Vocabulary Fun

My little one HATES vocabulary. When she sees that orange book sitting out her attitude changes drastically. She has a hard time understanding how words can have so many meanings, and I have to say the way the words are presented makes me take a double take at times. I shouldn’t have to look at the answer key for a fourth grade vocabulary book when none of the answers make sense. We can’t change the curriculum we are using so I try to make the best of it. In order to make our days run a little smoother I decided to make vocabulary time into a game. It is very simple and doesn’t require much time, but it has made vocabulary practice a little less painful at our house. What do we do? We play a game of Jeopardy.

I made a Spelling and Vocabulary Jeopardy game with just a whiteboard and a few colorful markers.  I make different categories that have to do with her spelling and vocabulary words for the week. Then she chooses a category.(She takes this part seriously and acts as if she is on the game show) I give her a list of her vocabulary words and a small whiteboard when we start.


After she picks her category I select a spelling or vocabulary word that falls in the category. For vocabulary I give her the definition and also use the question out of the workbook.

For example: For the vocabulary word sift I would say, “This word means to put through a strainer. People blank soil to break apart lumps.”

That way she is doing the book work and doesn’t even realize it. For spelling words I simply say the word and use it in a sentence. For the first few days I had her just spell the word out loud, but she was making a lot of simple mistakes and leaving out letters that way. Now, I have her write the word on the small whiteboard. Writing them down seems to help her spell the words correctly more often.

We keep score for fun. Each day she tries to pass the score that she got the day before. She gets two chances for each question. If she gets it right the first time, she gets full points. If she misses the first time and gets it right the second time, she gets half of the points. If she isn’t able to get the correct answer I help her figure it out and she doesn’t receive points.

She likes her daily game of Jeopardy and has a fairly good attitude when it comes to practicing her words now. I hope she continues to learn and have fun!

We no longer have to use the dreaded orange book, but we have kept up the tradition with weekly games. Now we not only practice spelling and vocabulary, but we add in science, states and capitals, and any other item we have been learning about. I use review questions out of the books and make up my own. When you get to those subjects that seem dull and boring, think outside the box and add a little fun to your school day!

Whats for dinner?

If you would have asked me to make something for dinner a year ago, I could almost guarantee that the majority of it would be from a package. The thought of making something from scratch would never enter my mind. A lot has changed in the past year. In fact if I am shopping for myself I don’t even go down half of the aisles in the grocery store. I don’t bother with the chips, cookies, canned foods, or boxed foods. Chances are that I won’t be able to eat them. The cookbook became my friend and looking up recipe ideas online became the new normal. Now that I have learned more of the foods that contain corn (allergic to it) and substitutes for them, cooking  has become a lot easier. Now that I am more comfortable with some of the recipes I even play around and change things up. Sometimes the changes work out, and sometimes they don’t.

This was our dinner tonight.

We had roasted chicken, carrots, broccoli, and mashed potatoes.
The chicken and carrots were easy. After cleaning the chicken, I rubbed it with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Then I washed the carrots and put the pan in the oven on 350. It should have cooked in about an hour but tonight for some reason that was not the case. It ended up taking almost 2 hours before the chicken was done. That threw off my dinner schedule a little. Once it was finally finished the chicken was very good and juicy.

It is hard to believe but this was the first time that I made mashed potatoes from scratch. I was lucky to find a brand that I can have so I hadn’t needed to make them before. We ran out of the packaged potatoes so homemade it was. It didn’t take as long as I had expected, in less than 30 minutes the potatoes were pealed, washed and already starting to cook. I let them boil a while and then mashed them up. I added garlic, salt, pepper, a cup of shredded cheese, butter and whipping cream. Then I mixed them up and they were done. I was a little surprised at how good they tasted. I had planned on making gravy but the potatoes were so good that they didn’t need it.


The broccoli was definitely not the hit of the night. I received a free bag of frozen Birds Eye broccoli when I went shopping last time. To make it you just put it in the microwave for about five minutes and it is suppose to steam the broccoli. The broccoli came out pretty hard and smelled funny. I think I will stick to steaming my own broccoli from now on.

So that was my dinner. We have chicken a lot and my family is tired of it, well my dad and brother are. So in addition to my dinner I also cooked a box of Hamburger Helper. It’s sad, but they would prefer the boxed foods and that means I have left overs.  What’s for dinner at your house?

Science Fun

Today my little one started the next unit in science. She will be learning about electricity and magnetism. In this unit there is at least one hands on experiment in each lesson. Today she learned about static electricity and did a very simple experiment.
First she blew up a balloon and rubbed a piece of wool on it. Then she had to place the wool next to the balloon and watch what happened. The balloon was attracted to the wool.
For the next part of the experiment she blew up another balloon. This time she rubbed both of the balloons with the wool and then placed them next to each other. The balloons repelled each other.

The next experiment involved magnets. First she placed two magnets on the table with the north poles of the magnets facing each other. The two magnets didn’t want to go together.

Next, she placed the magnets on the table with opposite sides facing each other. (One north pole and one south pole.) This time the magnets were attracted to each other.

The lesson learned from these two experiments was, opposite charges attract and like charges repel. She had a lot of fun playing and learning with the magnets and balloons. I have a feeling that this unit of science is going to go very well because she is a hands on learner.


One item that I have a hard time finding without corn (I’m allergic to it) is bread. For Christmas I was given an Oster express two pound bread maker. Not only can it make bread, but it can also knead dough, and bake jam. So far I’ve used the bread maker three times and I’m very satisfied. The first two loaves that I made came out great. They were soft, moist and tasted better than any store bought bread I have had. The last loaf that I made wasn’t as good. I had found a recipe online and the bread didn’t cook evenly. It burnt on the outside but was not done inside. I followed the directions which stated to use the “quick bread” settings and after it cooked I realized that I should have used the sweet bread setting. I felt that the first two loafs were a little too soft to use for sandwiches, but they were great for toast or bread and butter. I can’t wait to try different types of breads and make my own recipes.

It is very easy to use and clean up is simple. To make the bread you just add the wet ingredients, then the dry ingredients, and finally the yeast. After that you select the setting you want and wait for the timer to go off. You can start it right away or set it to start cooking later. It will even keep the bread warm for an hour after it has finished cooking, but I don’t know how anyone could wait that long. It makes the house smell so good! The pan lifts out of the bread maker easily and all three loafs that I made slid right out. It washed up easily and was ready for the next time I wanted to use it. The only problem I have with it is the size. It is quite large and I still haven’t found a place to store it. I guess if I don’t put it away that means it will be readily available when I need it. If you are looking for a nice bread maker this might be the one for you.
Find out more about it at http://www.oster.com/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=2470

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Hi everybody I know I haven’t blogged in a few weeks I’ve been busy with doctors appointments and finishing up the first semester of school. I recently got a new product it is called Dragon Naturally Speaking. In fact I’m typing this blog using it. For those of you that don’t know, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition software. You speak into a microphone and the software types what you say. I have to say it does take a little bit to get use to. According to the website the more you use it the easier it becomes. In writing this blog I have had to edit it quite a bit, but I must say it is a lot of fun to use.

I’m going to continue to use the product and work with it to see if it becomes easier. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just talk and not have to type? I hope this product is as good as it sounds.

I hope that everyone had a nice week.

An update on Dragon Naturally Speaking– I have completed a few more tutorials and know what to do and how to use it a little better. My little one has even set up a profile on it and has used it a few times. I don’t have to edit what it types nearly as often and it is getting faster at recognizing what I say. I have a cold right now though and today it didn’t recognize anything that I was trying to say. I got frustrated and decided to just type. I hope when my voice is back to normal it will recognize me again, I was getting use to not typing.

The Start of a New Year

The holidays are over and it is time to start getting back into a routine. Piano lessons will be starting up again soon, gymnastics began again on Thursday, and school officially starts again tomorrow. We do school work; Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. We started Friday to give us a jumpstart.

Between no school, me going back to work, and my leg giving me a lot of trouble our sleep schedule has really gotten out of whack. Housework and laundry have been put on the back burner and cooking just doesn’t seep to happen. Now that all has to change as we get back to our organized chaos.

We have two more weeks until the end of the first semester and we are working hard to tie up all the loose ends and finish out strong. Here is what our week has looked like so far and what we are planning the next few days.


Literature – We just finished the short novel, A Lion to Guard Us. It was about a little girl, living in England, whose mother died and father is in America in 1610. It was a good story and my little one seemed to enjoy it.

Vocabulary – This unit has words that are a lot easier so we will just be doing the book work.

Spelling – I don’t care for the workbook we have for spelling and neither does my little one. We do our own thing but I found a tick tac toe activity pack online that we have been using lately. I break her list of words into two sections and she does two activities off of the tic tac toe sheet each day. There are a few different cards to use and my little one seems to be enjoying it and remembering her words. If you are looking for a different approach to spelling check it out! This blog had a lot of neat things and ideas. http://heerenshappenings2.blogspot.com/2012/07/spelling-goodies.html


We are finishing up the unit on the human body. My little one received a smart lab amazing squishy brain for Christmas. We put that together and learned a little more in-depth about the brain. We will also be taking the semester test at the end of the week.


We are continuing to learn about slavery and the American Civil War. We learned about Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address.


She learned about Paul Cezanne and made a chalk drawing of a mountain.


We are on the Algebraic thinking unit. So far she has learned how to solve equations with two variables and about the coordinate plane. We will continue to work with the coordinate planed and line segments. For a little extra practice I will be printing a few of these worksheets.


They are like a dot to dot, but you have to plot the points and then connect them. I am hoping that my little one likes them and learns in the process.

I’m wishing everyone a good start to the New Year.


I don’t know about everyone else, but December is always a busy month for my family. We love Christmas. The songs, lights, decorations, and just the atmosphere. We normally start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and this year was no exception.

We didn’t do any outside decorating because I can’t use a ladder, but our house was still very festive.

The kitchen, living room, bathroom and dining room all had a touch of Christmas.

We are very big Disney fans. With the exception of a few snowmen and Santa things the rest of our house is decorated with Disney.

It started with a few ornaments about five years ago and has gradually taken over. I love it!
We didn’t do much baking this year. I ran out of both time and energy. I did attempt a few recipes that were corn free but they still need a little work.

We did a few Christmas crafts. I had found a foam wreath for a dollar last year and my little one enjoyed decorating it as well as two door hangers.

 She also put together Santa’s workshop and a manger. We talked about how Santa is nice but that Jesus is the real reason for the season.  We read a couple of Christmas books and watched a lot of Christmas movies while snuggled up warm in a blanket drinking hot chocolate.

We a lso got together with my best friend and decorated gingerbread houses.

This use to be a tradition we had with a dear friend Barbara who passed away last year. She was unable to participate last Christmas and we decorated them with my friend. This is our new tradition. We are already thinking of ideas for next year.





One day we went to Knotts Berry Farm for the free craft fair. My little one was able to see Santa, and we had a nice day looking around and enjoying all of the Christmas decorations.

Then I found out I had to go back to work. It was only about a week and a half before Christmas so we didn’t end up doing all of the things I had planed. I had to go back working the overnight shift so my sleep schedule was really messed up. We didn’t get to go see Christmas lights or decorate cookies but it all turned out ok in the end. I finally got my cast off and I am now in a brace.
We had a wonderful Christmas morning.

A few days after Christmas we spent the day at the Santa Ana Zoo.

 It was very festive and a lot of fun. It has been a long month and I am looking forward to the new year. The main downfall is that I will be celebrating the New Year at work. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe new year.


My little one had the week off of school and we have enjoyed it. I have been doing a lot of cleaning this week, all of the stuff that normally gets put off until later. It has been nice to learn and be together without doing all of the book work. This week we did two small crafts and she had a ton of fun.

We bought a turkey decorating kit from Target for only $1. It ended up being a cute little center piece for the table. My little one was able to put it together for the most part by her self. When she was building the body the wings had to be put into the legs and that didn’t seem to work. They kept popping out. We ended up using a little bit of tape and the turkey was able to stand.

Then she decorated it with a lot of stickers. I like the finished project.

This was a fast craft that didn’t make any mess, I am going to have to check out the dollar section at Target more often. They seem to have a lot of crafty items. I also got a 10 pack of foam shape hands there too. We used those for another craft.
First she glued the hand to construction paper.

Then she cut out feathers from construction paper and glued them onto the fingers. She cut out a beak and glued on a googlie eye. Then she gave it some feet and decorated the page with some of the left over stickers from the turkey craft. She ended up making a card out of it and giving it to her grandma.
Next week it will be back to more school work but I was glad we were able to have a little bit of fun. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Habit Burger Grill

While we were in Aliso Viejo for my little ones gymnastic meet we had lunch at the Habit Burger Grill. The restaurant was extremely clean and the service was fast. The cashier was friendly and very efficient. The atmosphere in the restaurant was nice as well.

I ordered a cheeseburger and a garden salad. The cheeseburger was moist, juicy and cooked just right. I was expecting a small salad but I got one that was big enough to share. The cheeseburger was $3.45 and the salad was $3.95.

 I feel it was well worth the price. My mom ordered the pastrami meal which came with french fries and a medium drink for only $9.50. She couldn’t even finish it because it was so filling. She said it was a very good sandwich.

My little one ordered the grilled cheese meal. Boring, but it is what she likes. It came with fries, a piece of candy and a drink. She chose milk, but after she took a drink we found out it was sour. The switched it for juice instead. Her meal was only $3.95. After we ate we stopped in the restroom. I have to say outside of Disneyland I have NEVER seen a cleaner public restroom. I was very surprised to see that.

We all enjoyed our food and the prices as well. I would say that their cheeseburger would rank amongst an In and Out one and you can’t top that in my opinion! I wish that there was a restaurant closer to us but unfortunately there isn’t.

Weekend Get Away

We had a long drive to my little one’s championship meet so we decided to make a weekend out of it. The hotel that was closest to the meet and was giving discounted rated was the Renaissance ClubSport Hotel in Aliso Viejo California. We left Friday afternoon and had an adventure. I had printed directions to the hotel off of mapquest. I use that site a lot and normally it is fine. This time however the directions included toll roads which we had never used before. To top that off we forgot the GPS at home! We didn’t mind paying to use the toll road, but we didn’t know what we were doing or where we needed to be. It was a tad bit stressful but after two toll roads we made it to the hotel.

When we arrived we were greeted by a very nice lady in the lobby. We had a little issue because we don’t have credit cards just a debit card. I guess that they can’t put a hold on the debit card and charge it at the end of the stay like every other hotel we have been to. We got that little situation figured out and then headed to our room.

Now to be fair I am a member of the Disney Vacation Club and have not had to pay for a hotel in about five years. We always stay in a Disney hotel so this hotel was a bit different. It would not be our choice of a hotel as it was more of a fitness hotel. Two handicap adults and a child don’t exactly fit in at that type of hotel. That being said we did enjoy our stay.

The room looked very nice when we arrived. We stayed in room 418 it was a handicap accessible room.

 It had two full size beds, a desk area with a very comfortable computer chair, and a rolling table. The bathroom was beautiful.

The only complaint with the bathroom area would be that they didn’t give us enough towels. There were three of us but only two towels. That was an easy fix though. The shower was our favorite part. It had a seat that could fold down or be pushed up out of the way. The water stayed nice and hot and because of the seat I didn’t have to stand on one foot the entire time. (I still have a cast on my leg) There was also a TV, a closet area and a coffee maker. The view, although it was of the parking lot, was rather nice. The main thing missing from the room was a small refrigerator. That was disappointing as we have medication that needs to be kept cold, but the ice chest worked pretty well. Another thing that we were not too happy about was the coasters; they were used already and looked discussing. We threw them away.

The first night we didn’t do much. We took a shower, watched some television, ate dinner and relaxed.

 The next morning we slept in and then began our day. We brought along some food with us and ate breakfast in the room.

It was fairly cool that day. We went to find the gym that was hosting the meet, and it was good that we did because we got a little lost on the way. After figuring out where we needed to be the next day we were hungry. Since we didn’t have the GPS and didn’t know the area we didn’t go too far. We found the town center that had everything and looked for a place to eat lunch. We ate at The Habit Burger Grill. I had never been to one before but it was very nice.

Then we stopped at a few stores and decided to head back to the hotel.


When we returned to the hotel we were very disappointed at the state of the room.

 Again there were only two towels, the coasters that we had thrown away were back on the counter, the beds looked like they were made by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, and they didn’t leave any ice bags.

We called and got more towels and new bags for the ice bucket and decided to do a little school work.

After a while we headed down stairs to explore the hotel area. We found the gift shop closed it was only 7pm but it was already closed. We explored a little and found a sauna, work out room, and basket ball court. We didn’t use any of them. Then we looked at the restaurant. Unfortunately it was not our type of food. Everything was very high class and had a lot of sauces. With my food allergy I need to know everything that is in the food, so we couldn’t eat there. We went back to our room and ordered pizza from Porky’s Pizza. It was very good.

While we waited on the pizza we worked on some science lessons. She learned about worms, sponges, leaches and other creatures. After a few science lessons we played a few hands of UNO.

She won every hand and had a fun time.

The best part of being at a hotel to her though, is getting ice.

She loves to use the ice machine.

Our pizza arrived, we ate, and then got ready for bed. We packed up our stuff and got a good night sleep.

The next morning we checked out very easily and headed to the gymnastic meet.

Overall I would say the hotel was nice. It didn’t seem to be too kid friendly. House keeping left a lot to be desired but customer service and friendliness was excellent. We enjoyed our stay however it is not likely we would ever return. For those that enjoy working out and who want to spend time getting massages it would be a great fit. I think we will stick to Disney Hotels though.