Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Brinkman Adventures: Season 2 {Schoolhouse Review}

One of our long time favorites around the Lambert House are radio dramas.  We love how these fun little adventures come to life through something as simple as listening along to a CD.  We were not disappointed with The Brinkman Adventures.

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 pickup where Season 1 left off.  Now I must admit, I have never heard Season 1 so I don't know anything about what I'm missing on those wonderful CD's but I hear great things about it.  In fact, after hearing the great stories from Season 2, I am seriously thinking about investing in Season 1.

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 is a 4-disc set.  Each disc contains 3 separate episodes.  Each of those episodes are jam-packed full of excitement straight from the Brinkman's adventures.

The Brinkman's stories are based on real-life experiences.  Through The Brinkman Adventure's website you can read specifically about each of these real life adventures and learn how they each became part of this wonderful radio drama series.  Every episode, every experience shared on the CD's can be found on the website.

We used the website to help build upon the wonderful stories and lessons we learned by listening to this wonderful set of CD's.  Each of the Season's Episodes that are shared online tell the story behind the story on the respective CD and Episode.  Each episode is about something different but like a book, each episode flows into the one before bringing the Brinkman's story to life.

We learned so very much from each of these website links about the episodes which we listened to.  It was great to be able to relate the stories we were hearing about Gold, lost objects, places like Mexico to the real life adventures that this family had lived through.  The videos about the animals and places also helped my children to better understand the things they were hearing about on the CD's making such an impact on them educationally and mentally.  What they have learned through The Brinkman Adventures will stick with them for many years to come.

Each of The Brinkman Adventures episodes differ in length, but the entire CD collection contains over 5 hours of entertainment for your family to listen to.  These stories have been created to be listened to by children and adults of all ages, to share in the radio dramas together as a family and help encourage that strong family bond with enjoyable Christian content that leaves you wanting to hear more.

We really enjoyed listening to these CD's.  Each of my children found the stories and sounds intriguing to listen to.  Even Grandma enjoyed the funny antics and even the serious moments shared by the Brinkman's stories.  We each found different lessons from hearing how they helped others in so many exciting ways.

We received the physical CD's of The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13 - 24 for this review.  This 4 CD set for all ages, can be purchased for $25.  You can also purchase The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 as an MP3 album for $17, if you'd rather go that route.  Either way, you are going to love these stories just as much as our family has!

You can also find The Brinkman Adventures in the following place online:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brinkman-Adventures/152895116079

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Monday, April 28, 2014

A is for Apples {Blogging Through The Alphabet}

I've heard lots about Blogging Through The Alphabet from Marcy @ BenandMe.com and others who have joined in the past.  It sounded like a lot of fun and since I am often struggling to come up with my own ideas for blogging weekly, it sounded exactly like something I need to join in with.  Win, win, win!  So here goes...

Ben and Me

A is for Apples

Apples are pretty important in our house.  They are one of Laycie's absolute favorite things.  She loves to eat them but even more, she loves to collect different collectible apples.

We have glass apples, apple signs, apple drawings and more.   At one point the kitchen curtains were even red to match her beautiful apples which I have managed to contain mostly in our kitchen.  She sure loves those apples!

When Laycie was first learning to talk, she struggled with saying the word "apple".  She would say "Bapple" instead.  Completely adorable!  I found it so adorable that I actually called my first iPhone Bapple for my Laycie-Lou.  She loved that!

Sadly, I admit that her love of Apples has also encouraged me to buy iPhones and iPads, silly as that is.  I love to see the smile on her face from each apple she finds, even the little silver one on the back of my phone.  I'd do anything to see her precious smile.

Are their things in your home that you find yourself collecting because of your children?  Do your rooms reflect their loves as well as their own?  Share with me if you wish.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." 
-- Martin Luther

Saturday, April 26, 2014

End of April Family Update: Long Week {Thoughts From Me}

It's been a very long week for us.  So much is going on right now that I can personally barely keep up and yet I have no other choice than to keep going.  Life is at it's busiest for our family.

My Sister called and needed Mom to come help with my niece which left me alone with the kids for the week since everyone else had things to do.

It is not easy for sure and I am exhausted.  I am not used to parenting all alone.  Mom came home today and boy am I so thankful!

Jackson did great all week without his favorite person: Grandma.  He was a happy and sweet boy who kept us on our toes as he always does.  He didn't seem to miss her not being home to sleep with him as he's used to and he enjoyed his time tucked next to Mommy.  Laycie on the other hand was ready for Grandma to get back so "that baby" could get out of her spot in Mommy's bed.  She is currently curled up beside me resting happily in her place that was filled all week by her baby brother.

I am thankful the week was uneventful and seizure-free.  I made sure meds were kept up, though somehow we did miss Laycie's nighttime dose last night, leaving her clingy and whiny today.  I also made sure our essential oils were rolled on twice a day between meds which also really helped us get through the week without a seizure rearing it's ugly head.  Yay for the small, yet oh so big things!!!

So let me just say that I am beyond thankful this week is done with.  Please say some prayers for our family as their are many adults who are having health issues and upcoming surgeries going on who could use them.  And pray for my sanity during this trying time because it's surely going to be needed. LOL

Thank you all.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CTC Math {Crew Review}

Can I just start this review by saying how much I really love CTC Math's 12 Month Family Plan?  When I first log onto the program several weeks ago, I thought it was just going to be like any other Math program online.  I admit, I was wrong.  This program is absolutely wonderful and it works well for our family.

CTC Math is an online Math tutor.  This program covers Math from Kindergarten all the way to Calculus and between.  It doesn't teach your student Math but builds on what your child already knows with easy to follow lessons.  Designed to be used with students of every age and grade level, it truly tutors the child in learning Math.

Parent Login Area:
In the Parent Login, I was able to set up accounts for up to five children on the 12 month Family Plan which we were given access to for this review.  I simply inputted my child's name in the Add Student area, created log-in information for each child and chose a passing grade for them.  I don't normally use grades so that was a bit different for me to do for them, and I choose to leave it at 90 as passing since that's what I recall using in Public School as a student.

In the Parent Login, I can view my students and see how many levels they have completed, as well as the rating for each level completed.  I can also print a summary or a detailed report for completed lessons for each student.  This is nice so that I can print and add it into their portfolio.  I can also see what areas they need to study and focus on learning.

Each week, through my email, I receive a progress report telling me how each student is doing.  I can print these as well and see what areas need more focus or need repeating.  When my children complete different areas, I can print awards and certificates for them straight from the program.  My kids really enjoy things like that.

Last on the Parent Login is a side panel that shows my students recent activities.  It tells me when they log-in and what they do while there.  This is a great way to make sure they are really doing their work and not just playing around.

Student Login Area:
Through the Parent Login, I was able to set specific logins up for my children to be able to use CTC Math.  When students come to the CTC Math page, there is a option to log in at the top of the page.  Once they click on this login area, a box pops up where they can enter their information and begin using the program.

Students or their parents and teachers can then choose a level appropriate for them.  For my children, I chose to use this program as a math review and tutoring program to begin with.  I allowed them to start from the Kindergarten level to see what concepts they really know and which they need to work on.  Each level of the program has a basic placement test to show knowledge of what the student is learning.  If the student passes this level then we knew we could move on and move forward.  Each lesson covers a different concept.

If a student needs instruction for that level, they can click on the separate lessons of the program.  These are short videos showing what's being learned.  The student listens and follows along, following instruction as needed.  The next step is to answer questions about what the student has heard and learned in the video instruction.  These are much like the placement tests.

Both questions and tests are easy to complete.  There are online selections to choose from or answer boxes in which to type in the correct answer in number or written form.  Some questions have multiple choice answers to choose.  Some questions require students to click on in order to color the objects they are learning with.  The program varies throughout and by level being learned.  As expected upper levels will be harder than lower levels.

I allowed my students to work on this program for as long as they liked, which happened to be much longer than I would have actually have required.  I did not specify what they had to do or what level.  I simply started them at the lowest level and allowed them to complete the tests, then I'd mix it up by choosing another level and concept to see how much they knew.  This worked fairly well for us.

How We Really Liked It:
I did personally find some of the instructional videos to be a bit boring and basic. I didn't find them exciting to learn from but I did feel they cover the important details and lessons needed.  My children thought the same thing as I did about the videos.

The questions were a bit more fun and the kids really enjoyed those because they were quickly and easily answered without requiring a lot of writing off the computer.  The kids enjoyed the colors used through the program and the characters for the lower grade level learning.  The fact that this program allows them to work are various levels and "test" themselves beforehand was something they enjoyed as well, which surprised me since I stay away from that type of thing in our learning normally.  I found I also enjoyed being able to see what they really know so easily by them completing such a simple test.

So overall, I found that what I initially thought was just a normal everyday online math program has more than impressed me and my children with the lessons and ease of use.  This is a program we will be continuing to use while we have the subscription and if we continue to enjoy it as we have been the past few weeks, then we may even subscribe again.  I recommend the program to students of all levels in public, private and homeschooling.

The price of CTC Math is currently discounted for Homeschoolers at 60% off the regular price.  I do not know how long this sale will last so if you are interested, my suggestion would be to purchase now.  A membership can be purchased for a single user or for a family plan of 2 or more students.

The Single Plan is $11.99 a month or $50.80 for 6 months or $78.80 for a year of the program.
The Family Plan is $15.97 a month or $78.80 for 6 months or $118.80 for 2 or more students for 12 months of the program.

You can also find CTC Math in the following places online:

Facebook CTC Math - https://www.facebook.com/ctcmath?ref=hl 
Facebook Aus (Maths Online)  - https://www.facebook.com/mathsonline.com.au?ref=hl 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter, Y'all! {Thoughts From Me}

We had a wonderful Easter weekend and we hope that you all did as well.  We weren't sure how it was going to turn out since the entire weekend forecast showed that rain was coming.  Sure enough it rained off and on from Friday night until Sunday afternoon.

The rain didn't stop us though.  Friday night I finished up shopping for the Easter baskets, gathering some last minute fun for the younger kids. I also found a cute Easter dress for Emma which she then transformed into her own clothing style.

Saturday, I spent lazying around until late when I put together the Easter baskets.  There's just something about playing that "Bunny" that I love!  And the kids love it too!

We had a last minute invite to an adult birthday party for a friend on Saturday.  I quickly threw together a cute little banner for her which we hung on the wall where we had the party.  She loved it and we loved celebrating with her.

Sunday morning came with a lighter rain.  The kids actually let us sleep in before grabbing their baskets to open.  They found a lot of excitement in those wicker baskets which always makes me happy as well.  Lots of candy they love, and some special trinkets like a stuffed My Little Pony and a Littlest Pet Shop toy for the girls.  There were Star Wars bunny's for the boys.  Jackson got a mini-golf set and there were toy water guns for a little summer fun.  The kids were thrilled and so are we with their happiness.

Sunday afternoon was spent in Belle Isle, where we had dinner consisting of Ham, Deviled Eggs, Broccoli, Rice, Biscuits and so much more.  It was delicious!

Then we had our annual Egg Hunt.  Over 300 eggs were hidden for the kids to find, all stuffed with candy.  They found every one and then divided up the goods, making trades for candy they liked better and sharing with the little ones who didn't get as many eggs are the older kids.

So as you can tell, we all had a very Happy Easter and we hope you did as well!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Curiosity Quest: DVD Combo Pack {Crew Review}

If you are looking for a great new video to use for Science in your homeschooling,  or if your children are simply interested in learning Science through television, look no further than Curiosity Quest.  These wonderful videos are jam-packed full with information, teaching kids through a short video at home.  My entire family loved these videos and have watched them repeatedly since we first received these videos a few weeks ago.

Joel Greene takes us on an adventure of it's own through each video.  The videos are DVD Combo Pack- Produce and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea.  He takes you through every step of the process, discussing unusual details and digging for information so you gain a thorough understanding of what you are learning about.  The best thing is these videos are fun and  encouraging to watch, leaving you wanting to see more.  

Throughout the videos there are questions asked and answered that also help to build the understanding of what you are learning about.  These questions are directed to children just like yours who give their best guesses and are followed with the correct answer so that children really get the answer to the question given.  This makes kids laugh and leaves them with the fact stuck in their heads so they retain the information.  What a fun way to learn!

There are also Fun Facts shared by children throughout the videos.  These Fun Facts are a quick piece of information shared.  Since this comes from a kid to a kid, it also allows children to better retain the information so they learn.  Just another great part of the videos.

As I mentioned above, my entire family LOVED these videos, from Grandma to my one year old.  My 11 year old learned so much from them that she never knew before viewing the videos.  She wasn't able to decide which video she liked best.

We received two Curiosity Quest videos.  DVD Combo Pack - Produce was about Cranberries, Mushrooms and Oranges, while the other video, DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea was about Salmon, Sea Turtles and Penguins. Both videos shared the same format for learning as I mentioned previously.

We learned that Mushrooms are a fungus.  The first step in growing them is hay, which is broken down to become soil by adding water and other ingredients to help make it rich for the mushrooms to grow.  Through this video we were able to see how large mushrooms grow and what they are used for.

In the next video we learned about Cranberries and were able to see fresh Cranberries harvested.  Cranberries are not grown in water as most people think.  They are grown dry and grow on vines, much like grapes but on the ground.  They are buoyant so water is added at harvest to help boost the cranberries from the ground making them easier for the harvester to pick.  They are perennials so they regrow year after year if they are well cared for.

Last we learned about Oranges on this particular video.  Oranges bruise easily causing rot to form.  People are used to pick oranges because machines are much more brutal causing the fruit to bruise, leading to the breakdown of the fruit.  Orange flowers are also used for making orange honey.  Bee keepers pay the orange farm to bring their bees so they can make this sweet treat.  Oranges are inspected under black lights so that bruising and rot shows up easily.  These bad fruits are then separated to be used for making penicillin and other medicinal forms.

This information is from only one of the two videos that we received for review.  We learned just as much from Salmon, Sea Turtles and Penguins.  Did you know that Sea Turtles have never evolved, remaining the same for millions of years?  Or that Florida has three sides of beaches, making it a great place to have Sea Animal rescues?  Sea Turtles can live with only one flipper.  Never use stainless steel hooks because they can get stuck in a sea animal and remain there for years to come.

Both these videos are amazing.  You can see for yourself by purchasing them from Curiosity Quest.  Each video is available for $24.95 each.  They are for ages 7-14.  They are well-worth the cost.

You can find Curiosity Quest in the following places online:

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Live Life Happy {Thoughts From Me}

Some nights I come to write and there's just nothing to say.  I don't know where to start or where to go so I just type.  I admit, I'm not good at choosing topics to share about.

Our lives are pretty predictable.  We get up, the babies have their meds, the kids have breakfast.  Then we do school, we watch videos, we discuss things that interest us.  Then it's lunch and sometimes it's school in the afternoon, sometimes it's play time outside if the weather is great.  Then comes dinner, bathtime and bedtime.  Wash, rinse, repeat every day.

Weekends bring a routine of their own as well.  Around the house leads to the kids helping as much as they can so they learn important skills like changing tires, brakes, and oil.  In the Summer, they help cut grass and clean up the yard.

This is our life.  Boring as it is, I wouldn't change it for anything.  People often ask me how I can stand having the kids around all the time.  I honestly don't know any difference.  They're always here, I'm always here and to me, that's exactly how it's supposed to be.  To them, that's how it should be as well.

I've asked them multiple times if they'd rather go to Public school and they constantly assure me they wouldn't.  The older two went for a while and wanted to be home so home they came again.  The younger two have never been to Public school and if I have my way, they never will.

Life is what you make of it.  How you live is your choice.  Negative or positive, it's all a decision you make daily.  I choose to be as positive as I can be.  I choose to find the good in life as much as possible and I choose to teach this to my children.  They appreciate that and I pray they will pass it forward as they grow up.

Each day is a gift to live and a blessing unlike any other.  Live, laugh, love and be happy every day!

Lulu's Cafe - T.I. Lowe {A Review}

It's very rare that I write a review on a book that I wasn't asked to review but this one has called to me from the minute I heard it mentioned by a dear friend.  Lulu's Cafe was written by T.I. Lowe, a home-town girl, who grew up in the same places as me.  The small-town gossip about her amazingly written book left me wanting to read it for myself and I was definitely not disappointed.

T.I. Lowe and I have walked the same streets over time, the same well-beaten paths of beauty by the river and the beautiful Atlantic Coast that make up our coastal SC home.  I knew every true, picturesque place she described in the made up town of Rivertown, SC.  Much as Rivertown became "Home" to Leah Allen, the main character in Lulu's Cafe, Rivertown is indeed "Home" to me.

Leah's life was not always sweet southern peaches and cream.  She'd been through Hell in her lifetime - a Hell that few of us can even begin to imagine.  Growing up as an orphan was only the faint beginning of this life she led.

To everyone else, it seemed Leah, who was then known as Gabriella Sadler, lead a dream life.  She was the wife of the handsome Brent Sadler who gave her everything she could ever want.  If only the world would take a closer look, they'd see that Gabby's life was not all roses and champagne.  Only a few cared to look for the truth and those few couldn't help Gabby.

There comes a time when the abuse becomes too much and you fight back.  I know because I have been there and though I wasn't nearly as badly abused as sweet Gabby was, it wasn't easy just to walk away.  Still Gabby managed to break free and she started on a path to begin her life again.  She headed South.

In the South, Gabby began to grow and blossom, thanks to the great support she found in Lulu and others in Rivertown.  She was known as Leah now, her name all along.  She hid her past but began to look forward to her future.  Lulu's Cafe helped Leah find who she really is and that fine piece of man, Crowley Mason also played a hand in that.

Coastal South Carolina leaves with you a lasting impression.  The sweet little towns, the southern sass, the smell of wetlands and marsh grass are incomparable.  I personally couldn't imagine a better life than here and Lulu's Cafe, T.I. Lowe's debut novel, brings forth every bit of that beauty through Leah's story.  T.I. Lowe provides an experience you won't soon forget and a connection to a place time has not changed.  I truly look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

You can purchase Lulu's Cafe through T.I. Lowe's personal website at www.tilowe.com.  It's available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99 or in Paperback for $15.  This is one book you'll want to read!

*Disclaimer - I was not asked to write this review.  It is of my own personal opinion.  I received no items in exchange for this review and I purchased the eBook version of this book on my own with no monetary reimbursement.  I am including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC guidelines and regulations.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Becomes Six: Happy Birthday to my Laycie Bug, the Kid {Thoughts From Me}

Tonight I put my five year old to bed.  Tomorrow when she wakes she will be six.  It doesn't seem possible and yet it is.

Laycie Elizabeth has brought so much joy to our lives.  Her sister, my Emmalee, dubbed her our Angel on the day she was born and she has truly been just that to us all.  She brings happiness and joy to our days that was unimaginable before she was born.

I could never have imagined being a Momma to four beautiful children.  I never expected to find so much happiness in my life as they bring me.  I am blessed and I am thankful every day for the love I receive from each of them.

This weekend we are having a Grand Birthday Bash and Oyster Roast.  It's Laycie's birthday party and a raincheck party for our older kids who didn't get to have a party because of all the cold weather we had this past Winter.  Spring has finally shown her beautiful self and we will be taking full advantage!

I'm not sure what our weekend will bring, except that it will bring together so many that we love.  It will bring our eight beautiful children home together (I hope).  It will bring our friends here to celebrate and enjoy each other once again, both new and old friends.

It is a celebration for me, their Momma, who loves them dearly and could not imagine this great Earth without them, even though I never imagined I'd have been blessed by the eight of them.  My loves, my heart carried in eight separate pieces outside my chest, these beautiful children who make me whole.  This weekend will be wonderful and I look forward to enjoying every moment of it along with them.

So Happy Birthday to my Laycie Bug, the Kid and Happy Belated Birthday to my Win and Emma. Here's to many more years together, growing and loving each other forever.  God bless you for the love you give me.  I am thankful every single day.

Supercharged Science {Crew Review}

We have been huge fans of Aurora Lipper at Supercharged Science for quite some time now.  We were introduced to Aurora several years ago through various homeschool resources.  Supercharged Science came highly recommended to us in the early days of our homeschooling adventures.

I was very excited when this review became available because I knew that the kids would LOVE using Supercharged Science again in our homeschooling.  I took this knowledge and immediately signed up to join in on this review.  I was so excited when we were chosen to work on it.  We were gifted with a 6 month subscription to Supercharged Science's e-Science Premium Membership.

Supercharged Science is a wonderful science education program created by Aurora Lipper, as I mentioned above.  Aurora's love of Science truly shows through in her work and her creativity in this program.  Designed for all ages, there are different levels of this program to be used for different ages.  There is the K-8th grade program for younger students and the 9-12th grade program for those High School aged students.  Both programs provide a full curriculum to learn from for the year.

The thing we love about Supercharged Science is that it's online and Aurora does the teaching with minimal experience and participation on my (the parent/teacher's) part.  That's right, I can log into the website, sit the kids down and let them work through this program without much thought or help from me.

Supercharged Science provides wonderfully thorough videos for students to use during their lessons.  These videos cover what the student needs to learn right on the computer screen.  There are also lists that I can easily print out and carry with me to the store to purchase the necessities for any experiments that need completed.  This makes it super easy for me to get what's needed then allow the kids to work through the chosen experiment at home.

I don't want you to think that because Supercharged Science is such an easy to use program that it isn't thorough.  Aurora Lipper is a Rocket Scientist who believes in teaching all about what she loves: Science.  She provides fun, thoroughly thought out lessons much better than I ever could myself.  She has put a lot of time into her website to provide children with a Science education that rivals no other.  Her enjoyment really shines through in every part of Supercharged Science!

Depending on the program that you choose, you will be able to choose a level that fits your students.  Each level is different and you can choose by grade level or topic what you wish to teach at that time.  For us, it's better to learn by topic.

Each unit begins with a Getting Started section.  This tells what we will be learning in the Unit.  This is followed by the unit download which contains information necessary for completing the unit.  There is also an available shopping list to help us prepare ahead of time.  Then you dive into the unit and work from there.  Most of this was completed by my children on their own but only because we were already familiar with Supercharged Science.

Supercharged Science covers topics like Mechanics, Matter, Sound, Light, Magnetism and much more.  Each unit teaches the specifics of the topic in a way children can easily understand.  There are also bonuses sharing great Science Projects and lessons with Math.

Supercharged Science is available for a monthly fee of $57.  This gives you access to full K-12 level plan.  You can gain access to the K-8 grade plan for only $37 a month if you choose.

You can view samples of Supercharged Science here: Supercharged Science Samples

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Victus Study Skills System {Crew Review}

Alright,  I have to admit that I chose this review more for myself than for anyone else in our home.  Though I learned a lot about studying in my school years and organization, I needed the reminder of how to do these things and how to teach my children about them.  Victus Study Skills System has served as a great reminder along with being a great educational tool for our family.

This study system only takes 5 hours to complete.  It's designed to be completed quickly but to give a thorough understanding of how to study and how to plan your studying to best benefit yourself.  Victus Study Skills System can be used by anyone at any age but is particularly designed to be taught to middle and high school ages students or in grades 5 through 12.

With the program you receive a Teacher's Edition workbook of the program and a Student Workbook.  Each is written clearly and simply.  Lessons are short but thorough.  I love the fun drawings that encourage learning.  They are a wonderful extra to keep the program interesting.

 The program contains 10 lessons.  It's expected that each lesson should take half an hour for a high school student to complete.  Students can complete two lessons a day for a week, one lesson a day for two weeks or be adapted as you and your student sees fit.  As I mentioned above, the entire program takes 5 hours to complete so working through this program should not be a problem for any student at any age.

I chose to use Victus Study Skills System for myself and with my daughter who just turned 11.  The instructions and lessons were easy enough to complete.  They are designed to help students learn to how to prepare for studying, how to study during a lesson, how to set goals and how to stay on track in order to learn.

I found this program to be a great reminder for me in Homeschool planning.  Following the guidance of this program, I was able to set goals for each of my children, allowing Emmalee to help me in planning her goals as we worked through this together.  I was then able to break these goals down to manageable portions in order to better organize our learning.  We were able to set goals seasonally, and for future plans.  We were able to set a manageable time frame in order to get our goals completed so we are not just working towards nothing rewarding.

The best part of this program for me and Emmalee both was that we learned how to better organize our plans and our necessary materials so that we could easily complete our goals.  We chose a place to study that fit each of us and learned to focus our minds to prepare for this period.  This allowed us to make the most of our learning.

Another helpful part of the program suggested keeping a planner to use for organizing ourselves.  The planner helps by allowing you to make a list of things you need for studying, where you stop and start with your lessons and so much more.  Planners are a great tool to be used.

I could go on and on about the things we learned through the Victus Study Skills System.  It is one of the best study skills programs I've seen in a long time.  It's not hard to learn from or complete and doesn't take a lot of time but the impact of the lessons stick with you for a long time after.

Victus Study Skills System is available for purchase through the website.  The Teacher's Edition is $40 and the Student Workbook is $20.  There is a classroom video available for an additional $30 and a Student DIY Workbook available for $25.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our Journey To Using Essential Oils {Epilepsy Awareness}

Some of you do and don't know that I've been researching Essential Oils for the past few months.  I've known of Essential Oils for quite a while now but at first I was extremely skeptical of them.  I mean these oils are created from the leaves of many plants, making them extremely potent and to my mind potent is equal to DANGER.  It's enough for us to have to deal with taking processed drugs daily to control our Epilepsy, but adding in another element to control this was just crazy to me.

Then someone spoke up and asked me about using Essential Oils to treat Jackson's uncontrolled seizures.  They spoke with me about how these oils have helped their own family, through sickness and to stay well.  I was intrigued but I still wasn't sold on the matter.  I struck out on my own to learn more.

The first company to come my way was Young Living Essential Oils.  Information from this company is all over the place.  People promote it daily.  I was impressed but I was very overwhelmed by the push to sale this product (not from the original person I spoke with but others who were also helpful on my journey to learning about Essential Oils).  I spoke with many, many representatives from Young Living, Inc and I was sold on the product but my guilty Mom conscience could not get past the start up cost.  The kit you purchase is a wonderful deal at $150 and I still consider going that route if I ever have enough money to do so but for us, that just wasn't a feasible sum of money to place onto something that may or may not be beneficial to our family.

I began seeking a way to make Essential Oils affordable to my family.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am an extremely frugal person and that I won't spend anything more than I must to provide for my family, making every cent I can count.  If you know me, then you also know I follow my heart which I feel is strongly connected to God and often shows me the way to the things He wishes for my family.  He never fails me and He surely has not on this either.

I began looking at alternative companies.  I thoroughly Googled Essential Oils and their companies.  I read the fine lines of others who were talking about these oils.  I questioned friends about who they used, read through the replies on their Facebook statuses about this same topic I was learning about.  I found several companies that sold Essential Oils that may fit my budget.

My next step was narrowing down my choices.  There are so many Essential Oil companies available to choose from that it's hard to know who's good, who's bad and who's just so-so.  I chose two that interested me most and I went back and forth on their websites.  Then I prayed about my choices and went to bed.

The next day, one company stood out in my head: Plant Therapy.  This relatively new company with it's super low prices scared me at first.  I was unsure.  I had the company in my head and heart but I wasn't sure if they were right for our family.  What if there oils were not as good as Young Living?  What a waste that would be!

I needed answers so I messaged Plant Therapy with questions I had about using oils on my babies, in treatment for their Epilepsy.  Their customer service was amazing!  I received a return email within a few hours and the email wasn't selling me their product, but asking me more about what I was looking for with our treatment.  The customer service rep spoke with me and then went to find the answers I needed through the rest of Plant Therapy's amazing staff.  She went beyond her job to provide help that I needed in my pursuit of this.

As we spoke back and forth through email, I saw "signs" of this company being right for us.  My dear friend, who also helped me create a list of Essential Oils to avoid in Epilepsy, had allowed her name to be used as a reference of approval on one of the blog posts created for Plant Therapy.  I've known this person for a long while and have watched her journey with natural treatments and aromatherapy for quite a while now.  I trust her opinion and the fact she supports this company was a relief to me.

Even through all of this though, I was still nervous about trying out these oils.  What if something went wrong?  What if it did more damage than good?  Still after all my reading it was worth the chance to stop these seizures my sweet boy can't stop.

As I was emailing and reading on Plant Therapy's website, I noticed a "deal" they have.  If you sign up for their newsletter, you get $10 off your order if you order within 24 hours.  Since they have free shipping and the product I wanted was only $6.99 for a Frankincense Oil Roll-on just to try out, I was getting my product for free!  I did add in some peppermint and some lavender oils to try, as well as a roll-on of their wonderful Calming The Child Synergy oil to try out.  My cost was around $25 for all of it once the $10 discount was applied.  This more than fit our budget!

It took less than a week for my order to arrive.  I immediately began using the Frankincense oil on Jackson and we've had great results.  Although it's not controlling his seizures 100% (he's still on his Phenobarbital for treating his Epilepsy as well), it has helped to significantly decrease his seizures from 10 minutes long to less than a minute in length.  It's also helped to stop his seizures while he is in a Generalized Tonic Clonic.  I'm very happy with the results.

I'm also thrilled with our other oils.  The Calming the Child Synergy helps calm Jackson down when he's fussy.  It soothing and smells great.  Laycie also enjoys that oil when she's feeling wound up and just needs to relax.

I mix our lavender and our peppermint oils with coconut oil as a carrier and properly diluted some so that I would have it on hand daily.  I use them on all kinds of things and sometimes use a mixture for back and muscle pain.  I use the lavender to treat cuts, burns, acne, diaper rash and more.  Even my friends love the mixtures I have made!

I'm still learning about using Essential Oils but I have to say choosing Plant Therapy for our oils was the best decision I have made so far.  They fit our budget and allow me room to experiment without feeling like I've wasted a ton of money on products.  I like knowing I can message them any time and get accurate answers, information and don't have to talk to several different people to do that.  Plant Therapy leaves me with that small-town, personal feel.

My journey into oils has also lead me to start a Facebook group for Epilepsy families called Epilepsy and Essential Oils/Natural Treatments.  This group is open to all parents, patients and caregivers of those who have Epilepsy and are looking for alternative treatments for their family.  It is not brand oriented, but instead supports the choice of using oils regardless of brand and the safe use of oils with your family.  I inspire to help others who are lost on this journey as I was when I first began researching this topic.

I hope our experience with Essential Oils will be beneficial to someone else and help them find their way to better health for their loved one as it has us.  I will continue to blog about our treatment and experiences as we learn and grow on this journey.

~ Dana

*Disclaimer - this blog post is my own opinion.  I have not been gifted any product by either of these companies with the exception of a Peppermint sample from Young Living, Inc. for personal and not for review use.  All oils have been purchased out of my own pocket and used personally by me and my family without payment or reimbursement from either company mentioned above.  I do not work for either company and therefore do not gain anything by writing this blog post or including links there-in.  I'm including this disclaimer in accordance to FTC guidelines.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A {Crew Review}

We are always excited to try new things when it comes to homeschooling.  Our homeschooling style is eclectic which makes it very easy to add in new programs at any point in our schooling.  Spelling You See has been a great addition to our daily lessons at home.

Spelling You See was created by the brilliant people who also created Math-U-See.  I have heard many, many great things about Math You See over the years but never had to opportunity to use their program.  That word of mouth advertising though, is the main reason that I jumped to apply for this review of Spelling You See and I have not been disappointed.

I was able to choose from any of the five levels of Spelling You See to review with our family.  The level that fit best was Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A.  This level is for children who are just beginning to learn about writing and develop important skills like writing letters.  I chose it for Laycie who will be turning six in April.  I think this level could be used for children in the 4-6 age range, those who are able to recognize letters but are learning their sounds and shapes still.  Laycie fits this stage of writing.  She knows her basic skills but is learning to write them all.

Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A contains 36 lessons.  Each of these lessons are divided into 5 separate parts of A-E levels.  Since this is for younger children, these lessons should take no longer than 10 minutes daily.  Some of our lessons took less time and some took  more time depending mostly on Laycie's interest for the day and her skill at writing that particular letter.

Our Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A lessons came as a printable PDF file for review purpose only.   As I mentioned above, I chose this level to use with Laycie since she is currently learning to read and write her letters along with simple words.  It's worked great for us.

Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A came with a printable Guide to Handwriting sheet that shows letter formation.  This was great for me to be able to view at a quick glance as I worked with Laycie.  I printed a copy for myself and a copy for Laycie to practice writing on.  So it could be reused, I quickly ran Laycie's copy through the laminator.  This allowed her to practice her letter formation with the guide over and over again, which helped her see how the letter formations related to each other and also allowed her to be able to write the letters that she wanted to write at the time.  Since I received this product as a PDF set for review, I am unsure if the Guide for Handwriting comes laminated or not when purchased.

We also received a the Listen and Write Instructor's Handbook with our Spelling You See program.  This 48-page handbook covers everything you need to know to "teach" the Spelling You See program to your child.  Since this handbook is only 48-pages in length it can easily be used without the educator becoming overwhelmed.

The Listen and Write Instructor's Handbook begins with an Introduction to the Spelling You See program following the Table of Contents.  In this section, you learn about the ideas behind Spelling You See. It also covers the Five Developmental Stages of Spelling from Preliterate up to Derivational Constancy.  Curriculum Sequence and Placement is also covered in this section and on the website as well to help you choose the best fit for your child's educational level.

The next section is Getting Started.  This section tells you exactly what your student will be covering in this level of the program.  An explanation of how the Daily Worksheets will be used is covered in Getting Started.  The Writing Skills covered in this particular lesson level are covered next, followed by the which important concepts are also covered within this lesson level of the Spelling You See program.

In Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A covers the vowels of A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y and W.  It teaches that every word has at least one vowel.  It teaches all the consonants and that every letter that is not a vowel is a consonant. 

The first three lessons of Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A cover Letter Formation beginning skills and recognizing consonant sounds.  The fourth lesson begins teaching your student dictation skills and each subsequent lesson continues building upon these skills, along with introducing other important spelling skills.  Lesson 7 teaches the child to read the word back to the teacher which helps strengthen the student's reading skills.

In the back of the Listen and Write Instructor's Handbook, there are lists of resources for dictation instruction.  There is a Daily Dictation List to choose from or a General Dictation List, depending upon what the lesson being used calls for.  These lists contain simple words that are easily learned by children.

There is also a mini-glossary in the back of the Listen and Write Instructor's Handbook to explain basic Spelling terms and their purpose for Spelling You See.  Following this is a Bibliography of the resources used to create the Spelling You See program.

Last but not least, we received Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A Student Workbook.  This workbook begins with a short explanation of how to use the workbook.  Following this section, the workbook jumps directly into the student's worksheets.

Each worksheet in this workbook begins with a page number and the focus of the worksheet.  Next is a short checklist of important steps for the student to follow such as using the correct pencil grip, following the handwriting guide, using lowercase style lettering, and speaking the sound as it's being written.

The next part on the page is the instruction line which tells the child what to do.  The letters which are to be traced follow this section and the child will need to view the Handwriting Guide to learn the correct letter formation or be accompanied by an adult to ensure the correct formation for writing the letter.

 Following this is another set of instructions to listen to words and then write them.  These instructions are followed by two lines of boxes.  The first line contains the full words in the box written in gray so children can trace the words.  The second set of boxes contain two blank boxes and one letter box so that children can learn to write the words for themselves.

This pattern continues until all the letters of the alphabet are covered in lesson 7.  During lesson 8 children begin to do letter and word review, using mostly dictation to complete the lessons.  By the end of Spelling You See: Learn and Write - Level A children will be able to read and write simple 5 letter words.

We've been working through this program for a few weeks now and Laycie loves it.  She's learned so much about her letters, writing and reading through it.  We don't rush the lessons and she works through as she wishes to, working a little daily.  A few days we've repeated lessons because she wasn't as interested the day before.  The lessons are so simple that sometimes we do them on the weekends.

This program has been great with the older kids too.  I've surprised them with reviews of simple three, four and five letter words while we've been reviewing this product.  They also enjoy the design of the worksheets, as does Laycie, even though they are each at different levels.  It works for each of them and I believe this program will be great for Jackson when the time comes as well.  He's still a bit young for it though.  I'm currently looking into upper levels of the program for the older kids to use.

Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A is available for purchase only in print.  Though my review product was PDF, it is not an option for purchasing the program at this time.

Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A costs $20 for the Student Pack.  This pack includes the student workbook, a sticker packet for use with the program, and the Guide for Handwriting.  The Spelling You See: Listen and Write - Level A Instructor's Handbook is available for an additional $14.  This handbook explains how to correctly use the program as I mentioned in my review above.

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