Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School!

This is actually our second official week of school, but I’m just getting around to posting our “first day of school” photos.


Katie’s first day as a senior!!!








Ready to start the fourth grade!


Super Star Game giveaway winners

Inventors cover Covering the continents cover 

The game winners are comments # 9 and #15.

RR said...

How about a game related to the parts of a cell?

PisecoMom said...

How neat!
We are HUGE game lovers here & I'm so glad to see a homeschooling mom designing her own games!
I would love to try Silly Snail with my son if I win. :)


I will extend my  “Buy one, get one”… offer.  If you purchase any Super Star  game or speech therapy book from Currclick, email me your order number and let me know which additional book or game you would like for free!

Thursday, August 20, 2009



Emily found this little guy yesterday squeezed into a crack in the vinyl siding above  our front door! She was very concerned about him, as he seemed to be squashed flat, but after spending most of the day there, he went on his merry way. I guess it was a cool place to rest!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Winner! Curriculum Cleanout Craft for Kids giveaway

The winner of the Craft for Kids book is:
Winning Readings said...

And I've blogged about the Curriculum Clean-out janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Quarter Mile Math



“The Quarter Mile Math is the most effective math practice software ever created.” “Extremely motivating.” These are some of the claims that The Quarter Mile Math makes.

I was able to review the Deluxe version, which which is priced as a subscription at $2.95 a month per family and includes Levels 1, 2, and 3—323 topics and over 70,000 problems! It is also available for $19.95 per year or $34.95 for a two-year subscription. The topics range far beyond basic math facts and include such skills as estimation, decimals, and percentages. The skills range for Quarter Mile Math is Kindergarten through pre-algebra. The deluxe version requires an internet connection although the students never actually go to the web. The advantages of the deluxe version include—access to all skill levels, the ability to do real time tournaments with family members on other computers, and more advanced student tracking features.

The Quarter Mile Math also sells a standard version, which sells for $39.95 to $89.95, depending on which skill levels are covered. The standard version does not require an internet connection.

The Quarter Mile Math installed in minutes and was quick and easy to learn. The format of the game is a racetrack (car or horse). The player chooses a topic and skill level and answers the questions. The faster the questions are answered, the faster the car or horse’s speed. Initially, the player races against five of “Fast Eddie’s” cars or horses. Fast Eddie is actually very slow, so the student is almost sure to win. Then, the student races against his own best times, which encourages him to increase his speed each time.

I especially appreciated the printed guide that came with my cd. It is rare these days for programs to offer this and I find it easier to skim through a printed guide before I start the program. We had a problem with the race locking up occasionally on our Windows XP computer, but this was addressed in the manual and quickly remedied. I thought it was a really nice touch for a company to actually name possible problems and to provide the solutions.

Confession number 1: Although we spend a LOT of time studying math and I love our regular math program, I have not been good about having Emily drill with flashcards, so she definitely doesn’t have the speed on her basic math facts that a fourth grader should have. She will be using this program a lot this year!

Confession number 2: I have been enjoying playing this game myself! It is addictive trying to beat my previous scores!

I love the vast number of problems and topics included in the programs. This will last Emily for years as a supplement to her primary math program. The program doesn’t teach topics or thinking skills, but our regular math program does that. What The Quarter Mile Math will do is provide much needed drill in a format that is much more entertaining and extensive than flashcards.

I will mention again that the program consists of only one game. We haven’t used it long enough to know if Emily will get tired of the same format day after day and lose interest. She has used it for three weeks at this point and is still enthusiastic about it.

I also want to mention a brand new addition to The Quarter Mile Math website—a page just for homeschoolers! The topics include a Quick Start Guide, a printable Progress Chart, Tips and Tricks, Family Tournaments, and a User’s Forum. This is a company that is obviously very dedicated to good customer service.

Quarter Mile Math is offering $5 discount on either product --standard or deluxe--to my readers until September 30. Use discount code "7J7P7."

To read more reviews of The Quarter Mile Math program as well as other homeschooling products, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Site.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What’s He Really Thinking? by Paula Rinehart

Do you wonder what makes men tick?
Are you frustrated when your husband just doesn’t seem to hear you?
Do you realize that most men have hidden pain and fears that are never shared with anyone?
Do you want to know how to motivate men to make changes?
Do you want to become a relational genius with the men who matter in your life?
What’s He Really Thinking? is a in-depth look into the world of men. Paula Rinehart, a professional counselor, has spent years listening to the thoughts and fears of men. The conclusions she has drawn from both her experience and from Biblical truth are not ones that are typically discussed or revealed in the literature, but ring very true nonetheless.
As I read the book, I found myself frequently stopping to ponder the ideas outlined. I made connections between what the author was expressing and the experiences I have had. I found new ideas for better relating to the men in my life. This is a book that I will definitely come back to and read again.
I found this to be one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in a long time. If you want to better understand your husbands, brothers, sons, and male friends, you will find What’s He Really Thinking? to be a valuable aid.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sue Gregg Breakfasts Cookbook



I enjoy cooking and am especially interested in finding new healthy recipes to prepare for my family, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Sue Gregg’s More Than BREAKFASTS with Blender Batter Baking and Allergy Alternatives ($23). Sue Gregg Cookbooks sells 9 different cookbooks, all devoted to “healthy recipes for healthy home cooking.” In addition, the Sue Gregg Cookbooks website offers extensive information about the benefits of whole foods cooking and numerous recipes to try out.

One thing I like about Breakfasts is the balance of recipes with great information about healthy eating. The recipes use whole grains and healthy fats, and avoid white sugar. Recipe variations are provided for those with allergies to milk, eggs, or gluten. The book is divided into ten topics—planning, milk, cereals, eggs, fruit, shakes and muffins, waffles etc, special, potpourri, and menus. One nice bonus were the label tags that were printed in the book for the reader to cut out and attach to the book to help in locating sections quickly.

Each of the recipe sections begins with nutritional and preparation information, which I found both informative and interesting to read. Each of the major ingredients is discussed. I found this information very helpful in helping me decide which new grains to try for our family’s tastes.  Calorie counts are listed for both ingredients and recipes.

We have made many of the recipes in the past few weeks and have found most of them to be both unique and delicious. Some of our favorite recipes have included:

Blueberry Shake

Scrambled Egg Enchiladas (We made these for a quick dinner one night-Yum!)

Dan’s Milk Yogurt (My daughter thought it was fun to make her own yogurt!)

Crock Pot oatmeal (This one was a failure—the oatmeal burned and was very mushy. Our crock pot must be too hot.)

Cottage pancakes (Delicious! These tasted like Cheese Blintzes.)

Pine-applesauce topping (Easy to prepare. We ate this on top of pancakes.)

Almond Coffee Cake (Very good and moist.)

Blended Oat Pancakes (Also delicious. We like these better than our usual white flour or whole wheat flour pancakes.)

Cowboy Coffee Cake (Very good. Hearty and moist.  Similar to the almond coffee cake. I made it with barley and brown rice and substituted dried cranberries for the dates.)

There are also a lot of hot cereal recipes that I look forward to trying soon.

Most of the recipes incorporate Sue Gregg’s “two-stage process,” which requires soaking the grain for 7-24 hours in order to improve digestion and nutrient absorption. The recipes are usually mixed in a blender. I found that by spending a few minutes in the evening beginning the cooking process, it actually simplified breakfast preparation in the morning, enabling me to put a hot breakfast on the table quickly instead of telling the kids to grab a box of cereal!

Emily helped me prepare many of the recipes. She enjoyed trying new foods and was always eager to try what she had helped to prepare.


I highly recommend Sue Gregg’s Breakfasts. I feel good that my family is eating more nutritious breakfasts now and look forward to continuing this pattern in the future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Big Curriculum Cleanout


Homeschool Creations is sponsoring a huge Curriculum Giveaway! Dozens of homeschool moms are giving away curriculum items. Check out all the links and see what you might need for this coming year absolutely free! Here is my giveaway: Crafts for Kids: A Month-by-Month Idea Book. This hardcover book is full of fun craft ideas for children 3-8. The topics are arranged by month, so many of the crafts are seasonal/ holiday items. Lots of cutting, gluing, number and letter recognition, etc.


To enter, leave a comment. For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or the “Big Curriculum Cleanout.” I will draw a winner on Aug. 15.

Don’t forget to check out my other giveaway: Super Star Games.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Web Design for Kids


“Is learning HTML that difficult?”

These large print words spoke to me from the back of the Web Design for Kids DVD I received to review. I have to confess—I am not very technologically adept. I don’t know a bit of HTML and I designed my website using a program that didn’t require knowledge of HTML. Now this DVD is going to teach my 9 year old child to design her own web page? We’ll see…..

Web Design for Kids (reg. $40, currently on sale for $19.99) is published by Click Drag Solutions and was developed by a middle school teacher who has taught web design to his students. He wants more children (and adults) to understand that basic HTML code is easy to understand and write using nothing more than Notepad and Internet Explorer.

The Web Design for Kids DVD contains 7 separate lessons:

-Basic HTML code

-Sandwiches and Colors

-Make Subject Stand Out

-Stand Alone Tags

-Designing Backgrounds

-Fonts and Paragraphs


It also includes a “bonus section” entitled File Cabinet Management.

We spent a about a week using the DVD, about 1/2 hour at a time, then Emily took a few days to write her own web page (with a little bit of help). Here is a screenshot of what she designed:


Pretty cool!

What I like:

The lessons were very clearly demonstrated, using very small instructional steps. We were frequently told to pause the DVD to practice.  Emily really enjoyed the practice and the opportunities to experiment.

The teacher spoke slowly and explained everything very clearly. Many things were explained in non-technical terms, to make it easier for children. For example, he likened the html tags to the bread on a sandwich to emphasize that there had to be two tags-- one before the content and one after. The slash on the end tag (</body>) was referred to as a “stop sign.”

The children on the DVD asked questions that the viewers might want to ask, and even made a few mistakes that enabled the teacher to explain the importance of writing the code perfectly. He even listed possible errors to look for in the case that the viewer’s webpage didn’t display as expected.

What I don’t like as much:

The speaker had a lisp, which I found a bit distracting.  This wasn’t a huge deal, but I think is worth mentioning.

The DVD was very explicit about how to create and use folders on the computer—for Windows XP. We were using Vista, so everything looked different. This was difficult for Emily, although it wouldn’t be an issue for a child who was already competent with using folders and saving files on the computer. After the first lesson, we switched to a computer with XP.


We prefer using Firefox, but the DVD was set up with instructions for Internet Explorer. We used IE for the tutorial. When Emily designed her own page from scratch, we did use Firefox with no problems.


I really liked this DVD! The content was explained very well in simple terms. I don’t think Emily mastered everything the first time through, but she learned a lot. I did too. I can look at html code now and can understand a lot of it!  This product is a great investment for parents who want to encourage their children’s computer and technical skills, even those who may not have those skills themselves!  A second DVD will be coming later in 2009 for those who want to learn even more.