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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Music That Brings Harmony Home

I am a fairly musical person.  My kids are varying degrees of musical.  All six of them can actually carry a tune and sing on key.  We have had some piano lessons, violin and guitar lessons.

We listen to music all the time.  Especially now that we are at about week 5 without T.V. during the week.

I heart Pandora!

I admit that I control the stations we listen to depending on my mood.  So, usually, we listen to Dean Martin, Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney or my current favorite, massage music....or as Pandora calls is Brainwave music.

When I am in a really good mood....or the kids have been extra good, I relent and we get a lot of One Direction or Taylor Swift....which I honestly don't hate...but gets on my nerves after a is just too chipper or something.

When I was growing up and attending good, old, still smells the same, Bethel Elementary, I remember music class.  I remember working on "Ta, Ta, Ti-Ti, Ta".  I remember the teacher handing out of instruments.  Shakers, sticks, stick with bumpy ends, and my personal favorite, that I rarely got....the triangle.

I remember the days when we would sit and listen to Free To Be You and Me....with Marlo Thomas.  Although I just went and read about it now and didn't realize that the basic concept encourage post-1960s gender neutrality, saluting values such as individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one's identity.


When we got the chance to review a product called Music Together, Bringing Harmony Home, I thought it would be something similar to the music classes I remembered.

But, when I got the book and started reading through it, I admit that I thought maybe I was wrong and it was one of those "yuppy" created classes for kids.  (You know, like Mommy and Me classes....which I always wondered why people went to them.....because you can be "mommy and me"....alone.... at home....for free...and not even have to get dressed.)

But, I digress.

Music has always soothed my kids.  I don't think it was just because I was always singing or playing piano when I was pregnant.  But, I think there is something deep within all of us that responds to music.

When V-girl was a little baby, the song Minnesota Gurls would stop her crying every single time.  Every time. 

(Although I wish they weren't wearing bikini tops through so much of the video)

If we had tried everything else to soothe her, or even if she was just mad at us for something, we would just go to You Tube and put that song on....then, we would watch her she would figure out what song was playing....she would quiet down....her face would lose all the frowny-ness, and she would smile.....when she was older...she would wiggle and dance a little.

It really was a magical song.  At the time, I was still so sad because of leaving Minnesota, I took comfort in the fact that she surely was feeling a real connection to Minnesota and really was a Minnesota girl.  I know.  I was depressed.

For the record,  I do say, Uffda and fry my Spam.

So, yes, I totally agree with Music Together's premise that all children are musical.

Although, it does make me think of the Duggars.  In the way they choose to follow God, they feel that dancing, and I think, any kind of modern music, aren't Biblical....or something that they partake in.

But, I remember one episode of their show where they were shopping in a thrift store and one of the little guys started playing with a musical toy.  He heard the music and danced a little bit....he couldn't seem to stop himself....much to the chagrin of his big sisters who were nearby.

I really think there is something in all of us that can't help but "dance to the music" sometimes.  I mean....just ask my kids....there are times when I can't help but "burst into dance" when certain songs come on.  Like Harry Belafonte's Jump In the Line. 

As dorky as I know I look....I can't help it....I have to jump in the line!  Somebody help me!

So, we were all sort of happy to get to review  Music Together's songbook and the CD of Family Favorites.

The 19 songs on the Family Favorite CD were a pretty eclectic mix of slow and fast....cutesy and serious.  There are songs you will have heard before, like I've Been Working on the Railroad, and songs that you haven't heard of, but you will never forget....even if you want to, like Biddy, Biddy.

I mean, they heard that song once.....and have never forgotten it.  Me either. I love steel drums. It is a cute song.  But it is easily ingrained in your skull.

Here is a glimpse of Biddy Biddy and a Music Together actual class. 

If you want to hear some of the other music on the CD, go take a listen.

Music Together has been around since 1987 and they do still hold classes around the world.  If you want to try to find one near you, take a look here.

Anyway, I read through the information in the songbook about their music, their classes and their philosophy.  It didn't just seem like yuppy mumbo jumbo anymore.

Like when they are talking about the fact that all children can achieve music competence.  They talk about the fact that, in our culture, we increasingly equate music-making with performance and believe that only the experts should engage in it publicly.

That statement makes me think of my dad singing hymns on Sunday mornings.

My dad sang loud.  He sang off key.  He freely praised the Lord with his voice.  Even when it bothered those of us sitting around him.  His response?  Certainly not to sing a little more quietly.  He would just say, "I am making a joyful "noise" to the Lord.", and sort of chuckle.

Even though he wasn't a performer.  He loved music.  It gave him joy.  One of his favorite things was to listen to his girls sing for him.  He would close his eyes and just take it in when we sang.

Which is why, as hard as it was, we girls sang at Dad's funeral.  Music was our gift to him.

Music Together also believes that music apititude is a type of intelligence.  I certainly want to believe that idea!

There is a portion of the book where it talks about Music Together's Teaching Principles.  I have mixed feelings about some of these items.  They have a section where they talk about "accept and include".  I think I understand what they are trying to convey, (Everyone in class learns that they have valid music and movement ideas...and, can let go of concerns about making "mistakes"), but it veers very close to the idea that "everyone gets a trophy" type of mentality for my total comfort.

The idea that I did agree with from this page is that the instructor, or in my case, parent,  needs something known as SQ, or Silly Quotient and needs to not be afraid to make a fool of order to get the kids to participate in the music.

I have learned this over and over again at Vacation Bible School....when I am jumping around and doing the motions and being crazy.  That is when the kids will sing and smile and do the motions too....except for the pesky tweens/teenagers....still haven't cracked their code.....except at my own house.

You can read about Music Together's  basic philosophy here

Most of their recommended activities are things that will be natural for people, lap-singing, finger play, small movement....which are basically....having your small children sit in your lap while you sing and help them with the motions, or songs that have finger movements or small movement like making waves with your hands.

We created some of our own instruments to use along with the Music Together CD. 

We used pots, pans, and wooden spoons for some really loud percussion.  But the favorite items were the rice shakers we made with Easter eggs, rice and tape. 

(I wish certain people would start wearing clothes around here!)

Although, we had a few mishaps with our rice shakers when the users would be a bit wild.

The only bad thing I will say about this CD and the music is that even though they sprinkled in quiet songs....somehow my kids were so revved up from the fast songs that they really didn't settled down and enjoy the peaceful songs.  They found a way to be wild and active during the quiet ones too.

Even though this is recommended for children up to age you can see, my big kids got in on the fun too.  Listening to the CDs brought "Harmony Home" in a different way than the creators intended.  The whole family would laugh and dance and wiggle while we listened.

(Conga line for Palo Palo)

The only song that we didn't "like"....and D-man hated....and said that he couldn't even be in the room when it was playing was, "Mississippi Cat", which is a jazz song that sounds like there should be a group of Bob Fosse dancers making themselves at home in your living room.  It is a snappy song....but in addition to spelling Mississippi repeatedly, has a lot of scat-like nonsense words that we just found really jarring.

This CD will definitely be put into our car for road trips and won't get old very quickly, like some of the other children's music CD's we have owned.  Not to mention any names, but.....Barney's Greatest Hits, The Early Years.....comes to mind.

I don't think your little ones need to attend an actual class to appreciate and learn music.  I was comfortable teaching them the songs, the motions, the actions and ways to use their "instruments" on my own.  Maybe because I already have music in my background. 

But, even if you just use this as a listening CD and don't try to "teach" them anything, it will be good to expose them to the different musical styles and cultures represented on the CD.

Music Together has won a boatload of awards.  The names didn't mean anything to me, but they might to you...go take a look. 

You can get Music Together Family Favorites CD for $14.95....even if you don't get the actual Teacher's songbook, the CD comes with a little mini-booklet that gives a bit of information about the song and suggested activities to try. 

You could also download individual songs for you can download individual tracks for $.99 each or the entire album for $9.99.  But, I would just invest the little extra money for the actual CD.

Or, you can get the CD and the songbook combo that I used, with the  activity suggestions for $39.95

Regardless of what you decide on, if you enter the code "Schoolhouse" at checkout, you will get $2.00 off.

Go and listen to what others on the TOS Crew thought of Music Together.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the songbook and Music Together Family Favorites CD for free, in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Knights and Nobles and Maidens....Oh, My!

My child with the biggest imagination is definitely, A-man.

I mean, S-girl and V-girl play house all the time, but their games are just different variations on who is the mommy and who is the baby...with an occasional babysitter thrown in for fun.

A-man, on the other hand, at various times in the same day, can be found to be Indiana Jones, a ninja, a cowboy, a lion tamer, a baseball player, various Star Wars characters, people from the Bible, and business men.

Here are a few examples:

Howdy, ma'am.
Wow.  I don't see his serious face very often.  He looks so tough....and grown up.  :(

But, his most frequent foray into characters is always someone who sword fights. 


He used to just use big sticks he could find in the woods.

Then, we went to a homeschool convention and met 2 teenage brothers named Mark and Steven, who are the creators of:

Warfare by Duct Tape

It is just what is sounds like.  Weapons and shields made out of Duct tape.

A-man used his own money to buy a sword at the convention.  Best money he ever spent.

So, now, that sword has performed double duty as a light saber, a rifle, the poky stick thingie to keep the lion from charging the audience, in addition to its many duties in the hands of A-man....the hero..

A-man bought the sword, I bought the book on CD on how to create the sword, helmet, shield and battle axe.

So, when the chance came to review a product that put together unit studies on knights, kings, noblemen....and medieval times.  I practically begged for it....just for A-man.

It is something from Homeschool Legacy called Once a Week Unit Study.  Which is, not so surprisingly, intended for you to use  "once a week".

We got to try the one I wanted to!  Their Unit Study called Knights and Nobles.

I am going to admit right up front that I didn't use this as intended.

Sharon Gibson, the creator of this study, gave scheduling suggestions that sounded great.....but I didn't follow them.  She suggests eliminating your "regular" school studies one day a week to work on this Unit Study. 

It really did sound like a great plan.

But, Rainman and I are kind of do I say it?  Focused.  We have beautifully crafted lesson plans.  And, we have mental ideas of how much schooling should get done in a week and just couldn't bring ourselves to change our existing lesson plans to have a "fun" learning day each week. 

I know.  What kind of parents are we???

So, we did what we always do and squeezed it in.

We should have followed Sharon's advice and given it the special time it needed.

I should probably explain to you non-homeschoolers what a unit study is, shouldn't I?

A unit study is simply an extensive study of one topic (or unit) and the integration of all subjects (social studies, science, language arts, math, Bible, music, art, etc.) around that topic. This allows the child to see the purpose for learning because the disciplines (subjects) are applied and the knowledge is interconnected, creating a more logical and natural way to learn. It is the opposite of the fragmented method of spending 50 minutes on history, which is totally unrelated to the next 50 minutes of science, which is totally unrelated to the next 50 minutes of literature, and so on.” – Vicky Goodchild, The Simplicity of Homeschooling

Yup.  We should have done that.

But, we didn't.

I really have no good excuse for us.  Sometimes, we get a goal in mind.....finish this book by this date.....and we cannot be swayed from our goal.

The concept of unit studies are awesome.  They just sort of scare me.

The Once a Week Unit Study product is awesome....and really, not that scary.

Once I started reading and trying some of the activities, I knew that I needed to do this the right way and not the "squeeze it in" way.

But, then Rainman was in his car accident, and I spent all my free time on the phone with doctors and insurance companies, or researching information on the internet....and it didn't happen. 

So, this review is not going to be as thorough or as in depth as I would have liked.  As a result of that, I am considering this Part 1 of my series of reviews on Knights and Nobles.

This curriculum has sort of forced me to dabble in the world of Unit Studies, and I am sort of  hooked.  My mom always told me to be careful of dabbling in things!  ;)

Here is what Sharon Gibson has to say about her Once A Week Unit Studies:

-No prep work is required (I mean, really, she even has the library lists alphabetically and numerically arranged by Dewey decimal even, if your library doesn't have the exact books she will still be in the right area to find another book that will work with the unit.)  I really am going to have to get over my near hatred for our local library system, aren't I?

- They are Biblically focused and flexible (they are really flexible....but, apparently, Rainman and I are not!)

Embarrased smile

- They bring the whole family together with the same material -  just studied in different levels of intensity and depth

- They increase better retention of the material (in the little bit we squeezed in - I can tell you this is absolutely true (so really, do Rainman and I need an anvil to the head to get it?)

For this Once a Week study, you get a book that has everything outlined for you.  For the unit study newbies like me, there is information on how to use this with your whole family....and also, what you will need.  Like I said....from the library materials, and scheduling suggestions, all the way to family movie night and field trip ideas.

It starts with picking some read-aloud books, in this case, suggestions like Robin Hood (Walt Disney version), The Emperor's New Clothes, Moi and Marie Antionette.  D-man was reading Ivanhoe for his British Literature course, so that unintentionally blended right in.

Then, it moves right into week one which focuses on Castles.....and a list of suggested books and movies and supplies that you may need.

Then, after a brief family devotion, it moves into the "fun" stuff.....your activities.  They cover subjects like; art, history, math, language, music.

For the Castles lesson, your art portion would be building Lego or cardboard castles of your own.  Then a field trip option would be the United States version of a castle...Biltmore Estates....which is actually not too far away from North Carolina.

Something that was fun for us was that the language portions of this book echoed what we had just been reading/learning in King Alfred's English.  I do love it when seemingly unreleated things dovetail together so nicely.

We liked the Stump Your Dad Trivia sections too.....although, I will admit that Rainman is sort of hard to stump.

This is considered a 4 week study, so after week one studying Castles, you move into Kings and Queens, Knights and Life on a Manor.....then the whole unit is culminated with you creating a 2012 version of a Medieval Feast (meaning you can use your blender and use instant vanilla pudding in your custard recipe).

The chapter on Knights was A-man's favorite....because there was the whole "armor" section about what they wore and what it was called.  He has happily been "throwing down the gauntlet" to anyone who is interested in taking him on in a fight.

So, were A-man and the rest of the kids happy with this mini course on Knights and Nobles?  Yes....because most of them don't know how much we skimmed over. 

He was able to learn more about chivalry and the code of honor. 

He doesn't know we skipped over making a ping pong catapult yet....oops....the blackbird is out of the pie (you have to read this book to get that reference)!

I love what the author, Sharon Gibson, says towards the end of the book.  Once again, she is talking about how and why Unit Studies are a good idea.  She writes about using your "tools" wisely.

"As a hammer is to a carpenter, so this unit study is to you.  The carpenter controls the hammer, not the other way around.  Likewise, this unit study, as with any curriculum, is intended for you to control; it is not meant to control you.  Trust your instincts.  You know your children best.  If you think it is necessary to make adjustments here or there, feel free."

Rainman and I are the carpenters here...but, I think we each ended up trying to use the same hammer, at the same time, and didn't end up doing justice to this unit study.

I needed to trust my instincts on this and let some of those already created lesson plans wait for a bit. 

So, I do need to make an adjustment....but not to the Once A Week Unit Study.  It is put together really well and is easy to follow even for someone who has never really done a unit study before.

I think Rainman and I are caught in the trap that we want our kids to look like they are learning and accomplishing so much at our homeschool, that we forget that our goal is supposed to be slowing down and letting the kids learn....really learns things....and not just get things checked off our carefully created lesson plans.

So, have I thoroughly confused you yet?


I am just trying to be honest that this resource was not fully used in our house and it was completely user error.  I can say that everything surrounding Rainman's car accident was to blame for why we didn't use this like we should have.  That was definitely a big part of things....but, it was more being able, on my part, to make a mental shift....away from textbooks and lesson plans and out of the box creative learning.

Really....I feel like I am sort of a creative person.  But, for some reason....skipping what I considered "real" school for a day....scared me.

The more I read through the book....the lesson ideas and well as the information on how to get the most out of your unit studies mind started reshaping itself...and I began questioning why I wasn't teaching more things in a unit study way.

Really, the Once a Week approach is something that even Rainman and I....can adapt to....because we don't have to totally abandon our usual style and become, as Rainman would say, "those peace and love - hippy kind of homeschoolers!"

My mental shift came too late for you to truly get a glimpse into how great I think this unit study is going to be when I let my hair down a bit and explore a different way of schooling....with a bit more abandonment than I allowed this time around.

I guess that feeling really is part of my review.  For a homeschooler that has a pretty strong focus on academics, the unit study way of thinking/learning may be hard, because it feels like it isn't really school.

Like Ms. Gibson says in the book:

Over the years, we have found the total immersion, hands-on approach to learning to be more fun while simultaneously increasing retention of the materal at hand.  Most importantly, when you experience learning and devotionals together as a family, you will be building a beautiful family legacy.  Text books merely inform.  Family time and loving moments help build a legacy.

I want them to retain the information and not just memorize it for the test.  But, more importantly, I want to build a legacy. 

The other thing that is a pretty cool deal on these particular Once a Week Studies is that they plan them to line up perfectly with Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls, so your kids can be working on badges right along with the lessons.

So, remember, this is Part I of this review. 

I am going to let my hair down and use this the way it was intended....and get back to you.  In my pure...hmmmm....perfectionistic/list making way....I have penciled the medieval feast on our calendar, so I have a specific goal for us to work towards.  I can't let my hair down completely, can I?

I imagine this whole potential mind shift to a unit study way of learning is going to be traumatic for is so not the way he operates.....that should be fun, right?  It will be worth coming back for Part II just for that part alone!

You can get the Knights and Nobles unit study book for $15.95. 

There are a lot of other options for other unit studies. I will just list a few here, but go snoop around the Homeschool Legacy website to see what you think.

Some options:

We The People (Constitution)
Horsing Around
Lewis and Clark

Take a look at what other people on the TOS Crew thought of Once a Week Unit Studies.  They are probably way better carpenters than Rainman and I!

Disclaimer:  We recieved a free ebook of Knights and Nobles, Once a Week Unit Study for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Children in Church

What does that phrase mean to you?

Does it strike fear in your heart that people will be staring at you because your kids are making noise?

Does it bum you out because then you won't be able to just relax in church and enjoy the service?

Do you think something like, "Well....yes....where else would the children be?"

Do you have a combination of those responses?

What do you think about the idea of dismissing the children for Children's Church?

Have you ever thought about it?

Wow, could I possibly ask any more questions?

Okay....enough questions for now........this is a review of a book, called Children in Church, Nurturing Hearts of Worship, by Curt and Sandra Lovelace.

It is being distributed/published by Hal and Melanie Young who operate Great Waters Press through Raising Real Men.  Did you get all that? Here is Hal and Melanie....

They own and operate.....

Great Waters Press whose slogan/catch phrase is "Making Biblical Family Life Practical". 

Love that.  Not just some high-falutin' goal....but real, practical stuff.

Hal and Melanie Young are probably most famous for their book called Raising Real Men, Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys.

From their website:

A Practical Guide to Equipping the Hearts and Minds of Boys without Losing or Breaking Your Own

If this is God’s chosen gift to us, then why does it seem so hard? How can we prepare these boys to serve God when we can barely make it through the day? Isn’t there a better way?

The answer is yes.

I have actually downloaded this book and plan to read it soon.  There are certain boys in my house that I need help both surviving and appreciating.

But, this review is about their soon to be released book, Children in Church, by Curt and Sandra Lovelace.  Aren't they cute?

The authors have been serving in churches and missions all over the world.  They have raised 2 daughters in what they call a "counter-cultural, Biblical approach to childrearing."  ( I using a counter-cultural, Biblical approach"? ) They are currently directors of Lifework Forum and are living in Prague, Czech Republic.

So, what did I think of their book, Children in Church?

First, I have to be quite honest with you.....I asked to review this book.  I had a chance at another book....but I wanted this one.


Because, well, most of the time, I keep my children in church with me. 

I wanted someone to tell me it was okay.  That I wasn't really weird and too attached to my children.

Did the book succeed in soothing my fears?


So, this book was a bit of "preaching to the choir" for me.

I had already been doing most of the things that the Lovelace's were teaching.

The focus of this book is to show you that it is possible to have a meaningful worship experience on Sunday mornings, with your whole family together.

Some of the book is explaining how they came to the belief that the Lovelace's believe that they were called to have their children in the worship service with them.  They encourage the reader to explore scripture and prayer about including children in "corporate" worship.  The rest of the book shares real life examples of training and techniques that they have used to help their own children, plus other children in their congregation successfully stay in the man service.

Let me clarify something on a personal level.

Believe me when I say that I am not opposed to having nursery or even Children's Church available.

Have I left my kids in the nursery? Absolutely.

Do I send them away to the nursery after they are about 2 or By that time, I think they can learn how to sit with me in church.

Really, the nursery for me, was something that I used when my kids were between the ages of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years old.

I do not pass judgment on people who bring their kids to the nursery every Sunday....or who encourage their kids to attend Children's Church.

But, I was raised in a church where there was Sunday School at 9:00 and church was at 10:15.  There was a children's sermon in the middle of the service where we would all go up and sit on the floor near the pastor and he would share a little snippet of wisdom from God.  Then, we would go back to our parents and sit for the rest of the service.

I learned to be quiet.

Yes, I do have a few memories of my dad taking me outside for a  "talk" (sometimes between his hand and my rear end) and coming right back inside.....where I had better not be crying.

I learned to listen.

Honestly, though, most of my early memories are of snuggling with my mom during church.  I would snuggle, or more often than not, lay my head down in her lap.  I would play with her necklaces or bracelets and she would play with my hair while we listened to the sermon.

(Wouldn't you want to snuggle with this little girl?  I was about 3 years old in this picture)

I remember standing next to her while she balanced the hymnal on the pew in front of us.  Her finger would follow along with the words so I would know what to sing.

I remember her finding pens for me in her purse and, then, I would doodle on the bulletin....sometimes she would get me started by writing words for me to copy.....sometimes I would just practice writing or drawing things on my own.

But really, what I remember most is that snuggle time. 

Do I remember what was said during those sermons?  No.  I don't think I needed to hear the sermons back then.  But, my parents did.  The people sitting around us did.  So, it was important for me to not distract them from God's message. 

I learned to be still.  I learned that it was a good time to have my mom all to myself.  Listening to the sermons and applying them to my life came later....but I already had the skills to be quiet and present in the it wasn't a huge leap for me.

Since I became a mother, people have joked with me that my kids basically went from being inside of me to relocating to the same place on the outside of me. 

I usually wore my kids.  I never carried them around in their car seat.  I held them or I wore them. 

This is me leading a hymn with S-girl when she was a newborn.  See the little patch of hair sticking out?  She was probably about 2 weeks old here.

When they were too big for the front carrier....I moved onto this kind of back carrier when we were out and about....although, I did not wear this at church.  This is V-girl, A-girl and I in a house of mirrors.

But, point is....I like to have them with me....remember, I do homeschool by choice.  But I also like to have them with me in church.

Back to the message in the book, Children in Church.....

For me, when my kids are little, I really don't like them to be in the nursery (germs aside and, even if it is with really nice, loving people). 

I have always wanted them with me.

So, I was radical (and maybe even counter-cultural) and kept them with me. 

Even when we would attend a church as a visitor where I was repeatedly strongly "encouraged" to put my children in the nursery.  I refused to be bullied into getting rid of my kids.  It didn't happen often....but I can remember the times (and the churches) where it did happen, very vividly.

Trust me, if my kids were a distraction....I took care of it.  I didn't just sit there and blithely ignore it.  I didn't want to ruin anyone's worship experience.

So, like I said, this book was preaching to the choir for me.  I have had my kids in church with me for most of their lives.  They have learned to keep quiet.  They have learned to listen.

Sometimes I get asked awkward questions about the the time the guest preacher spoke quite clearly about David and Bethsheba having sex.  Yes, he used those actual words.  I had some answers to give.....later than day.  But, you know what?  I am glad that I was there to answer them and that I had heard exactly what they heard.

So really, how does keeping my children in church work for me? 

We attend the 8:30 a.m. service at our church.  I sing on the Praise team, and Rainman is rarely able to come to church with us.  So, for much of the service, I am up front on the "stage" singing and leading worship, while 5 of my children sit in the second row.....alone.  D-man runs the sound board for the early service, so he is busy in the back.

Are my children perfect little angels?  No. 

Do I occasionally have to give them an "I am watching you" look? Sure.

Are they occasionally distracting?  Yes. 

Like the time a few weeks ago, that V-girl left the pew, walked around the pastor who was listing off the announcements, came around the altar railing, picked her way through all the cords and monitors, came up onto the stage and whispered a very important question to me:

"Mom?  When we get home, can I have a snack?"

But, you know what?  She whispered it.  I told her she could have a snack at home.  And, later, we also had a talk about her waiting until mommy comes and sits with her to ask the questions.  She hasn't been up there since.

She does sometimes dance in the pews.  One Sunday morning, it turned more into a - let's run back and forth - kind of thing.  So, I put my microphone down, went down and just quietly talked to her. 

I didn't even have to use the scary whisper yell....that all of us moms know about.  I just explained that even if the song was a fast "dancy" song, we didn't run in the pews and that she needed to go back to her spot and let mommy go sing.

She went back to her spot and was fine for the rest of the service.

She is living proof that even someone who has energy, spunk and an independent spirit can learn to sit quietly during church.

As much as I love singing in church and finding fun harmonies on the songs, my favorite part of church now, is the sermon.  Partly because that is when my spirit is fed and challenged by Pastor Greg, but, also, because that is when I come down from singing and sit amongst my children. 

It is a very exciting time.  My kids  fight over me.  Yes.  Me. 

I know the day will come when that won't be the, I am embracing it now. 

They want to get to sit next to me.  They call dibs on me when they are climbing out of the van on Sunday mornings.  When I come to settle in....their little rear ends skooch over to make room for me...making sure that other siblings do not try to encroach on their turn sitting by mom.

Most Sunday mornings, I have one on each side of me.....and sometimes one on my lap.  (I don't usually wear any jewelry for them to play with though.....I might have to do something about that.  Mom?  Do you have any of your old necklaces I can have?) 

I rub their shoulders, I run my fingers through their hair, I trace their perfect little ear lobes, I marvel at how soft their skin is, and thank God for each and every moment I get with these remarkable, beautiful little people.

And, we listen to God's word together.

People have asked me how I have gotten my kids to behave so well and sit through church.  I don't really have a magic answer....just that they have been in church with me since they were babies.....which is the message of this book. 

Train them up....make it "normal" for them to be with you in church...keep in mind their age and plan accordingly with your church bag....or activity.

Children in Church has a very straightforward message that God rejoices when our families can be together and worship.

They offer a lot of great, practical ideas for activities that they can do quietly along side of you while learning how to behave in church. 

I liked the ideas because they are not just quiet, time fillers.  They are not just learning to sit quietly in church while they do some unrelated activity, like play a video another book.....use their parents phones to fling angry birds at various structures  The activities are actually designed to help your children learn about the different aspects of the service in addition to training them to follow along with the sermon.

I got some new ideas even  for things like simple drawings of what the sermon or scripture lesson is about.  Sometimes you, the parent, can start them with a picture....or half of a picture and they can finish it.....with the hope that the child would eventually graduate to actually taking notes on the sermon.

I believe it is truly important to know what your children are being taught.  If you are sitting side by side with them, and they ask you a question later, you pretty much know what was said, the context in which it was said, and can spend some time teaching or clarifying the point.

I was reminded of the importance of this recently when I heard a story about a friend's son visiting a new church, with his grandmother.  She sent him off to children's church, when the children were dismissed...I mean....why wouldn't you? It sounded fun. 

But,  apparently there was something taught very differently than what his parents and his home church had been teaching him.  The child left very disturbed and confused as to which church was right.

I am not saying that children's church is bad.   But, I do believe that we do need to guard our children and what they see and hear.

Like the old song. "Oh be careful little eyes what you see.....O be careful little ears what you hear"  The only way we can be confident of knowing what their little eyes and ears are exposed to, when our children are young, is if we are right there with them, side by side.....listen to and seeing the same stuff.

On the flip side, I think many times, "children's church" has become a babysitting service for the kids too old for the nursery.  I don't think that is good either.

For the record:  My kids do attend Sunday School and various Bible Studies without me.

But, there is just something about worshiping as a family unit.

It just makes me happy.

This really is a wonderful little book.  It was a bit rambling for me, at times, and covered some topics repetitively.  But, it was an easy read, and, for me, just confirmed that I wasn't just a weird homeschooling mom who didn't like to let her children out of her sight! 

Okay, so maybe I am a weird homeschooling mom....but, it made me feel that I maybe I wasn't so weird for keeping my kids with me in church.

You can get this brand new book through the Children in Church website, for $12.00.

The TOS Crew got a chance to review other books published by Great Waters Press.  Take a look and see what they thought.

Disclaimer:  I received an actual copy of the book, Children in Church, for free, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Money

I am currently out of money to use for my home improvement projects.

Which means, that I have a few walls that are partially painted.  I have painter's tape that was been up for at least a month now.  I have outlet covers that are off.

My bathroom still looks like this.....

You get the idea.

Being out of money also means that I spend a LOT less time on Pinterest.  Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

I keep thinking that our budget will loosen up so I can go get that last can of yellow paint to finish the living room....or the gallon of trim paint I still need to finish the woodwork on the first floor....or the.....fill in the blank......

But, just when I think it is going to be safe for me to head to Lowes.....something comes cleats (because your son's feet have somehow grown to gigantic proportions) accidents.

Yup.  Rainman was in a car accident a few weeks ago.

So, in addition to being out of money.  I have been stressed.  Really stressed.

I will post much more on this later....but, for now, just know that:

He is alive. 

We are very happy.

Before my budget clamped itself shut, I got this cute little clock for my kitchen wall.  I got it from the Dollar Store for about $3.00. 

I know.  It is totally cheap and cheesy looking, but I like it.  I mean, look at the hands on the clock for Pete's sake!

Hopefully our budget drama will release itself soon, so I can get back to painting and taping and pinning!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fitness When You Are A Homeschooling Family

Fitness and homeschooling don't necessarily go hand in hand.

We have no official PE class.....which, to me, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The good side to that is there are no community showers...or locker rooms so your classmates can see more than you want them to.

(Although does anyone else have the memory of Tahitian Treat wrapped up with their memories of middle school gym class?  Only us St. Francis Saints?)

No climbing that big, fat, rope with all your classmates staring at you.

No hanging from the bar, while your arms shook like crazy and your teacher held a stop watch....again, with all your classmates staring at you.

No roller skating in gym 3, during those awkward, wear waaaay too much make-up years, in middle school....wondering if anyone would ask you to skate for the slow songs....and secretly terrified someone actually would.

No running over your fingers with these little babies..

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They were fun though, weren't they?  Almost made the broken, bleeding fingers worth it.

Don't even get me started on the horrors of Dodge Ball.

The down side of no PE class can be Homeschooler Couch Potato Syndrome.....also known as HCPS.

You see, we do a lot of reading as homeschoolers.  There are always books strewn around the house.  You can find at least one kid laying around somewhere reading up on ancient Egypt or dinosaurs, or even algebra.

Where do homeschoolers do all this reading?

On the couch.

There is also the issue of homeschool parenting.  You spend a lot of time sitting at the computer, or next to a child on the couch, or sitting at a desk correcting papers. any stay at home parent also spend a lot of time finishing the last bite of various things off your kids plates.  We tend to be a frugal bunch too.

What do all of these things....potentially....add up to?

Unfit, well-read, homeschool families......enter HCPS.

Imagine my surprise when I received a chance to review Family Time Fitness, A Homeschool Physical Education Curriculum.

Who knew something like that even existed?!?!

I mean, every now and then....usually when I got on my own fitness kick....I would say to the kids that we were going to get better at exercising....go for more family some stretching, etc.  But, like my own fitness kick....those efforts were short lived. 

They were short lived for various reasons.....what could all 7 or 8 of us do together?  Little legs couldn't walk as far or as long as the bigger legs.....well, I guess I shouldn't really say "bigger" legs.  My legs are plenty "big" and they couldn't last as long as some of the other sized legs in this house!

You also know, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, that sometimes.....just sometimes....I don't like to think.

So, if you present me something to try where I really don't have to think or plan anything on my own.  I am all over that!

Guess what?

Family Time Fitness didn't require any thinking. 

I did have to find a few items that we could hula hoops....jump ropes, and safety cones (which I just used canned vegetables instead)....but I can handle that kind of thinking.  We homeschoolers can be a creative bunch when we need to be!

We got the chance to try their Core 1 program for grades K-8....which included 260 lessons.

Already planned out lessons and activities.

All I had to do was either look at the lesson on my computer or print it out and go from there. 

I printed out the first 20 lessons, put them in a 3 ring binder and off we went.

The beauty of this program was that most of the stuff was fun.....sneaky exercise....but fun.

I mean really, wouldn't you like to watch Rainman and I skipping side by side....or doing frog squats?

Apparently Rainman and I are not as coordinated as we remember.

There was a lot of laughing when we were attempting some of the workouts.

Extra ab workout right there, I tell you.

Each lesson is broken down into a page or so of stuff to do.....including warm up and cool down....and takes about 30-40 minutes...give or take a bit.

The lesson starts by telling you what skills will be taught....what kind of equipment you need....then it goes into the workout. 

They have some creative names for some of the frog squats or the starfish.  Each item includes a brief description of how you do it....but, if you need to see something to understand it, there is a link listed on the lesson plan (if you look at the lesson on-line, the link will take you right to their You Tube page  to see how it should be done).

I have talked about frog squats quite a bit....would you like to see what they look like?


Okay, now picture me.....with my knees crunching and munching along as I do this.....or Rainman who is really not a flexible man in any way, shape, or form.....trying those babies.....

See?  Lots of giggles.

I did not allow any pictures to be taken of that....but here are some other ones....of us doing some of the relay race kind of stuff.

A-man skipping between canned vegetables (instead of safety cones - like I said, we homeschoolers can make just about anything work!)

L-girl showing V-girl how to crawl around the can of vegies.

It was fun to see V-girl trying to do everything alongside of us and asking, "Like this? Is this right?"  There is just something precious about a 3 year old trying to master the Palm Tree or Mountain pose during cool down!

Take a look at her triumphant face when she finished the "race"....

We took sort of a unique approach to incorporating Family Time Fitness into our school day.  I wasn't always in the mood to lead the class or to even make sure I could find everything we needed (like the hula hoops or jump ropes), I delegated.

D-man was in charge on the day I took I could take pictures (okay and so I didn't have to crawl on the ground between the cans of vegies).

The kids took turns teaching or co-teaching.  Rainman joined in on days he was home from work.  They had fun being the boss and being in charge of everyone.

We had the intention of doing this 5 days a week....but, in the reality of our schedule, it only happened 2 or 3 times a week most weeks.  But, that is still way better than what we were doing before!

The only draw back was that it is still hot here in Georgia, so at times, we didn't want to be outside doing some of these we we them sort of clumped up together on the main level of our house.  That meant some people were in the living room, some were in the hallway and some were in the kitchen exercising.

I am so glad we found this program.  It filled a need that I didn't really want to admit that we had....if you know what I mean.

It really is fun and we really did laugh a lot everyday.

(By the way.....have you tried a hula hoop lately?  Oh my word, is it good exercise....and, again, sort of sneaky, fun exercise!)

And, honestly, this is real exercise.  Many days I was sore from doing so called fun/easy stuff.  Like the above mentioned frog squats...or the ankle alphabet (where you lay on the ground and lift one leg at a time and draw the alphabet in the air with your toe)....that one hurt....maybe because I have had 5 c-sections....but maybe because I am a homeschooling mama....suffering from HCPS.

If you think you may have a need for an at home fitness program to use with your WHOLE family, take a look and see what they have got. They have a different version if all of your kids are older.

Take a look at what they have for High School Fitness.  It focuses on something called, Foundational Strength.  Here is a sample workout plan with that purpose in mind.

Go read about more details of that this Family Time Fitness curriculum will offer you.....there are even nutrition guides and basketball clinics available.    Check this out, if you are a Scope and Sequence kind of parent/teacher.   

The beauty of all of their programs is that they are designed to be done with very little space and need very little money to get the equipment you need.  (Plus, you can be like me and borrow things from neighbors (Thanks, Tina!) or use canned vegetables in place of safety cones!)  All of the options are much cheaper than a gym membership for the whole family....and usually at the gym, you put your little ones in the child care room.  I think it sets a better example for the kids if they are right there doing the exercises with you.

V-girl using the couch to help her stand up for the mountain pose.

Even if you aren't sure about whether you need this curriculum or not, go take a look around their website and make sure and sign up for their free newsletter that is full of tips, coupons, and articles about fitness and nutrition. 

The Family Time Fitness Homeschool Curriculum, that gives you the 260 completely planned out lessons costs $57.00.  I know.....waaaay cheaper than a gym membership where there are all those germs and you have to trust that people have actually wiped their sweat, and bodily fluids off the machines.

There is a Platinum package too that includes as bunch of other stuff, but it does cost a bit more.

Go see what other HCPS sufferers had to say about Family Time Fitness.

Disclaimer:  We received the Family Time Fitness 4 Homeschool, Grades K-8th, for free, in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Decade of Progress

Any ideas when that would have been?

I actually hate those kinds of guessing games, so I will just tell you.

The 1880's.

Now that I say that....I guess there are probably other "decades of progress" out there.  I am not sure that there is just one decade of progress.

When you look at history, there really was a phenomenal amount of stuff accomplished in that ten year period from 1880 to 1890.

We got the chance to review another video from Marshall Publishing.  

Remember, last year, we got to watch and review a documentary style video on George Washington Carver.  This is distributed by the same company.

What I will say about this DVD is that it was weirdly entertaining.  There is sort of something for everyone.  A-man loved the parts about the "wild west" and Billy the Kid, D-man loved the baseball parts, my girls enjoyed the bit about Susan B Anthony and her contemporaries.  I sort of liked it all.  There was a lot of stuff packed into the 30 minutes.

The DVD uses a mixture of live action filming, with re-enactments, and old black and white photographs with a narrator voicing the facts about the people and events of the 1880's.

One thing that I kind of liked about the DVD was that it made me a bit nostalgic for my own school years.  The narrator reminded me very much of the old films/film strips that I used to watch in school.  The only thing missing was  the "beep".....any old folks out there that know what I am talking about???  (And, no, children, I wasn't swearing with that "beep"!)

It does give it a very "old fashioned" look and sound, which may put off some people.  (Like my sister, Karen, who doesn't even like to watch black and white movies!)   

I think anyone who has an interest in history would love this DVD.  I loved it.  Rainman loved it.  My kids each loved different parts of it.  They weren't fascinated by every part of the film....but it moved so quickly that by the time they could get bored, they had switched to something more interesting.  Like the price of a postage stamp, or the president who got married in the White House (Grover Cleveland), or how Billy the Kidd died.

The 1880's portion of the DVD is only half of what is included.  The bonus feature on the DVD is an archival documentary type film about Alexander Graham Bell.  I am sort of torn with this part of the review.  I was the only one who stayed put through this part of the DVD. 

The kids really liked the first part about the 1880s. 

But, when we got around to Alexander Graham Bell's sort of started out like one of those live T.V. show thingies from the 50's....where they were sponsored by one company.....I can't remember their was sort of dark and shadowy....and dramatic.

It started out confusing....I wasn't even sure which guy was Alexander Graham Bell....the old guy, the kid, or, the man with the pipe.  Once you figured it out, it made a bit more sense....and honestly, I learned quite a bit from the 30 minutes that it spent on his life.  That said, I was the only one who sat through it.  One by one, everyone else sort of wandered off.....even Rainman.

The first part about the 1880's moves really quickly and covers a lot of information.  There is almost no way that anyone can get bored with that part.

The Alexander Graham Bell part is worth sitting through....just know up front that he is the middle aged guy with a beard and cleaning a pipe in the first scene.  It will be a lot easier to follow once you know that little tidbit.

You can get a copy of  America in the 1880s from Marshall Publishing for $19.95.  There is a brief study guide available that goes along with the DVD and covers all the important people and dates that are covered in the DVD....if you want to do more exploring on your own, or assign other projects for your kids to work on.

They have a lot of these historical/documentary type DVDs, so especially if you are a big fan of history, take a look around.  There is a whole series of awarding winning DVDs, on subjects like,  Lewis and Clark, The History of Bridges, or T.V's Greatest Comedians.

The TOS crew had other options of DVDs they wanted to review.  So, go take a look at what the other choices were, and what they thought. 

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the America in the 1880s DVD free, in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Habla Espanol?

Un pequeno. (I don't know how to get that little tilde thing-a-ma-bob over my letters)

I speak a little Spanish.

A bit more than Dora and Diego.....but, not much.

I took one year of Spanish in high school and another year in college.  I remember conjugating a lot of verbs.

I must have spoken it pretty well at the time, because when I took a missions trip to Honduras in college....I had my testimony memorized in Spanish and everytime I would share, people would come up to me afterwards and start speaking to me in Spanish....really fast....I had to tell them I couldn't really speak Spanish.  It was sort of humiliating.

I wish I had stuck with it.

I wish I had started earlier.

I have always marveled at the people who live in Europe.  Most anyone you come into contact with speaks more than just their native tongue.

When we travel, we have met many waiters that spoke 4 or 5 languages because they had to be able to understand people from many countries.  I imagine that they made great money, because people would be so happy to find someone who could understand what they wanted to eat....or give them directions back to their hotel.

I don't necessarily want my children to be waiters/waitresses in a foreign country....but I would like them to be able to embrace another language and really, truly, be able to speak it....not just successfully conjugate verbs.

Like I said, I wish I had started learning a language earlier.  So, when we got a chance to try out a language program designed for younger ones, I was pretty excited.

It is called Speekee and we also got access to their Fast Track program which has lesson plans already created for me.

Speekee is, apparently, the world's number one Spanish course for children.

With Speekee, you watch about a 15-20 video with real children as well as Speekee, Dino and Lupi, who are puppets.

There are songs, puppets, and a little animation here and there.

Here is how we have used Speekee.

I would sit at the computer and gather A-man, S-girl, and even though I wasn't intending this for her, V-girl.  She almost always wants in on the action.  Officially, the program is for ages 2-10....I just didn't think she would get into it like she does!

So, we all precariously perch on or near the computer chair and watch and sing along with the Speekee TV on-line videos.

Let me tell you something.....those songs....they get in your head.  But, not only in my head....V-girl's too.  She was singing.... in Spanish....that very first day.

Now, she doesn't have any idea what she is saying yet....but I truly believe that will come.

A-man and S-girl were singing them right away too.  A-man gets that he is singing, "I speak Spanish.".....and S-girl.....sort of knows what she is singing.

The videos take you various places with a group of Spanish speaking children.  I think they may actually be in Spain from what some of the streets and buildings look like.

Anyway, you follow them through this magic playground tube and they go different places like the park (el parque), the cafe (el cafe), a house (la casa).....and you learn and repeat after them.  Everything is spoken in Spanish....but you can have English subtitles displayed on the video...which we still do. 

The funniest thing around here is when V-girl will put out her little hand and say, just like Speekee does.

"E tu?"  (I know there is a way to type an upside down question mark....but I don't know how...)

Speekee says, "E tu?" in this video clip at about 30 seconds in....

On days that I have been too busy to sit down with them and do Speekee, L-girl has filled in for me.

She actually guided them through making sock puppets that look like Dino and Lupi in the videos.  If you look closely, you will see her puppet "hiding" near the computer screen.  She is the top of the recommended ages for Speekee, but I think she feels it is just too young for her to do, for her....but not to help the littler kids with it. 

We are having a lot of fun with Speekee.  Some of the pronunciations are different than I am used to.  I assume it is because it is Spanish....being taught by children who live in Spain....not another Spanish speaking country.

I will admit, I don't completely understand everything available on the website when I log in.  The videos I is the stuff along the right side that I am not totally sure yet what to do with. 

It is part of  something called Speekee TV Immersion Connect, a fairly new upgrade to Speekee TV.  Speekee is considered an "immersion" program and so, this is what they say you can do with the stuff on the side:
  • Connect virtually with the characters from Speekee
  • Immerse themselves in a multi-sensory Spanish experience
  • Listen, speak, read and respond in Spanish
  • Be rewarded for using the Spanish language they have learned
  • Measure their progression by earning points and levelling up
  • Create their own virtual sock puppet

The kids get Puntos (points - yeah, I had to have the Google Toolbar translate that for me!)....which I assume is to be spent at the Mercado (I remembered that, thanks again to Google Toolbar translating for confirming it for me).  But, somehow...but we haven't quite figured that part out.....other than sort of randomly clicking on stuff over there.

We just watch the videos, sing the songs, do some of the activities from the Fast Track  and move on.

It really is fun.  Some of the school review things I do, I get moans and groans from the kids when I say it is time for them....because it feels like "school".  But, in this case, it was "It's time for Speekee?  Yay!" response.

Fair warning:  The songs do stick in your sing them long after you have heard them.  Depending on how you feel about that sort of thing, that part could  be a positive or a negative.  Think of it this way...maybe it will get Barney out of your head....or Justin Beiber's latest and greatest (depending on the age of your kids!)  Trust me.....these songs are waaaay better than either of those options!

I mentioned that we are using the Fast Track program with this.  It is the lesson plan portion of the program.  I get the weekly plan just sent to my e-mail.  I print it out (usually just a few pages) and then we go from there.  There is also a plan/chart that shows clearly what to do everyday for 40 weeks.  They have 4 lessons a week planned in their schedule.

There are also flash card type printables available through the Fast Track program also.  They are more like flash "pieces of paper" than flash cards....because they are the size of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper....but, I liked that they were bigger than a normal flash card.

Some weeks we do 2 or 3 in a day...if everyone is in the right mood.  Other times we spread them out and only do 2 lessons a week.  The good part about Speekee is that to the kids it doesn't feel like "real" we have had some Speekee Saturdays too!

So, even if I don't follow their exact schedule, thanks to the Fast Track plan....I still know what we should do next.  (Very handy when you are a mom that doesn't always like to think!)

You can try Speekee free, for two weeks.  Or, just jump in with a  monthly subscription to Speekee TV for $7.50/month, or $60.00 for a 12 months.

Go take a look.  Mira!  Mira!  Find out what other homeschoolers on the TOS Crew thought of Speekee

Disclaimer:  I received free access to Speekee and the Fast Track program for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Math 911

What actually fits the criteria for declaring a math emergency?

Honestly, I have no idea.

But, there is this clever product out there called, Math 911, that is at the ready, just in case you declare an emergency.

Here is what their website says this is for:

Math911 is for students who believe that Algebra must be a struggle, difficult and complicated. Math911 is the easiest and most economical solution for Algebra students. The Math911 approach is what learning Algebra should be: quick, fun, and easy. Math911 will let you absorb Algebra effortlessly.

Did you catch that?  ....absorb Algebra effortlessly.

I should have tried this product myself.  I am a big fan of effortless

But, instead, I had D-man our resident Algebra learning person try it out.

If you remember, last year, instead of buying a "real" curriculum, we got a College Algebra book at a used book store and sort of just worked our way through that.  But, underneath, I was worried that we were missing some things or glossing over others.

That is why I am so happy when we get a real advanced math product to try out....calms my nerves....assures me that I am NOT screwing up my a mathematical way at least....there are many other ways I am probably screwing him up....but that is for another post.

So, anyway, I got D-man all set up (we just downloaded our version straight onto the computer - you could also get the whole program on a flash drive) and let him have at it.

I happened to walk by one day and saw all 100% next to his name.  So, I asked him, if this program was too easy for him.

His response, "No, I am just that good."

Ha!  Such a funny kid.

Actually he had 100% by his name because Math 911 uses a mastery approach.  Which means they aren't graded for wrong answers, because they work at the problems until they "get it".  The program just keeps giving him similar problems until.....he masters it.

Although, D-man...."You are good, my friend."  (just not that good!)

We are sticking to Algebra now, but the beauty of Math 911 is that it covers the sorts of math that usually freak us, well meaning moms, out.  Stuff like; Introductory Algebra (not too freaky), Intermediate Algebra (getting a little scarier), Statistics (okay....feeling a little weak in the knees here), Trigonometry (trig---ah---what----a----tree?), College Algebra (who are we kidding here), Pre-Calculus (I honestly have no idea what Calculus even is).

They even throw in some bonus materials for your random math emergency, that covers:

The Normal Curve
The Central Limit Theorem
The Bonomial Experiment
Confidence Intervals
Hypothesis Testing

Will you think any less of me if I admit the only thing on that list I sort of understand is hypothesis testing?

This program was created by Dr. Martin Weissman a long time mathematics teacher who has been on staff at Essex County College since the last 1960's.

I like that.  Good, old fashioned math.  Explained by a good, old fashioned math professor.

How funny is this disclaimer statement?

Sorry.  I just think it is really funny.

Really funny.

Like I said....good, old fashioned math.

There really are no fancy graphics.  No music.  No multiple choice, even.  Just math.

D-man is working through the Intermediate Algebra right now, but it is basically a review of what he already covered last year.  (You calm my nerves....) 

D-man did say that the program is very picky about where you put your  markings and spaces for answers....but I think details like that are important....especially in math. 

Learning to use this program just took him a few minutes of talking outloud to himself.  "Now what?  Oh, wait....let's see what this does....oh, that makes sense.  Okay, I got it now."  That kind of stuff.

When he would get a problem, he would either solve it and get a "Correct!" on the screen or he wouldn't.  If he got it correct...he just clicked "New Problem" along the side....if he had gotten it wrong, he would just keep on trying, if he still didn't know where he went wrong, there is a button that says "Show Steps".

Like I said, pretty straight forward....good, old fashioned math.  No bells and whistles that plays victory music and brings you to the next problem.  You actually have to do a little work yourself and create your own victory celebration......if that is important to you!  :)

He will be moving on to the College Algebra and Trigonometry next.

That is the beauty of this product.  You pay once for the download/flash drive and that gives you access to all the upgrades and it covers all the "big" math you are going to need for the next few years.....for all your students. 

So, let me fill you in on the cost of this program.

The Standard Version of Math 911 covers Algebra One.  It is.....wait for


The basic Algebra course is free.

But, I will tell you that you won't want to just stop there.  You will want all those fancy schmancy harder sounding other math thingies I listed above.

So, for access to all of those, you can update to the Premier version, which is normally $49.95. 

With the Premier Version, users will have free lifetime updates, free technical support (which I have heard GREAT things about), as well as access to additional Mathematics Courses with separate grade reports for all family members. 

Yes, I will be able to use this for my other kids.

But wait!  There's more!

(I feel like an infomercial for Ginsu knives now....)

Professor Weissmann is running a homeschool special right now that will get you the Premier version for just $9.95!

No, that is not a typo....all of that advanced math stuff for a little under $10.00.

Just type in the code "homeschool" at check out.

So, bottom line for me?

This is a great math product.  No bells.  No whistles.  Just math.  Hard math.  Given in a very teachable way.

Who could ask for anything more?

Some of the TOS reviewers have raved about the customer service that Math 911 provided, directly through Professor Weissman.  Go and see what they thought of Math 911.

Disclaimer:  We received a free download of the Premier Version of Math 911 in exchange for an honest review.