Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nutrition 101: Choose Life

Picture 5Product: Nutrition 101: Choose Life
Company: Growing Healthy Homes
Price: CD-ROM $79.95 US, printed book $99.95, combination CD-ROM/book $129.95

As someone who has trained to become a natural health consultant/practitioner, as well as a holistic doula, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review Nutrition 101: Choose Life by Growing Healthy Homes. This complete nutrition curriculum is certainly impressive in it's 448 page grandeur. Combining the knowledge of a naturopathic doctor with a home economics teacher, a homeschooling mother and a communications specialist and you get a wining combination. This curriculum includes six units, with four chapters per section. Units include:

  • The Brain and Nervous System,

  • The Digestive System,

  • The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory and Visual Systems

  • The Muscular and Skeletal systems

  • The Cardiovascular and Immune System,

  • The Endocrine System and Emotions (which, if you ask me, often gets left out entirely or gets a short little blurb).

The book has a text book feel to it with numerous diagrams, full colour pictures, an in depth index and numerous appendices (with tons of supplementary material). However, it is so much more than just a science/health text book. It has numerous hands on activities (both for older and younger children), recipes, and discussion/review questions for each chapter. It doesn't just tell you what to eat, but it tells you why these foods are so good for you. On the flip side, it also explains why junk food is not good for for you and goes more in depth than "sugar will rot your teeth," or "chips will make you fat." With scripture integrated into the text, this book definitely takes a Christian  perspective. That being said, I know that readers to my blog that are secular in belief would also find a great value in this book.

I will admit that I have not used this product with my children yet because it is so massive and there is nothing that I enjoy less than sitting at the computer trying to read information/prepare class. We've also just finished a unit on the human body as a system over the summer so I wanted to focus on some different science topics for a while. Even though my children are still quite young, 4 and 6, I think that this curriculum can be modified and used to teach even the youngest child about proper nourishment and our marvelous human body. I plan on ordering the printing copy of this curriculum and using it repeatedly for years to come (in a variety of different subjects- health/physical education, biology/science, home economics).

I would highly recommend this product, however, I would recommend spending the extra money and buying the hard copy version of the book. The extra $20 dollars is worth it because this book in one that you'll want to hold in your hands and refer back to periodically. The cost of printing/binding the book from the e-book version would cost those extra $20. I would recommend saving yourselves the hassle by ordering the book.

This is a book that I wish was used during my training as a natural health consultant. It is nearly as complete as a college nutrition guide and certainly less dry than the texts that I was required to read! I do not think that you would be disappointed with this purchase! For further information visit Growing Health Homes website.

To view other crew members reviews click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Quarter Mile Math

Picture 4 Product: The Quarter Mile Math Level 1,2, and 3 Bundle (Standard Version)
Company: Barnum Software
Price: $89.95 US

Through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew I was given the opportunity to review The Quarter Mile Math software by Barnum Software. The computer program is designed to self-challenge your student as he races his dragster/riderless horse faster and faster towards the finish line by answering a series of math questions on his choice of topic. The goal is to answer more questions correctly and at shorter intervals to finish the race at faster and faster speeds (the students best five scores are saved and become the racing times for the other dragsters/horses the student competes with). With the level 1, 2, and 3 bundle there are no shortages of questions (70, 000+ to answer). With topic from keyboarding skills, operations with whole numbers and integers, all the way to prealgebra there is something for all students from Kindergarten right up through grade 9. This makes the program particularly suitable for families with multiple children at different grade levels.

Unfortunately, I was unable to review the deluxe version of this software that most crew members had the opportunity to review. The deluxe version requires an internet connection which I not longer have on my PC and unfortunately, the software (both the standard and the deluxe version) does not run on newer Mac operating systems. The deluxe version allows parents and teachers to easily track their student's progress through each topic that was lacking in the standard version. According to The Quarter Mile Math website the deluxe version has a single screen that shows....

* All topics in which the student has practiced.
* Their chronological progress in each topic.
* The number of races completed daily in each topic plus grand totals.
* The number of correct answer completed daily in each topic plus grand totals.

To get the same information on the standard version one has to select each topic and subject individually to see if their student has worked on that material (unless of course you are writing down what your student is which case you'd still have to check each subject individually to see your student's progress). I found this to be time consuming and a bit of a chore and would recommend the Deluxe version for their membership fee (from $2.95 per month to $34.95 for 2 years) for this reason. To see what other Crew Members have to say about The Quarter Mile Math here.

While I think that this program could be beneficial to students that enjoy mental math and flashcards, I do have to admit that it did not work very well for my family. Liam had no desire to try and beat his best racing times. He told me the games were "too easy" and that they always asked the same questions. He just did not get into it. I believe that because he is a avid gamer he didn't find simple graphics of The Quarter Mile Math enough to hold his attention. My son also prefers games (including educational games) with a storyline (trying to find clues to solve a mystery for example) and word-problems, as opposed to just answering simple math questions so this game format didn't appeal to him. In addition, our math program also relies heavily on manipulatives, taking the time to understand math concepts and playing lots of interactive games together. There's never a rush to try to answer questions as quickly as possible. Personally I am not a fan of drilling math facts into my students and Liam didn't seem to appreciate it either. I do think that many, many children do like racing type games and would be excited to try to beat their scores (I really appreciate the self-challenge factor of the software) but at the time it is not a program that I will be using on a regular basis with my son.

I do invite you to visit the sites of other crew members to get other opinions on this product because many families really did enjoy it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9 weeks (and a bit)



Okay, so maybe it WASN'T bloating!

Yes, I am still HUGE (for how far along I'm supposed to be). Given that I have a tad more energy (a tad) and I am wee bit less sick (wee bit) I am thinking I may actually be a month ahead of my dates. I actually decided to have an u/s scheduled to check so we will get to see the little one next week. It will be reassuring to hear that little heartbeat (as the doctor did not even try at my appointment of Tuesday). If my dates are right, I am going to be really, REALLY big by my typical 42 weeks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Very Different Children

I don't often post things on here that are really personal, and I don't usually seek advice, but I know that I have some people reading that may be willing to share experience and advice.

I've been blessed with two very different children. Liam, my older son, who is 6, was born quiet and serious. He barely made a sound until he was 2 years old, when he suddenly started talking in complete sentences. He generally prefers to play by himself, coming up with complex adventure games or drawing out mazes/making up stories. He sometimes comes off as a little awkward around other boys in the community who are into bikes and wrestling so he doesn't have a lot of friends though he tries to share with them about his adventures and creations. He doesn't go out of his way to communicate with others (Mama's shyness) and sometimes when asked simple questions (like how old are you?) hesitates and then comes up with some intelligent answer but not normally how one would answer (like I am half of twelve, or I'm 1/4 of 24). So yeah, totally wonderful but shy and a little "different". Morgaine, who is 4, is a complete social butterfly. She'll talk to anyone. She has a killer smile and dimples so everyone is immediately taken by her (and aren't afraid to tell her how cute and wonderful she is). She really does light up a room. Unfortunately though, I think this is wearing on the whole family.

Because of her "cuteness" she gets an incredible amount of attention when we are out. Everyone wants to talk to her (and then tell me what a wonderful blessing she must be to me). They'll have a 10 minute conversation with her with lots of compliments thrown in, and not really talk to Liam. I've had people ask Liam a question and if it takes him more then half a second longer to answer than they think it should, turn away without waiting for him to reply. I've had people walk away from him while he was talking to them. No one ever compliments him or tells me how wonderful he is (note that he is always around when people are gushing about Morgaine). He'll talk to people and they'll all but ignore him. We were getting reading for a prince and princess tea party this spring and both kids were really excited. We went to Value Village to pick out a dress and a nice "knight" outfit. I found a cute little dress for Morgaine and the perfect handsome vest/pants/while shirt for Liam and we were standing in line to pay. The lady in front of us struck up a conversation with Morgaine about her dress and the party and Liam kept trying to talk to the lady, too, to tell him that he was going to be a knight. She finally looked over at him and he showed her his outfit and excitedly told her that I was going to make him a crown and all she said was "oh," and went right back to talking to Morgaine. The lights went out of Liam's eyes and I wanted to SHAKE her and tell her how wonderful my little boy was (and I am tears as I type this because I love him so much).

Morgaine also has the attitude that she's cute and can get away with just about anything because of her cuteness. This is a whole other issue but I want to put it out there because I am struggling with it right now. I don't find her cute, anymore. I find her really difficult to deal with. I don't like people with a smug attitude and I HATE seeing it coming from my FOUR year old. Honestly, I don't feel all that blessed by her (at this moment, though I certainly LOVE her). So if there is any advice on dealing with that as an extra issue, I'd love to hear it, too.

My current issue is that I went to register Liam for drama class this weekend. I figured he's enjoy it because he has an excellent imagination and I really wanted him to have an extracurricular activity and didn't think sports would be his thing. I took both kids with me to the registration and when we went to pay for the lessons the fellow (a lovely, animated man) asked who the lessons were for and I said they were for Liam. Then he asked about the cute little girl with the big smile and said they'd LOVE to have her. I told them that she wasn't old enough this year but we'd seeing for the next one. He and Morgaine started talking animatedly about her imaginary dog, Purple, and of course Morgaine gets right into it and is her animated excited self and Liam's trying to get a word in but no one's really paying much attention to him. They talk for a good 10 (at least) minutes and the teacher who has been watching calls me over and says "You know, I would LOVE to have Morgaine in my class. She would really, really love it," and knowing she would and still not having found an activity for her, I sign her up as well. Now, I have both kids in the same class in another instance where Morgaine can outshine her brother. I think that it is a really good group but I still fear that Liam will get left behind.

I am terrified that having a sister who gets so much attention is wearing on Liam. He seems less and less willing to participate in things or even try to talk to people and often expresses to me that any of his "problems" are Morgaine's fault. How can I make him feel better about himself? Is there a way I can get people more interested in Liam? Is there a way that I can get people to STOP complimenting Morgaine ALL THE TIME? I think it is nice that people like her but I don't think it is particularly good that she hears about how beautiful she is all the time (because really that is what they are complimenting....her smile, her dimples, her blue eyes, her dresses).

What would you do? Have any of you dealt with similar situations? (I'm even going to put my e-mail out there in case anyone would prefer to e-mail's

Thanks for listening....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

8 weeks (and a bit)

INSANELY bloated is all I can say about this photo!

I haven't gained any weight (I'm down 8 pounds since August 1st when we started the 100 mile diet) but it's rearranged itself to sit right around my middle, especially by bedtime. I'll likely be into maternity clothes soon!



I wonder what next week will bring!

Grapevine Studies: A Blessing for this Family

Picture 3Product: New Testament Overview Level 2 (e-book/hard copy combo)
Company: Grapevine Studies
Price: Varies depending on which format you chose. Teacher's guide from $22.95 to $45.95. Student manual $25.95.
Special Information: Special offer included at the end of this review

First of all, I want to apologize for the delay in getting this review posted for you all. We have been so blessed by this program that I wanted to do this review justice but somehow life (and a newly growing life) kept jumping in the way of me clearly getting my feelings down about this product.

Ever since we started homeschooling, Liam favorite subject has been Bible studies. He devoured The Beginner's Bible and I found that I often had to supply a lot more information than these really short stories provided. I'd often catch the kids talking about God and Jesus as they were going to bed at night. I was surprised at how much of an interest they'd both taken in scripture and delighted at the intellectual (for 3 and 6) conversations they'd have and the questions they'd ask each other.

This year, I knew we were going to have to go even more in depth and was looking for a Bible and Bible studies program for Liam when I receive a delightful e-mail from Dianna, principle author of Grapevine Bible studies. She was lovely to correspond with and after talking back and forth and listening to her suggestions, I decided to get the New Testament Overview (Level 2) for Liam. We got the e-book/hard copy combo. When the box finally arrived, we were delighted by the stick-figure Dianna had drawn on the packaging welcoming Liam to Grapevine studies. The kids carried the drawing around ALL day and even wanted to hang it on the wall. A big thank you to Dianna for catching the kids interest right from the very first moment!

Grapevine Studies is a complete Bible curriculum that combines scripture reading and memorization with drawing (no worries, only stick figures) as it takes you on a chronological journey through the Bible. Using a time line that you refer to each week, lessons focuses on one Bible story at a time, helping to give your child an understanding of the sequence of events in the Bible as opposed to just teaching them the stories. The teacher's guide is very complete telling you everything you need to know to complete each lesson. Lessons include review of the time line (completed in the first couple weeks of the study), scripture readings, drawing of the events (with examples) that take place in the reading, memorization, questions for review and a review card at the end of the week. Each day is broken down into manageable sections so that you do not have to wonder about what is to be covered each day.

I was somewhat apprehensive about this program because Liam is very pencil resistant and thought that the drawing would be torture to him. However, he enthusiastically joined in and is even drawing and writing just for fun. Even the littlest one sits at the table with us while we work through our lessons. At first she was drawing princes and princesses but as the weeks progress she has started adding Jesus to her drawings and most often listens as Liam and I discuss what we have read. It's wonderful to be able to reach both children at one time.

Grapevine Studies' New Testament sells for $45.95US for the hard copy Level 1 and 2 edition (there's more memorization in level 2) printed in full colour. It can be purchased for $35.95US in black and white. Note that the colours that are used in the colour version are just a guideline and you can use whatever colours you like. They also sell the e-book format of this books for $22.95US if you would prefer immediate access to the information. The student workbook (where all the stick figure drawings are done) sells for $25.95US for either the e-book or hardcopy format. Dianna from Grapevine studies has also graciously given Crew blog readers a discount of 30% if they use the code crew9 at checkout. This offer is good until September 30th so do not delay and visit Grapevine Studies today to find out more about their wonderful products.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine for only $7.95!

Homeschooling is a Labor of Love, and the Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine is celebrating your hard work as a parent by putting their one-year print subscriptions on sale! For a very limited time, you can subscribe or renew for $7.95! (US only). International customers can subscribe to the digital edition for only 7.95!

You can buy a gift sub for friends, too! To gift a subscription:
1. Go to the one-year subscription page (uS only)
2. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
3. Enter the name, address, email, and phone information for each recipient
4. click "Add this to my cart".
5. The information will display in your cart and simply proceeed to check out.

There are only 2000 of these available, and they are going quickly! Your subscription begins with their Fall Issue.

If you live in an international location, you can subscribe to their digital edition for only $7.95! It's the same great content as their print magazine, except it is instant and interactive!

US subscribers (print magazine)

Digital Subscription

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Web Design for Kids (..and Curious Grown-Ups)

Picture 6Product: Web Design for KIDS (...and Curious Grown-Up)
Company: Click Drag Solutions
Price: $40.00 US
Special Information: For a limited time purchase this instructional DVD for 19.99

A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail. I opened it up to find the Web Design for Kids (...and Curious Adults) instructional DVD. When my son saw the DVD he said, "Mom, I'm a kid. Can I watch it?" Glad to see that he was interested in it, I told him he could. After a couple minutes he said to me, "Hey Mom, what's Web Design?" I told him to put on the DVD and he would see (crossing my fingers that he'd get a good explanation given to him by the instructor). Within 5 minutes, he excitedly ran to the kitchen to tell me that he was going to be able to create a website and that the DVD was going to show him how. He watched, captivated as Brian Richardson, a middle school computer literacy teacher, showed him step by step what goes into creating a website.

The instructional DVD was designed for people using a Windows operating system, so we had to experiment a little on our Mac. Instead of using Wordpad and Internet Explorer we were able to use Text Edit and Firefox with some little modifications. A young child, like my son, would require extra help with these changes (finding the programs, knowing where and how to save information for example). We did not end up creating a website in the end because Liam needed me to sit with him in order to pause the DVD so that he could type in the text that he needed to. We received this product for review right in the middle a very busy summer filled with visits and company and time did not allow me to dedicate the time to Liam though we did do several of the lessons. Liam did enjoy the lessons that we completed, but had no idea what he would make a website about so I felt okay leaving it at that. The DVD is one that the kids like to watch just for fun so I have no doubts that one day soon, Liam will get an idea and will be able to make a website without too much difficulty because of repeated exposure to the information on this DVD.

Having taking adult basic HTML before, I felt that this DVD was very complete covering such topics as:

  • Basic HTML code

  • Adding Pictures

  • Colouring letters and Backgrounds

  • Making text move across the screen

  • and Much more.

There were only a few more advanced things that we touched on in my HTML class (which was much more expensive than this DVD) and they are not things that are used in everyday web design.

I am happy with this project and I am sure  that the kids will get more use out of it in the coming years (really, a 6 year old doesn't have much reason to want to build a website). The information was complete and the teacher friendly and informative. He was even able to anticipate "problems" and questions that a student might have and answer them. The children liked having "kids like them" in the DVD (though my husband and I found it was rather scripted and somewhat cheesey). They got the kids attention, though, and I guess that it what is most important.

Right now, for a limited time you can order the instructional DVD for $19.99US, which I think is a  good deal. I am not so sure that I would pay the regular $40.00US price tag but if you had a child that really wanted to learn HTML and you were faced with buying a  (MASSIVE) HTML book from the book store or this DVD for about the same price,   then the DVD is probably the way to go for easy, friendly, step by step instruction. It is also nice to note that a portion of the profits of the sales from this DVD goes to help children directly through donations to the following charities:  The Smile Train, Ronald McDonald House, Children's Miracle Network, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and The American Foundation for the Blind. It's nice to be able to support a company that cares more about the needs of others than its bottom line.

To find out more about this DVD and the company please click here

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NOT back to school day

Today did NOT involve trying to get the kids up and on the school bus, it did NOT involve schedules and school supplies, it did NOT involve wondering if the kids were okay. What it did involve was swimming, food and friends (thanks Kimberly for the wonderful day). It included snuggling in bed and reading book after book. It included lounging on the porch colouring, building, reading and being TOGETHER.



What a wonderful start to the school year!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm expecting

Yes, there's a wee one in there getting ready to join our clan in April, 2010.



7 weeks

I've always wanted to take weekly belly pictures but I've never felt motivated enough to actually do it. Knowing that this little one is likely our last I figured that if I actually dedicated myself to posting weekly pictures on my blog then I would HAVE to take them. So there you go, I pledge to post weekly belly updates on Mama Manuscripts (poor you guys *lol*). Likely not terribly interesting but I'm excited to see the changes (I'm always shocked at how HUGE I am at the end of pregnancy. My body totally morphs!)

Anyways, we are thrilled. We've always felt that we were meant to have three but weren't sure it was going to happen so we are pleasantly surprised. We'll keep you updated!