September 29, 2010

No Greater Joy

Last Sunday, our son Caleb was baptized. What a joyous day it was for him and for us!

I was reminded of many verses that speak of the faithfulness of God and his promise to us as parents we raise them up in the Lord.

I love Acts 2:39
"For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
Thank you Lord for calling Caleb to be your own and for allowing to confess you as Lord of his life at a young age.

We had the privilege of leading him to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior last year. You can read the story here. At the time we didn't want to rush him into baptism. We wanted him to decide when he was ready to make that public confession.

Thanks to our friend Joey Hurtado for taking these pictures!
Posted by Picasa

September 26, 2010

Tot School- Strong Little Fingers

Time for another Tot School post. Our sweet Sarah is growing so fast. She is almost 21 months now and learning new things every day.

I'm sharing two activities that Sarah enjoyed this week and helped strengthen her little fingers.

#1 Lauri's Tall Stacker Pegs & Board

She is just getting strong enough to push the pegs into the board and this week she figured out how to stack one more peg on top! Yey for little milestones!

This is one "toy" she will definitely grow with.

# 2 LeapFrog Brightlings Matchers

My dear friend from Chicago Jennifer mailed these to us as a gift for Sarah when she was born and I am so in love with them. The set has 3 different colors and shapes matchers. When she snaps them together correctly one chimes, one glows and one spins. She gets a giggle out of it every time. I wish they had a set of 10-12 of these. She really has to work hard to separate and snap them back so that's good for her hands.

As always don't forget to check out more

Tot School adventures at 1+1+1=1

September 24, 2010

A Week of First

This week has been so busy for us but so much fun!

Unfortunately I forgot to carry along my camera (boo to me for that).

On Tuesday the boys got to attend their first session at a chess club for homeschoolers in our area. The both did well, helped other kids learn the chess rules and Caleb even beat a couple of 4th graders! (we was so excited about that).

This morning was our first meeting with our new local homeschool coop. We joined a First Class group and it was a so good!

Caleb is taking health class, simple machines (with legos) and P.E.
Noah is taking a literature class, music and P.E.

If you have not heard of First Class check out their website...they might have a group in your area...or you could start the next one. :)

First Class Homeschool Ministries

And our last "first" of the week...our tot Sarah went to the body all on her own for the first time! Yeah! Looks like we are starting potty training all over again.

Back to blogging tonight....

September 20, 2010

Peace #6 Tozer on Meekenes and Rest

As I seek God to show me how to seek peace, He faithfully continues to show me how much more I need to cultivate a meek spirit in my life. This week I had another reminder with A.W. Tozer's "The Pursuit of God".
On chapter nine he examines the heavy burden that mankind experiences and then shows how the meekness of Jesus sets us free from it.
When Jesus calls us to lay our burdens on Him and receive his rest He is calling us to meekness.
This excerpt is from chapter nine. Hope it blesses you!
"The meek man (or woman) is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.
He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than the angels.
In himself, nothing. In God, everything. that is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.
He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own. Then the righteous will shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father.
He is willing to wait for that day.
In the meantime he will have attained a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.

September 19, 2010

Tot School- Tot Books

Well it's been a couple of weeks since we last shared our Tot School adventures.
Sarah is loving books these days. She already has her favorites and asks constantly for us to read them to her over and over again.
I'm grateful to see this important habit growing in her life. After 3 toddlers I'm pleased to share my top pics for the 18 months thru 24 months age group.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
by Bill Martin, Eric Carle
A classic and a must! Introduces rhyme, colors and animals.
Goodnight, Gorilla
by Peggy Rathmann
Funny and engaging. Very few words but great for observation and understanding the flow of a story. Learning new animals and introducing the zoo.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
by Minfong Ho
A new take on lullaby books. This one is set in Thailand and also introduces new animals and the little baby who is "sleeping" is fun to spot on each page.
Eating the Alphabet
by Lois Ehlert
Super delicious way to introduce little ones to the alphabet and learn vocabulary and recognizing fruits and vegetables.
Ten, Nine, Eight
by Molly Bang
Counting down our way to bedtime is so sweet with this book.
Fuzzy, Fuzzy, Fuzzy
by Sandra Boynton
So irresistible to touch the pages on this silly book.
Fiddle I Fee
by Santiago Cohen
A well known rhyme/song with a twist. The illustrations are in bold colors and the sounds the animals make hilarious.
This Little Chick
by John Lawrence
One of the BEST books for a one year old! Beautiful rhyme, fun illustrations and a great book to learn animal sounds.
Have You Seen My Duckling?
and Silly Little Goose
by Nancy Tarufi
I love all her books. The silly ducks and goose and these stories will have your little ones smiling and pointing at the pages.
Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown
What book list for little ones is complete without this book?
This is Sarah's current favorite. Her favorite part is to say "hush" when the "quiet old lady" appears.
For other Tot School post or to link your own please visit 1+1+1=1

September 18, 2010

Blog Walk 10

Time for our weekly blog walk...don't forget to check out these blogs and leave an encouraging comment for each of these homeschooling families.

1. Hearthside Homeschool Reviews... And More
2. Loving Learning at Home
3. Life on the Roller Coaster
4. A Life Better Than I Deserve
5. Joy in the Journey
6. Homeschooling, Autism & Stuff
7. There is Hope
8. Homeschool Reviews for You
9. Mom Loves Books
10. The Legacy of Home

September 17, 2010

I Did My Chores!

Last summer at our local homeschool convention, as I was walking by the vendor hall, I noticed one of the tables had a very long line of moms waiting to pay for something. They all had this orange box in their hands so I went closer to see what was all that fuss about.
The product was a chores system called "I did my chores!"
I must say I am not a fan of most chore systems out there. I think most are overpriced, plus we are a very spontaneous family and so any system that requires for us to follow a rigid schedule just won't work for us.
I always joke I need a chore system that reminds me to fill out my kids' chore system. And after 3 failed attempts at implementing a chores system in our home I had no desire to try a new one but then I heard the man at the booth talk about why this one is easy and effective and two minutes later I was joining the long line of moms to with two orange boxes in my arms. :)
We've been using these charts for a few months now and I'm so pleased with them. The system includes a chart with 5 pegs sections for different parts of the day. They are color coded which makes easy for mom and child where each card goes.
All I had to do was decide on the chores and hang them. The kids come to the chart during the day and as they complete their tasks they move their cards to the "I did it" box.
At the end of the day the boys get tokens for the cards they completed. We use this laminated large sheet of paper to rewards they can save-earn with the tokens. They place their tokens inside plastic tubes that makes it easy and fun for them to see what they are saving for.

This has been good for us to reinforce making wise choices and learning about spending and saving as well. One of my boys was using all his tokens daily and the other was not using them at all. He was so afraid of loosing all his tokens. After a week he realized he WAS getting new tokens daily and now he is happy with the chart too. So funny how they can be so different.

You can learn more about the product at their site.

Posted by Picasa

Van Gogh Inspired Landscapes

We've been learning about different art techniques and yesterday we studied some of Vincent Van Gogh's famous paintings. Afterwards I used an activity from Usborne's Art Treasury that has step by step instructions on how to make a bright-thick-swirly-curly landscape like Van Gogh's.

First we drew a swirly picture on thick drawing paper. Then we mixed white craft glue into acrylic paint and painted over our sketch. Then we used plastic fork to make swirly marks.

I love our final projects!

We will definitely try to incorporate more special project like these to our school. In case you wonder, Sarah was already in bed when we did this and it took us about an hour to complete it. There was paint mess all over us since my boys are still learning coordination but they helped cleaned up afterwards. :)
Posted by Picasa

September 15, 2010

I See Cards- Pyramath (TOS Crew Review)

As part of the TOS Review Crew I had the privilege to receive a deck of cards from I See Cards of their math game Pyramath.

One of my goals for our school this year is to incorporate more math games for our boys and so receiving this card game was definitely an answer to prayer!

Pyramath is a card game to reinforce basic math facts and help children gain speed on their knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Each deck comes with 54 math learning cards numbered 0 to 9. The cards also have 6 different numerical translation to other languages (I thought that was a neat bonus). Our set also came with an instructions page and a booklet with ideas to use math games to help your child succeed in math.

The game is very simple but effective. Our boys were drawn to it after explaining it once. Weeks after receiving this product we are still playing and loving this game and I can already see my boys, especially my second grader improving his math facts!

There are many ways to play the cards. I'll explain how to play the basic two player game.

The game starts by putting 5-7 cards on a row. The remaining cards are put on a pile on the side between both players. The goal of the game is to build a pyramid on your side. The cards have numbers facing both ways so that makes it easier for each player to follow.

In order to place a card each player must choose first a card from their pile and then place it between two others side by side cards forming a math operation.

So a number 3 card can be played between a 7 and a 4 (7-4=3) or between 1 and 2 (2+1=3), and so on. At first this made no sense to me but once you try the game once it all comes together!

Your child will have to think of all the different possible ways to play a number. Right now we are playing the game using only addition and subtraction facts and it works just fine. Later on, we will be able to add multiplication and division when the boys get there.

Extra cards that cannot be used by one player are place on a discard pile and the other player is able to use them on their game.

The first player to complete their pyramid is the winner as seen here.

The game can only be played by one player (perfect for an afternoon quiet time!) following the rules above. Here's a pyramid Caleb completed on his own.

If you are looking for a new way to review math facts without having to use flashcards, this is it! You can't go wrong with this game. It is so much fun and parents can join and enjoy as much as kids.
Many teachers around the country have already incorporated this game to their curriculum.
The best part is the price is right! Only $6.95 per deck!
To purchase Pyramath go here.
You can also play Pyramath online for a chance at winning a free deck! Check it out at Pyramath online.
To see other great math games this company offers check out their main site page here.
Also check out what other families are saying about Pyramath at the TOS Homeschool Crew site here.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product to try at home and write an honest review. No other compensation was given.

September 13, 2010

Back to blogging...random updates....

It's been a while since I've given an update on family and school stuff so here it goes. Note: this will be a long post. A lot in my heart Do we say today if it's midnight? :)

Praises, Praises and Praises!!!!

Some months and years are full of trials and struggle. We've had our share of those around here but I believe the Lord has given us a season of peace...wait...did you read that...yes, PEACE! If you follow my blog for some time now you know that's something I've been searching scripture about and I'm so excited to see God working and granting that prayer for us.

Brad and I are loving life and community here in southeast Texas. Just tonight I was telling my women's fellowship how there was a time two years ago when I did not like suburban life and couldn't see how I was going to raise my kids here. Yes, I know it sounds so strange but this city girl thought the suburbs were too boring and plastic. Ok, that sounds harsh but that's how I felt.

I'm so happy to say I don't feel that way at all anymore. God has taught me how to be genuinely content and has showned me time and time again in this short time that His plans for us are so much better than my "clever ideas". I've also got to know an amazing group of believers that are truly loving in deeds and truth that constantly challenge me in my walk.

We are so blessed to be in this community surrounded by great neighbors and a church family that is so compelling, caring and loving. I'm so thankful for the ministry of our church and for setting a high bar for love and compassion to others around us both in the faith and in the street corner.

We are loving serving there and growing in fellowship with other believers but above all we love seeing God at work in the lives of the people there.

Another reason to be thankful for is that Caleb (our oldest) will be baptized in the coming weeks. I'm so proud of him for taking this step of faith and praying that this will be joyous time for him. You can read the story of how he came to accept Jesus here.

The kids are growing so fast and I feel more and more a sense of urgency to make the most of our time together. I am thankful I have the privilege to be at home with them and pour into their lives and praying daily I don't take for granted this task.

The boys are progressing well in school. Noah is working at such a fast pace that he will probably begin 1st grade before the year ends. This makes me sad as you all know I'm not for rushing academics but this is his personality. I might be teaching two kids at the same level one day....that would be nice. :)

Caleb is also progressing well. Still struggling a bit with focusing on school work and being willing to work hard. The good news is he always comes around and does his work. He loves books, science, experiments, history readers, logic studies....just don't make him grab a pencil. I realize that he has always struggle with fine motor skills. It was just harder to see when I was only teaching one kid. He does enjoys Sequential Spelling so I'm glad we started that with him. Our switch to Singapore Math has also been beneficial. This is a much better fit for him than Horizons Math.

We also implemented a new chores system that I will try to blog about some time this week. It's going well and after 3 failed systems I finally think we found a keeper. I guess it takes time to get to know your kids, right?

We continue on our Five in a row journey, now on volume 3 and still loving every book ( I really need to share some udpates about this too!).

In addition, to soccer league the kids and I have joined a local homeschool coop and I'm soooooo excited about it! We are doing First Class Homeschool Coop and I can just start jumping right now (I won't) of how thankful I am we are joining. We have many great enrichment programs in our area but I never felt they were quite what fits us. I truly believe this is it. I'm praying for a fantastic first year and many more to come!

I'll be teaching a health class and a music class for coop so I'll be blogging about some of the things I do with the kids in case anyone out there can use the resources for their own groups (did I mentioned I already teach a music class at church on Wednesday nights?....oh my!).

Our sweet Sarah is a toddler in full swing. She is loving books these days but oh she is so messy! much more than the boys were at this age. And she already has girl meltdowns. Poor Brad, he has no idea what's ahead. LOL! Her speech is improving and I'm encouraged by that. She is already the live of the party around here and the boys loved spending time with her these days.

What else....I'm trying to loose's been a long/hard up and down on this department after baby #3 but trying to keep on going and not get discouraged when I work hard and only loose one pound every two weeks.

The memory challenge is really well! This whole experience has streched me beyond what I could have imagined. English is not my first language and I grew reading the Bible in Spanish. So learning a verse in English is a bit challenging but trying to memorize an entire book is just crazy!

But the Lord is giving me the grace to do it and I'm so excited to be able to quote Philippians entirely one day. I'm done with chapter 1 and almost half way with chapter 2.

All I can say is that if I can do it...YOU CAN TOO! As I shared before, it is not just about knowing the word more but it's about knowing Jesus through the word more. My goal is to draw nearer to him through this discipline.

That's all for now and if anyone read all of this (besides my mom and sister) I'm sending a hug your way. :)

Another Tot School adventure coming this week about toddler books, a hassle-free chore chart system, a Tozer quote and review of my new favorite math game.

Come back soon...

September 06, 2010

Pizza Party Winner is....

Christi Brown!
Congratulations, you are going to love this unit!
And thank you to all who enter. Another giveaway coming at the end of the month. :)

September 04, 2010

Pizza Party Review and Giveaway

This week we had the opportunity to learn with another Download N Go unit. Pizza Party is definitely our favorite DNG unit so far!

Only today and tomorrow you can purchase
Pizza Party for $5! (reg. $7.95) at the Old Schoolhouse Store.
To learn more about Pizza Party check out what other DNG reviewers are saying. To preview this unit check out the main Download N Go site.

This one week hands-on learning unit follows the same format as previous titles we've tried. The lessons include online links, videos, images, notebooking pages, lapbook components and much more. Everything is laid out in a very simple format for parents to use and engaging illustrations for kids to follow.

A variety of subjects are integrated to each day's learning. We covered science, geography, social studies, cooking, music, math, art and language arts.

Each day we learned a little bit about pizza, like where it came from, pizzas around the world, nutrition facts. Also learned about 5 cities in Italy and 5 famous people from Italy.

The main five topics for each day are:
  • Pizza-What is it?
  • The Story of Pizza

  • Types of Pizza
  • The Science of Pizza
  • Let's have a Pizza Party!

Caleb enjoyed his notebook pages on Italian historical figures and making a map of Italy.

Each day includes great ideas for family fun and an extensive book list to supplement the unit. There were so many great books to choose from! Here's a peak at the ones we enjoyed.

Throughout the week, there are many recipes to make different kinds of pizza. I tried to include 'pizza' into most of what we did.

Some we cooked and ate....

Some we made and played with...

DNG makes learning fun for both mom and kids. The boys are already asking what unit we will do next!
The unit also includes instructions for everything you need to host a pizza party.
I love that we are making memories while learning at home with these unit. If you have not tried a DNG unit yet, you should give this unit a try!

Pizza Party Giveaway
I was given the opportunity to host a giveaway for Pizza Party so...

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post with your name and email and tell me about your favorite pizza style, restaurant or topping.

I will select a winner by using on
Tuesday, September 7th.
Enter today and help me spread the word. If you post a link to your Facebook, Twitter or blog come back here and leave another comment letting me know and I'll give you an extra entry for each. :)

Disclaimer: I received this unit to try and write an honest review and no other compensation was given for it.

September 03, 2010

Time 4 Learning (TOS Review)

As part of TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a 30 day trial of the online home education program Time 4 Learning.

I had access to the lower elementary program and was able to use it with both boys. Caleb used the 2nd grade level and Noah the 1st grade level.

The curriculum includes primarily language arts and math instruction, with science and social studies topics added as a supplement.

Each child receives a separate login and password to access their lessons. They can work at their age level as well as go a level lower or higher.

Parents also receive a separate login to access records, track student skill progress and more.

We used this trial period to review phonics and reading so we primarily used the Language Arts sections.

The boys already love computer games so trying Time 4 Learning was such a treat for them. All the games and lessons are very interactive and the characters are funny and very appealing to kids.

This is a program in which your kids can work completely independent. Instructions are always given at a child level and visual clues are given so the child knows what he completed and what lesson to do next even if they cannot read yet.

On the 2nd grade level, Caleb reviewed phonics, took fluency tests, reading comprehension quizzes and even creative writing.

Here he is posing for the camera while doing his know he takes after his dad.

Noah worked on 1st grade level since the Kindergarten was too simple for him. He worked on phonics blends, clusters, sight words and simple stories.

Here he is playing a sight word lasso game...too busy to look at mom.

I was very impressed with this program. It was more than just playing simple games. I felt like my boys were truly getting a good review and in Noah's case even learning new things.

This program can be used for homeschoolers, or after school program or summer school, preschools and daycare and much more.

The subscription cost for Time 4 Learning is $19.95/month for 1st child
and $14.95/month for 2nd each additional child.

As a homeschooling single income family, I cannot see us using this program regularly. Although it's fun and interactive, I can teach the same skills for much less. But if my kids were struggling on math or language arts I think I might consider using this product for a few months.

Families that take a break from school in the summer could benefit from using this program as a way of reviewing since you have full access to it online wherever you go.

To learn more about Time 4 Learning and preview it check out their demo page.

To read what other TOS Homeschool Crew members think of Time 4 Learning check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: I received free access to this product for 30 days for the purpose of trying it and writing an honest review. I received no other compensation.

It's Pizza Love!

We've had so much fun this week learning with

Download N Go's Pizza Party unit study!

Come back tomorrow for our unit review and a chance to

win a FREE Pizza Party!

If there's something you need to know about Brad and I is that we LOVE pizza. But not just any pizza, our heart is with Chicago Deep Dish Style.

If you are ever in Chicago you MUST visit Lou Malnati's and try the sausage pizza. Thin but tall buttery flaky crust, with tomatoes on top and cheese at the top (yep, it's upside down!).

Here's a clip of our favorite pizza being made.