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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Orphs of the Woodlands ~ REVIEW 
I have a little video game lover that's also an avid reader here at home.  So, to find a program that has the best of both worlds makes me one happy Momma!  Star Toaster was generous and gave my Family the opportunity to try their online educational series, Orphs of the Woodlands in exchange for my Review.  This online program incorporates vocabulary, math, science, thinking skills, problem solving and nutrition all wrapped up in an exciting adventure.  Your child will learn hundreds of lessons through out this program.  The Story is about a squirrel, that your child get's to name, who becomes a caregiver to the orphans in the Woodlands.  He protects and provides for them.  These orphans are called "Orphs".  The squirrel is a special spy that fights off the pesky creatures who are terrorizing the orphaned creatures that live in the forrest.   
Orphs of the Woodlands is available as a 60 day subscription for up to 3 children for only $19.99 and for $6.99 you can get a 30 day extensions as needed if your child has not finished the book.  

You can do a free trial and experience the first 100 pages of the book!  The program is geared to children in grades 4th-7th.  We were given a year subscription that included Book 1: The Treasure of High Tower. 

What really drew me originally to this program was the game aspect and when I saw the graphics and all the details my heart fluttered.  The quality of the program, all the way down to the voices are top notch.  No robotic tones or pages that wont turn.  Everything loaded promptly and smoothly and to get started each time was so simple anyone could use this program successfully.  
Kaden loves Minecraft, gathering resources is his number one favorite thing to do.  So, when I read that during the game as you read and get to the end of each chapter the squirrel gets to "work".   And in return he earns gold stars that he will then use to be able to take care of the Orphs he's adopted. The more questions your child answers correctly during the story the more he will earn.  Then he can use the earned stars to buy more land for new orphanages, food, clothes and medicine.  
Like I said before, the program was super easy to get started.   They offer videos for the kids to become familiar with how to navigate the program.  Kaden basically hopped right on, followed the tutorials and completely set the whole thing up independently.  Not bad for 8 and he loves when he can do things that doesn't require me hovering over him.  I like that too!! :)

So, let me tell you my Loves and my Don't likes.  Actually these are Kaden's.   He loves basically EVERYTHING about this program except one thing.  The chapters are way too long.  He came down day 2 and was like I can't handle it anymore.  The chapters are anywhere from 20-40 pages.  Now Kaden can read that, I've seen him read a 200 page book in 3 days.  He was just so excited to do the jobs and to tend to the Orphs that waiting so long to get a small amount of game time proved to not me motivational and encouraging to him.  Now, there are little gems of videos, recipes and vocabulary extras through out the actual reading and those are golden for a boy that's anxious for some action.  But, I think that reading for long periods of time on the computer screen is harder then in a book.  He would be up there an hour and I would check in on him and he's still reading.  I would love to see them shorten the chapters up and make it a possibility to interact more during the game play for longer.  You know what would be awesome?  If in the parent's section there was a way for the parent's to control the amount of reading needed for each session.  Like for Kaden I would say 8-10 pages would have been a perfect amount.  So, maybe being able to customize it for your child's need would be a great feature to offer.  Or have an option to have the story read to the child as they follow along.  This would be great for Kaden, so I have volunteered to read a page and then have him read a page.  Because he loves the story and the whole program, just the length is not very special needs friendly. 

So, what did I think?  I loved it and can see myself using it with other kiddos.  Visually it's like a vacation for my eyes, easy to navigate and the amount of knowledge your Kiddo picks up is by far worth every little penny and more.  It would be nice if they changed a few things regarding the length of each chapter.  But, I am content continuing the program and just taking turns reading along with Kaden.
Make sure you check out Star Toaster on Social Media.



Star Toaster Review
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1~Review

Who remembers cursive exercises in school?  I sure do, I remember feeling so grown up and proper when I wrote in cursive.  Every time I wrote even a note to pass in class you could bet it was in cursive.  So, why did I not ever teach my Kiddos?  Skylar went to public school for a few years and in 3rd grade he learned.  Mahala and Kaden though are all mine to mold and shape.  And cursive has not been top of the list.  When I heard that Memoria Press was offering me New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1($22.95 value) in return for my Review I thought this was my chance to cross Cursive off my things to teach list!!!

New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1 is recommended for kiddos as early as 1st grade.  I know Mahala is FAR from 1st grade and I'll be honest she was a little embarrassed in the beginning.  I have later found out they do have another program for older students and adults.  Need to pick that up for our next school year.  The thought behind starting at an early age is that it's easier to master.  A younger kiddo doesn't have years of manuscript writing to try a different cursive style.

New American Cursive is a little different than the cursive I remember growing up.  At first I was a little unsure if I wanted to stray from what I learned.  But, when I saw the way it looked and learned the reasoning behind the improvement to the cursive style my tune changed.  With this new style there are less strokes then other cursive styles and it's far more simple for students to pick it up.  New and simple with the same kind of classic cursive look...sign me up!  

So, Mahala has always had ugly handwriting, I'm sorry ya'll....but it's the truth!  I have tried and tried with her and that is probably a huge reason why I never attempted to teach her cursive.  But, recently she has truly tried to take more time to make her writing legible.  I honestly was not expecting much from this program, I truly thought I was going to have to write a review admitting that this cursive program had not cracked Mahala.  That she would be apart of a minority group that could not improve her writing and master the cursive alphabet.  We even set a goal for this program.  If she could write her name and someone other then her Mom could read it we would call this a success!  Well, it's a success people, I am very impressed.  I wished that I would have had her write her name in cursive on day one and took a picture of it.  I only have a picture now after a little over four weeks of using the NAC Penmanship Program Workbook.  

Mahala honestly was on a mission, so she worked through the whole book in 4 weeks.  But, this was a mission and she practiced and practiced every single day, minus the week she was gone building houses in Mexico with our church.  I was very proud of her and her results made her extremely proud of herself.  And isn't that what it's all about?!  Everyday she worked on it for about a half hour or so.  But, I feel the average lesson time is no more then 15 minutes or so.

Okay, I am anxious to give this program a try with Kaden in a few years because they do attack each assignment in a multi-sensory focused way.  And we all know how I LOVE LOVE that. :)  In the very beginning Mr. Meercat goes over correct paper and pencil placement.  He will then introduce each letter, both in upper and lower case at the same time.  I love how with each letter the instructions are to say the letter, feel the letter, and then write the letter.  Mahala doesn't need the extra sensory input at the age of 15.  But, Kaden who is on the Spectrum does.  Some ideas I will use in the future is pipe cleaners in the shapes of the letters laid on top of the instruction page.  A pan of colored sand to feel and and see as they practice.  I mean the possibilities are endless. :)  Okay, back on track....after that exercise you will see the next page that follows is filled with fun exercises and a spot for artwork.  This is a place where your student can have a little fun and get creative.

So, what did we think?  We loved it and I look forward to using it with Kaden when he gets older.  I feel that every Family should add this to their homeschool.  I mean, why not?  It's super cute, fun and easy to slip in between subjects that you are already doing.  The spiral bound book is beautifully done with nice sturdy pages too.  So, this workbook can be tossed in a bag and taken anywhere you have to go.  It's a keeper over here in the Manic House, check it out for yourself! :)
You can purchase your own copy of New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press for only $22.95. 
You can also check out what's new with Memoria Press by following them on Social Media

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Memoria Press Review

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Colored Glasses ~Part 1

Sometimes we Believe one thing about our life that we suspect is not so, but with handy colored glasses even we can be fooled into thinking what we perceive is actual reality.  I say this because I have lived most of my 39 years that way.  I'm what you would call an expert shape shifter of sorts.  But, it has only come to my attention just recently.  And with that realization comes major responsibility and a tiny bit of relief. Let me tell you all about it, or at least one piece of it.

So, we all know I grew up in Foster Care after my Parents died.  We all know of my physical and sexual abuse.  My life on the streets with my oldest and my struggles with my Health because of Lupus.  Anyone of those things could cause Red Flags with extreme mental breakdowns.  But, what happens when married life creates this safety cocoon and all the bad yucky stuff that happened to you just floats away.  And then your left with the New Normal of suburban life and a huge basket of colored glasses.  

Life is Better, much Better then it was before married life I tell myself.  So, when something happens that stirs a little pain or familiar feeling of past Traumas you can do one of two things.  Leave what feels Comfortable and Safe more then Not or grab your basket of colored glasses.  I'll tell you what I did, I covered my eyes with a new pair of shades.  And what started out as an occasional accessory turned into a daily necessity.  I planned my wardrobe around them and convinced myself that I liked them.....they were my thing, my choice.  Before I knew it I never took them off and my vision was so distorted.  

One day, my colored glasses were slapped right off my face.  And with No warning or Consideration to my well being all the pain and truth that had been hidden from me now trampled me and sucked the life right out of me.  To this very day I can recall everything visually around me at that moment.  I remember the hair clip in my hair, the sound of dinner sizzling in the pan and the look on my children's faces as I fell to my knees in disbelief.  As every past Trauma resurfaced and churned in the depths of my belly it took all I had to confront the Man who was my Protector, Comforter, Soul Mate, Love of My Life, Provider, Daddy to my Sweet Children, My One, My Only, My Other Half, My Adam, My Flesh, My Prince, My Love, My Darling, My Rock, Companion, My Groom, Partner, My Husband.....The Keeper of My Heart.  But, I did and I tossed out all my Colored Glasses!

Taking a Breath......

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Living with the Tiger we call Autism

Life with Autism is kind of like living in the house with a wild Tiger.  There are moments where you want to just sit back and enjoy the majestic beauty as it frolics along playing quietly.  You are careful not to disturb the Tiger because if it's taken away too soon from what it's interested in you could be in trouble.  If the Tiger is annoyed or startled you could be in for a loud outburst and thrashing of anger is what will eventually tucker the aggravated tiger out.  You never know what it's thinking, you just have to carefully pay attention to his body language, activity and the way it sounds.  

This is life with Kaden, we have had a good several days, but we know we can never just let our guard down.  We can't just relax completely and forget what truly lurks inside our boy.  He is the sweetest child I have ever known.  He is caring and can be gentle and is so smart.  He hears things and never forgets them, he just adds it to what he already knows.  His mind is brilliant the way he works with numbers and figures things out before the question is even finished.  It is easy to forget the Tiger he has within him.  It's easy to let your guard down and slip into a routine destined for failure.  

With the kids recently coming home last Saturday night from their Missions Trip it changed up the schedule just a little too much.  We allowed a little more video game time for Kaden then normal, less school work and structured time.  We let him stay up longer, get off of his diet and didn't give all the physical stimuli he needs in order to release the energy inside.  So, now I sit here Tuesday morning with the walls shaking from his screams.  As he bounces his body off of the walls, trashes his room and blurts out things Mommas don't want to ever hear her kids say.  I can restrain, I can yell, I can cry, I can do a million things right now, but nothing will stop his behavior.  We have had the therapy, we know what to expect and we know what to do.  We wait, we pray, we stay strong and the storm will pass and he will end up at my feet making little puppy sounds.  I will wait until he touches me, which indicates it's ok for me to touch him.  I will hold him and he will hum and make noises.  Now that we have a service dog, he comes and helps.  He weathers the whole storm usually right beside him unless I'm afraid he may get hurt in the whirlwind of Kaden's meltdown.  After Kaden is limp in my arms or beanbag for several minutes he will normally cry softly and then get up like nothing has happened.  If it was very physical like it was today he will need to sleep it off after several glasses of water.

As I write this sentence he is putting on his essential oils and sipping water.  And now he's grabbing the basket ball to roll and kick up and down the stairs.  It's constant pressure and stimuli that his Body needs.  He needs education and essential oils to engage and sooth him Mentally.  He needs sleep and silence or soothing music to repair and rebuild his Mind.  And of course the Lord and Prayer to calm and fill his Soul.
Everyday is an adventure, just some are more enjoyable then others.  Pray for us all!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s NOT Greek to Me!) ~ REVIEW

 photo Greek Morphemes_zpshwdrbbnr.jpg 
Have you ever stumbled across an unfamiliar work during a Science lesson or just wonder where a word came from?  I know I have many times, especially since Mahala is knee deep in Marine Biology right now.  We enjoy vocabulary I think, I've never heard a complaint about learning a few new words every day.  We actually have words of the day that I pin up around the house, so the Family is primed and ready to take on new words at any time....or so I thought.  I was asked to give a Review on Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) by Ready to Teach.  I was as thrilled as a Monkey on Free bananas Day!  The Kiddos...not so much.  I was a bit on the sad end of the feelings scale.  But, decided they were going to do it and like it and if not then I would deal with that when the time came to publish this Review.   Keep reading......

This program was designed for secondary students and covers over 200 Greek Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes. It was developed to improve the student's vocabulary, challenge their intellect, develop higher-order thinking skills and to increase their language self confidence.

When we received our package in the mail I could tell the kids were already starting to have a change of heart!  We received an Instructor’s Manual, Student book, a CD-Rom with PowerPoint lessons and an Electronic Thumb Drive filled with all the materials we need.   As we flipped through the book Mahala was instantly drawn to the flashcards and immediately wanted to cut them all out.  And even though Kaden is only 8 he jumped in and started pouring through the book and before I could get all the groceries put away he was already on the computer with the Thumb Drive.  So, getting them to do this program wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be!  :)

Briefly about the Program, I just Love Love Love how it captures the Kiddo's attention with the multiple learning styles.  That's BIG in this house, even for Mom!  You have Auditory stimulation, Flash Cards in your Hands, Note Taking, Power Point Presentations and the Workbook lessons.  This program is complex and thorough.  This is not a little baby course, your children will walk away from this with gained knowledge....I promise.

There are twelve lessons, divided into 4 assignments and a review.  Each lesson has you working through a group of 16 words by introducing the morphemes to them through the power point, breaking the word down into their parts and of course figuring out the definition.  After the Students watch the presentation and complete their assignments in the student workbook, you will see a child bloom with delight as they learn meanings of words they didn't know and ones that they had heard of before.  That was pretty cool over in our house.  We discussed what we had learned sometimes up to an hour after we were finished.  Since I had both kids working on it I let Mahala use the actual workbook and Kaden followed along with her in a notebook.  We made it through a whole lesson each week, but since it is a pretty intense program you could stretch it to 2 weeks easily depending on the other subjects you have going on.

The Instructor’s manual is wonderful and super easy to use along with the power point presentations.  I'm usually the one fumbling along with power points or anything that's not in book format.  But, nope....totally easy to navigate even for me. :)  The manual has all the notes on each lesson, list of morphemes, tests and the answer keys.

So, would I recommend this program?  Yes I would, but only if you want to have a Fun, in-depth, grown-up Vocabulary Program.  I am definitely putting this down on Mahala's transcripts.  
This program is so affordable at only $69.95 + shipping.  
 You can purchase it in pieces, but for this price and the quality of the program I say get the whole set.  It is worth every penny and will benefit your Kiddo's vocabulary and their self-confidence for years to come.  This Program will give us Parents the ability to set our Kiddos up for success when they get into college.  I have one in college now and he even said this is something all Kiddos should take in High school, and I agree with him. 

I almost forgot.....they also have a Latin program available too....go check it out quickly!!!
Koru Naturals Review

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Thick as Thieves ~ Review We are a house filled of readers.  Even Kaden is caught more often then not with a book in hand squished in some corner of the house on an adventure.  A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to Review a book by Susan K. Marlow.  I had never read anything from her before, so this was a first time for the kids.  The book, Thick as Thieves is part of the Circle C Milestones series published by Kregel Publications.   And it came with a very helpful 40 page study guide also. 

The book is the first in a new series with Andrea Carter, who is a 14 year old girl growing up in California in the 1880s.  Mahala just turned 15 and we live in California, so I thought this would be a fun read for her.  Even though we don't live on  a ranch like Andrea Carter does in the book, we have always loved Historical Fiction.

Whenever I do a Book Review I don't like to give away the whole story.  So, I'm going to give you a small taste of the main Character and a brief synopsis of the book.  I will say that Mahala was originally going to read the book with Kaden, but he kind of got lost in some of the words that he was unfamiliar with.  Even though the amazing study guide went over many of the unfamiliar words.  So, I decided to read it aloud with her and I thought it was a Great book.  It reminded me of the books I used to read as a child.  Kind of had a Little House on the Prairie feel to it.....I loved that show.  It took all of 3 days to finish the whole book.  It was filled with suspense and wholesome drama, nothing that you couldn't read beside Jesus.  Love a good book like that!  Honestly, it's hard to find decent books for a teenage girl these days.  I felt like the plot was deep enough to hold our interests and filled with everyday life that Andrea struggles with.  It was nice because all of us have struggled with some of her struggles at some point in our lives.  Mahala could relate.  You get to kind of see the life of a school girl that's new named Macy Walker.  She's not the easiest person to welcome into the fold. :)  She has a totally different life then Andrea.  Andrea has to face tough decisions and she is able to show how her character was developed from having the Family she does and her Faith.  This book is wonderfully written and any Pre-Teen or Teen would enjoy this series.  I look forward to spending more afternoons with Mahala reading more in the future!  Susan has another book in this series coming out in July 2015 called, Heartbreak TrailRead an excerpt from Heartbreak Trail.

I wanted to mention a little more about the 40 page study guide.  It was a very helpful resource and could be used for more then one kiddo independently or in a read aloud setting.  The guide splits the book up into small bit-sized portions that consists of only a few chapters a piece.  It's filled with Vocabulary work, extra reading ideas, Questions to get your noodle thinking a little deeper about each of the characters, life on a ranch with horses and the overall Plot of the book as a whole.   Mahala super loved doing the crossword puzzles and I enjoyed learning so much more about horses with the vocabulary sections.  Mahala gave me a test after we finished... I now know what foaling means. ;)

So, would I recommend this book?  Well of course I would!  I would say most kiddos in 4th grade and up, boy or girl would find this book interesting and could relate to it.  The official age recommendation is 12 and up.

Thick as Thieves is $9.99 plus $2.50 shipping and handling and available here. The study guide is a free download available here.

Read an excerpt from Thick as Thieves HERE
Susan K. Marlow and Circle C Milestones can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Koru Naturals ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage ~ REVIEW 

The mission of Lord Heritage is to preserve and teach
God's Truth in education by following His
commandments in instruction so that,
"All thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."
Isaiah 54:13

We all know organization and keeping to a schedule is not my thing.  I want it to be my thing so bad, but it's going to take some Major work!  Lord Heritage has Blessed me with a full year subscription to their All-In-One Christian based program called HomeSchool Office for me to Review.  Now, to see if this will work even on me.....

This Web-based program brings a one size fits all basket of sunshine to the party.  No matter what your teaching style is, the curriculum you use or how many Kiddos you have this program was designed to work right along with you...for you.  It's pretty affordable too, only $79 for the entire year.   Imagine being able to schedule both your home and school life all in one central location and that would be your computer with access to it 24/7.  Sounds pretty dreamy to me, I for one am tired of toting multiple planners and notebooks in my arms.  I have Always been a paper and pencil kind of girl, but maybe now is my chance to venture out into brighter horizons.

HomeSchool Office allows you to create reports, organize and plan projects, maintain a grading system as well as create high school transcripts.  I really could have used that help when Skylar graduated and I was getting together his transcripts for college.  Now that Mahala has entered High school I have to keep better track of all that she does throughout the year.  So, it seems like with this program you will be able to have everything you need to operate your homeschool with success.
The HomeSchool Office follows a logic based system that originates from our Heavenly Father that is recalled and shared through the Bible. 
Here is a clever acronym that represents each section in the program ~ P.O.W.E.R

Plan - Jeremiah 29:11 The Lord was a planner and therefore this program allows you to Plan your heart out.
  • Plan subject goals and objectives
  • Build a master schedule
  • Setup lessons
  • Create projects for home or groups
  • Lay out your school budget
Order - Corinthians 14:40  Lord Heritage encourages Parents to keep both house and school in order and not a place of confusion and chaos.
  • Schedule lessons
  • Integrate home & school activities
  • Setup important reminders
  • Create customized lists
Work - John 17:4 It is so important to have great work ethic and to complete all tasks Big or Small with a Happy heart like you were doing it for the Glory of God. 
  • Provide student access
  • View/print individual schedules
  • Follow daily lessons
  • Manage to do lists
Evaluate - Matthew 28:20 They remind us how the Lord encourages and maintains a personal relationship with each of us.  This is what we have to strive and achieve with our own children.
  • Manage requirement for state compliance
  • Oversee daily attendance
  • Track hours per subject
  • Maintain grading per subject
Report - Romans 14:12We need to strive to be held accountable and to establish proof of the work we say we have accomplished.
  • Comply with state regulations
  • Customize reports
  • Generate transcripts

I've been utilizing the HomeSchool Office for a few weeks now.  And there are so many areas that I see now where I need to improve.  I've been called to Homeschool my Kiddos and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.  I totally Believe in everything Lord Heritage promotes.  I just had a really hard time finding the time to put everything into the system.  My day flip flops at a moments notice.  Between Kaden's Autism, my Lupus and the lifestyle that comes with both of these life changers most of the time my day doesn't even start out the way I had it planned.  
Setting up the Plan and Order sections weren't so hard, because I know what subjects we have and what needs to be done around the house and with school.  The getting it all in and actually referring back to it through out the day is where I started feeling inadequate.  I was thrilled to at least have the option to print the daily schedules out, but I can't help but think for me writing it out is much faster then inputting it and then printing it each week or day.  Work and Evaluate were both nice to have a clear cut format of what needed to be done and how to keep tabs that everything was getting accomplished.  My Favorite part of the whole program was the Evaluate section with Work being a close 2nd.  The Report section is really not needed in my state, only for my own personal reasons would I use this and of course for college transcripts it would be very helpful. 
Would I use this Program for my Family long term?  
No, but only because I think it really takes a logic thinking, organized or Type A personality person to keep this up and running.  I can't even keep up with social media without needing assistance.  Don't laugh please! :)  I'm too "fly by the seat of my pants" to be able to do this day in and day out.  But, I do see the value and I do plan on using the rest of my year to try and become more organized and less like a Texas Tornado.  I want to have a plan and peace amongst my Kiddos as they learn.  I want them to be able to predict what their day will be like.  I'm a work in progress.  

Right now you can give the HomeSchool Office a try with no obligation.  Enjoy a free trial for 30 days.

HomeSchool Office Review
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 20, 2015

GPALOVEMATH Online Math Program ~ Review 

We had the fun opportunity to try GPALOVEMATH  from GPALEARN several weeks ago.  I'm always interested in new Math Curriculum, programs, games and resources.  GPALEARN was super generous and gave us a subscription for a whole year.

GPALOVEMATH is an Online based Math Program for grades Kindergarten-5th grade.  Each grade level has a Fun Character Instructor to guide them through their lessons.  Kaden tried all of them out, but ended up sticking with the 5th grade.  This program follows an Instruction, Practice and Quiz format, covering over 10,000 practice problems per grade.  That's a ton of lessons for each grade, a full 10 months worth if your Kiddo works 4-5 lessons a week.  And don't worry about getting all those lessons done, because this program can be used on your Computer, MAC, iPad or Galaxy Tablet.  While we were sitting at softball practice Kaden could catch a Math lesson, how Awesome is that.  Dragging workbooks around with you is sometimes a pain.  And let's be honest here...sometimes the Kiddos conveniently "forget" their schoolwork when we go on errands, but they Never forget their devices.  And Now Math goes everywhere!  YAY!

So, let me tell you a little more about the program and how we used it.  First, the program was Super easy to log onto and set up.  That was a major plus.  And when Kaden logged on he was presented with a fun tutorial video.  And yes, he watched each and every grade level. :)  When you get all set up this is the screen you will see each day, that shows your Kiddo their recommended path of instruction.  They can also choose what they would like to do for their lesson also.  As you can see here in the picture above, there are some colored paths to choose from (green, purple, or blue).   To ensure that the skill is learned before they move on to other lessons each lesson is locked and must be passed before moving on to higher skill levels.  After your Kiddo receives their instruction they get a quick review and then they begin working through the practice problems. I love that there are many ways presented in the questions for the student to answer the problems.  There is clicking and dragging, multiple choice and fill in the blank.  It's not boring and same old thing over and over....Kaden liked that he was always on his toes.  And if your Kiddo gets stuck on a problem, they are offered 3 lifelines that they can use to get help figuring it out.  I also liked the positive responses his animated Instructor would give him when he answered correctly or incorrectly.  They were encouraging and motivating.  Another Big Plus!!!  After practice time, your Kiddo will move on over to the quiz where they can earn points based on the number of problems they answered correctly.  As they move along the path they will be able to collect Badges, this is so encouraging to them as they move along the lesson path.

And that brings me to another cool feature that I LOVE about this program.  To help Motivate and Encourage your Kiddo they have a Reward System!  I'm excited just typing it out!!!   There are over 100 different reward options that You, the parent can choose for your Kiddos to earn.  The more options you choose, the more often they are rewarded to the child. I chose so many Kaden was rewarded after every 3 lessons.  He needs that kind of reinforcement, but you get to decide for your Kiddo.  The more problems your Kiddo gets right the more points they earn.  And then the points are turned into "CASH" that can then be used for goodies and privileges.

There are so many options parents can choose from.  Something as sweet as snuggle time with a Family member and playing a Family game all the way to a visit to an Amusement Park or even money.  You can also go in and make up your own  make up your own prizes. Kaden's Hot ticket items were Baking with Mom, Money and Going to the park and riding bikes.  Works for me and he totally loved this feature!

There was one more thing that I had never seen before, especially in a Math Program and that was the message center.  Because this program was so easy to log on to and instruction was easy for Kaden to do a whole lesson without me I enjoyed the little emails he sent me.  At the top of their dashboard is a place for them to send the Parent an email.  He would ask me a question or tell me simply that he loved me.  I could also send him sweet notes too.  I would catch him rereading them sometimes or logging on to check if I replied.  It was just an extra element to the program that we really used and enjoyed.

 So, What do I think?
Well, I like many things about the program.  The independence it gives Kaden, the Reward system, Emails between us and the way the program presents the Math material.  The Only thing that both Kaden and I disliked was the voice of all of the characters were very Robotic and went in and out at times.  I know it may seem like a little thing, but when it's your "instructor" it can be rather annoying.  The graphics were really nice and honestly I was caught off guard when I heard the voices.  It didn't really match the high quality of the program.
Would I still use it?  Yes, because the benefits and enjoyment out weighs the not so smooth voice of the animated character.
  Here is what You need to know to get GPALOVEMATH for your Kiddo!
For $149/year per child, GPALOVEMATH provides:
*Entire year math curriculum
*Includes all grades K through 5th
*30 Day Money Back Guarantee
*Includes Learn, Engage, Motivate and Parent dashboard features

And right now (as of the publishing of this post 3/20/2015) they are offering a Special Price of only $129/year per child (using code GPAINTRO15).

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Tales of One Kitchen Cabinet

Here is the scene of the's bad, it's BIG, it's a mess!  Do you have a place in your house that looks a little like this? :)  You may be like me and have looked at places in your home that look similar to this, but just get overwhelmed and decide to just shut the door or turn away.  I have lived this way for 25 years.  But, recently I've discovered that you can have an unorganized room or shelves filled with clutter and it's just doesn't define who you are as a Person.  This may seem like "duh" for you, but for me not so much.  I had a problem looking at things for what they are and not making them an extension of who I was. 

Normally this would freak me out and  I would be filled with shame, but let's look at what these shelves really represent.  When I look at these shelves with non-judging eyes I see that the person in this kitchen actually uses her kitchen.  They must cook at home more then they eat out.  I see bottles of food coloring from numerous science projects, Easter egg coloring sessions and endless nights of baking.  Extracts for all the fun drinks sipped while taking long walks, nacho cheese seasoning so their movie night popcorn is less naked.  All the baggies in the back filled with exotic spices found in little shops or Whole foods proves you can take a trip around the world and not even leave your house.

So, there is no need to feel embarrassed or discouraged.  Take what you have and make it Functional and Beautiful to you!  That is what I've been doing around my house and I haven't really been documenting it or blogging about it, because it's just been a lifestyle change for me this past year.  But, I want to share because I have meet so many people lately that carry this deep dislike for themselves and they have been dealing with it since childhood.  And everyday the pile grows taller and taller as they keep adding all their "failures".  The thing that helped me was realizing and truly believing that the things that I thought were "failures" were simply just areas of my life that I needed to give extra attention to.  And once I released the judgement and looked differently at the tasks at hand I found relief.  With relief I found motivation to tackle projects that burdened my soul for years.  Healthy eating, organization of the whole house, writing, Bible studies needing to be studied, building projects, hobbies I had wanted to start, languages I wanted to learn and a plethora of odds and ends that I had been putting off for YEARS!

One of my areas of weakness is the Kitchen, I have so much of everything!  I love to cook and I love flavorful food so I have spices and cookbooks galore.  A few weeks ago I donated 18 cookbooks and I still have about 35, that will be a slow weeding out process and I can live with that.  Right now they aren't cluttering the counters and floor of my kitchen, so I'm a happy momma.  Now my Spices are another story.  I couldn't just organize or get rid of them.  I buy most of them from Sams so they are huge!  Because of that they are bulky and I waste time searching for what I need.  Here is my solution....
My Son started buying these coffee drinks from Sams that came in glass bottles.  I've been keeping them for months because I knew they could be re-purposed.  I decided the bulk of them could be used to hold my seasonings. :)  After I took out all the seasonings from my spice cabinet this is what was left!  We wiped down the shelves and lined up our spices to look at what all we had.  We even found a few lost gems in the back! :)  
Make sure your bottles are completely dry any that you have removed any labels.  I used some goo gone and nail polish remover to help with the stickiness from the label.  We started filling up each coffee bottle carefully with a small funnel.  I'll give you a tip, gently tap the bottom of the bottle to the counter or table so you can get as much as possible into the new bottle.  It's amazing how much you can squeeze into just one bottle.

We decided to use black paper with a silver sharpie for labeling, that's what we had on hand.  We figured we would paint the lids eventually and maybe use chalk board paint to write the seasoning names on it if the paper messed up.  But, to tell you the truth it's been weeks and our black paper looks the exact same as it did on day 1.  
And here is the result, I feel so much better and looking for what I need is much easier.  I feel more inspired to cook new things when I look in my cabinet now.  I would say this project was accomplished in about 2 hours.  Now, what should I cook for tonight's dinner.....hmmmm.  First that huge container of coconut oil is making me want to pull some oil.  More on that later! ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sibling Education Takes Flight

You know those days when you think the only thing holding you upright is your bones, some invisible heavy duty string and the good Lord's firm grip?  Yes, well, I've been having one of those lifetimes.  Ok, probably only the past 5 years or so, but seriously.  Enough is enough already.....I am turning 40 in a few months and I am going to be working super hard to take back my health, both mentally and physically.  

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For now I am going with the flow, getting things done when I have the strength and loving on my Kids.  That's the most important thing to me.  I have learned so much this year about the importance of loving on your kids, giving them an environment that supports them and nurtures them.  In our school Bible time, Math, Reading and Art are the important areas we work on in some way every single day.  History and Science usually comes in the form of reading and experimenting.  We actually do a lot of History through art also.
Last week Kaden was talking about an aerodynamics class he took last year.  We decided to dig around and find his old notes and pictures.  There is so much out there to learn.  I Love this about homeschooling....anything can be turned into a learning experience.  We looked online and learned about flight patterns, airplane construction and we even added weather into the mix.  Mahala was also able to join in and since she is much older she brought a lot of additional questions, knowledge and project ideas that enhanced learning for both of them.  Sibling Education rocks, when you have a few of your kiddos working together not only does it make learning easier and fun, but it also promotes a close Family Bond.  They will not ever forget the times they had growing up and learning side by side.

After a few hours of researching and recording what they had learned in their Journals we decided to paint some airplanes and fly them at the park.  Kaden was going for a war plan look while Mahala went the more cartoon character look.  I can't believe I don't have a picture of hers.  :(  She liked her plane so much she decided to take her second plane that wasn't painted yet to the park so her painted plane wouldn't get messed up.  Kaden tried to reassure her that the battle scars would give it character, but she wasn't buying that. :)  
When we arrived at the park we realized that it was extremely windy and flying these Styrofoam planes was going to take an act of God.  Sure enough after 2 tries they took flight alright, but they flew straight to the back stop of the ball field.  They were Not coming down anytime soon, but of course the kids both had to try jumping and rattling the fence.  We gave up trying to get them down and played a game of Frisbee and tag.  When we went back an hour or so latter they were still hanging on.  Mahala had an idea to toss the Frisbee up to knock them down.  After several tries between Kaden and Mahala we walked away owners of two wind beatened airplanes.  HAHAHAHA  
Fun times Homeschooling in the Mainc House!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mother Should I Trust the Government? (FreedomProject Education) ~ Review

Our little Historian, Skylar is all grown up now and on to Big things at college.  So, around here we try our best to stay current on all that's going on in our world and whatever happens to be in the plans for that week school wise.  I was interested in taking on this Review mainly out of curiosity. 

We received access to a Family course from FreedomProject Education and the book, Mother, Should I Trust the Government?  Let me tell you a little about FreedomProject Education (FPE).  It's an accredited classical education academy with a philosophy based on a Judeo-Christian worldview.  They are also highly opposed to the whole Common Core situation.  They want to teach students how to think, not what to think.  Which is exactly how we feel about education.  They also believe in the importance of us being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves”.  I have that posted up on my classroom wall right now.  Love this saying!  FPE offers classical, constitution based education to kiddos in K- 12th grade with an online classroom environment.  I'm a very eclectic homeschooling Mom, so I was nervous about the class structure from the beginning.  The kids and I were able to participate in one of their Family Classes for the past few months.   They offer these in addition to their regular classes.  Take a quick LOOK HERE at the 2015 classes coming up.

Here is a video to tell you a little more about FPE.

The class we took, Mother Should I Trust the Government is based on the book with the same title.  What a title, at least we wouldn't forget the name.  :)   The class was an 8 week course intended for ages 13 and up and was taught by the Author of the book, Dr. Jake Jacobs. This was really neat, to not only be able to read what the book, but to also have the opportunity to be involved in a discussion with the author himself.

Each of the online sessions were once a week for 2 hours.  Getting into the class was super easy and effortless.  I would receive an email each week with a link.  Afterwards I would get a link to the recording of the class from the week before.  This was very convenient, because class time was during the same time I was cooking dinner and eating.  And honestly I liked being able to go back later and revisiting certain places in my notes to clarify what was being discussed or taught.  I am a pencil and paper type of person, so is Mahala.  So, even though I'm sure 99% of the rest of the class loved having the Powerpoint presentation and chat features, but it was distracting for us and that's why we loved being able to go back over the sessions later. 
 photo Mother20cover_zpsqfl8sxux.jpg

When we received the book in the mail, we found a few surprises too.  Included with the book was a small paperback of The Declaration of Independance and Constitution, as well as two bonus discs from FreedomProject Education: “Who Owns Your Children?” and “Common Core”.   Thank You!!!   I have to go on the record and I know I have said this before, but I totally goofed off in High School.  So, most of the History I know right now has been from learning right beside my kiddos.  I was intimidated from the moment I saw the book, but was pleasantly surprised.  The way the Author writes is so nonthreatening and once I heard his voice during the class I felt like we were sitting around the porch sipping iced tea.  Don't get me wrong....he knows what he's teaching.  You are not going to be bored to death while he rattles off facts and figures.  I'm just saying he is a wise approachable teacher! I learned so much and I have a notebook of notes to prove it.  Even Skylar enjoyed and learned a lot.  He is in the process now of going back through  the recorded sessions.  I will definitely be signing up for more online classes in the future, this was a great experience for the whole family.

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