Monthly Archives: September 2014

Review: Preschool for Threes by AOP

We are two weeks into our homeschool year.  I am loving our new preschool program – so much that I wanted to share it with you!!

Note: I have not been compensated by AOP for the following review, and I am not in any way affiliated with anyone or anything that is linked in the post.  Feel free to click away on the links!  Nothing is going into my pocket!!
I am sharing out of joy and excitement in the hopes that another family can benefit from this product.

We used the Horizon Preschool program for when our two older kiddos were 4 & 2 and loved it.  They released a new program last year that was too young for Charger, so he also used the Horizon Preschool curriculum.  This year, Otter is turning three, so we had a perfect candidate to take advantage of the new Preschool for Three’s program.

According to the Children’s Health Network, “a normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child’s age”.  If we can keep Otter’s attention on a task for nine minutes, we call it a win.  

Why I love Preschool for Threes: 

    • Otter has a chance to “do school” without being overwhelmed.
    • She has a reader that is just for her.
    • She practices school readiness skills every day.
    • She is introduced to one letter concept and one number concept a week, and the worksheets provide an opportunity to reinforce both.
    • The worksheets have delightful animals that carry through the theme every week.

She is so proud to be able to sit at the school table with her older siblings, and believe it or not, they want to do her work, too.  They *love* her animal coloring pages and cannot believe that I do not have enough worksheets to go around for them to color their own animal.  We are talking a nine-, seven- and five-year-old here.  I guess my only complaint is that I have to get on-line to find them line drawings of animals to color so they don’t feel left out!!

Here is what you get with the program…along with my insight about why there is so much to love about the Preschool for Threes program:

Curriculum: Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Curriculum: Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Teacher’s Manual:
Every week is themed around one bible lesson.  The lesson plan offers a supply checklist plus additional activities to supplement the worksheets and the theme.  I like having a checkbox, and we also start reasoning skills at the preschool level, so I created a spreadsheet that I can fill in for the week ahead on Sunday night, and then check off throughout the week.  I get all of the supplemental material ready so all I have to do on the weekday is pull out a packet for that day, all ready to go.  Total prep time on Sunday night: 1 hour.


Teacher’s Manual – Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Student Workbook:
These are the worksheets for the program.  You can tear them out as needed, or if you have other children to prep for, do it all at once and lay it out for the week.  Horizon has the best illustrations and colors – as I said earlier, our older kiddos pine for pages like these although they are way beyond 3-year-old work.

Student Workbook - Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Student Workbook – Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Student Workbook Companion:
These pages are printed on heavier weight paper.  They consist of games and activities that can be played throughout the school year.  So far we have prepared a lacing card, a language arts aid, and now we have a memory game for next week.  I am pasting them on card stock to make them last even longer, and as soon as I have a working laminator again, they will be laminated.  I write the lesson theme on the back or the container so that I can remember to reinforce it as the school year stretches on and the themes aren’t at the tip of my tongue.

Since the language arts aid for this week was a child’s face, we have been talking about the vocabulary for different parts of the face in English and In Spanish.  The theme of the week was “Sin” from the fall of the the garden of Eden.  As we go forward to use this aid, we will use the song O Be Careful, Little Eyes to reinforce the vocabulary as well as the lesson.

I am thrilled to be able to fill a preschool box for Otter of just her own activities.  At any point going forward in the school year, she can entertain herself with sturdy materials that can be used over and over.


Student Workbook Companion – Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing

Bible Story Reader:
This is by far Otter’s favorite part of the program.  She is delighted to have her very own book since we have bookshelves full of books for each of our other children’s school programs.  She proudly pulls down her “God book” every day.  We are not just reading the story for the week.  The illustrations are fantastic, so as she finds an illustration that appeals to her, I “read” her the story.  Not always the whole thing, maybe a sentence or two, or I ask her what she sees in the picture.  As you may have noticed in some of the photos, although we are only two weeks into the program, the book is already well-loved.  I have admonished all our other children to keep things well-taken care of since they have to be used four times over, and we don’t want Otter to get dog-eared hand-me-downs.  This is going to be Otter’s very own book so I am patient in letting it be loved.


In practice:
All in all, I do “school” with her and Charger (5yo) for about an hour a day.  She sits at the table to do her worksheet and her other supplemental activity, then I lose her for a little bit while she goes to play and I work with Charger, and then she comes back and we do the other supplemental activity for the day and/or re-play an activity she liked.  We usually come back in the afternoon to finish whatever we didn’t cover in the morning, or do more re-play as well.

This program is just so perfect for a three year old, it seems like it was written by other three year olds for their peers to enjoy.  Thank goodness that there are educational experts who have studied child development…I have a strong suspicion that they were consulted on this program.

Horizon has exceeded my expectations with this program.  I have always enjoyed their colorful pages and activities.  This is about to become my favorite Horizon program, and I am only going to get to use it once!  At least we are going to get to use it and love it well for the next nine months – I can’t wait to see how our littlest Sweet Pea blossoms with this program.


One week of print materials – Horizon Preschool for Threes by Alpha Omega Publishing


Toddler Tooth Health

Over the past six months I have filtered through, purchased, read and absorbed every last bit of information that I could find regarding tooth health and then specifically tooth health in children. It is a long, windy road of events and information but I thought I would try to briefly summarize in a post that may be helpful for other families feeling the urge to shy away from modern dentistry.

toddler tooth health

While making the move toward a more healthy and holistic lifestyle during our time living in Arizona, a friend and herbalist recommended an unbelievably great dentist, Dr. David Lewis. His practice is no frills and so inexpensive that we found my dental insurance at the time to not even be beneficial for my husband and I anymore and therefore did not have to renew it. He does not use harmful X-Rays and sticks to the very basics of tooth health. We loved and appreciated receiving cleanings from him (if you are in AZ and looking for a new dentist definitely check him out!) but unfortunately we moved away from the area when my son was ten months old and I never got the chance to ask him if he sees children.

Fast forward a little more than a year and I discovered my son has some brown spots in between his front four teeth. I had already discovered he had an undiagnosed lip tie (which I am sure was the culprit for our zillion breastfeeding troubles) and this seemed to be another by-product of that.

From “When a lip tie – also known as a maxillary frenum attachment – is present the mouth has trouble clearing milk away from the top four teeth. In Katie it caused the breast fed version of what is commonly called “bottle rot.””

After tons of reading, including the holy grail of holistic dentistry, Cure Tooth Decay, I decided we would make some changes and give his teeth some time to heal and restore and then take him to visit a holistic dentist in a few months to a year when he is older (the recommendation for first dental visit was 3 years old for quite some time and has more recently been pushed up to 2 years and 1 years) and has a better understanding of what will take place during the visit, etc. Below is everything we have implemented as of today.
Please remember: These are simply my own opinions based on my own thoughts, gathered knowledge, and experiences. I am not a Doctor or any kind of health professional so please consult a professional before making any changes to your diet and health. Please do what is right individual to you and your family. 

Traditional Foods Diet
For us this is: no grains except soaked oats, no added sugars except honey, organic free-range chicken, organic grass-fed beef, organic grass-fed butter, bone broth, farmer’s market fruit & vegetables, organic nuts & seeds, local raw cow’s milk and raw milk cheeses. We eat occasional organic beans and legumes too. We roasted a whole chicken on Sunday to have on hand for the week for lunches and made bone broth with left over vegetable ends, the chicken carcass and some chicken feet for extra gelatin. Eliminating juice and crackers from my son’s diet was actually a lot easier than I thought, if we don’t have it in the house it is really not an issue. We still indulge in the occasional treat out and I don’t stress if he grabs some of his friend’s crackers during play dates, etc.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil
More info found here. I ordered the Green Pastures Arctic Mint Liquid. No it is not easy to get my 2.5 year old to take it but it is worth the battle, in my opinion.

Tooth Soap
I used this DIY recipe for tooth soap to use most days a long with our homemade tooth paste every once in a while.

Tooth Tissues
We brush my son’s teeth once in the morning after breakfast and once at night before bed. Before nap time I wipe his teeth down with one of these tissues, if he does have a sugary treat during the day I also wipe down right after.

No Food After Brushing
We encourage my son to snack before bed so he sleeps with a full tummy but he now finishes all of his snacks and then brushes teeth right before getting in bed to read books. He knows that once teeth are brushed that means no more food. If he does happen to stay up later and grab a banana or something then we just wipe down really well with the tooth tissues above.

I purchased probiotic capsules, break them open and add the powder or gel to T’s water. Dr. Ohhira’s is an awesome brand and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, albeit pricey.

This is everything we have implemented so far, I have on my to-do list to check out some homeopathic supplementation and to look more into added calcium and phosphorus though. I hope these are helpful, even for preventative ideas to implement with your babies, toddlers or children! There is so much more information out there regarding holistic tooth health and the detriments of modern dentistry on overall health but I really wanted to keep this brief and straightforward as I have continued to feel extremely overwhelmed every time I sit down to go over the available information on the subject!

What are you experiences regarding your family’s teeth? Any other helpful tips I can be using with my toddler??

Tuesday Tips: Bare Bones Newborn Essentials

Now that I am approaching past the halfway mark of my second pregnancy we I have started thinking about the “things” we will need.

hi baby!

hi baby!

I tried to keep the stuff to a minimum with our first, even with our attempt people still bring things, certain things seemed appealing to us when our son reached x,y,z milestones and eventually I ended up giving away a TON of “baby” things when we moved (my son was 10 months old). This time around the attempt to keep things to a minimum is even greater as we know what lasts and what doesn’t and considering that home birth costs roughly 3x more here in central California as ours in Arizona did, we are on a strict budget to save up for birth and newborn care. I also feel that money is better spent during pregnancy on prenatal herbs and supplements, chiropractic adjustments, massages, a birth tub, birth and postpartum supplies/luxuries and the like to give our babe the best start at life even if it means having to sacrifice a few conveniences for ourselves during the first year.

This is what I have narrowed my personal list down to, it isn’t as bare as diapers, wipes, clothes and boobs but it was as darn close as I could come while still considering my sanity of having to take care of two children on my own most days past two weeks postpartum.


I used a ring sling with my son and I loved the ease of use and versatility it provided. I especially loved the cradle carry position during infancy, the option to forward face once the baby gained head control and the ease of breastfeeding while in the sling. I will definitely be getting a Sakura Bloom Pure Linen Sling as everyone I know raves about them and they are made locally in the US in Massachusetts.  I do have an Ergo Organic that I used from about 10 days until now still with my son that I am sure I will use quite a bit too but having the sling for different situations and especially the younger months is a must in my book!

Much more of a must this time around in our cooler weather and considering that baby should arrive sometime in January. I am going to keep it very simple and pick up a few organic pieces, onesies, tees, leggings and sweaters. I love American Apparel Baby and Kate Quinn Organics, both organic cotton and made in USA. We will be reusing all of our Aden + Anais organic swaddle blankets we still have from when my son was born.

I cloth diapered with my son and absolutely loved it, until we moved to the central coast. We live less than a mile from the ocean in a town notorious for its fog and lack of sunny days. It is always damp here and line drying is completely out of the question. After a few months of drying the diapers in a dryer and coming up with no options for a diaper service I called it quits 🙁 We have been using Seventh Generation pull-ups which I love, but considering the transition from a one child to two child family as well as the trip that is required to frequently purchase these I am excited to try out The Honest Company for diapers + wipes with this little babe (knock on wood, all fingers crossed that in January our then 2 year 10 month old will be completely potty learned!!) The delivery aspect is something I am extremely excited about, I have heard nothing but good reviews regarding the quality of product and delivery service and think we will give it a go for a bit and see how we like it.

Double Jogging Stroller
A jogging stroller is a must for our family as I walk numerous places in a 2-3 mile vicinity of our home, which includes tons of uneven surfaces and hills. I don’t plan on using any type of infant seat attachment with a stroller as we are putting baby straight into a convertible car seat that we already own, so this won’t be entirely necessary until I am comfortable placing baby directly in the seat. I see me using my single stroller for my toddler and wearing the baby for the first couple/few months, which gives us plenty of time to save up for the stroller I want, the BOB Revolution SE Duallie. I use my stroller every single day without fail and have been making due with a decade old completely bare jogger we picked up on Craig’s List for ~$40 for the past 2.5 years. This is a splurge I have been looking forward to for some time! That being said, I will definitely not be buying this guy new and have already seen quite a few in great condition on Craig’s List in my area!

Portable Swing
We borrowed a full size swing from a friend with my son and he used it non stop for months. He liked the motion, had a hard time sleeping, had reflux and liked to be upright and it was a lifesaver. I know all babies are different, but I would like to be prepared. It is also nice to have a safe place to set baby down away from a crazy toddler or if I need to attend to the toddler for whatever reason. I am pretty set that the swing is going to be a must. I have my eye on a 4moms, their products are all breathtaking to me! I haven’t decided between a rockaRoo or mamaRoo yet but love the compact, portable nature of both – a definite necessity for our small living space.

Ergo Infant Insert
I mentioned we used the Ergo from about Day 10 with my son but we never actually had an infant insert. He was born in March in AZ and it just seemed to hot and sweaty and I had quite a few moms show me how they used swaddle blankets to secure baby instead. This time around because of the time of year and weather the snuggly coziness of the infant insert seems very appealing, especially because I am much more “on the go” chasing a toddler these days. I will probably try to borrow or buy one off of a friend!

I haven’t quite decided if I absolutely need a nursing pillow or baby lounger pillow or if they are something we can do without this round. I already have a breast pump and I am not really sure if we will even bother with bottles, so that is about it! Baby will sleep in bed with us or next to our bed on a crib mattress on the floor, I mentioned we already have a convertible car seat for him/her, we have tons of flat cloth diapers to use as burp rags, etc. and although I would love a new diaper bag, I am sure my old one will do just fine 🙂

Anything bare bones, absolutely necessary that I am missing? What newborn “essentials” did you have on your list??

Back to School

Here is a quick share of some things “new to us” that we are incorporating into our homeschool this year.

We switched to using a calendar from Mona MELisa designs that sticks to the wall, so we are not restricted on pocket size for our add-ons.  In the past, the images I slid into the pockets were limited to about 2/day.  Now that we have four kiddos with activities to keep track of, it was nice to be able to have a little more space.

We use a visual activity calendar that our kiddos can use to see which activities they have that day.  It may look like a lot, however keep in mind that Otter (PreK) and Charger (K) only “do school” for an hour – 1.5 hours a day; Night Owl (2nd) and Puma (4th) are schooling about 2.5 – 3 hours a day, depending on how motivated they are to study so they can move on with their day.

Visual Calendar

spf02 calendarpost

I repurposed the old calendar holder into a “Tablet Time Checklist” to keep track of their daily requirements that earn them their tablet time.  They fill in their accomplishments across the board with their color-coded marker, and then grab an achievement marker when they earn their tablet time for the day.  They have five things to do – schoolwork, reading, pet/plant chore, practice their instrument, and pick up toys+clothes:

spf01 calendarpost


No surprise that my rules-oriented Puma asked how much time they got once they earned their device for the day 🙂

One more share – we added a puppet theater to our homeschool props.  The box of puppets came out immediately and all the kiddos took turns putting on a show.  Puma even pulled out her ukelele and “played music” for the shows.  I use “quotes” because so far she has three scales and three chords to play since she just started her lessons on this instrument yesterday…I am just thrilled to hear her playing and willing to share her music.

spf03 calendarpost

ALEX products were on sale this summer on – I splurged since it was a good deal – so glad I did.

So these are three of our adds that did not cost a lot of money and still give us some new visual and sensory experiences for the year.  We re-use a lot of material from year to year, so it was nice to have new things (really two new bought at a discount and one repurposed) while being frugal at the same time.