Hotel and Hockey in Allen

Nicholas' hockey team had a hockey game in Allen this morning at 8:30. We would have to get there for 7:45 in order for him to have time to get to the locker room and get all of his gear on. 7:45 is really early for us to be anywhere. But Allen is about an hour away for us so we would have had to leave our house at 6:45 this morning. Wow, that's too early!

Our team mates all live in our general area so they were all in the same situation. Most of them decided it would be easier (and more fun!) to just get a hotel room next to the arena in Allen for Friday night so they could just walk over to the game this morning. How fun for all the boys to be in the hotel together! We couldn't resist!

We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard. The kids and I went up early in the day Friday to get checked in and let the kids play. Stuart couldn't leave work early so he drove up and met us there later.

The kids helped me find our room.

We used the big valet cart to wheel all of our luggage and hockey gear up to the room. The kids had a blast as I pushed them through the hallway! Hee hee!

We played in the pool as the rest of the team arrived throughout the afternoon and joined us.

I got this new float jacket for Rachel. It completely holds her up in the water and she can't remove it. Although I stay with her anytime she is in the pool, it's reassuring to know that she will be safe in the water even if I'm not right beside her. She doesn't fully trust it yet and wants to hold on to me or the side of the pool but she can float upright in it just fine.

Last night the Allen Americans minor league had a hockey game so a lot of us got tickets to take the boys to see it. What fun!

Everyone loves when the R/C blimps float overhead and drop coupons and t-shirts on the crowd.

Rachel tried to catch something but it never dropped it over us.

But Nicholas ran down the row and caught a coupon. He was pretty excited but unfortunately the coupon was just for Choctaw Casino.

Rachel did better at the game than we expected. She watched some of the game even though she doesn't really understand what's going on.

Daddy brought her down lower between periods so she could watch the Zamboni clean the ice.

She also had plenty of junk food dinner options to keep her busy.

Eventually she got bored and I pulled out her vTech tablet to let her play. It was the only way to keep her in her seat but at least they are educational games.

There was lots of popcorn, nachos, hot dogs and more to be enjoyed.

The boys cheered for Allen and had a great time, even though their team didn't win.

This morning it was a little hard to get going and some of the boys were dragging a bit. Maybe staying up late for the game last night wasn't the best idea but it sure was fun! The coach gave them a pep talk before getting out on the ice.

At the games, Rachel plays with other young siblings that have to go to their older brother's games. Here is one of her good friends. Sometimes they play with little toys, playdoh, or whatever parents have brought for them to keep occupied with. Today there were just video games but they sat next to each other and watched each other play.

Although the boys are certainly well matched for this Allen team, they didn't win the game. We weren't too surprised considering the lack of sleep that most of them had. But it sure was fun and we'd love to do it again!

Pinewood Derby Car Time!

It's Cub Scout Pinewood Derby time!

Nicholas did a great job this year on his car. He sorted through his vast collection of toy cars and picked one that he thought would be aerodynamic and cool looking.

He drew a pattern for the car on paper then copied the pattern to his block of wood. He did a lot of work with tools on his own with just occasional help from Stuart.

It turned out looking great!

Side view

We had the races at the school. It's always exciting to see this track set up in the cafeteria.

Nicholas did great on his first few runs. He's the white car, second from the left in this video.

The boys race their cars multiple times. Unfortunately, as the races continued, Nicholas' car went slower and slower. We aren't sure what happened but something must have wiggled out of place which affected the car's performance.

Nicholas was a little sad that he didn't place because he did so well in the race last year. But it was a good opportunity for him to practice good sportsmanship and to start making plans for next year's car to be his best ever!

Marshmallow Shooters

How are these two pictures related???

Click over to Quirky Momma to find out about how to make your own Marshmallow Shooters!

Spelling Rules are DUM

Nicholas is so bright and so eager to learn. But he gets hung up when it comes to spelling.

It's hard to teach spelling. There are so many rules to learn but even when you know the rules you have to also know all of the exceptions. There really doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for some of it but we keep working at it.

I found this video clip on the Internet today. I laughed out loud as this young man makes fun of English spelling rules.

You really have to check it out. It reaffirmed to me that this is a challenging subject to teach and that you might as well just memorize the spellings of words because our spelling rules are just DUM.

Breakfast In Bed

Nicholas got up before me this morning. He went down to the kitchen and came back upstairs to bring me breakfast in bed!

He made me two pieces of toast with sliced bananas between them, the rest of the banana, and a cup of milk.

Isn't he the sweetest thing?

We Choose Virtues Review


One of the reasons we homeschool is because we want to be the primary influence in what our children learn in their early years, not only academically but in values and virtues as well. If they were in school for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, it would be harder to find time to work with them on things like character development. But with them at home, we can really study character and virtues as part of our school day. Hopefully this will help them in these foundational years to be better citizens with Christ-like character that just can't be taught in a public school setting.

I have heard that a lot of homeschool families use We Choose Virtues in their curriculum but I had not had a chance to check it out myself. So when I heard that the TOS Crew would need reviewers for it, I was excited to try it out.

We Choose Virtues was created by a mom who is a preschool teacher and children's pastor. This is not unit study that you use once and then move on from. It is actually a character development tool that you use every day, every year. You introduce the Virtues, then demonstrate them, memorize the catchphrases, then learn the antonyms, then capture teachable moments when they are being used…or aren’t.

We have been using the Virtue Clue Cards each morning. This is a set of 13 colorfully cute cards that each cover a different virtue, a virtue catchphrase and antonyms, and on the back is a "You can do it" challenge for the day. We continue to review one virtue card for a whole week before moving on to the next. However, there have been times that we needed to go back and pull out a card we've already done to review again if someone isn't choosing to use good virtues.


The kids have also enjoyed the Kids of Virtueville Coloring Book in which they can color 12 of the Kids of VirtueVille, learn their names and and do a word search!

I think this is a great program to just keep virtues fresh on the minds of my children. There are many different kits available from the We Choose Virtues website. There are full kits to use in a classroom as well as several different options for homeschool families. Check out the Product Comparison Chart to help you decide what will work best for your family.

We Choose Virtues has a special right now. For the months of January and February, the 100 Days of Virtue Poster and Stickers will be included FREE with any Homeschool Kit purchase during these months.

Also, here are some promo codes that you can enter at checkout. These are only good for one use.

VIRTUE15 for 15 % off the shopping cart is still available
SHIPFREE for free worldwide shipping

There is also a clearance sale on a few items while they last. They have lowered prices AND upgraded the paper quality on their 3 MOST POPULAR posters!

Prices for these thicker posters:

Kids Virtue Poster now $11.99 (from $14.99)
3 Rules Poster now $9.99 (from $11.99)
100 Days of Virtue Chart with Butterfly Stickers now $13.99 (from $14.99)

What will happen to the 3 posters we currently have in stock?

2011 Kids Virtue Poster $9.75 (from $14.99, 35% savings)
2011 100 Days of Virtue Chart and Butterfly Stickers $11.99 (from $14.99, 20% savings)
2011 3 Rules Poster $7.75 (from 11.99, 35% savings)

Also, The Virtue Clues are on sale for $5.99 (from $7.95)

For more information, please visit the We Choose Virtues website and make sure to like them on Facebook!

If you still have questions, check out some of the reviews of We Choose Virtues by other members of the TOS Crew.

Note: I was provided with several products for free in order to review this product. I was not provided with any other compensation and the comments and opinions here are all my own.

File Folder Games for Kids

My kids and I love file folder games. They can be used for any age and any theme, educational or just plain fun. They are super easy to make and there are lots of free templates online that are really cute and creative.

Click over to Quirky Momma to read more about how I make these.

Tour of Frito Lay Headquarters

We're a member of a Plano homeschool group and they planned a most awesome tour for our group...

A tour of Frito Lay headquarters!

Yes, Stuart works for Frito Lay/Pepsico but he doesn't work in the headquarters building so we never would have seen all of this if it wasn't the for our homeschool group.

We started our tour learning about Sustainability and Recycling. I love that SunChips has experimented with compostable bags and that Frito Lay does so much to ensure that they minimize waste and recycle as much as possible.

The campus is really nice with a lake on the property as well as a credit union, salon, and fitness center too!

Although there were a lot of people from PEACH attending the tour, we were divided up into 6 groups that rotated between tour guides so the actual group we were in was rather small.

We learned about the Research and Development process.

We saw the test kitchen where the chefs create new products and flavors. We saw the packaging department where they test new packaging. We even saw this machine that tests how hard someone has to pull to open sealed bag of chips.

We watched some Cheetos product being made in the R&D manufacturing room and felt how warm and soft it was when it first came out.

We saw the grocery store setting where Frito Lay tests their products in an environment similar to a store to see how light and heat are affecting the various products. Some poor person gets paid to sample the products every day to make sure that each batch is staying fresh for the estimated time that they would stay on a shelf. How do you get a job like that?

We learned how Lay's potato chips are made. Just potatoes, salt, and oil go into these salty wonders. But Frito Lay doesn't use just any potatoes. They have done research to find the perfect species of potato for making their chips. It was so interesting to learn all about the process.

We decorated our own chip bag.

Chose the salty snacks to fill the bag.

Helped turn on the heat seal machine.

Our chip bags were sealed for us.

Ta-da! Rachel's very own chip creation!

Her bag lasted approximately 0.23 seconds before she opened it up and ate all of the contents right there!

Thank you PEACH and Frito Lay for an exceptional tour that was both educational and fun for all ages!

Letter A

Rachel has learned the sounds of all the letters and can identify many of them but still needs help with quite a few of them. So I'm going to do a little bit of work with her on letters. She'll do some coloring, searching for the letter, making letter sounds, do-a-dot pages, crafts, storytime etc. Everything will be related to that letter.

Rachel usually likes coloring but she doesn't fill in an entire open space with one single color. Instead she likes to use splotches of multiple different colors to fill the space (which kind of drives me crazy!).

I got the boxed set of Alpha Tales by Scholastic. The set comes with a teacher's guide plus a book for each letter of the alphabet.

Here's we reviewed the mini-book for the letter A. I had her point out to me the upper case A's and the lower case a's which I marked for her.

Then she colored some on the pages but then she wanted to move on to something else.

So I pulled out the Discovery Box I made for her which includes all sorts of little things that start with the letter A such as alligator puppet, Angelina Ballerina, apples, astronaut, angel, army man, avocado, ambulance, airplane, and aluminum foil. She placed all the things out on the table so she could look at them all.

I had bought Angelina for her a while back but I forgot to give it to her at Christmas so she was a new surprise in the box.

Rachel had fun wrapping up several of the A objects in the aluminum foil!

I also had two series of preschool printouts with a theme of apples and alligators. Here she is tracing numbers on one of the alligator pages. I had to "encourage" her to try writing with her right hand. She still switches hands a lot and I'm trying to see if we can start pushing her to write with only one hand. We don't have any left-handers in our families but Nicholas is ambidextrous. We're still not sure which hand is dominant for Rachel.

I worry when I see Rachel's head so close to her paper. I recall a teacher in high school commenting to me about my head being too close to my paper and I think I did it because of vision problems. Hopefully she isn't already having problems but I did get my first pair of glasses in first grade!

Rachel seemed to have fun working with the letter A. I don't have a particular plan as to when we will finish all of the letters. Rachel's a quick learner and she loves to sit with me to do "school" but she is in a Montessori preschool class two days a week so I don't want to make her do much more school work than that at this age.

Seven Lies About Homeschooling Debunked

I just wanted to share this cute YouTube video about some of the silly ideas that people have about homeschooling.

A Present From Rachel

Rachel played in her room for a little while this morning after she woke up. When she came out she found me and said, "I brought you a present!"

Two little pieces from her Calico Critter house. I love getting presents like this. It meant a lot to her and that's what melted my heart.


I was working on the flower bed in the front yard this afternoon while Rachel took a nap. Nicholas went back inside and came out with drawing supplies.

He plopped down in the grass and just started sketching things around him.

We do random art projects at home but he also takes a homeschool fine art class at Art House where he learns about famous artists and real art techniques.

It was such a beautiful day. Cool and sunny, my hands were in the dirt, and Nicholas was creating art outdoors, even if it was just a sketch of our mini-van. I loved it!

Science Experiment: Erupting Soap

We recently learned about Charles' Law with some Ivory soap and a microwave.

Click over to Quirky Momma to see what we did.