Monday, July 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday–July 30

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Getting close to the end of the month that I have all planned out…already started working on August Smile I figure maybe if I start now, I’ll actually get it done by next week. We have a busy week this week, so we’ll see how much I end up actually cooking, but at least I have a plan if I choose to follow it, right? ;)

Here’s what I’m making this week:

Monday ~ Stuffed Jumbo Shells 
Tuesday ~ Chicken Pot Pie 
Wednesday ~ Mystery Shop at Old Chicago’s. Mmm, pizza. 
Thursday ~ Quick Bolognase 
Friday ~  YOYO (You’re On Your Own) /Leftovers. My kids will be with grandparents so we can try to get ready to have a garage sale next weekend, so the less regular housework I have to do, the better.
Saturday ~  Grilled Turkey Burgers
Sunday ~ Either something from the freezer or something involving marinara :-) We’ll see how the week goes.

So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!

I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

~S

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–”Solid” food

Shane has started eating baby food…where did the last 6 months go?? He thinks it’s pretty awesome. I’ve only tried sweet potatoes so far, but tomorrow it’s time for some oatmeal. Why is it called solid food anyway? It’s anything but solid, more like runny-almost-liquid food.

2012-07-21 Shane Eating (11)2012-07-21 Shane Eating (6)2012-07-24 Shane Eating (5)2012-07-24 Shane Eating (2)2012-07-21 Shane Eating (12) 

He also thinks his brother is hilarious :-)

~S

Linking up at:

imageBetter in Bulkimage

Tots and Me

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TOS Review–HearBuilder Auditory Memory

Speak Up Saturday

Challenge your children to contribute their memory skills to the HearBuilder Recall Agents as they undertake mission after mission trying to save the people in MemoryTown from the wacky plans of Dr. Forgetsit! Along the way, players will improve their auditory memory, closure, and comprehension abilities, while at the same time learning key strategies for remembering numbers, words, sentences, and stories. Research-based HearBuilder Auditory Memory software includes five essential listening activities.

  • Memory for Numbers (3-7 digits)
  • Memory for Words (3-5 words)
  • Memory for Details (1-4 details)
  • Auditory Closure (sentence completion)
  • Memory for WH Information (2-3 sentences/2-4 questions)

Each of the multi-level tasks in HearBuilder Auditory Memory takes your children on a different mission to foil the wacky plans of Dr. Forgetsit. The humorous and captivating adventures will keep your children motivated as they develop and strengthen their abilities to recall verbal information.

Grades K-8, Ages 5 and up

We got this game from Super Duper Publications to review for TOS crew. It sounded like an  interesting concept, so we were eager to try it.

The concept is simple: Use a game to increase your child’s auditory memory skills. Based on what we’ve done with it so far, it seems to be working. She has had a few frustrating game sessions, but mostly it’s when she’s tired or distracted by her brother. The frustration has been that she couldn’t remember what the answer was, so that says to me that it was working and challenging her at the same time.

Overall, Kahlen has really enjoyed it, but there are a few flaws that are difficult to get around.

So, what I like:

  • Each activity progresses through the levels at a good pace; not too many problems as to become annoying, but not too few as to not give enough practice.
  • The progression of levels is appropriate. Each level is just a small step above the last one so as to not create unnecessary frustration.
  • The interface is easy to navigate and well laid out. It is obvious, even to my 5 year old, what is supposed to be done next.
  • The game is easy enough for my 5 year old, but challenging enough for even an adult to get some good memory practice.

Things that slightly annoyed me:

  • It took a really really really long time to load on my computer. I don’t know if it’s just my DVD drive or what, but it took almost 5 minutes to load one of the times, and at least 3 minutes on average. It also took a long time to transition between activities because it was running from the CD.
  • Related to my other complaint, there is no way that I can see to install directly onto my computer. Meaning we need the disk every time we want to use it. This seems like an antiquated way of doing software to me in this age of downloads and fast processors.

Kahlen asks to play this game, which is always a good sign. I will continue to let her use it as more of a reward for getting her other work done, as she does enjoy it, but I don’t see it as a necessity for school.2012-07-10 HearBuilder

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HearBuilder Auditory Memory retails for $69.95, but if you use code BLGAM30 you can get 30% off (good through 8/31/2012)!

Super Duper Publications has a variety of other products as well. Go take a peek here!

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~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tasty Tuesday–White Mac’n’Cheese

Tasty Tuesday

Welcome to another week of Tasty Tuesday here at The Young'ns!
There’s a recipe index under the food tab above if you’re ever looking for a recipe I’ve already blogged.
Every Monday, I plan on trying a new recipe. If it goes well, that’s what I’ll be posting on Tasty Tuesday. If not, I’ll post a tried and true (i.e. something I don’t have to think about too hard) ;)

2012-07-18 White Mac'n'Cheese (5)I found this recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Panera Style on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and it sounded quite tasty. But, then I read all the ingredients and the prep method, and it left something to be desired. So, here’s my version. But since I changed several ingredients and I don’t know that I’ve really ever had Panera’s mac’n’cheese, we’ll just call it White Mac’n’Cheese, mmmkay?

{Ingredients}

  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz grated sharp Vermont white cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz grated Monterey jack cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing

{Directions}

  1. Boil pasta shells until just cooked and tender. Drain.
  2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium in 2.5 qt sauce pan (or a deep skillet works well too). Add flour and whisk until it starts to turn brown. Just until it STARTS turning brown! If it’s too light, it will taste like flour. If it’s too dark, it will taste burned and be lumpy. So take your time on this step!!
  3. Mix milk and heavy cream together. Pour slowly into the butter/flour mixture (now called a roux), whisking the entire time to avoid lumps.
  4. Continue to stir until just boiling and it starts to get thick, about 4 minutes. Do not turn the heat up! Medium is fast enough and will give you time to get any lumps out before it gets too thick.
  5. Once it is just boiling, remove from heat and add the cheese a bit at a time, stirring the whole time, until cheese is all melted and sauce is smooth. If it’s not melting very well, put the pan back on the heat over low.
  6. If, at this point, you think the sauce is much too thick, add a bit more milk to thin it out. But remember, you want it to be pretty thick, just not like library paste.
  7. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Pour sauce over noodles and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle top with panko.
  8. For the chicken: put thinly sliced chicken in a skillet with Italian dressing and cook over medium heat until chicken is done, about 8 minutes (if you’re me. If you’re my husband, it’s more like 15 minutes because he likes it all dried out, blech). I usually do this step while I’m making the white sauce, but it’s up to you.
  9. To serve, scoop some noodles into a bowl and lay some strips of chicken on top. Mmm, creamy and cheesy! Delish!

2012-07-18 White Mac'n'Cheese (6)

PS As long as you don’t call it mac’n’cheese, the kids love this dish too! Are my kids the only ones that think mac’n’cheese MUST be yellow in order for it to qualify?? I had to tell them it was noodles with white sauce Smile with tongue out

~S

Linking up at Beauty and Bedlam and It’s A Blog Party

Monday, July 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday–July 23

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Definitely still liking the whole month planned out thing. I was able to go to the grocery store on the fly because I already had my list done and knew exactly what I needed. Been sticking to the menu about as much as we regularly do, which is about 5 out of 7 meals. Tomorrow I hope to post either the recipe for the Panera-Style mac’n’cheese that I made or possibly my new favorite drink, an Almond Joy Latte. Any votes on which one I should do first??

Here’s what I’m making this week:

Monday ~ Asian Lettuce Wraps (except hubby doesn’t like the lettuce, so I serve it over ramen noodles instead) Huh, can’t find that I’ve posted that recipe either :/
Tuesday ~ Italian Meatballs that I made last week
Wednesday ~ Asian Turkey Burgers. New recipe from somewhere…don’t remember where I got it right now. 
Thursday ~ Lentil Stew and Chicken 
Friday ~ Chicken Cordon Bleu from Our Best Bites cookbook.
Saturday ~ YOYO (You’re On Your Own) /Leftovers
Sunday ~ Stuffed Jumbo Shells with extra to freeze.

So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!

I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

~S

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Speak Up Saturday

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As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others…even the seemingly unlovable.
“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”
In a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime, God Gave Us You assures each child that he or she truly is a treasured gift from the Lord

When I pick up a kid’s book, I’m looking for a few things. The first thing is good illustrations. You can say all you want to, but small children aren’t going to care what it says if the pictures are off. Second is the content; is it interesting? age appropriate? do I agree with what the author is saying?

I think the best part about this book is the illustrations. They are fun, colorful, detailed, and go along appropriately with the words.

The content. Well, it meets one out of my three criteria. I definitely agree with her points. However, it’s a board book and I feel like the content is way above my preschooler’s head. Some of the concepts are even above my 1st grader’s head, I think. There’s just too much information in one little book. She covers different types of love and how you can feel all of them. Why not just focus on one at a time? Write more books with less words if you’re going for the preschool audience. I found the story interesting enough, but my kids did not.

You can tell how much my kids like a book based on how many times they request I read it. I think I’ve read this one to them just two times and we’ve had it for a few months (Yes, I’m behind on book reviews…oops)

Not a bad book, just not a great one either.

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This book is in a series of books by Lisa Tawn Bergren. You can see my review of God Gave Us Two here

~S

It would be a great help to me if you would please rate my review. I get the chance to review more books based on my rating, and there are cool contests and such. Thanks!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TOS Review–Christian Keyboarding

Speak Up Saturday

HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN KEYBOARDING:  As Leanne was teaching in the private school arena; she noticed a need for Christian material for the computer courses since the only ones were Glencoe, Century 21, and Mavis Beacon software.  Through a diligent search; there was no suitable curriculum which demonstrated proper touch-typing methods, offered MLA and APA report formatting, and had Biblical-based references and material for students to copy.  Thus, Christian Keyboarding was formed combining the elements needed to satisfy state education requirements and Biblical references for the private school requirements.

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this product when I was chosen to review it through TOS. I mean, a keyboarding program that is an e-book/printable instead of a “game” or some other electronic method? But, this is why we get to review products, right? ;)

Here’s the deal: Kahlen *loves* this program. She has really enjoyed the lessons we’ve done. I printed it double sided in booklet format and it just sits next to the computer while she’s typing. I think it makes her feel very mature to be typing just like mommy does. 2012-07-06 Christian Keyboarding

So, what I like:

  • The length of each lesson. It’s perfect for my 5.5 year old. It would be easy to do another lesson if it’s too short for your child.
  • The extra words to explain what you will be doing in each lesson. They are appropriate; not too basic, not too advanced as far as the word choices and quantity.
  • By lesson 11 (out of 31), the lessons are already having her type some portions of appropriate verses in addition to the nonsensical letter and word combinations. This goes well with my eclectic-leaning-toward-classical homeschooling methodology.

Things that slightly annoyed me:

  • I still think that Elementary Keyboarding could be just as easily accomplished with a computer program or website app without the need to print anything out. That adds to my cost and adds a level of frustration that is not needed. When Kahlen is just learning where the letters are on the keyboard, it’s very hard for her to keep looking at the paper, then back to the keyboard. Also, if it was all on the computer, I would not have to sit with her while she practiced, because the computer would be able to help her with what she was learning next. Not that I want her to always do schoolwork by herself, but we could get a lot more done if it was something she could sometimes work on by herself.
  • I also think it would be helpful to show the entire keyboard at least once in the first few lessons, not just the row of letters that they’re working on. Since this is Kahlen’s first exposure to typing, she didn’t even know where to look for the letters that were shown in the picture in the book.

Overall, we enjoyed this product and will be happy to continue it when we have time. I definitely agree that keyboarding is a necessity and a good foundational learning will help her in the long run. If she’s ever going to catch up to my 90 words per minute, this is a good place to start. Smile

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The normal price for the Elementary Keyboarding from Christian Keyboarding is $12.95 but I have a coupon for you! Use code SUMMER2012 through August 29, 2012 to get 20% off this or anything else from their website. They have an e-book designed for 6th grade and up as well as a few e-books teaching Word 2007 skills like Creating Columns and Creating Tables. So go check it out!

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~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–Viestenz-Smith Park

I mentioned on Monday that we went to the park where we got married for our anniversary last weekend. Here are a few more pictures that I got. The boys were not really cooperating with the picture thing, but my daughter looked simply beautiful.

2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (27)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (29)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (30)

2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (14)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (15)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (11)

2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (61)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (57)2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (56)

~S

Linking up at:

imageBetter in Bulkimage

Tots and Me

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy 11th Anniversary to me! (and hubby too, of course)

Our 11th wedding anniversary was last Saturday, we took the kids for a picnic at the park we got married at. We all had a good time and I even let Kahlen use my nice camera to take a few pictures of mommy and daddy. Digital cameras are the best…I said take a few, she took about 20 (okay, really more like 12, but it seemed like a lot).
2001-07-14 Tim and Sela2012-07-14 Tim and Sela copy2012-07-14 Viestenz-Smith Picnic (10)
2012-07-14 Anniversary copy
Also, looking back to last year’s post, I realized I never did post the video I made. So here it is if you care, which I expect you don’t ;)

I love you, Timothy! Can’t wait to see what adventures the next year brings us.
~S

Menu Plan Monday–July 16

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Last week, I posted that I have already planned out July’s meals. Wow, that just made this week a breeze. I also made a grocery list based on those recipes for each week of the perishable items I need to purchase, so yesterday (I do my grocery shopping on Sundays, so I don’t have to take my kiddos) I just grabbed my list, added a few things we had run out of (like bread flour), and away I went. So easy! The other nice thing is that I can have more flexibility throughout the week if I need to because I know that I have all the ingredients, or at least most of them, for all the meals I have planned for the month. I’m hoping I can make this into a new trend :)

Here’s what I’m making this week:

Monday ~ Italian Meatballs to eat and freeze
Tuesday ~ Red Beans and Sausage 
Wednesday ~ Southwest Chicken Burritos 
Thursday  ~ Parmesan Ranch Chicken
Friday ~Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos 
Saturday  ~ We might go to a housewarming party for my cousin…if not, YOYO (You’re On Your Own) /Leftovers 
Sunday ~ Tortellini Spinach Bake (didn’t make this week. We had the Orange Chicken Stir Fry instead)

So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!

I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

~S

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