Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Touring a Goat Farm....

We had this wonderful opportunity given to us...a newly opened goat farm that makes their own cheeses allowed us to visit and tour their facility.

Looking in the sterile room at where the cheeses are started.

Where they add flavors for the various spreads...MMMmmmm...
Resting in salt water brine (making yummy gouda)
They can stay in this water brine for months and not go bad.
Aging the cheese...temperature controlled.  the blocks are waxed and turned once a week.  You can see what happens after a couple months (top shelf versus bottom shelf)

Showed us how they wax the cheese.

Milk collection tank
Where they collect the milk.

Enjoying the goats
While we were there, they were starting a batch of gouda.  They have to watch the temperatures very closely.

This was such an exciting trip...and I discovered that I can eat gouda goat cheese!!  Whoohooo!!!  But we unfortunately discovered that Lydia has a sensitivity to goat cheese :(  Go figure.  We bombarded this farm, there was about 75 homeschoolers and their families.  But it was so much fun and neat to see how our food is made!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sugar Creek Gang Rides again!!!


We absolutely love to listen to audio books.  On our recent almost 3 week trip, we spent several hours traveling in our van.  And we listened to a lot of audio books, some that Joe and I would like (but appropriate for the kids), and some that Brayden would enjoy or that the girls would enjoy.  We easily spent more than 30 hours traveling in the van on the open road.

But that is not the only time that we listen to audio books.  Due to where we live, the girls and I spend a lot of time in the van traveling to our field trips and classes.  So we take advantage of this time also for audio books.  So I was very excited to get a chance to try out the Sugar Creek Gang stories.....


It's very hard for kids today to know a time when televisions were not in almost every room in their home.  Or even the most unimaginable.....television did not exist at all in the home.  These were times of imagination, made up games and toys.  A completely different era that is now generations ago and party of history lessons.

So what did kids do for entertainment, one thing was radio shows!!  Families would gather around in the evening, or even kids would in the afternoon to hear music or stories dramatized.  

In 1939, Paul Hutchins began writing a Christian adventure series for boys and girls.  Later Paul Ramseyer was inspired to dramatize the series for radio.


The Sugar Creek Gang is a series of 36 books featuring a group of adventure seeking boys, who find lots of fun and trouble without really looking to far.  These stories were great to listen to.  This was a time period where the world wasn't in a rush and neighbors still cared about neighbors.  Kids were actually going the sunshine!  They were exploring and learning about the world and nature around them.  My kids were amazed to not hear about televisions and video games, and they actually felt a little sorry for the kids.  "They must have been so bored," is what Lydia said.

This is a Christian series, so there is a scriptural side and I thought it was great that as the boys were debating about what to do they would refer back to the scriptures they were taught or even how God would feel about their decisions.  The boys also showed good manners.  None of these traits are shown by children (or even their parents) in our modern society.

The kids enjoyed listening to these, and now Lydia is trying to make up stories of her own.  She asks us if we want to hear her new story.  I thought the Sugar Creek Gang was a great example for the children to listen too, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be introduced to this series.  Will we continue listening??  Without a a doubt, these will continue to stay in our van for our driving adventures.

There are a total of 72 cds available for purchase.  We were able to listen to the Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1 disk set, which sells for $54.95.  But there are a total of 6 volumes, all of them sell individually for $54.95 per set.  But you can purchase all 6 volumes for $279.70 for a savings of $50.00.

As a special treat, you can listen to the Swamp Robber for free just by clicking here.  You can also purchase the physical cds of the Swamp Robber for only $4.95 plus shipping.  The Swamp Robber is the first story in the Sugar Creek Gang series, and what a deal for a 2 hour long audio book!!!  If you like what you hear, use these coupon codes to order:

For $5 off a $30 order, use coupon code 5OFF30.
For $10 off a $50 order, use coupon code 10OFF50

These would make a great gift for your family or a series to be included as a family read together.  They are a great way to get your kids thinking adventure outside....instead of staring at a computer monitor on the inside.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were privileged to listen to the Sugar Creek Gang Series from Beloved Books.  Please check out how our Crew Mates used these audio books in their classrooms or with their families.

*****Disclaimer......I received Sugar Creek Gang audio book from Beloved Books  free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beyond Excuse Me and Thank You

Everyone is always so worried about the issues of Homeschoolers and Socialization!  That is usually one of the first questions that I am asked, "How worried are you about your children being socialized?"  

Well to be honest, I am not worried about socialization.  Seriously.....we are not a stay at home all the time family.  Most of the kids are out and about at least 4-5 days a week in various clubs and sports.  The trouble is, that even though a child is out and about with kids, are they really learning what they need to be?  All of our kids have been in public school at some point in their young educational careers, and let me say that they have brought home some pretty horrible habits and language.  So just being in school is not the answer.  More is required than just children being around other kids their age.

So what is a parent to do??  There are several preschool book series, but at some point your kids are going to look at you and ask where your sanity is for making them read "little" kid books.  And constant reminders is really kind of like nagging the kids all the time, and my kids don't like to be reminded in front of

Patch Products gave us the wonderful opportunity to try out a new game they have added to their family by etiquette expert Aimee Symington.........

Blunders ($24.95) is a fun way to teach children good behaviors in situations that they face in sometimes daily situations.  Everyone has a hard time trying to remember what to do at times.  The only thing that has more rules to remember than the English language is daily etiquette.  

Kids don’t always remember the polite way to respond in situations. The Blunder family is no exception─they are known for their rude behavior. But Billy, Brenda, Bobby and Becky Blunder want to learn manners so they will be invited to the Mannerlys’ Annual Pool Party Extravaganza! Good manners will also help them make more friends, do better in school and develop self confidence. Follow them on their manners adventure, moving along the path, reading fun scenarios and answering important manner questions to be the first one invited to the pool party! 
For 2 to 4 players or teams
Ages 5 & Up

Learn About and Practice:
• Table Manners
• Host and Guest Skills
• Confident Introductions
• Respect and Kindness
• Telephone Manners
• School Etiquette
• Electronic Etiquette
• Honesty and Responsibility

Developed to support the national curriculum on character development.

How well did this work for our family.......

We have played this game several times, and Lydia has enjoyed it every time.  There are questions that just ask for true/false answers, some that require "what would you do" answers, some multiple choice, and some that ask that you act out how you would handle the situation.

Lydia is acting out a situation here about how she would thank a friends parents for letting her stay and play all afternoon at their home.

She was able to stand up in a non-stressful situation to remember what she needs to say.  And since we were at home I was able to remind her...hey don't forget to say thank you for lunch too.  This meant she was not embarrassed by Mom helping her out.

Blunders has 3 sets of situation cards.  The cards represent social scenarios at home, when playing and dining.

 Basically you role the dice and answer the scenario for the color on the dice you rolled.  If you answer correctly, you move forward.
 We did have to provide reading assistance for Lydia and Caty, so factor that in when you are playing with younger children.
We have been able to include this in our schooling in several ways, including our studies with Five in a Row.  We recently played it several times as we read through the story of Madeline.

This game is great for our boys also.  Kids with autism already struggle in social situations, so being able to present them with situations in a comfortable setting can help them to get what they should do in mind prior to the incident happening to them in person.  Not that a child is going to remember what they "should" do every time.....but this is such a fun way for the kids to learn those much needed rules of etiquette.

This game has been a wonderful addition to our family, and the kids are really enjoying playing it.

But Aimee Symington also created these absolutely cool Manner Mats ($9.99).

This tear-off place mats encourage good manners with fun games, puzzles and other activities.  They are similar to the type of mats that you would find in a restaurant.  We received the Ages 6 and up version (there is also a preschool version available).    Lydia did struggle with these on her own, since she needed them read to her.  Instead of using them at the table, we included these in school boxes.  It was a great break up from her other schoolwork, and yet she was still learning.  I am going to order the younger version for Caty to use also.  Brayden enjoyed these mats also, but he really enjoys puzzle activities.  What a great way for an autistic child to learn manners....doing something he loves to do.

Here is a short video that Aimee Symington did about the Manner Mats that she created:

Patch Products has added these wonderful items to their already packed game line!!!  Patch Products is a family owned toy company that markets and manufactures games, toys and puzzles for all members of the family. Since 1985, Patch Products has been keeping us busy with games like Farkle and 5 Second Rule (these are two of our personal favorites).

Patch Products encourages the use of games as educational opportunities....and who better than a home educator to take advantage of "thinking outside the box".  They provide lesson plans that meet national requirements for both public school educators and homeschoolers for several of the games available in their family of games.

Our family already owns many titles from Patch Products and will continue to take advantage of all the wonderful educational opportunities and memorable times that we have had playing their games and using their products.  Be sure to check out all they have to offer!!!

Visit them on Facebook and spend hours going through their online store.

*****Disclaimer......I received Blunders and Manner Mats from Patch Products  free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Weekly Adventures - Week 21

In my life this week.....
Been a rough week for fibro.  My friends are suffering too.  This fall weather is pretty nasty on things like this.  We have been very busy with projects and various programs that the girls are enjoying.  They are loving art classes this year.  So we are really centering around art and I am trying to keep all projects and classes flowing together and not bouncing too much information at them at once.  The information is not going to help them without making sense to them.

I have made a couple more adjustments in curriculum for Joey.  He's not enjoying the Top Secret studies, and he's not getting anything out of them.  So we will be creating our own studies in the area of World Geography for Joey.  Also going to be putting together some units on the election process and he wants to learn about the court system.  So we will be utilizing the library alot.  He seems to learn well this way right now, so we are going to go with what works.  It's a lot more extra work for me, but since technically I am responsible for his's worth it.

Places we have been going....

We went to the Art museum and we also had the art class that I teach this week.  I wasn't feeling well Tuesday, so we had to cancel our Science Museum trip.  We also went to the Symphony.  We have been to the park enjoying what may be the last of the warm weather of this year.  Lydia has been playing outside a lot too.

What I have been cooking....

Froze some stuffed green peppers and chicken meatballs this week.  Also made up a new chicken fried rice recipe.  It was super yummy.  I attempted rice bread which didn't turn out great.  So will try again next week.

What I have been reading....

Still not reading for fun...I know it's sad.  I am reading so much for the kids for their various curriculums and clubs, that I am reading.  Just not what may be my first choice.  But I have gotten a better knowledge of Paul Revere and Thailand!

In our homeschool this week......

Lydia had gymnastics.
 We actually have had two art museum tours in the last couple weeks.  This was last week.  We learned about animals in art.

 Our Art class on Monday.  We learned how artists can use photographs to help in their art.  Caty pretty much does her own thing during project time, which is fine since she is 4.  She is learning how to use so many new materials for art though.  This week the kids started using oil pastels.
 Lydia drew Lucy.
And a picture of me.
 After class we needed to wait on grandma at her appointment, so we went to the park.  The weather this week is absolutely wonderful!!!

It was such a nice day that daddy went with us to another local park to play.  Brayden balked and balked, but we made him go with us.
 Yeah....that's me showing Caty how to hang upside down.  There should be an age limit for doing
 Daddy and Joey on the swings.
 Playing on the merry-go-round.
 He eventually came out of the van.
He took this picture of daddy and I.

Bronco Joey being silly
 Wednesday the girls and I went to the Toledo Symphony to hear them play dance music through the years.  Since we were going to the Symphony, we dressed up.
You can put a monkey in a dress...but you can't take the monkey anywhere.
 Grandma and the girls waiting to be seated.
We might have had field trips every day this week....but we did do

Lydia working on her phonics.
We bought the girls Scholastic News subscriptions.  These are nice.  They have online material including videos, games, and an interactive magazine.  Lydia is really enjoying this, and Caty just started this week (her subscription was running a few weeks behind).
 In our co-op, we are learning about Monet.  Lydia is working on her own version of a Monet with watercolor pencils.  It'll be done for next week's post.
Joey working on his science.  He is using Intellego Unit Studies, he's working on the Chemistry unit.  He likes having the interaction with the on line.  I like that I can print his science notes for his notebook.  It includes experiments and tests/quizzes also.
This experiment shows how fast gas particles disperse in the air.  It's baking soda and vinegar with a candle burning.  
 When you add the vinegar to the baking the flame.

 Then try to light the candle immediately....

The oxygen has been cut off.  There is none left, because the chemical reaction from the vinegar and baking soda have cut off all the oxygen in the bowl.  Thus it breaks the triangle of what a fire needs to burn.  It took about 4-5 minutes for the bowl to clear in order to relight the candle.  It was very neat!

We had American Girl Club this week.  This was our last meeting for Cecile and Marie-Grace.  Lydia and I are almost done with the books, so we will have a post next week with all that we done with this book series.  The book store that is allowing us host our club there has a stuffed bear that they hide and if you find him, you get a free book.  Lydia found Uka.
 These are from last week.  We went and bought some pumpkins from a local stand.  The girls love it. And we all love fresh pumpkin!!

Linking up with other homeschool moms at Homeschool Mothers Journal.....Hope everyone had a wonderful week!!!