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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~REVIEW

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Foreign language is a hot topic in our house, we have a thirst for it.  I was very eager to try Middlebury Interactive Languages' High school German 1 Course.  We were kindly given a full Semester of classes a few weeks ago.  I was never given the opportunity to learn a foreign language growing up.  It has been something I have true regret not pursuing a language as a college student or even as a young mom.  Now I have immersed myself in Italian and German.  My Kiddos will and do have many opportunities to learn as many languages as possible.  I feel knowing another language opens up a new part of the world for you to explore and enjoy.  

Middlebury Interactive Languages has courses for your Kiddos in grades K-12, each designed by linguistic experts.  Their courses provide an interactive immersion-style learning experience.  I felt their way of teaching to be very refreshing and out of the "typical homeschool foreign language box". :)  This is the way to learn, you can learn this way 100x better then just getting bogged down with repetition.  By combining written words, pictures, audio and short videos you will find that the information gets plastered into the mind not just stored in the short term memory box.

Not all languages are available in all of the grades, so make sure to check out their website to see if your desired language is in the grade that you need.  I felt that the course was designed with the Kiddo in mind.  The lessons are not overwhelmingly long and definitely not boring.  Each lesson it just over bite size, for us that's perfect.  Not too much or too little.  The Kindergarten - 2nd grade program has 35 lessons for each semester and the 3rd-5th grade program has 45 lessons per semester.  Both of the Middle school and High school courses  have 90 lessons for each semester.  Once you get your course you will find that since it's self paced your Kiddo will need to do one lesson a day for 18 weeks. Or they can finish early with a few extra lessons here and there. :) 

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Since we were Reviewing the High school level it was Mahala's turn to give German a spin.  Everyone else including Kaden has had at least a year of German.  We love it, I love it, I think it's a beautiful language.  You know I am not good with program set up and this usually scares me away when it comes to online programs or curriculum.  This course couldn't have been any easier.  I was shocked, heck our whole family was shocked.  I had members of my family I hadn't seen in 10 years shocked at how easy I was able to start this program. :)  Once we were all set up it was as easy as click on the lesson for each day.  Mahala would finish it and a little green check mark would appear.  A major thing I appreciated with this program was all the extras.  It was exciting for Mahala to learn more about the German culture and people.  It makes it come to life for a Kiddo of any age.  We ate more sausages and German pastries thses past 3 weeks then I have in my whole life.  But, hey I'm not complaining it was nice having Mahala engaged in something other then social media.

Each week Mahala completed 5 lessons on the computer.  She wanted to use a few days to further explore and do written work, so she did those 5 lessons in 3 days.  The other 2 she made flash cards and spent time researching.  Her favorite part was the organization and the ability to figure the whole thing out on her own.  Independence is bliss at this age.  She also had fun recording all the audio.  Even Kaden gave it his Best to repeat the phrases along with her.

So, will we continue using this program?  I'm not sure, Mahala LOVES it and is learning.  But, having other Kiddos coming up through the ranks it would be awesome to have it for the future if it was reusable.  Having to pay for the semester for only the one Kiddo may prove to be too costly for our family.  Mainly because due to the nature of our family dynamics we normally take breaks throughout the year.  So, one semester may not line up just right for us to use completely.  But, for the higher levels this may work, because they can work independently and take more responsibility for their own work.  I think the cost is pretty reasonable for the quality product Middlebury Interactive Languages has to offer, it's only $119.00 per Semester.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate ~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2014TOSCREW/Standard%20Deviants/sdaccel_zps90c6438b.jpgThe Kids and I were given a full year membership to the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate a few weeks ago.  The Courses are all recommended for Kiddos age 8 and up.  Most of the courses are for Middle school ages and up though.  The cost for each course per Kiddo is either $99 a year or $24.95 a month.  The AP courses are $14.95 a month per student.  YAY, a great inexpensive way to get College credits for your Kiddos!!!  This is a Secular Online learning resource that is a great supplement in any homeschool.  It was designed to be used in a Classroom, so set up was a little tricky at first.  But, they are working on a more user friendly set up plan right now.  I appreciate a company that listens to their customers feedback to make a great product even better. Now that we have all the nuts and bolts laid out let's take a look at the meat of the product before I give you my final opinion.


Here are the 14 different Courses available at this time:
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+ AP
Chemistry - Grades 11+ AP
U.S. Government and Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+

Once you are all set up and have logged in your codes for each course you will see 5 tabs on the student dashboard.  Mahala used the Biology and Nutrition with Kaden.  I wanted them to do something together.  She also used the U.S. Government and Politics and English Comp.  Kaden used the Chemistry along with the courses he used with Mahala.  I intended to use this program more on a schedule, but that didn't happen.  Honestly Kaden used it as a time filler.  On Sunday before church while he waited on us to come down stairs he would log on.  He used it on his tablet on the way to therapy or as we were waiting in line at the post office.  He just really enjoyed it!  So he didn't use it typically, Mahala logged on 3 or 4 times a week and completed several lessons.  I liked the flexibility of this resource a lot.http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2014TOSCREW/Standard%20Deviants/SDAoncomputerandiPad_Topofpage_zps3f1c066e.jpg
So here is what it looks like.....The first tab is labeled Video.  They are roughly 5-10 minutes long and some are goofier(in a good way) then others.  Kaden was not particularly amused, but Mahala's attention was captured.  :)
The next tab is Vocab, a fan favorite in this house.  We have been putting up new words and definitions on our fridge almost daily for the past 18 years.  So anytime we have a chance to learn and discus words my kiddos are totally engaged.  I love that you can click on a word to hear it and hear the full definition.  This is great for auditory learners and it helps when it's a new word you haven't heard and your not positive with the pronunciation. :)
The tab after Vocab is Diagram, this was Kaden's Favorite.  He gets competitive with filling in blanks of any kind.  So, he was in a constant challenge with his Sister on getting the diagram blanks correct.  This section is truly important.  Anyone can regurgitate facts from what they just read or listened to.  But, to sit down and write out answers helps concrete it in the brain.  My rule of thumb is to have my Kiddos HEAR IT, SEE IT, WRITE IT and TELL IT.  If they can do that then they will REMEMBER IT! 
The second to the last tab is the Quiz tab.  Here comes the questions, I felt they were sufficient as a supplement.  Kaden wasn't too impressed, but he is a tough critic.  A few answers are kind of off topic and funny, typical Kiddos would find it fun.  But, Kaden being so logic minded there isn't much room for sporadic humor.
The very last tab is Written Answers and for the younger Kiddos this would even be helpful to practice handwriting.  I had Mahala completely do this exercise.  But, for Kaden we mainly used it as a discussion.

Now for my thought....I liked it as a supplement.  It filled more gaps then I thought it would.  I don't have any negatives except that the set up was a little confusing, but we are talking about me here.  I can't even work our remote control for the television. :)  They are working on making the set up easier, so please don't have that hold you back.  Because you don't want your Kiddo missing out on all these learning opportunities over me having a set up issue.  I do think this program would be a good fit for a Family with middle school aged Kiddos and older.  It's great for independent learners and it hits the nail on the head for a Kiddo with Sensory Special needs.  You have all Sensory options available to them and if you have a Kiddo that get's over stimulated by sights and sound this is perfect.  Because it's predictable layout is not overwhelming and it's pretty straight forward.  We look forward to learning many more things with this program.  :)

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Morning Tea with Me


What is your Favorite Fruit?  Mine is the glorious Blueberry.  I love them and they just happen to be my most favorite color Blueish Purple.

Growing up in the south there was only one acceptable drink....sweet tea.  Now that I've been a CA girl for the past 14 years that's just not the case in our house.  We still love tea, we just like it with a teaspoon or so of honey or agave.  :)  And let's not forget the glorious cup of hot tea.  With the weather starting to get colder I enjoy several cups of tea a day.  This morning I started with Rishi Tea's loose leaf Organic Blueberry Rooibos.  

I used to not buy loose leaf.  But, recently I have made the switch for most of my teas.  I taste the fibery bag when I don't use loose leaf now.  I never tasted it before, but now it's like Hello...your drinking paper here!!!!!
 
Call me crazy, go ahead...it is aloud here. :)  Anyway, back to the tea.  It has Ahhhhhmazing smooth flavor that will get your mornings off to a refreshing start.  Who needs coffee after a cup or two of this?  Not me, my coffee maker looks a little jealous over there, but that's ok   I still have a little room in my heart for him. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apologia iWitness Books~ REVIEW


 Everyone knows I Love Books, any new Book on my shelf makes me one Happy Momma.  And I was definitely a Happy Momma when I received 3 New Books from Apologia Educational Ministries to Review.  Here are the Books we were able to Enjoy:
All 3 books are written and designed by Doug Powell.  They are $14 each and Geared for Kiddos 11 yrs old and up.
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I Love all things Apologia has to offer.  Kaden thought his Math book came from them the other day, just because he sees their name all over our house. :)  Every single product they offer has not only been a Blessing to our Family's education, but also Spiritually.  The iWitness books were no different then all of their other amazing products.  

These books are intended to engage your Kiddos while learning more about the Bible.  The reader is guaranteed to have a visually appealing and non-intimidating experience each time they crack open their book. I say this because these books are designed to look like they are hand-written documents and bits of scrap papers along with lots of pictures.  It's like you are holding a research journal or scrapbook.  Every page looks like a saved treasure of knowledge and thoughts. 

Doug Powell, Apologia's Art Director and Author of the iWitness Books says he intended these Books to be interactive.  That the information is presented to them and the reader then needs to think it through.  I appreciate the approach he has taken in these books, I personally haven't worked with educational books like this before.

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iWitness Bible Archaeology is the first out of the three Books we looked at.  Basicly it shows you how many historical archaeological discoveries coincide with event in the Bible. This book was on Fire right from the start...in a Good way! :)  We learned where the different manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments have been found and some additional info regarding Noah's Ark. Mahala said she was excited to read and learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls.  That was her favorite part of the whole book.  The layout of the book also was a huge thumbs up from her too.  Her and I took turns and read daily all the way to the end.  I look forward to sharing this with Kaden in the future.

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Old Testament iWitness was the second book that we read.  In this book we learned how the Books in the Old Testament were chosen and how they were written. Jewish history and their traditions is shown throughout the entire book.  Honestly I knew very little before hand, so I learned just as much as Mahala.  We took this book much slower, just because we did have a lot to learn and Mahala took it upon herself to do a little further investigation online concerning a few things she read.  I was thrilled to see her interest and spark for more knowledge.  Thank You Apologia!!! 
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The last Book we read together was the New Testament iWitness.  Just like in the last book we learned how the books in the New Testament were chosen and written.  Also they showed which books were not included, and why. This was totally news to me, I never knew there were books of the Bible not published and the many different manuscripts.  I love when I can learn right next to my Kiddo.

We woke up every morning during the week and spent about 30 minute reading these books together as a Family in a devotional kind of way.  It was a great start each morning and some days we picked up where we left off just because the Kiddos were just that into it.  

My Thoughts about these three Books are basically all positive.  There was nothing that I would change.  I think they can be used independently or along side your current Biblical worldview curriculum.  What a great addition to your History day too.  

The one and only thing I have to mention, only because I have a Kiddo on the Spectrum.  It may take a little getting used to if your Kiddo has a problem with over visual stimulation.  Kaden didn't have a big problem with this, but he wasn't working with it by himself.  One quick fix I would use if you do have a Kiddo that gets overwhelmed with a lot of pictures on a page would be to use a simple sticky note to cover up a few sections of each 2 page layout.  Easy fix and your Kiddo will still get the Benefits and Blessings from these 3 amazing books.   
Also check out the iWitness volumes on Jesus and the Resurrection that are currently available. I’m also looking forward to 2 new future releases- one on World Religions and one on Heresies and Cults, both due out in 2015.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Painting Pumpkins with Purpose!























Little Man is so thrilled to do pumpkins this year.  And even though every time we get out the paint I have to do a touch up job on the walls, wash curtains and toss whatever clothes he has on in the trash....it's still worth it to me.  We went yesterday to the Pumpkin Patch, I'll post about that tomorrow.  We had several hiccups throughout the day, but we made it through in one piece.

So, today in order to get ready for the Start of Holiday Season we started with painting pumpkins.  We are saving the Big Guys for carving.  Kaden is a very messy, but purposeful painter.  Every action is not wasted, he has a purpose for everything.  From the napkin under his pumpkin all the way to every stern smile he gives his little masterpiece in order to make it just so.  I Love how he makes his messes, truly I'm not kidding.  I'll tell you why....He enjoys every second or every project.  The feel of the cold squishy paint in his little fists give him pleasure and reminds him of all the other fun times he's had with paint.  As he smears it across the table, paper or even his clothes he gleams with the excitement the different textures tells his little brain.  He doesn't just look at his painted pumpkin and think job well done.  He looks at his painted pumpkin and sees a symphony of possibilities.  He sees a masterpiece of sounds, feelings, vibrations and visual stories all woven into a blissful mental retreat.  Yes, a retreat because there are no rules for him during art.  He can be and do what he wants here, there is no worry for him to stay between the lines.  I know so many times and activities, like the pumpkin patch yesterday we try to make our Spectrum guys look and act more Typical.  Why do we do that?????  Literally, I'm asking myself that right now!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Life Behind My Eyes~Meditation

Have you ever Meditated before?  I thought about this the other day, because I have been going through treatment for PTSD and some recent trauma I've had lately.  We have been doing weekly meditation during our sessions that I feel have made a difference in my life.  Since starting my weekly sessions with my new found friend that does cost a pretty penny I have seen many areas of my life improve.  I have been able to improve myself, forgive myself and truly understand the rattle that takes place between my two ears every single day. :) 

I started very recently meditating outside of sessions.  I've read that there are Emotional Benefits like:
  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
 Research also suggests that meditation may help people manage Symptoms of Conditions like:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
I don't know about you, but I suffer from quite a few of these little gems.  So, I thought what do I have to loose....nothing but the pain and suffering. :) 

I began by simply recreating my therapy sessions at home.  I have created this sort of safe place in my head.  I'm surrounded by God's white light and his Love envelopes me, this creates safety for me.  And then I release all that ails me and soon I'm floating amongst the stars and swirls of all that protects and gives me comfort.  Do I chant?  No.  Do I sit in weird positions?  No.  What about surrounded by candles and burning incense?  No, but that might be quite nice. :)

Please remember I have done no formal research on meditation and honestly I see no real reason to do so at this time.  Right now I'm just concentrating on letting go and harnessing only what is good in my life.  So many times in my life I have done just the opposite.  I would hold onto what I thought I needed to.  I would surround myself with the typical daily expectations of a person's life.  My eyes have been opened to a world that I knew was right within reach, but was too blind to see it clearly enough.  Now, I have a front row...centered seat to see all the possibilities that are there for me.
Praying You are Blessed Today!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sweet Pic


There is something almost spiritual about a yummy cinnamon bun with hot, gooey icing all over it.  I just had to post this pic in case your looking for something Sweet in your life!! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Preschoolers and Peace~ Review



I was given the opportunity to Review an ebook written by Mother of 8, Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace.  When I told my Husband the title of the book he was a little surprised I would want to read it.  Only because we currently don't have any Preschoolers running through our house. :)  I wanted to read Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet because having a Kiddo on the Spectrum can sometimes feel like you have more then one Preschooler in your home.  I figured hey I'm struggling over here...any help I can get is a Blessing.  So, I was ready to get my cup filled!!

I started out reading this 40+ page book with the intent to get a few pointers and ideas for a smoother day with Kaden.  What I found was much more.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Kendra begins her book with a short story how she let homeschooling define who she was.  I enjoyed reading her story, it instantly put me into the right frame of mind that I needed to start my school year off right.  Her personality radiates through her words, I feel like I personally know her.  I loved that! :)  She made me feel like right now where I'm at is OK, I should have no shame and I'm not alone.  Thank You!

Like I said before, I don't have preschool kiddos but I do have an older child that needs more attention then I am able to give her.  And this is due to having a 7 year old that requires a lot of extra attention.  When he was younger it was easier, I don't know why but it honestly was.  I would say developmentally in many ways he is still 4 or 5.  Some days are harder then others and so much of it depends on the night before, the weather, what he's ate, his mood and whether or not it's a full moon, half moon or any other kind of moon.  Basically there is no rhyme or reason. :)  I know I need some tools that my tool box is missing so here I go, I'm praying Kendra has something for me.  
Here is a quick list of the chapters included in her book.  Through out her book I have to add are some darn adorable pictures too.  And if you are like me and like to take notes while you are reading you will find a handy list of resources at the end of the book.....


What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot

Planning Around Preschoolers

How Do I Keep Them Busy?
What Does a 2-Year-Old's Day Look Like?
How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
How Not to Just Kill Time
Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In
Preschool Boys
When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
Preschool Chores
Planning for Preschool
When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)
Meal Planning 101
Final Word of Encouragement 


Here is the main thing I pulled from her book....Prayer is before everything.  Keep your lines of communication open with your Father up above and everything is going to turn out how it's supposed to down here.  Another was Husband needs to come 2nd after God and before your Kids...I have failed this time and time again.  And we have been making this right around here.  I can see a change already in just remembering prayers first and foremost and keeping your relationship strong with your Hubby.  Another Huge one that I so lack in is.....(it kills me to even write it)  Planning.  If you have a schedule your not just floating through the house.  Let me tell you it has become an ART FORM around here to float.  It's like a sport, but it's time to change.  It has to or I will never be able to accomplish what the Lord has planned for me and my whole Family.

The Top 5 things I have already started with the Kiddos 
Family Prayer Binder
The 5 things in the Mornings list
Big Toy Rotation each day of the week
Circle Time
Meal Planning


  Out of my 5 things I've started I can hardly distinguish my Favorite and most helpful.  But, if I did I would say the 2 that's blessed me the most would be the Meal Planing and the 5 things in the morning.  I tweaked both to help us more.  The meal planning may sound easy and natural to you, but to me I struggle people.  It's hard sometimes, especially with all the food restrictions.  But, Kendra showed me how I can make it a whole Family affair.  So, each day and each meal someone takes responsibility of it.  It frees me up for at least 2 meals a day and everyone feels important and involved.  The other huge help has been the 5 things in the morning.  I'm about to have it laminated, but on card stock I have 5 things each Kiddo needs to do before breakfast.  
Kaden's card says....
1. Get Dressed
2.  Use Bathroom and Brush Teeth
3.  Tidy up 1 section of his room
4.  Pray for His Day
5.  Feed and let out Homer

Overall I Loved this Book, I think anyone with little kids, new to homeschooling or has a Kiddo with Special needs would benifit with this little Gem.  


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Monday, September 29, 2014

Anatomy of a Meltdown


We had to put the breaks once again on the video games.  I hate to do it, but Kaden gets so overwhelmed and can't process his emotions during and after he plays.  So, now we are back to no Minecraft or Autcraft.  We did this a few months ago and we saw an amazing improvement.  He is sad and flipping out, but I know that after a few days into his game fast his behavior will improve and he will have better control over his emotions.

Last night, for nearly 3 hours he was banging his head, punching the walls and threatening because he lost his place in the game.  He wasn't able to save when the server went down.  I know that is pretty frustrating for any Kiddo to go through.  But, to Kaden it was over the top traumatic to him.  And when he reaches the point of Domesday you have no leverage with him at all.  Typically you could threaten a child with grounding or the loss of a favorite item or activity.  But, with Kaden that means nothing because right now he is already on the Titanic just waiting to drown. 
 

It is very painful to watch....basically you wait it out and try to keep him safe.  Safety is the main concern and at midnight we all need to be careful not to fall down the stairs.  :)  After almost 2 hours of violently kicking and self harm he balls himself up and hides under something, which signals to us that the worse is over.  Thank You Lord!!  Now he needs pressure of some sort....his weighted blanket, his service pup or wrapped up in our arms.  Then comes the talk portion where he tries to reason with what just happened.  When he was younger, he's 7 now.  This part of his meltdown would be him on the floor organizing toys or objects by size or color.  Now, he uses his words more, but after really tough episodes he will remain silent except for his humming and still sort things.  I find it is soothing for him and helps him make sense of what just happened.  As we head to the 3 hour mark he will ask for water and his bed.  I know he is exhausted right now.  Energy used up during a Meltdown can be compared to a Marathon for a young child.  In the past I would ask questions about his behavior and why he behaved the way he did.  Now, after years of meltdowns I know that it's useless to even try.  

And I know the next morning he wont even remember what happened.  If the meltdown was earlier in the day he may be able to talk about it at bed time, but more then likely not.  

He has explained it to me many times that having a meltdown is like playing 4 or 5 of CDs at the same time on the loudest setting.  You can't distinguish the individual songs playing.  You may catch a word or two, but not enough to make sense.  This is why what he rants about during his meltdown hardly ever make any sense.

For now we deal with it, and try our hardest to keep him safe.  Every day I thank God for my Kaden, our Family would not be what it is without him....
If you have a Kiddo with Autism how do you handle their Meltdowns?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Little Hands Big Hearts

 There is hardly a time when I don't have all of my Kiddos with me, or at least one of them.  Honestly I miss them when they aren't with me.  Maybe I've just gotten so good about tuning out the not so pleasing behavior or I'm just in love with being a Momma.  I think it's a little of both.  :) But, I truly enjoy being around my Kids.....even on the bad days. 


Don't get me wrong...I have my days, when I just don't know what will help Kaden stop screaming and banging his head like a mad person.  And the teenage hormones can send Mahala from being little Miss Sunshine to Cruella Deville.  But, I expect those days to come.  And when those days are in the here and now I try real hard to imagine the day they wont be making a trail of cracker crumbs from the kitchen table to the tv.  There will be a day that Skylar, Mahala and Kaden will have their own families and I will hopefully be a Grandma just begging for her Grandkiddos to come over and bake a mud pie with me.  When I think about that it makes it a little easier and then I'm able to stop rocking in the corner praying Hubby walks in at any moment.  And I can try to enjoy whatever glimmer of happiness I can find in any situation.

I pray a lot, I pray every day for patience and strength with a glimpse of my child's heart.  Sometimes if we look at life through our Kiddo's eyes, we see their heart...their intent.  We can see that their goal wasn't to take us down piece by piece.  You will be able to find glorious opportunities to teach and love them to greatness. 

Having a Friend or group of Friends is always important too.  I have my Sister and if she wasn't there for me on those days that I want to just cry because I don't know what I can do to help Kaden through his meltdown I don't know what I would do.  Hubby and I have also been making date night a major priority too.  We let it slide the past few years, because we were caught up in therapy with Kaden.  We now have remembered our relationship needs to come first, right after our relationship with God.

What helps you get through those trying days?  Give us your Secrets.....

Psalms 127:3-5  
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just a Moment in Time....


Sometimes I sit back and I just listen to the commotion going on in my house.  The buzz of screams, laughter and yapping all at the same time from various corners in our house.  There is always messes all over the house, piles of projects and left out crafts.  Just 5 minutes ago I almost slipped on a puzzle piece from the puzzle being built on the tile in our entry way.  Did I say entry way to our house?  Why yes I did folks...that's how we roll here.  Let's build a 1,000 piece puzzle 5 ft from the front door. :)  No matter what time of the day you are here, if Momma is awake you will smell something cooking or baking.  You will smell fresh laundry being folded or washed.  You will smell half chewed dog bones all over the house and as you look down at your new outfit you will see a zillion dog hairs from Homer.  Yes, only Homer....he sheds like it's part of his job to grow hair and poof it all over the house.  He takes his job VERY seriously! :)
 
So, I sit back, sip on my green tea or coffee and go this is my life.  I LOVE my life, I wouldn't change a thing.  But, I would like to add to it.  Another project here and there, a new business venture, more Kiddos, a few more pets and I want to expand the garden.  More of my life for me.....love it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Student Logbook ~ REVIEW!!!

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Yay, Organization for my little guy!  My Student Log Book gave Kaden and I the opportunity to use and Review the undated Planets My Student Log BookThis product was developed by Oregon Based Homeschooling parents, Jim and Corina Abbott.  I was thrilled, because we are working with Kaden on his Independence and his ability to start and complete all his work for the day.  Or at least give it a good amount of effort.

Usually I hear "am I done now" 10 times a day, or "can this be enough"?  I felt like for him he needed clear plans for each day and even maybe the whole week.  Even with it all written out on scratch paper or even the black board he still was antsy about the work that needed to be done.  I was a little leery that this would do any better.  But, when I spoke to him he was most excited about picking out his front cover for the Log Book and that it would be only his.

Let me give you some highlights about the actual product.
My Student Logbooks are 8 1/2" x 11", spiral bound and are about 1/2" thick with Sturdy clear plastic front cover and black back cover. The book is designed with 53 weekly pages and comes with 6 checklist pages. If you find that you need more checklists then the 6 they have put in your book, don't worry.  Jim and Corina have given you permission to photocopy the checklist page! YAY, Thank You!!!
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These logbooks are ideal for kiddos in the 2nd grade and up.What is fun about them is that when you order you get to pick from nine amazing different Cover pages.  The kids get to take ownership and get something that reflects their personality or style.  Love that!  Kaden decided to get the Planets cover.  After you decide that then you have three different styles to pick from:

* Predated August 1 – July 31, 7 days a week labeled Monday-Sunday
* Predated January 1 – December 31, 7 days a week labeled Monday-Sunday or
* Undated 7 column pages with space that you can customize to your own needs.  This is the one I decided to get.  That way I was able to start, stop and start again.  I hate when I have unused months in a planner or calendar that I can't use.
  
Your My Student Logbook retails for Only $15.00 Family license: $20.00 (Dated PDF file with permission to print as many copies as you need for one school year)
Single license: $10.00 (Dated PDF file with permission to print 1 copy)
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In the back of the logbook you will find some additional treasures. 


  • An “All About Me” page where kiddos get to record their age and their current favorites things.  It took some prompting, but Kaden did well with this exercise.  He said it was like he was customizing his book with his personality. :)
  • Prayers and Goals Page.  We Read the Bible and pray every night.  He uses this for a reference, I never thought to incorporate something like this for him.
  • Bible Verses Memorized!  Something we have not done, but he is motivated to do it now, because it's in his book.
  • Books Read.  Awesome, because right now we use the wall to post up titles.
  • Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations and Activities.  This would be great for remembering all the things we did during the year when we make our yearly scrapbooks.
  • Test Records page. 
  • Year Highlights! This is where your kiddos can write down all their favorite memories and can use them in their scrapbooks.

We used it as a Huge checklist.  He is only 7, so I am not worried about hours or credits yet.  I wrote out what he needs to accomplish on the left and then he gets to check off what he finishes on the left side.  He felt like it was very easy to use.  He felt like he had some control.  And I think he thrived on being able to completely check off what he accomplished and then go on to the next thing.  It also showed him what needed to be done by lunch time, break or dinner.  Great tool to use for independent working.

 So, do I like this product?  Yes, I love it.  I love it because Kaden loves it, uses it and it gives him the ability to be independent.  He says it gives him FREEDOM!!!!  HAHAHA  If you are looking for a way to track your Kiddo's school time, which will in turn make transcript writing a lot easier then this is for you.  I know this is something my Family will use year after year.  I'm excited to have found this great Family Owned Company. :)


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ~ REVIEW

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One of my Favorite things to do is to crack open a brand new physical planner.  So you can imagine how fast I was to offer my honest review on The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ($24.95) from The 7 Minute Life. 
 I will admit I was a little afraid that what normally happens when I get a new planner would happen during my review time period.  Can you guess what that would be?  Well, for starters I would rush home all excited and totally convicted to turn over a new leaf.  This was it.... organization and structure was going to seep from everyone of my pores if it had to kill me!!! I would be pretty "gung ho" for about 3-4 days and then slowly but surely my scattered thoughts and piled up "to do" list would completely overwhelm me to the point of disgust.  
So, with that happy thought hanging on in the back of my head I was determined to try my very best to make this planner thing work.   So, was it a hit, did it work for me?  I'll tell you that answer in a minute, but first let's go over a few things about this planner.


 The 7 Minute Life is a time management company created by Allyson Lewis, a motivational speaker and author of The 7 Minute Solution, The 7 Minute Difference, and The 7 Minute Daily Planner.  I connected to her instantly because she has battled with health issues too.  Since my health decline 10 years ago because of Lupus my priorities changed Big Time!!!!  I love knowing she believes just like me....Life is a Gift, a Blessing Beyond Measure.  Through her products, Allyson encourages everyone to prioritize, organize, and simplify.  This Planner is a sturdy 7.3" by 8.5" spiral bound physical planner, consisting of 271 total pages and was design to allow us to each be our own Architect and Contractor in our lives.  What a Concept!! :) 

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I will admit that it does feel more geared to someone in the workforce or that has a home based business.  But, with a few changes you can customize it yourself to make it work for anyone business or no business.  I do hope and pray that maybe in the future Allyson may create a planner just for the stay at home or homeschooling person.  Hint Hint! 

In the very beginning of the Planner you will find an extensive introduction.  How to get started is mapped out for you step by step.  It is quite the journey to go through.  Once you are ready to join the "7 Minute" Revolution the magic begins.  



You start out with a worksheet on Prioritizing the values most important to you.  This was eye opening to me.  It's one thing to know what's important to you, but to write it out is another.  I think that's one of the points in doing this.  :) 
The next page helps you unlock your purpose and passion.  I I had a hard time with this.  My life growing up in foster care didn't really set me up on a bright road ahead staring what I could do in life.  I was taught that I had no purpose, so why even try.  Just existing was problem enough for this world.  Thankfully through God I know this to be different.  But, it still isn't any easier to put out in black and white.  So, honestly that page is still blank in my planner as of right now.  
One of my FAVORITES in this Planner is the Mental Clutter page!!!!  With a task and action column.  I am nothing but 1,000 sentences swirling around in this head of mine.  Allyson wants to slow that swirling down.  Get it out and on paper!  She says it takes up your valuable time and diverts you from success!  I so agree with that, what about you?
Next you will find pages for 90-day, Financial and Life Goals...pretty self explanatory.  Unfinished Work and Home tasks along with Home repairs, you have work and personal connections list.  I mean there is something in here to fit just about every need.  The 90 day Calendar worksheets, Monthly Calendar at a Glance and Grocery List check list is easy to use too.  

 
But the Star of the show is the 90-Days worth of 2 page spread Daily Progress Reports.  Here you will find sections that may or may not work for each household.  Daily Contacts on the left I turned that into my Family To Do list for the day.  
My most life changing addition to my Daily routine thanks to this Planner is the 5 before 11.  The night before I write out 5 things that have to be done by 11am.  What makes this so effective is the night before you don't have emotion wrapped up into what needs to be accomplished.  So, it's not mixed in with a million things that come up magically overnight.  :)  I have all 3 of my Kids doing this every single day even on the weekends.  Even Dad hopped on board with this and is using it at work.  
 
I also find the What I Spent Section helpful.  Just a quick total everyday keeps a little handle on extra spending.  The extras like water intake and meals is a great bonus too.  And right there in the right hand corner is the daunting question....Did I do what I said I would do today?  Yes, it sure is right there in your face.  Become woman and men of your word.  This has been a hidden blessing here in my house.  I am always the first to make up an excuse for myself or anyone of the kids.  Well, not with that question!!!  :)  I need that yes or no box checked every night, what about you???

So, what did I think?  Well, I love the Revolution behind it and everything it represents.  Having had a home-based business for almost half of my adult life I appreciate all the components of the planner.  Right now in my life there are a lot of sections in the Planner that needed to be renamed to work effectively for my daily life.  Does it work for me a Homeschooling Momma?  Yes, it does....with some crossing out and re-purposing.  What about with a business or 9 to 5 job?  For sure, and what a major change in your daily life you would see.   Check it out now and let me know what you think about this Quality Planner!!!
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Christian Audio Drama: Under Drake's Flag ~ REVIEW


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How cool to start the school year off with a Bang!!!  A few weeks ago we were asked to Review Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions.  The kids Love Audio Dramas, so of course we were all pleased to jump on this boat! :)  It was Perfect for us, because I am running a little behind in the curriculum department.  It's been a L-O-N-G summer.



Under Drake's Flag is a two-hour audio drama that comes in 2 CDs and is based on the book, Under Drake's Flag by G.A. Henty.  The 2 CD set costs $29.95 and it also comes with a simple outline and study guide, but you can also download a longer PDF version of each story(chapter) from their site, this is what we used.  The three Bible Studies included really work on showing what it is like having Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.  This was a little bit over Kaden's head, but I will be thrilled to do this again with him in a few years.  The study offers scripture references so you can go deeper.  You will find that along with the study guide you will get a helpful quick Bio of GA Henty as well as Sir Francis Drake.  

There are 3 sections in the study guide for each chapter.  Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words.  This is where you will find comprehension questions about each chapter.  Think Who, What, Where, Why and When.  It really makes your Kiddo put themselves in the story and to dig a little deeper in thought.  Your Kiddos will have fun searching for the New vocabulary words listed.  Kaden and I raced to see who could find them faster in the dictionary.  :)

The recommended ages for this Audio Drama is for Kiddos 6 and up, of course Adults too. This Adventurous story combines both fiction and real historical events. The fictional characters in the story are, Ned Hawkshaw and his best-friend, Gerald.  Ned is seen in action as he executes a surprising rescue.  He catches the eye of Sir. Francis Drake, an English explorer who helped take over the Spanish Armada.  Sir. Francis Drake promises Ned that he can be one of his Newest crew members.  I don't want to spoil all of their Adventures that they have while being on board Drake's ship.  I'll just tell you that there is tons of excitement from the very beginning that includes Sharks, Dungeons, lots of close calls and a lot of Faith.

What did we think?  Well we are very Visual over here in the Manic house.  Usually Kaden has No problem at all listening to Audio Dramas.  But, this one was a little more difficult.  I feel the main reason is the amount of what was happening.  Sometimes it was a little unclear who was talking, they had a little accent, so I think it was a bit confusing at times for him to keep up.  There was a lot of background noise, but understandable background noise.  I mean they were on a boat out at sea a good portion of the story.  HAHAHAHA  But, being Sensory Sensitive like he is, he did find it more difficult to focus.  Other Kiddos without this issue would probably not even notice the extra clanking and murmur of sounds. 

So, I needed to make the story more visual and hands on, so I set out to learn more about Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Inquisition.  We made boats out of clay, made meals with fish and learned some Pirate and Spanish words.  We even used an old fishing net to capture the vocabulary words and their meaning.  Did that help?  Yes, it did, that and just listening 15-20 minutes a day.  
All in all he loved the story and all the new vocabulary.  I just tweaked it a little to fit his Sensory issue.  We will be keeping this in Our Tool Box and hopefully when Kaden is a few years older we can try again.  I think it would be a great addition to a History Unit Study or as a break during Reading time.  That's why my Kiddos love Audio Dramas.  They can sit back and listen as their imagination runs wild!!!

Remember Under Drake's Flag is a 2 CD set and can be purchased for $29.95  Or you can digitally download it for only $20!
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