Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Special Time with my little guy.


Our recreation program offers a fun Itty Bitty Ball program for young children. 

This is a mom and me type class.  You go twice a week for one hour each day and each week is a different sport. IMG_1239

This is our second year doing this program. Tyler just loves it!  He loves all the sports and he really loves the special one on one time. 

It has been really neat to watch him grow in his skills each year.  I am amazed at how much better he can dribble the basketball and play tennis than last year. 


Other sports he has learned are soccer, t-ball, and volleyball. 

I sign us up for Bitty Ball for 1 reason.  That reason is not to learn new sports.  That is just a bonus. 

I sign us up for the special one on one time I get with him.  I love that Bitty Ball is our special thing, where we get our special time.  I know Tyler loves it too!

Take time to spend with each of your children, even if you have to create the circumstances!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Learn the Electoral College Hands On! {The Presidential Game- A review}

The Presidential Game 

“The Most Powerful Game In The World”

The Presidential Game is a full on presidential race, using the Electoral College process, campaigning and fundraising.

The game is recommended for ages 11 and up.  (my 8 and 4 year old played, see about that below)

Number of players:  2 teams, one Republican and one Democratic.  The teams can be single player or multi player.

The Presidential Game is priced at $35.00. 

Spending time with The Presidential Game:

As you know my family loves games.  We play them all the time! 

The first time I asked my kids to play this game they grumbled.   Keep reading, it gets better.

I knew they didn’t want to learn a new game.  They thought it was going to be so educational and not fun at all!

After quickly reading through the directions and explaining it to them as fast as I could, I talked them into playing it.  

We set it up and picked teams, Republican or Democratic. 

We began and just played and had fun.  The kids were learning all about the Electoral College hands on (don’t tell them that though). 

We played it the way we I interpreted the directions.  We had fun.  The game took about 2 1/2 hours.

The next time we played, I refreshed myself with the directions, I quickly realized that we hadn’t completely understood them the first time.  I noted the changes with the kids and we played.  We had a ton of fun and the game went a little quicker. Okay, a lot quicker!  This time we played the entire game in just over an hour.  PC142087

We played it again.  I refreshed myself with the rules.  We tweaked a few things that I think I didn’t understand the first few times.  This time we instead of using the paper score board we used the iPad app. (Also available on the computer).  This made the game even faster playing at just under an hour.

We played again and again.  Our favorite way to keep score is definitely the online webmap. This makes the gameplay faster and it is really neat to watch the states turn red and blue rather than just writing it on the scorecards.


My younger kids were able to play on a team. I think as long as you have someone on the team over 11 years old, you can have younger kids on your teams.  I did not expect my younger kids to sit clear through a game.  My 4 year old came and went, checking on his team.   My 8 year old was able to sit through the entire game and actually chose too.  She took turns and discussed what to do with her team before making a decision. I appreciated the fact that my entire family could play. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

This game is fun and educational.  The electoral college can be a hard thing to understand. This is a great way to learn it hands on. 

I think that the directions could have been much more clear.  They can be interpreted many different ways.  Even with that we were able to figure out our way to play and it works! 


The Fundraising Cards have real life current issues on them.  Some of them bothered me.  Such as the one that says, “You favor legalizing marijuana.”  I solved this by removing them from the pile.  I think that it is important the kids know the real life issues going on within the election however my children are still young and impressionable, so I wasn’t quite ready for them to be in favor of things like this. 

Don’t just take my word for it, see what other’s had to say!


To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping kids entertained on the go. Bumper Wipe Clean Activities {A review}


Wipe Clean

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities is a small (6 1/2 x 8 inches) children’s dry erase activity book.

Written by Juliet David and Illustrated by Marie Allen. 

This book retails for $12.99.

This 65 page book is full of a variety of Christian based activities.  These activities range from dot to dots, spot the mistakes, mazes, matching games, hidden objects, tracing letters and numbers and more!


The first thing I noticed about this book is how sturdy it is.  I love that every page is high quality laminated. The size is perfect to stick in a purse for those moments when you may need to pull out a quick activity.  I also like that it is spiral bound and therefor stays open.  That is essential for a book that a small child is trying to work in.  Can you imagine your little hands trying to do a maze and the book closing on you?  How frustrating!   The bright color pages with short stories are eye catching and attention grabbing.

photo 1 (1)

The book comes with its own small marker.  However you can use any dry erase or felt tip marker (or even a crayon on the pages) and they just wipe clean with a damp cloth.  photo 2 (1)

This book is recommended for ages 3 and up. 

My 4 year old just loved this book.  With a crayon he was happy to use it in the car, or at quite time, even at church.  Each page has a simple sentence describing the picture scene.  

photo 3

The activities are all easy enough for my 4 year old to figure out.  Once I read him the little spiel on each page he can just go and dive right in. 

This book has kept him busy at some times when I really needed him to be entertained.  I love that I can just wipe it clean and use it again!  In fact, he is starting to remember and repeat some of his favorite stories and activities. 

“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.”


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why I Quit Candy Crush!

Hi, my name is Alyson and I am was addicted to Candy Crush.

I know, I know it seems silly.

Here is my story! 

It all started one day when I got a little bored and was looking for a time waster. 

I started playing just a few minutes here and there.  Gradually over time it got to be where I wanted to pass the levels, and they were getting harder. So instead of playing for just a few minutes, I began playing until I could pass the level or ran out of lives.  That was only taking 5 or 10 minutes each sitting.  Not to bad really, in the scheme of things.  

After that is where things began to take a turn for the worse.

If you have ever played Candy Crush you know that by level 60 they aren't so easy any more and 65 whew, that ones a doozy. 

So then I began playing more and more.  I began playing not because I was bored anymore but because I had the urge to pass the next level. 

I was now playing when I should have been doing something else. 

By now I had downloaded the game on every device anyone in my family owned so they could send me lives. 

I went even lower than that.  I began changing the time on devices so that new lives would generate quicker.

I was seriously addicted - I see that now.  When I was in the thick of it, I did not think of it as an addiction.  It was just a game and I could quit any time I wanted.

Then my husband came to me and said; "You're spending an awful lot of time on Candy Crush.  Could you please quit playing it when I am home?"

Of course I said, "Yes."

And I meant it.
I really did.

Then I would find myself going in another room from him and sneaking in a few minutes of playing.  I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night and playing.

It was then that I realized;  I was completely and totally addicted to Candy Crush.

One day I just decided that cold turkey was how it had to be. I deleted the app from every device in our house.  I never spoke of it again.

 Until now.

It has been a few months since all this.
I have branched out and made new friends.
I pay more attention to my kids, my husband and my house.

I can't even imagine if I was addicted to something that was damaging to my mind and body.
I struggled with this enough.

Don't get me wrong, there are still days when I am sitting, just relaxing for a few minutes and I would like to play.

I don't.

I am proud of the fact that I quit.

If anything is taking away from your priorities, anything at all, re-evaluate and make the change!  You can do it!  You are not alone.  Your feelings are normal.

You are loved.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Here is to creating less stress with a menu plan!

I had such a stressful week last week.  I know that not having a menu plan added hugely to that! 

This week, I decided that I needed to have a menu plan.  To ease up on the everyday stresses. 

Keep in mind that I have a fairly busy life so I try and keep it simple.  No judgment please.

Everyday, we will do get your own breakfast.  Whoever is around when Tyler gets up will help him get his. 

The choices will be:

  • Cereal
  • Toast and Jam
  • Eggs/Breakfast Burritos 
  • Toaster Waffles
  • Smoothies

For Lunch we will eat together except for Wednesdays when we have co-op and eat there.  I will rotate with a helper each day to make lunch. 

Monday- Orange Chicken and Fries

Tuesday- Cheddar Potato soup and rolls

Wednesday- Sandwiches Chips (Packed Lunch)

Thursday- Fish Sticks and French Fries

Friday – Spagettios

Our Dinner plans also have to rotate around some evening plans.

Monday- Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans

Tuesday- Pork Stir Fry – Using leftover pork and rice

Wednesday- Sweet and Sour Oven Chicken, Rice and Broccoli

Thursday- Manicotti and salad.  I will pre-make the manicotti during the day.

Friday- Chicken Enchiladas, salad and refried beans.  I will also pre-make during the day.

I have high hopes that this planning ahead will pay off.  Even if I have to make another trip to the grocery store for Ricotta cheese, since I forgot it the first time.

This is linked to Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, September 15, 2013

People Keys–Student Keys Binder {A Review}


What we are talking about here:

Company: People Keys 

Product: Student Keys Binder

Price: $49.00

Ages 13+


About The Company:

People Keys is a company that has provided personality assessments for the past 25 years.  They have helped companies hire and retain people for their businesses through these personality profiles.  Using this experience they have come out with a personal development binder for students. 

About The Product:

The Student Keys Binder comes with 6 different workbooks, which when used in order build upon each other.   

  • The Personality Style Workbook
  • The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook
  • The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook
  • The Values Style Workbook
  • The Career Choice Workbook
  • The Goal Setting Workbook

Each of the first 4 style workbooks have a short explanation, usually about 3 pages long, followed by a simple questionnaire or two, and then a more in depth explanation of all of the styles for that particular book. 

The in depth explanations include things like strengths and weaknesses of each style, as well as how to best communicate with each style. 

Below is a breakdown of each workbook.

The Personality Style Workbook is a 17 page booklet that will help you in understanding yourself. The section headings of this workbook are:

  • What are Personality Styles?
  • Why are Personality Styles Important?
  • The Personality Style Questionnaire.  Where you will take a quick 15 question timed quiz.
  • Scoring and Graphing of your personality style
  • What D.I.S.C. Measures
  • Personality Styles at a Glance
  • Personality System Overview (of all 4 D.I.S.C. styles)
  • Characteristics of Each Primary Style
  • Task Methods
  • Enhancing Communication (This really helped my son and I, as it tells you the best ways to communicate with each personality style and the ways each personality style will have difficulty understanding you.
  • And finally the Building Effecting Relationships worksheets.  (Which has the student analyze themselves and their relationships.

Perceptual Learning

The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook will help you understand how you learn. With 10 sections similar to the ones in the Personality Style Workbook, you will which of your main senses you learn best with.  There are 3 learning styles.  Once you have identified yours using this book, you will come across a Learner’s Toolbox, many Learning Exercises, as well as multiple tips for each learning style.

The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook is a 17 page booklet where you will discover which of the 4 Cognitive Thinking Styles you are.  You start off in this book taking the profile questionnaire. Then you go right into scoring and graphing.  You get a quick glance at all 4 of the styles, then it goes into a more in-depth look at each style.  Each style will tell you where you excel and where your thinking is limited.  It also takes a look at how you work individually and in a group. This section ends with how you may improve your learning. 

The Values Style Workbook shows you why you respond differently to certain experiences than others.  After taking this quick quiz you will discover how intense each of the 4 values are for you.  Then you spend some time evaluating your own values style.  The book then moves into an overview into each of the styles as well as understanding your own values and the values of others. It ends with my favorite part.  A worksheet on developing mutual respect.

Career Choice 2The Career Choice Workbook uses the same D.I.S.C. personality style profiling as the Personality Style Workbook.  In this booklet you will be relating your answers as if you are in the modern day workforce.

Goal Setting

The Goal Setting Workbook is a goal setting and planning workbook. It has thoughtful exercises to set goals in many areas of your life, including, career, education, leisure and professional.  You learn the 7 characteristics of winners and why you need goals.  This book requires the most thought and took us the longest to complete. 

A day/week in our life:

We took one week on each of the first 5 workbooks.  We just began using them in order.  I gave my son a new workbook each Monday and told him to have it completed by Friday and to come to me with any questions.

By the first Tuesday he came to me just because he wanted to talk about it.  He wanted to talk about his personality style versus other peoples.  He was able to give a good guess as to what my personality style is.  We read and discussed the differences and saw how we could each communicate with each other better.  

Very similar situations happened each week, as he (and me too!) wanted to discuss our thoughts and what we learned. 

Our thoughts and feelings:


These workbooks have given me an amazing insight into my sons mind as I had no idea how differently he thought versus how I think.  No two of our styles are alike.  This has been an incredible discovery for me as we often have conflicts and I would blame certain things, circumstances or what have you, on why we would fight.  Now we both see that it is/was because we are just so different. 

I am not saying that these books solved all of our problems, however they gave us both insight into each other and have allowed us to extend grace to each other since we both now realize it’s just who each of us is.

Don’t take just my word for it, check out more reviews here:


To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


I am not perfect.



My house is never clean enough.

My dinners are never nutritious enough.

My kids can and do misbehave at the most inopportune times.

I get lazy.

My lawn gets to long.

My car gets messy, and the oil changes get overdue.

There is never enough money.

There is never enough time.

The “To Do List” is never ending.

I don’t know the answers to every question my kids ask.

My kids are not the smartest kids in the town.

My marriage while happy, is not perfect.

My kids stay up too late.

I am decent at planning, but horrible with the follow through.

I don’t get up early enough.

There is at least one thing I do perfectly,






Saturday, September 14, 2013

Logic of English Foundations A

Logic Of English is a company that offers a systematic multi- sensory approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling.

The company began as an ESL teacher and homeschooling mother gave a lecture on the basis of her common sense approach to spelling and reading.

There are 74 phonograms and 30 spelling rules that explain 98% of English words.  Once your child learns those phonograms and rules they will be able to spell and read most anything. 

How do you learn and teach these for yourself, you ask? 

You can use the Foundations Curriculum.

There are 4 levels.

  • Level A teaches reading and comprehending phrases.
  • Level B teaches reading and comprehending sentences.
  • Level C teaches reading and comprehending paragraphs.
  • Level D will have your child independently reading 2nd grade books.


If your child is between 4-8, then they are ready for Foundations A.

Foundations A will teach them phonemic awareness, how to read and write lowercase letters a-z.  Students will also begin to decode short vowel words and constant blends.

All these activities are taught through games and activities to make learning FUN! 

Foundations A comes with:

  • 40 Lessons plus 8 assessments and review lessons
  • 6 Student readers which develop true reading comprehension skills as opposed to the typical readers at this level which encourage students to “picture read”
  • 22 Phonemic Awareness Games
  • 28 Phonogram Games
  • 10 Reading Comprehension Games
  • 2 High Frequency Word Games

The above set sales for $88 and is used throughout all levels of Foundations. 

  • Teachers manual  $38
  • Student workbook (your choice between manuscript and cursive) $18

Try out a sample of the first 3 chapters.

Teachers manual sample.

Student workbook sample.

Once your student completes all the Foundations levels then they move into Essentials.

If your child is 8 and up. (All the way to adult)

Then there is no need to start in Foundations, Essentials is right for you.

Read what others had to say about Foundations, Essentials and some other Logic of English Products.


To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time 4 Learning ~ A Review of Online Learning



The product:

Time 4 Learning is an online learning environment for ages pre-k up to High School level.  It can be used as homeschool curriculum, afterschool curriculum, summer use schooling, or even just tutoring.   It can be used as a supplement or complete curriculum.  Ease of record keeping is an added bonus.

They offer Language Arts, Math, Learn to Read, Science and Social Studies as well as Language Arts Extensions.

We signed up for the 3rd grade level.  Since you get access to the level below and the level above your chosen level, we had access to 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 4th grade level work. 

subjects are organized into chapters composed of interactive lessons, printable worksheets, quizzes and tests. children are guided through the activities at their own pace by an automated system.

Your child(ren) get their own log in and the parent gets their own.  The parent has access to many aspects of the program, such as records, scores, upcoming activities and more.

parent account


scope and sequence


They also offer an active parent forum, where you can connect with other parents and families using Time 4 Learning.  I did head into the parent forum to ask a question about scheduling and was pleased to find that it had already been asked and answered by a moderator.

 kid gatekeeper

When your student logs into their account they are greeted with options as to which subject they would like to work on.  Each subject has chapters and subchapters and sometimes even sub-sub chapters, which is where the lessons actually are.  They click through to see how much they have done and to see how much they have left to do. 

One concern I had was that it was too much online time.  This can be the case if you don’t use the resources they provide as in printable worksheets and suggestions to go get some items.  For instance, for the very first science lesson we had to get some household items, such as a ruler and a thermometer and more to show different types of instruments that scientists use.  In the parent account there is a science supply list.

Your child can also earn “play-ground time”.  Which is free time within the Time 4 Learning website.  The “play-ground” is full of basic fun and entertaining games.  You set up the amount of time a student has to work to earn the “play-ground” time as well as how long they get to play.

Our Story with it:

Due to my daughter not reading at your typical 3rd graders level, we moved quite a few of the lessons down to the 2nd grade level.  In 2nd grade the system reads to you much more than at the 3rd grade level. 

I printed out a weekly plan at the beginning of each week and I also went in and preprinted any worksheets/ flashcards, etc. she would be using for the week.

Then I would put the list where she could see it and I let her choose which subject to do each day.  Within the subject she had to go in order of the plan. (See a picture example of the plan below).  This way she knew when to do a worksheet and how close she was to being done with the week.


The curriculum changes between some games and some basic listening, reading, trying for the lessons.  This way your child is learning more than one way.

Like I said above, the curriculum is not completely online. There are worksheets and games that go along with it.

  One of the science lessons we did had her watching some fun stories and then doing a simple worksheet of the life cycle. PC022053

One of the Language Arts Extensions had us print off some flashcards and do different activities with them.  There were also some worksheets to go along with them.



What we thought:

First of all, my daughter loves computer learning.  I mean LOVES IT! She has used Time 4 Learning in the past at the younger levels, so we kind of knew what to expect as far as format goes. 

This came in very handy as I used this to keep her busy and learning while I was busy planning and preparing for our school year.  I had procrastinated (surprise, surprise) and got much further behind than I would have liked to.  So Time 4 Learning came in very handy as far as already being set up and just a log in and go type curriculum.

One thing that bothered me was that I was not able to schedule her activities online.  That function is only available for schools that are using Time 4 Learning.  The way I got around that was by printing off a weekly planner for her. PC022052I really like the flexibility to be able to work between the three grades.  As my daughter is at a much higher math level and a much lower reading level. The weekly planner only scheduled one grade.  We were able to work around this by printing both and me marking which lessons of which grade she was supposed to do that week.


Buy it:

Time 4 Learning comes in a monthly membership for Pre-K to 8th Grade for $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional student.  For High School age children it is a cost of $30 per month.

See more reviews:



To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.



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