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Families Again
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Thurday's Child - The Price of a Meal Out
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Compassion International

Well, I redid my Thursday's Child badge a little, but I'm still not satisfied with it. I will have to rework it some more. I am adding MckLinky this week so that anyone that has a story about Compassion International can add it to the Thursday's Child Meme. It will be a continuous thing and I will continue to add the same Mcklinky each week so you don't have to keep re-adding unless you have a new story that you want to share.

I got a comment on last week's Thursday's Child post that contained the Compassion International video with the surprise ending. It was from Tania at Larger Family Life. It said:

I hope a sponsor for Mwende comes soon.  

If you're reading this and thinking about it... do it!  You can change the whole life of a child for the equivalent of a few magazines a month or fewer visits to Starbucks.  It doesn't take a huge change in your life to make a huge change in theirs.

Here is my response:

Thanks Tania,

I appreciate the encouragement. Mwende was our Christmas child, and we have been praying for a sponsor for her. We in the US are so fortunate. You are so right that just one meal out with your family would pay for one months support. Why not use that night and have a typical meal from the country of your sponsored child. Mmmm...I feel a blog post coming on Laughing.


Well, unfortunately, I didn't find a sponsor for her by the end of the month. I am going to keep trying, though, and, if I do, I will contact Compassion to see if she has been sponsored or not. If not, perhaps the family would be willing to sponsor another child.

Tania is correct though. The cost to sponsor a child is $38.00 a month. For our family, that is just a little over the cost of a meal at a sit down restaurant or two trips to McDonald's. When I thought about it, I thought that a family could still spend a special evening together but, instead of going out, perhaps they could have a meal from the country that their child is from. It is easy to find recipes on the internet these days.

Then, perhaps you could all sit down to write a letter to your sponsored child. That is the just as important as the money you spend. So many of these kids come from broken homes or from homes where their parents are never there. These children crave attention and love from their sponsors. You can make a big impact in their lives just by writing a letter once a month.

We have made sponsoring Marcelo a family affair. It's not just me or Sarah that is doing the sponsoring it is all of us. The boys will send letters (usually using Compassion's simple email system) and pray for Marcelo all of the time. We send packages down to him every time our friend Kee's goes to Bolivia, but you can also send packages through Compassion. 

I have said this before, but I will say it again. Sponsoring Marcelo has been as much of a blessing to us as it has been to him. And when you realize that such a little amount of money can go so far in a child's life, it is even more worth it. Won't you pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International? If you are interested in sponsorship and have any questions, please leave a comment below, or check out Compassion's website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. 

Don't forget, if you already are a sponsor, and have written a blog post about your child, please link it to the MckLinky below. If you don't have a blog, please feel free to write a comment in the comment section. I would love to hear from you.

I'm sorry for all of you who are looking for the MckLinky. I have been having problems with MckLinky and had to take it off. If you have a blog entry that you would like to link, please do it in the comment section for the time being. Thanks!

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Posted by tink38570 at 8:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2010 4:25 PM CST
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Friday, 5 February 2010
My Soapbox - I Love It!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: General

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Posted by tink38570 at 6:05 PM CST
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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Graphics Toolbox - A Pre-review of a Great Poduct!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: General

A pre-review...would that be a preview? I guess not. Anyway, I am so enthused about a product that we are trying out free for the TOS Homeschool Crew, that I am going to brag about it (or maybe brag about John Allen and I) even before I write my review.

Lynda Holler, one of the creators of Graphics Toolbox has been having "Go To Meeting" web classes for any crew members that are interested. I signed up for today's and John Allen and I attended it. I had been working a little with Graphics Toolbox and had watched a couple of the other classes (she has been recording them and offering them to the crew) but for some reason after today, everything began to click! Here is something that I just finished a few minutes ago.

There are some mistakes, but it gets easier as you get the hang of it. I am really excited about this one. 

So is John Allen. He was squealing and kept saying "cool" all throughout the class because of all of the neat things he could do. Take a look at these two pics.

This is the original.

And this is his funny creation.

It's far from perfect, but this is from a kid who hadn't even seen the program before today's class and was just messing around with it! I am super impressed!

Well, more on this great program later. I hope I got your interest piqued!

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:31 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2010 12:08 PM CST
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Saxon FactsFirst - It's Still All Joshua's Fault
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


First of all, don't ask me what a nine year old is doing up at 11 pm. Just trust me on this, that's all part of having an asperger's child!

Second of all, it was Joshua's fault that I missed my deadline on this review! Here's the story:

My usual prep. work for writing a review involves going over my notes (if I've remembered to write any) and looking over the materials and website. In this case, since it is an online program that I was reviewing, I was looking at the materials on the FactsFirst website. In fact, I was pretending to be a student and playing some of the great math games. In walks Joshua, wondering what was going on. When he saw that I was playing the math games on FactsFirst, he said, "Oh, Dad, can I play? Can you get me on my guy? You know the one with the tennis racket? Please?" Now what Dad is going to deny his child doing math work when he actually BEGS  to do it? NOT ME! So in my usual investigative way, I got his character on and watched him play. All a part of my review writing prep., mind you. I wasn't having fun watching him play. Not me! Finally after reviewing the addition facts that he had been working on and playing the reward game, I told him that he had to relinquish the laptop so that I could write my review. LATE! And it was all his fault!

I remember when the TOS Homeschool Crew got word that we were going to review FactsFirst from Saxon Math. You could almost here the collective groan amongst the crew..."Another math program. We have already reviewed so many of them. And this will be the fourth one that we are working with at the same time!" You can include me in those ranks. It's not that I don't like math. I love it. It's not that I heard bad things about Saxon's FactsFirst. On the contrary, I only hear good things about Saxon. It's just that I had no idea how I was going to work all of the math stuff in. Oh ye of little faith. As usual I forgot that the Lord always provides a way, even if it is just reviewing several math things at once. And, of course, it has been easy reviewing all of the things and, as you can see from the above story, Saxon's FactsFirst, was no problem at all to fit in.

FactsFirst is just as it says. A way to review the basic facts so that they become automatic. We all know that unless a child has basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division down pat then all other areas of math will be hindered. Saxon created this program to make it fun to review those basic facts. And, make no mistake, that's all that this program does. It doesn't go in to decimals. There are no fractions, nor is there any hint of algebra. It is basic facts.

The first thing you do when you log in to FactsFirst is create your character. This isn't just a three choice type thing, you completely create your character. Down to the skin tone, hair color, eye color, clothes, and accessories. And they give dozens of choices for each! Here is the character that Joshua created.



After you are done creating your character, you choose what facts you want to work on. I chose addition for Joshua, and multiplication for John Allen. They begin with very easy problems. With Joshua, it was just 0 plus a number. With John Allen it was 0 x ? = . This obviously is a confidence booster for a child that knows his basic facts but just needs practice. But, if you don't know the facts, then they explain them in a fun lesson. What I really liked about these lessons is that they are practical. There is no, just teaching your child what 2+1 is. They have a scenario that they work with. For easy multiplication, your character goes to the carnival. They explain that for each game that is played, you get a ticket worth 2 points toward a prize. They ask that if you have one ticket, how many points is that and then go on to explain how they figured it out. All instructions are given in writing on the screen, with a voice that you can either turn on or off that reads the instructions and explanations to you. Other scenarios take place at other locations such as a store:



The student then goes into a series of sets of problems. They are encouraged to answer the questions as quickly as possible. If they answer quickly and correctly, they get a check +. If they get the problem correct, but it takes a while to answer, they only get a check. If they get the problem incorrect, a screen with the correct answer and the voice will tell you what you did wrong. After you have done a certain amount of problem sets, the program will stop and show you what progress that you have made thus far in a neat little chart:


Now, here comes the fun part. After the screen with your chart comes up, you are given 5 minutes to play one of their fun games. Tonight Joshua chose the miniature golf game where you have to answer a math question before you can putt the ball. Other days they have chosen matching games, games where you can change the look of your character, math jong games and, my favorite, throwing a water balloon at the correct answer to a math question:


After the game is played, they have the option of continuing on with another lesson, or quitting until another time. Parents can log in at any time and check the progress of each of their students on a separate page. Here is a copy of John Allen's recent progress page.

As you can see, at the bottom there is the option to increase the time allowed to get the check + or for the child to be untimed. That makes it easy for a parent to change if a child is having difficulty.

Now, I know that I say this with a lot of products, but I really like this program. The above testimonial about Joshua asking to play is one thing that really sold me on this product. It is excellent as a supplement for a student who is just learning his facts ~ like Joshua, or for a student who needs to review his facts ~ such as John Allen. It is very inexpensive as well . A one year family (1-4 students) subscription is only $49.99. To go to the FactFirst website, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. As usual, many other TOS Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this as well, and you can find links to their reviews by clicking here. Once again, since this is a product excellent for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike, I will say "Happy Home Educating"!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a free 90 day subscription to Saxon's FactsFirst online math program in order to try out and review on my blog.



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Posted by tink38570 at 1:44 AM CST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2010 11:42 AM CST
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Wednesday, 3 February 2010
It's All Joshua's Fault!
Mood:  sad
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


Forgive me TOS Homeschool Crew but I'm going to be about an hour late on my Saxon Facts First Math Review! Why? I have a good reason ~ one that I'm going to include in my review. Check back in about an hour to find out what it is!

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:48 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 11:50 PM CST
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