My Birthday

We have another busy week around our house. Today was my birthday, Thursday is AJ’s 10th birthday and her inner squad at gymnastics and then Mother’s Day on Sunday.

Lunch at Olive Garden

I had a very nice day today. I went out to lunch kid free and had a wonderful time with my mom and my best friend. It was nice to get out and not have adult only conversations. I haven’t seen my friend since Easter so it was very nice. I got a flash drive which I definitely needed to store some of my pictures on and a new camera. I am so excited about the new camera. It is a Nikon Coolpix with 20.1 mega pixels and a 5x zoom. I played around with it a little tonight and I can’t wait to try it out on Thursday.

I can’t get cake from the store and have yet to find a good recipe for frosting that doesn’t require powdered sugar or cornstarch so I decided to try something different. I made a Double chocolate hot fudge sundae cake. It was actually very easy. I got the recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook 1500 Recipes for the Way You Cook Today.

Heat the oven to 350

1 Cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS Coco
2 tsp baking powder
 (that has corn so I have to substitute 1 tsp cream of tarter and 1/2 tsp baking soda)
1/4 tsp salt

Then add:

1/2 cup milk
2 TBS melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix with a fork until smooth.
Stir in 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I used milk chocolate) and 1/2 cup nuts ( I left those out)
Put that in the bottom of a 9-inch ungreased square pan

Then sprinkle the top with:

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coco
Top with 1 3/4 cup hot water or strong coffee (I used water)
Right before it went in the oven.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes until the top is dry and let cool for 10 minutes.
Waiting the LONG 10 minutes for it to cool.
It turned out so good. It was sweet, moist and melted in my mouth. I was expecting it to taste good but WOW this cake was amazing! I was even able to use my new camera to take pictures of it.
Topped it with ice cream and it was ready to eat.

We took the easy way out and ordered cupcakes for AJ’s birthday but we hope to have a fun day.Tomorrow will be filled with school work and cleaning so that on Thursday we can relax and have fun.

Gymnastics and a Bike

It has been a busy couple of weeks around our house. It seems like we are always on the go between doctors and gymnastics.  I had to see a new doctor regarding my work injury to my leg and foot. This doctor couldn’t believe I was still working and decided to keep me home. It isn’t going to be good money wise, but maybe it will give my foot a chance to heal. They are going to send me for more tests and hope to figure out the problem. I hope they can because three years of this is enough to drive anyone nuts. It is sad that there are so many hoops to jump through just to get better, and that those few bad apples that want to cheat the system make it harder on the rest of us. Well I guess that is enough complaining. We had a few good things happen this week.

On Tuesday my little one {from now on I plan to refer to her as AJ} had her second inner squad of the season. She has been practicing very hard and really trying to fix those little mistakes in her routine that get points deducted. Up to this point she had never received a score of 9 or above on the bars. She normally gets a pink or purple ribbon on the bars during competition and honestly I didn’t thing a rainbow ribbon would be possible. Well I was wrong! On Tuesday she got a score of 9.2 on the bars and she was beyond excited. She was so proud of herself. When we got home she started to call everybody to tell them she finally got a 9 on the bars. He routine was very good and aside from her leg hitting the bar during the leg cut it was the best I have seen her do. This was not a real meet but it was judged by a real judge. She doesn’t have another official meet until the end of May so her goal is to get a rainbow ribbon in the next competition. I think that score gave her the confidence boost she needed.


AJ has been saving her money since Christmas and finally spent it this week. She bought herself a bike. She has had a small bike for a while but it has training wheels and she couldn’t ride the bike without them. Since I have not been able to walk very well for the last three years, teaching her to ride a bike was something that just couldn’t happen. She was determined to ride though and after a few minutes struggling she got it. She can’t turn very well yet but she is getting the hang of it.


School work has been about the same. Her reading comprehension skills are getting better and she is doing a lot better at reading out loud. In multiplication she is doing well. This week she will be focusing on her sixes. I am anxious to see how she does once she gets to the “harder” facts. Problem Solving is coming around and I can see her using her thinking skills to solve the problems. We finished the second week of spelling and she got 100% on the spelling test. I really like the Soaring with Spelling program and hope it continues to work for us. We started our volcano lap book and so far she likes the lap book idea. If this one goes well I plan on doing more of them with her. We are taking a break with Spanish now that the review is done and plan to pick it up with the start of next year.

We have decided to try and make a menu plan for the month of May and stick to it. We are going to do a big shopping day for the month and hope to cut out all of those last minute trips to the store. I am hoping by doing that we will eat out less and save some money. I will let you know if we are able to stick to our plan.

That’s how our week went. It never seems like there are enough hours in a day but we get through it.

Spanish for You! – Review


Living in California, there is a great need to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish is everywhere and my little one has picked up a lot of words and phrases, but she needs more. For the last two years she was taking a Spanish course at school and while it was great for vocabulary, that was about all that it taught. Now that we are traditionally home schooling I have been searching for a good Spanish program that teaches more than just vocabulary. I wanted a program that was not all on the computer and one that taught conjugating verbs. I found a few programs that fit my specifics, but they had very high price tags. Then I was given the opportunity to review Spanish for You.  It seemed to meet all of my needs so I was very excited to try it.

Spanish for You is a Spanish program designed for kids in grades 3 – 8. It comes with a soft cover book, downloadable worksheets, downloadable flash card pictures, lesson guides, and MP3 downloads that have the author reading the pages in the book and a native Spanish speaker reading as well. It also includes downloadable self checking worksheets.

There are three different themed books; Fiestas (celebrations), Estaciones (seasons), and Viajes (travel). At the time of this review Viajes is not quite finished and will be available soon. The books can be used in any order as they are not leveled. The interesting part of this program is that the same book can be used for your child in third grade and your child in eighth grade. There are lesson guides to use for grades 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8. While your students in different grades will be learning the same things, there are worksheets available that will be at each ones grade level. I only have one child and we used the 3/4 lesson guides but I did look at the higher level worksheets and they looked grade level appropriate.

I was given Estaciones to review. It contains 5 lessons; The Calendar and Weather, Fall and School, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each lesson covers new vocabulary, verbs and how to conjugate them, and grammar. Each lesson takes about four to six weeks to complete depending on the child and the pace you take. The lessons are short and to the point following a four day a week schedule.

I have to say that I really like this program and so does my nine year old. She actually asks to do Spanish now. I like the fact that while there are some worksheets to complete there is not an abundance of writing. A lot of the work has to do with memorizing the vocabulary and there are quite a few fun games suggested in the book to practice the vocabulary. I think my favorite part of the program is that they are learning the Spanish language not just select vocabulary. On the second week they are already learning how and why to conjugate verbs.

  My little one is learning things that I didn’t learn until high school Spanish, but the learning is being done in a way that is easy for me to teach and for her to learn. Each page in the book is read by the author as well as by a native Spanish speaker so that there is no confusion on pronunciation. I liked having the opportunity to listen to both recordings of the book because I felt that it gave a solid understanding of the pronunciation of words.

There is not much prep time needed to use the program. Each week I printed the lesson guide, printed any worksheets that needed to be printed and found which audio files we would need. I would say it took less than ten minutes to prep for the week and I found the program self explanatory and easy to use.

The program has a few different pricing options shown here. The entire program for a single grade level (3/4, 5/6, or 7/8) is only $39.95 while the entire program with all grade level lesson guides is only $64.95. I feel this product is definitely worth the price. It is a solid Spanish curriculum that I think most anyone would benefit from. I feel it would also be great for those older than eighth grade who were looking for a way to learn Spanish that wouldn’t break the bank.

There was only one small thing that I wish was different when it came to this Spanish program. I wish that there was an option to purchase the audio downloads on a CD and the workbook pages in a workbook so that they didn’t have to be printed. I understand that it would cause the price to increase, but I personally prefer to buy real books and not print page by page. There was not a lot to print, but if that option was available I would definitely choose it when I purchase our next set.

This program has been great and we will continue to use it next year when we start school again in the fall. I feel that this review came at the perfect time as I no longer need to search for the perfect Spanish program, for us this is it.

End of the Week Review

We are about three weeks into traditionally homeschooling and so far so good. We have been using our student planner and have basically stayed on track for where I wanted to be. Here is what we have been doing.

For reading we are working on two different workbooks. Reading Skills grade 4 and Reading Comprehension grade 4. Both are from Flash Kids. For each of those books she reads a story and then answers questions about the story. The best part about these workbooks for us is that all of the stories are nonfiction. My little one really likes learning new things and so far the stories have kept her interest. Both workbooks also have color pictures that she really seems to enjoy. Reading Comprehension covers various topics, where Reading Skills focuses on one major aspect of reading at a time. She has finished the section on facts and opinions and is now working on sequence.

She is really good at math and can figure out problems above grade level, but she still doesn’t have her multiplication tables memorized. Last year her teacher suggested we just go on in math as long as she understood how to do multiplication. So we did, and we put up a chart for her to use when she needed. Unfortunately that backfired and she became too dependent on the chart. So we decided to really focus on multiplication. I got her a Kumon third grade multiplication book. It started out very simple with just repeated addition and then went on to the 2 times tables. She works on each set for about three days and then has reviews after each two sets. It seems to be helping and I am hoping that by the time we start fifth grade she is proficient in multiplication. Oh and we took down the chart too.

I also got her a grade 3 Problem Solving workbook from flash kids. I got the third grade book because the store was out of the fourth grade one at the time, but I am glad I got this one. I feel it is easy enough to help her gain confidence but hard enough to make her think. Everything is in word problem form. She does two pages in this book each day with about 3 to 5 questions on each page. She can usually do the work by herself or with a little bit of help in talking through the problem. I like this book and think we will use the 4th grade book when this one is finished. It covers many different types of math; charts, graphs, time, money, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and more.

For Spanish, we have been using Spanish for You Estaciones. It is an item I received to review so look for my review sometime next week.

We are not focusing too much on grammar right now, but we have been going over the punctuation and capitalization rules found in the planner we have been using.

I hadn’t planned on doing any spelling for the rest of the year, but soon changed my mind. I was planning on buying Soaring with Spelling for next year after looking at a bunch of different programs that one looked really good to me. Since she still has a little bit of fourth grade left I decided to order fourth grade and then move up to the fifth grade level when she was finished. Well that isn’t what happened. I could have been positive that I ordered 4th grade, but the 5th grade book arrived. So I looked at my receipt and sure enough I ordered the 5th grade book. I decided we would just start it a little early and have used it for one week. She loved it. She actually asked to do spelling and that is not like her. Today she took the test and got 13/14. She was so proud of herself and I was proud too. It was only one week but I have hopes that this spelling program will work for us.

Cursive writing is another thing she has been working on. In the past it always seemed to be pushed to the back burner, but I found a really neat e-book during the Scholastic Dollar Days Sale. It has little jokes written in cursive for her to practice like, “Why did the computer squeak? Because someone accidental stepped on it’s mouse.” We haven’t done too many of these yet but she likes them so far.

Writing, oh how she hates writing. It is one of those subjects where she procrastinates, I get mad then she can’t think of anything to write, then she takes an hour to write a paragraph. Not our favorite subject but we are going to try a different approach. Someone recommended the story-starters from Scholastic site and after looking at it she seems to like the funny story suggestions it comes up with. You pick the type of story you want to write about, and then pull the lever and it gives you a topic. While we were looking at it today it came up with the suggestion, Write a store about a pink whale who stars in a play. We are going to try to using that site this next week and see if that makes writing time a little less painful for all of us.

Science and history have not really been a priority. She is learning both from her reading workbooks and for the time being neither of those subjects will be a main focus. I did however download a lapbook on volcanoes that we plan to work on a little bit each week.

I think she is learning a lot and I feel that the more scheduled we get the easier it will become.

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Ultimate Homeschool Planner – Review


    Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner - Review

It’s already April, and chances are if you are a homeschooler you are looking at, thinking about, and even purchasing items for the next school year. Next year will be the first time I will be traditionally home schooling my little one for the entire school year. I have started to get my curriculum ready for next year, so when I was given the opportunity to review Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner, I was excited. To be honest the only thing that turned me away from it in the beginning was the price. It costs $28, but I soon realized it was much more than an ordinary planner. To start with it has a 12 page user guide in the beginning. It gives details on not only how to use the planner but how to plan your year. Inside the planner there is a place for yearly, monthly and weekly planning. All of the pages in the planner are undated which is nice because not everyone follows the same schooling schedule. With room for information for up to six students the pages leave plenty of flexibility so you are able to use them as you see fit. Each week there is a place to put down the good things that happened throughout the week along with places to put bible verses and prayers.

Pages are easy to use and are full of information!

The back of the planner is filled with more great information and teaching tips. To go along with the Ultimate Homeschool Planner there is a teen planner (which I did not review, but it looks nice) and a Student Planner.

 The Student Planner is smaller in size and easy to carry around. It has undated monthly planners as well as weekly planning pages. We used the monthly planning pages as a way to track attendance. Each day she did school work I put a sticker on the calendar, since we don’t follow a Monday through Friday schedule it was nice to glance at the page and see how many days she had worked on school.
The Student Planner is a perfect way for kids to stay organized

On top of the weekly planning pages there are scripture verses and trivia questions. The weekly planning pages are broken down so that there is a separate place for Monday through Friday and another place for Saturday and Sunday. I was happy to see that there was a spot to put weekend work. I really love how there is a place for the child to check off that the assignment was completed and then another place for the parent to approve the assignment. My little one loves stickers, so instead of just checking off the assignments, I put a sticker in the area once her work was completed to my satisfaction. It seemed to make her finish her work a little quicker and take more ownership in it. It also forced me to grade it daily.

The back of the planner has all kinds of facts and learning tools. There is a world map, USA map, punctuation rules, Greek and Latin roots, a history time line and much more. I felt that those were very helpful in trying to create an independent learner; I feel that the student planner would actually be great for non homeschoolers as well.

Much more than just a planner, it is full of study aids too!

With only one child to home school, I  found myself using the student planner more often. I liked the size and didn’t feel the need to write my plans in my planner and then the same plans in the student planner. I am however using the Ultimate Homeschool Planner to plan and get ready for next year. Next year my plan is to put independent items in the student planner, and work that we will do together or that might require my help in my planner.

Overall I feel that the Ultimate Homeschool Planner would be a great fit for those with more than one child. It has a lot of space and keeps everything in one place. If you have younger children I would recomend getting just the Ultimate Homeschool Planner. For those who have a child who is more independent I would recomend the Student Planner as well.The Student Planner is full of information and my little one really enjoyed using it. The only problem that I found with the Student Planner was the ruler bookmark. I loved the idea and at first I liked how it stayed in place in the spiral binding, but ours has already broke and will no longer stay in place. Other than that the planners have been a blessing.

Product at a Glance

What is it?

A planner to help organize your home schooling year.

Who would use it?

The Ultimate Homeschool planner could be used by anyone wanting a better way to schedule their home school. The Student Planner is geared towards kids grades 4 – 8.

Where can I get it?

It is available from Apologia. Click Here

How much will it cost me?

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is $28
The Student Planner and Teen Planner are each $19

Why this product?

It was created by Debra Bell author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. It is easy to use and contains a lot of information.

We Choose Virtues – Review

Obedience, honesty, helpfulness and kindness are all qualities that the world needs a little more of, so when I was given the opportunity to review We Choose Virtues I was excited. It is a program geared towards kids ages 3 through 5th grade to help teach them to be:











Attentive and


The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to do the program. I was given a few different things to help teach the different virtues. The first thing I received was actually a free product, the Family Character Assessment. It is a downloadable page that is a self assessment to see where your child feels they are on all of the different virtues. I figured my little one would say she was doing great on all of them but it turns out she knew where she needed help. She decided the virtues she needed to work on the most were honesty, perseverance, and obedience. I agreed with her and we started with Honesty, she likes to lie about the craziest things even when there is no way what she is saying could be true. It was nice to see that she knows what she needed to work on though. Another free resource available is a list of memory verses, heroes and truths that reinforce the virtues.

The item I feel was the most important was a set of Virtue flash cards. You get 12 cards; each has a cute picture of a child whose name starts with the first letter of the virtue. Hockey Stick Nick is the Virtue Kid that helps you to remember Honesty. On the back side of the card there is a kid friendly definition of the virtue along with a memory verse that goes along with the virtue.

Honesty says, “I am a truth teller I am not a liar, a thief or a cheater and I don’t change the truth to get my way!

The cards come in KJV, NIV or secular. It is recommended to focus on one virtue each week. We talked about each virtue each week and then picked one to focus on through out the week. My little one really liked the cards and loved how the definitions were written in words that she could understand. Some may feel that the pictures on the cards are a little too young for older kids, but my 9 year old seemed to like them a lot. The cards are $14.99 and I feel they are definitely worth the price.

I was also given a sample parent card. The parent cards tell a story about the virtue kids and give ideas to help reinforce the virtue. The parent cards are $34.99 and I will be purchasing the entire set in the future because I think they would help to grasp the virtues better, and She enjoyed the story about Airplane Betty Jane (attentiveness).

I received a downloadable coloring book as well. It is a good value at only $3, but my little one is not too into coloring, and she didn’t care for the pictures too much. I think for a younger child the coloring book would be good.

I also received a downloadable teacher’s handbook; it costs $5 and has a lot of ideas on how to learn virtues in a group setting. Even though I only have 1 little one I found some very useful ideas. If you have more than one child I think it would be useful to get. There are numerous other products available including posters, awards and goal charts. While those items may be helpful I feel that the virtues could be easily taught with just the Virtue Flash Cards and the Parent Cards. Check out the other products and more about the program here

There are also different kits available for church groups and home schools. Throughout the month of April there will be a discount code available if you would like to purchase the Home school kit. Type in Home20 before check out to receive 20% off of your home school kit. Another code that is available forever is Virtue15. It will give you 15% off any purchase through We Choose Virtues. The two discount codes can not be combined.

Overall we enjoyed using this product. I like how the virtues are backed up with verses from the Bible and really enjoy that they are written in a child friendly way. Character training is a life long lesson and we plan to continue to use these products to help us to live a better life. I have seen a change in my little one’s behavior while using the cards. I hope your family is able to enjoy this product as well.

Product at a Glance

What is it?

It is a character training program for kids.

Who is it for?

Kids age 3 through 5th grade

How much will it cost?

The flash cards are $14.99, but there are other products available including different kits.

Where can I get it?



I like it because it is kid friendly and is easy to teach!

What have we been up to?

I haven’t posted in a about a week and wanted to give an update about what has been going on with us. Sickness has been all around, I had strep throat, my little one got some kind of flu bug and my mom has been sick as well. Dealing with being sick and having a sick little one I decided not to complete the blog challenge I was working on. It was a lot of fun while I could keep up, but life gets in the way a little bit too much to try and blog every day. I liked a lot of the questions that were asked and hope you all enjoyed reading a little bit more about me. On top of being sick we had another major change.

After a year and a half of schooling using the California Virtual Academy, we decided to leave and are now doing traditional home school. We enjoyed our time with CAVA and I would recommend it to anyone who felt their child was not getting what they needed in a traditional school. We had some issues with curriculum that just wasn’t working for us, and with the hours that I work getting to state testing was going to be difficult. I am excited to take this new journey and know it is the best decision for our family. For the rest of this year we will be using a lot of workbooks and brushing up on some skills that I feel she needs to work on. We took spring break right after changing to traditional home school. I am hoping when we start back on Monday everything will go well.

We didn’t go anywhere or do anything special for Spring break, mainly we stayed home, did some house work, and caught up on sleep. Yesterday we had some friends come over and we colored Easter eggs.

 My little one hogging all of the colors.
 My friend and my little one with their blue eggs.
We had a great time!

We are all ready for Easter. Hope you all have a great Easter!

FamilyMint – Review

As part of the Mosaic Review team I was given the opportunity to review the Money Management Certification Program created by FamilyMint. It is an amazing money management program designed for kids. It comes in two parts, a workbook that is designed for kids age 10 and up and an online application designed for kids ages 6 to 14 with some help from parents.

The workbook is divided into four chapters that include, Tracking Your Money, Goal Setting, Budgeting, and Interest. Our favorite chapter of the workbook was definitely Tracking Your Money. Most kids seem to think money grows on trees and my little one was no exception. She has always been great at saving her money, in fact she saved over $350 to take with her to Disney World last year, but she thinks I can just slide my card even when I say we don’t have money for something she wants. That first chapter really helped her to realize that you have to have money to spend it. I love how the workbook is written in easy to understand language and my little one enjoyed all of the fun money facts sprinkled throughout the book. The workbook if full of real world examples that help money to make sense. My little one is in fourth grade and did require a little bit of help with some of the math but other than that, she was able to learn a lot on her own.

This is a page where she learned about checks and deposit slips.

The online application is basically a simulation of online banking. You can put in the amount of money that is started with, and then you can make deposits and withdrawals as you add to or spend your money. In doing that the child should always know how much money they have. It has a place to set saving goals, and it will do all of the calculations for you to let you know how much money you need to save each week to get to your goal. We found the online application to be very easy to use. We also played around with it and learned how saving even a dollar more a week could get you to your goal faster. After using the application as it was designed to be used, we decided to use the online portion a little differently. We are using it as a family vacation fund tracker. We put in each of the things we want to do while on our next vacation ( to Disney of course) in as a goal. Then as we get extra money set aside we can see how much closer we are to our goal. It has been nice to see that those few dollars here and there really can add up.

Overall I really liked this product. I feel it is easy to do and the kids will be learning in an enjoyable manner. I agree with the age recommendation for the workbook, but honestly feel anyone could benefit from the online portion even some adults. The only down side I saw was that the computer portion was online. Even though my little one could use it by herself, I don’t allow her on the Internet by herself. I wish that there was an offline CD version available instead. That being said we still enjoyed it very much and will continue to use it. If you are looking for an easy way to teach money management to your kids or you need a refresher yourself I recommend you try this.

You can choose one of three options when purchasing the program. My recommendation would be to get the bundle offer. I think if you have kids that are ten or older they would really benefit from the workbook. Don’t miss the opportunity to get the premium application for life and the workbook for only $5 more than the price of an annual subscription.

Here are your options….

1. Special Introductory Bundle Offer!
You get the Money Management Certification Program workbook plus a LIFETIME subscription to the FamilyMint Premium application for only $29.99 2. PREMIUM online application subscription only – Annual $24.99 or Monthly $4.95

3. FREE online application only – which includes a 14-day trial of FamilyMint Premium

Even if you don’t get the premium version right now I would try the free version you really have nothing to loose.

Product at a Glance


What is it?

A money management program for kids.

Who is it for?

The workbook is for kids 10 and up the online application is for kids 6-14.

Where can I get it?

Order it at

How much will it cost?

The best value is $29.99 but other options are available.

Why this product?

It is fun and easy for kids to use and it will help them to learn about money management at a young age.


Blog Challenge Day 18

Where are you the happiest?
This is the best picture of the castle that I have ever taken.
This was a very easy question. I am the happiest when I am at Disneyland. It doesn’t matter if I am there for the rides, to shop, to trade pins, or just to people watch. Walking into the front gates helps me to forget my problems and just be a kid again. It instantly puts a smile on my face. I don’t think there is any place that makes me as happy as when I am at Disneyland. I need a Disney trip!
My little one at California Adventure
The bed at the hotel.
I am linking up with Tiffany for the 31 day blog challenge.

Day 17 – Blog Challenge

When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging about a year ago. Before that I had seen some amazing blogs that were done by home school moms. They had all kinds of information and ideas and I really enjoyed reading them. I had never even thought about blogging and then one day after reading so many great posts I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have a plan for my blog in the beginning and didn’t have to many ideas on what to say. I talked about my corn allergy, my little one’s gymnastics, and our adventures doing a virtual school. I didn’t post very often but still liked the idea of the blog. I also used it as a way to share pictures of my little one with friends and family. Then one of the facebook groups that I am in told me about the Mosaic Review Crew. So I applied to be on the review team but didn’t think that I would be picked because I was such a sporadic blogger. Well I was picked and decided to make blogging a higher priority. I have been given a lot of neat items to review and have had a lot of fun. I am still finding my voice but really enjoy blogging. So that is why I blog. I am linking up with Tiffany for the 31 day blog challenge.