Friday, May 1, 2015

My Husband found God in the Closet

One day I will have my Husband share his story, but for today I will retell it how I remember.  This is a story about unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance and transparency.  This is my Husband’s story about his journey to find God in the closet.
It had only been a few days since he had shared with me the disgusting details of his Secret life of prostitutes, strip clubs and massage parlors.  I was numb and hollow inside, it was all I could do to feed the kids every day and interact with the therapists that came daily to work with our youngest Son with Autism.
I remember laying on the bed covered with tissues and reeking of Alcohol just staring off at the wall.  I was hating myself and I just wanted to float away, to never exist.  Hubby came and stood at the foot of the bed and stared.  He was a wreck, I know he was.  We weren’t eating, sleeping….just putting out fires and rehashing the past 10 years over and over until we passed out from exhaustion.  He looked on over me wanting to take my pain away.  I knew deep down he did love and care for me.  But, I didn’t trust him at all and at that point I knew we could never stay together.  I didn’t want to, I was going to just tolerate him for the next week or two and then that was it I was going to just leave.  I knew physically I couldn’t do it right this very moment.  But, once I gathered strength and could form thoughts that involved something other than what was crashing down in my life I would run.

More can be Read HERE

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spelling You See~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/32761c85-b638-435c-a47b-33977171d944_zpsg4f9rmi3.jpgI'm a born talker, never a writer.  I remember loving English in school except one important part of it.....Spelling.  I remember my Teachers telling me that my mind went to fast to move the words from my brain down to my pencil.  I was always fearful of the dreaded Red Pen Marks that generally covered my papers.  Luckily my Kiddos are home with me and don't have to go through the fear and embarrassment.  I was excited to try Ancient Achievements Level F from Spelling You See for the past several weeks.  I was given the set for my Review in exchange.  Spell check, don't fail me now!!!  :)

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Ok, first of all this type of Spelling program is one I have never seen before.  And to be honest, if it wasn't for this review I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  I have grown up with a spelling list each week and thought you had to drill one or two of them into your head.  That was just the way you did it.  Wow, what an eye opening review was this.  We were given the Instructor's Handbook ($14) and two Student Workbooks ($30) along with Erasable colored pencils.  In the Instructor's Handbook I found several helpful sections about the philosophy, stages of spelling, and curriculum sequence.  I was more then delighted that it included how to get started, full of many tips for achieving success with the program, a color coded answer key, step by step instructions for each individual lesson, dictation passages, and an activity guide.  

So, let me tell you a little about how we used this program with Kaden.  He is 8 and reads well into high school.  He can even spell pretty darn good, but I noticed he just memorizes and if you ask him to spell a single word all by itself he will struggle.  Don't ask me why or how, but if he sees the word in a regular spelling list over the course of a day or two he will memorize them all.  If I wait a few weeks and ask again or ask during dinner he will stumble.  I wanted him to see spelling differently, to learn why the word is spelled a certain way and to give him more confidence.  



Through doing this I have seen the gaps in his phonics which According to Dr. Holinga, is the 2nd stage in the 5 Developmental Stages of Spelling.
1. Preliterate
2. Phonetic
3. Skill Development
4.  Word Extension
5.  Derivational Constancy

Being a child with Autism we find he has a lot of developmental deficits.  I realize some of Kaden's frustration using the program was maybe the writing portion, especially the dictation.  His motor skills are a little rough most days.  I think I'm going to go back a few books and start there and come back to Ancient Achievements in a year or so.  You can go Here and get some extra information about Placement to make sure you start at the right place with your Kiddo.

Okay, back to how we used the program....we did use it about every other day.  Each lesson begins with a short passage in Lesson A Section 1 along with the Vowel chunks.  Here Kaden would read and then color the vowel chunks in the passage.  That would be about all he could do for the day.  It did tend to be a longer session because searching for the chunks proved to be difficult for him.  That was lesson 1, we are on the 4th lesson now and the improvement is very noticeable. :)  The next day he would normally complete the copy work in Section 2 of lesson A and go over the vowel chunks.  Towards the end of the week he would complete lesson B sections 1 and 2 which were basically a repeat from the previous days.  


Because of his frustration of repetitiveness we would skip most of the C lessons, but we would read and enjoy the Spotlights here that would go in more depth regarding the passage.  He loved the little extras, I caught him reading into the 2nd workbook because he loved reading the interesting passages and Spotlights.  Lessons D and E have your kiddo looking for vowel chunks again, but in D your child needs to write the passage from dictation.  This was hard for him, only because of his motor skills.  But, this lesson encourages the child to ask for help if needed.  Now the final E lesson asks your kiddo to write from dictation completely alone with no help.  It's really cool to see the progression from week to week. 



 













So, would we recommend Spelling You See?  I think for sure with a child without Special needs and even if your child does have Special needs.  My oldest has dyslexia, I wished this would have been around when he was struggling through spelling.  Now, Mahala is a spelling wiz.  Give her any word and she can figure it out in a snap.  So, this program wouldn't be a good fit for her.  I think this program brings a different approach to learning how to spell by color coding and dictation and just seeing those chunks in the passage that I promise will captivate any audience.  So, yes, it's a great Affordable program that I plan to continue using with Kaden.

Let, me know if you start using it with your kiddos! :)  And don't forget to check out more on Social Media....

Crew Disclaimer
Spelling You See Review

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Blog Journey!!!!

I have been consumed with getting the garden set up and preparing Summer school curriculum for the kiddos.  Not to mention I took the plunge and decided to start a new blog to document our Family's journey with Addiction.  It's not easy and if someone would have told me almost 2 years ago that we would be where we are now I would have punched them.  So, here we are better then we ever have been in our whole marriage and I want to share with people who are where I was almost 2 years ago.  I want to share how we made it through the dark and scary tunnel known as addiction.  It wasn't easy, it's still the hardest thing I have EVER gone through.  But, if I knew then what I know now I would have taken the same path.  Yes, I would have still married him and loved him and prayed for him and then take on this challenge in-order to have this God centered Marriage we have right this moment.  Thank You Jesus!!!!
I'm not hiding anymore, I feel like the Lord has called me to share and to give support where I can.  I have seen first hand God lovingly grip my Husband and pull him through his darkest hours.  He has mended me back together people.  I was literally in pieces and I can walk again.  God needs all the Glory for this Miracle!!!!  This is Short and Sweet....if you know someone struggling with their Marriage with or without addiction pass my new blog on to them.  If you are interested or just curious follow along on our journey too.  Please Pray for us as a Family, pray for my strength as I share some impossible stories and pray for my Husband's Recovery. 
New Blog:


1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits ~ Review

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We love Art around here, creating Art is just a way of life.  It was something I did with each of the kids from a young age.  And even now as my oldest is almost 21 he can still be found drawing, painting and doodling.  Several weeks ago I was given the opportunity to Review an Art Curriculum, High School 9-12, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits.

Now even though we love Art, that doesn't mean it's an easy subject to teach and to do it thoroughly.  I create what I feel and never had any formal training.  But, for my Kiddos I would like for them to learn the basics and beyond.  I want them to learn about art styles and Artists from different eras.  I can do all this with ARTistic Pursuits and not have to spend tons of time gathering supplies, gathering information and organizing a plan.  Instead it's all in this Spiral bound book and is as easy as flipping to the next page.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Colored Glasses ~ Part 2

When I look back now it was all so clear.  I mean it was almost text book material over here.  And with that realization came a dump truck full of self loathing and honestly wondering if I should even be trusted to make a call on when to toss the out dated milk from the fridge.  Everything seemed impossible to deal with, nothing could be trusted and everything was raw. 

Now, almost 17 months later I am ready to share the miracle that we have experienced in our Family.  

Recovery.....Healing.....Forgiveness.....Understanding
 Let, me go on record here 1st by saying I never thought any of those things could possibly happen.  I was ready to walk out the door with my basket of colored glasses.  But, something stopped me.  Actually a feeling stopped me and I know it was the gentle hand of God.  And I'm so very thankful that I chose to stay.  And now I have to get the word out, that there is a way to work through what my marriage has been through.  

My Husband has a Sex Addiction and Our Family is alive and well.  Walk along with me as I share my story.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Orphs of the Woodlands ~ REVIEW

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I have a little video game lover that's also an avid reader here at home.  So, to find a program that has the best of both worlds makes me one happy Momma!  Star Toaster was generous and gave my Family the opportunity to try their online educational series, Orphs of the Woodlands in exchange for my Review.  This online program incorporates vocabulary, math, science, thinking skills, problem solving and nutrition all wrapped up in an exciting adventure.  Your child will learn hundreds of lessons through out this program.  The Story is about a squirrel, that your child get's to name, who becomes a caregiver to the orphans in the Woodlands.  He protects and provides for them.  These orphans are called "Orphs".  The squirrel is a special spy that fights off the pesky creatures who are terrorizing the orphaned creatures that live in the forrest.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1~Review

Who remembers cursive exercises in school?  I sure do, I remember feeling so grown up and proper when I wrote in cursive.  Every time I wrote even a note to pass in class you could bet it was in cursive.  So, why did I not ever teach my Kiddos?  Skylar went to public school for a few years and in 3rd grade he learned.  Mahala and Kaden though are all mine to mold and shape.  And cursive has not been top of the list.  When I heard that Memoria Press was offering me New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1($22.95 value) in return for my Review I thought this was my chance to cross Cursive off my things to teach list!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Colored Glasses ~Part 1


Sometimes we Believe one thing about our life that we suspect is not so, but with handy colored glasses even we can be fooled into thinking what we perceive is actual reality.  I say this because I have lived most of my 39 years that way.  I'm what you would call an expert shape shifter of sorts.  But, it has only come to my attention just recently.  And with that realization comes major responsibility and a tiny bit of relief. Let me tell you all about it, or at least one piece of it.

So, we all know I grew up in Foster Care after my Parents died.  We all know of my physical and sexual abuse.  My life on the streets with my oldest and my struggles with my Health because of Lupus.  Anyone of those things could cause Red Flags with extreme mental breakdowns.  But, what happens when married life creates this safety cocoon and all the bad yucky stuff that happened to you just floats away.  And then your left with the New Normal of suburban life and a huge basket of colored glasses.  

Life is Better, much Better then it was before married life I tell myself.  So, when something happens that stirs a little pain or familiar feeling of past Traumas you can do one of two things.  Leave what feels Comfortable and Safe more then Not or grab your basket of colored glasses.  I'll tell you what I did, I covered my eyes with a new pair of shades.  And what started out as an occasional accessory turned into a daily necessity.  I planned my wardrobe around them and convinced myself that I liked them.....they were my thing, my choice.  Before I knew it I never took them off and my vision was so distorted.  

One day, my colored glasses were slapped right off my face.  And with No warning or Consideration to my well being all the pain and truth that had been hidden from me now trampled me and sucked the life right out of me.  To this very day I can recall everything visually around me at that moment.  I remember the hair clip in my hair, the sound of dinner sizzling in the pan and the look on my children's faces as I fell to my knees in disbelief.  As every past Trauma resurfaced and churned in the depths of my belly it took all I had to confront the Man who was my Protector, Comforter, Soul Mate, Love of My Life, Provider, Daddy to my Sweet Children, My One, My Only, My Other Half, My Adam, My Flesh, My Prince, My Love, My Darling, My Rock, Companion, My Groom, Partner, My Husband.....The Keeper of My Heart.  But, I did and I tossed out all my Colored Glasses!


Taking a Breath......

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Living with the Tiger we call Autism

Life with Autism is kind of like living in the house with a wild Tiger.  There are moments where you want to just sit back and enjoy the majestic beauty as it frolics along playing quietly.  You are careful not to disturb the Tiger because if it's taken away too soon from what it's interested in you could be in trouble.  If the Tiger is annoyed or startled you could be in for a loud outburst and thrashing of anger is what will eventually tucker the aggravated tiger out.  You never know what it's thinking, you just have to carefully pay attention to his body language, activity and the way it sounds.  

This is life with Kaden, we have had a good several days, but we know we can never just let our guard down.  We can't just relax completely and forget what truly lurks inside our boy.  He is the sweetest child I have ever known.  He is caring and can be gentle and is so smart.  He hears things and never forgets them, he just adds it to what he already knows.  His mind is brilliant the way he works with numbers and figures things out before the question is even finished.  It is easy to forget the Tiger he has within him.  It's easy to let your guard down and slip into a routine destined for failure.  

With the kids recently coming home last Saturday night from their Missions Trip it changed up the schedule just a little too much.  We allowed a little more video game time for Kaden then normal, less school work and structured time.  We let him stay up longer, get off of his diet and didn't give all the physical stimuli he needs in order to release the energy inside.  So, now I sit here Tuesday morning with the walls shaking from his screams.  As he bounces his body off of the walls, trashes his room and blurts out things Mommas don't want to ever hear her kids say.  I can restrain, I can yell, I can cry, I can do a million things right now, but nothing will stop his behavior.  We have had the therapy, we know what to expect and we know what to do.  We wait, we pray, we stay strong and the storm will pass and he will end up at my feet making little puppy sounds.  I will wait until he touches me, which indicates it's ok for me to touch him.  I will hold him and he will hum and make noises.  Now that we have a service dog, he comes and helps.  He weathers the whole storm usually right beside him unless I'm afraid he may get hurt in the whirlwind of Kaden's meltdown.  After Kaden is limp in my arms or beanbag for several minutes he will normally cry softly and then get up like nothing has happened.  If it was very physical like it was today he will need to sleep it off after several glasses of water.

As I write this sentence he is putting on his essential oils and sipping water.  And now he's grabbing the basket ball to roll and kick up and down the stairs.  It's constant pressure and stimuli that his Body needs.  He needs education and essential oils to engage and sooth him Mentally.  He needs sleep and silence or soothing music to repair and rebuild his Mind.  And of course the Lord and Prayer to calm and fill his Soul.
Everyday is an adventure, just some are more enjoyable then others.  Pray for us all!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s NOT Greek to Me!) ~ REVIEW


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Have you ever stumbled across an unfamiliar work during a Science lesson or just wonder where a word came from?  I know I have many times, especially since Mahala is knee deep in Marine Biology right now.  We enjoy vocabulary I think, I've never heard a complaint about learning a few new words every day.  We actually have words of the day that I pin up around the house, so the Family is primed and ready to take on new words at any time....or so I thought.  I was asked to give a Review on Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) by Ready to Teach.  I was as thrilled as a Monkey on Free bananas Day!  The Kiddos...not so much.  I was a bit on the sad end of the feelings scale.  But, decided they were going to do it and like it and if not then I would deal with that when the time came to publish this Review.   Keep reading......

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thick as Thieves ~ Review

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/Thick%20as%20Thieves_zpsxhnvndjv.jpg We are a house filled of readers.  Even Kaden is caught more often then not with a book in hand squished in some corner of the house on an adventure.  A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to Review a book by Susan K. Marlow.  I had never read anything from her before, so this was a first time for the kids.  The book, Thick as Thieves is part of the Circle C Milestones series published by Kregel Publications.   And it came with a very helpful 40 page study guide also. 

The book is the first in a new series with Andrea Carter, who is a 14 year old girl growing up in California in the 1880s.  Mahala just turned 15 and we live in California, so I thought this would be a fun read for her.  Even though we don't live on  a ranch like Andrea Carter does in the book, we have always loved Historical Fiction.

Whenever I do a Book Review I don't like to give away the whole story.  So, I'm going to give you a small taste of the main Character and a brief synopsis of the book.  I will say that Mahala was originally going to read the book with Kaden, but he kind of got lost in some of the words that he was unfamiliar with.  Even though the amazing study guide went over many of the unfamiliar words.  So, I decided to read it aloud with her and I thought it was a Great book.  It reminded me of the books I used to read as a child.  Kind of had a Little House on the Prairie feel to it.....I loved that show.  It took all of 3 days to finish the whole book.  It was filled with suspense and wholesome drama, nothing that you couldn't read beside Jesus.  Love a good book like that!  Honestly, it's hard to find decent books for a teenage girl these days.  I felt like the plot was deep enough to hold our interests and filled with everyday life that Andrea struggles with.  It was nice because all of us have struggled with some of her struggles at some point in our lives.  Mahala could relate.  You get to kind of see the life of a school girl that's new named Macy Walker.  She's not the easiest person to welcome into the fold. :)  She has a totally different life then Andrea.  Andrea has to face tough decisions and she is able to show how her character was developed from having the Family she does and her Faith.  This book is wonderfully written and any Pre-Teen or Teen would enjoy this series.  I look forward to spending more afternoons with Mahala reading more in the future!  Susan has another book in this series coming out in July 2015 called, Heartbreak TrailRead an excerpt from Heartbreak Trail.

I wanted to mention a little more about the 40 page study guide.  It was a very helpful resource and could be used for more then one kiddo independently or in a read aloud setting.  The guide splits the book up into small bit-sized portions that consists of only a few chapters a piece.  It's filled with Vocabulary work, extra reading ideas, Questions to get your noodle thinking a little deeper about each of the characters, life on a ranch with horses and the overall Plot of the book as a whole.   Mahala super loved doing the crossword puzzles and I enjoyed learning so much more about horses with the vocabulary sections.  Mahala gave me a test after we finished... I now know what foaling means. ;)

So, would I recommend this book?  Well of course I would!  I would say most kiddos in 4th grade and up, boy or girl would find this book interesting and could relate to it.  The official age recommendation is 12 and up.
 

Thick as Thieves is $9.99 plus $2.50 shipping and handling and available here. The study guide is a free download available here.

Read an excerpt from Thick as Thieves HERE
Susan K. Marlow and Circle C Milestones can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Koru Naturals ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage ~ REVIEW




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The mission of Lord Heritage is to preserve and teach
God's Truth in education by following His
commandments in instruction so that,
"All thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."
Isaiah 54:13


We all know organization and keeping to a schedule is not my thing.  I want it to be my thing so bad, but it's going to take some Major work!  Lord Heritage has Blessed me with a full year subscription to their All-In-One Christian based program called HomeSchool Office for me to Review.  Now, to see if this will work even on me.....

This Web-based program brings a one size fits all basket of sunshine to the party.  No matter what your teaching style is, the curriculum you use or how many Kiddos you have this program was designed to work right along with you...for you.  It's pretty affordable too, only $79 for the entire year.   Imagine being able to schedule both your home and school life all in one central location and that would be your computer with access to it 24/7.  Sounds pretty dreamy to me, I for one am tired of toting multiple planners and notebooks in my arms.  I have Always been a paper and pencil kind of girl, but maybe now is my chance to venture out into brighter horizons.  


http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/Home



HomeSchool Office allows you to create reports, organize and plan projects, maintain a grading system as well as create high school transcripts.  I really could have used that help when Skylar graduated and I was getting together his transcripts for college.  Now that Mahala has entered High school I have to keep better track of all that she does throughout the year.  So, it seems like with this program you will be able to have everything you need to operate your homeschool with success.
The HomeSchool Office follows a logic based system that originates from our Heavenly Father that is recalled and shared through the Bible. 
Here is a clever acronym that represents each section in the program ~ P.O.W.E.R

Plan - Jeremiah 29:11 The Lord was a planner and therefore this program allows you to Plan your heart out.
  • Plan subject goals and objectives
  • Build a master schedule
  • Setup lessons
  • Create projects for home or groups
  • Lay out your school budget
Order - Corinthians 14:40  Lord Heritage encourages Parents to keep both house and school in order and not a place of confusion and chaos.
  • Schedule lessons
  • Integrate home & school activities
  • Setup important reminders
  • Create customized lists
Work - John 17:4 It is so important to have great work ethic and to complete all tasks Big or Small with a Happy heart like you were doing it for the Glory of God. 
  • Provide student access
  • View/print individual schedules
  • Follow daily lessons
  • Manage to do lists
Evaluate - Matthew 28:20 They remind us how the Lord encourages and maintains a personal relationship with each of us.  This is what we have to strive and achieve with our own children.
  • Manage requirement for state compliance
  • Oversee daily attendance
  • Track hours per subject
  • Maintain grading per subject
Report - Romans 14:12We need to strive to be held accountable and to establish proof of the work we say we have accomplished.
  • Comply with state regulations
  • Customize reports
  • Generate transcripts


http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/PlanLessons

I've been utilizing the HomeSchool Office for a few weeks now.  And there are so many areas that I see now where I need to improve.  I've been called to Homeschool my Kiddos and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.  I totally Believe in everything Lord Heritage promotes.  I just had a really hard time finding the time to put everything into the system.  My day flip flops at a moments notice.  Between Kaden's Autism, my Lupus and the lifestyle that comes with both of these life changers most of the time my day doesn't even start out the way I had it planned.  
Setting up the Plan and Order sections weren't so hard, because I know what subjects we have and what needs to be done around the house and with school.  The getting it all in and actually referring back to it through out the day is where I started feeling inadequate.  I was thrilled to at least have the option to print the daily schedules out, but I can't help but think for me writing it out is much faster then inputting it and then printing it each week or day.  Work and Evaluate were both nice to have a clear cut format of what needed to be done and how to keep tabs that everything was getting accomplished.  My Favorite part of the whole program was the Evaluate section with Work being a close 2nd.  The Report section is really not needed in my state, only for my own personal reasons would I use this and of course for college transcripts it would be very helpful.

http://www.lordheritage.com/HSO/Samples/Order 
Would I use this Program for my Family long term?  
No, but only because I think it really takes a logic thinking, organized or Type A personality person to keep this up and running.  I can't even keep up with social media without needing assistance.  Don't laugh please! :)  I'm too "fly by the seat of my pants" to be able to do this day in and day out.  But, I do see the value and I do plan on using the rest of my year to try and become more organized and less like a Texas Tornado.  I want to have a plan and peace amongst my Kiddos as they learn.  I want them to be able to predict what their day will be like.  I'm a work in progress.  

Right now you can give the HomeSchool Office a try with no obligation.  Enjoy a free trial for 30 days.

HomeSchool Office Review
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 20, 2015

GPALOVEMATH Online Math Program ~ Review

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We had the fun opportunity to try GPALOVEMATH  from GPALEARN several weeks ago.  I'm always interested in new Math Curriculum, programs, games and resources.  GPALEARN was super generous and gave us a subscription for a whole year.


GPALOVEMATH is an Online based Math Program for grades Kindergarten-5th grade.  Each grade level has a Fun Character Instructor to guide them through their lessons.  Kaden tried all of them out, but ended up sticking with the 5th grade.  This program follows an Instruction, Practice and Quiz format, covering over 10,000 practice problems per grade.  That's a ton of lessons for each grade, a full 10 months worth if your Kiddo works 4-5 lessons a week.  And don't worry about getting all those lessons done, because this program can be used on your Computer, MAC, iPad or Galaxy Tablet.  While we were sitting at softball practice Kaden could catch a Math lesson, how Awesome is that.  Dragging workbooks around with you is sometimes a pain.  And let's be honest here...sometimes the Kiddos conveniently "forget" their schoolwork when we go on errands, but they Never forget their devices.  And Now Math goes everywhere!  YAY!



So, let me tell you a little more about the program and how we used it.  First, the program was Super easy to log onto and set up.  That was a major plus.  And when Kaden logged on he was presented with a fun tutorial video.  And yes, he watched each and every grade level. :)  When you get all set up this is the screen you will see each day, that shows your Kiddo their recommended path of instruction.  They can also choose what they would like to do for their lesson also.  As you can see here in the picture above, there are some colored paths to choose from (green, purple, or blue).   To ensure that the skill is learned before they move on to other lessons each lesson is locked and must be passed before moving on to higher skill levels.  After your Kiddo receives their instruction they get a quick review and then they begin working through the practice problems. I love that there are many ways presented in the questions for the student to answer the problems.  There is clicking and dragging, multiple choice and fill in the blank.  It's not boring and same old thing over and over....Kaden liked that he was always on his toes.  And if your Kiddo gets stuck on a problem, they are offered 3 lifelines that they can use to get help figuring it out.  I also liked the positive responses his animated Instructor would give him when he answered correctly or incorrectly.  They were encouraging and motivating.  Another Big Plus!!!  After practice time, your Kiddo will move on over to the quiz where they can earn points based on the number of problems they answered correctly.  As they move along the path they will be able to collect Badges, this is so encouraging to them as they move along the lesson path.

And that brings me to another cool feature that I LOVE about this program.  To help Motivate and Encourage your Kiddo they have a Reward System!  I'm excited just typing it out!!!   There are over 100 different reward options that You, the parent can choose for your Kiddos to earn.  The more options you choose, the more often they are rewarded to the child. I chose so many Kaden was rewarded after every 3 lessons.  He needs that kind of reinforcement, but you get to decide for your Kiddo.  The more problems your Kiddo gets right the more points they earn.  And then the points are turned into "CASH" that can then be used for goodies and privileges.

There are so many options parents can choose from.  Something as sweet as snuggle time with a Family member and playing a Family game all the way to a visit to an Amusement Park or even money.  You can also go in and make up your own  make up your own prizes. Kaden's Hot ticket items were Baking with Mom, Money and Going to the park and riding bikes.  Works for me and he totally loved this feature!


There was one more thing that I had never seen before, especially in a Math Program and that was the message center.  Because this program was so easy to log on to and instruction was easy for Kaden to do a whole lesson without me I enjoyed the little emails he sent me.  At the top of their dashboard is a place for them to send the Parent an email.  He would ask me a question or tell me simply that he loved me.  I could also send him sweet notes too.  I would catch him rereading them sometimes or logging on to check if I replied.  It was just an extra element to the program that we really used and enjoyed.

 So, What do I think?
Well, I like many things about the program.  The independence it gives Kaden, the Reward system, Emails between us and the way the program presents the Math material.  The Only thing that both Kaden and I disliked was the voice of all of the characters were very Robotic and went in and out at times.  I know it may seem like a little thing, but when it's your "instructor" it can be rather annoying.  The graphics were really nice and honestly I was caught off guard when I heard the voices.  It didn't really match the high quality of the program.
Would I still use it?  Yes, because the benefits and enjoyment out weighs the not so smooth voice of the animated character.
  Here is what You need to know to get GPALOVEMATH for your Kiddo!
For $149/year per child, GPALOVEMATH provides:
*Entire year math curriculum
*Includes all grades K through 5th
*30 Day Money Back Guarantee
*Includes Learn, Engage, Motivate and Parent dashboard features

And right now (as of the publishing of this post 3/20/2015) they are offering a Special Price of only $129/year per child (using code GPAINTRO15).

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Tales of One Kitchen Cabinet

Here is the scene of the crime....it's bad, it's BIG, it's a mess!  Do you have a place in your house that looks a little like this? :)  You may be like me and have looked at places in your home that look similar to this, but just get overwhelmed and decide to just shut the door or turn away.  I have lived this way for 25 years.  But, recently I've discovered that you can have an unorganized room or shelves filled with clutter and it's just that...it doesn't define who you are as a Person.  This may seem like "duh" for you, but for me not so much.  I had a problem looking at things for what they are and not making them an extension of who I was. 

Normally this would freak me out and  I would be filled with shame, but let's look at what these shelves really represent.  When I look at these shelves with non-judging eyes I see that the person in this kitchen actually uses her kitchen.  They must cook at home more then they eat out.  I see bottles of food coloring from numerous science projects, Easter egg coloring sessions and endless nights of baking.  Extracts for all the fun drinks sipped while taking long walks, nacho cheese seasoning so their movie night popcorn is less naked.  All the baggies in the back filled with exotic spices found in little shops or Whole foods proves you can take a trip around the world and not even leave your house.

So, there is no need to feel embarrassed or discouraged.  Take what you have and make it Functional and Beautiful to you!  That is what I've been doing around my house and I haven't really been documenting it or blogging about it, because it's just been a lifestyle change for me this past year.  But, I want to share because I have meet so many people lately that carry this deep dislike for themselves and they have been dealing with it since childhood.  And everyday the pile grows taller and taller as they keep adding all their "failures".  The thing that helped me was realizing and truly believing that the things that I thought were "failures" were simply just areas of my life that I needed to give extra attention to.  And once I released the judgement and looked differently at the tasks at hand I found relief.  With relief I found motivation to tackle projects that burdened my soul for years.  Healthy eating, organization of the whole house, writing, Bible studies needing to be studied, building projects, hobbies I had wanted to start, languages I wanted to learn and a plethora of odds and ends that I had been putting off for YEARS!

One of my areas of weakness is the Kitchen, I have so much of everything!  I love to cook and I love flavorful food so I have spices and cookbooks galore.  A few weeks ago I donated 18 cookbooks and I still have about 35, that will be a slow weeding out process and I can live with that.  Right now they aren't cluttering the counters and floor of my kitchen, so I'm a happy momma.  Now my Spices are another story.  I couldn't just organize or get rid of them.  I buy most of them from Sams so they are huge!  Because of that they are bulky and I waste time searching for what I need.  Here is my solution....
My Son started buying these coffee drinks from Sams that came in glass bottles.  I've been keeping them for months because I knew they could be re-purposed.  I decided the bulk of them could be used to hold my seasonings. :)  After I took out all the seasonings from my spice cabinet this is what was left!  We wiped down the shelves and lined up our spices to look at what all we had.  We even found a few lost gems in the back! :)  
 
Make sure your bottles are completely dry any that you have removed any labels.  I used some goo gone and nail polish remover to help with the stickiness from the label.  We started filling up each coffee bottle carefully with a small funnel.  I'll give you a tip, gently tap the bottom of the bottle to the counter or table so you can get as much as possible into the new bottle.  It's amazing how much you can squeeze into just one bottle.



We decided to use black paper with a silver sharpie for labeling, that's what we had on hand.  We figured we would paint the lids eventually and maybe use chalk board paint to write the seasoning names on it if the paper messed up.  But, to tell you the truth it's been weeks and our black paper looks the exact same as it did on day 1.  
And here is the result, I feel so much better and looking for what I need is much easier.  I feel more inspired to cook new things when I look in my cabinet now.  I would say this project was accomplished in about 2 hours.  Now, what should I cook for tonight's dinner.....hmmmm.  First that huge container of coconut oil is making me want to pull some oil.  More on that later! ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sibling Education Takes Flight

You know those days when you think the only thing holding you upright is your bones, some invisible heavy duty string and the good Lord's firm grip?  Yes, well, I've been having one of those lifetimes.  Ok, probably only the past 5 years or so, but seriously.  Enough is enough already.....I am turning 40 in a few months and I am going to be working super hard to take back my health, both mentally and physically.  

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For now I am going with the flow, getting things done when I have the strength and loving on my Kids.  That's the most important thing to me.  I have learned so much this year about the importance of loving on your kids, giving them an environment that supports them and nurtures them.  In our school Bible time, Math, Reading and Art are the important areas we work on in some way every single day.  History and Science usually comes in the form of reading and experimenting.  We actually do a lot of History through art also.
Last week Kaden was talking about an aerodynamics class he took last year.  We decided to dig around and find his old notes and pictures.  There is so much out there to learn.  I Love this about homeschooling....anything can be turned into a learning experience.  We looked online and learned about flight patterns, airplane construction and we even added weather into the mix.  Mahala was also able to join in and since she is much older she brought a lot of additional questions, knowledge and project ideas that enhanced learning for both of them.  Sibling Education rocks, when you have a few of your kiddos working together not only does it make learning easier and fun, but it also promotes a close Family Bond.  They will not ever forget the times they had growing up and learning side by side.

 
After a few hours of researching and recording what they had learned in their Journals we decided to paint some airplanes and fly them at the park.  Kaden was going for a war plan look while Mahala went the more cartoon character look.  I can't believe I don't have a picture of hers.  :(  She liked her plane so much she decided to take her second plane that wasn't painted yet to the park so her painted plane wouldn't get messed up.  Kaden tried to reassure her that the battle scars would give it character, but she wasn't buying that. :)  
When we arrived at the park we realized that it was extremely windy and flying these Styrofoam planes was going to take an act of God.  Sure enough after 2 tries they took flight alright, but they flew straight to the back stop of the ball field.  They were Not coming down anytime soon, but of course the kids both had to try jumping and rattling the fence.  We gave up trying to get them down and played a game of Frisbee and tag.  When we went back an hour or so latter they were still hanging on.  Mahala had an idea to toss the Frisbee up to knock them down.  After several tries between Kaden and Mahala we walked away owners of two wind beatened airplanes.  HAHAHAHA  
Fun times Homeschooling in the Mainc House!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mother Should I Trust the Government? (FreedomProject Education) ~ Review



Our little Historian, Skylar is all grown up now and on to Big things at college.  So, around here we try our best to stay current on all that's going on in our world and whatever happens to be in the plans for that week school wise.  I was interested in taking on this Review mainly out of curiosity. 

We received access to a Family course from FreedomProject Education and the book, Mother, Should I Trust the Government?  Let me tell you a little about FreedomProject Education (FPE).  It's an accredited classical education academy with a philosophy based on a Judeo-Christian worldview.  They are also highly opposed to the whole Common Core situation.  They want to teach students how to think, not what to think.  Which is exactly how we feel about education.  They also believe in the importance of us being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves”.  I have that posted up on my classroom wall right now.  Love this saying!  FPE offers classical, constitution based education to kiddos in K- 12th grade with an online classroom environment.  I'm a very eclectic homeschooling Mom, so I was nervous about the class structure from the beginning.  The kids and I were able to participate in one of their Family Classes for the past few months.   They offer these in addition to their regular classes.  Take a quick LOOK HERE at the 2015 classes coming up.

Here is a video to tell you a little more about FPE.


The class we took, Mother Should I Trust the Government is based on the book with the same title.  What a title, at least we wouldn't forget the name.  :)   The class was an 8 week course intended for ages 13 and up and was taught by the Author of the book, Dr. Jake Jacobs. This was really neat, to not only be able to read what the book, but to also have the opportunity to be involved in a discussion with the author himself.

Each of the online sessions were once a week for 2 hours.  Getting into the class was super easy and effortless.  I would receive an email each week with a link.  Afterwards I would get a link to the recording of the class from the week before.  This was very convenient, because class time was during the same time I was cooking dinner and eating.  And honestly I liked being able to go back later and revisiting certain places in my notes to clarify what was being discussed or taught.  I am a pencil and paper type of person, so is Mahala.  So, even though I'm sure 99% of the rest of the class loved having the Powerpoint presentation and chat features, but it was distracting for us and that's why we loved being able to go back over the sessions later. 
 photo Mother20cover_zpsqfl8sxux.jpg

When we received the book in the mail, we found a few surprises too.  Included with the book was a small paperback of The Declaration of Independance and Constitution, as well as two bonus discs from FreedomProject Education: “Who Owns Your Children?” and “Common Core”.   Thank You!!!   I have to go on the record and I know I have said this before, but I totally goofed off in High School.  So, most of the History I know right now has been from learning right beside my kiddos.  I was intimidated from the moment I saw the book, but was pleasantly surprised.  The way the Author writes is so nonthreatening and once I heard his voice during the class I felt like we were sitting around the porch sipping iced tea.  Don't get me wrong....he knows what he's teaching.  You are not going to be bored to death while he rattles off facts and figures.  I'm just saying he is a wise approachable teacher! I learned so much and I have a notebook of notes to prove it.  Even Skylar enjoyed and learned a lot.  He is in the process now of going back through  the recorded sessions.  I will definitely be signing up for more online classes in the future, this was a great experience for the whole family.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When a Child loses a Parent.....

It was a week before I turned 13 that my Mom went to live with Jesus. I can't believe it's been 26 years. That seems like such a lifetime ago. I had just lost my Dad the year before and every since he went to live with Jesus I was running scared.  I was scared of everything, like a bundle of exposed nerves.

It took a long time to feel normal after my parents died, especially after Mom's death. But, I made it, it can happen. If anyone is reading this that feels like life will never be the same after you lose someone so close to you, someone that felt like you shared the same heart beat. You will, I promise...but it will take time. Allow yourself to take the time. Don't get wrapped up in the anger so long that it causes you to be a bitter, nasty person that cares about nothing and no one. I know a little bit about that. Even a little girl will go through the same process a 50 year old person would. Talk about it and surround yourself with people who love you. People who want what's best for you. I didn't have that when I was little.  I was surrounded by people who wanted to hurt me and abuse me.

After the reveal of my Husband's addiction and going through extensive therapy my eyes have been opened to the damage that was done to me.  That the lack of support, therapy, love and just being able to work through my emotions regarding my childhood has caused me to build walls around me so tall that I couldn't see the damage going on outside those walls.  The damage to myself, my kids and even the secret life my Husband was living so dangerously.

Every year since adulthood I become anxious a few weeks before Easter. Sometimes it's worse then others. The past few years though I have tried very hard to stay positive. I want to celebrate her life, not grieve the loss of her. After 26 years I'm finally able to do this. I'm able to appreciate the time I did have with her.  Mom was very sick, I basically watched her slowly die for 2+ years. So, I knew she was in a better place. She had left the pain behind her. But, the problem was I picked up that pain unfortunately where she left it. Sounds crazy I know. But I have done a ton of soul searching over the years. Lot's of personal therapy, journaling, EMDR, you name it...I've done it.   As a child and young adult I was all alone with my emotions, my fears, my pain. It was as though I became trapped in the fear, pain and worries of those last few years. Reliving it over and over, but involving the current life situations that was around me. Because life goes on....it will not stop just because you need it to do so. And time will never rewind, trust me I have tried to. I have begged and pleaded with God for it to happen, just once.  Since I was 12 I have been on medication for being Bipolar.....now I know that I was never Bipolar.  I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  After all these years I am finally working on me and learning why I deal with life the way I deal with life.  Unlocking past trauma and actually working through it instead of stuffing it in a closet. 

Her name was Violet, it's a Beautiful name. It's the name of a flower and the prettiest color I know. The evening sky can be Violet and early morning before even the birds want to peak their little heads up out of their beds. Most importantly Violet was my Mom, she gave me life. She carried me in the warmth of her belly and nourished my soul with every deep breath she took. She held me tight when I was scared and chased away the monsters that hid in my closet. She kissed my forehead when I was sick in bed and let me stay up late when her and Daddy played cards. She laughed wildly I guess like I do now. Even though I can't remember the sound of her voice or the smell of her perfume I know that she was beautiful with a heart of an Angel. She was so kind hearted, always doing for others and giving of herself.
She will always be in my heart. And I want her to be in the hearts of my kids too. Which is why this year I am going to share some stories with the kids and look through pictures of her with them. I want them to know about her bravery as she fought for her life. I want them to know how kind her heart was and how generous she was. I want them to never forget the person who I called Momma.