Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cleaning Our Diatom Canister Filter

I've been working on putting more videos up with tutorials on how to do things... this hopefully makes it easier and faster to follow tutorials, but it also cuts down on how much time I'm spending typing up the explanation. It's just easier to give the information as I go.

I received a Diatom Canister Filter (D1) with the aquarium setup that I upgraded to. An older one, but it works great- except it kept getting clogged. As in every day it would clog and we'd have to take the whole thing apart. My husband wanted me to buy a new filter and toss this one. I'm glad I didn't.

In this video, I go over how we took it apart, rinsed the bag so we can reuse it, then added new charcoal. We also reinstalled all the pieces and put it back in the tank.

Since doing this, we've had no further issues. Yay. I hope this is helpful to someone... these filters are quite neat. Note that we had black charcoal powder we used before and the newer stuff I ordered is white. Way better.

Note that towards the end of the video, I mention that the manual states you can keep the powder from going back into the aquarium water by starting up the process of reinstalling the filter in your tank by using a container of water hooked to the side of the tank. We still need to get a container that will work for this so I'll try to update when we find something.

Eh oh yeah... sorry about the screaming child. My 2.5 year old was throwing a tantrum upstairs while we were videotaping part of this. Hopefully it can't be heard too loudly. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Speekee- Spanish for Kids and GIVEAWAY!

Website that teaches children Spanish
I recently had the opportunity to try out a membership to Speekee, a website for kids to learn Spanish. This website is set up both for younger and older kids. My sons are 9 months and 2 years 9 months old so I focused more on the FastTrack portion.

From the Manufacturer
Speekee FastTrack: Perfect for Younger Learners
  • For children up to 7 years old
  • Look for the FastTrack near the bottom of the screen at (membership required)
  • Your child learns Spanish through authentic Spanish videos, puppets and song
  • Optionally you use the FastTrack activity ideas at home
The Speekee Spanish Challenge: Brilliant for Older Learners
  • For children 7 years and older
  • Your child learns through over 40 authentic Spanish videos and mission based game play
  • Speekee tracks your child's progress and reports back to you by email (you can unsubscribe from emails at any time)
  • Explore, communicate, learn and play at
  • After logging in, click on the bell icon for your first mission
Fast Track offers a really cool lesson plan that shows how to implement it and links the daily video. Awesome idea. This would work really well as part of a home schooling curriculum and is such a great thing. The info under fast track includes parent ideas like making sock puppets to help teach children Spanish.

Here's some screenshots... the first shows where you can find the "FastTrack" option on the bottom of the page.

This screenshot shows what FastTrack looks like in terms of helping you setup a lesson plan for learning Spanish. There's more to this if you click the link for each week.

More detailed view of the lesson plan for week 1 off FastTrack. I hope you can see this:

Both of my sons liked the website and watched the videos actively when I put them on our television via our computer. There's even a section with Superman which my oldest got excited about. We used to have a computer setup for G, but took it down as he is doing most everything on the iPad now. The Speekee videos didn't seem to work on our iPad 2 so I'm not sure if you'll be able to use it on anything but a computer at this point (or if it's just an issue of my iPad being older or what). We hooked up our Chromebook via HDMI to our television to play it on the big screen. Unfortunately we had a slight delay in sound and video at times as a result of this setup (not Speekee's fault).

Here's a video of how we did this:

I believe it's also possible on many televisions now to pull up the website on the television itself to watch the show. I'm not a huge fan of this because I find it frustrating to get it setup (ie. typing in name and password) and make selections so the HDMI cable really is preferable to me. 

Things that would make this website even better:
  • The link for FastTrack is hidden in really small font at the very bottom of the page next to the copyright stuff. This should be on the main page and offer option there to go into fast track or into the regular program. 
  • Navigation through site needs to be more clear cut. There's a play button arrows everywhere and they seem to mean different things- ie. Play button on top left on video screens brings you back to main screen.
  • This didn't work on our iPad2 (no app and the web page crashed my iPad twice). An app would be awesome!
  • There are some parts of videos that aren't easy to figure out what the words being used mean- for example, a section teaching words for family members using a family tree might not make sense to the younger kids. I think it'd be neat to get rid of the "like/dislike" section to the right of the videos (it's distracting and it'd be better to have the number of likes/dislikes next to those buttons). In that place, they could put the new words used in the video and the translation to English. Then if the child is having trouble identifying what a word is, the parent can help (or an older child could read it themselves). 
This is a really great website with a lot of promise. If you're interested in your children learning Spanish, this is worth a try to help introduce them to the language! Below you can enter to win a THREE months membership to Speekee! If you've never entered through Rafflecopter before, this is a quick and easy way to get entries for a raffle by "liking" us on social networking sites and letting others know about this contest. Thanks for entering!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Learn Martial Arts Online (And Giveaway!)

I had an opportunity to try out martial arts lessons online... these lessons are based in Kung Fu which I've been wanting to learn, but I've taken Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do in the past, as well as Muay Thai Kickboxing. I'm looking forward to teaching my sons martial arts someday... hopefully in the near future. In the meantime, my 2.5 year old likes to stand beside me and pretend to do it too. Fun times!

This website is great for learning the martial art with all the background information that you generally wouldn't get in the in-person martial arts classes... there's a bit of reading involved, then there are demo videos. I can watch these on my computer or on my TV, which I see by logging in through the web browser on our Playstation 3. Any device that hooks up to your TV and has a web browser should suffice.

This is such an awesome concept, especially for people who are good at committing to a consistent at-home workout. It seems like there's a good amount of information to learn, both via video and reading. The blog sends frequent emails covering topics relevant to martial arts.

This site is still in development so here are the suggestions I think need to be addressed:
  • A different color scheme. Black backgrounds are rough on the eyes in my opinion. The red and green are pretty harsh too. White would be ideal. 
  • Better navigation so it's easier to find what you need for the next lesson. I think it'd be great to login and have your lesson for the day pop up. Once you complete a class it could be available in archives, but won't pop up under classes to complete. It would help an individual track what they've completed. Or a list of videos to complete and as you watch each, a check mark pops up next to them. 
  • Better quality video, making sure to show moves from various angles.
  • Consistent class structure for each video- ie. Intro bow, intro class topic, warmup, main class structure, then cool down, bow).
  • Slightly less frequent emails.  
The website,, offers the lessons for FREE. You can also sign up for upgrades or sign up for a Premium Account, which is what I'm trying out.

Enter at the bottom of this post for a giveaway for a FREE premium account upgrade.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.