AsForMyHouse

Jul 132013
 

DISCLAIMER: You may not agree with me. Surprise, surprise. I have no problem with that, and I hope you can simply accept it, as well. If that is the case, please know that this post is not about you, so there is no cause to feel alarmed, insulted, “judged,” or any other negative reaction – unless such should be spontaneously generated by the action of the Holy Spirit in your heart. My purpose here is simply to explore a choice that we made, and share my thoughts for the consideration of others.

Several years ago, I purchased two “complete” years of Sonlight curriculum second-hand. For those not familiar with Sonlight, this means I received two big boxes full of not only the lesson plans and guides, but many, many reading books. (The photo is from the Sonlight website; one Core + Readers set).

Those levels weren’t what we needed at that moment (I just couldn’t pass up the deal!), so I crated them up, labeled them, and tucked them away in the storage room.

I was delighted when I realized that the Core I wanted to purchase for our 2013/2014 school year was the first of these years that I had stored away!

The Science books lined up with the Science we are just finishing up from this year (wish I’d known THAT earlier!), so I went ahead and re-sold them.

Sorting through the Read-Alouds for the Core, and the Readers for Miss J’s Language Arts, we found that we had most of them, so I only had to purchase the missing pieces.

I (read “we”) decided, however, to purchase the Core Instructor’s Guide new from Sonlight. (There is a re-purchase discount if you have previously purchased a Core, but that applies only to the original purchaser).

Why do that instead of using the perfectly functional one that I have in the box?

Here’s the reasons that immediately occur to me, roughly in order from least to most important (not ignoring the overall factor of prayer and debate):

  • The Core guide that I have is put together for the 4-day rather than 5-day schedule, so would require some re-working. It also has writing in it, lessons checked off by the previous user, etc. Certainly, it would be nicer to have my own fresh copy.
  • Purchasing the Core entitles me to access the online forums, registers me with them for Customer Support, etc., etc.
  • “Core 1″ is actually a number of years old, and predates a pretty significant revamp they did a couple of years ago. The currently-named “Core B” has a lot of improvements.

But the far-and-away main reason?

  • Because it’s the right thing to do. Because I adore Sonlight, and they deserve compensation for their product – this is how they support their family, remember!

Now, do I wish this hadn’t happen right now, when were’re suffering under a 20% pay cut thanks to Congress’ bright idea that furloughs were better than doing their job with the budget? For sure!

But right is right.

**

This is not in any way a “sponsored post”, but we sure do adore Sonlight (I can’t decide whether I’m more impressed with the incredible products, or their top-notch customer service and guarantees…). If you’d like to give them a try, you can get $5 off your first order by clicking through my affiliate link: sonlight.com/rewards/TH20214672.

Jul 102013
 

Hopefully you’ve all noticed the none-too-publicised admission by the powers that be that raw milk is, get this, a safe and healthy food! (If not: Raw Milk is a Safe and Low Risk Food info at Weston A. Price Foundation has all the particulars)

So if you live in a state where your access to raw milk is legally limited – it’s time for action! Call your state legislators and tell them to get things changed!

Anyone who would like to see raw milk available in Mississippi, here’s the point of contact: Taylor@mspolicy.org.

I emailed our governor and my state representatives, and one response I received was this:

“Good stuff Tiffany! I suggest you contact Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, as he’s shown an interest in this topic. His email address is below. I hope your contact will get this ball rolling!”

GO GO GO!

The adorable photo is not mine, but was featured at HealthyVibrantHappy (a website with which I’m not otherwise familiar) in a terrific post, The War against Raw Milk… Really.

Jul 062013
 

We’ve had the “iThing” for a while, and have all grown quite attached to it. We’ve always had it in a case, and have been blessed not to have any accidents that have damaged it.

Recently I was sent a Snugg iPad 2 Distressed Brown Leather Case for review – as shown in the photo here.

The Snugg seems to stand quite – ha ha – SNUG-ly, compared to the ridged stand on the case we’ve been using. I do wonder, though, how the little tab to hold it in place will hold up over time.

The magnetic closure is also very nice, and I prefer it to the elastic band on our previous case.

Problem: No corner protection.

This case holds the iThing in place for viewing, but it does nothing to protect against those little everyday slips and bumps.

I’m not sure I’d trust myself with it, and I definitely won’t be trusting the kids with it.

Overall: Satisfactory, but highly variable rating depending on your specific needs in a case.

**

Disclosure: I received one or more complimentary products or services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it on my website and/or in social media. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers. I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jun 232013
 

No, this has NOTHING to do with the failed governmental meaning of that phrase. In fact, my point is that in real life it works out to be something quite the opposite.

So, these are my kids:

Princess J is 8 (in the pink ball), and R.T. is 5 (in the blue ball).

When someone asks what grade they’re in, we all routinely give them the simple answer based on their age. She’ll be going into 3rd grade in the Fall, and he into Kindergarten.

But reality looks quite a bit more complicated in our house.

Begin with the understanding that, while we do a more “school” than “unschool” approach, we are firmly in the camp of Better Late than Early. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out this video. It’s 25 minutes long, and has a bit of intro that is rather dry (but full of great information). The meat of it, though, is a great interview between Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Raymond Moore (from years ago).

As parents we stressed about it at first. We wanted to keep the curriculum flowing from grade to grade as the calendar years went by. But – as in the video – at the root of our schooling philosophy we believe that kids will get where they need to be by the time they really need to be there.

My husband always tells the kids one of our main family philosophies is, “get it done, no matter what.” In our schooling that translates to “take the time that’s needed to truly master the material” (NOT “comply with someone else’s arbitrary timetable”).

So, when the Fall came when she “should start Kindergarten,” and J was clearly not ready to begin tackling reading… We simply didn’t.

The following Fall we began anew. She was “in 1st Grade”, but she was doing Kindergarten curricula for Language Arts and Math.

History, Geography, Bible and the rest we’re handling differently. We’ve chosen a Sonlight “Core” that is suitable for both their age levels, and both kids are being taught the same material. Expectations, of course, vary.

At this point in time, we’re doing Science this way as well. That may need to change down the road. We’re flexible.

So then there’s the little guy. He sits in on the read-alouds for the Core subjects, but is welcome to color or build with Legos during that time. Science is play time for everyone, and I simply handle any writing that’s required (for both of them, still, at this point).

The plan for next year, then was “The Core,” with 2nd Grade Language and Math for Miss J, and Kindergarten Language and Math for R.T.

Miss J is still plodding through the reading, and between that and a lot of health issues (hers and mine), last year went very, very badly. We didn’t finish until November, then took December off and started this year in January. I figured if we could stay on track, even if we didn’t push, we could finish earlier than last year, and gradually work around to being back on a more “normal” school year schedule (with our built-in flexibility).

But R.T. is anxious! He wants to “do school” and have his own work.

A compromise was devised wherein we’d do a bit more of the common subjects, and finish up by August to take 2 weeks off and start the new school year on time (in my book) right after Labor Day. J would keep moving at her own pace on her other subjects.

He was pretty quick to realize that the worksheets I was printing out for him, and even the alphabet flashcards, weren’t “real school”. Smart kids can be a challenge, I tell you. So I pulled out the tiny beginning phonics readers from J’s Kindergarten program, and off we went. He sounds things. He blends things. And he begged for the “Explode the Code” workbooks that were part of his upcoming school year (he remembered them because J did them, and is still doing the sequels).

What’s a mama to do?

Obviously, I went to the Sonlight website and ordered his Explode the Code books, as well as the first workbook of his Math.

So, at this moment, we are here:

  • Miss J will be starting “3rd Grade.” She is still working through a 1st Grade curriculum in Language Arts, and in Math. If we stay on target, she will finish those in November and pick up the 2nd Grade versions after New Years’.
  • R.T. will be starting Kindergarten. He is already racing into a Kindergarten curriculum of Math and Language Arts, and may well be a fluent reader before his sister. If he slows down his pace, though, that’s okay, too.

She’s very bright. Even with language, if you stay verbal she can make rhymes and puns and language jokes right along with the rest of us. She doesn’t need “special ed” or a label (although I have wondered if some testing might enable me to find ways to help her better) – she just needs time to work through it at her own pace.

So I homeschool. Reason number 437, probably.

To strangers who ask, she’s simply “going into 3rd grade.” And when they compliment me about how polite and helpful she is, and about how smart and articulate she is, I just smile.

**

This is not in any way a “sponsored post”, but we sure do adore Sonlight (I can’t decide whether I’m more impressed with the incredible products, or their top-notch customer service and guarantees…). If you’d like to give them a try, you can get $5 off your first order by clicking through my affiliate link: sonlight.com/rewards/TH20214672.

Jun 122013
 

Would you spend $4 to save hundreds on stuff you already plan to buy?

Of course! That’s why people pay for memberships at “wholesale clubs” like Costco.

Village Green Premium is a lot like that—except there’s no junk food or junk stuff you don’t want — it’s all 100% real food and healthy products people like us want (and buy anyway!), from reputable small companies we want to support!

Here are just a few of the deals going on this month:

  • Free $10 gift card to Get Kombucha
  • $10 off at Lucky Vitamin
  • 15% off your order of gourmet spices from AcroAma Blends
  • $200 off a whole home water filtration system from Radiant Life Company
  • 15% off your entire order from Perfect Supplements (great place to get fermented cod liver oil)
  • 10% off your entire order from Jovial Foods
  • A FREE bottle of magnesium oil from Radiant Life Company

Check out more deals from the club — Visit Village Green Network

Disclosure: In some cases, there are affiliate links, where clicking through one of my links would earn me a small referral commission – in which case, I am very grateful.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers.

I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jun 112013
 

I used Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) to grammar check this post, because evidently grammar mistakes enjoy taking advantage of migraine-brain!

I’ve run across a number of cool resources online lately, so in the interest of minimizing the illness delays I’m presenting them all to you here in one handy-dandy list.

And yeah, this is a really old picture of the two older kiddos. Hard to believe they were once that size!

Save1

Want to do something great with your searching and shopping and couponing, rather than trying to scrape together enough points with daily gimmicks to earn a little gift card?

Save1.com is a family owned coupon and loyalty site representing more than 5,000 of the top online merchants.

What makes us different is that when someone shops from Save1 to save money, we provide a healthy meal to a malnourished child through one of our non-profit feeding partners.

Since launching 10/01/12, we have provided more than 99,000 meals.

Much nicer to give than to receive, eh? :)

Grammarly

Grammarly is “an automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach.” It’s designed to correct up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor does!

  • Instantly find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes
  • Improve word choice with context-optimized vocabulary suggestions
  • Avoid plagiarism by checking your texts against over 8 billion documents

Doesn’t that make you make you wonder how you ever got along without it? I guess some progress is a good thing.

World of Warcraft

I suppose I’ll find out how many people are actually reading this post by how many comments I get about this entry. No doubt it seems completely out of character for me.

Actually, Nick and I both enjoy playing computer games, and we play World of Warcraft online together.

Does it have some violence and other content that’s not ideal? Yeah. Do people online (you play live with many, many people from all over the country, and even the world) sometimes say things that are inappropriate? Yeah. So? So I don’t let the little kids play. It’s FAR less offensive than many things I see and overhear on my average trip to the store, so I don’t feel that’s a reason to reject it out of hand.

I enjoy it as a mental escape, and I can choose whether to do exciting, challenging things, or mundane and peaceful things, depending on my mood. And I can play cooperatively with my teenager – and that’s valuable all by itself.

Want to check it out? You can play on a free starter account for 30 days; and if you email me at tiffany (at) tiffanyblitz (dot) com, I can send you an invitation link to get even more free bonus goodies.

Whew! I think I’m caught up now… ;)

Disclosure: In some cases, I have received one or more complimentary products or services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it on my website and/or in social media. In some cases, there are affiliate links, where clicking through one of my links would earn me a small referral commission – in which case, I am very grateful.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers.

I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

May 262013
 

Let’s get this awkward new FTC stuff out of the way upfront: I was sent a copy of the book for review. Amazon link has affiliate tracking. See the details at the end of the post. So there.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

That is the very question one mother asked herself one day. What followed was a family journey of epic proportions – a journey of physical challenge, emotional endurance, teamwork, perseverance, and tremendous learning opportunities.

Would the journey be a dream come true – or a mother’s worst nightmare?

Together with her husband and young twin sons, Nancy Sathre-Vogel set off on her heavily laden bicycle to ride from one end of the world to the other – quite literally. Starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, they pedaled south for three years. Theirs was a journey of over 17,000 miles through fifteen countries.

Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is Nancy’s memoir about her experiences on the road. In it, she grapples with the challenges any mother does. When is it time to cut the apron strings and send your children out on their own? How does a mother respond when the tides change and the children are capable of caring for their parents? How does one handle the responsibility of caring for your offspring in unknown and unpredictable circumstances? How do we know we’re doing the best for our children?

Changing Gears is also a book that will encourage you to reach for the stars. It’s a story of discovery of self, of priorities, of accepting hardships, and of appreciating blessings. It will challenge you to look at your own life through a different set of glasses.

Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is organized as a travel log, with a map showing each leg of the journey, fun photos and facts, colorful anecdotes about people encountered along the way, and more. There’s even a Guinness Book of World Records record – sort of (you’ll have to read for yourself to see what I mean).

But Nancy also candidly documents her inner journey. Even after making the initial decision to embark on the trip, there are many obstacles – inner as well as outside. She has to care for her boys, while encouraging them to grow and mature; find the determination to keep going through the tough times; broaden and change some of her philosophies as she encounters new things. That’s what makes the book a good read – since I, for one, have absolutely zero interest in cycling further than the corner park!

You can grab a copy from Amazon – physical or digital:

Although the book is not particularly “dramatic” or a “can’t put it down” kind of read, I definitely recommend it.

I think it will be fun to browse through as a homeschool tool when my kids are a little older. And it’s a good nudge to help us mamas (and other folks) think outside the box, and outside our fear.

And there’s more about their other journeys (yes, there are!) on their website: Family on Bikes.

I received the referenced items for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone.
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.
Some retailers offer affiliate programs, so for some of the products mentioned clicking through one of my links may earn me a small referral commission. In which case, I am very grateful.

May 262013
 

You probably know by now that we’re Star Trek fans in our house. Last year, the kiddos even had a Star Trek birthday, complete with a Borg Cube cake that was my first foray into fondant, and very stressful!

Although we haven’t seen the new movie (and weren’t big fans of its predecessor, being fans of the classic stuff), it is definitely nice that the publicity has generated a new wave of fun Trek stuff.

I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review something from the array of Star Trek Costumes out there. To be sure we’re in compliance with the new FTC rules, let me state here that I was given the costume pieces we’re about to discuss for free, for the purpose of writing this review; full details are at the bottom of the post.

The kids already had their costumes from the party (see first photo), so they opted for some accessories – cool phasers! Trek fans may note that the costumes are from the new movie, while the phasers are from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The kids don’t seem to mind. :)

Battery powered. Cool noises. What more could you ask for?

I received the referenced items for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone.
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.

May 252013
 

I’ve been very ill a lot over the past year, and from time to time the suggestion always pops up that I should put my kids in school – with the implication that somehow that would make my life better, or easier.

This morning I had a lovely moment of clarity.

Wolf left for work just before 6:30, as he usually does. I had propped myself up in bed, and after a while my attention was caught by children’s voices outside.

I looked out my second-story window, and watched as an intermittent parade of kids went walking down the street, gigantic backpacks on their back. Some of them I knew as my kids’ friends from the park.

A few minutes later, the big yellow bus came down the road to collect them.

About that time it started to rain.

Listening to the drumming of the rain against the window, I spared a moment of worry for the kids I had just seen, who were not dressed for rain.

Then I gathered my kids into the bed with me, and I read their science book to them. They brought up their lap desks, and J worked on her written work while R.T. colored.

Homeschooling is still best.

In spite of – or perhaps even because of – my challenges.