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!

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.

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!