Sunday, April 23, 2017

Week Ending 4/22/17

This week has really been a ROUGH week! Seems like everything in the house is falling apart (LOL) The dryer already wasn't working, the washer started leaking now, the keyboard messed up and then the printer (LOL) I switched the printer back out, but somehow turned in the cord to attach to the computer (LOL) It's suppose to connect wirelessly, but it's not (LOL) Seems like all the basics are falling apart (LOL) Trying to remember the saying about turning lemons into lemonade (LOL) I need to order out end of year testing and get that done. I usually do it mid-April, but it hasn't happened yet. We did have our Spring Formal Friday night. The first one we've done and it turned out fairly well. There were a few issues, but I'm taking notes (LOL) Issac's birthday is in a week, so that's on the schedule for this week :) Trying to figure out what to get him and to have a good school week :)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review: Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Ex-con Adam Stone just wants to be left alone. When a string of vandalism starts happening at his house he doesn't even bother to contact the police because he'd like to stay as far away from the police as possible. When police chief Lexie Graham finds out about the vandalism she contacts Stone to try and solve the case. She understands with his rocky past that he doesn't want to deal with the police, but he's not the only one being vandalized.  Stone reluctantly agrees to help Chief Graham and when his dog is injured that's the final straw for him.  When a local boy, with a history like Stones, is linked to the case the chief asks Stone to mentor the boy. She feels that maybe if he spends some time with someone that went down the wrong path that he might chose another path.  While working this case Stone and Lexie both start to develop feelings for each other. Stone isn't sure as an ex-con he can have a relationship with Lexie. A book is always good, in my opinion, when it has both romance and mystery.  Irene Hannon has delivered both of those yet again to us in another wonderful book.  Check it out at Amazon.

Review: Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth)

I hate to admit that I hadn't heard of Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) before this was listed as a review item.  I have, however, heard of Apologia Educational Ministries. We have used many things over the years from Apologia and their curriculum is known as top notch. I'm not sure how I missed out on this homeschool reading curriculum from Apologia, but I'm excited that I know about it now! My oldest never enjoyed reading and it was something that he and I struggled with every school year. My youngest has had lots of difficulty with reading, but has finally made great strides. I've always felt that there was more I could have done to help my oldest. When I checked out RIR it looked like a great program to try with Issac.  We haven't really done too much with the elements of literature, so I knew that he would learn those with this program.  We were able to work on vocabulary as well as being able to think critically about what we were reading. Comprehension is something that Issac has worked hard on during his therapy over the last few years. I felt this program would be a good fit for where is he.

I knew when I first sat down and looked at the book that Issac wouldn't be able to read everything himself. He's in fourth grade, but probably more like third grade or late second in language arts.  RIR is geared towards 4th-6th grades, but I felt we could make it work for us.   I figured we'd pick and chose what he read and what I read. Even though his reading is going well he can still get frustrated or even just tire easily.  I was super excited that we were starting off reading Sarah, Plain and Tall. I don't ever remember reading this book and these are the type of books I still enjoy reading as an adult.  Issac read the first chapter and then we started on the assignment. Depending on the day he would read the chapter and I would read what we needed to do or vice versa. Issac was very anxious to get the book started, but there were a few things that we needed to do to get started. I really like that there is a plan because I always like having a preset plan. If I need to make adjustments I can, but I personally like an idea of what we are going to do. There was a suggestion about doing a book club, but that wasn't something I thought would be workable for us right now. We were able to go over the grading, talk about what it means to actively read, talk about the clues on the book cover as well as different genres. After we had spent time going through all of these it was time to start! One thing that I enjoyed was the activities.  They ranged from making book covers, doing a comic strip and character maps. I felt like all the different lessons were great and helped Issac in a different way. I personally enjoyed the ruminate section because then I could tell what he was really understanding.  Debra Bell has developed Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) to complete your current language arts program.  RIR includes vocabulary, reading comprehension as well as literature. Here are some examples of what we did:

If you aren't familiar with this program check them out on social media!

Instagram:   @apologiaworld
Twitter:   @apologiaworld

I'm very thankful that we were able to spend the last few weeks working on Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth)  I feel like Issac has started learning some new tools for his toolbox in reading and we've enjoyed a great story as well.  

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thankful Tuesday 4/18/2017

Somehow I forget half the time to post on Tuesday (LOL) I'm thankful for many things, but this week is for friends that pray. Maybe I should even say people that pray because often times complete strangers will pray for others. It's nice knowing you have people that will just pray even if you don't go into details.  Prayer truly works and it's comforting to many to know that others are praying for them. Thank you to all those that have ever prayed for me. It's always been a blessing and comfort. Thankful today for those that pray!

Review: SpeedyPrep

In our state our 11th and 12th grade kids have the option of dual enrollment. My oldest took advantage of that this year and I want our middle to as well. Something I've heard a ton about in the last year is CLEP testing. If you pass the CLEP test then you've just earned college credit from home for that subject. What a COOL way to earn credit and keep college costs down. SpeedyPrep has come up with a way to help the need of knowing how to study for those CLEP tests! SpeedyPrep teaches by the mastery learning principle. You repeatedly need to answer questions correct to see your progress bar growing. They are making sure that you understand the information by teaching this way. They are so sure that this way of learning is best that if your progress bar is between 90-100% and you do NOT pass your CLEP test they will refund your subscription charge.If you have any questions about the program then check out this wonderful VIDEO that explains how the program works.

For $19.95 a month you can access ALL the classes that they offer. They offer the following courses:

* Biology
* Natural Sciences

* Introductory Business Law
* Information Systems
* Principles of Management
* Principles of Marketing
* Principles of Macroeconomics
* Principles of Microeconomics

Foreign Language
* Spanish

History & Social Sciences
* American Government
* US History I
* US History II
* Western Civilization I
* Western Civilization II
* Humanities

* Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
* English Literature
* College Composition

* College Algebra
* College Mathematics

Psychology & Human Development
* Introductory Psychology
* Introductory Sociology
* Human Growth and Development

The program keeps track of all the time you've spent in each class.  This way you can see how much time your child is spending on the program.  It keeps a separate list for each class.  Here is a shot of one that my daughter spent some time on. Our original goal was for my daughter to work in the program 3-4 times a week. My daughter found that sometimes she preferred working on the program multiple times in one day!

My daughter actually worked on a few different classes to see if she preferred one over the other.  She worked on Introductory Psychology, Analyzing & Interpreting Literature and United States History 1.  The main part of the program are the flashcards. Your asked a set number of questions for each section.  Quite a few of the questions had a video that goes with them that goes into great detail about that answer as well as other similar information.  My daughter really enjoyed the video part of the program.  She felt that the videos really helped her with her understanding. All children are different and my daughter  really didn't care for fill-in-the-blank type questions because she felt she struggled a bit.  She would have preferred multiple choice, but SpeedyPrep feels the fill-in-the-blank style questions help the student really know the material.  The fill-in-the-blank method is part of the mastery learning principle that Speedy Prep feels is the best method of teaching for mastery of the information.  Exact spelling does matter in this program, so make sure you share that with your child.  If you have a child that struggles with spelling that could be an issue. My daughter actually missed several because of spelling. She hadn't really thought that she could go out of the program and check the spelling. She figured it would seem like she was looking up the answer (LOL) Although she had a few minor struggles she did find the questions and the information interesting.  At this time she's decided that she doesn't want to try for a CLEP test, but I hope that in the future she will change her mind. SpeedyPrep feels so confident in their method that they offer a money back guarantee when you've completed 90-100% and as a parent that speaks volumes to me.  When my daughter is ready to try for a CLEP test we will use this program to help her study.

College Level Examination Program Preparation {SpeedyPrep Reviews}

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week Ending 4/14/2017

We took this week off because EVERYONE is on Spring Break according to my two younger children (LOL) I hadn't planned on doing a break because we have less than 8 weeks of school left. It was nice though to not worry about doing lessons and being on a schedule like we normally try to do.  I asked Issac if he wanted to hard boil eggs to dye and he told me he didn't know what I was talking about! It amazes me sometimes what he doesn't remember and then how quickly that changes! I sure wish he would have had some issues remembering things at his TEACCH evaluation :) We are taking Monday off as well. Again, I hadn't planned that, but dd was invited to the lake with friends, so she won't be here. I figure Tuesday we'll attempt to get back in the swing of things. We have to go to Duke for an appointment on Wednesday and Friday is the formal dance, so I guess it's just another "normal" week :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review: Color My Conversation by Northern Speech Services

Issac has been in speech therapy basically his entire life. Just within the last six months has he stopped. There are still many things we need to work. When I saw Color My Conversation up for review by Northern Speech Services I was so hopeful that we would get this item. Color My Conversation is a multi-sensory approach to teaching children how to have conversations.  The program incorporates auditory, kinesthetic, tactile and visual strategies to teach these conversation skills.  I knew this would be a winner with Issac because he does very well with the multi-sensory approach.  The age range is about 5-12 for both the beginner and intermediate levels.  The advanced level is 8-12 and the expert level is suitable for all ages.  I decided that since Issac is almost 10 we'd just start at the beginning and work through the entire program.  When the box arrived in the mail I was so excited to open it and get started! This is what I saw when I opened the box up :) 
One thing that immediately caught my eye was how colorful everything is. For the most part my kids seem more drawn to anything that is colorful rather than black and white. Issac came right over and started looking at everything and of course grabbed the ball!  The first thing I did was pop in the cd manual, so that I could read about the program. There is a TON of information in the manual.  I actually printed out all the pages that were related to the first lesson, so that I could sit down and read it. I usually prefer to read paper rather than on the computer. After I read the information and watched the training video's we got started.  There are training videos that can be found on the website and I highly recommend watching these.  These were very helpful to me and I watched them each several times.  Here is a list of all the lessons included in the program:

 Beginner Level
  • Lesson 1: The Yellow Conversation
  • Lesson 2: The Short Conversation
  • Lesson 3: The Long Conversation
 Intermediate Level
  • Lesson 4: Who What When Where Why
  • Lesson 5: Yes! No! Maybe So!
  • Lesson 6: Making Comments Count
  • Lesson 7: Topic Changer Pro
  • Lesson 8: Speaking Loud and Clear
  • Lesson 9: Beading
 Advanced Level
  • Advance Level
 Expert Level

  • Expert Level
I sat Issac down and told him we had an exciting new program to start using. When I pulled the ball out he was really excited to figure out how we were going to use it. We talked about how to say hello & goodbye and got started with lesson 1.  He told me he didn't need to know how to say hello or goodbye because he already knew how too! I explained that I knew he did, but I thought it was best if we start from the beginning to get the best understanding of the program! He really like using the ball and actually asked me several times on his own if we could practice. He thought it was really cool to step on the stones and throw the ball in the house :) My plan was to work on Color My Conversation twice a week for about 30 minutes.  We ended up doing that as well having a few impromptu sessions.  I thought that was great because it didn't always seem like a planned activity.  We moved easily into the next lesson-The Short Conversation.  I really like how this program is set up because Issac doesn't seem to have trouble saying hi to someone, but often if they reply back and ask how he's doing he might ignore them.  We talked about multiple things we could say to put on our next stone.  I noticed that as we practiced Issac wanted to use all the ideas that we came up with in the beginning. As we moved more into lesson 3-The Long Conversation he did better.  We really enjoyed this lesson with expanding into the longer conversation.  I was really surprised how easily he took to adding the topics. I did notice he'd stare at the floor to see what topic ideas we had on the stone. As he got more comfortable he didn't do that as much.  I noticed that every time I'd say it's time to do Color My Conversations he'd yell that he'd get the ball. I think the ball is really a great way to engage the students and honestly I enjoyed using it too! It makes it seem more like a game and for my son anything that is a game he's more excited about! We have made good strides in our few short weeks, but I feel this is a program that is well worth putting the time and effort into. I plan to continue to use this for many months. I'm anxious to get to where we can start putting our conversations into practice outside the home. 

Rosslyn Delmonico, MA, RSLP, CCC-SLP has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for over thirty-five years.  She works mainly with children and I can see how the kids would relate to her so well. She was so soft-spoken in the videos and explained everything so well. I felt after watching the videos that we couldn't fail or do the program the wrong way. Rosslyn really breaks it down into VERY manageable and approachable sections.  I know when my son was in therapy they would often try to get other children into groups to have conversations.  I think this is such a wonderful program that I plan to recommend it to his previous therapist.  I really do believe it would be wonderful in a clinical session as well as it's easily used at home one-on-one.  Rosslyn was seeing a need that would help children with conversations and she came up with a solution!   In 2006 she started developing the program Color My Conversation.  I think she has really come up with a winner in this program. It's very engaging, interractive and most important it works!

I would recommend checking out all the social media spots as well as reading what my fellow crew members thought.  

Facebook (company): 
Facebook (product): 
Twitter:   @northernspeech

Color My Conversation {Northern Speech Services Reviews}

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week Ending 4/8/2017

This week has been a rough week. Our family is saying goodbye to Sensei Reggie this week.  He has been training at our dojo since before our kids started.  He's basically become like an uncle to the kids. He is tough, he is supportive and he's a really wonderful mentor.  We are going to miss him greatly! While we hate that he is leaving we support that he is trying to do something better with his life. Thankfully his daughter and grandson still live in the area, so hopefully he'll be around fairly often :) Here is a picture of everyone that we took at our potluck this week.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer

Issac and I recently read an interesting book, Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver-Author.  Peggy spent 18 days in Israel in 2010.  She was there with the Associates for Biblical Research and that trip truly helped move this book forward.  She was able to truly bring a vision to this book because of places she had visited. This book is based on the Gibeonites of Joshua 9 and 10.  It's told from the view of Keshub, a young shepherd boy.  This book is 375 pages that include 46 chapters. At the beginning of the book we have the characters and relationship section which helps us to know the characters in the book.  There are also wonderful discussion questions at the end of the book if you are reading this book with a small group. There is some AMAZING information HERE that Peggy has shared with us. This background information truly helps to put the book into perspective.  I could just sit and read Peggy's journal from her trip all day! Peggy has also made a wonderful study guide-Digging Deeper into HIStory that can be purchased HERE.  She's also given us quite a peak into the study guide HERE.  She's included wonderful information about the Gezer Calendar, Syrian Brown Bear, Plaiting & Braiding as well as honey.

Issac and I have been reading this book every night before bed. I felt he would enjoy it because he's nine and Keshub the shepeard boy is 13 years old. Issac was shocked to hear all the responsibility that Keshub had and he's only a few years older than Issac. Keshub is at that stage where he's not sure he's still a boy, but not yet he's not quite a man.  He's had to fight wild animals to protect his sheep, deal with a bully, as well as become a spy.  He's struggling with wanting to travel, but his father plans for him to continue the family business of pottery. He deals with sibling rivalry as well as wanting to please his family.  I think this book would be wonderful for older children. My son had a hard time keeping everything straight and I think if he had been older he would have come away with a better understanding.  

Check Peggy out on Facebook or at her website .  As always there are tons of other families reviewing this item, so go check out what they thought of the book :)

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thankful Tuesdays 4/4/2017

Today I'm thankful for art time with my two younger kids.  We've been reviewing Art Achieve recently and the kids and I have really been enjoying it. I think art is important, but I'm bad to not do it for other subjects. Reviewing this program has given us some fun time together. There is no fighting among the kids, no rush to get something done or feeling like our art isn't great. We've all been able to make some nice things and it's been relaxing. This will be one of those days I look back on and am thankful that I had this time with the kids!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Ending April 1, 2017

This was an extra crazy busy week for us because we are having dryer issues! I know many women don't like to get things for the house as a gift, but normally I love it (LOL) Our dryer went out, someone came and fixed it and then it stopped completely. My husband who normally fixes them said let's just get a used one for now. We found one, Zachary went and got it that day and now it's not working. I think we need an electrician to come and look at it to see the issue. Carl knows a guy, but he hasn't been able to get him over here :( I've gone to the laundry mat twice this week to dry clothing. I like that you get your laundry done in basically an hour, but it's the toting it back and forth. Even with Issac's help the first day and his and Brianna's the second I'm still dealing with neck and shoulder issues. We used to have a line outside, but since three our of the five of us suffer severely at pollen season it just isn't a workable solution right now :( Today I'm doing a small load and hanging it up inside (LOL)

Issac has been waiting on the list to be evaluated by TEACCH for over six months now. Carl and I went and did the parent evaluation this past week. We'll take Issac this week for his session. Hopefully we'll get some information that will be helpful. We were told years ago that Issac showed on the autism as well as the aspergers testing, so they gave him the PDD-NOS diagnosis. I've been told by many that they think he has ADHD, but then in other cases it looks like he doesn't. He can be wonderful one minute and crazy another. He can hold onto something for hours and/or bring it up DAYS or WEEK later. It will be interesting to see what they say. He has started showing some anxiety in the last few years and I was told that anxiety WITH ADHD can look just like a child on the spectrum. It's not having a label that I necessarily want, but sometimes labels can get things for your child that they couldn't otherwise. I just want to know how to help him in the best way possible.

Brianna, Issac and I have been using lots of art lately. We recently got the chance to review Art Achieve and we all are loving it. I chose level 1 because I thought that might be best for Issac. He's enjoying it and Brianna is even asking to do it! I feel like we are all producing some nice drawings and I really think it's because of the step-by-step approach they take. I'll be writing my full review soon, so keep your eyes open!

I think that's it for this week.

Review: Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set by Memoria Press

We have enjoyed several different items from Memoria Press over the years.  Our middle child spent quite a bit of time reading all about Greek Mythology and anything related she could put her hands on. When I heard that we had the chance to review Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set I jumped on it for my daughter.  We received the following:
  • Iliad
  • Iliad Student Guide
  • Iliad Teacher Guide
  • Iliad DVDs
  • Odyssey
  • Odyssey Student Guie
  • Odyssey Teacher Guide
  • Odyssey DVDs
I suggested to my daughter that she read the first "book" in each of the Iliad and the Odyssey to decide which she'd prefer to read. I know normally the Iliad is read first, but I gave her the option to read whichever she'd prefer. After reading a "book" of each she chose to continue on with the Odyssey.  She watched the video for the first book and then proceeded to move on to the student book. You can see a sample of the video here.  I really liked the videos, but my daughter didn't.  I felt it helped me understand more of what was going on in the story. Sometimes the wording can get a little long and I felt the video helped this issue.  She's always enjoyed having videos like this in the past, but this particular time it just didn't click for her.  We also worked some where I read out loud and she did her student page. At first she said she couldn't do that because she wouldn't be able to focus, but that is the way she actually enjoyed and learned the most.  I found that I looked forward to our reading time because I was getting caught up in the story. Probably the hardest part for me was the pronunciation of all the names (LOL) My daughter was constantly correcting me and trying to help me get the names correctly :) I wish there was a little guide included to help with the pronunciations. Here are a few samples from when she started the Odyssey.  

I feel like these books are really written where you can understand them. I remember reading these in college and I really didn't have much understanding of them. I'm hooked now on the Odyssey and plan to go back and read the Iliad.  I've always felt that Memoria Press materials really push the children in their learning. These items didn't disappoint me at all! I also like that they give vocabulary at the start of the lesson to help the student know the people and places that they are reading about. They've also included comprehension questions as well as discussion question. My daughter did the comprehension on her own and then we talked between us about the discussion questions. The teacher's book is truly wonderful in my opinion.  They give you information you need for the discussion questions, there is a spot that tells you which questions will be on the upcoming test, so that you can inform your child and there are also some general teacher's note. The teacher's guide really sets up the parent and student for success.  The set is suggested for 7-12 grades and I think that's a wonderful fit. My daughter would have been able to do this in seventh grade, but I also felt it was just right for her in ninth grade this year. I feel like each year you would see your child growing in their discussion of the books. Here are a few pictures from the Iliad teacher's guide. 

Even though my daughter didn't chose to read the Iliad this time I plan to go and read it on my own :) I really enjoy the videos, so I will continue those as well. This is such a wonderful set and I don't think you can go wrong with the Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set.  

If you haven't checked out Memoria Press before look them up on their social media sites:

Twitter:  @MemoriaPress

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review: Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio

My husband isn't involved in our schooling as much as I'd like. He's always been wonderful with the children reading the Bible to them and teaching them God's word.  We recently got to try Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit by Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio.  We figured this would give my husband and our youngest son a little more quality time together. We received our kit in the mail and this is what was included:

We received the group discussion guide, the 1 on 1 guide, the dvd of the introductory videos for ALL six modules and 10 map brochures.  We also received a free copy of Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You by Kent Evans. Our youngest, he's 9, is always talking about he's a "men" and when he's older. This seemed like a great place to jump into his Manhood Journey! My husband checked out the Wise Guys book and we both looked at the discussion guides. We also watched the dvd of the introductions to all the modules.  We thought we had an idea of our plan, so we jumped in!  We received the Embarking guide which is the first in the series. After you've completed Embarking you can chose whatever order you'd like to proceed.  There are also guides for Clean Hearts, Working Well, Standing Strong, Manhood Myths and Leading Lessons. These are wonderful guides for our young men to work through on their journey.  The first thing the guide tells is how to use it.  There are suggestions of things to do, scriptures to read as well as the basic "lesson" to learn.  Everyone learns different and we took this as in you make this journey how it works for you.  Week 1 is Preparing For The Journey-The Big Rocks. Issac learned about The Five "Big Rocks" which are TRUSTS God, KNOWS his Word, PRAYS fervently, BUILDS relationship and SERVES others.  We took a different approach and put our "rocks" on the wall by our door. This way he will see them every time he exits the door and they will become deeply ingrained in his heart and mind. We also started his Manhood Journey Notebook. Here are a few pictures of what he put in his notebook over the weeks.  

 In the EMBARKING guide the six lessons they worked through were PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY, SETTING OUT ON THE JOURNEY, RELYING ON THE COMPASS, SEEKING GUIDANCE ALONG THE WAY, ENCOUNTERING OTHERS ALONG THE JOURNEY AND WE HAVE EMBARKED.  Each week has specific sections that continue throughout the book. They are Building Our Relationship, Knowing God's Word, Serving Others and Talking with God. I feel that Issac really was learning and growing in these last few months. This is a great Father Son Bible Study. That said, I do feel that he would have learned more being in a Small Group Study. It was great for him and dad to work on this alone, but I think he would have learned additional things in hearing what others had to say.  I think it's great that the group guide as well as the 1 on 1 guide are included in the set. I'm glad to have the group guide because there might come a time in the future when my husband could do this in a group setting.  If you are interested in more information on the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit please check them out on social media: 

Manhood Journey
Twitter:  @manhoodjourney

City on a Hill

Also, check out what my fellow crew members thought.  

Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}