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Christina Penn RSS Feed (Brambleton, Virginia, United States)

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Evenflo Amp Lx No Back Booster Car Seat, Pop Blue
Evenflo Amp Lx No Back Booster Car Seat, Pop Blue
Price: $24.99
14 used & new from $21.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Good basic backless booster, December 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this in lieu of renting a carseat from the rental car company, and it did a great job. I was hoping sitting three-across, one adult and two kids in boosters, would work in a standard sedan, but it was really only workable for short trips around town. But that's a function of smaller modern full-sized cars, not any flaw of the carseat. I left the seat at my in-laws' house, for use on future trips to visit them. I appreciate the slot for storing the manual underneath the seat, so they can always find it when needed.


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
by Phyllis Haddox
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.49
439 used & new from $5.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It works if you work it!, July 5, 2014
I started this with my 4 year-old son and 5 year-old daughter over a year ago. My daughter, now 6, recently completed the book, and my son, now 5, is 27 lessons from the end. To the extent that it has taken us this long is only because I was boneheaded in my approach, and did not initially follow the authors' very detailed instructions about correcting mistakes. When I pulled my head out of you-know-where, and actually internalized their instructions, my kids took off like a rocket! My son is only behind his sister because it took him longer to trust me again, but he is killing it now.

Here is my reformed approach to using this book:

1) I do not schedule lessons for a specific time every day, or even mandate that they be done every day. But, I have come to require that a lesson is completed before any screen time every day. This means my kids ask (sometimes nag) me to do the work, not the other way around.

2) I use a quarter-sized piece of construction paper, held by a paper-clip, to both act as a bookmark, and to hide the illustration for each story, without blocking my ability to read through the tasks. Revealing the picture after reading the story the second time through is a huge payoff for the kids, and with two kids using the book at the same time, two different colored pieces of paper were necessary to keep everything straight.

3) Early on my kids were skittish with writing, especially my perfectionist, left-handed son. So instead of using paper and pencil, I bought a variety pack of fine-point dry-erase markers and dry-erase lettering pads. Markers are very seductive to kids. By the time the book started requiring them to write compound sounds (th, er), they were ready for paper and pencil. We use Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri-Write Triangular #2 Pencils, Primary Size, Wood-Cased, Black Writing, 36-Count (13082) and 1"-ruled primary paper.

4) My husband has also read the Parents' Guide and can lead lessons when he is home. This is very nice for everyone, since using this book teaches you how to teach reading as much as it teaches your child how to read. Even after you have completed this book, you will still be needed to help your child work through more advanced material.

5) The kids read their stories from the day's lesson to their dad when he comes home. They love showing off what they can do, he loves seeing the progress, and I love the extra practice they get.

If there is one piece of advice I can give to anyone using this book, it is to read the Parents' Guide. Learn it. Know it. Live it. If you try to use this book, but do not follow the authors' instructions on how to use the book, you will be wasting your time.


Boardwalk Empire: Season 1
Boardwalk Empire: Season 1
DVD
Price: $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If you think you will enjoy this show, you are right., July 3, 2014
A gorgeous show about a fascinating era. Steve Buscemi is perfect. His character is such an interesting one, and he portrays the complexities so well. The supporting cast is excellent, but Buscemi is the star. If the description of the show interests you, it is a safe bet that you will enjoy it.


Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri-Write Triangular #2 Pencils, Primary Size, Wood-Cased, Black Writing, 36-Count (13082)
Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri-Write Triangular #2 Pencils, Primary Size, Wood-Cased, Black Writing, 36-Count (13082)
Price: $14.50
71 used & new from $12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, they are better than round barrel My First Ticonderoga pencils., March 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I dithered over the decision to buy these pencils for a while, because it's a lot of money for a lot of pencils. In the meantime I bought a four-pack of the round barrel My First Ticonderogas from some brick-and-mortar store. The pencils have identical components (lead, wood, eraser), so the only difference is indeed in the barrel design, and the Tri-Writes are far and away more comfortable to hold. This opinion is shared by all the others who use the pencils in my house, from my left-handed husband, to my right-handed Kindergartener, to my left-handed preschooler. I bought them because my lefty preschooler was having trouble with his grip, and the pencils do a great job in that regard. These are pricey pencils, but I decided they were more likely to get used to their maximum potential than a pack of grip aids. I bet if Dixon would sell them in boxes of twelve and/or packs of four, they would fly off the shelves.


Sax 50 lb Manila Drawing Paper - 9 x 12 in - Pack of 500 - Manila
Sax 50 lb Manila Drawing Paper - 9 x 12 in - Pack of 500 - Manila
Price: $7.49
2 used & new from $7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy enough for two-sided use., March 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I chose 50 lb. manila paper over 40 lb. because I wanted something that could withstand double-sided use without too much showing through, and this paper succeeds perfectly. The finish is excellent, and takes crayon, pencil, markers, and ballpoint pen very well for our purposes as homeschoolers. With 500 sheets, we'll be set for quite some time, I hope. Nice paper like this does seem to beg to get used!


My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection
My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.25
80 used & new from $5.29

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent paper dolls for a beginner, March 14, 2013
I am a collector of paper dolls (mostly Tom Tierney) since childhood and a big fan of the Little House series of books. So it made great sense for a relative to gift my 4 year-old daughter with the first three books of the series and these paper dolls. I put both aside until just this month, when my daughter turned 5. We just finished The Little House in the Big Woods by reading a chapter every night before bed. As a reward, I pulled these dolls out and cut them out for her. If my daughter were more practiced with scissors I would let her cut the clothes out, or at the very least, cut some easy parts. On the spectrum of paper doll difficulty, these rate very low. I would expect a 7 or 8 year old could handle it with no problem.

I feel I must address the complaint of having to cut out the clothes. I have had paper dolls with punch-out clothes, and they rip. Not because the paper quality is worse, though it can be, but because ripping along perforations is fraught with accidents even when ripping a straight line, let alone the frequently intricate curves of paper clothing. Cutting the clothing affords you more control, and makes for smoother, more attractive edges as well.

If you want to present a young child with this set all ready to play with, then settle down on the couch watching TV and you'll knock it out pretty quickly. First, remove the dolls and clothes from the cover of the book, which conveniently serves as a storage folder for the finished dolls. I cut out the items but left all the description boxes of the upper left corners of the items pages. You could just remove the pages altogether, but I like to preserve the "story."

Punch out the perforated dolls, then cut _around_ each item of clothing and accessory. This is because it's far easier to cut individual items out with only small margins of paper surrounding them, than five things on one large page. I recommend using sharp scissors for maximum maneuverability. For very small, precise cuts (which this set doesn't really demand) nail scissors work well. I tend to cut the small details (tabs in this case) last, and always go slow with small movements in tricky areas.

My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that there isn't a set for every book in the series!


LeapFrog Count And Draw
LeapFrog Count And Draw
17 used & new from $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a smash success!, January 14, 2013
This review is from: LeapFrog Count And Draw (Toy)
I have long scorned the LeapFrog family of products from afar. My kids are only 3 and 4 so I've not long been in a position to consider myself in need of anything they sell, and besides that, everything is electronic! Surely I should eschew these newfangled noisemakers in favor of tried-and-true favorites like wooden blocks and such. As Christmas approached I found myself scouring Amazon for gifts for my son and daughter, and my mind was blown when I happened upon a product review for a preschooler workbook in which the reviewer and all the subsequent commenters said the LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD was the single most powerful tool they had used in teaching their children to recognize letters and learn their sounds. I went to the Amazon page for it and found myself looking at what is easily the most positively reviewed product I have ever encountered in my 10+ years of (Christmas) shopping on Amazon.

So after reading pages of glowing reviews of that LeapFrog product I happily let Amazon and its reviewers lead me down a breadcrumb trail of other LeapFrog products and without much thought or deep consideration added this Count and Draw to my Wishlist for the kids for grandparents (and me!) to consult when birthdays and Christmas rolls around. I honestly never expected it to be purchased, but added it as a 'nice to have.' This past Christmas I ended up buying the LeapFrog Learning DVD Set for my kids, which includes the Letter Factory as well as two other DVDs. It was a great buy and those three DVDs have been more popular than any of the other DVDs/blu-rays that kids received for Christmas. The kids ask to watch them quite often, and have taken to singing songs and sounding out letters they see wherever we go.

Now, I did still buy a bunch of workbooks for my two preschoolers, as well as thick pencils, and fancy lined paper. I want them to start writing letters and numbers and so I got them the means to write them. We started out strong, but soon our writing sessions were turning into scribbles with expensive materials. They don't really know how to write the letters and numbers and I don't really know how to teach them. The stuff is now sitting in a drawer, untouched for at least a week.

Yesterday my kids received the Count and Draw as well as the LeapFrog Scribble and Write from their grandfather in a belated Christmas get-together. He had seen them on the Wishlist and gotten one for each kid. What a great couple of gifts! The two have been playing with them almost non-stop, and without any need for instructions from us. Though my four-year old has some ability to form some letters, my three-year old has been heretofore uninterested in even trying. This Count and Draw has been in his hot little hands practically nonstop, and he is confidently tracing numbers with the stylus. We have stumbled upon the missing link between LeapFrog's DVDs and writing with pencils on paper. This is the perfect toy for children who "know" their numbers and are ready to start writing them.

If I have a quibble it is that this toy has only two volume settings, and both are too loud for my taste. But that is a small issue given that my son is now enthusiastically writing.


Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart (33969)
Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart (33969)
Offered by HOUSEWARES
Price: $59.95
40 used & new from $35.55

443 of 460 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great First Slow Cooker, May 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After much research and reading of reviews on Amazon, I decided to buy this slow cooker as my first. So far we have used it a handful of times , each time netting us GREAT results. We have cooked using all the settings, including the probe setting. That in particular was eye opening, for we learned that a Boston Butt cooked on HIGH will be cooked to temperature in less than 2 hours. So this slow cooker gets hot! Calibrate your recipes when you first get your slow cooker so as to determine how long each will take. This goes for any slow cooker you end up with, not just this one.

I was worried that the slow cooker would be too big for our family (2 adults, 2 small children). I needn't have worried. It's the perfect capacity for a dinner plus one night's leftovers.

Why did I pick this model instead of the other Hamilton-Beach with a lot more reviews? Because I saw the higher model number on this one and hoped that it meant that this model is the newest one. So far I've had none of the problems people have described in the reviews for the other product, so I'd say it was a good gamble. I will update this review if the situation changes.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2015 8:08 AM PDT


Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burgundy Red (Fits Kindle Keyboard)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burgundy Red (Fits Kindle Keyboard)
2 used & new from $74.99

5.0 out of 5 stars After A Year Still Flawless, May 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was wondering if such an expensive case was worth it, and after reading the glowing reviews I decided to get it with my Kindle in June of last year. I knew I wanted something that would protect the Kindle and with a built-in light. I'm so glad I got this case. It has exceeded expectations in every way. The quality of materials and assembly are top notch. My case looks and works no different than it did when it arrived nearly a year ago. My Kindle is likewise in flawless condition, as this case has protected it completely.


Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three
Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three
by Paula Polk Lillard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.33
138 used & new from $2.34

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good food for thought, April 24, 2012
I received this book as a gift from my own childhood Montessori teacher (and family friend) Kathleen Futrell, author of The normalized child, when I was pregnant with my first child. I had big plans to implement the book in totality. Then I had my daughter.

I implemented a lot of the book's suggestions, the most expensive of which was using a weaning table instead of a high chair, but I also veered from their recommendations quite a bit. My kids slept in cribs, we have some crappy plastic toys, and I used disposable diapers, to name a few. Frankly I think that too many reviewers on here take the book too seriously. It's not all or nothing. Take what works for your kids, ignore what doesn't. I too was initially shocked by the authors' recommendation to wean at 9 months, so I blew it off. Same with diapering. The daycare my daughter went to wouldn't do cloth diapers, so we went disposable. And good luck finding reasonably priced wooden toys that are Montessori-approved! So our kids have the same plastic shape sorting set that everyone has, etc.

Frankly I do wish were more Montessori in our home, but we do the best we can. At least this book addresses the infant-preschooler age range in a comprehensive way.


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