Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Preschoolers and Peace: Circle Time {Review}

Growing up in Public School, one of my favorite daily activities was Circle Time.  When I decided to Homeschool, Circle Time was one of the first things I implemented into our homeschooling.  My kids have loved it as much as I did, even though we do this in a completely different type of environment than the one I grew up in.

Circle Time for us has always been a bonding experience and has worked great to provide together time for me and my children.  We do most things together and we enjoy doing them.  There isn't a lot of arguing during this time but there is a whole lot of fun.  Sometimes, it gets hard for me to come up with new ideas for our Circle Time activities though, especially as my children age.  That's where Kendra Fletcher's book, Circle Time from Preschoolers and Peace comes in!

Circle Time teaches the homeschool parent how to plan for Circle Time in their daily routine and how to make Circle Time flow smoothly.  Throughout this book, Kendra explains how she uses her Circle Time period to teach all of her children important Bible Scriptures, stories, memorization skills, copywork and so much more.  Kendra discusses how to keep younger children occupied while older children learn, all while maintaining life.

As Kendra explains throughout Circle Time, this wonderful addition to your homeschooling day can be arranged in any way that best fits you.  You can do Circle Time in the mornings, midday or night.  You can teach all kids at once or groups of children as needed, though the goal is to have as many children as possible join in at the same time.  You can teach as many subjects as possible together through Circle Time and the book provides plenty of suggestions for making this happen.

Since we already use Circle Time in our homeschooling days, I wasn't looking for a how-to in this book but instead inspirational ideas to spruce up our daily routine of Circle Time.  In Circle Time the book, I found so much more!

Kendra provides great printables to organize your Circle Time planning like a Wish List of activities to include in your own Circle Time.  She also includes a work sheet for listing Independent and Group work for your student's daily activities.  There are more great things to help with Circle Time on her website Preschoolers and Peace too!

Circle Time can be arranged to fit your family and is a great tool to bring you and your children closer together.  The time they spend with one another brings positive attributes out within them, as well as stronger bonds between them.  It also allows them to spend extra time with you that may be missed in other learning settings.

Circle Time is an important part of our homeschooling days.  Kendra Fletcher's book, Circle Time will teach you how to make it an important part of your homeschooling day too!  You can purchase Circle Time today as a PDF file for $4.99 through Kendra's website Preschoolers and Peace.  I promise you it's worth every cent!

To read more reviews of Kendra Fletcher's Circle Time, please click the banner below!


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Double Trouble with the Epilepsy Monster {Epilepsy Awareness}

I come here and try to write but it's hard to.  I can't even describe what I'm feeling right now.  Exhaustion, fear, dread top the list.  It's official.  The diagnoses of Epilepsy is now tagged to three of my four beautiful children.

Sunday night and early mornings are now time periods that I dread.  Jax's seizure seem to happen on Sunday afternoons and Laycie's upon waking in the mornings.  I find it so strange how even in a case of siblings, Epilepsy is so absolutely different.

I had just returned from the grocery store on Sunday afternoon and was putting the groceries away.  I had Emma in the living room playing with her brother.  I called her to come help put something away.  I can't remember what at all now.  I remember telling her "Come help.  Jax is laying there playing and everyone is back and forth to keep an eye on him."  I'm thankful I called her away and yet I question if I hadn't would he still have seized or could it somehow have changed the dynamics of the episode?  My heart tells me it only would have traumatized my sweet girl.

Emma tells me it was like a dream.  She was looking at Jax and talking to him all the while heading to the pantry room.  She rounded the corner when she heard me cooing, "oh sweet baby, Jackson".

I remember looking over at him doing his normal commando half crawl, roll, play with toys that he always does when he's happy and content.  He was whining just a little.  Not a cry but more a complaint.  I figured he wanted someone to pick him up or wanted to know where big sister just ran off too.

I remember looking at him and seeing his eyes grow cold and empty.  I remember my heart stopping.

His grandmother was closest to him and I remember saying, "Momma, look at Jax... is he alright?"  We both began calling to him but he was slipping away into that unknown world that we cannot reach.  His little body tightened and bawled.  His breathing became labored.  He became so tight that he rolled from his side to his stomach on his own with the convulsion.

It was only a few seconds.  Then Grandma lifted him and in all his stiffness, he was just as limp and the life was slowly slipping out of him.  His breathing became more labored.  There was no cry.  It almost looked like he was choking and I remember commenting to her about that but I knew he wasn't.  I know the difference by now.

I ran to call 911.  I started to dial on my cell and stopped.  I remember thinking what if it fails.  I grabbed the house phone and dialed.  I hung up.  I dialed again and hung up.  He wasn't breathing.  By the time the ambulance got here he could be well gone.

I remember yelling for Josh who had just fallen to sleep napping.  I remember the kids calling him.  He came immediately.  He looked at Jax.  He ran for the car along with Grandma.  I ran for my purse, knowing that my ID was needed as well as his medical information.

I remember looking at my babies and saying "I'm sorry we have to go with your brother.  Y'all know what to do."

My sweet Emma.  My precious girl.  Who has been through this so many times herself.  My baby.  She was my rock at that moment.  She was my strength so much more than she will ever know.  She grew up in that instant.  At 10 1/2 years old, she looked at me and said "Just go, Mommy, we'll be ok and we'll take care of Laycie.  Just go and help Jackson."  And I knew without a doubt she would do everything she could to care for her sister while I cared for the little piece of her heart that she calls her baby brother.

I grabbed my purse, told the kids to lock up behind me and ran out the door.  Josh was on the phone with his Grandmother letting her know the kids were at the house before we left our drive.  Thank God she lives only down that drive and was there to keep an eye on them.

He also called 911 to ask where the nearest ambulance was at.  There was not one available on the way but they requested her stop and pull over and they'd come to us.  He refused and told him we'd be there before they could even get to us and he wasn't stopping until his son was in the ER.  

Grandma held him on the ride.  All this time he was seizing.  His sweet face was grey blue.  He was not responsive.  At one point I did hear him cry.  It was only a brief cry but then he went into another Gran Mal seizure.  Grandma had to do mild CPR to keep him breathing.

As we arrived at the ER, we ran inside.  No one was at the desk.  A security guard opened the ER door.  We didn't wait for him, we ran past.  They were already waiting for him and immediately went to work taking blood and checking vitals.  It wasn't long before he was coming out of this episode.

As he returned to normal, he had 3 absence episodes.  Finally, after a few hours, he took a nap and when he woke up he was normal again.  We were in the ER for 5 hours and I was just thankful to finally have solid proof that he wasn't having Apnea spells as the neuro first thought.  There was finally solid proof that Jackson has Epilepsy, like so many in his family before him.

Last night I couldn't sleep.  I was fearful of being awakened to find him seizing again.  I am still terrified he will repeat his last episode.  My sixth sense told me more was to come and it wasn't off at all.

Laycie was sleeping in the bed with me as she has done almost nightly since her Gran Mal in June.  At 7:45 I awoke with a start for no apparent reason.  Laycie was still asleep.  Within minutes I knew why I'd woken up.

I watched her sleeping.  I watched her open her eyes.  Normally, she'd smile at me and tell me she was awake but not this morning.  Instead, she had that blank stare.  The same as the one Jackson had on the floor playing the night before.  She wasn't looking at me but her eyes were open.  Her breathing labored.  Her mouth opened in an "O" and her tongue began to dart in and out.  Then she began to chew her tongue with her mouth opened.  I talked to her the whole time.  I remember saying, "Laycie, can you hear me?  Laycie, Laycie, can you hear Mommy".

She couldn't respond and by this point her mouth had closed and she was chewing her tongue still.  She was turning her head to me like she knew where I was and I was desperately trying to keep her head sideways so that her tongue did not obstruct her breathing.  Instinct told me if she lost her breath, this partial seizure may become a full blown Gran Mal.

The whole episode only lasted a minute, maybe two.  She doesn't remember it at all.  I called Grandma to come over in case she had another while I got her medicine and gave it to her.  She didn't but she did have an absence episode while she waited that lasted only a few seconds too.

Once her meds were in her, she acted ok.  Around naptime she had some other possible mild activity where her eyes were "odd" looking but I am not sure if it was seizure related or just her being a 5 year old.  It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
After Laycie's episode this morning, we headed into the Peds office.  They evaluated both kids and found no cause for the episodes so they called into MUSC to schedule us and discuss treatment options.  I spent over two hours waiting for these things to be done only to come home and wait for them to call me.  Finally, at 3:30 pm I called them because I had not heard back.  Within minutes of talking with scheduling to make the appointments, I had a call from Laycie's nuero's nurse and then from her neuro herself as I was calling the nurse back.
Her neuro was the best as always and she is having us seen in office on Wednesday.  Hopefully, we will have some kind of answers then.  And hopefully we will start a med for Jackson.

When I had Emma, I never dreamed I'd have more kids with Epilepsy.  When she outgrew hers, I was thankful though I always worry it will rear it's ugly head again.

When I had Laycie, I wasn't expecting Epilepsy to be a part of her life.  I quickly learned I was wrong.  Now I wonder if she will ever outgrow it.

When Jackson was born, I was terrified he'd have this too.  When we made it past the 3-4 months that his sisters began seizing, I thought "Ok we made it past it".  When he had his first episode three weeks ago, I thought "Ok here we go".

Every day I wake and think "I have three kids with Epilepsy.  How will I handle having two kids with active seizures?"  Every day I'd like to live a normal life and ignore it's existence or crawl into a hole until it goes away.  I know that won't do my children any good though.

We are a medical exception and an extremely rare case.  It is not normal to have so many generations with Epilepsy or multiple siblings who have it.   It's a genetic abnomality that we've yet to discover.  It's my goal to find that gene, to help my children's children, to learn as much as I can about our Epilepsy and our family and how it works for us so that our future generations can live as comfortably as possible with this disorder.

It's my goal with this blog, to journal our experiences and share with others who are like us or who are new to this whole Epilepsy world.  I've lived with Epilepsy for 34 years now.  I've been an Epilepsy Momma for 10 years now.  It doesn't get easier and it doesn't go away.  It is there every single day, rearing it's ugly freaking head and when you least expect it, the Epilepsy Monster strikes out.

This is our life, the rawness, the emotion, the truth of it all.  And I will spread awareness of this awful disorder until the day I return to being dust of the earth.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Homeschool Programming, Inc: KidCoder Web Series {Review}

If you are looking for a great way to teach your student Web design and programming then look no further than Homeschool Programming, Inc.  Homeschool Programming offers quality products to provide a thorough education in programming with it's KidCoder and TeenCoder product lines.  These programs are created to be easy for the student and teacher to use and understanding, making web creation easy to do.

For this review, we were given the KidCoder Web Series program to use at home.  This digital download came with everything needed for my student to learn web programming in the comfort of our home.  Our download included the program needed to complete this study along with the student workbook and videos that explained what we needed to do to learn how the web works and even create projects of our own.

The KidCoder Series is created with the 4th-8th grade student and parent in mind.  These courses are not overwhelming, yet they pack a lot of knowledge into their wonderful program.  This series is a great introduction for students who may be interested in further web creation later on.

Students who use this program, or any program from Homeschool Programming, Inc. should have a basic knowledge of how a computer works.  They should be able to create save files on their own and also be sufficient in using a keyboard.  It would be appropriate that they have a basic knowledge of using a web browser and searching online as well.

The awesome thing about the KidCoder series is that once you purchase this curriculum you can use it for life.  There is no online membership that runs out or limited license with the program, with the exception of schools in which a separate license would need to be purchased for each student.  The basic workbook purchased will work for any student at any time within a homeschooling family and a student can take as long as needed to complete the program.  It can be used with multiple students within a family as the same time as well.

Since this course is set up to work with your students pace, it can be completed in various ways.  What may take one student an entire semester to complete will only take another half a semester to work through, while yet other students may take a year to finish the basic first semester portion.  How you chose to work through the program is up to you and your student's personal needs.

By design, the course is created to be completed in one semester with 13 chapters in the KidCoder Beginning Web Design series textbook.  Each chapter contains 3-4 lessons, Work With Me's, a lesson review and an activity to complete.  The final chapter requires the student to complete a final project using what has been taught in each lesson of the program.  Weekly dedication to this program should be at least 3-4 hours or longer depending on the student's abilities.

This series does include instructional videos for the instructor and student to view.  These videos are designed to be a tool but not to teach the entire course to the student.  They explain the techniques used within the chapters to help the instructor and student better understand the program as they work through it.

Due to medical issues in our family over the course of this review, we did not get as far with it as I would have liked to with the program but what we have completed we have enjoyed.  We were only able to work through part of the Beginning Web Design series.  I've used this with both my daughter who is 10 and my son who is 12, working together with them through the chapters and lessons.  Each have come away with a new opinion on web programming and how their computers work.  They look forward to completing this program, as do I along with them.

Homeschool Programming, Inc.'s KidCoder Web Series is available for purchase.  The KidCoder: Web Year Pack combines both the Beginning Web Design and Advanced Web Design programs for a $120 for courses only or $145 for both courses and videos.  KidCoder: Beginning Web Design and KidCoder: Advanced Web Design each cost $70 separately per course or $85 for the course with video instruction.

For more reviews on Homeschool Programming, Inc., please visit the Schoolhouse Review Blog by clicking the link below:

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Christi The Coupon Coach: Couponing Made Simple {A Molly Crew Review}

I was really excited to see this vendor pop up for the Molly Review Crew this year.  I had heard great things of Christi the Coupon Coach through the years and was thrilled to find Couponing Made Simple available for review.  Christi has a reputation for making couponing easy for Mom's like me and I was looking forward to seeing if that was true for myself.

Couponing Made Simple teaches you how to be successful with couponing.  Christi has made learning to coupon easy for readers to learn.  In her book, she takes you through the process of couponing from beginning to end, showing you tips and tricks to make couponing work.  This is not extreme couponing but instead using your smarts and small steps available to you to save money.

From the very beginning, Christi shows you that couponing can be done.  The first chapter of this 132 page book shares success stories of both Christi and many others.  These stories are written to help you understand couponing, as well as to inspire you to want to give it a try.  It works!

In Chapter 2, you learn a new way to shop.  Christi teaches you how to look for sales as well as where and how to begin to use your coupons.  We aren't talking about getting items for free, but getting them for the lowest cost you can manage, saving you up to 80% at times.

In Chapter 3, Christi teaches us where we can find coupons, the types available and how to make each of those different types work the best for us.  It's called the Language of Coupons and learning it will help you to best use your coupons to save you the most money.

Chapter 4 teaches us how to organize those coupons we've been learning so much about.  A coupon organizer, a file box, an accordion file, or a shoe box with dividers can hold whatever coupons you may have so long as they can be sorted and managed best for you.  Christi gives you suggestions and teaches you how to best make these work for you.

Chapter 5 brings it all together, taking you through the step-by-step process of couponing from gathering your coupons to using them in store.  Christi walks you through all you need to know.  Then in chapter 6, she gives additional tips and tricks to help you further your couponing experience, earning you even more savings.

Chapter 7 shows us the couponing ethics, teaching good couponing manners and how to not become couponing Godzilla.  This chapter is a reminder of what couponing is not and what it should be.

Chapter 8 brings us to networking and how to use blogs, friends, family, and even the workers at the stores themselves to find better deals.  Those we are close to tend to let us in on the best kept secrets which can be used to our advantage.  Plus if you get a deal, why not pass the information on to someone who can use it too.

Chapter 9 is called the Bonus Section.  In it, Christi discuses other places to receive great bargains such as yard sales and thrift stores.  These places should not be discounted as places to find what you need at a good price.  Sometimes the very thing you are looking for is the one thing someone else no longer needs and you could be helping out someone in need in the process of buying from them.

The last chapter is Chapter 10.  Christi discuses the greatest savings in this chapter: The savings of the Lord through Salvation.  Without it, couponing would be meaningless as would so many other things.  We should all find blessing in this sweet deal.

Following the chapters through this book is a section to make notes.  There are also pages to list important websites to keep them in one place for returning to later.  And the final pages are for Rock Bottom Prices so you can keep track of the best deals and where to save.

All of these chapters work together to teach you how to best save money, which is something most of us desperately need to do these days.  I found this book to be a lot of help.  I already use so many of her suggestions from hearing about them even before reading her book.

One of my personal favorite ways to save is by Thrifting.  I enjoy finding gently used items that I can give a new home.  I recently bought Laycie an adorable glass cow to place in my kitchen that she can look at daily for .25 cent at a local thrift store.  I purchased Jackson's "new-to-us" walker for $8 from another friend and his Bumbo seat for another $8 from a local lady when I asked for one online.  Many of our clothes are found second-hand at thrift stores and toys in the past have been too.

I also stock up at the grocery store when shopping.  Here in town we only have a few stores to choose from but when I'm there and I see a good sale, I take advantage of it.  The other week canned veggies were on sale and I stocked up with a 10 for $10 sale.  I often buy our pasta on sale for Buy One, Get One Free.

I must admit, even after reading Christi's book and attempting to utilize her couponing ideals, I am still terrible at using them.  I often forget I even have coupons until I've already checked out.  I do always use my store discount cards which helps tremendously.  I have one for each store we shop in.  Now if Walmart would only come out with one!!

Christi the Couponing Coach's Couponing Made Simple is a must read book for any Mom or Dad.  This book will show you how and where you can save money and it really does work if you put it to use, unlike me!  Couponing Made Simple is available for $18.00 in paperback with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.  It's also available for $4.99 on Amazon Kindle.

To read more reviews of Couponing Made Simple from the Molly Crew, please click the link below!

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Picaboo Yearbooks {Review}

Are you looking for something great to commemorate the end of your school year?  Would you like to be able to highlight each student, field trips, great memories from your year all in one place?  Then Picaboo Yearbooks may be just what you are looking for.

Picaboo Yearbooks asked the Schoolhouse Review crew to create our own personal yearbooks for our homeschools using their wonderful softcover 20 page yearbook.  These 8.5 x 11 yearbooks can be designed in any way you chose.  You can add in photos throughout and captions or text to go along with it.

Picaboo Yearbooks can be created for an entire school, a co-op, a sports or other team, or just an individual homeschool family.  The options are endless.  Color schemes and pre-designed photo pages make the creation process even easier but creating your own idea is just as simple.

For this review, I chose not to create a "yearbook" but instead chose to create a family-book for our family's life together, since we are a blended family.  I thought the uniqueness of our family called for a unique album to share about each member of our special family.  With seven children, it did not take long to fill up the pages.

Each page of our family-book yearbook is unique to our family, from the cover to the last page.  I chose a photo of the Angel Oak as our cover because it is a place we have recently visited together.  The branches of the tree wrap beautifully around our cover making it memorable and drawing attention to our book even while on the shelf.

Our book begins with an introduction to our home.  We call the property we live on The Hill and it has been in our family for decades, passed through generations of ancestors.  Featured in this section are our large pond and important elements of the logging history of our family.  These elements are extremely special to us.

Featured on the next two pages is an introduction to our family.  Here I discussed how we are blended and introduced some of our favorite things.  These pages are filled with photos of our family together.

The next eleven pages feature each member of our family from Mom and Dad to the kids, Grandma and even our pets.  Every family member got their own page, uniquely created with elements of things that interest and are unique to them.  For instance, my step-daughter, Debi's page has a background of turtles swimming since turtles are her favorite animal.  Her page also features a sand turtle that she created on a trip to the park a little over a year ago.  

To finish out the book, there are six more pages sharing images and important events from within our family.  I designed each page from scratch except for using pre-designed photo inserts provided by the Picaboo company in the design process.  Every single page is unique and different within the book.

Through the Picaboo Yearbook designer I was able to add in colored backgrounds to represent my children's favorite colors or choose a background in prints like cow print for my youngest daughter.  I was also easily able to add in my own personal images for each child on each of their pages.  I simply uploaded the photos and put them into place.

It was also very easy to move around the photo inserts and reposition or size photo boxes to fit my needs.  Some pre-designed elements needed to be tweaked to better fit my images.  By selecting the corners and dragging or pulling, I was able to make them work best for me.

Text was very easy to insert into each page too.  The pre-designed pages came pre-equipped with areas to include any writing that I may have needed.  I found myself deleted many pre-included text boxes and adding in others where I felt the text fit my pages best.  There were tons of fonts to choose from.  I was able to change font colors too but I chose to keep my lettering all the same color to bring together the books design.
I did edit all of my text boxes to have a see-through background in a complementary color for the page it was included on.  This was done simply by choosing a color using a digital dropper to select a color I liked from the page.  I then adjusted the opacity of the box background to make it blend into the page while making the writing stand out.

It took me two days to fully create my family-book yearbook.  One day was spent choosing my pages topics, adding backgrounds and selecting pre-designed photo pages.  The second day I spent adding in loads of photos, tweaking pages to fit each family member and adding in text.

It literally took me around 20 hours over a two day period from beginning to end to create this original yearbook for our family.  It was well worth the work as contained within the twenty pages of this book are memories that will stick with our family for life, unique and special only to us.

The cover of our family-book is soft.  It's made of a sturdy cardboard and I chose glossy print for the image.  The inside pages are made to be sturdy too.  The texture is hard to rip but the images are clear.

Many hands have touched our family-book yearbook since it arrived leaving goo and prints on it already.  These have easily been wiped clean using a mildly damp cloth without causing damage in the process.  Needless to say our family book is well-loved.

You can order a Picaboo Yearbook to fit your family or even your co-op through!  The softcover 20 page 8.5 x 11 yearbook that I received costs $8.95 plus shipping.  You can add extra pages for a small fee.  It is possible to include as many images as you'd like too.  My book contains close to 100 personal images of our family.

To learn more or order your own Picaboo Yearbook, visit!


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Sunday, July 21, 2013

25 TRUTHS: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us {Review}

25 TRUTHS: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us comes to us from Ed Douglas Publications.  Ed Douglas has spent more than 3 decades in business, running one of the most prestigious banks in the United States.  His knowledge and faith has led him to write helpful guides for building a firm foundation financially and spiritually.  25 TRUTHS is a product of his own life lessons that he has chosen to share with others.

25 TRUTHS discusses the top 25 truths that Ed Douglas feels have been most influential to his life.  In this book, Ed discusses how these truths have changed over the years and how you can make these truths prevail in your life bringing them back into the world that they have been immersed into.  Truths like being honest, limiting negativity, not giving up, and seeing the world at it's best when even at it's worst.  Ed brings up poignant points throughout the 25 truthful lessons of the book and teaches the reader to recognize these points, as well as how to correct them for themselves.

I, personally, read through this book and I find that I agree with many of the truths within but not all of them.  The content itself leaves the reader thinking through things in life that most don't really consider daily.  However, the chapters left me desiring more content, discussion and explanation.  As something to make one open their mind and think, 25 Truths is wonderful but as a study it leaves me desiring more.

This is not a book I would use with younger children but would find it okay for older children in 11th or 12th grade who have more of a reliable grasp on the real world.  The book discusses truths in relation to modern day events like adultery that younger children would not necessarily understand and those truths would definitely need to be taught with parental guidance and thorough discussion, possibly even editing out the content and being replaced with content a younger student could better understand.

For an adult, or older teen this book would work wonderfully and leave the reader thinking hard about the truths found within. The content definitely leaves one growing after reading through the 25 Truths within and could further be developed by the reader themselves.

25 TRUTHS: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us is available from Ed Douglas Publications $15.50 plus shipping for a 5x7 sized paperback.  It contains 26 chapters, as well as a Foreword, Preface and a chapter at the end called Plus One.  It is 150 pages in length.


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Friday, July 19, 2013

Susan K Marlow: Tunnel of Gold {Review}

From Susan K. Marlow, author of the Circle C Adventures book series, comes a new series called Goldtown Adventures.  This three book series is filled with mystery, allure, and wholesome family goodness.  It's sure to be a series that every family will love.

Goldtown Adventures tells the story of Jeremiah "Jem" Coulter and his family.  Jem and his family live in Goldtown, a fictional California mining town, where people make their living mining for Gold.  With Jem's Pa being the local Sheriff, Jem always finds adventure and mischief about.

In Tunnel of Gold, Jem's father is forced to find a way to make peace between the miners and the Chinese that have taken over the old mines.  The miners must use the old shafts as an air shaft in order to blast deeper to find a new gold vein for the Midas mine.  The Chinese won't give up their rights to the mine, even though the town is in jeopardy of losing all.

Jem finds himself in the middle of the ruckus when Will finds a way to keep everyone happy.  Will Will's idea work?  Or will Jem and the others in Goldtown find themselves in a bigger mess than they started with?  And how much danger is Jem putting himself into by following Will's plan?  To find out, you'll have to read Tunnel of Gold for yourself. 

For this review, I passed this book onto my beautiful daughter, Emmalee, age 10, to read out loud to her siblings.  Over a period of a week, Emma read the book, chapter by chapter.  The kids really enjoyed learning about Gold mining and the lifestyles of Jem, Ellie and the rest of the gang in Goldtown.  Laycie has gown around acting out parts of the book since listening to the story.  All the kids wish to read more of the Goldtown Adventures, as well as the Circle C Adventures book series which we plan to read in the future.

There is an accompanying, free enrichment guide to go along with Tunnel of Gold which can be found on the website when purchasing this book.  This enrichment guide provides a full unit study to be used along with the book, complete with worksheets and activities like building your own Miner's Stove out of a can and a small tea light candle.  A recipe for doughnuts is also included in the guide, along with vocabulary for the book, crossword puzzles, and short stories to expand on the history the reader learns throughout the book.  This is a wonderful expansion for the story itself.

Tunnel of Gold is 144 pages long.  There are 18 chapters within the book.  There is also a Historical Note included in the back sharing more about the Gold Rush era and life at the time.

Susan K. Marlow's Tunnel of Gold, and the rest of the Goldtown Adventure series, is available online for $7.99 per autographed paperback book.  The first and second book of the Goldtown Adventure's series, Badge of Honor and Tunnel of Gold, are available for purchase together for $13.95 plus shipping.  The third book of the series has not yet been released.


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reading The Alphabet: Now Available As A Bundle Pack!

Have you seen this very awesome curriculum from Becky @ This Reading Mama? It is now available as a bundle pack just for your easy convenience.  That's right! All of the Reading The Alphabet materials are now included in this download for the low price of $10!

To learn more about how Reading The Alphabet works, you can visit the introduction post on This Reading Mama.

All together this bundle contains over 1500 educational pages.  Because of it's massive size, it comes in SIX download files which are all included in this bundle.

For this week ONLY {July 15-19}:
Enter coupon code back2school 
to receive $2 OFF your purchase.

Also find out how to win a FREE Bundle Pack of 

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Proud Moments!

See this boy...

He's 12 and he made these today...

From scratch at that... using this Good Old Fashioned Pancake recipe which I printed off for him.

One happened to look just like a Duck!

Yea, I'm pretty proud!!!

He is too! 

This is Unschooling at it's best!!

Pretty sure he'll be able to feed his family well once he's grown.

Did I mention how proud I am??!!

What's Up!

I guess this pretty well fits how I've been feeling lately...  To stop our other music and listen, just press pause on the music player bar at the bottom of your screen.

$50 Homeschool Curriculum Giveaway from Hearts At Home!

Enter to win $50 curriculum gift certificate!

$50.00 Homeschool Curriculum Giveaway from Hearts at Home.  Ends 7-20-2013!!

Dig-It Games: Mayan Mysteries {Review}

Dig-It Games brings to life the world of the Maya through it's interactive game, Mayan Mysteries.
Mayan Mysteries allows children to become archaeologists in this fun game.  Children learn about history through play.

Dig-It Games was founded by Suzi Wilczynski, professional archaeologist and former school teacher.  She created Mayan Mysteries and Roman Town to bring to users a fun, interactive way to teach ancient civilizations with archaeology.  Through 10 years of experience with digs in Greece and Israel, Ms. Wilczynski created a way to bring her experiences to students everywhere.

In Mayan Mysteries, players learn about the history of the Maya civilization and culture.  Created for children in grades 5th through 9th, ages 11 and up, this game walks students through a world that would otherwise be forgotten if not for historical digs and documents.  Throughout the game, users discover artifacts, decode ancient glyphs, explore the Maya calendar, visit ancient cities and much much more.

The game itself works as a puzzle with pieces leading to fit into each other in order to open up each level of play.  Included activities test reading comprehension, geographical skills, spatial reasoning, math, science and history skills.  Scientific and analytical thinking skills are practiced throughout gameplay too.

Users begin playing Mayan Mysteries by joining up with Team Q to find the mysterious thief, Landrone.  This leads the user on a chase that spans over the great ancient Maya cities through over 300 expansive challenges and 12 hours of gameplay.  On the journey, the user learns key facts, geographical data, finds countless artifacts, solves glyphs and more.

Users gain achievements for every quest completed, such as the Golden Trowel for collecting 8 artifacts or the Genius Decoder for solving all spirit companion Glyph riddles without using hints.  These achievements are rewards for completion of the mysteries and lessons throughout the game.  

There are tons of artifacts for the player to find throughout the game too.  Through gameplay and digs, the player will find things like a ball player figurine, a ceramic flute, a flint knife, obsidian arrowheads, stingray spines and many more.  The player will learn about each of these items through play as well, leading to an unforgettable online history lesson.

Landrone clues are also provided throughout the expedition to find Landrone.  These clues are kept in Charlie's journal and can be accessed at any time during gameplay.  

Team Q is who you are helping to find Landrone and solve the Mayan Mysteries.  Team Q consists of Dr. Alex Quinn, the extraordinary archaeologist, and leader of the expeditions.  The twins, Fiona Quinn, future archaeologist extraordinaire and Charlie Quinn, future detective are also a viable part of Team Q.  Along with your help they are sure to solve the mystery and find Landrone.

This fun, fun archaeology game is sure to bring hours of interactive lessons to life for users.  I know we have enjoyed playing and learning more about each artifact and place visited via the game.  My children, ages 10 and 12 have worked together to play through this game and enjoyed learning more.

You can purchase Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It games online for $21.99 for a one year single-user license.  This gives you access to the full game for a year to play.  Mayan Mysteries is also available as an App in the Apple Store or iTunes for $9.99.


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Strength {Epilepsy Awareness}

My blog is my journal.  I come here to write.  I come here to put my thoughts into print.

It's always been easier for me to write out how I feel, than to say how I feel.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Because of that, it is hard for me to be honest to others, though I am always an honest person.

I tend to take things to heart.  Words wound me because they are so important to me.  Feelings take control of me.

These things play a huge part in my blogging and my sharing about Epilepsy and my children.  I write to journal our life but also to share life how it is, living with Epilepsy.  It's not easy but I do my best.

Life with Epilepsy is a long, winding journey.  It surrounds us daily.  It is our life.  We know no other way than to live in the midst of this disorder.

Like with so many other disorders and diseases, if you live in the midst of the trial, you understand.  If you don't, you can only hope to comprehend what I am referring to.  It's one of those either you know or you don't things and not everyone does.

I look at my children and I feel blessed, never saddened by this disorder.  It scares me but I am thankful for each day I have among them.  Their lives are not shortened because of this, as none of us have dates stamped upon us for our time to go.  I could very well leave the Earth well before they do.

This isn't a life I asked for but I live it.  Someone commented to me the other day that since I have chosen not to have more children, I won't have to worry about another child of mine having Epilepsy.  This is true but I'd have given birth to 100 children regardless of that chance if I could have.  The risk was well-worth the gift that my children's lives are to me.  I will teach them that the risk is worth it for their children too.

We have carried this for generations now.  It will most likely carry for generations to come.  I wear it with pride, though I wish everyday I didn't have to.  Having Epilepsy is nothing to be ashamed of.  Having Epilepsy is nothing to be afraid of for God is with us every day.  Having Epilepsy is just another part of our lives and I will continue to feel blessed by it, not torn apart by something I cannot control.  Even when I am weak, I am strong.

~ Dana

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 15, 2013 ONE DAY ONLY: Huge Alpha Omega Publications Sale from Hearts At Home!!!

Hearts at Home has decided to make their ONE DAY ONLY sale REALLY GREAT by offering you FREE Shipping PLUS a FREE Gift when you purchase $100 or more in Alpha Omega Publications products!

Alpha Omega Publications has discounting policies and they only allow retailers to discount their products to 10% off for the rest of the year. This is the last time they are allowed to offer them at 20% off!

FREE Shipping Offer

Free Shipping on your ENTIRE ORDER when you purchase $100 or more in Alpha Omega Products! Use Coupon code AOPJULY at checkout!

This free shipping offer is good for orders throughout the Contiguous United States only. Your order will ship best way, please allow additional time for delivery.

Switched-On Schoolhouse is the next generation of homeschool curriculum by Alpha Omega. It's a comprehensive, Bible-based curriculum that offers computer-based learning for grades 3-12.

With 3-D animation, video clips, and other fascinating multimedia, Switched-On Schoolhouse is the perfect homeschool curriculum for today's generation. SOS 5-Subject Sets include Bible, Math, Language Arts, Science, & History and Geography!


Horizons is a brightly illustrated, engaging workbook curriculum filled with consumable lessons and hands-on activities by Alpha Omega. Designed with fast-paced lessons, Horizons uses a spiral learning method to help your student master concepts through the process of introduction, review, and reinforcement.


LIFEPAC is a full-color, consumable worktext homeschool curriculum, by Alpha Omega, with Bible-based content for grades K-12. Designed by a team of accomplished educators with years of classroom experience, LIFEPAC is based on the principle of mastery learning. Students master content in each unit worktext before progressing to the next.

This is considered an all-in-one boxed curriculum, but can be purchased as individual subjects as well as full sets.


The Weaver Curriculum is a unique unit-based, Bible-centered homeschool curriculum by Alpha Omega. For grades PreK-12th, this family-based curriculum uses the same daily Bible theme as a foundation and then creates lessons for each student. Your students are then studying the same main subject the same time with individual lesson assignment geared to each student's grade level.


Promotional Terms
Any gift certificate earned will be applied to future orders at and is not redeemable for cash or a refund. You will be emailed your gift certificate within 14 days after your purchase, to allow time for processing and shipping of your order. If you do not get your gift certificate after 14 days, please first check your spam/junk box and then contact them for support. If you return any of your items, you may be deducted for the amount of the gift certificate that was issued as they cannot be cancelled. Gift certificates do not expire. This promotion cannot be applied to previous purchases for price adjustments, or used after 7-15-13.

Free shipping offer is good for orders throughout the Contiguous United States only. Your order will ship best way, please allow additional time for delivery.


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