Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TOS Review: Wits and Wagers Family


We have had the privilege to review another really awesome game!  Our family game night options are growing but we seem to play the same game every week.  That one game?  Wits & Wagers Family from North Star Games.    The kids are totally obsessed with this one!  Wits & Wagers Family is an adaptation of North Star Games award winning Wits & Wagers party game for three or more players ages 8 and up


The game comes with 150 question cards, 5 dry erase answer boards, 5 dry erase pens, 1 dry erase score card, and 5 large and 5 small Meeples.  Meeples are the cutest things.  Forget being the thimble or the shoe.  We like the colorful, wooden people-ish looking Meeples.

Play begins with when the first player reads a trivia question aloud.  These are not trivia questions in the sense that you should be able to correctly answer.  An example: "What's the world record number of tennis balls a dog has held in its mouth?"  All players then write their guess on their dry erase board.  Next you decide whose answer you think will be closest to the right answer without going over.  Place your Meeples on your choice and wait for the answer.  The first person to score 15 points wins!

The questions are really fun and it is really funny to see some of the answers (like my husband's answer to the tennis ball question above - 23 lol.  Poor dog, can you imagine?).  The game goes really quickly so we often do best out of three or four to find the family champion.  I happen to be the reigning champ at the moment but I'm sure that will change by next week.

The North Star game family includes Wits & Wagers, Wits & Wagers Family, and Say Anything, as well as Say Anything Family, and Crappy Birthday both set to be released in 2011.  North Star games can be purchased online and at select retailers .  Price may vary according to retailer. We had so much fun with this game, I hope will check it out too!


To see what other TOS Reviews have to say, see the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.


Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Homeschool Journal

I thought I would try something a little different this week for our weekly wrap-up.  Every week Sue at The Homeschool Chick  posts The Homeschool Mother's Journal.  Since I seem to have lost the ability to focus my attention on anything lately (including housework, homeschooing, and blogging) I thought her ready-made format would be perfect.

In my life this week...
I am officially one year older this week than I was last week.  Not telling how old that may be, but I had a really great birthday celebration at home.  I got to sleep in and had coffee in bed while watching the morning news.  Darling Hubs did some vacuuming and Ms. Q cooked dinner.  It was a wonderful day of relaxing.

In our homeschool this week...
We started our week on Tuesday instead of Monday this week due to the above mentioned birthday celebrating.  This is really only a problem for me and my need for control and organization.  I felt like we were a day behind all week.  

Ms. Q has been doing really well with her writing assignments this year.  She still struggles with really putting effort into the assignment but this week's assignment "An Interview with Mr. Popper" was great.  She started out by creating a list of questions she would ask Mr. Popper (Mr. Popper's Penguins is the book she's reading for language arts) if she were interviewing him for a newspaper or magazine article.  Then she answered all the questions in a lovely article.

Little M is doing a fabulous job learning to read.  He surprises me each day with what he is capable of.  We were lucky enough to receive the first set of BOB Books through Paperback Swap a few weeks ago and he just can't get enough of these!  It's so wonderful to see how excited he is about learning to read.  I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to share this with my son.

I am inspired by...
My husband.  Last week he started a weight loss journey.  Losing weight has been on his mind for awhile.  He was displeased with his appearance and shrinking wardrobe but it was the effect the extra weight is having on his health that really pushed him to seek help.  I'm so very proud of him for taking these first steps.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We are going to visit my parents this weekend and kids will get to see their grandparents and their uncle.  We will have birthday celebration part deux.

We have a field trip with our homeschool group scheduled for Monday to the Absecon Lighthouse.  Ms. Q and I were there early in the spring with the Girl Scouts and had a great time.  We are all looking forward to this trip.

My favorite thing this week was...
Delicious chocolate birthday cake!

What's working/ not working for us...
We are having a bit of a hard time with our school schedule.  Baby C just can't seem to decide on a nap time.  Although he goes to bed and wakes up around the same time each day his napping is not consistent.  Some days he's exhausted by 9am, others he still won't go down at noon.  

Ms. Q does a lot of her work independently with only minimal assistance from me except for History and Science.  We try to schedule these subjects when Baby C is napping so we can have quiet but it's impossible to know when that's going to happen.  The problem is when Ms. Q finishes her independent work and gets free time then I have to reign her back in for a lesson.  She has difficulty transitioning and focusing and we both end up frustrated.  I guess we'll just have to wait it out and see what happens.

Things I'm working on...
I'm just about finished with Halloween costumes.  The boys are going to be pirates and Ms. Q is going as a black cat.  She was a tough sell this year on a homemade costume vs. store bought but I think she will be very pleased.

I'm cooking...
Pita Bread.  Little M and I tried using our regular bread dough recipe for pita bread and it worked out wonderfully.  They baked up fluffy and crunchy.  This is definitely a keeper.  See the picture below.

I'm grateful for...
the opportunity to be home with my children.  We had a little visitor to our homeschool this week because her mom had to work and her sitter was unavailable.  I was reminded of how difficult child care arrangements can be when you work outside the home.  When Ms. Q was small I worked full time and I remember the difficulties that arose when she was sick, her day care was closed, or her sitter cancelled.  I'm grateful that I no longer have those difficulties and I'm glad that I could help my friend when she needed it.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Yay for Pita bread!!!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TOS Review: E-Mealz

"Mom, what's for dinner?"  I hear this question at least three times a day.  My usual answer was always one of uncertainty.  Around 5 o'clock I would start the kitchen prowl looking in the freezer, the pantry, and the fridge trying to figure out what to make.  It usually worked out just fine but sometimes not.  It certainly was a stressful way to do it and pretty expensive.  Enter E-Mealz. 


E-Mealz provides you with a printable weekly menu plan that includes easy to follow recipes and an organized aisle by aisle grocery list.  You can choose a plan created for your grocery store that is centered around sales and seasonal produce or a specific diet (low-fat, low carb, gluten free, vegetarian). 


Now, each week I go to E-Mealz and print out the menu and shopping list for the week.  Then I write on the calendar when we'll eat each meal and check the grocery list to see what we already have and what else we need purchase for the week.   For the last month we have been using the Aldi meal plan.  The groceries included in the meal plan have cost between $65-$75 for the week.  And no wasted groceries and spoiled produce anymore.  The included recipes have all been easy to prepare in less than one hour.  My husband and three kids have devoured each and every meal.  I feel a little guilty taking all the compliments on dinner because E-Mealz has made it so easy for me.

If you want to save time on meal planning and save money on groceries, I highly recommend you check out E-Mealz.  You can see samples of their menus, recipes, and grocery lists HERE.  A subscription is $5 a month (that's only $1.25 per weekly plan!).  In case you're still not convinced, here are photos of some of the meals I've prepared from the weekly plans.

Baked talapia with scallions, rice pilaf, and cheezy cauliflower

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Slow cooker pork roast with apples, sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
Check out what other TOS reviewers have to say at the Crew Blog.




Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

TOS Review: Always Icecream

I am so excited to tell you about Always Icecream.com!  Ms. Q absolutely loves this website.  She loves it so much that when a friend of hers was having a birthday party, she gave her friend a one-year membership to Always Icecream for a gift.


So what does she like so much about it?   Imagine if your daughter could build her online dream house and decorate it with furniture she designed herself. What if she then opened a virtual store where she sold her wares to other girls to use in their dream homes.  Imagine an online world where your daughter can chat safely with other girls her age.  What if she could take care of her own virtual pets, learning both responsibility and pet care.  Sounds good so far right?  What makes Always Icecream different from those other popular online worlds is that in Always Icecream the girls have to work to earn Scoops (the Always Icecream currency) to pay for all this fun stuff.  And that work is learning games.

Always Icecream is an "innovative play and learning website exclusively for girls between the ages of 7 and 12."  Girls can choose from games and quizzes in math, geography, typing, science, health, music, language arts, and foreign language vocabulary to earn their scoops.  They can then use these scoops to do all of the activities I mentioned above.  There are also some "fun" games to play that don't earn scoops like babysitting, hosting a cooking show, and decorating cakes.

US Geography

There are several levels for each game and games for different age ranges so that the website can continue to interest your daughter as she gets older.  Parents can receive an email weekly that lets you know what games your daughter has played that week and what communications she has had with her online friends.

You can try out Always Icecream for free but with limited access to games and features.  Monthly memberships start at $4.99/month, Annual memberships are $29.99, with the best deal being the awesome Lifetime membership for $99.99.

I can't recommend this website enough!  Ms. Q asks to play it ALL the time.  It has become her reward for getting all her schoolwork done before lunch.  Check out what other TOS Crew Members have to say HERE.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Weekly-Wrap-up: Runny Noses, Sore Throats, and Coughs

Wondering where we've been all week?  We have ALL been sick.  It started with Baby C, then next came Little M and me, then Ms. Q.  I really hate seeing my babies sick. We were scheduled to be off school this week anyway but I didn't plan on spending it in bed!  We had some trips planned and I had some planning to finish but that didn't happen.  We all snuggled in bed together and watched alot of movies.  We are all feeling a little better today, mostly just tired, so hopefully we'll be able to go pumpkin picking tomorrow as planned.  Fingers crossed!

Hope your week was better than ours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Favorite Recipe: Banana Bread Cookies

Banana Bread Cookies
Wow, haven't posted a favorite recipe in awhile!  To be honest, I love cooking but I really, really love baking.  Most of my favorite recipes involve baking or desert making of some kind, and summer weather just isn't good baking weather.  So now that it's officially fall I am putting on my apron and getting some serious baking done.

This recipe is yet another way to get rid of those few bananas that get forgotten about in the fruit bowl and although there is nothing wrong with them, no one will eat them because they are more than a little brown spotted.  These cookies are really close to banana bread but more like a really soft almost cake-like cookie.  Yum...

Banana Bread Cookies

1c. butter, softened
1c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2c. flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
3 overripe, mashed bananas
2c. oats
1c. chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.  Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in bananas, oats, and chocolate chips just until mixed.

The "dough" should be more like a really thick batter

3. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.  They spread alot so put at least 2 inches apart.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until just golden and a little browned around the edges.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

Here they are again!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Letter Of The Week: Letter F - Frogs

I recently switched my lesson planning platform from Homeschool Tracker to Homeschool Skedtrack.  The biggest difference is in the way I organize Little M's school activities.  In order for the activities to display on the right day and in the right order I have to assign each activity to a different "course."  It sounds more complicated than it really is but it means that I can now give you a full lesson plan for Letter of the Week!  The courses are more fluid then they might appear and much less formal than they sound, trust me - we are not doing hard core science or math here.

Anyway without further ado, here is the Letter F with a frog theme:

Literature: Frog Went a Courtin' as spine, see carousel at the end of this post for other books we used.  Also see the Preschool Curriculum Tab at the top for web resource where each activity can be found.  We used these story strips to sequence the story.


Letter Recognition: We watched some videos on the internet about the letter F then Little M made the letter F with three forks.  We read this mini-book of things that start with the letter F

Science: We read through a non-fiction book from the library detailing the life cycle of a frog then completed these sequencing cards

Math: We went on a Letter F hunt and counted all the things around the house we could find that started with the letter F; Then we counted how many animals came to the wedding of Frog and Ms. Mousie

Music: Frog Went a Courtin' was originally a song so we listen to Frog Went a Courtin' on YouTube

Craft:  Little M made a paper bag frog puppet

Enjoy and remember to have fun!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Field Trip: Apple Picking

This week we had the opportunity to go apple picking with our homeschool group.  This was so much fun!  I have never been apple picking before and I was totally more excited for this trip than the kids were.  We went to Mood's Farm in Mullica Hill NJ.

First, we went on a hayride to the apple orchard.

Then we each got to pick three pounds of apples.

Some of us couldn't wait to taste the yummy apples.  Then we enjoyed a picnic lunch with friends and played a little too.  It was a great trip and an awesome school day!

Here's what we did with our 12 pounds of apples -

The kids usually eat alot fruit, so they ate almost half in the first few days.

Ms. Q made and canned applesauce.  She decided a chunky cinnamon applesauce was in order since "you just can't get that from the store". 

What kinds of fall trips do you have planned?


Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Apple Picking and Gardening

The back to school bubble has burst - I knew it had to eventually.  It was a great first two weeks but alas we are back to the "awwww Mom"s.  Still a productive week though.

We started out the week with a field trip with our homeschool group - Apple picking!! 

I think I was really more excited about this than the kids.  I have never actually been apple picking before and, much to my embarrassment, felt the need to tell the other moms and now you that I have never even seen apples growing on trees.  Yes, it's true.  Perhaps I should be in some sort of support group for the offspring of city people.  Those displaced persons who live near the country yet through no fault of their own never venture past the sidewalks and street lights, deprived of an appreciation of nature or agriculture.  Now, I do know that apples grow on trees, I've seen pictures.  But there's something special about going to the farm where they grow, choosing the ones you want, pulling them right off the tree, and then bringing them home.  You just can't get that from the grocery store or even the farm stand.

The rest of the week sorta fell apart after that.  But Ms. Q managed to get some work done.  I don't have any pictures of her doing anything.  Mostly I just threatened that I would take pictures of the ugly looks she was giving me and post them on our blog.  To her credit though, she wrote one of her best pieces this week for her language arts writing assignment.  The prompt was to write about an adventure you would like to have.  She wrote a great paragraph about snowboarding in Alaska.  It was interesting, exciting, and very detailed.

Little M learned about the Letter G and gardens.  Fall is not quite the right time to learn about gardening.  Luckily he was able to remember back to the spring and we talked about when we started our garden.  He and Ms. Q did some work in our garden helping to pull out the dying tomato plants and cut some flowers for a bouquet for the kitchen.  We talked about creating some theme gardens next year.  He thought that a pizza patch would be nice - tomatoes, basil, oregano, green and red peppers, jalapeno peppers,  onions, rosemary, thyme, and eggplant.  We may also plant a medicinal herb patch.  He thought growing your own medicine would be cool too.

We finished up our school week with a nature walk.  The highlight was this guy:

We weren't sure what kind of snake it was at the time but we looked it up when we got home and found out it's a rough green snake.  The guide book says they can grow to be 45 inches long!

There will be more on the Letter G and our field trip soon but that's it for our weekly wrap-up.