Thursday, April 23, 2009

I bought it on Ebay...or did I?

Last night as I was sitting watching television my husband looks up from his computer and asks me, "did you purchase something on Ebay?" I think for a moment and answer, "not that I am a aware of." He checks again and asks, "you didn't purchase a Jumpstart Advanced Preschool game" and we both get nervous at that point realizing what probably happened. "No, I would not have purchased the preschool game, Gess played with that years ago, and she is way too advanced for that now." We both start trying to figure out exactly how this all went down when he tells me, "Well we are currently the high bidder and the maximum we are willing to pay is $68.00!!" The current bid was only $5.51 with 17 minutes left to go and we were really hoping that no one took the bid any higher.

So here is the deal, my daughter has been using the computer for several years and she is really good at it. She used to have her own user, well she still does, but when I reinstalled this last time I just let her use mine whenever she wanted. After all, she did not seem to get into files and things she was not supposed to anymore. Well, she has learned to spell this year and she types pretty good too. Because of all that she has gotten rather good at surfing the net. This has been a problem from time to time for instance when she gets to Youtube to see a Madagascar video and ends up clicking videos that are not so grand. Still, all in all, it's been pretty safe. Besides Madagascar (which she can accurately spell) she also likes to go to and play Jump Start world (we are subscribers). We do not have a link to it saved anywhere because she is good at getting there herself. Well it appears that by typing Jump Start into the browser she also managed to find her way to Ebay which was selling the game.

As I went over to my computer and looked at my history, sure enough, Gess had been there and bid on the game. I save all my usernames and passwords on my local machine and I even get annoyed if a site does not remembered them, so logging into our Ebay account was easy enough for her. How or why she typed in $68 I will never understand though. But she obviously clicked through all the right steps and behold, we were the new high bidders on Ebay! We eventually won the bid and did our duty and paid for my daughter's purchase and our very cheap mistake!

We are grateful for a few things, one is that we did not have to spend more than $6 to learn this lesson and two that the seller had great feedback and even offered free shipping for the product! We were also grateful that this is actually an excellent video game. While Gess used to have the game and is way too advanced to bother with it now, we will be glad to find someone else who can use it knowing they are getting a really good product.

The Jump Start games from Knowledge Adventure are, in my opinion, the best educational games out there. Gess had a Jumpstart Preschool game that really helped teach her to use the computer as well as learn her colors, numbers, and letters. She got Jump Start Kindergarten a few years back and we got her Jump Start World for her 6th birthday. She completed that and now she is part of the Jump Start World community that has games for even higher levels. The only problem with Jump Start World is that only works on Windows, which is what she was using when all this happened. However, all the other Jump Start games install great on Linux and we are hopeful to find a fix for Jump Start World on Linux someday soon.

Anyway, we learned our lesson. Do not save your passwords if you let your child on your user, no matter how good you think they may be with it! I guess I will be spending today making my daughter her own user on both Windows and Linux. Like I said though, we are counting our blessings. It could have been a lot more expensive and we could have ended up buying something a lot worse!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our Trip to the MPE Homeschool Convention

We had the most awesome weekend at the MPE Homeschool Convention in Kansas City. I had been to the TPA Convention in Wichita the last two years and really enjoyed those but this year my daughter has her ballet recital that same weekend, so we came to this one. We were very pleased with it. I actually enjoy both and if I could I would go to both each year. Then again, I absolutely love conventions and conferences. If you have an opportunity to attend one in your area I highly recommend that you go!

Homeschool Workshops

The Key Note Speaker was Michael Farris and as most of you probably know he is the chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) of which we are members and the chancellor of Patrick Henry College. He is also the president of of which I am very passionate about. His original Keynote address was on the issue of protecting parental rights and encouraged me to work even harder on getting the Parental Rights Amendment passed. When I got home I was inspired to start a blog dedicated solely to that fact which I titled Support Parental Rights. I am a member of and have also signed up for and will use my blog to share any and all updates, news items and other information about the amendment process. If you have an opportunity to hear Michael Farris speak about the issue, I urge you to do so. As an attorney who has been defending parental rights for over 30 years he has seen first hand how that right is being taken away. His passion for freedom is truly inspiring. You can see a short clip about the amendment in the top corner of my blog.

I also attended his session titled From Tyndale to Madison based off a book he wrote by the same name. It covers the movement of Tyndale to get the Word of God into the hands of the people and shares how that impacted our Bill of Rights. His speech was only one hour but was extremely interesting and I can't wait to start the book.

The other workshop that I attended by Michael Farris was on the Spiritual Power of a Mother, which is also based upon a book he wrote by the same name. That workshop was truly encouraging, inspiring and refreshing. You left not only feeling capable of homeschooling your child, but renewed in your realization that it is the Spirit of God that empowers us and guides us. His workshop really blessed me.

Special Needs Workshop

One other workshop that was incredibly helpful for special needs families was on financial planning and how to protect your child's benefits when they become adults. The Speaker as Scott Adams from the Special Needs Planning Center in Kansas City. He was in the financial planning business when he got married and then adopted 3 children with special needs. He soon found out that there really was not much help in that area and now he runs a business that works only with families with special needs children. The information he gave was priceless but it is hard to share because every state is different. If you live in my general vicinity, either in MO, KS, NE, or OK, feel free to check out the information from their website and sign up for their newsletters. Our local Down Syndrome group is now planning to attend one of their workshops together.

Curriculum Fair

The curriculum fairs are always a pleasure to visit. You can visit the booths of stuff you know you are going to use year after year often times getting some great discounts and you can also find new treasures to try the next year. Since we actually made a mini-vacation out of the trip we did not purchase much from the fair. We plan to make most of our purchases online over the summer but now we know what we are going to get.

I am really excited about the new Science Curriculum we found. I actually went looking for this specific curriculum because one of my blogging friends, Our Nifty Notebook, blogged about it when she attended the St. Louis Homeschool Expo. There she discovered, and blogged about, Real Science 4 Kids and it sounded really great so we went and checked them out. I took my hubby with me as he is the Science expert in our household and he was even impressed at how good it was. We plan on getting her the Pre-Level 1 Chemistry Bundle to start with. Now while that may sound difficult, especially for a child with special needs, take a moment to check it out. They have a sample chapter online and if you click on the book below you can see how easy it is to read and comprehend. There are also 10 labs for each unit and we are excited about doing some real hands on Science this year. I plan to do labs on the weekends so daddy can enjoy the fun as well. I will be sure to let you know how this works out for us next year.

I also went looking for some Social Studies material. While I did not find a specific curriculum I found a few helps. One was the American Presidents Coloring Book. Ever since Presidents Day in February, Gess has been fascinated with "presidents." She even saw a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the background of a TV show and started yelling "president, mommy, president." Sometimes she gets confused and calls him George Lincoln, but that can happen when you study two presidents at once. Still, there have only been two presidents in her short lifespan, George Bush and Barack Obama and all my materials here are older and do not have information on either one. Now we have a coloring book that has not only pictures but some information about each one, including President Barack Obama!

We were also at another booth by Master Books which had some history and science books we liked. Last year I purchased the Annals of the World by James Ussher and this year I wanted the fold out map that went with it but chose not to drop that $30 just yet. We did find a few books on clearance for Gess, one about lightening and another about the Sun. The man there was sweet and let Gess pick out one book for free from the Character Builders Series. He had these on sale for $3 each. Well she got Dog Tired which is about perseverance. I was headed to yet another workshop so my husband read it with Gess while I was gone. He put the CD in and helped her follow along in the book. She absolutely loved it! It not only reads the story on the CD, there are also fun songs on it too. After they listened to it together my daughter listened to it again and again, sometimes following along in the book and other times just coloring or something while it was playing. When I found out how much she loved it I went back and got the other three books in the series. Her favorite seems to be Wise Quack which is a lesson on self control.


We spent the rest of our time going out to eat, swimming in the pool, and just relaxing in the hotel. Our hotel experience at the Holiday Inn located next to the KCI expo was so-so. The pool was heated and was very enjoyable. Gess loved it. The room was very nice and the beds were comfortable. However when looking under the bed for my daughter's shoe I found they do not seem to clean underneath it very much. We found candy wrappers for items we did not bring into the hotel! The Internet was also troublesome. I have never had such a hard time staying or getting connected to the Internet. My husband is even a computer geek! He called for help and one time they got us hooked up and the net worked great for that time but after we shut down we were back to the same old troubles when we started back up again. Their staff was very helpful and nice, but in the end it still did not get us anywhere most of the time. I think we will find another hotel next time. All in all though, we had a really great time and enjoyed our respite from the every day grind of homeschooling, housekeeping and work!

Monday, April 13, 2009


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. This is a special holiday for me and though I try to keep it about the true meaning of Easter, I do allow my daughter to have a basket, color eggs and hunt for them. We simply do not tell her that a bunny had anything to do with it. We explain, like the Veggie Tales do, that while those things are fun they are not why we celebrate Easter. In light of that fact our favorite Easter video is Veggie Tales - An Easter Carol. In fact in Sunday School we also read the story An Easter Carol from the Veggie Tales Bible Storybook. Those are nice because they are followed by the actual Bible story from the NIrV and it went went right along with our sermon.

At home we also read the story from our Read with Me Bible which also uses the NIrV and she would read some of them herself from The Beginner's Bible. I am amazed at how well she can read those!

We did a few crafts. On Palm Sunday we made palm branches using the Palm Fan Craft from with our Sunday School class. Gess really liked them and they held up rather well. She spent the week waving them saying "Hosanna!" This week we simply colored a picture of a cross with some lilies. We also made a Jelly Bean Prayer Craft from They really enjoyed making those and were certainly eager to eat them. Here is Gess holding hers.

This is how we emphasized the true meaning of Easter. There was a lot of explaining about Jesus' death on the cross but how that was not the end of the story. Gess can tell you that we celebrate Easter because "Jesus is Alive!"

For secular activities we did the typical coloring of eggs on Saturday and when she came home from church she found an "Easter surprise" which was her basket of goodies. Then she hunted for some eggs.

We also took the leftover plastic eggs and made a craft I found at one of the other blogs I follow regularly. The Adventures of Homeschooling Noah is another blog about homeschooling her boy who also has Down Syndrome. They have really been an inspiration to me and a lot of fun to get to know. Anyway, she shared an Easter Egg Snake Craft that they made and I thought it looked like fun so we tried it. While Noah's was much prettier because they had really cool glittery eggs, Gess' still turned out really well. This activity is great because we got to work on both patterns and motor skills while making it. Here is our version, but be sure to check out Noah's snake too!

Finally I will share Gess coloring her eggs. This is the first year she could really do it on her own after we showed her how. We first drew on them with a white clear crayon. You could not see what you drew until you colored the egg and it came through. As you will hear in this video the egg she colored had a cross on it. That was an easy thing for her to draw and yet it kept in mind what the celebration was really all about. All in all, we had a really nice Holiday. You can read my thoughts on the true meaning of Easter on my personal blog at Lori's Say On The Matter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Bible and Speech Therapy

I am a Christian who wants our faith to play a role in all aspects of my daughter's education, for I believe that true faith does affect every part of our life. Well, one of the areas that I was actually surprised to find our faith helping her education was in speech. However, when you actually think more about it, you will see how easily it fits in.

We have always read her bible stories, even before she was verbal. In fact she used to sign before she could speak and one of the earliest signs she learned was "Jesus." She could also sign church, God, Lord and many other words from the Bible. Once she started to speak more often, she started to learning how to say these words. If you read the Bible very often you know that there are some very hard to pronounce names, even for adults. I believe that seeing these names in print and learning to pronounce them is a really good exercise. By pointing out certain names and places in the story and having them repeat it also makes them more interactive in the story and will help their comprehension as well. Anyway, I always did love hearing her pronounce some of those tough names. Here was her last night talking about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego after watching the Veggie Tale Movie: Rack, Shack and Benny.

Prayer is also very good speech activity. We have always said her bedtime prayers with her. When she first started to speak we started having her repeat the words after us. It is important to note that while there are some parts of the prayer we always say the same, for the most part our prayers are different every day. This helps her not only to understand what words we say, but that the point of prayer is to "converse" with God about things that are meaningful to you. This concept seems to be getting through to her for she has added, on her own, the words "talk about God" to her prayer each day. It is as if she not only knows she is praying, but it is a time to talk about (or to) God. She just shares things that are important to her and tells God about them. I had her do a sample prayer this morning so you could see how much of her prayer is intelligible speech. She has moments when it is not very intelligible and that is mostly when she is gathering her thoughts, it is sort of her own kind of stutter, but once she gets them out she is very clear. To understand this prayer you must realize that we are going on a trip next week and will be staying at a Holiday Inn that has a pool. Her most favorite place in the world to go is to a hotel with a pool.

Memory verses are another great speech enhancer. We found that Gess' speech was improved after she began to read, even when she was learning only sight words. We used that reading to help teach her memory verses as well. We write the verse and teach her the words and have her memorize it. They are usually a shortened version of the verse, but she still does a really great job at it. In fact she will probably be earning her Skipper Book Award at Awana this year for doing such a great job memorizing verses! This really helps to teach the child to speak the words clearly as well as speak in sentence form. It has the added bonus of keeping Christian principles close to their heart.

Of course singing Bible songs, especially those that have hand motions, is also good activity for speech. In fact we will sing all kinds of songs, including secular ones, and add either hand motions or signs to it. She loves to sing and it is a good speech activity.

These are a few things we have done to help my daughter's speech and make her exercises a part of our every day activities. Our bedtime stories, whether Bible based or not, become exercises in speech, as well as her evening prayer, night at Awana and even play time. I am thankful to the Lord for providing these opportunities and for recognizing how significant they have been when put into practice.


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