Sunday, January 13, 2019

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 I will often choose items for him that are lower grade levels for several different reasons. He needs more review and often times he will forget something that is considered a lower grade level skill, but we are able to easily review and remember it again with fun games or workbooks.  We have spent a little time recently playing around with What's New? What's Missing? What's Different? which is part of the  Timberdoodle First Grade Kit This book is quite a bit under Issac's grade level, but it's one of those skills I thought we might need to quickly review. 

This was a fun little book to work in because it had three different things to work through. As the title suggests there are new things, missing things and items that are different.  There are pages that you have a picture on the left side and then circle the items that are different on the right side.

There are quite a few pages to try and continue drawing items or drawing items that are a part of a larger picture. Issac didn't quite care for these type of pages as much. He said he couldn't draw well enough.  For example there might be a musical instrument and they give you what's missing and ask you to draw part of the item.

Some of the pages you had to find the matching pairs and I think that was Issac's favorite part of this book!!

This is a really cool book whether you purchase the First Grade Set or just purchase the  What's New? What's Missing? What's Different?  book by itself. There are so many different types of pages and quite a bit on each page that this book could easily last for quite a while. It would be a great book to keep in the car for long car rides or in a bag for those often long doctor's appointments.  This book could easily be used by several grades above first or for just a fun booklet by the older kids. 

Review: Science in the Industrial Age

Science seems to be a subject that moms either love to teach or hate to teach. I have to admit that I'm probably more on the hate side when it comes to definitions, names and dates, but I do enjoy experiments. Issac and I have been working through the Science in the Industrial Age Set which is part of the Fifth-Grade Curriculum Kit from Timberdoodle.  This book was written by Dr. Jay L.Wile and in this book we learn specifically about science in the 19th century.  There are 90 lessons that are split into six different sections. The sections cover specific time frames and there are 15 lessons in each time frame. There are two types of lessons in this book, "normal" lessons and "challenge" lessons. Normal lessons are titled in black and the challenge lessons are titled in red. There are a few ways that you can divide up the lessons. You can do a lesson every other day which will allow you to cover all 15 lessons in each time frame in a typical year. You could also do two lessons a week. Using this way you would skip the challenge lessons and just do the normal lessons. As always it's totally up to you to decide which way you'd like to use this program.

In this kit we received the student reader as well as the answer key. One thing I really liked about this program from the beginning is that there wasn't a ton of writing to go along with the book.Our youngest struggles with writing and often times even if he understands the grade-level work he can't do the writing that is needed to complete to assignments. There are a few review questions at the end of each lesson and they are divided up for the youngest student, the older and the oldest student. I found that we were able to do the questions orally and that worked best for my son.  There are also great material lists that have been provided to help you gather needed materials ahead of time.  For each set of 15 lessons there is a material list to help you be prepared for when the experiments roll around. Here is a peak at the regular household materials that most people can easily acquire and the last picture is of those items that might be a little harder to find. These items would cover the first 15 lessons. 

 We really enjoyed learning about the scientist, some I didn't remember ever learning about in school. Ultimately the most fun was the experiments! If we didn't quite have all the materials we just skipped that experiment and kept a list of supplies we needed to go back and complete the lessons we skipped. Here are a few pictures from some of the experiments that we did. One of the first experiments we did that Issac thought was cool was "cooking" eggs without heat. We put one egg in a bowl of water and another egg in a bowl of rubbing alcohol. You leave them sitting overnight and compare the differences in the morning. Sadly, I forgot to get pictures of that experiment, but here is a picture from the book.   This is one we'll do again because Issac thought it was cool! I think most kids remember doing experiments with baking soda and vinegar, so learning about Jons Jakob Berzelius and Catalysts was another favorite of Issacs.  This experiment compared yeast and vinegar to baking soda and vinegar.  Going along with that experiment was the lesson on Amedeo Avogadro.  In this experiment we learned about the weight of gas! 

      One of the experiments I found interesting was How do you dew? that was part of the lesson on William Charles Wells.  In this experiment we we used 3 different cans, salt, water and ice. 

Another interesting experiment was about an important type of chemical in many foods. In this lesson we learned about William Prout and food.  We used a brown bag, a potato, cheese and butter.

Issac and I have really enjoyed using Science in the Industrial Age and I plan to check out other similar books.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Review: Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade

Literature is one area that I've struggled a bit to find the program that fits for our youngest child.  When I saw Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade I thought this program might be a good fit for him. He struggled with reading for years, but now seems to be doing pretty well. The problem is that the writing aspect is now behind. He's also gotten into that phase that he doesn't like to read because it's "boring" which is so hard for me to understand because I love to read. I thought because this program has such a wide variety that we might find some things he'd enjoy that he might not otherwise think he would.  The Pearl set is part of the Timberdoodle 6th Grade Kit These kits are easily customizable to work with all families.  This program arrived with a two book set for the teacher's edition, a student reader and an activity workbook.  

Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade

The Pearl set includes: 

** 36 short stories
** 3 plays
** 15 nonfiction selections
** 46 poems
** 4 dramatic poems
** 2 songs
** Brief author biographies

How we used this program.  

* My son has gotten better about his reading, but just like his older brother more than about a page seems to stress him out. I decided that I'd go through the program and pick out the stories and poems that I felt would best fit us size wise.  I think his favorite story by far was The Race by Victoria Furman.  

* I did most of the reading to my child and then asked him the comprehension questions. He did really great answering the questions and always seems to better answer them when I have read to him. If he focuses too much on the length of the story he doesn't seem to remember what happened.  

* I'll be honest that we did very little of the student workbook. Most of the work was just above where my son currently is working.  His writing skills just aren't where they need to be to do all the writing included in the workbook.  

* My goal was to work in this program 4 days a week and that happened most of the time except for a month after my son has surgery when we didn't do any school.  

What did I like about this program??

* At first glance you immediately see how beautifully illustrated these books were made.

 The student really learns about the characters, themes, settings, conflicts, etc. There were also stories, poems, different genres, etc.  

* The workbook is packed with activities that help further the students learning. There are writing activities, comprehension questions, vocabulary as well as other activities.  There's a great mix, so that you can pick what you want your child to do and skip others if you feel the need.  

* The teacher's guides have a plan of how to use the program and which activities to do on which days.  

* It's got all the answers you need as well as any additional information you might want to help your child complete the lessons. 

What didn't work for my child.  

* I feel this program is very advanced in the reading and work and therefore the grade level my child was in was really too hard for him. In this type of program he'd be better off probably 2 grades behind due to his writing abilities and ability to read long stories.  

* While I like having a suggested plan in the teacher's edition to give me a starting point I felt that the overall teacher's edition just had too much in it for most homeschoolers. It felt like it would work better in a public school setting. That being said I pretty much just didn't use the teacher's book other than looking at the answers.  

* If I could turn back the clock I'd probably try the Opal set, which is 3rd grade, or the Ruby set, which is 4th grade. I think the writing activities in those would have been more where my son currently is working.  

All in all I have been super impressed with the Mosdos Press Literature-Pearl set.  It's beautifully written and illustrated as well as just jam packed with wonderful stories and poetry that I didn't feel I had to worry if my child read without me. In this day and age it's hard to find good literature and often we as parents feel we have to read stories or books before our child can. As homeschooling parents we already care a heavy load and we don't need any extra work. Mosdos has made it easy for us by giving us great material, wonderful activities and all the answers that we might need.  For additional information on the program there is a great video that explains how to schedule the 3rd grade opal set.  There is also another nice video that just shows the basic 3rd grade opal set and gives more information on how to use it. The information in these two videos can easily be transferred to help you with any of the sets.  

** I was given a free copy of this program from Timberdoodle for my honest review** 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review: Delayed Justice by Cara Putman

Wow, what a powerful story! In Delayed Justice Jaime Nichols has spent years working in counseling to be able to speak up for the wrong done to her as a child. She chose a profession in law to stand up for others that couldn't stand up for themselves. When she was a child and her father was stationed out of the country her mother often needed help. Jaime's uncle happily offered his assistance, but sadly her mother didn't know what was happening on those visits. Jaime never felt she could tell, but as she grew older she worked hard to have the voice to stand up and accuse her uncle of his wrong doings. Shortly after Jaime went to the local prosecutor she found out her uncle was in line to become a 1 star general. She knew that he wouldn't let anything or anyone stop his career path and she realized she'd have the fight of her life on her hands. Thankfully Jaime's parents were supportive when they learned the truth. The pain they felt at not protecting their child was terrible, but they weren't going to let her uncle get away with it again. As Jaime struggles through this process she meets Chandler, a military veteran, that lives in her building. She tends to shy away from people in the military due to what her uncle did to her. Chandler uses a therapy dog, Aslan, to help other veterans and realizes that maybe Aslan can help Jaime. He sees the pain in her eyes, but doesn't know the reason. When he does learn what happened to her at the hands of her uncle he knows that he won't stop helping her until she learns what a special person she is to others.  As Jaime is dealing with the case against her uncle she is relieved of her job pending an investigation for misconduct. Thankfully her friends jump in to help her with a special project to keep herself busy. Tiffany is a little girl that has suffered the same terrible pain that Jaime did as a child. Her mother's boyfriend abused her and threatened her mother if Tiffany told. Thankfully she told her mother and her mother was trying hard to get justice for her daughter. Jaime's  friends are fighting passionately for the little girls protection and justice and ask Jaime to help. Knowing her past they know it will be hard for Jaime. They also know that she can reach Tiffany in ways that others can't. As she fights for Tiffany to regain any type of normalcy to her life and not struggle as Jaime did she learns that she is stronger than she thinks.  

Cara Putman starting writing in 2005. She's now written 21 books with more on the way. She was homeschooled back when homeschooling was still in the new stages.  I truly enjoy her books because they are a mixture of suspense, romance, struggling faith and social issues. She writes a blog as well as can be found on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.  You can check out all the books she's written as well as follow the progress on her blog for her upcoming books.  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Review: once we were strangers by Shawn Smucker

The United States was founded by immigrant families, but in this day and age with all the terrorism we seem to be afraid to have immigrants continue to come to the US.  Once we were strangers is a wonderful story about a friendship. A friendship between a struggling writing in the US and a Syrian refugee new to this country.  Muhammad and his family fled their village in Syria in 2012.  Several years later he meets Shawn Smucker in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  As Shawn and Muhammad spent time together a friendship starts to emerge. For those born and raised in America it's hard to imagine having to flee your home because it is no longer safe. It's hard to imagine that in your new home you struggle to communicate with others because you don't speak the language.  It's hard to imagine leaving behind everything to flee and keep your family safe.

Muhammad's story truly touched me and truly made me wonder how I'd react to a Syrian refugee family moving in next to me. Would I reach out to them and offer friendship or would I ignore them as we so often do in this day and age. I like to think that I would offer whatever help that I could despite the language and cultural barriers.  I think what we all need to remember is that we could some day be a refugee in another country and wouldn't we want someone to reach out to us? Reading Muhammad's story about how he and his wife both worked in a dry cleaners to be able to take care of their boys. How hard it was when they wanted to move because even though they had paid their rent on time for an entire year most people didn't want to rent to a Syrian refugee. Muhammad reminded us through his story that people don't take the time for coffee and conversation like they once did. Once we were strangers is a truly moving story about a friendship between two men and really between two families that pushed through all cultural barriers.  

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He has also written The Day the Angels Fell as well as The Edge of Over There He can be found on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ as well as his blog.

**I received this book free from Revell for my honest review.** 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Review & Giveaway: beloved 365 Devotions FOR Young Women

Beloved  is a beautiful hardcover book that includes 365 devotions for young women.  At first glance the book is wonderfully feminine.  Beautiful colors and flowers in a size that is just perfect for a young ladies hands.  I personally love the color scheme and it drew me into reading this book for my own devotions each morning.  Each page also has a short area for taking notes about the specific lesson and a nice ribbon to use as a place holder. The devotions are also titled day 1, 2, 3, etc. so you aren't locked into a specific day or time of the year. Our young women today are facing so many obstacles  and need something that is specifically tailored to them. The young women of today are dealing with things that are often even hard for their moms to understand because technology is truly changing our world.

Each devotion is one page long, starting with a verse and then a biblical lesson.  The very first devotional brings up the thought that many think the Bible is a "guys book" when in reality God values women greatly.  As we move through the book we read lessons about stepping out of our comfort zone, dealing with favoritism, feeling like we are on the outside looking in, God seeing all that we do and many other lessons that we encounter in our daily lives.  We want our children to grow up reading the Bible, knowing God's word and living it throughout their lives. I think often young women struggle to see their place in the world and we want them to realize that they need to not follow the rules of the world, but rather the rules of the Lord.  beloved is a great devotional for the young lady in your life or even yourself. We women are often dealing with situations similar to those that our daughters are dealing with, but just with women our age.  This would make a great gift or just a new devotional to start the school year.

I have been fortunate enough to offer one of my readers their very own copy of beloved!! For your chance to win please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: The Stress R.E.L.I.E.F Method by Chou Hallegra

Pretty much every mom I know deals with stress on a daily basis. I'm not sure why, but most of the men I know don't seem too! I'm not sure if it's the way they process things that they just don't put too much thought into what they can't fix.  When a friend told me about The Stress R.E.L.I.E.F Method I was really anxious to read it. I have to admit that I let everything get to me from the big things all the way down to the little bitty things that most people don't pay a second thought too.  One of the first things that touched me in this book was the definition of stress. The definition of stress is "your body's response to a specific situation or an accumulation of the situations we experience.”   We all respond to situations, but it boils down to how we respond! We need to learn to take action, but it's got to be simple because the more complicated it is the less chance there is of us completing it!  One of the quotes that really hit close to home for me was “We become so used to numbing our pain that we completely stop listening to our bodies” I had to stop and think long and hard about that statement. Do I ever listen to my body and when I do can I understand what it is telling me? 

As I was staring to read this book I think what I read on pg. 12 opened my mind the most!  

I used to be a woman who was tossed around by her
challenges. My mood used to be a reflection of my
circumstances. Every little thing stressed me out. I
thought I had every reason (or excuse) to be stressed
out. From being in a new country with not much
support, to raising children with medical and
developmental needs, to being a single mom after
working so hard to maintain a hard marriage for a
decade. I thought I had the right to be stressed out.
I thought it was normal for me to be stressed then I
learned that my circumstances do not have to control
my mood, my emotions, and the rest of my life. I
learned that I had control over how I felt about the
things that were happening to me. I learned that life
will keep happening, but I can do something about
maintaining my peace and my joy.

That spoke directly to me and basically how I have lived my life. It was time for me to open my eyes and figure out a new way to deal with life!  The author, Chou Hallegra, was no stranger to harsh circumstances.  She'd had health issues, marriage issues and pretty much all the same issues we all have. She decided it was time to take charge and that's how the Stress R.E.L.I.E.F Method was started.  This method has 6 steps that will help you create a life of LESS stress. Isn't that what we all want??  I've always thought of stress as a NEGATIVE concept and one that I didn't want in my life. Stress can be POSITIVE when you think about certain circumstances. If your child walks into the road and you are telling them to come back to you because you see a car coming that is stressful. If they immediately listen and come back and no harm has come to them then that stress was ultimately good. I don't think we think about stress is a positive way and there fore it beats us down further than we already might be.  I know I personally had never though about stress in anything, but a negative way.  

There are three types of stress that we encounter.  Acute stress is the most common. Acute stress is the immediate reaction to a new challenge.  We face many new challenges a day, but often they are quickly taken care of and that stress shouldn't continue on long-term.  We have all encountered acute stress in our lives.  Chronic stress is very intense and long-term.  If you've had severe health struggles or financial troubles that have plagued your life for years you have dealt with chronic stress.  Even though this type of stress is long-term we still can all respond to it differently.  How I might respond to financial issues might not be the way another would. How we respond dictates the stress that we have.  Episodic stress is in the middle of these two and happens on a daily basis.  This might be something you deal with when your child is medically fragile and in the hospital.  

So what is The Stress R.E.L.I.E.F Method??

The Stress R.E.L.I.E.F. method is a step-by-step
guide that was created by Chou Hallegra. She based this method on the principles of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Person-Centered Thinking.  Person-Centered Thinking is a set of tools, skills and values that give people control of their lives.  Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps us to understand that our feelings determine our behaviors.  In order to deal with stress effectively we must understand our feelings and deal with them accordingly.  The 6 steps are as follows: 

1. Reflect on your stress level

2. Evaluate your stressors

3. Leverage your strengths

4. Initiate self-care

5. Examine your level of control

6. Find freedom

We can't see how our stress level changes unless we know where it started. There are many factors that cause us stress including: 


As we figure out how each of these affects us we can then start to see progress.  We started off taking a perceived stress test.  It ranked us into the category of how stressed we currently are. I, of course, was maxed out in the stress level!! We can't measure what we can't identify and we can't track it if we can't measure it. It all starts here with our stress level!

We next have to evaluate our stressors. Most of us probably know what causes us stress, but do we really stop and think about how we can change those stressors? I might not have control over situations, but I can control my reactions. My children could make a decision that hurts them and I don't like it, but I can control how I respond to that situation. The busier we are the more likely we are to deal with stress.  We need to do things because we want to and not because we feel we should. Often times we agree to do something just because we feel we should. That later causes us to feel stress.  Often times there are people in our lives that cause us to have more stress. We might be tempted to just stay away from them, but often times we just need a temporary distance and the friendship can continue. I learned that I often contribute to my own stress level based on my reactions. All this time of thinking I can't control something, but I really could control my response and that could have lowered the stress level.  Our thoughts are a huge factor in our stress levels.  The actions reinforce the thought, the emotions are linked to the thoughts, the stress is linked to the thoughts and we are the only one that can control our thoughts. How many times have I told one of my children that he/she is responsible for his own behavior. Was I listening to that? Yes and no, but not in the sense that it directly was attached to my stress level. It's amazing how reading this book has opened my eyes in such a way that I just can't believe I didn't see it before.  

We have to learn to leverage our strengths. The things we enjoy and are good at is what we should agree to help other do. If I am terrible in spelling and grammar, which I am, then I shouldn't agree to proof someones paper because I'm just going to be frustrated. Since I enjoy baking I should always agree to help in a bake sale or with a potluck. By using our strengths to guide our way our stress level will be reduced.  

How many moms will tell you they don't have time to do fun things for themselves? If we don't initiate self-care then we aren't able to help others. When you are flying in an airplane they tell you if the oxygen masks come out to use yours first and then help a child. If you help your child first then you don't have anything left. We have to learn that it's OK to take time for ourselves. It doesn't have to be hours and hours each day. We can read a book for a few minutes, take a short bath, enjoy a call with a friend, take a short walk, etc. 

The next to the last step is to examine the level of control you have.  I know many people that believe they can control it all where I tend to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum and think I can't control anything. The difference in these two types of thinking is called "locus of control" and was created in 1954 by Julian Rotter.  People that have this inner locus of control believe they are in charge of their destiny and that they control their lives. People with an external locus of control believe that what happens will happen and it's not in their ability to control it. We might not always be able to control every situation, but again it goes back to how we response. That controls the stress. 

The final step is to find lasting freedom.  If the stress in your life is cyclical, which I believe mine is, then we need to break that cycle and find freedom! We have to learn to apply these steps every single day otherwise these fires will continue. We have to learn to change our thoughts and it will greatly reduce the stress in our lives.

There are quite a few worksheets spread throughout this book that I thought were very helpful. Knowing my stress level gave me a good starting place. I learned that my character trait is humility. I wrote down some of my triggers and and really learned that I have to change my thought process. I can control my emotions and I just haven't been doing it. I've been going through life thinking I couldn't control the things that stress me and that might be true, but I could control how I reacted to them.  

I have really enjoyed reading The Stress R.E.L.I.E.F. Method by Chou Hallegra. She's very transparent in her book and I like that because when I see that others can relate to me I'm more open to what they have to say.  I'm excited to try these techniques and see how much it lowers my stress level!

**I received a free copy of this book from Chou Hallegra for my honest opinion." 

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...