Monday, March 30, 2020

March Update on Our Family

We have officially been in our home now since the beginning of February. The other day I posted March and my soon-to-be 13 year old quickly pointed out how wrong I was (LOL) There was so much work to be done on this house when we bought it and then circumstances arose with my husband that made getting the work done very, very slow.  We had been renting from our nephew and he had been so great to us as each month my husband said I should be done this month and he wasn't. Finally our nephew nicely said it's time to go and you know it was the right thing. Even with still having no kitchen sink here it feels like home.  The running back and forth before was very stressful.  At one point there were 3 of us sharing a car and when hubby wants to be at the other house, I need to run errands, the daughter needs to get to work it's stressful.

We had set down and made a list, room-by-room of what needed to be done, but guess what?? I lost the list (LOL) My husband has been doing stuff inside and I'm doing inside stuff, outside stuff, still trying to homeschool, etc.  Last week I suggested that we make one weekend day "family work outside day" and therefore we might be more productive if the four of us all tackle the same project.  This week was suppose to be finishing up the garden area to plant, but that didn't happen. We found a bed frame for our son and it took way longer to get, put together, etc.  We had already gotten our plants Thursday and after the heat we had Saturday they were looking a little rough Sunday. Since I didn't know when we'd be able to work on the garden area I decided to plant the veggies where I had cleaned out for flowers.  Are they where I wanted them? No, but they are in the ground and I won't worry about losing the plants.  We found a great nursery that is local and we'll probably hit her up for a few more things. The area they are planted is to the left and right of the front door and that's ok :) This house has lots of "weird" things about it and one is that they put a door into the dining room. That's the first door you see, so I don't expect many people to even go to the front door. Either way, right now I'm just happy to see my plants in the ground.  I had started radishes and lettuce from seeds, so those are in the ground along with tomatoes, green peppers and squash.  My peas that I started are ready to go in, but I need to figure out where they'll go now.  My husband worked on the garden area some last night, so I expect if I get out there this week I can plant anything else in the garden area in the next week or so.

This house is almost 6 acres, but of course lots of it's wooded. Priority has been fixing the inside and I've worked outside, but there is so much more to be done. Ideally I'd love a very large garden area, but that may be another year or so :) It's nice though sitting here typing while looking outside and knowing that we are home :)

We have a fairly large closet, but again the way they hung rods is a little weird. Down the road we might change it, but for now I'm just organizing the best I can. Hubby finally got around today to cutting two pieces of wood to sit on top of two of the rods. Now I'm able to store all the blankets and winter clothing in there neatly.  I also decided to go through all my clothing hanging up again even though I did it when I picked and unpacked. I also put all my hangers on backwards, so that I can see what items I'm truly wearing. I know I have stuff that I'll say when I lose weight or I love it and just didn't get around to wearing it this year. I'll probably get rid of anything not turned around that was spring/summer type clothing when winter hits this year and then do the winter stuff when summer hits. We'll see how that goes :)

We stopped attending the co-op we had attended for many years and then moved shortly after.  We also stopped ABA therapy at the same time. All of a sudden it seemed we had nowhere to go and nobody needing to come here. We could focus totally on school, the house, etc. Then all the virus stuff started and at first I was thinking it's a bunch of junk. As time went on I realized it almost seemed like we weren't even living the same life as others. My husband is disabled, all the stuff I mentioned had stopped, so the only thing still going on was that my daughter had to work. We've just been staying home, going to the store when needed, but just living this lifestyle that I almost feel will be hard to stop once things change.  I've lost track of time, days, etc. (LOL) Been reading lots of books, chilling with the family and just hanging out. I did get blocked from Instagram this past week and that was crazy! I posted pictures of items we got in the mail to review and Instagram didn't like something I wrote. It was a very long few days :)

I hope that you all are staying safe and trying to relax and just focus on family right now :) I think quite a bit about my mom as well as the kids/grandkids that are in Texas.  Everyone is happy and healthy and that's what we are focusing on for now :)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Review: Home School in the Woods-The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  

Several years ago I was hearing great things about a company called Home School in the Woods from many of my fellow homeschoolers.  I would check out their website, but I just never followed through on purchasing anything. Often times if I can't see it in person I struggle to know whether I'll really like it or not.  When the opportunity came up to review an item I jumped at the chance. I figured this was my chance to try it out for myself and see how I really felt about it. We were blessed to review items in Feb.2017July 2017Aug. 2018 and March 2018.  My youngest has developed a love of history and the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies that we've been working on lately has added to that love.  We've been studying The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression and just learning so much and having a great time.  

Homeschoolers vary on how they school greatly. Some do lots of workbook activities, some don't do any, some like certain types of programs, others like to be child-led etc.  That's what is so great about this unit is that you have a great starting point and you can run with it wherever you'd like.  The unit we've been working through is suggested for grades 3rd-8th.  My son fits right in at 7th grade.  He struggles with lots of workbook/writing type activities and often times we struggle with certain programs because of the writing.  There are definitely writing activities, but it's up to us if we choose to do them and how many.  I do have to warn you that this program is heavy on the printing.  I also have to admit that I like having papers in my hand verses the computer, so I often print things that others might not.  There are a total of 25 lessons which it's recommended to spread over 5-10 weeks. I'll let you in on a little secret :) We only got through 11 lessons during our review period :) We have just moved and therefore it's been so hectic, but working on this unit has been perfect.  It was easy to print up multiple lessons and have where I knew they were to work through.  I usually like to print about 5 lessons at a time. That way it gives me an idea of how we are doing and if I need to print less.  I also go ahead and print and put together the entire timeline. That way it's ready for each lesson's activity. Each lesson consists of the following:

* There is a lesson that your student can read to themselves or you can read out loud
* Handwriting pages
* Newspaper articles to write
* Timeline 
* Other additional projects such as games, activities, experiments, cooking etc.  

It is up to you and your child to decide which activities you would like to do.  Previously we didn't do the newspaper articles because my son struggles with the writing. We tried them this year, but honestly it caused more frustration for him than fun, so we dropped that section after a few lessons. My son also doesn't like to color, so you will see in almost every activity that we have done that they are just the printed paper and no color.  A sample lesson is also available to give you an idea of what is covered in a lesson.  I am currently only schooling one child at home now, but these are easily used for multiple children.  You can print copies for each child, let them take turn writing the articles, etc.  It's completely up to you.  Home School in the Woods has set up all their activities for the parents and children to succeed. They give us a starting point and it's up to each of us how we run our adventure :) 

There are so many different items to choose from and Home School in the Woods covers just about any topic you'd like to study in history.  We were working in the Time Travelers series this time.  There are currently 7 total in the series and some of the other fun options we looked at were the   New World Explorers and The American Revolution.  There is also a bundle option.   They've also written a U.S. Elections Lap-Pak  that would be just perfect for the upcoming year.  There is also tons of information on their FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Pinterest sites.  I really enjoyed reading this article on their blog too. It had nothing to do with what we were currently learning, but I remembered hearing about this when I was a child.  
If you'd like to see what my son thought about this program check out his video.  We also had 80 reviewers this time, so there are tons of different items being reviewed.  Head over and read what other families chose and what type of projects they have fun making.    

Home School in the Woods Collections - Lap-pak, Timeline Figures, History Studies & Activity-Pak {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: YWAM Publishing-William Bradford

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

YWAM Publishing has an amazing series of books called Heroes of History.  We first were able to read some of these wonderful books back in 2017 and 2018.  Our youngest has developed an even greater love for history since then and so I was really excited to be able to review another one of these books. I let him pick who he wanted to read about and he chose William Bradford: Plymouth's Rock. These books are amazing because you are learning true stories from history as well as reading how these people grew in their faith and lived through adversity.  

One thing I love is that these books come with amazing study guides.  The great about homeschooling is that you can tailor your child's learning based on their needs.  YWAM Publishing understands this and has given us the basic tools that we can take and adapt how we see fit for our families.  These books and study guides can be used as a full unit, you can pick and chose activities or you can just read them for enjoyment. These books are not just for learning history, but they also include activities that can be used for language arts, character development, geography etc.   There are comprehension questions for each chapter along, key quotes, vocabulary words, projects recommendations and so much more.  You could read through these books following the timeline given in the study guide, you could read them by theme or you could choose the order in which you read them. The options are truly limitless.

I'm not the history buff that my son is, but I do love a great book. We learned so much while reading William Bradford: Plymouth's Rock.  One thing that is really cool about these books are that you learn tons of facts and tidbits that you've never heard before.  Here are some of the things we learned about William and his adventure:

** When they were first out searching for land it was so wet that the water would hit them and freeze like a glaze.

** William once said it's "Better to face an arrow on land than this wretched cold at sea." 

** While he was out scouting for land to call home his wife passed away.  She slipped on the icy deck and fell overboard.  

**  The first cottages built were about 20*20, had dirt floors and thatched roofs.

** William became sick in early 1621, but as he recovered he almost died from the roof catching on fire.  The gunpowder and muskets were stored there, but thankfully men were able to get them out before the fire reached them.  

** After meeting Squanto William Bradford realized that he, Squanto, had seem more of the world than William had seen.

** April 1621 as the Mayflower left and headed back to England it wasn't loaded with materials to pay down the colonist debt like expected.  They had been to weak and were only sending back rocks to be used as ballast.

** William Bradford was surprised when his name was put forward to become governor.  He wasn't the oldest or the most educated which were usually things that were looked towards.

** William had to send advisors to ask Massasoit to be please slow down the amount of Indian visitors. They always fed their visitors and it was greatly diminishing their food supply.

** William combined two festivals held in England into a three day celebration for those in the New World.

** William Bradford was remarried in August 1623. His new wife, Alice Southworth, had come to the New World to marry him based on a letter he had written her.

** One of  William's assistants and very good friends lied and stole from him and ultimately hurt the colony for his own gain.

** In 1650, at the age of 60, William decided to study Hebrew. 

We chose to just read William Bradford: Plymouth's Rock from the Heroes of History series daily as a read-a-loud.  Sometimes my son would play with blocks or some similar activity and I would do the reading. There are so many options in the study guide, but for this time in our schooling using it as a read-a-loud was the best fit.  There are 26 titles in this series and we've only read three, so we have a good amount still to look forward to reading. YWAM Publishing also has another series called Christian Heroes: Then & Now. There are 6 titles currently in that series.  Another great thing is that you can order the physical books, e-books or audio books. They've got you covered in whatever way you prefer to read.  New books are always coming, so keep up-to-date with release dates by following their FacebookTwitterInstagram or their Pinterest.  We had 75 reviewers that had a choice between 32 books, so go check out who the other reviewers learned about this last month.  

32 Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Inspiring people in my homeschooling journey

I knew that I wanted to homeschool long before our oldest was "school age" and it was because of my aunt and uncle. They truly were the only people that I knew that homeschooled, but it just made me want to be involved. They lived across the country from us, so we rarely saw them and I only heard how they homeschooled through phone calls and letters. When our oldest was about 18 months we went to spend Thanksgiving with them. I remember going to the thrift store and my aunt showing me a cassette tape from Rafi that she thought we'd just love. We bought it and were never disappointed. The way they introduced learning into everything they did truly inspired me. Just those type of things inspired me to reach out to my husband about homeschooling our oldest. We are about to graduate our second child and even though my aunt and uncle live so far they have always been huge supporters for us.

When we actually started homeschooling we joined a charter school in California because it seemed like such a great idea. Within a few weeks of joining I realized that with this place being so new it was not a great fit for a new homeschooling family. I was at a mom's night out dinner and was telling the other moms and they told me they had just the person I needed to talk with about our issues. She was a teacher for another charter in our area, but she was also a homeschooling mom and gave great advice. We got together and she was so easy to talk to and was able to help me with some of my struggles. I ultimately switched to the charter school she worked for and she was our teacher until she left to start a new career. All those years that she worked with us was not only a teacher/parent relationship, but a friendship. I could talk to her about anything and keep up with her to this day even though we live in opposite sides of the states.  She truly helped shape and guide me in some ways during those early years and I'm so thankful for her.

Another lady that I think has truly inspired me I didn't meet until we moved back here to NC. I saw a post on a local group where she was starting a co-op in our area. It seemed a great way to meet other homeschooling moms and let the kids be around other kids. From the day I met her I was totally at ease with her. She's such an amazing person who truly would give the shirt off her back to anyone that needed it. She'll invite you into her home, hang out with you for hours, yell at your kids if they need it, and start and run any new programs the kids want. We graduated our first kids together and this year are graduating our second kids together. Even though I met her through homeschooling an amazing friendship came from that as well. This lady is truly the lady that when she walks in the room everyone is yelling her name because they love to see her.

There have been so many people that I've met and friendships that have been formed over the years of homeschooling. I feel that I learn something from every single one of these people. Some I haven't seen in years and some I have the best memories with and wish that I could turn back the clock.  I'm so thankful for our years of homeschooling and feel sad to thing that we are closer to the end of our journey than the beginning. I wish I could turn the clocks back and do it all over again. There are so many things I would change and do different, but at the time I was always doing what I thought was best.  I'm truly thankful for all the wonderful people that I've met on this journey and thankful for all their love and support.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Review: The Action Bible Anytime Devotions

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW  in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  

David C Cook has given us another great tool to help teach our children God's word with The Action Bible Anytime Devotions. This is a highly colorful, graphic novel feel devotional book that is geared towards kids ages 8-12. There are 90 lessons and each one has been carefully constructed to help our children cope in this day and age. Some of the topics addressed are love, courage, hope, trust, kindness, faith, strength and service.  These devotions are written to reach the very core of some of the struggles that our children are facing today.  Each devotion prepares your child to do the following:

  Learn God's Word

Apply it to their life

Relate it to people from the Bible

Thing about how it helps you to grow

Talk to God

Share with others

Take it further by reading the Bible

Our youngest is almost 13, but has struggled with various learning issues during his life. He was able to read the devotions on his own and did sometimes, but mainly I read them out loud to him and then we discussed. I didn't want him to get too caught up in putting all his energy into the reading portion, but not necessarily comprehending what he was reading.   The very first devotion tugged at my heart because it talked about when you are lonely. This is something my son has struggled with for quite some time. He feels like he doesn't have that many friends nor can he get together with them like he'd like too. This gave us a good chance to discuss that issue further. It gave me the chance to remind him that even when he is feeling lonely God is always with him.  In the TAKE IT FURTHER section there is a suggested reading for The Action Bible, but you can easily look up the scripture in any Bible that you have.  

Some of the other devotions that were great for my son were:

When You're Anxious

When Lives Need To Change

When You Feel Angry

When You Feel Ignored

When You Get Tired Of The Rules

When Life Feels So Hard

When Plans Change

We've recently moved as well as had a major change in our homeschooling routine, so my child is really struggling with lots of emotions. I chose not to just start in the front and read, but look for those lessons that I thought would really be what my son might need to hear right now.  It's easy to look through the contents to look for a topic you'd like or even just flip through the book. In the top right hand corner is the top for each devotion and that makes it easy to find what you'd like to read about. For example When You Feel Angry was about kindness and When Lives Need To Change was about Hope.   This devotional book came at the perfect time to remind him that life isn't always easy, but that God is ALWAYS with us.  

One of the verses that we read and have been working on is James 1:19 Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Another one was Mark 4:40-41 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him." 

To keep up-to-date on this product and others check out: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube

We had 52 crew members that received The Action Bible Anytime Devotions by David C Cook. I recommend checking out what some of the others reviewers thought and how their family used this great devotional.  

The Action Bible Anytime Devotions {David C Cook Reviews}

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review: Continent Race by Byron's Games

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  

Byron's Games  started when 6 year old Byron was on a month-long stay at the hospital. He wasn't feeling well and had lost his spark until an employee from the Family Life Center saw how interested he was in the Summer Olympic statistics they had on the wall.  His mom said he's always loved geography and when seeing his interest in the Olympics the hospital employee challenged him to create his own game.  The idea of creating his own game around a subject that he loved sparked a little of the old Byron back.  This is how Continent Race was born.  Byron and his family took his love of geography and turned it into a fun, family game. 
Our youngest has developed a love in history and geography and I have to admit those are subjects I'm not as knowledgeable about, so I always look for any fun games and activities that help me to teach him.  I've found over the years that learning through games is so great for all kids, but especially those that deal with any type of special needs. Some of our toughest subjects I turn to games because then it doesn't seem as much like work.  Issac was super excited to receive Continent Race and I was pretty impressed with it from the beginning. The box was very colorful, super sturdy and all the pieces included were just as great quality. Games really need to hold up to the constant wear and tear from playing or it really becomes frustrating to the moms who then have to try and fix them or replace them. This is one of those games that I won't have to worry about doing that with because it was made to last.  Byron's Games  has donated many of these games back to the hospital where Byron stayed and I'm sure they thought about the need for extra sturdy materials to hold up under all the use.  A portion of their proceeds also go back to benefit the hospital.  They definitely want to give back and help others as much as they were helped.  

When we first opened the game I was a little confused with the directions.  That was easily fixed by watching this VIDEO and we were quickly on our way.  The game arrives with 5 Continent List Maps, 1 World Map, 205 Country Cards and 3 Antarctica Wild Cards.  This game is recommended for children 7+ with a minimum of 2 players.  It takes about 30 minutes, so it's a quick game you can squeeze in on those busy days/nights.  There are two ways to play this game. The basic level or the advanced. We stuck to the basic level for our games.  Seven cards are dealt out to each person to start the game and then each turn a player draws a card and discards a card. The object is to collect the number of country cards from the continent to win. The Antartica cards have their advantage in that you can use them to complete a continent set.  The cards are all color coded, so that is helpful for those that don't know their geography that well :) We had issues pronouncing the names, but HELP was provided as well as some fun extras. In the advanced level the strategy is the same, but there are orange mystery cards shuffled in the deck. You have to figure out the continent that the mystery card belongs too without the help of the color coding like in the basic level of play.  There is also the option to challenge at the advanced level.  We haven't reached the advanced level yet, but are still learning so much and having a great time playing the basic level.   

This is a great game to use in your homeschooling on those days you need to get away from the books or for that extra boost for your kids on the weekends. It's a fun game that you can easily team up and play with younger children and the entire family can have fun.  Byron's Games  has also come up with Connections Stationary Kit which they recommend for ages 6+.  In the age of technology it's nice to still get those hand written letters and this stationary kit has everything you need.  Great for those that want to keep in touch with family members in other states or just to send a friend a little note.  They are continuing to offer more products, so be sure to follow them on social media to keep up-to-date. 

My fellow reviewers had the choice between Continent Race and Connections Stationary Kit.  Check out how they used these in their households these last few weeks.

Continent Race & Connections Stationery Kit {Byron's Games}

March Update on Our Family

We have officially been in our home now since the beginning of February. The other day I posted March and my soon-to-be 13 year old quickly ...