Friday, February 29, 2008

Another Jammy Run!

We took another Jammy Run last week! This time, instead of Sonic we hit Dairy Queen. And instead of JUST ice cream, we also got a late dinner. Mmmm... Chicken Strip Baskets and Blizzards. It doesn't get any better than that!

Don't know what a Jammy Run is? It's simple. Let the kids get their jammies on and climb into bed. After they've been there 5-10 minutes, or I guess you could do it before they get in bed (but what fun is that?), mom and dad start banging on pots and pans while yelling 'JAMMY RUN'! The first time you're kids will look at you like you're crazy, but I promise, each time after that they'll all come running as excited as they can be.

Then, everyone climbs in the car in their jammies and heads to Sonic for ice cream! It's so much fun and creates such wonderful memories for the whole family. Try it, I promise you won't regret it!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Using Oysters to Train Our Children?

Q. What kind of noise annoys an oyster?

A. A noisy noise annoys an oyster!

Ok, so that's my pathetic attempt at humor around here. Even though I'd like to, I can't take credit for that joke. Sadly, someone else has more free time on their hands than I do and came up with that little ditty.

There is a book for children called Pearlie Oyster and the story is about the amazing life of an oyster and how a pearl is formed. Have you ever stopped to think about that? How exactly IS an oyster formed? I can honestly say I didn't know until now. All I knew is that they were beautiful and valuable.

Let me sidestep here for just a minute...

Our church began a 10-week revival the beginning of January and we have seen God do so much. I think there's been around 25 people saved! Isn't that awesome?

Even though I've been saved for a long time and been in church for most of my life, God is still not finished with me yet. There's still so much work He is doing in me. And that got me to thinking about pearls. These precious gems are mentioned several times in the Bible, our visiting minister even used them in his message tonight. But how do they come to be?

Well, it seems that whenever a foreign material ends up inside they the shell, the oyster produces something called nacre. That nacre coats the material that's not supposed to be inside the shell and over time a beautiful pearl is formed!

Isn't that how God is with us? He takes our sin, the 'bad, foreign stuff' that shouldn't be inside us and covers it up, and over time something beautiful comes from our lives because of it. How awesome is He and all of His creations?

This would be a unique and wonderful way to teach a life lesson to our children. It would be very easy to plan out a mini unit-study based off of the book I mentioned above, comparing how a pearl is formed to God's love for us. Then take time to learn about oysters, how they breathe, where they're found, the 'R' myth about eating oysters (betcha don't know that one, huh? I didn't!), oysters nutritional value, and maybe even cook up some yummy oyster recipes to top it all off!

If you do cook up some oysters, however, please be careful in your preparation of them. They are one of the most nutritionally well balanced foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets. Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D. Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus. However, there is the potential risk of serious illness or even death from from Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, especially from raw or undercooked oysters, so be oyster aware.

Bracing For a New Chapter In Our Lives

I took Baby Girl to the orthodontist today and I bet you can't guess what he said. Yep, it's time for braces. On top and bottom.

This will be a first for us. I didn't have them and even though Honey should have had them, he didn't. In fact, he was told that they needed to take out pieces of his jaw bone and move his jaw back in order for his teeth and jaw to sit right. Talk about scaring the heebie jeebies out of a kid! Needless to say, his jaw is still completely in tact.

But thanks to this seemingly inherited paternal trait, I believe Baby Girl is only the first of 3, possible 4, sets of braces we'll be seeing in this family over the next decade.

She's not happy about this at all, but after we've talked about all the people we know who have had braces and how beautiful their teeth are I think she's starting to be ok with the idea a bit more. We go back May 1st to get the process rolling. I'll keep you posted, with pictures of course! :)

Looking Through Pictures and Laughing at My Craziness

Do you know what these pictures are of? None other than the one day of the year that I lose any little bit of sense I have left... Black Friday!

I know it's a bit early, or a tad late depending on how you look at it, but I was just looking through some old pictures and found these. I took these the day after Thanksgiving just to show Honey how crazy some people really are! Imagine! People actually getting up when they could be getting some perfectly good sleep just to go fight other crazy people and spend too much money. Doesn't make much sense to me.

Of course I'm kidding. I wouldn't have the pictures if I wasn't crazy enough to be there, now would I? It's something that my mom said we should do one Thanksgiving while sitting around rubbing our over-stuffed bellies. "What?!", said I! Was this woman CRAZY? But obviously we both were because there we were the very next morning at 4:30 a.m. Neither of us can pass up a good deal.

And that's how the tradition got started. Even one year when I didn't have any money to spend, I still got up and met mom just because it's tradition. And now my oldest daughter has joined us and she's just as crazy as we are! We have some pretty funny stories we can tell about this day. Like promising we are going to be the 'better person' and not push or say unkind things, and then biting our tounge because someone swooped around us on the left, in a parking lot isle, and stole our parking spot before we could pull in. Whoo honey, that one really tested my religion. LOL! Instantly the scene from Fried Green Tomatoes popped into my head.

The one thing that has made it even more exciting for us is planning our strategy. For a couple of weeks before Black Friday we sit and plan what places have the best deals and where we're going to be first, second, etc. We plan who's going to be in different parts of the stores so we can grab the best deals. It's crazy fun!

The one thing that has helped us plan more than anything is subscribing to Black Friday websites that somehow get store's Black Friday ads before they're released to the public. We could look at them on the website and we also signed up to receive email notifications any time a new store ad was available. I LOVE it! Isn't that terrible? I feel like such a bad girl, peeking at those ads before anyone else. LOL! Think I'll make Santa's naughty list for that?

Since we're a small town without a lot of big stores, we always start at Wal-Mart since we can wait INSIDE in the warmth instead of standing outside of K-Mart and freezing out patooties off! This past Christmas we were able to purchase 7" digital photo frames, a portable DVD player, and lots of DVD's for such awesome deals, and we had everything planned out a week before Black Friday! It was SO much fun, well, except for the getting up at 4 a.m. part. This year I think I might just stay in my warm jammies and shop for all those deals on-line. I won't mind getting up at 4:58 and plopping down here in my chair and getting the same amazing deals I'd get if I'd been up for an hour and began fighting crowds so tight you can't turn around without taking someone out.

So there you have it. My extremely early, or very late, tip for doing your Christmas shopping. Get the Black Friday ads early and go crazy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It Works! I've Been Paid!

I've been told several times that I should be a salesman. Um, no thank you. I have no desire to do so. However, when I really and truly believe in something or have tried something and seen great results, I DO tell everyone I know. Some examples have been Levity Vitamins, Winsor Pilates, Five in a Row curriculum, and Leap Frog videos. These are all things that I have personally tried and been VERY impressed with, so I feel like I have to let others in on the secret.

Well, as far as I can tell, I have found something else that I can add to my list of highly recommended things, and that would be PayPerPost that I told you about yesterday. I posted my entry about it last night around midnight and when I woke up this morning I have money waiting in my account! How awesome is that? I am SO excited! Could I have actually, truly, for real finally found something that I can easily do from home that will bring in some extra money while not taking me away from my home and family?

I know they say that if something is too good to be true it probably is, but from what I can see so far, this is the real deal! If I've peeked your interest, you can either click on the button below or simply fill out the form to get your own PPP account started. It doesn't cost a penny, but you'll sure make some! (Oh, and no, it doesn't pay 'pennies'. Believe me, check it out. It is definitely worth it.)

Have You Been to The Homeschool Lounge Yet?

It's not like I need one more thing to keep me on this computer, but this particular website seems to be right up my alley. Who wouldn't love a place where homeschoolers from all walks of life meet up just to chat, share stories and advice, and laugh with those who understand them like no one else can... other homeschoolers!

The Homeschool Lounge seems to me to be a sort of 'Facebook' for homeschoolers. Some of the site features are:
- Create your own space
- Start or join discussions in our Forum
- Join a group
- Promote an existing Blog
- Create a slide show widget of your pictures for your blog
- Photo Gallery
- Video Gallery
- Live Chat
- Invite other Homeschool Moms, friends and family

I haven't had the opportunity to check it out as much as I'd like, but so far it looks like a really nice place to visit. So, check it out if you get a chance. Maybe I'll see ya' over there sometime!

Make Money Simply by Blogging!

Without a doubt, living on one income, or should I say SURVIVING on one income in today's world is not always the easiest thing to do. With the continual high cost of gas and now groceries as well, we homeschoolers have to come up with some pretty ingenious ways of pinching those pennies. I've just recently started clipping coupons and learning how to shop for the best deals whenever possible. Yard sales have always been a fun hobby for me, but now it holds even more excitement knowing that when I find those bargains I am truly helping our family be able to continue living on just Honey's income.

I've tried my hand at a few different things to help bring in a few extra dollars here and there... selling on ebay, babysitting, and most recently becoming one of our local hospital's newborn baby photographers! Now, while that is THE best job EVER, it still takes me away from home and causes just a bit of strain in our family. So since this past July I have only been the other photographer's emergency back-up and have worked a total of maybe 5 times.

I've racked my brain trying to think of what I could do from home that would help bring in a little extra money while not taking me away from my family or my duties here at home.

Then, a couple days ago I was blog surfing and I came across a button someone had in their sidebar that said something about getting paid for blogging. WHAT?! I most definitely know how to blog, but I never thought I could actually get PAID for doing it! Surely this couldn't be legit! So, I clicked on the button and found myself at where you get paid for blogging! Sounds too simple, doesn't it?

Well, believe it or not, it really IS simple! All you do is sign up with PayPerPost and then begin choosing from the MANY different opportunities available to blog about! Advertisers want YOU to blog about them and they will pay you for doing so. But instead of going looking for them, or they for you, PayPerPost brings both Advertiser and Blogger together in one place! Not only is this a easy way for us to earn some extra money, but it's also a great way for advertisers to drive traffic to their businesses. It's a win/win situation!

PayPerPost lists all the available opportunities for you to blog about. You look them over and choose the opportunities that are relevant to the tone of your blog and those that you WANT to blog about. If something doesn't flow with the feel and purpose of your blog, don't choose that opportunity. Believe me, there are plenty of choices to choose from. You won't have a problem finding something to blog about.

Once your blog entry has been approved by the advertiser you blogged for, you get paid! Simple as that! I can't tell you how excited I am to have found this site. I have been checking it out all day and have been impressed with everything I saw. I even found a few blogs that I enjoyed sitting and reading over. These are regular people just like you and me that are earning money for blogging! If they can do it, then I know I can.

My first goal is to make enough to pay off some small lingering bills we have. But after seeing the amounts PayPerPosts top earners are making, I think I just might have to set my goals a bit higher!

Go ahead, check it out. I think you'll be glad you did. What could be easier than earning money by doing what we love to do... blogging!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sharing A Recipe

Shannon over at Homeschool Trial Year asked about the Crockpot Breakfast I had in my weekly menu a couple weeks ago. So, albeit a bit late in coming (so sorry Shannon), here it is. This is a healthier version, so make whatever adjustments you may need to fit your diet and budget.

Crockpot Breakfast
1 (28 oz) bag Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes O'Brien, slightly thawed
1/2 c. diced onion
1 lb. lean ham, diced
2 c. fat free shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. skim milk
3 c. egg substitute
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

-Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

-Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the crockpot, followed by 1/3 of the onions, 1/3 of the ham, and 1/3 of the cheese.

-Repeat this step two more times (until you have 3 layers), ending with the layer of cheese.

-Beat together the egg substitute, milk, salt, and pepper.

-Pour mixture over the layers in the crockpot.

-Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours overnight.

-Cut into 8 wedges when ready to serve.

Servings: 8
Per serving: 250 Calories; 3g. fat (10.9% calories from fat); 31g. protein; 22g. carbohydrate; 3g. dietary fiber; 30mg. cholesterol; 1414mg. sodium;
Exchanges: 0 grain (starch); 8 lean meat; 0 vegetable; 0 non-fat milk; 0 fat.
Weight Watchers Points: 5

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Innocence of Our Children's Eyes

While at Wal-Mart in a neighboring town last week I was shocked to see the latest issue of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition on display in the check-out lanes. I casually, as to not draw attention from my children, tried to turn it over, but the back was just as bad as the front! And to beat it all, there were two displays of this magazine, one right below the first. Ugh! And these were not placed out-of-range for children's eyes. No, they were right at the height of my 8-year-old son.

In case you're wondering how bad it is this year, well, I'm not going to link to it, that's for sure. You can look it up yourself if you want, or, just take a quick trip to your local Wal-Mart. I'm sure you'll find it. The model on the front doesn't have the top to her tiny bikini on, just strategically placed beads. The bottom covers only that which has to be covered to not be considered Pl*yboy material.

Another local homeschool mom also saw this blatent display of p*rn*graphy and did what I should have done. She talked to an assistant manager and while voicing her concerns the girl had the audacity to actually LAUGH at her! This mom was told that someone else had complained and the manager had been notified, but he said that the magazine was NOT to be moved from where it was. I understand that being displayed at the check-out lanes probably sells more issues, but if Wal-Mart was concerned even just a little bit about protecting the innocence of our children's eyes why can't they display this kind of garbage in the magazine isle, where I KNOW not to take my children! That way, everyone's happy... those who choose to indulge in the lust of the eyes by looking at this p*rn*graphy and those of us who don't and who actually care about what our children are exposed to.

I haven't noticed this magazine at our local Wal-Mart, but there is still enough on the covers of other magazines to make me wish I had a couple more arms so I could cover all of my children's eyes. Thankfully, our Wal-Mart has a couple of lanes, although I believe they are the '15 items or less' lanes, where there are no magazine displays. Whenever possible, those are the lanes I choose whenever I have my children with me. Sadly, very rarely do I have that few of items.

Don't get me wrong, I know we can't shelter them from everything for ever, but p*orn*graphy in front of little boy's eyes is only planting a seed that Satan will try to cultivate for the rest of their lives and I'm not willing to stand by and allow him to destroy my children's innocence without a fight!

I think I'll be making a call to that Wal-Mart store myself today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My New Hobby

What says "You're so special to me" like a handmade blanket that keeps you toasty warm?

A couple years ago I started making no-sew fleece blankets and I thought I'd share some pictures of them. There are no other blankets that are so soft and warm and cozy!

This was my first one. I made it for Christmas 2005 for Sweetie's grandmother who is in a nursing home. The kids picked out the fleece. Isn't it so pretty?

Blanket kids made for Gr. Granny
Then I moved on to make my mom this one for Christmas in 2006. She loves Eeyore, so as soon as I saw this fleece I knew she'd love it.
Mamaw's blanket

For this past Christmas I made this one for Sweetie's mom. She loves cardinals, so this was perfect...except it seems that I may need to make one for my dear father-in-law now since he snatches this one from her quite often. LOL.

This year each of the kid's got their very own blanket made with all the love I could pour into them! They each got to pick out their own fleece. This is Baby Girl's, who is the BIGGEST High School Musical fan.

Next is Handsome's. He played football for the first time last Fall and he was on the Bengals team. We also live only a few hours from Cincinnati, and orange and black just happen to be the colors of the high school football team daddy played for and now helps coach. So this one was a no-brainer.

This is Reece Cup's blanket. He loves Scooby Doo, so he was the first one to have his fleece picked out when we went shopping. As soon as he saw this he grabbed it off the shelf!

And last but not least, here's Princess's. She's just crazy about cats, so this fits her perfectly.

Sitting in my living room right now is 6 yards of even more fleece because Sweetie's birthday is today and I had been catching him snatching the kid's blankets, so I knew he'd love one of his own. I wanted to give it to him today because it is his birthday, but I had to special order the fleece and it just came in yesterday. I'll blog pictures of it just as soon as I get it finished. He's going to LOVE it!

Oh yeah, my mom also has 6 yards of puppy dog fleece that she wants made into a blaket as well, and how unfortunate for her that she's in physical therapy for her shoulder and can't really make it herself. Hmmm... wonder how she expects to get that blanket made.

My Baby Girl is Growing Up!

Now how precious is this? Big Brother, also known here as 'Handsome', is wiggling Princess's loose tooth. I walked in the bathroom one day last week and found them like this. Why oh why can they be this sweet one minute and yell at each other the next? Oh yeah, because if there weren't these moments of sweetness every now and then we'd probably ring their adorable little necks. (Oh, by the way, Princess fixed her own hair this day. Hopefully you already guessed that!)

And here's our 'baby' with her first missing teeth. Big Sister pulled them both for her!

My First CVS Trip!

I have been learning how to find great deals and save lots of money from Crystal over at Money Saving Mom, and today was my very first time in a CVS Pharmacy Store. I even drove to the next town just to see what all the excitement is about!

Well, let me just say that even though I took Crystal's advice and started out small, it WAS a lot of fun. I only bought three things, but here's how it broke down...

*The Gillette razor was NORMALLY $11.99, but was on sale for $9.99. I had a coupon for $4.00 off, so I only paid $5.99. When you bought this razor you earned $6.00 in Extra Care Bucks, which is like 'banking' free money to use the next time you shop there (or according to my receipt, by March 16th). So overall, I actually came out in the good by .01!

*The toothpaste was NORMALLY $2.59, but was on sale for $1.88. I had a $1.00 coupon, so I only paid $.88. With this purchase I earned $1.00 in Extra Care Bucks, so on this I came out $.12 in the positive!

*And last, the box of Excedrin was NORMALLY $4.49, but was on sale for $3.99. I had a $2.00 coupon PLUS when I picked up the box I noticed there was an additional coupon on it for another $1.00 off! THAT'S when I got excited! LOL. So I actually wound up paying only $.99 for it. With that, I earned another $2.00 in Extra Care Bucks, so I came out $1.01 in the good!

So all in all I paid $7.86 (not including tax) for 3 items that would have normally cost me $19.07. In addition to that, I earned $9.00 in Extra Care Bucks, or 'free money', for the next time I go. I call that a pretty darn good deal. It's like CVS GIVING me $1.14 just for buying these three items!

I'm just starting to learn my way around all the CVS deals and couponing and such, but if this is any indication of how much money I'm going to be saving, I'm VERY excited!

If you'd like to learn the basics on how to start saving money at CVS, jump on over to Crystal's blog and read her CVS 101 post.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy, Healthy, Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Being Valentine's Day I thought I would get on here and tell you all about the love of my life and how we met and how sweet he is and all that gushy stuff, but maybe I'll save that for when our anniversary rolls around in April. I think there's something a bit more important for me to blog about today.

I went to the doctor yesterday because of feeling a 'fluttering' of my heart. Thankfully, after hearing what my heart was doing and ordering an EKG, my doctor determined that my electrical 'spark' that keeps my heart beating in a normal rhythm is just pre-firing. That means my heart is going like this... thump, thump, thump, thumpthump...(pause), thump, thump, thump, thumpthump...(pause), thump, thump, and so on. He says that I can either live with it and let it drive me crazy or take beta blockers. Since I'm not real crazy about taking anything I don't have to, for right now I'm choosing to just live with it.

However, it did get me to thinking. Even though he said this happens to a lot of people and my heart is fine (as far as we know) I know I hear all the time about heart disease being the leading cause of death for both men and women. That's funny, I would have guessed cancer since we hear so many stories of people being diagnosed with it. But nope, it's heart disease.

Knowing that I have put on extra weight and that my blood pressure is up a bit, and now I have a heart 'thing' going on, I'm thinking it's time I do something about it. This IS something I can have some control over if I'll just make up my mind to do it.

How about you? Are you taking care of your heart? Do you know what you can do to help make sure your heart is healthy? Or are you like I've always been and think that heart disease will never happen to you? I sat in church last night and talked to two other women, ages 38 and 27 and BOTH of them have heart problems! If you think it only happens to 'other people', guess what? YOU are my 'other people'!

Here's a great place to get started on learning about heart disease and how to prevent it. Here's to healthy hearts for all of us!

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Have To Say Something!

I don't get on my soapbox very often on this blog, but I can't just sit by and not say anything about this.

I will never apologize for being a very strong conservative voter. There are just some things as a Christian that I can not back down from. One being the innocent and another being traditional marriage. Oh, and another very important one, opposing homos*xuality. As a Christian I DO love the person, but not the sin and I firmly do not believe they deserve special rights. If that's the case, then we should have special rights and laws for overweight people, and short people, and people with glasses, and people who don't like the color purple!

Anyway, before I get too heated, do you know just exactly where the candidates for president stand? Do you, really?

Just take a look at this and then tell me that if you are a strong conservative Christian like myself that you are not terrified for EITHER of the two Democrats to become the leader of our nation. I'm not even real crazy about McCain getting the job, although I'll have to back him if he does indeed win the nomination.

Here's another really great place to check out where any candidate stands on any issue. BE INFORMED!

Our only hope is for God to perform a modern day miracle, as well as regaining control of the House and Senate so that we can hopefully be saved from a completely Democratic control of our country.

Ok, I'm climbing down now. But I can't promise it will be for good.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Need Some New Menu Ideas?

So often I have the hardest time coming up with variety in what I feed my family. I get so tired of fixing the same things over and over, and I'm sure they get just as tired of eating the same things over and over!

I'm also on a journey to feeding us healthier, but none of us are very big veggie eaters. Corn, potatoes, green beans, the occasional salad, and that's about it. So I'm working on small baby steps to switch us over to healthier versions of our favorites while slowly and gradually introducing new things. At the same time, I have to find ways to do this without spending a fortune. Can it be done? As of right now I'm not completely convinced it can, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I know there have to be other moms out there who battle these same things, so I thought I'd share our menu for the week. (My menu this week started today, Friday, because I just went to the grocery store yesterday.) I try to give the kids milk one to two times a day, water with AT LEAST one to two meals/snacks a day (they drink it on their own throughout the day as well), and juice one to two times a day.

If you see anything you'd like the recipe for just let me know and I'll be more than happy to type it up. Many of them are Weight Watchers recipes, so even though they may not sound healthy, they aren't nearly as bad as they look.

Breakfast- Blueberry Muffins, Grapes
Snack- Apples
Lunch- Grilled cheese and soup
Snack- Pretzels
Dinner- Homemade Pizza (our weekly Friday night tradition)

Breakfast- Crockpot Breakfast
Snack- (we'll be at the kid's Upward Basketball games)
Lunch- Easy Cheese Steaks
Snack- Fish Crackers
Dinner- Lipton Burgers, Tator Tots

Breakfast- Sausage Biscuits
Snack- (we'll be at church)
Lunch- Roast w/potatoes and carrots, Dinner Rolls
Snack- not needed due to big lunch
Dinner- cereal, sandwiches, leftovers, etc.

Breakfast- Eggs, Bacon, Toast
Snack- String Cheese
Lunch- Sausage & Cheese Wraps
Snack- Fish Crackers (our kids would eat a whole box of these every day if we'd let them)
Dinner- Old Fashion Beef Stew

Breakfast- Oatmeal & Toast
Snack- Raisins or Pineapple Chunks
Lunch- Crescent Cheese Dogs
Snack- Peanut Butter Toast w/ Apple Slices
Dinner- Manwich BBQ Drummettes, Baked Beans, Corn-on-the-Cob

Breakfast- Waffles
Snack- Tortilla Chips w/Cheese
Lunch- Personal Pizzas
Snack- Popcorn
Dinner- Busy Day Crockpot Chicken & Rice

Breakfast- Cereal
Snack- Oranges
Lunch- Hamburger Nests, Baked Potatoes
Snack- Pretzels
Dinner- Ham, Cream Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Dinner Rolls

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ah, The Power of Advertising

Heard on the way to church the other day:

Reece Cup to me, being silly: "When I get my lisence I'm going to wreck into you!"

Me: "You do that and you won't have to worry about driving for a very long time."

Handsome from the back seat to his brother: "Then you'd better be sure and have AllState, 'cause they'll forgive you!"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Math-U-See: My Review

Ok, so I promised I would take each piece of curriculum we use and give you my thoughts on it. The first one I'm going to start with is our math curriculum, Math-U-See by Steve Demme.

As 'Eclectic' homeschoolers we don't use just one specific boxed curriculum. I take each individual subject I feel we need to be covering and research each one until I find what I feel best fits our family. Sometimes I hit it right the first time, other times we have to try two or three different things until we find just the right fit.

Thankfully, Math-U-See was the first math curriculum we tried and we fell in love with it right from the start. Actually, I didn't even have to research anything else for math. Sweetie's cousin, who had been homeschooling her children for several years before we started, recommended MUS to me and, not knowing about any other math curriculums out there, we tried it and have never looked back.

There are no cute, colorful illustrations with MUS like some other curriculums, but for us that isn't even an issue. Sure that might be more 'pretty' to look at, but in my opinion there's nothing to distract my children's attention away from the task at hand. And for the quality of learning they're getting, who CARES whether their paper has cute little bunnies on it or not?

Math U See currently has 13 different levels to choose from, depending on where your child is mathmatically. If you're not sure which level to start with, the Math-U-See website has competency exams for each level to help you know where to place your child.

Each level is centered around one central theme, such as adding, subtracting, multiplication, ect. Mastery of each level is key with MUS, meaning, the student KNOWS, or has 'mastered', one level before moving on to the next. This builds a very strong mathmatical foundation and helps when new concepts are introduced because previous lessons are recalled and reviewed.

But even though there is one resounding theme per level, new concepts are gently introduced without the student even realizing he's learning something from a higher level. For example, our 8-year-old just finished the Gamma, or multiplication, level and while the main focus of the book was multiplying, fractions were gently introduced without Handsome even realizing he was doing something 'harder'. In his mind he was simply skip counting by 2's for the top numbers and by 3's for the bottom. So 2/3 is the same as 4/6, 6/9, 8/12, and 10/15.

The thing that I love the most about MUS is that each level comes with it's own instructional DVD, with Steve Demme explaining to the student exactly how to do each lesson. Mr. Demme, who by the way is a very sweet Christian man, has a way of teaching children that makes it fun and easy to understand, even for us grown-ups! Many times Sweetie and I have commented on how math makes so much more sense now that we've learned the Math-U-See way.

What will you need to purchase to begin using MUS? Well, when you are first starting out you will need to purchase the Starter Set of manipulatives. These are the foundation of understanding math the MUS way. Then naturally you will need the Student Kit, which comes with the student book and test booklet, and the Teacher Pack which contains the teacher manual and DVD (or VHS) instructional video.

Your first year will most likely be your most expensive year since you will be purchasing the manipulatives. After that you will only need the student kit ($20) and the teacher's pack ($35). If you have more than one student using MUS, you will only need to purchase the student kit for your younger children if your older one has already finished that level because you will already have the Teacher Manual and instructional DVD. With four children this happens for us each year. For the quality of the materials and the success we have witnessed with MUS, we think the prices are very reasonable.

Overall our experience has been wonderful with Math-U-See. Never have we gone looking for something different and hopefully we will never have a need to. This is our 6th year with MUS and all of our children have a strong foundation in math that continues to build each and every year we use Math-U-See.

If you'd like to see if Math-U-See is right for you simply request a copy of their free Demo DVD.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Being Good Stewards... CVS Shopping 101

I am intrigued by all the money-saving blogs I've been visiting lately. Wow! These women are really racking up the deals and I think I'll jump on the band wagon. Who of us couldn't benefit from saving more money?

The biggest money-saving deals I read about seem to come from CVS Pharmacy. So I went searching and found that Crystal over at Money Saving Mom has a 'CVS 101' entry. This is definitely the place to start before venturing into this new journey.

Keep Those Minds Sharp!

I just wanted to share this site I found with you. It's called Wuzzles and Puzzles... "the place for anyone age 10 and up to test their brain and skills with word and math puzzles, mazes, brain teasers and more".

Check it out. They have more than 1100 FREE printable puzzles to test your brain, or your kid's brains!

What I Think Of "Passionate Housewives..." So Far

I'm not finished with the book yet, but I am far enough in to it to tell you that it is WONDERFUL and one that every wife should read! I have found it has freed me from so much guilt in some areas while really convicting me in others.

If you can, get your hands on this book as soon as possible. I am borrowing a friend's copy but will be purchasing my own to keep on hand for those times I know I'll need to go to it again and again.

Also, can you believe I was tagged WAAAAAAYYYYY back in November by Shannon and never even knew it! Or if I did, I totally forgot about it, which does happen quite often to me so no big surprise there. So I'll try to get to that tomorrow. Ooops. It already IS tomorrow, but I mean LATER tomorrow. I need to get some sleep before I do any deep, meaningful thinking required for a tag!

By the way, how do you like the new Valentine-y look for my blog? I'm not quite done yet, but the big stuff is finished.