Follow our family as we journey through life.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I was totally going to skip Quick Takes this week, but when I saw that Cari was hosting I got my rear in gear so that I wouldn't let one of my favorite bloggers down!
That's right. If you've never been to the Clan Donaldson Blog before you're really missing it. That is some funny, funny blogging.
She wrote a book which you can get on amazon and looks so, so funny. I'll let you know what I think of it soon.
I am enduring my yearly stress of having to get Halloween costumes for five kids ready a full SIX days before Halloween because here is AWESOME Western PA we don't follow traditional calendars. We are way too awesome for that and decide when and if we will follow holiday. Trick or Treating is tomorrow from 4 to 6pm.
There is some kind of warning about drinking the water and we are trying to decide to if we are affected or not. So to be safe I have decided to only consume beer from now until Tuesday, when they said the problem would be fixed. And we won't be bathing either.
One of those statements isn't entirely true. If you know me at all you won't be able to tell which one it is.
Check out more Quick Takes at the Awesome Clan Donaldson.

Hotel Pool

Field Trip Friday

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Product Review & Giveaway: Audrey Bunny

I was recently offered the chance to receive a free copy of the book Audrey Bunny in exchange for an honest review on this blog. Written by Angie Smith, this is a heart-warming story of a little stuffed bunny with a visible physical flaw. Feeling unworthy because of her imperfection, this bunny soon learns the true meaning of love after being picked by a sweet little girl.
Strong storyline and gorgeous color illustrations are sure to make this book a favorite with your early elementary-aged children. The message of God's love is present, but isn't overbearing or misplaced. Anyone who had a special "lovie" as a child will be able to relate to both the little girl and the bunny.
I brought this book to share with my LMCA first graders and it was a huge success. We had a nice discussion afterwards about our "lovies" and how they make us feel regardless of what they look like. The back page of the book contains activities and questions to further the learning. My students enjoyed talking about Audrey Bunny and Caroline. The children then illustrated their favorite story parts for their reading response journals.
I think this book would be a wonderful addition to a Christian curriculum in a special needs classroom, or to teach children about those with special needs. We all have differences, some are physical, some are not. God's love shines for us regardless of these differences.
Audrey Bunny is available on the B&H Publishing Group Website for $14.99 in a hardback cover. I have been offered an additional copy of Audrey Bunny for one of my readers. Simply leave a comment and let me know who you would share this wonderful book with. Margaret will choose a winner on Monday October 28, 2013. Good Luck!
I received a free copy of the hardcover book, Audrey Bunny, in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Product Review: God's World News

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My kids love receiving catalogs and magazines in the mail. A frequent topic of conversation around here is when and if the mail will come. My boys get a lot of items in the post, but poor Margie only receives something once in a while. I was so excited when God's World News offered me the chance to review a magazine publication suited to Margaret's age level, especially an educational publication that we could tie into our school work.
God's World News is a monthly publication that offers kids the chance to learn about the world around them from a Christian perspective. Available in six different levels (Pre-K through high school), articles in the magazine can include anything from current events, to science, to religion. As part of the review, I received a free year-long (10 months) subscription to Early Edition.
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Early Edition is intended for first and second graders and is priced at $28.00 for a yearly subscription. The issues include articles with large full color photos and small paragraphs of text. Articles are short in length; sometimes only half a page, sometimes a two page spread. There is usually smaller text at the bottom of the article for additional information. A bible verse relevant to the articles content is sometimes included.

Included in your subscription is access to the on-line world of God's World News: a website devoted entirely to kids learning about God's events in a safe and user friendly environment (login and account info required for access). In addition to viewing the articles and curriculum suggestions from the magazine, your young explorers will be able to view more articles, more photos and even more fun activities. Areas of interest are organized into sections such as science, religion, history, etc., making it even easier for your young learner to explore the wonders around them. Quizzes and other suggestions are offered to reinforce and further the learning.
I really like that a world map was included with my first shipment. The articles have information from all over the world and it was fun to check out the map after each reading and show Margaret where the article is taking place in relation to where we are. As she is a young first grader, her maps skills are basically zero. But at this age exposure is what is best.
. I was a little disappointed that the Early Edition seemed to have such little expectations for grades 1 and 2 reading level and attention span. Sometimes an article would only be three sentences. The large print made it easy to read, for sure, but overall it acted more like a television commercial. A little flash and then we're moving on to the next topic. This wasn't always true, as some articles (especially the cover article) were longer in length, but the magazine still covered such a vast array of topics under the umbrella of God's wonderful world that it was hard to focus on a single topic. We have very high reading expectations for all of our children and even Malcolm (age 2) can sit through a longer book about a single subject. I guess at this age level I would have liked it to have focused on a fewer number of topics while giving more content area and photos of a single subject matter. Having access to the on-line portion helped with this, but as many of my readers may remember, I like to keep my little ones off the computer as much as possible, and prefer tangible physical items for their education.
Having intended to use this as part of Margaret's school work, I tried to tie it in as much as possible with her school day. When the magazine first arrived I would encourage her to look through it on her own saying she got her own special mail. Then, during reading time (a time we usually devote to reading a short chapter or longer picture book) we would read through articles that Margaret found interesting (based on the pictures). This would normally take us 15 minutes. As Margaret is a very early reader I would have her read words I pointed to or find words I knew she could read. We would usually have Malcolm with us as well, shouting out things like "Blue!" and "Neigh!"
I really liked the story about the Princess and her baby (September 2013) and wish there was more like that.
The 24 page monthly Early Edition subscription can be purchased on the website as a school year subscription or a full year subscription. In addition to the magazine, a subscription allows access to a Children's Website as well as a weekly email newsletter. As mentioned above, God's World News comes in a variety of age appropriate levels and I encourage you to explore the website to see which level would best suit your own children.  
Many other reviewers over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew got to take a look at God's World News. Click here to read those reviews, or click the banner below.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Total Cuteness!

7 Quick Takes

So James got a rapid palatal expander this week and it's been kind of rough. For one thing, the kid can't eat. Everyone and everything I read says it'll take about a week, but what's he supposed to eat in the meantime? We've tried loads of stuff and it is getting a little better. At the time of this post we are on Day 3. I think his gag reflex just needs to calm down and it'll be better. That's what I keep telling myself at least.
The thing looks like a huge metal spider sitting on the top of this mouth. It's in there for the next six months.
The worse thing about the whole situation besides the fact the kid can't eat, is that I won't hear his beautiful voice for six months. It 's not that he can't talk, but the slurred, lispy drawl that comes out of his mouth is not what I am used to.
If I had known he was going to lose that beautiful voice I would have had more conversations with him last weekend before it was installed.
Isaac gets the award around here for messiest uniform shirt:
The kids are starting a read-a-thon to raise money for the LMCA science program. Pledging officially starts in November. Think about it you would like to support this awesome program that I have slaved over to help start. The money will go to support the science program. Margaret will be reading by the page, and the other two boys by the minute. Or you can just pledge a donation amount.
Speaking of LMCA and how awesome it is, we could really use an awesome person who wants to make a couple hundred bucks to design a web page for us. We've been quoted $1000 +, but we are really trying to stay much lower than that. The holidays are coming up and so if you know anyone or you are that anyone, please let me know.
Bonus! I need some help transferring a minecraft game with the data intact from one iPOD to another iPOD. Email me if you can help! And I've tried everything that you can google to do it, and nothing is working.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


My little buddy is ready for his day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Product Review: Chess House

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My family enjoys sitting down to play a game of chess together. As the younger kids get older, they too are anxious to learn. Problem is that with our busy schedule we don't always have the time to teach the younger kids how to play. It is so much easier just to sit down and play with the kids who already know how. Receiving a free Chess Learning Kit from Chess House in exchange for a review on this blog was the perfect solution to my problem.
Chess House offers everything you could ever dream of for playing a game of chess. From instructional DVD's and books, to beautifully carved pieces and boards, this place has it all. This was definitely a fun package to receive in the mail.

Our Starter Chess Learning Kit (ideal for ages 6 to 12) came in a neat green-camo bag and contained the instructional DVD, large rolled playing mat (measures 20 inches by 20 inches), and regulation sized pieces (the king is almost 4 inches high). Perfect for all chess players, the set is visually appealing and sized perfectly for beginners. The large pieces emphasize the differences so they are easier to tell apart. I love the fact that the pieces can all be stored in the zipped bag and shoved away in a closet or game shelf. The compartments in the bag make sure the pieces stay in play and intact.

The instructional DVD was easy to follow and fun to watch. After covering the usual basics of chess, it moves into some strategy. The teaching of the strategy, if nothing else, is reason enough to invest in this program. So many rule books, chess playing programs, and even some classes, don't emphasize strategy. They show you what to do and let you "play around" so you can figure it out on your own. Chess House is having you do strategic moves from the very beginning.

Not only that, but the DVD really stresses how enjoyable playing chess can be. We had all the boys watch the video, even though James (and Isaac to an extent) are already competent chess players. It really renewed their interest in the game. Since watching the video there has been an increase in the amount of chess being played around here. Sometimes a full game, other times a game to emphasize or teach trick moves. I also can't stress how much the actual starter set is contributing to this. Having such an appealing set and how easy it is to get out and put away make the whole experience more enjoyable.

The 49 minute video included in the starter set is only the first DVD of the 4 DVD series in Eliot's Chess School Series. This starter set with the roll-up board and pieces retails for $49.99, but at the time of this blog post can be purchased on the website for $39.99! You can add on an optional chess clock (under $30), and additional levels of the program starting at $40.00 a level.

I really felt that the Starter Set was an excellent find for us. Even though we might soon master the techniques in the "Pawn Level," the set itself is durable and portable. And there will probably always be children in my life who could use a good chess lesson.


I thought the video was pretty good. The chess set was bigger than I thought it would be.

It was pretty fun.

I thought the video really drew you into the game of chess and it wasn't just a video to show you the moves. Even though it was the lowest level it showed strategy for certain pieces. The board and pieces were bigger than I am used to, but it was great to use them to get the new moves down.
You can get this Starter Chess Set and all your chess playing needs at Chess House. I wasn't the only one lucky enough to review product on my blog. Other folks over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew got to use this set with their family as well. Click here to read those reviews, or click the banner below.
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Let's Eat Mema!

So at dinner on Sunday I was telling the kids about this funny poster I saw that is similar to the one above. The older three are all old enough to know why this is so funny and clever. We had a really good time laughing and coming up with our own funny sayings.
Monday night at dinner we were discussing something that happened during the day at LMCA, and we were all laughing and enjoying the story. While we were laughing Malcolm turns to me and says, "Let's Eat Mema!"
It was so funny and cute and amazing that he remembered what had all made us laugh the night before and wanted to help bring more of that magic to us tonight.

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes

The weeks are just flying by for me! I can't believe we are coming up on our 8th week of LMCA. As always the program continues to be completely awesome. It has been a long time since I have regularly been so excited about something in my life. It's a great feeling!
Guess who made his first career soccer goal on Monday? 

I wish I had a photo of him in soccer gear, but you'll have to settle for one of him with an LMCA project instead. GOOAALLL! 
It was also the first time his team won this season, so it made it double as great. Final score: 2-0.


Here's Henry with the same project James is holding. We are studying Medieval History and they made Triptychs.

Speaking of Henry, he finally lost that second front tooth. But since his other tooth is already in he doesn't have that cute gap-tooth smile.
But he does still have that awful lisp. It's even worse now than before. And we are STILL on the waitlist for speech therapy. The therapist said she would call us when she got below 70 patients. 70!?!? She did say it would be best if he had lost both front teeth and they had already come back in before she evaluates him. At the time I thought that would never happen, but now we've been waiting so long it just might!
And because I don't want her left out, here is Margie making a Triptych.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday Sewing Project

For Margaret's doll. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Margaret Illustrated the New Testament

She also narrated the pictures for me.
"So Jesus was born in the world of Bethlehem to Mary and the kings came and the stars showed."

"Jesus was babtised by his cousin John and God came as a bird to thank John for babtising Jesus. "

"Jesus died on the cross and Mary and Joseph were so sad. But Jesus was happy because I had to make him happy."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hiking on Saturday

I am starting to feel less overwhelmed from starting a homeschool academy, sending a child off to traditional school, and dealing with kids on different travel soccer leagues. Lesson planning is now coming easier, as is managing carpools and homework.
We were able to enjoy an afternoon hike as a family; something we haven't been able to do in a long time.


So we get back to the car around five, and since we have no dinner plans we decide to extend the fun to include going out to dinner. We ate at a diner that we often passed on our way hiking, and like everything in this area, it wasn't good.
We are too used to this kind of dining out experience to let it dampen our spirits, so we decide to try our luck at a new creamery that everyone is raving about. Guess what? It stunk as well. But four of the kids thought it was great, so that is all that really matters.

Poor James. That isn't even his cone. I am making him hold it just for the photos.