O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Psalms 43:3

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118

The kids

The kids

Monday, March 31, 2014

Math Books to Inspire a Love of Math

March 2014_0090Butterfly has always been good at math. I remember when she was two and Tiger was 4 they had a discussion about whether the light above my dining table was a hexagon or an octagon and why. She is especially good at all things geometry but she is also good at computations. Once she knows how to do something mathematically, she is extremely accurate. She gets frustrated though because she has a tendency to day dream while she computes and then something will take a long time to compute. Then she doesn’t want to do it anymore. As a result, I decided to give her a little space. After a while, she decided she needed to pick up speed in her facts and has been working on those. In the mean time, Tiger began reading books for Williamsburg that were mathematical in nature for his STEM classes. Butterfly has been systematically going through and doing the readings that he has completed and loving all the books. During this process, I realized there are several great math books out there that have nothing to do with textbooks. For the last couple of weeks, Butterfly has been reading any and all books she can find that are about math and mathematical principles. She has stayed up very very very late with a flashlight reading Tiger’s math book and other books. So, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of books that inspire mathematical learning.

First- Life of Fred.

I have the elementary series, Physics, Pre-Algebra 1 and 2, and Algebra. I need to purchase the Fractions, Decimals, and upper elementary books that were added after I bought my elementary books. I also need to add the high school books above Algebra. I love love love Life of Fred. Life of Fred teaches math in such a hands on way. Math is demonstrated as a part of life. For example, telling time is taught through detailing the day of Fred incrementally. There aren’t tons of problems in the elementary books, but they are effective. Pumpkin Pie learned to tell time through reading Life of Fred with me.

Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Math, Amazing Math Projects you Can Build (Nomad Press), Mathematicians are People Too, and The Math Book

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Lauren Ipsum

The Number Devil

A Gebra Named Al

Growing Patterns

The Dot and the Line (about lines, dots, shapes, squiggles) and One Grain of Rice which (about the power of exponential growth)March 2014_0092

Sir Cumference


One Hundred Hungry Ants

Math Menace

Books by Greg Tang and Blockhead the Life of  FibonacciMarch 2014_0089

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eyes Popping out of the Head

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The shocking birthday present- a Kindle Fire…

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just What we Needed- Family Forum

This past weekend we attended the Family Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah. We packed all of us up and flew out for 3 days. It was a wonderful and much needed trip. Tiger got to attend a wonderful Simulations event with other youth all day Friday. The situation was 2054 and the end of World War 3. Canada has a government run by the people where big decisions are decided much like a jury where citizens are called up to decide the tough decisions. All the students were acting the part of Canadian Citizens throughout the day. The USA has been conquered and refugees are flooding the borders. What are the Canadians to do? If they keep them, then the Coalition of Nations (Russia, North Korea, China) will not be happy and it could mean war for Canada. If they send them back then the refugees will suffer. Throughout the day, the youth debated, engaged in Parliamentary Process, debated some more, and took numerous votes. Tiger said he learned more about battle strategy, politics, seeing into the future, and voting. “It was a very interesting and fun experience.”

Meanwhile, B took the girls and toured the LDS church history museum and the Conference Center. I got to participate in some of that as I was riding the light rail back and forth between the conference and downtown.

March 2013_0207March 2013_0202Then on Saturday, Tiger attended 5 workshops while B and I attended other workshops and the girls attended the Child’s Discovery Center. We also got to spend a brief time with Nia and my sister and her three boys. March 2013_0195

At the end of the day was the Family Ball. We dressed up, did hair and makeup, and then went to the family ball. Tiger danced with his sisters and several other girls. Butterfly danced with several sweet young boys, and Pumpkin Pie had so much fun dancing with Strawberry and a friend of ours. Little One had fun playing with cups…

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday Little One!

A year ago this sweet little guy was born. March 2013 103March 2013 276He is so sweet and happy. He smiles at everyone. As long as there is someone to pay attention to him, he is happy. His smile brightens any room. I am so lucky that even though he doesn’t sleep a lot, he is cheerful. On the airplane on his birthday, he smiled at every flight attendant and passenger who looked his direction. He is such an extrovert! While we ate dinner the other night, he spent the whole time playing peek-a-boo with someone at a neighboring table! He is super curious, an incessant climber, and determined. He runs non-stop. March 2013_0218March 2013_0164

Monday, March 17, 2014

12! Happy Birthday Tiger

Tiger is now 12. I can’t believe how fast 12 years has gone.

5 Days old:


Twelve Years old:March 2013_0245

He is conscientious, careful, studious, and boy does he love his baby brother. He is also a huge help around the house. If I ask him to help get something done, I can usually count on him to take care of it.


He has always loved books!15NovReading2


And helping in the kitchen: 19Marwalking2

Except now, he is actually REALLY good at cooking and he reads late into the night… Sometimes I have to go in and remind him that he really needs sleep. He still also loves building, tools, and light sabers.

A few days after his birthday, Tiger received the Aaronic Priesthood. This coming Sunday, he will begin performing the sacred ordinance of passing the sacrament to members of our ward. I am so proud of his diligence in keeping the commandments. He is full of love and faith in and for our Savior and Heavenly Father.

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I feel very blessed that 12 years ago this young man entered my home and made me a mother. Happy Birthday Tiger. I look forward to seeing what amazing things you accomplish in your life.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs- Schoolhouse Review

Egglo ReviewIt is always fun to do an Easter egg hunt, but how about finding glow in the dark eggs? Egglo Entertainment, in an effort to increase the focus on Jesus Christ in Easter celebrations, has developed several innovative products. I was privileged to review the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure. I also received The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (book audio download), Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide.

The Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs cost $11.99 per dozen and are perfect for any child who likes to hunt for Easter Eggs. The eggs come in a mix of green, yellow, blue, and pink with half of the eggs being stamped with a large cross and the other half plain to decorate yourself. At the time of this review, the eggs were on sale on the website. Each egg is two halves that snap together lengthwise. They are firm enough to stay connected and easy enough to open that my four year old could open them herself.

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The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is a 40 page picture book telling the story of several children who are going to go to an Easter celebration at their church. While they are fighting and running through the house, they discover a glowing Easter Egg  in the attic. It contains two scriptural scrolls (paraphrased from the NIV). The children are transported to Egypt, Easter Island, and someplace with a volcano. At each location they find an egg with two scrolls- one is scriptural and the other a riddle. They use the scriptures to change their behavior and the riddles to lead them to the final prize. Then they return home to go to the Easter egg hunt. The paperback book costs $12.99.

The treasure scrolls come in a package of 12 and are little plastic scrolls with paper writing depicting summaries of 10 different scriptures. They are available for $4.29.  The program guide outlines how to host an Easter party focusing on the Savior for a youth or church group. It includes many ideas including snacks, stories, devotionals, questions and answers, games and printables that are used with the games, crafts, and devotional activities. I read through it and many of the activities were for groups of children. I would have loved to use some of the snack ideas, but due to allergies, we were unable to. We did do some discussions though. While it was not something I used extensively with my family, I can see it being a great help to anyone trying to organize a unique Easter celebration. I love that the snack crafts even had meaning and were not arbitrary. It costs $14.99. The MP3 audiobook of the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure costs $2.99. It is just the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure read aloud in case a parent doesn’t want to read the story aloud.

I really liked the eggs. They charged very well after a few hours. Unfortunately, by the time the children were ready for the hunt, they had not been exposed to light for about an hour and the charge had significantly faded. As a result, I had to charge them under a fluorescent light right before we hunted. This worked out ok. Being that we were in the darkened living room so we could see the eggs, I was a little concerned about safety. The children couldn’t see where they were going. They loved it though and none of them cared that they couldn’t see anything. It would have been fun to do outside, but it was raining when we did our hunt. We put all the scrolls into the eggs and after everyone had found the eggs, we discussed the references and had a good discussion.

I attempted to get some pictures of the eggs after the hunt… I don’t have a super wonderful camera so they are a little blurry. March 2014_0065 

March 2014_0067March 2014_0070March 2014_0071March 2014_0072March 2014_0060Egglo Review
I did not read the book to my children. After reading the story myself, I found that there were several aspects that bothered me. The first is how much the children fought with each other. As the story went on, they fought a little less and a little less, but the disrespect and meanness I found distracting from the story. The purpose of the story was to see the children learn about Jesus, but I think it fell slightly short. Jesus was only the focus of the last couple of pages.
In addition to not being thrilled with the book, I didn’t really enjoy listening to the audio. I found the storyteller to use a very animated voice in the wrong places. This made listening and following the story difficult. The storyteller did speak in a clear voice though. I imagine that children may enjoy listening, even though it wasn’t read in my favorite style.
Because we participated in our Easter Egg hunt for family home evening, my husband, B wanted to add his review for this product.
B review:
I really like the eggs and the scrolls.  The idea of scripture Easter eggs is a good one and my children enjoyed looking for them.  The downside of the glow in the dark feature is they are a a little unsafe and we had to move our “hunt” inside because of the weather.  That was a little bit disappointing.  Hunting Easter eggs in the dark might be a little bit of a safety concern.  the eggs are good quality and the “glow” charges quickly but fades quickly also.  Also night time Easter egg hunts kind of detract from the Easter morning excitement and the need to hurry thru the process (so children can go to bed) was a minor distraction.  Still my children, ages 1 – 12 all enjoyed the hunt and the scripture scrolls afterward. 
The scrolls are a neat idea and I enjoyed hearing my children read them in turn.  The scriptures are either paraphrased or taken from the NIV or some other version of the bible.  In our home, we use the KJV of the bible so after each child read a scroll, I read the KJV.  The scriptures do not tell the Easter story chronologically but rather are a collection of scriptures about Christ and being a light, including Matthew 3:16, John 8:12, etc.  I was very pleased with both the quality of the eggs and the scrolls, which are some sort of plastic “paper” well connected to the plastic scrolls.  I personally found the idea of scrolls to be very good and a teaching opportunity about “sticks” being the ancient form of scripture, before printing presses gave way to the bible as a collection of books in one volume as we know them today.  I enjoyed the unrolling of the scrolls as adding an enjoyable element of authenticity to the scriptures.  When I first saw the scrolls in the bag, I thought they would be disposable, but on closer inspection, the scrolls and the eggs would seem to last for a decade or more, making them a nice Easter tradition. 
I did not think of it at the time, but it might be nice to have a separate dozen eggs that are numbered and contain scrolls that tell the Easter story chronologically.  These eggs, or maybe just a series of scrolls could be numbered and may come out of an Easter “advent calendar” or something like that.  I would like that.  I have always loved Christmas and have had a far easier time bringing Christ and anticipation into that holiday.  I enjoy these eggs and plan to do them every year with my family. 
One of my daughters remarked “I would have more, and none [of the scrolls] the same” when asked about the eggs. 
I was disappointed with the book though.  It started with holiday chaos, and had children go on an adventure.  The adventure thru ancient Egypt, caves, snorkeling, a volcano and the northern lights didn’t strike a chord with me.  The story strayed far to often form the Easter story for my taste.  There was a lot of “this is what a scripture means” heavily laden with the authors perspective rather than simply allowing the words of the prophets and apostles to speak for them selves.  At the end the book does say the reason for Easter is to overcome sin and death, but it took a long way to get there.  It seems more of an afterthought then a climax or conclusion.
I would recommend the eggs and the scrolls to all Christians or even those curious about the Easter story.  The are very good quality, open easily even for small children and are a nice twist on an Easter tradition that usually has more to do with chocolate than Christ.  I was surprised that Matthew 5:16 was not one of the included scriptures though.
I would not recommend the Easter adventure book as it was not the level of quality of the eggs and scrolls, and only told the Easter story in a very round about way. 
Overall, I really liked the eggs. I liked the scrolls too, although I would love to see KJV scrolls available. I think if I were leading a group Easter hunt, I would  really appreciate the program guide and find that it made my job so easier. I look forward to using these eggs again.
Many of the crew had other ideas of what to do with the eggs besides just an Easter Egg hunt. Be sure to check out their reviews.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 10, 2014

18 Hour Emergency Simulation

What would you do if there were a natural disaster and you lost power, water, gas, and couldn’t leave your home and medical care couldn’t reach you? How would you react? How would your family react? What preparations can you make now to better prepare for later?

For Tiger’s midterm, we did an earthquake simulation. We practiced what we would do if an earthquake hit- where would we go during the quake, what would we do after, and what do you do when the utilities that we love and take for granted were gone.

Although it was only 18 hours, we learned a few things. There are some things we were prepared for and others that we can do to be better prepared.

First- what do you do when the earthquake hits!? Initially, my children stood in the hall next to the picture frames looking at me and grinning that the simulation was starting. I asked them what they would do if it were real. Then they got under the table…

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Review having a meeting spot- we have one but our children forgot about it. They all grouped up in a room but I wasn’t there and they weren’t with me at the meeting spot.

Phones may or may not work- this was Tiger calling B to check in. March 2014_0006

There will be a mess and having a safe way to contain the baby is important. We had downed cans and broken glass (simulated by rice on the floor) to keep the baby out of. Before we did any cleaning up, we set up a baby-safe area right away. March 2014_0007March 2014_0010

Eating dinner in the dark is kind of fun. But having enough light is important. We only had 6 tea lights going. We should have had the larger candle holder that puts the light higher to reflect.

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Having a box with all our picnic supplies available was REALLY nice. Without water, dinner cleanup is a pain so paper products was nice. Obviously in a real emergency these would get used up, but for the first 72 hours having them will make life so much easier. March 2014_0001

I don’t mind being without power for a few hours or even 24 hours, but not having running water is not fun. We drained water off our water heater to use, but we didn’t want to use it up because if the situation were real, how far would 40 gallons go? We wanted to practice conserving water and finding water. Below are some pictures of us getting creative- since we had no water and it was raining, we put buckets outside to collect rain water.

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Lesson learned: Fill up water barrels, obtain rain barrels, make sure to have an adequate utensil easily accessible to open the water heater faucet and turn it off properly to access the water. Additionally, we need to set up our water filter buckets. I used to think I was fine- I do own a water distiller (which sadly has been broken for a bit) but I would be out of luck without some sort of power… I then bought a ceramic gravity fed filter.

I love my butane stove! I wish I had 2. Cooking for a family of 7 on 1 burner takes time. Some things need a griddle and I can’t do that with 1. If I had 2 I could put them side by side and create a space for a griddle. Also, I would be able to cook in both the top and bottom of my thermal cooker at the same time if I had 2 stoves. This would extend the amount of cooking I could do with the butane cans. March 2014_0002

Being without amenities can be unsettling to children who don’t understand what is going on. Strawberry kept asking me to turn on the lights. She also asked when our practice would be over. She did not like the lack of lights or water. In a real situation, it would have been nice to have some sort of toy to give her to help occupy her while we were cleaning up and trying to get dinner started and to help her not feel stressed.

The morning after the simulation began, we finished packing up food and some extra supplies in a kit- a roll of blue tape and permanent marker made it into our box as well as scissors. I need to buy a lighter to add as well. I also added some paper bowls and plastic spoons and baggies to get us through at least one meal without having to get into the picnic box. Also, I added some chocolate chip bunny crackers- a treat to brighten an emergency. The food we included was 8 cans of veggie soup, some fruit squeeze sauces, 2 cups of chia seeds, a can of freeze dried peaches, rice milk in aseptic packing, Lara bars, and bunny crackers. We also have flashlights, a radio, batteries, sponges, diaper wipes, trash bags, and a few other odds and ends.  March 2014_0004March 2014_0005

Other lessons:

We had most of the items we would have needed, but not all of them were easily accessible.. For example, B determined that for the simulation, Tiger would have a broken foot. I couldn’t find the crutches anywhere because B had put them up higher than I could reach or see.