Monday, March 29, 2010

All About Reading-"What Am I?" Review

Product: What Am I?
Company: All About Learning
Price: 19.95$US

This year I was given the opportunity to review All About Spelling Levels 1 and 2 as well as Beehive Reader 1 (soon to be renamed "Cobweb the Cat.") The Beehive Reader was especially a big success in our house so we were happy to receive the second in the Beehive Reader series entitled "What Am I?". This delightful reader introduces your child to a whole cast of characters through 10 new short stories. Rob the Robot wrecks havoc on the household that orders him in the mail and Deb the Dog learns that maybe a smelly musk ox isn't so bad. As with the first reader, the stories are delightful and captivating and the pencil drawn pictures are just beautiful.

This reader correlates with the second level of the All About Spelling spelling program and helps further your child's reading skills by increasing the story length and enriching the vocabulary included in the text. There are plans in the works to include two readers for each level of All About Spelling (after the first level) and I know that my family will anxiously be awaiting each new addition to the series. These high quality books are a welcomed addition to my homeschool as I know that they will be enjoyed for years to come. There is no doubt in my mind that because of their high durability and timelessness they will be enjoyed by my own grandchildren years down the line.

"What am I?" will be available for purchase for 19.95$US starting on April 1st, 2010. To find out what other Crew Members thought of this reader be sure to visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Website here.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Belly Pictures-37 weeks

Full term, Baby!!

Mama is feeling REALLY full of baby right now. It feels like in the past week my belly has gone from lots of squishy areas to hard baby all over!! Yes, maybe the baby moved into a better position BUT I'm thinking a major growth spurt happened, too. I'm pretty sure we'll have a near 9lbers again this time.

We'll be heading off in the next 3 or 4 days to Bridgewater in order to have the baby with the midwives. It's an exciting time. We've never really gone on a "vacation" as a family before so we are hoping that we have a little while there just to enjoy the family of 4 before baby #3 arrives but at the same time don't want baby to hold out 'til last minute either. Let's face it, the last few weeks of pregnancy aren't the most comfortable and neither would be traveling home within a couple days of birth. A nice 39 weeks baby (smack dab the middle of our stay) would be much appreciated but really, baby has the final say!

Not really much else to report on the baby front. I may not have internet access while at the retreat (we are debating bringing the computer) so I am not sure if you will get another update or not before wee baby arrives. We will find ways to let folks know when sweet baby comes earth-side.

Until then, I am signing off (besides my million and one reviews due before I leave) and wishing my other pregnant mama friends lovely birthing energy and much love.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Critical Thinking Company-Language Smarts Level C

Product: Language Smarts Level C
Company: The Critical Thinking Company
Price: 39.99$US

I am feeling incredible blessed (yes, AGAIN) to have been selected as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew to review material from The Critical Thinking Company. As a relatively new homeschooler, I had not heard of this company that uses both high quality printed workbooks and software to teach children how to look at problems logically and work them out. Along with my order confirmation, I received a link to their product sampler and I was taking a look at it when my son announced "I LOVE it! It is the BEST day of my life!" Shocked, I looked at him and he said, "You just HAVE to print it for me, Mom!"

So I print off the samples and my 4 year old daughter sees the activities at the beginning of the the book and says, "Mom, it's the best day of my life, EVER!" An argument ensued over who was having the best day and needless to say I knew that this product was going to be a hit in my household!

A (long) couple weeks later we received Language Smarts Level C to review. This grade 2 level workbook teaches a wide variety of language arts topics that help improved your child's grammar, vocabulary, comprehension and writing skills. Logic activities, rhymes and riddles, and other FUN activities are used throughout the book to encourage critical thinking skills as opposed to just recalling facts. The kids must use what they have learned to demonstrate further problem solving skills and this is what, in my opinion, makes this program a step above other language arts programs out there. At 320 pages long, there are a variety of topics to keep your child busy all year long either as their core language curriculum or as a supplement to the curriculum you are currently using. Most activities were challenging enough to keep my son engaged but, if read aloud, many of riddles could be answered by my younger daughter keeping them both interested in the program (a rarity in this house!)

While the 39.99$US price tag may seem expensive, my husband and I both really liked the thinking skills emphasized in this workbook. Both children continue to be interested after over a month of daily use and look forward to critical thinking time. The only issue we have found with the book, especially in the earlier sections, was the phrasing of some of the questions. There were times that we had to read through the directions a couple times to fully comprehend what was being asked but that is something that we can live with. We've enjoyed Language Smarts Level C so much that we are planning on using several of their other workbooks as part of our homeschool for next year!

I encourage you to take a look at The Critical Thinking Company's website and try out any/all of their numerous printable samples or software demos. There is a lot to choose from but the company really gives you a good idea through their samples what you can expect from their award wining products.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Fit Mama Friday-March 26th

Well, this is likely to be my last Fit Mama Friday update before I become the mother of THREE! No, no, NO there's pretty much no chance that I'll have the wee baby by next week BUT we will be at the cottage where we will be birthing and I do not think that we will have internet access there (what's a retreat if we don't actually retreat from anything?).

There really isn't much of anything to report here this week AT ALL. I deal with facial neuralgia that was doing pretty good though the pregnancy but hit with a vengeance on Monday and has plagued me all week. So basically, moving hurts so I haven't done much of anything at all. I didn't walk anywhere and our one outing out yesterday, I ended up sitting in the car. Fun stuff. Good for getting in shape for labour, I tell you!

Food wise, I haven't been terribly hungry but have started to put on a bit of weight again. I certainly will NOT go over my expected weight gain this time around and that is almost shocking to me. Once baby is out, I won't have all that much extra to loose (though, I tend to hold on to everything while nursing so I will have to work myself to get back into shape if I intend to do so). I haven't been having snacks like I planned on doing. I tend to graze when my husband is out of the house but with him home full time now, I find myself only eating at meal times. I still really, really want to do better in that regards as having good energy will be more and more important as that due date sneaks up. I'm thinking some nice cheeses and crackers maybe. My good ol' standby of nuts isn't that appealing so finding their replacement isn't easy. I think I'll blend up some humus as well for the week.

So, I will be back after this wee baby has arrived and will share a post baby belly shot so I see my new starting point as I get back into shape as the Fit Mama to 3.

Wishing all my other Fit Mamas over at Got Chai? a wonderful month of April. I will see you come May!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Refuge chez Mama Manuscripts

Math Galaxy

Product: Word Problem Fun, Whole Number Fun, Math Galaxy Riddles-Whole Numbers (worksheet generator)
Company: Math Galaxy
Price: Worksheet generator 29.95$US, software games 29.95$US, riddle e-book 14.95$US

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I had the opportunity to try out several different products from Math Galaxy. This company provides both software (Mac friendly as well as for PC) and computer generated worksheets on a variety of topics from basic addition/subtraction to algebra. We chose to review both the software and worksheet generator on whole numbers and word problems.

The worksheets include problems that your child needs to solve in order to find out the answer to riddles (each answer ends up representing a certain letter in the answer). My son did enjoy this activity to a certain extent because he has just been introduced to the world of jokes and riddles. He didn't mind solving the problems in order to answer the questions but wasn't terribly enthusiastic about this activity, either. This product sells for 29.95$US and can generate 500 worksheets that can be printed and completed by your student. This may be a good option if you have a child that is very much into riddles and jokes and who would be motivated to complete the worksheets to learn the "punch line."

The other program that we reviewed was the Word Problems fun software which also sells for 29.95$US. In this game for 1-4 players, the students solve math problems, complete mazes (in order to "own" that maze, much like monopoly) and race around a virtual game board trying own as many caves as possible in order to collect money from the other players in the game. This game would be especially fun as a multi-player game but can be played alone as well. Students gain robots to complete mazes as they answer the questions correctly. While the math questions were appropriate for my child's comprehension level then mazes were very difficult (even my husband found them hard and he is an avid gamer). Therefore, my son was not motivated to answer the questions in order to play do the mazes. If you have a child that has really good hand-eye coordination then this game might be more appropriate but it just did not work well in my family.

At the 29.95$US price tag, I would not be willing to buy either the worksheet generator or the software CD-Roms. They may be more appropriate in a larger family where they would get used by various students at different levels but that is my the case in my family and my son is just as motivated to complete complete worksheets that I can find for free online to practice his math facts. Math Galaxy offers many free samples on their website so I encourage you to check them out and try some of their programs to see what your child things of them. You can also read more reviews of these programs (along with other math galaxy products) on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don't Forget the TOS Homeschool Expo

There's still time to preregister and get in on the 5 dollar savings that they are offering until March 31st.

For more information check out last week's post here.

I think that this is a wonderful opportunity and I don't want you to miss out on it so I'll likely mention it from time to time in the coming weeks! Mark your calendar for May 12-14 and join me there!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-March 19th

Okay, so I might be eating a little too much of that Easter chocolate (and before Easter, at that!).....

but I am eating quite a bit of fruit and vegetables and getting a decent amount of protein (can I count the leftover salt beef I've been eating all week?). Water intake has been really good this week and I didn't have any soda until last night....opps.

Exercise has been as good as it gets for almost 36 weeks along. Everything is starting to ache a bit more and loosening right up for labour so I haven't been pushing it too much because with my extra energy this last week or so I fear that I am going to push too far and hurt something. At nearly 40 weeks pregnant with my son I was out walking and twisted my ankle and I don't want the same thing to happen this time around. Thankfully, I went to 42 weeks so I wasn't hobbling around in labour!

No real goals for the next week besides to make it through it. I'll walk a bit and continue to eat well. I'd still like to cut back on the sugar but I'm not sure I can make it happen!

Please join me and check in on my other Fit Mama Friends on Got Chai?!

What we are up to...

1. Packing up to have a baby and enjoy some time away.

2. Painting the house "wild horses." (pictures to follow soon)

3. Enjoying the spring like weather.....and our first picnic of the season.

4. Filling our freezer with food from Sue Gregg's :Meals in Minutes." (review to follow soon)

5. Trying to get as much school work done as possible while keeping it easy and fun.

6. Fighting over who gets to use the sewing machine (with its newly found foot peddle) to work on their projects for baby.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Decisions, Decisions-Cloth Diapers

Well, we will most certainly be cloth diapering this little one when he comes earth-side. I've been waiting for it for ages if you recall here, here and here . However, we haven't decided that if the first thing to touch his sweet baby bum with be cloth or if we'll do the disposables for the first couple of days. I actually went out and bought some organic, non dyed/scented disposables but as I was braiding up some umbilical ties.....

I got thinking....

I don't really want icky plastic touching his cord/belly, I'm making up some lovely cloth for myself for post-partum so really does it make sense to put him in a disposable? With Liam we were totally unprepared for meconium. We put him a cute little outfit and then he blew up and there was poo (okay, roofing come no one told me about that?) EVERYWHERE. Without question we threw diaper, outfit and baby (wait, not baby) in the trash! With Morgaine we were better prepared....disposable and older clothes but she passed meconium before birth and then as soon at she was born so we didn't have to worry about the clean up. We don't have all that many prefolds/inserts and I don't know if I want to sacrifice them to baby's first bowel movement and I am not sure that there is anyways to get that stuff out satisfactorily.

So I'm asking my cloth diapering Mamas, did you use cloth right from the beginning or did your baby experience disposables for a couple days first? If you used cloth did you try to clean them off or did you just toss the works?

(and yes, I'm a Mum, and this isn't likely to be the last post about poo on my blog!)

Baby Belly-35 weeks!!

WOW!! There really isn't all THAT long to go now!! Things are pretty much the same ol', same ol' over here. If you've been reading my Fit Mama Friday posts you've pretty much gotten your update on the pregnancy! I've been able to see a naturopath a few times and getting some body work done has been wonderful. She's also used some acupuncture and we've looked into homeopathy so I feel very well taken care of! We'll be heading to Bridgewater in a couple weeks, though our chances of having a home birth with the midwives is pretty slim (due to scheduling and risk factors). We've decided to go for it regardless because we think it will be nice just to get away from the house, renovations and all that jazz in the weeks before the birth. We'll be able to focus on the little family!

No complaints from me. Enjoying the last few weeks but looking forward to meeting the little one as well!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-March 12th

All is well over here in the land of the very pregnant. I've had a couple days of lowish energy but that has been improving each day so for that I am very grateful. Spring has sprung in Cape Breton making it more appealing to get outside with the kids or go for a walk (that doesn't involve going to the husband has been giving us rides there as he thinks it is getting far for me to cart the kids). I feel like activity wise I am doing well and cannot expect much more at this stage in the game. I really want to start dancing around the living room but I can't bring myself to do that at the moment!

Mike has been preparing supper most days for us (I am so blessed) but his choices are usually a bit fattier and certainly saltier than what I would normally make. I'm not going to complain, though, because I get to retreat to my room with a book or take a shower (by myself, IMAGINE!!). I've been trying to balance it out with a fair amount of fruit, veggies, and unsalted nuts in the day. I haven't been gaining much weight at all these days and I am afraid a lecture might be in store the next time I see the doctor. Baby is definitely growing well, though, and I feel healthy. Just lacking in space for a whole bunch of food at a time. I need to be even more conscious about snacking all the time to get enough throughout the day. My goal of drinking water has been going well but I have thrown in the occasional soda.

My goals for next week will be to snack even more through the day on healthy protein foods, continue with the water and try to cut out that soda again. I might even try to sneak in a couple dancing sessions in the living room as well. I always feel like dancing and moving near the end of pregnancy....I can't believe how close we are getting!

Be sure to check in with my other Fit Mama friends over at Got Chai? and leave a word or two of encouragement!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Something BIG over at The Old Schoolhouse!

If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off!
Click here to read the details.

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S.
only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more! Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.

The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May!
Pre-register now and save $5!

As homeschool teachers what do you need to learn? More about teaching multiple grades? All about different homeschool methods? Transcripts? Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?
Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school? Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way? Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, an 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse® Speaker's Bureau.

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31.You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.
Get the details and preregister here!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Okay, I'll bite....10 reasons to enjoy the 3rd trimester!

My friend, Ilana (co-founder of the amazing Apple Cheeks reusable diaper, BTW) over at A Reusable Diaper Revolution, posted her 10 reasons to enjoy the 3rd trimester and I told her that instead of embracing the 3rd trimester I thought I'd just sulk instead....well, sulking isn't all that much fun so here we go....

My 10 reasons to enjoy the 3rd trimester:

  1. When I sulk, I generally get left alone and no one bugs me to know what's wrong because I'm most obviously "just hormonal".

  2. I can disappear in the middle of the afternoon and lay in bed with my iPod and have my daughter (who has been known to repeatedly come into the room when I am resting to say "hello") actually warn the rest of the family to stay away because "Mommy needs some time alone to rest."

  3. The kids love to talk about what the baby will be like when he is born and also come up with crazy questions and some off the wall comments about the pregnancy as well (Morgaine's latest...we shower together...."oh, Mommy, your nipples are so brown now."......all the better for the baby to see, my dear!

  4. When the baby moves now we can "play." You kick? Okay, I poke.....your turn!!

  5. Finally, my older children are sleeping (mostly) through the night so I am enjoying uninterrupted sleep for the first time in almost 7 years......if he is anything like his sibblings it will be a LONG time before I sleep this well again!

  6. I'll soon get to cover the wee baby's bottom with all the little wool projects I've worked on over the last 8 months.

  7. I almost always feel full so overeating is a thing of the past!

  8. However, if I am craving chocolate (or ice cream) I feel totally fine indulging!

  9. If I ask for help, it's almost always met with a "yes, dear!" Even the children are beginning to see that once Mommy gets down it is hard to get her up so they might as well pick up their own toys/books/rooms/dishes/dirt clothes/crumbs, etc.

  10. There's only a little over 6 weeks (hopefully) before this week baby comes earthside and then all the fun will begin!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Graphics Toolbox-Informational Post

Product: Graphics-Toolbox
Company: Great Software Tools
Price: $149 US

Over the past month or so, I've been delighted to see some of the graphics my friends over on the TOS Homeschool Crew have made using Graphics-Toolbox by Great Software Tools. When I received an e-mail from Lynda Hollar telling me that I would be reviewing her graphic software program I was thrilled. I have always been interested in graphic design but could never afford to purchase one of the photo-editing/graphic design programs on the market. We were out the door for a weekend away when I received the e-mail and I chattered happily to my husband about being able to review this product for a good part of the car ride (that's how impressed I was with just the initial e-mail). Unfortunately, 3 days later when we arrived home, I realized that I would not be able to use this program with my Mac (you need a Windows operating system). SO DISAPPOINTING!!

I have, however, been able to look at video tutorials and see the progress of other crew members' work and think that this looks like a fun and handy product. I cannot talk about ease of use or compare it to other software because obviously, I haven't been able to try it out myself. I know that many other crew members had a lot of fun with this program so I invite you to visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to find out more about what they thought and sometimes even see some of their creative projects!

Graphic Toolbox provides you with a power tool to create your own:

  • banners and signatures

  • cartoon characters (or add crazy characters to your own photos!)

  • personalized cards and letters

  • scrapbook pages

  • much more

You can edit all your own photographs and add borders and text, change colours, add textures and shading and more (however, this program is known for it's graphic design functions more than it's photo editing capacities as there are other programs available out there for photo editing and not much in terms of offering graphic design tools to the general public.

If you are overwhelmed with this program, Great Software Tools offer video tutorials and a user manual on their website. It is also possible to register for an hour long one on one training session that you might find useful (it is not cheap, BUT most people get a good overview of the program and are able to complete the project they are thinking of with this training). You can get a good idea of what this program is like by checking out their website so I strongly encourage you to take a look for yourselves! I know that this is a product that I would have loved to get my hands on, even for a limited time!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-March 5th

Wow, 8 weeks already and most of the girls who started out on Got Chai? are holding strong and sticking in there with weekly updates (even when they aren't doing so well). I love that I can post here and get encouragement and am hoping that some of my other Fit (and want to be Fit) Mama's will join in the fun as well.

This week has been going alright. There's been some stress but I am glad to say that I haven't succumbed to emotional eating (I've been doing well with just 1 or 2 mini chocolate eggs that I bought a day...I mean, a pregnant lady needs a little bit of chocolate). Eating has been a bit of struggle, healthy or otherwise. At only 33 and a bit weeks I am feeling really ready for labour and my body seems to be ready too, only allowing me to eat a little at a time. Most foods are getting unappealing so finding things that work has been difficult. It feels so early to be feeling that way so I am hoping that my appetite improves soon!

Exercise has been alright this week. Of course, most of it has been from our treks to the library (I've walked so much that I broke the heel off my shoe on my last excursion out *lol*) but I did do a little painting this week and I am hoping that knitting will be an Olympic sport one day. My fingers have certainly been getting a workout!

Next week my goal is to find a couple of appealing healthy foods and again to drink more water.

Be sure to check in to Got Chai? and lend your support to the other Mamas on this challenge (and join in if you haven't already!!).

Homeschool Library Builder

Company: Homeschool Library Builder
Price: Membership Free

I love books! I love using my library! However, there are times when I find books that I just want to hold in my hands and keep forever and that is where Homeschool Library Builder comes in. This company is opperated by a couple of homeschool families that love books (and great deals) as much as I do! Homeschool Library Builder offers a huge array of books (much in Christian content) at a fraction of the cost (I've seen several at 95% off the cover cost) you'd find elsewhere. There is a wide variety of living books available on this website. You can find fiction and non-fiction books, anthologies, reference books, picture books and much more. There no shortage of titles with new books being added frequently. These new and gently used books are a great deal for family that love to read and love having a variety of books on hand. In addition to already great low prices, Homeschool Library Builder often runs other promotions so you get deals on top of great deals! Who could ask for more!

It is definitely worth checking out and getting your own free membership. There is nothing to loose. I know that I will be checking back when I have a little money that would love to be spent on books!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Belly Picture-33 1/2 weeks

Well, we are slowly getting there folks. I'm feeling a little more balanced than I was a couple of weeks ago so that is good. I am beginning to feel ready to meet this little baby, though. It's the first pregnancy where I've felt really done this early. Maybe a sign that the baby won't hang in there too long past its due date, but probably not! My babies like to bake a little longer! Now that we are in March the time seems like it is getting close. I can buy eggs now that are good until my due date *lol*. I have everything all set up for the birth (besides wanting to stitch up some receiving blankets on my non-functional sewing machine!) so we are good to go. I'm enjoying knitting in the evenings (little things for baby and for Morgaine's teddies, and a special blanket for my big boy, Liam). I'm hoping to take things mostly slowly and quietly over the next month and a bit and enjoy these last weeks of a Mom of two. With spring coming, Mike will be around a bit more in the days now so I'll have a little less to do so we can focus more on fun school and just hanging out. I need to pull out my camera a bit more and actually capture some pictures of them!

The baby belly seems to be our main subject these days so without further ado, here I am at 33 1/2 weeks!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Things She Says

Despite being occasionally mortified by my daughter's outspoken personality, for the most part I have to laugh at some of the things that she says.


I'm trying to use up some left over wool by making a very multicolour blanket.

Me (when asked what I was doing): "Oh, I'm just fooling around with the wool making a blanket to get rid of the scraps."

A few days later, sitting in the car waiting for Mike, knitting.

Morgaine: "Hey, Mom, are you still fooling around?"

Same afternoon, walking through the store past the knitting section.

Morgaine (at the top of her lungs): MOM, I LOVE IT WHEN YOU FOOL AROUND!!


Driving down the road.

Morgaine, out of the blue in a small voice: Mom, the people told me they love my nipples.

Me: Your nipples? Who told you that?

Morgaine: They told me they liked my nipples.

Me (feeling rather concerned and racking my brain trying to think when anyone would ever get the occasion to see her nipples):
Morgaine, when did anyone see your nipples?

Morgaine: They did see them.

Me: But who, Morgaine?

Morgaine: The people at Tim Hortons. They looked at me and told me they love my nipples. They made me come show them.

A few days earlier we'd been at the coffee shop where an elderly couple loved Morgaine's DIMPLES and asked her to come over and show her smile to their friend.


At a friend's house, squash left in a pile on the side of her plate.

Me: Morgaine, are you going to eat your squash?

Morgaine: My squash is just too squashy.