Sunday, July 31, 2016

52 lists: The sports I like to watch or play (week 30)

Well, this is week 30, and I've missed a whole lot of lists, but I'm going to keep trying! This week is sports that I like to watch or play. I'm really not big on playing sports. As a kid I was always too clumsy, and missed the ball too much so I never liked to play. I'm a bit better as an adult, but I am too slow now to really get into it. I love to watch my kids though. Here are the active things I like to do (and watch)...

  1. Soccer: I like to watch my kids play soccer. I even coached a pee wee team last fall which is huge for me, the non athletic type.
  2. Swimming: I love to swim.
  3. Baseball: I like to watch a good baseball or softball game. I like to play too! We usually go every summer with Michele's work to watch a big game up in Portland.
  4. Bowling: I enjoy watching and playing. We have been trying to do this a lot this summer.
  5. Roller skating: Love to roller skate, and so do my kiddos.
  6. Kayaking and canoeing: I like to do both, but I prefer a kayak over a canoe.
  7. Olympics: I do love to watch a good variety of games in the Olympics. Even stuff I don't usually watch.
  8. Bike riding: This is one of my favorites. I love to go on a ride with my family, or by myself.
I think that's it!  I'm linking up with...

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Toaster (A REVIEW)

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

My kids are constantly wanting me to let them get new apps on the ipad. Of course, they are usually the less educational ones that I don't care to clutter up the iPad with, so I was kind of excited for the chance to review an app with something more. We had the opportunity to try out a new learning app on our iPad called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree from Star Toaster. This app has it all; reading, spelling, science, math, and grammar all wrapped up in a fun interactive story.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

The main part of this app is a chapter-by-chapter story. As the child reads the story there are links on specific words which take them to a more detailed lesson about the word or phrase that is highlighted. Some of the lessons include a science lesson, definitions of words, math lessons, grammar lessons, and more. I also love the little jokes and funny comments made throughout these lessons. I think that really keeps the kids interested, and it doesn't seem so much like learning.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Throughout the game the kids also have to stop reading the story and do some "work." They have to finish jobs to earn a certain amount of stars for the orphs to get their supplies. They need to earn stars to buy things like flour, nuts, clothes, kitchen items, and lots of other things. As they go through the story it will stop the child and say "you need some nuts, or some strawberries would be good", and then how many stars they have to earn to reach that goal.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Then, it will take them to this place called Stumptown. There they can choose which jobs they want to do. Those jobs are basically quiz questions about specific things they learned. As they complete these jobs the gold stars are earned and the jobs are checked off. A very good visual for anyone who likes to see their accomplishments as they go.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

All the pictures and lessons are very fun and engaging. I really liked this chapter called "The Storm." It had a cute science lesson about birds, and how animals can sometimes act funny when storms are coming. It also had a science lesson about thunder with a little math lesson about distance included. Those are just a few examples of some of the lessons that are included. Just in the first few chapters there are also lessons about similies, pulleys, and squirrels.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

This app has room for many different users. I had both my 8 year-old and my 5 year-old try it. The 8 year-old finished it all very quickly, and he really liked it. He was able to do it all on his own. My 5 year-old however only lasted through one chapter. I had to read it to him, so it definitely was not an independent game for him. I will try again in a few months to see if he likes it as he learns to read more. There is a lot of reading which can feel like a lot for younger kids. For older kids it will feel like easy reading, but the story is a fun one for all ages 5-10. I even thought it was fun.



Some of the questions are easy, but some are very specific and require a lot of paying attention to the little links and lesson throughout the story. One thing that I also really liked was that there are ways to go directly to the little lessons while in stumptown without having to go back through the story to find the links. If a child missed one they can just click on the job training that they missed to learn what is needed to collect the stars.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Overall, I think this is a great little app packed with a lot of learning. I think this would be a great addition for any family especially if you are busy and just have time to grab the iPad or iPhone. It could be a great game to play with on the go. It could also count for some summer reading hours if your kiddos are doing any summer reading programs for the library. The only drawback I found with this app was that I found it was hard to move through the pages easily, so we couldn't go back to the beginning very easily. But, that could also be a good thing as it moves the child through the story sequentially and they won't get lost in the app and skip around too much.

If you'd like to see what others thought of this app click on the banner below! Thanks for reading!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Crew Disclaimer

You can also find Star Toaster on Facebook!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Homeschool Mother's Journal: Birthday week

Life this week:

Aric turned 8 on Sunday, so we celebrated that last Saturday at the park with some friends (post to come). Then the week started out with a lot of getting ready for Aric's baptism on Tuesday evening. There's a lot to planning a whole baptism! It all came together wonderfully though, and the evening was just perfect. I will probably do a whole post about his baptism soon. This week was also Aaron's ukulele camp every day except Friday. He loved it, and now wants lessons. He really liked the instructor that did the camp. He picked up a few songs, and was playing happy birthday, Star Wars, and a few others by the end of the week.


In our homeschool this week:

We have some great reviews we are working on right now. One of them is Spanish for kids by kids. It has been fun doing those lessons, and the kids are picking up a lot. We also received our new astronomy books this week from Apologia. We jumped right in, and Alex loves his new science book. Aric has been asking to learn about the planets for a while, so I'm excited for this opportunity to jump right in.

All of the astronomy curriculum right out of the box.

Places we went and people we saw:

We started out the week bowling, and we had some homeschool friends come this time! It was fun to have some company.


I decided on a whim to go to Starbucks one day during Aaron's ukulele camp. We never really do this, so I thought the kids might like the special treat. The littles got hot cocoa *it was 80 out*. April and I had a berry thing. It was delicious.


We were invited to a farm birthday party for a homeschool friend who turned 7. The kids all had a fun time, and Alex just loved the rocking horse and tractor. So many cool things on a farm! Oh, and I just noticed April in the bottom of the rocking horse picture drinking her root beer.



Something I accomplished this week:

Putting the pool up! This pool was bought back in 2012, put up that summer, taken down when the summer was over, and sitting in our shed ever since. We skipped a lot of summers because I just didn't have the desire to deal with a pool, and just wasn't sure I wanted it taking up the whole backyard. Well, this year we pulled it out. Good thing we did because we discovered some kittens in our shed!) Anyway, it was a bear to get cleaned up from sitting in the shed for so long. But, it is exciting to have it up and full again. It's a lot bigger than I remember it being!


It took a few days to fill up because we would turn it off in the evenings or when we left home. That's a lot of water!


The water was freezing as it was filling up because the sun hadn't had time to warm it up at all. But, the kids didn't care. They have already got hours in this thing and it has only been up for 4 days.


I think that about wraps up our week. Next week, cub camp for Aric and Aaron.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Science Saturday: Homemade lava lamps

I took the kiddos to the stories and science time at the Wilsonville library this week, and Alex really liked the bubbling lava lamp experiment they did. We picked up some Alka-Seltzer tablets on the way home since that was the only ingredient we didn't have on hand so we could do it on our own. It was a super simple experiment with some fun results. Give it a try. You probably have most of the ingredients right in your house!

How to make Bubbling lava lamps (homemade)


  • Vegetable Oil
  • Alka-seltzer tablets
  • A plastic or glass bottle (the library used a 2-litre bottle so it was big for all to see, instead we opted for a smaller glass bottle to use up less oil)
  • Water
  • A flashlight
  • Food coloring

Put the oil in the bottle. Fill it about 3/4 full. Add water to fill the bottle the rest of the way. Add several drops of food coloring (just watching the food coloring go down is fun!). After that settles add some alka seltzer tabs. Shine the flashlight from the top, and watch the magic!


We still have the bottle on the window sill to do again when Alex gets the urge to see it again. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ArtAchieve (A REVIEW)

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
We love art, and we recently had the opportunity to review the Entire Level 1 bundle from ArtAchieve. This is an online art program, and we were given a 1 year license. The lessons are in step-by-step video format, but they also have the option for a slide format if video is too fast or doesn't work for your families' style. We tried both, and both can be useful in their own way. The video worked very well for us. We liked to hear the instructor talk as we worked.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

ArtAchieve has more than just art included with their lessons. Each lesson has some geography and history packed into it as well. The lessons are titled "The Hungarian Insects", or "The Dragonfly from Ecuador." These titles mean that the artist(s) will also be learning about that country or region. We also learned about the history of the particular thing we were drawing or making, where it came from, and its importance.

Working on the warm-up before we did the Czek cat
How does a lesson work? Each lesson starts off with an introduction of what you'll be creating, and the inspiration for it. Then, the history lesson. He talks about the history of a "gecko", for example in the Haitian Gecko lesson. He then explains what is needed with a list of supplies to get prepared to draw. Followed by a relaxation exercise. He encourages some quite relaxing music during the lesson, and always goes over the rules for drawing. Then it's warm-up time. A warm up is available to download and needs to be handy for the lesson. After the warm-up he moves into the drawing lesson. This is the bulk of the lesson, and needs to be paused frequently so that all artists can keep up (he even mentions this in each video). When the drawing is complete he continues on to show some ideas for coloring the drawing. What I love about how he does this is he always says this is how I do it, but you color it your way, allowing for much creativity.

Alex working on his Czech cat.

One of the projects we worked on was The Czech Cat. All of my kiddos participated in this one (high school on down to Kindergarden). It was a fun lesson. It amazes me how easily art can be done so easily with so many different age and skill levels. I always enjoy this time with my kids, and ArtAchieve is one of those great programs that is flexible for all ages. We had a great morning sitting around the table, and watching the video.

Aric's completed Czech cat
I let the children complete the coloring in their own way, and I didn't try to interfere too much when they didn't want to draw the lines the same exact way the instructor did. Especially with the little ones.
Alex's completed Czech cat.
April's completed Czech Cat.
Aaron's completed Czech cat. Notice how he had the freedom to create this project in his own way.
I made our cork bulletin board the display for all our ArtAchieve projects.


Another project we worked on was "The Dragonfly from Ecuador". I did this lesson too! All the lessons are just as great for adults. This project was interesting because it used both oil pastels and watercolors. I enjoyed working with both and seeing the effects of wax resist on the paper. I like how ArtAchieve uses a variety of different mediums throughout the art lessons. I also like how the lessons do not have to be followed in order. Any lesson can be done independent of the others, so we skipped around. We did lesson 5, lesson 10, etc. This particular lesson is lesson 5 from the level 1 bundle.

Aric's completed dragonfly.
I really enjoyed this lesson, and I felt challenged even as an adult. I am still learning to like the things I create, and not judge them until they are all the way done, which is one of the rules in the ArtAchieve videos. It's great advice.

My completed dragonfly.

Aaron who is 10 really liked this program, and did well with it. He says, "I liked drawing cool stuff." That is all I could get out of him right now, but each lesson he kept saying how much he loved doing it. It could be that he really loves art, but it also could be that the way the lessons are laid out and move step-by-step work really well for him. We have done some art programs that don't work well for him because they don't challenge him, etc.

Aaron's completed dragonfly.

The next project we worked on was Four Suns with Four Faces. I never had so much drawing a picture of a sun before! I really learned a lot about the use of hot and cold colors and how they can work together.

My completed sun.

Here is a screen shot of the description of the lesson open in my browser. There is a lot included in these description pages too. It covers exactly what the lesson is covering, and places with more information. There are links for the science about suns, the artist Pablo Picasso, and lots of other educational ideas that revolve around this lesson. This page is accessible to anyone. There is also a student art gallery from kids who have completed this project.

Screenshot (5)
Screenshot for the four suns lesson.
Aaron's completed sun project.
Aric's completed sun.
Overall I think this would be a great choice for any grade or level for a homeschool art curriculum. Even parents! This would also be a great way to study geography. If you plan on "traveling" around the world this could be a great addition to your studies, or maybe even the introduction to each country for a fun start. The instructor is very thorough, and his voice is very calming. The lessons are easy enough to follow, and make you feel as if you are an artist yourself.

If you want to hear what others have to say about this art curriculum click on the banner below.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Homeschool Mother's Journal: Camping recovery

Life this week... It was a week of unpacking, laundry, and getting back to life after our 4th of July camping trip. The day we got home I had a ladies craft night at church and made this lovely wreath. It was tedious, but turned out better than I thought it would. I am still amazed that I made it! I really like how it turned out.


In our homeschool this week... I am really trying to have a little learning going on each day. I still have review crew items that have to be worked on throughout the summer, and we take so many days off during the school year that I think it's only fair that we get some stuff done during the summer. All the kids need to catch up on some math as well. With that said there have been many days already this summer that I have not even wanted to look at school work. We didn't do a whole lot during the month of June, and I feel like that was a pretty good rest, and now I'm ready to get back into it more in between camping trips, and fun summer stuff.

Alex started a new review item. It's another Talking Fingers program called Talking shapes. This one should be pretty easy and fun for him because it's all on the computer.


We also received  another review product for a Spanish program. We got the first lesson of this done, and the boys loved watching the DVD. I think this one will be very useful.


Places we went... We went a lot of places this week. We had a friend of April's with us for 2 nights and 2 days so we did some mall shopping, and OMSI.

We had fun exploring the new Journey to Space exhibit at OMSI. I find space exploration fascinating, and so do the boys. Here is one of the boys. Can you spot the alien?


This is a "floating in space" simulation with mirrors. Kind of silly. Can you see me taking pictures with my ipad?


Accomplishments this week... I put some pictures back on my wall! I took everything down when we thought we might try to sell the house. My walls have been bare for a long time, and I was really missing having pictures. I decided that I didn't even want to wait until I repaint everything, I need my house to look homey again. So, I found this lovely "W" at Fred Meyer to add to my collection while we were camping, and hung it up on my new "W" wall. I will take a picture of the wall when it is more complete. I have more W's to hang up before it's done. This picture of the W is in my trailer while it lived in there.


My favorite this week... Taking Aric for his 8 year old photo session. I loved doing this with him. I loved that it was special just for him. I loved that he was able to pick the props for his pictures and make them his own. It was truly a fun experience. I used to just take the pictures myself on their birthday, and I probably will still do a photo shoot at the temple with him because this is his special birthday, but it was fun watching instead of being the one doing the shooting this time. I am looking forward to doing this for each of the kids on their birthday this year. I am looking forward to getting their pictures up on the walls too!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

4th of July family camp!

IMG_0816 We are still covered in mosquito bites, and the laundry is all over the kitchen floor waiting to be run through but I just wanted to post about it while it's all still fresh in my mind. I really like sharing my posts while I'm still feeling some of the fun and excitement from it, and this was definitely a fun camping trip. I kinda want to go back.

We started with the essentials, of course, ice cream and turtle pie are on everyone's camping food list right? Aaahhh, one of the many luxuries of having a trailer with a freezer. I had no problem making sure these were not forgotten, but I can't say that about some of the other more important food items. Alas, I always forget stuff, and this year was no different. We had to go to Fred Meyer 3 times! I hope someday be a better food packer and planner.


 So, before we went camping I asked the kids what they wanted for meals so that I could plan the menu. One of their requested items was pizza. I wanted to make it happen, and I wanted it to be the non-frozen variety (which we have done in the past while camping). I thought it would be fun to make homemade pizza dough while we were camping, and have the kids do their own little mini pizzas. Well, that's dreamy and all, but fast forward to when I'm packing.. I really didn't want to pack flour and yeast, and have to worry about any of it. So, I didn't. We went camping with that item on our menu, but I wasn't really sure what we would do since I didn't pack the stuff. I was hoping for a miracle. Actually, I figured if it came down to it I'd just pick up a few frozen ones at the store because we ALWAYS end up at the store while camping. Anyway, my Mother-in-law came to me while we were camping and said "I brought some dough for the kids to make mini pizzas." Yes! I couldn't believe it. I was thrilled! Miracle? Yes! I hadn't even said a word to her about the kids wanting pizza, and somehow she had this great plan for all of us. I was so thankful. And, you know what her simple solution was for the pizza dough? WinCo. They sell already made pizza dough. I've seen it before. I don't know why I didn't think of it! It all turned out awesome and yummy.


Thanks to Grandma the kids had fun making their pizzas! They had their own little piece of dough to roll out, and lots of toppings to choose from. I think I'd like to make this a new tradition on our 4th of July camping trip.


 April's pizza


Aric's pizza.


And, my pizza. Although you can't see it.

One of the things the kids love to do while camping is go to the Jr. Ranger programs. We usually go to state parks, and almost every one has a program during the summer. 


We made it to 2 ranger programs during this trip, and the first one was called "nature art." The kids had to go around and find different things in nature for their "paint." But, before they did the park rangers gave them some ideas about the different berries, plants and flowers they could use. It was very interesting, and I even learned a thing or two.

First they had to set out to find some "paint" items.


They were each given a bag to fill up.


Alex had some fun trying different things out. He liked using the berries the best.


Aric got pretty creative and tried a few different methods. Neither of my boys really made a "picture" it was mostly just some smearings of lines and shapes. I was surprised to see some pretty creative pictures from some of the other kids. Some had beautiful sunsets with water. Aric did write his name, and Aaron did attempt to draw himself flying a kite.

Speaking of kites...

We had lots of fun on the beach flying kites. I bought some Dollar Tree kites and the boys had a blast with them.

Alex just loved flying his kite. He had never done it on his own before. This was the best dollar I spent on the whole trip just to see that face!


It was windy as usual on the Oregon coast. So perfect for kite flying. I didn't even get a picture of Aric and Aaron with theirs. We also had some nicer stunt kites that the Daddy and Uncle got out. Aaron really enjoyed trying out the stunt kite.

More flying things...

Another dollar store purchase was these foam airplanes. We brought along our Kwik Stix paint sticks, and each boy got to decorate their own foam airplane. They had fun throwing these around. The paint sticks worked great on them too!


April made a card tower that survived! She even put our camping gnome on it to prove its strength. Isn't that camping gnome cute? He didn't  make it through this camping trip. He is no longer. So sad! The boys were playing around with him, and he got broken.


Some final fun pictures from the beach...

I am still working on reading this book pictured below. On the bright side I finished reading The Glass Castle from a few reviews ago!


Boogie boarding is a blast, but too cold for me in our Oregon ocean. All these guys have wet suits. Still not sure I'd get in even with a wet suit.








Not to mention the after part where you have to sit wet and cold in the wind. Thankfully it was sunny and warm for the most part during our visit to the beach.


I love sandy feet!


We had way too much sweet stuff including red, white, and blue Skittles.


We went to town to watch the local 4th of July parade. Notice Aric in his swimsuit? Yeah, he ran out of clothes. We had to head to Fred Meyer afterwards. Only one day left, he needed something to get through the last day.


Parades are always so much fun, and of course the clowns always show up when we go to this parade. They are a mixture of fun and odd. They make everyone laugh though, and I guess that's the point, right?



Aaron scored some cool glasses.


And, not only did Fred Meyer win as our favorite store for the camping trip, but they had the best float according to April.


We had a great time camping even with all the forgotten or missed items.
It was definitely a much needed and a nice way to get away.
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