Reading Eggs Review

When our eldest finished Kindergarten last week I found myself experiencing a potpourri of emotions.  I was sad because she will never be a kindergartener again, I was happy because she did it, she completed her first year, and then I was anxious, I realized I would be the one responsible for her “summer curriculum”.  By “summer curriculum” I basically mean making sure she maintains all she comprehended in Kindergarten and that she doesn’t fall prey to the summer “brain drain”.

Thankfully, only our second week into summer break and she is still on target, in fact, she is making progress when it comes to her reading comprehension skills, who knew? I’d love to say it has something to do with me, some amazing lesson plans I have personally incorporated into our daily activities, but I must give credit where credit is due! Reading Eggs…I owe her progress to Reading Eggs.

Reading Eggs is an Online Learn to Read Program.

Reading Eggs is a comprehensive, online supplemental literacy program for early learners ages 4 through 8. Grounded in extensive educational research, Reading Eggs builds on and reinforces the five key reading pillars: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. (From website)

When our daughter first started Reading Eggs she took an assessment test in order to determine which level she needed to be working at. I really appreciated the fact that Reading Eggs doesn’t just assume all children are at the same level, it is nice that it is catered to your child’s needs.

Once she was at the right level for her comprehension she started her first lesson. She quickly found that Reading Eggs not only provided reading comprehension lessons but also incorporated fun!  At the completion of each learning activity she is rewarded with Golden Eggs for her Eggy Bank. She then has the options to use the Golden Eggs to buy fun and educational games from the game shop (that’s right moms, even the games are educational….but let’s keep that between us for now). As if purchasing fun games with their Golden Eggs wasn’t enough of an achievement she also gets to maneuver her way through various maps and more….Puzzle Park, Music Café, Story Factory, Reggie’s Shop, and much more!

 

Why I like Reading Eggs…….

I like the fact that Reading Eggs is SAFE.  I don’t have to worry about my child being exposed to information that is not appropriate for her, including advertising, Reading Eggs has NO ADVERTISING pop-ups, banners, etc.

I like the fact that our daughter is building her confidence in reading skills while having a wonderful time. She enjoys Reading Eggs so much that I have to interrupt learning time for play time, never thought that would happen.

She is also learning a little bit about how the real world works, a little bit about financial responsibility, all-be-it in Golden Eggs but responsibility no less. She earns Golden Eggs, puts them in her Eggy Bank, saves them up, and then she decides how to spend Eggs. 

It is also a great activity on a rainy day. It gives mom a break from having to provide the entertainment. And best of all moms can let go of the “mommy guilt” because Reading Eggs is educational (again…this will be our little secret). Don’t put your child in front of a television screen that fosters brain drain….put them in front of Reading Eggs!

The cost is reasonable.  $49.95 for six months  is a bargain considering how much time your child will be spending on Reading Eggs between the lessons, songs, stories, puzzles, games and more! It would cost more for a tutor all summer.

Bottom-line……

My advice to all you moms/parents out there who are concerned about your child falling prey to the summer “brain drain”, get Reading Eggs today!

(There is also a companion site, Reading Eggspress, for children ages 7 – 13 years old. )

Kaitlyn’s Cottage

After reading the Shock family’s story and how they have handled life with such grace and how they have counted their blessings through adversity I couldn’t wait to share….

We all know that raising a child is an incredible responsibility, but think of the added stress that comes with raising a child with special needs. For families with children with mild special needs (neurological and physical), once their child is 18 they will be able take care of themselves and leave home. But for some families, that is not the case. This is especially true for Kaitlyn Shock’s Family.

Kaitlyn Shock was born on April 28, 1994, at ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital to Cris and Josh Shock. After a difficult delivery, Kaitlyn was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at Toledo Children’s Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. After a week in the hospital, Kaitlyn was sent home.

Kaitlyn’s development as a baby was fairly normal. It wasn’t until she was 11 months old that Cris and Josh had some concerns. It was at this time that she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, a common misdiagnosis of babies who have Rett Syndrome.

Eventually, Kaitlyn lost functional use of her hands and was placed in her first wheelchair at the age 5. It was at this point that the family made the difficult decision to have Cris become a full-time caregiver for Kaitlyn and leave her job.

The official diagnosis of Rett Sydrome came in 2000 when Kaitlyn was 6. The Rett diagnosis was devastating at first because there was very little known about it at that time. It was at this point that the Shock family began the journey of hundreds of tests, many surgeries and sleepless nights next to her hospital bed.

After having two more children, Jaiden and Ava, the Shock’s remain strong in their family and their faith. They feel blessed through this journey to be part of a community of families who were feeling the same joys and sorrows that they were feeling.

Kaitlyn turned 18 years old on April 28 and will graduate from Defiance High School on June 3, 2012. She continues to be a ray of hope and always smiles no matter what adversity she faces.

It was this young girl’s story that led to the creation of Kaitlyn’s Cottage, a daytime and overnight respite options for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities between the ages of 16 – 40, and their parents and caregivers.

Dan and Sharon Farrell, grandparents of Kaitlyn and parents to Cris Shock, provided a challenge donation in June 2011, agreeing to match the first $1 million raised in a $2.8 million campaign for the construction of Kaitlyn’s Cottage and the implementation of an endowment to fund operations and scholarships. To date, more than $2 million has been raised.

A year after the announcement, Kaitlyn’s Cottage will open for daytime respite on Tues., June 26 and on Fri., June 29 for overnight respite.

Frequently Asked Questions….

What is Kaitlyn’s Cottage?

Kaitlyn’s Cottage is a safe and nurturing country cottage getaway designed to provide short-term and overnight respite for young adults with special needs and their families. And although located on the hospital campus, Kaitlyn’s Cottage is separate from the hospital and will not provide medical treatment.

The services at Kaitlyn’s Cottage are for teenagers and young adults between ages 16 and 40 with intellectual and physical disabilities, and their families.

There is an intake process for all individuals coming to Kaitlyn’s Cottage for day respite service or for a scheduled overnight respite stay. As the experts in providing care to their loved one, the caregiver’s guidance allows us to plan in advance for appropriate staffing, programming and services to meet the needs of their loved ones.

An important step in the intake process is getting the caregiver’s permission to contact their physician to verify that the guest is medically appropriate for respite services, verify medications and whether there are any special dietary needs. For these important reasons will not accept walk-ins. Anyone interested in respite service must first go through intake.

Our goal is to match an individual’s interests and abilities with the appropriate programming at Kaitlyn’s Cottage. Guests who participate in day programming will experience everything from sing-a-longs, art projects, and games. For scheduled overnight respite, we have four private bedrooms and can accommodate up to four overnight guests at one time.

We will also hold family and caregiver support group sessions, informational meetings that will include speakers, and are developing a house library with a multitude of resource information and self-help books as well as fun books, puzzles and games for the whole family. 

Kaitlyn’s Cottage is currently advertising for a program manager and respite care workers. All staff members will undergo mandatory preparation training which includes: CPR, first aide and other age and population specific competencies. They will also be subject to rigorous state and national background checks.

Kaitlyn’s Cottage will rely on volunteers. Our goal is to match a volunteer’s interest and experience with available opportunities. All volunteers will undergo mandatory training and state and national background checks. For more volunteer information, please contact Gina Sheffel at 419-783-6800 or gina.sheffel@promedica.org.

The grand opening for the community is being held on Sat., June 16. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony, refreshments, and tours of Kaitlyn’s Cottage. The DRH employee open house will be held on Fri., June 15. The facility itself will be open for summer respite starting Tues, June 26. Day respite hours during the summer will be on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 2:30 – 7:30 p.m. Scheduled overnight respite stays will be offered twice a month and will start on Fri., June 29. Check-in will be 7 p.m. Friday night and check-out time 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Outdoor Play date: Edible Finger Paint and Fizzy Sidewalk Paint

This morning our preschooler nearly became consumed by the anticipation of having his bestest friend from preschool come over with her siblings for a play date. He sat in the rocking chair located directly in front of our living room window and began rigorously rocking a half hour before his friend was due to arrive, he was officially on the lookout.   Every once in a while he would stop rocking, sit up, and gaze out the window at the site of a vehicle approaching our home.  Then he would let out a sigh of disgust upon realizing it wasn’t them. Then finally…right on time…they showed up! It took all he had in him not to run out to their van and physically bring them into our home. He was beaming with excitement!

 

Let the Playdate begin….

We started off with Edible Finger Paint….

Edible Paint Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cornstarch

 2 3/4 cup cold water

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)

 1/4 cup cold water

Directions:

Mix together cornstarch and water in a saucepan until there’s no lumps.

Mix together gelatin and water and set aside.

Cook cornstarch mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. It’ll become thick as you’re stirring.

Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture.

Cool and pour into smaller containers. Add food coloring for desired colors.

Source:http://voices.yahoo.com/3-craft-paint-recipes-egg-yolk-paint-laundry-starch-5936168.html

 

 

Then we moved on to Fizzy Sidewalk Paint…..

Roughly measure the following [for each color]:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 box baking soda

A squeeze of washable paint

A couple tablespoons of water

Directions:

Stir together and add water until its a little soupier than you’d prefer, the mixture thickens up as you’re working with it. [You can always add more water to it if it gets too thick.]

Source: http://handsonaswegrow.com/2011/06/outdoor-play-homemade-sidewalk-paint.html

 

After all their artistic endeavors they had worked up an appetite.  Our little preschooler decided the menu for lunch, which included….Annie’s Mac & Cheese, Tulip shaped PB & Js, a variety of yogurts, and for dessert…DIRT!

We all had such a wonderful time!! In fact, our kiddos had a tough time saying goodbye…especially to one little man….

 

Once our friends left it was nap time/ quiet time…though, the kids would say nap time is for the birds…..there are three baby birds in the nest but only this one popped up to say hello.

 

I am looking for more fun outdoor crafts, activities, and games to do outdoors! Bring on the summer…bring on the fun! Anyone have a good playdough recipe? Please share your crafts, homemade recipes, outdoor activities, etc.

Toledo Mud Hens & Hollywood Casino!

We started off our night by kissing our kiddos goodbye knowing they were in the loving care of grandma and grandpa.  Then we hopped in the car and headed to Fifth Third Field to watch the Toledo Mud Hens!  

I have a confession, I am not a huge baseball fan, I like to go for more of the ballpark experience.  I guess I am girly that way.  I enjoy the ambience of the park, the cheering crowd, the music, the food, kiss cam, fan fashions, and all around fun experience!

Last night was especially fun because we had the pleasure of meeting some amazing parents of triplets who joined us for the game! It made my night.  They were so darn cute….though I don’t think they received the memo that there is not crying in baseball, lol!

After the game we decided to take a detour home and hit Toledo’s new Hollywood Casino!

I am not a huge fan of gambling, in fact, I see it as I am already ahead before I step foot into a casino and I prefer to keep it that way. But again, just like baseball, I like the ambience, the crowd, décor, food, drinks, excitement, and fun that often accompany the Casino atmosphere, just not gambling.

Upon arrival and entering the actual casino I was carded, loving this place already!! They carded me and not my hubby, awesome!

The interior is amazing, the high ceilings, Art Deco décor, sounds, lights, music, and grandiose posters really assisted in portraying an old Hollywood vibe. But beyond the décor and overall feel of the environment I wasn’t all that impressed.  For some reason I had it in my mind that there would be more entertainment options besides gambling. Why? No idea. I think I thought there would be a show area or spa, or something for us wives who aren’t huge gambling fans to do while the hubby plays a game of poker. Not the case, which is a shame because the theme is old Hollywood and they could have included a theater where they showed old Hollywood movies or maybe a Hollywood themed small spa for mani/pedis, or just something in addition to gambling. I had foreseen maybe a Moms Night out in the future but after touring the casino I don’t know.  Will I go back? Hmm….maybe?  But it will not be an establishment that we will frequent.

What is your take on Casinos?  Have you been to a Hollywood Casino?

Movie Night: Need your suggestions please!

Our good friends, you know the ones that are contagious, the ones that are so much fun, kind, considerate, and just make you feel all around better after hanging out with them? The ones were you find yourself counting down the days till your next visit? Yep, those friends were back in town visiting family and friends this past week/weekend and we tried to soak up as much time as allotted by their busy schedule.  We had a chance to meet up at Story time last week and we had a Moms’ Sleep Under Night (instead of a sleepover night…more to in a future blog) Friday evening that was a lot of fun but we wanted one last visit, if possible.  I guess that’s what you get when you are such great people, friends and family what to hang out with you all the time and they simply can’t get enough, lol!

Though, I understand and realize that running from one relative to the next, one friend’s to the next, and one activity to the next can become exhausting. So, since it was toward the end of their visit and the kiddos had been on a sporadic schedule, including sleep schedule, and their mommy had to have been getting towards her wit’s end (though she would never show it, she has such poise, no matter what the situation) I tried to think of a relaxing activity for both the kiddos and moms.  Then it came to me, Movie Night!!

 

So, in our travels that day we stopped at Target and the kiddos picked out some treats for movie night. They decided on popcorn, animal crackers, and apple juice, yum! Then we headed home and prepped the family room for Movie Night.  We moved the coffee table, brought down a quilt to lie on the floor for added comfort and easy clean-up, and added cozy pillows.

 

Then came the most difficult part of the evening, determining which movie to watch? We have a nice selection of girl movies (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Barbie, etc.), boy movies (Batman, Spiderman, etc.) , and then as my son states, baby movies (Winnie the Pooh, Elmo, Veggie Tales but I think that is for older kids too, though he begs to differ). Where we are lacking is in movies that are great for a general audience, boys, girls, and toddlers.  We have a few like The Chipmunks (which they unanimously voted on Chipmunks: Shipwrecked), Toy Story 3, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and A Bugs Life but we would like to expand our selection for Family Movie nights as well as Movie Night with friends. So please share…..

What are your kiddo’s favorite movies?  Likewise, what are some movies we should steer clear of? What kind of snacks do you serve during Movie Nights?

Bachelorette Party!!

One of the moms in our playgroup is eagerly counting down the days until her nuptials this summer.  It has been a joy listening to her wedding plans and even getting the opportunity to share a memorable night of helping her make her wedding invitation sleeves.  She is crafty; she made gorgeous, classy, black, pink, and green sleeves, for each of her wedding invitations to slip into. And then she trusted me and another playgroup mom to help her assemble them, we kept the wine to a one glass minimum that night, lol!

Her story is bitter-sweet because she moved here from Oregon with her fiancé and toddler not even a year ago, actually I think it has only been 7 months now that she has lived here, in Toledo. So, she went across the country to live in a town named Toledo that contained no family or friends.  That to me is so brave and I have told her time and again that I don’t think I could have made such a leap of faith.  To be home with a toddler while your fiancé goes to work and not know anyone would be scary.  But she, being the brave woman she is joined our playgroup, got up enough courage to meet stranger in an unfamiliar location (it was the library…nothing creepy, just unfamiliar), and has made quite an impression on our group and has become one of my close friends.

While sitting there that evening helping her make the sleeves for her wedding invitations and listening to the exciting story of how her and her fiancé met it occurred to me that she is missing out on some of the fun wedding planning extravaganzas that most brides enjoy.  She has flown back home and has corresponded back and forth regarding the plans but she is missing out on that fun time with her bridesmaids and friends. So it got me thinking, what could we do to really give her a future bride experience? One thing came to mind right away…..Bachelorette Party!!

Now, mind you, we are not a group of young twenty-year-olds wanting to hit the town till the wee hours and drink till we puke (that personally never sounded like fun even when I was younger….why drink till you puke? No thank you.). And we each have our motherly obligations and duties so this Bachelorette Party would have to be catered to motherhood.  Meaning that, each of us would have to get up early with young children and be the main caregiver for the entire day.  Also, since almost all of us are married in the group it also meant that we wanted a location that would not compromise our morals or values.  So we did our research and came across a great destination, In2Art Studio.

 

In2Art Studio is located in Perrysburg Ohio, just minutes away from Toledo.  It is a studio that offers a welcoming and relaxing environment for you to let your imagination and creativity collide while producing a pottery masterpiece.  There are a variety of pottery pieces to select from as well as colors and techniques that Dawn, the owner, can share.

We ended up having 6 wonderful moms at the Bachelorette party and it was a blast! We all decide on a serving platter to make for the bride and groom. Per the owner’s suggestion we had the bride and grooms names, the date of their wedding, a bride and groom image in the center, and each of us contributed a word to the platter that is relevant in marriage (dream, faith, love, laughter, trust, etc).

It was so much fun that we decided that we will definitely be going back and we might even bring our children next time.  In2Art Studio has a variety of smaller pieces that children can paint such as a dragon, fish, heart, etc.  We might even do a theme day with the kiddos and include a story and small snack that coincides with the item they will be painting, talk about fun!!

Thank you Dawn for a wonderful evening. We enjoyed our time just sitting, kibitzing, and painting without any distractions; it was so peaceful and pleasant.

After In2Art Studios we headed for some guilty bar food at Swigs in Perrysburg.  It was so funny, each of us ordered a drink and then wavered on what to order…dare we order greasy food with lots of sauces like….blue cheese….ranch…mayo…etc.   It was a night to let loose and indulge and so we did, we had our drink and our sauces/dips too!!

It was so much fun and a wonderful reason to celebrate!!

Good luck to Joseph and Allie as they complete their marriage preparations and may you grow closer with each passing year!

Have you been to, thrown, or had a memorable bachelorette party? Spill!!