Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fleecy Sheets and Undershirts

The top bunk belongs to Farm Boy. My boys do not use a flat sheet to cover with, but each have a quilt my mother made them and topped with their comforters. They always got tangled in the topsheet and they were a pain to straighten every morning.
Without HVAC it gets chilly 'round these parts. Once the temps drop below 50F at night, the boys wear undershirts under their jammies to give them an extra layer of warmth.  It also combats the whineys ("I'm coooold!!!" in the mornings when it is time to dress for the day.

I have always loved the idea of flannel sheets since I am so very cold-natured. Hubby on the other hand scoffs at the idea. I've pondered whether I could make up some fitted sheets with flannel on my side and regular material on the other, but I have gotten that ambitious yet. If we ever move north, I may have to. He is a great sport though and often warms my side of the best so I don't have to get into it and shiver until it warms up. The boys are not so lucky. One of the best things we came up with last year was having topping their fitted sheet with a fleece blanket. My sister gave them some yummy fleece blankets one year for Christmas (embroidered with their names on them 'cause she's cool like that!) They worked perfectly! 

You can see the fitted sheet peeking through. We got the bunk beds from Craigslist back in the summer. They were originally in a college dorm and they look it. But they were very inexpensive - $50 for the set!! They will be refinished in the spring.

Yummy cozyness. I'll be making them some flannel pillowcases as well.
The boys don't have to get in a blustery bed and they stay warm and cozy throughout the night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TOS Review: Buckets O' Fun

It is almost certain that if you have boys, you anticipate dirty things, creepy-crawly things or yucky things. It is just part of their life and what makes them boys. There are exceptions to the rule, my Music Man for instance, but for the most part, moms deal with these things and just blame it on "boys will be boys."

Buckets-O-Fun makes clean yucky fun! Made from polymers, this non-toxic substance takes on several forms depending on which Yuck is being played with.

Sticky Yuck
Saucy Yuck
Snowy Yuck
Chunky Yuck

Marketed originally for youth groups, Buckets-O-Fun would be great for science class! I would have loved to try out some of the suggestions mentioned such as Saucy on a Slip N Slide or in a water balloon but being it is fall here, it was a bit too cool outside to try those. :) Other suggestions include Pirate's Treasure (hiding toys in it), Saucy on a Slip-N-Slide, Yuck Wrestling, and a Yuck Balloon Toss! Can you imagine the mess when it breaks?

My first thought when I received my samples was the sensory input. Music Man has never liked getting dirty and usually takes a while to warm up to a new texture. (The kid still hates the feel of grass or sand under his feet.) Yucks could be very useful for occupational and speech therapists who are treating kids with tactile aversions.

Want to see it in action? Check out these YouTube videos!

Buckets O' Fun
Prices range from $16-20 for one pound of Yuck
Ages 5-95

** Due to chemical allergies in my boys, I was the sole reviewer for these products. 
Music Man and Farm Boy did not actually play with the Yucks. **

I received several samples free of charge from Buckets-O-Fun for the purpose of review. 
No other compensation was received.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Join THE BLACKOUT at the Athens Area Humane Society

Come Meet Your Match during THE BLACKOUT at the Athens Area Humane Society! Black animals take much longer to adopt than their more colorful counterparts. This event is helping to find forever homes for loving black cat and dogs in the Athens, GA area.

THE BLACKOUT runs through this Sunday, October 31, 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day '10

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - October 15th. This is the ninth one that I have experienced since I had reason to know what it was. In July 2001, I lost my middle son, Samuel. Below is Sammie's Story, taken from the Remembering Your Baby website, an organization I founded to help parents experiencing the loss of a child at or before birth. 

In December 2000, my husband accepted a position as Minister to Youth and Recreation at the First Baptist Church in Belle Glade, Florida and we made preparations to move. With the holidays and moving we weren't paying much attention to my cycle dates and I got pregnant, though at the time I didn't know it. It took until early February to realize it and not too long after that, our oldest son ended up in the hospital with respiratory distress (related to low muscle tone and severe gastro reflux.) Since we resided in the hospital for most of February, I didn't get to an OB until I was 12 weeks along. At my initial appointment, we were told that my amniotic fluid was low. No one was terribly concerned knowing the schedule I had been following while living in the hospital. We blamed it on not eating right and very little sleep. The doctor told me to take better care of myself and he would see me next month. At the next appointment, there was not enough improvement so I was sent to a perinatologist (maternal specialist) who confirmed that my amniotic fluid was indeed low and that the reason was that there were cysts on the baby's kidneys. There were actually no kidney on one side and very little tissue except for cysts on the other. We were told that the prognosis was not good and that we needed to get over to the genetic counselor right away to discuss our options. My husband looked straight at the perinatologist and told him there were no options; we were not aborting regardless of outcome. I was 18 weeks pregnant at the time. The next day we saw a urologist (kidney specialist) who confirmed what we were told the day before. We were devastated beyond description. We were told I would not carry the baby to term and that the defects were incompatible with life. The actual problem was not the cystic kidneys, but the fact that a baby's lungs cannot develop in the womb without amniotic fluid. The cysts on the baby's kidneys were preventing the amniotic fluid from replenishing in my womb.
I was just over eight months pregnant with Sammie when I went into labor. He was born by cesarean section and his heart beat for about an hour. He was a beautiful, precious gift - one I wouldn't trade for anything else. He looked exactly like our oldest son, except his hair was wispy, strawberry blond and very curly, whereas his brother's was full, black and wavy. We kept him with us for several hours creating precious memories, taking pictures and just holding him.

Please join the wave of light by lighting a candle at 7:00PM in your time zone. If you are local to me, we will be at the Courthouse in Monroe.

TOS Review: Soli Deo Gloria Map Skills Unit Study

Farm Boy is a geography nut. He began studying the US map when he was a mere four years old. Now, at almost seven, he can place all the states in an unlined US map and can almost match up all the capitals. The boy loves his geography! When we received word of this review, he was stoked!

Map Skills came to me as a 31-page eBook. It is a three-week unit study that includes day-by-day lesson plans for a four-day school week for grades K-6. The overview of the unit gives Recommended Resources to use in addition to this plan. Following the lesson plans are optional activities for older students or those who want or need additional practice. 

From the overview:
The only thing you will need in addition to this unit will be your standard math curriculum and your phonics program for young learners. The above skills are taught through a variety of methods including; workbooks, hands-on activities, crafts, kinesthetic activities and map work. When you are planning your day, keep in mind that hands-on activities and crafts always take longer than you expect!

I love unit studies for this reason! It is a nice change from our day-to-day schooling to just take a break and focus fully on a particular subject. The appendix holds a reading list, four Bible worksheets related to the study and answer keys for them. A sample page from the lesson plans is available on the website and happens to be one of our favorite days. My boys got a kick out of the game variations such as using a the directional spin on Simon Says!

Soli Deo Gloria resources are created by a down-to-earth homeschool family with a heart for missions. We used Kindergarten Basics in our homeschool last year and loved it. I love the Charlotte Mason style in her resources as my boys love to create and do things rather than have me talk all the time. (Who would!?) There is a wealth of information in the Free Resources section of the website as well! Go check them out! You won't be disappointed!

As a member of the TOS Crew I received the Map Skills eBook  free of charge from Soli Deo Gloria for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are my own and no other compensation was received.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TOS Review: Lanschool Makes School Cool

This is the coolest. I mean, really. When my boys started playing on the computer - supervised on specific websites - I worried they might accidentally click over to a website they shouldn't be on. Like some of those scary teenager games - or worse. And then it happened. They were happily playing an age-appropriate phonics games and suddenly I hear a shriek from my office where the computer is. Then there were creatures fighting and guns blasting. "Mamaaaaaaaa!!!!!" they yelled. Inadvertently they had found themselves somewhere they shouldn't be with only one click of the mouse.

Then there was the time Farm Boy asked to work on his Capitals (a map program where he places the name of the capital city on a map of the US.) He has them all learned now but is trying to beat his best time and this particular instance he got a little behind. Instead of continuing on, he decided then quit and just play chess. Not that playing chess is a bad thing. He was just supposed to be doing schoolwork and well, I don't consider chess part of school. 

If Lanschool had been on our network, I could have avoided both of these situations. Marketed as a "Classroom Management Software," I found it to be so much more! Lanschool is designed to alleviate the distractions of technology in a classroom while using that technology to teach. But knowing my kids can only go where I say they can go online or only use certain programs during schooltime is so worth the investment in and of itself.

There is a message feature where the student can ask a question of the teacher (through chat.) The boys and I loved playing with that - it was their first glimpse at true technology, not just playing a game or gathering info for a project on the web. You can also send a private message to one student or the entire class (or homeschool.) I loved the "clear screen" option where you can personalize a message that disables the student computer(s.) It really got my boys' attention! 
We had the National Geographic Kids website up and they were watching animal videos as we demo-ed the software. I loved watching what my boys were doing and how long they stayed on a particular video. You can monitor what they are doing on their computer by viewing their desktop or just looking at the history log at a later time.  You can even designate things they can't do such during schooltime such as email or IM or social networking! We aren't there yet, thank goodness. But the option was there.

Another neat feature (and one probably used most often by school districts) is being able to show the teacher's desktop to the student and teach them through it.

Now don't just take my word for it - head over and get a guided tour. Then sign up for the 30-day free trial. The cost of the software is only $99 for a home license (up to three computers) and tech support/upgrades for three years! It is invaluable for a homeschool with kids who understand how to navigate the internet. Mine do not - yet. If purchased when the kids start surfing (or using online curriculum,) it could work out to be just a few dollars per year throughout the entire school career. For me, Lanschool is peace of mind. It is a must-have for any family whose children are online either using the internet for school, research or fun.

I received a trial of Lanschool free of charge for the purpose of review, no other compensation was received.
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