Review of a Pencil Sharpener

So you read the title and your thinking, seriously Peters? Your gonna write about a pencil sharpener? Well, truth be told I’ve been looking for one of the old-fashioned librarian pencil sharpeners for quite a while and haven’t come across an antique one which is built much sturdier than the ones you find today. In the process I’ve come across what could be the Three Musketeers of Bad Pencil Etiquette. First there is the ultra expensive electric wonder, followed by the mid-priced hand crank splitter and last but not least is the free, never reliable little cutter that couldn’t with no backing – you know the one that sheds all over because it’s doesn’t have a capture and of course your kids cut their finger because the blade is exposed. It was so bad that two years ago I said out loud during school one day “I wish I had a decent pencil sharpener!!” ….and E got me one for Christmas… it ate through batteries and that was about all it ate, never sharpened a pencil – but it made a great game of “Watch the Pencil Spin”…. ok enough ranting… let’s talk about this pencil sharpener we were asked to review….

So the pencil sharpener came in the box no directions…..and this is how the process went….

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…it took them quite awhile to figure out how to use it… their engineering skills were put to the test…. now my kids fight over who gets to sharpen pencils… they volunteer (gasp I said the word!) to sharpen and the points on the pencils don’t break off inside the sharpener. What I also thought was a great idea, they sell replacements parts when you need them. So instead of disposing of the entire item once the sharpener dulls, you can just replace the blade, the catch tray, or even the clamp. Great way to reuse instead of replacing the entire unit. The unit is also so quite…you don’t even know it’s in use.

We aren’t going to tell you how exactly to use it because that would spoil all the homeschooling fun! ❤ However, my daughter did say to mention that it helps if you “put your left hand no top of the gadget to hold it down a bit so it doesn’t wiggle.”

This is an amazing tool that is a must have for any home school family or teacher. I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a simple need met by a quality tool. Check out Classroom Friendly Supplies for one of these sharpeners today…. they come in green, blue, red, black and even pink.

Happy Sharpening…….*******************EcoMom22 was given this product to review. All opinions shared here are my own as well as, in this case, the twins and were not influenced in any way by the product provider. Please read our full site disclaimers & terms of use here.*******************

Welcome Back…. You do strictly homeschool, right?! Uh… Uh…

This summer has been a whirlwind. We have been here there and everywhere trying to make as much out of the summer as we could. While summer isn’t over, we do have to start getting back to our regular schedule.

I’ve met alot of people this summer and had alot of conversations about homeschooling and what that means. Since so many people concern themselves with labels I thought I would clear up how we run our school at home.

I have a Master’s Degree in Post Secondary Education and spent alot of time writing and auditing curriculum. This included developing mixed media classes where a portion of the classes were online and on ground. As I took my conversations from this summer and compared it to what we do in our own home I had an aha moment. While obviously our children are still in primary school; in our home we do what could be considered a mixed media learning environment. We are enrolled full time at K12 and like the structure, curriculum and support of the teachers and staff. However, I also choose to supplement with my own lessons – generated from a variety of resources. I would say that we teach our kids mixed media via virtual and home school. (Whew! There! I said it! Now we have a label too…..)

What I find interesting is that people are so quick to label the type of education without taking the time to understand the format of it; and how it applies to what the child truly needs. Our kids need opportunities to explore subjects more (for example last year we started a virtual Science lesson about the layers of the oceans and what animals are in them; then we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about all those creepy critters on the very very very very bottom of the ocean. How did they get there? How do they see? What do they eat? Do they get cold down there? How can they make that blue light glow?) On and on the questions went, we kept looking up information. This is called understanding a child’s curiosity to learn; and NOT ignoring it. The love of learning is like a fire which must be stoked; and never squelched because of a label or particular predetermined view you have of a delivery style/type of education. Questions are the fire; the fuel is the way you respond.

Please don’t let the label of the educational delivery style deter the way you teach your children, please allow the children’s curiosity and love for learning to drive the path of the education. Ask yourself this, if you were at my home and we were doing a K12/Virtual lesson on triple digit addition – would you not allow your child to participate because it isn’t pure homeschooling? If the answer is Yes, wow – guess what all kids have to learn triple digit addition, does it matter if it comes from K12 or pure homeschooling? If the answer is NO, bravo your an open minded educator.

Be open and understand that every child learns differently, it’s all hard work but if mixed media works – don’t judge others, support others – everyone’s is on a path to educate their children and help them become strong, smart, free thinking, open, well-educated and successful adults. (And success doesn’t always mean marrying a billionaire, having a Stanford education, developing the next successful IPO and wearing a perfect Prada suit to work. For some it means virtual/homeschooling, climbing Mt. Everest and calling home for money because you’re trying to decide if you want to be a fashionista or a famous rock star).

Hope everyone has an amazing school year!! 🙂

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

Oak Meadow Curriculum Giveaway

Remember the awesome iPad Giveaway DenSchool had a couple weeks ago? What an amazing organization and now they are partnering with others to giveaway something to help prepare your curriculum for next year!

We have teamed up with DenSchool and Teaching with Cents to bring you this great giveaway from Oak Meadow! Enter today on the Giveaway Tools form below.

One lucky reader will receive a Complete Curriculum Package (of their choice) from Oak Meadow. Imagine that, everything you need for homeschooling your child next year – for FREE!

Complete Curriculum Package Review

Oak Meadow has specialized in homeschooling curriculum for 35 years! They are committed to providing creative, innovative, and child-centered educational materials that can be utilized towards every family’s needs and routine.

We believe that true intelligence arises when children are given opportunities to engage not only their heads, but their hands and hearts as well. Our curriculum includes assignments that ask children to read, write, and think, and also to paint, draw, play music, write poetry, and build things, encouraging balanced and healthy development.

Oak Meadow

Have you begun planning your next homeschooling year and not sure where to start? Stop by DenSchool to read reviews for some of your favorite curriculum packages! There, you will learn all about Oak Meadow and what this great giveaway has to offer you!

Visit DenSchool’s Oak Meadow Reviews

DenSchool has reviewed curriculum packages for Grades 3, 4, and 6 – with an 8th grade review coming in August!

Contest Information:
*This great giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, ages 18+.
*Giveaway ends on July 24th at 11:59 p.m.
*DenSchool Contributors, immediate family members, and group giveaway bloggers are not eligible to enter DenSchool giveaways.

Owens Beach

Yesterday we had a school outing with our other virtual and home school friends for an End of Year gathering at Owens Beach in Pt. Defiance. I forgot how beautiful it is and thought I would share a few pictures. There was a book exchange, journals handed out, lots of analysis of seaweed, sand castle building, exploring, looking for a giant sea star, climbing, running and lots and lots of joy! It was a great way to start the summer…. I keep hearing Dr. Seuss in the back of my head saying “Oh the places you’ll go…” I’m hoping this summer will be filled with new parks and lots of exploration.

Hope your summer gets off to a good start as well. Enjoy the learning journey!

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IPad Giveaway from DenSchool

ipad-homeschooling

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

….and you could learn anywhere with a

brand new IPad Mini from DenSchool!

 

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DenSchool provides free tools, record keeping, lesson planning, downloadable courses and live classes for homeschooling families. Record keeping can be concerning, but you can take control with fast and easy to use online tools which will help with your state’s record keeping requirement.

Summer Classes Start June 17th – (Early Bird Discount!)

This summer DenSchool will be offering self-paced, teacher supported classes. Some of the classes are Accounting, Algebra, Art, Beginner Guitar, Social Studies, English, Science, Journalism, World History….the list goes on and on. Remember these are not just for High School learners. Normally these classes are $59.00, but if you order by June 10th the cost is only $29.00; that’s more than a 50% savings!  These classes offer flexibility; with a 9 week format and learners are free to complete the class at their own pace taking more or less time. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all the courses.

mobileSchooling

Creative Learning in a Pinch (CLIP)

CLIP classes are free and there are some fun ones to choose from….Remember National Doughnut Day on June 7th? Oh boy we did in this house!  While we enjoyed the doughnuts, it would have been more fun to have a lesson. From Summer Solstice to 4th of July there are lots to choose from.

 

 

So what are you waiting for?

 

Oh the places you’ll go with an IPad Mini and

4 DenSchool Online Classes from DenSchool.com!

Ready to win? Enter here!

 

Note: This is a sponsored post by DenSchool. Please see a full disclosure on giveaways.

 

 

DIY Science Fun

I was reading a recent Blog post about doing a science experiments. We did a couple of these and we thought we would add in our own notes, just in case someone was struggling a bit.

First one was called DIY Tornado In a Jar. It was a lot of fun to create, but there was a bit of a hurdle: you must use a taller jar, like a spaghetti jar – you can not use an oblong jar, such as a glass Nutella jar. The shorter the jar the more difficult it is to get it to make the actual tornado. 🙂IMG_4592

Second one was called floating egg. My kids thought I was crazy when I told them you could make an egg float, but sure enough it can! Make sure to mix the water to  IMG_4401   IMG_4399 IMG_4400 the exact measurements otherwise it won’t work. The kids would have done this one over and over if they had a choice!

Last one for these weeks was making a potato clock. The kit can be purchased here, or at World Market. Here’s the ubber super cool (according to the twins) thing about THIS experiment: it doesn’t work on humans, but it does work in tomatoes, lemons, apples, potatoes… the list is endless. We kept the clock going for several days. Until……..air started to ripen the apples, then all you had to do was insert the nickel and copper probes into an unopened part of the vegetable or fruit, and it starts all over again.IMG_4301

Next up for us is making clean water and seeing which liquids seeds grow best in. These should be fun!

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Enjoy the summer!

Checking In

Wow what an amazing month this has been! I didn’t even realize I hadn’t written in a while. We have met at TON of new people and are so excited about all the amazing friendships we’ve made. I can not wait to share some of the amazing blogs we’ve read over the last couple of weeks. The stories are so inspirational, the recipes look amazing and the crafts are inspiring.

We participated in an amazing P.E. program through Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA) in partnership with Pacific Lutheran University. The program involved student teachers and a visiting professor to PLU/WAVA High School teacher running a 5 week physical education program, twice a week for about an hour and a half each time. The girls learned a bunch of new ways to work out, they loved their student teachers and made some really great new friends. In the end they got the cutest rewards for all their hard work and “sweat”. Hopefully the program will continue and allow the kids to progress through, as they get older, through various stages of new lessons. What a great program!

I got to participate in my first blog hop. That was a fun way to meet new people, and Katherine from Katherines Corner was so patient with me while I got the ins and outs of html code. I just recently started learning, in very limited fashion, how to write and manipulate some of my own html code. Which has opened up a world of doors as far as adding things to Word Press. However, it also at times has added to frustration when I can’t get a code to work, or try to add something and it shows up – but the code shows up to. This blog has been a true learning experience and continual work in process for me. Hopefully I can resolve my most current issue which is, how to add a Instagram widget – so confusing….an yet so challenging. (hopefully there aren’t a bunch of computer engineers sitting around laughing at me right now – 🙂 )

I have been exercising quite a bit in the last couple of years and recently made the goal to start running again. My overall goal is to walk the Golden Gate Bridge on my 40th, but for a closer goal I had hoped to run a 5k in February 2014. Well, that plan has been botched as recently the pain in my knee got pretty intense. After trying about every home remedy I could think of, I gave up and went in for XRays. Apparently I have osteoarthritis and bone spurs in both my knees. (well that would explain the shooting pain – thinking of bone spurs in painful period!). My doctor said it comes from too much sports when I was younger, along with the impact of current exercise, and not enough concentration on building the muscles in the leg to support the impact to the joint. Interesting….so old age is starting to kick my butt. Not for long – I have a 6 week treatment plan which includes some anti-inflammatory meds, yoga, low impact exercise, as well as starting to work on building leg muscles. So, lesson learned – proper strength training is important. In the meantime, I’m also headed to see a physical therapist whom I hope can help me become stronger overall so I don’t have to keep having an argument with my knee every time I want to walk a couple of miles in the sun.

In the meantime as well we have been working on doing a little more revamping to our diet plan at home. I use diet in the sense of food consumption – not being on a diet. The way a person eats is a lifestyle choice, and while ours is a constant evolution – I’ve recently been motivated by not only LaLa’s desire to be a vegetarian, but by my own desire to cut out the crap food (what little was left). I’ve had a lot of fun trying new recipes and chatting with people about food and meal choices. One of our friends Dottie shared this amazing recipe which we tried the other day  – and LOVE IT! We used vegan chocolate chips instead of blueberries (because we’re about blueberry out with smoothies) and it was SO enjoyable! Jump over to her blog and check out the recipes! Thanks Ms. Dottie!!

Almond Pancake Recipe
5 T. Almond Meal (I buy Trader Joe’s) 2 t. Flax meal (I buy Big bag at Costco)
1 T. Sour Cream …
3 T. Water
1 egg
1/4 t. vanilla
1/4 t. baking powder
Mix all together and cook like regular pancakes. I add blueberries to the mix. this recipe is 1-2 servings. Robby eats the entire batch 4 pancakes

Well, off to the races! Another day of school and finishing up a sewing project tomorrow…pictures to come. Enjoy the day!

Namaste

ENOUGH!! Mixed Messages from Female Leaders

I was watching a couple of 60 minutes articles the other day, one was of Twitter creator, Jack Dorsey. On one hand I was thinking – how forward thinking of Mr. Dorsey to not have an office making himself available. Also, how ironic, it took for him to create his company to understand the importance of communicating with his family – even if it’s only 140 characters. As a male leader he seem to have a firm grip on his business and personal direction.

On the other hand I was watching Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, thinking – how confusing. She would say she leaves at 5:30 pm and she had to become comfortable with that. She would say family and picking the right partnership is an integral part in personal success, but then she would turn to say she thought women were doing themselves a disservice by not being aggressive enough in business. Then in the same interview she was having a conversation about the outside interpretation of mentorship between male and female peers on a business trip. W-h-a-t?! I’m confused, so are you comfortable with your position as a leader and a role model for women and young girls – or are you not? Why are you seeking external approval?

While I think both these people are inspiring in their personal success, I learned a valuable lesson about why we, as women, can’t seem to deliver a clear message about leadership to the current generation of daughters.  The major lesson: Male role models do not discuss or seek approval for, in any fashion, their personal lives. Women role models still seem to feel they need to “make it ok” to have a personal life.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Women, in a future where we have a real opportunity to make a difference, take a cue from men – it’s o.k. to have a personal life – you don’t have to have permission to be successful –  you don’t need to discuss it. It’s still as if women are apologizing for living a full life and in turn choosing to run their own companies. Really? In an age where marijuana is legalized, marrying the partner of your choice is finally coming around and the gender neutral language bill is up for consideration? We’ve come so far as a society – why do women still have to seek acceptance and drag us back into the biblical age?

I think we’ve moved past Corinthians and we don’t have to remain silent any longer, or seek our husbands permission. No, ladies, you’ve gone past that and now you’re seeking the world’s permission. Just by verbalizing that’s it’s OK to leave at 5:30pm you’re seeking permission from the world for you to not feel guilty about having a life. I don’t see male leaders doing that, do you?

Here’s another thing lady leaders, while we may not all be able to afford a staff to help take care of the illness of kids or the carpool lane – guess what? The leaders of a business already know this, and they make the necessary allowances for it without giving it a second thought. Men are problem solvers – if you have a sick kid, you go home take care of the sick kid, work from home and come back when the kid is better. This is how a male thinks – if you think he thinks anything other than problem vs. solution then you fail to understand the successful male. Take a cue, if your working in a place that makes you feel as though you have to apologize for a sick kid, while your working from home making up that time – then your on the wrong path – look for a new one.

Women leaders, if you need it – maybe this will make it better: STOP apologizing – it’s O.K. to have a personal life AND be ĂĽber successful. Just please, for the betterment of women and daughters everywhere, STOP explaining and apologizing for it. If you need a little help take a cue from Nike and don’t second guess or overthink –  “Just Do It.”

Enough roaring and then apologizing for having a life. Enough shaking your fists in the air in support of women’s lib and then apologizing for leaving at 5:30. Enough saying you deserve better pay, but having to have a partner tell you to renegotiate your contract. Enough ruffling feathers to be successful and apologizing on the way up. Enough.

Young girls everywhere are watching you. They will do as you do, they will lead as you lead, they will follow as you follow. If you want them to lead, then be a leader and understand:

You.Are.Enough.

**********

I just shook my head after digesting all this information. I understand better the difference of men and women leaders. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with women who I look up to and trust their opinions about the message society has been passing out to women, mothers and daughters lately. It’s to say the least confusing if you were only to look at it superficially and not understand your own personal values.

As a parent and a woman raising daughters I have always towed the line of equal treatment for all people regardless of anything that makes them different from you – no matter what you always treat others with love and kindness, the way you would want to be treated. Always behave like a lady and say what you want – don’t speak softly and put yourself second – always speak up, without aggression, to protect yourself and others. State what you want, but don’t be rude. Be truthful and live in a way that you feel good about – so that when you look back on your life you know you’ve lived it in peace, equality and love; and the success you gained wasn’t because you apologized for it, it was because you deserved it.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

100th Post: Monday Listicles – Ten Proudest Moments

Well, how appropriate that my 100th post would be a Monday Listicles. Such a great one too, although it’s difficult to wade through all the great memories and figure out which ones rank higher than the others.

Ten Proudest Moments

1.) Giving Birth to the Twizlets – I was scared to death to be at a hospital, but I made it and here they are 7.3 years latter with love, fun and their own splash of attitude.

2.) Day I Married The Hubs – We were together for 13 years and the birth of the twizlets before we got married. Neither of us was really huge on the concept of marriage, we were happy living together and being successful. My Dad and Step Mom did the same as well, until, like us they had the realization that in WA your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together, has no say in what happens to you in an emergency. Obviously today that’s changed. 🙂

3.) Our “pup” Bunker – she goes by so many names Bunk, Bunkie, Bunk the Dog –  The hubs named her after a Sand Bunker in Golf….she is a nervous bundle of overly excited and unconditional love. I couldn’t imagine any part of the last 11 years without her.

4.) Being a Mom – If you read my post Becoming a Mom Changed Me you’d know it’s not been an easy road, but I wouldn’t change one second of it.

5.) Completing three 5Ks in 2011 – they were rough, but I set the goal and I did it. I hope to do more this year or next we will see.

6.) My Cooking – I have rarely if ever followed a recipe, it’s annoying to me to be restricted by rules. Usually it works out, sometimes not so much! It always provides either a good meal or a good laugh!!

7.) HomeSchooling – I never thought I could achieve this, but I’m doing it with the support of the Hubs. Accepting my own ability to derive inspiration from my kids, and being fearless has helped.

8.) This Blog – which to be honest I never thought would amount to a hill of beans. Hopefully it brings people some joy and laughter, or at least something or someone they can relate to.

9.) Our home – it’s comfy, safe and cozy – old yes, cramped yes, but it’s our first home, where we got married and where we had our babies.

10.) My Graduate Degree – I can safely say to myself that I achieved my goal. Next?

 

 

Second Chance Ranch & Rescue

We took the opportunity, on the recommendation of a friend, to take a home school class out at Second Chance Ranch & Rescue in Rainier, WA. It was truly a treat to take the girls out there, they had a great time!

As soon as we got there we were greeted by teacher/trainer Amy. The girls were both very excited, as they carried around their bike helmets their eyes got bigger and bigger with all 50+ beautiful horses they had on the property. However, after walking around, Emma generated a certain bond with a particular horse. This kindred soul was called Greatful – a retired race horse, 18 hands in size, strikingly gentle and handsome, from a local racetrack in Auburn. Katie took the time to get down to E’s level and talk to her about how it was ok to cry and be scared but that at one time Greatful was afraid of people as well – just like she was afraid of him. E trusted Katie enough to let her teach her how to feed Greatful a carrot, and once E accomplished that she bonded with Greatful, and Katie, with ease. Even after looking at all the other horses she didn’t want to be with anyone else but Greatful. E’s spent the rest of the aftenroon writing about Greatful in her journal, as well as telling her story at dinner time.

K, a little braver, wasn’t quite as afraid to feed the horses, until she had two carrots in her hand and walked by five horses in stalls to get to a white horse she desperately wanted to feed. As she was walking by, all the horses tipped their heads out of the stalls and because she is so tiny she was face to face with all of them. As a parent, looking at it, it was a tad funny because the horses all new and wanted what she had in her hand. However, in her little mind all she knew was when she zigged a horse came down to greet her, and when she zagged a horse said hello! Amy came right over and explained to K that the horses wanted the carrots and they thought she was going to give them. She took K over to the white horse and fed it. On the way back around the barn, the horses were still checking her out, but this time she thought it was pretty hilarious and went and got more carrots to feed her new friends.

K had one more hurdle to overcome in riding. She was so excited, but when she got ready, standing next to Greatful she panicked. The more she panicked, the worse her Sensory overload became. It became so much that she was rocking back and forth in my arms and shaking. Amy and Mommy to the rescue. I lifted K up and took her over to Greatful and had her put her hands on the blanket under his saddle. Amy stepped in and softly spoke to Kayla explaining the Greatful was also afraid at one time, but to try touching different parts of his saddle and shoulders. As soon she was at the same height as Greatful and touching him and the saddle she started to calm down. I told her she wouldn’t get another chance to ride because I was afraid she might go through this again. Amy walked around to one side and I lifted K up and as soon as she was on the saddle, her entire self just relaxed and a huge shine came over her face. I went to go walk with her and she said “No, MaMa, you can stay – I got this.”

I was really blown away by not only those situations with my kids, but the time the staff took with all the kids. Amy taught the kids about grooming the horse and gave them each a chance. She explained about the farrier and horses nails. She talked about saddles, what they eat and exercise. The kids had a ton of questions and she patiently answered all of them. After riding they were treated to a show by another horse from Germany called Konjak (I thought it was Konji, but the twins have promptly corrected me!). He did addition problems, played hide and seek, gave hugs and kisses and poses for pictures. What a great group!

Amy, the trainer, and Katie, the owner, were amazing with all the kids. They both have a lot of education and experience with kids and animals. They both took the time to help the girls over their fears and created a sense of confidence. The classes are more than reasonably priced, as well as the riding lessons. While we only took a beginning class, we will be heading back to take a few more classes.

Please go out and visit, or contact Amy or Katie for the next class. They also offer riding lessons at a very reasonable rate. By visiting them, not only are you supporting local business, but your supporting a cause near and dear to our heart, animal rescue. We promise, you won’t regret it!
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