A Curriculum Review: Time4Learning

We have been homeschooling for four years. I have been pregnant for two of them. The other two were “new baby” years. As a first time homeschooler we tested out a variety of curriculums, mostly handed down pieces and free online resources.
We bought an all inclusive one for our daughters first grade year and it bored her. It bored me too.
Last spring, we purchased another curriculum, gently used, thinking it would be easier for mom during our “baby” year. We scrapped it in a couple months.
I wanted so badly to be the cool mom with crafty lessons and lapbooks and unit studies and experiments and stuff. I just couldn’t do it. I had one daughter that was desperately trying to tell me she liked the more textbook-y stuff and one daughter that only liked it if it didn’t exercise her brain – at all.
I had a toddler and now a baby and started looking back at all the ideas I had turned down before.
One of them was the online curriculum Time 4 Learning. I had been to the site several times and kept turning away from it because of the cost. At the time I was finding material for free, justifying the monthly fee to our Mr. Daddy Principal Man was hard.
A month ago I found myself at their site again. Now we would have two kids signed up. Now I have a better idea of what motivates my girls. When I did the math I realized that EVEN IF we did school 12 months the total sum of the monthly fees was less than the cost of the last curriculum we purchased! (They do have an option to put your account on hold over the summer!)
I needed to convince Mr. Daddy Principal Man to give it a chance. God provided me an opportunity to show him how great the site was when I received an email invitation to review the site for one month FREE! I posted the disclaimer on my blog (it’s been on my sidebar all month, recently moved to this post), and signed my girls up!
My time is up, we’ve renewed the membership, and now for my official review. Thanks Time 4 Learning for giving us this opportunity!
****************This review is 100% my own opinion. At the time of this posting I am under a PAID membership status with them.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that my review is overall positive, after all I DID pay for another month. There are some highlighted points I do want to make about their program. We are currently working on the first and third grades.
Pros:

  • No commitment. Charges are monthly, cancel anytime.
  • The Backpack and The Parent Login! : The Backpack is a place where my daughter can go to see her work for the day/week/month and the icons let her know what she finished and what her grades were. The Parent Login now allows me to do the same thing from my laptop while they are still logged in and working. Imagine my 9 year old’s surprise when I tell her to go back and finish an activity! “Moooom, how did you know?”
  • When you choose your child’s grade level, you are given access to the activities for the grade level below and above them.
  • The activities are short for those ever elusive attention spans!
  • Many of the first grade activities READ to my child.
  • The child can click the “Resource”link under their activity and print their worksheet.
  • Quizzes immediately show the child their score and what questions they missed.
  • I can use it anytime, anywhere I have an internet connection and a computer and at our own pace.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Blocked “Playground” area, full of educational games, that only unlocks once the student had worked for a PARENT specified amount of time. I can, at any moment, override this for special days or as a special reward.

Cons:

  • The software, at this time, does not have the ability to “assign” students certain tasks on certain days from within the program. I do that on daily lesson pages that I made up. Not a deal breaker, just adds a manual step in my planning. (This functionality is available to classroom teachers only at this time)
  • The added on subjects, like social studies and science, do not read the questions to my non reader for the first grade. They do have information in their forum on a free program that will read to your child but I have not tested it yet.
  • There is only one worksheet per activity. Again, not a deal breaker for me because I know of a dozen great places online for additional FREE worksheets.

My biggest issue is with planning lessons and assigning them. This has been an issue with other curriculums so I have difficulty really blaming it on Time4Learning. I have enjoyed our free month and look forward to using it the rest of this school year and the next!
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I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning

What's cuter than a baby's butt?

A healthy baby butt!
A while back I was offered an opportunity to review a line of certified organic products from BUTT NAKED BABY.  I jumped on it since we have some dry skin issues here and I have a general dislike of most general baby products. I sent an email to Jill and Diana expressing my excitement and waited patiently for the mailman to bring me a surprise.
And WHAT a surprise it was!!
They sent me some calming CLEANSER, gentle SHAMPOO, nourishing LOTION, protective DIAPER BALM, shea STICK, 911 rescue CREAM, and their baby CUTE SUIT!  I have to say my lil man was covered in BNB products in less than a couple hours, washed, dried, lotioned, balmed and dressed in their goodness!

My deepest apologies to the ladies for taking so long to get the review up but things here have been cra-to the -zee here AND I really wanted to try the products several times on all my kids to get more accurate feedback.  We have finally had a chance to try out all of it!
THE PRODUCTS (quoted from their site):

Butt Naked Baby is a natural and organic skin care line specially formulated for infants, babies and those with sensitive skin. We take a raw…natural..and pure approach to the creation of our formulations which contain only the finest natural and certified organic ingredients.
Enriched with our signature blend of white tea, green tea & calendula, these advanced formulas are pure luxury for your baby’s skin and safe to use everyday.
CRUELTY FREE & SOULFULLY MADE IN THE USA!
 

WHAT I LOVED (other than it being organic and cruetly free and made in the USA):
They work. The cleanser was non foaming and non drying! Everyone who has washed with it came out softer and clean! The shampoo did wonders on little man’s hair! Even hubby noticed a difference, and little man’s dry scalp disappeared.  We rarely have diaper rash issues but sure enough one showed up a week or so ago and the diaper balm had it cleared up within a diaper change.  The 911 rescue cream has been amazing on the kids and MOM!  My arms will break out in a rash from irritants in clothes, arms of chairs, coats and this cream relieved the burn and itch immediately.
The products are non-greasy which makes me a very happy mommy. The bottle sizes aren’t too small or too big.  I still have a big bottle of another brand from TWO babies ago….there’s only so much lotion one momma needs and BNB gives you just the right amount!
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE:
The initial smell.  It’s not bad, just took me off guard at first. I’m so used to powdery “baby” smells (what’s a baby supposed to smell like anyway?) that the very natural and earthy aroma took me by surprise.  It reminds me of what bathing in the river smelled like. Yes, I have done that before, I’m wild like that.  It didn’t last, the smell I mean, it faded away as soon as it was rinsed off or absorbed.
I can’t use the shampoo.  Boo. *giggle* I tried, but my hair type is weird and it didn’t work. They don’t say grown ups can use it I just tried it because it made little man look so soft and purty that I HAD TO. Cleanser yes, Shampoo not so much.  Lotion, Shea Stick, 911 YES YES YES.
I also don’t love that my Target store doesn’t carry it…. yet.  I’m going to put in a request.  Their website has a list of places offline and online that you can get some for yourself.
You won’t regret it, and neither will your baby.
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Disclosure: I was sent product free of charge to try and review. My opinion is my own 100%. For more details please see my disclosures page.


 
 

The Joys of Teething and other fun stuff

I think this is week three of teething. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot lately.  Like when I wrote my rent check out of the wrong bank account. The drool has started draining out of the little Peanut Man like a broken hydrant. I’m praying that is a sign that we’re almost done.  If not, I may have to resort to using his little razor blade fingernails to slit his gums and move things along. I’m an thankful every day for my Hyland’s teething tablets and gel. (I know the tablets have been voluntarily recalled, we’ve just never had an issue with them, so I’m using up what I have left)

We’ve been trying to do some easy science experiments in between fussy spells.  I’m working on reviewing an experiment eBook from Touch of Home Learning and so far the kids are LOVING it!

This is from one of their experiments!

I’ve also missed a week in my #7virtues book study (click here for last chapter’s post) because I’ve been trying to focus on what it was painfully reminding me I was supposed to be focusing on.  So instead of keeping up with The Blog Dare I was paying attention to the “bugs” and trying to pay some attention to hubby. 

We’ve been struggling with school lately as well and while I had been just doing what I could and making do I have decided that I’m tired of just “making do”.  My girls have been making do with whatever mom pulled together that day for a couple years now, because of new babies, and I needed to give them something more structured.  I was reintroduced to Time 4 Learning and am so excited to be offered a chance to try it out for FREE in exchange for an honest review on my blog. My disclaimer is posted in my sidebar.  I cannot wait to get started!  I am already thanking the Lord for His blessings on this.  Two years ago we could not have afforded to let one kid be a member on that site now we can afford to sign up both of our girls!

I am also very excited about a couple of blog graphics I’m working on!  It’s challenging to try and design with Lil Peanut on my lap (or nursing!) but SO VERY excited that these wonderful moms are trusting me with their graphics!  My kids are going to my moms house this weekend for a “It’s Nanny’s Birthday Not Quite Spring Yet Break” and I’m hoping to have lots of time then to finish these up and fix up my own blog for spring time.

How could I forget?  I am also anxiously awaiting a package from Butt Naked Baby!  Isn’t that name adorable?! I’ve been offered a chance to review one of their products and after spending some time on their site I must say I’m stalking my mailman!

Enough rambling….  totally lost my focus again. I’m pretty sure I need to go fish something out of Lil Man’s mouth again.

 

WAIT…. I wanted to share with you guys the little sheets I made Taderbug for school this week.  They are simple, for learning to read.  Take the letter at the top of the page and add it to all the word endings.  Then circle the words that are REAL words.  She loved it.

You can get it here.

TTFN!  Lisa

Stop Reacting and Start Responding : A Review


Living My MoMent has invited me to participate in their new blogger review program by doing a review of Sharon Silver‘s book “Stop Reacting and Start Responding ™”
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The invitation to participate in this blogger review program was such a blessing to me.  It came at a time when I had begun to notice I was and “angry” mom almost all the time and I so very much needed a new approach to handling my kids.   I felt terrible when the deadline passed by and I had not been able to finish the book.   Entirely due to unexpected circumstances here,  I had been floundering with taking care of a teething baby and the other three Chaos Makers while hubby worked nights, days and everything in between.
This week, I was able to make finishing Mrs. Silver’s book a priority!  It really was a quick read and towards the end I couldn’t put it down. The simple two page chapters with simple tips made it easy to gain the confidence I needed to start taking steps to bring our family back to a happier place.
What I loved about the book:

  • Easy read, short chapters (for the frequently interrupted) and it’s not in psychobabble-speak.
  • Most of the tips are easily implemented IMMEDIATELY.  You don’t have to stop and make charts and have family meetings, just start doing something different right then.
  • Many of her concepts are “duh” moments.  There were so many times I went “Duh, I should know that” or “Duh, that makes COMPLETE sense!”
  • Immediate results.  That’s the best part right?  I’ll explain this one more in a minute.

What I didn’t love about the book:

  • Not really the books fault but Hubby wasn’t very receptive to it.  Some of the ideas I tried to share with him, he felt were a bit “mamby pamby”.  I think he’s just on edge like I am.  He’s supporting me but is reserving his final opinion for later because he thinks the techniques she is teaching are babying the children.
  • That was it, everything else I loved!

Ok, the results part that I promised to explain.  This is one of the points where hubby thought Mrs. Silver got to “mamby pamby”.  I don’t want to give away what in her book but she has a specific ‘verbiage’ that she recommends using when your children lie.  I have one diva in particular who loves to tell “stories” even when she isn’t in trouble.  She NEVER tells the truth.  Well, until now.  Now, I get at least MOST of the truth, with a few side embellishments.  We don’t fight over the definition of “honesty” or “truth” anymore.   Stop Reacting and Start Responding put calling my kids a “liar” into a whole new light, and while Mr. B may not agree with what the book suggested he can NOT argue with results.  The fact is, he hasn’t caught Doodlebug lying all week.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!  I moved the pdf file to my Kindle for easy reference and recommend it to anyone who feels they are running in circles with their kids.
****I am a participant in a Living My MoMent campaign for Proactive
Parenting™ and have received the e-book Stop Reacting and Start
Responding™ by Sharon Silver as part of my participation.****

Stop Reacting and Start Responding ™- Book Review


Living My MoMent has invited me to participate in their new blogger review program by doing a review of Sharon Silver‘s book “Stop Reacting and Start Responding ™”
I have download this very easy to read eBook and am already several chapters in!
Please join us during the LIVE MomTV.com show with Sharon Silver(Proactive Parenting™ ) and Abbey Fatica (Living My MoMent) on January 5th, 2011 at 9pm EST and get answer to your parenting questions.
This book has me very excited for what could happen in our family!  My last pregnancy was hard on me (emotionally) and I found myself becoming Quick Draw McGraw with the kids.  I was not being the parent I wanted to be at all.  The chapters I have read so far have been easy to read, easy to implement and I look forward to sharing it all with you in my full review.

****I am a participant in a Living My MoMent campaign for Proactive
Parenting™ and have received the e-book Stop Reacting and Start
Responding™ by Sharon Silver as part of my participation.****

Our new baby play pad, from Bright Starts

About a month ago, I sent hubby an instant message asking him to PLEASE buy the baby a little play mat so he could lay down and kick at some rings.  I even sent him a link to one at Target (along with a link to a pricier one so he could see how frugal and reasonable I was being).  He went to Target.  He came home with milk.  Just milk.
When he saw my face he suddenly remembered the play mat request and agreed to pack us ALL up to go back to Target.
Apparently he understands the concept of “if mama ain’t happy no one is happy”.
He’s a good man.
Occasionally a smart man.
Well, the store was completely out of the one I had picked.  They had the two ‘fancy’ more expensive ones (of course).
I pouted. A lot.
While my head was hung, pouting, contemplating what I would make him buy me instead, I saw the box – pushed to the back- with the Bright Starts Baby Play Mat in it:

It was more than I wanted to pay, but it did SO MUCH MORE than what I had been looking for. I loved it and I made it mine!
Lucky for me I did because my not-even-six-month-old is crawling and rolling and trying to climb and the flip up sides give me a few extra seconds to get there before he gets himself in trouble.  The toys unlink and can be moved to the links I have on the stroller and the car seat!
I waited to post my review here and on amazon because I wanted to see how well it washed up.
Well, it did great!  There was a tiny bit of shrinking (mainly because of my dryer) but the plastic side supports went back in with no problem.
It is almost a shame that we’re not having any more kids because this is something I would use over and over again!
When I traveled to my moms house before Thanksgiving I slipped the plastic sides out, and folded up the rest.  It was easier to tote around than my pack and play!
As a side note:  Our 2yo LOVES to climb in it at night with a pillow and blanket.

I read a grown-up book! 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

You are probably as shocked as I am. Seriously.

The only “big person” book I ever get to read is the Bible and it’s a pretty big deal to get time to do that.

I first heard about Kathy Reichs way back before we had Doodlebug. I was commuting four hours every day to get to and from work.  The place I worked process undeliverable mail and would often end up with books on tape from book clubs.  They always donated it to the local library.  While I was pregnant, I was having a hard time staying awake on the long drive so one of the shift managers used to let me borrow the books before they were donated.  (I realize this was wrong.  It did save my life though.)

I fell in love with Ms. Reichs books right away. 

When the tv series “Bones” began, I was ecstatic!  Finally I could get a little taste of one of my favorite authors! See, once I had Doodlebug I never seemed to have time to actually read anything. 

Ok, I read Dr. Seuss but that is NOT the same thing.  I know moms who fit reading into their day but I just could not. Until now.

Hubby purchased a Kindle for me a few weeks ago and the first book I downloaded was “206 Bones” by Kathy Reichs.   I love reading on my Kindle and I loved this book.  I loved that it gave hubby and I something new to talk about as we now sit and discuss the book vs. the tv show.

 

When I ask my friends for author references they rarely mention her name, which makes me sad. Ya’ll are seriously missing out on some good stuff!  Who is your favorite author? When was the last time you finished a “big person” book?

Apple Seed Boutique : Maternity Site Review

I was recently asked to take a gander at a new Maternity and Baby Boutique website and give my review.  I guess having four kids kind of makes me somewhat of an expert on things involving pregnancies and babies.  I gave the site a thorough visit and was quite pleased.
Apple Seed Maternity & Baby Boutique
From their site:
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Apple Seed Maternity online is an extension of our flagship maternity clothing and baby boutique located just outside Washington, DC in the heart of historic Old Town, Alexandria VA. Our maternity clothing boutique is a charming destination with hip and classy styles for the expectant mom. Besides offering maternity clothes for work and play, we also carry baby clothes, nursing and transitional wear, designer diaper bags, fun and unique gifts, and gear including Bugaboo strollers.

Visuals and Navigation:
Have you ever stumbled upon a website that was so loud and flashy that it hurt your head to look? Or wandered onto a site that was obviously very 1999 with their html?  You will NOT have that problem here!  This store is classic and simple to view and use.  The earthy warm color scheme was pleasing to the eyes of this sleep deprived momma.  There were no annoying pop ups or pop unders and their contact information was clearly displayed on the front page.
After clicking thru to look at individual categories I enjoyed the professional photographs and the shipping charges were listed next to the price of the item.  I love knowing these charges up front!
Product Line:
From intimates to baby strollers, they have you covered.  I found maternity swimwear, nursing tanks, short dresses, evening gowns, and even business wear!  Many of the items stop at a size large, which was disappointing because I’m an XL Mom when I’m pregnant and for a while post partum.  The Japanese Weekend pants looked very comfy though, and they came in an XL.  There were over 40 different brand names available including Bella Band, Bravado, Diaper Dude and Earth Mama Angel Baby!
Prices:
After scanning a few other maternity boutiques I feel secure in stating that Apple Seed’s prices are comparable to other boutique stores.  Many of the categories had links to sale items!
The Videos:
This store has a great section of How To Videos!  From how to wear your Bella Band to how to create new looks for the entire nine months.  Great information to help moms through the transitions of pregnancy and post partum.
This shop was a joy to browse through.  The layout was clean, chic and stylish just like their product line.  Take a look!  Check them out and put them on your go-to list for your next shopping trip!

Review: Hoover SteamVac Silver – Momma Got New Carpet

Today my husband treated me to a new "toy".  After selling our riding mower, he went out and bought me a carpet cleaner!
I know, he’s SUCH a romantic right? Back off ladies, he’s mine.

We haven’t had carpet in our home in over five years.  Now that we are renting AND have carpet, he’s a bit touchy over how the house looks.  We used to own a Bissell.  My mom owns a Bissell.  It’s in my garage right now. I borrowed it before Christmas when we thought the landlord might stop by for a visit (I told you he was touchy).  Unfortunately, mom had twisted a seal on it and it leaked a lot. Not Bissell’s fault. Just made it a hassle to use. Which is why I haven’t used it again.

I went online to ask my friends for their suggestions and they all said they had Bissell’s, more specifically the Bissell ProHeat 2X, which is the newer version of the Bissell I used to own.

After a little online research, and a considerable difference in price tags, hubby picked out the Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner with Clean Surge, F5914-900

Hoover SteamVac Silver

My father in law helped him put it together. It took them less then ten minutes total. Then they spent another ten arguing over how to hook up the hose (which was extremely easy, but you know how ‘boys’ are). As soon as our company left the building, I set out to see if it worked as well as the reviews stated it would work.

Here are the before and after pics:

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I started at 3:01pm.  The water/cleaner tank was easy to handle, easy to fill, and the cap doubles as a measuring cup. 

To quote Hoover, it’s pretty nifty.

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The brushes do not rotate around like a vacuum cleaner. They are circular, and rotate to scrub the carpet.

hooverbrushes

At 3:43pm I was done, and able to SIT on the floor to test out the attachment on my couch.  Mr. B came inside a few moments later and was shocked to find 90% of the floor totally dry.  He was able to move all the furniture back in. 

What I won’t share are pictures of what the exit water looked like.  Horrid about covers it.

I spent roughly five minutes rinsing it out and getting it ready for storage.  I love it.

I LOVE IT!

I used the cleaner that was boxed in with the product.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall to far away from the manufacturer’s directions so my review would be accurate and fair. 

It was loud, but not any louder than my Kirby vacuum cleaner.  I’m 29 weeks pregnant, and it was easy to maneuver across the floor. 

At a price tag of $140, it was well worth the investment.  My mom just paid a cleaning company almost $300 to come do two rooms (remember, I have her old, broken carpet cleaner).  It’s not as wide as my regular vacuum, so it is now taking up a handy residence in the kitchen. Little children spill things often, and the Hoover SteamVac is so quick and simple I won’t mind taking it out whenever the need arises.

From WalMart’s site, here are the details listed:

  • 12 amp motor
  • Beltless – no belts to break or replace
  • Heated cleaning for better cleaning action and quicker drying
  • 2 tanks keep clean, warm, water and dirty, cold water separate
  • Spin Scrub Brushes clean all sides of carpet fiber
  • Spin Scrub Brushes clean all sides of carpet fiber
  • Brushes are removable for easy cleaning
  • Brush Shut off for easy removal of spills
  • Upholstery Hand Tool
  • 21-foot cord
  • 8-foot hose

It weighs just under 28 pounds.

I think I’ll go bake my baby some chocolate chip cookies.  He earned them.

Sassy Car Wash- A Review – She won't get out of the tub!

Ebeanstalk is a website dedicated to selecting great toys for 1 year olds and toys for 2 year olds. They have a team of moms and a team of child experts that help them pick out toys by age, so you can be sure your child gets toys that have been specifically matched to his or her age!

Sassy: Car Wash
Target Age: 9 months
Price: $20.00
Product Safety Information: Meets or exceeds all safety standards

My Product Description:

As I opened up the package I began to take notice of some features I felt certain I was going to appreciate.  There was a net, strategically tucked between the foam base and the ‘road’, to keep the cars when not in use. This caught my eye first.

Then my very observant daughter noticed the ‘curly thingy’ on the end. It was a hook to hang it from your shower head between bath times! 

It has three cars: one for dumping, one for straining, and one for squirting.  The road has scrubbers on one side, and ringers on the other.  In the middle is a shower like squirter that sucks up water from the tub to wash your cars. Finally, there is a yellow “ferry” that floats the cars around the tub.


Pros:

First, I love the hook! We have had to toss many toys over the years because they became yucky from improper drying. The foam hook eliminates that issue.  It’s a FOAM hook, which easily wrapped around my shower head and held tightly without damaging anything.

Second, Bubbagirl figured out very quickly how to put her toy away when she was done.  She had no problems getting the cars and the ferry in to and out of the net.

The hook and the net are my favorite features of this toy. Moms like functionality!

The cars were a big hit with my Bubbagirl.  She loves to scoop and dump.We have sensory buckets for this purpose all over our school area, and these cars take her favorite activity and move it to her favorite place: the bathtub. 

Lastly: it is sturdy… before we ever made it to the bathroom, my 20 lb Bubbagirl stood on it, and it held her.  Now I’m not advocating letting your kids surf with it, just stating my general lack of concern that a drop in the tub will damage it.

Cons:

The ‘scrubbers’, little soft pads that hug the cars on one side, create a very narrow path.  Bubbagirl could not get the car through on her own.  We had the same issue with the plastic ringers on the other side.  My husband and I needed to use both hands to spin them and move the car through.   The yellow ‘ferry’ to float the cars around the tub didn’t balance well and our cars would slid off.  Maybe our waters were just too turbulent!

Final Opinion:

The family here gives it 4 out of 5 Taders Stars!  I’ve never seen Bubbagirl take so many baths!  Bubbagirl is 18 months old and is thoroughly enjoying the Sassy Car Wash.  Her five year old big sister is itching for me to let her have a turn.

Our eldest is eight years old, we have been through more than a few tub toys.  I can honestly say this is a favorite, for the whole family.

**The opinions in this review are 100% my own opinion. Ebeanstalk.com sent me a complimentary toy in exchange for my honest opinion of this product.**