Monday, May 28, 2012

Healthy Choices: Eating Right and Exercise

I am one of those moms who has struggled with her weight most of the time.  Before Gess was born I had actually lost weight and kept it off for 5 years.  Then I got pregnant again.  It's a story many mothers are familiar with.  It took me 9 years to get the weight off, but 2 years ago I did it!   I actually blogged about my journey and shared some tips at Lori's Say on Weight Loss, but I got too busy to keep up with it.

I am still in a weight loss club.  It's called TOPS which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.  I think having that scale to be accountable to every week has helped me maintain the weight loss these last 2 years.  While in maintenance mode I don't always have to track what I eat, but I try to do so whenever I find myself struggling to stay withing my goal.  I also do it when we have contests or programs at TOPS that require it.  It's good to check yourself from time to time.

Anyway, so what does this have to do with homeschooling Gess? Well, the other day I found her with a notebook and pencil and she said was writing down her "calories."  I also noted that she had written her name at the top of my food journal page and checked off a box.  It was cute, but it also got me thinking that it was important to address this topic with her for a couple of reasons.

1.  Gess is at a healthy weight and I don't want her to be obsessed with counting calories or watching what she eats, especially at a young age.  Even when a child is overweight they need to focus on making healthier food choices rather than "losing weight."  You never want to encourage a child to "diet" but you do want them to eat healthier and become more active. 

2. I like that Gess sees me using tools to help me make wise decisions about what and how much I eat as well as how much I exercise, so I do want her to be a part of what I am doing.  I just want to be sure she does it in a healthy and responsible way.  So to do that I came up with the following chart:

Instead of checking off a box for every 100 calories she eats (like I do) I am going to have her check off when she has had a serving of healthy foods.  I want her to aim for 2 fruits, 2 vegetables, 2 protein and 2 dairy per day.  This morning she checked off her dairy and fruit after eating a yogurt parfait she made for breakfast.

You might notice that I also made a check box for each 30 minutes of exercise she does.  Of course she's a kid so by that I do not mean a workout video (though she actually enjoys those) or "exercise" but rather, active play.  Swimming, gymnastics, playing ball, any sport, going for a walk, dancing, or just some time at the play ground.  (Bike riding is great too, but Gess still doesn't do that very well.)  You get the idea.  Something to make sure that she hasn't spent her day do nothing but sitting indoors on the computer (which she loves) or watching TV (which she doesn't really do that much).

Gess is actually a very active girl and this box wasn't necessary to encourage her to exercise but I want her to see now that it is something she should always strive to do, even when she is older.  I am hoping this will make her see that exercise means just having active fun, rather than thinking of it as hard work.  Maybe then, even as an adult she will be mindful to get out and enjoy the outdoors in an active way.

Gess is also a fairly healthy eater.  She still remembers the Food Guide Pyramid study we did a few years ago (before it changed to ChooseMyPlate) and will still randomly talk about the category of a food while she is eating it.  She is not a big fan of vegetables though, so I am hoping this will help her to eat more of those.  Maybe by saying, "but you have to check off that you ate your healthy vegetables" will help her get through the serving.

Speaking of, it is a good resource to go if you want to try to do something similar to this with your kids.  They have different serving suggestions for kids based upon gender and ages.  I don't think my chart follows their exact pattern, but as I said, Gess is already eating fairly healthy and maintaining a good weight and BMI so we are just focusing on keeping that up.  If you have a child who is really struggling with weight, they have some good tools to use and will give you ideas on where to start.

So, while Gess might not be ready to make choices like this:

She does make choices like this:

And while I once caught her doing this (that's a treadmill she is laying on).

I'm not worried because she does plenty of this.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TOS Crew Announces Blue Ribbon Award Winners

Each year the TOS Crew mates vote on which products they liked the best.  I have to tell you, this was my first time on the crew and I was amazed at how many products I actually liked and now use.  I was excited to participate in the voting and having a say in which companies get awarded.

The winners of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards are (drum roll please)...


Favorite Reading Instruction Product:  Reading Eggs*
Favorite Writing Product:  Write Shop
Favorite Language Arts Product: Progeny Press
Favorite Social Studies Product: TruthQuest History
Favorite Science Product: Amazing Science*
Favorite Math Product: Math Mammoth*
Favorite Online Math Product: Math Rider
Favorite Foreign Language Product: Visual Latin
Favorite Fine Arts Product: Artistic Pursuits
Favorite Christian Education Product:  Apologia: Who Am I?*
Favorite Preschool Product: Before Five in a Row
Favorite Elementary Product: All About Reading
Favorite Middle School Product:  Write with WORLD
Favorite High School Product: Excellence in Literature
Favorite College or College-Prep Product:  Excellence in Literature
Best Online Resource:  Reading Eggs
Best e-Product: Heritage History
Best Homeschool Resource: Apologia: Educating the Wholehearted Child
Best Book, Novel, or Magazine: Apologia: How to Have a HEART for Your Kids*
Best Children's Book: Amazing Animals by Design*
Best Game or Toy: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything
Best Hands-On Resource: Pitsco Education
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: eMeals
Best Customer Service: K5 Learning*
Most Adaptable Resource: Creek Edge Press
Most Family-Oriented Resource: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything

Kids' Choice (favorite of CHILDREN ages 0-12):  Reading Eggs
Teens' Choice (favorite per the TEENAGERS): Pitsco Education
All Around Crew Favorite: Visual Latin

And below are things I voted for that did not make the cut.  We just had so many great products it was a really tough choice this year!  However, in my opinion these products deserve at least an honorable mention.  (The links below are based on MY opinion, not an official vote from the Crew.)

 Now some of these I reviewed and some I did not.  Just because I reviewed the product does not mean I voted it for it in that particular category, but I did link you to what I had to say about it.  I put an asterisk by products that we reviewed and voted for in that category.  Of course I did not have the opportunity to review all of the products listed so I might not have voted for them simply because I have not used them. Also keep in mind that I reviewed these products thinking about what worked best for my daughter who has Down syndrome so keep that in my mind if you are looking for resources for children with special needs.  My blog is focused on that, the Crew is not.  

During the next few weeks I am going to highlight which products I personally chose, which ones Gess prefers and share with you which products we now use regularly in our homeschool and why. Everyone that participated in the review had an opportunity to vote. This is such a great resource for parents wanting to find quality products.  About 200 homeschooling parents have actually used these products and like them the best.  You can be sure that a mom or dad just like you love these products.  Of course we still have individual needs so reading individual reviews will give us better insight into if these are a good fit for us or not, but it's a good place to start looking!  You can visit the official TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards post to read about other thoughts from the Crew.

Note:  I was not obligated to post this information, I did it simply to share this awesome resource with you all!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Modesty

This time of year is always discouraging for me, but now that Gess is beginning to hit puberty it has me in fits!  Finding a bathing suit that is both modest and easy for her to negotiate independently is quite the trick.  Ok, finding something modest is almost impossible to begin with, so finding something that is both will most likely take a miracle.  I know there are "modest" outfitters out there but those are usually very expensive and I don't have over $40 or $50 to drop on a bathing suit.

Swim suits aren't the only things.  I am getting so tired of seeing little short-shorts for girls, especially with writing on the back of them.  Why, oh why are we encouraging people to look our children's behinds to read what is written on them and showing off our girl's cleavage even before they have any?  Oh Christian ladies, let us not forget the instruction of the Word.
1 Tim 2:9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly NASB

I think I may have found a compromise.  It isn't as modest as I would like it to be, but it is a bathing suit, so I gotta give it that.  I wish the tank was longer but the non form fitting tanks float around while swimming anyway and this one will not.  I also wish it didn't have a V-Neck shape but rather went across the top evenly but it did not look too revealing on her.  

Do note that I am showing the swiming suit and not my child IN the swim suit.  That is because the internet if full of evil and vile people.  Please, do not post pictures of your children on blogs or especially on Facebook that have them in swim suits or especially partially clothed or naked in the bathtub. I read an article the other day, Kids raped...on Facebook, that just made very sick but I know it's true.  I have known it was true and will be more vigilant to make sure that whatever I do online is modest, ESPECIALLY where children are concerned. Here is a short video story if you don't want to read the entire article.

 Let's be careful with our children by teaching them to be modest and then protecting them from people who might harm them.  There is a also campaign to help stop child porn on Facebook if you are interested in being proactive.

Friday, May 18, 2012

TOS Review: Heritage History

I am a history buff and so I was glad to be able to review Heritage History, a curriculum that gets to the heart of history, or at least a little closer to it.  Heritage History is not your usual history curriculum.  Instead of text books, tests and memorization of dates and facts, the Heritage History program is based on the use of classical, age appropriate children's history books.

The history books your child will read are actually history themselves.  No books used were printed after 1923.  While these books are usually without copyright and already in the public domain, Heritage History has compiled together a selection of the best works and sorted them by genre, subject and character.  All of these are in electronic form and can be accessed on the computer, Kindle, Ipad or other devices.  It also comes with Study Aids that includes supplemental materials such as images, maps, timelines and a teacher's guide for you to use to help your student in their studies.  Here is a list of supplemental images available for one story about Abraham Lincoln.

We reviewed the Young Readers Classical Collection.

The Young Readers Collection serves as an introduction to history for young grammar school students who are already reading fluently but not quite ready for a more systematic approach to learning.  This collection focuses on historical stories rather than comprehensive histories.  While they encourage the child to choose their subject and explore history on their own, they do recommend a minimum time spent reading each week.  For older students that is a few hours, for younger students, it is up to the parents to decide.  To have some accountability they even have a page you can print off titled the Weekly Reading Register.

On a personal level I loved these stories.  Hearing the children's tales written from an earlier perspective was really refreshing to me and I am sure this would be the case for many students as well.  However, with Gess' special needs the antiquated writing made it difficult for her to comprehend the story, which is a difficult task for her under normal circumstances.  Even Aesop's fables required so much explanation that it just took the charm right out of the story.  This is also not a good fit for parents who like the more structured style of learning.  If you want text books, vocabulary lists and tests this may not be for you.  However it is a really neat program so if this fits your teaching style and you have students who read fluently and comprehend well, this will be a great tool to use to get them to study history in way where they may not even realize they are learning!

The Heritage History Classical Curriculum consists of 5 CDs including Young Readers, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and the British Empire.  Each CD sells for $24.99 each or you can buy the entire 5 disk set for $99.99. To learn more about this or some of the other collections in the series you might want to check out the other TOS Crew member's blogs or simply visit the Heritage History website.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Young Readers Classical Curriculum CD for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change

Monday, May 14, 2012

My brother Tim

Yes, this blog has been dedicated to homeschooling my daughter who has Down syndrome.  She does have two brothers though who are older, one is 25 and one is 27.  No, I did not homeschool her brothers.  I thought about it often through the years but we never did it. 

Anyway, I thought I would introduce you to Gess' brothers starting with Tim.  After high school graduation he tried his hands at a few things before finally deciding to go to college. Tim had actually moved out of the house when he was 18 but this last year of college he came back home so he could spend more time on school and less time working (though he still continued to work part time).  We were so glad to have him back home and having a college student in the house made Gess interested in going to college too.  In fact one morning as Tim was getting ready to head out the door with his healthy breakfast of a cookie and diet soda, I noticed Gess had grabbed her backpack and a cookie too.  I had to get a picture of my two "college" students!

At first Tim had a hard time settling on a major until he began to got involved in theatre and music at the school.  Now, we all knew Tim had talent.  He sang in the high school choir and ensemble, and he taught himself to play the guitar and performs his own music.  In fact he has gone on tour the last couple of summers.  However after a couple of years in the theatre at our community college Tim really seems to have found his passion.

During his time at the juco Tim starred in The Pillow Man,  School House Rock Live, Annie (he was Oliver Warbucks), Completely Hollywood and The Last Five Years.  He worked behind the scenes of some other shows, did a couple of reader's theatres and co-directed The Bacchae.  His girlfriend Chelsie was also part of the theatre program when they both attended at the same time.  While Tim worked behind the scenes of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the play that Gess was in, Chelsie was in the show.  Here they are after the show one night.

 Tim and Chelsie were both in School House Rock Live and made the paper.  Here is that article and then Gess with both of them after the show.

(Tim is on the bottom right, Chelsie is in the back on the left.)


Tim also made it in the paper for Annie.  He was such an awesome Daddy Warbucks even though he kept his hair!  He managed to pull this off even though he broke a bone in his elbow right before production began!

When Tim wasn't busy with school, work or play rehearsal he would still go hang out at the theatre.  During this time he also was in the choir and had the honor of singing several solo parts. Because of his passion and dedication to the arts, Timothy received the honors of both the Outstanding Male Music Student and the Outstanding Theatre Student awards.  He also competed in an out of state competition where received a trophy for Outstanding Vocalist.  We are so very proud of him!

Last Friday on May 11, 2012 Tim graduated from our local community college and received his Associate of Arts degree.  Now he will be transferring on to a four year college to get his degree in theatre. Gess really enjoyed going to his graduation and is proud of her brother Tim!

In fact, we all are proud of him! 

Way to go Tim!  We wish you well these next two years.  You will do amazing things, we just know it!

Now, about how to get Gess that college experience.  That will take some work, however she will get to be in one last play under her brother's direction this summer.  No worries, you know I will blog about it when it's done!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

TOS Review: Go Science

Go Science!  Yes, Gess' favorite subject is science so we were rather excited to get to review this product for the TOS CrewGo Science is a series from Library and Educational Services that gets kids excited about learning science by exploring motion, weather, electricity, air, the Solar System and much more!  There are 6 DVDS in the series which can be purchased as a set or individually.  We were able to choose 2 DVDs which was difficult because they all seemed very interesting. 

Each DVD includes a series of 3 to 6 minute demonstrations that helps to explain certain science principles or phenomenon.  In each one Ben Roy, a fun and lively science educator, leads a group of kids through some sort of hands on science experiment or activity.  He generally has one or more of the kids in the group participate as he demonstrates and explains the science principle that he is focusing on.

It should be obvious to my readers by now that Gess is absolutely fascinated by the weather so it was no big surprise that her first selection was Volume 2 Simple Machines, Sound and Weather.

 The demonstrations covered on this video are:

  • 1st Class Lever
  • 2nd Class Lever
  • 3rd Class Lever
  • Incline Plane
  • Pulleys
  • Trebuchet
  • Singing Glasses
  • Singing Rods
  • Sound Waves
  • Singing Pipes
  • Making A Cloud
  • Weather Balloon
  • Tornado Tube
  • Air Pressure

The other selection Gess made was Volume 6 Water, Space and Solar System. 

 The demonstrations covered on this video are:

  •  Water Disappear
  • Boil Water in a Paper Cup
  • Properties of Water
  • Floating Balls
  • As Cold as Outer Space
  • Make a Rocket
  • Living in Space
  • Solar System
  • Centripetal Force

Each demonstration was fun and educational.  Ben Roy did a great job at keeping the children engaged.  While I personally thought he seemed a bit "cheesy" as he tried to excite the children, he certainly seemed to get the job done.  Gess really loved watching the videos and would often do so even when we were not having school.  I even caught her interacting and raising her hand saying "pick me, pick me" when he asked for volunteers!  I am just glad she didn't get upset when she wasn't picked!

While these demonstrations are fun and educational there are many that you will not be able to repeat at home because he uses things that we don't regularly have access to.  However that is not the case for all of them.  There are some that are much easier to do at home, such as the tornado tube.  Still, it is nice to be able to watch experiments that I could not or would not want to do here at home and Gess certainly is learning from them.  Here, why not watch one yourself to see!

I also love the way Ben Roy ends his demonstrations.  At the end of each segment he reminds children that "every time we learn something about science, we learn something about our Creator GOD!"  That's right, as Christians we know that science and the bible do go hand and hand and that science is the study of God's creation.  I love that he make sure kids know that too!

Another great thing about the Go Science DVD series is the price.  You can get all six DVDs in the set for $47.95 or buy them individually for $8.97 each.  That's a pretty great price for a Science DVD!  You see Library and Educational Services is a wholesale provider of Christian and wholesome educational books, DVDs, CDs and more.  The neatest part is that they will sell their products at the wholesale price to homeschoolers!   The Go Science DVD series is just one of them.  This was a resource I never knew existed but hope to use a lot in the future.  To learn more visit their website or see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about it.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Go Science Volume 2 and Volume 6 DVDs for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The End of School and the Beginning of Summer

No, we are not at the end YET, but we are getting there.  We had a pretty mild winter which made it a pretty healthy one for Gess, so I guess it was time for her to become ill.  My sweet girl has bronchitis right now so we are taking it easy this week.  It's kind of frustrating because I am ready to bring the school year to a close, but it is what it is.

Things are winding down though.  Gess has finished her last AWANA of the season and her gymnastics will be over at the end of the month.  We also finished our last ladies bible study today which gave her play time with other kids, so those structured activities are done.  Now we just have some lessons to finish.

As with all of life, once one thing ends another begins and that's how it is with school.  Once it's over summer gets into full swing.  Gess will begin horseback riding next week and at the end of the month the pool will open and we will be buying a pass to spend lots of time there.  She will also take swimming lessons as well. Then there will be the usual VBS and library summer reading program to participate in and I think she is going to try to be in another play this summer - Alice in Wonderland.  We actually opted out of church camp and Special Olympics State competition this year. We can only do so much!

Gess also became an aunt this year, so some of the time will have to be spent babysitting and playing with her new niece!  It should be a great summer all the way around, once it finally gets here that is.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...