Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Minute Reader iPad app {Mosaic Review}

In our house reading is number 1!  We want our children to be proficient readers.  We want them to enjoy reading and really understand what they've read too.  We do OK right now with reading comprehension but there is definitely room for improvement so I was very curious to give this app from One Minute Reader a try!

One Minute Reader was developed by husband and wife team Candyce and Tom Ihnot of Read Naturally as a way help students focus on reading improvement at home.  It features interesting non-fiction stories loaded with lots of fascinating information!  We are currently in level 4 and the stories include everything from the history of Barbie to ice age animals to the Titanic!  Each story is pretty short but very informative and encourages reading for accuracy, speed and information.

Here is how it works:
To start - Choose the genre to read from....then choose your book!

You hit the green "start" button at the top to do a cold reading through the story.  When you run out of time (you get a minute), you tap the word where you left off.

Then it gives you a score of your cold reading.

Next it will give you an opportunity to read along with a narrator and tap the words in blue to discover their meaning.

Then, you can read alone again to see if you have improved...

Finally, take a quick quiz to test reading comprehension.  As you read through answer the questions you solve a riddles, jumbles and crosswords!

What we thought of One Minute Reader:
When it comes to reading comprehension this app is a great asset to our homeschool day.  It is super easy to use, Kayley (age 7) can use it with no help from Mom.  The stories are actually interesting and full of handy information.  History and science topics were Kayley's favorite and its nice that the app covers 2 subjects (well, really more if you count the vocabulary and spelling!) at one time.

It is also fun to do something a bit different in learning and using the iPad for school is always a treat!  I think the best part is that the app is inexpensive!  Read more about One Minute Reader by visiting their FAQ page.  The app has a built-in placement process so there is no guessing about what level you will need.

To buy One Minute Reader:
Currently you can purchase a free version of One Minute Reader on iTunes.  It gives you access to a sample story at each level.  You can upgrade your free app to the paid app for $2.99 to $4.99 depending on the level you choose.  One Minute Reader also offers a print version in their online store.

We have enjoyed using the One Minute Reader app!   I have actually found Kayley using the app for fun when she has had other opportunities to play on my iPad...  Thanks for stopping by!  If you'd like to read more reviews of the One Minute Reader app you can find them at the Mosaic Reviews page!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Schoolroom! {Not Back-to-School Blog Hop}

 Welcome back to Week 2 of the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop!  This week we are sharing our School Rooms.  We are pretty blessed in that we have this tiny office area in our new house.  It is a tight squeeze but serves as a nice home base for our daily school activities.   So, enjoy this short tour of our schoolroom.

You can see Mom's workstation to the left, you can see the "Learning Tree" from BJU's K4 on the left wall.  The bookcase on the left is Maggie's, on the right, Kayley's.  They both have a crate for filing completed school work.  The stacker things are our "workboxes.  We love this little white table we picked up from Toys R. Us, it seats both girls and we do sometimes but more often it becomes an independent work station for just 1 girl at a time.  The bookcases house books that we are using for school right now plus a shelf of books that are for me (preserving my sanity!)  On the far right you can see the corner of a white bin, that serves as our "turn in box."

We love our little schoolroom but honestly, maybe half of our schoolwork is done in this room.  The other 50% of our schoolwork is done in the living room on the couch where we just enjoy cuddling up to do a lot of reading!   And that's our schoolroom!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Face-to-Face by S. Michael Wilcox {Deseret Book Review}

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11). 

Is it possible to talk with God as Moses did—face to face? This is not only what we long for, but what God also ardently desires. For Moses that may have meant an actual physical encounter, but for most of us it is an expression that suggests friendship, open communication, honesty, and the conversations of familiarity. But how is that done? And how can we learn how God speaks to us individually? Bestselling author S. Michael Wilcox explores the scriptural expressions and concepts of “pouring out,” “wrestling,” being “filled with desire,” and “knocking” at the door Jesus promised would open to us— particularly in those times when we deeply need heaven to hear us and to confirm to our souls that more than our words are being received.

I had an opportunity to hear S. Michael Wilcox speak at Time Out For Women in April.  He is an amazing, spiritual man who has such a strong testimony of prayer that it took my breath away.  Having lost his wife to cancer during the Christmas holidays he is extremely familiar with grief and pain and he knows what it is like to feel like your prayers go unanswered.  In this book S. Michael Wilcox breaks down the concept of prayer into its most basic elements and helps the reader understand that prayer is more than just saying words that bounce back off of the ceiling.  Prayer requires "more intensity, more earnestness, and more honesty."  The pouring out literally suggests that as you pour there can be "no holding back" and it encompasses an "entire world of feeling and emotions."  Saying your prayers involves wrestling, believing, acting, desire, and knocking on the door and through this book the author shows you what that looks like, how it works, and invites you to act upon the word.

I am enjoying this book although, for me it is not a "sit down and read it through" kind of a book.  I find myself going back again and again and rereading certain paragraphs and sections.  I'm not going to lie, S. Michael Wilcox is a smart man and I find myself rereading as well to try to understand what he is telling me but -- I am steadily working my way through to the end.  For such a little book, it teaches volumes about prayer!

Face-to-Face retails at as a hardback for $17.09 and as a Bookshelf eBook for $10.99.  Remember, the Bookshelf app is free and available for iPhone and Android devices!  Feel free to read an excerpt of the book...

Disclaimer:  I was provided this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Choppy, choppy!!

We enjoy the eating adventures of a Japanese Steakhouse.  We went pretty recently for my birthday and since then Kayley has had a fun time playing "choppy choppy" as she calls it...  She got it all set up and served us some delicious steak, chicken and calamari....

Here she is doing the "volcano" with the train.  (Her onions are actually donuts)

Throwing the egg into her hat...  (That one took several tries.  LOL)

She's cute and imaginative isn't she??

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our 2013-2014 Curriculum {Not Back To School BlogHop}

Can you believe it is that time of year again?  I'm excited to participate and link up with iHomeschoolnetwork's Not Back-to-School Blog Hop!  This week we are talking about our curriculum choices for this year.  This is the first year where I am homeschooling 2 kiddos, although Maggie is 3 so it is kind of relative.  We started school a couple of weeks ago and so far it has been 50/50 on the bumpy vs. smooth days.  (After a grueling move this summer and being homeless for a couple months it is probably to be expected).  We have also made a bunch of changes this year in our school that will hopefully make homeschooling a little less schooly and a little more fun!  

So, without further ado, here is our line up of fun for 2013-2014:
(affiliate links are included in this blog posting)

Kayley, age 7

Discover the Book of Mormon from Discover the Scriptures.  It is a downloadable .pdf that sells for $19.99.  (Bonus!  Right now you can use a coupon code "Sun13" to save 20%!  Not sure for how long but it is still good today!)  Discover the Scriptures uses the Book of Mormon Stories reader or view/listen online.  It is a lot of fun and Kayley and I are both working through the program together.  She thinks it is pretty awesome that Mommy is doing her own workbook.
BJU Math 3.  We had been doing Singapore for the last 2 years but were burned out on the workbook approach and so we are trying something new and a bit different by taking Math 3 as video-based class through BJU.   Honestly it is pretty awesome so far.  I sit back and let Kayley handle it pretty independently.  Admittedly the price tag was steep, but for me, this year, it has been worth it as I have really felt like I need to focus a bit more on some other things and we've been overwhelmingly busy!

Social Studies:
Sonlight Curriculum 
We are at the tale end of Sonlight Core B and will be starting Core C before Winter.  We love the living books concept of Sonlight and I really, really like that it is open and go.
Story of the World.  We are also intertwining with Story of the World (finishing up Volume 1 (ancients) and moving into Vol 2 (middle ages)).  I buy the student pages as a .pdf download from Peace Hill Press, print them out, create a cute cover and then have them spiral-bound at Staples to make cute workbooks.  Story of the World compliments Classical Conversations so well that even though we are not going back to our community this year (a later story) we will continue to use it.

Apologia.  We wrapped up Astronomy at the end of  June.  This school year we have moved into Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Botany series.  I am torn on Apologia.  I was terribly annoyed with the company after the big anti-Mormon article came out in April on Apologia's blog.  They've made it pretty clear that they think we (Latter-day Saints) should burn in hell but yet, they are pretty cool about taking our money if we still want to buy their curriculum.   I had already purchased Botany before the big blow-up.  The thing is:  their curriculum is awesome.  It is really, really good and I really, really like it.  So, we press on with Botany for now.  The notebooking component of Botany is fun and Kayley LOVES it. 

Language Arts:
Total Language Plus.  We have started this year using Total Language Plus.  So far it is OK.  It is more work (a lot more writing) that we've had in the past but I attribute that to the fact that TLP covers ALL your Language Arts Subject in one book.  We are reading The Courage of Sarah Noble and your spelling, vocab, grammar and all that come from the reading. 

A Variety.  TLP only lasts about 8 weeks and there are only 2 series for Kayley's age so when we are done we will be moving back into Explode the Code book 7 for phonics,  BJU Grammar 3 & Reading 3 for English & Literature, A Reason for Spelling, and we are going to be trying out Word Wisdom Level C & Word Ladders for Vocabulary.  Sounds complex but its not. They are all simple, open and go.  Some of them we will just do orally.

Sonlight plus Kayley's Choice.  Reading is the MOST important subject in our house.  I expect Kayley to read at least 30 minutes a day and she does, without complaining, a LOT of times without me even reminding her.  We've created a bookworm and she is always asking for this or that from the library.  She does the reading associated with Sonlight's Grade 3 readers and will be moving onto the Grade 4-5 Reader list by Winter.  We also do the Read Alouds associated with Sonlight Core B and C (and she tags along with all of Maggies Sonlight Reading as well). 

Classical Studies:
Prima Latin by Memoria Press - This is our first year really using a language program.  We had a swift introduction to Latin at Classical Conversations this year and we are going to press on with this language.  We are using Prima Latina.  It is simple and I love that it is video based.

Classical Conversations:  It is unfortunate that we will not be returning to our Classical Conversations Community this year.  I was torn.  After moving our community is about 45 minutes away.  While the time commitment wouldn't be too bad the drive would be killer on the gas tank to drive into town 2x's a week (not to mention the hefty $500.00 price tag associated with tuition and fees).  I have already let our director know that we won't be returning but over the last few weeks I've been feeling regret.  The program is awesome!  It is a shame that I can't tutor to offset my costs but seeing as how Latter-day Saints are heathens they won't let me!  (Funny, I don't feel like a heathen?).

Anyway, I am going to try hard, hard, hard to do the program at home so next year if we decide we missed it too much then we can go back!  Classical Conversations at home might be tough but I really love the program!  On the upside, Kayley didn't enjoy it that much so she is relieved we are not going back and, a 2nd upside...CC really takes over when it is in session and I didn't enjoy the competitiveness and stress that came with "having to" be prepared every week.  It'll be nice to stay in control of our curriculum all year, take a break when we want, etc.

Memoria Press D'aulaires Greek Myths:  We will be slowly working our way through one other program that looks so good!  Using D'aulaires & Memoria Press to work through Greek Myths.  I haven't started this yet but it looks good!

Swimming.  I asked Kayley to choose a couple of things that interested her that she would like to work on this year.  She choose "learning about animals" and "swimming!"  Easy enough.  We are doing swimming lessons at Diventures in Springfield.  It is a great program.  We do have to drive into town and it is a 45 minute drive (which is part of the reason we nixed CC - too much traveling).

Sonlight Core B Science.  For "animal science" I decided to have her try Sonlights Science B - I found this used at Redeemed for about $20 with its activity pages.  It is a study of animals, magnets and astronomy.  So far it is ok.  It is really light compared to Botany but it is an elective course so, I didn't want it to be difficult.  Just fun.  She has done some really neat experiments with Magnets and they read out of Usborne books.

Maggie age 3 (and 1/2), PreK4

BJU Footsteps For Fours.  I found this little program at a steal of a deal on eBay a while back.  After finishing up BJU's Pathways for Preschool in the Spring we were excited to move into the next level.  BJU does such a great job of creating curriculum.  I have always used something BJU every year.

BJU Foundations.  On a last minute whim I decided to sign Maggie up for an online BJU course too.  Can you believe they even have classes for kids this small?  Well, they do.  The foundations course, while vintage animation that is sort of, well, cheap (and some really ugly puppets)...the course is FABULOUS.  It is like an episode of Mr. Rogers/Sesame Street/Online Class rolled into one.  Kayley took Kindergarten through BJU Distance Learning and we loved it and I was glad to see Mrs. Lawson and Miss Liston (the K5 teachers) also teach K4!  Maggie looks forward to her class every day.

Social Studies/Science:
Sonlight Core 4/5 - Its hard to believe that I have my 3 year old in a 4/5 level but, no kidding, Core 4/5 is really light on the academics and just a lot of fun reading.  I love, love, love Sonlight but it is just too light for my academically starving children.
Five in a Row w/free lapbooking materials from - more fun reading and craft projects.  Can I just say that PreK is so fun?  Of course, Maggie tags along in all of Kayley's subjects as well.  She participates in Book of Mormon, Story of the World, Botany and Latin.  When she gets bored she wanders off and comes back when we start doing something interesting.

So there it is!  Thanks for stopping by! 

*There are affiliate links in the post.  I hope that if you find any of my recommendations worthy of purchasing that you will help our homeschool by buying through my links.  ;)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Leap Frog Products {Mosaics Review}

We love everything Leap Frog brand around our house!  It all started when we bought Kayley the Leap Frog Click Start computer when she was 3.  We've had it for years now and it is still going strong and Maggie has now grown into it.  From there we moved on to the Leapster...and ultimately, this last year, made the investment of the Leap Pad 2.  Yes...we love Leap Frog!  So, imagine our excitement when we were given the opportunity to review some all new Leap Frog products produced by Mega Brands America!  (You may have heard of Mega Brands - they produce Rose Art supplies as well as the popular Mega Blocks!)  I know, when you hear Leap Frog you may immediately think of the electronic games but these are all new, different type of products.  NO batteries required!

Take a look at what we received!  We got a big box of goodies recommended for 2nd-4th grade!  The Dry Erase/Chalk Marker Board, Cursive Dry Erase Practice, Telling Time Dry Erase, and Multiplication & Division flash cards!  Let me tell you more about each item!  (affiliate links are included in this posting)

The Dry Erase Board - This has been the most fought over item in our house!  A dry erase marker board on one side, a chalk board on the other.  A nifty zipper pouch is firmly attached to a swivel rod at the bottom giving you a place to store your markers, chalk and an eraser.  The board is sturdy (unlike those locker type boards that are on sale in the back-to-school section right now) making this perfect for young hands.  It erases very nicely on both sides.

Cursive Dry Erase Practice Workbook - This book models cursive which is the basic cursive that most kids learn in school.  A handy little dry-erase book that makes handwriting practice a little more palatable.  The final page is plain for practicing or drawing whatever you like!  This board also erases really easily.  A spiral edge at the top makes it easy to flip over but be cautious, the pages are front-to-back so if it is not erased it has a chance to end up all over clothing, tables or couch.  (Speaking from experience - you may find it nice to purchase washable dry erase markers.)

Telling Time Dry Erase Practice Book -The clock at the top of this dry erase book has hands that move for practice in telling time!  The workbook pages are colorful and simple to follow!  The base of the board is a very sturdy cardboard.

Division and Multiplication Flash Cards - We have just barely begun our journey into learning our multiplication tables but already these cards have proven to be a real treat!  Typical flash cards with one perk that I didn't realize was so awesome until having tried them.  You see the sample card?  5 x 3?  Well, in the purple strip right below that is 9 x 8=72.  That is what is on the other side of the card.  Many times in doing flash cards your child is struggling to figure out the answer and as the parent all you can see is the "72."  You have to do fancy maneuvering to see what the actual problem is in order to help them work through the problem without letting them see the answer but - not with these cards!  You can see the problem and the answer on the back side.  I have never seen this in a flashcard before and I love it!  You also get cards that show factor groups for flash study too.  I know as we go through math over the next few years these cards will get used a lot!  I want to add:  They are thick paper with glossy coating on both sides so they are made to last!

We have enjoyed using these products and if you are interested in purchasing here are the details:

LeapFrog products by MEGA Brands are available for purchase at most major retailers including Toys R Us, Michaels, Joann’s, Target, Walmart, Officemax, and Costco. At Target and Walmart, look for them near the stationery and writing instruments, rather than toys or school supplies.  I saw them at our local Walmart in the back-to-school section!  You can also purchase these items on and many of them ship for free as an add-on item and most qualify for Prime! 

Many of my fellow team mates at Mosaics reviewed other Leap Frog Products too!  To read their reviews visit:

Thanks for stopping by and a big Thanks to Mega Brands and Mosaic Reviews for giving us the opportunity for another fun review product!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden {a Shadow Mountain Book Review}

 It is with great pleasure that I was invited to go along on a Shadow Mountain blog tour featuring amazing author Sarah M. Eden and reviewing her fabulous new book Longing For Home.  A "Proper Romance" novel that is a heart-warming story of overcoming fear and finding peace.

 Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland’s Great Famine, Katie Macauley feels responsible for the loss of her family’s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family’s forgiveness. She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew. Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland. Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.


Ooooh!  Ok, seriously.  I loved this book - but then - this book combines a handful of my favorite things in one romantic page-turner!  Irish lasses, a fiddle, 2 handsome heroes, and - a ceili.  Oh Irish Party!  (I named my daughter after the Ceili! aka! Kayley!)  But, I digress...let me tell you about the book:

The year is 1870 and Katie Macauley has left Ireland to find work.  She needs to make enough money to return to Ireland and buy back her fathers lands in the hopes that he will forgive her for "killing her little sister" during the famine.  Just a child herself when her sibling died Katie continually blames herself for the night of her sisters death and believes her father and mother do too.  The night Eimer died her father took her into town, dropped her off, and walked away.  Katie lives each day in guilt and is desperate to find a way to assuage her broken heart and mend the rift with her parents.

Upon arriving in Wyoming she is unceremoniously escorted to  Hope Springs by the dashingly handsome, and somewhat annoying, Tavish O'Conner.  An immigrant from Ireland like herself she is relieved to put his handsome face behind her she arrives at the home of widower, Joseph Archer.  Within the hour she is horrified to discover that she is not qualified for the position she arrived for.  Unable to read she had had to rely on someone else to read her letters...and apparently they left out a significant tidbit - this job was not only housekeeper but caretaker for a widowers children!  Katie would not - could not - care for children.   Not since Eimer's death.  To add to that Mr Archer makes it quiet clear that he will NOT hire Irish.  Not with a feud in town between the Irish and the non-Irish.   With no place left to go she turns back to the O'Conners and right back into the path of Tavish...until Joseph chases her down.

Well.  Are you intrigued?  Both men, Tavish and Joseph pull at Katie's heart, but will the pull be strong enough to keep her in America?  Or will her heart continue to pull her home?

It was a great read and I think you might enjoy it too!  Let me tell you though - I am hanging at the end!  Will Sarah Eden have a Longing for Home part 2?  I have no idea!  I hope so!

Longing for Home can be purchased in paperback at for $15.99 
Or as a Bookshelf eBook for $12.99.

Learn more about author Sarah Eden 
Disclaimer:  I was offered Longing For Home free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ozark Empire Fair

We had a great time this year at the Ozark Empire Fair.  I've been coming to the fair since I was a small kid and it always brings back memories.  This year Maggie was tall enough and interested in riding some of the rides.  I think it helps that she has such an outgoing big sister to encourage her to try new things.  The girls had a fun fun time!


We were joking while we were there that half the thrill of the fair is the part where it is all kind of old and haphazardly assembled (as in like, it could break and send you hurtling to your death at any moment!), everything is sticky and grimy  (ewwww)....  The people who operate the rides are a little creepy (and only about 1/4 of them speak English) and one guy, no joke, was loading the kids on the ride with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.   The food is terrible too and costs way too much!  But-- admit it.  The fair is cool...and you just have to go!  ;)
 James and Kayley rode the Scrambler and ride went on forever and ever and ever.  The operator started talking and wasn't paying attention.   Its a good thing they aren't prone to motion sickness!

We had a great time!!
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