Kwik Stix 12pk. {Review}

When the kids were quite younger they all went through a painting phase…but all three having some sort of sensory issue it looked different for each kid. One didn’t want to deal with the texture at all, one wanted the paint on everything and one just wanted all of the things to look pretty. ;) I was happy to be able to review this Kwik Stix 12 pk. from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

I had never heard of these before, but now that I have, I have seen them a few times. But they are great for kids of all ages and hey, I enjoyed them too! We took one day as a group and painted whatever came to mind and then there have been various single painting sessions as well. This is tempera paint but in an easy to use stick. So, the best part? You don’t need a cup of water to rinse out brushes…which also means the paint dries fast. Coolest ever!

kwik stix 12 pk reviewYou use the paint sticks like you would a glue stick. Pull of the cap and then twist the bottom to get as much showing as you need and then just go! I would say the consistency of the paint is kind of like drawing with a lipstick. All the kids did a lot of painting with their paints. I just kind of played around with mine and it was all very light, so it kind of looks like crayon. I was trying to do the Nightmare Before Christmas version of Starry Night and well…it was tricky since I was using yellow construction paper. kwik stix 12 pk reviewI would say that I wish they also came in a skinnier pen type paint so as to be able to draw a little bit of the finer details. For mine I had to use the edge of the paint stick and I could only do so much with it.. I loved that you could paint some, wait 90 seconds until it dried, and then paint a different color on top. Or even layer a bit while they are still a little damp.

I thought it funny that this day the kids all decided to do a sort of nature/landscape type painting. They just kind of sat down and starting painting without looking at what the others were doing. :D Gotta love it.. I like how they are all varied. I can kinda get a sense of their personalities coming through the paintings as well. :)

kwik stix 12 pk reviewkwik stix 12 pk reviewkwik stix 12 pk reviewLauren was the only one that had light colored paper to use so hers just seems extra bright even with the bright colors she used. I had planned on using it with newsprint paper, but I couldn’t find where it got moved. Hmm… We did find out that the Kwik Stix will draw on balloons! They dry so fast that there isn’t a mess either!

I think these are a great product, and they have more choices on their site. They have metalix and neon colors as well as different quantities in each box. The 96 pk. would be great for groups of kids like in a co-op setting or even a birthday party! :)

The Pencil GripAs much fun as we had with these Kwik Stix, the kids spent a lot of time with a sample that we were also sent of The Pencil Grip. My kids all write horribly. I admit it! Two are lefties, but that has nothing to do with it as there are many lefties with beautiful handwriting! But they started out when they were young holding their pencils perfectly. Now? Not so much, I don’t know WHAT happened.. So, I show them how to use this Pencil Grip. They all try it. And keep trying it. And laughing. They couldn’t quite get how to use it to hold the pencil correctly because they have been so off for so long! I find it very comfortable to use because, well, I write correctly…unless I get tired…lol. These are very inexpensive and can be used with both righties and lefties. You put your thumb on either the R or the L on each Pencil Grip. I am thinking of getting a couple more to hopefully get them to write correctly again!

If you want to check out what others from the group painted, feel free to click on the box below! :)

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
Kwik Stix 12pk. {Review}

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What I read in April

I couldn’t believe when I looked at the calendar and realized it was now May. Is every month going to be like this? Goodness…

So, what books have you loved lately? I have a sort of list going, but am slightly behind in getting them. I forget to put a hold on them at the library…

Here is what I read in April though, so let me know if you have read any of these. :)

Need

Need by Joelle Charbonneau – What do you really need?

One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin, join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone? Backstage passes to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn’t you?

Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs—a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn’t believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

Or could it?

After making her request, Kaylee starts to realize the price that will have to be paid for her need to be met. The demands the site makes on users in exchange for their desires are escalating, and so is the body count. Will Kaylee be able to unravel the mystery of who created the NEED network before it destroys them all?

What I thought: I kind of enjoyed this book in a weird way…lol.. It kind of gets at how social media is a crazy thing, but not in a lecture.

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Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels – What if the house of your dreams is the home you have? Meet Melissa Michaels, creator of the popular blog The Inspired Room and the best contentment coach you’ll ever meet. With humor and candor Melissa reveals how to transform your rooms (and your life) from plainly livable to fabulously lovable.

Like a perfectly overstuffed chair, Melissa’s encouragement beckons you to get comfortable and then get creative as you: find beauty in the ordinary discover your style and let it shine with simple ideas entertain possibilities and people with more gratitude and joy gather inspiration in the 31-day Love Your Home Challenge leap from dreamer to doer with confidence

Much more than decor! This is your invitation to fall in love with the home you have and embrace the gifts of life, people, and blessings right where you are.

What I thought: This was ok. I enjoyed it. It seemed like a bunch of blog posts in one book with a lot of, hey come to my blog type of thing. I got confused and my thoughts kind of were all over the place while reading. :shrug:

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The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice – When Ruth Ann (Roo) McCabe responds to a text message while she’s driving, her life as she knows it ends. The car flips, and Roo winds up in a hospital bed, paralyzed. Silent. Everyone thinks she’s in a coma, but Roo has locked-in syndrome—she can see and hear and understand everything around her, but no one knows it. She’s trapped inside her own body, screaming to be heard.

Mathilda (Tilly) is Roo’s sister and best friend. She was the one who texted Roo and inadvertently caused the accident. Now, Tilly must grapple with her overwhelming guilt and her growing feelings for Roo’s boyfriend, Newton—the only other person who seems to get what Tilly is going through.

But Tilly might be the only person who can solve the mystery of her sister’s condition—who can see through Roo’s silence to the truth underneath.

Somehow, through medicine or miracles, will both sisters find a way to heal?

Told from alternating perspectives, this gorgeous, unputdownable story of love, hope, and redemption marks bestselling author Luanne Rice’s dazzling entry into the world of YA.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book. I was amazed at how easily I could put myself into the story, it was told well I thought. I didn’t know how it would end either!

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Zero by Tom Leveen – For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

What I thought – This author has a great storyteller quality. I have enjoyed all the ones that I have read so far. The characters are always so thought out. I enjoyed this book.

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Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn – Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

What I thought: I must be in a mood for this type of book. But this was another good one. I wanted to keep reading, not put it down. I didn’t know how this one would end either!

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Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott – How far would you go to survive?

In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t stop – and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the beginning of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left . . . and only one can win.

What I thought: This is the sequel to the one we read last month. I enjoyed these stories! Sure, they are kinda Hunger Game-ish, but done in a different way. I am looking forward to the next one in the series..

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A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young – Eleven-year-old Margo Bandini has never been afraid of anything. Her life in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with Mama and Papa and her little brother, Charlie, has always felt secure. But it’s 1933, and the Great Depression is changing things for families all across America.

One day the impossible happens: Papa cannot make the payments for their house, and the Sheriff Sale sign goes up on their door. They have two weeks to pay the bank, or leave their home forever. Now Margo is afraid–but she’s also determined to find a way to help Papa save their home.

What I thought: This was for school, obviously.. But I thought it was told really well. It gave you a sense of how things were back then and how people thought and lived…

Dead Ringer (Rosato & Associates, #8)

Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline – They say that blood is thicker than water, but just how far should you go for a sister?

When ace lawyer Bennie Rosato’s twin sister returns to Philadelphia, she knows that trouble is on the horizon, for her sister never contacts her with familial love at the forefront of her agenda – if she contacts her at all. At the same time, Bennie’s law firm is in trouble, so she takes on a potentially lucrative class-action suit to try to save the day. It could be make or break – both for her family and her firm.

Meanwhile, her colleague Mary DiNunzio persists in bringing ina case that looks more like an Italian wedding than a lawsuit, and then a mysterious stranger appears just in time to help Bennie in the fight of her life – for her life.

Full of pace, suspense and laugh-out-loud humour, bestselling New York Times author Lisa Scottoline has written her strongest book ever, featuring many of the much-loved characters from teh wise-cracking all-women Philadelphia law firm of Rosato and Associates.

What I thought – Usually I LOVE books by this author as they keep my on my toes and I do nothing but read the book until finished.. This one…I liked…but it wasn’t like that. I don’t know what was missing in it for me. It was still a great story and the characters were well written.. I don’t know…

Well, that’s it for April! Now we are on to May! Don’t think I will have as many books read this month, but we will see… :D

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Thursday Things

Seriously, now that Jeffy is working from home it is harder than ever to know what day it is… I guess it is Thursday! It’s been a rainy week for us and it seems to be continuing for a while! We will see! Let’s do this weeks Thursday Things because it is always good to think about the good things… :)

First of all, I was glad to get Ryan registered for another semester at college. Now, he isn’t as far along as I would like him to be because our first semester we registered on the very last possible day that you could, so he went in with provisional status and could only take math and english. This semester he took music appreciation and psychology. So now we are trying to do more each semester for his last year. This next semester he is taking art appreciation, public speaking and american history. He is also taking the little class that is full of info about transferring to another college. Even though he isn’t as far along as we would have liked, I am glad he at least got this little start! :)

friend timeI was able to hang out with a friend for a few hours. Y’all, it is so hard to make friends after moving across the country… So thankful that she took me in and lets me hang with her, lol. Next time I won’t bring root beer. ;)

mass transitJeffy didn’t travel this week! He has two weeks of travel after this though, so booo… But still, this week was actually pretty nice. Now that he is working from home, he doesn’t mind going out and doing things whereas before, he would be gone all day as well as driving two hours a day and he just wanted to stay home.

Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel

Panera had a thing for the month of April that you could get a free bagel each day with your Panera card. Dude…have you tried their cinnamon crunch bagels? Soo soo good. I got quite a few this month. ;)

This song… It has been playing all week. And it is good timing too. There are probably going to be quite a bit of changes around here this year and this is just the beginning of them. I know it isn’t a new song at all, but it just fits…and I love it. :)

Ok, so that is my Thursday Things for this week! Let me know what you have liked about this past week! :)

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YWAM Publishing Heroes of History {Review}

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to read. Books, magazines, cereal boxes, you know, anything I can find! I am constantly reading! We do a lot of reading out loud in our homeschool and the kids all enjoy the different books that we end up reading. Every month or so we have a new book for their book club that we read together as well as some for history and other subjects that we do in our school. I was quite excited then when I was asked to review a book from YWAM Publishing! I hadn’t heard of them before but in looking at them closer I was fascinated.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
There was a long list of books to choose from, but as I made my way through the list the choice was clear! We picked the Heroes of History – Daniel Boone: Frontiersman book. Why did I pick him out of the many given? Because Jeffy’s side of the family is related to him! I have been wanting to find some information on him for a long time, but something that the kids would be interested in as well. This book was perfect! We started reading and everyone was immediately hooked at the story that was being told.
YWAM Publishing - Daniel BooneShortly after starting the book I reached out to Jeffy’s aunt who has done extensive research in the genealogy of Daniel Boone. While waiting for her reply I was able to log on to the Unit Study Curriculum Guide that was included for our review and see what it included. I was blown away with how thorough it is! As you log on to each author you get a great main screen that is very user friendly.
YWAM Publishing Daniel Boone Unit StudyHere is what the one for Daniel Boone looks like. The first tab is the author and for him it shows a short biography. The next tab is Unit Study.
YWAM Publishing Daniel Boone Unit StudyI love that it offers different information for various options. Small groups, classroom and homeschool. They are pretty similar, but you tend to do things differently in each of these situations. You can then click on the Unit Study tabs. You can choose from Part One or Part Two. Part one is so incredibly thorough. It is 76 pages! Now, like most Unit Studies, you can cover all sorts of different subjects in one unit study! I will get to that in a minute.. At the beginning are some quotes that go along with the book that you can use to memorize or have discussions about…anything really! Next is a section called Display Corner which suggests ideas on things to collect, research and have a more physical grasp on some of the things talked about in the book. I will say that we looked at the photo that was included of Daniel Boone and the kids were trying to find any family resemblances. hehe.
YWAM Publishing Daniel Boone - drawingWhat we have enjoyed a lot are the chapter questions. There are only six questions for each chapter but the questions chosen lend themselves to more discussion and introspection. The first question is actually a definition. They want to make sure the child knows the word well enough to be able to use it in a sentence. Next is a factual question from the book. Two more questions help gauge the comprehension that the children are getting from the story. The last two questions are more open ended and those are the ones that tend to bring out different opinions from each child. The answers to the first four questions are towards the end of the study guide.

Like I mentioned, unit studies are famous for having all sorts of subjects included. This does just that. History, of course…Geography, Essay writing, Creative writing, Reading comprehension, Public speaking, Drama, and Art. Now, of course this depends on how much you do of the unit study. We don’t usually do a ton of the Drama sections, but we have been known to do a few, they usually end in a fit of giggles…which is just fine by me! :D This next section in the study guide is called Student Explorations.  This is where you find essay questions, creative writing and various hands on projects. My kids have been on an art kick lately so I jumped to that section first. The kids all are pretty interested in guns but Ryan especially, so I chose to have them research and draw a flintlock rifle as well as draw the firing mechanism up close. The guide says to label all of the parts and give a presentation on how it works, but for time I chose not to have them do the labeling and since they were all researching the same thing I didn’t have them do a presentation. I think for future sections I will assign different things to each of them so that this will be able to happen.
YWAM Publishing Daniel Boone Flintlock Rifle drawingPart two of our Unit Study is just a few pages. It includes a timeline, a couple maps and a fact sheet. We have done so many of the items in the study guide that it is taking us a while to get through the book. We are about half way through at the moment. We don’t mind that it is taking us a while to get through though, which is saying something. The kids are all learning a great deal of things besides just Daniel Boone and that is one great thing about unit studies. The book is also quite fascinating and is told in an easy way to understand. Even though my kids are older, I don’t feel like it is too young for them at all. It still includes the bad things that happened.

During this time I also had heard back from Jeffy’s aunt about how the family tree went that included their side of the family. Some of the things that she said were in line with what we were reading in the story! We are working on a family tree as part of the unit study but adding to it in various ways. I think this was a great choice for a book to read for our family as the kids were extra interested to hear about his life because of their little relation to him… :)

I am honestly thinking of doing a bunch of these as part of our curriculum since they are so thorough. There are so many choices of books and they are always adding more! I believe that I was the only one that reviewed Daniel Boone in our group, but feel free to click the banner below to see what books others chose to review!

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
YWAM Publishing Heroes of History {Review}
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Writers in Residence Apologia Educational Ministries {Review}

I know I have mentioned it before but Lauren is my kid who likes stories. Reading, writing, hearing…she just likes stories. She has started quite a few stories but unfortunately hasn’t finished a one yet.. She was actually as excited as I was when I told her she got to try out Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries. Apologia is what we have been using for our science curriculum and it was great news when I heard they were coming out with something for writing!

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review

What comes in the set is an All-In-One Student Text and Workbook as well as an Answer Key. Now, you have to be prepared at the size of the student book. It looks overwhelming, but it totally makes sense once you open it up. It is spiral bound and that has worked well for us. Just don’t drop it while only holding on to the cover or anything.. ;)
Writers in Residence booksWhat I love about the Apologia products we have used is they have a section that mentions what to do each day. They use a four day week which also works well for us! This section is in both books too, so if you let your child do the work on their own they will know what needs to be done each day. They check off in the square on each box when they are done with that days work. Our Mondays are super busy so we worked on this Tuesday through Friday. It is meant to last for 32 weeks if you use the four day a week schedule.
Writers in Residence booksEach day only has a few things listed to do, none of which take a huge amount of time. It is meant for grades four through eight and Lauren knows quite a bit of these things already, but I am loving the way they are teaching these things and it is different than the way Lauren learned them in the past. They make it more fun! Early in the first module they had a list of action verbs and they suggested to walk like the words shown. This was so fun because we got the boys to join in and they each took a turn walking like the action verbs I told them. Some of the words were creep, dodge and prance. hehehe…I wish now that I had taken video. I will remember for a long time though..
Writers in Residence Bill MyersWe’ve been doing it for about five weeks now and it has just flown by. It doesn’t seem like work really, if that makes sense? The first part of Unit 1 is an interview with Bill Myers, a best-selling author. Lauren immediately liked him just because of the bird on his shoulder..hehe. I like some of the questions and answers in the interviews. If kids at all felt that they wanted to write book or something else, I think they could get a lot of inspiration from these author interviews. There is a different one at the beginning to each unit.

Also at the beginning of each unit is an introduction about that unit. It kind of gets you going as to what is going to be learned and uses inspiration from books, so for this first unit the book was When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. All of the modules in this unit keep using the way this book was written for the projects they want you to do. I like that they build on new things in each unit. Even though the first one was quite easy for Lauren, it builds to where sentences just aren’t simple, but full of descriptive words and nouns.

So, in using the When I was Young in the Mountains as inspiration, Lauren was able to write about when she was young and playing outside in Arizona. At first she just wrote a couple words for each memory. Throughout the unit she turned those memories into  sentences and then made those sentences even better with the vigorous verbs. Lauren then organized them using the Topical method since she thought it worked better than the Chronological that she also learned about. In the end, she came up with a short little batch of sentences that honestly remind us all about our time in Arizona.

I would definitely suggest reading the twenty or so pages at the beginning of the student text. It is so full of information and it explains why and how the book is used the way it is. There is also a small section in the answer key on how to use that book, but I almost think that is self explanatory. It does explain the rubric system and how each assignment should be graded, which is quite helpful. It has a section for the answers, which, there aren’t that many questions that need answers, but sometimes it is helpful to have. It also has a section for the daily schedule as I mentioned as well as a section for the rubrics and checklists.

I think this is a thorough writing curriculum. I would say that if you used it with a 4th grader, you may need to be a little bit more active in their learning than say if you were using it for 7th or 8th grade. Some of the items were kind of repetitious for Lauren, but she still is looking forward to doing it each day. I like that everything she learned before using Writers in Residence was explained in a way to really get her to understand why they are important, not just saying they are important.

This is volume one which is Apprentice and I am looking forward to when the other volumes come out. It will be nice that they can grow with her. Who knows, she just may finish a story sooner rather than later! :D

Feel free to check out what others thought about Writers in Residence! Just click on the banner below! :)

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
Writers in Residence Apologia Educational Ministries {Review}

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A+ Interactive Math {Review}

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}
 Kyle has always been my math dude.. He would go through the grocery store and be able to add things up as we went and give me a total at the end. It was kinda weird… But lately we have had a few issues with some math. We were doing review of fractions and it seems like he forgot about a few things. As what usually happens, it worked out that I was asked to review A+ Interactive Math. They came out with Math Mini-Courses  and one of the courses was Advanced Fractions. Perfect!!

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

As you first log on to the site, you sign up as the parent and then you make an account for any child that is going to use this program. It helps keep track of them as they move through each section. Along with the fractions mini course, we also chose percentages. I figure that is always a good thing to review and it goes well with fractions in my opinion..  When you click on the manage student section, you can see which students you have in which course. It also lists their username and password, which totally comes in handy because that’s just one more password I don’t have to remember, ha!

You can log yourself out and log your child in so they can start on their course. They can then click on the red launch button and a new window opens to their dashboard.

A+ interactive dashboardWhat Kyle used was the video lessons so all he had to do was push that button. Kyle is pretty good with computers so this was all pretty easy for him to figure out. The next screen shows you the table of contents.

a+ interactive table of contentsAs it mentions, you just need to click the ‘+’ sign under the table of contents tab to bring down the list of sections to study. You can start at the top if you like, but what I like is that you can choose any of the selections at any time. I do wish that you could read the selections a little easier since you have to scroll side to side to read all of the choices fully, but that’s just a small thing. Kyle wanted to start further down the list as he was pretty good with a lot of the earlier selections.

Advanced Fractions has 26 selections to choose from. Kyle started at the 17th one which was converting fractions to percents. When you click on the course you want, there will be a short lesson given. It is short, but it is easy to understand. The woman speaking goes into why you do things not just how to do them. I appreciate that and so does Kyle. There were a few things that Kyle didn’t understand why they were done the way they were, so he commented that he liked that about this program. The woman speaks very slowly…almost too slow for our liking, but I think it helps you keep up and not get bogged down by too much information too fast.
a+ interactive green frogAfter the lesson there are some interactive questions. We came across some that were multiple choice and some that were fill in the blank. For the fill in the blank, you can see that you fill it into the thought bubble of the green frog and then click the frog to continue. If you get it right, it gives you a thumbs up and some encouragement. If you get it wrong, they will go into the correct way to do the problem to make sure you understand.

When you are fully done with the lesson, you must mark it complete. You can then print off a certificate for finishing if your child likes that sort of thing. Then, you can move onto the next section that you choose.

Even though it seems a little young for my kids, Kyle appreciated how thorough it was in just a short lesson. It really helped the reasoning in his head about certain things and helped him to remember how to do these things again. Most of the courses really are geared to the younger crowd, so it just makes sense that it was a little young. I do like that each course is just long enough. I feel like if it was longer, kids attention spans would kick in and they would be wanting to go off and do something else. And it isn’t too short to where you are questioning what just happened.

There are 20 different selections for each math mini-course. Counting and Identifying all the way up to the levels that we did. It is suggested approximately 1st-8th grades for these mini-courses. I wouldn’t say this is a complete curriculum, but it definitely filled in some questions for us that Kyle had, and made him think of things in a way that he understood better than the other things we have tried. You can also print out worksheets and tests, which is what I normally would have done, but the online thing worked out better than I thought it would for us! Since each course is good for a year, I may print off some worksheets a few months from now to make sure he still remembers it all.

If you want to check out what grade levels others were able to review, feel free to click the box down below! :)

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}
A+ Interactive Math {Review}

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The Biltmore

Around-NCA few weeks back we visited The Biltmore. Now, there’s a little backstory that needs to be talked about. Well, it doesn’t really, but I am going to anyway. About a year ago I won two tickets. We were excited because we hadn’t been and we wanted to check it out. Life happened and we hadn’t been able to use them for months and months. We actually ended up in Asheville in November and forgot our tickets at home. Smart, right?
The BiltmoreFast forward to our planned trip a few weeks ago…We did bring our tickets this time and thought we would just get three tickets for the kids. As we were walking to get our tickets someone stopped us and asked if we were getting tickets. Of course we answered yes…because we were.. She ends up giving us two tickets for free! We were going on and on about how nice she was and mentioned that now all we needed was one more ticket for one of the kids and she gave us another ticket! She said she had been hoping that she could give her tickets to someone with kids. Ours were still in the vehicle, so she didn’t even know we had kids. I was amazed because these tickets aren’t exactly cheap! I guess it was the last day for members to use their tickets and she just didn’t want them to go to waste. So, in our excitement of not having to pay for tickets, we decided to get one of the behind the scenes tours! :D

Family at the BiltmoreI am thankful that we came early. It wasn’t crowded at all. The only bad part was that I was chilly so I kept my jacket on but throughout the day it got warm. Eh, it could be worse… ;)
It was towards the end of the Fashionable Romance display and the beginning of Biltmore Blooms. It was a great time to come! Although, I still would love to see it decorated for Christmas!

The wedding attire displayed was pretty amazing. It was such a great setting for them all. I took a picture of almost every one, but here are just three that I enjoyed as well as what movie they are from…

The Biltmore Fashionable Romance

The Biltmore Fashionable Romance

The Biltmore Fashionable RomanceThe Biltmore Fashionable Romance

The Biltmore Fashionable Romance

The Biltmore Fashionable Romance

Some of the views were amazing and just couldn’t get a good picture like I wanted. But I did like some of the things around the house. I only had an 85mm lens though so that made things difficult..

One of the views from a window…

The Biltmore Just some random little things that I saw..

The Biltmore

The Biltmore The wonderful library!! Love that staircase!

The Biltmore

The Biltmore The bowling alley!

The Biltmore Bowling

 

The Biltmore BowlingThe Pool!

The Biltmore PoolThe Gym!

The Biltmore Gym

The Biltmore GymThe Laundry Room!

The Biltmore GymAfter touring the house, we had a little bit of time before lunch and our Upstairs Downstairs tour so we walked the grounds for a while…

The Biltmore OutsideIt was just the very beginning of Biltmore Blooms, but it was quite pretty still. I know now that it is fully blooming there it is amazing!!

The Biltmore Biltmore Blooms

The Biltmore Biltmore Blooms

The Biltmore Biltmore Blooms

The Biltmore Biltmore BloomsThe Biltmore Biltmore Blooms

The Biltmore Biltmore Blooms

The BiltmoreFunny little thing.. You can kind of make out some horses on the trail in this next pic. Jeffy thought for the longest time that they were statues. The rest of us had seen them move, but Jeffy has always had the best eyesight so then we were all doubting ourselves. Why would they have statues right there though? And sure enough, after a long while they left…lol.

The BiltmoreBy the time our Upstairs Downstairs tour was over the line was HUGE! I couldn’t believe all of these people in line…crazy. So, a little tip…go early! ;)

We picked a great place to stay.. We stayed at The Residences at Biltmore. It had six beds which is amazing for our family of five, lol. It was a three bedroom full on condo type thing..full kitchen, two full bathrooms, fireplace, a couple patios. It was wonderful. We need to stay in this type of place from now on.

It was a quick trip but we all enjoyed ourselves. We would have loved to stay longer than just overnight, but the critters at home were calling us, lol.

 

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Homeschool Copywork {Review}

Have you seen that meme going around about the old people using cursive as a secret code in the future? It’s worth a giggle, but really, it’s kinda true! With a lot of schools not teaching cursive anymore, I wonder if it is going to be a thing of the past! My kids didn’t do a lot of cursive at their school before we started homeschooling and it took me a while to get to it once we did start. I found a few things online to print for them, but honestly, there just isn’t much out there! Thank goodness for Homeschool Copywork! Seriously!

Homeschool Copywork Review
I was happy to receive a Lifetime Membership to the site… Lifetime means that I can pretty much use everything on the site to my hearts content for as long as the site is around. Such a load off my shoulders! I have seen so many copywork pages online but not many that have cursive, and Homeschool Copywork has a ton! If you wondering what copywork even is, it is pretty much how it sounds, but they have a great section on their website called What Is Copywork that will fill you in..
homeschool copyworkThe website is very user friendly! One thing I really like is that the pages are broken down by age group for you as you can see in the picture above. There is early elementary, upper elementary and then junior high and high school together. I am obviously staying in the junior high/high school section. This is great because sometimes as I was searching online it seemed like a lot of the copywork would be way too young for my kiddos. And that is one way to make them not excited to do something for school…trust me, lol.

Once you click on your chosen age group you are shown such a huge variety of themes for the copywork! You have your Biblical themes, artists, authors, holiday, composers, and just fun things to learn about. There really is something for everyone!

Homeschool CopyworkWe decided…ha…ok, *I decided (pick your battles, am I right?) to start with Character Building. It is full of verses from the Bible that mention ways in which to live that help build character. All of these verses are so great, it is a wonderful selection. Now, even if you do click on the junior high/high school button, the copywork inside that section will still have various handwriting styles. So, there is your lined for printing and lines for cursive, and you can choose which you would like to use.

Each page also includes a picture that goes with each verse that the student could color if they so wish. Every now and again my kids get a coloring bug and enjoy the little break that comes with that.. Doesn’t happen every day, but I do have to admit it is quite calming. ;)

Speaking of coloring, there is a bonus section that has some coloring pages as well as some notebooking pages included. It is a great section to look through often! They come in handy if you are learning about a certain subject and want a little extra..

I will admit that my kids all pretty much can improve handwriting. One writes too small, one writes too big, and one is just all over the place, lol. I think that this will be helpful for each of them in a different way… And me too, because who’s the one checking their schoolwork? Yup…

If you want to check out other reviews of Homeschool Copywork, make sure you click the box below! :)

Homeschool Copywork Review
Homeschool Copywork {Review}

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HomeschoolDiploma.com {Review}

This is a hard review to write. As a lot of you know Ryan is in his junior year of high school. He is the class of 2017!! Which is fitting because variations of 7 and 17 follow him everywhere.. Anyway, I wasn’t ready for this review to slam me in the face like it did, lol. Is your curiosity peaked? Well, I will tell you that this is a review for HomeschoolDiploma.com and can you understand now? Ha! It really got me thinking that he does in fact graduate next year!

Exclusive High School Diploma Review
Our homeschool group has the option of doing a graduation ceremony. The parents with children graduating all plan it, but in the past they do a little slideshow of each child and the parents hand them their diplomas and then they go off into the sunset…hehe… But it is pretty cute and personal! I am thankful that I was made aware of HomeschoolDiploma.com because I tend to get overwhelmed easily in situations like this. I was thinking other people just printed something off the internet or some other random thing, but no…there is a company that makes (beautifully, I might add) diplomas just for homeschool familes! We ended up getting the Exclusive High School Diploma and I am very impressed!

HomeschoolDiploma.comLike I mentioned, I tend to get overwhelmed… But as I logged on to the website to order this diploma it was as easy as checking off boxes on each page. Literally…checking a box or drop down menu on each page a few times and your diploma was ready to be sent off to the company to be printed. Whaattt? And we got our finished diploma super fast!

The diploma that I chose, the Exclusive, starts out with the choice of seal.  You get a choice of four. These seals are engraved onto the diploma and it just looks super nice. I am embarrassed thinking that one would just print something off the internet now, haha!

HomeschoolDiploma.comThen you type in the name of the graduate. It has suggestions all the way through the choices, to help you in deciding how you want your diploma to look. You also pick the gender of the student here… On the next page is where you type in the name of your school and the city/state. Now, in Arizona we really didn’t need to have a school name, but here in North Carolina you do! So, we went with the name we came up with when we first started homeschooling.

The fourth section talks about wording on the diploma. Families are different and they take that into account on how the diploma should be written as well as if they had honors classes, etc… There are four choices here. You are allowed to pick a verse or motto on the following page, or you can leave it blank. You can choose one of the ones suggested or for a small fee you can add one of your own!

HomeschoolDiploma.comNext you fill in the graduation date and if you want one or two signatures. Now, buying this in advance, I didn’t know the exact date, but I assumed that we would be having his graduation in June so that is just what I left it as, with no number date… The next section is choosing paper and lettering style. And the one after that you can choose an honors seal if they went that route.

Toward the end you can pick out your diploma cover. Our homeschool group typically tends to do green gowns and such, so I just went with a green cover. Green has always been the color that we assign to Ryan anyway, so that just worked, ha! There are plenty of cover choices! You can also get their name engraved on the cover if you choose.

HomeschoolDiploma.comThere are some add-on items that you can look through as well.. and then bam, you are done! It is totally that easy!

HomeschoolDiploma.com also has other things that you will want to look at for your graduate! Gowns, rings, and the invitations and announcements that you will for sure want to order! I received a couple samples of announcements and I like how they are so different from each other. One reminded me of my invitations from back in the day, with the little name cards, and I kind of liked that…

HomeschoolDiploma.com

HomeschoolDiploma.com

HomeschoolDiploma.comOne of my favorite things about ordering from here is that you can make everything your own! There are so many things that you can change, or add, that the final items will be as unique as the student receiving them! Now that I have the diploma out of the way for next year, I can now look forward to ordering a gown and invitations. I know that I won’t be as overwhelmed when that time comes… :) Now, I never did order a class ring for myself my senior year, but who knows, maybe Ryan will want one…and they have those too!

If you want to see what other people chose for their diplomas, feel free to click the box below. Some people ordered gowns as well, and that is worth looking at right there!

Exclusive High School Diploma Review
 HomeschoolDiploma.com {Review}

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Homeschooling High School

When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t even think about high school years. We started so suddenly that I was just trying to figure out our day to day! Now that we have been homeschooling for five years and Ryan is more than half way through high school, I feel like we are doing ok! Sometimes you see articles talking about the scariness of homeschooling high school and it might throw you off your game…thankfully that didn’t happen…very often, lol.

homeschool high schoolIn working with The Old Schoolhouse doing reviews and such, they have allowed me to give away three things from their Schoolhouse Store. Did you read that? I said GIVE AWAY. So, of course my first thought was to check out their high school stuff. Because that can be scary, y’all!! I think even more scary than homeschooling the young kiddos.. Of course, that’s because Lauren was in 3rd grade when we first started homeschooling, but still..ha!

If you are homeschooling high school or are going to soon, you don’t want to miss out on these free items!!

HighSchoolBundle

The first item is this Homeschooling Through High School Bundle. Just looking at the description you can tell it is full of helpful information and insight from people that have gone before you with homeschooling these ages. This retails for $24.90 and would be worth purchasing at any time! Make sure you click on the link to see what all is included in this bundle!

beyondhighschoolbundle

Next is this High School & Beyond Bundle. This is fantastic for helping them figure out careers, college, and that sort of thing. If you are like me and have kids that just aren’t sure what they want to do when they grow up this is perfect! This retails for $18.30 and is full of excellent information!

weebookAdventureBundle

A Voyage Into Adventure is a collection of 20 e-books. This doesn’t really have anything to do with high school, but I included it because it pretty much has something for everyone. :) So, if you have little kids and don’t even have high school anywhere in your sights right now, make sure you check these out! This one retails for $39.00.

Now, before I give you the code to get these wonderful products, maybe take a few minutes and check out and like the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Facebook Page! If you already aren’t a part of it, they let you know how to get the first month of SchoolhouseTeachers.com for only $1. I reviewed them a few months back..love all of the classes on there! The Facebook page has a few fun things on there too as well as all of the reviews that the crew does. Sometimes I don’t review certain things because they fall out of my kids age group or something, so you don’t want to miss checking out things that you may not have heard of before. That’s one way that I pick out new curriculum in our family!

Ok, so, for the coupon code to get the above items for free… it is – JSCREW16 – enter it just like that. And it will get you any or all of these items for free! I am so excited about all three of these things and I hope you enjoy them!! The code is only good through the month of April, so even if you aren’t sure you want them, you may as well get them now and think about it! :)

 

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