MODEST MAMA

Follow our family as we journey through life.



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Product Review: REAL Homeschool Spanish


Most people are uneasy about the idea of teaching a foreign language to their children, especially when they are not fluent in that language themselves. REAL Homeschool Spanish must have had that in mind when they created their Spanish program. After realizing that computer-based programs were not promoting long-term retention, founder Dr. Williamson-Coria developed a program that allowed for parents to learn alongside their children, thus allowing for language skills to be easily incorporated into the home environment and daily routine.

The program focuses on conversational Spanish. If you go visit a foreign country, you are not going to master the language through seatwork and flashcards. You are going to gain the skills through speaking with others. New material in the program is always presented orally. The parent and child converse back and forth, learning ways to respond to phrases and questions quickly.

I was amazed at how quickly my older two boys mastered simple greetings and they loved the extra activities such as the songs and motions. The audio component was great because I didn't want them to learn my poor pronunciation of words. I incorporated the seat work portion into their learning as well, but I have to admit that did not go that well. While they easily mastered the oral learning, transferring what they learned onto paper was much more difficult. I was unclear as to when to introduce the seat work, and it seemed to contain  lot of concepts that we had not covered. James, fifth grade, was able to complete the pages, but Isaac, second grade, struggled and became frustrated.

Real Homeschool Spanish is available in two formats and can be purchased on their website. The download version includes the Book, Activity Book, Answer Book, and Audio Files for $49.95. You can add on a Daily Curriculum Guide for $10.00 more. A hardcopy of the program is $89.95 without the curriculum guide, $99.95 to include it. For this review I received the download version and had it printed up and bound at a copy place for about $50.

WHAT DID MY PRODUCT TESTERS THINK?

I thought this program was okay. It was better than when I learned Spanish before because their were games and songs and stuff.

The worksheets were too hard, but I sort of did like the conversations.




Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I received no other compensation. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

7 Quick Takes


ONE

It has been a wild week and I haven't been up to much blogging. It seems like everyone is slowing down this week and I wanted to take a break as well. Since I am the mother of five, the only break I have been able to take this week is from blogging. Although laundry, diapers, and house cleaning were what I really wanted a break from.

TWO


I had a very successful day at sewing this past week and created this darling skirt for Margaret for Epiphany. It isn't quite finished, but it was just too cute not to share.

THREE

I took Malcolm for his well child check up today and he has another double ear infection. I wonder if he is going to be that child that always has something going on like that.

FOUR


I want to restore my old dollhouse for Margaret but I have no idea where or how to start. Any suggestions?

FIVE

We are gearing up for our annual New Year's Eve Party. This is our fourth one! Wow!

SIX

Speaking of the New Year, I have never really done the whole resolution thing. I just never really think of things that would work. Maybe I could resolve to find someone to either  a) clean my house for free or b) invent some kind of vaccine that makes my children stop making messes. Both are equally likely in the upcoming year.

SEVEN

I joined a Virtual Curriculum Fair that is scheduled to start next week. This is particularly exciting for me because we have recently decided to revamp our entire homeschooling curriculum. I feel that in the last year or so I have really lost my homeschooling vision and have become very wrapped up in "keeping up with the Jones's" in a homeschooling sort of way. Michael being on break has given us the opportunity to really evaluate the education we are currently giving the children and compare it to the one we want them to receive. And I want to want to homeschool again. Does that make sense?

Read more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Christmas 2011

Christmas Eve Dinner


Time for stories.




LEGO Master Builder Academy, Level 1. Thank you Grandma Phyllis!


Lego box with hidden compartment from Lego Ideas Book. Thanks Heidi!

And the stockings were all hung on the kids heads with care...


Christmas Dinner.

December 26 is LEGO building day at our house.



Malcolm has found a new friend at night in our kitchen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

When I returned from sewing...

It was obvious the kids had had a wonderful day...


and some were even still in there jammies!

Isaac's Birthday

I'm a little behind. Isaac had a wonderful birthday!




Henry really liked the Mosaic set that Isaac got!

Friday, December 23, 2011

7 Quick Takes



ONE

Are you ready because ready or not it is coming!

TWO

My in-laws have arrived for the weekend and I feel that I can now officially feel "Christmasy"

THREE

I got Malcolm's Christmas and Epiphany gifts off of craigslist this year. A real bargain for toys that seem to be brand-new. The gal was super sweet and called me the next day offering even more toys, this time for free. I accepted and the toys are awesome. It was only later that I realized that I think she thought I was poor, perhaps too poor to buy toys for my kids. Because this second free batch was even nicer than the first. I am extremely grateful and these toys will gift not only Margaret and Malcolm this holiday, but also for both their birthdays. We have a few that we are unable to use and these will be given to friends with babies. I wish she could only know the amount of smiles and happiness she gifted this year!

FOUR

I have tried four times to load James' piano recital video onto this blog, but I keep getting an error. Anyone know any tricks?

FIVE


SIX

I totally lost my page ranking when I switched domain names. I am pretty sad because I just got a paid offer for posting opps due to my page ranking. The money was being put directly into our adoption fund. So if you are feeling charitable, please visit my blog regularly over the next couple weeks so that I can get my page ranking back up. I am currently at zero.

SEVEN

I hope that all my friends, family, TOS coworkers, and readers have a blessed Christmas.

Read more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Isaac!!!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

I can't believe you are eight years old. I became a better person when I met you. Happy Birthday Isaac!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Henry's Piano Recital



Cute Clothing Site


Everyone knows that my passion is sewing. I adore creating items from patterned cotton fabrics. I am sure that it is no surprise to anyone that my favorite person to sew for is Margaret. It is so rewarding to sew clothing and accessories for my own daughter. I love the look of happiness when I present her with her newest skirt, dress, or bag. I am always very flattered when people compliment the outfits I have sewn for her. Although I don't sew for the praise I receive, sewing is simply my outlet, it does encourage me to know that my sewn items are admired.

I would love to sew for every little girl I know, but the truth is that there just isn't enough time in my day for sewing. Even though I have most nights and almost the whole day on Wednesday, I just can't make it happen. Most times I don't even have enough time to sew everything I want to sew for etsy or Margaret. My sewing cabinet is bursting with unused materials. It's inspiring to see all the wonderful fabrics, but discouraging as well since I don't know when those fabrics will be used.

I am always on the look out for clothes that are of a similar style to what I would sew for Margaret if I had the time. I found this wonderful site that has the most adorable dresses and baby clothes. Things may seem a bit pricey, but as a seamstress I can assure you that most times you can't make clothes cheaper than this. I know where I am going to look next time I am need a cute outfit and don't have time to sew one myself. With the holidays coming up I just wanted to share a gem of a site for all of you looking for cute and modest children's clothing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Piano Recital

The boys had their first piano recital yesterday and they all did so great! I also got some videos that I will try to post a little later.

Henry

Isaac

James

The kids with Lauren, their instructor.

Friday, December 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes


ONE

So a friend got hacked and I stupidly followed the link. It was a pretty convincing hack, so I only feel like a partial idiot. But now I am busy changing passwords all over the internet. Sigh.

TWO

How do you keep track of your passwords? I have hundreds and hundreds. I use an address book for them, but if I lose that book then I am really up the creek!

THREE

I officially bought a domain name for my blog: www.modest-mama.org !!!! I feel so official.

FOUR

Of course I did this the week that I sent out 127 Christmas cards directing people to my old blog address. At least they will be redirected for a while.

FIVE

Didya know that Modest Mama is also a clothing boutique that caters to Muslim women? I think we've been battling over the use of the name on the net for a couple years now. At least it is a modesty-based company, so I can proudly share the name.

SIX

ISAAC TURNS EIGHT ON TUESDAY!

SEVEN

After that last take I am completely speechless. EIGHT! And he's not even my oldest.

Read more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Does this publish to Facebbok?

I keep getting error messages...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Product Review: Vintage Remedies



Looking for a way to introduce "green" living to your kids? Vintage Remedies was created by a homeschooling mom who, after years of helping others learn to live more healthy and natural lifestyles, realized there were very few reliable programs available that could teach people about the skills and practices that she spent her days researching. What started out as a hobby, quickly grew to become a natural living classroom curriculum.

This isn't your typical mom-created homeschooling curriculum. For one, there is nothing specific about the programs offered that make them homeschooling exclusive. They are for everyone!

I was beyond thrilled to be chosen for this review. We already participate in many "green" ways of living, but I am always looking for engaging ways to get the boys more involved. I talk to them about why we cloth diaper, and have them carry recycling out to the bins, but I have been trying to think up more hands-on practices that we could implement around the house. I was hoping that by starting them earlier, these practices would become habits that continue into adulthood.



For the review I received Vintage Remedies for Guys. Very appropriate with all these pint-sized men in training running around this place. The course is recommended for ages 7 to 13 and covers everything from wellness and hygiene to the conservative use of natural resources. There are 18 chapters, each containing a lesson, several projects, and teaching suggestions. The book retails for $45 on the Vintage Remedies Website.

This is the first review program I received in which I sat down and read the book cover to cover. Of course, there were little breaks to fill milk cups and use magical kisses to heal bumps and bruises. I was so impressed by the layout of the text and how easy it was to incorporate a lesson into our day. It was amazing how motivated I became to start this program. Each chapter has a materials list and I quickly scanned the chapters to find one that we could start right away.

Another bonus~ the book doesn't have to be completed in a particular order. You can jump and around and present the chapters when and how you feel they will make the most impact. Still have Halloween candy that the boys won't get rid of? Focus on the sections about nutrition. Getting ready for holiday guests? Check out the hospitality section. Don't like the idea of a program with no set schedule? Not a problem! The Appendix offers scheduling suggestions for a variety of situations.

The boys and I focused on the Natural Living Section of the text. I was surprised at how engaged they were while we were talking about "green" gift ideas and alternative uses for unused clothing. I am so used to them just rushing to get through their schoolwork so they can disappear to other areas of the house. They were really into it and at one point Isaac exclaimed, "This isn't like school at all!"

They were excited to try one of the projects which was to give up paper towels for a week.


After talking about why and how we use paper towels, and why it might be a good idea to stop using them, we began brainstorming ideas on alternatives. We decided to sew some kitchen rags to keep in the cupboard below the paper towels. I cut up an old bath towel and the kids serged the edges to keep them from fraying.


Now, it doesn't tell you how to make these rags in the text. It doesn't even tell you to make rags. These rags were the result of further thought from my boys after reading the text.I also don't encourage anyone to let their kids use a serger unless you want an adrenaline rush that will last the rest of the day. Every time those perfect little fingers got close to that cutting blade... I am sure you can imagine the rest.


Hooray! Kitchen rags! Hello lower grocery bill!

WHAT DID MY PRODUCT TESTERS THINK?

I liked how we were reusing scraps so that we wouldn't ruin our nice kitchen towels and also so that we wouldn't have to throw them away.

I liked it because I really like coming up with ideas.


I only had one hang-up about the book, and it really only applies to Section 1. Many of the items listed to make the healthy snacks and other foods are very expensive. Not only that, but when you live in an area like mine, they are hard to find. It is important to me that my kids eat healthy, but I also think that living within your financial means is an important aspect of natural living. I can't always afford to purchase things at the one natural food store we have. Not only is there added financial expense, but the store is quite a bit farther than the regular grocery store, which uses more gas and family time. This wouldn't be a problem for most people, who have more variety in their local supermarkets and towns. Although I received this program free of charge, I would still be interested in it regardless of this aspect. The book as a whole can not be beat.

Vintage Remedies carries similar texts for designed for younger kids, girls and tweens. They also offer various adult-level training programs in herbs, holistic wellness, and natural living. Descriptions of these programs can be found here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I received no other compensation.