much for eating meat to begin with, but man! Dairy! I LOVE dairy! So, trying to find good recipes to replace our go to ones has been something that I try to do (and not think about how much easier and cheaper it would be in the states!) One of my friends from UT directed me to a fantastic site: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/, and Engine 2's recipes(featured in Forks over Knives), and I picked up a Forks over Knives book at the BX which also had recipes. I'm not into "fake food" or foods galavanting as something else. So, that makes this a bit more challenging. For me, processed food is processed food and moderation in all things it key.

Anyway! There's a lot and yet very little going on here all at once. Time keeps going at a blistering rate and I feel overwhelmed by things I can't control.... hence the deflection. Things I look forward to are taking turns reading every other verse in the Book of Mormon with Noah, and sitting to read library books. We're trying to work on other things "school related" but just like I'm having a hard time focusing on one thing, my kids are also having a hard time focusing on anything in particular and their normal resources aren't available. We try and hit the park, but it's snowed a few times, rained a lot, and been bitterly cold more than I care to think about. We've braved the bitter cold windy days for the sake of sanity though.

I'm actually looking forward to my older children going to the Japanese school in the hopes that it'll bring some balance to the force. I'm also excited for the opportunity that they'll have to be immersed in the language and culture that their father loves so much. We've been blessed so much to be here and I'm sure we'll continue to be. What's life without some opposition though, right? I'm trying to focus on the positives and not focus on the things that are hard and discouraging. I think this time has really helped drive home the idea that we don't really know what other people are going through or how that effects them. I know that many people out there have some empathy for me, but some of you are wondering what I'm finding so difficult. That's fair... I don't know what has me all worked up either! Okay, I kind of do, but I need to get over it :-). In any case, if you've gotten this far in my babble, here's a beautiful blog post that I'll turn you to thanks to another blog that I frequent. Things aren't always as they seem.

That's enough of my random thoughts for now. Weighing-in Wednesday will be back tomorrow.... okay, granted that's most of yours Tuesday's, but it's Wednesday for me and if I factor in time changes I'll forget! Bear with me here while I try to attempt to straighten my life out or at least find the new path that's been set before us :-).

16 March 2012

Love, Laughter, and Limits Parenting

Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you a website for YOU that I think you might find to be a really fantastic parenting resource for yourselves or to share with friends as well. My sister-in-law sent me an email asking for participants for her dad's Master's project.... it would be watching parenting videos. I honestly can tell you that I wasn't interested too much in the project at first except that it would be a help to family. However, after spending some time on the site, I am now very grateful to have been able to have been asked to participate and asked if I could share this information with you!

So, here we are :-). The Love, Laughter, and Limits Parenting website is the work of Tom Dozier, a graduate student at CSU Stanislaus. Through video presentations Tom gives short lectures accompanied with power point presentations on many issues dealing with children. Right now the site is set up with videos addressing before birth through toddler, but Tom is in the process of creating more videos to add shortly. Eventually there will be video's up through young adulthood! Here is why the site works in their own words:

Love, Laughter, and Limits teaches you practical ways to be a warm, positive, and happy parent. But it works because it is based on extensive research. What makes LLL unique is that it is based on both the fundamental research in the science of human behavior and broad research in child development, psychology, and other fields. As I work with parents on their individual parenting challenges, I am always impressed at how quickly and positively children respond. It is the behavior science perspective that makes this stuff really work! But behavior science research is based on short-term studies, and parenting is a long-term proposition. The broad academic research is critical to know what issues are important for the long-term growth and development of your child. By combining these two forms of research, LLL can help you interact with your family in ways that produce good behavior now and contribute to your child's long-term growth and development.

You know I like to research! I research just about anything and everything and am interested in just about anything and everything. I was really surprised at the research that was presented in these videos. Many things I knew, however, there were things presented that I didn't know or that built upon principles and things I already use and believe in using with my children.

Head over to Love, Learning, and Limits Parenting website and start learning for FREE! These classes are free until 1 April 2012.... however, if you finish all the courses and give feedback before that time you'll have free access to the Love, Learning, Limits website you'll have free access to the site for the rest of 2012. I definitely think this is worth your time to check out. I'm enjoying the lectures and find that the questions I get asked most are better explained here then I've ever done. I'm interested to see what's up and coming as the later years are addressed! (Yep, I just told you that this mother of 5 is still learning about parenting... I know, you're shocked ;-D.) It takes about 5 hours to watch all the videos, and with the short segments they're actually fun to turn on during quiet moments here and there.

Try it out and tell me what you think!