Brain Quest…

When we left for Canada the other week we didn’t bring the kids school work.  We weren’t expecting to be gone so long.  When we realized we were going to be there for another full week I ran out to find something to temporarily replace our curriculum.

After looking through many different work books I came across the Brain Quest one and instantly knew it was what I was looking for.  It touched on so many subjects like Spelling and Vocabulary, Language Arts, Reading, Writing, Math Skills, Addition and Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Fractions and Decimals, Social Studies, Science and more – all in the one book.  The pages are colourful and bright.  The lessons are fun and filled with games and puzzles.

  

What I really liked about it was that it touches on the basics while keeping things entertaining.  It makes for a good supplemental curriculum for kids whether they are home schooled or attend a conventional school.  The lessons vary from fairly easy, which helps build confidence, to more challenging, which really gets the kids thinking.  The pages tear out easily which is good because the answers are in the back of the book.  Every activity has a little Brain Box at the bottom of the page which is more of a review than a lesson.  If your child has not learned that particular lesson in school, be prepared to do some teaching.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the Brain Quest workbooks and just thought I’d pass on my thoughts to you!

The Neighbors…

Every once in a while one of the fat television networks come out with something deliciously original.  Something refreshing that doesn’t fit the typical formats of the routine shows of today.  You know, there’s the typical medical shows where the doctors treat patients with shocking or overly emotional issues all the while carrying on inappropriate relationships with each other and dealing with their own outrageous situations.  Or the detective shows, where the main characters are so exceptionally intelligent that they manage to solve every single crime within the hour.  Not to be outdone by the train wreck trash that we politely label “reality tv” though I’m pretty sure it’s not a reality that is shared with 98% of the human race.  Dare I even mention Honey Boo Boo!  Then there’s the edgy comedies that are based loosely on typical american lives and mask political agendas with humor.  Not that I’m complaining about any of them, I have many favorites in each one of those categories.

Out of all the new shows this season, the funniest one goes to The Neighbors on ABC.  At first even I, a lover of corny syfy shows, found the concept to be a little over the top.  Everybody knows aliens are scary and threatening, not funny!

For those of you who are not familiar with the show, it’s about a group of aliens who buy up a gated community and settle there after naming themselves after profession atheletes like Larry Bird and Dick Butkus.  After living on earth for ten years, one of the alien couples decide to move away from the group selling their home to the Weavers, a human family from New Jersey.  From there the families try to relate to each other as their relationships grow.  They begin to bond while dealing with the unknown and misunderstood behaviors of neighbors from a different race.

The pilot was a little shaky as most are, but it was still funny.  It was entertaining enough to make me watch it again the following week.  The second episode was out right funny…at times I actually laughed out loud.  Tonight’s show was even more hilarious.  Daddy and I laughed through the whole show.  I have to attribute a lot of those laughs to Jackie Joyner-Kersee played by Toks Olagundoye, the main female alien and Debbie Weaver, played by Jami Gertz, the female human.  Both women are great comedic actors.  If you can over look the awkward alien concept, the simple plots and just enjoy the plain, silly humor, then you might want to check this show out.  Maybe you already have.

The only bad thing about the show is my total enjoyment of it because that’s pretty much a death wish for any show!

The Gate Keeper…

In our house the Gate Keeper is none other than Daddy.  This evening he spent some time buying and arranging baby gates around the living room.

I know what you’re thinking…we live a thrilling life!

The Milk Monkey has become very efficient in escaping his designated play areas.  He’s a regular Houdini…but not as tall.

He climbs up on the couch and scales the credenza, slowly lowering himself on the outside of his approved perimeter, allowing him to scoot up the stairs.

Of course this means I have to stop what I’m doing and chase after him…not a big deal if it was once or twice, but when he does it over and over again it can be time consuming.  Daddy decided it was time to try opening up his play area again giving him more space.  He went out this evening and purchased two baby gates from the local Target store.

I still have no idea how he can go into Target and come out with only the items on his list!  It’s an amazing talent I wish to possess!

Anyway…

With a little creativity Daddy managed to section off the whole living room, blocking off the kitchen and the stairs.

Tomorrow will be the big test! Hopefully all goes well and our chubby, little Milk Monkey is happy and safe in his new found freedom.

The Plane Crash…

Last night I had a dream that I was on a plane.

It was a flight to raise money for a charity and I was with a childhood friend and her husband.

As we took off it was quickly evident we were going to crash as we started descending toward a deep, blue river.

I remember looking out the small window and thinking the scenery was so lush and beautiful.

I was in awe of the beauty the earth held, even during such a disastrous moment.

The whole time I whispered “Thank you Lord”, something I do in real life during the especially trying moments.

The ones where I have little control over, the moments where there is little time to form a complex sentence.

Some may call it a crutch but for me my trust in God empowers me, giving me the courage I need for the tough times.

Apparently, it even permeates my dreams.

As the plane descended to the river I was thankful it remained intact as we sliced through the cold liquid.  The water folding over the plane swallowing it whole.

Instead of panic, I was thankful the plane remained dry inside even though we were about 60 feet below the surface.

The plane eventually skidded to a halt ensnaring us in a tangle of steel from a sunken iron bridge.

I looked over to my childhood friend, gripping her hand and told her I loved her.  Of course she was strong, like she is in real life, she reassured me we’d be rescued and would see our children soon.

I knew I had to remain thankful for each small victory and not allow the overwhelming circumstance to let fear overcome me.

I was peaceful.

I woke up to complete clarity and I thought about my dream.

My first thought was to call my friend at a decent hour and warn her not to board a plane but that was the dark, middle of the night talking.

I’m not an Avionics Engineer.  I don’t know if it’s even possible for a plane to remain under water without the water seeping in.  I remained awake for quite a while trying to think of a way out of the situation in my dream.

In the end I knew forming a plan was completely unnecessary because I was safe in bed with the warmth of my little baby next to me, his sweet breath moist on my skin.

Still, the dream felt so real and I couldn’t help but compare it to my every day life.

So often I feel like I’m crashing towards the earth only to be engulfed by waves of life trying to drown me.

Sometimes stress may take over temporarily but overall I am winning.

I’m thankful for the little victories.

“Thank you Lord” remains on my lips.

We are home, we are safe.  My mother is good.

I have a lot of work to catch up on,

we have a lot of things that need to get done,

but we are good.

Thank you Lord!

Unplanned Trip to Canada

This is where we are right now. We are halfway to Canada. I had planned to paint the kitchen and do some yard work this weekend but obviously those plans have changed.

As it turns out, a loved one needed our help so we quickly packed some stuff, made some arrangements and loaded the kids in the car.

The kids were super excited to drop everything and go see their grandparents. It’s something they ask to do often but of course it never happens. Both the Princess and the Professor were very helpful in getting ready to go.

I’ve never packed so quickly before. I’m not great at packing under the best of circumstances but I managed to do a fairly good job for everyone but myself. For some reason I only packed my summer clothes – no jacket or sweater and only my flip flops. Not very smart. I have no idea how that happened when I was able to pack warm clothes for everyone else. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

As you’ve probably noticed I’m being extremely vague about who we are going to see and what’s going on. I’m respecting their privacy for now because this all came on so sudden and I have no idea how they would feel about me blogging about the situation. I’m guessing this person would rather I didn’t. I ask anyone who knows anything not to leave a comment with any specific details.

Everything is ok, however we always welcome any prayers. If I get the ok, I’ll add more details another time.

Sent from my iPhone

Flashcards

Flashcards are one of the tools I use often when it comes to teaching the kids.

After spending a lot of time searching for the sight cards I wanted and not finding them, I decided to just make my own.

It took off from there.  I’ve now made hundreds over the past couple of years…

With a little cutting and glue sticking onto index cards,

we can make flashcards for sight words, spelling lists and even cards to practice reading words.

They’re not fancy but they work and they’re cheap and they have definitely served their purpose!

If you want to make your own, I’ve uploaded my template for you.

Flashcard template

What Would Chuck Think?

When it rains it pours!

It’s not my favourite sayings…

it’s a little too cliche for me, however I can’t think of a better one to describe our recent events.

It all started with my sewing machine.  Right before we left for Disney, actually a couple hours before, I was trying to sew something.  The stitches kept dropping and it was very frustrating.  I had a vague memory of the kids knocking over my machine and having it fall to the ground.  I tried turning it on and it worked so I had thought “No problem, disaster averted” but apparently that was incorrect.  I figured I would  put it away and we’d deal with it when we got back from vacation.

Little did I know, Daddy had the same idea with the lawn mower.  Apparently the pull cord had frayed and he decided to set it aside until we got back.  At the moment we are living in a jungle, or at least it feels that way.

I’m sure our neighbors love us at the moment!

Then there’s the computer…

A couple days ago, when Daddy was working from home one of the kids knocked his laptop over and it went crashing to the ground.  The fall shattered his LED screen making it useless until it gets fixed.  Thankfully, he was able to borrow the Professor’s laptop.  Today we brought the broken laptop over to the Geek Squad to get an estimate.  We had already looked up the price for a new LED screen and it was around $90 so we figured it couldn’t be too much more with labor added on.  The Geek Squad quoted us $350 – $400!  I realize they need to be paid for their time but seriously?  $200 – $300 to replace a screen?  I just had major work done on my laptop and the Dell service guy had it done within an hour.

Shame, shame Geek Squad!!  Daddy and I drove away wondering what Chuck Bartowski would think of their ridiculously high prices!  You wouldn’t see the Nerd Herd trying to get away with that.

To top it all off today was the day my hair dryer decided to quit.  I guess it just seemed fitting.

We’re certainly not going to let a few breakdowns get in our way!

We replaced the hair dryer and Daddy’s going to fix his own laptop and the mower.  It’s great having someone so handy around.

As for the sewing machine….I guess I’m just going to have to save up for a new one.

It’ll be rough having to sew on a brand new, fancy sewing machine…

But I’m willing to take one for the team!

Disney Youth Individual Enrollement

A year ago I was searching online for fun and exciting activities to do with our children as part of our homeschooling.  One of the things I came across was the Disney Homeschool Days – a program that Disney provides for kids who homeschool.  We were really excited about this…what could be more cool than going to school at Disney?! Not only did it sound super fun but the discount on the park tickets was pretty awesome too.

When it came time to book our vacation Disney still hadn’t posted their dates for Homeschool days in the fall.  After a little research we came across the Disney Youth Individual Enrollement.  With this program there are even more class options and the park tickets are priced the same as the Homeschool days.  Plus…it’s open to all kids, not just those who homeschool.

Unfortunately, the one class that was provided for the Princess’ age was already booked up, so she was not able to attend.  However, the Professor had a couple options available to him and in the end he went with Wild by Nature at Animal Kingdom and Synergy in Science at Epcot.

Since Daddy and I each attended a class with him, our tickets were discounted also.  Instead of paying $400, our tickets were $220.  I just don’t see a downside to it!

The classes were awesome!

The Professor and I went to the Wild by Nature together and we had so much fun.  Josh was our tour guide/teacher and he was animated and informative…he captivated us with his knowledge and humor and kept us laughing for the 3 hours.  He engaged all the children into discussions about the various animals and explained how preditors and prey naturally balance each other out.  He went into great detail about how animals survive in nature through games and hands on examples.  He explained how humans and animals can live on the earth together and survive as long as we are willing to respect the earth.

Babysitting the Cottontop Tamarin

If you are heading to Disney, I truly recommend signing up your child for one of the Individual Enrollment classes!

Disney Youth Individual Enrollment

Disney Homeschool Days


On Our Way Home…

This morning as I was packing up the trailer I found this little guy in our bathtub! I was reaching for the shampoo to pack it away for the drive when the frog jumped right in front of me.

I was surprisingly calm about it. Probably because he was so tiny – or she…I’m not really up on my frog anatomy. Also, I knew if I didn’t act fast we’d be chasing a tiny frog throughout the trailer rather than checking out on time. The bathroom door is about 6 inches off the floor, plenty of room for a frog to slip under.

I quickly grabbed a towel and gently placed it in top of our unwanted guest and then called for Daddy. My calm bravery only went so far.

Of course Daddy was our hero and saved us from the frog or rather saved the nickel sized frog from us. More specifically from the Princess who wanted to see it, hold it and I’m pretty sure squeeze it. If she was younger she probably would have eaten it too.

Sent from my iPhone