Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram Google+

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage ~ REVIEW




http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/LordHeritage_zpskoyfpdp5.jpg 

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

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/GPA%20Learn_zpsyds4cdst.jpg 



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).

Stay intouch with GPALEARN by Social Media
 www.facebook.com/gpalearn
www.twitter.com/gpalearn
www.pinterest.com/gpalearn
 


GPA Learn Review


Crew Disclaimer

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.

Connect with FreedomProject Education online:




Freedom Project Education Review

disclaimer_tos

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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Egglo Entertainment Glow in the Dark Easter Eggs ~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2014TOSCREW/Egglo/Church_Lawn_new_egg_zpsb35ea5b3.jpg
The Light shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:15 

Easter is right around the corner.  We are excited to celebrate our Savior and all that he has Blessed us with this past year.  This year Mahala and Skylar are going on a missions trip to build houses in Mexico for Spring Break.  They wont be coming home until the night before Easter.  I'm assuming they are going to be exhausted when they get home and not as excited to hunt for eggs the next day like Kaden will be.  
Which is why I am so Thankful we were given an Early Easter Surprise this year from Egglo Entertainment.  
Our Family was given several Egg-cellent Products to review.


Egglo Entertainment was Created by Darcie Cobos, who had a burning Desire to help show her own kiddos the real meaning of Easter.  Darcie shared her Passion with children at her church and watched it grow into a Huge ministry. The message behind the glow in the dark egg hunt is that Jesus is the light in the darkness and that we are God's people that also become a light in the World.  
I tell my Kiddos that everything you say and do can be a light in the world.  That they never know who is watching for and needing to see a light.
This past year we have grown leaps and bounds in our Faith, so these little eggs are more meaningful in my children's hearts then ever before.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Are You Waiting for Your Stuff to Make You Happy?

This weekend was like 5 weekends wrapped up into one.  I love when we can get many things accomplished, on the flip side you feel like you need another weekend to rest.  But we can't so we drag ourselves to bed late Sunday night only to find the Monday morning sun creep through the blinds way too early.  But, then again the Lord just Blessed us with another glorious day to be together as a Family so why complain!?!  

We have lived in this house almost 18 months and we are still settling in.  After moving 4 times in 5 years we have individual boxes filled with things that belong in several different rooms, not just the room that's written on the outside of the box.  Sorting and purging has been the new norm around here for a few months now.  When we moved in we were off to a great start, but given our Family's situation over the past year we honestly stopped doing anything 14 months ago.  Now, we are on the road to recovery and taking the time to not just stuff and shove things away.  But, to really look at something and think if it's something that has purpose or is it something I think will make me feel better.  Over the past 10 years as our Family slowly shifted away from each-other I noticed we all became dependent on things to change our moods.  We needed to feel loved and needed so in a way having a room full of crap that we could arrange, dust, use, see, arrange again, step on accidentally, forget about and then find again made us feel a fake sense of connection to the item.  And when we went to a store we would find shinier things that promised to make us even more happy and fulfilled then the stuff we had at home.  And the sickness goes on and on and on.

Now, I'm not saying to throw away a special something that your Grandma left you or that you have to stack your books on the floor because that shelf needs to go.  But, do you really need 5 spatulas or a half dozen different lotions?  What about all the knick knacks and storage containers?  The shoes, clothes, decorations, kids stuff, basically everything you have stuffed in a closet, under the bed or in the garage.  Is it really serving it's intended purpose for you?  You know that project on Pinterest that you know you will get around to doing?  That has been my excuse for almost anything I have brought into this house.  I can use it for something else that I saw that I just know would look good or benefit the Family in some way.   But, I realized even though I was not the one with the addiction problem we were all numbing out.  Stuff was our drug of choice to deal with the big elephant in the living room.

Saturday I was going through a box and I found 20 tiny Tupperware containers for spices that I had bought probably 6 years ago at a yard sale.  My intention was to fill them with beads and sequence.  I knew it was going to be perfect for the classroom.  From the looks of it I had started filling a few of them, but that was about it.  I never finished my project and where are my little crafty things right now?  They are in a plastic carousal that I love and it's one functional piece.  So, those 20 little containers are now in the back of my van to be donated.  
If it's a true need and it has function like for Beauty, Function, Safety, Storage anything really...just be mindful that your stuff doesn't own you.  That you surround yourself with things that have an actual purpose.   Don't depend on your stuff to make you feel a certain way or for it to change something in your life.  I used to honestly think life would be better if all my dishes matched and if the bathroom was full of fresh new towels.  If I change the artwork around things would be better.  People would change if I could just make this house more cozy and less stressful.  People change when they accept responsibility to do so.  Nobody can lift the Denial Curtain accept the person behind it.  Indeed my life was more stressful, I was stressing myself out.  Not anymore though, gone are those days, I feel so relieved and I haven't bought towels in years.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

REVIEW~ IndoctriNation from Great Commision Films

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/IndoctriNation%20cover%20500_zpscmnb8ttw.jpg 
I was given the opportunity to watch and review this great documentary I have seen and heard about for some time now.  The film is called, IndoctriNation from Great Commission Films.  I will admit I procrastinated in watching it because that's what I do sometimes.  But, I was so impressed with it I not only watched it twice in one day, but I've already shared it with 2 other families that I know will benefit from watching.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Unveiled Wife ~ Book Review

Marriage is a mosaic you build with your ­spouse—millions of tiny moments that create your love story. #unveiledwifebook - http://unwf.co/uwquote1

 

 

Jennifer Smith has been a huge inspiration to me.  And has helped me on my journey to SAVE my Marriage.  I found her online late one night while searching for answers and help for my own problems brewing.  I mainly found a lot of Husband bashing forums.  And I needed hope to continue my marriage not a bunch of angry wives filled with hate ready to pull the plug.  And then there was the Unveiled Wife Blog. 
I read Jennifer's story and even though our struggles were not the same we shared a common bond...We loved the Lord.  She was full of Faith and Affirmation.  I needed that right now, it was vital for me. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Birthday Boy for the 8th Time


 
Kaden is now 8 years old....that's so crazy to me.  Where does the time go, I mean come on.  It seems like only a few years ago I was bringing him home from the hospital.  Life with Kaden has been anything but boring.  He has kept us on our toes since day one.

The first few weeks was normal, nothing to crazy except I had a huge kidney infection that landed me back in the hospital.  But, when he was about 4 weeks old he started getting sick.  After being shot down by the Dr. and hearing how it's just leftover amniotic fluid in his lungs I insisted on x-rays.  I then was told he had pneumonia and we started an antibiotic only to later that night rushing him to the emergency room.  He was admitted and given the diagnosis of RSV.  At almost 5 weeks old that was a very scary diagnosis.  
Weeks after being in 2 different hospitals his little body was giving out.  I was so terrified and mentally exhausted.  My heart was so heavy with anxiety and fear.  Between the continuous high fevers and the tubes and wires that kept our little boy's life going I had this constant battle in my head for his survival.  It just couldn't be any other way, he had to heal and recover. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Patience is being Appreciated!

I am sitting right now on hold with the Big Bad insurance company once again.  I was sitting here thinking as I listen to a mix of 80"s and elevator music that I have spent probably weeks and weeks of my life just sitting on hold.  One bad song after another, shewing away screaming kiddos and dogs that need to go pee all just so I can either get something approved.  

All of our customer Representative are busy assisting other customers.  They will be with you shortly, please stay on the line.  Over and over again....and you wait and wait.  I especially love when a voice comes on the line and you think it's the rep only to be disappointed with a high quality ad.  Do you ever experience that?  Please tell me I'm not the only one fooled by that. :)

Oh, that just told me how Special I was to them and that they appreciated my patience!!!  :)  That's such a nice touch.  I drank all my coffee and still nothing.... So, I push the Speaker button and piddle around the house with my phone strapped to me.  Just waiting and praying that the music will stop and a real person will come on and help me and my child.

No matter how long I wait I always speak to the Representative kindly and with respect.  Their job honestly is not easy, I understand.  But, it truly is a pain to wait for 20 minutes or more, especially when it's regarding your child's health or a financial concern.

What do you do when your on hold?  How do you pass the t-i-m-e.......

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Panini for Me


I am not the most Organized Homeschooling Momma, I know you already know that.  And I don't know what happens to time during the hours of 9am and 1pm.  But, we seem to get caught up in some time warp thingy.  Almost every single day one minute we are cleaning up from breakfast and then the next we are all starving and wondering how is it possible almost 1pm.
So, with all that time traveling going on the Kiddos and I are starving....not to mention that the Hubby comes home every day for lunch too.  The sound of the garage door going up is usually what snaps us back into reality.  Then I run to the kitchen trying to think about what's in the fridge from last night.  And how can I take what's in the pantry and whip up something tasty and not B-O-R-I-N-G!!!
The other day the garage door started going up and I was thankfully at least in the kitchen so that bought me like 3 extra minutes of planning!  :) I decided to make a Panini!
I grabbed:
Fresh French loaves of bread from the pantry
In the fridge I snagged mayo, Dijon, sprouts, lettuce, cheese, butter, shaved ham and pastrami
Out on the counter I had cucumbers, scallions and tomatoes
In my spice cabinet I pulled out sea salt, pepper and garlic powder

**In a small pan I quickly sauteed the scallions that I sliced long ways.  (I like this way for sandwiches)  As soon as there is color on the onions I turn the heat off, and ass a good hand full of sprouts to the pan with a shake of salt and pepper.
**After I get that out I throw the meat in just to warm it up a little so it will melt the cheese better.  Just a little heat goes a long way!
**During all this, I have Mahala help slice the brad and squirt on the layer of Dijon and mayo.  Kids love to help....let them!! 
**I turn my panini grill on or on days I don't want to get that big thing out I just use a regular pan on the stove.  It just wont have the cool groves! :(
**I thinly slice my peeled cucumbers and wash my lettuce and tomatoes.  I also slice my tomatoes too.
**Layer however you want.  Some of my kids like lettuce some don't, I have one screaming for no scallions and one wanting extra.  So, I love that the sandwich can be customized to their liking.  I usually will have the older ones build theirs after I get Kaden's and Hubby's finished.  
**I like to use butter, I know some people like olive oil.  I butter the grill and place the sandwich down.  Then I rub butter on the top of the sandwich and sprinkle garlic powder and sea salt on the top.  Lastly I lower the top grill plate down and the sizzle sizzle begins.  It smells Heavenly!!!!

I serve this by itself, along with last night's salad, chips, fresh fruit or fresh veggie sticks.  It may sound like a long process, but I promise you from start to finish I get 5 sandwiches done and on the table in 15-20 minutes.  To make it even faster, just plan and be prepared.  All the cutting can be done earlier on and honestly you could even build the sandwiches the night before and then at lunch time get them out and press them.
Give it a try, panini sandwiches are so fun to make and even more fun to eat.  The crispy bread and warm goodness inside is worth it.  Let me know what your favorite sandwich is?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Homeschooling on the Spectrum is Colorful!!!

I'm asked all the time about homeschooling Kaden.  What's it like to keep your Kiddo with Autism home all day long?  Well, first of all it does take patience.  Not the kind of patience that you need while your on an 8 hour flight in front of a defiant youngster that has the lungs of an Opera singer and feet like sledgehammers.  Or the same kind of patience you need while you wait for your tax return to come in while your juggling a few late bills.  You just need your normal Parent Patience, nothing God didn't equip you with.  Yes, things will get ugly from time to time.  There may be days, even weeks where you only think about getting out of your night clothes.  But, even on those days, with the right systems in place and support you can do it.  

We felt like it was the Best thing for our little guy to stay home.  I wont get into it on this post, but, Kaden has never been to public school like my other two and we plan on keeping it that way.  
So, how do I keep going even through the bad days?  Here are a few ideas that we use daily.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bible Art....



Who has ever heard of Bible Journaling?  Not me, not until one day I saw this beautifully painted Bible on a friend's instagram feed.  I was like W-H-A-T!!!!  It reminded me of the time I was introduced to scrap-booking.  Never heard of it before in my life and then Bam it was all I could do to not run to the nearest craft store and stock up on stickers, cardstock and little diecuts.  I was a mess for nearly 2 years and 9 albums later.  Then life hit, Lupus hit and a little thing called Autism.  I haven't printed a single picture in almost 10 years, except a few for Skylar's graduation party. 

Recently though with my new life situation I have become more free with my time and the creative juices are flowing like the Mississippi river in early Summer.  No, I take that back....it's like a gushing geyser!  Ok, I know that might seem a bit exaggerated.  But, I will tell you this one thing.....I have put more paint on things in this house then I ever thought possible.  I've gone through 3 glue guns this year, filled up my photo drop box not once, but twice AND I've hung pictures for the FIRST time in 15 years on almost every room in our house.  Even the ridiculously small toilet room.  Yes, even that room.... right by the tiny window, next to the re-purposed toilet paper holder I fashioned out of a sewing machine table leg.  I am that hard core....I scare myself.  

I used to be like this, I was the artsy fartsy one in the bunch.  I had spunk and spark coming from every part of my being.  Over the years all of that was sucked from me, leaving me dry, mundane and just existing.  I am so thrilled to report that I am No Longer just existing, I am living!!!  And loving every minute of it!!!  

I still have bad days, triggers from the trauma of what I call my past life.  But, I refuse to let it control who I am in the present and future.  That is why I feel so Passionate about this whole Bible Journaling thing.  I've read the Bible many times before.  Somethings I remembered and could easily recall.  I felt like I basically understood the Bible as a whole.  Since our life change Bible reading is much more then just reading a few verses or chapters so I could cross it off my to do list.  I remember thinking hopefully God could see me now...crossing off Bible Reading!!!  Yay for me!!  Now, it's literally my main course in my meal for the day.  My daily vitamins I guess you could say.  I run down the stairs to read each day, so I can drink in the word with my eyes.  It feeds my heart and soul, it gives me strength and courage.  

Then I get to do what I love to do, and that's add color.  I draw whatever comes to mind... how I feel about the passage, my thoughts and interpretation.  It's so personal and to have this kind of connection where you are using your logic and creative parts of your brain just makes the scripture stick in your memory.  If you asked me about something I read 3 weeks ago I could recall it and probably tell you the book in the Bible that it came from.  By illustrating my connection to God's word each day, my life has become filled with passion, love, strength, courage, desire and fulfillment.  
How do you spend your time with God?  Are you excited to open up his word each day?  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Word Games Make English Time Fun



This is such a fun game....the kids all had a great time thinking up words and spelling them all out.  We have had this game for a few years now.  Being able to watch Kaden grow his vocabulary and spelling skills has been a real treat.
I love games where all the kids can be involved and having fun while helping each other out.  Group games Rock!

Right now we pull this game out once a week or so in place of English workbook time.  What are some Spelling/English games you play with your Kiddos?


Friday, January 23, 2015

The Bandage Has Been Ripped Off....and It Hurts!

There is a lot of this going on in our house lately.  Life has been a bit overwhelming without the band-aid of video games.  We are sticking to a new rule of no video games during the week and only when time permits on the weekends.

A little back history....Skylar grew up with that same rule and so did Mahala until Kaden developed an interest when he was 4.  Skylar, almost 21 attends college and has a successful job working with children on the Spectrum.  Mahala is still at home learning with me and like Skylar doesn't seem to have any real challenges on or off the computer.  Kaden on the other hand has a problem.  Let me explain what we have seen.

In the beginning we just thought he was so darn cute in the big office chair.  The headphones were so huge and they squished his little checks together and made him have a fishy face.  At that time he showed no real interest in people, his toys or anything else for that matter.  But, all of a sudden our boy literally emerged from behind the couch to see what the Big fuss over this box with a screen was all about.  We were happy he wanted to do something "typical".  

At this point he had just started ABA therapy.  He wasn't potty trained, wouldn't let you hold him, never focused his eyes on your face, he was repetitive with movements and with talking.  Kaden was a toe walking, twirling kid running scared of any little sound or movement.  I remember when his days consisted of numbers and sequences all day long.  The fear of water and physical touch was a nightmare to navigate during bath time.  He was totally disconnected with the outside world.

So, A few hours a day of Video games became a little bit of heaven for not only me, but the whole family.  It became the only reinforcement that worked during his 30 hours of therapy a week.  We used it as a reward for participating in therapy and for doing things that were way outside his comfort zone.  A few hours turned into 4 or 5 hour each day and slowly increased over the course of 2 or 3 years to the present.  Now he is almost 8 and would spend most of the day playing.  When he wasn't playing he was talking about playing.  And when he wasn't doing that he was very aggressive to himself and property.  Now before you ask, no he didn't play violent, crazy games.  Minecraft was his favorite and only game.  It was okay for him for about 15 minutes and then he would get frustrated or overwhelmed about something regarding the game.  One time he misplaced something in a chest and we spent 3 days going through all of his hundreds of chests looking for the item.  Even though in the end it really was only important to him, not really important in the game itself.

For the past year we have been going through a Family crisis I guess you can say.  Game time became like a band-aid, because we could find time to deal with what was going on in the Family.  Between therapy, the older kids and video games Kaden was taken care of while we healed from trauma that we were going through.  During all this we would take away his game play all together because of behavior and within a day we would see an incredible decrease in negative behavior.  He would have little fits of rage, but after several days he was a new person.  And then we would give in again after having a few weeks of such amazing behavior.  We would think he deserved a little break, only to be slapped in the face with cold reality that video games have this negative effect on him.  Now, we have tried several kinds of games and he doesn't seem to get worked up over them.  It's the computer games that seem to do it to him, unfortunately it's his favorite game...Minecraft.

Now we are focused and on the road to Family recovery so that means getting Kaden healthy and happy too.  Which is why we took the no video games during the week and only for a few hours on the weekend approach.
What we have found after a few days of rage was that he has this major need for physical activity.  He's been riding his bike, using the trampoline more and goes outside just to look at stuff and explore he says.  He has played with play-dough, painted, actually build with his legos and just snuggle.  Here is an example, we had our weekly review with the Therapist we worked with when he had ABA therapy.  She was amazed because for the first time in 3 years he sat with us at the table and talked about random stuff from the week.  He shared an upcoming movie trailer and even invited her to a game of chess.  Who was this kid???  And how can I keep him out here with all of us?

I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been some of the hardest to get through.  He has soooo much energy that sometimes he just runs around the couch screaming or talking about a subject that we have no idea about.  He is in a constant state of motion and silence is something I have not experienced except when I drift off to sleep finally.  But, at least he's not in a coma in front of a screen.  I'm not saying all kids are like this, but mine is.  And I want him to be alive and awake....feeling all that the world has to offer him.  And our Family will huddle around him as he experiences life in a whole new way.  :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Girl has a Blog

Mahala has a New Blog that she is working on.  She just posted a few pictures on her latest post.  I'm so proud of her.

Life Behind the Screen

Monday, January 12, 2015

Accidentally Delicious.....


If I had to describe my cooking style in 2 words I would say Accidentally Delicious.  I grew up in the South, so I have a love for food.  Some of the Best foods come from the South, but living on the West coast for the past 14 years has added a little charm to my pot.  You haven't lived till you have tried one of my double fried chicken sandwiches smothered in an avocado sauce and loaded with fresh garden fixings and sprouts.  Did I mention it's not really fried and it's crammed into a homemade sourdough hoagie roll????

Most days I take a poll with the Fam and then grab whatever protein won.  A quick look in the veggie bins, garden tubs and Pantry rounds out the meal.  I then see a vision....I have a feeling, a hankering. 

I always start with the Holy of all Holies..... GARLIC!  I feel Garlic can go in ANYTHING!!!!  I draw the line at cereal and homemade poptarts.  But, besides that I honestly feel it just works.  My next foodie favorite of all is the pungent onion.  Yes, not as Wham Bam as Garlic, but it definitely adds a presence to any meal.  And of course salt and pepper, the seasoning not the music group.

My other can't live withouts in the seasoning cabinet...like I would never be able to cook without them! 
Spanish Paprika
Basil
Saffron
Cayenne
Sage
Curry
Rosemary
 Fresh Chives and Cilantro are also a daily must!
Of course there are plenty of others, these are just ones that I use day in and day out.

So, the meal up above started out to be one thing and then turned into this and since then has become one of our Family's favorites.  I had bought cubed steak to make country fried steak for dinner one evening.  When we got home I realized I forgot the milk....you have to have milk.  Darn!  Well, it's all out on the counter, so we are having something tonight...now we have this more then the country fried steak. :)

Whatcha Need:

Cubed Steak
Onions
frozen Green Beans
(Optional Mushrooms)

1/2 cup of water or beef broth
1 tbsp of flour
1/2 stick of butter

Seasonings on the meat that I used- (approximate measures)
Paprika 1/2 t
Sea Salt 1/2 t
Pepper 1/2 t
Cayenne 1/4 t
Garlic Powder 1 t

I sliced the cubed steak into strips, placed them in a bowl and sprinkled the seasonings on.  I never measure, which is why I NEVER share recipes.  I promise to get better at this!!  What I always do to check my seasonings when I make a new dish is I prepare a tester piece.  So, for this meal I would cut one of the strips in half and cook them up first.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  I EYEBALL everything, I know how much I need of a seasoning in my hand to give my dish the flavor I want.  Next time I will measure, but first I need to find the measuring cups.....now where did I put them.....hmmmmm?

-Okay, after you eat your tester piece adjust your seasonings if you need to. :)  -Then add your flour to the bowl of meat. - Next you need to add the butter to your pan to melt.  Once it sizzles toss in all your floured, seasoned meat.  Spread it out and make sure your pan is on a low high/high med heat.
-Next you need to slice your onions and optional mushrooms if you want.  I use frozen usually with this because it's too easy.
-After 2 minutes or so on one side stir the meat and add the onions.  Stir occasional because you want the meat to brown evenly.  As you stir and a little bit of water or beef broth.  That along with the butter, meat juice and flour will make you a nice little gravy.  If you see little clumps of flour, just whisk them out with your spoon or spatula.  -Once you see that the majority of the meat is cooked and the frozen beans and put on med/low heat until beans are tender.  Add a little water or broth throughout if needed until you get a nice sauce/gravy going.

The whole meal takes about 20 minutes, super fast and way delicious.  We serve it over rice most of the time, but have ate it with yummy mashed potatoes too.

Enjoy, let me know if you try it with your Family! :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

God Shaped Hole


Every since I was knee high to a grasshopper I've had a Special relationship with the Lord.  I remember nights singing to him until I would fall asleep.  I'd tell him all my secrets most little girls would whisper to their Barbie dolls or friends on the playground.  I would secretly pray to him when an ambulance whizzed by or when I caught a glimpse of tragedy on the nightly news.  

This all came about I'm sure because every single year I was in a new school, new town, new house....thanks to my Dad serving in the Navy.  I never connected with people, never had the sleepover, back yard birthday party experience.  It was just me, my parents, and the Lord.  I never realized how important my relationship would truly become one day.  How I would need to depend and lean on Him so much.  That one day I would not be able to breathe without him filling my lungs first.

Even as I grew up and became a young adult God was my center rock.  As life changed and I married there became a distance between God and I.  Almost like a child moving out and starting their own life.  Coming home to visit only when laundry needs to be washed or a late bill needs desperately paid.  That was me in my late 20's and early 30's.  Autism, Kids, making my Husband happy, homeschooling, health matters, money, just life in general became my primary focus.  God was just for church, nightly prayers and the daily distress pleas.  

I lost my relationship, Not my Belief.  

It took something drastic in my Family to bring me to my knees.  To fall at the Lord's feet and have the Veil lifted from my eyes.  I had been running scared for years instead of living in light.  It's a Beautiful thing to wake up without a heavy confused heart.  I have this amazing sense of Peace!  

We all have a God Shaped Hole that we try to fill up with  
 money, addictions, other people's love and approval, material things, desires, job titles, fame, likes and friends on social media and ton of other things that make us Stay in Denial.  

But, when we realize that Nothing fits in that hole but a relationship with God we will then find Peace, Wholeness, Acceptance, Love, Contentment, Grace, Satisfaction, Thankfulness, Hope, Health, Friendship and Clarity.  I have this right now, just like I did as a little girl.  
Have you ever experienced this kind of Spiritual Transformation?