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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trading Spaces Kasprzak Edition Not So Wordless Wednesday

Pin It Now!   Recently we have been thinking about changing rooms between the younger boys and Dave and myself. They needed less room to make a mess and we needed more room to combine our bedroom and a small office for myself. So Trade Spaces is what we did this weekend. They are both a work in progress but here is what happened so far.
                                                

                                         The boys will have more room soon as we have ordered new pins to stack their beds back into bunk beds. We lost them when we moved and they did not need bunks in their old rooms. They are in the process of deciding on a color scheme. The runners up are orange and khaki or a red,white and blue room. We will see what they decide on hopefully soon.

This is the boys old room, our new room up in the bungalow of our home. We will be able to go back to a king size bed now. We have gotten rid of our waterbed mattress and currently are just using  a mattress in our waterbed frame.
The dresser you see is going to be moved and my computer desk is going to go in front of that window. Currently my computer desk is in our living room. There is not enough room in there so by moving we are eliminating excess furniture from the living room.
                                                    Here is our much bigger closet and the built in desk that is going to be redone and made into a built in TV Unit soon.
                                                     Here is the area where you come up the stairs, the little L on the left of the open space is going to be where our dresser is moving to.
                               Here is our new color pallet. I love it I cannot wait to start painting this weekend.
                            Here is our new comforter set that is on its way thanks to my Mom.

   Like I said it is all a work in progress and will be done a little at a time. I will be sure to post updates as different stages are completed.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from our Family to yours!! 2011

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Happy Thanksgiving from our Family to yours. May it be filled with many blessings today and the days yet to come.
I have many things to be thankful for this year inspite of all our obstacles we have encountered this past year.
Today I am thankful that through everything my family has been through this year we have stood firmly planted in our faith and turned to the Lord for guidance and grace.
I am thankful that it was only our garage that caught fire and not our home, and that nobody was injured or worse.
I am thankful for my family and our health.
I am thankful for another year with my Grandma.
I am thankful for our home that we can call our own, when so many we know have no place to lay their head at night.
I am thankful for the food on our table when so many people are struggling to provide the basics for their family.
I am thankful that my cousins and nephews in the service are home safe and not away over seas this year.
I am thankful for the wonderful friends I have made this year, I am not sure what I would have done without them, They give the true meaning of friends.
I am thankful for my husband's job, while so many are unemployed this year. While money is tight for us there is at least income coming in.
I am thankful for my right to homeschool my children, and teach them what I feel the Lord wants me to teach them.
I am thankful that my children have a giving heart and know that even though we don't alway have what we would like there are many who have so much less and they know the true meaning of giving to those who need it.
I am thankful for all of the little things that God blesses us with on a daily basis.
I am thankful for all of the things that I cannot think of right now but am blessed with always.
Thanksgiving to God this year for all of my family's blessings.
AMEN

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"How much time is left ?" Time Timer TOS Crew Review

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  "How much time is left?" I must get asked this question 100 times a day, and not only from my children. My hubby asks this very same question, as does my 91 year old Grandma. It could be how much time do we have until dinner, how long before we leave to go ...... I also flip it on them sometimes, for instance you have X amount of time to clean your room, do your chores or until the TV gets turned off.

      Most timers are audio only, meaning that you may hear time ticking away, but you only know how much time is left if you walk right up to it or hear the sound of the timer going off. The TOS Crew was given another great review opportunity to try out the 3" Time Timer.

Over 20 years ago, Jan Rogers, the mother of an independent, inquisitive 4 year old, sought a solution to her daughter’s natural curiosity about time. Nicknamed the "how much longer kid," young Loran found the concept of time to be both a challenge and a frustration. Her innate need to beat the clock in athletics as well as household tasks was combined with annoyance at not being able to understand the passage of time.



  The Time Timer stands apart from other timers in that it is more visual than any timer I have come across. It doesn't make a loud ticking noise so it is not distracting, if for instance you were using it for test taking or other school work. There is also no loud obnoxious alarm noise that goes off when time is up. You can see a video on how it works by clicking HERE.

  You simply put one AA battery in the back and you are good to go. There is also a heavy duty plastic shield that covers the time portion and also prevents little fingers from adding more time. On the flip side you can fold the cover back and it makes a more sturdy stand. I did not have a problem with it standing up without using it as a stand, I prefer to use the cover to do just that cover and protect the time.

  When you dial the plastic dot counter clockwise the area of time remaining turns a bright, bold red. VERY visual. I loved that you can see it from across the room.

   I put the Time Timer to use in many ways to test it to the fullest. I used it for chore time, and did a race with the kids to see if they could get their chores done before me and before the timer was done. I also used it to help differentiate the time we had left between subjects, my boys having Asperger's do not transition well without notice, so when I know we are needing to move onto the next lesson I set the timer for a 10 minute warning. This also helped when it was shower time and TV time was drawing to an end. I set it for a 10 minute warning signaling the transition to bedtime routine, such as showering and teeth brushing.

   Taylor is a big fan of videogames but has a hard time when it is time to wrap it off so for him I set a 30 minute timer and then he can keep an eye on how much time is left for his game. Before the Time Timer he would always say he could not hear our old timer go off because he had headphones on. He can certsainly not use that excuse anymore as he can always see the Time Timer on top of the TV in plain sight all the time.

  With my Grandma I used the time timer to give her a visual for how long until dinner was ready. She has Alzhiemers and it affects her short term memory. We often had her coming out of her room several times in a few minute span to ask if dinner was done. So now we just set the Time Timer for 15 minutes and she can watch the red get smaller and smaller as she watches TV until dinner is done with out having to keep ask.
   We have also used it to show her how much time she has to get ready to leave for an outing. This has helped tremendously as we were always running late because she lost track of time.


   Time Timer sells 3 sizes of their physical timers as well as an IPOD, IPHONE and IPAD  App that is available for download. This makes it handy as there is something for everyone's needs. Their largest at 12"  is the size of a clock and is perfect to hang on the wall. Then there is an 8"  medium size and last the small 3" table top one that we received as a review. I liked our size as it is so portable to be able to take it from room to room and it doesn't take up much space. Time Timer also sell watches, puzzles and other software apps as well as many other ingenious products be sure to check them out.
 The Time Timers range in price from $30 - $40. They have computer software that sells for $24 and the IPAD App is available from the App Store on Itunes.The Time Timer watch sells for $40 and all oders over $50 qualify for free shipping.

   The Itunes  App would be great for on the go, maybe to use it for how long the car ride to get to a place may take, like the Doctor or grocery store. The possibilities truly are endless.


   Some of the TOS Crew were given the physical timer like I received and some were given the opportunity to review the App so be sure to check them out and see how my fellow crewmates used their Time Timers.
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"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services


mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I

only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:

"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Friday, November 18, 2011

Math Mammoth TOS Crew Review

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   Math is one of the subjects that my youngest struggles with the most. I know he will get it eventually but I want to make sure that he gets what he needs to truly live life. You know the everyday math like being able to shop, balance his checking account, cook and other things like that. The current math curriculum is wonderful do not get me wrong, but it teaches the text book basics, in the traditional straight forward way. Taylor just doesn't seem to learn that way no matter how hard we try.

   The TOS Crew was given the opportunity to work with the wonderfully accommodating folks at Math Mammoth. From the minute we made contact, Maria Miller the Author of  Math Mammoth set out to help me decide the best curriculum for my kids and their level. The best feeling you can get from a company is one of true and genuine wanting to help you find the best fit for your family. In this day and age that is hard to come by. Maria was so helpful, I explained my sons and their developmental issues and Taylor's struggles with Math and we decided together that Make it Real Learning was the best program to go with. Then from there we decided which downloadable workbooks would fit our needs best, we ended up being blessed with MIRL Arithmetic 1, Fractions, percents and decimals 1 and 2, Linear Function 1, Quadratic Function 1, and Sets, Probability and Statistics 1.
                  
 Make it Real Learning is just what we have been looking for, it uses real life concepts and couples that with companies and products and places that my kids know and love.  For example we started with Arithmetic 1 and our very first lesson dealt with Australia. It dealt with population, distance of Australia and its coastline. When European settlers came to Australia. All the while teaching place value and rounding numbers and writing out the number in words. Not only was it teaching the boys math but Social Studies as well. Other lessons incorporate Science. Taylor truly enjoys Math time now, it is not a struggle to get him to sit down and do his worksheets. This has also been a great refresher for Alyx, Math comes much easier to him, but it has been nice to teach him Math in a new light putting into terms that he can incorporate into every day life.

The Make It Real Learning Arithmetic I workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively analyzed using arithmetic concepts such as addition, subtraction, estimation, division, bar graphs, and place value with large numbers. This book suits best grades 3-6.








From figuring out how to determine the difference between the populations of two countries to analyzing the number of visitors to a website, learners get to use basic math skills in meaningful ways. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. Webkinz, Australia, South Africa, sharing snacks, borrowing money), not just "realistic" data.




     We have used Arithmetic 1 as a refresher to get used to the curriculum with some things the boys already knew. We will be finishing Arithmetic 1 this week and will be moving onto Fractions, Percents and Decimals 1 when we pick school back up after the Thanksgiving Holidays. This program can move as slowly or as quickly as you and your kids want to go. We found some days the concept was harder for Taylor to grasp than others. So some days we only did one lesson while others we did three.
Fractions, Decimals,  and Percents 1
The Make It Real Learning Fractions, Decimals, Percents I workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively analyzed using proportional reasoning concepts such as fractions, percents, and unit conversion. This book suits best grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.







From figuring out how much money is saved on a sale to determining how much of each ingredient to use when doubling a favorite cookie recipe, learners get to use basic math skills in meaningful ways. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. Aeropostale, Hershey's, cooking, baking, measuring milk, shopping), not just "realistic" data.

After we finish with that we will be moving onto Fractions, Percents and Decimals 2
The Make It Real Learning Fractions, Decimals, Percents II workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively analyzed using decimals, ratios, histograms, and percents. This book suits best middle and high school, meaning that some activities here suit best middle school students, and some suit best high school students.







From determining how to analyze a real estate deal to determining college housing costs, learners get to use mathematics in meaningful ways. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. BYU, Air Force, college basketball, real estate investing, sizing images, sales tax), not just "realistic" data.

 These will probably take us until the end of 2011 and when we return to school days in January 2012 we will hopefully pick back up with Make it Real Math starting with Linear Functions 1.

The Make It Real Learning Linear Functions I workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively modeled by linear equations. This book is suitable for both algebra 1 and algebra 2 students.







Whether choosing a cell phone plan or downloading music, learners will discover how to use linear functions to help them become better informed consumers. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. Yahoo!, T-Mobile, life spans, WIC, making money), not just "realistic" data.


   The other 2 books Quadratic Functions 1 and Sets, Probability and Statistics 1 will most likely be put off to next year but we will play it by ear.

The Make It Real Learning Quadratic Functions I workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively modeled by quadratic functions. This book is suitable for both algebra 1 and algebra 2 students.







Whether business growth, changing population or falling objects, learners get to use mathematics in meaningful ways. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. USAA, autism, body mass index), not just "realistic" data.

The Make It Real Learning Sets, Probability, Statistics I workbook focuses on real-world situations that may be effectively analyzed using principles of probability and statistics. This book suits both middle and high school math classrooms.







From determining a winning strategy for a dice game to predicting the contents of a bag of fruit snacks, learners get to use mathematics in meaningful ways. Each activity integrates real world information, companies, and issues (e.g. fruit snacks, Almond Joy, rolling the dice, El Pollo Loco, phone numbers), not just "realistic" data.


   The other wonderful thing about MIRL from Math Mammoth is you really do not need to do them in order. Also for only $4.99 per download version of the workbooks it is an affordable Math Curriculum with it being your soul curriculum for Math or used as an add on to your already standard choice which is what we are doing. You can download a sampler of MIRL activities by going HERE.  You know best what fits your family and with Maria's help from Math Mammoth together you will work to find the best fit, Whether it is Make It Real Learning like we chose or their more traditional Math like The Blue Series, The Light Blue Series, or The Green or Gold Series. Their color series Math is best for grades 1-8 while the MIRL Math that we chose goes up to 12th grade. They truly do have something for everyone.

  Be sure to check out my fellow TOS Crewmates, as we all chose which curriculum was best for our family, you will be able to find a review for every program Math Mammoth  has to offer.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Taylor is Smitten with the new Kitten Nala

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Prep Genius Vocabcafe Series TOS Crew Review

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  One of our goals this year is to get the kids to want to read and not just comic books and books that are too easy for them. Now trying to find good books that will help strengthen their vocabulary and keep their interest is a feat in itself. When offered the opportunity to review the Complete Vocabcafe Series from College Prep Genius along with the TOS Crew I was hoping for just that.



  We were sent all 4 books in the series, IM for Murder, Operation High school, Planet Exile, and Summer of St. Nick. We started off reading Summer of St. Nick, these are geared for middle school and Jr. high school and my boys are grade equivalent but not necessarily developmentally age appropriate.  They did stumble with many of the words that were in the books but it was wonderful to expose them to the SAT Prep words and with using repetition, definition and reinforcement they boys were able to catch on fairly quick. These books highlight 300 words per book that are SAT Prep and the definitions of each word are given at the bottom and are also accompanied by word review and appendix as well.

    In this day and age it is often hard to find fiction books that are suitable for the Christian teen and although these had some content that I was surprised to find, like for instance a reference to girls in the Operation High School book, there was nothing offensive or vulgar. I did not have to rip the book from my kids hands and say sorry you cannot read this. Everything is done in a tasteful way with no vulgar language, no sex and no witchcraft or sorcery.

  It is always refreshing to come across modern novels of fiction that are safe for this age group where I do not feel compelled to read them before hand. I can trust the content and know that not only are they reading and enjoying the content but they are learning and expanding their vocabulary at the same time.

  We have only had the chance to finish 2 out of the 4 books, like I said we started with Summer of St. Nick and then went on to Operation High school, we are currently beginning Planet Exile. The only one I have reservations with at the moment is IM for Murder and it is not because it contains anything bad it is simply because of the temperament of my boys. Taylor is afraid of everything even at this point in his life at the age of 12, due to his disabilities.  So I am not sure if we are going to read the 4th book together as we have with the others or if we are going to maybe hold off and use it in the Spring or next Fall.

  One thing that I am so excited about with these books is that I actually see them using some of the vocabulary words. They go out of their way to use them in the correct context. It is so funny they feel so important when they use words they think other people may not know. It makes for very interesting dinner conversation.

   If this sounds like something you may be interested in for your tweens and teens be sure to check them out as soon as possible because right now they are on sale. You can get all 4 books for the price of 3. Normally the complete series runs $51.80 but right now they are on sale for $38.85 for the set. This is a great savings and these books are well worth the investment. They can also be purchased separately for $12.95 each.
   While you are shopping be sure to check out all of the other offerings from College Prep Genius, like SAT workbooks and DVDs and even co-op materials. There are many offerings to get your students ready to take the SAT.


  Be sure to stop by the TOS Crew page to see what my fellow crew mates have to say about Vocabcafe and also College Prep Genius  for High school.

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“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or


services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Monday, November 14, 2011

Keyboard Town Pals TOS Crew Review

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 We use the computer just about everyday for some aspect of our homeschooling, and also just for fun. My boys use the computer for all of their essay work as they have very poor fine motor skills due to their disabilities. If they didn't nobody would be able to read any of it, but on the same hand they have struggled with learning to type correctly. No matter how hard I try they just did not get it. They found most typing skills programs too boring to hold their interest.
 
  TOS Crew members were given the opportunity to review Keyboard Town Pals software for the computer for 6 weeks.  My boys have been so frustrated with typing they were a little skeptical, but after convincing them that this is different, there are no timed tests, no counting your errors and always telling you what you are doing wrong, they seemed to relax a bit and enjoy the program.

   The main character Sunny, introduces you to the keyboard and the "town" and it's residents who will teach you to type key by key, row by row. The program is taught in a fun, bright way that keeps kids engaged while learning to type letter by letter and where to hold their fingers on the keys. Always positive and I am sure that is why it worked with my boys. Many programs are always pointing out the keys you hit wrong and test your knowledge in a short amount of time and if you fail to do it in the allotted time you don't move on. My kids do not do well with timed tests and I am sure this is where we were coming up short in our efforts before.

  After Sunny introduces the kids to the town she then slowly introduces them to the PALS. Seven cute character puppets beginning with A for Amy. These cute puppets take the kids through their town all the while teaching the children to type in a fun way.
   PALS are more than puppets it is an acronym for the style of learning being taught in the program. The Purposeful Associative Learning System is the way in which keyboard skills are taught in this program. Creators Rita Herman and Donna Katz use meaningful association to excite children to complete lessons.

 If you would like to see a sample of one of the lessons view the video below.


 The children can learn to type in one hour. It is simply amazing, I did not believe it until I saw it myself. Now the recommended age on Keyboard Town Pals is 6-12 and also many children of all ages with learning or developmental disabilities. 

Parents can purchase the program in either a CD Rom for $35 on sale with free shipping or Web-based package for $30 on sale , with English, Spanish, and French versions available.


The Keyboard Town PALS program centers around children who can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. However, the program “Little Hands Can Type” is also available for purchase for younger children.



I know this program worked for my kids ages 11 and 13, both of my boys have Asperger's Syndrome and suffer motor delays. They now truly enjoy their computer time, and can type just like mom. Now it did teach my kids to type in an hour but we spend and hour a week practicing so they can get better and gain speed, but this program was a great foundation for getting started.  After the kids finish and perfect the lessons there is a great little assessment that has them type the alphabet forwards and backwards, and then type there name with their eyes closed, my kids get a kick out of that. 
 As always never just take my word for it check out the thoughts of my fellow TOS Crewmates  and what their kids had to say about Keyboard Town Pals.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or


services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”






Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Christmas Lodge DVD Review and Giveaway

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 I am a sucker for a feel good Christmas story, I love snuggling in with my family, making snacks and enjoying the flick together. When offered the chance to review The Christmas Lodge, I was so excited to have a new flick to watch with my family, one that I could trust the content without having to prescreen it first. The Christmas Lodge was just that, a good clean movie with a great moral story and a very happy ending. I know when looking for a family movie I can always trust one that has the Dove Family-Approved Seal on it . This means it has been approved by the Dove Foundation for audiences of all ages.



Synopsis:



Thomas Kinkade presents Christmas Lodge: a place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people. During a weekend trip to the mountains, Mary (Erin Karpluk) finds herself at the now- dilapidated lodge where she spent the holidays with her family growing up. She becomes determined to restore the building to its former glory. Inspired by her grandfather and guided by her grandmother in heaven, Mary throws herself into the project, and during the process finds herself drawn to Jack (Michael Shanks), a handsome man who loves the lodge as much as she does. Historically unlucky in love, this chance encounter allows Mary to renew her faith in life and discover her one true love. For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge.


If you and your family enjoy family movie night, and you like to offer qaulity movies with none of the nonsense then please check out The Christmas Lodge.

Please head on over and check out the movie trailer.
The Christmas Lodge is now available for purchase on DVD from Vivendi Entertainment. Included with your DVD purchase is a FREE Thomas Kinkade Limited Edition 4”x6” Painting and you can also download three holiday songs for free too.


The Christmas Lodge trailer

You can win your very own copy of The Christmas Lodge here by simply telling me what your favorite Dove Approved family movie is. THIS MUST BE DONE TO MAKE YOUR ENTRY COUNT.
Winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday Nov. 16 at Midnight Eastern time. I will post the winner on Thursday and the winner will have 48 hrs to get back to me with their shipping info or an alternate winner will be chosen.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or


services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Taylor's 12th Birthday Surprise Party

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