Monday, February 27, 2012

Almost Done and large family organization

Our house is almost done. We went to see it yesterday and they were laying the tile. It's painted, and bricked already. The sod is down. We are due to close March 15th! I'm so excited! I wish I had pictures; they are all on Raymond's phone though!

So I started thinking about large families and how to run the home more efficiently. When it was just the two kids, it was pretty easy. I did laundry when needed, dishes when needed, cleaned when needed...I had free time. Since adding Mimi to the mix, and now expecting another little bundle, I am anticipating that I will be far to busy for my own good. I'm starting to gather ideas to help cut down on chores and maximize my time. So if you have a large family (and coming from a family with 2 kids including myself, I think 4 IS large) please feel free to give me some advice!

One thing I'm thinking of doing is a family closet. We have this incredibly strange and long closet in our new house that probably wouldn't work too well for much. It does have a light. I plan to put a rod in there at the kid's height and put all their clothes on the rod, divided off by child. Below that, I'd put plastic hampers for each child for their dirties. And above, on a shelf, baskets for socks and undies. That way, when I do laundry, I can put all the clothes away in the same place and gather all the dirties from the same place too. 3 of the kids rooms are upstais, and one is downstairs and the laundry is downstairs, so I think this will really cut back on folding and putting away, and on gathering laundry and going up and down the stairs all the time. Not to mention, the kids wouldn't make messes of their dresser drawers like they do now. Plus, since the house we are in right now is pretty small, the kids have been using my and Raymond's dressers (and I've been storing my clothes under the bed in a plastic bin) and don't have dressers of their own. Which means if I do the family closet idea for the kids, I won't have to buy dressers for each of them when we move.

That's just one idea. But I have more ideas brimming in my head. I plan to share them as I have time. If you have one and would like to share with me, I'd be so grateful!

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reading Eggs Review

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Miss O, my rising 1st grader, had a chance recently to try out an online reading program called Reading Eggs. Miss O hasn't had the greatest success with online programs, just because she tends to get frustrated with the technical aspects (mousing around, using the keyboard, etc). But Reading Eggs was one program that she typically enjoyed using (I say typically because we did have a few problems with her getting frustrated with not understanding how to play some of the games). We also had an annoying problem of having to reset our password every single time we logged in. It didn't affect program use, and I never contacted them about it because it was easier for me just to reset it every time. I'm not sure if I was the only one having this problem, but it wasn't a huge deal.
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Reading Eggs is a reading program that is for beginning or emerging readers, and it is online. Reading Eggs will take a child from no reading to a third grade reading level, using 12 levels (or maps) that cover 120 reading lessons (ten per map). Each lesson contains at least 5 different activities for the child to complete; some lessons contain as many as 12 or 13 activities. Usually one lesson would take Miss O 15 to 20 minutes, so the activities are pretty short. Some activities are really only seconds long, others are a few minutes long.
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The lessons are presented as locations on a map. The child chooses an avatar, dresses it, and then the avatar guides them through their map (level) to complete the lessons. Any lesson can be repeated, and any game can be played as many times as the child would like. If a child misses too many, the program will prompt them to re-do the activity. At the end of 10 lessons, in order to move to a new map, the child takes an assessment.
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There is a reward component to the game as well. The child earns "eggs," which are like money that they can use to redeem or buy things for their avatar or for theim "home". They also earn a new character after each completed lesson. They can go back and look at their characters at any time. There is also a playroom area, which is free (meaning it doesn't cost eggs to play there). There are lots of little games, like painting, puzzles, musical games, stories, etc. They are semi-educational, but are totally optional and are just for fun for the child. Miss O always liked playing in the playroom or purchasing items with her eggs after finishing the days' lesson.
One thing I really liked about Reading Eggs was that you can start your child at their reading level. We've used some online programs where the way they are designed, you have to start your child at the very beginning. Reading Eggs gives you the option of having your child take an assessment and placing them at the correct level according to the results of that assessment. Miss O was placed on map 8 (of 12). She is currently on map 9.

Another thing I like about Reading Eggs is that a free trial is available. There are also codes you can find online (though I personally haven't tried this, I know many others have) to give you a few extra weeks of trying out the program before purchasing. If you like it during the trial, you have the option to subscribe. Pricing is as follows: monthly--$9.95, 6 months--$49.95, 1 year--$75.00. There is also an option to purchase book packs. Read more about those here. In addition to the Reading Eggs program, there is a companion program for older students called Reading Express. We didn't use this program, but my understanding is that it focuses more on the other aspects of Language Arts--spelling, reading comprehension and grammar.

I was given a subscription to Reading Eggs free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine, and I am not obligated to give a positive review.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Snow

Growing up in Southern California, snow has always been a magical thing of mountain vacations. For my kids, that meant that at 5 and 6, they had never seen it in real life. So when we moved to Oklahoma last year around this time we hoped to see snow right away. Alas, it didn't happen that way, though it was bitter cold outside (at least it felt that way to us beach people).
But this year, they did get to see snow! And they LOVED it! It was only a few inches, blown into the city overnight, but let me tell you, my two big kids had their boots on before breakfast yesterday. They were READY!

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