It's Gardening Time!

Finally, the throes of winter are long gone and warm weather is here to stay!

For awhile anyway.

One of my favorite things about this time of the year is getting my garden going and harvesting the produce. There's nothing more rewarding then seeing the fruits of your labor knowing it was your hard work that brought forth all the delicious and healthy food!

I like to document my garden here every year not only to share with you all but so I can look back and remember just what I planted and where each year as that changes.

Click photos to enlarge.

Amazing the growth in just one week!

A week ago our strawberries started coming in. As you can see in the photo above, I ripped out a section of our berry patch as it needed restarted. Once the strawberries around the edge are done (where I ripped out the rest), I'll take those out as well. It's hard to see but I did plant new strawberry roots in that area. Since they won't spread much this year, I also put some tomatoes there to utilize that spot just this year. I might also put some more onions and radishes there as well since they are both quick growing.

This is just what we picked last night. Once we hit full peak, we'll pick 4 times this each day! Lots of jam and frozen berries will be put up.

It's hard to tell by the size of this photo how large our garden is so I had my soon-to-be 4 year old go stand at the back of the garden while I took this photo from my second story deck.

Yes it's large but I love the ability to grow so many things!

What is growing this year:
  • 2 blueberry bushes
  • strawberries
  • asparagus
  • 26 tomato plants (5 varieties)
  • 8 cucumber plants
  • green beans
  • 6 jalapeno plants
  • 2 cayenne pepper plants
  • 6 zucchini plants
  • 2 eggplant
  • 4 brussel sprout plants
  • 12 pepper plants (red, green & yellow)
  • lettuce
  • spring mix
  • radishes
  • onions
  • herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano)
I always try to plant something new each year and this year my new veggie to grow is brussel sprouts. Quick growing things like radishes, onions and green beans I plant in rotations so I always have some coming in and am not overwhelmed all at once with them. Also, since they don't take up much room, I plant those things in between rows. Right now I have green beans coming up between my cucumbers since by the time the cucumbers spread, the green beans will be done and I'll pull them.

Mmmm radishes! I can sit and eat a whole bowl of these any time of the day!

Do you plant a garden or grow a box garden on your deck? What do you plant? Check out my past post for more garden tips!

Christmas Comes to America-Homeschool Legacy

We always enjoy changing up our schooling routine and Homeschool Legacy provides us this opportunity. They offer a variety of once-a-week unit studies covering a multitude of interesting subjects. We recently had the chance to review Christmas Comes to America.

Homeschool Legacy unit studies are offered in both digital and print format. When purchasing the digital format, you are also given clickable links that further enhance the learning experience. The beauty behind these unit studies is that all the work is done for you. You are provided a book list that even includes the call number for the books. The lesson plans are already laid out with ideas and activities, list of supplies needed, field trip suggestions, etc

While this specific unit study covered Christmas, it incorporated subjects such as:

  •  history (of Christmas traditions)
  • geography (such as locating on a map the birth place of Saint Nicholas)
  • life skills (making of several recipes and gifts to give out)
  • music (listening to different types of music and naming composers)
  • arts and crafts (making a gingerbread house)
  • science (making an "after Christmas tree" for the birds)
And those are just a few of the activities included in this unit study. The beginning of the unit study explains just how to use it. The suggested schedule is to do unit study reading and family read-alouds Monday and Tuesday, On Wednesday, they suggest putting aside your regular schoolwork and focus solely on the unit study and completing the different activities as well as doing the family devotional. Thursday you again just do the unit study reading and family read-aloud and Friday they suggest doing a field trip as well as a family movie or game night which again, there are suggested movies to watch that go along with the unit study. Obviously this is just a suggested schedule with plenty of flexibility to make it suit each families schedule.

I appreciated the fact that most of their unit studies cover a wide range of grades. This one was for grades 2 through 12. For a family like ours with varying ages, everyone is able to get involved and we simply tailor the level of work  and reading to each of their abilities. We all enjoy when we can do projects and studies together! Also, there really wasn't any required printing from the PDF download. Most everything included was instructions and directions.

Another bonus to these unit studies is that if your child is part of Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girl, this unit study lists what they need to do to earn their Music Badge. While my children aren't a part of either, I can see how this would be beneficial in not only adding the unit study to their schooling but to complete a badge at the same time!

We found it intriguing how each week covered a different piece of Christmas from different cultures. Dutch, Germans, English and American histories and traditions were all discussed. From their original pagan starts and how they eventually became the Christian traditions we now know. We look forward to revisiting this unit study come December!

Homeschool Legacy offers many different unit studies. In fact, you can check out the previous unit study we did, Weather On the Move.

Homeschool Legacy Review
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S'mores Cookies

With summer in the air, the idea of these cookies came to mind. In fact, I like to bake these in the middle of winter when I am longing for summer nights around a campfire. This one is also a favorite of my kids and they enjoy helping to make them as well. I'm talking about S'mores Cookies!! Soft, gooey marshmallow and chocolate with bits of graham cracker mixed in, all wrapped up in a cookie! 

smores cookies, cookies, recipe, dessert

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 2¾ cup flour
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups broken bite sized graham cracker pieces (about 1 sleeve of crackers)
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows (you may reserve ½ cup for garnish if desired)
  • 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars broken into pieces for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed for 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour and mix until just blended.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and graham cracker pieces
  6. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet lined.
  7. Bake for about 14 minutes or until the edges are just turning golden brown.
  8. If desired add Hershey bar pieces and additional marshmallows for garnish immediately after removing cookies from oven (If you mix the candy bar pieces in before baking they melt.

Check out more of my recipes! 

S is For Smiling Sunrise

We are big book lovers in this household and always enjoy reading over new ones. We were recently given to review S is for Smiling Sunrise by author Vick Wadhwa, published by WordsBright.

Most books are written due to an idea an author had but what makes this book special is that the author penned it for his daughter when she was just 2 years old. He wanted to make a catchy way for her to not only learn her ABC's, but also as a way for her to learn character development, vocabulary, teaching words and so many other concepts. In addition to the book, he also has a downloadable free MP3 of the book put to the ABC tune as well as a free Teachers Guide. Both these additions take this book beyond your every day ABC book. You could easily use this as a launching point for preschool lessons.

This book is a hard cover book with 32 pages. Each letter has it's own page and on that page it shows both the upper and lower case version of that letter. Each page also has it's own dominating color which means you could use this book to also help teach colors. The letters each have their own four line poem that teaches different concepts such as their senses, character traits, objects and the list goes on. There is a picture to correspond with each letter that is well done and not overly busy.

S is for Smiling Sunshine

Because of all the different poems and pictures, you can teach your child not only their letters and colors but different things about the world around them such as nature, virtues, places, etc. The teachers guide really helps expound on this if you need ideas. Each letter has a concept to teach the child, a question to ask them, vocabulary words to introduce and activities you can do with them having to do with each letter.

The accompanying MP3 can really help a child memorize the book if they aren't of reading age though it's a great book even for those in early elementary as it teaches so much more than the basic ABC's. I do admit I think it would've been really cute to hear a child or a children's choir sing this as I know my little ones really like hearing other children sing.

My 22 month old and 3 year old enjoyed looking at this book and listening to the song. We would talk about each picture and I used some of the prompts from the teachers guide to engage them further. My 3 year knows most of her letters so as we turned each page, I would have her tell me what letter it was and I'd ask both girls to tell me the main color on the page.

If you are looking for a new take on ABC's this would be a cute book. It would also make a great gift as on the first page of the book, it has a place to write the child's name and who it was gifted by.

S is for Sunshine is currently on Amazon for $14.98.

Connect with the author on Facebook.

Wordsbright Review
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A+ Interactive Math

Once my children hit upper elementary and middle school years, I prefer to have them do their math lessons either via a DVD or online course as I want to make sure they are learning all the concepts correctly. We recently had the chance to review the Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math.

The Family Math Package (FMP) offers courses from grades 1-6th plus pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. They realize the importance of incorporating multisensory into learning and thus their lessons include, 3 senses of learning through audio, visual and text. Their comprehensive courses offer a variety of ways to learn. The full online courses offer fully graded worksheets, colorful and animated videos that are simple and easy to understand. Not only do they offer online resources, but they also offer the ability to print off a lesson plan and even additional worksheets and exams. If you don't want to print off worksheets, you can do them online as well as the exams online. It's a wonderful mix of online and printable resources!

For this review, we had 2 children doing Algebra 1, 1 child doing pre-algebra and 1 child doing grade 6. For the purpose of this review, I'm keeping to the younger grades as they were making changes to Algebra 1. Once I logged in, it was easy to set up my childrens accounts and assign them a level. If for some reason a level was too hard or too easy, it was simple for me to go in and adjust the level on the parental controls. I love that they each had their own account as it kept track of their progress and grades individually.

When the student first logs in, there are 3 places to make note of:
  • The Menu Bar
  • Table of Contents
  • Contents Window where lessons are displayed

The menu bar is listed across the top of the page and includes things likes the lesson plan, printable worksheets and admin panel.

The table of contents is on the left hand side and is grouped together by topic. By clicking on the plus sign, it opens up further lessons. You start by clicking the top lesson and working your way through them all. Some topics have just a few lessons while others have more. How many lessons your student works through each day is determined by you. If it's a concept your child knows well, they will work faster through it. If it's something they need more time with, they can simply take their time. Even printing out added worksheets to further help learn the concept.

The 3rd part of this curriculum is the main window where the lesson is displayed. The student will be listening to the lesson while the screen shows the lessons in vivid color. They can even stop, pause or rewind the lesson if they want to review a topic. The videos are short, between 2-6 minutes in length we noticed. Once the lesson is done, they click on the button for the Interactive Q & A where they put into practice what they just learned.

I pretty much gave my children free reign to use this program. Some days they worked through several lessons because they felt they understood what was being taught (or already knew it). Other days they only completed one lesson or even reviewed it if it was a new concept. My older ones felt this program helped fill in the gaps in areas they needed help with. Sometimes we printed the worksheets for added practice but again, I let that up to them if they felt they needed it.(again, this program was SO easy to use, hence me giving them full control). If I was using this for a full time math curriculum outside of a review (which you certainly can do and my children plan to do this going forward as they really loved it), I would've printed out the lesson plan schedule that is included as I love curriculum's that provide that! If you aren't a fan of online lessons, there is the ability to print out the ebook form and do the lessons offline.

I appreciated the fact that this curriculum does instant online grading as well as provides me with a progress report showing their strengths and weaknesses. My children's favorite part was the fact that the videos showed step by step solutions on how to solve problems. There was no "guessing" involved.

If you are wondering if this is a fit for your family, check out the many free resources A+ Interactive Math provides:
-Free placement test
-Free family math package
-Free software download
-Free single grade level
-Free ebook

Sounds like a fit for your family? Click the photo below to check it out as they are currently running a 2 week special of 40-50% off their family math packages as well as the other product some of the crew reviewed, adaptive placement test and individualized lesson plans to help fill in gaps.

Family Math Package

A+ Interactive Math Review
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Family Travel is. . . Both Affordable and Memorable!

As a homeschooling family, we feel traveling with our children is a great way to make lasting memories together. From daydreaming about where we want to go, to planning the trip, talking about it in the days leading up to it, and finally traveling all have one thing in common, this is all done together as a family!

Our family has experienced many different kinds of traveling and destinations over the years. Long road trips to other states, Disney World, flying, camping and going on cruises to other countries are just some examples of our family travels.

Whether you travel to another country or just to the next town over to camp, my number one tip to making your travels as memorable and affordable as possible is to spend time researching your destination ahead of time. Taking the time to research and plan can save you so much money and aggravation!

I'm joining 30 other bloggers to bring you a wonderful month long series about traveling. PLUS we have an amazing giveaway (Florida vacation anyone?!) so be sure to click the link to finish reading my post and enter this wonderful giveaway!

To read more, click here.

Travel Is. . .

May 2-10 is National Travel and Tourism Week. In honor of that, Jen over at Word Traveling is hosting 31 bloggers for a month long series on what traveling means to each person. I am excited to be one of those bloggers sharing on May 5th.

Not only that, there is a HUGE giveaway! A vacation for 4 to Florida as well as some other cool prizes. So go check out the few posts that are already up, enter the GIVEAWAY and stop back to see the rest of the posts this month!

Poor Sick Baby

I have to first state, we have been blessed to have been super healthy this last year! I attribute that to eating healthy and lots of hand washing. Seriously, my kids know the second they walk in the door after being in public, they wash their hands. Other than a surgery, hospital stay  and long recovery due to my husbands issues (thank you pre-existing conditions), we've avoided any major issues this last year.

Until last week.

I guess we all have to build immunities so I shouldn't be too surprised that my 22 month old got sick. Last Thursday she had a brief stomach bug. Friday she seemed to be recovering from it like most people would.

Come Saturday she was not herself. She begged to be held, refused to eat and barely sipped at liquids. The same continued on Sunday. As an EMT, I knew she couldn't continue this path so I said if she hadn't improved come Monday, I was taking her to the ER.

My sweet girl laying on me.

Monday found herself in the ER. She didn't make any progress with the IV fluids they gave her so they made the decision to admit her.

Poor baby was so miserable and tired. Here she is curled up on me with her kitty.

For those who have never been admitted with their toddler, it's tough. You are basically getting admitted with them as you have to stay with them (and I never would've done anything but be with her). But holy boring days. My dad and stepmom visited us. And I had 1 friend offer to come keep us company (someone I hadn't seen in years but how amazing she offered to!) But other than that, it was a long and lonely time at the hospital. Can I encourage you, if you have a friend stuck in the hospital with their child, either offer to visit, or take the time to text or call the mom to help kill time.

I was SO blessed to have been gifted dear nurses to take care of us that are friends I've had with previous deliveries. I don't know what I would've done without them this week!

The crib she refused to sleep in. I had to hold her non-stop which meant I didn't sleep.

Wish I had snapped this board each day she was there as the info and notes changed.

My poor kids were stuck running the house with me laid up with Ava. Thankfully they can take care of chores and cooking just as if I was there. Though I admit, I wish someone would've offered to have brought them a meal to save them from having to cook in addition to all the added responsibility they already were taking on. But once again though, my kiddos stepped up and bonded together to take care of what needed done and did a great job keeping the household running.

A pic of the few meals I ordered for her in hopes of getting her to eat. Their food is pretty good for being hospital food!

My poor baby with her IV pole and dressed in her tiny hospital gown.

She decided she was done with the gown. She was given a special lamb from the Chaplain. Ironically this is similar to the lamb her older brother Noah was given when he was born at this hospital almost 5 years ago.

This is what happened when we walked in the door after spending 2 nights in the hospital, Ava & Olivia missed each other BIG time!! Hugs all around!

Ava is on the road to recovery but is still having issues. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated!

La La Logic

La La Logic Preschool Curriculum
My 3 year old has really been wanting to "do school" lately like her older siblings so we were excited to have the chance recently to review Preschool Curriculum from La La Logic.
What it is
La La Logic is a 100 week preschool curriculum for ages 3-6 that uses a combination of online games, printable worksheets and extension activities. Unlike most curriculum, La La Logic doesn't focus on teaching specific subjects but rather they work on  critical thinking skills as well as problem solving skills. It's a progressive curriculum which means no matter what age the child is that is using it, they will all start at the beginning of the program.
The online part of the program is called "Brain Challenges". Each weeks lesson involves some fun games to work on the child's cognitive skills. The games are colorful and give spoken directions. While playing these games, they help reinforce colors, numbers and shapes.
Each weeks lesson includes a downloadable worksheet that you can print off for your child to complete. This ties in with whatever skill that are learning that week.
The third part of this curriculum is the extension activities. Each week you are given enrichment activities to do with your child. This could be games using objects around your house, scavenger hunts, word games, copy work just to name a few examples.
How to use it
One of my favorite aspects of this curriculum is that everything is already laid out and planned for you, perfect for this busy mom! After purchasing this program, which is only a $29 fee one time per family, you then login to set up your children's accounts. Yes, you can use this for  more than one child. They each will have their own name to click on which keeps track of where each of them are at.

After setting up the child's account, you then click on the curriculum button to start week 1. From there, the page shows what the goals and agenda is for that week. The brain challenge part will list what type of skills the games will be focusing on (as well as the button to click start for the online games). Below that is a weekly schedule of what activities to do on what day. Each lesson gives activities for Monday thru Friday. You then have a download button that allows you to download the weekly schedule, the printable page for that week as well as the enrichment activity. 
Another neat feature of this program is the ability to make notes each week about how your child did on that lesson or maybe to record what they thought of a specific game or skill they learned. You can either makes the notes right on the computer or there is space on the downloadable worksheet to do this.
Once your child completes that weeks lesson, you then check mark the box that that week was completed. Overall, each days lesson only takes 10-20 minutes each.
How we used it
At the beginning of each week, I looked over what that weeks lesson would involve and printed out the worksheet that we would need. Olivia and I sat down together to do the first days online games together (which was on Mondays). She typically didn't need much assistance from me as the directions were easy to follow. There was also a button to click if she needed to hear the directions read again.
As she completed each game, it went on to the next game until she completed them all. It then takes you back to the weekly lesson page. After completing the first days set of games, you also have the ability to click on extra practice. This area allows you to pick specific skills you want your child to practice with as well as learning numbers. 
There is also an option called continuous brain challenge. This basically opens up all the games in order for the whole program and won't stop until you exit out of it.
Tuesday and Thursday were the enrichment activity day. Again, these varied by weeks. Just as an example of week 3, we discussed emotions and made faces next to the emotions. Then we looked into a mirror to make the facial expressions that went along with the emotions we talked about. On the second enrichment day of this week, I gave Olivia some scenarios to which she then was supposed to tell me what emotion she would feel (for example, if you spilled your milk, she then said she'd be sad). 
Wednesdays are the day the worksheets are completed. I appreciated the fact that the worksheets we've printed off thus far have been in black and white which helps save printer ink! Each worksheet has the directions on the page so you know exactly what to tell your child to do. Usually there is a question on the page for the child to answer to further work on their critical thinking skills. Olivia loves doing worksheets so she always enjoyed this part. Sometimes she'd ask if I could print out the page again later in the week for her to do again. And of course, she often asked to do the brain challenge more than the 3 times a week that the lesson had listed.
Overall, we have really enjoyed this program. I love how they are focusing on critical thinking skills but they are also continuing to learn their letters, numbers, colors and shapes while doing these activities. They have a good balance of using the computer, worksheets and hands on activities, all which keeps the child's attention and engaged. It's a very straight forward program to use. We plan to continue this with Olivia and when her younger sister is old enough, she will also use it.

Connect with La La Logic on Facebook.
La La Logic Review
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