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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Bandage Has Been Ripped Off....and It Hurts!

There is a lot of this going on in our house lately.  Life has been a bit overwhelming without the band-aid of video games.  We are sticking to a new rule of no video games during the week and only when time permits on the weekends.

A little back history....Skylar grew up with that same rule and so did Mahala until Kaden developed an interest when he was 4.  Skylar, almost 21 attends college and has a successful job working with children on the Spectrum.  Mahala is still at home learning with me and like Skylar doesn't seem to have any real challenges on or off the computer.  Kaden on the other hand has a problem.  Let me explain what we have seen.

In the beginning we just thought he was so darn cute in the big office chair.  The headphones were so huge and they squished his little checks together and made him have a fishy face.  At that time he showed no real interest in people, his toys or anything else for that matter.  But, all of a sudden our boy literally emerged from behind the couch to see what the Big fuss over this box with a screen was all about.  We were happy he wanted to do something "typical".  

At this point he had just started ABA therapy.  He wasn't potty trained, wouldn't let you hold him, never focused his eyes on your face, he was repetitive with movements and with talking.  Kaden was a toe walking, twirling kid running scared of any little sound or movement.  I remember when his days consisted of numbers and sequences all day long.  The fear of water and physical touch was a nightmare to navigate during bath time.  He was totally disconnected with the outside world.

So, A few hours a day of Video games became a little bit of heaven for not only me, but the whole family.  It became the only reinforcement that worked during his 30 hours of therapy a week.  We used it as a reward for participating in therapy and for doing things that were way outside his comfort zone.  A few hours turned into 4 or 5 hour each day and slowly increased over the course of 2 or 3 years to the present.  Now he is almost 8 and would spend most of the day playing.  When he wasn't playing he was talking about playing.  And when he wasn't doing that he was very aggressive to himself and property.  Now before you ask, no he didn't play violent, crazy games.  Minecraft was his favorite and only game.  It was okay for him for about 15 minutes and then he would get frustrated or overwhelmed about something regarding the game.  One time he misplaced something in a chest and we spent 3 days going through all of his hundreds of chests looking for the item.  Even though in the end it really was only important to him, not really important in the game itself.

For the past year we have been going through a Family crisis I guess you can say.  Game time became like a band-aid, because we could find time to deal with what was going on in the Family.  Between therapy, the older kids and video games Kaden was taken care of while we healed from trauma that we were going through.  During all this we would take away his game play all together because of behavior and within a day we would see an incredible decrease in negative behavior.  He would have little fits of rage, but after several days he was a new person.  And then we would give in again after having a few weeks of such amazing behavior.  We would think he deserved a little break, only to be slapped in the face with cold reality that video games have this negative effect on him.  Now, we have tried several kinds of games and he doesn't seem to get worked up over them.  It's the computer games that seem to do it to him, unfortunately it's his favorite game...Minecraft.

Now we are focused and on the road to Family recovery so that means getting Kaden healthy and happy too.  Which is why we took the no video games during the week and only for a few hours on the weekend approach.
What we have found after a few days of rage was that he has this major need for physical activity.  He's been riding his bike, using the trampoline more and goes outside just to look at stuff and explore he says.  He has played with play-dough, painted, actually build with his legos and just snuggle.  Here is an example, we had our weekly review with the Therapist we worked with when he had ABA therapy.  She was amazed because for the first time in 3 years he sat with us at the table and talked about random stuff from the week.  He shared an upcoming movie trailer and even invited her to a game of chess.  Who was this kid???  And how can I keep him out here with all of us?

I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been some of the hardest to get through.  He has soooo much energy that sometimes he just runs around the couch screaming or talking about a subject that we have no idea about.  He is in a constant state of motion and silence is something I have not experienced except when I drift off to sleep finally.  But, at least he's not in a coma in front of a screen.  I'm not saying all kids are like this, but mine is.  And I want him to be alive and awake....feeling all that the world has to offer him.  And our Family will huddle around him as he experiences life in a whole new way.  :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Girl has a Blog

Mahala has a New Blog that she is working on.  She just posted a few pictures on her latest post.  I'm so proud of her.

Life Behind the Screen

Monday, January 12, 2015

Accidentally Delicious.....


If I had to describe my cooking style in 2 words I would say Accidentally Delicious.  I grew up in the South, so I have a love for food.  Some of the Best foods come from the South, but living on the West coast for the past 14 years has added a little charm to my pot.  You haven't lived till you have tried one of my double fried chicken sandwiches smothered in an avocado sauce and loaded with fresh garden fixings and sprouts.  Did I mention it's not really fried and it's crammed into a homemade sourdough hoagie roll????

Most days I take a poll with the Fam and then grab whatever protein won.  A quick look in the veggie bins, garden tubs and Pantry rounds out the meal.  I then see a vision....I have a feeling, a hankering. 

I always start with the Holy of all Holies..... GARLIC!  I feel Garlic can go in ANYTHING!!!!  I draw the line at cereal and homemade poptarts.  But, besides that I honestly feel it just works.  My next foodie favorite of all is the pungent onion.  Yes, not as Wham Bam as Garlic, but it definitely adds a presence to any meal.  And of course salt and pepper, the seasoning not the music group.

My other can't live withouts in the seasoning cabinet...like I would never be able to cook without them! 
Spanish Paprika
Basil
Saffron
Cayenne
Sage
Curry
Rosemary
 Fresh Chives and Cilantro are also a daily must!
Of course there are plenty of others, these are just ones that I use day in and day out.

So, the meal up above started out to be one thing and then turned into this and since then has become one of our Family's favorites.  I had bought cubed steak to make country fried steak for dinner one evening.  When we got home I realized I forgot the milk....you have to have milk.  Darn!  Well, it's all out on the counter, so we are having something tonight...now we have this more then the country fried steak. :)

Whatcha Need:

Cubed Steak
Onions
frozen Green Beans
(Optional Mushrooms)

1/2 cup of water or beef broth
1 tbsp of flour
1/2 stick of butter

Seasonings on the meat that I used- (approximate measures)
Paprika 1/2 t
Sea Salt 1/2 t
Pepper 1/2 t
Cayenne 1/4 t
Garlic Powder 1 t

I sliced the cubed steak into strips, placed them in a bowl and sprinkled the seasonings on.  I never measure, which is why I NEVER share recipes.  I promise to get better at this!!  What I always do to check my seasonings when I make a new dish is I prepare a tester piece.  So, for this meal I would cut one of the strips in half and cook them up first.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  I EYEBALL everything, I know how much I need of a seasoning in my hand to give my dish the flavor I want.  Next time I will measure, but first I need to find the measuring cups.....now where did I put them.....hmmmmm?

-Okay, after you eat your tester piece adjust your seasonings if you need to. :)  -Then add your flour to the bowl of meat. - Next you need to add the butter to your pan to melt.  Once it sizzles toss in all your floured, seasoned meat.  Spread it out and make sure your pan is on a low high/high med heat.
-Next you need to slice your onions and optional mushrooms if you want.  I use frozen usually with this because it's too easy.
-After 2 minutes or so on one side stir the meat and add the onions.  Stir occasional because you want the meat to brown evenly.  As you stir and a little bit of water or beef broth.  That along with the butter, meat juice and flour will make you a nice little gravy.  If you see little clumps of flour, just whisk them out with your spoon or spatula.  -Once you see that the majority of the meat is cooked and the frozen beans and put on med/low heat until beans are tender.  Add a little water or broth throughout if needed until you get a nice sauce/gravy going.

The whole meal takes about 20 minutes, super fast and way delicious.  We serve it over rice most of the time, but have ate it with yummy mashed potatoes too.

Enjoy, let me know if you try it with your Family! :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

God Shaped Hole


Every since I was knee high to a grasshopper I've had a Special relationship with the Lord.  I remember nights singing to him until I would fall asleep.  I'd tell him all my secrets most little girls would whisper to their Barbie dolls or friends on the playground.  I would secretly pray to him when an ambulance whizzed by or when I caught a glimpse of tragedy on the nightly news.  

This all came about I'm sure because every single year I was in a new school, new town, new house....thanks to my Dad serving in the Navy.  I never connected with people, never had the sleepover, back yard birthday party experience.  It was just me, my parents, and the Lord.  I never realized how important my relationship would truly become one day.  How I would need to depend and lean on Him so much.  That one day I would not be able to breathe without him filling my lungs first.

Even as I grew up and became a young adult God was my center rock.  As life changed and I married there became a distance between God and I.  Almost like a child moving out and starting their own life.  Coming home to visit only when laundry needs to be washed or a late bill needs desperately paid.  That was me in my late 20's and early 30's.  Autism, Kids, making my Husband happy, homeschooling, health matters, money, just life in general became my primary focus.  God was just for church, nightly prayers and the daily distress pleas.  

I lost my relationship, Not my Belief.  

It took something drastic in my Family to bring me to my knees.  To fall at the Lord's feet and have the Veil lifted from my eyes.  I had been running scared for years instead of living in light.  It's a Beautiful thing to wake up without a heavy confused heart.  I have this amazing sense of Peace!  

We all have a God Shaped Hole that we try to fill up with  
 money, addictions, other people's love and approval, material things, desires, job titles, fame, likes and friends on social media and ton of other things that make us Stay in Denial.  

But, when we realize that Nothing fits in that hole but a relationship with God we will then find Peace, Wholeness, Acceptance, Love, Contentment, Grace, Satisfaction, Thankfulness, Hope, Health, Friendship and Clarity.  I have this right now, just like I did as a little girl.  
Have you ever experienced this kind of Spiritual Transformation?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Prep and Plan with God

Showered and dressed....no make up, but ready to start the New Year's Eve preparations.  Food, games, movie watching and did I mention food?  Oh and we will fast forward through all the garbage to watch the ball drop in New York at midnight.  

I remember a time when I had so much anticipation and wonder for the New Year.  This year is different...I have a plan of action for my life and our Family.  We have BIG things coming up.  Moving to a low key destination, becoming more self reliant, finally finishing my book.  All this while we wrap our arms around God as tightly as possible.

It's all really exciting and not overwhelming like it would have been 2 years ago for us.  I believe we feel this way because we aren't trying to be in control.  Trying to be the one in control has been our problem in the past, giving up control has freed us from ourselves from messing everything up.  God already knows the beginning and the end, so why should we stand in the middle waving around our 2 cents.  

As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Glittery Breath of Stars

We always say that we will do xyz when we lose weight, get that new job position, have more money, more time or the kids are in school or out of the house.  And sometimes we aren't given a choice, we are forced to do xyz out of circumstance.

My xyz was to grow Spiritually, I wanted to know things.  I wanted to experience inner peace or at least be in the room with it minus Kung Fu Panda playing in the background.  I just figured one day I would get around to it.  That it would become a priority when there was a free spot in my schedule.

My first meditation experience was almost like a roller coaster ride.  It was full of highs, twists, turns and at the end I floated on the effervescence of inner peace all day.  I was so surprised of the mind blowing theater system I obviously have been toting around with me my whole life I had to call my therapist.  She confirmed I had a reel of unlimited tickets to my own personal mental theater.  Now, I have to tell you I have never studied Meditation, Spirituality or anything really that would make me an expert in anything I write here on this blog.  These are just my own thoughts and opinions.  I have locked up my feelings and denied myself the ability to share my thoughts and experiences because I knew I lacked text book knowledge.  That's part of my broke down core values I have cleaved to since birth.  But, through the Miracles I have experienced this past year I have let those go, healed my heart and washed my soul.  This is why I can share my process with you now.

My first experience was pure relaxation.  It was just me, my eyelids and the night.  Being my first time I didn't use a mantra or chant anything special I just sat there and breathed.  I knew how to breathe, actually my therapist told me I was a pro at breathing.  In the beginning I didn't think it was much of a compliment.  But, now I know Breathing is life....all of life.  It's the difference between life and death.  And before last year I wasn't living...just existing.  Ok back to the meditation....I looked forward with my eyes closed.  Because of my trauma therapy I had been doing for a few months I was used to relaxation techniques by now.  And my favorable eye position(I will explain all of this later in another post) was straight ahead, right between my eyebrows.  And as I sat there and breathed deeply and slowly I imagined white light entering my body with every inhale.  And the white light supported me and filled me with love and awareness.  When I exhaled I envisioned different negative words that had filled my head my whole life.  I was ready to let go...halleluiah!!!

As I was enveloped with warm fuzzy self love I noticed something shoot across my line of vision...my closed eye vision.  I focused on it for a breath and then all of a sudden I noticed my view widening to see not just one little dot, but thousands.   And I saw a bright blue, glowing ring at my right side.  It felt like I was in a warm bath, I had nothing but peace and childlike feelings of bliss.  I thought Wow, this is really happening!  As I continued taking in the love and light a glittery, gold shimmering wave filled the sky I had developed on the inside of my eyelids.  I formed pictures and patterns.  I saw this huge Tiger and it looked as if it was trying to comfort me.  I felt a sense of kinship with him, there was love in his eyes.  Protection in the Tiger's movements....I was thinking really this is happening?  I could have stayed in this place for days, it felt like there was no time there only pure joy and fulfillment.  

With several more deep breaths I opened my eyes.  I was instantly aware that my skin was warm to the touch, even sweating a bit.  There was a tingling sensation around my head and my arms.  I remembered vividly what just happened it was an experience not a dream.  I went to write my experience down and I looked at the clock.  More then 5 hours had passed, I thought it was 20 minutes at most.  I was shocked to realize how much time had passed.  

What an experience....I at first thought how can people do this every single day and get anything else done.  I honestly thought everyone had this kind of experience right out of the gate.  But, not everyone does.  Meditation for me is a daily thing, twice a day you will find me soaring through the stars in my head.  Not 5 hour long trips all the time.  Sometimes it's a Blessed deep connection with God and I'm focused on scripture or my daily mantra.  So many options, so many outcomes that all begin with just one breath!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Re-birth for the New Year

Has it truly been this long since I've checked in.  I guess I've been more Manic then I thought.  Truth is I have been taking care of business I have ignored for years.  I have finally listened to that still small voice that tells me what I should be when I grow up.  Yes, I'm almost 40 and I have re-birthed myself.  Can you do that?  Obviously so, because that's what it feels like.  I wish I could say it's less traumatic then the first birth.  But, I think everything has it's twists, turns, bumps and close calls.  
So, I have experienced rebirth through Christ when I was 16 and this past year I have re-birthed myself with the hand of God.  Now I feel as though the sky is the limit, nothing is truly in my way.  I was in the way all these years.  I have removed my fear and all the lies I've told myself and have totally been given a path to allow even my dreams to come true.  
I have lot's of things in the works.  The year 2015 is going to hold so many new things for me and my Family.  I can't wait....this is the first time in my whole life that I actually know that the New Year has more to offer me then the previous.  I'm Ready!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games ~REVIEW

 



Yay....A fun new game to add to our towers of Family Fun!!  Yes, I said towers....we have 2 closets filled with games.  So, when our package from Out of the box Games arrived the Kiddos tore into it and played the new Snake Oil game immediately.  We have enjoyed several games from Out of the Box Games in the past, we are thankful to have the opportunity to review this one.

Out of the Box Games believes that games should be easy to learn and fun for the whole family to play together.  With BOLD BRIGHT colors and easy to figure out instructions their games deliver just that.  I know one thing I dislike is having to read complicated directions 10 times and still not honestly get the concept.  I have yet to play one of their games and have that experience.  I also appreciate that they create innovative and entertaining board and card games that our whole Family has had fun playing together.  I love that game play is usually an hour or less and encourages communication between your Family.  I love seeing the Kids make memories with each other, laughing, cutting up and having a blast.  Out of the Box Games have been around since 1998 and have earned several prestigious awards for their games.
 
Snake Oil has earned recognition from Parenting for High Potential, Mensa Selected and several magazines and groups. It's recommended for ages 10 and up and is only $19.99. Kaden is 7 and he needed a little help here and there, but it wasn't anything that a little teamwork couldn't fix.  I will say that a few cards had words that I would prefer to not be in his vocabulary.  So, you may want to take a quick look and toss any that you don't feel is appropriate.  I think there were 5 or so we tossed.  You need to have 3-10 players and a game can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes.  We have some long winded Salesman in our Family, so our games usually take a little longer.  :) 
 
 
Let me tell you how this awesome game is played....in Snake Oil, each round is played where one player is the customer and all of the other players are the "Snake Oil Salesmen"Kaden was so interested in this Snake Oil Salesman Business.  He asked a million questions, I was impressed that inside the game box was a nice little explanation.  Did you know that there was some truth to the name?  
 
Hmmmm, anyway back to the game and how it's played. The object of the game is to “sell” your thought up product to the customer. The Salesman who is able to close the deal with the customer is the winner of that round.
 
There are Word Cards and Customer Cards.  In the beginning each player draws six cards and one of the players is picked to be the customer for that round. The customer selects a Customer Card from the deck. They share what kind of customer they are. The rest of the players combine two Word Cards from their hand and try to sell their Product to the customer. The customer then chooses the best Product and gives the Customer Card to the player whose item he picked.
 
On the next round you need to choose a new player to be the Customer and continue around the table until each player has been the customer once. Whoever has the most Customer Cards at the end of the game wins!  You can change the rules up as you see fit.  We chose to play until someone had 5 customer cards....that was a long game.  We also did team Salesman, where each person picked one word card secretly and then compared with each other to try and make something to sell to the customer.  That took a lot of teamwork and patience.
 
Here is an example for playing the Game:  You have a Sports Mascot as the Customer.  We have three Snake Oil Salesman pitching their products to the Sports Mascot.  They have a Diamond Whistle, a Safety Basket or a Robot Net to pick from.  Hmmmmmm, which one can a Sports Mascot not live without?  They are all so tempting, but I think for this round the Diamond Whistle can't be passed up, so that was the winner folks....S-O-L-D!!!! 
 
We enjoyed this game so much, I highly recommend it for your Family.  Christmas is coming and this would make a great Family Gift under your tree.  Or for a Kiddo you know that has a Birthday coming up.

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The Game we played was for ages 10 and up. For younger Kiddos check out their other version, Snake Oil Party Potion it's for ages 8 and up. 







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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Purposeful Design~Review

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Many are the Plans in a Man's heart, but it is The Lord's Purpose that Prevails.  Proverbs 19:21
I have another super treat to share with you today.....Purposeful Design has given to us a Beautiful hardback book, Purposeful Design: Understanding The Creation.  It is an award winning book written by Jay Schabacker.  He wanted to share God's Wonderful Creation to the children of the world. This book walks you down the creation path revealing all the principles of science that makes our world work.  Knowing, seeing and understanding God's Love that he has for us is so apparent in the pages of this book.   

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation cost $18.95 and is suitable for all ages. This is a Stunning hardback book that you will enjoy years to come.
 
The Author, Jay Schabacker has done an amazing job with this breathtaking full-color book.....the photographs alone make me love this book. Then you add all the other goodies and it's easy to see why this book will sit on my coffee table stack for many many moons.  Yes, I have  a stash of picture books and book-book Favorites.  


There are seven chapters and 91 pages in this book. And each of the chapters pertain to a particular day in creation.

Chapter 1 – The First Day:
Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, the Foundation of it All ~ here you will find a little morsel from Albert Einstein....Kaden's favorite scientist and learn a little bit about just what it is that keeps us all moving around.

Chapter 2 – The Second Day:
Creation of the Atmosphere and Water ~ the beauty of the Rain Cycle is found here.  Learn about the different water on our earth and how much we have and what would happen if we had too much or not enough.

  
Chapter 3 – The Third Day:
Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation ~ The importance of vegetation is all around us.  We couldn't survive without them.

Chapter 4 – The Fourth Day:
Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars ~ So much is packed into this chapter....About our Seasons, cause of Climate changes, Stonehenge, our beloved Moon, the Tides and our stars.




Chapter 5 - The Fifth Day:
Creation of the Birds and Fish ~ Learn why birds and fish were created.




Chapter 6 - Creation Day Six:
Creation of Land Creatures and Humans ~ Here you will learn about land animals and about the human body.  Great info in these pages.

Chapter 7 – The Seventh Day ~
Here shows the importance of rest, even though it is the shortest chapter it's important.  It has some beautiful verses in it.

Every chapter begins first with a scripture for each day of creation. From there you experience all the Scientific explanations and details pertaining to that particular day with mini science lessons. I feel like this is a great way to present this subject to Children, I really have nothing but good things to say about this book.  I feel that every chapter captures the Master Designer's plan and his purpose for everything he created. 

  
This book in itself is a valuable resource that can add a lot extra to any home.  But, when you add the free Young Explorer’s Club workbook, it could totally become a pretty substantial Science study.  As I said the Young Explorer's Club is a freebie to go along with the book.  It is a PDF file that has 7 sections that correspond with each chapter. It's easy to just download and go.  Nothing really extra to plan out.  A major plus!!  Each chapter of the workbook reflects on what was discussed in the book and includes questions that are both open ended and discussion.  The Kiddos will answer either fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions too.  The Kids will also learn additional verses and have the opportunity to do some fun hands on activities.  As the Teacher you also get a Teacher's Answer Key and a Certificate of Completion for your Kiddos to have once they are finished.  That's a nice way to wrap up the Study! :)
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We decided to use this book as a Family read.  We read all the time so this was how we started our review.  First we gathered around together after dinner one night and just flipped through looking at the pictures and stopping only on the topics that stood out to us individually.  I decided to just leave it out in the living room.  I figured it would get picked up on the random....I was right.  A few days later we sat down with our workbook and decided to take the book one chapter at a time.  We did for the most part, but there were a few chapters that we doubled up on because they were just that interesting. :)  We worked though the workbook fairly easily.  I will say for Kaden the questions were a little much.  And writing sometimes is difficult for him, but Mahala is 14 and had no problem at all.  

I was going to give a Pros and Cons list, but instead I'm just going to give this book a huge thumbs up.  It's beautiful and purposeful, it explains the miraculous Creation....What is negative about that.  I feel so Blessed to have read this with my Kiddos. 

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Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation Won the 2013 Illumination Book Awards and in 2014 it received a bronze medal in the Coffee Table category from the Catholic Press Association.


 
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

IXL Math and Language Arts ~REVIEW

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Once again we had the opportunity to use and review an online supplement program for our homeschool use.  IXL kindly gifted us both of their programs, IXL Math and IXL Language Arts for a year.  I had heard from other homeschool Moms about IXL and their math program.  It was something I had wanted to try with Kaden as a nice supplement and practice.   And when I  learned they had their new additional program for Language Arts, I was even more eager to check them out and see just what everyone has been talking about for myself.
No matter what grade level your Kiddo is currently doing, they will have access to all grade levels with the IXL Program.  The IXL Math program covers grades Pre K through Pre-Calculus (12th grade).  And the IXL Language Arts covers grades 2nd-8th.  Kaden loved the flexibility of picking and choosing from different grade levels.  And it conveniently reported back to me in an easy to read chart.  As a Parent this allows you to easily identify their strengths and weaknesses.



Amazingly enough we are professionals when it comes to online Math programs and if we like them or not.  We feel there are a few major must haves for it to work for our Family.  First of all it needs to be easy to log on and navigate so the kids can work at a moments notice independently.  Next, it's always fun when the Kids can see their progress.  We are a list crossing off kind of Family.  Give us a list of things to do and we will power through till everything is crossed off.  And I need a program that grades and keeps track of what the Kiddos are doing online.  This Program hits each thing Beautifully....I'll explain. 

This is not a program that is going to teach new concepts to your Kiddos.  Like their Motto says it's "Practice that feels like Play".  And this is exactly what the average and not so average Kiddo needs.  


Like I said above we need independence for the Kiddos and IXL delivers.  It's easy to set up and the navigation even between the Math and Language Arts is so simple.  I think even a young child would have no issues once they have had a quick look over the program with Mom or Dad.  The second important thing was having progress easily available to the Kiddos so they can see their hard work.  I love how the tracking is done with IXL.  They show on the side problems attempted, time elapsed and a smart score out of 100.  Once they start earning awards they are able to check out this huge grid with question marks all over it.  There they will find stars that reveal picture prizes.  Kaden and Mahala looked at it as a challenge.  Who can get the most today or in each subject.  It was nice to see them motivated to learn while playing.  The last must is the tracking of the grades and their successes and not so successful areas.  And once again my expectations were met and then some.

 You can set it up to organize everything by Grade Level or Topic....My Kiddos liked having it divided by Topics.

Kaden did use the program almost every single day for fun and that's the story he is sticking to.  Mahala only worked a few days a week.  She is now in High-school, so this program really revealed where her strengths and weaknesses are as far as math goes.  I told her after the Holidays she needed to commit to 15 minutes a day during the week.  
This program was designed to be a Review Program.  You will find over 4,000 practice skills.  This is something to use along with your current curriculum to provide a supplement.  Whether your child needs some extra help or just a little review I think you will find IXL will meet your needs what ever they are! We look forward to using this program throughout the rest of our school year and beyond during the Summer months too.

Let me tell you how affordable IXL is....an annual subscription for one child for Math is just $79; for Math AND Language Arts....it would be $129.  
Two Kiddos for Math, it's $99 for the whole year and for Math and Language Arts, it would be $149.  

Pricing for Family Memberships starts at just $9.95/month or $79/year for one subject. Each additional Kiddo costs $2/month or $20/year. You can go HERE for more Pricing Information on the Membership that Best fits you and your needs.

Be sure to follow IXL on Social Media for all the latest news and product updates.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Christmas Book- If He Had Not Come~ REVIEW

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I have a Book Review....I love Books we all know this! I love Christmas time even more, so I was thrilled to have a chance to read a book from David Nicholson called If He Had Not Come. It’s a hardcover children’s book, originally written by Nan F. Weeks with 40 colorful pages of Beautiful artwork.  Kaden kept rubbing the pages expecting to feel texture, we loved the illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz.  This book was written for Kiddos aged 6 and up.  I feel like that's about right, maybe younger Kiddos might not grasp the concept of the story.  

Christmas is an extremely important time of the year for me.  When I was a child growing up my parents decorated, cooked, baked, sang songs, entertained and shared the Joy Christ had put in their hearts with anyone who would come over for hot chocolate and some cookies.  When they died before I was a teenager that all stopped.  Growing up in foster care I never experienced that kind of celebration again until I started a Family of my own.  Every year since we have celebrated like it's the last Christmas we will ever have.  
Last December we had a traumatic event unfold right before our eyes, needless to say we lite up our tree only 2 times during the whole season.  There was no cookies, no singing and defiantly no cheer.  One thing we did do is celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior.  Kaden and Mahala carefully assembled our little manger like every year before.  And like Magic... on Christmas morning Baby Jesus arrived in his precious bed of straw for all of us to celebrate his existence.
 
Long story extremely short this book tells a story that made me go back in time to last Christmas.  All of our traditions were thrown out the window because of our trauma.  All but the one, Christmas morning there was Jesus in our manger.  We had Hope, Faith and Thankfulness in our hearts.  
Now, let's fast forward 10 months and ask how does this relate to the story in this book.  Well, the little boy named Bobby goes about his normal Holiday traditions all the way up until Christmas Eve.  He falls asleep repeating 5 words he read that Jesus had said in the Bible,"if I had not come."  After he wakes in the morning he runs downstairs so excited and can't wait to see his presents.  Instead he finds nothing, nothing at all.  He sets out on an adventure to search for answers.  All he finds is a world without Love, without Patience, a world full of people filled with Anger and lack Compassion.  He runs across a sick elderly man and tries to help him.  But, while navigating around a town he knows well, he discovers a world with out Jesus also means a world without a lot more then just presents and Christmas trees.  

I don't want to share much more....you need to read it for yourself and share with your Family this Season.  As in the book I realized that a world without Jesus simply would be just one trauma or event after another.  It reminded me that even during all we went through last year the one single thing that brought my Family joy was the celebration of baby Jesus in that manger.


Along with the Amazing story a bonus in this book is all the Interactive Topics in the back for Families and Sunday School Teachers.  These topics and questions can be used for discussion after you read the Story together.  You will find all kinds of questions for any age range your Kiddos are in.  Some of the questions in the going Deeper are scripture based and some are questions to get you thinking.  The Gospel message in the back clearly shows in a ABC format how anyone can seek Salvation.  Receiving Jesus as their Savior is a Beautiful and Magical way to end this book.

We read this book day 1 together, but later on I found Kaden and Mahala reading it off and on.  They both have been saved already, but they both loved the Gospel Message almost as much as the story.  We have sat together and pondered just about what our life would be like without Jesus.  I'm thankful that it is not our reality and only a fleeting thought.  Please go online and connect with them on Facebook!  This is a great addition to your traditional Christmas stories.  It's always nice to bring the attention away from just presents and Santa cheer during the Holiday Season.

 If He Had Not Come can be purchased for $18.95 and is also available in ebook format for $3.99.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fascinating Biology from Fascinating Education~ REVIEW


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Fascinating Education was so kind to give us the Blessing of using and reviewing one of their three Online Science courses they have available.  The course we were given is called Fascinating Biology, the name says it all. :)   Dr. Margulies is a Neurologist and started Fascinating Education because he wanted to create a program to provide a way of learning that didn't just rely solely on the use of text books as the primary teaching tool.  He designed this program to teach Science in a clear, easy-to-understand, logic thinking way for Kiddos in Middle-school and High-school.  Dr. Margulies uses vivid illustrations and audio as the main learning tool.  You can say that this program is an audio/visual party for your mind!  Since it uses the right-hemisphere of your brain to teach you the Science information you are most likely to learn it and understand it.  Not just store it in your short term memory bank until the test is finished. 
 

I have to say in my Opinion this is hands down a Winner if you have a High Functioning Kiddo on the Spectrum.  Kaden Loves watching tons of videos on YouTube to learn about all kinds of things.  A few months ago he spent nearly 5 weeks going over and over an aerodynamics video series.  I almost died from boredom, but he was in Heaven!!!  Day one of looking at this program Kaden was hooked.  This was Christmas for his Brain he told me while learning about Homeostasis after breakfast one morning.  I decided even though Mahala is in High-school I would still use this mainly for Kaden.  She listened in on some of the lessons, but I used this daily with Kaden for the review period.  And he is still going on strong plowing through the lessons. photo Biology-Layout_zpsf55fae2a.png

When you log in this colorful screen pops up.  You will find that each unit is visible to you. I like that you can see everything right upfront with a small picture that kind of explains what that particular Unit is about.  Very Helpful for all Kiddos, but especially for a Kiddo with Special needs.  Under each picture are 3 simple Tabs.  The first Tab takes you directly to the Lesson.  The next Tab says Script and when you click this you'll open up a handy PDF of the lesson your Kiddo is currently on.  The 3rd and final Tab says Test, clicking on this will open up the lesson test.  This program doesn't track the grades for you.  So, you will need to do that separately if you want to have that on file. I do not track test scores only course completion, so this was not a problem for me.  The tests are in a PDF if you’d rather just give your Kiddo their test yourself instead of online.  

I just have to say a few things that I LOVE about the testing with this program....the test offers multiple choice questions, for both typical and Special needs Kiddos this is helpful.  I know for Kaden it is hard for him to come up with correct answers sometimes because even though he knows the answer he may word it differently in his mind then someone else would even think of.  Multiple Choice is Awesome!  I also like that the test requires at least 80%  of the questions to be correct before you are given a pass.  After taking the test your Kiddo can take a look at all the questions they answered incorrectly.  They are even given the chance to see the correct answers and given the opportunity to go back and retake the test.  All my Kiddos dislike it when a program they are working with doesn't offer an overview of their missed questions.  So, it's a major bonus star from my Kiddos that this program goes over incorrect answers and points them in the right direction to actually learn what they missed.  :)
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Fascinating Education currently offers 3 science courses for children in middle school and high school.



For our review we received the course Fascinating Biology.  
It has 19 different lessons.
 *What is Life 
*Chemistry Review 
*The Cell Membrane 
*Take in Nutrients 
*Take in Energy Part 1,2,3 & 4 
*Grow 
*Reproduce Part 1, 2 & 3 
*Homeostasis Part 1 & 2 
*Adapt Part 1 & 2 
*Prokaryotes, Protists, Animals, and Fungi 
*Plants 
*Hypothesis Testing 

My Final word about this program is I feel it's Solid.   And that it will allow you to give your Kiddos more then just a watered down version of some pretty tough Science courses.  I think for audio and visual learners this is a must to have in your Home-school.  Let me just say for those of us that have straightforward Kiddos the visuals are not bright, snazzy elementary style.  This made Kaden happy and ready to fire up the computer almost every single day without being told to.  I know the program says this is designed for Middle school and High school, but for some Middle school Kiddos may not be able to work Independently.  I would see this being a problem with the new vocabulary that is introduced and possibly topics discussed.  Kaden is 7 years old, but loves Science and was able to work independently except he needed help with the test portion.  

Fascinating Chemistry, Fascinating Biology and Fascinating Physics all cost $79 each for 1 years access.
If you register for 2 of the courses at the same time the cost is $125 for a year of access.  If you register for all 3 courses it's only $175 for 2 years access.  I will definitely be getting the other 2 courses for sure! 
Head on over to Fascinating Education online so you can check out the FREE samples of each class, that way you can see if it is a good fit for your family or not. 
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Clued in Kids~ REVIEW

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This next Review was an exciting, blood pumping kind of Review.  Clued in Kids gifted us two sets of their Manic Mom Kiddo approved Treasure Hunt packs.  We were given the Playdate Clue Pad ($8.99) and the Multiplication Dragon Treasure Hunt ($19.99) set too. These packs are geared for Kiddos 4 and up and can be used for one child up to 10 Kiddos at a time.

Helen Bertelli had a childhood Dream while growing up in England to earn her living making Treasure Hunts for kids.  She would spread her creative gift of putting on the best treasure hunts for the kids in her neighborhood.  This carried over of course once she moved to America and had Kiddos of her own.  Helen saw the value of children's health, by keeping them up and active not at a computer desk or slumped in front of the TV.  Being Creative and making the most amazing memories together while learning something.  Her Motto is, "Treasure the Journey"!  I Love her Motto....Love it!  
Having a Kiddo on the Spectrum I understand the difficulty to keep your Kiddo active.  He doesn't want to do ANYTHING.....EVER!  The other day after I took his tablet away for the rest of the day, he gets a limited amount each day.   He said and I quote, "Mother, you are taking a piece of me away, my soul is crushed....truly crushed."  He is 7 years old, are you kidding me????  But, this is life today and we as Parents and Teachers can do something about it.  Clued in Kids now enters the room......

There are so many Hunts to pick from, here are just a few.
Baseball (printable)
Christmas Treasure Hunt Greeting Card
Gluten-Free Treasure Hunt (printable)
Halloween (printable)
Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt (printable)
  Homework Reward Treasure Hunt (printable) You can get this Treasure Hunt for FREE just by subscribing to the Clued in Kids newsletter! 
  Pirate Clue Book
Princess Clue Book
 Slumber Party Clue Book  
Thanksgiving (printable) 
Winter (printable) 
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The two Hunts my Family received were the Playdate Clue Pad and the Multiplication Dragon Treasure Hunt.  Kaden has a huge social delay and any help we can give him on playdates the better.  So, when I saw this option I jumped at the chance.  I would have pictures to share, but modern technology is not always on my side when it comes to saving pictures instead of magically deleting them.  Or I could just have a fast huge finger.  Whatever we just have to imagine for a minute what it would look like.  First off the packs are great, the pictures are nice and clear.  Not to kiddie for the older kids and yet they are simplifies for even the littles in your Family.  It's very easy on the Parent or Teacher to use, I love great directions that cover everything needed.  The clues you will see give the Kids challenges like counting chocolate chips on cookies, make their way through mazes and crack secret codes.  Kaden normally wants nothing to do with this kind of thing.  His idea of fun is taking the little fuzz balls off his socks and arranging them by size.  So, you can imagine the task that I have before me to get him to enjoy the company of another child his own age.  
It was lovely, more for the other children but I was expecting that.  Kaden did let out a chuckle and a few smiles as he raced to figure out each clue.  His feed back to me was..."why haven't we done these before?"  That is a huge compliment to Helen and her Treasure Hunts.  At least to my little guy he was able to bring the barrier down just long enough to see what was on the other side.  Such a good day!
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The other set was a Printable version, the Multiplication Dragon Treasure Hunt.  Kaden already knows his multiplication, but on days when he is easily overwhelmed or not able to do any school work for the day it would be nice to have something to review.  There is always room for improvement he always tells me. 
This hunt was also fun for him.  He has a slower recall when there are people around or if the atmosphere is not the exact same as it always is.  So, having him do this is good for teaching him that you can cut loose a little.  Things don't have to be so ridged.  This hunt has puzzles, riddles and other cool activities that teach multiplication while giving your Kiddo a wild adventure around your home.  Expect lot's of Smiles from this, you may not be used to that with Math time.  :)

Did I Love this Product?  Yes, I loved it a lot and there are so many more Clued in Kids Treasure Hunt Packs that I will be purchasing.  This would make an Excellent Christmas gift or stocking stuffer.  Birthday party bag favors instead of that little plastic stuff that everyone ends up tossing in the trash.  Let me know what packs you end up purchasing, I would love to hear your adventures and see some pictures.  Remember....stay away from the trash can icon! :)
 Here is a Video to show You how it Works!!!


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