R is for Right ~ Doing Things Right

Do you ever feel like everything you do is wrong; that you can do nothing right?  I do sometimes feel like that.  I can’t seem to keep my house clean enough or be consistent enough with getting enough school done in a day.  My laundry system is failing (ok ok it’s currently non-existent). If I have a great day with school and chores, I somehow can’t manage to get dinner cooked.

When things start feeling overwhelming ~ the lesson plans aren’t done, the laundry is piling up, menu plans are a distant thought in a galaxy far far away ~ it becomes important to think about the things you are getting right. For me, anyway, I need to step back and look at what is going well or when I am doing things right.

R is for Right ~ Doing this Right

This past week I finished reading Getting Rid of It: Eliminating Clutter from Your Life by Betsy and Warren Talbot.  I liked the book OK (that’s a two star rating on Goodreads). I don’t think a 40 something year old, home schooling mama who doesn’t have an outside career is the intended audience but there were some things I could take away and apply to my own house.

I’ve posted before about how I want to be when it comes to organization and I’ve written a blog post or two or three about organizing. It might sound like I’ve got it all together but I don’t.  The problem though is that sometimes I focus so much on how NOT together I am that I fail to see those tiny tings that I did get right or am doing right.

At first, while reading the book, I got hung up on the fact that this couple was a) childless,  2) both working,  3) getting rid of everything they owned so that they could travel the world.  I think a tiny part of me was jealous about traveling all over the world but that was the easy part of get over. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and though I would love to travel the world, I did do lots of travelling in my BC (Before Children) life.

Many of the solutions proposed just did not appeal to me. I just could not imagine inviting my friends (FRIENDS!!) over to buy my stuff. Offering stuff for sale? No problem. My friends buying stuff from me?  No problem.  Having a party for the sole purpose of getting my friends to give me money and take my things away? Um no. Just not my style.  It’s beyond my comfort zone.

Oh right, I wasn’t going to  focus on what I was doing wrong. I was going to focus on the bits that made me feel good because I was doing something right. First, I found something I had done right in the kitchen. Earlier this year, a friend of mine and I were talking about decluttering and decluttering methods. She described one suggestion she had read (maybe she read it from this book?  I don’t know.).

Here’s the gist of the idea: empty the contents of your kitchen drawer into a box. When you use something it goes back in the drawer. At the end of 30 days, whatever you don’t use is still in the box and you can get rid of it.  I blogged about it last January in my O is for Organizational Wanna Be.

The other “right thing”, the one that actually inspired this post, is the linen closet.  From Chapter 7: “Bathrooms”, the subsection is linens:

The biggest problem with having way too many linens is how they pile up in your life, letting you drag our your laundry days because of your huge supply.  Before long you have 2 or 3 loads of towels waiting to be washed along with 2 changes of bed sheets. Your linen closet is full of clean towels and your hamper or floor is full of dirty ones.

Oh my. I am so doing something right. I read that and I laughed out loud. For real! I was grinning from ear to ear. I’m smiling right now as I type this up. Do people seriously have that many linens? This fall I will celebrate 20 years of marriage and for the first 19 years, I only bought 3 towels maybe?  Oh and a dozen or so wash cloths. All the towels we owned had been wedding gifts with a few Christmas gifts.  We hadn’t had new towels in 10 years.  We finally broke down last Christmas and bought a dozen large, soft, fluffy bath towels.  We also bought two really large fluffy and wonderful bath sheets for ME. Really good quality.  Before that if I am not sure I even owned enough towels for two loads of laundry. I guarantee that if I have two loads of towels that there are no clean towels in my linen closet.

Oh and you know what else I am doing right? I only have one really good set of sheets for my bed. I do have a back up set but I tend to wash my sheets, dry them and put them back on the bed. I’ve been thinking I want to own another set of sheets. I might have two loads of sheets to wash but that is for 6 beds!

Anyway, I love that when it comes to decluttering my kitchen and having a streamlined linen closet I am Doing Things Right.  How about you?  What are you doing right?

Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Random 5 on Friday ~ August 29th Edition

This is the last Friday in August.  I am very sad to see August end.  I’m sorry to see summer end.  I love summer. Spring is my favorite season but oh I do so love summer here in the Pacific Northwest.

1. Turtlegirl, Tailorbear and Boobear went camping two weeks ago.  They were with our Church.  Like last year they camped at Mt Rainer National Park and went hiking. Unlike last year, they did not have a camera so this picture is from last year.

Mount Rainer National Park August 2013

2. The grandparents arrived for a week long visit.  They drove out.  Yes DROVE.  2000 miles one way.  Usually they fly, but not this time.  They left a couple of days ago and we were already missing them as soon as the door had closed. While they were here we had fun playing games like Sequence, Farkle, TransEuropa, Clue and even the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary edition of Yahtzee. We fed ducks at the local park.  The husband, children, and grandparents made a day trip to Mount Rainer for a picnic. I stayed home and wrote out lesson plans. It was a good visit with lots of memory making moments.

3. Speaking of the grandparent visit the girls took selfies or rather I am told the correct term is ussies with the Kindle Fire. I’ve been saying for 19 years that Boobear looks like her grandmother. She finally believes me.

Boobear and Grandma

4. We start school on Monday.  I’ve blogged for 5 days as part of the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop. I think I might be ready to start on Monday. Though we won’t be doing a full day on Monday.  We’ll be doing some First Day Traditions like French Toast with bacon and taking pictures. I’ve created detailed lesson plans for the first quarter for Tailorbear and some rough “do what comes next” type plans for Turtlegirl. Don’t tell but I am still working on plans for Supergirl but I did print her Frozen themed student planner for her to use while I use my printed TOS Planner. I have to take things week by week with her plans.

Back to Homeschool August Blog Hop sidebar button

5.  The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog is now doing newsletters! You can subscribe to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and get two free planners!*

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Subscribe to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Newsletter and receive the TOS Schoolhouse Special Learners Planner, plus your choice of one of the Student Planners -- Primary, Intermediate, or High School, absolutely FREE!
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*links to download your Planners will be included in your first Friday newsletter.

I signed up this morning! (OK, I did it for the newsletters, I already have the planners.) I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up in my inbox!

What have you been up to this week? What does next week look like for you?  We’ll be busy with canning and school!

The Pebble Pond

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5 Random Quirky Cat Habits

I know it’s Saturday and a Random 5 on Friday just doesn’t really flow on Saturday but this is certainly not the first time I’ve posted a Random 5 on Friday on a Saturday. I also need a q topic for ABC Blogging so this post has a theme.

Cats are, I think, quirky by nature but some some kitty habits are strange even by cat standards. As a married couple Honeybear and I have adopted 4 cats and had one cat adopt us. Each cat has been completely different in personality and each one has had a least one quirky habit!

Quirky Cat Habits from Circling Through This Life

1. Cats like to play. That’s not quirky.  Cats like to jump up on things.  That’s not quirky. But Daisy liked to play with pens. She loved them. She loved to bat them all over the floor and chase them. She preferred pens or pencils over traditional cat toys like balls of string.  What made her really fascinating to watch: she would help herself to her toys. She would jump up on the desk, pull a pen out of the cup, drop it on the floor, jump down and begin her play session.

2. Mo was our first cat. He did not like Honeybear. He tolerated me.  He did seem to think Boobear was ok.  Mo liked to escape from the house. It was like he had to get away from us.  The quirky part?  He always came back.  He didn’t seem to like us and we thought he was running away the first couple of times but he always came home.

3. George is buff colored tabby.  He’s a big cat.  He likes to eat. I mean he loves to eat. He gets so excited and vocal about his food. His litter mate, Lacy enjoys her food but she is much more “normal”.  She’ll meow a bit and rub against your leg and then wait, nearly patiently, for you to fill her dish.  I think she exemplifies normal about-to-be-fed kitty behavior. George?  He paces.  He yowls,  He rubs against you.  He tries to climb the counter.  He tries to climb your leg.  He wants his food and he wants it NOW. 

5 Random Quirky Cat Habits at Circling Through This Life ~ Mittens

4.  Speaking of eating and George.  He has another strange eating habit or rather about to eat habit. If I am in the bathroom (you know taking care of nature’s call), he *must* rub against my leg and be petted before he will eat his food. He will sit in front of the toilet and wait.  He won’t move until I pet him. He’s worse than my children.  I cannot go to the bathroom alone. He seems to just know when I have “to go” and follow me.

5.  Daisy had a thing for Arby’s roast beef.  At least that was meat.  Otherwise she just wasn’t too interested in people food.  Lacy doesn’t seem to care about people food either though I suspect she likes yogurt as I have found a yogurt container left on the table licked clean. But the quirky cat thing?  That’s George again. He loves fresh lettuce leaves and canned green beans. You can not leave lettuce out. We often get fresh lettuce from the Farmer’s Market or Bountiful Baskets.  If you leave it on the floor while unpacking, better make sure he is not around.  We discovered his love of green beans when he decided to help himself to Supergirl’s dinner. Thankfully she was finished.

Lacey’s personality seems to be pretty much typical cat.  She likes to hide.  She likes to squeeze into tiny spaces and her favorite thing to do is sit in a box. Any box will do but the smaller the better. She and her litter mate George seem so different it’s hard to believe they are siblings!  Mittens was a stray who adopted us. She was completely an outdoor cat but she loved us and we loved her. We think she met an untimely death from a coyote. She either wasn’t around long enough to express her own quirkiness or she was like Lacey and was another example of “typical cat.”

The Pebble Pond

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Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Downloadable Math Drill Software: UberSmart Math Facts {A Crew Review}

Mastering basic facts can be a chore. A student might master the concept of addition or subtraction but still need lots of practice and reinforcement to memorize the math facts. A common method to achieve memorization includes drill with flashcards. In this digital age you can also find online programs to drill those math facts. Many of those drill programs are flashy, colorful and are more “game oriented” than learning oriented. Usually those programs require a subscription because they are entirely internet based.

UberSmart Math Facts~ Downloadable Software ~ A Review

UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software is different. This Downloadable software comes with a license that allows you to install on all your [Windows based] computers. It is a computerized flashcard based drill program. There are no flashy characters.  No quests to perform. No animation that can distract students. That sounds boring, doesn’t it? But it’s not boring. Really. Three of my girls used this program and I played around it.  Not once did I hear “mom, this is boring. I don’t want to do this.”  I like that it is focuses on the facts and not on gimmicky games to entice children to want to play. My girls were motivated to complete the problems because they liked the encouraging notes.

I really enjoyed practicing with UberSmart Math. I liked how encouraging the messages were after you completed a round of the flashcards. I think that makes the program that much more enjoyable. I like the way they do the intermediate mastery tests. ~ Turtlegirl

Encouraging Messages ~ UberSmart Math Facts ~ Review by Tess

UberSmart Math Facts is also different because it doesn’t just drill the facts. There are two modes: Learning and Practice, and two levels: Beginner and Intermediate. The Beginner level uses dots and the Intermediate level uses a more traditional looking flashcard. With the dot cards you can choose to show the numbers with the dots.

In addition to the learning and practicing by drill, the program also offers keyboard entry practice. One of my hang ups about using the computer to drill math facts with young children is the student is often unfamiliar with the keyboard and has to hunt and peck for those numbers which slows them down. UberSmart has a Keyboard Entry listed under the Practice tab. I’ve been refreshing my 10 Key skills (see that screen shot above? That’s me.  Fast but not quite accurate.) You do not need to have a keyboard with the numbers on the right.  The number row of a standard QWERTY keyboard work just as well and still offer the student the opportunity to learn the location of those number keys. 

Key features I really appreciate!:

  • Parent can track student progress ~  There are several reports parents and students can view including mastery charts, test scores (grade book), progress reports, mastery dates, and competition achievements. You can even print the grade book! Some reports can be exported.

Progress Report ~ UberSmart Math Facts Review by Tess

  • Assessment & Mastery Tests ~  The Tests tab has both Assessment Tests so you can know what you need to do and Mastery Tests so that you know when you’ve mastered a set of facts.
  • It is downloadable!~ I love that this is a one time purchase with a license to use it on all the [Windows based] computers we own. I installed this on Turtlegirl’s laptop and Tailorbear’s laptop as well my own. When Supergirl is a little more independent I can install it on her computer but she will have to start over as her progress is stored on my laptop.
  • Admin Password ~  Even though this is installed on my students’ laptop, They cannot make changes because it is admin password protected. The Admin can add students, remove students and change student settings.
  • Student Settings ~ The admin can customize some settings such as upper limits for multiplication and division, time per problem, and mastery speed. 

There is a feature that I cant decide if I like it or not: Full Screen. I like that it blocks out the computer desktop which can be distracting, but I do wish that it actually made the program screen larger. I was hoping when I set it to Full Screen that the size of the flashcards would be larger but all it really does is create a different, math related background.

Regular Screen vesus Full Screen ~ UberSmart Math Facts ~ Review by Tess

UberSmart is a great drill program. It’s especially good for the harder concepts like Multiplication and division. I have always had trouble with multiplying twelves. I really like how easy it was to learn them and to practice them. I also like the way that you can practice your number typing speed! That was really cool! ~ Tailorbear 

The Details:

  • The Vender:  UberSmart Software
  • The Product: UberSmart Math Facts 
  • Format: Downloadable Software
  • Age Range: Although this is geared for K or 1st through 6th grade it is appropriate for any one who needs to mastery the four basic operations or who just wants to improve their speed.
  • Price: $24.95 
  • NOTE:  This is only available for Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8).  According to the FAQ page there are no plans for a MAC version.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about UberSmart Math Facts.  

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.


Back to School Celebration Giveaway

My friend Karen from Tots and Me is celebrating both back to school and her 5 year Blogiversary. I am so excited to co-host this giveaway with her! She’s giving away a set of Supergirl’s favorite DVDs! Fascinating World of Series from Brain Food Learning. I think this giveaway is worth entering just for a chance to win those!  And we co-hosts are offering your choice of a $30 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal!  You know you want to enter!  I almost wish I wasn’t participating so I could win a copy of The Well Planned Day. I reviewed an earlier edition of The Reading Game. How cool that they have a 2nd edition now.  So check out the great products that Tots and Me put together! Have you used any of these products before?
Welcome to the Back to School/5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway

Hosted by: Tots and Me

Back to school time is here! 
The summer, once again, just flew by and now it is time to think about school books, schedules, and learning. No matter how your children are schooled, there are plenty of goodies in this prize pack to stimulate those brains and get them learning.
Let me introduce you to the wonderful sponsors of this giveaway.
One winner will win this entire Back to School Prize Pack valued at approximately $370. The winner will receive:
Winner's Choice FunBites Cutter for some kitchen fun. You can choose between triangles, squares, and hearts.
(Read the review here)
Rock 'n Learn Learn a Language DVD to begin learning a foreign language (or Winner's Choice of a Rock 'n Learn DVD)
(Read the review here)
Crazy Legs from Endless Games for some get-up-and-move fun. Great for phys. ed. time.
(Read the review here)
Korner'd from Endless Games for those times you want a challenge and some family fun.
(Read the Review here)
Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies, because we have to keep those pencils sharp to get the work done.
(Read the review here)
Battle Sheep from Blue Orange Games for family fun and sharpening your strategy skills.
(Read the review here)
The Reading Game- The fast action memory game with picture flashcards and story books, to help your child learn to read.
(Read the Review here)
1 Year membership to ABC Twiggles for multi-sensory ABC Learning Fun
(Read the review here)
Winner's Choice of 1 Learning Activity Kid from Fundanoodle.
Choose between I Can Build Upper Case Letters! and I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace!
(Read the review here)
A set of 3 Fascinating World of . . . DVD's from BrainFood Learning. Learn about Insects, Mammals and Birds.
(Read the review here)
1 Year Access to the News-O-Matic app from Press4Kids- The Daily News Experience, Just For Kids.
(Read the review here)
The Well Planned Day 2014-2015 Family Homeschool Planner from Home Educating Family Association (hedua)- To keep your day organized
(Read the review here)
A 1 Year subscription to Math World from 10Monkeys.com- For math fun for children in K through 3rd grade.
(Read the review here)
A digital/eBook copy of both the Wild at the Zoo Adventure Pack and Bugging Around: Insects from KidQuest Science Adventures for more science fun.
(Read the review here)

A Cooking Box from Raddish to encourage learning in the kitchen.
(Read the Sponsor Spotlight here, and stay tuned for the full review which will be coming in the near future, as I only just received the product and we haven't had a chance to use it.)

All you need to do is enter in the Rafflecopter form below. There are only 4 simple mandatory entries, with the remainder of the entries being optional. Remember, you do not have to do the extra entries, but they will increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over.
The giveaway runs August 18th through August 31st.
All entries are subject to verification.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Tots and Me received the above mentioned products for free in order to conduct thorough reviews.  Tots and Me  received no further compensation. This did not in any way influence her reviews. As with all her reviews, the Back to School reviews reflect her own honest experience and opinion. She only recommends products or services she use personally and believes will be good for her readers. All opinions are her own.

The participating bloggers did not receive any compensation and are not responsible for shipping any prizes. Tots and Me is only responsible for shipping The Fascinating World of Insects DVD from BrainFood Learning, all other prizes will be shipped from the sponsors.