Follow our family as we journey through life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our Week in Review

As I am slowly beginning to return to the land of the living, I thought I would do a post on our homeschooling week. I know the week is not over yet, but who knows how I will feel tomorrow. The poor boys have endured weeks of written work, mostly because that is all I could manage. As I am slowly beginning to feel better, I thought we would start adding some projects into our day. I got this great book from Paperback Book Swap. It has some fun geography projects designed for multiple ages- perfect for us! I decided to start at the beginning and try for a project a week. We read about directions and then each of the boys created a compass to help learn about where the directions are located on a compass. A simple project, and perfect for the amount of energy that I have this week.

Here is Isaac using a computer program we are reviewing for the blog. It is called Talking Fingers. The boys love it!

Henry created a transportation lapbook this week. He is in one Step-Up class this term, and it is all about transportation. We created a lapbook to hold the information and activities he brings home from Step-Up. We got our lapbooks for the week free from this site.

James is working on a Civil War Lapbook to go along with his history lessons.

Isaac is doing a Dinosaur Lapbook. He is also in a Dinosaur Step-Up class and so this is a perfect way to display all the papers he brings home from that.

Here is Henry proudly displaying his work for the week.

James still loves his Lego physics set. He created a merry-go-round.

Notice how Anakin is holding his blaster? You can never be too careful on a merry-go-round.

That's it for our homeschooling week. 35 days down, 145 left to go!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Speaking of Cub Scouts...

We have some popcorn to sell. James and Isaac both need to sell $100 of popcorn, or they (meaning us) must pay $50 cash to opt out of the sales.

So who is up for some popcorn? Click here to access James' official order page. You can also email me or leave a comment and I can forward you an email that will direct you to James' official page. Prices range from $10 and up.

Product Review: New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons


I remember the subject with dread when I think about my school years. I struggled and struggled to memorize endless lists of words for a test. Test day would come, I would fill in the blanks and promptly forget the words. Usually forever.

As an adult, I wish I had retained more of the vocabulary learning that I had in my younger years. I now understand the importance and want my children to have the skills that I do not. The struggle I now face is how to teach the words without teaching the boredom that I felt as a student.

Enter Vocabulary Cartoons by New Monic. A new approach that combines fun cartoons and word association to help students master new vocabulary. The book is almost like reading an educational comic book. Here is an example of what one of the cartoons may look like:

Click here to see more examples of the cartoons.

I handed James (fourth grade) the book and explained that he had one week to learn the words in each section. At the end of the week I would give him the test (located at the back of each section), plus quiz him orally on the words. I never actually saw James reading the book during the week. I frequently reminded him of the test and he would always answer, "I know. I know."

I was pleasantly surprised on the first two Friday's that James did outstanding on the quizzes. The third and fourth times were not so great. When I asked James what was going on, he responded, "I liked the book at first, but then it just got boring." What about the book got boring? "Well, it just seemed like it got really predictable and I just got tired of reading it."

I happen to think that this book offers a wonderful visual tool for learning vocabulary, but my approach in letting James complete the program on his own was maybe not the best for this particular program. Our usual vocabulary program is self-directed, and I guess that I was just hoping that this one could be approached in a similar manner. If we continue this program I am going to have to be more involved during the week.

My complaints about the book are: #1 I didn't always think that the cartoons were appropriate. Why did the night scene include scary faces on the trees and shrubs, and an obviously scared child? That is not an idea I need to introduce in a house full of small children. #2 I felt that the cover of the book was misleading. My child didn't exactly learn a word a minute that he never forgot. It seems there may have been a better way to promote the benefits of the book without that statement.

I encourage everyone to look into New Monic books to see if they are a right fit for your family. Besides Vocabulary Cartoons, New Monic also offers books designed to help young writers as well as SAT prep books for older students. They are very affordable (most are $12.95) and could be a perfect way to enhance the learning of your students. Click here for more information.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Littles have a busy morning

Like two peas in a pod, Henry and Margaret were the best of friends this morning.
Making crowns for a princess game.

Looking at a sticker book together.

Snuggling on the bed.

Playing a con-a-copter game in the living room.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Busy Week

We have a very busy week this week. On Tuesday we had our first Circle of Friends Co-Op class and the first Cub Scouts meeting of the year. Wednesday was nature camp at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve. The theme for this class was "Trees." Wednesday night is gymnastics. Thursday is volleyball camp, Friday we have piano lessons and Step-Up, Saturday is baseball. In the middle of all of this we have Mema and Pepa stopping by on their way from Oregon to Georgia. Here are some photos from nature camp.

Product Review: Salem Ridge Press

Salem Ridge Press is a publishing company, established in 2005, dedicated to bringing back quality children’s books of the 1800’s and early 1900’s for a new generation of readers. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Curriculum review group, I was fortunate enough to receive some of their publications. I received these publications free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog.

In an age when it seems that anyone can get a children's book published, Salem Ridge Press publishes books that teach godly character and high moral values. They strive to be an example of wholesome behavior to young people. As a mother of an avid young reader, I was excited to see what kinds of offerings they had and to learn about the standards of the company. James LOVES to read, and it is so hard for me to know what books are appropriate for him and in accordance with our family values. As the mother of four young children, I don't have the time to read every book he has an interest in.

Although I received three publications for free (two E-Books and one actual physical book), I was curious about the other books the company has to offer. After all, these are the types of books I have been searching for and I had never heard of this company before being chosen for the review.

I was so surprised to view the listing of book titles the company has to offer. They have over 25 books currently available. The website is so user friendly and you can search for books by title, author, time period, or age of your child. The time period alone is impressive. Books taking place in ancient times all the way into the 1700's. Click here for a complete listing of book titles.

All the titles undergo a rigorous review by the company before republication. Due to this, I would say that many (if not all) of these books are appropriate for all ages of children, especially for family read-a-louds. Although younger children may lose interest in the story (Henry, age 4, certainly did), you do not have to worry about the story containing inappropriate content. For the three books that we received, Young Robin Hood, Soldier Fritz, and Down the Snow Stairs, I would recommend a fourth grade reading level or above if the child is reading them independently.

Salem Ridge Press makes it extremely easy to obtain their books. So easy, in fact, that I am a little embarressed that I had never heard of the company. All of their titles are carried by major book distributors or can be ordered online from or If your interested in the E-Books of their titles, they are available at TOS Magazine's Schoolhouse Store. The E-Books are very cost effective, but if you are like me and prefer an actual physical book, then be sure and shop around. I found quite a price difference between book retailers when I was looking into some of their titles.

So what did my avid reader think about the books from Salem Ridge Press?

James breezed through the physical book that we received. I asked him to tell me about it and he summarized each chapter with amazing clarity and animation. When I asked him what he thought about the book, he shrugged his shoulders and stated it wasn't his favorite. A very common answer from him. When I questioned why he was so animated in the retelling if he wasn't that impressed with the book, he shrugged again and stated, "I guess it was okay."

My Final Thoughts

This is definitely a company that I will revisit in the future. The product is high quality and the price is very reasonable. I would definitely recommend Salem Ridge Press to my friends and family as a source for good children's reading material. Click here to visit the Salem Ridge Press Website.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Before and After Kitchen

We have been doing a lot of work on the kitchen over the last several years. We were recently gifted new kitchen counters! The counters came with a sink- something that our dishwasher-free family could really do with a bigger one of!These are our before counters. They had been painted right before we moved in.

Our gorgeous new counters and huge double basin sink!

We still have to paint the cupboards.

Look at how many apples the small side of the sink holds!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We enter the world of Epinephrine

Things have been quiet around here, but that is ALWAYS the calm before the storm in this house. I was coming downstairs because I could hear Margaret screaming outside and overheard Henry say, "Margaret fell over." As I reached the front door I heard a very upset scream/cry from Isaac coming from the opposite direction. For those of you that know Isaac, you know this is unusual. Isaac is more of a "suffer in silence" kind of kid. When he cries, tears run down his face as he sobs silently. Hearing him cry out in agony caused my maternal instincts to kick in. I called for Margaret to come into the house and went to see Isaac.

I arrived in the kitchen to see Michael pulling a stinger out of Isaac's hand. "Just a bee sting," I thought to myself. He has been stung before. I went to grab an upset Margaret (who had indeed fallen on the sidewalk), and let Michael take care of Isaac.

Within minutes Isaac's hand had swollen significantly. Apple Cider Vinegar was doing nothing to relieve the swelling. Welts formed on his face and neck. A quick call to the doctor confirmed what I had already guessed: he was having a serious reaction to the bee sting. By the time I got off the phone, the welts had spread to his arms, legs and abdomen. By the time we arrived at the emergency room (minutes from our house), his eyes had swollen shut.

We were seen immediately; something about a sick-looking kid who can't open his eyes and who has a pre-existing heart condition makes people spring into action. Isaac was giving a shot of epinephrine and hooked up to several machines. Within an hour most of the welts were gone. Within three hours they were all gone and his eyes were normal.

He's totally fine now. Except for his hand which the doctor said will continue to swell for three days and may get as big as a sausage. He actually said: a sausage. And now we get to carry Benedryl strips and EpiPens wherever we go with Isaac.

If we have to have an allergy, I'll take this one. It's not like some nut allergy where we have to worry if someone on a plane will open some peanuts. Plus, it's pretty seasonal. I won't have to worry about a bee sting when it's ten degrees outside.

On a last note, Margaret did indeed do a serious face plant outside. Poor thing was completely overlooked because of the bee sting. Her nose is now purple and pink, and she has bruises spreading under her eyes. She looks like she got into a bar fight. But she's all smiles as usual.

Not a sausage yet.

Friday, September 17, 2010

April 2, 2011

The date that the newest biological Krom is due to arrive!
This pregnancy has been the worst so far. I was completely unprepared for the intensity of the nausea and the frequency of the vomiting. It got so bad that at one point it was recommended that I check into the hospital for fluids. I didn't have to go, and instead got on a miracle drug called Zofran. I have never been on medication for morning sickness, although I have always been really sick in the first trimester.

Zofran worked wonders for my sickness. I was able to leave the bathroom floor, and actually function at a near normal capacity. Although I was still throwing-up often, I really didn't feel sick anymore. I did receive a small amount of criticism about being on the drug. Well-meaning people who did not think I was making the best choices for my body or my baby. After all, tons of women "tough it out" with their sickness without any intervention.

Something I noticed about these people is that they did not have any pregnancies, or they did not experience morning sickness with their pregnancies. And I am not talking about the occasional sick feeling. I felt sick 24 hours a day for over seven weeks. I would dream about being sick while I was asleep. Sometimes I would vomit 15 to 30 times a day. I have a black hole in my memory from the end of July until the beginning of this week. Our Idlewild passes went unused for most of August, Keystone Lake was forgotten. My main objective was to get through the day.

As I begin to surface from this sea of nausea, I realize how many people helped me survive. My neighbor brought over PB&J's when Mike was away and I couldn't get out of a chair without vomiting. Allison often took charge of providing for my kids and household. Michael took over all of my duties, as well as his own, and all of this in the middle of a kitchen remodel, and preparing to return to SVC for the school year. My mama and Grandmother cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more while they visited. Many friends prayed for my recovery and called to check-in.

I will be 12 weeks pregnant tomorrow. I am not 100%, but I am definitely better. I have only taken one pill since Monday. Growing a human is hard work. Sometimes during the last seven weeks I wasn't sure that I would make it. At my midwife appointment we were able to hear the heartbeat for the first time. "There's definitely someone in there!" my midwife announced. Yes, there is. And that little person has been worth every second of the last seven weeks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


A picture from my Henry of him and me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Product review: Pyramath

For years I have struggled to get James to learn his math facts. We have tried flashcards, speed drills, computer printouts, and good old fashioned threatening (as in, "Learn these drills or your not going to baseball."). Through whining, sighing, and tears, the math facts are known, but aren't known well. I want my kids to know those facts as well as they know their own names. As a reviewer for the TOS homeschool curriculum group, I was fortunate enough to receive a free pack of Pyramath cards from I See Cards in exchange for my honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.
Pyramath is a one or two player game that uses math skills. The objective of the game is to complete a pyramid using the math operations of multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division.

We LOVED this game. James would ask to play it several times a day. The time it takes to play a game varies, but I would say the average game lasts about 20 minutes. The cards are laid out in a single line, with a player sitting on each side of the line. Players take turns drawing cards and seeing if they can use them in their line. For example, let's say your line has a 9 and a 3 next to each other. You would need a 6 (9-3), a 3 (9/3), a 2 (9+3= 12), or a 7 (9 x 3=27). As you can see, when the answer to your operations is a two-digit number, you look at the ones place to see if you can play a card. It may sound confusing, and I was intimidated at first, but once you start playing, the rules and strategies become crystal clear.

The first couple times I played I was able to beat James, but after that he beat me every time. He 'rewarded' my effort by letting me go first for a new game, but that didn't help my luck any.

Even Isaac was able to play, although he hasn't had any multiplication or division. We simply modified the rules to where you could only use addition or subtraction for the moves. The game took a little longer to finish, but the pyramid was able to be completed.

James beat me once again!

Besides Pyramath, I See Cards offers other products to designed to promote math success. Fractazmic is a game that reinforces fractions and measurements in a fun and easy way. PrimeBomb offers practice using primes, multiplication, and factoring. The easier and faster that children can recall the math facts, the more confident they will be as they enter higher levels of math education.In addition the math games, the company offers a travel card game called I See Cards that focuses on language and numbers.

I See Cards is a very affordable and fun way to give your child the extra math practice they need. Each game is only $6.95 each, and the company offers a bundle package of all three math games (the travel game is not included), plus a booklet filled with ideas and suggestions to help learning for only $18.95.
Click here for a complete list of their products and prices.

I love this program. I could find no faults in the Pyramath card game. It was fun and challenging. I have already recommended it to several friends and I am consdering getting the other sets as stocking stuffers for Christmas this year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Margaret gets spoiled...

By her great Grandma and her Grammy