Friday, May 25, 2018

Blogging Through the Alphabet: C is for Celebration

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We have some celebrations going on over here. One is that my son just turned 12, and the other is the 3-day weekend we have coming up. It's Memorial day on Monday, so we celebrate by having a 3-day weekend and showing our red, white, and blue colors. I like to get out all my red, white, and blue decorations for all the upcoming American holidays. I thought it would be fun to add to that by picking a Pinterest project for my abc blogging.

I have been in a quilting mood, so I chose this pin that links to free directions at the Craftsy website for a flag quilt square. I was able to complete this in less than an hour once I had my fabric. My completed square came out pretty good!

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It really helps to have the cutting board and rotary cutters. I already had these on hand, so that really helps to get some exact measurements.

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I picked up a bunch of these fat quarters from my local Wal store. These are so convenient, and made the project go pretty fast too.

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I got out my decorations for the mantle. I hope to get a frame for my quilt square soon. Also, notice the birthday present, that's no longer there as we celebrated my son's birthday yesterday.

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I put together my clothespin wreath. I made this a few years ago at a church relief society activity a few years ago.

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This is another wall hanging that I made several years ago. Like over a decade ago. I've had to glue some things back on, but for the most part it has held together awesome.

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I am co-hosting with these ladies for this round of abc blogging. You can visit and link up at any of their blogs, or just link up here.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: New Sandals

I have been wanting some Chacos for years. I finally found some for a decent price at the new Sierra Trading Post store down in Salem. If you want a lot of brand-name clothing, shoes, camping equipment and gear for great prices go there!

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I am pretty happy with my new sandals!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Blogging through the Alphabet: B is for Bullet Journals

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I am a day late on this, sorry! I had a hard time picking just one thing this week. At first I wanted to do something from my Books and literature activities pinterest board, but ultimately decided on starting a bullet journal. I have been pinning ideas on my bullet journal board for a while. I have thought about starting a bullet journal a few times. I really love journaling, and this looks like such a fun way to do it.


I picked up some pens and a dot journal from my local Wal store. Thankfully both were fairly inexpensive. The pens were on sale!

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I opened it all up, and opened up the bullet journal ideas on Pinterest on my phone to get started. But, I just stared at this blank page for a while. I was scared of messing up. I also had a hard time deciding what to start with. This is where I always get stuck when starting these things! Then, my daughter saw what I was doing, and she joined me. She suggested just doing the Netflix idea I had mentioned earlier. That one seemed easy enough.

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I did it! I really enjoyed it too. I used this pin for inspiration. Thankfully I didn't mess up, and I love the end result. I think I found something new that I will really enjoy doing.

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I am really enjoying this round of blogging through the alphabet. It is stretching me to do some more creative things, and check off some of the Pinteresting things I want to do. I am joining these co-hosts, so stop by their blog to link up. For some reason I can't get the Inlinkz linky to work this time. Edited to add: I got the linkup to work!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

PandaParents (A REVIEW)

PandaParents

I just love preschool-kindergarten learning resources, so I really wanted to check out this one. It is MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS from PandaParents. It's not really "MESSY" although there is a creative part. The M.E.S.S.Y. stands for M-mixed subjects, E-engaging activities, S-simple 1-2-3 steps, S-smart designs, and Y-yeah! a new way to learn. The acronym MESSY sure is memorable though!


Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

PandaParents is a completely digital product. We received everything in digital form, and were sent the links via email. There are workbooks and reading books in PDF form, and there are videos to watch using vimeo. A password was given to us for those videos. Everything is available to download and use at our convenience.

How it works:

The MESSY learning courses can be purchased as a monthly subscription, or there is an option to buy the individual courses. Each course has 3 components. A book, a story book movie, and a workbook full of activities. They recommend to read and learn with your child 2-3 days a week using the book and learning activities. These courses are packed with a lot of fun learning and information with each component.

The Storybook:

Each course has a theme and a letter focus. We received 3 stories/courses for review, but for this review I will focus on Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound. In this story the focus is the letter S. There are a lot of new words that begin with S that are introduced all through the story. I love that it has many new words, and doesn't just focus on one word that begins with the letter S.

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A screen shot of the storybook for Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound. This would be the cover.
The storybook is meant to be read by the parent to the child. There is no audio for this part, that's why there are movies. Those will have a narrator telling the story.

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A page from the storybook.
The movie:

The movie is a fun animation of the story and the letter. It contains more than just the story as it has animations of the letter and other fun things that have to do with the story.

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A screenshot of the movie Scotty Skunk.
The workbook:

The workbook has 51 pages of fun stuff to do with the story. It has stickers, cutting, tracing, dot-to-dots, story re-telling, and more.

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The cover of the workbook screen shot.

The workbook has so many creative things to do. With children this young it is almost too much, but it has such variety that you could do some or all. You really have to decide what your child can handle best. The key is to invite them, not force them. I can see many children being naturally drawn to these pages because they are so fun and interesting. All of my children are out of this age range, so I didn't have anyone to do these with, but I would have loved to have these for my kiddos when they were this age. This would have been a workbook I would have had available during school time, or whenever they felt like getting it out. It would need to be printed up though. I didn't print anything since I didn't actually have anyone doing it.

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One of the workbook pages. Notice on the bottom it says Encourage, I love that. It's important to not force children this young to do things a certain way. It says Be CREATIVE!
Overall, I think this is a very cute preschool curriculum. I love anything that revolves around a story, and this would definitely fit the bill. I would consider this for my preschooler/Kinder if I still had any. It's very fun and engaging for this age. If you'd like to see what other crew members had to say about PandaParents you can click on the banner below.


Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Gratitude: Happy Mother's Day

Today, on this Mother's day I am thankful for...

  • All the Mother's that have been a part of my life both related and unrelated. A special thanks to my own Mother, Mother-in-law, and my foster mother.
  • To be a Mother of 4 children. There was a time that I thought my first might be the only one. I had 3 little miracles after her. Of course they are all miracles, and I am so thankful for each one.
  • All the sweet messages and cards from friends, family, and my children all weekend long. It is nice to be recognized, not for the attention, but to know that they realize how hard this job as a Mother can really be, and that they appreciate it.
  • For a nice Sunday with my family celebrating Mother's Day.
The celebrations began on Saturday evening with a family dinner out to The Cheesecake Factory. When we arrived there was a 75-90 minute wait. It's attached to a mall so we walked around and made sure we were back within an hour. It worked. Just shortly after we walked into the restaurant, our little buzzer went off.

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After our dinner, it was dark. We were there so long, it was dark.
When we were finally seated, it took 2 hours for us to get through the entire meal. From start to finish. It was a good thing we didn't have to be anywhere. It was super busy. But, it was actually kind of nice just sitting there and visiting. The boys did a pretty good job for how long we were sitting there.

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We spent a good amount of time perusing the cheesecake menu, trying to figure out which we liked the best. We even got some paper out and wrote everyone's favorites down. I was originally thinking we would get 2 slices of cheesecake for us to each have a few bites of, but Mike surprised us and ordered everyone's favorite. It was delicious. We've never gotten the cheesecake before because it's just so expensive. The 2 youngest got hot fudge sundaes from the kids menu's.

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I got the peanut butter cup something (can't remember the exact name). It was delicious.

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Aaron got a layered cake/cheesecake combo. I really can't remember the names of these things.

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Mike's....

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April's gluten free cheesecake...

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I spent most of Sunday morning unpacking my new Pampered Chef products that arrived a few days previous. I went through and opened it all up to get more familiar with everything. It felt like Christmas on Mother's Day!

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For Sunday night's dinner I decided to try out the Rockcrock Everyday Pan. This pan is amazing! I am excited for all the possibilities. I can use it in the oven, stove top, grill, or a slow cooker base (when I get one).

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And, finally at dinner I got some sweet gifts from my kiddos. A necklace and homemade card from April with a super sweet message. She had all the boys sign the card too. A flower bouquet from Aaron that he made, and some cards from the kids that they made at church today. It included a nifty duct tape pen with a bow on top. I have 3 of those pens now because each boy made one. Such sweet gifts. What a great Mother's Day weekend.

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 Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Blogging through the alphabet: A is for American Girl crafts

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In my introduction post for this round of abc blogging I wasn't sure what I would be doing. I knew I wanted to do a theme, but it just wasn't clear what I should do. I had a lot of ideas, but nothing really seemed like something I could make it through the whole alphabet with.

After much thought I finally decided it would be fun to do things I find on Pinterest. I have so many fun things pinned with the hope that someday I might get to them. I also am in need of a creative outlet, and miss doing art and crafts with the kids. It is something that often gets pushed aside when we run out of time.

So that brings us to our first letter, A! I chose...

American Girl crafts

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Now this picture doesn't look like something I just found off Pinterest, right? It isn't. We just happened to have this kit lying around, so I am going to use the supplies I have in it to make a tutu that I did pin from Pinterest. We love the American Girl craft kits, but there are tons of DIY American Girl doll crafts on Pinterest. My daughter used to make these homemade crafts all the time.

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Screenshot of my crafts Pinterest board. (I wanted to put a widget here, but couldn't figure it out)
I sat down to make the tutus, and to my great surprise my 16-year-old daughter saw, and said she wanted to make one too! I was thrilled to have some crafting time with her. Especially doing something she used to love doing when she was much younger. We pulled out all the tulle, and decided we had enough elastic to make 2 tutus for the 2 dolls we have out. This kit also came with shirts that could be stamped with fun designs that Alex did a while back. He really likes playing with the dolls, so he does enjoy the clothes. He wasn't interested in making the tutus though.


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We measured the tulle to 10" and cut out several strips in several different colors.

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We "tied" all the tulle on and ended up with 2 very cute tutus. I put the shirts on that Alex made previously, and there we had 2 new outfits!

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Oh, and I forgot the string backpacks that came in the kit too. Alex did these when he did the shirts a while ago. Fun crafts! One is big for the child to wear.

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So, that concludes my first blogging through the alphabet post for this round of abc blogging. Join us with your own abc post. Pick a theme, or just fly by the seat of your pants each week. It's up to you! You can join the linky below. It will appear on all the co-hosts blogs.

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I am joining these lovely ladies as a co-host for a new round of blogging through the alphabet!

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reading Kingdom (A REVIEW)

Reading Kingdom

I love to find ways to make learning to read fun for my kiddos. I am on my last kid, who is age 7 and 1st grade. He reads pretty good, but he mostly remembers words and combinations. He can't really sound things out too well, and makes it up if he's not sure, so reading time involves mostly easy readers for him still. He needs any help he can get, so I was happy to try out an online program called Reading Kingdom.

Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is a unique online reading program in that it uses more than just one skill to teach reading. It combines sounds, writing, sequencing, meaning, grammar, and comprehension.

How it works:

The adult logs in for the child, and the child is guided through a series of exercises that have the child spell, find, read, build sentences, fill-in the blanks, type words, and click on matching words or letters. The child then comes to the end of a session and can continue onto another session or end the session for the day. I like that it has clear starting and stopping points. There are also fun little characters and pictures to engage the child as they are learning to read and spell the words.

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Alex, age 7, working on Reading Kingdom

My son, of course, thinks he can read good enough, and was a little resistant from the start. He found the sessions to be too long, especially when he figured out how to tell how much he had to do. In the right hand corner of his screen it shows how many "parts" are in a session, and the top number goes up until it matches the bottom number and then the session is over. He would get discouraged when he would start a session and it said 1/29. That meant that he had 29 "things" to get through. I like that number as it helps me know how long he is going to be working on a session, but for him it wasn't a good thing. An average session for him, if he worked without complaining, was about 15-20 minutes.

Some days he really liked it, and he would get every part right. Other days he would get frustrated when he typed wrong and the program would tell him what to type, or highlight what he should click. It is nice that the program will guide the child if they don't know the answer, and tell them exactly what to do, but it is very sensitive. If he bumps a wrong key then it starts talking to him, and he didn't always like that.

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Alex, age 7, working on Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom recommendeds that the child work on this 4 days per week, which means 4 "sessions" per week. I would have to agree with that. It is very repetitive and builds on what the child learned previously. My son forgot how to spell a word he learned if he went too far in between sessions. We tried to do the 4 per week, but ended up doing about about 3 per week.

Click over to Reading Kingdom to read some of the things they have to say about it there. You can also read other reviews for Reading Kingdom or ASD Reading from the other crew members.


Learn to Read with Reading Kingdom OR ASD Reading {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Our Weekly Notebook: kayaking, library, and storms

Life this week...

Life was pretty low key this week, until the weekend when I decided to become a Pampered Chef consultant and start a business. Now my head is spinning, and I've got a whole lot to learn! I am pretty excited though. I love cooking and I love the Pampered Chef products. Also, my kitchen is cleaner! Knowing that I'm going to need access to my kitchen to try out products soon, I am trying to keep it cleaner and starting to look at what I can get rid of to make more room. Now to do the same for laundry because my laundry room spills into the kitchen.

Homeschool this week...

We took our school to the library on Tuesday afternoon for a change of scenery. I will have to figure out how to make our school books more mobile so we can do this more often. It was so nice!

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Alex started a new Language book, Language Smarts B by Critical Thinking Co. I ordered this through the charter with some leftover curriculum money. I think it will be a good fit.

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Just writing capital and lower case alphabet letters took a while. He doesn't quite know all the lower case letters very well. He read the little abc story to me...

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And wrote letters...

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I got the same Language Smarts book for Aric, but level E.

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I think this will be a great book for us to do over the summer to catch up on some language arts gaps.

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Reviews we are working on...

This was a review heavy week here on the blog, but I'm glad to have some new ones to start! We just received this one this week. Artistic Pursuits sent us a new text and video art curriculum. I am excited for this one because, as most of you know, I love art. I will be doing this with Alex (1st grade), and possibly Aric if he wants to join in.

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Places we're going and people we're seeing...

We saw the Salem Youth Symphony for the final Spring concert this school year. It was beautiful, and April played beautifully. Hard to believe next year might be her last year in this orchestra unless she goes to college close to home.

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Outdoors this week...

Last weekend we went to a paddle fest up in Vancouver, WA. Mike/Daddy wanted to try out some solo canoes, and the boys just had a blast trying out all the kayaks. I even got in one, and realized how much I love kayaking. We owned kayaks when we were first married, but sold them when April was born. That was so long ago!

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Alex wanted to try a kayak with Dad.
It was a beautiful lake on a stormy day. The sun peeked out a few times, but it was mostly cloudy, and even sprinkled a few times, but still warm-ish enough to enjoy.

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A rain cloud was headed our way!
It was fun to see the boys out on the water. There were a ton of people paddling around, so I was lucky to get this shot of them mostly by themselves.

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Aaron and Alex paddling. Alex loved that kayak, and stayed in it until the guy said he needed it back for someone else to try.
There was a lot of running into each other too. Although, I think in this picture Aaron was trying to keep Alex from getting away.

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These guys were super helpful. They carried a lot of boats back and forth for us as the boys tried them out.

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My favorite thing this week was...

Getting some yard work done on Saturday morning. That's all. Our yard needs lots of work, and it felt good to get started.

My kids' favorite thing this week was...

Getting surprise dinosaur LEGO sets in the mail. 

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But before we got those Aric built this dinosaur from the LEGO's we already had. He used the directions from a LEGO ideas book from the library. He was pretty happy he was able to build it.

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Things I'm working on...

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  • a puzzle with a picture of a cute cat in a watering can
  • quilt squares for a quilting project
  • learning about pampered chef
  • cleaning up the yard/thinking about how to fix it and make it better.
Random things the kids worked on...

This isn't really random because it was for an assignment. April made these cute little felt foods for her decorating/design class. They turned out pretty cute.

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What we're reading...

We read these books at co-op this week for a gardening theme. I really enjoy both of these books, and the kids did too (we read The Tale of Peter Rabbit from the Peter Rabbit collection).

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Then we went outside and made chalk "garden" squares.

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The boys read Magic Treehouse book 1--Dinosaurs Before Dark together.

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I'm cooking...

Fried rice for lunch this week. It has become a favorite around here to use up leftover rice. It's a quick and easy lunch too!

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What's working/not working for us...

I have been trying to figure out if having a cat is working for us. The kids love him, and I do too. But, my allergies don't. I'm not allergic to the cat himself (I don't think), but I'm allergic to pesticides it seems, and I can't get the fleas to go away. I think he needs a chemical treatment for the fleas, but I'm afraid of how I'll react. It's really not a comfortable feeling, and I take days to recover from it. I hate to get rid of him, but I don't want the fleas. What to do? I have told the kids of the possibility that we might have to find him a new home this week. They didn't take it well. All of them were sad except one who doesn't like him so much. I also have to admit I hate the hair everywhere. And the litter box. Those things I can live with though. Not the fleas.

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I'm grateful for...

Cool lightning storms that I can watch from inside my home. I know it's a weird thing to be grateful for, but I enjoy watching weather. I also love interesting clouds. I will often point them out to my kids. I think looking up in the sky reminds me to be humble, and can be beautiful even though lightning can be kind of scary.

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That about wraps up our week! I am linking up to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly wrap-up.
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