Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saving Memories Forever ~ A Mosaic Review

Today I am reviewing a neat little app called Saving Memories Forever!
This little phone App, when combined with their website, allows you to record, save and share voice recordings of your loved ones! Have you ever wished you could digitally record the stories that your grandparents told you of their childhood so you can share it with your children even after your grandparents are gone? I know I have. I remember my grandparents telling me stories of living on the farm when they were little. My dad also tells some pretty amazing stories about the antics he and his siblings performed when they were younger. With this app I am able to record my relatives (or my) stories and have them digitally saved for my children and grandchildren. I can even add photographs to supplement the stories (premium version).

In a Nutshell
~Free and Premium ($3.99/mo or $40/yr) versions available (click HERE for a comparison chart)
~Many Question Prompts to choose from
~App available for iPhone and Android
~App and Website are used together (although the website does explain how to upload MP3 recordings)
~Use Skype to record stories of relatives that you don't see often
~How-to guide and questions available for download (click HERE)
~Fairly easy to use (I did have to read the how-to guide to figure something out but it was really me over-thinking the app because the answer was very simple)
~Website Contact Form

Overview of How it Works
1. Go to the Website and Sign Up (there is a tab in the upper right corner of the site)
2. Get the App (you can also register from the App)
3. Add a Storyteller
4. Select your Storyteller
5. Choose a Category
 6. Choose a Question
 7. Record the Story (5-10 minutes tops)
 8. Playback, Re-record, or Upload your story
 9. Share with Facebook or Go back to the main screen
 10. Go to the Website to Listen
11. Click on "Manager" then the Storytellers name to upload photos or to share the recording!

My Thoughts
I really like this app! I love that I can record my family members memories in their own voices. I can also add a family member that has passed away and have other family members record memories of that person. I will be using this app at our family reunions this summer. Since you can also use Skype to record family members that are not local I think I will learn how to use Skype and take advantage of that feature as well! While the monthly fee is affordable I would LOVE to see an option to purchase a "lifetime" subscription. I did have a few technical glitches (like I am having trouble uploading my storyteller photo on the website) but nothing that interferes with the functionality of the recordings themselves. Overall this is a great app and we will continue to use it!

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Monkey!

I can't believe that is has been FIVE years since the adventure of Monkey's birth and I DO mean adventure! Let me give you the short version . . .

April 14, 2008 (34 weeks)
     I start having some really weird pains (*note 1 - I had never been in labor before - my first 2 children were C-sections). So I call the Dr. and they tell me that if the pain continues or worsens to come see them the next day.

April 15, 2008
     The pain is still there so I go to the doctor and they do an exam. I was starting to dilate but not soften so they told me to go home and rest but if the pain continued or got worse to go to the OB Triage at the hospital. (*note 2 - I was already on bedrest so more rest seemed impossible; *note 3 - I live an hour from the doctor and hospital so I drove 1 hour into the doctor, an hour home and...) As the day went on the pain/pressure continued and got worse. I decided to take a bath (under the assumption that it was false labor and a bath would slow/stop things)...OOPS...things started picking up so at 10pm or so we woke up the girls and called my mom to meet us somewhere between our house and the hospital. My mom took Unicorn and Ladybug to her house and hubby and I went into the OB triage.

After a call to my OB they got me into an exam room quickly and started monitoring me. Yep...34 weeks and in labor! They gave me a shot of terbutaline and my blood pressure dropped, they flipped the exam table  so I felt like I was on my head and whipped out the smelling salts and declared me allergic to the stuff. So much for stopping my labor and going home...I was now being admitted to the hospital and hooked up to magnesium. (*note 4 - I HATE MAGNESIUM! I was on it with my first baby and it wasn't any better the 2nd time around).

April 16-27, 2008
     Labor breaks through magnesium, nurses stop labor, doctor comes in and says "if you break through again have the nurses call me and I will deliver you",
     labor breaks through magnesium, nurses stop labor, doctor comes in and says "if you break through again have the nurses call me and I will deliver you", change IV, draw blood,
     labor breaks through magnesium, nurses stop labor, doctor comes in and says "if you break through again have the nurses call me and I will deliver you",
     labor breaks through magnesium, nurses stop labor, doctor comes in and says "if you break through again have the nurses call me and I will deliver you", change IV, draw blood, OVER and OVER again!
     Now, I know those AMAZING nurses were just doing their jobs but this got old real fast. I had already had a preemie (Unicorn 33 weeks, 3 pounds 11 ounces) and I was SICK of the magnesium.

April 27, 2008 (36 weeks)
     Dr. comes in and I ask him what it will take to have this baby ASAP! I didn't want him in trouble with the medical board but the nurses were not going to call him and I couldn't take another week on the magnesium. He said the only way he could justify it was to have an amniocentesis and check the baby's lung development.

April 28, 2008
     Amniocentesis done at 7:00 am and C-Section scheduled for 5 pm. They expected to have the lab results by noon. Results finally came in at 4:30 and the Dr. called and asked if I still wanted to do the C-section today or if I wanted to wait until the morning? UMMM...Really?...TONIGHT! So, Dr. showed up a little late but at 5:54 pm Monkey was born. 5 pounds 4 ounces and 18 inches!

    Monkey is a very intelligent and healthy LITTLE boy. He is 30 pounds and 3 feet 3 inches tall. He loves "Thomas the Train", "Dinosaur Train", "Cars", "Fireman Sam", "Bob the Builder", "Phineas and Ferb" and all the "Leap Frog" movies. He loves to play with his cars, trains, letters, animals and sisters. He is a VERY PICKY eater! He will only eat noodles, pancakes/waffles, hotdogs, Fruit Loops, Go-Gurt, graham crackers, marshmallows, macaroni & cheese, toast, tortillas, gatorade and milk (we are working on this)! He is a very good little boy.
 photo DSC_0066.jpg
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spanish for You! ~ A Mosaic Review

Today I am reviewing a neat Spanish curriculum, Spanish for You!, for grades 3-8!
I will admit that while we live in Arizona and are exposed to Spanish on a daily basis, we are learning Latin as a family. However, I have to say that I LOVE the way this program is set up and that is it for grades 3-8!

In a Nutshell
~Grades 3-8 (although with some minor modifications my 1st grader was able to participate)
~$64.95 per theme for grades 3-8 ($39.95 per theme for one level - 3/4 or 5/6 or 7/8)
~2 Themes currently available:
      Fiestas (Celebrations) and Estaciones (Seasons) with Viajes (Travel) coming June 2013
~Flexible (you can easily slow down or speed up the pace)
~Easy: just open, print and teach
~Full Year (24-30 weeks) curriculum that you can use for multiple children
~Comprehensive (vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, verb conjugation and more)
~Includes audio files of a Native speaker  and a non-Native speaker (download)
~Includes self-checking worksheets (download)
~Includes lesson guides (download)
~Includes a soft-cover Spanish for You! book
~Includes audio of the entire book (download)
~Includes free pictures to use to make flashcards or use with other activities (PDF download)
~Excellent customer service!
~Website Contact Form
Our Thoughts
We reviewed the Fiestas (Celebrations) Theme and really enjoyed it. I used it with Unicorn (7th grade) and Ladybug (1st grade) and they both liked it as well. The only modification I made for Ladybug is that I helped her with the worksheets. The girls enjoyed listening to the audio files and didn't even mind the worksheets. I really enjoyed how EASY it was to use Spanish for You!, especially for someone like me who doesn't speak Spanish. The only problem I had with the program was that it was difficult to find the correct audio files and worksheets, HOWEVER, Debbie is AWESOME and she has organized the files by week so they are easier to find! Now I just need a program like this for Latin! ;)

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Puppies and Parvo

On Sunday, April 14th we adopted 2 chihuahua/cairn terrier mix puppies. They are so cute, smart and loving! 
Flash (brown) and Frackle (black)
Flash is my and Monkey's puppy!
Frackle belongs to Unicorn and Ladybug!
Saturday, (the 20th) Flash (6 weeks old) threw up. He still wasn't feeling well on Sunday so I was going to take him to the vet on Monday. Monday morning he was eating and acting normally and hadn't thrown up again so I thought he was ok. Then, Tuesday morning he stopped eating, started vomiting and had diarrhea so we took the first appointment available (2pm).

The vet immediately tested him for Parvo and it came back as the highest positive she had ever seen. She told us he needed to be hospitalized and that even if we hospitalized him he might not make it. He was given a 20% chance of survival if we didn't hospitalize him (with death most likely with in 24 hours) and only a 60% chance of survival if he was hospitalized (with $1000+ a day for 3-5 days). Our vet gave us the information for the 24 hour hospital (a 45 min. drive) and we went home to decide what to do.

That evening my husband had a job interview at 5:30 and then we were going to take Flash to the hospital. Once I got home the lady we adopted the puppies from had sent me some information on the virus and home care for the pup. I did some research too and found that most puppies die, not from the virus but, from dehydration or starvation. So, we got some pedialyte, puppy formula and I got out my essential oils.

For the first 24 hours I force feed the puppy the pedialyte every 1-2 hours and rubbed oregano (diluted with coconut oil) on his paws. {Frackle is also getting the oregano treatment as he has been exposed to the virus but has no signs of being ill.} The next day I started alternating the pedialyte and the puppy formula and continued with the oregano oil because he was no longer vomiting.

At about 2:30 this morning he ate 4 pieces of his puppy chow and kept it down! At 4:30 he ate 8 pieces of puppy chow with no vomiting!  At 7 am he ate some more puppy food (not exactly sure how much but a fairly small amount). I am still supplementing the puppy food and water with the pedialyte and continuing with the oregano treatment but he is doing MUCH better. Last night I read that pups that make it through the first 4-5 days usually make a FULL recovery within a week...this is great as he is now on day 5!

He is still sleeping a lot and I am still waking him up every couple hours for fluids and the oregano oil. When he is awake he is playful and pretty active for a sick puppy. The pups will be 7 weeks old on Saturday and I am pretty sure he will make a full recovery. In the meantime, bleach is my new best friend as it is the ONLY thing that will kill the virus! We are also praying a LOT...both that Flash recovers and that Frackle doesn't get sick!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Compass Classroom

Looking for your curriculum for next year? Latin, American History, Film Making, Economics and more are 30% off until Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at The Compass Classroom! We have used (and LOVED) their Visual Latin course and have the Economics to use in the near future! I am also interested in their American History course!
Compass Classroom Spring Sale
Click the picture to head on over to their site!

Disclaimer: This link is an affiliate link. Thank you!
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell ~ A Mosaic Review

Guess what! I am going to be sharing not 1, not even 2 but 3 (yes, 3) planners with you today! These planners are NOT just for homeschoolers so even if you don't homeschool you should keep reading! ;) I am reviewing The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens AND The Ultimate Daily Planner for Kids by Debra Bell, published by Apologia.
I have been using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner since November 2011 (I did stop using it for a while to try an online planner but ultimately I have returned this planner). Some of my favorite features are the "user's guide", the blank monthly calendars, and (of course) the weekly planner.

The planner is 8 1/2 by 11 inches, spiral bound with plastic covers and a pocket inside each cover. Then there is a page with 4 years worth of "year-at-a-glance" calendars, a page for your contact information and a letter from Debra Bell, the creator of the planners. The planner retails for $28 (click HERE to purchase) with 2 options for the cover.

Next up is the "User's Guide". This is 12 pages of "how-to" use the planner system and includes different ideas on how to set up the weekly planner so that is works best for you. Then there is a one-year planning grid. This is where you enter events that override your typical daily schedule (holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc.) and pre-scheduled commitments (co-ops, sports, music lessons, etc.). There is a page for student goals, family priorities, and resource lists.

The Monthly Planner section is next. Here you fill in the month, year and dates. This is nice because you can start using the planner anytime and not feel like you are wasting any part of it!

The next part is the Weekly Planner. The weekly planner is 4 pages. The first 2 pages include a quote, space to add a Bible Plan, Battle Plan (how you are going to get through the week), Prayers, Hospitality/Outreach (Service), Memorable Moments, Achievements and Evidences of Grace. I have to admit that until I listened to Debra explain these I wasn't using these pages. She said that we tend overlook the good in our lives and these pages will help us and our children recognize God's hand and the blessings in our lives. She also said the pages will become favorites for us and our children to look back at! I have decided that I am going to take the time to fill in these pages each week. After these 2 pages are 2 pages for planning your week, chores, lessons, etc.

The planning grid is set up so you have a lot of flexibility. Personally, I write the days of the week across the top (Saturday and Sunday share a space) and down the left side I have Me, Family AM, Ladybug, Monkey, Unicorn, and Family PM (yes, I color code). There is plenty of room to write what each person needs to do each day. I even include chore and appointments. On the far right there is a space for Notes, Supplies and Appointments.

At the back of the planner are even more resources. There are pages for keeping track of grades, reading lists, activities/field trips, teaching tips, a high school planning guide, year-end review, and notes.

Next up is The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. This planner is about 6 1/5 by 8 1/2 inches, spiral bound with a plastic cover and contains contact, all about me, daily schedule, and monthly calendar pages at the beginning. As in the parent planner, the monthly calendar pages are undated so you can begin using the planner any time.  This planner retails for $19 (click HERE to purchase) and is geared towards High School but could also be used for Junior High students. Especially those who are doing high school course work.

After the monthly calendars are the Weekly Planning pages.
At the very top is an SAT word. Across the top are the days of the week. Down the left side you enter the subjects. There is room to write in assignments as well as little circles to mark down the amount of time spent on task. There is space for doodles, notes, appointments and more.

The back of the planner has pages for grades, reading lists, activities, exercise log, credit tracker, as well as many pages of helpful information (punctuation guide, periodic table of elements, math formulas, maps, college admission information, etc.), notes, year-at-a-glance calendars and some stickers! There is even a cute little bookmark/ruler.

Last, but not least, is The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students. This planner is also about 6 1/5 by 8 1/2 inches, spiral bound with a plastic cover and contains contact, all about me, and monthly calendar pages at the beginning. As in the parent and teen planners, the monthly calendar pages are undated so you can begin using the planner any time. Additionally, this planner contains a "Study-Smart Student Toolkit" at the beginning. These few pages offer tips on how to become an independent learner. This planner retails for $19 (click HERE to purchase) and is geared towards students in grades 4-8 but could easily be used for any student that can read.

After the monthly calendars is the Weekly Assignments pages.
The set-up here is a little different than the other planners. On the left is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and on the right is Thursday, Friday and Saturday/Sunday. On the lines next to each day you (or your student) write the daily assignments. Next to each of those spaces is a place for the student to "check-off" when they complete the assignment and then a place for a parent to "check-off" that they approve of the completed assignment.

The back of the planner has pages and information similar to what is in the teen planner just at a different level (for example: a multiplication chart instead of a fractions/decimals/percents chart). Yes, it has the ruler/bookmark and the stickers too!

Our Thoughts
We all love our planners. Unicorn (13) used the Teen Planner and Ladybug (almost 7) used the Student Planner. Even though they are both on the "young" side for their planners they loved them and are going to keep using them. They enjoy being able to see what they need to do and then mark off their completed assignments. We are still using our workboxes, the planner just goes in the first box and is used in place of the check-sheet we had been using. I have decided that I am a paper/pencil kind of gal when it comes to planners...I love this planner. It is very versatile and comprehensive. The only thing that I can think of that I would love to see added is an attendance tracker. These planners could easily be used in any family.

Contact Information
Website: debrabell.com
E-mail: info@debrabell.com
Facebook: DebraBell.com

Other Information
Apologia (the publisher) and Mosaic Reviews are having a Facebook Party on April 12th at 9pm Eastern! Debra Bell will be there discussing the planners (and answering questions) and I have it on good authority that their will be PRIZES!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March in Review ~ the good and the bad

It was a very LONG month. Everyone in the family got sick (colds and flu) and someone was sick for almost every day of March.

We did school the best we could. We took many days off. Doubled up some days. Daddy had spring break (he is a high school math teacher) so we took some more days off. The kids tested out the pool (on the days they weren't sick). A friend's dog had puppies and the kids are so excited that we are getting one (we don't know which one yet because we are 2nd in line to choose). We are hoping for the itty-bitty girl (far right) or the little boy with a strip on his head (2nd from the left). They are Chihuahua and Cairn Terrier mix and about 2 weeks old in this picture.

We got a new air conditioner. YIPPEE! Last year we had 3 summer electric bills that bordered on $600. Mind you, our home is only approx. 2000 square feet. So, this year we used our tax return to buy a new air conditioner and hopefully have some normal sized electric bills this summer. (We are in the Phoenix, AZ area so A/C is a MUST as temperatures between 110-120 are normal).
New A/C ready to go on the roof
Hole in the ceiling ready for the new return.
New return in place.
New A/C installed.
Old, inefficient A/C ready to leave!!!
Then, to end the month, were two tragedies. My cousin committed suicide (Monday the 25th) and a close friend of our family lost their daughter to an accidental shooting (Thursday the 28th). (PLEASE don't judge either of these families. They are good families and don't deserve judgement from us. Judgmental and/or mean comments will be deleted). I am very sad as I write this as I was unable to make it to Idaho to be with my family for my cousins funeral today. It just makes a terrible thing worse. 
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Monday, April 1, 2013

We Choose Virtues ~ A Mosaic Review

I'm so excited. Today I get to share with you a product from a company we have been using for a year and a half now, We Choose Virtues! We Choose Virtues is an amazing set of tools to help you teach virtues (AKA character) to your children! For this review I was given one of their new products, Virtue Flash Cards for Families ($14.99), along with downloads to the Teacher's Handbook ($5), Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book ($3), Family Character Assessment (FREE), Memory Verses, Bible Heroes, and Truths (FREE), and the Butterfly Award (which is part of the Homeschool Kit $98.99 read to the bottom to find a coupon code)!

I have reviewed We Choose Virtues before and have (and use) many of their products. Each day we review one of the virtues we have learned using our Virtue Clues ($5.50) cards. These are very small (think business card size) and fit perfectly in our memory box.
We also have the Parenting Cards ($34.99) and put one up on the bulletin board as a focus for the month.
Additionally, we have the Three Rules Poster ($9.99 on sale for $6) and the Kid's Virtue Poster ($15) hanging in our schoolroom.
We have the 100 Days of Virtue Achievement Chart ($15 on sale for $13.99) but haven't started it yet. I am thinking we will start it during summer break!

As you can see, we love We Choose Virtues and were not disappointed by the Virtue Flash Cards ($14.99)! In fact, we love them even more because Heather (the founder of WCV) listened to her customers and has added a King James Version of her products! Yippee! This little set of cards (4.25 x 5.5 in.) has a picture the Virtue Kid and the virtue, "I am Self-Controlled" (for example) on the front and then what the virtue catchphrase and virtue antonym and a scripture on the back. For example, "I make myself do the right thing, I am NOT...wild, rowdy or disorderly and I don't expect others to control me" and Proverbs 25:28. Included with this set are directions for 3 different games! My kids had a lot of fun playing the games!
We also filled out the Family Character Assessment (FREE) for each child. It was interesting to see how each child thought they were doing compared with how I thought they were doing. It is also a great tool for helping to decide which virtues to teach first!

Right now my kids are not into coloring but when they are we have used the Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book ($3) as a reinforcement for the virtue that we are working on.
The Teacher Handbook ($5) is a great resource. It is 48 pages that covers each of the tools and ways to use them! This might be a good place to start if you are wondering what tools to purchase (especially if you are on a tight budget).

In a Nutshell
~Products range from FREE downloads to kits that are around $100 (for families/homeschools)
~There are Family, Homeschool, Church and School versions
~There is a Secular version, King James version and a New International version
~Products are printed on high-quality papers (cards are on cardstock)
~Product Comparison Chart
~We Choose Virtues on Facebook
~We Choose Virtues on Twitter
~We Choose Virtues on Pinterest
~We Choose Virtues Contact Page
~for 15% off your total purchase use coupon code VIRTUE15 (does not expire)
~for 20% off the Homeschool Kit use coupon code HOME20 (expires April 30, 2013)

Our Favorite Product
The Parenting Cards are my personal favorite as they contain all the information you need to teach the virtues. If you can only buy one item this would be the one I would recommend. I would also download the Family Character Assessment because it is FREE and it will help you determine which virtues your family needs most.

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