Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Zoo Day

I could watch meercats all day long.

Up close and personal w/ a meercat.

Manta ray flirting with a little boy

Reptile fingers

I wish I could hang like that



Blue macaw

CUTEST of the day

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beeyoutiful, a TOS Crew Review

Beeyoutiful is a company that offers consumers natural products for your skin and immune system.

Beeyoutiful sent my family two products to review for you: miracle skin salve and orange B.A.L.M. for the lips. I am a shopper who intentionally seeks products that contain no petroleum or mineral oil. And Beeyoutiful delivers. I don't have a lot to say about the products beyond that - Beeyoutiful uses the ingredients that I want in products, they don't have the ingredients that I don't want, and the company catalog continues to grow with more items that appeal to me.

Click the photos to go to the product pages with ingredient info.


I like coconut based products, and the first ingredient of miracle skin salve is coconut oil. My homeschooler and I used the miracle skin salve a lot. The scent is pleasant, too. I have eczema in both ears, and the miracle skin salve was both soothing and reduced the itching. My daughter has some eczema spots on her legs and she uses it on them. She would not continue to use it if it were not soothing to her. miracle skin salve is priced at $15 for 2 ounces.

The other product we received is Beeyoutiful All-Natural Lip Moisturizer, or B.A.L.M. I have to hid lip balms from my daughters if I want to keep them. :) This one is worth hiding from them. We received the orange scented balm, and orange is not my favorite scent/flavor for products (because it reminds me of yucky baby aspirin from when I was a child), yet this essential oil used to scent this balm is nice and the balm does not taste orange-y to me. It makes my lips feel great when they are chapped and dry. B.A.L.M. is priced at $3 a tube.

Please read the reviews of my Crewmates about these and other Beeyoutiful products here.

Beeyoutiful sent me miracle skin salve and B.A.L.M. to review for you. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Apologia: Who Am I?; a TOS Crew Review

I had high expectations for "Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?" from apologia. Everything that I have seen from apologia educational ministries, inc., has been solid, from the visually beautiful layout of the materials to the quality of the information inside.

My expectations are met and exceeded with "Who Am I?".
Photobucketapologia sent my family a huge package of "Who Am I?" resources to review. We were given the hardback textbook ($39.00); the notebooking journal ($24.00); the audio CD ($19.00); and the coloring book ($8.00).
The textbook is another one of apologia's sturdy hardbacks; 8 lessons (chapters) in 262 pages. Rather than describe each lesson, I will direct you to a sample lesson, here. You will be able to see for yourself the layout, the quality, the reading and comprehension level needed as you think about your homeschoolers' abilities.

The table of contents is here. apologia materials suggest that the lessons are geared for students ages 6-14, quite a large age range, in my opinion, and based on my limited experience, would consider them for mature 8 or 9 year olds or for the older end of the age range.

Who Am I? from the What We Believe series teaches children "what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a loving God." apologia uses a variety of Biblical translations but uses NIV more heavily than other choices. apologia recommends that families use their favorite translation for scripture memory within this study.

***The first lesson includes a story about a child with a disability.***
I think all of us will relate to the child in the story with some physical differences, and children with a disability will especially relate to this child. Well done.

The way the study is set up allows parents and teachers to go as fast or as slow as the student needs in order to learn.
My first two apologia review items were given to me prior to the availability of apologia's notebooking journals. I purchased one to go with something I received and I will probably purchase two more to go with products that did not have a journal when I was given or bought the text. You simply must have the journal to go with the text, in my opinion. The journal is inviting to look at for the child, it looks fun; of course if follows the text and supports the info in the text with q & a, word searches, fill-in-the-blank, and other pencil and paper and thinking activities. A sample from the notebooking journal is here.
The audio CD (actually an MP3-CD) contains "Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?" in audio format from beginning to end. The audio format will allow parents or children with visual impairments to experience the entire book, and allows children with auditory processing challenges combined with reading delays to play the CD and follow along in the book simultaneously, a strategy that is sometimes helpful for comprehension. Some children prefer learning by hearing over reading, and this audio CD gives that learner an option. (I remember hearing Amanda Bennett tell us at a homeschool convention that her son would listen to apologia science on CD on a portable CD player while he dribbled a basketball outside.) The voice is pleasant and female. I think she could slow her reading pace quite a bit for the learner with auditory processing challenges. Check out the sample here before you buy.

The coloring book is my favorite part of the set because it is the most friendly to my homeschooler with unique learning needs. Too many spoken words, too much text overwhelms her (we've come a long way, but she is not ready for all of the material in this text "as is"). Sample pages are available here.

Other TOS Crewmates have reviewed "Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?" here.

apologia sent me these resources to review for you. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unboxing Goodies (1)

Someone gave me a bookcase. YEAH! For months I have postponed unboxing schoolbooks until I purchased a couple of new bookcases because we threw away a couple of rickety bookcases when we moved last year. I have unboxed several resources and, in the process, have on my mind several more that I need to find. They're good enough to share with you. Most of them, I bought. One (the Kluth book), I was given to review in past years.

One is "You Read to Me; I'll Read to You". The text is highlighted in different colors that allow two readers to share the story. The set-up provides a simple pattern to join for families looking for ways to give children experience joining and creating a "we-go" experience alongside experience with literacy, text, reading. I've even seen these books in the giant-book size for classrooms at a warehouse club.

Another is "I Love You Rituals". If you are an RDI(r) family, a Communicating Partners family, a family who understands the importance of patterns and rituals and joining them, you will appreciate this book.

The introductory section explains what I call "guided participation" (a Barbara Rogoff term, not a Becky Bailey, PhD term).

I had the privilege to hear Dr Bailey present at a parenting education day a few years ago. There are a few videos of her on YouTube if you are interested.

Next up, Ruth Beechick's "The Three R's". Beechick explains how development plays out in terms of the basis for reading, writing, and arithmetic. She talks to me in terms that I can understand (my background is not in education or teaching) and she gives me practical ideas to grow the foundations a child needs in order to be successful throughout his or her educational career.

Another important book is Melinda Boring's story, "Heads Up Helping". Boring is a speech therapist who homeschooled her children, including two with ADHD. One of them sounds so ASD, although none of her children were diagnosed with ASD. Boring tells their story along with lots of ideas and tips for teaching a child who needs to move in order to learn. If you are teaching really active children, you will identify with Melinda Boring and you'll be willing to try some of her tips because she's a mom who has been there, done that.

For parents and educators who want to help children with experience and practice in joining, co-regulation, coordination, check out "50 Ways To Use Your Noodle". Swimming pool noodles.

Yet another must-have is Carol Barnier's "The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles". Barnier is a creative mom who understands the learner with unique needs, especially the one who has attention problems, who needs to move in order to learn, who needs to learn in a fun way. Barnier is the absolute queen of the ditty. I was happy to find this one as I was (finally) unpacking. I need to spend some time with it (and a stack of index cards).

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Carol Barnier in person, GO. She is a treat.

My dream conference day would have Paula Kluth and Carol Barnier together. I keep Kluth's "From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks" beside Barnier's "WHAT NOW" book. "From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks" walks parents and teachers through how to create all sorts of supports and accommodations for kids who need them, with lots of photos and "how-to" directions, and product lists and where to find the items you need for each project. Fabulous!

And the last book recommendation in this particular installment is a book to spur your creativity in all things games: The Games Bible.

Enjoy. :)

The Gospel Story Bible

Here's a book that I LOVE. Right up front I will tell you that this is one of my favorite review items *ever*!

The press release describes the Bible well:

The Gospel Story Bible contains "156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation. This easy-to-read storybook written for children from preschool to high school introduces readers to many captivating people, places and events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. At the same time, Machowski skillfully connects the individual stories to the overall gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending his son Jesus to save his people. Each story ends by connecting to Jesus and his gospel of grace. By sharing these Bible stories with each other, young and old will learn together the life-changing habit of recognizing the presence and workings of Christ in every moment of their day."

The book is bright and colorful and the illustrations are striking. The sturdy hardback is list priced at $29.99.

Author Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for twenty-three years.

Machowski tells stories from the ESV Bible in a way that is inviting. Most stories are one page long with an illustration by A. E. Macha on the opposite page. A few stories are two pages long. Machowski has done an incredible job making each story fit the one-or-two page length without compromising details.

My daughter (who is on the autism spectrum) and I read these stories at bedtime. The visual of one story per page keeps her anxiety down; she knows she can enjoy the story with me as a read-aloud without being overwhelmed by too many pages. Sometimes "short" means "shallow". Not here. The story is deep enough to allow for some questions and some discussion afterwards, too. The Gospel Story Bible is a wonderful resource for engaged learning!

For my kid, a reluctant, anxious reader, this format is pretty much perfect. It's a book that is attractive enough for a large age-range to pick up as well. My one complaint is a small one: some stories use white text on a colored background and that contrast is more difficult for me to read.
The B&B Media Group sent me a review copy of The Gospel Story Bible at no charge to me. I get to keep the book. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

A Trader Joe's gluten free brownie mix; a jar of Marshmallow Fluff; a recipe of Wilton's basic chocolate "butter"cream (with palm oil instead of soy based shortening and without the meringue powder) and we have a special treat (and a messy kitchen)!

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Gluten Free + Recipe Finds

I stumbled upon a source of gluten free recipes, many of them dairy free or easily adapted, at


Enter "gluten free" in the search box.

I put Coconut Milk Caramels; Gluten Free Corn Dogs; Gluten Free Whoopie Pies & Marshmallow Creme; Isaiah's GF Sandwich Bread; and a chocolate cake recipe that I've put on my short list of recipes to try.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

This one came though in my facebook feed.

I want to try it w/ Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Junk Food Makeover: Goldfish Crackers

I stumbled across a recipe this morning from Bon Appetit.

I haven't made it yet.

The recipe is GFCF.

Goldfish Crackers

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