Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!

This year Christmas has been a little difficult. My aunt has been sick for quite some time and we are getting to the end of her illness now :( My husband and I went to see her early last week and I'm SO thankful we did because that was the last time I was able to talk to her and hear her voice :( She is an amazing lady. She has fought and dealt with more in her life than anyone I have EVER known.  She is smart, funny, quirky and I just loved her to death! I've struggled to get into the spirit the last few weeks due to focusing my thoughts on sadness. Today I had a talk with myself and reminded myself that Christmas has always been her favorite holiday of the year. She decorated her entire house, even the bathroom! (LOL) She is currently in a coma, but today I tried to think about all the years she's lived and all the years of Christmas that she has enjoyed.  Today was a little different than previous years, but after telling myself that I needed to enjoy today FOR HER it was better than I had anticipated.  Sadly there won't be any more Christmas celebrations with my aunt or anymore times of laughter listening to her stories. Even though I know the sadness is going to get worse I'm choosing to TRY and focus on how she lived life. She lived in pain every day of her life, but 99.9% of the time you wouldn't have known it. Hopefully we have all gotten enough of her spirit to help us through these difficult times that are coming. I love my Aunt Mary Lou with all my heart! The time I spent with my husband and children today is special and I'm celebrating those good times because I know she would want me to.  

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: Magic Stix Washable Markers

The kids and I have always loved doing craft projects together. One of the biggest issues we seem to have always faced is to grab the marker box to start a project and find several dried out markers. Usually the youngest child at the time has left the lids off and now we don't have all the colors we need or want for our project :( I was recently offered a product to try free, for my honest review that claims on the package they won't try out for 7 days with the cap off. My first thought was I really couldn't imagine because we've dealt with this dry marker issue for years. Our Magic Stix 12 pack arrived and the first thing I thought was how to check this 7 day guarantee! I let my youngest son pick the color he wanted to use and then I wrote my name on paper. My plan was to write the same name and date each day for 7 days and see how the marker held up. I ended up a little distracted with a badly sprained foot, but was surprised when after 2 days I checked it the writing was still great. The marker wrote just as brightly colored, smooth and flowing as it had on day one. That sold it for me! I'm always looking for a cheap price for markers and will never buy anything that isn't washable. Even though these markers are priced higher than what I'd normally pay the fact that they don't dry out is a HUGE selling point! I think anyone with children would love these knowing that they are safe from drying out if left our for a day or two!

Usually the markers we buy come in a cardboard box, but these arrived in a nice shell case with individual spots for the markers.  This is a great way to store them because here in my house they tend to get lost if not kept together. Of course I loved that they were washable because as I wrote earlier I don't buy any that aren't. I learned early on with my first child that I wanted him to have the freedom to use markers without the worry I might have of items getting stained. These also have NO odor and vented safety caps. Not having an odor is important because there are so many of us that strong odors cause headaches. No worries here! I think most parents want their children to use markers and get to do fun things, but they worry about the fumes, the stains and the possibly toxicity.  Thankfully the The Pencil Grip has taken all of our concerns and given us a wonderful product that we can use with our children.

I'm including a picture of our little experiment with trying out the marker uncapped for 7 days. You can see for yourself that the writing is just as good on the last day as on the first. We also did a few little projects to try out our new markers. I would highly recommend these to anyone with children. The higher cost, in my opinion, will greatly even out with all the packs of markers you'd buy because the tops were lost and they dried out!

We really loved these markers and are so excited to have gotten the opportunity to try them. They are available in a 24 pack or in the 12 pack like we were given.  The Pencil Grip has some amazing products and these items are some of their newest. I recommend you check out their sight and all the products they have.

** I was given a 12 pack of these markers free for my honest review.  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Intensive Home Therapy

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted! So much has been going on that I've hardly been able to catch my breath :) One of the biggest things happening here right now is that we have started INTENSIVE home therapy with Issac. When they say intensive they mean it (LOL) He has a team of three people, two ladies and one man.  Someone is here Monday-Friday for TWO HOURS each day! Our life is already hectic and I struggle to do appointments, school, etc., but add in this for two hours a day and it's really been hard.  Issac prefers two of the people and really doesn't care for one of the ladies. It's basically because she called him out on his behavior one day and he hasn't liked her since.  Things are going as well as can be expected I think. It's hard having people in your house and watching what you say and do all the time. I feel like Issac really connects to Chaz, the one guy on the team.  He's been working with him on his feels, actions, behaviors, etc.  I think that's going to be huge for Issac because he often feels things that don't seem valid to the rest of us. He's talked to him at length about it's ok for him to have his feelings, but they might not get communicated appropriately to us.  The lead on the team started working with him on coping skills this week and told us to practice them daily. I think that will help him when he needs them because before we were trying to direct him to certain behaviors, but we were doing it in the heat of the moment. The hope is with practicing them when he's not upset that he'll recall it when he is upset.  The coping skill she's started him off with is what she calls 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  He's suppose to list 5 things he can see, 4 things he can hear, 3 things he can feel, 2 things he can smell and then 1 deep breath.  I'm hoping this technique can and will help when he's upset.  She also talked to him about when he's frustrated or confused what he can do. They made a card to remind him to ask someone to explain what they said, tell someone he's confused or ask them to please repeat themselves.  We've completed two full weeks and I was originally told the plan is for six months. It's so hard to imagine six months of this, but I feel like this is really what we need. It's very hard for people to imagine Issac in a rage when they see the sweet side of him.  I do have to say it's not been as bad as I expected (LOL) The people are nice and I really do feel comfortable with them in the home. Hopefully this is going to be the answer to prayers I've had for a while! :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Forbrain

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
Issac is 10 years old and has struggled most of his life with speech delays.  He's been though to have auditory processing  as well as we've had reading difficulties. The older he's gotten we've seen more and more memory issues as well as him having trouble paying attention.  We've done speech and occupational therapies off and on for most of his life.  I recently saw Forbrain by Sound for Life LTD and was really interested in this for Issac. The website states that  Forbrain's dynamic filter trains the brain to be more attentive improving not only attention but auditory processing and sensory integration.  Forbrain helps people to improve speech fluency, pronunciation, sound discrimination and rhythm, for clearer and more effective communication.Forbrain helps people to improve short term memory, which impacts such skills as reading, writing and even chatting.  These are all things that I thought were right inline with Issac.  Depending on the age of the person using Forbrain as little as 10 minutes a day is needed.  It's recommended to use Forbrain for 10 weeks to really see some improvement. After that you can take a break, do another session or just use it when you have something special in the works that needs extra preparation.  

I showed Issac the website and he thought the headset looked like something a spy would wear. I explained to him that it might look like something to play with, but that wasn't the intended purpose. We watched the VIDEO together for him to get a better idea of the intended purpose for using Forbrain.  I told him we had to commit to wearing it daily and for several months.  When the package arrived he was so excited that you would have thought it was his birthday (LOL) I let him open the box and he was excited that it came with a "cool case." I was excited because the case was sturdy and I knew would help protect the headset from my child.  He immediately tried it on and we read the information.  He charged it and we got started the next day.  
Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
The first few days we tried a few different things.  We did spelling words out loud, he read out loud to himself and we worked on his play lines.  He's in a Christmas play for his drama program and received 19 lines this time. That is the most lines he's had out of all the years he's been doing drama. I was a little nervous because he always memorizes his lines, but often he forgets bits and pieces of them. I was worried that he might not be able to memorize all 19. He suggested that he wear the headset while practicing his lines, so that's what we did.  I noticed early on that he seemed to be getting his lines pretty quickly.  I didn't say anything to him and we just kept practicing. His drama teacher told him last week that he was doing a really good job with his lines. He told me that night while we were practicing that he couldn't believe how quickly he'd learned his lines. He told me there were 2 that he's not got 100% and they are at the end. He told me he wasn't sure he was going to be able to memorize all 19 lines, but he feels he's got them memorized.  The only thing we've done different this time in working on lines is for him to wear the Forbrain

I feel like this product has definately been helpful for Issac and we will continue to use it and see what other improvements we see.  I'm not saying this product will take away any and all issues Issac has, but it's a tool to help him get through his daily activities a little easier.  Check out their social media sites as well as see how the other members of the crew used their Forbrain and what improvements they saw.  

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Thin Stix Creativity Pack

The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Our first introduction with The Pencil Grip, Inc. was when we were blessed to review the Thin Stix 6 pk of Classic Colors. The kids and I had never heard of these or seen them before.  It was pretty exciting because it was tempera paint in the basic form of a marker.  What a fantastic way to have paint quality with NO MESS!!  What I was most excited about when the Thin Stix Creativity Pack arrived was the variety of colors! We received 12 classic colors, 6 neon and 6 metallic.  
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
Look at these AMAZING colors included in this set!!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
Issac immediately told me he felt he could do so much with the wide variety of colors.  My children are old enough that I don't have to worry too much about the mess that can happen when your painting.  Well, my 10 year old does have a habit of plopping in his chair, bumping the table, etc., so maybe I still do have to worry (LOL) The quality of these items is great and you can use them on so many surfaces. I have to admit that we typically only use them on paper, but Issac has used them on Popsicle sticks and they worked great.  Something that jumped out to me this time was that they are nut, egg and gluten free. We don't have any food allergies in our family, but I know many that do. I know that they can be extremely serious for many. I had never thought that some families might have to worry about what craft products their children could use if they had allergies. Here's a few more interesting tidbits about the products:

  • Dries in 90 seconds
  • Uncap, twist and paint
  • No water, cups or smocks needed
  • Bright vibrant colors
  • Washable
  • Nontoxic
  • Nut-, egg- and gluten-free
  • Paint on paper, wood, pumpkins, poster board and more
  • Take the mess out of painting but keep all the fun
  • True paint finish that won't crack
  • Ages 3+

    We have 3 children and have done many painting projects over the years.  We used to have the little plastic containers that we'd keep the tempera paint in and even though we used them often they were messy and seemed to go "bad", so I finally gave them up.  There is also lots of prep work to painting: Put paper on the table, get brushes and cups of water, put old shirts on the kids and hope that nobody dumps the cup of water all over a siblings new painting.  Since The Pencil Grip, Inc. has come up with the Thin Stix Creativity Pack there is no need to deal with any of that anymore.  Kids and adults can easily sit down and start a project in minutes!  My son tends to leave the caps off markers when he's working and I'm always finding dried out markers.  Even though these dry in 90 seconds I've noticed that the ones he's left the tops off of haven't dried out.  That's a big plus to me because he's often put them back in the boxes and I find the tops on the floors.  I remember as a child looking back at paintings that I'd done and finding them cracked and quite honestly not like I painted them. We have had NONE of that with these.  The go on smooth and are really pretty fun to use. My daughter does wish there was a way there was a fine tip option because she likes to do lots of detail work in her art projects.  I've used these along with the kids and I find they go on the paper much smoother than a marker and blend in really well.  It looks like a wonderful, creamy texture in the tube and yet you touch the paper and there is NO mess on your hands!

    Issac has been working in his "art book" for several months now.  We sometimes aren't sure what he has drawn, but he's always happy to explain it to us. I've noticed that he just picks things he sees in the house and attempts to draw them.  Here are a few he's drawn recently:

    This is Issac the bear

    A foot

    Issac's drawing of his older brother, Zachary


    Here are a few of the things I played around with drawing:

    I tend to be thrifty when it comes to art supplies, but I really have enjoyed the Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. I really think they are a wonderful quality project and I would highly recommend them to all parents of children that enjoy arts and crafts.  Check out what the rest of the crew did with their Thin Stix!

    Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

    Check out the social media sites:

    Tuesday, November 7, 2017

    Thin Stix Giveaway

    Check out the wonderful giveaway from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

    Thankful Tuesday

    I'm extremely thankful for moments like these! They are few and far between (LOL) The house is quiet, no noise and all seems right with the world :) 

    Saturday, October 28, 2017

    Homeschool Review Crew 2018!

    Have you thought about being on the Homeschool Review Crew? Have you wondered what it was like to be able to use curriculum and materials you might not have otherwise been able to use? I am finishing up my first year and it's been a great experience.  My children and I have been able to use items that I wouldn't have been able to afford without the crew!  

    Applications are currently being accepted for a spots on the 2018 Homeschool Review Crew.  If your interested in more information or would like to apply please follow the link included.  Being on the crew this year has been a wonderful experience!

    Friday, October 27, 2017

    Thankful Friday 10/27/2017

    I usually do a Thankful Tuesday post, but this Tuesday I was flying back from Boston.  I had every intention of doing a post, but was exhausted when I got home (LOL) This week I'm super thankful for my kids.  They make me so proud and I love them so much! They also drive me crazy at times, but that's another post :) This picture was taken this past weekend while we were in Kentucky for karate testing, seminar and a banquet.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017

    Review: Weave Your Word in Me -- Part 1

    Kid Niche Christian Books
    Every year I spend quite a bit of time deciding what the kids will do for Bible as well as what verses that we will work on memorizing that year. This year came around and I just felt stumped as to what Issac should do this year.  He needed a program that was colorful, engaging and yet didn't require him to do too much writing. He's still struggling with writing too much and I often help him when he gets too tired.  We had started the year off WITHOUT something for Bible and it just felt WRONG.  Weave Your Word in Me -- Part 1 by Kid Niche Christian Books popped up for review and it seemed like it just might be the answer!


    This program is ideal for 4th-6th graders and since Issac is in 5th I felt he'd fit right in.  There are 36 lessons broken down into various themes.  One of my favorite things was that it was already hole punched as well as on sturdy paper which held up wonderfully with my rough son!  There were two units that were further program down into the themes. 

    God The Father

    Lessons 1-4 God is our heavenly Father.  He likes us to talk to him.  Talking to God is called prayer.  
    Lessons 5-9 God is pleased and honored when we treat him with respect and come to him humbly.
    Lessons 10-14 God loves and cares for all people.

    God The Son

    Lessons 15-18 Jesus' Birth-Boyhood-Baptism-Temptation
    Lessons 19-26 Jesus' Ministry on Earth
    Lessons 27-32 Jesus' Betrayal-Trial-Death-Resurrection-Ascension-Return
    Lessons 33-36 Anyone who receives Jesus as God and Savior becomes God's child.

    There were four verses to be studied and memorized while working through the 36 lessons.  These verses are designed around the nine verses of My Whole Self Before You which is a rhythmical prayer modeled after the Lord's Prayer.  The first verse Issac memorized was Dear Father in heaven, I come and I bow my whole self before you.  Please hear me right now.  As he worked through the lessons he started a journey on a deeper understanding of who God the father is.  One lesson that I think was powerful for him with Lesson 4-Talking with God.  One of verses we read talked about it's not the number of words we use when we pray.  One of the questions in his lesson was true/false The more words we use when we pray, the more likely it is that God will hear us. Even after reading the verses and discussing he answered this question as true. That lead to further discussions about it's not the number of words or length of time, but what is truly in our hearts and how we come to God.  There were various activities through these lessons.  We read verses, answered questions, drew pictures and always ended in a prayer.  The answer key in the back is truly a wonderful thing.  The answer key includes six different translations answers, so depending on your family or child this works for so many people.  The following translations are included in the answer key:
    ESV-English Standard Version
    NASB-New American Standard Bible
    KJV-King James Version
    NIV-New International Version
    NABRE-New American Bible Revised Edition
    NKJV-New King James Version
    The papers were full of color and Issac likes that! I have truly enjoyed working through Weave Your Word in Me -- Part 1 by Kid Niche Christian Books with Issac.  I would love to continue working through the second part of this program because I truly think it's wonderful.  There is lots of information packed into these lessons.  Wonderful discussions have come from using this program and I've really enjoyed that! Teaching our children to go to God with any and all of their needs and thoughts is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children!

    Check out their social media sites:
    Weave Your Word in Me {Kid Niche Christian Books Reviews}

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Review: Reading Eggs

    Reading Eggs
    Issac has always loved Reading Eggs and recently we were given a free 6 month subscription.  One of my favorite things about this program is that he's learning as well as having fun.  When they complete lessons they earn golden eggs and they can use those to buy things at the mall.  They can buy things for their house, their avatar, their pets and trading cards.  

    One of Issac's favorite things to do is to make a story.  They walk you step by step through making a story and then you can submit it and print it for yourself as well.  

    Reading Eggs has something for almost all children up through elementary school.  Reading eggs Junior is for ages 2-4.  Reading Eggs is for ages 3-7 as well as Reading Eggspress that is for ages 7-13.  There is also Mathseeds that is for ages 3-9. This program works so successfully because it focuses on  key concepts: phonics & phonemic awareness, comprehension, sight words, vocabulary and reading for meaning. The ages are guidelines and I've found it's best to follow the assessment and where it says your child should start. The student starts the assessment and continues until he or she misses three problems and that is what lesson they'll start.   Even if you have a child that is older than 4, but struggles with their letters they'll greatly benefit from Reading eggs Junior.  My son is 10 and is still working in Reading Eggs. He's struggled with reading over the years, but I have really seen some great improvements as he's worked through Reading Eggs.  His understanding of syllables as well as his comprehension has improved greatly.  The lessons are in a game format, so even though the student is learning they are doing it in a fun way.  We also did a few lessons in Reading Eggspress to try and feel out that part of the program too.  He enjoys the stories as well as likes the fact that the program will read to him.  It helps him to follow along as the program reads.  His comprehension is much higher when he follows along.  He loves the math that is offered in Mathseeds, but he has worked himself out of that program.  There are so many things available to do with this program and so many wonderful books in the library section that the students can read.  Some of the key features in the Reading Eggs program are the lessons, storylands, spelling, the story factory and my program.  The parents are always able to check and see what lessons their child has completed.  In Reading Eggspress there are the lessons, the stadium, english skills and the library.  The lessons are also broken down into different activities, so the student doesn't feel they are doing the same activity over and over again.  

    There are also sample lessons that you can take a look at to see how the program progresses.  Reading Eggs is offering a Free 4 Week Trial for you to check the program out for yourself.  This offer expires November 20, 2017, so check it out to see how much this program can help your child.  Reading Eggs has also just introduced a new comprehensive program for homeschool children in grades K-2nd.  Each guide provides 36 weeks of teaching for Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Here is a little sample of the lesson plans for second grade.

    Depending on your homeschool style this could be a full curriculum for your K-2nd grade students.  These lessons can be found under the bonus section from your main dashboard.  There are also activity sheets available in the bonus section as well.  There are lots of fun extra printable pages that your child can do.  

    Check out their social media sites for more information: FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and YouTube.  Also, don't forget to sign up for the Free 4 Week Trial that Reading Eggs has offered.  The special offer ends November 30, 2017.  As always the crew has a wide age range of children and will have reviewed different parts of the program.  Check out what the other members worked on during their time.  

    Reading Eggs*
    Reading Eggs

    Review: What's New? What's Missing? What's Different?

    Homeschooling is hard and often times I've found my kids just need something fun to break up the day.  Even though Issac is in 6th grade...