Monday, June 30, 2014

End of June Update {Thoughts From Me}

There's so much keeping us busy around here lately.  Home and reviews are overrunning with life.  There's so much to do and so little time.

Days like this I wish I was Born Organized but I am far from it.  My home overflows with stuff and busy days.   Doctors appointments have taken much of my time lately and just keeping the basics done around home.

The small things I do get done fill up fast.  I can't keep up and I really don't bother trying.  At this season in life, as long as the kids are happy, learning and fed, that's all that matters to me.  There's no way to get anything else in.

At this stage, I'm on a learning mission.  Learning about Faith, Life, Love and yes, organizing it all both physically and mentally.  It's not an easy lesson but it's all falling in place as I age.  Every day I come a little closer to making things better for us.

Right now we are facing some struggles.  Laycie is changing medication because hers is no longer controlling as it needs to be and I pray this change is for the best for her.  Jackson has a small bug and a high fever to go with it.  He's also battling constipation and we aren't sure where it's coming from but he's starting medication to help with that as well.

Winston and Emmalee are troopers as always.  Emma does have her wellness check-up this week and hopefully we can get her going with her orthopedics again soon because that really needs done.  With all the sickness from Laycie and Jax we've had to put off a lot in the last year.  Now that we have more balance, I can now deal with those things that we had to put onto the back burner.

Life has been so busy lately that I've barely been online except through my phone and I truthfully needed that little break to refocus.  It takes balance to live the life you want and so I've been trying to find a good balance to get to where we need to be.  It's a slow process but we are heading that way.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Library and Educational Services: Go Science DVD Series 2 {Crew Review}

Welcome to Learning Time with Ben Roy!  Ben Roy is the "teacher" on Library and Educational Services excellent Go Science DVD's.  He's so much more than a teacher though as he loves to bring Science to life for children.

Go Science DVD's have been created to be used with children who are ages 6-10.  For this review, we used the second series of the DVD's.  Last year, we reviewed their original series.  Because we LOVED those so much, we chose two new videos for review this year.


These videos were just as great this year as they were last!  Over the past year, we've watched our original Go Science DVD's multiple times.  I didn't notice a lot of differences between series one and two.  There are some new transitional effects but the main content is just as great as the originals.

Each video is a little over an hour long with segments in each covering the topics that the DVD is about.  Each segment lasts just a few minutes but packs a lot of information into that time frame.  You can choose to view the DVD by individual segments or to play all.  We like to play all because once we start learning, it's hard to stop.  Plus Ben Roy really makes Science interesting with his comical ways and his witty humor.  I really learn a lot just listening along!  So do the kids!

Go Science videos are a huge hit around our house and this series is one we go to over and over.  The kids and I both enjoy watching the experiments and we have tried a few on our own after watching.  We've also used what we've learned through the videos to try out other experiments of our own.  Just viewing these videos has definitely changed our learning process and our own experiments in Science.

Through Go Science DVD Volume 1, we learned about the sounds that instruments make and were able to see an piano that had been taken a part.  Ben Roy showed us how the piano works which was completely new information for me.  Another fun experiment was the screaming soda pop can.  This one can be done at home with supervision.
On the main menu of Go Science DVD Volume 1: Sound, Gravity, Space you can choose between these three topics.  Clicking on each will provide a second menu of experiments that are related to each of these topics.  Between the three topics, there are 15 different segments with experiments to watch and learn about.

Go Science DVD Volume 2: Life Science and Weather starts the same way.  Clicking on each topic leads to a second menu.  Between the two menus, there are 12 episodes with experiments to watch.  Things like a Fire Tornado and Ping Pong Cannon, or How Much Do Your Lungs Hold are covered on this DVD.

Two of our favorites from Go Science DVD Volume 2 are the Naked Egg and Cloud In A Bottle.

The Naked Egg is the experiment where you soak the egg in vinegar until the shells dissolves leaving only the egg membrane and yolk in tact.  The egg feels rubbery and is see through.  This is a great experiment to really show what's inside an Egg.

Cloud in a Bottle is an experiment where you place a bit of alcohol into a 2 liter soda bottle then pump air inside.  Clouds really form from this experiment.  Watching and learning how clouds are created lead us to find other cloud experiments to complete at home.

We love that Go Science DVD's leave us thinking and wanting to learn more.  You can purchase these wonderful DVD's through Library and Educational Services for $8.97 individually or you can purchase the 7 DVD series set for $59.82.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

G is for the Good Things {Blogging through the Alphabet}

Ben and Me

So I have fallen off the Blogging through the Alphabet wagon for the past few weeks but I will be completing those posts later on.  For now, we are on to the letter G.

G is for Good Things in Life

Lately, there is so much negativity in the world and not nearly enough appreciation for the Good things that we are blessed with in this life.  In the news daily, there is constant death, stealing, bullying, and more.  Concentrating on these are sure to drag us all down and creep into to destroy happiness in our lives.  Many people come to dwell upon these negatives, losing thankfulness for the great things happening around them.

I, personally, share a lot of these things through my Facebook page and then see them shared forward by others.  A few weeks ago, this negativity really hit me straight in the heart.  I realized that this is not what I want to known as: The Negative Facebook Poster.  I, instead, wish to bring light and love to others through our lives, shining like a bright star.

Over the past few days, I have actively chosen NOT to be on Facebook and to share mostly positive things (I've been doing that for a few weeks now).  Sure the negative and local news still sneaks through (I often share for some of my local friends who would miss out on the news if not for those posts and have actually asked for me to share them) but I am making an active effort to be choosier about those posts.

A friend tagged me in a post the other day to share positive things, and I felt it was lead to me after realizing I needed to do these things already.  I want to be more appreciative and I know that sharing these small things I'm thankful for will  help me realize just how lucky I am to be blessed to live and love in this life.

So hear are 5 things I'm currently thankful for aka my Good Things in Life:

1.  Always and forever, foremost I am thankful for my children: Winston, Mimi,  Laycie and Jackson.  They are such blessings for us.

2.  I'm thankful for my Husband.  For the love he gives to use and how hard he works to provide a home and life for these kids.

3.  I'm thankful for my Momma.  I couldn't raise three kids with Epilepsy and Involuntary Breath Holding Spells without my Momma.  She is there when I just can't do anymore.  She loves and cares and helps every single day and I'm so thankful to be blessed with a Momma that loves me and my children so much.

4.  I'm thankful for Prayers.  Without them, we'd be lost.  So many times a simple prayer has gotten me through, even when my faith was small and frail, these prayers have carried me through.  For that I'm thankful.

5.  I'm thankful for Life, for everyday when I wake up and share the day with my children, family and friends.  So many times, I just go through the process of the day but there is never a day when I don't see the "Life" we are given as a blessing and there's never a day that I'm not thankful for another day with my babies.  I know that this can be taken at any moment and I try to live it fully and to enjoy every moment I have.  I try to teach my children to do the same and never take a minute for granted.

These are only a few of the many things I am thankful for.  What are you thankful for today?  What are some things you can do to be more appreciative of your day to day life?  Share with me in the comments below!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A quick June Update {Thoughts From Me}

I keep telling myself that I am going to come up with a better system for blogging and an idea for weekly posts yet that doesn't happen.  So hear I am again, giving a blog update very quickly because our busy life is consumed with living and not with writing at this time.  Maybe one day the writing will come but for now I'm content to simply live life.

At this point, I'm back to the house overhaul.  My birthday is coming up and all I can keep thinking is how I want this or that for the house - not a lot for me, myself.  I'd love to put in new bookshelves that are sturdier than the ones we are currently using, made of real wood to hold the weight of all the books we own.  Heck, I'd love to buy a building just to house my books!  That's a dream in itself!

Speaking of the shelves, my current cleaning is to catalog all the books so that I know what I'm using.  I'm doing this with both Classroom Organizer online which I can use with the laptop or my phone to scan in ISBN numbers.  I'm also using my BookCrawler app so these are stored in two separate places and maybe I can keep up a little easier with what we do and don't have already.  I'm pretty good though as only a few multiples have made it into our home library!

For now, we have a break in doctor's appointments for the kids and my Mom.  This small break will be devoted to cleaning and clearing junk in the house and our lives and also to school, field trips and lessons that must be completed.  Yet, another reason our days are busy and full right now.  When it's too hot or too cold to be outside, we do school!  Oh the perks of living in ole South Carolina!

So that is my update for now, for lack of an idea of anything else to post today.  Perhaps my brain will regain function after I get some of this mess organized.

Until next time...

Hello, Bali {Review}

Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book is a super cute book about both Bali and Yoga shared together in one amazing little package.  This book, written by Giselle Shardlow, is designed to be used by children ages 2.5-6.  The book is about 50 pages in length.

At the beginning of the book, we meet Tia the Tiger who helps us learn to navigate through the books pages.  Tia introduces us to the book's main character, Anamika, whose family is visiting Bali on vacation.  Anamika is originally from India.

Anamika takes us on an adventurous tour of Bali.  Each page of the book is beautifully illustrated by Emily Gedkyz and each features a particular word which you can find written in blue to stand out from the original text.  These are great for vocabulary skill building.

The words in blue also relate to the Yoga pose shared on the page of the book you are reading.  Each page of the book features a different, easily accomplished pose for children to try out, with the help of their parent of course!  These are a lot of fun.

At the end of the book, there are a few bonus pages.  Anamika helps to teach us to count in Indonesian and also some essential words and phrases in Indonesian, as well.  There's also a review of the Yoga poses that are taught throughout the book and a parent guide for using the book and the poses with your child as a sort of lesson plan.

We really enjoyed Hello, Bali.  The poses were great for my little girl to practice her Yoga poses with me.  We already do Yoga in the home and she knows a few of the basic poses but the book was helpful to suggest some poses that we haven't used before.  Plus the story is adorable!

Hello, Bali is available in paperback for $11.61 from!

*Disclaimer - A PDF copy of this book was gifted to me for free in exchange for providing this review in my own words and honest opinion from Mother Daughter Book Reviews.  I'm including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC regulations and guidelines.

We Choose Virtues {Crew Review}

Over the past few years, I have heard the absolute BEST things about We Choose Virtues and have really been wanting to try this company and it's products out.  I was very excited to see it in our Schoolhouse Review Vendor list this year and knew it was going to be one I would sign up for.  The product we were gifted for review are the We Choose Virtues NIV Parenting Cards, along with the We Choose Virtues Download Bundle which contained a ton of goodies for us to use with our cards. This set is designed to be used with children ages 3-11.

I was able to choose which version of the cards I wanted.  The options were NIV and KJV.  Normally, I would have gone for the KJV for myself but since I am using these for the kids, I chose the easier to understand NIV version.  I'm not sure that would have made a difference in the cards since they are written for children regardless but in my head it made sense at the time of choosing.

Shipping on this product was really quick and we were able to get started right away.  I chose to use a few cards each week as we discussed these Virtues.  I usually picked whatever card seemed to fit our days at the time.  The card I started with was Obedient, since we all seem to struggle with following direction without complaint or argument.  

In the corner of each card, it begins with I am within a bright yellow circle.  Then comes the word for the Virtue in large font across the card itself.  An adorable child representing the virtue is presented below this word on the right each time so you can clearly see how they fit to the lesson of the virtue itself.  Next comes a phrase to make the child think that is catchy in order to stick well into the memory to be repeated later on.  Then there is a smaller bit of info on the subject to help explain it further, followed by the biblical scripture that it relates to below that.

On the back of each card, you find the Virtue User Challenge.  Each of these is different and should be completed together, yet individually within the family.  It's like a family pact to make this virtue top priority for the length of it's lesson.

Underneath the Virtue User Challenge, the virtue itself is featured and described so that it's easy to discuss with the family.  And beneath that, is an box that tells What to say after "I'm Sorry".  This section was my absolute favorite as I'm never sure how to explain this to my children and they are never certain what they are really expected to say.  Please, forgive me for _______ has become a blessing to our family and our daily expression of love, gratitude and simple forgiveness.

On the right half of the cards, you find the Teachable moments for families section, in which the virtues are further explained by examples from others lives.  These really get you thinking and sharing with one another.  This particular section led us to great conversations that we were otherwise missing in our day to day life.

Below the Teachable Moments section, The Kids of VirtueVille are featured, explaining who the adorable child representing that virtue is and what they are all about.  These little descriptions are adorable and really help children relate to the purpose of the virtue.  Each one has their own quirky personality that my children were really able to see bits and pieces of in themselves.

Each of these awesome cards ends with What is that... do you think?  What a topic starter!  My children always had some thought provoking answer following this one great question each time we went over one of the 12 cards.  There's also a basic parent card with the set that tells you about the concept of the We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards and how to use them.

In the We Choose Virtues download bundle, there is a Teacher's Handbook which further explains how to use the We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards and other parts of this wonderful program.  This colorful PDF file breaks it all down for you so that you can better teach the Virtues to your children in a classroom or personal setting.  Ideas and instructions for each tool of We Choose Virtues can be found in this wonderful document and implemented as you see fit.

A PDF of We Choose Virtues Sing Along is also provided in this file.  This is a black and white printable file containing a little song to sing for each virtue being taught.  I chose to print these off with each lesson and post them where the kids could see and sing them throughout the process of this review.  The kids loved them!

Another provision in this file is the We Choose Virtues Family Assessment.  I printed this right away and filled it out.  What a great way to see where our family needed improvement so we could start with the Virtues we needed to cover the most right away!  I was really impressed with this document and it's help in planning for our use of this program.  We completed an assessment for each member of our family, compared them and helped each other as we worked on these virtues together.

The Kids of Virtue Coloring Book was also a ton of fun!  I printed copies of this book out for each of the kids to use and they enjoyed coloring in the Kids of VirtueVille as we talked about the corresponding cards each week.  I think this one was Laycie's favorite part.

The PDF file also contained a Butterfly Award to download.  This printable is designed to help encourage children to follow the lessons they learn through the We Choose Virtues program.  These can be awarded throughout the program as the child learns the importance of each virtue and blossoms into a better person.

The entire set of items works beautiful together to create a program that promotes the Virtues that children need to learn in this day and age to be better people.  We absolutely LOVE We Choose Virtues and look forward to using more of their products in the future.

We Choose Virtues NIV Parenting Cards are available for purchase for $38.49.  There are a total of 13 double sided cards measuring 8.5"x 5.5" on heavy cardstock.  These are full color cards.

The We Choose Virtues Download Bundle includes the Teacher's Handbook for the program, the Family Character Assessment, Coloring Pages, Butterfly Award and Sing-Along-Song Sheets for $7.99.  These come in a PDF file download.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning Wrap-Ups {Crew Review}

The first time I saw a Learning Wrap-Ups product was several years ago when we began homeschooling.  Our local homeschool used-bookstore had a multiplication set for sale.  A few months later, I was offered a set of Learning Palette's as well at a homeschool used-booksale. I admit, I turned both of these products down at the time due to lack of extra funds for them but I never forgot the products or how fun they appeared to be.

So when this review became available, I was thrilled.  I had regretted passing up those two products many years before and wished several times over the years that I had made the investments because I had heard such good things about the Learning Wrap-Ups company.  As you've probably guessed, because of that I jumped at reviewing Learning Wrap-Ups and we received the following products for this review:
I also have to say, that even though I knew this product was amazing, and even though I knew we'd be receiving a package full of fun things to do, I never expected to be gifted so much through this review.  This has truly been a blessing for our homeschooling and our home alike.  We've greatly enjoyed using Learning Wrap-Ups over the past few weeks and there has been something for everyone from this one box filled with goodies!

For the review, I was able to select which products I wanted.  I chose the items that I listed above because I felt they best fit our families' needs.  Laycie is in Kindergarten right now and the Learning Palettes were a great way to introduce concepts for her age level without being overwhelming and still keeping it fun.  The Wrap-Ups were perfect for my older children as well, some for review and some for new learning activities during our day to day lessons.

The Kindergarten Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit comes in it's own plastic carrier so that all the products within stay contained easily in one place.  Inside the bag is a Learning Palette board with different colored plastic circle disks which are used for self-correction as you use the Learning Palette.  There are also five different boxes inside, each containing 12 cards with 12 challenges to complete for learning about various math skills.  The topics cover Matching and Early Numbers, Numbers, Coins and Fractions, Intro to Algebra, Intro to Geometry and Measurement, and Intro to Data.

There are a total of 60 curriculum cards with a total of 720 questions in all.  Each of these cards meet the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards.  They are also Common Core and State Standard correlated.

As mentioned above, these tasks are self-correcting.  With help, children read through the card and make their answer by choosing a disk color that coincides to the correct answer.  Once all the disks are in place on the Learning Palette, the student turns the card over to see if they were right or not by checking if the colors match up.  This can be repeated again and again as needed.  As we answered questions, we would read through the wrong answers to see why they were not right and what the correct answer was.  It was a very easy process for us to work through.

The Kindergarten Reading 1 Base Center Kit is the same as the math but instead it covers Reading as a subject.  The same self-correcting method with colored disks is used.  The subjects covered with this Learning Palette are Alphabet, Beginning Consonants, Rhyming Words, Beginning Vocabulary, and Vowels.   There are also 60 cards with 720 questions covering Reading in this set of the Learning Palette.  Other grade levels are also available for these kits.

Laycie absolutely loved the Learning Palette kits and could not wait to use them every day.  Even today she asks to use them repeatedly and hasn't tired of learning with them.  I allowed her to do a few a day, helping her as needed and showing her the corrections when she was done.  She is able to open her Palette cover, put in a card and answer the questions mostly on her own, then put it all away when finished.  Very little help is now needed by me for her to do this.  It's been great to give her a bit of educational freedom as well.

Our Learning Wrap-Up kits are pretty awesome as well.  Both Laycie and her older siblings have enjoyed these.  Some have been great review, while others have been great learning for them.

The Learning Wrap-Up Math Intro Kit didn't come with CD's but we are totally ok with that because it was just as great without them.  It does come with a Wrap-Up for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions.  Each Wrap-Up is a different color and they are super easy to use.

Wrap-Ups are plastic and have numbers on the front with a start arrow to let you know where to begin.  They have a string attached and when you use them you start the string at that arrow.  Then you wrap the answers you are working with, wrapping the string around the Wrap-Up which you are working on.  These are also self-correcting so when you have the Wrap-Up done, you can check the back to see if you had the correct answers or not.  They can be used over and over and are great both for learning and review of math facts.

The Learning Wrap-Up Math Intro Kit was a favorite of Winston's.  He loves Math and anything to do with Math.  He spent hours going over and over the Wrap-Ups simply reviewing facts and he really enjoyed doing that - he still does it today.
The Learning Wrap-Up Vocabulary Intro Kit works the same way as the Math kit.  The student places the string at start and wraps to the correct answers.  These are also self-correcting and can be reused multiple times.  The Vocabulary kit covers synonyms, homonyms, compound words, and antonyms used in vocabulary.

Emma absolutely loved these!  A bonus was that words she didn't know, she quickly learned to read and spell by using these Wrap-Ups!  They were right up her learning alley!

Additionally to the Learning Palettes and the Learning Wrap-Ups kits, we received 10 Steps to Addition Mastery and 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery.  Each of these workbooks are 62 pages in length.  They contain many varied activities in relation to Math concepts.  They are black in white print with adorable designs throughout to keep Math interesting for the young users who are working through them.  They are not reproducible and each student should have their own workbook for completion.  I used them with all three students by having each student choose a page to complete separately.  Laycie did more of the additon pages, while Winston and Emmalee completed more of the Multiplication workbook.  They agreed the work was fun but still somewhat challenging for them.

We were also given the opportunity to use!  We were gifted with a year's subscription for up to five users.  This site covers all levels of the Reading and Math Palettes.  It is simple and fun to use, just like the Learning Palettes themselves.  Simply follow the instructions to log in, click the Learning Palette you wish to learn with, and complete the answers right on the website.  This is also a self-correcting format, helping children to achieve success in learning.

I am so thankful for the chance to review this product and the joy it has brought into our home and our homeschooling.  The kids really don't feel like they are doing school by using Learning Wrap-Ups but instead feel like they are simply playing while learning and nothing makes me happier than that!  Learning Wrap-Ups is a wonderful investment for all families, whether in Public school or Homeschooling like we are!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fly a Little Higher {BookLook Review}

This review is hard for me.  I've followed Zach Sobiech and his family for some time now.  I discovered him through the internet as most people have and through the video that Soul Pancake made of him and his family.  His story spoke to my heart as it did most people who have heard of Zach.

Several weeks ago, I logged onto my BookLook Bloggers account to choose another book to read for review.  I wasn't expecting to see Zach's story yet but when I did, I knew it was one that I wanted to read.  Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Prayer in a BIG Way by Laura Sobiech, Zach's beautiful Mom was not something I could pass up.

I received this book about a month ago but I couldn't simply pick it up to read it.  You see, I know Zach's story and have been touched by Zach's story so deeply that I knew this wasn't something I would take lightly.  It would speak deeply into my heart, reach down into my soul and relate to things that only Mom's of children who suffer from some dreadful disease and disorder can understand.  The book sat unread on my nightstand for weeks before I finally decided it was time to read it.

On Wednesday, May 28th, my Mother had surgery to remove her gallbladder.  I knew I wanted something to keep me busy and keep my mind occupied while I waited.  I felt the need to bring Fly a Little Higher along, though I wasn't sure I could read it while I waited and since I wasn't sure how much I would cry while reading it, it wasn't a book I wanted to read while sitting in a waiting room full of people.  Still I threw it into my bag, just in case.

It was there, while I was waiting for the nurse to tell me my Mom was out of surgery, that I began to read Zach's story from his Mother's view point.  I was actually thankful that I was in that waiting room, surrounded by so many unknown people, instead of in the safety of my home.  It kept me from breaking into tears and gave me the strength to read through the beginning of Zach's story.  I was immediately touched by Zach again and by the strength of his Mother as she shared the memory of her son before his Cancer took over his life.  He was only 14 and full of life when they began his journey.

All in all, it took me 3 nights to read through Zach's story.  I could have done it in less than a full day, had I had that time available but it was broken down into hours, as I could fit it in.  This book will live on my shelf for my lifetime because it has touched me so deeply.

I found Zach and his family around the time that Jackson was beginning to suffer with his seizures, long before we discovered his Breath Holding Spells, in the early I-don't-know-what's-going-on-with-my-baby days.  I like to think that God knew I needed Zach's story and his strength to get through that time in our life.  I needed to see his choice to Live even though his life was coming to an end.  I knew that if Zach could embrace his life, knowing his outcome, that we could embrace and live our life, regardless of Jack's disorder.

  Zach was the shining light for me in a deep tunnel of darkness.

I admit, it was very hard for me to even read Fly a Little Higher.  I cried when Zach passed away.  Cried for the pain his family felt, for the deep loss of this beautiful  young man who had given Love as his last gift to the world.  I cried for the loss of the light he brought for our life and the hope that I was afraid would end for me when he was gone.

I cried again this past May as Zach's birthday and the one year anniversary of his death passed but not for the same reasons.  As I watched the one year follow-up video of Zach's family from Soul Pancake, I realized just how much Zach still gives hope to others, even today.  And now through his Mother's sharing of his story in Fly a Little Higher, the world will know Zach again.  The Zach before Cancer struck and the Zach who grew in strength even as his body was overtaken by the disease, destruction and weakness that Cancer causes.

I felt relief in reading Zach's story, especially in the moment of his passing.  I often wondered how he had passed and how his family had said goodbye.  I know that had to be the hardest of all for them.

God answered Laura Sobiech's prayer that the loss of her son's life be meaningful and full, giving hope to others.  Zach's song Clouds is both mine and Jackson's favorite.  Jack calls it "Up, Up, Up" and simply loves to hear the soothing edge of Zach's voice singing to him.  I recently created a Youtube channel for Jackson containing all the videos I could find of Zach singing and Jackson has me play it non-stop.

I don't know what Zach's meaning and connection is for Jackson but I know it's been there from the first minute he heard Zach's voice in song.  Even as a small infant, Jack would stop and listen, finding peace in the harmony even for a moment.  Even today that peace is still found by him and it amazes me to watch my boy stop, with a calm that I can't very well explain.

If you've ever heard of Zach, then you'll definitely want to read Fly a Little Higher and even if you haven't still read the book.  I can promise you that it will change you - you will find beauty, peace, love and so much more through Laura's view of their many years of living life with Cancer and her beautiful gift: Zach.

Thank you Laura Sobiech for sharing Zach with the world and for allowing your wonderful son to reach out and touch so many lives, changing them for the better.  Jack and I will never forget what he has given us through the life he lived.

Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech is available for purchase in bookstores or through Thomas Nelson Publishing for $24.99.

You can see Zach's videos and learn more about his life at Zach Sobiech: Finding Peace Through Music.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Kinder Cottage Publishing: Peter Rabbit Series {Crew Review}

Who doesn't love the beautifully written childhood tales of Peter Rabbit?  As a child this series was one of my favorites.  I remember wanting to hear more and more about Peter and the other rabbits story as my Mother read them to me, and later I read them to myself.

Kinder Cottage Publishing has moderately redesigned and published the Peter Rabbit series to be shared with yet another generation of children.  For our review, we were gifted with two beautiful copies of the Kinder Cottage Publishing series: Peter Rabbit at the Farm and Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper.  I was able to choose our books from the series list.

Kinder Cottage Review

I chose Peter Rabbit at the Farm because of my children's love of Farm animals.  We already know Peter's tale by heart so I felt these new stories would continue that love we have of this dear rabbit and his mischievous ways.  I knew Peter Rabbit at the Farm would be a favorite for Laycie and Jackson for years to come.

Kinder Cottage Review

I also chose Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper because I tend to hunt out books that contain my children's names.  They enjoy hearing stories of children and animals that share their name and it builds an interest in them that is special and wonderful to watch blossom.  Right now, Jackson is not even two but I know as he grows up, Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper will be one of our favorites to read together.  After all, my own little Jack is quite the Jumper himself!

Both these books are just gorgeous.  As an avid collector of books for our home library (what homeschooler doesn't have a library??)  I tend to seek out books that are beautifully written and that contain equally gorgeous images illustrated inside.  These books fit that bill.

The books are small, for children's sweet hands.  They are also hardback, making it easier to hold and easy to wipe of the covers when those tiny hands have a bit of goo on them.  Inside, the pages are thick and not frail like many books today.  These books were designed to be used by children and it shows.  They will stand up to time and use for years to come thanks to this design.

The title page of the book is printed directly into the front covers so that children are not affected by the presence of the page as they are viewing the book.  As they read, they are able to dive directly into the words written on the pages, getting straight to the story, as many books in the past were designed for children as well.  This is something I really liked about the series, since my children are often distracted by the publishing page when trying to read their books at home.

The font used throughout the books is large.  It's made so that children can see it and so that they are able to focus on the words themselves.  This large font is great for reluctant readers because it makes it seem as though there are less words, making it less overwhelming for them to read and learn.  Plus it's easy to point out a word that isn't easily read or understood.  These are the types of books I have spent many years hunting out to use with my own struggling readers.

Each page in the books contains an accompanying color illustration.  These illustrations are gorgeously designed with simple lines and muted but beautiful coloring.  They  are not overwhelming and bright as many images used in books today are.  They do not stress the senses while viewing and reading but bring about a curiosity many books today miss completely.  This was another part of the book's design that I truly appreciated.

These books were very easy for all of my readers to use.  I enjoyed reading them to the kids.  My struggling reader found them interesting to read, which is rare for him and my avid reader loved reading them to her little sister and brother as well.  Even Laycie was able to read these books by simply telling me her version on the story through "reading" the picture illustrations throughout.  I truly love books that all my family enjoys.

The Peter Rabbit series from Kinder Cottage Publishing has deeply impressed me.  This is definitely one series and one company we will be looking to add more books from into our library at home.

Kinder Cottage Review

You can purchase Peter Rabbit at the Farm or Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper from Kinder Cottage Publishing.  Both books are $4 each.  There are many more books in the series that you can choose from.  The series does not need to be read in order in order to read.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Progeny Press: Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide {Crew Review}

For this Schoolhouse Review, we were given a PDF copy of Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide by Rebecca Gilleland, published by Progeny Press.  This guide is designed to go along with the novel Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It was given to us for free in exchange for our opinion of the product which is shared in this post.

Progeny Press Review
Little House in the Big Woods is a story written by Laura Ingalls Wilder to portray what life was like living as a child in the Frontier days.  This wonderful book has been read by many over the years and is a core part of many homeschoolers reading lists.  The entire series is a great asset to any homeschooling library.

Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide by Rebecca Gilleland is a wonderful addition to the book.  It helps to get students thinking about the information they are learning and to compare today to yesterday.  This brings Little House in the Big Woods to life.

Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide was designed for use with students in Grades 4-6, those in Upper Elementary school.  It is reproducible for students meaning Homeschooling families can print the guide over and over for each student within their homeschool classrooms.  This makes it able to be used again and again for students who may be learning at different levels.

Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide is a Literature Guide.  It is designed to be broken down over a period of 6-10 weeks depending on the speed of the readers using the guide.  Preferably students should first read the novel, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and then work through the study guide, rereading at their own pace.  Completion of at least one page of the study per day is expected to be done daily while using the study.

As with most materials we use, we did this one together.  The guide was simple enough to understand.  Progeny Press writes explicit informative guides for students and teachers to easily follow along.  The guides begin with an introduction to the materials and a section explaining their expected use and lesson guide.  This makes it easy to begin the study right away.

We read Little House in the Big Wood aloud together.  We briefly reviewed the information about Laura Ingalls Wilder which we had previously learned about through another Schoolhouse Review we completed last year.  This made it easy for us to move forward quickly in our study.

We also reviewed past lessons on Paul Bunyan who happens to be one of our favorite American Tales and a person of interest in our homeschooling since we have a long family history of Lumberjacks aka Loggers in our family.  Paul Bunyan is a household name around here!

This also lead to us reviewing our last field trip to Josh's work where we saw the equipment at work and discussed the many differences in past logging and logging today.  Living in a town that is centered around the International Paper Mill and has survived over many decades due to the logging industry, these lessons were easily added into our study.  In fact, much of our lessons with this guide were easily expanded upon because of our lifestyle at home.  Many of the words covered within this guide were ones we already know from other lessons we have completed or simply from life itself.

I'd say most of this guide was a review for us but much of it allowed us to take a longer look at the things that surround us.  Though we may not live where Laura lived, much of our home is like Laura's was back then and many of the things that affected Laura's life can be found right here daily in ours.  It was odd to see how much we have in common while seeing how much different our lives are from technology today as well.

This study guide is interactive, allowing completion right on the guide.  This made it easy to use the guide to talk together and answer the questions together as well.  I did print out the vocabulary sheets as review for our study.  We also looked up a lot of things online, learning some differences between today and yesterday within our study that were easier seen through videos and past photos.

The Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide is 56 pages in length from cover to cover.  It contains questions for each chapter of the novel, crosswords, word finds and other activities to make learning fun, vocabulary to fit the lessons, and many suggestions for games and other fun things to bring learning to life.  Each chapter of the guide is different from the previous one so that children do not bore with rote learning while completing the guide.

Little House in the Big Woods Study Guide is available to purchase from Progeny Press for $16.99 as an e-guide.  It is designed for grades 4-6.  The novel, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, must be purchased separately and is necessary to complete this guide.

Progeny Press Review
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Monday, June 2, 2014

E is for Epilepsy {Blogging through the Alphabet}

Ben and Me

I totally spaced last week and missed my D is for... post but I will go back and do that one soon.  We are now on letter E and for us it is and will always be

E is for Epilepsy!

If you are a follower of our blog, then you already know we have a multi-generational family who has Epilepsy.  I have had it since I was an infant and now three of my four babies have it as well.  It's a huge part of our daily lives and I use every post I can to help others understand how we live with it.

You see, starting out as a parent, I never thought I would be raising three beautiful children with this disorder as well.  My oldest child missed the Epilepsy boat and I am truly thankful as he is a huge help with his siblings.  When my oldest daughter came along, I thought "okay, she's got it and that's that".  Then came my baby girl and it was truly a surprise to me that she also developed this disorder.  It was something I never expected, thinking that only one child would have it.

Imagine my surprise when my last child began having seizures as well!  I'm thankful that by this point, I was aware that it was a possibility though I had hoped he'd also miss the Epilepsy boat like his older brother.  We just were not that lucky.

To be honest, I guess you can say our lives revolve around Epilepsy.  We are constantly on the watch for seizures.  We have to plan our days around my children's triggers - the girls often have seizures in the morning right after waking and the baby usually has his episodes at night.

When we aren't watching for seizures, we are sharing about them.  I tell everyone I know about Epilepsy.  I advocate the right way to help those who are having a seizure and share my knowledge as much as I can, both online and in real life.  That is the only way the stigmas of this disorder will change.

I enjoy telling others our story and I enjoy blogging about Epilepsy so that others can understand what our life is like through this blog.  To learn about us and about Epilepsy, all you have to do is look for our Epilepsy Awareness tab at the top of our page or simply search our blog using the side panel and the keyword: Epilepsy.  You will find tons of posts about our day to day journey with Epilepsy and I can promise you there will be many more to come!

Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...


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