Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday’s Fave 5

What five things were blessings to you this week? Here are mine:

1. Warm weather. Winter is just depressing to me…I hate the cold (even Alabama cold!). It has been beautiful this week and that makes me happy.
2. Because of the nice weather, I was able to get out and work in the yard a bit yesterday….just a bit of weeding, cleaning the deck, etc., but it freshened things up.
3. I’m getting caught up on a lot….Katie’s graduation announcements are finally designed and ordered; most of my TOS reviews are finished for the year…
4. Music. I love music. When I think to put on worship and praise music, it lifts my spirits and makes a big difference in my attitude throughout the day.
5. Katie’s college decision is over! Well, it will be by tonight. As of today, she’s attending Birmingham Southern College. Two days ago, she was saying Samford. But she has to commit by tomorrow and we will know for sure!
Friday’s Fave Five is sponsored by Living to Tell the Story. Hop on over there to participate or to read other responses.

Five Question Friday


The Five Question Friday Blog Hop is sponsored by Five Crooked Halos. Hop on over there to participate or to read more takes on these questions!



1. If you could, would you go back to high school?  No way! High school was OK at the time, but college was much better, and life after college better yet. I was very shy and never felt like I fit in. Just thinking about all the cliques and such…ugh!

2. If a genie appeared and granted you two wishes, what would they be? (And, no saying "more wishes".) Ok, I’ll be vulnerable here… number one wish would be for my husband to return to God and to return home to live with us. Number two—to relieve our financial troubles (caused by #1 issue).

3. What kids show do you secretly like? Barney! It was my favorite show for my kids to watch when they were little. It is very language rich and I enjoy the music. I talked a bit about the importance of music and language on my speech therapy blog.

4. What is your beverage of choice? Coffee or tea, especially when the weather is cold.

5. What is something that you would change about yourself (or are working to change in yourself)? Keeping calm and cheerful when my kids are NOT!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Divanomics (Review)

image I just finished reading Diva-nomics, by Michelle McKinney Hammond.  The author is a self-proclaimed “diva,” who chronicles her story of financial difficulties and provides  motivation and numerous tips for others who have the need or desire to live a more frugal lifestyle. Miss Hammond earned a lot of money and lived a life of extravagance, enjoying all the “nicer things of life”  such as designer clothes and elegant restaurants. When her finances took a hit, she was forced to reevaluate not only her out-of-control expenses, but her attitude toward possessions, money, and life.

I realize that many people have serious spending problems and this book could be very motivating for them.  I, personally, had trouble relating to the author. I am thrifty by nature and even her money-saving tips were extravagant by my standards. I was amused by her excitement that Walmart and Target had lots of “stuff” at low prices.  I did like that the book was entertaining to read, included many personal examples, and focused not only on methods for the reader to live within a budget, but the attitudes behind overspending.

I was provided a free review copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers.

Toddler Memories

scan0001 I was looking through Emily’s baby book this morning and was reminded of some of the cute and funny things she used to say. I’m so glad I wrote a few of them down. Here are some of my favorites:

After trying to climb out of her crib, big sister Katie warned her that she might fall like Humpty Dumpty. Emily replied, “Daddy fix me!” (28 months)

At 2 1/2….  “Mommy, please cut my hair. I need a new style.”

And my favorite…(2 years, 9 months) Emily is telling about the wise men… “They had goldfish and pretzels and they sang one last song to Baby Jesus, (sings) “It’s a small world after all…”

What cute things have your kids said?DSCN1121

Happy Housewife Gift Pack Giveaway


My TOS Crewmate, Mrs. White, is sponsoring a fun giveaway to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her blog. The gift pack includes a season of the Donna Reed Show, a sweet apron, and a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook.

Visit The Legacy of Home to enter the giveaway, and while you are there, read through her blog. I think you will find it a blessing!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beeyoutiful – Berry Well

We just had the opportunity to try out “Berry Well” from image

This is Beeyoutiful’s description of Berry Well:

Never fear the flu when you keep Berry Well on hand. Each ingredient in this pleasantly fruity syrup holds its own against flu, colds, and a swarm of bacterial and viral infections. Berry Well is a practically miraculous combination of the following:

  • Luscious, organic purple elderberries (first used long ago by Native Americans) that provide anthocyanins. The anti-viral powers of these immune system enhancers attack many strains of influenza A and B—without the side effects or complications of a flu shot.
  • Raw honey sweetens the mixture with more than just good taste. It delivers a rich supply of live enzymes required to help body systems fight colds and respiratory infections of all kinds.
  • Bee propolis and Organic Echinacea root extract—both considered powerful, natural antibiotics.
  • Raw apple cider vinegar, a folk remedy celebrated for its use against a long list of ailments, increases your body’s alkalinity. (Although today’s diets tend to make us more acidic, an alkaline body is safer from cancer and other diseases.) And the potassium in raw vinegar helps cells fight bacteria and viruses.

The Beeyoutiful Website dosage instruction say to “take regularly or start taking at the first sign of illness.”  Emily was a bit sniffly when our bottle arrived, so I had her take one dose a day for a few days. Since I think she was actually at the tail end of a mild cold, I’m not sure that it cleared the cold up, but it was gone in a couple days. We plan to take it when we feel sick or have been exposed to illness. Although I love the idea of taking it all the time to boost our immune systems, it is a bit expensive to take every day.

I tasted the Berry Well.  To me, the flavor was tolerable. I could definitely taste the berries (very good), the honey( also good) and the apple cider vinegar (not so good). It was sweet with a bit of bite to it. I also mixed a spoonful in a glass of water and liked it a bit better that way. I definitely wouldn’t mind taking this when sick. Emily, on the other hand, loved the flavor and has begged to have some every day. She usually hates liquid medicine like cough syrup, so this is certainly a positive statement about the product. If your kids won’t take it, it won’t help them!

 Berry Well sells for $18 for an 8 oz  bottle. also sells many other very interesting natural products, including vitamins, soaps, tension tamer oils, hair shine products, and facial toners. Please visit the TOS Crew Blog site to read reviews of some of these other products.

I received a free bottle of Berry Well in order to write this review. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

“Home” School at Walt Disney World

We are huge Disney fans. We are fortunate to live a day’s drive from WDW and have made a dozen or more trips there as our children have grown up. One thing that I love about Walt Disney World is that there is so much educational content there. We are always able to count part of our trip as “school time.” One trip, many years ago, back in the days of  “World of Motion” and “Horizons,” I even made a worksheet for my 6 year old to fill out with questions like “Name 4 types of transportation” and “Name 3 sources of energy.”  Usually, though, we just have fun and learn a lot anyway!


Destination Disney is a blog hop featured my my TOS Crew friends Heidi and Becky. Their question of the week is:

What is your favorite educational experience at Disney World?

It is hard to pick just one—both Animal Kingdom and Epcot are full of educational attractions. The attraction that first came to mind, though, is Ellen’s Energy Adventure. My kids (currently 9 to 22) WILL NOT go to WDW and miss this ride/attraction! And better yet, it never has a line! From the realistic dinosaurs to Bill Nye (whose PBS show the older kids grew up with) to Ellen (who is hysterically funny in this feature even if you don’t like her lifestyle), every one of the four has grown up thrilled to spend 45 minutes learning about energy!  Actually, it kind of surprises me that this is a favorite.

I will caution though that it contains evolutionary content that many families may not be comfortable with. We don’t avoid exposure to evolutionary content in our household—our kids know that just because many experts believe in it, that doesn’t make it true.

Oh! And one my other favorites---One that I think many visitors miss! Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom. You have to take a train there. I have never seen it crowded. It is a hands-on area with a petting zoo and educational exhibits about animals and conservation. The workers bring out various small animals or even insects, giving little talks and allowing visitors to see them close up.

From learning science at Epcot Future World, to  animals at Animal Kingdom and Living Seas, to visiting countries around the “world” at Epcot, education at WDW is hands on and fun. And I am more than ready for my next trip!




Sunday, April 25, 2010

Summer Homeschooling

This week’s TOS Blog Cruise question is, “Do you homeschool through the summer?”

I have homeschooled for 16 years. We have probably done every variation there is of homeschooling or not homeschooling through the summer months. Our basic school year runs from mid-August through May. We have taken most summers “off” from schooling, but have always included some summer educational activities.

For a number of years, we focused on Spanish and piano in the summer, since those were the two subjects that tended to slip during the year. I have often required the kids to practice math one or two days a week as well.

One year, we had formal school two days a week throughout the summer, enabling us to take off days during the regular school year.

Another year, we started in July and again were able to take weeks off to travel in the fall and a month off in December. I really like to take a looong Christmas break!

For the past 9 years, I have had at least one child in public school, so the child(ren) homeschooling kept to the same schedule for simplicity’s sake. However, Katie (child #3), is graduating this year. Next year, I will not have a child in school! If I send Emily to public high school as I did the others, I still have four more years without being tied to a public school schedule.  Yay! I am thinking about the possibilities. Should I start in July? Should we try schooling 4 or 5 weeks at a time, then take a week off? What has worked for you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

5 Question Friday

This is my first week to participate in the 5 Question Friday meme. Thanks to Five Crooked Halos for sponsoring this! Hop on over to her blog to see more responses!
1. What was the first car you owned? An ‘83 Mazda GLC. My parents bought it for me shortly before my college graduation. It really was a “great little car.” We drove it for another 13 years or so and never had any problems with it.
2. What song are you embarrassed to know the lyrics to? not sure
3. Have you ever had stitches? Yes, I had 3 stitches in my lip after my sister threw a butter knife at me when I was 8. The stitches were black. Lovely.
Oh, and I had 10 stitches in my thumb--those knives I got for a wedding gift were really sharp!
4. What was your first job? A camp counselor at a Girl Scout camp. I did this for 2 summers and loved it.
5. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Oscar the Grouch.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top 100 Children’s Novels

I found this list of of the top 100 children’s books (School Library Journal) at Our Busy Homeschool. The meme originated at Teacher Ninja.

The ones I have read are in bold—I’ve read 69 and these are some of my favorite children’s books! Several others that I haven’t read, we own and/or some of my kids have read.  I think I will make it a goal to read most of  the rest (and introduce them to Emily.) I see just one on the list that I know I don’t want to read.

100. The Egypt Game - Snyder (1967)
99. The Indian in the Cupboard - Banks (1980)
98. Children of Green Knowe - Boston (1954)
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - DiCamillo (2006)
96. The Witches - Dahl (1983)
95. Pippi Longstocking - Lindgren (1950)
94. Swallows and Amazons - Ransome (1930)
93. Caddie Woodlawn - Brink (1935)
92. Ella Enchanted - Levine (1997)
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Sachar (1978)
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall - MacLachlan (1985)
89. Ramona and Her Father - Cleary (1977)
88. The High King - Alexander (1968)
87. The View from Saturday - Konigsburg (1996)
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling (1999)
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek - Wilder (1937)
84. The Little White Horse - Goudge (1946)
83. The Thief - Turner (1997)
82. The Book of Three - Alexander (1964)
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Lin (2009)
80. The Graveyard Book - Gaiman (2008)
79. All-of-a-Kind-Family - Taylor (1951)
78. Johnny Tremain - Forbes (1943)
77. The City of Ember - DuPrau (2003)
76. Out of the Dust - Hesse (1997)
75. Love That Dog - Creech (2001)
74. The Borrowers - Norton (1953)
73. My Side of the Mountain - George (1959)
72. My Father's Dragon - Gannett (1948)
71. The Bad Beginning - Snicket (1999)
70. Betsy-Tacy - Lovelae (1940)

69. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Stewart ( 2007)
68. Walk Two Moons - Creech (1994)
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher - Coville (1991)
66. Henry Huggins - Cleary (1950)
65. Ballet Shoes - Stratfeild (1936)
64. A Long Way from Chicago - Peck (1998)
63. Gone-Away Lake - Enright (1957)
62. The Secret of the Old Clock - Keene (1959)
61. Stargirl - Spinelli (2000)
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi (1990)
59. Inkheart - Funke (2003)
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Aiken (1962)
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Cleary (1981)
56. Number the Stars - Lowry (1989)

55. The Great Gilly Hopkins - Paterson (1978)
54. The BFG - Dahl (1982)
53. Wind in the Willows - Grahame (1908)
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)
51. The Saturdays - Enright (1941)
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins - O'Dell (1960)
49. Frindle - Clements (1996)
48. The Penderwicks - Birdsall (2005)
47. Bud, Not Buddy - Curtis (1999)
46. Where the Red Fern Grows - Rawls (1961)
45. The Golden Compass - Pullman (1995)
44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Blume (1972)
43. Ramona the Pest - Cleary (1968)
42. Little House on the Prairie - Wilder (1935)
41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Speare (1958)
40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Baum (1900)

39. When You Reach Me - Stead (2009)
38. HP and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling (2003)
37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Taylor (1976)
36. Are You there, God? It's Me, Margaret - Blume (1970)
35. HP and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling (2000)

34. The Watson's Go to Birmingham - Curtis (1995)
33. James and the Giant Peach - Dahl (1961)
32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - O'Brian (1971)
31. Half Magic - Eager (1954)

30. Winnie-the-Pooh - Milne (1926)
29. The Dark Is Rising - Cooper (1973)
28. A Little Princess - Burnett (1905)
27. Alice I and II - Carroll (1865/72)
26. Hatchet - Paulsen (1989)
25. Little Women - Alcott (1868/9)
24. HP and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling (2007)
23. Little House in the Big Woods - Wilder (1932)
22. The Tale of Despereaux - DiCamillo (2003)
21. The Lightening Thief - Riordan (2005)
20. Tuck Everlasting - Babbitt (1975)
19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl (1964)
18. Matilda - Dahl (1988)
17. Maniac Magee - Spinelli (1990)
16. Harriet the Spy - Fitzhugh (1964)
15. Because of Winn-Dixie - DiCamillo (2000)
14. HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling (1999)
13. Bridge to Terabithia - Paterson (1977)
12. The Hobbit - Tolkien (1938)
11. The Westing Game - Raskin (1978)

10. The Phantom Tollbooth - Juster (1961)
9. Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery (1908)
8. The Secret Garden - Burnett (1911)
7. The Giver -Lowry (1993)
6. Holes - Sachar (1998)

5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Koningsburg (1967)
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - Lewis (1950)
3. Harry Potter #1 - Rowling (1997)
2. A Wrinkle in Time - L'Engle (1962)
1. Charlotte's Web - White (1952)

So how many have you read?

Monday, April 19, 2010


The TOS Blog Cruise topic for this week is: “How can I homeschool if my child won’t obey me?”

One of the comments that I have heard the most over the years from non-homeschoolers is, “I could never homeschool. My child wouldn’t work for me.” I have never known how to respond to this comment. Frankly, my thought is, “Well, then you have an obedience issue that needs to be dealt with whether you teach your child at home or not!” But it would be rather rude of me to actually say that!

Do my children always obey me? No. But I recognize the need for them to do so. And I believe that learning obedience (and respect, and good work habits) is every bit as important as the actual academics.

When attitudes have gotten bad around here, we have taken days off to discuss and practice respect and obedience. And we actually do practice—over and over! I give instructions and expect them to be followed with a smile until the habit is formed. We have done Bible studies focusing on positive character traits. On other occasions, we have persisted with the schoolwork or chore with me realizing (even if the child doesn’t) that the real issue is the completion of an assignment with a positive attitude, not the actual assignment.

Still, good attitudes and consistent obedience are ongoing issues at our house. We struggle along, some days better than others. But I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to train my child at home instead of entrusting that responsibility to someone else.

So my answer to “How can I homeschool if my child won’t obey me?” is YOU CAN’T! Teach your child to obey. Concentrate on that for as long as it takes. Then worry about the academics.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lesson Planet


 Lesson Planet is an subscription based search engine designed for  teachers and parents to search over 225,000 online lesson plans and worksheets. Each lesson plan and worksheet is categorized by subject, topic, and grade level and is rated by teachers (1 to 5 stars). These lesson plans and worksheets are not actually on the Lesson Planet website—Lesson Planet is a search engine that locates free education materials from sites all over the web.

What I liked:

-It was easy to limit my search to exactly what I needed. For example, I could search for frogs, grades 3-5,  lessons rated 4 stars or higher. This kept me from having to weed through lessons for high school or kindergarten that would not be useful to me.

-The worksheets were more useful to me than the lesson plans. Sometimes I do want something to supplement a topic we are studying and Lesson Planet made it easy to quickly find and print out a page to go in Emily’s workbox for the day.

-With all the resources that are included, there were a lot of options to choose from. My search of “frogs” for grades 3-5  with a rating of 3+ stars gave a choice of 192 worksheets and 643 lesson plans.

What I didn’t like:

-The lesson plans contained formal learning objectives and content standards that are worthless to me as a homeschooler. Most of the lesson plans are very scripted and not suited for a homeschool environment. I truthfully didn’t find any lessons that would be useful to me without quite a bit of modification. We like to read “real books,” not scripts and one-page narratives, to draw in multiple subject areas in a study and to chase “rabbit trails” as our interest leads.

-Some of the links were dead. I can see how this can happen, with 225,000 links to maintain, but this was an issue at times.

-Some links were associated with specific curriculums and were not of use unless I owned the associated textbooks.


Lesson Planet is not something that would be useful in our homeschool. Classroom teachers or homeschoolers who have a more formal teaching style might find it more useful than I did, however.

Lesson Planet has a 10 day free trial to allow teachers and parents to try the site with no obligation. After the free trial, membership is $39.95/year.

I received a free 3 month subscription to Lesson Planet in order to write this review. 

Molly’s Money Saving Digest—April 2010


The theme of  the April issue of Molly’s Money Saving Digest is “Homemade Happiness-Frugal Fun and Games.”

This 48-page issue is focused on kids. The feature article includes 30 homemade toys and games and activities to entertain your kids during the rainy month of April, although the ideas are all great for any time of year.  One article features a play kitchen built from an old entertainment center—It is precious! Too bad my kids are beyond the play-kitchen age!

The recipe section, as usual, includes delicious-sounding recipes  with color photos that are all easy enough for kids to help with.

My absolute favorite feature of the month is the “Kid’s Corner,” which features an “experiment” for the kids to do—baking chocolate chip cookies and calculating the cost per cookie for deli cookies, various store-bought cookie doughs and homemade cookies. What a fun way to incorporate math skills (measuring, fractions, division and more) with teaching your child to be a smart shopper!


Molly’s Digest sells for $4.95 for each month issue. But, better yet, check out the Molly’s Membership Program, which is only $3.95 a month and includes additional free e-books and gobs of extra resources!

I received a free download of Molly’s Digest in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ideal Curriculum


“Curriculum is a tool to help you teach each child in the best way.”

I like this quote by Ideal Curriculum. It matches my teaching philosophy. I have seen many curricula that are designed to be used, without deviation, exactly as written, bending the child to the curriculum, not the other way around. I much prefer to use a teaching program as a tool, to teach my child at her level, and in a way that she learns best.

Ideal Curriculum is designed for preschoolers or “young kindergarteners” either in a classroom or a home setting. I received Month 1 (Transportation) to evaluate. I read and studied all the materials, but wasn’t able to actually use it because, at 9 years old, Emily is far beyond this level.

Ideal is set up as a monthly program. Monthly units may be purchased individually (although they must be used in sequence) or as a one-year package. Each unit includes literacy, math, and a science or social studies theme of the month.

Assessments and goals are included for each month. I think this is a very helpful feature to help the teacher know where she is going and whether the children have learned what they need to learn. Furthermore, the assessments and goals were presented in a clear, useful way, not dripping with “educational-eeze.”

The daily lessons include a short formal component that includes reading stories, discussion, and counting. Also included are games that can be used during formal lessons or can be used throughout the day while playing, shopping, or cooking. I love this—it is perfect for homeschoolers who want to make learning part of life instead of something separated and detached.

Each day includes a literacy activity in each of four categories: letters and sounds, phonological awareness, concepts about print, and sight words.

image image


Math concepts for Month One include rote counting and calendar skills.

Each month features a different science  or social studies topic. The theme for month one is Transportation. Each set of lessons includes activities and experiments, dramatic play, story sequencing, and shared writing. The authors state that the most important purpose of the science curriculum is to teach and enhance oral language skills. As a speech pathologist, I was very pleased to read this and felt that the activities did achieve this goal. Reading and discussing were a part of every lesson. Every story was told and retold by the children using sequencing cards. Yet, the lessons are all active and hands-on. This unit included many lessons on the wheel and axle, including experiments. The vocabulary and concepts taught were challenging, but not too difficult for preschoolers.

Ideal Curriculum also includes MP3 songs to help children learn the monthly concepts. I think this is a fun addition to the program.

I did not do formal schooling with my children when they were preschoolers. We learned “through life,” read lots of books, did informal science experiments and collections, and so on. But I realize that many parents do want a more structured curriculum, even for preschoolers. I think Ideal Curriculum would be a great fit for many homeschooling families as well as for day cares and preschools. It is a language-rich, hands-on, yet structured program that would not take long at all to use each day.

Ideal Curriculum sells for $30 (downloadable) or $55 (print) per month. The 9 month packages are $240 and $440. An edition for use with more that 10 children that contains larger books is $526.50.  Ideal Curriculum is offering a 10% discount on any order from May 1-31 with the discount code, “welovekids.”

I received a free monthly unit of Ideal Curriculum for review purposes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday’s Fave Five


1. I am loving the beautiful spring weather—The sun is shining, highs in the 70’s, everything is turning green!

2. My friend Becky is between homes right now and has moved in with us for a month. I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with her before she leaves town. With dh living in Korea, I feel starved for adult company at times!

3. I just arrived in Mobile to spend several days with my oldest daughter, who is in med. school here. I haven’t seen her since Christmas, since the 6-hour drive is too much for a weekend.  Emily is spending a few days at the beach with her grandparents and one of her cousins, so I am child-free!

4. I am thankful for God’s provision in the midst of tough times!

5. School went well this week-no melt-downs,  a good attitude and lots of enthusiasm from Emily.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Learning and Loving It!

image Confession: I don’t have a child who loves school. I have dreams of being that homeschooling family where the child is excited about every school day, where we spend hours curled up on the couch reading good books and where hands-on crafts and science projects happen every day.  I would love for my child to excitedly tell our friends and relatives about what she is learning (and to demonstrate how well she is doing homeschooling!)

Now, all of these things do happen, but not every day.  I am an organized, box-checker and our school reflects that more than I would like. Plus, I want her to master things like math and spelling that she doesn’t really like.

I just asked Emily if she liked learning and she responded, “Yes, especially science, because I love experiments! I love trying out new things. That’s so awesome!” She is definitely a hands-on child!

She has enjoyed studying the American Girls books with the accompanying cooking and craft books. We’ve also done mapping and hands-on activities with the Little House series and other books. I have found that Emily has both retained more and enjoyed school more when we take the time to add hands-on learning. We also love to read biographies and historical fiction books to supplement or even replace text books. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than a textbook-only curriculum to suck the fun out of education!

I struggle with the balance between what she needs to learn (math!), but doesn’t really want to and capitalizing on what she loves to make learning exciting. I also struggle with allotting the necessary time and energy to do the hands-on projects that require my assistance. We tend to run out of time in our days to get everything done!

What I really love to see, though, is her self-initiated learning. For example, she loves nature. Many Saturday mornings, she will gather her notebook, camera, and bird-identification book and head out for some bird-watching. I have been encouraging, but this has been all on her own. She also loves to discover lizards, bugs, and flowers, and will often do some research on her own to learn more about what she has found outside.

I’d love to hear how you encourage delight-led learning in your home!

Visit the TOS Blog Cruise this week to get more ideas for instilling the love of learning in your child. I’ll be there AND will be taking notes!

What Your Son Isn’t Telling You (Book Review)


What Your Son Isn’t Telling You by Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger is an insightful look into the world of teen boys. Raising teens can be difficult and, because boys often do not open up to their parents, they can be especially hard to understand. The topics covered in this helpful book include bullying, anger and depression, safety in cyberspace, dating and lust issues, communication, and more. The book includes many quotes and personal stories from boys that make it “real,”  and gives solid advice to parents about helping their boys in each area.

My son is a bit past the teen years, but I still found the book helpful to see somewhat into the male mind and to understand the issues that teen boys struggle with. I wish I had had access to this book when he was thirteen and we were just beginning this journey.

I received a free review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teaching the “th” Sound

“TH” is a sound that many children have trouble producing, but it is a very easy sound to teach. There are actually two TH sounds. One is voiceless, as in the word, “bath.” The other is voiced, as in the word, “that.”  The voiceless TH is usually mastered by age 5 or 6, but the voiced TH may still be mispronounced by many children until age 7….

Read more about the TH sound and how to teach it to your child on my Super Star Speech blog.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


There was a discussion recently on the The Old Schoolhouse Crew message board about the declining quality of clothespins. My major use of clothespins is for crafts and closing chip bags, so this hasn’t been much of an issue for me. I have a bag of clothespins that I bought (cheap!) over twenty years ago at a liquidators type store that have served me well and seemed to be of good quality. Today, I pulled two clothespins out of my kitchen drawer and was shocked by the difference. One clothespin was one of my  originals. The other was one that Emily brought home from church as part of a craft. The clothespin on the left feels as flimsy as it looks. Chinese-made, I am sure….


I am actually thinking about putting up a clothesline and hanging some of our clothes to save on energy costs this summer. Especially since I own some hard-to-find quality clothespins!

If you hang your clothes out, or would like to, check out this great giveaway for a Lehman’s Clothesline Pulley System at the Legacy of Home blog!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Fever

image When I was working as a speech pathologist in a public school, I started each August with great enthusiasm but by March was very ready for the school year to end and was counting down those last days. Even though I have been homeschooling for over 16 years, I haven’t felt that degree of burnout. Generally by spring, though, I have lost some enthusiasm. We have gotten into a routine of doing the same things each day and are doing fewer creative and hands-on activities. Ironically, as we are coasting to the end of the year, I am poring over catalogs and getting excited about NEXT year! (OK, I admit—sometimes the planning is more fun than the doing!)

But—I don’t want to coast. I want to keep up our interest and enthusiasm. Here are some ideas for breaking that daily routine and livening up your home school:

-School outside. As the weather warms up, we like to go outside on our deck to work. Something about the fresh air and hearing the birds sing cheers us up.

-Take a surprise day off. When the kids get up in the morning, announce a bike ride or morning at the park instead of school that day.

-Plan a special unit. In May, we’ll be dropping our usual science and social studies to do a Beyond Five in a Row unit. I’m also doing a couple of American Girl (Addy) activity/book study days with our homeschool group.

-Using workboxes has helped keep the interest up in our homeschool. Every day, I try to include one “fun” box—often a game. We use my Super Star games a lot because they are quick to play. Sometimes, I put in a craft activity or just-for-fun science experiment.

-Another workbox addition I have used this year is physical activity—not serious or lengthy exercise, but  something quick and fun to burn off some energy. Bear walk around the house. Run up and down the driveway. Ride your bike for 10 minutes. Do 30 jumping jacks.

What cures for “spring fever” do you have?

This post is participating in the TOS Crew Blog Cruise.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks


Emily has found a new pastime in the past few weeks—The World’s Most Massive Virtual World for Kids—otherwise known as the Travels of Wiglington and Wenks. Emily has had great fun making new friends and traveling around this virtual world, playing games and searching for hidden objects.  I  like that Emily’s playing time is actually learning time. As children travel around the “world,” they learn about geography, famous landmarks, famous people, inventions, and more.  As a parent, I appreciate the safety features built into this online community. According to the site, the following features are available:

-filters that disallow URL links, telephone numbers, or addresses

-chat logs that can be monitored by parents

-vulgarities are censored and offenders are banned from the community

-the ability to report inappropriate behavior


My Thoughts:

As with any online activity, parents should exercise caution and supervision. Despite the built in safety standards, I witnessed bad language with ** (and others threatening to report the offender) and someone spamming another website. I was unable to locate the feature for parents to monitor chat logs. I think the safety standards should be tougher for a child's game.

Much of the game is “fluff”—searching for hidden objects, balloon wars, and shooting galleries. I certainly wouldn’t count this as school time, but it is a fun, recreational activity with some educational components. I think Emily’s favorite aspect of the online world was actually just meeting and chatting with the other players.

The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks is free to play for anyone. However, a membership option is available that offers enhanced game play, including additional costumes, pets, houses, and islands as well as additional quests and game play privileges.

Membership costs range from $5.99 a month to $59.99 a year.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I was given a free one-month membership to Travels of Wiglington and Wenks in order to write this review.