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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Uggg....Isn't the Housing Market Supposed to be Booming???

Our house is still on the market.....69 days and counting....or something.....

We have dropped our price....

We have dropped our realtor....

We have dropped our price again.....

Completely removing myself from this situation, the price we have it at right now is bargain basement pricing(less than we paid in 2009), if it doesn't sell....we are obviously not meant to move right now.

I am trying to just let go and leave it up to God...because there isn't anything I can do about it....although after we let our realtor go, we switched to a listing service....which means all the marketing and scheduling showings is, in fact, up to me....but it saves us from paying commission to a listing agent.

I will keep you posted on how it goes.  In theory, this seems like a great way to sell a house these days because my house is still all over the internet, they just contact me if they are interested in seeing it...not the agent.

Here?  Wanna see it?  Wanna buy it? 

It really is a sort of great house....just not for a homeschooling family with 6 kids.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Random Goodness

I feel very scatterbrained lately.  The house is still for sale.  Nobody seems interested.  Our realtor wants us to lower our price....again. 

VBS is over.  I am so happy.  I really do have a love/hate relationship with it.  My kids have a blast.  I can tell most of the other kids have a great time too.  It is just so exhausting for me....not just because I taught the music and motions to the songs....but dealing with other people's children who don't know or care about my rules....somehow takes the wind out of my sails....if that makes any sense.  It is over.  It was good.  The songs are still stuck in my head.

S-girl has officially lost both of her front teeth and she couldn't possibly be any cuter, could she?

S-girl and V-girl have finally hit the stages in their lives where they are true friends and do everything together.  It is so fun to watch their relationship and their way of communicating with each other grow.  I do step in occassionally to give them ideas on how their conversations could have gone better and the other person wouldn't have gotten angry.  Let me just say this, V-girl is a bossy little thing.

We went to a garage sale at the house we are hoping to buy and the very sweet current owners let us have this costume for free!  I have a feeling there will be some wheeling and dealing going on around Halloween as to who actually gets to wear this one.

Found this one on my camera.....

Apparently, one of my children thought this tub of "almost" butter was photo worthy.

We found this at a garage sale for Rainman for Father's Day.  It had never been used or put together.  The sticker price was $179.99.  We got it for $40.

The kids have had a blast with it.  Rainman has used it quite a bit too (although I don't have a picture of him).  He is currently trying to get 100 1 minute, I think.  So far the closest he has gotten is 96.  V-girl and S-girl are surprisingly good at this too.  And A-girl and L-girl have daily battles and have given themselves quite the work out....they are both sporting pulled and overused muscles at the moment.  Their battles are pretty fierce and someone usually leaves unhappy.

Okay....that is all for now.  Pray for our housing is not looking good for us to get out of here this summer like I wanted to.  I am trying to trust in God's timing.  I am trying to be a big girl.  A mature adult.  Someone who looks at the numbers and makes the best decision for my family. 

But, really, I just want to sit in the corner and pout until I get my way.....and get out of this house. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Memory Games the Intellectual Way

This is a review.

We got a chance to try a product by Birdcage Press, called Art Close Up:  Museum of Modern Art

This is such a cool product and cool idea.  They are like playing cards with famous art on them, but they have a pair and it isn't an exact match, but a close up from a portion of the painting.

Get it? 

Like this.....

See?  The card on the right is the whole painting by Tom Wesselmann - Still Life #30 and the card on the left is a little blown up portion from the top of the fridge.  Like they put a little magnifying glass up to a part of the painting.  This is what you match up....tricky, huh?  Doesn't it just make you feel smarter though somehow?

We have played a lot of memory games around here for years and years and years.  My kids love them.  I don't hate them....but I am really not very good at them.  We have been through numerous sets of Barney cards, Disney princess cards, Spongebob cards.  Numerous sets. 

Here is another example by Paul Cezanne called L-Estaque.  These cards add a whole new level of sophistication to memory games.  And it is such sneaky learning.  I love it!

I will say that when we first got the product and I asked the kids to come play with me, they did moan, groan and complain.  Then they played......and became obsessed.  The cards are for ages 5+, but even V-girl played and did well after a few times of seeing the cards and how they matched up to each other.

L-girl and A-girl, especially had an on-going tournament and insults were even exchanged when someone (who shall remain nameless) won too many times in a row.  Honestly, for a while there, I was sick of them playing this game because someone always left mad.  But, it didn't seem to bother them, they loved it.  And, like I said, they are learning about different artists.

They learned that some art is very literal and some just looks sort of weird.

These cards could also be used for an Old Maid type game or if you happen to be near the actual Museum of Modern Art, a treasure hunt within their walls.  We used it exclusively as a memory game.

You could certainly use these cards as a jumping off point to learning more about individual artists, or styles of art, or even time periods in history.  We had an interesting discussion when the girls first noticed this painting by Jacob Lawrence. turned out a little fuzzy.  The painting is called In the North the Negro had better educational facilities and is dated 1940-41.  Our first discussion was around the word "negro" and secondly about what the title may have meant in that time period

There is some nudity in the art.  Something I don't think is a big deal...maybe because I have been to Europe a few times and see how they are a bit more relaxed about nudity.  Plus it isn't is just....there.  But, just in case you don't agree with me, I won't show you any examples.

Overall, we ended up loving this cards.  I started an art appreciation class at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and I will definitely keep that course next year and add these cards and the examples from the Museum of Modern Art Close Up cards.  You can try out your own memory game with the Art  Close Up:  Museum of Modern Art cards for $10.95.

There are lots of cool, unique products available through Birdcage Press and our crew got to pick from some really cool things.  Go see what the TOS crew thought

My New Life As An Aerobics Instructor

Oh, wait a minute....I am not an aerobics instructor.  I am the music leader at Vacation Bible School.


I have survived 3 days of VBS and only have 2 to go.

I will survive.

I will continue to make a fool of myself...for the sake of the children.

I will probably have gained 5 pounds by weeks end....just because it is me we are talking about.

I have a review coming up at the end of the week (for a really cool memory game) and then hopefully, I will be back to blogging a little more long as I survive aerobics class.....I mean VBS.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daily Dilemma Number....????

This is a review.

This is a review for something published by Christianity Cove.  Christianity Cove is a website where you can access Sunday School lessons and activities.  Some are even free.

The product/lessons we got to take a look at were called Daily Dilemmas:  26 True to Life Devotions for Kids.

I think they changed their cover art and title of this devotion series in the middle of the review this.....

No matter what title, they are pretty good devotions.  Although the new cover art appears to make the lessons skew towards younger kids.  These particular lessons are designed for ages 6 through 12 or so. We used them with L-girl (11) and A-girl (13).  And, even without the cartoony new cover art, A-girl said that she felt the lessons and example were a little young for her.  Personally, I didn't think so.  I thought there was valuable lessons to be taken away, even if they were maybe for a younger audience.

This product had me when they talked about kids in school having fire drills and weather drills...I can remember clearly what the routine was and where we went for tornados or fire drills....even on my bus!  But I never had any drills for how to deal with cheating or bullying drills. I mean, are far more likely to be faced with a friend trying to cheat off of their test than they are of being in a burning school building. Right?

These lessons are broken down like this:

It starts with a dilemma or scenario, related scriptures, multiple choice solutions, and ends with reflection on what the best choice would be for a Christian.

The lessons are numbered and then they have what topic is covered.  So, for example, Lesson # 11 is called Linglee Plays Awful Slumber Party Games and then lists what the lesson is about.  In this case the lesson is about the occult, fear and peer pressure.  Then the actual lesson will go through what happened, what Linglee's choices are and then talk about which choice would be the best and why.

I think these daily dilemmas do a good job of painting a picture of a situation that kids can imagine themselves or their friends in.  As homeschoolers, some of the scenarios didn't ring as true - for instance....there is no one here trying to cheat off of their tests....but the principle remains and helps them picture what choices they would have if that situation did arise in their non-homeschooled future.

One of the other things that I liked about working through these dilemmas was it gave me opportunities to share situations from my past and how I handled them...and in many cases, how I wished I had handled them.

We just went through the devotions in numerical order, but I could see it coming in handy if you have a specific situation you needed to adress.  Just go to the table of contents and find the issue whether it is bullying or stealing...and find the devotion that deals with that topic.

Overall, I thought this product was really sort of great.  It reminded me of the times in my childhood when I was faced with  hard situations and made me think that I would have/could have made better choices sometimes if I had thought them out ahead of time with my parents and figured out what I should have said when they happened.  (Valerie, I still feel bad that I didn't stick up for you when you got bullied.)

You can get instant access to the ebook Daily Dilemmas: 26 True to Life Devotions for Kids for $29.

You can use it at home with your homeschooled kids, or take it to church and use it for classtime.

Christianity Cove has a lot of great products the TOS crew got to try out.  Go see what they tried and what they thought. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Motherboard Books

This is a review.

We got a chance to try some computer programming, using Motherboard Books

L-girl got to design a webpage using their Let's Make a Web Page lessons. 

This is a short and sweet program  that really does guide you through the basics of setting up your own web page.  L-girl (age 11) only got frustrated once or twice and was mostly able to do this as an independent project and proudly show off her finished result. 

A webpage that she created using a free trial of CoffeeCup HTML software.

This program was created by Phyllis Wheeler (a.k.a. The Computer Lady) and designed for teach 8-12 year olds how to successfully create a web page.  Her products are definitely geared towards homeschoolers, but would be valuable to anyone who has an interested in knowing more about computers.

Let's Make a Web Page consists of a 60 page e-book that goes over things like; how to download and set up the program, adding text and pictures, and how to get your webpage to upload to the internet. 

This is one ebook that we didn't need to print it off.  (Remember, I have a thing about being able to hold my books.)  L-girl just had the Let's Make a Web Page ebook open in a tab and would flip back and forth between the two tabs, as she was working.

I really liked that the instructions were up front and straight forward about what to do next.  They always had pictures too.  You know?  The "do this and then your screen should look like this"....kind of thing. 

By following the instructions, L-girl was able to be creative and make this....a website 

Like I said, I think there were two times where L-girl came to me and said something like, "It's not working!"  But, then I would go sit and she would explain what she had done and how, then we would read through the book together and see where she had gone wrong.  Once she got the hang of it, she whizzed right through making her webpage.  I will say sometimes the process and detailed stuff left her kind of bored....(I don't think she has a future as a computer programmer).  But, I am happy with her end results.  She followed through, got to be a little creative and whether she realizes it or not, she took some of the mystery of computers for herself - which will be a great thing as she gets older.

Motherboard Books has lots of products designed to take the mystery of computers.  Go take a look around and even try out her free internet scavenger hunt!

The Let's Make A Web Page program is available for $19.95. 

The other TOS reviewers got a chance to try this same product or try a more intense program on Logo.  Go take a look and see what they thought. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

What's the Pointillism?

This is a review.

You know that Lion King song.....Can you see the light tonight???  Elton John sings it....

Yes, that one.  That is what I thought of everytime someone mentioned See The Light.

See the Light is an at home art curriculum.  Before I go into a lot of details, I will say that they have a ton of different classes you can try.  We got to try Pointillism Fruit.  Now does my post title make sense?

There are Art Project DVDs available and Art Class DVDs.  This was one of their Art Project DVDs, which is really more focused on a specific type of art or technique and not just general art knowledge. 

This product is just what it says it will teach you and your kids art....both art history/recognition and techniques.  I will admit I got a few groans (even from my more creative children) when I first said I wanted us to sit down and do some art.  But, then I showed them the supplies I had gotten, paper, Q-tips, and little bottles of paint.  That shut them right up.

This video was recommended for ages 10+, but you know me.....A-girl down to V-girl participated.  I would have made D-man do it, but he wasn't home for most of the lessons.  The class is taught by master artist Pat Knepley.  Ms. Knepley is a very happy and positive teacher.  And, even though her frequent references to the students watching the video as "friends" sent my kids into giggles....they all had a blast.  They all learned some things.  They all created beautiful pictures using the pointillism techniques (putting dots of color near each other and letting your eyes put them together in the picture - sort of like the pixels on your T.V. screen).

We started sort of poorly.  We had picked out fruit and sketched it out, then took a break.

Here is what we started with....

Then our grapes went bad and started leaking juice on the, we substituted a banana....and then this happened.....

Someone ate our art!

So, we got wise and also realized that we shouldn't wait so long between lessons.  We picked more fruit, threatened anyone who came close to it, and sat down and worked on the project from start to finish in one day.

Our new subjects:

A watermelon, an apple and a slice of cantaloupe.

Here are some finished products:

When I caught L-girl and A-girl rewatching the lessons and working on additional projects and using things other than fruit, I was pleasantly surprised.  Then they asked the million dollar question.  "Are there anymore of these videos with other projects?  Can we get some?"

I loved the art history that was woven into the lessons and knew that things were getting through my sweet children's sometimes thick skulls when we were looking at something else and my kids spotted a Seurat picture amongst many other paintings. 

This product was a huge hit at our house and had the perfect trifecta for a homeschooling mom:  Kids had fun.  Kids learned something.  Kids want to learn more.

See The Light Shine has a blog that gives some fun art tips and just helps with some general art knowledge and terminology too.

You can get the Pointillism Fruit DVD for $14.99.  But, she has them available in a set too, so if you think your budding little artist will want to try more than one of these DVDs, check out that option. I am planning to save up and get the set.

The TOS Reviews picked from a wide variety of options for this review.  So, seriously, go take a look at some of their works of art and their thoughts about these video lessons.