Monday, April 29, 2013

Zippy Update -- 18 - 20 Months

I began this post at 18 months (first two paragraphs) but now of course we are at 20 months. Ahh!

Zippy is no longer a baby! He is a walking, talking little boy. He was just sitting on my lap and grabbed hold of my hair with his hand and began rubbing it through his fingers -- something I realized he hadn't done in quite awhile. That used to be a source of comfort to aid in sleeping. He is sleepy now but it reminded me of the book by Karen Kingsbury Let Me Hold You Longer (a tear-jerker to be sure!) You never know when something will happen for the last time.{sigh}

I was trying to think of the words that Zippy knows but really, he can say any word we ask him to. He is even speaking in short sentences already. Totally amazes me as I don't recall the rest of the children doing that at 18 months! Even in looking back at what George could say I first wrote his list when he was 2 years and it wasn't this extensive.

Okay so now at 20 months -- Zippy is talking even more! You may have seen my video of him repeating Ephesians 6:1. So fun! He does say many words but also does speak with a lot of jibberish mixed in. And I wondered if he comprehends all of the words he says or if he only repeats them. But in testing that out it seems that indeed he does understand. A few words he says regularly are:

all his siblings names (I wish I could write them out but he says them too clearly)
Ink-in = Lincoln the dog
football (every ball is a football)
ice seem = ice cream
hep me! = help me!
fly topper (he wants his brothers to fly their remote helicopters all the time!)
go ouside
pay = play
seepy = sleepy
peeko = pickle
ink = drink
chews = shoes
beh-we = belly (he really loves to find his belly, and everyone else's too)
I yah you = I love you often said in a whisper -- too sweet!

Zippy isn't overly thrilled with food and is more of a grazer. He is particular about some things. For instance last night I cut up a chicken breast and he wouldn't touch it. But I let him take a bite of mine and he loved it and then realized he could eat his pieces too. He LOVES cheese! Anytime he is hungry that is what he asks for. He started eating cold cereal with milk (not the best breakfast but it works when rushed and we don't eat the sugar loaded ones). He also would rather sit on a stool at the counter or on a chair at the table when given a choice, just like the rest of the kids.

He loves his siblings!

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Pete is still his go-to but probably because we assigned Pete as his partner and second because he has been doing more babysitting when I run other kids to various events. He can't tell Pete and Re-Pete apart yet and calls them whatever name he chooses. Since all of the other kids could tell them apart early on Re-Pete thought it might have something to do with the fact that Zippy can talk earlier and say the names earlier than the face recognition. We'll see. I am sure he'll get it at some point, which would be nice because they are always telling him their real name. "No, I'm ____".

"Pee-be-boo" with Re-Pete

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Zippy wants to be outside every chance he can get! Even if everyone else is inside if it looks nice out to him he puts his boots on (wrong feet), once in awhile finds a jacket, and stands at the door or goes to get "hep" and calls "go ou-side!"

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He was beginning to annoy his older brothers as when I'd say no he went to them to beg. :)- He might be a handful this summer as he likes to wander off and not stay with the gang.

He is at the stage of making messes.

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 I wasn't quick enough to get a clear shot but I love this goofy grin! But he looks like such a little boy, oh my.

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Zippy sleeps great! He still has his moments when he wakes crying and nothing soothes him (except coming in our bed) but they are few and far between. He also is taking 1 1/2 - 2 hour naps every afternoon without waking as often in between.

His hair has come in a little more to the point that people would ask if I gave him a haircut; probably because is it thicker on top and shorter on the sides with the perfect hairline in back. John gets a kick out of his hair blowing in the wind outside as he thinks it looks like a hairpiece.

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Zippy is still quite the Mama's boy. He gets especially irritated when John and I hug for too long and will start to whimper and try to break us apart. If he gets in the middle all is well again.

As for size -- well, he is wearing 18 month clothes for the most part. One piece outfits and some shirts he'll wear 24 months though. I have't measured him lately. I suppose I should but I believe he was 26 pounds in the last month or so when the boys put him on the scale.

Time is flying but we enjoy our little guy so much!

Monday, April 22, 2013

TOS Crew - Progeny Press Review

As long as we have been homeschooling I have been a fan of literature-based learning. As the children have gotten older and more advanced in their reading I have turned to study guides to see what they are comprehending. Progeny Press is a great company for that. Progeny Press creates study guides for great literature examining it from a Christian perspective. 

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I chose the study guide for The Eagle of the Ninth for George and we used the instant download.

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How It Worked for Our Family

The study guide does not come with the book but that isn't a problem as we were able to check it out from the library. Initially George began reading The Eagle of the Ninth but he was struggling through the first chapter having a hard time comprehending it. (There are quite a few words even I didn't know the meaning of!) I did have him use the study guide to help and that did give him a better grasp of what was happening. I began reading it as well and could see that it was maybe a bit over his reading level. But we did like the study guide itself.

The study guide was an easy download and the files are adobe pdf. This is an interactive study guide and included an answer key. What was very nice about this guide was George could fill in his multiple choice answers and type out the essay portion right on the computer and then would save the file with his answers. No writing involved, a big plus as far as he is concerned and I was happy to not have another thing to print out. Being interactive it also would jump to a specific chapter when clicking on it in the table of contents rather than having to scroll through.

I was very happy with the content of the study guide. It causes you to really analyze what you have read. It also includes vocabulary words you may not have known, which in this book was a lot! It includes grammar and writing techniques. The portion called "Dig Deeper" gives you food for thought taking a part of the story and coming at it from a biblical perspective. For instance, in talking about how British tribes react in anger the study guide gives bible verses to look up to see what God's Word has to say about anger.

While the book may be difficult I found the study guide to be very beneficial. And in looking at all of the guides available from Progeny Press I know I will be utilizing them more often.


The Eagle of the Ninth study guide is available from Progeny Press for $16.99 for CD or instant download and $18.99 for printed booklet. This does not include the book. The recommended level for this one is 7 - 9th grade.

Progeny Press has a vast selection of study guides from lower elementary, all the way through high school each varying in price. You are able to purchase many of the books needed from them as well.

Click to read more reviews on some of the other study guides Progeny Press has to offer. 

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zippy learning Ephesians 6:1

Zippy is talking like crazy (completely amazes us!) and will repeat any word we say. George has been trying to teach him the first bible verse each of the children have learned -- Ephesians 6:1. Yesterday he sat and recorded him using my phone while Zippy watched himself talk. He got a bit distracted at the end by George's "owie" and then ends by wanting to watch the "baby", what he always calls himself when he sees his picture. I have a feeling it won't be long before he can say the verse without any help. Even today already he will fill in the blanks when we start the verse. (You may want to pause the music at the bottom of my blog).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

TOS Crew - Supercharged Science Review

Science at our house seems to come naturally as the boys have always been interested in how things work, the mechanics of something and are just very curious. And while I prefer books to look at for ideas of experiments to follow I am finding online programs that are very well done and useful for more in-depth learning. Supercharged Science is one of them.

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Supercharged Science is an online learning program for grades K-8 and 9-12 that has everything planned out for you. It is loaded with study units and within each there is reading material, videos to watch, experiments to do, and exercises to see how much you have learned. This can be used alone or alongside your current curriculum and it includes a conversion chart to see how they correlate.

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How It Worked For Our Family

Pete and Re-Pete were very excited about a chance to do more experiments and Pete especially took off with this program on his own. Now, it can be used in many different ways but as recommended the way to pull them in is to start with experiments. There are over 800 experiments in all so there is a lot to choose from. They also recommend quality not quantity which I really appreciate.

The study units are so full of information that you can spend weeks on one unit alone depending on how in-depth you want to go. We began with the first unit on Mechanics and watched the introduction from Aurora, the creator of Supersharged Science, then followed her instructions on what to do next. There is an outline for each unit to select what follows. After that the boys began to jump around looking at what was all offered and what experiments they could do. In the Chemistry unit they were quite amazed to be able to "see" carbon dioxide. And all of the children would be around when it was experiment time.

We did not go quite as in-depth as we could have and  mainly watched the videos and did experiments talking about some of the vocabulary words that were listed in the lesson plan. Now that we have used this program for a few weeks I see that it will really fill a need.

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Carefully pouring the invisible Carbon Dioxide (made from baking soda and vinegar). Our balance is not perfect but it works with this experiment.

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You can see that the cup on the left went down from the gas and now you can "see" it.

What I Liked

I have probably said this before but I love when everything is planned out for me. Organization is not one of my skills and Supercharged Science is totally organized leaving me nothing to do but gather supplies for experiments. It has:

  • Videos with Aurora who is so engaging as she explains the unit to the student.
  • Supply lists for each unit conveniently located on the navigation bar 
  • Vocabulary words with definitions ready to print out. 
  • Reading material to expand on what has been learned about gravity and friction for example. 
  • Experiments with video instruction in addition to completely written out instruction if needed.
  • Exercises with questions to see what has been learned.
  • And answers to those questions.
What I appreciated the most was the service from Supercharged Science. Aurora periodically sent emails with additional fun experiments for the kids to try and was always so encouraging and excited about the tidbits of information she was sharing. Any question you need answered and she was available.

The only downside, which is so minor, is that we rarely had all of the supplies needed for the experiments that the boys would choose. Not that they are rare, rather we lack many basic things like paperclips. So they began to look for experiments where we had everything we needed. That is the one area I need to prepare better for. Instead of jumping around I am now going to have them go from unit to unit so that I can gather all that is needed.


Membership for one month of e-Science for K-8 is $37 and e-Science 9-12 is $57. During the first month students get access to the first 7 units, plus additional sections like “The Scientific Method”. In addition, if there is a later unit or two that you would like early access to you can send an email and you will get free access to it immediately. This way, if someone is working on a certain topic, they are never made to wait months to have access to it. Each month, you get access to the next 2 units in order. If you would cancel your subscription your access ends.

Supercharged Science does offer a trial membership for a month so give it a try! 


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Brief Vacation

We were able to take a last minute trip to Door County this week. You may recall our trip there last year at this time. And what a difference a year makes as far as weather!

Well, my Grandparents own a timeshare but life is changing and they decided to sell it to my parents. So, we went up for the week with them. My Mom couldn't stay the whole time and John ended up having to fly to Ohio for a meeting but the kids and I stayed with my Dad. They had a great time swimming twice a day and I had a technology break. Well, for the most part. Of course I still have my iPhone that isn't ever far from me so I guess it wasn't entirely a break. But today is my first day back on the computer! Ahh, what a feeling. I need to do that much more often.

I'll share pictures soon but I wanted to touch base. Of course I have an upcoming review so that might come first.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Resurrection Traditions and Celebrations

I always have high hopes of having a month-long celebration leading up to Resurrection Sunday. We do that for Christmas and this holiday has much more significance. My first thought was to find books for each day as we do for Advent but that is quite difficult unless I wanted to invest a chunk of money to buy them. A visit to the library quickly reminded me of the world's emphasis on this time of year -- baby chicks and the Easter bunny. Scratch that idea. We stuck with the books we already had and began reading through one of my Lamplighter favorites -- Joel, Boy of Galilee among others.

I am so thankful that I was finally able to pull together a simple Passover Seder that we celebrated together on Maundy Thursday. Beef roast was the meat of choice rather than lamb but it was the idea of it and we are good at pretending. We also had unleavened bread and hard boiled eggs and since I didn't get a chance to make the haroset with chopped apples we had applesauce instead. I think the kids favorite part was taking sips of the "wine" and repeating promises of God.

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The kids all had fun with the idea of washing each others hands. No, we did not do the feet but it was a good lesson in serving and I don't think they could wash feet without bursting out laughing even more.

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Parsley, a sign of life, dipped in salt water reminding us of the tears of the Israelites.

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And while we are not Catholic I found the "script" which so simplified things for me on a Catholic Families website.

Good Friday a few of the boys and I went to help out at the nursing home. They wheeled some of the residents to the chapel. Then I played the piano while my Dad led the singing. I always enjoy hearing his joyful voice it just makes me smile to hear him sing.

We had fun dying eggs with Kool-aid this year although we didn't think the colors were quite as pretty. After the kids were done Dad and I had our turn to create our masterpieces.

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My rainbow egg

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We also did have our traditional German Russian meal of Kase Verenik but I will save the pictures of that for another post with the recipe.

Saturday night -- making Resurrection rolls the "easy" way. I have done this before making my own bread dough but decided for simplicity and used cresent roll dough {gasp!} Missy was thrilled to be doing "a project". I did realize that my oldest is truly getting older as he wasn't quite as excited as he used to be. {sigh}

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Resurrection Morning!

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Easter Basket Hunt at Grandma and Grandpa's. Well, actually this year they searched for bags of candy to fill the baskets which was a bit more challenging.

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Sweet Zippy and Missy

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Our Family Picture.

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I am so thankful for traditions with all of the symbolism to help instill in us the real meaning of the season. Christ died to save us -- worthless sinners, and praise God He rose again to give us eternal life!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

Monday, April 1, 2013

TOS Crew -- Math-U-See Review

Math is something I have always struggled with. A couple of my boys are very natural in this area while a couple have to work for it. I am always looking for what will work best and at times that isn't always a good thing. It seems George has tried math program after math program. There is one that he liked or rather endured but I knew he needed something to help him "see" it. Enter Math-U-See.

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George and I reviewed the Epsilon level from Math-U-See. 

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How It Worked for Our Family

At this level the program is very self-paced. The Instruction Manual says to "present and explore the new concept together". And while it is something I would definitely do with the younger kids I watched the first lesson with George and we decided he could tackle this on his own.

George viewed the DVD lesson and worked through the corresponding practice. There are about 3 pages of lesson practice. Once they are mastered they are followed by 3 pages of systemic review which review not only the new concept but also previously learned concepts. Once George mastered the concept he did not need to complete all of the review and went on to take the test. The time it took for each lesson varied based on how quickly he caught on and understood. I did allow him to check his own work and I'd periodically look it over.

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So George, how do you like Math-U-See?  "I like it."

Why? "Because it explains how and why you do the problems better than other math programs do."

What do you think about the DVD lesson?  "He (Steve Demme) is funny which keeps my attention."

We also used fraction overlays which helped George in the beginning but then he was able to see how it worked in his mind and no longer needed them.


The Epsilon level mainly covers fractions. Math-U-See does not have graded levels and is taught sequentially building upon each math concept which I really like. That is very helpful to the child who struggles with math as the grade level they "should be at" isn't dangled over their head. To determine what level your child is ready for there is a placement test to help you and I found it to be very accurate.

New to the 2012 student workbook they added a page called "Application and Enrichment". George said this is "for fun" but really it is to use what they have learned in different formats. And some of the problems may be things that would be seen on standardized tests which is helpful.

Purchasing Information

To find out more about Math-U-See read what others on the Review Crew thought

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