Monday, January 31, 2011


Thing 1 has developed a love of looking things up in the dictionary.  I love this.  Usually.

Last week, I was talking on the phone with my sister, and Thing 1 kept saying he was STARVING.  I told him that no, he wasn't starving.  He was just very hungry, not dying from malnutrition or anything, he'd live for the, like, 15 minutes I still had on the phone.

He continued to argue that yes, he WAS in fact starving.  So I told him to look it up.

And he did.

I read the first definition, which is the one *I* had meant when he said he was starving, and said "See, you're not starving" and started to walk away.  (keep in mind my sister is still on the phone so hears this whole thing)

"Uhmmm... Momma?  The second one says 'very hungry'.  So I AM starving!"

My sister laughed soooooooooo hard at me.  And I have never been so tempted in his entire life to confiscate a book from my child.


So that is the story of how I was proven wrong, by my six year old, with a dictionary as his weapon.  I'm still a bit flustered by it now (obviously, because I'm POSTING about it)

He keeps life interesting at least, right?


Yes, I admit, I am a bit of a slacker at this whole blog thing.

HOWEVER, I have actually been working on my laundry (I swear it will never be done, but I still TRY at least).  And other than that, I have gotten a bunch of cleaning done that was promptly undone by Thing 1 and Thing 2, and then redone by me, and then the cycle just continues.

I also have been working on putting together lesson plans for first grade for Thing 1, as well as considering whether or not I should confiscate his dictionaries so he'll quit somehow managing to research stuff we're getting ready to learn this coming year.  (it's like he KNOWS, seriously)

And I've been doing LOTS of crocheting.  I purchased some patterns from Inner Hooker on Etsy, and I am in loooooooove with them!  I am particularly fond of the super bulky beanie, as I can work it up VERY quickly.

Notice the SIX hats that are all the same pattern?  Yeah.  I love it for sure ;)  (the white tags are me marking what the materials used were, as well as whether it was crocheted, loomknit, or needle knit so that they can be listed when I decide to open up shop again... most likely not for a few months.  Organization!)  The owl hat, the pale green hat below it, and the blanket (which is folded in quarters in this picture) are all for Voom! 

Besides these, I am still working on the afghan for my parents (SO glad I frogged it and decided to redo it) and I am ALSO working on a project for my dear friend's son's birthday in April.  It involves lots of crochet, lots of colors and lots of sorting ;)

So while I'm slacking in the internet world, I'm not slacking 100%!  YAY for progress!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Speekee- Spanish for Children


It seems that today, everyone feels the crunch to have their children learn a foreign language.  Given the number of Spanish-speaking people in the United States, Spanish is one of the most popular languages to be taught (after all, there's signs all over the place with both English and Spanish on them)

Speekee logo

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Speekee TV is a Spanish immersion program for children.  By "immersion" I mean that when you turn on the first video, there is no English spoken.  EVERYTHING is in Spanish.  This is an ideal method for teaching children.  Afterall, they learned English (or whatever their native tongue may be) by hearing it all of the time.

Speekee is 10 episodes with Spanish speakers talking.  One thing to note, is that if you are wanting to use this with another Spanish curriculum (which is not necessary, I might add), this is a different dialect than is usually taught in the United States.  The phrases and vocabulary used are not always going to match what other curricula teach.

When we used this, we didn't have any concerns regarding different dialects, since Thing 1 (and by default, Thing 2) has never studied Spanish.  However, due to the music segments and the fact that he had to rely on the subtitles that stated what Speekee (the cute purple puppet pictured below) and the other speakers were saying, Thing 1 was not at all interested after a couple minutes.  He's not like his mother, who prefers to watch everything possible with subtitles.


Thing 2, on the other hand, was scrambling to get on my lap when I started watching this.  He LOVES music, and while he can't read, he doesn't really speak much understandable English himself (he's speaks Thing 2-ese) so he didn't particularly care that the people and puppets on screen weren't speaking the same language as Mom and Dad.

Each episode goes to a different location.  Afterall, you're going to want different vocabulary to discuss your trip to el parque (the park) than you would in la casa (the house).  This is a major part of the immersion technique: you learn words used in context through normal usage (rather than just showing pictures or even the word and then repeating the translation numerous times)

If you are interested in using this program (and yes, 10 episodes is enough to keep your children busy for a while, considering each is PACKED with vocabulary to become familiar with), then you can subscribe for the online version for £4.95 a month if you are in the UK, or $7.50 a month if you are in the US.  There is also a 2 week free trial available so you can take a look before actually committing.

If you would rather have the episodes on DVD, so you could watch them, say, 5 years from now, you can also purchase the DVDs for £95.00.  The DVDs come with the episodes, plus an audio CD, aaaaand a 70 page guide.  Keep in mind, if you are in North America, these DVDs are in the PAL format (although formatted for all regions within the PAL format).  This is NOT the standard for North American DVD players (rather, that's NTSC) so you will need to see if you have a PAL-compatible DVD player.  This has to do with the color encoding, and if you try to run these DVDs in a non-PAL DVD player, it just won't work.  The DVDs have a 30-day money back guarantee (although with the time it takes to ship to the US sometimes from the UK, I suggest doing the online 2 week trial to see if you like the program first).

Still not sure?  Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this!

Disclaimer: I received access to the online version of this program free of charge for the purpose of this review.  All opinions in this review are my own, and I received no other compensation for this review.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Busy busy busy around here!

Voom is officially a BOY, so at least I don't have much to worry about THERE.  (and he looks JUST like Thing 2 on the ultrasounds as well, it was pretty freaky!)

On the other hand, Thing 1 will be starting first grade this year, and in an attempt to be organized I have already ordered some of his stuff and started working on planning (his school year starts in the spring instead of fall, since the winter is really busy for us).  Most importantly, I have the beginning of his science and all of his history stuff already.  I figured since they are the subjects that will require the most preparation on MY part, I'd best get started early ;)

Other than that, Operation Clean the House is going pretty well most days.  I'm almost caught up on laundry (FINALLY!) and the kitchen has been staying clean more days than not ;)

So while very busy around here, things are slowly falling into place so that this household should hopefully maybe run more like a well-oiled machine by the time Voom makes his arrival :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Classical


I have spent many of my insomnia-ridden nights up and reading The Well-Trained Mind, mentally planning and choosing and everything for our upcoming school year.  I have heard many great things about the Classical model, and am highly interested.

One problem.

It can be very intense to plan.


If you are also interested in the Classical model, but intimidated by the large amount of planning needed on your part for the grammar stage (ad beginning of the logic stage), then Easy Classical is someplace you need to check out.  They offer schedules and lesson pages for grades 1-6, which can make your life a whole lot easier.  (at least when it comes to planning)

I had the opportunity to review their history schedule for the Early Modern time period.  You can see a sample of what I got here.  It's ALL laid out for you!  You have what reading needs to be done, the activities, the cross-curricular activities (like writing), some comprehension questions to ask (with possible answers, even!), and lists of everything you need.

Now, if you're wanting to follow the EXACT layout for history in The Well-Trained Mind, you may have to adjust the schedule a little bit, pulling a couple schedules together in some cases, since the timeframes are broken up a bit differently.  But, it is THOROUGH.

If you choose, you can take the schedule, like the one I have, and the materials listed here as needed, and go about your business.  OR, you can go with something like Easy Classical's bundles, which include writing, geography and copywork on top of the schedule.  Easy Classical offers science schedules as well, making what I consider to be the other hard part of planning a whoooole lot easier :) 

If you would like to purchase one of these schedules, head on over to Easy Classical's website.  The Early Modern history schedule that I received, in digital format is 29.95, and the notebook version is 35.95.  This is the same for all of the history schedules.  If you would like to see a sample of the schedule, check here, and for the lesson pages sample, check here.

Personally, while I find the ease of just grabbing the schedule and my materials and going appealing, I am going to try and tough it out a bit more.  I prefer the 4 year cycle of history, rather than having it stretched out a little bit.  I'm picky, I know.  But this IS a great idea if you find the classical planning to be overwhelming and/or your classically homeschooled child needs the history slowed down a bit.  (or if you would prefer a little bit slower pace yourself)

If you would like to see the opinions of other Crew members, check the TOS Crew blog!

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge for my honest review of this product.  I received no other compensation for this review.

Friday, January 7, 2011



Link, Thing 1 and I are all readers.  We read a LOT.  Thing 1 and I typically stick with the printed word, while Link is usually reading on a computer (it's hard to drag him away hehehe)

Something I have been concerned about while Thing 1 is reading is the fact that as he gets better at reading, and the books become more complex, there's more and more lines of text filling the pages, making it harder to tell what line he's on and therefore causing him to get lost while reading.  (I do this fairly regularly myself, but it might be because the only time I get to read for long periods of time is at night when I'm about to fall asleep ;)  )


Enter See-N-Read.  The polyester-based, matte, translucent material has a single line across it that is without color in order to allow you to see the line you are reading.  With the rest of it being a matte gray color, but not opaque, you can also see the things AROUND what you are reading, which is helpful when reading quickly, or when something is hyphenated at the end of the line.  And no glare!


The See-N-Read Reading Tool is something I DEFINITELY see Thing 1 (and 2 and Voom eventually ;) ) using as he gets into books with a lot more text.  For now he prefers to point to words for the most part, so he dubbed this a bit of a nuisance.  *I*, however, love it!  I received two different sizes, the "book" size, which is 5.5" by 3", and the "document" size, which is 8.5" by 3" (the document size would be great for anyone who does things like legal work or similar professions and has to read page upon page upon page of text printed out... we bought a house last year, I've SEEN the stack of paperwork that comes with that, trust me, this would be great ;)  ).  I typically stick to the book size (since most of what I am reading IS books) and it does help a lot to keep me from rereading the same line 5 times in a half-asleep haze.

I also received the book sized Memory Mark See-N-Read, which is basically the same thing as the original See-N-Read, but there is an opening in the clear line where you can use a highlighter (or underline or make notes) and maintain your line.  This I haven't used much myself yet, but, I can definitely see where it would be useful.  Textbooks for older students (if they're allowed to write in them) can easily be marked for things to remember with this tool.  And the added bonus is that while it also helps you maintain what line you're READING, it also keeps you from accidentally highlighting the line above or below (ok, so I'm a clutz and it might just be ME who has that sort of issue)

And no, those who predominantly read for hours (and hours and hours...) on the computer are not left out.  There is also the eSee-N-Read, which, you guessed it, produces a Seen-N-Read for you to use on your PC.  Nice for helping keep your place if a child comes up and distracts you from what you're doing ;)  Or coworker.  Or anyone else for that matter.  (can you tell in our house it's usually a child?)

A LOT of research has gone into these products, which you can read here.  And not only THAT, but these have also been tested to be BPA and phthalate free (proof here)!

If you are interested in purchasing any of these, the See-N-Read can be ordered here, starting at 2.99 for book size and 3.49 for document size (available for purchase in bulk!).  Memory Mark can be found here, for teh same prices (ALSO available in bulk!), and the eSee-N-Read can be found here, starting at 29.99 for a single one (also available purchased for 3 computers or for 5 with a savings!).  ALSO, the eSee-N-Read has a free 7 day trial available!  The link to download the trial is on this page where you can also order it :)

As you can tell, I rather like this product, and highly recommend it.  If you would like some other opinions, go check out the rest of the Crew's reviews, found here.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion on the product.  I received no other compensation for this review.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Math Facts NOW!


I am horrible at math.  Well, basic math.  Adding and multiplication are a bit difficult for me, or at least moreso than they SHOULD be.  I don't want my children to struggle like I did.


Enter Math Facts NOW!, a math facts drill program designed by a homeschooling father of 9 to help with practicing math facts.

This is an entirely on the computer program, BUUUUUUUUT it doesn't have the characters and songs and such that let's face it, can sometimes be a bit... much.  Thing 1 is not a huge fan of music, and often covers his ears, so having a program like this that doesn't have excess noise is GREAT!

When you first open teh program, you are greeted by a screen asking you to select who will be doing a lesson

(I created a special little profile so that Thing 1's real name wouldn't be on here :)  )

After thaaaaat you select which lesson you're going to use.  There aren't any premade lessons when you get the program, but the creation of lessons is incredibly easy.

On this screen you would simply select "Create a New Lesson" and then you get brought to the step-by-step lesson creation screens!  You select how long the child gets to answer each question, how many problems they have to do, and how many times they have to type the problem if they get it incorrect, on TOP of choosing the operation you are drilling and which facts to include (like, Addition, 1 facts) that you would expect from a drilling program.

One thing on this that I (and Thing 1) did not like, although it's more because us than the program itself, it completely makes sense for it to be there, is that when you get a problem WRONG, you have to type the entire problem in at least 2 times (depending on how many were set in the lesson creation).  Thing 1 doesn't use a lot of symbols as he types right now, so having to put in a + and an = is a bit hard for him and frustrates him.

This program, in our household, is well worth its 15.95 price tag (add 3.95 if you want a physical copy, and not the download).  I can create numerous different drills, Thing 1 gets practice without too many things that frustrate him, it's customizable, and it's very user friendly (well, besides the whole + and = thing for Thing 1, but he'll get past that with more practice ;)  )  If you're unsure, or want to take a look at it before purchasing, you can actually try it online, as well, and THAT is also great!

For more information you can check out the Math Facts NOW! site, or you can also go and see what my fellow Crew members thought of this program :)

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of this product.  I received no other compensation for this review.

Thing 1 and Grammar

Unschooling seems to really work right now for Thing 1.  We're going to take a much mroe structured turn in a few months, but so far, I don't feel like I've ruined him with unschooling.

Take this conversation for instance

"What does it mean when you put an is-is on the end of a word?" (that's seriously what it sounded like he said)
"A what?"
"You know, when you have the little line up on the top and then an s"
"OH!  An APOSTROPHE and then an S"
"Uhmm... yeah" 
(insert explanation on what the apostrophe S means, including examples)
"What about when it's an s and then an apostrophe?"
(insert explanation)
"Ooooh so it's like *insert going on for five minutes about different examples he's read recently*"  

He better not throw off grammar studies like he did read :P

(and now he's playing on KIDO'Z on the Nick Jr site and learning different words in Spanish... *sigh* Slow down my young one, slow down)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011: Goals, First Quarter

Since I have a major life event happening around April, and making resolutions/goals for the whole year seems a bit silly with that in mind (y'know, the usual "I will get in shape"... well, the only shape I will be for a few more months is ROUND and getting ROUNDER... not something I want to be thinking abotu when assessing how I'm doing on goals)

Soooooo instead I am going to set goals for the first quarter!

~Get everyone eating healthier, and get some sort of efficient system so mealtimes are easy to get through
 ~Get the house organized and KEEP it that way
~Get (and stay) on top of laundry
~During this first quarter of the year, I want to get a good bit of stuff tentatively planned for Thing 1's first half or so of first grade.  That way I can just GO rather than flounder when the time comes

Not much as far as "typical" type goals.  I'd also like to get around to crafting a LOT more.  I love doing it, it's my "me time" and I just don't get to always do it.