Friday, December 31, 2010

How many Walmart shoppers does it take to figure out 24 x 4?

Apparently, it takes two adults, one child, and a calculator. So sad.

I was standing in a very slow-moving Walmart return line last week.  In front of me was a mother with her son, who was about age 6.  The little boy started complaining at how incredibly long it was taking to return their item.  Believe me, I was relating quite fine to his woes.  He guessimated that it was taking something like 100 hours.  Yep, it sure felt like that.

The mother told the boy that there are only 24 hours in a day, so 100 hours isn't quite accurate.  A mother after my own heart, or so I thought, using idle time for a learning moment. The boy then contemplated how many days would be 100 hours.  Hmm...three...four?  The boy thought hard and decided four days would be about 116 hours.  Then the wise mother chimed in to help him.  Here it comes...the big teaching moment.

"Let's see...24 x 4 would me think...76, I think.  No, that doesn't sound quite right.'s see.. 24 x 4 is..."

A young man in front of them, who appeared to be in his early 20s, joined in the big quest to solve the big problem of the day.  Finally, after what seemed like a forever discussion that involved zero problem solving skills, he whipped out his cell phone to use the calculator.  Woo hoo...we have an answer. 96!  Then the mom cheered and said,

"I was right!"

"No you weren't," responded the boy.  "You said 76!"

Man, gotta love that kid.  Not only was his guess (116) just a accurate as the only adult submission (76), but he's willing to call it as he sees it.

I'm always amazed at the general lack of understanding numbers.  There are numerous ways to solve this problem quickly, e.g. using 25 x 4 and subtracting 4, doubling to 48 (for 2 days) and then doubling again, or adding up the tens, then the ones.  Even just working it out mentally as you would on paper would be quicker than all the discussion involved or even the time required to use the calculator.

Unfortunately, there were also a number of ways that would have made the Walmart return line move faster, and that wasn't happening either.  My free time was slipping away as fast as that lost learning opportunity.

2 incompetent employees + 12 people in line = 14 minutes spent contemplating the failure of public education

Very sad, indeed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Help save the Becky Thatcher house!

This is a cause that my daughter is quite passionate about, so if you have the time to vote with a few clicks, it would be very appreciated.  There are 9 days left for voting and you can vote every day.  The final top two get $250,000 from Pepsi for their cause.

If they don't win, I think my daughter will cry. She's been begging everyone she knows to vote. Actually, if they do win, I think she'll cry,too, but they'll be different tears.

I am copying an email from Henry Sweets, the curator of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, whom my daughter met a couple of years ago during a memorable visit to Hannibal.


1) Text Pepsi at 73774 with this numeric message: 104141 – and/or

2) Vote online at - You must SIGN IN before voting (lower left corner in the blue bar). Pepsi does not send out spam or anything else, but you do need to register your email with them in order to vote. After signing in, vote with the link provided here, or by searching for "Mark Twain" in the search box at the top of the page. (NOTE: If you have more than one email address, you can register them and vote more than once online.) - and/or

3) You can also vote through your Facebook account. (A Facebook icon is provided on the Pepsi sign-in page at see the see the left corner.)

We appreciate your votes and please encourage everyone else you can to join us in bringing this grant to Hannibal .

Henry Sweets, Curator

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

The Digital Story of the Nativity

Not quite the story I grew up hearing every Christmas!

A little splurge on frothy milk

I mentioned a while back that I was getting the opportunity to review another item from CSN Stores.  Last time I went completely practical and purchased a steam mop for my kitchen floor.  This time I was a little more self-indulgent; I ordered a milk frother. There were several different choices, but I ended up with the BonJour Cafe Latte in Black for $19.95.

To be honest, I didn't know such a think existed until I was browsing on CSN Stores. Being one who enjoys a specialty chai, foamy milk included, from the local coffee house, the idea of a less-expensive homemade version was appealing.  I have a concentrate chai mix that I like, but my homemade lattes have been absent of any frothed milk.  Until now, that is.

This little gizmo has a powerful spin.  It took me a couple of minutes to get enough foam to be able to spoon it onto my drink.  But when I was done, it did make my drink look extra special.  I don't use it every time I make my chai.  After all, sometimes I'm simply more concerned about getting caffeine in me as quick as possible and I don't care much about presentation.  However, when I have the time, or when I'm serving guests, this gadget certainly will make those homemade drinks closer to the expensive cafe variety.  My only complaint about this model is that the batteries were very difficult to put in.  It isn't so much the batteries, but getting the cover back on properly.  It is a small inconvenience for a little milk foam on top of a warm cup of tea.

Of course, you aren't limited to using it on chai.  It comes with some recipes, and I plan to try it on good 'ole hot chocolate, with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top, soon.  Yum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New recipes for Chex Party Mix (Giveaway)

Up until now, I only knew of two holiday recipes using Chex cereal: the Original Party Mix and Puppy Chow (a.k.a. Chex Muddy Buddies).  I had never heard of Chex Lemon Buddies, Chex Apple Pie Snack or Tex Chex Party Mix.  Intrigued? Check out your local Walmart store for FREE recipe cards using your favorite Chex cereal.

Blogspark sent me a gift pack including a box of Rice Chex, a measuring cup set, and a rather large canvas tote.  Now all I need to decide is what recipe to make with my box of Chex.  Do I go with something new, or stick with an old favorite?  I have to admit, some Chex Muddy Buddies sound pretty darn delicious right now, since I'm craving something sweet.  However, Tex Chex would be prefect to snack on while curled up on the couch and watching a family movie.  Choices, choices.  What sounds most appetizing to you?


*Now closed.  Congrats to Beverly, comment #6!* You two will have an opportunity to win a Chex prize pack from Blogspark. There are several ways to enter.  Please leave a comment for each and make sure you give me a way to contact you if you are the winner.
  • Tell me what new Chex Party Mix recipe would you most like to try.
  • Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect
  • Subscribe to this blog (rss or email)
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, or others (please specify in your comment).  This will count for two entries for each! Make sure you leave two comments.
The giveaway will end on December 24th at 12 p.m. EST and will be chosen by a random number generator.U.S. addresses only, please. Note:  Please make sure you have access and check your email on 12/24 since I need to submit the winner's address the same day.  A lack of timely response will result in a new winner being selected!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free from Blogspark  in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Chex Holiday Recipes (Chex and Kroger Card Giveaway)

My mom used to make the original Chex Party Mix every year during the Christmas holiday.  I find that stuff so addicting!  I haven't made it in a very, very long time, and I now have two boxes waiting for me to make a batch to inhale.

I was provided with a box of Rice Chex, a box of Corn Chex, and a $25 gift card to Kroger by Blogspark.  Seeing that I haven't done any Christmas baking yet, the timing couldn't be more perfect.  I picked up the remaining ingredients at Kroger and plan to mix up a batch tomorrow afternoon, enlisting the help of my kids.  After all, I'm sure they are going to help eat it!

For 3 weeks, from December 2nd - December 25th, Kroger will offer Chex cereal at their lowest prices of the year!  What a great time to stock up!

*Now closed. Congrats to JC, comment #19.* The good news is you, too, will have an opportunity to receive two boxes of Chex cereal and a $25 gift card to Kroger. There are several ways to enter.  Please leave a comment for each and make sure you give me a way to contact you if you are the winner.
  • Tell me your favorite Chex cereal recipe, or if you just prefer it in a bowl with milk.
  • Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect
  • Subscribe to this blog (rss or email)
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, or others (please specify in your comment).  This will count for two entries for each! Make sure you leave two comments.

    The giveaway will end on December 24th at 12 p.m. EST and will be chosen by a random number generator.U.S. addresses only, please. Note:  Please make sure you have access and check your email on 12/24 since I need to submit the winner's address the same day.  A lack of timely response will result in a new winner being selected!
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free from Blogspark  in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Merry Christmas, card or no card

    Do you send out Christmas cards?  A few years ago, I would have thought that a strange question.  Doesn't everyone send out Christmas cards?  After watching my mom fuss over getting a multitude of Christmas cards addressed and stamped each Christmas season, I just considered it a required part of the Christmas festivities. That was, until last year.

    Last year money was tight.  I just didn't see spending money on Christmas cards that everyone would throw out in two weeks, in addition to the postage.  We could use that money for a gift for someone...or groceries.  So, I broke out of the Christmas card obligation and didn't send a single Christmas card.  I almost felt like I was committing some Christmas sin.  No Christmas cards?  What a grinch!  You know what?  No one called me to complain they didn't get a card. No one had a ruined Christmas because I didn't add to the pile of Christmas cards. No Christmas curse was cast upon me.  It really was ok.  In was quite liberating.

    I noticed that we received considerably fewer cards last year.  I assume many others made the same financial decision. The trend has continued on this year as well.  It might be the result of the 'ole if-you-don't-send-me-one-I'm-taking-you-off-my-list-next-year situation. That is entirely fine. I really don't want to send cards based on the Rule of Reciprocity anyhow.  What is the point in that?  I'll wish you a Merry Christmas on paper if you do the same? I'll admit, some of my Christmas card deliveries were based on the Rule of Recriprocity guilt.  Sort of along the lines of, "Even though I haven't talked to Sally in 10 years, despite her living 5 miles from me, I should send her a card because she sent me one."  In reality, Sally was afraid to take me off her Christmas list, too. It just seems, well, a tad silly. The decrease may also be because others may still be in a financial bind.  Or, some may have come to the same realization as me - not sending out cards isn't the equivalent to turning green and trying to ruin Christmas for everyone.
    I know some enjoy sending out cards and I think that is great; I do like receiving them. Some years, though, it is simply a chore and a last minute duty.  I never seem to have my act together enough to enjoy it, but always thought I had to. So, you won't be getting any cards from me this year.  In fact, you probably won't be getting any from me next year. It doesn't mean I'll never send out Christmas cards again.  It simply means I've decided that supporting Hallmark is no longer a Christmas requirement.  I still wish everyone a Merry Christmas, card or no.
    Merry Christmas!

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Giveaway and Review: Gift of Love DVD

    The Gift of Love contains a story, music, and three art lessons.
    CHRISTMAS STORY & (3) ART LESSONS: Rejoice, Away in a Manger, Portrait of Mary! The Gift of Love is a Christmas story, artfully brought to life through the captivating expressions of chalk-art, music and drama. approx. run time 143 minutes

    Through my kids' youth groups in the past, there have been special performances with a chalk artist, with a story being told while the artist works.  The story portion of this DVD was very much like those performances.  While the narrator speaks, completed chalk art is used for the graphics, intermixed with snippets of artist Gloria Kohlmann working on a final scene.  At the end, the final picture is displayed with black light.  The story would appeal to very young children.  At only 10 minutes long, it would be perfect for quieting children at the end of a Sunday School class.

    There are three art lessons by three different artists.  The first is on Creative Lettering, the second a manger scene with colored pencils, and the last on contours of the face with chalk to make a portrait of Mary.  Each lesson incorporates the Christmas message into the lesson.  My personal favorite was the Creative Lettering lesson. The techniques in the lessons would be best for ages 6 and up.  The lessons vary from approximately 20-40 minutes long.

    This DVD tells a magnificent story in a simple presentation.  Creative kids will enjoy learning some drawing techniques through the three lessons as a fun Christmas activity. You can learn more about the DVD at

    Now closed.  Congrats, Lisa,  commenter #15. There are several ways to enter.  Please leave a comment for each and make sure you give me a way to contact you if you are the winner.
    • Simply leave a comment telling me who among your family and friends would enjoy this DVD.
    • Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect
    • Subscribe to this blog (rss or email)
    • Post about this giveaway on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, or others (please specify in your comment).  This will count for two entries for each! Make sure you leave two comments.
    The giveaway will end on December 20th at 6 p.m. EST and will be chosen by a random number generator.U.S. addresses only, please.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Review: Wits and Wagers (North Star Games)

    Despite all the sophisticated electronic games that flood the market, I don't think there is a kid around that doesn't enjoy gathering around the table for a good, old-fashioned, family board game.  When my kids were younger, that usually entailed Candy Land, Trouble, or some other tolerable, but not overly interesting game.  Now that my kids are older, game requests have gone to the other extreme with complicated strategy games. Not only are many of these games time-consuming, but often these requests take place late at night when my brain power has been depleted for the day.  As much as I love board games with my family, it is difficult to find a game that is entertaining, easy to learn, quick to play, adaptable in game length, and enjoyed by all.

    When Wits & Wagers Family by North Star Games arrived for review, I wasn't quite sure how it would go over in our family.  It certainly looked simple enough, but sometimes there is a trade off in simplicity.   Would it be entertaining for all involved?  The box indicated that Wits and Wagers is suitable for ages 8 and up. Our family ranges in age from 11 through 40-something, with varying tastes in board games.

    The rules of the game are amazingly simple. Each player gets a one large and one small meeple.  Meeple is a generic term for little wooden people used in board games. In Wits and Wagers Family, meeples are are used to make wagers.  In addition the meeple, each player gets a color-coded Answer Board and a wipe-off marker.  An Answer Board with a “1” is place in the center of the table.  One player is selected as a Scorekeeper, and given a Scoreboard.  The youngest player is given the duty of asking the first question from the tray of Question Cards.  Sounds simple so far, eh?

    Each round involves answering a question on one of the question cards.  All of the questions require a numerical answer.  Everyone places their Answer Board in the center to be arranged numerically.  Next, the wagering begins.  Feeling confident with your answer?  Place both of your meeple on your own Answer Board.  Did you guess on the question “How many stomach compartments does a cow have?”, but know that Uncle Joe knows livestock better than any other player at the table?  Then by all means, put your meeple on Uncle Joe's Answer Card.  Part of the fun is trying to figure out which player might have the knowledge to best answer the question. You can also split your meeple and put them on two cards.  A large meeple will earn you 2 points, and a small meeple 1 point, when placed on the card closest to the actual answer without going over.  If your own Answer Card was the winning answer, you gain an additional point, regardless if your own meeple are on it (believe me - it happens).  The first player to reach 15 points wins.

    Wits and Wagers Family was enjoyed by each member of our family.  It was both entertaining and educational, depending on the question card.  Some of the questions call on reasoning skills and others are just wild guesses.  I was shocked to discover just how many times a bee beats its wings in a second and admired the marketing genius of Disney when a princess total was revealed (Seriously? Does the world need this many Disney princesses?).  It received a thumbs up from our whole family.

    Wits and Wager Family retails for $19.99 and can be purchased, along with other great North Star games, at the North Star website,  as well as at online retailers, and local book and game stores.

    Read more reviews on this product at the official TOS Crew blog.

    Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation.

    I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

    Proud to be a Misfit!

    I've been so preoccupied the last couple of weeks that I completely forgot to check the results of the Misfit Awards.  I didn't win any of the nominated categories, but you might enjoy seeing the results at Hearthside Homeschool Reviews.

    Now, does one feel proud that they didn't win or proud that they did?  Either way, Lori at Hearthside has provided a generic button for all of those who didn't win a category, yet consider themselves to be a Homeschooling Misfit.  I don't know about you, but I'm proud to be a Misfit.  It means I'm human and don't have superwoman expectations of myself - a necessary skill when homeschooling, no?

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    State Championship surprise!

    I've posted a couple of times about the progress of our First Lego League team.  This is my first year coaching, and our family's second year being involved.

    Being on a First Lego League team is often intense, time consuming, and emotionally draining.  It certainly has its rewards, though. The learning experiences it provides would be difficult to find elsewhere and I'm glad my kids have such opportunities to participate.  Of course, a little recognition makes all that hard work and effort worth it even more.

    After a practice tournament and winning the Championship Award at our qualifying tournament, our team, the X-Bots, attended the State Championship tournament this past weekend.  There were 46 other teams, who earned their spot by being a high scorer at their own qualifying tournament, in the tournament.  We knew the competition would be tough.

    Our robot didn't perform as expected, but we ended up in 14th place for the robot game anyhow. Not bad, but the kids were a little disappointed since practice runs at the table resulted in higher points.  A program that consistently ran at the practice table would fail during game time.  Surprise number one for the day.

    The three interview areas - core values (teamwork), project presentation, and the technical interview - seemed to go ok.  I really didn't have a good feel for how they compared, though.  We'd find out after lunch, when they announce "callbacks" for the top teams.  The callback time came and went with no word.  The kids were a bit disappointed.  Then, after about 30 minutes past the callback time, we received notice that our team was indeed called back for not one, but two interviews.  Furthermore, in one area they were up for two different awards.  Surprise number two for the day.

    The second interviews took place in front of a crowded room of judges.  The kids did great.  I was very proud of them.  With being a top scorer in three areas, I was pretty confident that they would receive at least one subcategory trophy.

    The awards ceremony finally came. Our team sat with anticipation.  Award after award was called, but the X-Bots was not named.  All of the callback areas, where they had the highest chance,an came and went. The kids shoulders drooped a bit.  It was a tough competition.  The team did well, but it looked like it wasn't enough to earn a top score in any single category.  Surprise number three for the day.

    I could see the defeat and the kids started not paying much attention to the announcer.  There were only two awards left.  Next up, the award for the Finalist (Runner-Up/Second Place) was called.. X-Bots!  There was a lag before any of the kids responded.  They were shocked!  Surprise number four, and a nice one at that.
    The day was filled with up and down surprises, but certainly had a happy ending.  As a tournament Finalist, we are next in line to attend the World Festival should the other team not be able to go.  That would be the grand-daddy of surprises for the X-Bots.

    Christmas preparations

    I've been a little absent here.  In an effort to schedule a bit better for the holidays, I've let some things go, including my blog.

    Last Christmas, with the down-turned economy and a struggling family business, was a stressful one, for my husband in particular.  He didn't feel like decorating or being in the holiday spirit.  He was too worried about the finances and keeping a roof over our heads.  This year, however, my kids jump-started a rather rare desire to deck the halls, so to speak.

    While shopping, my husband and I received a phone call from our youngest asking when we'd be home.  He and our daughter had put up the tree, he said, and were waiting for us to come home and decorate it together.  Now, my kids are 11 and 13 and have assisted with putting up the tree.  They've never took it upon themselves to drag it out of the basement and do the job solo.  I wasn't sure if we'd come home to a crooked tree or something that looked like a giant Charlie Brown tree from not properly "fluffing" the branches.  I must say, they did a beautiful job.

    That action spurred more decorating.  We have giant snowmen on our windows, homemade paper snowflakes, several nativity scenes, wreaths, baskets of potpourri, Christmas stockings and Santas all about.  It is very nice after last year.

    We were able to share our holiday spirit with my niece and nephew, ages 4 and 5 months.  Ok, the nephew was a little oblivious, but I think my niece had fun. We've never had the pleasure of babysitting the kids, and I was hoping it would all go well.  My niece is a little, um...afraid...of her uncle.  It has taken her 4 years to warm up to him.  However, she gladly accepted his help with building this gingerbread house with my son and daughter.

    Didn't they do a fabulous job?

    The house is decorated and my Christmas shopping is almost done.  While things certainly aren't financially perfect, they don't look as dismal as last year.  No, the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with finances.  I hate the materialistic focus on the celebration of the birth of  our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  But not having the added stress in our household this year, well, it makes a person smile just a bit wider...

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Family-friendly movie coming Dec 3rd on NBC

    Is anyone else sick of the trash on television?  Even kid shows are obnoxious.  I know I'm not alone in my feelings, yet I also know that demand impacts supply.  Why aren't more people demanding and supporting family-friendly movies?  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to watch a televised movie as a family without worrying about what was going to be presented in the next scene?

    Well, now is your chance to support family-friendly viewing.  I recently found out about A Walk in My Shoes, which will broadcast on NBC on Friday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. CST.

    A Walk In My Shoes - 2:33 TRLR from

    Show your support of televised family-friendly movies by:
    • LIKE the Facebook page: 
    • Add the video link to your blog
    • Tune into NBC next Friday (12/3/2010) to watch A WALK IN MY SHOES movie
    • Post Facebook & Twitter updates regarding the information as well.
    You can find out more about A Walk in My Shoes at

    Plan to grab some popcorn and spend some time with your kids with a Family Movie Night at home on December 3rd. In the meantime, please spread the word about the movie and let your voice be heard!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Oh boy! More Black Friday deals!

    I absolutely love Black Friday deals.  It doesn't matter what you are looking for, since everything is on sale! Whether you are looking for a toy for a special little someone, exercise equipment to stay trim during the fattening holidays, or are in the market for tv tables to house a brand new TV for the Superbowl this winter, you are bound to find a deal on just what you want.

    I've always been a bargain shopper; it is so addictive and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!  So, when there there is a whole week of bargains all over the place, makes me all giddy and tingly!

    I did a product review for CSN stores recently.  Shopping with them was a great experience.  If you've never tried them or are looking for some bargains for another purchase, this week is a great time as they are running Black Friday Deals!  Check out the bargains...

    Look for another product review for CSN to come soon!  In the meantime, happy shopping!

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    New lapbook supplies are available!

    I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was working on some new products for lapbooking and notebooking.  You can read a bit of background here. I'm happy to say that I am now up and running, ready for orders!  You can see what I have available at Pear Educational Products. I apologize for my lack of ability in making the website anything more than the basics...that is the next learning curve I'll be heading down.  For now, functional will have to work.  Of course, if you need more pictures or have any questions, you are free to contact me.

    Now, to share a bit about the products and how they are different from other products.  For starters, you need to read Sheri's post about a couple of the items over at Scrapbooks and Lapbooks. Oh my...what a creative lady!  She has been a great influence on me on understanding the needs of those that lapbook, notebook, and scrapbook.  Sadly, I don't do any myself.  However, after seeing some of Sheri's projects, I want to start!

    I'm currently offering six different products, all designed with special features to solve frustrations with lapbooking.

    I have two different folder bases to replace those ugly manila folders.  The first is the Fold-Up Project Base, sold in a pack of 5.
    Heavy white cardstock
    Gives you a larger working area over manila folders with no ugly center creases
    Each fold is double-scored to accommodate thicker items added to the base and allow the folder to close easily
    The second folder base, the Fold-Up Project Base Plus,  is identical, but has an extra flap for even more space.  While I'm not a regular lapbooker, I have made a few in the past.  One of them required me to tape an extra piece to the folder and let me say, the end result wasn't too pretty!  That experience inspired the base below.
    Top flap is double-scored as are the other folds.
    Now, Sheri told me a big problem lapbookers have is how to store all those great lapbooks for future viewing.  Apparently, some take duct tape (gasp!) to help with the storage problem.  No more ugly duct tape with my next product, the Project Base Adhesive Strips.
    These strips have mylar-enforced holes and a very strong adhesive.
    Much prettier than duct tape!
    Keep all your labbooks secure in a binder
    The Project Base Adhesive Strips are included with the Fold-Up Project Base products, or can be purchased separately.

    My last three products were originally inspired by reading a post by Tristan of Our Busy Homeschool. She had highlighted a lapbook that her daughter made that was in a spiral book form, rather than a folder.  I have three sizes: 6" x 8", 9 1/2" x 11", and 12" x 12".
    All of the spiral books have extra large spirals to allow the book to expand as items are added.
    The white spiral is a standard size. Our spiral (in black) gives more room for adding items to the pages.
    The 6" x 8" notebooks were requested by Tristan, for her little ones with little hands, and by Sheri, for her art appreciation books.

    The 9 1/2" x 11" book, which is slightly larger than a standard piece of paper, was a suggestion for all those notebookers out there. It allows for easy transfer of other work into one nice spiral-bound book. The 12" x 12" was to help lapbookers take advantage of all those great scrapbooking supplies and for those extra-special and large projects.  Both of these books also have a double pocket in the page to hold extra items, either during the book construction or for extra items that went with the study.
    Of course, while these products were designed for lapbooks, they can be used for any project.  They'd be great for a personalized book or as an art sketch book.  Really, you are only limited by your imagination! To read more or to order, head on over to Pear Educational Products. I am certainly open to suggestions for new sizes and products. Feel free to contact me with any ideas. In the meantime, I hope all of you lapbookers enjoy these products.  Seeing all the amazing ways you document learning is truly inspiring!

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Save the Becky Thatcher House with a simple vote!

    Becky Thatcher.  Many are familiar with Becky Thatcher, the character in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer that stole Tom's heart.  However, did you know that Mark Twain based this character on a real person?

    Several years ago my daughter won a scholarship to go to Hannibal, MO, the hometown of Mark Twain, for a writing camp about the famous author.  As part of her experience, she was able to tour the Becky Thatcher house, the residence of the girl that inspired the character.  The house is in need of repairs and Henry Sweets, curator of the Mark Twain Museum, contacted my daughter and other past scholarship recipients to spread the word about potential $250,000 grant to help repair the home.  All it requires is your daily vote. My daughter is quite passionate about this cause, as she has very fond memories of her visit to Hannibal.  You can read her pleading post here.

    I agree, it would be great if the grant could be awarded to repair the home.  Below are the instructions on how to vote, which can be done daily through November.  What an easy way to save a bit of history for future generations!

    STEP 1
    Each person can vote once a day by Facebook or computer and once a day by sending a text message. Here’s how:

    On computer go to and click “Vote for this Idea.”

    For Facebook, look for the button “Log in with Facebook.”

    By computer, hit “Vote for this Idea.” You will put in your email address and then register. Registering takes about two minutes and registers a password for you. Then each day when you go to vote, you only need your email address and password to cast your ballot.

    STEP 2
    A separate vote can be texted in by texting 104141 to Pepsi at 73774. 

    On our way to the State Championship!

    Last week, I talked a bit about our learning experience with First Lego League and the great group of middle schoolers I'm coaching this year.  At the time of that post, our team of 10 had just attended a practice tournament.  At the FLL tournaments, there are numerous trophies handed out.  FLL wants the tournaments to be very encouraging and there are numerous subcategory awards, as well as recognition for the top teams overall. Essentially, just under half of the teams come home with one trophy or another. While the team did great at the practice tournament, they did not come home with a trophy and were a little disappointed.  When I looked a the final scoring, I could see how fabulous they did.  They actually outranked overall many of the teams that did come home with a trophy.  Some of those teams ranked high and one category, and were recognized for it, but when you looked at the other categories they weren't as strong.  Our team was pretty steady across the board and ranked in the top 25% overall.  It was a great showing, but not enough to get a trophy in any particular area.  I explained this to the team, but sometimes kids just need to see something tangible as recognition.

    This past Saturday was our Qualifying Tournament - the real deal.  I really wanted the kids to focus on having fun and simply celebrating their accomplishments as a team.  As a result, we had a celebration pizza party the night before and they all arrived at the tournament simply happy to be there.
    The team's table display explaining the research project.

    A visit from the Dean of Engineering

    My daughter being interviewed by the university's newspaper

    A practice run of the robot's program in between challenges.

    Getting some fresh air on a break in the university's botanical garden.

    A tense moment after the robot was dropped just before a challenge.

    My son (left) and teammate during a robot challenge.

    Line dancing while the final scores are tabulated.

    The kids went in confident, but I think lacking a trophy from the weekend before didn't make them overly optimistic.  I, on the other hand, was quite confident they'd be in the top five teams and advance to the State Championship, though I'll admit to some self-doubt looming in the back of my mind.  This was a smaller tournament and I saw were they ranked against some of the other teams in the practice tournament, but you never know how the others improved over the week or other teams coming in that weren't at the practice.  However, even I was surprised at the final outcome.

    First Place Presentation Performance

    First Place Robot Performance


     First Place Championship Award!!!

    Now we're on to the State Championship in December.  Regardless of what happens there, I'm so happy that this group of middle schoolers was able to embrace the essence of First Lego League: to have fun, to learn, and to extend profressional graciousness to the other teams.  Of course, a little recognition with some shiny trophies is nice too.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    How do you socialize your children?

    How many times have you been asked this question and how many times has the inquirer been intent on not listening to your answer?  I always crack up when people ask about socialization in the same breath of commenting how polite, pleasant, well-spoken, friendly, (insert other evidence of well-socialized children) my children are, yet continue to stick with their opinions regardless of what I answer or what they can view with their own eyes.

    I think we've all experienced conversations like the one in the following video, haven't we?

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    SisterTipster's Carmex giveaway

    SisterTipster over a Tell'n It is hosting a Carmex package giveaway. The winter's here are cold and dry, so I'd love to win, which is why I'm sharing here to up my chances! So, enter if you must...but I'm ok if you decide you'd like to pass on this one and give those of us with dry lips and hands better odds! :)

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    I've been nominated as a misfit!

    I mentioned earlier that Lori over at Hearthside Homeschool Reviews was hosting blogger awards that were more my style than other awards, the Homeschool Misfit Awards.

    Now, since most people are a little shy about calling someone else a misfit, the idea was to nominate yourself in those categories to which you could most relate.  Really, it was a bit difficult since I'm not a single category misfit!  I eventually decided that The Harried Homeschool Award and the Meme Forgotten Award were the most fitting.  I always have grand ideas of things to blog about, often composing them in my head.  Alas, most of them never get posted.  The Meme Forgotten Award is quite related...I have good intentions, but I either forget the day I'm supposed to post or just get sidetracked.

    Speaking of sidetracked...someone else nominated me for The "Squirrel" Award.  This award goes to the blogger who starts off on one topic and then takes off in several directions.  My goodness.  I have no idea what in the world this person was thinking. Me? Stray off topic?  Clear communication is so important; why just the other day I was telling my daughter that she really needs to focus when explaining something.  This is why I want my kids in a speech and debate class.  A friend told me of one nearby...oh....wait.  Ahem.

    So now that I've admitted that I'm a bit harried, forgetful *and* ADD, I'd be honored if you voted for me (click below)! I'd be happy to represent misfit homeschoolers.  After all, if I can be a misfit and homeschool, you can too! Denim jumpers not required (and dare I say discouraged?)!

    HomeschoolMisfitsButtonVOTE" />

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Mandie DVD giveaway winner

    And the winner is...

    Comment #20, Diana D.

    Congrats, Diana. I've sent you an email requesting your mailing information.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Review: The Write Foundation

    Writing can be very subjective. Furthermore, teaching writing can bring tears to eyes, of both teachers and students. While some kids seem to just have a knack for writing, others sit blankly at the paper completely lost. My two children are polar opposites when it comes to writing.  It has made me realize what a difference a writing program can make.  In my early homeschooling years, I didn't really teach writing.   I just told my daughter that writing is like talking on paper.  And she talked a lot.  It all came quite naturally and we just refined the process through practice.  My youngest is completely different.  Writing seems one of the most unnatural things to him.  He needs to be specifically taught.

    The Write Foundation is designed with kids like my son in mind.  It is a very systematic approach to writing and focuses on learning through repetition.
    The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics. In most grammatical subjects, we have found that failure is almost totally because the basics have not been learned 
    The Write Foundation writing curriculum is a result of 8 years of successfully teaching homeschooled students in a one-day-per-week co-op setting. It has been adapted for a homeschool and used by numerous homeschooling parents to give their own children the tools of how to quickly organize and write an  essay with excellence.
     Three program levels, targeting ages 11 - 17, are available from The Write Foundation.. Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph, for ages 11-13, starts with basic sentence structure and progresses to a two-paragraph paper.  Level 2: Paragraph Writing, ages 12-15, begins with the structure of a basic paragraph to moves to four-paragraph papers, concluding with an introduction to the five-paragraph formal essay. Level 3: Essay Writing, ages 14-17, covers a rewrite of a three-paragraph parable through composing a five-paragraph essay in 30 minutes.

    The Write Foundation curriculum was initially written with a classroom setting in mind, though it is very adaptable to individuals.  While it takes a bit to figure out the format of the lessons, it is pretty much a "grab-it-and-go" curriculum after an initial time investment.  An  introduction, taken directly from the curriculum package, is available for viewing on the website.  There are also sample lessons provided for each level.

    I initially had trouble deciding what level to review, which required a call Rebecca Celsor, the program developer, to discuss my options.  Ms. Celsor seems to understand students like my son and together we determined that my reluctant writer wasn't quite ready to start Level 1. We then refocused on the needs of my 13-year-old daughter, a prolific writer.  To my surprise, Ms. Celsor also seems to understand gifted writers and the final recommendation was the Level 3 Essay Writing.  In my experiences, I've found that writing teachers focus on one end of  writing ability or the other. It was refreshing to be able to discuss the needs of both of my children and be understood clearly.

    Each level is available in three packages.  Package 1 includes materials for Lessons 1-30.  If you intend to go through the program slower or only want to purchase one semester at a time, a Package 2, Lessons 1-15, or Package 3, Lessons 16-30, are also available.  I received Curriculum Package 2: Essay Lessons 1-15, in addition to a digital version Essay Additional Resources CD for review.

    It took me a little while to figure out the structure of the program.  Because it is written for the classroom, there are references to Teacher Presentations (TP), instructions, and student worksheets (WS) in the introduction.  After some time, I ultimately realized that the worksheets of the students are largely meant to follow along in a fill-in-the-blank fashion during the instruction.  The Teacher Presentation (TP), located on the CD resource, cover the same material as the instructions in the manual and are simply additional resource for a classroom environment.

    The lessons are designed to be taught only once a week for 1-2 hours, depending on level and individual lesson, with the rest of the work completed each day for the remaining of the week.  While this is ideal for a co-op, it did require some modifying for individual use.  Fortunately, this is very simple since the lesson is broken down into separate components.

    The curriculum reminds me of another popular curriculum in that seems to take a formulaic approach to writing with a highly structured approach, along with a Checklist, and a No List to be used by the student.  Several times the curriculum instructs to not skip steps, as each one has a purpose, even if that purpose isn't immediately apparent.

    Some of my personal pros of The Write Foundation:
    • After an initial time investment, the lessons are easy to follow and deliver.
    • The lessons have variety and regularly include more creative assignments, such as poetry and MindBender® exercises.
    • Expectations/assignments are clearly laid out.
    • Tools are provided for students to check/edit their own work.
    • Tools are provide to the parent to properly grade student work.
    • The focus is on organization and structure.
    • Friendly and knowledgeable customer service.
    Some of my personal cons of The Write Foundation:
    • The use of fill-in-blank worksheets to be used during instruction  is too schooly for our family.
    • While a pro in some aspects, the formula approach may feel stifling to creative or advanced writers.
    • Initial difficulty in figuring out the program is frustrating.
    • I would have preferred to have the information on the Additional Resource CD, which I found useful, to be included within the Instruction Manual.
    • While quite adaptable, the program is written for a co-op situation. (Note: This would be a definite pro if you are teaching a co-op class!)
     If you are a real grammar and mechanics stickler, you may be turned off by some of the minor errors in the introduction and instructions. At first, it made me raise an eyebrow. However, since the focus is more on structure rather than the nitty-gritty, I ultimately decided that it didn't detract from the essence of the program.  The program is designed to give reluctant writers the tools for writing and to take a subject that is often subjective and present it a systematic way. It certainly accomplishes this.

    As I mentioned, my daughter is not a reluctant writer.  While this sort of program would be very effective for my son if he were at this level, I was curious how it might work for my daughter?  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to use it long enough with my daughter to determine the effectiveness.  Since she has already done some essay courses and routinely writes essays for other subjects, much of in the Level 3: Essay Writing is review for her.  However, one thing my daughter does need practice on is thinking through the structure of her essays. As natural as writing is for her, writing an outline and truly thinking about the structure of her essay, beyond an opening, three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion, could use some practice. Looking ahead into the future lessons, I can see how the tools provided will help refine a strong writer's work. I am particularly interested in the direction of the second half of this program, with the student ultimately practicing writing an essay in 30 minutes. I see lots of promise with The Write Foundation, for both reluctant and strong writers.

    Each complete level of The Write Foundation is available for $100.  The complete package includes the Instruction Manual for Lessons 1-30, a complete set of Student Worksheets and the Additional Resources CD. Alternatively, a package including the materials for either Lessons 1-15 or 16-30 may be purchased for $65.  For more information, visit The Write Foundation website.

    Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation.

    I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    First Lego League, a learning experience for all!

    This is the second year that my kids have participated in First Lego League, but the first that I've been involved  as a coach.  Last year, we jumped on an opportunity to be a part of a last-minute team, funded by a grant.  Someone else coordinated. Someone else coached.  My part was to make sure they got to the meetings and help.  Because of our late start with a team of mostly rookies, it was mainly a conquer and divide to get things done.  Our goal was for the kids to have something to present at the competition.  Not only did the team meet that goal, but they went on to the State Championship and took Runner-Up for Creative Presentation.  Not bad for some strangers thrown together at the last minute.

    This year we had more time to plan.  The original team decided to split and form two teams, and grow each.  There were some logistic issues with almost an hour between some of the families, the primary reason for the split.  It left us with three members on my kids' team.  We held an interest meeting through 4-H (the original team formed a 4-H club) for those who might want to join the existing teams.  It was a great response that resulted in four teams total, with a total of 10 kids on our team.

    Ten kids.  Ten middle school kids.  Ten kids is the maximum allowed for a FLL team.  Now I know why. It has had its challenges.  Among the 10 kids, there are three sibling groups, a variety of personalities, and a five year age gap.  There have been varying levels of expectations among the adults, which always makes things interesting for a coach, especially a coach that really hadn't planned on being a coach.  That was the role I landed in, and it has been quite the learning experience.

    This past Saturday we had a practice tournament.  There were 54 teams, some of them with quite a bit of experience.  The tournament is run just like a real qualifying tournament, but it doesn't count as one.  The kids learned a ton.  I learned a ton.  And we all had fun.
    Goofing around while cheering on our team on the floor
    Taking a break in the pit area
    Line dancing while the judges calculate the scores
    A tense moment during the robot game
    This Saturday is our real qualifying tournament for the State Championship. I think the team has a great chance of advancing to the next level. Even if they don't, I will know that everyone learned. Everyone had fun.  Everyone did his or her best.  And that is all that matters.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Clean floors make a person happy! CSN Stores

    A few weeks back I mentioned that I was getting a review opportunity with CSN Stores.  I had such a hard time selecting an item.  Did I want something fun or practical?  Something for myself, my kids, or to save as a gift for someone?  CSN gave me a lot of choices, as they have many items appropriate for all of the above.

    Though not the most fun option, I decided to be practical and get something I needed for the kitchen.  My hand mixer is on the way out, my toaster oven door needs propped up with a bowl to stay shut, and some new bakeware would be nice. I had a hard time deciding.  I eventually picked up a Dirt Devil Easy Steam Deluxe with Bonus Pads to replace my old steam mop that completely died several weeks ago.

    About half of my downstairs is hardwood floors, including by the main entrances.  Not only do I  have the usual kitchen messes to clean up, but I have dirt being tracked in my children and pets.  A good sweeping just doesn't cut it.

    I absolutely love this steam mop.  I don't need to deal with buckets of water and mops, nor do I need to use any chemicals at all.  Getting a build-up of cleaning product on a wood floor is bad news when it comes to refinishing.  The steam from this mop is all you need.

    I don't think this one heats up as hot as my first, but the pad grips better and the triangular shape helps get in corners and tight places.  The price was more in my budget range than other mops on the market.  All in all, I felt it was a decent steam mop for the price.

    CSN Stores' customer service was great too!  I receive a bonus of upgraded shipping for faster service, which was nice.

    This first experience with CSN Stores was a pleasant one, in addition to practical. If I get another review opportunity, perhaps I won't be as boring and go for something fun!  In the meantime, I'm enjoying my clean floors.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Review: Collectorz

    Back when I first started homeschooling, and my home library was rapidly growing, I went on a crazy mission.  I decided I was going to catalog every book I owned.  I created a spreadsheet that had fields for the title, author, category, and likely some other details that I no longer remember. It didn't seem like an unreachable task...until I actually started getting to work.  I spent hours entering information and finally gave up at some point past 1000 entries.

    Ever since that failed project, I've had a desire to somehow manage and catalog the books that seem to grow exponentially in numbers on my shelves...and under beds, in cabinets, etc.  It has nothing to do with wanting to feel some sort of control over my book addiction.  Nope.  That couldn't be it.

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that I would be reviewing Collectorz, a provider of database software for books, DVDs, music, games, and more.  Collectorz sells different programs for each type of collection; I was provided with the Book Collector Pro edition. 

    After the easy download, the first thing I wanted to do was to start adding my titles into the database.  I found this extremely easy to do.  You can do an automatic add or a manual add, both activated by clicking an icon.  For the manual add, you enter all the information on your title into each field on a pop-up form. Using the automatic add, you simply enter the ISBN into the appropriate field and hit return. As you enter books, they are added to a search queue. Once done, click "search all" and the program finds all the information needed, included a cover image.  To make this process even easier, I purchased a Cue Cat scanner, available through Collectorz and elsewhere, to add the ability to scan the ISBN rather than type.  I had a bit of  learning curve, including discovering that many books also have a barcode on the inside cover that yields the correct ISBN, rather than one on the back, but found that the scanner moved things along greatly.

    Even so, adding books to the software is a time-consuming process, especially if you are a book addict like me. I have not yet entered anywhere near my entire book collection yet. Right now I sit at 539 titles, and I've only made it way half way through my school room.  It will be awhile before I get to those books stashed under beds.  There have been some annoyances, like some unrecognizable ISBN numbers, out-of-print titles, or books so old they don't have an ISBN.  The information on titles such as these need to be entered manually. 

    Remember though, you only have to enter once.  Once you get your entire collection in, you need only add books as you first purchase them.  I just hit a book sale today and I plan to scan my purchases before they even hit the shelves.  This is a case where a lot of hard work on the front will pay off later.

    The software allows you to display and sort your collection in a variety of ways.  Being a visual person, I preferred to browse through my library using cover images.

    However,  this program does so much more than just let you browse books on your computer that you can readily see on your shelves.

    So, it can do a lot of stuff, but is it user-friendly?  Well, yes and no.  I seem to have an aversion to user manuals and tend to just jump in.  That little habit doesn't really combine well with the fact that I'm not very techy, but it does provide a great platform for determining user-friendliness. As I mentioned, adding books to the database was straight-forward and easy. Searching for a title, author, or keyword was also very easy.  I was able to handle all of the basic functions for general use just by exploring the program on my own.

    However, one day I went to open up my collection and it was completely gone.  After entering over 500 books at that point, I felt like crying...or screaming.  Or both.  It was then that I realized how handy a user manual is, but I also discovered there is a user forum at the Collectorz website for questions or trouble shooting problems.  While I don't know what caused the initial disappearance, I was able to get my entire collection back pretty easily.  Though the basic functions are fairly intuitive, I know there is a lot to this program that I have not yet discovered.  I see a lot of potential.

    While having my books cataloged all neat and tidy on a screen has given me a sense of control, I have yet to really use this program to its full capabilities.  What I have used it for has certainly been helpful.  For example, several times since owning the program, I used it to see if I owned a particular title. Shall I mention that while scanning, I found several titles that I own in duplicate? Just this feature alone saved me from scouring shelves or purchasing titles I already own.  I'm also excited about being able to track titles that are on loan or for sale. Another use I see in the future is for an easy way for my children to see what books we have in the house.  It isn't uncommon for them to check out titles from the library, unaware the title is sitting on one of our many bookshelves in our home library.

    Overall, I think this program is very worthwhile for the $49.95 price for the Pro Edition.  Also available is the Standard Edition for $29.95.  The software runs on either Windows or Mac.  There is even an iPhone app that can be purchased to use with the software, allowing you to check out your collection away from home.  To try before you buy, a free trial (limited to 100 books) is available for you to fully check out all of the features. Visit the Collectorz website for more information on this product and more.

    Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation.

    I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Don't forget to vote on November 3rd (really!)

    Ha!  Did you think I was losing it after an important election day?  While not exactly all that critical for the country, tomorrow's vote in the photo contest through Homeschool Science Academy is important to yours truly, since I'm in the finals.  The prize is a laptop, which I would absolutely love.  If you haven't voted yet, I would love it you would take a minute and vote (preferably for #21!)...pretty please?

    **To vote, all you need to do is send an email to and include the number of your selection in both the subject and body of the email.  For example, to vote for photo #21 (hint hint) you would just need to put "21" in the subject line and the message body, then zip it off to Mr. Landry.  Make sure you sign up for his newsletter too (here, at the bottom of the page), since voters should be subscribed.**

    Voting ends November 3rd, 2010.

    I posted the entry last week, but here it is again:

    Of course, if you must, you can check out the other 25 entries before voting for #21 (smiles).  All the details are at my earlier post about the contest. To all of you that vote, please accept my cyber "I voted today!" sticker and a big thank you!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    I'm IT...again!

    There has been a game of tag going around the blogsphere.  I've been tagged a couple of times, but this time Nanette at The joys of homeschooling has tagged me with a new set of questions to answer.  In turn, I'm supposed to take 8 more people.  Since I've already done some tagging, I'm not going to tag 8 more at this time.  However, I'll happily answer Nanette's questions.

    Here are my answers to Nanette's questions:

    1. How do you stay organized? The assumption here is that I am actually organized.  I'm not.  I tend to fly by the seat of my pants.  Sometimes that is a good thing.  Sometimes it is not.  I do try to keep my things organized, in hopes that my brain will follow suit. At the very least, it gives the appearance of being organized.

    2. What is your favorite curriculum and why? (Ex: Apologia, Life of Fred, etc.) I have several favorites.  I love All About Spelling for my 11-year-old, a struggling speller.  IEW has been great for him too.  My oldest has enjoyed the Apologia science texts so far.  And Sonlight has been a favorite, but I have never successfully used it as intended.  I love having the Sonlight books, though.  I could go on.  I'm very much a curriculum junkie.  Perhaps it would have been easier to ask which was my least favorite?

    3. Do you notebook or lapbook? Do you have any successful secrets to share to a lapbook newbie? I wish I were a crafty person like that; I love the look of notebooks and lapbooks, but they aren't for me. Ironically, I have developed a new line of lapbook and notebook materials which I will be revealing very soon. I am just wrapping up some administration and website details, but I have products in hand that I'll be posting about in the very near future.  I did have some lapbooking testers and advisors so I could understand the needs of lapbookers.  I'm hoping that lapbookers will enjoy the products!

    4. What kind of fieldtrips, or outings do you go on for school enrichment? We used to go on a lot of field trips, but not so much anymore. When we first started homeschooling, I'd call numerous businesses and organizations and ask if they'd be willing to do a tour.  You'd be surprised at how open most are.  As a result, I found many great field trip opportunities in my immediate area.  The kids loved it! Live theater is still on my list of things I try to do with the kids regularly. Unfortunately, our schedule lately doesn't allow for many other field trips.

    5. Do you have any awesome science experiments to share? Dissections have been a hit in the past. So many shy away from doing dissections at home, but it isn't as bad as some think! Right now my daughter is doing the egg in vinegar experiment for the second time.

    6. What is the best website, book, etc; you have found that has helped you through your homeschool journey? Other moms sharing their experiences have been the best resource for me. I connect up with other parents in person and on the internet.  If I had to pick one website, it would be Rainbow Resource! LOL!  One stop shopping without leaving the house.

    7. Within your homeschool, what is one thing you could never live without?That's easy - the computer!

    8. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever heard from a non-homeschooler? It can be something from a child or an adult."Your child is so polite and well-behaved. I'm concerned that they aren't well-socialized."

    Wow!  Didn't Nanette ask some great questions? Thanks for the tag, Nanette!