Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UnLock Math~ Review


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I know I'm about to sound like a broken record, but if I was a Super Hero....Math would be my Arch Nemesis!  I have a huge mental block and that's not a good thing when you are Homeschooling a High Schooler.  That being said, Mahala suffers from the same mental block.  She get's overwhelmed, shuts down, gets angry and then gives up.  We have tried a few Math programs here and there and was happy to Review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math.  ($299 a year or $49 each month)  Mahala's math history really started out smoothly.  It wasn't until Algebra that she started to have some difficulty.  And after a whole year of it she was 100% lost.  And we realized earlier this year that she had some definite gaps that needed to be fixed if she was going to see success.  And now enters UnLock Pre-Algebra.

Here is a little Sneak Peak at what your Kiddo will be learning......
Whole Numbers
Integers
Variables and Expressions
Rational Numbers
Fractions
Equations
Inequalities
The Coordinate Plane
Decimals
Percent
Polynomials
Triangles
2D geometry
3D Geometry
Analyzing Data
Probability & Stats
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At first we started using it a few days a week along with her Summer math that she has been working on.  But, after a week or 2 we decided to stop her current program afterwards to just focus full time 4-5 days a week on the UnLock Pre-Algebra.

UnLock Pre-Algebra is geared for Kiddos in 7th grade+ and has 16 Units that could take roughly 9 months to get through if.  Since some of this has been a review for Mahala she has zipped through a few sections a little faster then if it was her first time learning.  Though I have encouraged her to take it slow and store what she's learning deep into her Noggin! :)  Mahala does well with physically writing down new information and seems to retain it better when doing so.  One of the Fun extras with UnLock Pre-Algebra is the fact that you are able to see a fully explained answer for any of the problems your Kiddo completes and there are reference notes.  On new concepts that clicks with Mahala or that she has struggled with in the past she copies these in her Math notebook.  

So, let me tell you real quick how this looks....Mahala logs onto her Personalized Dashboard each day.  And then that's where she gets to pick what lesson she wants to work on and then begins a short warm-up session.  You know....to get the blood pumping to her brain!!!!  Afterwards she get's the "Meat" she's been craving, by watching one of the videos for that day's lesson taught by Alesia Blackwood.  These videos are captivating, energetic and not all sugary or watered down.  That's why I called it the "Meat".  After you watch the video your Kiddos will now be instructed to work on the provided practice problems along with a quick review and a challenge problem.

Will we continue using UnLock Pre-Algebra?  We will definitely continue this course and will be looking into UnLock Algebra and Algebra2.  Mahala and I both enjoyed that it was an actually person teaching and not a cartoon or just a voice.  She felt like it was easier to stay focused and actually connect with the concept being taught.  Another highlight was the process of learning the concept and that it's very independent.  Having everything divided into chunks or pieces made it flow and easy to keep up with.  And having the automatic grading and progress reports made my life insanely easier.  Did Mahala reach some sort of "Light Bulb" moment?  Well, I think she has been able to see where her mistakes are, her Dad and I have been able to see exactly where the hick-ups are.  I feel like with UnLock Pre-Algebra she will be able to get to where she needs to be to finish out the last few years of High School math....that's good enough for me!

Check out UnLock Math with Social Media.....

 
UnLock Math Review
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Expanders from SimplyFun~ REVIEW

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In our home we enjoy playing games as a Family, especially educational ones.  We probably substitute book work for a games 3-4 times a week.  This is easy to do with absolutely every subject and I find that it gives Kiddos the platform to use what they have learned and strengthen new skills.  Recently we decided to Review a Math game called Expanders from SimplyFun.  I remember looking at their website and smiling....they are passionate and committed to offering your Family quality, educational games.  You can't ask for anything more. :)  Expanders($34) is approved for ages 3 to 103...so it fits a broad audience.  I was pleased to see that I enjoyed it as much as Kaden did.  That's key when you are a Family that loves games, it has to be fun for everyone.  The best part about this game is watching your Kiddos learn Reverse Addition, Spatial Reasoning and Critical Thinking while having LOADS of fun!  SimplyFun has over 90 affordable products for your Family to enjoy, so you have to check out their website.  


The game is designed for up to four people, but so far it's just been Kaden and I to play it.  It comes in a sturdy box and has a cute little pouch to store all the brightly colored plastic tokens.  Setting up the game is pretty simple, you have a border and 5 "circuit boards" to arrange in the middle.  I was pleased that the directions were easy to follow and getting started was a breeze.  You do need to make sure that all players have basic knowledge of their addition facts before they start playing.  After you have your token color the game starts off with 3 set moves that have to be done before you have freedom to do 1 of 3 different actions.  Once all that is done then move 4 is the player's choice and they will need to use strategy to block their opponent's tokens.  The object of the game is to get rid of all your tokens by filling the board with your own tokens.  You want to find the most Expanded math problem possible to take up as much of the board as possible. 

For example, you could choose to cover the numbers 8 and 1 to equal 9.....that would be putting 3 tokens on to the board. But, we are looking to use up all our tokens, so you could place down 5 tokens on the board if you place a token over the numbers 2, 3, 3, and 1 to equal 9.  Remember it is better to expand the mathematical problem as much as you can. :) 


So, what did we think about this game?  Well, we loved it....it was fun, Kaden was able to practice everyday mathematics and we were able to spend time together making new memories.  It honestly can't get ANY better.  We played this game a few times a week, I appreciated that it was a pretty quick game.  I'll be the first to admit the longer 2 hour strategy games just don't always fit into our schedule.  We could set up and play a game between bath time and bed time, total time 25 minutes.  The other day he set it all up while I was cleaning up the kitchen.  After I was done cleaning we each had some yummy lemonade and played a couple games.  Fun times with my Kiddos....I live for it and the fact that I can add a little education makes Momma real happy!! :)  I think any Family should have this in their game closet, it will be a game that your Kiddos ask to play.  

Reach out on Social Media and connect with SimplyFun!


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Simply Fun Review

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Serenity Prayer....Courage

Courage to change the things I can.
By surrendering to God I won’t be ashamed while he guides me throughout my life.   And my heart will be confident and fearless as I listen for his sweet voice.  I pray for this every single day, sometimes it’s hard to find the courage…to be fearless as you live your life.  But, it’s so Beautiful when you do…..listen for his voice.

Isaiah 41:10  (HCSB)

10 Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages ~REVIEW






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It's Summer time and we have many short and not so short trips planned.  I love to pack a little education in where I can as we travel.  I feel like it makes the trip even more interesting and fun.  Too bad I can't plan a trip back in time and learn along the way......or can I?  A few weeks ago I was given the chance to Review Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages from Home School in the WoodsThe downloadable version can be purchased for only $33.95 and if you prefer the CD it's only a tad more for $34.95 along with shipping and handling.  Let me just say now that this probably is a completely different way to learn History then you are used to, but after a few weeks into your "trip" you will understand the process and the excitement on your Kiddo's face will be all you need to confirm that they are indeed learning far more then a text book alone can teach them.
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What we received was a digital History Unit Study that I could download.  We Love Unit Studies and prefer to learn this way as much as possible. You also can get this study on a CD-ROM if that works better for you.  It works well for both your Windows and Mac computer programs.  Our Project Passport Study was geared towards Kiddos in grades 3 to 8, but it could easily work well for both younger and older Kiddos with just a few tweaks here and there.  If you work on the Unit Study 2-3 days a week it should take about 6-12 weeks to finish completely, but it does depend on how many activities you and your Kiddos decide to do at each stop.  They are going to have so much fun learning about old castles, Barbarians, Vikings, and so much more.  They will be completing their Unit Study while notebooking/lapbooking and completing many hands-on activities like crafting, games, cooking, even writing for the The Medieval Times newspaper.  Your Kiddo will need lot's of paper, card stock, a printer, art supplies, a folder, binder and a few other things that you probably just have at home.  My download came to me as a ZIP file with filled with SEVERAL files included that were pretty well organized.  But, there were sooooo many I was a little overwhelmed at first. :)  Everything you need to have a successful "Trip" through the Middle Ages is right there for you.  Everything from print outs, several audio files, activity ideas, instructions and itineraries.  Don't worry there is a Special 3 page Travel Planner that breaks down the stops and gives you a snapshot of what type of activities you have coming up.  There is a good amount of planning involved.
     
The whole idea behind the Unit Study or concept is that you are traveling back through time in an Era of your choice.  As you make pit stops along your journey you get to experience History in a hands on approach.  You will experience 25 different stops along the way during The Middle Ages Study.  While your Kiddos are at each stop they will listen or read the lesson for the day and participate in several different activities.  You are sure to find something for everyone to enjoy.  You will find that not only are they more interested in the topic, but they are going to be more engaged in the whole learning process and actually know what it is that they are supposed to be learning.  I've never been a big fan on the "learn all the right answers for the upcoming test and then forget it afterwards" routine.


So, what did I think?  I Love the whole idea and I know it works.  It engages and grabs hold of your child and causes wonder and excitement.  But, it is a Ton of printing....one page at a time printing.  I would rather pay more money for it already to be printed.  People like me with printer anxiety, this could be a nightmare.  Kaden is a facts only kind of kid....he thinks anything more is a time waster.  So, with that said some of the beginning stops included bigger craft projects and sorting out papers and building really cool things like a postcard rack was not his cup of tea.  I honestly was doing most of it by myself. :(  But, did he love the activities and the facts?  Yes, and he even played with some puppets we made that totally shocked me. :)  We spent an hour at least 3 times a day.  But, with the over stimulation with all the paper and craftiness we would sometimes have a little break in that hour.  I love that it's at your pace, so you can take out parts, add parts, stretch the lessons out.  It's yours to do what you want or need to.  Would I recommend it?  I would for sure if you are a family that doesn't mind going through a ton of paper.  If you have kiddos that like hands on projects or if you are willing to be a little more hands on if need be.  That is what I did, we needed to make a suitcase and he couldn't justify cutting up a perfectly good folder....(remember he is on the spectrum).  So, I did it along side of him and we moved on to the next lesson.  Would I use the Project Passport again?  Yep, I sure will.  Even though it's a ton of printing and a little overwhelming I think it is so worth it and I'm looking forward to the next Era....Kaden's choice too.  I will probably do all of the prep before I involve him next time.  He enjoyed the activities, especially the games and cooking.  Like I said before there is so much to choose from...you want be disappointed.



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Home School in the Woods Review

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Road Less Traveled

I have been writing my life story for years….the abuse, the trauma, life on the streets and my total commitment to my God during it all.  People would often ask me how I keep my faith, how do I keep rolling with the punches?  While writing my story I wanted to paint a picture to show my “how”, my “why”.  But, I was never able to completely do that and be 100% happy with the picture my words were creating.  I knew something was missing, I just didn’t know at the time what it was.  And now I do….my Husband’s Addiction and Betrayal was the true test of my Faith.  The Devil planned it to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  And you know what…..It didn’t break.  It was bruised and I contemplated collapsing to the ground and giving in.  

God had other plans for me, I kept my Faith and grew it stronger than it had ever been before.  I know a Love now with God that I never knew was possible.  The Bible says that the Lord will give you the desires of your heart when you are with him.…Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.…  I now have that Husband and Dad that I wanted and prayed for so desperately for many, many years.  My Husband is more than I even knew to pray for.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now, I know how to finish my story.  I know what it is that God has asked me to do with my collection of stories that make up my Life.  I have witnessed a transformation in not only myself, but my Husband and our whole Family.  When you have spent so much of your life just surviving the day, it’s an amazing feeling actually waking up excited for what this new day may hold for you.  That is me now, I have my story to share with anyone who will listen.  I’m so thankful I didn’t give up on God, that I didn’t let go of my Faith, that I gave Sheila a fighting chance.  I can now share this whole Love that’s in my heart.  I want to give the world a glimpse of this heart I’ve carried around with me for almost 40 years.  It’s doable to protect and polish your battered heart and to uncover the true reason why your here on this earth.  My purpose has always been unclear, but now the answer is shining bright.  And to know that I had the key to happiness all along.  I just didn’t know that I was capable enough to put the key in the lock.  Wow, the Lord has Unveiled my eyes in such a BIG way….thank you Jesus!!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dreaming of a Bungalow

We are looking at building Kaden a little space like this for him to relax and retreat when he needs to.  Problem is we live in a community that has a say in absolutely every thing you do in your front and back yard.  With that said if we do something here while we still live in this house we will need to do something on a smaller scale then the bungalow in the picture here.
Do we wait to move before we do something and then build exactly what we want for him?  Or do we do a smaller version, almost like a practice run?  I don't know, we are still going back and forth with it all.  But, we have started on our back yard.  We have an idea, a plan and a company we are excited to work with.  So, now we have to wait for the HOA to approve it, so we can build it.  Until then we will enjoy life out in our dirt and rock filled backyard.  Sipping iced tea in our camping chairs while we wait for our ribs to come out of the smoker.  Life is delicious!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Praying for Serenity.....

The Serenity Prayer is so Special to me….There is not a day that goes by that I don’t reach out to God in prayer.  Over the next few days I thought we could take a closer look at the Serenity Prayer.
God, Grant me the Serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change…….

God does His greatest work when we surrender our lives and all that’s in it over to Him.   Especially things that are out of our control.  This was extremely hard for me to do before and after Discovery.  I had such an abusive childhood filled with trauma that as an adult it was hard to not feel like I needed to control every aspect of my life.  Especially after Discovery, I wanted to regain some sort of control of my life.  But, I learned that letting go and letting God is the only way to truly live in Serenity.  I choose Serenity over a chaotic heart any day!!!
  What can you surrender over to God today?

Job 11:13-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


13 As for you, if you redirect your heart and lift up your hands to Him in prayer— 14 if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it, and don’t allow injustice to dwell in your tents— 15 then you will hold your head high, free from fault. You will be firmly established and unafraid.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Homeschool Planet~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/Homeschool-Planet-Logo-Hi_Res%20872x_zpsirhewxf1.pngI am the most unorganized person in the whole wide world!  Do you relate at all to that statement?  I have tried many many different schedules, calendars, online programs...you name it I have tried.  Because I am literally a crazy person when it comes to being organized with my whole life.  A few weeks ago I was presented a Review opportunity to try Homeschool Planet for a full year from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  Would this work for me?  Can I be less stressed and walk among the regular folks of organized town.  Or am I doomed for the slums of No name.  It's called No Name, because I can't remember the name of the town.....I lost it in one of my piles of papers.

So, let's take a little look here about Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  I had never heard of them before, because yes I live under a rock.  But, after learning about them and doing a little digging I've realized they are pretty darn Amazing!!!  They are the largest buyers club for Homeschooling families.  They offer the opportunity to get tons of different curriculum and resources at a discounted price.  When I first went online to their website I was there for over 2 hours...it was like seeing the castle at Disney for the 1st time. :)
Homeschool Planet is an online tool to help you not only organize your Homeschool life, but all other areas of your life as well.  I simply LOVE this, because I have found in the past where the planner or program was more designed for one or the other.  This is designed for both and there is no down-siding either one.  They offer a FREE 30 day trial of the online Planner and then afterwards you would pay just $65 a year or $6.95 a month.

Once I logged in for the first time I will admit I was a bit overwhelmed.  But, I watched the little video and easily downloaded pics of the whole Family and was on my way to setting everything up.  I started with the easier things first.  And for me that was the To Do List....I know I know simple stuff.  But, I'm a difficult case over here. :)  I also used the Shopping List feature also...baby steps for me.  

Afterwards I explored the calendar....I was super impressed with this. I actually was shocked how simple it really was to fill it out.  You click on the Day, decide if it's school related, a Holiday of some sort or an errand-chore-sport....you get the picture.  Then you type what it is, pick a color so you can color code if your into that.....(I am now!)  And then you click who is involved and then save.  I promise you that's it.  At this point I thought maybe I could tackle getting all the school stuff logged in.  Right now my calendar was just filled with appointments, errands, softball, you know all of that "Life" stuff.  School time was going to be much harder for me....this is always the part where I crumble, throw out the "system" and stay in crazy town.  Was this program any different??????  So, I clicked to add some stuff and this is what I saw.... 
 Let's just say I freaked and turned off the computer for the rest of the day.  :)  But the next morning with my coffee I set out to get the ball rolling.  And I was so pleased with the ease of it all.  I had really let the fears I had rolling around in my head get the best of me.  It was real simple and fast to type in all the school stuff.  Putting it all down actually gave me a little insight on why we tend to get overwhelmed mid week.  My poor boy has too much to do and not enough time.
I love that I can see our schedule as a Family and individual.  I can see it by the month, week, day and hour.  It's super easy to change things, push them back a day or a week and truly customize it to work for You....not cause You to work more.  You can even add website links right to the calendar, how awesome is that?  I'm a Paper person normally, because I feel I have more control.  Well, not here....I have just as much control, if not more.  And I'm Loving it!!!
I had the most fun printing of the chore and to do list.  We would print off each Kiddos schedule for the week and I would put it in the inside of their writing binder.  Super easy, right?  Well, they can also log on and have their very own profile.  You can customize what they can do and see.  I also loved being able to go on my phone and double check when we were available for an appointment or commitment while we were out and about.  And more then once I sent Skylar a list of goodies to pick up from the store.

So, do we LOVE it?  Yes, this in the 3 years of reviewing products by far has surprised me the most.  I was leery, didn't think I would like it or even be able to use it.  I was shocked at the simplicity and Power of this Organizational Masterpiece!!!  If you have a Life....You need this!  No mater if you have 1 kid or 20 kids.  No matter if this is your 1st year homeschooling or you are a sworn in Veteran.....You need this to keep your head on straight and you just might actually find the time to get those cupcakes baked that you have been promising your kiddos. 

I will fair warn you though.  With this program you will find out where your time is going.  You will see time patterns open up and you may be a little scared of all this extra time you may or may not find hiding here and there.  
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Friday, July 10, 2015

A Little Bit of Jesus will Fill You Up!

We were a tad late to church and the music was playing and I stood there like many times before alone in my heart.  But, this time was different, I knew who I was, I knew who created me and loved me.  This next hour wasn’t going to be about making me better to please a human man.  This was my time to connect with the one and only true living God and nothing was going to disturb my time at his table.  I was hungry and he was preparing a huge meal just for me!!!!  The next song caught me by surprise, but it assured me that I was where I was supposed to be.

At this one foster home I was allowed to go to this youth group club thing like 3 or 4 times…..And this song was played each night and sometimes they played it twice.  I still remember the room being thick with the Holy Spirit….I would leave that place floating and Nothing could take me down.  I remember that was the Summer I asked the Lord into my heart….they played this song at our church back in 1991, I fell to my knees in tears with a trembling heart as my soul cracked open and I received Redemption, Salvation and Everlasting Life!!!!  Thank You JESUS!!!!!!  Fast forward to yesterday I was standing and the music began flowing from the speakers and this song enveloped me like a Father’s warm hug and all my worries left me and I didn’t think of Anything except my Jesus.  Tears wouldn’t stop streaming down my face as layers and layers of the world were stripped away from me.  I became lighter as the words to this song lifted me up closer and closer to my God and it felt like a private communion.  I knew at that moment as the song continued on playing that this was a sign from God that I remember that closeness to him.  That he is there with me and has forever been right by my side.  I had put my Husband’s acceptance on a pedestal over the years, it became a priority to make life pleasing to him.  To put him before all other things, including God.  I longed for my Husband’s approval, his smile of acceptance and love.  I even saw yesterday how I put my Husband’s addiction on a pedestal, glorifying hurtful slip-ups and proud milestones.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever proud of my Husband’s hard work against his demon…..but, Man will disappoint you my Friends…..God never will.  And I was reminded of that yesterday, I will NEVER take my eyes off of him again.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Teen Prasso ~ REVIEW

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Time with the Lord in Prayer and deep in the Bible is time well spent.  But, even though I may do it on a regular basis I haven't consistently included my children in this habit.  We do devotions, nightly reading here and there, but I'm talking consistency here.  It has been on my heart to tie my kids to the word every single day and I knew this next Review was an answer to prayer.  We were Blessed with a Teen Bible curriculum from Prasso Ministries.  We received the Teen Prasso Teacher’s Manual ($35) and the Teen Prasso Homework Manual ($15).  The Greek word Prasso means to repeatedly, continually and habitually practice.  I think it's the most perfect way to start off our Summer.

Prasso Ministries started offering adult and teen material back in 1992.  Their products can be used for men, woman or teens and can be used in group settings like youth groups, homeschool Co-ops or Bible studies.

We decided to use it in the morning before everyone else woke up and messed with our morning MoJo! :)  On Sundays I would read through the whole lesson and take a look at what Mahala would be doing during the week in her Student Journal.  Each morning we would start off with prayer and I would share the Story and message.  The real work happened in her Journal.  I loved how the questions were worded and how they added scripture writing in each lesson.  I know for my kiddos when they read, write and say it aloud they remember it. :)  Questions like What can you learn from these verses?  What observations can you make after reading this?  And many other questions that put your Teen into the question.  It's not just a fill in the blank....it's how do YOU relate to this passage, to this story?  This was an excellent Bible Curriculum to get us both in the habit to study God's important teachings together and on our own.


The Topics were right on the mark for what Teens today need to study and hear God's word about.  Here are a few of our Favorites....dealing with Lies, Pressure, Anger and Forgiveness.  Mahala experienced many ahhhha moments and the conversations that we had together were amazing.  It was Special for it to be just her and I, we even made muffins a few times just for us and enjoyed some fresh honey and biscuits.  I wanted to make it a rememberable time for her and I and we sure did. :)

 photo Capture_zpstzloihv9.pngMahala's favorite part of the program was the rethink it section that was on Day 6.  She would most of the time do extra work, so usually the rethink it and discussion questions were on Thursdays.  It's a place where you go back and write a thought or meaningful verse from the previous days.  She liked that it was just a line or two, nothing long and really difficult, just a meaningful thought that was impressed upon you.  The discussion questions had a place for you to write your personal answers, but we decided to do that part orally. 

This is the BEST Bible Program I have ever used.  It was a privilege to be able to use it with my Daughter.  It was super simple on my part to use.  They included everything you needed to do if you were using it in a group setting.  Their tips for asking Good discussion questions were very helpful and the outline was nice to have even though we kind of did our own thing.  It was still reassuring to have on hand. :)  Overall I would use this and many of their other products for our Family.....it just works and we are thrilled to share with you this Awesome program.  Make sure you check Prasso Ministries out on their Facebook!!!!


Prasso Ministries Review

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CursiveLogic~REVIEW



Do you remember learning how to write in cursive?  I sure do....all those beige pieces of paper with red and blue lines and the smell of smudged lead from my trusty number 2 pencil.  I would take extra paper and practice out on the playground during recess.  There was  a sense of maturity with learning cursive....I felt like a young lady, not just a kid in 4th grade.  To this day I prefer cursive writing over print, but it wasn't something I taught my 2 youngest until recently.  Kaden being on the spectrum has difficulty with just printing, so I was worried about teaching him cursive.  Boy was I ever so thankful to be able to Review the CursiveLogic Workbook($29) from CursiveLogic.

This product is durably made from cover to cover.  I love the top Spiral and the sturdy pages....nothing flimsy about this book! :)  With all of our products we Review for Kaden I get the most excited for a product that connects with the child intellectually and not with just a ton of characters, bright colors and flashy gimmicks.  This product reached him and captured his attention with their clean, nicely spaced wording.  The layout of instructions, examples and even the colors chosen are not over stimulating and very easy to follow.  I wish I could find ALL of Kaden's school materials like this. 


Founder, Linda Shrewsbury developed CursiveLogic when she had the desire to help out a 23 year old Student of hers that had some Learning Disabilities.  As you remember from your own past experience learning cursive as a child it takes several weeks to master all 26 letters.  Days and days of writing and tracing over and over.  That just wasn't going to work for this young Man....he wanted to learn how to write his name in cursive.  So, Linda started to develop a new method for teaching cursive that's both Innovative and Intuitive.  I was hooked the moment I explored her website and could hardly wait for our book to come.



So, here it is and Kaden has it in his hot little hands.  I wish I could tell you the whole program word for word, but that would be cheating you and your Kiddo on the sheer experience from opening up your new CursiveLogic Workbook to the writing of your Kiddos name for the very first time.  I will share that the program strings groups of letters together, uses a magnificent color coding system and they have Super catchy phrases that make learning even more fun and easy for your kiddos.  This program is intended for Students who can already write, so they have some fundamentals with writing.  So I would say 2nd grade to Adults, especially with the layout and quality of the workbook.  It would appeal to anyone eager to learning cursive.

Kaden finished the whole entire 95+ pages in about three weeks.  I love that it's divided up nicely to where you can do a few pages or a little more if you want.  Kaden was so impressed with how his handwriting looked that he would always do a little bit more then what I had asked each time we sat down to work.  His favorite part was the dry erase pages in the back.  He has it right now in his back pack to take with us on our next camping trip.  What can I say.....I think the program is successful, affordable and a must for every homeschool.  It's too effective for you not to give your kiddos the opportunity to learn cursive!  Do we Love it?  Yes, and if I needed to teach another student cursive this is the one program I would use.


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CursiveLogic Review

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Trauma Relief....bye bye Chatchkes!!!

The Nasties have taken over our house and not one of us has had more then 12 hours of peace within our body since we came back from Disney.  So, besides cleaning up puke, disinfecting and making boat loads of chicken noodle soup I have been weeding through the junk in our house.  Even though I’m congested and coughing like a chain smoker there is a sigh of relief in my heart.
I know I sound crazy, but I can reassure you it’s not the extra strength Dayquil talking.  You see growing up before my parents died I had EVERYTHING a child could ever want….minus the sexual abuse, the dying mother and the constantly deployed Papa in the Navy.  The night I became an orphan I was 12 years old and as I drove past my house on the way back to where I was staying those last few weeks before my Mom died I saw all the lights in the house on.  I couldn’t count all the cars in the driveway and up on the sidewalk.  Those cars belonged to Aunts, Cousins and Uncles….all going through my house and taking everything.  I literally was left with some clothes, a grocery sack of pictures and my cabbage patch doll collection….which later ended up being stolen from me by a Foster Parent.
After my parents died I had nothing to claim as my own and even if I managed to “have” something it was usually quickly claimed by someone within the Foster Care System.  Once I left the system and married my Baby’s Daddy….who was also in Foster Care with me I worked real hard to collect tokens from here and there to make our little place seem like a home.  My whole life I have longed to recreate my childhood home.  When my 1st marriage lasted less then a year I walked away once again empty handed….nothing but the clothes on my back and my Son.  For a few years we nestled along sides of buildings, shelters, abandoned houses and the occasional park.  I was partial to parks, because it was like Disney to my Son and I.  He could play until he fell asleep and at the crack of dawn be the first kiddo to go down a slide or be pushed on a swing.  It was a little bit of joy that I could give him and it beat waking up with a room full of strangers.
After my life changed even more and I met my Husband and started our Family with him, I once again collected little bits of hominess to bring my old Family feel back to me.  About 2 years or so into our lives together we found out we had a HUGE case of toxic mold.  We lost absolutely everything…..literally we went to Target, bought new clothes and dumped the clothes we were wearing.  I was back at square one once again….having this need to create a Family Home.  And so I began……and I filled it with stuff, all kinds of stuff.  I had useful stuff, not so useful stuff, new things, old things, decor, books, knick-knacks, pictures, dishes and truly everything possible.  If someone was giving something away I would be happy to take it.  If it was on sale I would buy more then one just because…..even if it was something I wasn’t interested in to begin with.
Some would call me a hoarder, but now because of all that I have learned during therapy and my Husband’s recovery I can see that there is a real reason why I have accumulated all this junk.  Many times in my life all of my personal belongings have been taken away from me without my consent.  And the reason why I’m collecting in the first place is because the last time I truly felt safe, loved unconditionally and right in my own skin was with my parents in my family home.  So, it’s just natural to want to recreate that environment.  That fear of loosing your belongings is no joke, it’s traumatic….especially if it happened as a child.
So, how can I get rid of the stuff now?  Well, because I’m healing myself from the inside out.  A Home is made by the People inside the House not the Stuff you can fill it with.  I know now why I do what I do, so when that need to save or buy hits me I recognize it, acknowledge it and then I handle it appropriately.  For instance I have this magazine disease…..at one time a few years ago I had over 27 subscriptions.  Sick, I know….but, I recognized the problem and I didn’t ignore it.  Imagine that I’m at the check out in the store and see a magazine…… I see it and know I want it, but I tell myself the only reason why I want this is because in the past you felt like a failure as a Mother and Wife.  You thought all of those ads and articles were going to give you the secrets to be a better person.  And once you read them you would finally be happy and all your troubles would disappear.  But, now you know the truth and you are the Mom and Wife God called you to be…..his word and guidance is all you need.  So, save your $5, smile and be happy about the person you are becoming as you lean more and more on God each day.  This works every time…..when I think about it all those years of reading magazines never helped, I didn’t change after I read them.  Life didn’t get better when I bought a new candle set or comforter.  And the reason is because my marriage was fighting the demon of Addiction.  No new floral arrangement was going to fix that…..even if it would have been a fresh floral arrangement! :)
So, today I can look at all my stuff….especially in our Homeschool room and say do I truly need this?  Does this item give my Family joy or is it weighing us down?  I have been filling up donate bags and garbage bags like my life depends on it…..and it kind of does.  It feels so good to be free from the shackles of stuff.  Because the stuff never gave me the peaceful feeling of Family like a way with Jesus does.  Thank You Lord!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sick Day for Little Helpers!

Another weekend of sickies and softball.  Thankfully my throat could handle homemade french toast this morning.  Yes, I have to have the flu or something really debilitating to keep me away from the breakfast table.  Breakfast is my favorite eating time.  There is absolutely not one thing on a breakfast menu that I don't like.  Most of my kiddos are the same way.  
I like to start the day with an iced or hot coffee.  Then I usually ask Kaden what he wants and the norm is sausage in eggs.  But, sometimes I can get him to entertain the idea of french toast, omelets or biscuits and gravy.  Mmmmmmm biscuits and gravy, sounds heavenly!!! 
I love having little helpers in the kitchen, Kaden is my sweet helper most of the time.  Since he's been sick, I've missed my little guy bumping into me in the kitchen.  Hopefully soon him and I can whip up something yummmy together. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tales from the Circle C Ranch Book and Lap Book~REVIEW


http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/Tales_200_zpsg6g28vw9.jpg Once again our Family has been given the chance to read and review a book written by Susan K. Marlow from Circle C Adventures.  The book is called Tales from the Circle C Ranch.($7.99)  It is a little different then most of her books, because it's a collection of short stories based upon questions sent into the Author about other books she has written in the Circle C series and not just one long story.  We were also given a PDF lap book, Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook from A Journey Through Learning that goes alongside Tales from the Circle C Ranch.

I feel so Blessed to have children that Love to read, they are just like their Mom. :)  I'm always on the look out for wholesome books for my kids to enjoy.  I hit the jackpot when I found these books about Andrea Carter and all her wild adventures.  I wished I would have had these for Mahala when she was younger.  Mahala has enjoyed reading a few of the books so far, now to introduce Kaden.  I'll be honest the main reason I like her books is the way she writes.  It's very much like sitting around the campfire and telling stories past down through the generations.  And I love that the characters deal with real life problems, not gossiping about who likes who or superficial worries.  I mean have you looked at some of the books for youth and teens out today?  It's scary people, I know I don't want my kid to pick up a book and drift off into LaLa land like they would if they switched on the tv screen.  In Susan's books your kiddos will read about characters that have to weigh out pros and cons about right and wrong to make the best decisions.  They will be able to see themselves in many of the characters too.  Learning how to deal with kid tough obstacles never seemed so entertaining before.  Around the Circle C it's cool to follow the path towards God and to listen to what your Parents have to say.  Passing that on to my kids through Susan's books makes me one happy Momma! :) 


So, earlier I said that I wanted to introduce Kaden to the Circle C Ranch.  This is the most perfect way to do it too because the Tales from the Circle C Ranch offers 11 short stories that explains the answers to Fan Questions.  
Here are the short stories included:
Part One: The Early Years:
1.) Britches Are Not for Little Girls
2.) The Best Gift of All
3.) Aunt Rebecca and the Hat
4.) White Christmas

Part Two: The In-Between Years:
5.) Prince Loco, Chad's Crazy Horse
6.) Hurrah for the Forth of July!
7.) A Matter of Honor
8.) Snakes Alive!
9.) Virginia's Riding Lesson
10.) Where the Trees Meet the Bay
11.) Adios, Jeffrey Sullivan



Other Must Have Books from Susan K.Marlow
So, it's a different kind of a book.  I thought Kaden would like the flow of it and having this secret info about some of the other books I thought would be extra exciting for him.  And I was right, he already has a list of books he would like for me to order for him.  Being that we live in CA and that he loves History Andrea Carter was speaking right to his little soul.  
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As for the Lapbook I was super excited to do this with him.  We have had very little success before as far as lapbooking goes.  But, given that it was so easy on my end to prepare for actually doing the lapbook itself it made it doable to tweak it here and there to work for us instead of against us.  We just did it in a different way.  He decided to do a notebook instead of folders.  And he didn't want to color or cut anything out.  So, how did I get it into the notebook?  Very carefully.....no actually we just printed and paper clipped everything into the notebook where it should go and he wrote some notes and answered questions right in the notebook.  A little different, but that's why we homeschool.  I was just happy that he was into it and was learning while having a ton of fun.  His favorite activity in the lapbook was learning about General stores in the 1800's, about state fairs, the History of fireworks and the section on limericks.   My Child LOVES Limericks......who knew????

So, in a nutshell this is a terrific book for any child's collection.  These stories are wonderful in the ears of both girls and boys.....parents too.  But, don't just take my word for it go ahead and read some of the other Reviews from the Crew.  
And follow them on Social Media too.
 

Crew Disclaimer
Dynamic Literacy Review

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers~REVIEW

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As you know we just went on a vacation to Malibu and Disney and that means a long car ride for the Family.  I normally have a no technology rule for the car trip and once we get to our destination, but we changed it last year to only eliminate technology once we arrive at our destination and just limit it on the car trip itself.  It actually works quiet nice for us, we get all the Family time we want on the actual trip.  And on the car trip we can relax to music or listen to books or shows on CDs together or separately.  Kaden hates the time in the van, it's like a punishment for him.  We try to distract him and this year he has his tablet for added entertainment.  What I don't like is the worry of pop ups, ads and any other nonsense garbage that creeps in through the Internet.  I have forever wished for a Family Friendly website to let Kaden wonder and learn from without me having to be over his shoulder the whole entire time.  Well, wish no more.....when I found out there was a Review opportunity for a product that would offer just what I was wishing for I couldn't sign up fast enough.  Honestly this review has been the most anticipated review ever.  I had BIG hopes and expectations!!!  SmartKidz Media has gave our Family a whole year subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers.  

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is a video-streaming website that offers Homeschoolers a huge spectrum of topics from Fine Arts, the Animal World, all things History, Cooking, Exercise, Science and so much more....I could be here all night.  The Terrific news is that because this treasure trove of knowledge is all through their website, it is easily accessed and viewed on any device 24/7 that you have Internet available on.  So, that means you don't have to use up all of your computer or devices memory by downloading the things you want to watch.  I can't tell you how much I love and apreciate this.  My computer at home is soooooo filled with homeschool programs, games and a ton of other printables and books.  Whenever you want to watch, it's easily available no matter where you are.  Kaden's tablet is a learning machine right now....love it!!!  All the way down to Malibu and Disney he watched numerous videos, some only 15 short minutes and some were almost an hour.  What was nice is that not only did he learn a lot of interesting new facts, but we were interested and entertained also...this would appeal to ALL ages.




 On the main screen you will see 10 categories divided into 2 sections.  The Family Media Section offers the World of Discovery and Music and Fine Arts.  It provides you with several collections of Animals and Wildlife.  You will also find Action Sports(coming soon), Documentaries and Culture, Health and Fitness, all kinds of History, amazing Science, Lifestyle and Cuisine, Travel and Adventure, Fine Arts and all kinds of Music.  Kaden watched almost all of the History collections and a lot of the Science.  He has been showing an interest in cooking lately.  So, we have started a new Tradition....Friday Tryday.  It's a day that we watch a cuisine video, mix in a little additional culture study and after we shop for ingredients we enjoy a new adventure via yummy food.  Okay, sometimes yummy...but a ton of fun no matter what happens in the kitchen. 
 
As if that's not enough you still have the Reading and Learning Center.  The Mighty EBook Collection is nice and I found books for up to 8years old.  Kaden looked through a few of them, but his reading level is much higher then his grade level and wasn't interested in spending a lot of time there.  
The Baby Signs Program was very interesting....this would be great for little one.  We watched several of them and really liked the options with the different videos.  You baby or little kiddo can learn right along with you too.  
The My Animal Family Section is full of videos that teach about Family Values and how to have Respect for Animals.  Kaden truly enjoyed learning about these sweet animal families!  
The next section is by far our favorite I think....at least if I had to pick just one.  The Quick-Finds Study Guides is where you will find a ton of study guides that will teach your child different topics like various Spelling Basics, the 50 States, the Presidents, all things Science, Math from basics and terminology all the way to Trigonometry, Accounting, Different Languages and more to come!  I'm floored by all the goodies here....I feel like I'm sounding like a late night infomercial, but it's truly that amazing. :)  
Ok another Favorite is the Learning Special Needs area they offer.  It was designed for children and individuals with disabilities and various special needs. The themed books and lesson materials were created by special needs educators and therapists and offer Hear the book and Interactive options.  You will also have printed materials available too.  We used this option for our car trip so he could see, touch and hear.  You will find basic language help, Holidays and Celebrations and the Going Places collection amongst many others.  The Going Places was very useful on our trip and we watched the whole collection twice!  One in particular was the Amusement park video and the one about vacations.  Very helpful and help him understand a little more about what to expect. :)  
The Living Skills program is "coming soon", there are several "coming soon portions, not a ton, but enough to give me excitement for when they unveil them.  Love the things to come, and you will too I'm sure of it.   The Living Skills section will be a place where your Kiddo can learn little songs to help them learn how to take responsibility for themselves, relationships with others in their life, and the world around them.  
Ready Set Sing is a Fun area filled with over 200 sing along songs.  Basically Karaoke for Kids.  We didn't use this section, but if Kaden was more introduced to this section he might give it a try.  I know when Mahala was his age she would have said this was one of her favorite sections. :)  
The Fun Zone is just what it says a fun zone filled with educational games, jokes and puzzles.  Kaden was repeating jokes so many times that we didn't find them funny anymore....I think it's safe to say though that he liked this section. :)

Wow, that was a lot....I know there is something for every single Family to use and learn from while they have a lot of fun doing it.  The price is affordable and worth Kaden's weight in gold.  Not just because of all the content, but because of what it doesn't have....ads, pop-ups and redirecting links that could be to something totally inappropriate or unrelated.  You can give this experience to your Kiddos for $10 a month or $99 for the whole entire year.  I know that this is something I will be renewing after my 1 year subscription is up.  There is just too much to miss out on.  We will continue using it because I enjoy having something at a moments notice that the kids can watch while I make dinner or if the day has been super busy and I want them to relax and watch something, but have it be at least a fun educational program.  It also limits their watching time because most of the videos are fairly short so they can watch several, feel like they have watched a lot more then they did and I'm totally happy with the length of time they have been starring at the screen. :)  I will admit we have all gathered around the computer after dinner to explore a new topic more then twice a week.  But, mainly we used it during school and before dinner time and of course on our vacation! :)

Check it out right now, you can try it for FREE for 14 days and have plenty of time to have it for the new school year or get it right now for the rest of the Summer.  Visit SmartKidz Media Online and through Social Media!

 



SmartKidz Media Review

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We have a Popsicle Farm

What a week we have had last week....Kid's Camp at church, softball practice and the hours of coughing up a lung has kept us more than busy.  Kaden and I are still coughing.....I'm scared it will never end.  It was super nice to be able to have one on one time with Mahala while Kaden was at church.  We were able to complete 5 weeks of English in just 4 days.  I mean she was determined and I was just along for the ride. :)  I love that I can do whatever works for us at the moment.  Sometimes we focus just on one or two subjects and sometimes we spread the love amongst the normal 5-6 different subjects a day.  We like to do more of a course study hands down.  It's less planning on my part and I feel that the kids retain the new information better. 

Four days since I started writing this post....

Kaden is still coughing...poor little guy has been throwing up and has pink eye in both eyes since Saturday.  He is so agitated and at the sound or touch from anyone sends him into a raging fit.  And that brings on more coughing and then that brings on the projectile vomiting.  So, we have been laying low and trying not to disturb the beast while still taking care of him.  Lord, when will the coughing in?????

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kid's Camp, Coffee and Dog Toys

Working with Mahala today one on one because Kaden is at Kid's Camp this morning.  He went last year and he did pretty good, a few meltdown moments here and there.  But, I'm expecting this year to be totally different and I'm optimistic that he will participate more this year.
Today was Glasses day....it's a Science theme this year and that makes him super excited!  When we pulled up he was jumping around just at all the balloons in the front entrance.  After we dropped him off Mahala and I enjoyed a coffee and a short trip to the neighborhood dog store for a few treats for Homer and Rocco.  I Love finding time separately with each of the kids.

We hardly ever buy anything for Homer because he tears everything up as soon as you give it to him.  I've seen him slice open Kong toys.  Yes, Kong Toys in his mouth sliced open.  And he's a service dog....Mahala said she wouldn't want to mess with him in a dark ally.  When we were at the store the lady suggested this Tuffy Toy......so we bought it, gave it to Homer.....and 20 minutes later we find this. 
Yeah, he's not getting anymore toys, an occasional bone maybe.  But, other then that we are going to be a dog toy free zone.  :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Discovering Nature on Vacation

Oh what a fun exciting vacation we had!!!  We went to Malibu for 5 days and then spent 5 days at Disneyland.  We were greeted by familiar squirrels at the campground, it was like we had never left.  That's why Malibu is so magical to our Family.  We haven't been in about 5 years, I know sooooo sad!  But, for the 5 years before that we had went every single year.  I plan for us to continue now and to not skip another precious year. 

Since Kaden was like 3 the last time we camped there it was like a whole new world to him.  He was in his element that's for sure.  Not once did he say he wanted his tablet, computer, tv or that he was bored.  He climbed trees, played with sticks, found bugs and made friends with the squirrels.  He was on an adventure from the moment his eyes opened and he was usually the first to crawl into the tent at the end of the day.  That boy was worn out every single day!

Seeing him so engaged with nature and truly having fun with little to nothing I have been inspired.  I am going to try and bring the outdoors indoors.  It's hard, because we have no back yard at all, just a bunch of dirt, rocks and weeds.  But, that kind of describes the campsite too.  We just need to add some sort of shelter from the sun and we are going to be good to go.  I want to try and be outside more then inside, not counting night time though.  

Since Kaden has very little interest in things he tends to sit in corners and read or play on his tablet.  The tv is kind of new to him, some time late last year I was flipping through the channels and he saw Spongebob.  Life has never been the same, he can recite every single episode......oh the horror!!!  So, in order to give him another look at like I really want to bring him away from technology and back to nature and all things unplugged.  We will see how it goes....say some prayers.