Monday, November 2, 2015

WOW ... It's Been a While

I cannot believe it has been over THREE years since I have even touched this blog!  I truly love blogging, but life has been a little busy.  Or maybe ALOT busy!  Our littlest was born a few days after my last post, and he was nine weeks early!  So that was quite an ordeal with an emergency c-section, and then Isaac being in the NICU for over 5 weeks.  Then, life with 4 kids is just plain insane!  There's no other way to put it.  We are just crazy busy ALL the time!  But we wouldn't have it any other way!

A little update on all the kids!  We are still homeschooling them all, and love it.  We really couldn't imagine life without all of us being together all the time!

Isaac just turned three last week.  Even with a slow and rough start he is a happy, healthy, and completely normal three year old.  He talks CONSTANTLY.  He is FINALLY potty-trained and he is totally and completely in love with his siblings!  He also recently gave up his beloved paci, but he has been such a big boy about it.  He is doing a little bit of "preschool" with Mommy when time allo  He knows his colors and shapes.  He does NOT like to sing, but he does love to be read to.   He learns very quickly, and also plays on his own nicely while Mommy works with the other kids, what a blessing that is!

 And our oldest, Paul.  He just turned 14.  He is now taller than I am, and thinks that is the best thing EVER!  He started high school (still homeschooling, but high school means things have to be a little more serious) this year, and that has been much easier than I anticipated.  He is a hard worker, and enjoys a little more challenging work load.  He is our athlete and the one that is going to put 110% in to everything he does.  He plays football and baseball for our church's Christian School, and loves it.  He feels God his calling him in to full-time Christian ministry when he is an adult, which totally blesses this Momma's heart!  I can't wait to see how the Lord uses our young man for His glory!

 My Molly-squirrel.  Our one and only baby-girl.  She is our sweetness in the middle of all these crazy boys!  She is also as mean as they are when she needs to be.  Molly is now 8, and in the 3rd grade.  She is very bright and speeds through her work each day without even really being asked.  She has a very vivid imagination and is also the best big sister Isaac could ask for!  She loves to sing and dance.  But she also loves racing the boys, and riding 4-wheelers.  She is a tom-boy at heart, but she still loves her long hair and frilly dresses.  I love having one little girl to spoil rotten!

And my Zachary!! Oh, my crazy, nutty, zany Zachary.  He is our second-born and is the one that taught us (and continues to teach us that we know absolutely nothing about parenting!  Zach defies all the text books, and makes us figure out new and creative ways to teach and to live life!  He is our comedian, our inventor, our scientist and our historian.  He is insanely smart!  But don't dare ask him to sit still and do a worksheet or he might just explode.  He loves to build Legos, he reads EVERYTHING he can get his hands on, and also has a box of broken appliances under his bed that he is trying to take apart so he can create something - who knows what that something will be!  He loves Toyota Corrolla cars, and he loves his siblings!  He is so patient and kind, especially with Isaac.  He really is an amazing ten year old.

So, there's a little update on how we are doing. God has truly blessed our little family!   I do want to start blogging again, but I am not 100% sure when or what that will look like.  Hope all of you in the blog-world are doing well!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Children in Church" - a book review

Curt and Sandra Lovelace are the authors of a new book called "Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship". The book is being published by Great Waters Press, who also published "Raising Real Men".

A little about Curt and Sandra Lovelace: This couple has served The Lord in many different capacities over the last four decades. They have served all over the world from the United States, Europe, Africa and the Carribean. They currently live and serve in the Czech Republic. They have raised 2 daughters and have a very Biblically based approach to child-rearing.

"Children in Church" gives a Biblical basis for bringing children in to the main worship service instead of having a separate children's ministry for them. They point the reader to many Biblical reasons as to why our children should learn from the very beginning to worship with the entire family. They also give practical ways to integrate children in to the service.

The Lovelaces tell many stories of how they have been received in various ministries for keeping their children with them during the service. There are several anecdotes about how they spoke to leaders of ministries and shared their reasoning behind what they were doing, as well as the different responses they have gotten from various church leaders. The anecdotal stories of how children acted in church were quite humorous. They give real examples of kids who get a little unruly in church and how that should be dealt with. They give some great ideas on how to keep kids occupied but not disruptive during services.

The chapter titles are:
1-Bringing Them In
2-Understanding the Elements
3-Counting the Cost
4-Laying the Foundation
5-Getting Ready
6-Packing the Bag
7-Drawing the Word
8-Preparing a Plan
9-Facing the Challenges
10-Growing as Disciples
And a section written directly to church leaders

The Bible is used throughout the book and it is obvious the Lovelaces are passionate about this topic. However, they are not "pushy" and simply lay out the facts as they feel the Bible presents them. They then leave it up to the reader to pray and ask God what is best for their family. I love this aspect of the book. I don't necessarily whole-heartedly agree with their take on the issue but I still really enjoyed reading and seeing a different perspective from my own. I think there is a time to integrate children in to the service, and we do that in our family.

Personally, our kids have their activities on Sunday mornings and they attend the service with us on Sunday evenings, beginning at age 3. We do not allow our children to color or play or do anything else during the service. Our first was great with this. Our second child was a little more of a challenge, but now that he's 7 most Sunday nights he sits quietly and behaves. He fidgets alot but he knows the rules and the consequences. Our third, being a girl, can sit still without any issues and does great. For us, its a balance of allowing them to be kids in their morning classes, which are still structured Bible study times where they have lessons on their level and also allowing us to have some uninterrupted concentrated time to listen to the preaching on Sunday mornings. Then on Sunday evenings we are in the main preaching service together, and we love that time with our entire family together. Next year, as a 7th grader, our oldest will then be in the main service with us for all services. He has been learning to sit still and listen for many years now, but he has also had great Biblical teaching on his level. Now that he is old enough to move on to more in depth Biblical teaching he is ready for the main preaching service all the time. He has learned a great deal from the wonderful Sunday School teachers and Children's Church workers he has had over the years. Some of them have provided great role models for him and a young boy can never have too many strong Christian male role models. I know that wasn't necessarily part of the review of the book, but I had to share that there are different ways to integrate children in to the service when they are ready. It also shows that even though I have a different approach I would still recommend this book. It gives you alot of Biblical facts to process, and "chew-on" to decide what is best for your family!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the above book for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions given are my own, honest opinions.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zoo Whiz - a review

Zachary loves animals, actually I think love isn't a strong enough word. He adores animals and knows alot about them. He is constantly blowing us away with his knowledge of strange animals. He pours over animal books for hours each day. So, when the opportunity to review an online educational "game" called Zoo Whiz I knew it was definitely something we needed for our homeschool.

Zoo Whiz is designed for students between ages 5-15. It is a wonderful educational tool that works on math, reading, grammar, vocabulary and word skills. There are two ways to sign up. You can be a zoo keeper and have access to a great many of the features for FREE! If your child loves it, like mine does, you can easily upgrade to a Premium Membership for a limited time for $14.95 for the entire year, and your child becomes a zoologist. Check out what you get with the Premium Membership

When your child logs on for the first time they get to pick their "character". Zach picked the little boy on the far left since "he looks like a zoologist" according to Zach!

They are then taken to the "map"

There are 4 places they can visit.

"Learn and Earn" is where they choose what educational activity they want to work on. Now, the parent must go in when setting up the account and choose what level they want their child working on. I love that each subject can have a different level. Since Zach's Math levels are not quite where they "should" be but his Reading skills are quite accelerated I was able to set them at different levels so he could work on the skills he needs to work on. The students earn coins for completing activities. There are lots of skills to work on at all levels.

They can also visit the "Biodome", which is Zach's favorite place. This is where he buys his animals and then can go in and learn all about those animals. There are real and mythical animals to buy. Zach loves the real ones because, like I already mentioned, he LOVES animals. He has also enjoyed saving for the "bigger" animals and it has taught him a little about saving.

The "Arcade" is another fun place to visit where the student can use their coins to play games. Some games are just for fun, and some are educational. Zach did not use this feature often because he did not want to "waste" his coins. The coins were precious to him for purchasing his animals!

The "Milestones" is where students and parents can go to see what they have been working on and the progress they have made

This program could not have come at a better time for our family. Zach loved it from the start! Now, with me on hospital bedrest and Daddy trying to "hold down the fort" it is a great way for Daddy to keep some schooling going and make the kids happy at the same time. I cannot tell you how much Zach has loved this program, he is learning without even realizing he is learning, and then he gets to learn about the animals that he loves learning about so much!

Disclosure: We were given a 12 month premium subscription to Zoo Whiz for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions given in this review are my own, honest opinions.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

playPLAY Games - a review

We love to play games around here, and they are a regular part of our school day. The kids don't even realize they are learning, and they all get to play together! We were thrilled to review a set of three games from "playPLAY games"

We reviewed a set of three games that are available to purchase individually or as a set. The set is designed for ages 5 and up and helps to promote creativity and imaginative thinking.

Since we regularly incorporate games in to our day I just put these games into our game pile and waited for the kids to ask to play, which took about 30 minutes for them to ask. I really like the games because they are short (about 20 minutes to play) so they hold everyones attention, including Zach, my attention deficit 7 year old. They also let us have the break of playing a game but don't take the entire afternoon.

PaintPlay Game

This game is created for ages 6 and up although my 5 year old had no trouble at all with it, and I think even kids as young as three could play if they like games and are assisted by an adult. This game was so much fun! Everything, including the paint and paper is included to play. However, there is not a lot of paint, so you may have to replace that after several games. You will also have to provide your own paper after 4 games (There are 4 sheets of paper included). But, for us, that's not a big deal because we keep paints and paint paper around at all times. This game was not only fun for my 5 and 7 year old, but even Paul, at almost 11, really enjoyed it. And I enjoyed that it was just the right amount of painting and creativity without being too messy, but still a great deal of fun. This was our favorite of the three games, and we have already gone through several extra sheets of paper and another set of paint. This game is all about using your imagination and painting things that you would not normally paint. For instance, my kids love when they draw the card that says "Think about how a mushy banana feels in your mouth. Add that feeling to your painting", or another favorite is "make a shape that looks like it is going to explode!" At first the mushy banana feeling was a bit tough, now they get pretty creative with it. The game also encourages working together since everyone shares the "canvas".

ColorPlay Game

This game is intended for ages 5 and up, although, again I think it would work for a child as young as 3 with adult assistance. This game has three ways to play "Puzzle It", "Shape It", and "Build It". It encourages color, pattern and shape recognition, as well as encouraging creativity. My 7 year old was actually quite bored with this game. And Molly, at 5, was a little bored. I think the 3 to 5 age range would be a more appropriate age range for this game. My two did enjoy playing with the pieces like a puzzle and creating all kinds of crazy shapes. They are just way beyond color, shape, pattern recognition so it got a bit boring for them.

StoryPlay Game

StoryPlay is designed for ages 7 and up. My 7 and 10 year old were my "test" subjects for this game, although Molly did try, it was a bit too tough for her since she is still a beginning reader. There are three ways to play this game. My favorite was the "Let's Story Play" game where the players work together to create a story. There are word cards and a white board for the story. It was tough for Zach at 7, but he did enjoy it and learned a lot while playing with Paul and myself. The kids favorite was the "Name It and Draw It" game. The player creates crazy (and trust me with two boys the drawings get rather crazy!) based on randomly drawn word tiles. The third game is "Totem Pole" where the player draws random word tiles and draws an image and then the next player does the same thing on top of the last picture. The boys played this once, but were not impressed. I loved the first two games and played with them a couple of times, and loved to listen to them work together and laugh while they played.

These games really promote cooperative play, and not just a winner and a loser. I do like this concept and it's been great for my kids! They are all so competitive that it's nice to play a game together and not have someone upset because they lost. No one really loses in these games! It's just fun for everyone. Don't get me wrong, I am not the type that thinks no child should ever lose, kids have to learn to lose or they won't work hard in life, but that's a different topic for a different day! It's just nice for them to play together and not have to worry about that element of game play!

These games would make great Christmas gifts. You could purchase the entire set and split it up between three different recipients or give them all three to one person. Even for a busy parent squeezing in a 20 minute game with your child is much easier then some of the much longer board games that are typically played.

PlayPLAY games can be purchased at retailers such as Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, and other specialty shops. They may be purchased individually or as a set.

Disclosure: I received the above games for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions are my own, honest opinion. There was no other compensation given for this review.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Vocab Videos - a review

Over the years people have always commented on what extensive vocabularies our children have. We attribute this to not "dumbing down" our conversations with them. We have always used "big" words around them and when talking to them, thus increasing their vocabularies. They are also read to a lot, and not just books on their level, but books just a bit beyond their level and this to leads to a more extensive vocabulary.

Them hearing words used in context is, in my opinion, the best way to teach new vocabulary words. Long lists of words that they have to memorize the meaning to is just not as effective as actually hearing the word used. This is the concept that Vocab Videos uses to teach vocabulary. The program is designed for late middle school and high school students to prepare for the SAT. It is a great concept, and a great way to introduce vocabulary. Each word has a short episode that uses the word in a "real world" situation. There are 20 words for each set of episodes. After your student has watched all the videos there are worksheets and quizzes they can take to make sure they have retained the knowledge. As I said, this is an amazing concept. Students are going to retain more information if it is used in a real way, and not just a list in a vocabulary book.

Paul is a little young for this product, being only in the 6th grade. However, I felt he could benefit from it because he does have a strong vocabulary and loves to increase his vocabulary. It ended up that I used the program some for myself, and did not allow him to use it. The concept is wonderful, and for most high school students, most of the content is appropriate. However, for my 10 year old, I was not ok with some of the content. The videos are inundated with poor attitudes toward authority figures as well as terminology that I don't allow used in our home "oh my God", "Good Lord", and several slang terms that I don't want my children listening to.

On the whole this is a phenomenal way to increase vocabulary, and I totally understand that many people do not have the same views as our family does and would see great benefits from this program.

It is also very reasonably priced at $24.99 for a 6 month subscription or $39.99 for a full year. This individual subscription gets you full access to the library of 500 videos as well as all the study resources (quizzes, worksheets, flashcard maker and crossword puzzles.

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for a review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions stated here are my own, honest opinions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad