5.22.2017

1980's Summer

The 1980's was filled with many Summer Memories of fun childhood wonder.  Growing up in the 80's was a different time, I collected Garbage Pail Kids not Pokemon.  I was fighting Bowser and traipsing through the Legends of Zelda, not kissing vampires and navigating through the web of Social Media.  So, this Summer..... I'm bringing back the 80's.  I'm pretty excited, we are still going to do our homeschool but with a fun twist.  
I'll be posting everything here and obviously on Instagram!!!!

5.19.2017

Captain Absolutely ~ REVIEW


 We have another book to Review today, but this one is a little different.  We had the opportunity to read Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family.  This book is different for a few reasons.  One, it's a Graphic Novel and two it's Faith Based.  So, that means clean language, appropriately dressed characters and a little Biblical Wisdom.  Sounds like a win win situation to me.  We have loved Adventures in Odyssey since the kids were young so this was going to be fun to add to our family library.

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I've never been one to enjoy comic books, but I was super excited to get this for Kaden.  But, it proved to be a hard match for him.  I think comics aren't his thing either, only because the flow of the comic was overstimulating to him.  I think he was frustrated with not knowing exactly what to read next.  What we did though was I would read to him and then he would look at the pictures.  It worked for us and it gave us an opportunity to spend quality reading time together.



Captain Absolutely begins in Kaden's favorite place....the library.  The character Josiah causes an explosion with a powerful seed..... a sunflower seed that fell into his computer.  Happens all the time, I'm sure! :)  Anyway the explosion caused him to be trapped in a room full of Bibles, not to mention radioactive fumes.  One thing led to another and boom you have Captain Absolutely and then the stories go from there as he fights lies to reveal truth and justice!!!  It's packed with villains trying to keep the word of God away from Metropolitanville citizens.  We both liked seeing scripture throughout the book and reading how this Superhero fights back with God's Word.


So, what did we think?  We both loved the content and the problems that were combated with the Holy Word.  I don't think Kaden likes the comic book style right now, but I can see that changing over time.  It was strictly a sensory thing and not the content.  I asked him if he wanted to pass it along to someone else and he said we could, but he wanted to read through it again.  Now our favorite part was in the back.  There is a super cool section called Big Questions that was filled with questions and the page number in the comic that answered the question.  Like What makes the Bible different from other books?  How do you share the truth in your neighborhood?  What do you do when you feel lonely?  Why do Christians still sin?  What is spiritual maturity?  And there are many other great questions to get the conversation flowing between you and your child.  Kaden's favorite was the Character pages in the back.  It was kind of like a little Bio for them.  He Loved it!!!

 
I think this would be an awesome leisure read for kiddos even teenagers would probably enjoy this.  And the cool thing for us parents is there is No worries, I love being able to not have to wonder what they are reading, being influenced by or that their minds are being filled with nonsense.  
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Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

5.18.2017

Homeschool Rescue ~ REVIEW

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Not a week goes by that I don't question myself in some way regarding my Homeschool.  I worry how I'm going to teach next year's Math, will they be able to write beautifully in Cursive.  That's surface stuff....I worry are they getting what they need to be productive people in this world?  How am I going to solve World hunger when I need to get Mahala's transcripts updated for her Senior year?  Do you ever feel overwhelmed, I can't be the only one....right?  Obviously not, because this next Review Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity is a New Self-Paced Program that is designed to throw us Mamas a life raft!  So, if you feel like you have been sinking or even floating around in those waters, this may be just what you have been praying for.

 So, what exactly is this Homeschool Rescue?  It's a self- paced online video course that consists of 5 Modules with lessons that include Homework, tons of resources.  I love resources and Heather does not skimp on them....and they are actually useful, helpful and Needed. :)  



Here is what is included in the Lessons.


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In the first Module I wasn't sure I needed this program because I didn't feel like it was a "Triage" situation that I was living in.  What I found the most helpful with this Module was the Planing for my Worst Day.  Having a child with Autism can turn a day upside down in a heartbeat.  And when my world gets upside down sometimes it's hard to recover.  I Never thought to Plan out my Worst Day.  Now I have a list of things that each Kid can work on independently.  I even have it divided for Kaden depending if it's the worst day because of a Meltdown, Sensory Overload, sickness or just a plain bad day.  I have my list of people to reach out to and what I need for self care.  I even put together a few simple meal ideas and stocked the pantry with the must haves.  Gone are the days where we just turn to slugs and let the day drag on slowly praying nobody gets hurt. :)

Module 2 has been my most revealing....this may hurt a little.  But the Lesson on taking your time back was spiritual....I don't have people in my circle telling me what I heard from Heather.  I needed this, oh and here I will mention that there is a Facebook Group that you can join too.  I wasn't real active at all.....I'm a lone wolf, that needs to change.... I know.  But, it is a place to encourage and receive encourage.  Us Mamas need this more than once in awhile.  Back to Module 2 my most helpful homework assignment I did was to fill out my ideal week and then to see how I really did use my time.  I was able to see time wasters, minutes lost in transition or lost just because it wasn't planned.  I told you this may hurt.....but it feels much better now.....Thank You Heather!


I just finished Module 3 and I need to go back through it again....I love that you can watch as many times as you need.  Module 3 consists of curriculum, classrooms and supplies.  Kaden is so all over the board  and I need to use the resources more that Heather provided.  But, I was anxious to look at Module 4 because it is all about Reward Systems, Positive Reinforcement, creating Consequences and so much more.  I love the resources in this Module, I have a lot more to do in this Module....I just purchased The 5 Love Languages of Children that Heather recommended.

The last Module I haven't dived into yet, but I need to plunge into it as soon as I can.  It covers all things Teen and their own study skills and time management.  So much here I can not wait and I promise to share with you all once we get there in a few weeks. :)

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So, what did I think?  Well, besides feeling like I just overhauled my life for the better I guess I can only say I Loved it.  It changed my thinking, it gave me concrete options and strategies to make my homeschool what I truly want it to be.  I feel Blessed to have been able to use this course.  I would suggest Homeschool Rescue to anyone that homeschools.  If this is your first year or 21st year, there is something within these Modules that will speak to you and breathe New Life into your Homeschool.  

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Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

5.10.2017

Sensory Seeker


Kaden is a huge Sensory Seeker...all day every single day.  As long as he is in control, if we walked into a room with loud music and strobe lights we would be in for a long meltdown.  But, I have seen him roll around on the floor for over and hour with his blinking light thingy we bought at Disney last year and have absolutely no problem with it. 


These days I'm pretty happy with my Autism Mama Skills these days.  Long ago are the days when I tried to squeeze a typical day out of not so typical kid.  And we are all much happier for it. I used to go by the seat of my pants and do a workbook approach with Skylar who was public schooled through 6th grade.  He was very much used to workbooks and taking tests.  Mahala has been homeschooled since the end of 2nd grade.  I did a laid back unschooling approach and we worked on Mastering subjects.  We used a rough outline with Sonlight.  We focused on Good Books and burning through each grade level.  This way burned her out a little, because I think it became mundane and not fun or exciting.  

But, this was also the Season of life we were living in.  From the time Kaden was 4 ears old until  he was a little over 8 we had people in our home 40 hours a week doing ABA therapy with him.  And before that we were in over our heads and didn't know what we were going to do.  We did the best we could during that time.  This past year has been a huge difference in so many ways.  I'll share some of the changes later this week, but here is what my little Sensory Seeker has been up to this week.
 
Of course reading is a Major thing for him.....he reads constantly and always 2-4 books at a time.  I should share Kaden's reading List.... :)

Any time he can get into water he takes the opportunity.  Add a little essential oil and or bubbles and you have one happy boy.  We have recently been combining water beads and Homer to his trampoline time too.  Homer provides pressure and company as Kaden soaks in the sun.  And the water beads are a texture treasure in his eyes.  We do this also while we read, practice math facts, do oral spelling tests, narration and listening to audio dramas.






Hamster Princess Giant Trouble ~ Review, Craft & Giveaway



 What do you think a Battle Quail eats?  What exactly is a top knot?  How fast do you think Mumfrey can run?  Can you eat goose eggs?  I could go on and on with the questions Kaden asked while reading the 4th book from Ursula Vernon's Hamster Princess Series.  I'm not quite sure why he Loves this book so much, I take that back.....I know why.  First the vibrant glittery cover caught his sensory seeking eyes and drew him in immediately.  Kaden usually doesn't relate well with fairy tales and I was a bit shocked he continued reading after recognizing the story line from Jack and the Beanstalk.    But, I finally figured out that I think it's because the characters are animals in this series and not people.  In Kaden's world of Autism he has always been drawn to animals rather than people.  And this story captured his heart and sparked his imagination.  
I would recommend this for readers 10 and up.  There is so much action, excitement, magic and spunk that even a reluctant reader will have a hard time putting this book back on the shelf.  Kaden was always giggling on the edge of the couch or pouncing around under the covers at bedtime imitating cliff-diving Harriet.  On a personal note I'm thrilled to see Harriet be so dynamic and feisty...she may be a Princess, but she's no damsel in distress!    Mumfrey the battle quail is so adorable and faithful to Harriet along with her best friend, Wilbur who makes an appearance as she was trying to get Strings safely out of the castle.  Who's Strings?  Well, you know...she's a harpster, half hamster half harp.  You'll understand once you read the book.  There are twists, turns and wit on every page.

  
Grow Your Own Beanstalk!!
We enjoyed it so much we decided to grow our own magic beanstalk.   Let me share with all of you how to grow your very own.
 Supplies: Glue, Construction Paper, Cotton Balls, Crayons, Markers or Paint, Popsicle stick or Wooden dowel, Magic Beans(Any bean will do), soil and Jar or Container.





1.   Cut out your Castle pieces from your paper.  We used a big square, 2 rectangles and 3 triangles to make ours.  
2.  Glue pieces together to form Castle.
3.  Now decorate your Castle...you can even use sequins or glitter...Kaden likes simple. :)


 
4.  Cut out your clouds from paper.
5.  Pull apart a few cotton balls and glue onto the cloud cutout and then glue onto the bottom of the Castle.
6.  Attach the Popsicle stick to the back of your Castle. 



 



7.  While it's drying head outside and fill your jar with soil.
8.  Place in your Magic Beans and water with your Magic Bean water blaster or typical water hose, whatever you have available.
9.  Pop in your Castle down in your soil and place in a warm sunny spot.  And remember to water every day.



  BOOK SUMMARY:
A magical beanstalk leads to a GIANT surprise in book four of Ursula Vernon's critically acclaimed Hamster Princess series.


Harriet Hamsterbone doesn't go looking for trouble. Somehow it always finds her. So she isn't completely shocked when a salesman attempts to sell her some magic beans, or when one of those beans grows into a towering beanstalk leading up into the clouds. But even Harriet is surprised to find a giant castle--complete with one very poetically challenged giant-- at the top of it. And she certainly never thought she would make a new friend named Strings who is half harp, half hamster. But Strings isn't the giant's guest--she and a rather large goose are his prisoners! This calls for a heroic rescue, and Harriet is just the hamster for the job.



AUTHOR BIO:


Ursula Vernon is a full-time author and illustrator whose work has won a Hugo award and been nominated for an Eisner. She loves birding, gardening, and spunky heroines, and thinks she would make a terrible princess. Ursula lives with her husband in Pittsboro, North Carolina.






a Rafflecopter giveaway


Enter for a chance to be one (1) grand prize winner and receive a set of Hamster Princess books, including Harriet the Invincible, Of Mice and Magic, Ratpunzel, and Giant Trouble (ARV: $51.96), or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible (ARC: $12.99 each). 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 8, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 15, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 18, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
May 9 – Doodlemom’s Homeschooling Life – Review + Craft
May 9 – Ms. Yingling Reads – Review

May 10Adventures in Homeschooling – Review

May 10Four Violet – Review + Craft
May 11The Delightful Life
May 11All Done Monkey – Q&A
May 13Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review

5.09.2017

High School Essay Intensive ~ REVIEW

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"Mom I'm going to go upstairs and write," said my daughter.  What?  Yes, you read correctly.  Mahala has been writing her little heart out since we discovered the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I couldn't have been any happier when I found out that we would be able to use and review this program in our Homeschool.


This is the brand NEW 2nd edition and comes with over 6 hours of seminar instruction on 5 DVDs in a high quality case.  Also, we received 28 pages of printable notes and the NEW portable walls for the Essayist folder that has many writing tools, reminders, strategies and so much more.  Every student should have one of these!  The program is designed for Kiddos in 9th-12th grade and is sure to get your student on the right track when it comes to essay writing.   Andrew Pudewa, an amazing Writing Instructor has almost a comical approach to essay writing and I was excited to get Mahala started right away.  We have been working around the clock with her writing.  This is her last year coming up and this program will help prepare her for the essay portions on the ACT and SAT.  Not to mention all the college essays that are literally around the corner for her.

Mahala has always been intimidated with all things English, but especially writing.  She always seemed to either write as little as possible or ramble on so much you forgot you were reading an essay.  But, she has grown a lot this past year and her world has opened up to many things including a new love for Poetry and Classic Literature. :)  She was a little reluctant to do yet another writing program, but it seems that a homemade brownie and a trip to Starbucks has magical powers over her.  


 
Funny thing is that she enjoyed the program so much.  She paused the DVD several times to run in and tell me everything the Instructor had to say.  She was blown away when he admitted he doesn't really like writing.  She was able to relate to him, relax and honestly learn.  On her own she took out her notebook and started jotting down notes.   She was so impressed with the amount of new information and technique that she learned in such a short time.  She has a list of traps to not fall into, common things to avoid, how to manage your writing time and many more vital tips for success.
I was happy to sit in and watch as he described the full process, guidelines and what she can expect to have happen when she is face to face with her blank sheet of paper.

All in all I feel like she is better prepared now more than ever.  She has something now she didn't have before....Confidence.  So, what did we think?  We think that this is exactly what she needed at this point in our Homeschooling.  There were not a lot of assignments given in this course, so it's not a full writing curriculum.  You would want to get this to prepare your students to write successfully.  If you are like me and buttoning up your high school student and ready to send them off to college.....check this out.  If you have a writer who needs confidence....this is a Must. 

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High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

5.08.2017

Prince and Pirate ~ REVIEW

 
Recently Kaden and I have been reading the most adorably silly, over giggly book written by Charlotte Gunnufson.  We were able to receive our own copy of Prince and Pirate a few weeks ago and I can't wait to share this little "fish tail" with you.
 
When I look at getting a picture book for our home library I have this mental checklist I go through.  I always check for the sturdiness of the book first.  Picture books are looked through over and over my many different little hands.  In this house a well made book is a must, because it will go everywhere with Kaden.  And this book meets this first important requirement and then some. Prince and Pirate comes with a jacket cover and the pages are thick and easy to turn.  I love the fact that the book lays flat, great for endless reading out on the trampoline or snuggled under your sheet fort for late night reads.


The next Huge thing is of course the Picture quality.  Does the art work grab my heart, do I feel the story, is it magical enough to get Kaden's attention over and over again?  Will he smile and giggle?  Mike Lowery did a magnificent job illustrating this book.  The picture are not only lovable, but memorable.  Each fish's personality beams through Mike's talented art throughout this book's pages.


And the last thing I look for is a little lesson or moral at the end of the story.  Picture books can be read quickly usually and I use them for transitional periods in our homeschool, morning time, bath-time, bedtime, camping trips, on car rides and they are always available for him when he just wants to relax a few.  There are plenty of opportunities every single day for him to pop open a book and I like to take those precious minutes and pack in a little character building gold nugget. 
In the story Prince and Pirate you meet two pretty happy go lucky fish...one with a crown and one sporting a pirate hat.  They both have their own little bowls and then one day they were both plucked from their safe haven and plopped down into what at first seemed to be an ungraded.  "BEHOLD! I am the rightful heir to this splendiferous kingdom," said Prince.  Pirate was quite happy too.... "SHIVER ME TAILFIN! I be just the pirate to command this grand sea."  It didn't take long to notice that they had company......each other.  Right away they started to order the other to remove themselves.  Kaden laughed so hard as they went after each-other, Prince threw Pirate in the dungeon and poor Prince had to walk the plank.  They each had a prized possession they dared the other to keep their fins off of it. Anger heightened and fishy words were exchanged and then they placed a line down the middle with pebbles.  The squabbling continues, stink eyes are freely given and then an "intruder" is discovered by them both.


It was this "intruder" that brought the two fish together as they took the attention off of themselves and used their energy in a more positive way to try and help others.  A giant move allowed something Big to happen in their little ocean, but you will have to read for yourself. 

So, what did Kaden and I think?  We both loved it...it was a perfect mix for young kids and the young at heart.  With the funny words like Barnacled bloomers and soggy scones and the relatable story line this is sure to be a treat in your family while reiterating how important it is to think of others and to share.  And Speaking of SHARING......I'm sharing a Prince and Pirate book with one very lucky reader.  Check my Instagram to enter in the giveaway and I will notify the Winner on the 17th!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR:
Charlotte Gunnufson has never, ever had any trouble sharing. Okay, maybe one time. But that was her big sister’s fault. And the other time, her little brother started it. Anyway, Charlotte is author of Halloween Hustle and lots of funny poems for Highlights and Cricket magazines. She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Mike Lowery is the illustrator of The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Firetruck. His work appears in everything from greeting cards to children's books and the Kid's Awesome Activity Calendar. He is a professor of illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta.

5.03.2017

The Secret Bridge ~ REVIEW


I have another Lamplighter Publishing book to share a Review with you today.  This one is called The Secret Bridge written in 1899 by Amy Le Feuvre.  I know I was all crazy eyes over the other Lamplighter books, but this one honestly I have Never seen another book like it.  It is covered in a buttery soft, aqua colored faux leather.  The image on the cover looks like it was carved into it...the detail work is breathtaking.  And at the bottom is the title etched into a gold embossing.  I love filling our home library with books from Lamplighter because their mission is to help develop Christ-like Character one Story at a time.  They do this by carefully editing high quality Literature and reprinting strong Character stories with integrity and good morals.


This story is recommended for ages 12 and up.  It's a Love story...not my cup of tea normally, but this one is sweet and honest.  It's a breath of fresh air in a muddled world of today.  The main character is Bridget Channing who is on a ship heading towards England after her Dad passes away.  I really enjoyed the imagery the Author paints in great detail.  It's a love story, so you  know there is a love interest and that ends up being the very dapper Godfrey Bullingham.  They eventually marry as she is alone, penniless and without any family, he assures her he can take care of her. 
Not to give away anymore to the story I will say that there are secrets, secrets that she must keep.  She struggles and it becomes more and more challenging as she wrestles with herself to keep them.  She wants to be honest, loyal and trustworthy as she develops new relationships.  As her walk with Christ is deepened along her journey she realizes that He gives her strength as she leans towards being more truthful with what she's been keeping inside.  I wouldn't say this story is action packed, but I was caught reading extra just to see what happened next.  I LOVE those kind of books!!! :)

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2017%20Homeschool%20Review%20Crew/05%20-%20May/2%20-%20Lamplighter%20The%20Secret%20Bridge/Secret%20Bridge%20Cover2_zps8hkgjeyb.png So, what did I think?  I enjoyed reading it so much, especially the handwritten letters, added scripture references at the bottom of the pages and the aged illustrations.  It just ties the period of the story together along with the old English language that it's written in.  You know you are reading a treasure and not a today's novel.  Also in the back of the book is several pages of other Lamplighter books and their Books of the Year titles too.  I like how they even have a section for recommended titles for specific ages.  This would make a lovely addition to any home library.

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The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}