{Crew Review} The Presidential Game

If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you know that we are a board game loving family. Recently the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to play and review The Presidential Game.  I wasn’t too sure about such a political sounding game but since we love board games, I checked out The Presidential Game and read the FAQ and decided that I needed to beg to be allowed to review this game!

Presidential Review Collage


About the Game: 

The game is listed as “for 2+” players, specifically it is a game for two teams: Republicans and Democrats. There is no limit listed for how large a team can be but you must have at least 1 player for each team.  Players determine how much time, in number of weeks, until the election.  We found that 15 weeks would take us around 1 hour to play.

In this game players “fundraise” or “campaign” to secure voters.  Electoral votes are tallied at the end of each player’s turn.  The winner is the player/team who secures 270 (or more) electoral votes at the end of the election.

There are two ways to keep score: with the included score pad (you provide pencil or pen) or with the Electoral WebMap Calculator.  We did try using the score pad for one game but we all decided we really preferred the WebMap Calculator and will continue to use that unless we do not have internet access.

Presidential Game web map in use

To learn more about The Presidential Game visit the FAQ.

Family Playing The Presidential game

Something Neat About the Game:

We are a trivia loving family, especially my husband.  The first time we played the game my husband noticed that the “Politic Cards” were based on real events during real events from real historic campaigns.  This added a fun element for us because each time someone drew a “Politic Card” Honeybear would tell us about the actual event.

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (11th grade studying Government/Civics):

I loved playing the game, both with everyone in my family and one-on-one. Both ways are fun. If you’re playing with a group, it’s livelier and there’s more discussion. (You may also have several arguments as to which states you should campaign in: “I want to make this side all blue!” “But we need to go for the states with more electoral votes!”) If you’re playing one-on-one, there’s more strategy and less discussion. Playing one-on-one is better if you want to learn more about the strategy of presidential campaigning, but if you just want to have some fun it’s better to do it with a group. Either way, it’s a great game and I look forward to playing it more with my family and friends.

Computerguy and Turtlegirl Playing Game

My Thoughts:

I am not a fan of politics. I get myself too worked up and I raise my blood pressure and I just don’t like who I am how or how I feel so I wasn’t too sure about a board game that focuses on elections!  But this game doesn’t focus on politics. It doesn’t name names, nor offer support for any candidate. This game is not tied to a specific election year and can be used just for fun or during an election season to teach students about the process. I would have loved this game last year when we were experiencing a Presidential election but we’ve enjoyed it for the strategy and planning fun.

The Details:

  • The Product:  The Presidential Game
  • Price: $35.00
  • Age Recommendation: 11+
  • Number of Players: 2+ (2 people can play or any number of people divided into two teams: Republican or Democrat.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about The Presidential Game.

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You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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Random 5 on Friday {September 20 Edition}

We’ve been so busy here with trying to adjust to a college student, getting in the groove of a new school year and just living life that I’ve missed a couple of weeks or so of Random 5 on Friday. 

1. Only 10 more days of September left. I love September. I don’t want September to end. We don’t have much fall foliage here but I still love the fall colors and enjoy what I do see.

2. Remember last Random 5 I talked about the Tomato Canning Extravaganza? Well, we’ve used two pints so far.  Honeybear used a pint to make homemade pizza sauce.  Sorry we ate all the pizza and I didn’t take any pictures.  He poured the tomatoes with their juices into the Vitamix, added seasonings and blended until smooth.  It made an excellent pizza sauce!  I used a pint of tomatoes to stretch out a store bought can of pasta sauce for our cheese ravioli this week.  I’ll be using one of the quart jars to make some homemade spaghetti sauce.  I’m planning spaghetti and meatballs (Grandpa Larry style sauce) for Tuesday. I know it’s going to be fabulous with those home canned tomatoes!

3. The last time I did a Random 5, Boobear had started orientation for college.  As of today she has two weeks done! College is hard for all of us. It’s an adjustment; she comes home exhausted but exhilarated and her excitement is contagious.

4. We’ve completed 3 full weeks of school.  And it’s going really really well.  We’ve got a “schedule” and we’re establishing routines.  I’m still struggling with how to work school with Supergirl and finding time to blog regularly but I’m pleased with how things are going with Turtlegirl and Tailorbear.  I really appreciate that Turtlegirl is taking more responsibility and getting her daily work done.  Go Turtlegirl!!

5. I think it’s time I finally admit that I am a fan of science fiction.  *sigh*   Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Firefly, Eureka, Warehouse 13 and of course Dr. Who to name just a few things we’ve watched on Netflix over the last few years.  Yes I’m a Whovian. It only took close to 30 years for me to finally decide that my friend, Dawn, was right.  She tried to convince me that Dr. Who was the greatest thing when we were in 8th grade but I just thought it was too weird.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


Thankful Thursday!

I don’t know how regularly I’ll post a Thankful post but I love the sound of Thankful Thursday. I know I often need to focus on being grateful.  It’s much too easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself or feeling resentful.

So here’s a short list of things I am thankful for today:

  • My husband.  I haven’t forgotten his heart attack last June or the roller coaster of emotions.
  • Speaking of heart attacks, I’m grateful that my cousin’s recent heart attack was even more minor than my husband’s.  But scary.  Very scary.  She’s young.  Even younger than my husband. Her heart attack is a reminder of just how rampant heart issues are on my side of the family. 
  • I’m thankful for the Schoolhouse Review Crew especially for reviewing VideoText Algebra (look for that review in a couple of weeks.)  This is working so well for my family.
  • I’m thankful that my oldest was accepted, enrolled and now attending her first choice college. It isn’t an easy transition. But I’m thankful that we were able to make this opportunity happen.
  • I’m thankful for my church.  I love my church.  I am thankful that my family has so many ways that we can give of ourselves and serve at church.
  • I’m thankful for two sunny days in a row.  I know the season is coming when the skies will be gray for weeks on end so I will treasure the sun while I can.
  • I’m especially thankful that I have my laptop back.  I’d been without it for about a year.  It’s been lovely to have enough computers for school work.

What are you thankful for this week?


This College Thing Is Hard!

No not me.  I’m not taking college classes; Boobear is.  It’s hard for us as a family to adjust to this new season in life.  I know that with every new chapter of life it is hard at the beginning and I know that it gets easier as we get used to it but I found myself laughing at the advice given by one mom to another “it gets easier”.  This was mom with teenagers reassuring a mom with only elementary ages.  I laughed because for me the reality is no it doesn’t get easier.  It just gets differenter.  Oh sure some things are easier.  I don’t have to take them to the bathroom anymore.  I don’t have to wipe their noses or tie their shoes.  Nope. Now, I get to worry about other things and help them make the right choices without actually making those decisions myself.

We’re used to having all four girls at home. I mean really at home.  Not just living at home but gone all day.  Supergirl really misses having Boobear around.  Everyday she asks me if Boobear will be home for dinner and will she stay home tomorrow.  Most days I can say yes, she’ll be home for dinner but no she’ll be going to class tomorrow.

I am so excited for my oldest daughter who is pursuing her dream of getting a music degree. She’s already planning a trademark way to write her name for own piano studio someday. She’s making new friends and facing new challenges. This isn’t easy for her either.  She isn’t used to being away from home all day.  She isn’t used to spending time in a class and then spending hours doing home work out side of class.  She is however used to so much practice time.  She laughed when said she said her keyboarding class required an average of 5 hours a day of practice.  Why did she laugh?  Because that’s less than she was practicing before and more than enough time for her to do her keyboarding homework.

I have to confess though that this transition is good for all of us.  Seriously,  Boobear is a wonderful, helpful daughter and with her around it was easy to just let Boobear do the cooking.  Now the other two are getting necessary experience in the kitchen.  They are stepping up to the plate. (No pun intended.  Really!).

And it’s good for Supergirl. She needs to be less dependent on others and more self-reliant. We’re too quick to help her or to entertain her and she needs to be stretched and challenged.

Yes, it’s good for Honeybear and I as well. We need to learn to let go and let her be an adult.  We need to learn to find that balance of supporting and encouraging her while giving her room to make her own mistakes and learn from them.

But it’s an emotional rollercoaster and I feel like I have some type of mental illness.  Crying one moment because she’s grown up and then laughing with joy over her excitement as she shares about a fun moment in her favorite class and then frustrated beyond measure when I see her making a choice I think is wrong for her.

I know this part will get easier.  Just in time, I suspect, for the next child to go off to college. And then things will get hard again when we enter yet another new chapter of life.


{Crew Review} PeopleKeys: StudentKeys Student Binder

I need to start with a confession: When I first saw PeopleKeys on the upcoming vendor list for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I thought “Um, no.  That doesn’t interest me at all. Why would I want to review that?”  I had Turtlegirl take a look at the website and she read through the descriptions of the different DISC test options we could choose.  She was more than a little interested; she wanted me to choose the “Pick me, Pick me!” option. She said “I need this, Mom.  This will help me understand my strengths and weaknesses.  It will even give me some tips to improve my social skills!” 

I really didn’t understand what they were offering or how it would be useful or helpful for home school students. I was wrong. Turtlegirl wanted ~ and we received ~ The StudentKeys Student Binder.

PeopleKeys Cover Collage

What is PeopleKeys:

PeopleKeys is an organization that provides assessments to help unlock human potential.  What does that mean? For students, it means providing tests such as The Personality Style Workbook, The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook or The Career Choice Workbook. These workbooks, available individually or as part of the StudentKeys Student Binder,  help the the student to understand key aspects of themselves.  For example the Personality Style Workbook helps the student to understand herself while the Perceptual Learning Style Workbook helps her to understand how she learns.  Understanding yourself, how you think, how you learn etc. can help you get the most out of your education by allowing you to improve study habits to include your learning style. Understanding yourself aids the student in developing better ways to interact with people with different personality styles.

StudentKeys Student Binder at our house:

These individual workbooks are intended to be consumed; photocopying for use with more than one student is prohibited.  I first planned that I would divided up the different workbooks among my 3 “neurotypical” girls ages 14, 16, and 18 but in the end we decided that just Turtlegirl, age 16, would use them. Though each workbook can stand alone and give a piece of information, I felt Turtlegirl would benefit the most from seeing all the pieces.

I think this is an excellent tool to use with students as part of a “college prep” course. Understanding what you value, how you think, how you learn etc. can help you plan your high school years to maximize success and choose a college and career path. I’ve known since she was a very little girl that Turtlegirl loved rocks. Geology has been very important to her.  It was thrilling for her to see “geologist” as a possible career choice that would best suit her. I did not find any of the results surprising and I loved having the confirmation but even more, I loved Turtlegirl’s enthusiasm and excitement as she made discoveries about herself.

Turtlegirl completes a StudentKeys Workbook

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

I have always been confused about what attributes I have in common with other people and what my ‘group’ is called. Going through the different workbooks helped me understand my ‘group’ and how to work around my weaknesses and build on my strengths. It also helped me understand why I clash with certain other people. The Values workbook helped me understand what it was I hold important. The Personality Styles workbook helped me understand both why I act the way I do and how to deal with the people who have the opposite style. (I’m a C/S. My opposite is any of the I styles.) The Career workbook was really good, and it confirmed the two careers I was looking at were good choices for my ‘work’ personality. All in all, I loved working through the workbooks and they were really helpful to me.

The Details:

PeopleKeys offers more than just the StudentKeys Student Binder.  There are Children’s Profiles as well as online report options! Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about PeopleKeys.

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{Crew Review} Time4Learning

One of things I love about home schooling my children is the experience of being “hands-on” with their education, of being directly involved. It’s also one of things I like least about it. There is one of me and currently there are 3 of them. The younger the  student, the more mom is needed. With the crazy summer we had full of health issues, graduations, weddings, and life, I found myself appreciating the opportunity to review Time4Learning with Supergirl.

T4L Review Button Collage

Time4Learning can be a great tool for moms like me who really want to be involved in the education of her children but need to step back and let someone else do the teaching. Time4Learning is an interactive online program that begins as early as Pre-K.

What is Time4Learning? 

Time4Learning is a web-based curriculum.  This technology based program requires no software, no CD and can be accessed from any computer at any time with an internet connection.  As a teaching tool, Time4Learning can be used for students in PreK through 8th grade.  With a Time4Learning subscription ($19.95 per month for first student, $14.95 for each additional student) each student will have access to a grade below and a grade above the default grade.  For more detailed information please visit Time4Learning’s FAQ Page.

Using Time 4 Learning:

For Supergirl, we choose 2nd grade which gives us access to all four 2nd grade subjects: Math, Language Arts, and Science, as well as access to 1st grade Math, Language Arts, and science and  all four subjects for 3rd grade.  The 1st grade grade program does not have a social studies option. After choosing and opening a subject, you can change the level by clicking the correct number. The default level is the level you set.


We started using Time4Learning while still on summer break so we used the program 3 to 4 days a week.  Each day we worked a lesson (or two or three) from Math and Language Arts but alternated between Science and Social Studies.  We only worked through one Social Studies or Science lesson per session as I wanted to focus on Language Arts and Math.

Some days I would sit with her and direct her to the lessons I wanted her to complete and some days I allowed her to be more independent. I prefer to  sit with her, letting her work independently, but I choose which lessons.  This allows her the freedom to “do it [herself]” while allowing me to direct her to the topics/skills that I know she needs to learn.

Features that I love:

  • Parent Log In:
    • I love the reports section where I can see which lessons Supergirl has completed and if those are graded activities, I can see her score.  I can even click a link and watch the lesson myself!
    • I can change the default grade if needed
  • Parent Control Timer: ~ I determine how much time must be spent in lessons before going to the playground and I set the time limit for the playground session
  • The order of lessons is not fixed ~  I think this is my most favorite aspect.  I love that it is sequential but it is not rigid. I can skip things that I know she knows and I can go back to previous lessons to cover things she hasn’t quite grasped.  For example, she worked through the 2nd grade place value activity and I decided that she would benefit from a refresher from the 1st grade lessons.  I love this freedom to pick and choose based on my knowledge of my child.
  • Resources you can print out to reinforce the material.

  Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like it. It’s fun. I like how I can work it to do my math or my language arts. I keep playing the games. I like how it’s working for me. My mom wants me to do school and this helps me do school. My favorite subjects are math and language arts, not the science because I don’t like the ant lesson. I like how it teaches me to find the words and I like how the robot teaches me to do math.

T4Lfavorites Collage

My Thoughts:

For my family, this program makes a great “someone-else-to-teach-because-life-got-crazy-and-she-keeps-slipping-the-cracks” program.  When it comes to math and language arts, with Time4Learning I know that Supergirl is getting some “learning” done even if I can’t be the one teaching.  Life got crazy busy with health issues and getting my oldest ready for college.  Now we’re back to school and figuring out a routine and I am so grateful for our subscription because I know we’ll be covering the basics.

I am pleased with the progress that Supergirl is making with reading. We’ve been working through the high frequency words and decodable stories from the 1st grade lessons and I was tickled to hear her little voice read sentences such as “The blue team can run in the heat.”  It is so difficult to find an online program that works for Supergirl because her skill levels are all over the map. Time4Learning works well for her.

The Details:

  • The Vendor: Time4Learning
  • The Product I received: Six-Month Subscription to Grade 2
  • The Price: Month-to-Month first student $19.95

The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed the Time4Learning subscriptions for PreK – 8th Grade.  I recently noticed that Time4Learning has added a new program for High School students! Visit Time4learning to read more about the high school program.


Interested in learning more about how the lessons work?  Visit this page to sign up for FFREE Demo Lessons.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Time4Learning.

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You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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Random 5 on Friday {September 6th Edition}

I know, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I did a Random 5 on Friday.  This will be the first one for September!  September? What happened to August? It’s only September 6 but it feels like September is flying away as well!

1. In mid-August the three “big girls” went camping at Mt Rainer with our church. They went hiking on the mountain.  They came out exhausted but happy and excited to tell us all about it.

 Camping Collage

2.  We started back to school on August 26th.  We eased into our new school year by only scheduling 5 days of school over two weeks.  It will be very strange to only have 3 girls instead of 4 in our home school, but I’m really excited about the things we’ll be studying! This week we’re really back it!

First Day Collage

3.  I finally learned how to can tomatoes and there is no way I could have canned them without the Tomato Canning Extravaganza that my dear friend Mimi organized. BooBear and I helped process about 100 lbs. of tomatoes (that was 5!!! 20lb boxes!) into 72 pints and 5 quarts. Working together we had an assembling line of sorts  for each of the steps. I should have taken pictures but I left the camera at home. We brought home 25 pints and the 5 quarts. It was fun but exhausting.  We’re looking forward to using the tomatoes through the winter. I’m keeping track of how long they last so I can plan how much to can for next year!

4. I am typing up this blog post using Live Writer 2012 on my newly refurbished Sony VAIO.  About a year ago or so (it’s been so long, I’ve forgotten!) the hard drive failed. We were able to save the data ~ pictures, files, e-books, etc. ~ that I wanted and we made do (painfully so!)with just the Acer laptop and the desktop.  We were finally able to squirrel away the money for a new hard drive and some windows 7 software.  It’s strange to have it so devoid of “factory pre-set loaded junk-I–don’t-want-anyway” software. I have my beloved snipping tool and my sticky notes.  And lots and lots of space.  1 terabyte.  WOW!

5. College Orientation began this week for my oldest. I am so excited and happy for her and so full of mixed emotions for myself! Her classes begin on Monday and this weekend is very full of lots of activities.  We haven’t seen much of her and won’t see much of her for awhile.  They grow up so fast.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


Where Did my Summer Go??!!

The days are getting shorter.  The air has a subtle but distinct “differentness” to it. I posted a few days about New Beginnings.  Today the public school kids in our neighborhood started classes.

Officially we started back last Monday but we eased back and I only scheduled 3 days of school work. And then I scheduled two days of school for this week.  We took Monday off and Tuesday off.  So today really feels like the first real day of school.  Today we “jumped in with both feet.”

I didn’t take pictures today but I did take pictures last week:

Supergirl 1st Day 2013


Tailorbear 1st Day 2013


Turtlegirl 1st Day 2013



New Beginnings

~Happy New Year~

Yes,  I said Happy New Year.  Yes, I know today is September 1st.  Today *is* the beginning of a new year: a new liturgical year.  Today we begin anew the liturgical cycle.  (Ok, yes, you’re right, only the Orthodox who follow the “new” or “revised” calendar celebrated today.  Those on the Julian or “old” calendar will celebrate in 13 days but that is a post topic for another time.)

We sang this special hymn for the new year this morning (for those interested it was New Year tone 4 common chant)

Creator and Master of time and the ages,
triune and merciful God of all:
Grant blessing for the course of this year
and in Thy boundless mercy save those who worship
Thee and cry out in fear:
O Savior, grant blessings to all mankind!

I love how the start of our new school year coincides with the start of a new liturgical cycle. And as we start our new school year we’ll be reading about the Feasts in the book The Incarnate God.  The book has the feasts arranged in liturgical order. 

The Incarnate God

The Incarnate God is a multilevel catechism intended for use in classrooms and study groups, and is particularly designed for individual edification and growth.”  We’ll be starting our school day off each morning with prayers followed by reading this book.  I’m really excited!  I’ve read through the book haphazardly on my own but now I will share with 3 of my daughters.  The oldest will just have to read it on her own, if she desires and if she has time. 

College.  Another new beginning for our family.  As we start the new liturgical year and we begin a new school year we also enter into a new season as a family: The season of adult child living at home and attending college full-time.

What new beginnings are you experiencing today?