If I Could Save Time In A Bento…

Let me start by saying that I hate being busy. I like to wake up slow and take my sweet time figuring out what to do with my day. I like to take a wait and see approach. I love cancelled plans and snow days, simply for that moment of revelation when I’m suddenly free from all obligations.

Yet, here I stand before you thoroughly exhausted from a week that has been over scheduled, like every other American mom I know. I need more time.

Adulting is hard work.

This week has been stuffed with fun, friends and learning, but also cleaning, struggling to keep my eyes open past 9, and (oh, this is the best) a hot water tank having a nervous breakdown and flooding the basement- all while my darling husband has been traveling for work. Just an FYI, he’s also been having nice dinners out,  and drinking Singapore Slings which he claims he doesn’t like much, but thinks I would like because they’re sweet and touristy.

A Singapore Sling. Photo by @dlandisman on Instagram.

A Singapore Sling.
Photo by @dlandisman on Instagram.

He managed to get tickets to the grand prix race that wove through the streets of Singapore.  I’m sure he would want me to add that he worked super duper hard at what ever it is he does with very difficult clients and that jet lag feels like a slow, painful death. Clearly, some forms of adulting are harder than others.

At the Grand Prix race in Singapore. Photo by Dave / @dlandisman on Instagram

At the Grand Prix race in Singapore. Photo by Dave / @dlandisman on Instagram.

So now that I’ve ranted a bit, I’ll tell you a little about my week. This is the cute stuff.

I taught my very first kids cooking  class and no one was harmed. I’m kind of proud. The kids in our new homeschool co-op are sweet and adorable (I’m being serious now) and they worked hard to make these awesome little bento boxes with ‘onigiri’ which is Japanese for super cute, itty-bitty  food things in bento boxes.

We had a small crisis that morning, when I woke up to find that the cat stole an entire box of nori out of my bag over night and ate every last bit.

First thought: Do I have more nori? Why yes, I have a back up box, because – ADULT over here.

Second thought: Will ingesting an entire bag of nori kill my cat? Of course not. It’s only seaweed, right? {The cat has continued to live and steal everything edible.}

One of my students brought her apron and chef hat to class…

She shows great promise as a bento artist. She also asked to help me clean up, and washed everything while the other kids messed around at the end of class. She could possibly surpass my skills at both bento and adulting in the next year or two.

Now, it’s Friday afternoon and Dave has safely landed at JFK, which is a 90 minute drive that typically takes 6 hours in afternoon traffic, because New York is a competitive place and fully committed to offering the most intense possible traffic that unreasonably high taxes can buy. It takes twice as long for him to get from Queens to Connecticut than it does to get from Singapore to Hong Kong. Don’t feel too bad for him, remember the Singapore Slings, the race,  and the concert. Wait, did I forget to tell you about the concert? He caught an Imagine Dragons concert after the race. He’s not too proud of this one, as he’s a metal kind of guy, but even the kids were annoyed that they missed out.  The last concert I attended that didn’t feature one of my kids was in the last century. 1998. We had box seats at Madison Square Garden for phish, and when the music started, we watched thousands of fans simultaneously lighting up. The smoke rose up in a giant cloud of happiness.

Anyway, I’m a grown-up now. I don’t really like concerts anymore. And even though Imagine Dragons played Forever Young, it’s not Alphaville. I think I still have a mixed tape around here somewhere with the original and all the other best music ever.

I’ll have to make dinner soon, but the basement is sorta somewhat drying out. We don’t have any hot water (due to the hot water tank issue / flood) and I filled the house with smoke when I tried to run the dishwasher, assuming it would just use the cold water. Not so! Maybe other people know this? The dishwasher would rather set itself on fire than wash dishes in cold water. It is weird that I get how it feels?

And my day is wrapping up with my teen and I dancing around the kitchen to Peace Train. It felt like a logical “next song” after I explained to her that the title of this post is a reference to If I Could Save Time In A Bottle, which she thought was a bit of a downer.

Also, Peace Train always lifts a person’s spirit. We all need a little bit of peace and hope and happy at the end of the week.

Then I pushed the moment a little too far and spoke of a song by Bono, and she said she thinks Ravyn Simone covered it. Yeah. And why did they take her out of the Cheetah Girls? Is it because she’s a lesbian? And screw Disney for being homophobic like that. I said she’s better off without them, and that she probably had better things to do. She told me that the Cheetah Girls movies were just appropriating culture, etc…I think she Sarah Lawrenced me. I’m sure it has plenty to do with the patriarchy too.

And although this week has been full of me not feeling the freedom of cancelled plans and on a whim living, it’s still been kind of awesome. I can’t save this time with them. I know it. Every now and then it hits me like a wave, like the kind of wave that knocks you to the sand and spins you under water while you try keep your bikini top on and your bikini bottom out of your ass. I get slammed with the realization that they’re growing up so damn fast, and soon won’t need me much. Then I think what the hell am I going to do?

Hmm. I’ll be sad and lonely for certain. Probably every single day.

Also, I hear Singapore is nice this time of year.

Imagine Dragons, Singapore 2016

Imagine Dragons, Singapore 2016

A Safe, Kid Friendly Email {KidsEmail.org Review}

My youngest daughter has been testing out a kid safe, kid friendly email system from KidsEmail.org. With our Annual Subscription, she can access her email on any device, free from ads and spam. This is a great way for young kids to learn to use and enjoy email (and practice their writing, spelling and typing skills) in a safe way.

KidsEmail.org also offers settings that allow parents to limit who can contact their child via email, and choose whether or not links and images can be shared.

Features included in the annual subscription:

  • Mail Monitoring -parents can choose to be copied on all incoming and outgoing email.
  • Time Restrictions- allows parents to set a limit on the amount of time their child is allowed to spend on email. Also allows a parent to set up a punishment by shutting down access for a set amount of time.
  • Contact Manager -parents can choose who can contact their child.
  • Offensive Word Filter – select any words your kids are not allowed to use when sending a message.
  • GPS -allows parents to track a child’s location when they are using the mobile application.
  • No Ads
  • SPAM Filters

A note about privacy:  I generally trust my kids to make good choices. I don’t think they’re perfect, but I also know what they’re up to most of the time. I chose not to limit their use of email as a form of punishment. It’s unlikely that I would use the feature that would allow me to read all of their outgoing emails. Even a young age, I feel they have a right to privacy. I would not take that away unless there was an issue that demanded it. I do think that safety is important, and blocking people from contacting your child could be necessary at times, particularly when dealing with cases of cyber bullying. I think discussing safety online and when using email should be an ongoing process.

Our favorite part of this program was the background and login page options, which allowed my daughter to pick a theme she loves for her login page and dashboard. There are tons of adorable themes to choose from to customize their accounts, such as race cars, princesses, horses or rainbows.

Here are some examples of the adorable themes:

KidsEmail.org was simple to set up. We were up and running and ready to start using email in less than ten minutes. However, I did take a fair amount of time deciding which limits were necessary and which were not. At this point in their lives, my daughters don’t use email that often, so some of the limits were not needed. It’s nice to have so many options available, and I think they could be helpful for some families.

My favorite safety feature in this program is the GPS, that allows you to track your child’s location (if they are using the app on a mobile device). I always know where my kids are, and I’m typically not far away, but I like the idea of being able to track them down in an emergency situation.

KidsEmail.org offers a great way to introduce young children to using email. It is far more user-friendly than typical email, and doesn’t have any distracting adds. My daughter thinks her email is super cute (she picked the horse theme) and looks forward to checking her messages daily.

To learn more about KidsEmail.org or to give the service a try, visit them here.

Keep up with them on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KidsEmail.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KidsEmail
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kidsemail1/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KidsemailOrg
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kidsemail/

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
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Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press Review}

Teaching your children a foreign language can be a challenge, particularly when your child chooses a language that you have never studied. There are so many ways that homeschool parents can tackle this challenge, even if you are on a tight budget.  Armfield Academic Press had homeschoolers in mind when they created  Getting Started with French (and the rest of their foreign language resources).  This program was created specifically to meet the unique needs of  homeschooled and self-taught students in a single, affordable resource.

We were given a copy of Getting Started with French to try out with my high schooler (16), for the purpose of this review. She used it 4-5 times per week, 10-20 minutes a day, for six weeks.

About Getting Started with French:

The book is 281 pages and contains a total of 172 lessons. It is designed to be self-paced, self-contained and inexpensive, enabling a student to make progress with or without a French teacher. Practice exercises are provided through out the program to help a student achieve mastery. Lessons start off with simple words and concepts and very gradually increase in difficulty as a student’s skills expand, minimizing the feeling of being overwhelmed or intimidated by the challenges presented.

Take a look at the photos below to see how the lessons are laid out and increase in difficulty.

The How to Use This Book section explains in detail the ideal way to schedule and manage the program, and discusses the purpose and need for each of the components of the book.  The book includes general advice, a pronunciation guide, a glossary of words to help with translation, and an answer key. It is also recommended that students visit the website to download the free pronunciation MP3’s to assist with their studies.

Our Experience with Getting Started with French

What I liked most about this program is that it can be used for just about any age student. The lessons can easily become a part of a busy day because they are bite-sized. It worked well for my teen, who is very busy and is carrying a heavy workload this year. Consistency is essential when learning a new language, and this program is designed carefully to enable a student to move forward step-by-step everyday.

Overall, we really enjoyed the way this program approached learning French. Although my daughter has studied French before using a more visual approach, she felt that this book both reinforced and expanded her skills. She will continue using it during this academic year. It is a resource I will happily keep on my shelf until my next French student is ready to get started. 🙂

In addition to Getting Started with French, Armfield Academic Press publishes other titles that include: Getting Started with Latin, Getting Started with Spanish and (soon to be released)  Getting Started with Russian.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArmfieldAcademicPress/
Click here to read more reviews from Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Learning Astronomy with Apologia {Homeschool Science Review}

On warm summer nights, my 9-year old likes to look at the stars. She grabs her binoculars to try to get a closer look. One night, she was sure that what she was looking at was a planet, and not a star. I didn’t think it could be, so I looked it up online. She was right, of course. It was Mars. And so began her interest in astronomy, and educating me on the facts whenever possible.

Her interest developed around the same time that I was given the opportunity to review Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition from Apologia Educational Ministries. This homeschool science curriculum is designed for students in grades K-6, and offers far more than a brief look at the stars and planets. It engages students in learning through visual, auditory and hands-on experiences.

This astronomy curriculum is a newly revised edition, with a text containing full color photos and detailed illustrations and tons of hands-on experiments and projects for students to explore.

Apologia generously sent us the following resources:

  • Student Text
  • Notebooking Journal
  • Jr. Notebooking Journal
  • Audio CD

Apologia has also recently released an Astronomy Science Kit available for purchase. The kit contains everything you need to complete 63 total activities- 42 of the activities are in the textbook as well. These activities are referenced in the schedule so they can easily be added to your plan.

About Exploring Creation with Astronomy:

The program provides in depth lessons and experiments covering the sun, moon, planets, space rocks, Kuiper Belt and the dwarf planets, galaxies and space travel. Along the way, students can record their projects and reinforce learning by using the Notebooking Journal.

The Notebooking Journal begins with a recommended schedule containing 4 to 7 assignments per lesson. If you planned on using this program twice per week, it would take a full school year to complete. We didn’t stick to the schedule precisely. During the review period, we were able to complete Lesson 1 (What is Astronomy?) and Lesson 2 (The Sun), and we are well into the Lesson 3 (Mercury).

We received both versions of the Notebooking Journal for the purpose of this review. The Jr. Version is for grades K-2 and the regular version is for older students, grades 3-6. We decided to use the Jr. version with my 9 year-old, because the writing assignments are designed a little differently. The regular version requires additional writing (about one extra notebooking page per lesson). At her age and skill level, I really felt that she would have done well with either journal.

What we loved about this program:

  • Everything is set to go when you receive your books. You don’t need to spend additional time planning.
  • The gentle, Charlotte Mason style approach is a stress free way to explore science.
  • This program can be extremely hands-on if you choose, but you can easily modify it for a student who only wants a few projects. It’s versatile.
Completing the crossword puzzle.

Completing the crossword puzzle.

My daughter loved the Mnemonic and activity in Lesson 1, that helps students remember the order of the planets (My Very Educated Mother Served Us Nachos).  She enjoys doing the notebooking pages (particularly the crossword puzzles). Since she has a deep interest in astronomy,  we spend a great deal of time examining the photos and illustrations in the book,  discussing topics and facts and connecting it back to what she already knows.

We will continue working through this program this year. It’s a new favorite in our house!

Learn more about Astronomy or any of the other many products to help you homeschool at Apologia.


Find Apologia on Social Media:

Twitter @apologiaworld

To read by more reviews by other TOS Crew members, click here.

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