Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review and Giveaway:

Math Blaster
Ms. Q and I were recently given the opportunity to review the online game world of Math Blaster. From Knowledge Adventure, the makers of Jumpstart, is a fun "out of this world" adventure game that challenges players to use math skills to help them complete intergalactic missions while playing arcade-style computer games.  

Ms. Q proclaimed Math Blaster her new favorite game to play on the computer but wasn't sure what it has to do with math.  Perfect because if Ms. Q knows a game is in any way related to schoolwork she'll complain.  If the "school stuff" isn't that obvious, she thinks the game is much more fun.  Well, the math practice in Math Blaster is sneaky.  One games uses patterns, shapes, and direction following to create a monster of your own formulation.  In another game, the player has to use number skills to escape some flooding ooze and climb to safety.  The games are fun and the characters are really cute (even the weird alien mutt thing Ms. Q adopted).

The website has a free play option and a membership option.  With the membership your child gains access to a greater variety of math based games and really neat options at that they will really enjoy.  The membership for also includes some game downloads and is a dual membership giving your child access to as well.  You can add up to six children per membership so everyone can have their own avatar and own adventures!

If your kids like playing computer games (and whose don't) and you want them to practice their math (and who doesn't) then why not try out

You can enter to win a free three-month membership to!
Leave a comment for each entry.

1 entry by leaving a comment below telling me you would like to win
1 entry by following Quinsmomma on GFC or email
1 entry by liking Quinsmomma on Facebook
1 entry by posting or tweeting about this giveaway

One winner will be chosen on September 14th using the number generator.

Good luck and enjoy!


Disclosure: I was provided with a membership good for Math Blaster and Knowledge Adventure at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Giveaway Day 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Earthquakes, and Hurricanes, and Tornados, Oh My!

It sure has been an exciting place to live here on the East Coast this week! We were shook up on Tuesday by a small earthquake and by Friday we were preparing for Hurricane Irene and possible flooding and power outages.  During the storm on Saturday night a tornado was spotted in our town.  Luckily our family saw very little of the damage predicted and we are all safe.  Our thoughts are with those who may not have been as lucky.

We tried to keep the atmosphere relaxed during Saturday's storm.  We had lots of snacks and watched lots of movies.  Ms. Q is old enough to be worried in these types of situations so we decided to involve her in our planning.  We discussed how to prepare for an emergency (one predicted and those unknown), what to do in an emergency, and the importance of staying calm.  She was really helpful with filling water jugs and with moving and securing items outside.  We used the emergency preparedness planning tools at the website.  I encourage everyone to visit this website and be prepared for any type of emergency.  You don't always get advanced warning for an emergency so prepare today!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Rain and a Bathroom Redo

Rain, rain go away, come again another day!  I am starting to feel like such a complainer.  First the weather was too hot now it's too rainy!!  Some thunderstorms broke the heat wave of 100 degree weather we've been having but now it won't stop raining.  We've watched alot of movies on Netflix and we rented some Redbox movies this week too.  It's been nice to snuggle on the couch with the kids and relax though.

Little M enjoying a summer movie marathon

Between raindrops on Saturday and Sunday Little M learned to ride a "big boy bike" with training wheels.  He was really excited and ready to give his tricycle away to Baby C.  Ms. Q is back from zoo camp.  I was hoping to hear more about it but she seems to be starting her teenage attitude a little early.  It seems every question I ask is extremely annoying to her.  She had a great time though and wants to go again next year.

Thursday Ms. Q went to work with Daddy and the boys and I decided to redo the bathroom. Boy were they surprised when they got home!  I wish I had remembered to take some "before" pictures but I was so excited to start the project that it wasn't until I was halfway through that I thought about taking pictures.  Trust me when I say it was the saddest looking room in the house.

This is a picture of the linen closet in the bathroom.  It used to have wooden bi-fold doors but Little M broke one of the doors a few months ago and in the process did something to the rail it goes in.  Therefore we only had one door and it was driving me crazy!  I finally removed the other door.  Then I purchased a pretty shower curtain that matched the bathroom and used a tension shower curtain rod to cover the opening.

Here is an "after" picture of the vanity.  This also only had one door (are you seeing a pattern here?) from someone swinging on it and pulling the door, hinge and all, off the cabinet.  The drawer fronts were white laminate that over the years had bubbled from the steam and begun to peel off.  I painted the drawer fronts, removed the remaining cabinet door and created these covers from pillowcases.  I placed a wooden dowel inside each pillowcase so it would lay flat against the cabinet.  The flowers in the center are decoupaged.  I had a really great time fixing up this little space and the boys were surprisingly helpful.  I have my sights set on some more home improvements...

We are still on summer break next week and hoping for nicer weather!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garden Update and Nature Study: Tomato Hornworms

Look what I found munching away in my garden!! 

Wow these things are creepy.  I literally screamed out loud and ran from the garden when I spied them.  I was watering the tomato plants and looking for any tomatoes that were eaten or ripening and when I stood up I was eye to eye with this guy and his friend.


I ran into the house for dear hubby who helped with the removal.  He pulled off the leaves they were on and then squished them.

Being the homeschoolers that we are, we decided this would make a great little nature study.  So here is what we learned.  First of all - not worms as the name would imply.  They are actually the caterpillar of the sphinx moth.  The hornwom grows to be about 3-4 inches in length.

               The moths overwinter in the soil as dark brown pupae, then emerge and mate in late spring. 
               They lay their eggs, which are round and greenish-white, on the undersides of leaves. The 
               eggs hatch in four to five days, and the hornworm emerges. It spends the next four weeks 
               growing to full size, after which it will make its way into the soil to pupate.

 Next we wondered what are all those yucky white things on it?  Well turns out these are the larvae of the Braconid wasp.  And according to several sources I found on the internet, we should have left these hornworms alone because their days were numbered anyway.  The Braconid wasps are harmless to humans and beneficial to gardens.  They lay their eggs inside hornworms and a few different species of beetle, then the larvae push their way out and when the fully grown wasp emerges from those rice looking cocoons, the host, in this case the hornworm, dies. Then you have no more hornworm plus a bunch of new Braconid wasps to lay eggs in any new hornworms that may make their appearance.

After all the difficulty I've had with my tomatoes this year I needed some vengeance.  Those little puppies were squished and I felt good about it!  Maybe we'll finally get some tomatoes to eat.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Zoo Camp and Car Troubles

Have you seen Ms. Q?
Ms. Q has been gone all week at Zoo Camp.  She's been staying with my parents and attending a day camp at the Cape May County Zoo. The house has been so quiet.  Which is nice but we miss her.  We only talked to her twice all week and both times she excitedly told us about her day and then rushed off because her friends were waiting for her.  I'm glad she is having a good time.

The boys and I had big plans for our week alone.  Unfortunately our van had other plans.  It was in the shop most of the week and we were stuck at home.  Oh well.  On a positive note, I did get some house cleaning done which makes me feel a little less stressed and the boys got to play outside in the yard thanks to temperatures that are finally below 95!  When our van was fixed we went on a picnic to celebrate.

Baby C getting some work done

We are finally able to play outside!
We celebrated with a picnic lunch

And some fun on the playground

Hopefully next week we'll get out and enjoy some more summer adventures.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

International Homeless Animals' Day

The hosts of the No Ordinary Blog Hop are highlighting an important issue on the hop page this month that I would like to tell you about.  August 20th is International Homeless Animals' day.  All over the world animals are being abandoned.  The reasons vary of course as to why someone would no longer be able to or want to care for their pet.  However, the fact remains that through no fault of their own, many pets find themselves homeless, either left to fend for themselves on the streets or left in shelters.

This issue is something that is very near to my heart.  We adopted our dog Hooch from the Cumberland County SPCA  in 2006.  He was found by animal control wandering in the street and taken to the animal shelter.  No one came to claim him and after two weeks he was available for adoption.  We fell in love with him right away.  His coat was dry, his skin was flaky, his head looked enormous due to his underweight body, he passed gas like nobody's business, and wasn't quite house trained.  But he was perfect to us.  The SPCA conducted an assessment and thought that he would make an excellent pet for a family with young children.  He's been a wonderful addition to our family.  His skin and coat improved immensely after the stress of the shelter was over and he started a healthy diet.   We took him to obedience class and he's house trained now.  He put on about twenty five pounds.  He still passes gas like nobody's business but hey nobody's perfect.  I wonder all the time about the person who let such a great dog get away but I'm thankful that we found him.  I'm thankful for the Cumberland County SPCA and all the hard work they do.  We've started a new tradition in our family.  Every year for Hooch's gotcha day we make a donation to the Cumberland County SPCA.  I hope that it helps the other animals in the shelter find forever homes where they can be loved and taken care.

Here's Hooch and Ms. Q a few weeks after we adopted him
Here he is enjoying his first Christmas with us

This is Hooch today - a bit older and grayer :)
Enjoying an old man nap on the couch while we were camping

If you can, why not take the time to volunteer at your local animal shelter or make a donation.  A little can go a long way for an animal in need.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Garden Update: Eggplant

One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant.  When I was little we lived next to a farm that grew eggplants and living in New Jersey we eat them alot.  I've never grown them before until this year. I bought two small plants at the grocery store on a whim and then put them in the garden after the radishes were finished.  A few weeks ago they started to flower and now we have some lovely fruit growing!  Little M was a little disappointed in them and he said that he is not going to eat those "weird purple eggs"!

We are also looking forward to our melons finishing up.  Both the cantaloupe and the watermelon should be ready in a week or so.

We are still having a problem with wildlife eating our tomatoes.  I just don't have it in me to kill them, much to my husband's irritation.  I did finally get one tomato away from those stinky chipmunks.  I picked it when it started to blush and it's ripening up on the kitchen counter (next to Little M's yellow pepper).

How's your garden growing?  I'm linking up The Garden Path - come check it out.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Field Trip: Atlantic City Aquarium

The kids and I had a great time at the Atlantic City Aquarium on Friday.  I mentioned it briefly in last week's weekly wrap-up but it was such a blast that I thought I would tell you more about it and show a few more pictures from our trip.  First off,  I have never been to this aquarium before and didn't even know that it existed until a few months ago.  I found it while doing an internet search of field trip ideas.  This is strange because I've lived less than 40 miles from it most of my life.  And I'm not the only one.  I've mentioned the AC Aquarium to quite a few people, including dear hubby, and no one else knew about it either.  It's a great little aquarium with a great admission price!  Ms. Q and Little M want to plan another trip soon and bring along Dad.

They had lots of tanks for touching.  This is always my kids' favorite part of any aquarium visit.  Here Ms. Q and Little M get up close with some sea stars and sand sharks.  Then Ms. Q was brave enough to touch the horseshoe crab.  Everyone got quite a laugh when I attempted to touch a cownose ray but screamed when it flapped out of the water just to right of my hand.  No picture of that but a nice embarrassing story for the kids to tell Dad!

I love when the kids get excited about something.  Here Baby C is making fish faces at the fish. Then everyone got excited over the sea horses that were hiding!

This aquarium has ALOT of antique diving equipment from different diving helmets to this full suit (which no one would stand near because of it's appearance as a bad guy in the SpongeBob Movie).

There was a low table with metal plaques attached to make crayon rubbings of your favorite sea creatures.  Here Little M works on a lobster picture.

The third floor of the aquarium held more antique diving equipment and plenty of information on the history of ocean exploration.  There was also a lovely observation area where we watched boats coming in and out of the harbor and seagulls landing.  Oh and Baby C posed with a pirate.

 Outside the aquarium we walked along the marina and stopped to get some ice cream.

We had a great day.  I'm so glad we found the Atlantic City Aquarium!


Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Saturday, August 6, 2011

3 in 30: Goals for August

3in30 Challenge

 This will be the first time I am linking up with 30 in 30.  This is such a wonderful idea.  I have been thinking about joining in for a few month now but just couldn't take that first step.  So here I am.  I am listing my goals and I will follow through on them. You all will hold me accountable, right?

We all know that water is very important for a healthy body.  Well, with running around after the kids and paying attention to diaper changes, naps, school plans, and meals I sometimes forget to drink any water, let alone the 8-8oz. glasses dietitians recommend.  So my goal is by then end of the month I will increase my water drinking to at least 5 glasses a day.

My second goal is a little dirty. Ok, it's a lot dirty.  I am terrible at keeping up with the dishes.  We have a dishwasher.  It's not like I have to wash them by hand.  I just always forget to get the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and then there is no place for the dirty dishes except piled up in the sink where they usually sit until we are out of cups (or plates, or forks, or all of these) and then I empty and load it and wash the needed items by hand.  I hate this.  Well no more.  My goal is everyday to have the dirty dishes loaded in the washer before bed, run it at night, and empty it in the morning.

My third goal this month is a fun one.  I would like to create and complete a weekly family fun day.  Dear hubby only gets one day off a week, Sunday, and we would love to spend some quality time together as a family on this day.  What always seems to happen though is that we spend the first half of the day lounging around talking about what we would like to do that day.  Then we realize that the day is half over and some household chore or other needs to be done.  My goal is to plan two Sunday Fundays and one Family Night for the months of August and September.  If these go well then we will continue making plans for the rest of the year.

So to recap my goals for August:

1. Increase my water drinking to at least 5 glasses a day by the end of the month.
2. Load dirty dishes in the washer before bed, run it at night, and empty it in the morning everyday.
3. Plan two Sunday Fundays and one Family Night for the months of August and September.

Weekly Wrap-up: More Summer Fun

We are in full summer swing around here.  I've read about others families who are back to school this month but we just can't get back to the grind yet.  Granted we only started our summer break in July, but we are having too much fun!  This week we had more swimming and bike riding at the campground, we went to the beach and to the aquarium.  Our weekly park playgroup was rained out but we had a great time watching movies and eating popcorn.  There's something special about summer.  I'm so grateful that I can spend this time with my children and create wonderful summertime memories with them.

Picnic at the beach

Ocean fun

Next week Ms. Q is going to Zoo Camp and spending the week at the campground with my parents.  I know she will have a great time.  I don't know what the boys and I will do all week without her!  I'm sure we'll have some fun too.