Monthly Archives: March 2011

Geocaching 101 Video

Labels: High School, Social Studies, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Using an iPhone to Help Organize Your Household

I have been coveting iPhones for some time now. I normally am not much into gadgets and toys, but ever since I found out about some of the apps that are available for iPhones, I have really wanted one. Since we are Verizon customers, however, it was not possible to get an iPhone until just recently. I held out, though, and just got one a few weeks ago when they became available. I thought I would mention a few apps that I have really enjoyed. Some apps help me do a better job running the household, others help me stay organized, and others are good for educational purposes, but today I’m just going to discuss the apps that help me with running the house. If you know of any good apps, especially free ones, please e-mail me their names or mention the in the comments.

  • Microsoft OneNote Mobile (Free) – If you use OneNote on your laptop or PC, this is a really nice app to have. It is a little complicated to set up. You first have to set up an Windows Live SkyDrive account (free). Then you upload your current OneNote notebooks to your SkyDrive account, when you sync your iPhone, it syncs with the Sky Drive account. Once you have it all set up, everything syncs easily and automatically. You can create lists and so forth on your iPhone, but it is a bit cumbersome, and I use the program more to just have my lists and notes with me. I use OneNote to organize my homeschool notes for Dora, my recipes, craft ideas, lists of books to read, etc. You can add links, video, photos, screen clippings, audio files, pictures, scanner, printouts, etc. into OneNote pages (on your laptop or PC, all the features aren’t available in the mobile version). Here are some screenshots of the app:

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  • Real Simple To-Do Lists (Free) – This app offers lots of preformatted to-do lists to help keep you organized. You can also design your own lists. List topics range from traveling to entertaining and cleaning. Many of the lists are more like Real Simple article summaries in that they walk you through a task. Here are some screenshots.

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  • Allrecipe’s Dinner Spinner (Free) – I currently have the free version of this software and have been very happy with it. I love! I like having the reviews, which really help me decide if a recipe is going to work for me and my family. I also like the sheer volume of recipes they offer. The Dinner Spinner app is a fun way to pick out a recipe. You enter in what type of dish you want (i.e. breakfast, main dish, appetizer, etc.), then you enter in an ingredient that you wish to use, and what “ready in” time you want (20 min or less, over an hour, slow cooker, etc.) You then “spin” the spinner and get a selection of recipes that meet your criteria. Here’s a screenshot:

allrecipe app 003

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–March 4th

I decided to join the Homeschool Mother’s journal link-up. The reason that I decided to join it that I have found that sometimes I want to blog some sort of weekly wrap-up, even when the kids were too sick to officially “homeschool”. So, I’m going to start doing the Homeschool Mother’s Journal in lieu of the Weekly Wrap-up format that I have used previously. I still may do a Tot Time post when Dora and I have been working on a theme, but Gohan’s weeks don’t vary enough to warrant a weekly wrap-up now.

In my life this week… Things are hectic lately, actually they’ve been hectic ever since Dora was born. In particular, we just can’t seem to shake this bug. Someone my father knows went to the doctor and was told that there was a virus going around (in San Diego) that is taking people about 3 weeks to get over. That sounds like the same virus that we have had.

We’ve also been dealing with trying to refinance our home this week. It just kind of worked out that we were dealing with it while we were all sick. As did us having several maintenance-type dental and doctor appointments this week.

Our schedule has been further messed up by the weather. Our recent weather has included snow, hail, rain, sun, wind, freezing temperatures, etc. You never know what you will wake up to. We’ve had to miss many classes and reschedule appointments, due to snow and ice.

Snowstorm 2

To add some more work to already full plate, we decided that it was time for us to let our housecleaners go. It may sound spoiled that I had a housecleaner, but it was the only way that I could maintain my sanity while Dora was younger. With each of my kids, I have had a housecleaner for a few months, but with Dora, I just seemed to need it for a lot longer (for about 18 months to be exact).

In our homeschool this week… Well, after dealing with all of the above, we didn’t do too much. Sometimes it is hard to fit in homeschooling, though I do try to make it our number one priority most weeks. Gohan did math and language arts, but we were not able to find time to geography or science this week.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Gohan was still too sick to go the YMCA, where he participates in a homeschool swim/gym/art program. By the middle of the week, he was well enough to attend the ALE, where he takes PE, science, and drama.

My mother-in-law will be arriving this weekend. It will be a bit of an unusual visit. She will officially be here for a month, but will be doing several Road Scholar programs during the weeks and only be seeing us on the weekends. Road Scholar programs are really awesome.


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If you are not familiar with Road Scholar, here is a blurb from their site:

Road Scholar is the name for the programs developed and offered by Elderhostel, Inc., the not-for-profit world leader in lifelong learning since 1975. Our mission is to empower adults to explore the world’s places, peoples, cultures and ideas, and in so doing to discover more about themselves. A fellowship of learning and the joy of discovery are the hallmarks of the Road Scholar experience.

Road Scholar programs bring together instructors and participants from diverse backgrounds to foster dynamic interaction, engaging discourse and warm camaraderie. In a world that seems to shrink smaller by the day because of technology, we believe that true insight and understanding are still sparked by hands-on experience and open discussions that stimulate the senses, energize the body and challenge the mind. We are committed to continually developing new program destinations, topics and formats to reflect the shifting realities and emerging trends of our ever-changing world.

My favorite thing this week was… This week was an exciting week with Dora. She has really become a real person. She is starting to have real conversations with us. She has developed a sense of right and wrong and the ability to exert self-control and not do what she knows is wrong (on occasion anyway). She even played with other children this week, not just playing in the vicinity of other children, but actually playing and interacting with them.

What’s working/not working for us… I am trying to implement a more regular sleep schedule for Dora and I. Since she is the only little one that I have, it hasn’t been as big a deal if she is on a regular sleep schedule or not. Plus, with me having to shuttle all the other kids around, it is not always possible to keep her on a schedule, as she falls asleep in the car if we are out near her naptime. Two of my kids are driving now, however, so I am having to do less shuttling. More than anything, however, I personally need the regular sleep schedule and to not be subject to the whims of Dora’s irregular sleep schedule. So, I am going to put her on a schedule, like I did with my older kids. In theory, I don’t favor such rigidity, but it is just something I need right now.


Homeschool questions/thoughts I have… The question that sometimes comes up for me is “how much homeschooling” should be my number one priority? For instance, I really feel that fieldtrips are important, but by the time we fit in all of Gohan’s classes and basic bookwork, there is not much time left for field trips if I hope to do anything like clean the house, fold laundry, run errands, cook dinner, exercise, etc. This week, Gohan expressed a desire for us to do more projects. This is another area that I have trouble maintaining balance with. Overall, I wish I was better at incorporating field trips and projects into our learning as a replacement for bookwork.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… Want to know what happens when your toddler finds your teen’s airbrush makeup?

Vivi Got Into Monet's Airbrush Makeup 3

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

March’s Sensory Tub Link-up


It’s that time again! It’s hard to believe a whole month has gone by. The theme I used this month was St. Patrick’s Day. Thus far, this has been the most played with sensory tub ever. I partly owe this to Kylie from Our World Wide Classroom, who gave me the idea to use split peas for the “foundation” of this month’s tub. I had originally planned to dye some rice green, as I had never even thought of using split peas, which are naturally green, of course – so much easier! Well, Dora just loved playing with the split peas! In addition to our monthly sensory tub, I always have a tub of dried beans on hand. She uses the beans to scoop, spoon, and pour. It is her absolute favorite “toy”. She played with the split peas in the same way, but was very excited to have the different texture and color.


In addition to the split peas, I added a small St. Patrick’s Day hat, leprechaun “gold” that I found at a party store, St.-Patrick’s-Day-themed erasers, green gems, green bells, green pom poms, felt shamrocks, green rings, shamrock bracelets, and green frog rubbery, spikey ball thingies (how is that for a specific description?). The bells and gems are left over from Christmas actually. It was nice to be able to start re-using some items and not have to start completely from scratch.

What about you? Did you set up a sensory tub for March? What was its theme? Please join the link-up up you did set up a sensory tub. And feel free to grab a button. It’s a great way to share your ideas with others.

Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That, Toddlers
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I’m Back and My House is Getting Organized!

I’m back from my blogging break. I’ve really missed blogging and reading blogs. I wish I could say we are all well, but I would be lying if I did. We seem to have contracted an extremely nasty bug that takes a long time to get over and comes back, just when you think you are well. Dora had bronchitis and double ear infections, but is actually 99% better now. Ironically, all four of my other kids put together have had a total of two ear infections, so with just one cold, she managed to tie that. Gohan is on the mend, but still is not well. I, on the other hand, am pretty darn sick and keep losing  my voice. I never realized how much I talk until this cold! Smile

While we have been confined to the house and the kids have been too sick to do much (not to mention the snow and ice we’ve had), I have used the time to do some spring cleaning/organizing. I was motivated by a recent post on Childhood 101.

February 020

One issue that I have had with our playroom/family room is Dora’s easel. It takes up a lot of room and rarely gets used. She prefers to paint and draw at a table. She didn’t use the magnetic board and rarely used the chalkboard. So I really wanted to get rid of the thing, but still wanted to have some sort of chalkboard. Unfortunately, one side of our playroom is made of windows, one side is open to a hallway, and one side is open to the kitchen, so the playroom does not have an abundance of wall space to hang a chalkboard on. Finally, I had the inspiration to paint two small chalkboards on our entertainment center. I used spray paint chalkboard paint, which I  happened to have on hand, but would recommend using a paint can and brush instead as I accidentally got a bit on the wall. Sad smile 



Another thing that I have struggled with making Dora’s books accessible to her in a way that encourages reading. She has many, many books, but when they are on shelves, with just their spines showing, they just aren’t appealing to her. At best, she’ll pull a few off the shelves and those will be the only books she wants to look at for days on end. Unfortunately, our playroom just does not have room for a book caddy. I finally came up with the idea of putting a wicker basket of a small selection of books out on Dora’s little table. I intend to rotate the selection on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Thus far, the experiment has been quite a success. She has really been drawn to the small sample of books and we have read more in the last two weeks than in the last six months (of course, in full disclosure, this might also have to do with being trapped in the house so much).

I also reclaimed my office space/our homeschool room from my husband, who had taken it over as an office, but never really finished moving out of his old office, leaving me trying to store homeschool supplies in various random places. We don’t really homeschool in the room, partly because it is about the size of a walk-in closet, but it is nice to have everything in one place and now that I am getting it organized, we may actually start using it to homeschool. I will post pictures of how I organized it once it is done.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff