Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday. My Happy Place

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday CMU Orientation Day #CMICH2018

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook June 17, 2014 #swdb #simplewomansdaybook

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Outside my window... It is sunny and muggy

I am thinking...about our big day tomorrow, long drive and early start to get on the road to CMU for Nick's Orientation

I am thankful... Alyx and Eric can fix my car without any big problems

In the kitchen...Dinner is thawing

I am wearing...capris and a tshirt

I am creating...all of the centerpieces and thank you notes for Nick's Grad party

I am going...to relax after this party is over and go camping

I am wondering...when we will ever catch a break from all the constant bad luck we have

I am reading...nothing at the moment

I am hoping...Alyx hears something from Conserve School soon and it is the news we want to hear.

I am looking forward to...seeing my oldest and dearest friend who is coming in from Texas for Nick's grad party

I am learning... To say NO and make time for ME

Around the house...things are pretty chaotic in preparation for the party

I am pondering...taking a class at Macomb in the Fall

A favorite quote for today..

One of my favorite things... is having all of us home for dinner, these days it is a rare occasion

A few plans for the rest of the week:CMU Orientation, Aqua Zumba, shopping for the party and Nick's party on Sunday

A peek into my day...Nick's Grad Party Thank You cards

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We Choose Virtues Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas #charactereducation

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We Choose Virtues Review
I feel that character education and training are part of our jobs as parents, I have enjoyed over the years finding valuable resources to help aid me in that job. One of the companies I like to turn to for help is We Choose Virtues. You might remember I had the opportunity to review some of their products last year. So imagine my delight when I was offered a review opportunity once again for a different product, the Youth Virtue Journal Volume 1. This journal is geared for kids 12-18 years old. So my boys being 14,15 and 17 fit right in the middle of this age range. The book sells for $17.00. Stay tuned to the end of the review for a money saving discount code. 

We Choose Virtues Review
Let me start with what is the journal and then I will tell you how we used it. This journal is 100 pages in length and covers 9 virtues The object is to use it one hour a week for 2 weeks for each of the 9 virtues so this gives you 18 weeks of lessons. Which for us is a semester. 
The virtues are as follows...
1. Attentiveness
This book is not just for parents it would be good for youth group leaders, mentors or even grandparents. This book is meant to work with the children not just give it to them to work on their own. Working together will help you grow your relationship with the children and help them to foster dreams of who and what kind of person they want to be today and in the future. Developed to originally use in the Idaho Juvenile Court System this book contains no scripture but as a Christian parent you could easily incorporate that into the curriculum. Along with the Youth Virtue Journal, I also received a Mentor Handbook, a Mentor Meeting Report Form, Youth Character Assessments, and Youth List of Memory Verses and Bible Heroes, all in PDF format. -See how easy they make it to incorporate God's word without a whole lot of extra time on your part. 

We Choose Virtues Review
I used this book with all 3 of my boys, Nick age 17, Alyx almost 16 and Taylor 14.5. My oldest son is not homeschooled and therefor is not exposed to as much biblical training and education as my younger two boys that are homeschooled so I felt this particularly important for him to sit in on with us. He just graduated from High School and will be heading off to a Secular college in a little over 2 months. My goal is for him to be able to stand strong in his Faith and Moral character and be a leader for those that have not yet turned to God. 
I had the boys keep a "journal" of their own, since we only had one copy of the Youth Virtue Journal. In reality their journal was really just a composition book that we purposed for this "class". One a week during our family circle time, which is usually on Wednesday nights, barring an unusual events, we sat down and went over the virtue for that week, keeping in mind we studied the same virtue for 2 weeks in a row. This is not something you want to speed through. You want to slowly go over the questions and answers and take time out for lots of discussion. There are many opportunities within this book to open the gateways of communication with your teens, take time to stop and embrace this open dialogue.
We not only studied this during our family circle time but I wanted to make sure the boys were diligently putting to work the virtues we were studying. This opened many opportunities for discussion, dinner time, car rides and when we ran into situations where people in the community were not exhibiting good character qualities. I used these opportunities to initiate conversations that I could use to point these situations out and ask the boys what that person could have done instead so that they exhibited character qualities that were of a Christlike Character. The journal is just the beginning step of teaching children virtues that instill Godly character. You need to take it beyond the book and out into the real world. We used the character assessments to go over what the boys learned, what they could improve on and what they felt was their strongest virtue that they currently exhibit. This really helps the kids to see how they are exhibiting Godly character and where they need to work on to be well rounded. We learned that Alyx's strongest virtue was Helpfulness while he needs to work on the virtue of Gentleness. Nickalas excels in the virtue of Perseverance but needs some work in the Helpfulness area. Taylor is top notch when it comes to Honesty but needs to brush up on his Obedience. I even went so far to assess myself, while I have many strong attributes, my strongest by far is Helpfulness but my virtue that needs the most attention is that of Contentment  Nobody is perfect but with the help of tools like the Youth Virtue Journal and all the We Choose Virtues products we can help our kids maintain a Christlike Character and keep them on their toes and help use learning opportunities to point out where the need to exhibit more effort...
In closing I feel like the Youth Virtue Journal helped open the dialogue for my kids and I and to help instill what virtues are important as they grow into young adults and start spreading their wings on their own, whether it be at college or extra curricular activities or just out in the community or simply being at home within our family. There is always going to be opportunities that arise to test your character you can choose one of two paths. You can falter and fall into the devil's trap or you can choose to stand with God and exhibit Virtues worthy of praise and help show others there is a better way. I pray each day my boys choose the path of Christ. 
You can click on the social media links below to find out more about We Choose Virtues, you can also click the banner below and read all of the other crew reviews and as promised read below for money saving discount instructions. 
1.      MAY-JUNE: *Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off our amazing set of 12 11x17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters! This is the first time we have ever offered these posters at this price. They are great for school classrooms, Kids Church, or your homeschool room. Kids love them for their bedrooms, bathrooms and kids’ hallways.

2.      JUNE-AUGUST: *Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. This includes any product  for kids or youth. Let’s start School with Virtues this year!

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wechoosevirtues
Pinterest –  http://www.pinterest.com/WeChooseVirtues/
Blog -- http://www.wechoosevirtuesblog.com/

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Imax 3D #sponsoredpost

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Looking for an action-packed weekend of fun for the whole family? Head to your local IMAX® Theater for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2!


Starting this Friday, June 13th, the second chapter of DreamWorks Animation's beloved How to Train Your Dragon franchise is soaring to all IMAX theatres domestically in select engagements. The IMAX 3D release will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®, creating a unique environment that will make audiences feel as though they are flying alongside heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon, Toothless.

Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig reprise their respective voice roles, joined this time by Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou and Kit Harington.

Disclaimer: This information has been provided by IMAX and I am not being compensated in anyway. I have been given the opportunity at a chance at a family 4 pack to see the movie and a visa gift card. No other compensation was given4

Wordless Wednesday Nick's Graduation June 10, 2014 #wordlesswednesday #mobsociety #classof2014

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Learning Wrap Ups Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsmommas #hsreviews #handsonmath

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Learning Wrap-Ups Review

    Are your kids hands on learners, visual learners, in need of reinforcement of math facts, a struggling math learner or just getting to the wonderful world of real math work? I am sure you can answer yes to just one of those scenarios! I know I could and had started losing hope of ever finding the help we were looking for that could truly work for my son, who believe it or not is just finishing 9th grade and can do all sorts of math but still struggles with memorization of multiplication facts. Well I believe we have found the magic answer, Learning Wrap Ups. They have been around for years and have some trusted old standbys as well as some new tricks and gadgets that may be the answer you are looking for too. We received a HUGE box of goodies to review from this wonderful and generous company to review. What was in this big box?

  The goodies we got were...5th Grade Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit $71.99, Learning Wrap up Basic Math Intro Kit $59.99, Learning Wrap up Vocabulary Intro Kit  $35.99, 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo  $12.99 or just the book for $4.99, and 10 Steps to Addition Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo  $12.99 or just $4.99 for the book. Now if you think this is all it doesn't stop there, we were also given a 1 year subscription for up to 5 users for their online learning palette program learningpalette.com which is $60.00 a year for 2-5 users and $25 for just one student. You can also save 20% on that price by using my special code for a discount, use code HOMESCHOOL at check out and save some money!!

  Now let's talk about each of these products one by one as I know this is a ton of information to swallow all in one chunk. I know I was a but overwhelmed when I opened up that big, heavy box and saw all of the goodies. I will admit Taylor being in 9th grade was a little standoffish at first, it appeared to be "baby toys" as he put it. Curiosity did get the best of him and he was soon diving into the goodies with me. Who can resist bright colored objects of fun, even when it is all about Math.

  So let's start with our favorite the 5th Grade Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit, this has the fun palette. This comes with the palette itself and then 6 packs of cards that are to be used with the palette. Each pack focuses on a component of the level of Math, so for the 5th grade packs, we received Advanced Whole Numbers, Advanced Fractions, Advanced Decimals & Percents, Algebra Concepts, Geometry & Measurement, and Probability & Statistics. There are 12 cards in each pack and each card has a 12 questions, and are positioned like the hands on a clock. This gives a total of 864 questions. Here are some key points of this system, there are color coded "dots" some have holes so there are 6 colors 2 of each color, although one is solid and one has a hole in the center. These discs correspond to the correct answer and after the child has done the 12 questions they can flip the card over and reveal the answers, now there is no way to get just one wrong as getting one wrong will automatically make 2 wrong putting 2 discs out of place. Taylor liked the fact that he could check his own work this made it much more independent which is what he is liking these days. The other nice features are there are pins in the palette so you can rest assure that the problem card is in the right placement. Also there is a cover with a knob to lock all the pieces into place when you are done so there is less chance of losing pieces. Then it all stores in a nice clear vinyl bag with a velcro closure. The packs of cards have a velcro closure as well and fit nicely in the bag as well. The bag makes it easy to take the palette on the go, in the car or even camping.

    Next we have Learning Wrap up Basic Math Intro Kit, these are the actual Wrap Ups that the company is known for, they have been around for years and years and I know some of my friends used them back when they were in school or being homeschooled. Longevity of a company is sure to give any homeschool mom peace of mind. These learning keys are called wrap ups because they do just that, wrap up the answers. There is a string attached and you wrap it around the key to the answer that corresponds to the question. You know kind of like the matching worksheets where you draw a  line from question 1 to answer G. I am sure you know the ones I am referring to. Taylor liked these as they are always in order so it makes it easier to learn to memorize them and then when he got really good he used a timer to try to beat his best time and then checking to make sure he did them correctly. Not only are there Math Wrap Ups for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which is what is covered in this kit, but there are Vocabulary ones too, which we also got to try out. There is also geography and music appreciation, so something really for everyone. All of the products are geared for ages K-5th grade but as you can see they can help learners of all abilities of all ages. My 9th grader is proof that these do work, as he has now after almost 6 weeks mastered finally the memorization of all of his basic math facts. We used these 2x a week for the last 6 weeks.

  Like I said we also received  Learning Wrap up Vocabulary Intro Kit, these are made the same way as the math ones but focus on one each of Antonyms, Synonyms, Homonyms and Compound Words. Now I do admit we did not use these all too much as we did not have a need for help in this areas, but we did give them  a go through once a week just to drill on these topics. Drill is always good, even on areas you are well versed on so as to brush up and keep the mind sharp and focused. Now just try explaining that to a teenager who thinks he knows EVERYTHING. He did humor me and learned a thing or two also.

  Along with the Wrap Ups we received some workbooks, 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo and 10 Steps to Addition Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo, Now while we did not use the addition one much because we are obviously way past that point in Taylor's Math career we did utilize the Multiplication one. I believe this was key in Taylor's success in mastery of his multiplication facts and the help he needed to memorize them successfully. The book works in conjunction to the corresponding Wrap Up, combining worksheet practice as well as hands on work with the key. The book uses various approaches to help students reinforce the skills needed to obtain full mastery of the concepts. Story Problems, visual cues and challenges and reviews, touching briefly on 0, and 1 and then building on each fact until you reached the end, I wished they would have focused a little more on the higher numbers like 11 and 12 but all in all I felt the book does what it sets out to do. Repetition and review are key to learning these facts and all of this helped Taylor to be successful and I feel I have more peace of mind that he has "GOT IT".

Learning Wrap-Ups Review

   Now our last but absolute favorite was LearningPalette.com, this takes the first product I talked about, the learning palette and takes it online, now what kid doesn't like using the computer or in our case the iPad, which made it capable of touch and drag. Here you create your user account, which is your teacher account and then you add your students, assigning them a user name and password. Here they have access to all of the Math and Vocabulary Palettes and you can check in and see their progress, and how long they took to complete each "card" and how many they got right or wrong and if they need any additional help. Taylor tried it both on the computer and the iPad and definitely preferred the ease of the touch screen capabilities or the iPad, now this is not an app for the iPad this is just simply using the browser and logging in online on the iPad. There is no sound or music, which in our case is a plus, these types of things tend to rattle Taylor when he is trying to focus. There is a bit of repetition, this is not game like learning it is simply taking the palette and putting in a digital world, for us this worked well. I liked how I could check up and see how he was doing and how long it was taking him. We used this version 3x a week as well. We will continue to use it until he has successfully completed all the cards with no errors and a somewhat speedy time frame.

    All in all even at Taylors age of 14 all of these tools prove to be handy and beneficial for helping Taylor obtain a mastery level of Math facts particularly multiplication. This has something he has always struggled with and it gives me so much satisfaction to see the confidence he has gained by mastering these skills that he has been unable to grasp for so long. He struggled with these tasks even when he was in Public School, where he was left in the dust because they kept moving along whether he got it or not, this is what makes homeschooling so rewarding for me, being able to spend as long as we need working towards the goal of mastery and trying out every resource until we find that Magic one. For us Learning Wrap Ups and their entire family of products is that Magic resource and I am forever grateful for having this opportunity to review their products. I feel they are worth every penny. I highly recommend their company and products.

   As always please do not take my word for it check out all of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking the banner below and please visit all of the Learning Wrap Ups social media links by clicking their links below.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LearningWrapUpsInc
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