A Parent Review of ABCmouse: Keeping Our Brains Working Through Summer

Parent Review of ABCmouse

 

Like most moms, I TRY to keep my children from letting all of their knowledge fall out over the summer.

Any “book learnin'” my four boys accomplish over the summer is typically solely because I forced them to do it. Maybe your kids aren’t like mine, I don’t know, but my children never ASK me to do workbook pages and catch up on their reading logs.

When I was a little girl, I LOVED doing workbooks, but that is not my kids. I can’t even fathom that.

Have we read this summer? Yes, tons. Have I recorded half of those books on the required reading logs? Um, no. Like I don’t have enough things to remember to do.

So at the end of the summer, I’ll basically stand there with the boys, wracking my brain, while begging them to think back, to remember what all they read this summer so we can fill out that bless-ed log.

Reading is the perfect start to keeping our minds active all summer long, but there are other skills to focus on in school too, and for that I have been looking for a good phone app that I can put my younger boys on!

After years of hearing of ABCmouse.com, I finally decided to download it and let my younger boys (ages 6 and 4) try it out.

I am happy to tell you it is everything I had hoped for, which means that they cover both letters, numbers, and other topics, and they can even play it unassisted.

You do need to help them at first, so they know where to find all the different things the app or website can do.

Actually, if your child is new to iPad games or is preschool age, I would help them the whole first week that they use it, just so you can guide them to less frustration and point them to the games that they could benefit the most from.

John David is 4, and I sit down and basically just watch him use it, and say things like, “Great job!” as he zips through a map (which is like 6 mini-lesson activities). After that, I turn him loose on it, and he can play with it however he chooses.

It’s a big deal to him that we do it together, and he cuddles in my lap while he works on his activities.

Daniel is 6, and he requires no supervision on the app at all.

My favorite thing about it is the sight word games. I also appreciate that each lesson is age appropriate. Too often, game makers over-estimate the finger dexterity or involvement of the parents.

Daniel’s favorite thing: Getting to play games on my phone

John David’s favorite part: Puzzles!!!

I went through today’s lessons for John David and Daniel and screen-shotted to show you what to expect with this app, a sneak peek if you will.

Actually, I should clarify that ABCmouse.com is not just an app. This entire program can be done on a mobile device or on a computer.

What to Expect

 

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This puzzle sentence was on a K4 lesson. John David had no trouble dragging and dropping the words into place.

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This is found on the initial preschool/kindergarten screen. Once you past this puzzle, you get a new one. We focused on puzzles because they were JD’s favorite.

 

Both of my boys love an app where you can color.

 

I forget what section this game was under, but Daniel had to choose the starting letter of each picture to spell the word.

 

There are many books in this app, which they read to your child. As the story is read, they highlight words as they go. This particular one was a lesson on the letter b.

 

In this sight word game, you get to smash the bugs with the correct sight word. I thought this one was so fun that I could have played it myself. Not even kidding.

 

An important lesson!

Choosing Your Kids’ Level

I goofed when I signed Daniel up, and I started him on Kindergarten lessons. When he opened it up to a lesson on “Aa”, he got insulted and put it down, so be careful what level you choose! Haha!! He is in 1st grade now, so I switched it to the 1st grade level.

It was very simple to sign in as the parent and switch his level up one, and then he had better lessons.

John David, on the other hand, is not accustomed to playing games on an iPad, so I put him  on K3 so it would be super easy while he learned how to use the app. Once he got used to it, I upped him to K4 lessons.

John David LOVES these games. He’s already amassed hundreds of tickets, which he can use to buy all sorts of little digital things for his ABCmouse avatar and room. He was even excited to earn his avatar a pair of blue pants. “Oooooh! Blue pants. I wike blue pants!”

I know you’re wondering, and I was too! How much does this cost???

The first month is FREE. Afterwards, it’s $7.95/per month. Nice!

 

me and my little scholars

 

“Mom, can I pway dat game on your phone?” Batman is quite a fan of ABCmouse!

I wish had discovered this website years ago because I feel like it’s truly going to help the boys to keep ahead this summer!

Now, y’all, if you decide to try it out too, PLEASE click on my links in this post or on my website to take you to the ABCmouse.com website because I do earn a small fee for each referral I send them who signs up.

Let me know if you try it and what you thought! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!!

 

 

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Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face****Disclaimer: Links on this site are affiliate links. April collects a small advertising fee when you purchase through links on this website.*****

We left Oklahoma full of excitement over finally being together as a married couple. We were ON OUR WAY! Things were looking up for us. Alan and I were finally picking out our first house. Okay, so we were only 21 and 23. Maybe we’d settle for an apartment or a nice townhouse, but either way, it was going to be OURS, TOGETHER!

Eeeeee!!!! Happy, happy! Joy, joy!

But there was this one problem holding back our complete happiness. Dark, foreboding figures loomed in the corners of my mind. They looked like naysayers to me.

“I hear 4th Infantry Division is deploying to Turkey. Going in from the North,” Alan’s buddies at Officer Basic Course, back in Oklahoma, said.

Thankfully, everything was all “probably”, “maybe”, and “talk of the possibility.” There were no actual set-in-stone facts yet. (You see, at that point, America had not set foot in Iraq as part of the War on Terrorism yet. We were still only fighting in Afghanistan.)

“Ah, no one knows anything for sure, ” I comforted myself. “I’m not believing any of these rumors until I hear them from Alan’s soon to be unit in Texas.”

I always held out hope. This was my turn to finally begin my happily ever after, and all these gloom and doom storm clouds hovering all around me were ignored to the best of my ability.

Gray skies were everywhere, but the sun could come out at any moment. Not a drop of rain had fallen yet. Not a single lightning bolt had actually flashed. They just threatened.

With that mindset, we packed up Alan’s white Blazer and my bright royal blue Grand Am, arguing about the best way to make it all fit, and headed south.

I don’t remember where we were. It was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Texas. But neither Alan nor I have ever forgotten that day. I’ve never forgotten that punch-in-the-gut from out of nowhere feeling.

Since we were driving two separate cars, Alan didn’t even know what happened, but when he saw me pull over, he pulled over too.

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Just like on 9/11, I heard it from my radio. It was somewhere around January 15, 2003. I was all singing at the top of my lungs, until the news came on.

That’s when the news man announced that it was officially released, just that day, that 4th ID did indeed have orders to deploy their division to the northern border of Iraq in preparation for invasion.

Just like that, I was Chicken Little, and my thunder clouds had all just dropped their rain at once. The lightning was everywhere. The thunder was louder than the news on my radio. The rain was so thick I couldn’t see in front of me.

My heart was broken. I was bawling my eyes out. How could this happen? Why did this have to be? Our happily ever after just kept slipping further and further away.

I’d finally gotten to spend a week with my husband, and even that week we’d traveled to all our family’s houses and then come back for him to go out to the field, so really we’d been married 5 MONTHS and still had not spent one regular week together in a home of our own.

There was nothing to say, and not a thing in the world anyone could do to help us.

So in that moment, I did the only sensible thing.

I pulled my car over, laid my head on my steering wheel, and I cried. Alan came over to my car, and I had to explain to him what I’d heard on the radio.

Alan probably wasn’t surprised. He was more connected to the military community, so he understood better that this was coming. Of course, he was not feeling the same way I was. Alan is an Army officer. This was his dream. He was only too willing to go over there and fight some war.

If I said one prayer of lamentation, I said a 1,000. Many petitions were made for Alan’s safety, for direction with my life, for guidance with my next step.

But that first day, I just cried. Bravery was for later. Alan hugged me and apologized and held me while I blubbered.

Reality had reached out and smacked me in the face, so it was time I looked her in the eye. I buckled under the weight of it all, with hours left to drive.

Alan and I dried up my face, hugged, and we drove on.

For last week’s chapter, click here. To start at the beginning of this series, go here.

 

Want to be sure to not miss a single chapter of this story about the early home front of the War on Terrorism? Subscribe below to get each new Army Wives story in your inbox every Monday morning.

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40 Nazareth Photos: Where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus lived

40 Nazareth Photos

***Disclosure: All ads on this site are affiliate links, to help April buy nice things…***

The Church of the Annunciation



We have 4 posts left in this Israel series: Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, and What to Wear When Touring Israel.

Today let’s see Nazareth!!

Most signage in Israel is in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, which we were thankful for.

Alan was able to join me for one last day of touring. We could not have been more excited to hop on that bus and head to Nazareth.

This part of the town where the churches are located was a largely Muslim area. There is another part of Nazareth where the Jews live.

My day was off to an uplifting start. Our first stop was a gift shop, where the store manager instructed his employee to give me a special discount for having such pretty blue eyes.

Yes, flattery does work on me. I thoroughly enjoyed the compliment, but I didn’t actually buy anything. I usually count my photos as my best souvenirs.

The Church of the Annunciation, also in Nazareth, had these beautiful murals of Mary with Jesus. Countries from all over the world each sent one.

from France

I don’t know which country this one was from, but I liked it.

Rather than attempt to remember which church was which, since we saw two right next to each other that day, I’m just going to call this all Nazareth.

Why was Nazareth important?

Nazareth is where Jesus lived with his parents after they returned from hiding from King Herod in Egypt.

It is also where Mary received the news that she would bear a son, the child of God, who would be called Emmanuel.

Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”       John 1:46

Did you know that Jesus visited Nazareth twice in his ministry, and was unwelcome both times? In fact, once they tried to stone him there, but he got away.

 

from the United States

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?

 

And they were offended at him. 4But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6And he marvelled because of their unbelief.”          ~Mark 6:1-6

The importance of the church of the Annunciation is that it is where Gabriel visited Mary.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,”              Luke 1:26

where Gabriel appeared to Mary

art from Spain

That’s Nazareth behind me….and an attractive broody looking Latin man…Actually, he was from Texas. He looked that serious all day.

 

heading up the steep hill to see the sights, following behind our tour guide

Y’all, this area is extremely hilly, mountainous, and most of all BUMPY! My Fitbit gave me credit for like 200 flights of stairs. No, I didn’t climb anywhere near that many, but apparently if you ride on an extremely rough road at a slow enough speed, the Fitbit believes you are mountain climbing.

The mountain of the famous SERMON ON THE MOUNT!!!!! Squee!!!!!!

The Sermon on the Mount mountain wasn’t actually in Nazareth. We saw it during the van ride.

You can imagine my dismay when my camera couldn’t handle the strong Israeli outlets. My real camera was my photography tool of choice. I was extra careful to charge it before we left the hotel. The powerful outlet charged it super-fast, but it wasn’t actually charged.

My camera battery died as soon as we reached the churches at the top of the hill. This may sound overly dramatic, but I totally wanted to cry over the fact that the rest of these photos are iPhone quality, indoors. Sad, sad, sadness!!!

This artwork, from Japan, is the most valuable one in the place, made partially with pearls.

 

At each holy site, there were always written prayers and change thrown in there.

The church is built on top of the old village. People actually lived under ground back then to stay cool. This is believed to be the site of Joseph’s stone carving shop.

where Joseph worked

The green light gives it an eery quality, doesn’t it?

This is the modern, Jewish, section of Nazareth.

There are those beautiful bushes again! I saw these all over Israel, and I want one for my yard now.

 

We re-boarded our van and headed for Capernaum. Alan fell asleep, and I tried to sneak a picture, but he caught me.

 

Now he’s just being silly.

 

Sleep tight, Honey. That ride was so rough; I don’t know how anyone could sleep through it.

 

More Nazareth Photos:

I do not recall much more to tell you about these, but I this is what it looked like:

“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

Mark 1:23-28

 

The next place we went was Capernaum, and y’all, it was our FAVORITE. The synagogue, referenced in the Bible, where Jesus taught and performed miracles, is still there. You can see it.

Yes, there’s a newer synagogue on top of it, which is so old, even it is from the 4th century AD, but they’ve excavated so that you can see the ruins of the entire town from the days of Jesus and his disciples.

Capernaum was the town that was the most spiritually moving to me, and I’m going to tell you all about it. Look for that post next week.

If you want to be sure to not miss it, comment below or send me a message, and I can tag you when I post it on Facebook, or you can also sign up to receive allll my posts, in my sidebar, but I do warn you that I post every week. Ha!!

 

 

Want to see more of my Israel trip? Here are a few of the other Israeli places I blogged about:

Jerusalem: Where Jesus was Crucified

Jerusalem: The Mount of Olives

Tel Aviv

Jaffa: One of the Oldest Seaports in the World

 

 

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30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement E-book

30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement Free E-bookI am all kinds of stoked to tell y’all about this FREE e-book!

We’re sending 30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement out today, as a gift, to ALL of my blog newsletter subscribers.

Lee Felix of Like Minded Musings, did an excellent job compiling this book, with contributions from 30 different bloggers, who are all parents of tweens, including yours truly. Visit Lee’s blog, and give her a follow or a Facebook Like!

I wrote chapter 16 of this book, 2 Must Read Character-Building Books for Tweens. Be sure to look for me in there. I was so honored to be a part of it.

Here are a few of the many topics covered in this free e-book:

-Social Media Responsibility

-Giving Structure without Being Overly Strict

-Helping Your Tween Deal with Pressure

-3 Steps to Loving Your Tween with Purpose

-How to Connect to Your Tween Boy

-Anxious Tweens

-Tween Girls and Body Image

-How to help your tween set up a quiet time

and much, much more!!!

 

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Rookie Army Wife: 3 Misadventures in Oklahoma

The Rookie Army Wife: 3 Misadventures in Oklahoma

When I arrived in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, we were basically living in a hotel room, albeit a super nice one. I was there for all of a week before we flew back to Alabama for Christmas.

Our measly month together in Oklahoma was kind of a blur, but there were a few things that happened that I have not been able to live down.

Three incidents to be exact, okay maybe 4 or 5…geesh I was full of mishaps that first month, but there are three I’d like to share!

….We’ll just skip the story of our first huge fight when Alan was following me, and I missed the correct exit, my cell phone battery was dead, and Alan breezed right past on to the next exit. Let’s just say I threw the mother of all fits. Alan had quite a firecracker on his hands.

 

The first misadventure happened on our loooooooong car trip from Alabama to Oklahoma after Christmas.

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