Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media: SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Review - TOS Crew

SmartKidz Media Review
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Homeschooling is a unique and wonderful adventure! As homeschool parents, we have the honor and privilege of choosing curriculum that suits the needs of our own children! I love that!  I have three girls and none of them learn things the same way. That makes things a little tricky. When learning styles vary, you need an assortment of things at your fingertips to help your children learn and grow. So what I have found helpful is looking for some sort of media that will drive a concept home, or share information in a different way. Media can do things that workbooks can't. It engages your children's minds in a much different way, and can stimulate their ability to remember things.
That is why the opportunity to review SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, by SmartKidz Media was so wonderful! There is something for everyone contained on this site, and there are so many different ways that you can utilize what is contained there! You can watch the videos for entertainment, you can utilize the study guides and do unit studies, you can add the media into your current studies as a bonus......the uses are numerous.
We live in a society where people are constantly overstimulated with media that is not useful or helpful for their education. Children sit for hours and watch cartoons or movies and none of that is something that adds to their educational learning or development. This resource is designed as a tool for you to use as you see fit. SmartKidz Media is awesome! It is learning at your fingertips!  What could be better than that! I love that you can log onto it using whichever media device you like. That way it is always mobile and can help with long car rides, or waits at the car dealership....... whatever you need to do, you can take it along with you and access through wifi!
When you log into your account these categories pop up so you can decide what you would like to view. Once you click on each category you will be able to see the options available to you to view.
My daughters and I loved several of the sections and used them more often than the rest. Those would be the World of Discovery, Music & Fine Arts and the Mighty Ebook Collection. I also spend some time with my niece weekly. She loved the My Animal Family section the most. Mostly, we spent time utilizing this website for entertainment. But as a homeschool mom, I am a little tricky. I always make mental notes about how to utilize information to fit into my curriculum.
My Bottom Line:
I really enjoyed reviewing this product. It was super fun and easy to use. The content is so large that your kids will love going through all of the options. It is a wonderful resource and very multifunctional. Just see for yourself. Go to SmartKidz Media and try a free trial. You will quickly see the benefits that this resource brings to your child and your homeschool!
Social Media is a great tool to see new and updated info. If you would like to stay connected through social media, use the links below. 
SmartKidz Media Review

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Life Past Disillusionment

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When I was a little girl, I imagined how wonderful it would be like to be an adult. To me, it seemed that reaching adulthood would be the ultimate pinnacle of existence.
I mean think about it, adults can do whatever they want. Nobody tells them what to do except themselves. They are their own boss.......right!?  Well imagine my surprise when I arrived in adulthood only to find out that I was mistaken!
I love looking back at these early pictures of myself and my family. They always make me smile......but they also make me remember how much I wanted to be bigger at every turn. (Something that frustrates me as a mom of children with the same desires!  #ironic)
My mom has told me stories of when I was three and I wanted to go to school like my big brother. (He was my hero!) She told me that I had to learn my ABC's. So I went home and learned them in one day. Then to put me off another day, she said they don't allow you to go to school if you can't tie your shoe.......done! I learned it that day! So then she told me that I had to learn how to count to 100.......done!  Learned by the end of the week! Finally my mom got wise to my ways, and told me I had to be 5!  Ha ha ha!  Too bad she didn't start there!  ha ha!

Just like I made it to school when the timing was right, I also walked into adulthood exactly when I was supposed to. Why then do we expect things to come to us out of order in our spiritual life?  Think about the wisdom of the words my mother uttered....."Barbette, you will be ready for kindergarten when you are 5, they won't let you in the classroom until then."  Heartbreaking for a 3 year old with high aspirations?......YES!!!  Was this statement true? Most definitely!

Timing has probably been the hardest thing for me to learn. I love a challenge and I love adventure, so if I thought it I did it. Well, that hasn't always worked out the best for me!!! I'm sure you can imagine!!! ha ha!  Some people that have known me for awhile don't have to imagine, they have been there to pick up the pieces! Including the One Who has been with me from the beginning ~ God.

I cannot imagine my life without Him. He has taken a loud, giggly, rambunctious, thrill seeking, goofy girl, and somehow through circumstances mixed with perfect timing made me into ........ME! Sometimes, I am still each of those things, but mixed with wisdom, grace, peace, patience, gentleness, long-suffering, love, joy and goodness! Wow!!  Only the God who made the world and all you see can mold and craft in that manner. In a manner that even the creation stands in awe of His greatness!  NO.......I am not saying I am great! What I am saying though is that I can see the difference He has made in my life, and my God is amazing!

You see life has a way of throwing curve balls at you. I am no longer that impatient little giggly girl free from concern and worry you see in the pictures that believes that life is a bowl of cherries.....I am a joyful woman of God walking in the Truth of God's Word, confident that no matter what is thrown at me, I can face through the power that I have in Christ!!! The big difference is that I am no longer ignorant to the world around me. I completely understand what I am up against, and........yes........sometimes I am still giggly. I'm not even apologetic for it, because I have faced difficulties in my life that seemed hopeless and desperate, and my God rescued me! I have been depressed and lonely, and my God comforted me. I have been sad and grieved to my core, and my God has lifted my head and filled me with joy!  You see, I can't help but testify to the Truth, that God is the Way-Maker, He is your Hope and Restoration, He is your Comforter and your Peace if you only allow Him to be.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 ~ Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Trust God's timing! His ways are far above our ways. His plans are perfect and right.

Isaiah 55:8-9 ~ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

You see, God's ways are perfect!

Psalm 18:30 ~ As for God, His way is perfect. The Lord's Word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in Him.

Deuteronomy 32:4 ~ He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CTCMath: 12 Month Family Plan Review - TOS Crew

CTCMath Review
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Some of you may struggle with the same condition that I have......Math Aversion!  {ha ha} I have to really pick my children's math curriculum carefully, because I need something that can do what I cannot.....explain math! 
I have an exciting review to share with you today! I had the privilege to review the 12 Month Family Plan from CTCMath with my two girls. I have a soon to be 8th grader and a soon to be Junior in High School, and this was my first year homeschooling. Finding a Math curriculum that fits the needs of one child can sometimes be a daunting task, let alone multiple children.....but what I found was that the 12 Month Family Plan is perfect for us! This way each of my girls can get the math they need in an easy to understand format.
What is the 12 Month Family Plan?
AMAZING!!  This online math program allows you the flexibility to register each of your children no matter what grade they are in, (up to 10 students) and each one can log in and work at their own grade level. The range is Kindergarten through High School and tackles even the harder subjects like Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics.
Each grade level is broken down into streams and each stream is broken down into topics. Inside each topic section are lessons that touch on every aspect of the topic. My soon to be 8th grader has been working on Pre-Algebra. When she logs in, the screen looks like this, and allows her the opportunity to pick which stream and topic she would like to work on.

When she picks the first stream and then Basics and Whole Numbers, this is what the screen looks like.

You can see that she has worked her way through the entire topic earning a silver medal certificate! Each numbered lesson has a short video teaching session to watch before they are required to complete the worksheet. The lessons are several minutes long and can be paused if necessary as your child is working through the sample problems in the lesson.

How we used this product:
This product was used by my daughter that was finishing up the 7th grade. She would log on daily and work through some of the lessons. We both found it to be extremely helpful and beneficial to her overall understanding of the concepts in each stream.
She also mentioned that she liked the voice of the instructor. She has found the voices of the instructors of other online courses either hard to understand or slightly grating....but was pleasantly surprised when this instructor started to talk.  :-)     (It's the little things!)
She worked through each lesson and completed the worksheet online, but there is an option to print the worksheets if that is how your student learns best.
My bottom line here:
This product is not only spectacular from a learning aspect, but spectacular from a budgetary aspect. I love everything about it! One very neat little tidbit is that you will receive an email with a summary of how your student is doing. It will show what they worked on throughout the week, and how they did on each section. It is a great way to keep track of their progress, and circle back around with them on the job they did through the week.
The 12 Month Family Plan for US Curriculum is the way to go! Whether you have one child, or 10 children, this product from CTCMath is a staple you need! You know you have a winner when your child that generally dislikes math requests to use this product throughout the summer months when you are usually off of school. This is a winner!

CTCmath Review

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Which Direction Are You Going?

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A couple of weeks ago the city began some road work right outside of my neighborhood. We had heard for the past couple years that there was going to be a traffic circle at the intersection near our home, and the time has finally come!! The roads are blocked, detours are in place and huge machinery is everywhere!  This road work means that we are cut off from our normal way of getting from here to there. With the intersection completely blocked, you have to think ahead of time exactly where you're going, because you will use a different exit from the neighborhood depending on where you are headed!! With all the detours we have been finding ourselves needing to go the wrong way, to go the right way!  Have you ever found yourself in that situation in your life??
For example, the other day we were needing to go west, but had to first head south, then catch a road east and head that way for awhile before being able to catch another road south before catching a road heading west. Confusing, huh?!  It was this particular day that one of my kids asked why we were going the wrong way.

As I was explaining the reason why, I realized the similarity to this situation in our spiritual life as well. Sometimes, God may put up roadblocks in our life. The roadblocks keep us from harmful areas that we need to stay away from. You know that we are not supposed to move the roadblocks, and even if we did we aren't to try to drive our car through there because the road is torn why do we try to move the roadblocks aside in our spiritual life instead of taking the detour?
We need to trust His Word when he says, "The Lord works out everything to its proper end" Proverbs 16:4
My God has proven Himself to me time and time again. I don't need to worry, I know that He has designed my path and He knows the big picture! He will teach us what is best for our lives, we just need to listen to what he has to say and then steer clear of the roadblocks!
Isaiah 48:17 "This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."
So, stay clear of the roadblocks that God has put into place in your life. The areas that are blocked are for your safety and well-being. God has a plan for your life and we can trust Him. His love is perfect.....His plans are perfect!



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Memoria Press: The Book of the Ancient Romans Review - TOS Crew

Memoria Press Review
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Memoria Press Review
The Book of the Ancient Romans, by Memoria Press was a great study and a wonderful book to review. This book, written by Dorothy Mills and edited by Memoria Press is a wonderful way to gain some of the more classical education by including ancient history into your homeschool.

As a history lover, I find books about ancient Rome fascinating and informative. It really helps you gain a new perspective on the societies of today. It also helps you see that the Bible is true when it states, "There is nothing new under the sun."  This book is full of quotes from classical historians and will help to prep your student for the reading materials that they may encounter not just in high school, but in college as well.

The book begins at the founding of Rome, and follows the historical documents that have been located. It also makes no bones about the fact that some documents have been destroyed. It takes you all the way through the history of Rome to it's subsequent fall in A.D. 476. After the emperor was set aside in A.D. 476 there was never another emperor set up in Rome, and never again was Rome the seat of the government of the Roman Empire.
What you receive:
When you make a purchase of the classical curriculum, The Book of the Ancient Romans, from Memoria Press, you will receive the book, written by Dorothy Mills, along with a Student Book and a Teacher's Guide. These two resources are a great addition to the book and an even greater benefit to you and your student. The student guide will help you take snapshots along the way through this book of your student's comprehension of the material and will help you gauge when and how to move forward through the curriculum. As always, it is a huge benefit to have a teacher's guide that has the answer key for convenience and ease of grading. The book does have illustrations added into the text which is a wonderful way of helping students grasp in greater ways the text they are reading!

How We Used the Product:

I used this product with my sixteen year old daughter. We were able to utilize it as a unit study. She too, is a history lover and found the book as interesting as I did. Since we both grew up in church, it was an interesting process of reading the book and really thinking about what our viewpoint of ancient Rome had been before the book as opposed to after. The Student Guide was exceptionally beneficial to her as it tracked her learning all the way through. This was a fun class to do together, since it is something that we both love. I know we would love to check out some of the other classes that Memoria Press has to offer.

My Bottom Line:

This is a great book and a wonderful study. This classical curriculum will be a huge benefit to your homeschool and will give your student a broader world perspective. I love that fact! My goal has always been to help my children become well-rounded, whether in sports, in emotions, in knowledge, or in service. So this curriculum has been a wonderful asset to my girls!
Memoria Press Review  

Family Christian Review - Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

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Up to this point I have not been a huge "reader" of Christian fiction. I haven't really had any reason, other than the fact that I had been so busy reading other things. I just have to say, Buried Secrets is wonderful! This is a wonderful piece of fiction that is sure to please, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to review it for Family Christian.

From chapter one Irene draws you in as she lays the plot. One of my all time favorite types of storylines is a police drama/murder mystery. Netflix can attest to that since I have watched all of Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Psych and Hawaii Five-O more than once! This is a little of all of that. This book is one that is hard to put down. I recently had surgery, so I took the opportunity to read it during my recovery, and found it spectacular!

I love the way that she lays the foundation of the plot and then goes into setting up the characters and building and shaping them in our minds and in the story. These characters have hit a few bumps in the road, but are doing their best to regroup and remember Christ in their lives. Then after spending time building the characters, she builds the story.....and boy does she build the story!! If you love Christian fiction, this book is for you!  If you haven't really been a fan of Christian fiction, this book is for you!  ha ha! This book will take you on a story of intrigue as you hang on every word, waiting and hoping for some tips or hints along the way!!

I found this book to be top notch. With this being book 1, I can't wait for the next one!

JazzEdge: PianoWithWillie Review - TOS Crew

JazzEdge  Review
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I had the privilege to review an amazing product from JazzEdge called PianowithWillie. When receiving the online sign in information, I had one of my children in mind for this product, but they all loved it and were able to use it.

PianowithWillie is amazing. What you get when you receive a membership is easy to understand online piano lessons. Willie takes you step by step, making sure that he doesn't overwhelm you as you teach yourself to play the piano. Without a doubt, it is the best way to learn to play piano!!

You are able to take it at your own pace, and learn at a speed that suits you. If you have to see something again, you can start the video over. Please take a moment and play the video I have included below. You will see how amazing these video lessons are, and how easy it is to follow Willie's instructions.

JazzEdge  Review
 How I used the product:
My girls had been asking for piano lessons, so when I saw this I jumped at the chance to give it a shot. We are busy people, but that seems to be true for everyone. We were able to utilize this daily so that each of the girls took turns logging in and going through the lessons individually. They found the instruction easy to understand and paced perfectly.
JazzEdge  ReviewThen based on how they did with that lesson, they would either move to the next or wait until the next day to do so. I heard piano at all hours of the day, as they were able to get to it. I even tried my hand at some of the lessons, and had a blast. Willie is interactive and fun, and the way that he stages the lessons, makes it easy to understand what you are supposed to do.....and how to place your hands. I k now that's a biggie!!
All of us had some piano under our belts, but not tons! Even with us not being the best at anything by Chopsticks, we were able to pick it up easily and have fun doing it!
My Bottom Line:
If you are looking for a simple, convenient, and straightforward way to do piano lessons for your have found it!!  I found this product not only appealing because of the convenience factor, but everyone loved it! Willie is anything but boring, and he does a great job of helping you move through the lessons and gain not only knowledge, but confidence! I give it two (2) thumbs up, but wholeheartedly wish that I had more than two (2) thumbs. If I did, I would use them now!! 
I believe that anyone who purchases a membership to JazzEdge wanting to utilize PianowithWillie with be pleasantly surprised.
I know that JazzEdge has other offerings as well. The excellence they put into their products makes me positive that whatever it is that you might be interested in from JazzEdge, you will enjoy!
To follow JazzEdge on social media,
please feel free to use these links.

If you are interested in seeing more reviews on this product, as well as more
about what JazzEdge has to offer,
click below.

JazzEdge Review

Legacy of Love

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This weekend I had the privilege of attending a retirement event for someone who had been a member of a particular organization for over 45 years. In fact, over the past 11 years he had been in charge of that very same organization!
Anyone would agree that 45 years is an quite a long and amazing length of time in one organization. Although, I had met him personally only a handful of times, I found him to be sincere, hard-working and caring. It was clear to those that met him, he loved people and did what he could for those around him, in return he has literally impacted change throughout our nation!  You see, he understood the principle that what you think about becomes actions, actions become habits and habits reflect your character.
As I sat through this retirement celebration I was impressed with the amount of people that traveled from all over our nation and even a few outside of our nation to pay respect to a man that not only got things done, but did so with honor and dignity. He stayed true to his passions and convictions.
We as Christians should be doing the same. Whether we have been serving Jesus for 5 years or 45 years, we should be impacting those around us by standing firm in our convictions no matter what is going on around us. We are called to tell others about Christ and to do so in love. Through love, our circle of influence will grow. As it does, so will the impact we have for Christ in our city, our nation, and the world!
As I watched the display of the legacy he had built over 45 years of service, I knew that I wanted that kind of legacy for the kingdom of God! It is our job to stay focused on eternity and build a legacy of love that stretches beyond our church walls, our city, our state, and our nation. With an eternity mindset we will impact our world for Christ!