the blog cruise

The TOS Homeschool Crew is setting sail on a new adventure – the BLOG CRUISE.

The Blog Cruise is a new carnival about homeschooling that is being hosted on the Crew blog, and Facebook fan page. Each week will have a new topic/question and Crew members will answer the questions on their blogs. The new topic will be posted each Tuesday.

This week’s topic was:

What about Socialization?

review – Christian Keyboarding

Keyboarding for the Christian School reminds me of my word processing class in high school. The touch-typing lessons are quick & simple, with lots of drillwork. Lessons are made to be printed out and placed by the computer to learn the necessary skill of transferring information from paper to a computer.

Lessons include:

  • typing drills
  • timings
  • letters
  • envelopes
  • proofreader’s marks
  • creating tables
  • APA & MLA reports

You can view sample lessons HERE.

Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary Version, offers keyboarding basics for grades K-5. Both versions use Bible verses in the practice exercises.

My kids like the flashiness of the free online typing programs like Dance Mat Typing, but those have only taught them letter placement and speed. Christian Keyboarding offers effective and practical lessons for real life. I think it is important for my kids to learn these skills before heading out into the “real world”.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Keyboarding for the Christian School (grades 6 & up) $15.95
  • Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary (K-5) $12.95
  • Use the code NewYear5 to save $5 off of any purchase of $12.95 or more by Feb. 28, 2010.

Value: This is a very effective program for very little money.

See what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Christian Keyboarding!


I received these programs free for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was given.


pillsbury giveaway

Giveaway is closed – winner will be announced Saturday!

We recently received a Honey Butter Biscuit prize pack through My Blog Spark, courtesy of Pillsbury. We really like these biscuits! They are buttery and sweet, and we didn’t find it necessary to add anything to them. The flaky layers are fun to pull apart and eat one by one.

Pillsbury wants to send one of you a Honey Butter Biscuit prize pack! You will receive 2 coupons for free cans of biscuits, a glass butter dish, and a butter knife.

Want to enter? Leave a comment telling me your favorite thing to eat on biscuits.

That’s it! I won’t make you jump through hoops, write a jingle for Pillsbury, or follow my blog (although I would love it if you did!).

  • winner will be chosen Friday, Jan. 29th
  • coupons are only valid in the U.S.


census caution

I got this in an email & thought it was worth passing along.


Be Cautious About Giving Info to      Census Workers

by Susan Johnson

With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft. The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, and other relevant data.

The big question is – how do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? BBB offers the following advice:

If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don’t know into your home.

Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census.

REMEMBER, NO MATTER WHAT THEY ASK, YOU ONLY NEED TO TELL THEM HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE AT YOUR ADDRESS.

While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, YOU DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION. The Census Bureau will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers, nor will employees solicit donations. Any one asking for that information is NOT with the Census Bureau.

AND REMEMBER, THE CENSUS BUREAU HAS DECIDED NOT TO WORK WITH ACORN ON GATHERING THIS INFORMATION… No Acorn worker should approach you saying he/she is with the Census Bureau.

Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. However, the Census Bureau will not contact you by Email, so be on the lookout for Email scams impersonating the Census.

Never click on a link or open any attachments in an Email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit www.bbb.org

booking it in 2010

I love to read, but don’t always make time in my schedule for it. My to-be-read pile is getting pretty high! I’m hoping that LifeasMOM’s Booking It Challenge will motivate me to carve out some time to feed my brain.

These are waiting in my book basket:

~ Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring

~ Designing a Lifestyle That Pleases God: A Practical Guide

~ Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry

~ Creative Correction

~Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life

~ Houseworks

~ Sink Reflections

~ The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Grow, or Manage a Business

~ The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

~ Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats–A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners

~ The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking

~ For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School

~ Laying Down the Rails

~ The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach: Bible Based Homeschooling

~ The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

LifeasMOM is providing a check-in opportunity at the end of each month to share book reviews and progress reports. Guess I need to get busy reading!

review- Worship Guitar Class

Unlike many of my Crew Mates, no one in my family has any guitar experience. We eagerly awaited the arrival of our Jean Welles Worship Guitar Class. Jean has a Master’s in Guitar Performance from USC and I think she is a wonderful teacher!

The only problem we ran into was in the Tuning the Guitar section. She gave very clear instructions on how to tell if a guitar is in tune, but did not demonstrate how to tune it.

You can watch the first lesson HERE. There is also a Worship Guitar for Kids.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • DVD and Book  $29.95 each volume
  • 4 Pack Offer – $99.80
  • 4 Pack Offer + Books for Volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4 – $119.80

Things I Like:

  • Things are explained from a beginner level, like what all of the parts of the guitar are called.
  • Jean has a pleasant voice, and she speaks clearly and slowly. She is very encouraging.
  • The lesson speed is very easy to follow.
  • The songs are fairly recent.

Value: This is a fantastic value compared to traditional guitar lessons.

See what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Worship Guitar Class!

I received a free dvd and book for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was given.

help for haiti

My heart has been heavy the past few days as I’ve watched the images coming out of Haiti. I used to go to church with one of the victims. I ache for her lovely family. I thought about posting something, but the words just wouldn’t come. Thankfully, Money Saving Mom is giving us all a voice with a purpose.

Crystal and her husband are donating $10 to Compassion International’s relief fund for every person who blogs about what they are doing to help those in Haiti. We have supported a little boy through Compassion for over 2 years and they do some amazing things. She also has a long list of bloggers who will also make donations of some kind if you visit their blogs.

My husband is between jobs as he works on opening his own optical lab, so we are going to get creative about finding some extra funds to donate. (I did make a $5 donation to Compassion since every little bit counts!) Here are a few things we are going to do:

~ I am going to visit all those blogs! I don’t have as much money to donate as I would have had a few months ago, but these generous people are willing to donate on my behalf.

~ I have a couple of things in my garage that I am going to sell on craigslist.

~ I am listing some homeschool books for sale on the Homeschool Swap Boards and Homeschool Classifieds.

A little part of me says, “Oh, but I was going to buy some things we need by selling all of that stuff!”. But you know what? God is already providing for our needs, and He will continue to do so. I have a warm house, food in my pantry, and five children and a hubby to hold a little tighter. The people of Haiti have nothing but the hope that someone will care enough to help.

So go read about the Help for Haiti effort and see how you can help!


simple woman’s daybook

Outside my window… it is a dark, chilly night.

From the learning rooms… we are back from our break & starting some independent study time this semester.

I am thankful for… God’s protection.

From the kitchen… I am stretching a chicken – chicken pot pie, chicken spaghetti & chicken noodle soup – yum!

I am creating… a writing station (I got the idea here).

I am going… to attempt to play the drugstore game this week.

I am reading… Lessons from the Life of Joshua ; The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (for a review).

I am hoping… that Sweetpea will sleep tonight! We’ve had a rough couple of weeks.

I am hearing… the kids playing the Wii.

Around the house… I need to clean out & organize the gameroom

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week… make plans for my in-laws’ 40th anniversary, check in on my friend Jill & her new little princess.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

I am always amazed at the complex beauty of God’s design. You can see this and other photos of real snowflakes HERE.

Share your own daybook HERE

using online tools for school planning

Most of you know by now that I hoard collect educational links. I even started another blog to house them. (The poor thing has been neglected over the holidays.)

I used to have a fantastic memory, but it went to the bathroom to powder its nose when I had my first child … and never returned! Because of this, there are a few free online tools that I use when planning our school activities.

~Google Reader There are several different feed readers out there but Google Reader is my favorite. I can tell at a glance which of the blogs that I follow have new posts. There are so many great ideas in Bloggyworld, but it would take forever to visit each blog just to see if there are any new posts. Here are a few of the lovely websites in my Google Reader:

~Delicious Once I find an article or idea that I like, I save it as a bookmark through Delicious. I have a little tag button in my toolbar that lets me easily bookmark a link. My links are all sorted by category tags that I assign.

Sometimes I run across an idea that I definitely want to use later in the year. In addition to my regular categories, I will also label it 2010. That way, when Christmas rolls around and I am browsing my Christmas links, I will remember that I want to study Christmas Around the World. Or in late September, when I am browsing my Autumn links, I will remember that I want to make a leaf mural to decorate our home.

Another benefit to Delicious is that I can search other members’ tags by clicking on one of my tags. I love browsing through a category like filefoldergames to see what links other people are saving.

One last great use: create an online cookbook. I have 554 recipes saved and sorted into categories, all with the click of a finger.

~Zoho Notebook I was in need of a way to organize all of this info into lesson plans when I stumbled across this post at PreKinders several months ago. Zoho notebook turned out to be a perfect fit for me!

I set up a new book every month and have several pages in each. September had a page for apple links, a page for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activities, and a page for the first week of school. December had a different page for each of the symbols we studied. My newest book is for a Writing Station that I am setting up next week. (I’ll be posting on that when I get it done!)

Zoho has a big list of applications that I’m sure would be useful if I ever find the time to figure them out.

So there you have it, my brain-in-a-post.

What clever methods do you use to help you remember?

[Ok, hands up, how many of you are still singing ‘Pinky & The Brain, Pinky & The Brain …. one is a genius,  the other’s insane.’ ?]