This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 15th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

S. Madison Excalibur Cup Feb2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TOS Review ~All About Reading, Level 1


As a homeschooling mom I think we all have that one program we would love to try out.  All About Reading was that one program for me.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw my name on the review list a few months ago.  I did my own sort of happy dance and my girls laughed at me when I did a cartwheel…but it was so worth it!

We received the All About Reading Level 1 Deluxe Kit which is a multi-sensory learning experience for students. The program is based upon the Orton-Gillingham method, which involves the senses of sight, sound, and touch, to understand and learn to read and spell.  The interactive design of the program naturally progresses in a logical step-by-step order and builds upon the previous lessons. AAR1 builds upon the concepts to teach five key concepts in reading: phonological awareness, phonics and decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All the while your student is learning to read in a fun and interactive way.


The Level 1 Kit includes:

~ Teacher’s Manual {sample}
~Student Packet (includes Activity Book) {sample}
~ Run, Bug, Run! reader {sample}
~ The Runt Pig reader {sample}
~Cobweb the Cat reader {sample}

Normally priced : $107.70 but currently on sale for just $99.95.

PhotobucketThe Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit($48.95) includes:

~  Letter Tiles
~ Magnets for the Letter Tiles
~ The Basic Phonograms CD-ROM
~ Reading Divider Cards                                                                           ~ Reading Review Box                                                                      ~Reading Tote Bag (<3 tote bags)                                                          ~Star Stickers

The lessons are FULLY scripted and telling  you exactly what to say. This makes the program so easy to teach. There are also school days 012 must read helpful teacher scripts in light grey boxes found in the margins of the teacher's manual. You also need a magnetic whiteboard or you can get crafty like I did and use a metal cookie sheet as I did not have any wall space for another whiteboard to go.  Plus, it made the program portable for us.

school days AAR 001 school days AAR 007

AAR 1 is choke full of activities that make learning to read fun.  From fluency practice sheets to just plain fun activities your beginner reader will be hooked from the start.  The readers are excellent books with great stories for your beginner reader. I love that they are hard back books with many different stories photoin each one. One of the best parts of the books is that your child starts reading their first story at Lesson 5. I used this program with Montana who already had a head start on reading short vowel words so this was great for her. She wants to read Chapter books and the books a set up like a Chapter book, so she was a happy camper.

Now, you might be thinking that this is more than what you want to budget for a reading program.  And in all honesty this is part of what held me back from purchasing AAR last fall.  However, I am pleased to say that All About Learning Press' products come with a Go Ahead and Use it One-Year Guarantee.

"That's right. You and your child have a full year to try out the programs! If you find that the curriculums do not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price."

If I would have know this last fall I would have definitely taken the plunge and purchased this program without hesitation. While we are using AAR 1 in conjunction with another reading program, I wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone looking for a reading program.  With the One-Year Guarantee you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!  Click over here to see what my fellow Crewmates have to say about All About Reading, Level 1.


Company ~ All About Learning Press

Product ~ All About Reading, Level 1

Price ~ Level 1 Kit: normally $107.70, but on sale for $99.95; Basic Reading Kit: $28.95; Deluxe Reading Kit: $48.95

Age ~ beginner readers

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I received All About Reading, Level 1, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, February 24, 2012

TOS Review ~ Apologia: Who Am I? {And What Am I Doing Here?}

PhotobucketWhen most people hear Apologia’s name mentioned they immediately think of their award winning science programs.  But did you know that they also offer excellent bible curriculum too? Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book in the What We Believe Series, Who Is God. Now we were given the opportunity to review Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) and I am equally thrilled!

The second book in the What We Believe series, Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) helps children understand what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Most High God. This study will enable students to develop a healthy self-image based on these biblical truths: God made me in His image and crowned me with glory; He has given me special gifts and a unique purpose in life; I can creatively express God's love; I am meant to think about beautiful and praiseworthy things, especially God and His Word; I must make decisions based on God's truth; I can always know the wise thing to do; I must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life; I am a beloved child of God whose true identity is found in Christ.

                                                                          ~ from the website

So, what makes this program so great you ask?  Well for starters it comes with a recommended lesson plan. That is always a big plus in my book.  With these suggested lesson plans you can take anywhere from four to nine months to teach and complete the 8 lesson curriculum. This program is also ideal if you have several children on different grade levels as it is recommended for children ages 6-14.  You have the opportunity to beef it up or water it down as much as needed for your family.

Lessons Include:

What are we doing here?

What will you make today?

What’s on your mind?

Can you trust your feelings?

Will you choose wisely? (Click to view sample lesson)

How will you run the race?

What kind of fruit are you growing?

Who do you think you are?


The beautiful hard-cover book retails for $39, while the student notebooking journal is $24.  Also available are the Who Am I? coloring book which is $8 and the Who Am I? Audio Book, MP3, CD is $19. The CD is an accompaniment to the book and is great for those who are auditory learners or for those who are busy and on the go.  We fall into this category and enjoyed listening on our 30 minute drives to gymnastics practices. The coloring book is nice to keep your younger students engaged and feeling involved.

Apologia's What We Believe Series has four books that can be taught individually and does not require any particular order. We read Who Am I as a family (or listened in the van on busy days. I really enjoy the What Will You Do
section throughout the book. This section gets you thinking and discussing about God and His word as it pertains to your life and situations.  We love all of Apologia’s products; from their full Science programs, writing, geography, and acclaimed parent resources; and I am sure you will too, check them out!

Check out what my fellow Crewmates thought by clicking here.


Company ~ Apologia Educational Ministries, INC.

Product ~ What We Believe: Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?)

Price ~ Hard-cover book, $39, student notebooking journal, $24, Who Am I? coloring book which is $8,  and the Who Am I? Audio Book, MP3, CD is $19.

Ages ~ 6-14

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I received Apologia’s Who Am I? book, lapbook journal, Audio CD, and coloring book, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine's day 2012 035 Back in early January I signed up for a Valentine’s Day card swap on the Well Trained Mind Forum that I frequent.  The cards started trickling in around the end of January and it was hard for some of the littles to wait.  Our list of swapper's included over 40 kids, so you can image the girls surprise when they checked the mailbox daily.  The girls all ended up with a great haul and all were very excited for there goodies.  When they finished up Madison, Mikayla, and Montana headed across the street to deliver their Valentine’s to their besties.

Valentine's day 2012 021EDITValentine's day 2012 031

The Lt. and I headed to a late lunch and then on to a movie date.  We ate a very nice Japanese restaurant.  I choose my beloved Chicken Teriyaki. It was yummy, however, it did not imagecome close to my beloved Ichi Bentos in WA State. We saw the  new Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds movie, Safe House.  It was really good…it has been so long since I have been to the movies.  I take that back I took the girls and their besties to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Shipwrecked, but does that count as a movie?

Here are some pictures from the day, enjoy!

    Valentine's day 2012 039 Valentine's day 2012 056 Valentine's day 2012 052  Valentine's day 2012 072Valentine's day 2012 059 Valentine's day 2012 035 Valentine's day 2012 023Valentine's day 2012 065  Valentine's day 2012 078 

Valentine's day 2012 108EDIT

Monday, February 13, 2012

TOS Review ~ See-N-Spell

SeeNSpell 013Last year I had the opportunity to review the See-N-Read® reading tool that was the recipient of the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew Blue Ribbon Award in the “Favorite Special Needs Product” Category.  This year I was excited when I was offered a chance to review the See-N-Spell booklet.

This 40 page See-N-Spell™ booklet enables young writers to compose stories, essays, and even articles  by providing a more advanced vocabulary at their fingertips.  Most young writers lack the confidence to spell these more advanced words correctly and that is where the See-N-Spell comes in.


See-N-Spell was designed to be easy to use tool and it is!  Words are broken down into three alphabetized categories:

  1. Most Commonly Used Vocabulary Words
  2. Commonly Misspelled Words
  3. My Special Interest Words

It is so easy to use, which we love. Your student can simply turn to the page showing the first letter (a,b,c, etc.) of the word you are trying to  spell, scan down the page, then copy the correct spelling into their written work.  It is that simple!  PhotobucketPlus each See-N-Spell comes with the handy dandy reading tool the See-N-Read.  You can read about my review and how it works by clicking here.  I used this product with Mikayla and we had good results.  She is always asking how do you spell…?  Now, I first send her to the See-N-Spell to find the word.  If she has misspelled a word in her writing I again send her to the See-N-Spell to look first. For $9.99 this handy book we recommend this book and know it will be a great addition to your home library.  Check out what my Crewmates thought of the See-N-Spell by clicking here.


Company ~See-N-Read

Product ~ See-N-Spell

Price ~ $9.99

Age ~4th graders and up * I used this product with my 3rd grade daughter with no problems.


I received a download of See-N-Spell, in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up, wk 20~ Walking pneumonia and concurring Giants

school days 017So, the week started out relatively quiet and then it kicked into overdrive…should I be surprised by this? No!  It just the way we roll, so to speak.

Two of my children, who shall remain nameless, have been slacking off a bit in getting their weekly work accomplished.  To remedy this we had a big family discussion and I pulled out our “I am Diligent” Virtue Clue Card that says “I start fast, work hard, and finish strong”. I also redesigned each of the four students weekly schedule so that there will be no question as to what is expected to be done and complete by Friday at 3 PM.  We discussed that sports and extra activities are just that, EXTRA and will cease to exist if things did not show improvement.  I think I got my point across and things are looking up. I hate to be the bad guy, but academics comes first and sports and play second.

On Tuesday, while Montana and I were going over her phonics lessons and reading I heard her wheezing and crackling.  Not a good sign.  school days 040But, Montana did not act sick at all.  She just had a cough that has not gone away.  I called the Pediatrician and they squeezed us in for the 1130 AM appointment.  Like I said, Montana showed no signs of being sick, just the pesky cough so you can imagine my surprise when the Doctor said she has walking pneumonia.  She is on a dose of antibiotics and  out of gymnastics classes until next Wednesday. 

Wednesday we made Monster cookies to bring with us for our church groups snack day on Thursday evening.  McKenzie loves cookies…she sat in the kitchen and waited ever so patiently for the first batch to be done so she could eat one.  Thursday we went to co-op and had a great time visiting and catching up with our friends.  We all look forward to Thursdays and its much needed respite.

F. Cookies

This morning came very quickly as Madison and Mikayla had morning practice at 8AM –12PM because the optional girls (Lvl 7’s and up) where heading to Chicago for the big gymnastics meet, Good Luck Girls!  The meet was optional for us and we decided not to go because the money was due soon after we switched to the new gym last August and we had to pay for new leos/warm ups, etc.  Next season though we will get to travel as an optional. This week Mikayla was able to practice her Giants on the swing bar.  I have a video posted on FaceBook if you want to see it.  Even though we have to leave at 720AM, I enjoy  Friday morning practices  because we get our Friday evening to relax and regroup before Saturdays early morning at 8AM. 

So, that was our week in a nutshell. We are plugging along with our school work and I am already starting to plan for next school year. The Lt. wants to have the homeschool proposal by mid March so I have been up into the wee hours of the nights researching and plotting.  I probably should update our current plan of study since things have changed a bit.  I will do that next week so stay tuned.

weekly-wrap-up_thumb2I am linking this Weekly Wrap Up with Kris over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Head on over and see how others week went.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

TOS Review ~ Math Rider

untitled Do you have a child who is learning math facts?  Are they struggling to get those facts down and it is a daily battle?  Then I may have the perfect solution for you.  Recently we were given a copy of Math Rider to review which is a fairly new math program designed for ages 6-12 and is all about practicing and mastering basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. 

1Math Rider presents mastering math facts in a new and innovative way.  The student gets to ride on a horse  to "travel on a quest" in fantasy-type lands with missions to find magical flowers, stolen gems, and even the chance to  rescue a princess.  Throughout the "quest" your student is practicing math facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.  One thing I love about this program is that your child’s math knowledge is stored in the game and they are only practicing facts they don’t know, rather than drilling needlessly the facts already mastered.  Here is how Math Rider explains it on there website:

While the rider is playing, the game learns what the rider knows and what he or she still needs to practice. Every single response (or non-response) is stored in an internal database and statistically analysed by the software. In this way the program is able to custom-tailor to each rider, which questions are asked next. No repetitive drilling of random number facts the rider already knows – but real practice of what actually needs to be practiced!

Plenty of feedback is given on the rider’s mastery of each number fact and operation, including an innovative overview map of mastery for each number table. This is highly beneficial for both the rider and the parent/educator. You can see with one glance where your child is at and where he or she might need further assistance. Top challenges are also listed in a separate list box for further easy reference.

Clicking on a question brings up more information on it, including a visual representation as well as some detailed statistics.


I used this program with Mikayla and Madison played every once in a while too even though she has mastered her facts. It is a great way to get in those facts while still having fun and learning.  The price is just right too at$49.95, not too pricey but yet economical because you can have up to 8 slots for your children.  The best part is that Math Rider is currently on SALE for $37.00.   Guess what?!?  Math Rider has a free 7 day trial so you can try it out before you buy to make sure it will be a good fit for your family. 

We definitely recommend this program to anyone whose child needs to master the math facts. Mikayla enjoyed the program and I have seen improvement in her recall, which makes this Mama overjoyed!  Check out what my Crewmates thought by clicking HERE.mathrider-logo-text

Product ~ Math Rider

Price ~ $49.95, but on SALE until Feb. 15th for $37.00

Ages ~ 6-12 year olds

Platform ~ supported on Windows and Mac OSX

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~     I received a download of Math Rider, in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TOS Review ~ KinderBach

image_thumb[9]As part of the Homeschool Crew, Montana and I were given the opportunity to review the on-line version of Kinderbach, which is an at-home music program designed to teach young children, 2-7 years olds, the basics of playing the piano.

Each lesson is led by Karri Gregor, the founder, who uses fun characters like Dodi to engage your child.  Within each of the 6 levels there are 10 weeks of lessons to explore.  Each lesson is broken down into weekly lessons with 4 short sessions of animated videos with  piano playing practice.  A 47 page activity book is included with each lesson. You can view the first few lessons here.KinderBach-SampleLessonVideo

Upon completing all 6 levels you will have had 1 to 2 years of music instruction using video instruction, coloring pages, worksheets, and fun physical activities.  A very important thing I should note is that you do need access to a  piano or electronic keyboard, but a toy keyboard works well with this program so do not sweat it too much.

KinderBach is a fun, creative, and interactive way for young children to enjoy introductory piano lessons.   Each short lesson includes watching playful characters as they introduce music concepts such as rhythm, note reading, singing, and composition.image_thumb[5]

KinderBach is available as a subscription which you can view online or as a DVD series. For on-line learning you have two options, pay $19.99 a month and commit to a year long membership, or get a “day pass” and get in as much learning as you can in a 24 hour period.  However, right now it is even more affordable to get KinderBach into your home. Use the  coupon code TOScrew2012  and you will get you 30% off through February 2, 2013!



I thought this program was really excellent and worth giving a shot if you are  looking to provide piano instruction for your children.   Like I said before, just make sure you have access to a keyboard or piano to get the most out of the program. If you or your child is scared of clowns, be warned that the teacher sometimes dresses up as a clown. Montana and I give this program 2 thumbs up! She really had a great time learning the ins and outs of the piano. Check out what my Crewmates thought by clicking HERE.


Product ~ KinderBach at Home

Price ~ $19.99 a month and commit to a year long membership

Ages ~2-7 year olds


I received a download of KinderBach at Home, in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.