30
Aug

Loving K12 So Far…

by Tiffany in Homeschool

This was our first week homeschooling using the K12 curriculum. As I mentioned before I went into this hoping for a relatively relaxed curriculum that we could navigate on our own schedule and still incorporate unschooling to some degree. I am VERY happy with our first week.

First we got a brand new HP computer from the school and that was followed by many boxes of new materials. I am so impressed by the quality and the diversity. It is obvious that these learning items were not designed by K12 but rather they took the best of the best from other sources to make one awesome curriculum.

In the Language Arts box for example we got a few workbooks but mostly it was reading books….TONS of them. We have already done 5 of the lessons and most involved reading stories and talking about them. If my son was able to answer the questions about the story with an 80% or better (and he did) he passes and moves on to the next lesson. Fun and easy!

The Science box had safety glasses, sand, beakers, mirrors, a magnifying glass, seeds, a compass, etc. It appears that most of the science lessons revolve around experiments. Our first science lesson had an online video that we watched about viewing the earth from space then we had to identify continents and tape paper animals to the area where they live on an inflatable globe. It was very enjoyable for my son.

The art box had prints of different paintings and sculpture, tempera paints, pastels, brushes, clay, and more. We did our first art lesson Thursday.

Payton Painting

The Phonics box had workbooks, video DVDs, flashcards, letter slides, whiteboards, and other cool stuff. This section does appear to be very structured but this is the area where my son needs some extra work so we’ll see how it goes.

The history box has CDs, maps, and reading books.

The math box we have gotten yet. Many of the materials arrived late.

You have to get 920 hours for the year and finish all the lessons. Of course if your child can do the end of lesson assessment you can skip right to it and avoid the work…love that feature because it enables me to teach the lesson any way I want as long as he gets the main points that they want him to learn. We went over directions NWES, as we drove around running errands and he did the assessment without having to do the printable worksheets from K12.

On average you need 5 hours a day to meet the hourly requirements but if you finish (5) 60 minutes lessons in only 20 minutes each then cool beans….you can be done for the day or get ahead. 12 hours of supplemental time can be added each week too! That means over 2 days worth of time can be spent on field trips, watching educational movies, playing games, ect. That feature really rocks. Can’t get that at a brick and mortar school!

We had to add a new set of shelves to our homeschool area to house all the new goodies but so far it is going REALLY good and my kiddo is having fun….which is the most important thing. I also spoke with his assigned K12 teacher and she was awesome. She invited us to an ice cream party next week and told us to check the K12 calendar where there are probably 6 dozen other events planned with other K12 students and parents. So far so good!

Homeschool Room

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

21 Comments on Loving K12 So Far…

29
Aug

5 Affordable Things You Can Do to Live Green

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Piggy BankGreen living is a hot-button issue, and is something that many are trying to transition into.  The problem is, sometimes green living appears to be far more expensive than just keeping things the way they are. There are some things you can do, however, to live greener without stretching your budget too thin.  Below is a list of five things you can do to live green and be able to afford doing it in the process.

1.  Buy what you need when you need it.  Making a shopping list is very important, especially when buying green.  Since some green items cost more than their less eco-friendly counterparts, it can be tempting to forego the green items to save money.  Remember that increasing demand for greener, more sustainable goods helps to eventually bring prices down.  Try eliminating impulse buying to bring your shopping bills down.

2.  Join a co-op.  Co-ops are a great way to support local growers and merchants and can help you to save money at the point of sale.  Most co-ops require a little bit of volunteer time each month to maintain membership, but this is time well spent where you can connect with other like-minded individuals who are also trying to maintain a better way of life for themselves as well.

3.  Buy in bulk.  Another piece of advice when it comes to living green and ultimately saving money is to buy in bulk.  You can save a lot of money per unit if you buy more.  Recycled paper goods, such as toilet paper and napkins, are cheaper when purchased in large amounts.  The same goes for many packaged organic foods and snacks.

4.  Shop around online.  There are many excellent websites where you can purchase green goods for far less money than you would pay in stores.  Shopping around online is especially convenient, as you don’t have to leave home or travel far across town to get the things that you need to live green.  Online shopping for green goods gives people who live in areas without green alternatives the ability to procure the items they want at an affordable price.  Buying directly from the company also cuts out the middleman, thus saving you more money.

5.  Buy used items.  Nothing says green like reusing and recycling, and this goes for many things, such as furniture and clothing.  By purchasing used and vintage products, you are breathing new life into something that someone else decided they did not want.  Rather than encouraging excessive production by purchasing clothing from a large retailer, buying used from companies like Goodwill also puts your money toward a good cause and you can feel good knowing your money is helping others while saving at the same time.

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of green shopping .  She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

28
Aug

Plan Toys Tea Set

by Tiffany in Children, Natural Toys

Cool Toy Alert - Plan Toys

I am seriously in love with Plan Toys…they ae so darn cute and so earth friendly how could I not be? My son has several of the little wooden cars, trucks, and cranes. I just love the little wooden people too.  They remind me of weebles (remember those?) but made of sustainable materials.

One of their newest toys would appeal to my daughter… a wooden tea set. This is so adorable! Just look at those wooden tea bags!

The set includes:

  • a teapot
  • a sugar bowl
  • a milk pitcher
  • 2 tea cups
  • 2 saucers
  • 2 tea spoons
  • 2 tea bags
  • 2 pieces of sugar

Made of natural, chemical free recycled rubberwood and finished with non-toxic water based dye. My daughter would be over the moon for this.

Only $24.99 available at Kangaroo Boo.

Tea Set

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

15 Comments on Plan Toys Tea Set

28
Aug

Getting Spooked Yet?

by Tiffany in Green Holidays

Shark CostumeHas the talk of Halloween started yet in your house? It just started over the last few days here. The stores are already setting out all their Halloween props and such and we have a date at Michael’s next week to buy some Halloween crafting supplies. Of course we are thinking about how to keep things green too. My daughter will wearing the same costume from last year (Tinkerbell). My youngest son will be wearing a mask we got for $1.00 at a yard sale last week and I will make him a black cape to go with it. My oldest son though needs a new costume or one that I make because the one he has worn for the last 2 years (a dragon) is now too little. It will be saved for his brother. I asked my oldest what he wants to be this year and he said a shark. Oh man….he would have to choose something hard to sew. ;)

In doing some initial window shopping online I found this crazy, kinda scary, makes me a little ill just looking at it…shark costume from Moon Costumes. My son loves it but I don’t know. It is an over the body shark costume, with legs sticking out of shark’s mouth. The wearer’s own arms can manipulate the legs so that person being eaten appears to be kicking. Ewwww! I think I would prefer oozing eyeballs and fake blood to this. The medium would probably fit for 2-3 years so I would have to look at this yucky thing for several years and then my youngest son might want to wear it down the road. And I wonder how a kid sees out of this thing…I don’t see eyeholes or anything. Is it an accident waiting to happen?

What do you think? Is it too gross or reasonable for Halloween?

Also share your green Halloween tips below…I am working on a future post!

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

12 Comments on Getting Spooked Yet?

27
Aug

Interview: Amber of Diaper Kit and Butt Knits

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby, Sewing

Butt Knits SoakerA couple years ago or so ago I met a great gal named Amber online. At the time I still owned a cloth diaper company and I was blown away by her store Diaper Kits. I loved how easy she made it for other moms to learn to sew their own diapers or sew just a few without having to invest in tons of specialty fabric… the materials most modern diapers are made with, you won’t find in stores. Amber has recently gone on to open another similar business…Butt Knits. There she offers patterns for knitted longies and soakers. Once again her talent for design blows me away! And I am not the only one that thinks so. Amber’s awesome diapers were just featured in Mothering magazine (hand painted rainbow diapers – below).

What I REALLY love about Amber and her stores is that she is helping to make cloth diapers and wool soakers (and truly beautiful ones to boot!) affordable for the average mom. Lots of moms may decide to stick with disposables after seeing a single diaper that costs $18. If you hang in the cloth diaper circles you will also begin to see that there are many cloth diapering moms that will drop a $100 on an embellished diaper…most moms cannot afford that. Can’t afford that $30 organic diaper? Try one of Amber’s organic diaper kits for under $10! It really does give moms on a budget an opportunity to have some of the nicer diapers.

So, I just had to introduce you all to Amber and her wonderful stores…

Tiffany: How did you get started with cloth diapers?

Amber: After having my first child I realized that I just wasn’t into disposable diapers.  I didn’t like the Rainbow Diapersstiff feel of them and I didn’t like the chemicals, glues, wood pulp, etc. in them.  That was in 2000 and I was fairly new to using the Internet.  Cloth diapers became my first real research project online. I read everything I could.  We started out with Alexis Snap pants, prefolds (flat diapers), and pins.  My husband did use the pins but he was always a little nervous about accidentally pinning the wriggling baby. 

 

Tiffany: How did you get started sewing your own?

Amber: I found a free pattern and immediately cut up all of my husbands “bachelor” sheets and towels to make fitted diapers for our son.  I tried a few purchased patterns but I found them to be lacking.  The instructions weren’t as clear as I needed them to be.  They seemed to assume some knowledge of how a modern cloth diaper was made. I spent hours trying to figure out what the instructions wanted me to do.  Trying to figure out what fabrics to use and how best to sew the whole thing up.

 

Tiffany: And this translated into selling home sewing kits for other moms?

Amber: Absolutely.  I remember being very pregnant with our third child and my husband taking the other kids out for the day so I could stay home and cut out diapers without interruption.  That was that day that I realized that I hate cutting out the same thing over and over and over again.  In fact, I realized that whole process was no fun.  Washing and drying yards of fabric, ironing the fabrics, cutting…I just wanted to sewButterflies Diaper them up! While complaining to my Dad about it one day he said something about “diaper kits” and that I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way about making diapers.  

 

Tiffany: You are spot on there. Sewing an actual diaper takes only 15-20 minutes in my experience…all the cutting and prep is just horrendous though. I hated it too. What kind of feedback have you gotten about your Diaper Kits?

Amber: I smile when you ask me that.  I get a lot of positive feedback.  The funniest one was when someone said we’re like the gateway to diaper sewing and that she’s now addicted to making cute diapers for her little one.  I think the kits bring a level fun as well as functionality to families wanting to use cloth diapers.  I often receive emails saying that DiaperKit.com has made it possible for them to afford all-in-one or organic cloth diapers.  And of course, it’s such a special feeling to see your little one in cloth diapers made by you – I hear that a lot too.

 

Tiffany: It is an awesome feeling to have your baby where diapers you made…I agree. Are your diaper kits easy enough for sewing newbies?

Amber: I have received lots of emails from moms stating that this is their first sewing project or their first sewing project since home economics class years ago.  They write to say that they were successful and how easy it was to do.  That’s what I love to hear.  I work very hard to keep everything as simple as possible.  I test all of our fabrics before offering them.  The illustrations in our instruction sheets were done by a professional illustrator who was familiar with the sewing industry.

 

Tiffany: What do you offer at Butt Knits?Wool Longies

Amber: Butt Knits has been a really fun project for me. I love to knit – I find it very relaxing.  I also find it’s a great outlet for my creativity.  And of course, wool soakers go perfectly over cloth diapers. 

My vision for Butt Knits is that it be a reliable source for fresh new longies (wool soaker) patterns.  I work with a professional pattern editor to make sure that my creations are translated perfectly into easy to understand knitting patterns.  I want to bring embellished soakers to the average mom.  Not everyone can afford embroidered or cabled longies. Butt Knits is an opportunity to learn to make them yourself. 

Tiffany: Any tips for moms interested using cloth/wool for diapering?

Amber: Where to start? There is so much information out there on cloth diapering and wool as well.  I have some good basic information on cloth diaper terminology on DiaperKit.com.  I also have information on washing and drying cloth diapers.  There are many routines out there but I share the two methods we’ve used over the last eight years of diapering.

Wool is amazing.  It’s natural, soft, and very breathable.  Those who may be struggling with diaper rash may find that cotton fitted diapers and wool covers (soakers) are the solution.  I don’t think anything beats wool for breathability. You can learn more about how to care for wool soakers on my wash & care page. 

Both of my websites have content pages with helpful information.  Everything from diaper fabrics on DiaperKit to selecting yarns on ButtKnits.  If anyone would like to contact me with specific questions they are welcome to contact me at info@diaperkit.com or info@buttknits.com.

Thank you so much Tiffany for having me on your blog!