Thursday, October 29, 2015

Apologia Educational Ministries: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Apologia Educational Ministries has quickly become over the years one of my goto companies for many of our homeschooling needs, they have many different subjects but they also have things for ME! The Homeschooling Mom! I was offered an opportunity to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner -Blue Cover $29.00 from Apologia and was so excited when it came in the mail. There is nothing like a fresh planner to get the organizational juices flowing in my brain. I have tried many different types of planners and I always seem to come back to the tried and true in my hands paper planner for our homeschool and family organizational needs.
Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

   I did not know which one I was going to get in the mail, there is a yellow, orange and blue cover. I received blue which is normally not my favorite color but there was something so calming about the shade of blue it comes in, kind of like a country blue with pretty sherbet toned flowers. I love the whimsy of it. One of the characteristics I notices right away is that it is spiral bound so it lays flat and the cover is a "drip" proof. Meaning if my coffee misses my mouth in the wee hours of the morning or night and I happen to dribble on my planner while it is closed I can simply wipe it off!! Or if I set my mason jar water jar on the cover which I absentmindedly do sometimes it won't wrinkly the cover. I really need to stop doing those things but life is hectic and things happen, I am sure you know what I am talking about.

  So what is so special about this planner... There is a folder pocket in the front and back covers, this is great for papers that come home from outside activities and also for receipts and other straggling papers. Keeps them all in the same place. The first couple  pages each have a 2 school year calendar, on them so for instance page one is running from July 2015-June of 2017. This was a huge reality check as it had the rest of  our school days laid out on one page, our Youngest will be graduating in May of 2017. How can we only have this short time left.

  After the calendar pages you then have an info page to put how this planner belongs to and your students info. There is a welcome letter from the creator, Debra Bell and a Table of contents. Not you are probably wondering why there is a table of contents in a planner?  This is simple, this is a planner and so much more. There is also instructions on how to use the planner and get the most out of it. I think this part was wonderful.  Weekly Planning Retreats, Monthly Planning Sessions, Weekly Planning Breaks, Monday Morning Tutorials and Friday Afternoon Reviews, it explains it all both verbally and visually with graphics and pictures. I am totally a visual person so this was a fantastic tool for me.

There is a one year planning grid, this is helpful for outside activity tracking, well at least that is what I am using it for. where to be on what days for every month of the year. Fantastic. Character and Academic goals sheets for each student, this was a great way to sit with each of the boys and really chat about what goals they have for their last year and last 2 years and we could record them together. Family Priorities list. We have been focusing so much on this lately so it was wonderful to have a place to add it to our planner. Of course then you have your blank planner calendar sheets, this is of course a planner. You can start it at anytime by just filling the dates in the blank sheets. My favorite part of these pages is the prayer list column. So many of our friends have needed prayers lately and this is so nice to included it in our calendar so they are there at any glance to remind us who and what to pray for.

Another of my favorite pages is the Week of Pages,
There is an inspirational quote or scripture verse in the top left corner, there is a Bible plan row, Battle plan and a place to put your fighter verse. This lends wonderfully with the theme in my MOPS group, We are following a Fierce Flourishing, Being a Fierce Fighter for the Lord lends itself to this beautifully, Then there is the hospitality and outreach, We have been focusing a lot on this as well, so it is nice to be able to plan and record these events in our planner. There is also a section of This Week's Memorable Moments and Achievements. Looking for goodness and celebrating even the smallest of victories. This helps us to focus on the good. Evidences of Graces is the second half of that page. Here we could share when we have received God's Grace and faithfulness. Being able to showcase when he protected us or provided for us. I appreciate the ability to record these for us to look back on. This has sparked us to create a Gratitude Journal. We are excited to start that soon.

  In the back of the book there is a place to record the grades for the kids, as well as track what classes they are taking and curriculum they are studying, Reading lists, and Field Trip records, as well as outside activities, which for us is Guitar and CAP and Enrich our homeschool Co-op.
There are some pages for reading, they hold inspirational messages and help keep you motivated and let you know you are doing a great job and that when you have certain feelings you are not alone in those feelings and that others have felt the same way. Lastly there is a year end review section as well as pages for notes and a Bibliography.

I am so excited to keep using our journal and to see what other things it leads us to, such as our gratitude journal. Be sure to check out the social media pages for Apologia and also to click the banner below to read all of the crew reviews.
Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld/timeline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Phonetic Zoo Level C [Starter Set] Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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IEW Phonetic Zoo

    Institute for Excellence in Writing has become a staple in our homeschool, I am always interested in adding in new products that they offer. I was offered the opportunity to review Phonetic Zoo Level C [Starter Set], phonics is something Taylor seems to struggle with so any added help is welcome. Making this an even better fit is that it is a self guided spelling curriculum. This works perfectly with how we now have our homeschool set up.

  The Starter Set includes the 6 CD set of lessons, a set of large flash cards and the Spelling Zoo cards, you then get to download a few goodies as well. These include, MP3 Audio files for on the go learning, or to download to your child's laptop or computer. The Phonetic Zoo Teacher's Notes e-book and a video of Spelling and the Brain by Andrew Pudewa.
IEW Phonetic Zoo
The Phonetic Zoo series has 3 levels, A, B and C. They are geared for students 9 years of age and older, or later elementary through high school. You can have your child take the online placement test to make certain which level they should start with as just because they are just starting it does not mean you automatically begin with A. So this is why the placement test is a key factor in determining where to start your child on their Phonetic Zoo journey. 
Taylor uses this 3 days a week, sometimes 4 depending on our schedule for the week. There is a CD that he listens to, which teachers him the lesson, this includes going over the rule and spelling the words for the student. After listening to the CD lessons, which come on a 6 CD set, he then had the opportunity to write the words and practice them and at the end of the week he would then take the test. If he did not master the test then he went back and reviewed again. If he had success at the test he could then move onto the next lesson.  This set up works very well for Taylor, giving him the independence he has grown accustomed to. 
Taylor also happens to also be an auditory learner, so being able to not only read but hear his lessons has been just the thing to help him be on the road to mastering spelling and phonics. I have seen a huge improvement in not only his spelling abilities but his willingness to perform spelling and phonics. Taylor has always struggled with certain areas of school work and when he struggles he tends to be combative. I have seen huge gains in this since beginning using IEW products and Phonetics Zoo is no different. 
It is recommended to listen to the audio lessons with a headset, we happen to use such a headset often for different types of programs so we had one handy. If you do not you can get one nowadays pretty inexpensively. If you have a 5 Below closeby it is a great place to shop to pick up items that you may need for curriculum such as this. 
Anytime I can get Taylor to get all of his work done in a timely matter, is a winning day for me. So when we find curriculum that works in this favor I tend to stick with them. IEW is definitely one of those curriculum companies. 
Using the flashcards adds that manipulative factor into the learning process as well, this is another area Taylor craves in his school work. The flashcards are used in all levels but there are different choices for each level on the cards. Your child will complete 47 lessons and then take a final exam, this gives you a full year of spelling and phonics with IEW. So you can ideally get 3 years from the program if you end up starting with level A and go through them all. I am bummed we did not find this sooner but I am glad we had the opportunity to use it this year. The set sells for $99.00.
Please visit IEW on all of their social media channels and be sure to click the banner below to read all of the crew reviews, we all had our choice of levels and also a an option to choose the Resource Set.


IEW Review
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Koru Naturals Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Koru Naturals Review

      If you remember back a little while I reviewed a couple of products from Koru Naturals and fell in love with this company of natural products. SO I was delighted beyond measure to get the opportunity to try out a few more products from their line, this time I was sent Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream, Skin Clear Cream and Manuka Honey Propolis Soap. Now my boys will tell you that the Koru Naturals are hands off and belong to Mom and Mom alone, but I did offer to share my Skin Clear Cream with my middle son who suffers from some mild acne. I may just have to buy him his own because after using it I am not sure I want to share anymore.

  I am going to start with telling you about the Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream since this is the one I hand picked to try out, the other two were sent as a bonus to review. Now I had tried out their Emu Oil last time and it has worked wonders for me scalp line issues so I was intrigued to try something else with it in it. As most of you know I have MS, and so in turn I suffer with beyond your everyday aches and pains with muscles, joints and bones. This is to help with those everyday aches and pains so I thought if it even helped me a little I would be happy. Well let me tell you! I am in love with this cream. I think everyone needs a jar of this in their medicine cabinet. It has become part of my nightly routine, My legs are forever grateful, I have also used it on my neck and shoulders. Using up to 2x a day on arms, hips, feet, shoulders, back, neck, elbows and I have been using it on my legs. Avoid eyes and avoid while pregnant.

Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Only Cream 4 oz. An odorless, non-greasy, and fast-acting topical cream. This cream combines the effective ingredients of Emu Oil at 8%, Blue Tansy, Arnica Extract, MSM and Aloe Vera. Deep penetrating. Soothing formula. 

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Juice, Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera), Pure Australian Emu Oil, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), Emulsifying Wax NF, Palm Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Vegetable Glycerin, Arnica (Arnica Montana) Extract, Sweet Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) Leaf Oil, Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum) Berry Oil, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) Flower Oil, German Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) Essential Oil, Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum) Bark Essential Oil, Citronella (Cymbopogon Winterianus) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus) Essential Oil, Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Root Extract, Grapefruit (Citrus Paradise) Fruit Extract, Juniper (Juniperus Communis) Berry Extract, Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Flexuosus), Peppermint (Mentha Piperita), Long Leaf Pine (Pinus Palustris Mill) Essential Oil, Ravensara (Ravensara Aromatica) Leaf Oil, Tansy Blue (Tanacetum Annuum) Essential Oil, Oregano (Origanum Vulgare) Leaf Oil, Cypress (Cupressus Sempervirens) Essential Oil, Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) Essential Oil, Lemon (Citrus Limonum) Essential Oil, Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) Essential Oil, Helichrysum (Helichrysum Itallicum) Flower Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.
Price: $14.80
  It was funny because when it arrived the smell and look reminded me of something I could not quite put my finger on. I was showing a friend the other night and she pegged it right on. You know the stuff they used to use, I say used to because over the years it may have changed but we remember from our junior high days, the impression mixture they used to make the impressions for retainers. We both had a chuckle over that. Who would think that something that reminded me of that could help my overworked, over tired aching body. I am 110% satisfied with my results. In fact I am almost out and to me that would be a tragedy so I need to get to making a new order so that I can replenish before I am completely out. I have turned to using it quite sparingly. I do not want to run out.

The next product I am going to tell you about is the Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, First off it comes in a cute little honeycomb looking box, after I opened it, the smell was so inviting. It is a soft dual layered soap. I have had to hide this so the rest of my family doesn't use it up. I will be ordering another one when I place my order for sure. I have gotten a wood slatted soap rack to keep it on. It works wonderfully. It has helped make my face and skin so soft. There is a moisture back in my skin that I did not realize was missing but after feeling and seeing the difference I realized how dry my skin really was. Living in Michigan the Fall and Winters are harsh on skin here. I think my allergies do not help with this. Being that it is made from all natural products I am more at ease knowing that there are no harmful chemicals or things I may be allergic too. 

 From the hive of the bee, a golden combination of Manuka Honey and Propolis. Both Manuka Honey and Propolis have a reputation for their natural intense moisturizing and skin protective properties. Combined together they provide the perfect ingredients for a skin beneficial gentle cleansing soap.Price: $7.90

Last but not least the Skin Clear Cream, If you have acne or blemishes that you want to get under control. Adding elasticity to your skin and smoothness that you have never felt before. Using 2 times a day on freshly clean skin, avoid eyes. I used it in the morning after my shower and at night after I washed my face to get ready to go to bed. It was is so refreshing feeling after you apply it. You should test a small area of skin before using it just to make sure that you have no adverse reactions. Coming from someone who has a lot of allergies I always do this. Fortunately I did not have any reactions so I was good to go. I use it on my face and neck. I did let my son try it out a couple days to see if he liked it and I will be ordering him his own jar so that he can give it a true test on his acne. During the review period my acne did not rear its ugly head so I cannot attest to the way it works on acne but I can tell you it just has my skin looking healthier overall and feeling the best it has in a long time. I am very happy with the results I have seen since I began using it. 

Ingredients:  Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis), Leaf Juice*, Kawakawa (Macropiper Excelsum) Essential Water, Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) Oil*, Grape (Vitis Vinifera) Seed Oil, Honey (Manuka 20+), Lactobacillus/Salix Alba Bark Ferment Filtrate, Emulsifying Wax NF, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Organic Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) Extract, Burdock (Arctium Lappa) Root Extract, Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium) Leaf Oil, Harakeke (Phormium Tenax) Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polyaspartate, Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia) Oil, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) Distillate, Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil, Niacimide, Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Flexuosus) Oil*, Aspen (Populus Adenopoda) Bark Extract, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Zinc Oxide, Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) Root Extract*, Diheptyl Succinate, Capryloyl Glycerin  (*organic ingredient - 73% organic)
List Price: $19.20Price: $19.20

Overall I highly recommend all of the wonderful products I have had the opportunity to review this time as well as last time and I cannot wait to try out some more. I love that if you place a $35 order you get free shipping, that means the price I would normally pay for shipping can be used to purchase more natural goodies that will help me. Visit the social media channels below as well as click the banner to read all of the crew reviews. We all received the soap as well as the skin clear cream but we had a choice for our 3rd product. So you will be able to learn about some more of Koru Naturals' product  line. 

Koru Naturals Review
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Drawing Around the World: USA Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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 Brookdale House Review

  Sometimes the main core subjects can get a little boring, the same mundane bookwork each day. This can sometimes lead to power struggles over school work and it leaves everyone in a bad mood.
We were kind of feeling this way with our U.S. History and Geography studies this year. We just cannot wait to get through them. So when I was offered an opportunity to review Drawing Around the World: USA from Brookdale House I was curious to see if this would add a little spark back into Taylor's day.
 Brookdale House Review
The concept of this fun paperback workbook is that you learn and study the US states by memorizing and jotting down facts about each state and then learning to draw each state so that by the end of the book they are able to draw the whole map. They will know all the important facts of each state including the capitols. All while drawing and incorporating some fun and working on memorization skills. Taylor has a hard time processing things and memorizing them if he is just reading them, so this is very helpful as he is not only reading, but writing and drawing to burn it into his memory. 
Each day you repeat the drawing of the state you learned the day before and then build on it with the new state of the day. This kind of in a way reminded me of a verbal game we played as a kid, where you would say something that starts with the letter A and then the next player would then say the previous players item and then add and it would keep going until all the letters were said. The last person always had the hardest job. This works on the same concept. You start with one and by the end you are able to draw and recite capitols and state facts for all 50 states and Washington D.C.
I found it even helped me, can you honestly say that you can rattle off all of the states and their capitols?? I know I was a tad rusty, and I always find it helps the kids when I am in the thick of things learning or relearning in this instance right along with them. It is one of the areas that really cemented my love of homeschooling, because we are learning as a family. I do not pretend to know more than my kids and often times they are the ones teaching me.
There is nothing like seeing my boys faces light up when they have mastered something for the first time. I got to experience that again with Drawing Around the World: USA, Taylor was finally "getting" it. He was so proud of himself and the fact that coupled with his love of drawing made it so much better. We also loved how the lessons did not take much time at all. It was really easy to add it onto our daily lessons in our core curriculum. Just adding about 20-30 minutes a day 3-4 days a week depending on our schedule. 
We received the printed version of the book which sells for $25.95, you also have the  choice of an E-book version for $22.95. You also are pointed in the direction of some wonderful free and pocket book friendly resources that are very helpful in completing this workbook. We were amazed at how little we knew about some of the more not so talked about states, such as New Jersey and Rhode Island, or North Dakota. It is so funny that there were others we knew so much about, especially those we visited 3 years ago on our 21 day road trip across 16 states. It was fun to "revisit" those throughout this book and it helped us reminisce a bit about our awesome adventure. We also got the road trip bug again thinking of all the fun new places we would like to go an explore. Not sure when that is going to happen but it was sure fun to think about. 
I will definitely be ordering the companion book Drawing Around the World: Europe for our next History and Geography studies.  This sure is a fun way to add a new element to your school day. I feel this book is appropriate for a wide range of ages from elementary and up. The crew had the opportunity to pick from a wide range of offerings from Brookdale House, so be sure to click on the banner below and read all about them. Please be sure to visit all of the social media channels for Brookdale House as well. We are off to learn some new states, have a great homeschooling adventure today and always!  









 Brookdale House Review
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Do YOU Believe????? Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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FishFlix.com Review no 2

     Family movie night! We love family movie night, it is one of the times we all come together and bond. There is popcorn and drinks and some other snacks. We watch, we laugh, we cry, yes even men cry. Then we discuss the movie. I was so excited for the opportunity to review a title from FishFlix.com. I chose a movie I had seen but the rest of my family had not. I feel this helps me when I have viewed a movie prior to the boys seeing so I am better prepared to answer their questions or concerns when they arise. So the title I chose was Do You Believe?  $10.99
FishFlix.com Review no 2

      FishFlix offers Christian movies that "Inspire and Entertain". I would totally agree with this. There are many titles that FishFlix has to offer that my family has had the opportunity to view and I have liked every single one we have seen. I feel it is important to share good quality movies with our family, ones that can enforce good character and teach valuable lessons. They can do this all while we enjoy the movie and then we can have thoughtful family discussions when it is finished. Many of these movies we watch over and over again, I love having a library of movies that I am comfortable with all of my boys watching and if we have younger kids over visiting they could watch too.

    Do You Believe? This movie asks you this very question and so much more, and packed with many well known stars that love supporting Christian movies, Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Alexa Penavega, Ted McGinley, Andrea Logan White, Brian Bosworth Lee Majors and Cybill Shepherd! My favorite is Sean Astin, he was one of the my ultimate teen heartthrobs back in my younger days. This movie comes from the same folks who brought us God's Not Dead! You become part of 12 peoples lives and you see how they all overlap into each other. Some work together, some run into each other, some go to church together. Some are saved, some are in between and some are not believers at all. You see throughout the movie how being a believer can cost you your job. Would you stand up for your faith even if it meant you would lose your job? It is a tough question.

   A mother who lost her husband and could not provide for her daughter, who had lost her way but because of a few generous souls found her way again. In this process it helps heal several folks.

An Atheist lawyer who gets saved by someone she tried so hard to destroy! The list goes on and on. There are many storylines that all end up in one. It is a movie that you gain from each and every time you watch it. Do not get up to grab a snack you will be sure to miss something for sure. Make sure you have everything you need before you start the movie and be sure to have tissues on hand as well. Make sure you have had your potty break before it begins also. You are not going to want to miss a single second.

   My family has watched this 2 times since receiving it and I am sure it will be watched many times to come. We have loaned out our copy to share this wonderful film with some friends. Everyone says the same thing after watching it. If you were not a believer before watching it, you most certainly will be changing your mind soon. If you were sitting somewhere in the middle you have made that leap of faith to the believer's side and if you were a believer it will just help you cement your faith much more.

I am excited to see more movies from FishFlix.com, I have made a list and will be ordering a few for Christmas for our family and for people on our gift giving list. You cannot go wrong with FishFlix.
The crew had several choices to choose from and if this doesn't sound like the choice for you be sure to check out all of the crew reviews to help find the right fit for you and your family. Simply click on the banner below and it will take you to all of the reviews.

  I hope you find the perfect movie for your family movie night! Be sure to follow FishFlix on their social media channels as well so you do not miss out on any specials or new releases.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fishflix
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christiandvd
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fishflix/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Fishflix/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/familychristianmovie

FishFlix.com Review No 2
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