Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Homeschooling While Living with Epilepsy {Schoolhouse Crew}



Over the years, we've become great at homeschooling regardless of what is going on in our lives.  Let's face it, living with Epilepsy leaves our day to day world pretty unpredictable.  Our schedule and our schooling style must be extremely flexible to even make it through.

I suppose this is how we became Eclectic and Unschoolish in Homeschooling style.  Originally, I began this adventure with the hope of having lots of structured learning.  I really wanted a repeat of Public School at home in the early days.  Over time, I came to realize that type of learning wasn't going to work for us due to our needs at home.

I quickly began to research other means of learning and I simply stopped with the structure.  We simply learn now - however that manages to happen.  And you know what?  They do learn and they absorb twice as much learning than they ever did in our structured learning days.

Our homeschooling days are relaxed.  We do projects that can take weeks.  We take our time working on them because we have no need to be rushed.  Sometimes the kids don't even realize they are learning. It's afterwards that they come up to me and say "Mom, did you know we just learned this?"  Oh that sneaky Momma! "Yes, I sure did!"  I love those moments when it all sinks in the most.

In learning this way, we are able to stop what we are doing when a seizure happens.  We can take a day off.  We can rest as we need to.  I can easily say that our doctor's appointment can be scheduled at any time of day without interrupting our homeschooling because we make it fit to our day.

I like to think we have taken our learning to a new level.  Sometimes it's delight-directed in that I set up lessons to learn about things that the kids are currently interested in.  Then their are days when we do lessons that correlate with our curriculum, such as learning about plants in spring and ice in winter.  Or reading the next book in our language arts lessons.  We have many different choices of things to do every year and it just works for us.

No matter what happens in our day and no matter what pops up for us, the important thing is we never give up on Homeschooling.  We never give up on learning.  We work through the bad times and the good as well.  It's really just a way of life and it's become a large part of our life.  Once you take out the ideals of something different, it becomes easier to make it through the process.

I believe adjusting your homeschooling to your needs may be the hardest part but it can be done.  You can Homeschool through life, through the good and the bad stuff.  It just takes a bit of maneuvering to make it happen.



We are linked up with the Schoolhouse Crew for the Homeschooling... When Life Happens series.  Click the image below to read what others say about Homeschooling... When Life Happens!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UberSmart Math Facts {Schoolhouse Review}


For this review, we were gifted a full download with lifetime license code for UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software.  This program was wonderful.  It's a great way to teach or review Math Facts for any age.

UberSmart Math Facts can be used with people of any age but is specifically designed to be used with students in Kindergarten through 6th grade.  It's a downloadable software program that can be used with eight or more students.  The software requirements are for Windows 7, Windows 8, XP or Vista only.  The cost for UberSmart Math Facts is only $24.95.  That's a steal for such a wonderful program to teach your student Math Facts!


The kids liked UberSmart Math Facts a lot.  All three of my school-aged students were able to easily use this program.  They simply logged on and began to work through the Math Facts on their own.

If you aren't sure what a Math Fact is, they are your simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems that you probably learned in Early Elementary school.  1+1, 1-1, 1x1, and 1/1 are all Math Facts - place in any number you wish to create a Math Fact problem.  Math Facts are important to build a strong Mathematical foundation before heading into higher Math programs.


UberSmart makes teaching Math Facts easy through their many program options.  Your student can practice and learn Math Facts by selecting the Learn tab in the program.  They can then choose to learn with Dots (like those found on Dominoes game pieces) either with or without Numbers or learn with only numbers for the problems they are learning to complete.  The Dots show the amount for each number making it a bit easier for younger students.  This also gives the student visual reminders for the numbers amount, teaching one-to-one correspondence in Math.

After "learning" the Math Facts, students can then Practice their Math Facts by clicking on the second tab in the program which is labeled "Practice".  Students are then given several Facts to answer in order to practice what they've learned.  Math Facts for addition and subtraction go up to the 9's.  Math Facts for multiplication and division have the option of going to the 9's or going to the 20's.  The choice is yours and your students.


There is also a "test" for UberSmart Math Facts.  This can be found by clicking the third tab appropriately named "Test".  This test is nice for the parents/teacher and student to see if the student is really learning their Math Facts and where they may need review.

The fourth tab for UberSmart Math Facts is a tab called "Compete".  This allows the user to compete to test their skills against others.  This would be a great option for those who wish to test their child's skills.  I don't personally care for this option since we try to avoid competitions in our home but my Emma did enjoy testing her knowledge by using it - she is my competitive child when it comes to learning.

The fifth tab for the program is the Report tab.  This is where the teacher/parent or even the student can check in to see how they are doing with their learning.  It shows the tests, the passed levels of practice and basics of what the student has completed.  It's a nice option to be able to see where your student may or may not need help.

The last tab is the Maintain tab.  This is where you set up your students and passwords.  You can also find program updates in this section and input your license for the program as necessary.  It's basically the game settings area for the program.


That pretty much sums up UberSmart Math Facts.  We used this program on and off through the review period.  All three of my school-age children have accounts created and each was easily able to log onto the program.  They worked at Math for varied periods of time and enjoyed using it.  It was a lot like using flashcards, only interactively.  My son loved the program because it wasn't overwhelming and it wasn't too fast.  There also wasn't a lot of reading involved for him to do.

UberSmart Math Facts would be great for public school students who need extra math practice, as well as Homeschool students who may need the same.  It would be a great program to use for early Math learning of Math Facts as well.  We certainly will be continuing to use this program in the future.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Kids Songs {Schoolhouse Review}



I was really excited to see this vendor come up this year.  Music is a huge part of our day and lately I have been looking for some new songs to keep things interesting.  Lets face it, you can only listen to the same repetitive songs before you become bored as a parent and having four children home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I've heard them all.

Happy Kids Songs gave us new, fresh music to listen to and learn with.  These songs are a lot of fun both in sound and with the activities that accompany them.  The activities are very easy to do with even young children.  Specifically, Happy Kids Songs is designed to be used with children who are ages 3-8 but even my 11 and 13 year old enjoyed listening and helping me with the younger kids.  



As some of you know, we are eclectic and unschoolish in Homeschooling style so Happy Kids Songs really went along with our idea of school.  I was easily able to put these songs on my phone or iPad and plug it into our radio so that we could listen, learn and dance.  The kids, of course, LOVED dancing to the songs and really learned great things just by listening.

We listened to these songs repeatedly and talked about the things they heard and learned through listening to them.  The kids never got bored of listening and every time they did they learned something new.  They truly enjoy these songs.


The workbook is a great addition as well.  It contains over 122 pages of fun.  The lyrics for each song and an activity sheet are included in the workbook.  In the back of the workbook, parents and teachers can find great activities to do to help build the skills and lessons being taught through the songs.  We did not do all of these but we did enjoy quite a few and even built upon the ideas on our own.

The workbook is reproducible for Homeschool use so copies can easily be printed for use with multiple children.  I was thankful that this was an option.  You can also download these same worksheets for free and print from the computer through the company when you purchase the CD's.  



The song set titles are pretty self explanatory.  There are 8 titles in the series, all adding up to a huge amount of fun.  For our review, as I mentioned above, we received the following:

Friends and Sharing - this song set focuses on building friendships and learning to share with others.
Happiness and Attitude - this song set focuses on being happy, making others happy and having a great attitude as well.
Manners and Character - this song set focuses on learning good manners and having a great personal character with others.  


Each of these song sets are available for purchase through Happy Kids Songs website either on Amazon or iTunes for $4.95 per album of all five songs or songs can be purchased separate for $0.99.  The pages within the workbook are available for free through the website but you can purchase the pre-printed Happy Kids Songs Workbook from Amazon for $12.56 at the time of this review.

You can find Happy Kids Songs in the following places online:


Twitter: @howsyourfam


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo - Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything {Schoolhouse Review}



My family and I love audio dramas so when I discovered we could review Wizzy Gizmo's Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything, I was pretty excited.  The kids all know the story of how God created our world but lately Laycie's been asking more specific questions and what better way to cover this topic than with a "fun" story to listen to.  I'm telling you, Who Created Everything could not have come at a better time.

We love audio dramas.  They are great for listening to when we get bored and when we get tired of viewing random television.  They are also great to carry with us in the car when we take long trips to our doctors, which happens pretty often in our family.  What better way to pass the time than by listening to a fun story on through the stereo?!  Even my hardest to please child enjoys listening along.

Join Summer, Thomas, Eli and Olive as they meet Professor Wizzy Gizmo and head on the adventure of a lifetime to learn the story of Creation from Genesis.  Learn what Gizmovision is and how this great machine helps to make all this happen.  And best of all, plant the seed of the word within  your child's heart through this wonderfully spoken audio drama.


Who Created Everything is designed to be used with children ages 4-12 but can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  I know I enjoyed listening along with my kids while we took this adventure and learned.  I'm sure you and your family will enjoy this audio drama as well.

The details in the characters in this drama are exceptional.  They really make you want to hear more of the story.  The drama is extremely funny as well, which my children loved and the special effects were pretty amazing.  Even my two year old enjoyed listening along with us because the sounds were able to capture his attention, which is often hard to do.

The CD is about an hour long.  36 minutes is the actual audio drama and there are an additional 24 minutes of bonus content, like songs and such to listen to.  Perfect for a drive or to keep your children busy while you set up their next lesson or even cook a meal.  You can use this audio drama in so many ways.

The absolute best thing about this audio drama is that it is a great way to learn the Bible and gives a thorough Biblical lesson to your children and family.  It really helps to bring the Bible to life for children therefore bringing your children, and you, closer to God.  What a wonderful way to learn and spread God's word!!

Wizzy Gizmo's Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything is available for purchase from their website for $14.99.  This is a complete CD ROM for you to use.  To listen before you buy, you can find sample clips from the CD available on the website as well.

There are also lots of fun things to do on the Wizzy Gizmo website.  Coloring pages, games and more.  These additional tidbits make this CD extra fun!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

End of Summer Update!

I have been taking some time off from being online and blogging but only briefly.  My mind is so full of so many things that I have a hard time keeping up some days.  Add in our busy life and well, it's all craziness.  I'm sure you can all relate.

The kids have been doing exceptionally well lately.  Jackson and Laycie are both great.  Jack's last medication increase a few months ago was just what he needed to gain control of his Involuntary Breath Holding Spells.  The seizures have stopped for now though he still has IBHS episodes.  I am tremendously thankful for no seizures with them.

Laycie is now on Zonegran for her seizures and it's working really well for her.  She does get emotional in the early afternoon, especially when she hasn't eaten well that day which is a side-effect of the medicine's control and she also sleeps for quite a while after taking her medication.  On the nights she sleeps with Mommy and Daddy we often don't awaken until late morning.

Emma saw the ortho last week, who has requested an MRI to verify there is no issue with her back that is causing the toe-walking.  After that is done, he will tell us the next action for her - either cast or surgery as needed to repair her feet.  I'm very happy to be at this point in her treatment, as it's been a long time coming.  Jackson's needs put us slightly off-track last year but we will now be able to get done what's been placed on hold for the past year.

As always, Winston is doing great.  I quizzed him on a few things the other day and was pleasantly surprised at his level of knowledge after all our struggles with reading and comprehension over the years.  I believe he's ready for some more structured lessons and headed on a great path for the future.  I'm so very proud of him and all he has accomplished despite his learning challenges.

The past few weeks, we've really been enjoying life and all the things in it.  We've been spending a great deal of time outside with the cooling weather and are looking forward to Fall, when we can have more field trips and outdoor activities.  We are really hoping to be able to get the pool soon too which will be great for Emma as well.

In anticipation for Fall, we've been going through a great deal of things around the house and tossing out the old for the new.  This past weekend, Josh and I cleared the entire back porch, washed it with bleach and Dawn dishsoap, then we sealed the wood with Thompson's.  We angered a nest of Wasps in the process, who had made the underneath of the deck their summer home but they will just have to find a new spot to build, hopefully well away from my porch!  Tomorrow I have to reset the items that belong on the porch and do some rearranging and organizing for the kids playthings that belong on there.

In the next few weeks, we will be busy enjoying the end of Summer.  Jackson's party is coming up - it's so hard to believe he is two already!  We are planning a Mickey Mouse party for him this year with all the people who love him so much!

Then we have a wedding to attend the weekend after that.  I'll be doing the photography and it will be a weekend get away for me, Josh and some friends that is greatly looked forward to.  That same weekend doubles as mine and Josh's fifth year together so lots of good things happening there.

Well that's the update for the end of Summer of our busy life.  Hope you are all enjoying the last days of Summer Fun.  Till we meet again....

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Roman Roads Media: Dave Raymond's American History Part 1 {Schoolhouse Review}


For this review we used Dave Raymond's American History 1 DVD set which are lessons for home.  This program is for grades 6 and up.  This curriculum sells for $75 through Roman Roads Media.

Until this review, I had never heard of Roman Roads Media or Dave Raymond.  Both the company and Mr. Raymond were completely new to me so I didn't really know what to expect.  I have been pleasantly surprised by Dave Raymond's American History 1.

Dave Raymond's American History 1 is an 8 DVD disc set containing 26 lessons with 4 projects to be completed while using this program.  Also included in this multimedia disc are Teacher's Guides and Student Readers which help to complete the program's lessons.  These are found in files stored on Discs 1 and 5 and are accessible by computer.

I chose to review this DVD using the computer.  I found that it was a little tricky to get the program to work at first.  I had trouble accessing the menu through the DVD player I was using.  Once I figured that out, we were good to go.

The program begins with an Orientation in which Dave Raymond tells viewers what is expected by using the curriculum, how to take notes, and other specifics to using this program.  I must admit, though this part was extremely important, it was also extremely boring to view.  I was happy just to get through it.

Lesson 2 jumps right into to the beginnings of History.  The program is Biblical based and does discuss parts of the Bible throughout.  I found this nice since I am always looking to relate the Bible into our daily curriculum.

Dave Raymond teaches every lesson on these DVD's.  Viewing them reminded me of sitting in my US History class in High School.  He was quite animated and thorough in the information provided per lesson being taught.  He never strays from the subject and uses speech to help create visuals for students using the program.

Each video also shows photos related to the era of time being covered and the topic being discussed throughout the video.  This was a so-so aspect to me as I like videos that really bring places to life for my children.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting but it worked well for the program.

Overall, this program is like an online course with an instructor talking you through the lessons.  You check in for each lesson and complete the tasks he directs you through.  You are expected to take notes and also keep a portfolio as you work through the program.

Dave Raymond's American History 1 would be amazing for students who like that classroom feel.  It's also great for students learning to note-take in lessons and complete school lessons in preparation for a college classroom.  I can see structured students in grades 6 and up using this.  I found it challenging and fun to use, a definite review and reminder of American History for me.

My children were honestly bored with this program but I think in time it will be a great asset for our family to use.  I like they get to see a structured lesson that allows note-taking as this is not at all what we do normally in our homeschooling classroom.  The videos are packed with wonderful information about American History though and this was extremely beneficial to our learning at home.  Also, important words and phrases are written directly onto the video section where they are being discussed and I loved that because it allowed the kids to really see those words, helping to promote reading and recognition of these important words and phrases from History.  Really great stuff in my opinion.

I will be continuing to use this program for myself at this time.  I really enjoyed the videos and lessons personally though my children aren't quite ready for this program.  I can see us definitely using it in the future for schoolwork.  I personally found the review of American History refreshing and it has helped me remember important details to cover with my children as I teach them American History in the future.

This curriculum retails for $75 for the full set of Dave Raymond's American History 1 DVD program.  It can be purchased through Roman Roads Media and would be a great addition to any homeschool wanting to learn more about American History and looking for a more structured curriculum to use.  It is all on DVD but a Teacher's Guide and Student Reader are included and can be accessed from the disc through the computer.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3P Learning: Mathletics {Schoolhouse Review}



For this review, we were gifted a one year subscription for two of my children to 3P Learning's Mathletics program online.  This is an online program for grades K through 12.  We used the Kindergarten and 4th grade levels.  This program costs $59 per child currently with the program discount being offered at the time of this review.



You may have heard of 3P Learning if you have ever heard of Reading Eggs.  3P Learning is an innovative online company that produces quality educational programming that can be used as a supplement to your regular educational programs.  Mathletics is a part of this programming and, as it suggests in the program's name, this program is all about Math.

Mathletics is a mathematical program that works well for any child as a supplement to their regular math curriculum.  It helps to ensure that students are learning math concepts they are being taught for their grade level.  This is not an instruction program.  It is Common Core Aligned to go along with the current standards set forth by the government for education.

This program allows the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in the program by sending out weekly statements with your students reports.  This is great to be able to print and see where your child is struggling, as well as to see where they are exceeding in their lessons.  These updates come straight to the parents email.

Also this program allows the student to see accomplishments by providing the student with an award or online trophy for completion of parts of the program lessons.  This gives the child confidence in learning and helps them strive to do better as they learn new math that is on their grade level.  This is a great learning incentive for students.

When the student logs into the program for the first time, they are able to create an avatar that fits to them.  They can change clothing color, hair color, eye color and shape and much more.  Once this is complete they find themselves on the main page.  Here you can click on settings where you can change your program's background to different scenes.  We choose a lovely horse scene for Emmalee since horses are her favorite and we chose an outdoor scene for Laycie which includes cute houses and lots of butterflies.  There are lots of other scenes to choose from for both boys and girls.

Initially, the program was a bit tricky to figure out, especially for Laycie, who is in Kindergarten level.  There is a lot on the main page for students that I feel isn't really necessary and I would have liked to see more of the games front and center to get her started easily.  This site can also be a bit competitive which I don't like in educational program because it's our family belief that competition is not needed in learning.  Overall, it was very helpful and Emmalee did really enjoy being able to test her skills in this way.  Emmalee is in the 4th grade level for this program.

Both girls really enjoyed the games and learned a lot from those.  They were eye-catching graphically but not overwhelming and the concepts taught were easily followed.  Nothing over their heads was presented but it was still challenging them in learning.  It is easy to change their level in the parent section if need be and move them ahead to the next grade level if they finish their current grade level during use of the program.

This was a program I could let Emmalee loose with and she was able to follow along with well.  However, I was not able to do that with Laycie.  Because of the set-up, she needed me nearby to help her figure out what to do and what areas to visit to play the games.  So my recommendation is to either make sure you have time to work on the program, you have an older child help a younger student or you use this program with more independent children than my 6 year old happens to be.


The thing I loved most about Mathletics was the workbooks that were in the Parent section.  These were awesome and easy to print to use right away.  Both girls love workbook pages and most Math workbooks are so boring and lifeless.  These were far from that with their cute graphics.  The problems were challenging and well they were just great accessories for the program.  I wasn't expecting such great materials to use offline.

Mathletics will be a program that we will continue to use in the future and one we look forward to using through the year.  At $59 a year per child, it's an affordable program to use at home.  We definitely have enjoyed it.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

A Week Without the Kids {Part 2}


It's Friday and this week has flown by.  I originally wanted to write a series this week but, well, there hasn't been much excitement to expand on. You see the life of a Mom without her kids gets pretty boring.  Really, there isn't a lot to do once you get your homekeeping done because no one is here to  make a mess.

I have two more days before the kids come back home.  I have no real plans for those days and since Josh will be home, they will be filled with things that need to get done around the house, like any other weekend.  I would like to go back to the beach and we do have a bit of shopping to do but otherwise, no plans.  Just a normal weekend.

My week has been filled with cleaning house and working on photographs that I'm behind on.  I shot a friends wedding earlier this month so those photos were first to be completed.  It took me three nights but I'm finally done - whoever said the life of a photographer was easy was completely wrong.  Photo editing takes a long time even with the nifty software that helps to make it easier.

I'm pretty proud of myself though.  I did accomplish a lot this week but there is still a lot I did not get done.  Many neglected areas of our home have received attention but there are still many areas that require my attention calling.  One day I will get to those.

Next week will be extremely busy.  I have some kind of medical appointment every single day except next Friday.  Things we have been putting off getting done are finally happening.  I will update on all of that next week though.

For now, I'm off to dinner with my man.  Not sure what's happening this weekend but I'm sure wherever we end up will be wonderful.  I'm hoping to hit the beach at some point if this weather will clear up.  Water and sand sounds like the perfect plan.

Until next time, here are some recently completed photos to get you through...









Isn't Love beautiful?? 





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