Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Accepting Life for What It Really Is

I don't know if it's because I'm older now....just turned 40!  But, I am so content with my life right now.  Things don't have to be perfect, clean, tidy, over planned or even planned at all.  Life is life and life was meant to be enjoyed.  Not to be avoided and dreaded.  

My sweet Kaden, oh how I LOVE him soooo much, but I know for many nights I laid next to him and begged God to take away his Autism, make life easier for me.....Please!!!  I would struggle with his stims or his milestones not being met.  You know what Kaden....eat with your hands, giggle and laugh as you twirl around, touch our faces until you feel safe and calm, whatever you need to enjoy Your life.  I'm so proud of all that he has accomplished in the 8 years of his life.  I want him to be proud of who he is.  I still pray for his safety because he still has uncontrollable anger through out the week.  But, when I look at where he was 4 years ago and where he is now there is soooo much improvement with his social skills, communication and his ability to take care of himself. 
We have been working a lot on daily life skills.  Like keeping himself clean, cleaning up after himself and making healthy food choices.  He loves helping in the kitchen and coming up with new food creations.  He's working on a new strawberry lemonade recipe right now.  I love his enthusiasm for life, he wakes up happy every single morning no matter what kind of night he's had.  He attacks the day like I've never seen before from anyone I've ever known.  I can learn a lot from him....I think I already have!  Thank You Lord for my Sweet Kaden!!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

More then Half my Life

 




















So, it was another Birthday for me.....yay me!  I am thankful the Lord has given me 40 years and that 21 of them I have been a Momma!!!  We had a great celebration together, especially since my oldest was born on my Birthday.  We both hit milestones this year, I turned 40 and he made it to 21.  Here I am with my Sweet girl who just turned 15 not too long ago.  They grow up so fast and before you know it those late nights don't seem like such a big deal anymore.  I would do anything to be able to go tell my younger self to relax more and enjoy the kids.  No, I take that back!  I did do that and that's why my Son was out with his Family on his 21st Birthday.  Because I did take the time to stay up late and talk with them.  I did play board games, make cool art projects and decided to Homeschool them to tailor their education and be able to spend quality time with them.  We have made cookies just because it was Tuesday and have spent many afternoons dancing in the rain or basking in the sun.  These last 21 years have been the Best years of my Life.....I Love My Family!!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy~ REVIEW

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I've been homeschooling for almost 10 years....seems like a long time, but to me it has been just a short journey I've taken along with my Kiddos.  I don't know if you are new to Homeschooling, been Homeschooling for years or maybe your thinking about it.  There are a lot of things to consider and to understand.  It may feel a bit overwhelming, but I'm here to tell you that every year I Homeschool my Kiddos I have a list of things I plan to change from the previous year and a list of things that worked and we plan to implement them again for another year.  It's a learning process, but the amazing thing is that you get to experience life with your Kiddos.

I struggle with a few things in our Homeschool.....organization, doubting my abilities and staying focused.  That sounds like a we run around in a mess.....some days we do!  :)  Anyway, I was given the opratunity to take a course from Stephanie Walmsley with Successful Homeschooling Made Easy.  She offers the Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course which is a 26 week long program.  Stephanie Walmsley is a Christian Mom of 5 Kiddos that started Homeschooling in 1985.  Homeschooling wasn't as popular back then like it is now.  She didn't have tons of curriculum choices, gadgets and gizmos to sort through and figure out what would work for each child.  There weren't as many Homeschool groups and mentorships available like you can find now.  Our resources now I would describe as Unlimited.  Stephanie created this program to fill a need for guidance in the Homeschool world.  Even if your a veteran Homeschooling Family there are a lot of lessons and gems found through out this program!

So, this is how it works....it's so simple.  Once you have signed up for the course you will receive your lesson in PDF format each week.  You can read it on your computer or print them out.  I'm visual and need to hold something if I'm going to get it to sink in my brain.  With that said I printed it out and hole punched it to fit nicely in a 3 ring binder.  That way too I can go back and reference latter on.  And I did do that several times during the review period.

The 1st few lessons help give you a simple 8 week plan to go by.  I love that she dosen't have you teaching 10 subjects on the first day and that is usually what I do when I start something new.  She really explains about the simplicity of your schedule for your Homeschooling.  She asks you questions about you and your Family to help customize a plan that will work for YOU.  Like, what time do you wake up?  Are you a morning person or afternoon?  What chores need to be done or appointments or other commitments that are a regular recurrence?  She also gives you a print out of a schedule for morning and one for afternoon learners.  Even though we tend to do better in the afternoon I want to work toward being a little more productive earlier in the day.  LORD HELP US! :)

My experience has been great with using Stephanie's course.  Even though I have been at this for many years I still struggle here and there.  She has renewed my faith in myself and has given me the little push I need to believe I am capable in making this work.  I do have one successful Son in college already, so why the harsh self talk everyday?  Well, not anymore I feel like I have a plan and the tools to work on some hard truths with our schedule.  



After the first few lessons I broke out the poster board, paper, glue and pens.  I did what she said to do which was to start out with a Literacy Hour.  And to fill that hour with Reading and Writing.  And so I did.....no stress, just Literacy Hour and a few chores, Bible time and lot's of outdoor play.  Then I added Math Hour and the next week we filled in even more time for our garden and so forth.  This slow progression really ensured success for us.  We are a Happy Bunch over here!



Would I recommend this Course?  I would indeed for anyone new to Homeschooling or to someone thinking about it.  And even those of us who may be in a rut or a new season of life.  When my oldest left for college it changed our whole Family dynamics.  It was a huge shift that caused us to need to regroup and get ourselves back on track.  This online course did that for us.  We are only 9 weeks into the program and I look forward to the upcoming lessons!  If you are looking for a Simple Course to help you work through making Schedules and Lesson plans.  Learn how to use your time more efficiently and truly learn how to break free from stress with Organization Choosing your Kiddo's Curriculum and Planning.  Even get tips with Teaching and Housekeeping and tons more!  This Course is super affordable at $10 per month for 6 months, or $48 if you pay for the whole course all at one time.

Stop by and connect with Stephanie from Successful Homeschooling Made Easy on Facebook.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Family Bible Study from Real Life Press~REVIEW

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Do you have Family Bible time during the week or weekends?  We have on and off, but it is something that I have had on my heart for many months to do with our Family.  So, when we were asked to Review a Family Bible Study written by Heidi St. John, Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 (Stories from the Life of Jesus) from Real Life Press we were having a Jesus Moment, because it was just what I had been praying for.  We were sent both the Family Study Guide $9.95and Student Book $24.95. (10 week long study)

I don't know about you, but when I walk into the Christian Book store I sometimes get crazy overwhelmed.  I think it's just because I want them all!!  :)  I have to say when I was 1st presented with this review I went to their website and instantly made a wish list.  I urge you to go at some point today and take a little lookie lookie!  The Busy Mom Products     Firmly Planted Products

Real Life Press, created by Jay and Heidi St. John has a passion for the Lord and their mission is to direct people to Him.  Showing people how to have a working relationship with God in all areas of their life.  They have many different products like I mentioned before, you must go see them all for yourself.  They offer affordable Bible Studies, Books and CDs on all things to grow Faith, Homeschool, being Stronger as a Family, and of course Parenting. 






Before I get into how we used this product I have to scream how personal and beautiful this product is.  You can feel the Love and Passion as you read the Note from Jay and Hedi.  The layout and flow from one page to the next is captivating for even the youngest of kiddos, the older ones and even us adults.  And we all know how critical Kaden is.  Being Autistic gives him a few challenges.  One staying captured with the content.  And then there is the opposite problem and that's when the workbooks or program is too busy with lot's of extra unneeded flash and pizazz.  I know it's a crazy middle ground that we try to find and stay at with him.  
And I'm super pleased to say that he LOVED the program.  If you have a Special needs child, they will love this Bible study.  For many reasons that I will go into a few of them in just a minute.  Since I needed a supplement for Kaden's Bible time during the day I decided to do this with just him and I for the Review period and then after we finish our book we are reading during Family time in a week or so we are going to recap what Kaden and I learned and then continue on with the whole Family.  But for the sake of this review I did it just with Kaden and I.

Okay on to the good stuff.....Here is a pic of the Lessons in part 1.  As you see it covers from Mary being visited by the Angel Gabriel all the way to Jesus walking on water.  I went ahead and printed everything out and placed each page in sleeves in a binder.  I wanted to make everything easy, organized and portable anywhere at a moments notice.  I have been working on that a lot lately. :)  

At the beginning of the lesson in the Family Study Guide you find the title and passages that are in the lesson.  Let's take week 1 for instance.  

Gabriel visits Mary~Luke 1:26-38
After you read that with your Family you have some choices.  Here comes a Special needs Blessing.  There are variations for the memory verse.  First of all it's up to you if you want to memorize a verse or not.  But, they give you variations to use depending on the age/ability of your Kiddos.  
Here is an example.You have 3 ways~ 
1.  THE SEED which is basically the Big Idea or Key Concept.  
2.  PLANTING THE SEED is for Kiddos 4-11 
3.  Additional PLANTING THE SEED is a more Challenging with longer components.

*The Seed for Week 1 is The virgin birth of Jesus proves that He is God. 
*PLANTING THE SEED for Week 1 is And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus
*Additional PLANTING THE SEED for Week 1 is And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.

 
We started out with learning just The Seed and then every day or so I went on until he memorized most of the additional PLANTING THE SEED.  Customize the program to fit Our needs! 

Next you find the Watering the seed segment.  Here the concept is basically with a short story it helps "germinate" the seed concept.  Also there are questions here geared for the older Kiddos.  You will find through out the program at the end of the lessons little Apples that represent Tasting the fruit.  Here your Family will be able to apply what they have learned in their own lives.  This is sooooo huge, anyone can memorize some answers, but this is where the line in drawn between listeners of the word and doers of the word.  When you come to the Digging Deeper sections is for mainly the older kids and adults.  But, I have to say Kaden took to it.  

But, he LOVES his Bible, the other day he was talking about Methuselah in the bath tub.  I mean this child Loves his Bible and not just the Heroes or the Action.  He has a heart for Jesus and he has told me before....if you want to know the Lord you need to read his word and talk to him everyday, all day.  Yes, sir!!!  So, the deeper conversation that Digging Deeper evokes was perfect for him.

Now let's chat about the Student workbook, it's a huge!!!  There are 200+ pages that go along with the 10 chapters from the Family Study Guide.  You will find so many fun things to help solidify what your kiddos learned and it's painless for both you and them. :)  They will find everything from crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, science activities, journaling pages, coloring pages and lot's of extras for deeper study for the older kiddos.  There is so much to choose from that will be a perfect fit no matter their age or learning ability.  Once again this is helpful to have lot's of options when you have a child with Special Needs.  The pics I included doesn't show the coloring/art side, but they are there in the work book....I promise.  They are just not Kaden's favorite thing to do.  So, we were able to work on handwriting, major plus factor to be able to work on skill deficits while learning about the Lord. :)


We worked our Bible study every single Day except Sunday.  Kaden Loved it and I never had to ask more then once to gather his Bible study supplies and Bible.  We worked more some days then others, but we never took more then a week to complete one of the 10 lessons.  

Will we continue this program?  Oh yes, and I plan to purchase all of the other ones and probably a few of the other products available that are not Bible Studies.  I Highly recommend this Bible Study for anyone with a Family.  If you have wanted to do a Family Study or just want to use it with your Kiddos you will see your child start connecting the dots.  And watching them and yourself dive deeper into the Bible and getting closer to the Lord with each lesson is the most Beautiful thing.  Bless your Family today, head on over and pick out your first Family Bible Study.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A+ Interactive Math ~REVIEW

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Math is my Homeschool Nemesis....yes I said that!!  I have had a love hate relationship my whole life with Math.  I'm always worried about the Kid's progress and if they are where they need to be.  So, when I learned about A+ Interactive Math and their Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan I flipped with Joy.  I was excited to Review this product and was hoping It wouldn't be too painful.  

The Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan was designed to give You the ability to see if your student has gaps in their math skills and how to FIX them.  The program is 3 months long and evaluates from 1st Grade to Pre-Algebra (7th grade).

It wasn't until recently that I truly understood where my own math problems began.  I moved around a lot as a child, which meant different schools almost every single year. (Military Kid)  And with that also came different ways of teaching, teacher expectations and grading systems.  Going back and forth between private and public schools had me crazy, because one school was doing this and then the next school was doing something completely different and I see now how I missed core important instructionconcepts through out my elementary years.  I had huge gaps that were never filled.  It was apparent in all my subjects, but the most noticeable was Math.  I have noticed the same thing has happened right here at home with my Kiddos as we have endured some pretty huge obstacles and changes in our family over the past few years.



So, I had both Mahala and Kaden take the tests.  I can't even wait till the end of the Review to tell you if I like it or not.  I LOVE THIS PROGRAM!!!  This program has saved me time, money, confusion, frustration and did I say time?  :)  We have tried several different Math programs with Kaden.  He loves them and gets bored super fast.  He is all over the map though and I thoroughly believe it was because we let him push forward and didn't truly have a set direction or curriculum.  For an example Kaden can complete Algebra questions from his brother's High school book, but he can't tell you if an inch is bigger then a centimeter.  He has a hard time with the steps in division, but he can work out a word problem 3 paragraphs long.  So, you get the picture....he knows a lot and is very smart, but he has GAPS.  With him having Autism I think it gives him a few extra challenges and benefits in home schooling him.  

With this program, I was able to have both kids take a short assessment that tested their ability to successfully complete different levels of major math concept.  By doing this it helps determine their current skill level. By completing these assessments we were able to see exactly where Kaden and Mahala were as far as their appropriate grade level in skill.  Mahala was unfortunately behind a year or so in certain areas.  And Kaden was 3 years ahead of his current grade level.  After taking the placement tests they were each given a specifically designed lesson plan to fill each gap.  In the Picture above you will see the concepts in the 5th grade that he mastered and those he needed to learn.  Also, you see in the gray concepts he didn't try yet.  We decided 5th grade is where he should work on and then come back and retest.  I also loved that you can take them over again too.  The questions are timed and this was a little overwhelming for Kaden, but out of 4 different assessments he only timed out with one question.  So, it's not a discouraging factor in my mind.  Kaden skipped around on this specific assessment and we found that he needed to fill in some gaps, or in his situation just learn.  Mahala had a lot of gaps and we were thankful to get a wonderfully simple plan to get her where she needs to be.  We need Lesson Plans!!



When you are at the Dashboard you take your Placement Test and then you receive your results.  Next you can view your Kiddo's reports, very easy access. :)  The lesson plan gives you everything you need to get your child caught up! All your child needs to do is simply follow their lesson plan as it teaches them and allows them practice with interactive questions and answers.   They will also work through extra worksheets to master the skills and concepts needed to move forward. 
Good News is that you, the parent receives all the reports on their progress immediately after they complete the work! 

Our Family used this daily during the school week.  I would have them start the assessments each morning.  I let them pick the one or two for the day.  And then they did the worksheets needed if they did not master the concept.  If they mastered them I had them continue until they did 4 lessons or worksheets for at least one concept.  It was really important for us to get this all figured out, so we could kind of start next year with a fresh start.  The kiddos both enjoyed the program and Mahala's exact words were, "It wasn't as Painful as I thought it was going to be"!  I think we found a winner here.  I would HIGHLY suggest if you have a child in the school system or you homeschool them, you should try this Placement.  Just see where your child is, give them the extra foot in the door.   It is very easy to use and it truly does show you where the gaps are and gives you the tools you need to FIX those gaps.  I think this would be a great Summer supplements, because it's a 3 month Subscription.  How perfect is that!?!   We will definitely use this again in a year or so to see where we are once again.  If you still aren't sure if your Kiddo will benefit, try an assessment for free!  Do it, you will be glad that you did, promise.


 From now until May18, 2015 you can get the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan on SALE for 40-50% off!! But only for a limited time--so don't wait!
 

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And God was There all Along!

We had recently moved a few months before I found out about my Husband’s addiction.  There was a church SUPER close to our new house, like i can almost see the lights from the end of my road.  We had been going to church off and on for years.  I grew up in the church and I have valued my close relationship with the Lord my whole life.  I am here to tell you I have been in situations in my life that I would not have escaped if there was no God.  I will scream from the roof tops that I know there is a God and he has literally had to carry me much of my young adult life and all of my childhood.  Life just has not been smooth sailing for me and I look at it usually as time to strengthen my relationship with God.

So, back to the church….it was a church that we had went to a few times, because we knew we were going to be moving there.  When I say we I mean mainly the kids and I.  My Husband usually made excuses as to why he couldn’t go.  One of the most common was our youngest with Autism couldn’t handle the noise and wouldn’t dare stay in the nursery or kid classes.  So, when we did go to church he would stay home and watch porn watch our son.

I remember the Sunday before I found out I went to church with the kids minus the little guy and Husband of course.  I remember singing and praying.  I prayed for the same thing over and over.  I bet you can guess what it was about….my Husband.  I would always pray that the Lord would soften his heart.  To keep him safe in all that he did and that he would find happiness in the kids and I.  Over and over I would ask the Lord to help me be a better wife, so that my Husband would love me and want to spend time with me.  I would beg God to help my Kids behave and to give my Husband the eyes to see how amazing they really were.

Read more Here!

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Husband found God in the Closet

One day I will have my Husband share his story, but for today I will retell it how I remember.  This is a story about unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance and transparency.  This is my Husband’s story about his journey to find God in the closet.
It had only been a few days since he had shared with me the disgusting details of his Secret life of prostitutes, strip clubs and massage parlors.  I was numb and hollow inside, it was all I could do to feed the kids every day and interact with the therapists that came daily to work with our youngest Son with Autism.
I remember laying on the bed covered with tissues and reeking of Alcohol just staring off at the wall.  I was hating myself and I just wanted to float away, to never exist.  Hubby came and stood at the foot of the bed and stared.  He was a wreck, I know he was.  We weren’t eating, sleeping….just putting out fires and rehashing the past 10 years over and over until we passed out from exhaustion.  He looked on over me wanting to take my pain away.  I knew deep down he did love and care for me.  But, I didn’t trust him at all and at that point I knew we could never stay together.  I didn’t want to, I was going to just tolerate him for the next week or two and then that was it I was going to just leave.  I knew physically I couldn’t do it right this very moment.  But, once I gathered strength and could form thoughts that involved something other than what was crashing down in my life I would run.

More can be Read HERE

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spelling You See~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/32761c85-b638-435c-a47b-33977171d944_zpsg4f9rmi3.jpgI'm a born talker, never a writer.  I remember loving English in school except one important part of it.....Spelling.  I remember my Teachers telling me that my mind went to fast to move the words from my brain down to my pencil.  I was always fearful of the dreaded Red Pen Marks that generally covered my papers.  Luckily my Kiddos are home with me and don't have to go through the fear and embarrassment.  I was excited to try Ancient Achievements Level F from Spelling You See for the past several weeks.  I was given the set for my Review in exchange.  Spell check, don't fail me now!!!  :)

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Ok, first of all this type of Spelling program is one I have never seen before.  And to be honest, if it wasn't for this review I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  I have grown up with a spelling list each week and thought you had to drill one or two of them into your head.  That was just the way you did it.  Wow, what an eye opening review was this.  We were given the Instructor's Handbook ($14) and two Student Workbooks ($30) along with Erasable colored pencils.  In the Instructor's Handbook I found several helpful sections about the philosophy, stages of spelling, and curriculum sequence.  I was more then delighted that it included how to get started, full of many tips for achieving success with the program, a color coded answer key, step by step instructions for each individual lesson, dictation passages, and an activity guide.  

So, let me tell you a little about how we used this program with Kaden.  He is 8 and reads well into high school.  He can even spell pretty darn good, but I noticed he just memorizes and if you ask him to spell a single word all by itself he will struggle.  Don't ask me why or how, but if he sees the word in a regular spelling list over the course of a day or two he will memorize them all.  If I wait a few weeks and ask again or ask during dinner he will stumble.  I wanted him to see spelling differently, to learn why the word is spelled a certain way and to give him more confidence.  



Through doing this I have seen the gaps in his phonics which According to Dr. Holinga, is the 2nd stage in the 5 Developmental Stages of Spelling.
1. Preliterate
2. Phonetic
3. Skill Development
4.  Word Extension
5.  Derivational Constancy

Being a child with Autism we find he has a lot of developmental deficits.  I realize some of Kaden's frustration using the program was maybe the writing portion, especially the dictation.  His motor skills are a little rough most days.  I think I'm going to go back a few books and start there and come back to Ancient Achievements in a year or so.  You can go Here and get some extra information about Placement to make sure you start at the right place with your Kiddo.

Okay, back to how we used the program....we did use it about every other day.  Each lesson begins with a short passage in Lesson A Section 1 along with the Vowel chunks.  Here Kaden would read and then color the vowel chunks in the passage.  That would be about all he could do for the day.  It did tend to be a longer session because searching for the chunks proved to be difficult for him.  That was lesson 1, we are on the 4th lesson now and the improvement is very noticeable. :)  The next day he would normally complete the copy work in Section 2 of lesson A and go over the vowel chunks.  Towards the end of the week he would complete lesson B sections 1 and 2 which were basically a repeat from the previous days.  


Because of his frustration of repetitiveness we would skip most of the C lessons, but we would read and enjoy the Spotlights here that would go in more depth regarding the passage.  He loved the little extras, I caught him reading into the 2nd workbook because he loved reading the interesting passages and Spotlights.  Lessons D and E have your kiddo looking for vowel chunks again, but in D your child needs to write the passage from dictation.  This was hard for him, only because of his motor skills.  But, this lesson encourages the child to ask for help if needed.  Now the final E lesson asks your kiddo to write from dictation completely alone with no help.  It's really cool to see the progression from week to week. 



 













So, would we recommend Spelling You See?  I think for sure with a child without Special needs and even if your child does have Special needs.  My oldest has dyslexia, I wished this would have been around when he was struggling through spelling.  Now, Mahala is a spelling wiz.  Give her any word and she can figure it out in a snap.  So, this program wouldn't be a good fit for her.  I think this program brings a different approach to learning how to spell by color coding and dictation and just seeing those chunks in the passage that I promise will captivate any audience.  So, yes, it's a great Affordable program that I plan to continue using with Kaden.

Let, me know if you start using it with your kiddos! :)  And don't forget to check out more on Social Media....

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Monday, April 27, 2015

New Blog Journey!!!!

I have been consumed with getting the garden set up and preparing Summer school curriculum for the kiddos.  Not to mention I took the plunge and decided to start a new blog to document our Family's journey with Addiction.  It's not easy and if someone would have told me almost 2 years ago that we would be where we are now I would have punched them.  So, here we are better then we ever have been in our whole marriage and I want to share with people who are where I was almost 2 years ago.  I want to share how we made it through the dark and scary tunnel known as addiction.  It wasn't easy, it's still the hardest thing I have EVER gone through.  But, if I knew then what I know now I would have taken the same path.  Yes, I would have still married him and loved him and prayed for him and then take on this challenge in-order to have this God centered Marriage we have right this moment.  Thank You Jesus!!!!
I'm not hiding anymore, I feel like the Lord has called me to share and to give support where I can.  I have seen first hand God lovingly grip my Husband and pull him through his darkest hours.  He has mended me back together people.  I was literally in pieces and I can walk again.  God needs all the Glory for this Miracle!!!!  This is Short and Sweet....if you know someone struggling with their Marriage with or without addiction pass my new blog on to them.  If you are interested or just curious follow along on our journey too.  Please Pray for us as a Family, pray for my strength as I share some impossible stories and pray for my Husband's Recovery. 
New Blog:


1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits ~ Review

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We love Art around here, creating Art is just a way of life.  It was something I did with each of the kids from a young age.  And even now as my oldest is almost 21 he can still be found drawing, painting and doodling.  Several weeks ago I was given the opportunity to Review an Art Curriculum, High School 9-12, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits.

Now even though we love Art, that doesn't mean it's an easy subject to teach and to do it thoroughly.  I create what I feel and never had any formal training.  But, for my Kiddos I would like for them to learn the basics and beyond.  I want them to learn about art styles and Artists from different eras.  I can do all this with ARTistic Pursuits and not have to spend tons of time gathering supplies, gathering information and organizing a plan.  Instead it's all in this Spiral bound book and is as easy as flipping to the next page.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Colored Glasses ~ Part 2

When I look back now it was all so clear.  I mean it was almost text book material over here.  And with that realization came a dump truck full of self loathing and honestly wondering if I should even be trusted to make a call on when to toss the out dated milk from the fridge.  Everything seemed impossible to deal with, nothing could be trusted and everything was raw. 

Now, almost 17 months later I am ready to share the miracle that we have experienced in our Family.  

Recovery.....Healing.....Forgiveness.....Understanding
 Let, me go on record here 1st by saying I never thought any of those things could possibly happen.  I was ready to walk out the door with my basket of colored glasses.  But, something stopped me.  Actually a feeling stopped me and I know it was the gentle hand of God.  And I'm so very thankful that I chose to stay.  And now I have to get the word out, that there is a way to work through what my marriage has been through.  

My Husband has a Sex Addiction and Our Family is alive and well.  Walk along with me as I share my story.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Orphs of the Woodlands ~ REVIEW

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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.   

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!!!

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


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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......

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thick as Thieves ~ Review

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/Thick%20as%20Thieves_zpsxhnvndjv.jpg 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.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage ~ REVIEW




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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.  


http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/Home



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


http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/PlanLessons

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.

http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/Order 
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
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