Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TOS Crew Review : Beeyoutiful


I always enjoying trying out new natural bath and beauty products! I was so happy to get to try two products, from a company called Beeyoutiful, which come in good use this time of year at our home - lip balm and skin salve.


The skin salve - Miracle, is perfect for healing those winter conditioners that we tend to have here in our home like eczema and dry skin. This great salve has some wonderful ingredients like - coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, organic plantain leaf, organic comfrey root, organic calendula flowers, propolis, lavender essential oil, rosemary essential oil. What I really liked is Miracle's quick healing capability, we noticed improvement with dry skin almost immediately. Also, loved the fact that this product can be used in place of antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, and diaper rash creme to name a few. A two ounce container is just $15.

The second product we were able to try out was the Lip B.A.L.M. - it comes in two flavors peppermint and orange. We were given the peppermint balm and it had a really pleasant smell. My daughter, Ava Mae, has a horrible problem with chapped lips during the winter. I usually just have her use one of her kiddie lip glosses but, I have to stay the Lip B.A.L.M. had some really great results. Not only did it help with her chapped lips it healed them really quickly - I think in part because we were using a product with natural ingredients rather than a petroleum based one. I now carry it with me everywhere. Lip B.A.L.M. contains GrapeSeed Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax, and Essential Oils - wonderful natural ingredients. It retails for just $3.


Beeyoutiful is a great company that sells all natural products via their online storefront. The products they carry are items that they have found worked great in their own family. There are some wonderful articles to read on their site and you can sign up for their newsletter packed with great advice. It is a great resource for someone who is interested in a more healthy wellness approach to life. There are several products on their site which I am going to order and try out. 

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of Beeyoutiful's great products? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: I am reviewing these products on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than the Miracle Skin Salve and Lip B.A.L.M., for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the products.

T - 48 Hours and Counting

In less than 48 hours we will be on the road heading to one of our favorite vacation destinations. Reservations have been finalized for all of our fun dining experiences and the girls' Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment, packing is underway, and forecasts have been checked and rechecked {the kids really wanted to swim and it appears the weather is going to cooperate with that}. We are almost ready to go!

I am looking forward to some downtime and working hard this trip to not completely schedule every minute of our day. It is hard, I am a planner by nature but, this vacation I am working hard to be different - more flexible and less worried about the itinerary.

Looking forward to a week long family vacation!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TOS Crew Review : "Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here" from Apologia

Several of our homeschool friends have been using the "What We Believe" series from Apologia for their bible curriculum and I have been hearing such good things. I was so excited to be chosen to review, in our homeschool, the second book in the series entitled - Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here.

And, not only did I get the chance to review the actual hardcover book, Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here, Apologia was so nice and sent out the Notebooking Journal, Audio MP3 CD, and 64 page Coloring Book which all go along with this particular book.

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So what is this particular book in the series all about? This is directly from Apologia's website:
The second book in the What We Believe series, Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) helps children understand what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Most High God. This study will enable students to develop a healthy self-image based on these biblical truths: God made me in His image and crowned me with glory; He has given me special gifts and a unique purpose in life; I can creatively express God's love; I am meant to think about beautiful and praiseworthy things, especially God and His Word; I must make decisions based on God's truth; I can always know the wise thing to do; I must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life; I am a beloved child of God whose true identity is found in Christ.
We began using the curriculum as soon as we received it. I found immediately, like all of the Apologia books we have used so far, that this book was written to the student. The stories were interesting and biblical truths were explained in easy to understand language. The series is written on the 5th or 6th grade level but, is meant to be used with a wide array of ages from six to fourteen years old - which I know like in our home is a huge selling point for most homeschool families. I will say there is a lot of reading! I was so thankful for the MP3 Audio CD - so easy to put in our laptop and listen to. 

And, while my 9 and 10 year old enjoyed working in the Notebooking Journal, my 7 year old LOVED the coloring book {she so often feels left out because she cannot read or write as well as Devin and Lexi so this was the perfect tie in for her}. 

Both of these supplemental materials really allows for all different ages to be included in the bible study. Already, we have had some amazing discussions come out of our lessons. There have even been some tears as some of what we discussed has really hit home.

Like everything we have used from the Apologia, this book did not disappoint. We will finish up this book and my plan is to purchase the first book in the series and go through that next. {The books do not need to be done in order.}  

Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here? can be purchased directly from Apologia for $39.00. The following items are also available directly from Apologia - Notebooking Journal ($24.00), Audio MP3 CD ($19.00), and Coloring Book ($8.00).

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of Apologia's - Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than the bible study curriculum items for Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here from Apologia, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the curriculum.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week End Wrap Up : February 18, 2012

What a fun week we have had ... and with just five days until Disney the excitement level is building.

Last week we celebrated Valentine's Day, made one hundred picture frames for a Father-Daughter Dance at a friend's church, welcomed a new baby boy into our friends' family, and Devin and Lexi sang with their AMEN Choir in the main sanctuary during worship service today.

This past week - Devin and Lexi had a great time at their Genesis Ten:10 Adventure Club Outing ... this month it was rock climbing. So proud of my two "rock climbers". Both kids cannot wait to go back again. Thankful for my friend Tammy taking them on this adventure and to my son's friend, Wesley, for the encouragement he provided Devin getting him to climb the highest rock wall. {Devin is so scared of heights - this was a huge accomplishment for him.}

So looking forward to our Winter Break ... we have worked hard this past eight weeks and we are all looking forward to our vacation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TOS Crew Review : ALEKS


Math ... ugh, not my favorite subject by a mile. Thankfully, our son loves math and teaching him more advanced concepts has been easy. {My girls are still in easy elementary math concepts.} I have been wondering what math would look like in a couple years for us. I figured middle school would start bringing some more complicated math concepts that I would not enjoy figuring out again or teaching.

As always, anytime I begin to worry, if I just commit it to prayer an answer comes along. For us, that answer seems to be a product I just got the opportunity to review, ALEKS.

So what is ALEKS:
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking.
Devin was not initially impressed with ALEKS - in fact, it did take some prodding on my part to get him to sit down and use it but, once he began mastering the different areas and seeing his progess on the pie chart he was motivated to continue on.


I loved being able to see what he was learning and the fact that even though he mastered a certain concept he would still occasionally be rechecked on that area when he first signed in. Also, loved that when a concept is mastered the student is not required to then do page after page of "busy work" on that concept. That is especially helpful for us with a child who excels in math. {Devin can become quite frustrated when our math curriculum seems to be repeating something he learned months ago and has down pat.} I should also note that while ALEKS can be used as a supplemental tool in homeschooling it is meant to be a stand alone curriculum. There is this great section on the website which talks about using ALEKS in a homeschool environment.


ALEKS also offers Quick Tables to assist in the learning of math facts. We did not use this area much mainly because Devin has his math facts memorized but, I know our other two would benefit from using this program. ALEKS also gives you the ability to print out worksheets - which I really like. I like the ability of being able to take math with us - without having to take along the kids' laptop.

ALEKS is for grades 3rd - 12th. So what does it cost? ALEKS is a very affordable subscription based program which runs $19.95 a month for one student, $99.95 for 6 months of access for one student, or $179.95 for a 12 month subscription for one student.  For families with more than one child, discount pricing is available. Subscriptions can be purchased directly from their website. They also offer a free 2 month trial - which I highly recommend.

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of ALEKS? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than a trial subscription to ALEKS, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the math curriculum.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nature Journaling : The Cedar Waxwing Bird

We love opportunities to nature journal ... winter is a great time for us to observe the birds in our neighborhood and at our feeder and this weekend was no exception.

On Saturday morning we awoke to hundreds of these birds in our trees and while I am sure they have probably been in our yard before I have never noticed them.  It had my curiosity up and the kids kept asking what type they were so off to the internet I went. It took awhile but, I finally found what was invading our front yard and trees - the Cedar Waxwing bird.

Apparently they enjoy eating berries off of trees - of which our trees are plentiful right now. It made for some great photographs and the kids now have something to journal about. {It also meant both of our SUV's needed to go to the car wash this weekend - apparently the berries pass quiet quickly through the Waxwing's digestive system.}

Here are a few interesting facts we learned while researching the Cedar Waxwing from this great website:
Cedar Waxwings are social birds that form large flocks and often nest in loose clusters of a dozen or so nests. When feeding on fruits, Cedar Waxwings pluck them one by one and swallow the entire thing at once. They typically feed while perched on a twig, but they’re also good at grabbing berries while hovering briefly just below a bunch. 

The birds’ name derives from their appetite for cedar berries in winter; they also eat mistletoe, madrone, juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple, hawthorn, and Russian olive fruits.

The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red secretions found on the tips of the secondaries of some birds. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may help attract mates.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week End Wrap Up : Catching Up

I am trying harder to post our wrap ups for each week so I can document what is going on in our homeschool. Tonight I am catching up on our last two weeks ...

In science we wrapped up a study on plants and moved into human anatomy but, not before growing some corn plants from seed and cutting up an orange to look at the individual cells it contains. I will post a new picture at the end of this coming week to show you how much our corn has grown - much faster than I thought.

This week we had a Valentine's Party with our homeschool small group. It was such a nice day we were able to hold it at a local park. Lots of Valentine cards, candy, cupcakes, and cookies. I had to keep reminding my girls they had the Father/Daughter Dance to attend that night.

We are really enjoying our new bible curriculum - "Who Am I" from Apologia. We have had some really good conversations after each lesson. This is the second book in the series. I think it is going to be a great new addition to our homeschool! Look for my review in a couple of weeks.

So, that at least hits the highlights from the past two weeks ...

Father/Daughter Dance 2012

On Friday night my husband and daughters' attended the Father/Daughter Dance hosted by our church. It is something our girls look forward to every year! The excitement of picking out dresses, shoes, and hairstyles is just over the top fun.

Our church does a great job putting the dance on and we are always so thankful for all the volunteers who make it a must attend event for our community - both nights always sell out. There is delicious food, a live band, and fun dancing!

This year the event was even more special with the addition of a Father/Daughter Walk - the Dads and Daughters went on a walk through the church, making stops along the way at designated points to answer questions. My husband and I both enjoyed talking about the questions they discussed. What a wonderful and special night!

Devin and I also have our own tradition on Father/Daughter Dance night ... we go out to dinner! This year it was our favorite local diner where we met up with some friends and enjoyed good food and conversation.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TOS Crew Review : Math Rider


Math facts drills are not a fun activity here at our home for my two daughters {ages 9 and 7}. I decided I needed to find something fun for the girls to work with other than math sheets with columns of math facts that my son absolutely loved doing.

I was so happy to be selected to review a fun math facts game called Math Rider. The software is a fun game where a horse gallops off on a quest - each obstacle it must leap is a math fact. The faster your child types an answer the faster the horse goes through the quest. The game takes place in a magical land called the Land of Ray and your child rides on a horse named Shadow. My girls loved this - I mean what girl doesn't want to own a horse. We also loved the interactive part of the game where each quest revolved around a story.  Positive reinforcement occurs in the rewards that children earn during each quest for answering math facts correctly. I was also quiet pleased with the fact that getting an answer wrong did not lead to the game ending or "losing" which upsets my younger daughter - the horse just stops briefly and gives the correct answer to the math fact before galloping again to the next obstacle.


The part I love the most is that Math Rider is an intelligent game - meaning it learns what your child is struggling with, math fact wise, and drills those more than the ones your child easily knows the answer to. Here is a better explanation taken from Math Rider's website:

While the rider is playing, the game learns what the rider knows and what he or she still needs to practice. Every single response (or non-response) is stored in an internal database and statistically analysed by the software. In this way the program is able to custom-tailor to each rider, which questions are asked next. No repetitive drilling of random number facts the rider already knows – but real practice of what actually needs to be practiced!
Plenty of feedback is given on the rider’s mastery of each number fact and operation, including an innovative overview map of mastery for each number table. This is highly beneficial for both the rider and the parent/educator. You can see with one glance where your child is at and where he or she might need further assistance. Top challenges are also listed in a separate list box for further easy reference.
Clicking on a question brings up more information on it, including a visual representation as well as some detailed statistics.

My girls could not get enough of this game. Even my son, who has most of his math facts completely memorized enjoyed playing the game and seeing what quest he would be going on. I cannot think of a more fun way to practice math facts.

Math Rider is a good software game for ages 6 - 12 and retails for $47, though until February 15, 2012 you can purchase it for just $37 - directly from their website. The software is easily downloaded and installed {we downloaded and were on the game in a matter of minutes}. It supports multiple children - though each child is on their own quest, they do not play against each other, a plus in our house. :) And, I love companies that give you an opportunity to try before you buy ... Math Rider gives a free 7 day trial.

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of Math Rider? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.
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Disclaimer: I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than a trial copy of Math Rider, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the software.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Crafting : Disney Autograph Books

This weekend Michael's Craft Store had a $5 off a $5 purchase coupon - I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for the kids to pick up supplies and make autograph books for Disney. Both my girls and myself had a coupon so we each spent just a little over $5 and purchased enough supplies to make two autograph books and one mini-memory album. {Lexi really likes her autograph book she purchased two years ago and wanted to use it again this year.}

Michael's had spiral notebooks with black covers and different options for the pages - Ava Mae chose pink and we got Devin, blue. Then it was just a matter of picking out some stickers, ribbon, and other embellishments. Total out of pocket was around $3.30, that included the large pen Ava Mae bought {Characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse find it much easier to sign autograph books with an over sized pen}.

We had Disney themed scrapbook paper but, I did pick up a few more sheets. Here is our final product ... 

You can tell from the pictures above Ava Mae's main mission is to get autographs of princesses while Devin's autograph book has a Disney/Baseball theme.  Devin is planning to see the Atlanta Braves while at Disney World {they are at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports for Spring Training} and he is hoping for some players' autographs too.


And, here is my mini-album and Disney Travel Smash Album.