Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Wrap Up

WHEW! What a week! 

Seriously, it's been CRAZY! The Weather has been INSANELY hot. I had a wedding last week, outside, in all this heat. It was over 90 not counting the heat index, so easily 100 with it. I'd say closer to 108-110 with the heat index and humidity. 

I tried my best to get as many photos as possible, but I couldn't. The Bride couldn't handle being in her dress any longer, so I tried to get my heart to cooperate and get some post shots done. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. My heart started beating WAY too hard and WAY too fast. It basically just gave out, my blood pressure tanked, and I hit the ground. Good news! The camera is ok.

That little episode, mixed with a few other things going on earned me a trip to the dr, twice. The first round included taking gluten out of an already limited diet. No acidic foods. No gluten containing foods. I've dropped 9 pounds since March, so that's good.

The second was for my heart. New heart pill added, and hopefully all will be ok in the world. 

In the mean time, Mr. B's portfolio review is coming up so I'm trying to prepare for that. Sigh...every year I'm soooo prepared and ready to go. This year? HAHAHAHA! That'd be a big fat NOPE.

The dog literally ate part of his portfolio. Not even kidding. We were out of town and had M's dad as a dog sitter. He put the dogs back in the crates for the night, and we were going to let them out when we got home the next morning. I have no idea what happened, but somehow two got out and wreaked havoc in the house. It was horrible. So now I'm trying to redo what was lost. 

On the good side of things, I'm beginning to feel better, and Mr. B got to spend some quality time with his cousin, Auntie, and Mamaw. YAY for that! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC REVIEW

Silverdale Press
We were recently introduced to Silverdale Press LLC and their amazing unit studies. We find unit studies a great way to learn about a given topic, and take a break from our usual order of things. So when I came across the White House Holidays Unit Studies, I was pretty excited to get these printed and start working on them!

This set is pretty much what it says it is. It is a collection of holidays as celebrated in the White House. Your student will learn the history behind the holidays in an in depth review. This pack is geared for all ages, 5-18! This is a product for the whole family.

We have access to 6 different Unit Studies, and planned to work on a lesson a week. Each lesson can be completed in a day, but I know Mr. B and he likes to really get into a lesson from time to time. So I wanted to make sure we left enough time so that he could really play around with the lesson, and research more as he wanted. We decided to start with the Veteran's Day Unit Study. To be honest, I really wasn't aware of the history behind Veteran's Day. I mean, of course we know what it represents...but I wasn't aware of how it came to be. I was as enthralled with this study as Mr. B! 

I really like that these studies feature lessons for K-6th, as well as 7th-12th. The lessons both cover the same topic, but include different activities so that younger siblings/students can work along side their older siblings/peers. It's a really great set-up. It's also great for kids like Mr. B who may need a bit lower level on some topics, or who may just prefer the younger aged activities such as arts and crafts.

In America we have Veteran's Day, and also Memorial Day. In the Common Wealth of Nations, they celebrate Remembrance Day. Now...I didn't know this until a bit of side research with this Unit Study. I am a fan of British TV, and on once particular talk show I noticed the host, as well as all of the guests, had on poppy pins. I couldn't for the life of me figure out WHY. This particular lesson taught me the answer! Poppy fields are common in Europe, and the sites of many great battles. Thus...poppies are worn as a symbol of respect! 

We elected to do this particular activity. It's quite easy. You just trace 2 circles onto red construction paper, and cut them out. You also want to cut out two green leaves. Then you take a black button for the center. You slightly overlap your circles, and glue in place. You glue on the leaves, and the button. We did not have a handy black button, so we just colored a 3rd, smaller circle black. Then you can attach a safety pin, and wear your poppy pin on Veteran's Day! 

Mr. B really enjoyed the crossword puzzle, too. Unfortunately, we had a little mishap where the doodle bops got loose from their crate while were were away, and the boy doodle literally ate Mr. B's school work! so...our crossword was eaten before I snapped a photo HAHA! But here's a great screen shot!

Here are some more screen shots of lessons we covered:

We completed this, and both really enjoyed all of the lessons included. This is a great starting point (or ending point...) to any history lesson concerning wars.

After that, we decided to do some on Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In today's society, I think this is an issue that needs to be covered in more depth that we have had time to devote to it, so we plan to come back to this and redo it...and take longer doing it. This is set up in similar fashion as Veteran's Day in that all ages can do this together. But instead of a separate set of lessons for each grade, there's a Part A for the lower grades and a part B for the upper grades. 

I really enjoyed the activities included with this, especially the lesson of the segregated shoes. That activity gives a great visual into the lesson of segregation. 

Overall, I really like the layout of these unit studies, as well as the coverage included in them. I've looked over all of them, and they all include ample learning for the intended ages. There's suggestions included on how to modify for younger ages (writing one sentence or a definition as opposed to an entire paragraph, for example...) and everything is colorful and enjoyable. This is best printed on a color printer. I am out of color toner, so I had to take the files to be printed. I would highly recommend doing this in color as I feel you'd lose appeal without it. I CAN'T WAIT to dive into the Christmas Unit Study! OHHH MY! Look! Just LOOK at the Contents page!

I love seeing how the White House is decorated for Christmas each year! I can't wait to get more into this! 

As I said, there are a host of others we have access to. Here's the cover page for each Unit Study included in this set. 

If you happened to do 1 lesson a week, it would take you roughly a school year to complete. You could do that, or you could do them in a shorter amount of time. I personally prefer these as a supplement, or as summer/holiday learning. Mr. B likes to change things up, and move around here and there at times, and these are perfect for that! We plan to continue with these, and finish all of them. 

Please be sure to check out The Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews!

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}
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Saturday, June 16, 2018


Music has been a source of joy for my entire life. I grew up listening to my mom and her siblings since gospel music regularly. I can remember watching my cousin hand write out copies of the songs, then someone bought her a typewriter so she could type them out. Oh how I looked forward to growing up enough to do that, too. Seems silly now, but I was so excited the first time I was asked to write out a copy of the songs.

When I started school, Music was my favorite class. I loved being in the choir, and performing for the PTA meetings. In 5th grade, I was able to be part of the Glee Club, and then I was in All-County chorus and Show Choir in middle and high school. I loved it. I wanted to continue in college, but just couldn't due to time and life.

Even now, when I'm feeling sick, or anxious, sad or upset I turn to music. It can evoke such strong memories, that just a few simple notes can bring tears. It amazes me how a simple melody can stir my emotions, and make me long for days gone by. Oh to just go back to the days when I was first listening to the likes of Bon Jovi or Mariah Carey again. What I wouldn't given to be able to time travel for vacation! I'd love to go back to the 80s or 90s for a day or two.

Music is one of the earliest sounds we can process, even before we are born. Tiny babies still in the mother's womb can "get" the beat and melody. I would play certain songs for Mr. B when I was pregnant with him. To this day, 13 years later, those same songs are calming to him.

Music is a great way to help an autistic child learn to speak, or communicate with a stroke patient. Their abilities for music remain when language isn't present. Music is an amazing tool!

Beyond all that, music can spark deep feelings and memories. Have you ever just heard a few notes of a certain song, and you feel yourself transported to a different time and place? I know I have! What are some of your favorite songs?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Art for the Ancients Artistic Pursuits REVIEW

I love coming across really interesting homeschool goodies. That's why I was so excited to find this new gem by ARTistic Pursuits Inc. We were sent a physical copy of ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray to try out the Art of the Ancients. This is intended for ages K-3rd grade, but I  knew Mr. B would still enjoy this, and benefit from it at age 12.  My idea was to use this along side an Ancient History study so that he could incorporate art into his lessons. Clever, eh?!

Included with the book is a DVD and a Blu-Ray disc that feature video lessons. The video lessons bring to love the art lessons within the book, and showcase how these lessons apply to the world in which we live. I was rather impressed with the video lessons. 

 ARTistic Pursuits
Our Experience

Mr. B and I really enjoyed working through this together. I did not go out and buy materials. I wanted to see what all could be done using just what we have here on hand. This thought led me to realize we have a lot of arts and crafts materials in this house that we really need to use! Mercy sakes! How much colored tissue paper does one family need?! Apparently 1.2 Kajillion sheets of it, that's how much! Anyway, I love showing how things can be modified for your unique homeschool, so that's kind of what I did here. We sough to use what we had on hand, which is pretty much what other homeschools would have-Crayons, colored pencils, markers, tissue paper, construction paper, paints, etc. I did not have clay on hand, and I really thought I had play doh too...but alas I did not. I guess I could have been all kinds of crafty and MADE playdoh, but instead we sort of just skipped over that lesson with the intentions of coming back to it when I make a trip out for clay.

Now, here's a disclaimer-I LOVE ART. So I do have things like pastels, high end chalks, pastel and chalk specific papers, etc. Those may be items you don't have on hand that I would suggest you purchase-and not necessarily and expensive set. Just something because you can't really duplicate soft pastels. You will also want clay, some brown paper bags or brown paper, and black paper-but you could use any colored paper. There's a project where your child needs to draw the outline in white, so colored paper is needed. 

Here's a photo of the Contents page so you can get an idea of everything that is covered in this book/DVD/Blu-Ray set. Each section includes a small history lesson, as you can see below. 

This was really interesting. We have been fortunate enough to have had the chance to see, first hand, a traveling exhibit of Pompeii artifacts. The mosaic murals are amazingly beautiful, even today!

I appreciate the real photo directions. This is really beneficial to kids like Mr. B who are on the spectrum and need that visual boost to help them figure things out a bit. 

Below are photos of a couple of our projects. I lucked out and found a brown paper bag. We usually have a stash of lunch bags on hand for crafts, but I couldn't find them. I found 1 bag, and that's all we needed! I helped Mr. B draw the cat. The idea here is to crumble the paper to mimic the rough surface of a cave wall. Both of us were surprised by just how difficult the crumbling made the task of drawing! 

Here is Edwin the cat checking out the portrait of one of his ancestors. He approves. 

And here is Mr. B's finished Cat.

Next we thought we'd do some Mosaic work. I wanted to use a variety of mixed beans to do the mosaic, but Mr. B wanted to use tissue paper instead.  It's a frog getting ready to eat a fly.  


Overall, we both really like this. It's aged appropriately for the K-3rd grade range. Mr. B still found this useful, and it does make for a nice supplement to his ancient history studies. The videos are short, but long enough to cover the given topic. I think the addition of the videos really sets this series apart from other Artistic Pursuits books, and I personally found them very helpful. We both like to see how we are supposed to do things, instead of reading how.  All in all, I would recommend this to others! 

Please click the banner below to read more Homeschool Review Crew REVIEWS! The crew received a variety of different genres, so please go check those out! 
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Memoria Press Traditional Logic REVIEW

Traditional Logic I Complete Set

Over the years, we have become huge fans of Memoria Press. We were recently given the opportunity to review their Traditional Logic I complete Set. I chose this option because as I have mentioned in other postings Mr. B is needing to improve his executive functioning skills and I thought this could possibly help with that. 

 The Traditional Logic I Complete Set includes everything you need to implement this program. You receive the student text student workbook teacher key, tests and quizzes book, and instructional DVDs. 

Our Experience:

I was pretty excited when the box arrived in the mail, and I ripped into it right then. I called for Mr. B and we started sifting through everything together. I opened the student text and my immediate thought was "Oh dear! I've made a huge mistake!" It looked pretty complicated. Like, make my brain hurt complicated, but I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. I had looked over the samples online, so I was still kinda confident I had made the right choice.

I spent a couple of days trying to familiarize myself with the teacher key before having Mr. B jump in. As I read through, it became less and less intimidating to me. Of course, silly me didn't think to pop in the DVD first. That would have just been too easy, right?!

Anyway, after a few days of worry and fretting, I just decided to dive in and let Mr. B take off. Well, suffice to say, he's better at some things than I am because he didn't have a bit of unease or trouble! The kid is a natural. We have had to move a little slow on some things because, in my opinion, it's still a bit abstract and autism lends itself to the more concrete. This is great for building the weaker parts of his brain!

Here's a run down of what is included:

Simple Apprehension
Deductive Inference

There's a review chapter, and also a glossary with other information that comes in handy.

I have Mr. B read the day's selection with me, then I have him watch the DVD instruction and go back over the text. It is then that he works in the student text. This pattern seems to be the most efficient for our situation, and helps him retain more and do better in the student workbook. Plus, I don't always have time to watch the DVD with him, so by reading it over first I can better help him when he needs a little guidance. 


Overall, this has been really good for us and we plan to continue using this. I'm seriously considering level II for next year as he's been doing so well with this one. Autism and Logic seen to go hand in hand with each other as it is challenging enough to provide some needed stimulation while also not crossing the point of frustration where he will just shut down. He likes the more complicated reading and work, and thus far excels with it. We have to move a little slower because he seems to suffer from fatigue after so long, so often we will do this pattern twice a week and only do one other subject on the same day. On the other days he will watch only the DVD or read a selection in the book. This is working well for us, and it's nice that these are physical products that allow for this sort of modification to be made. 

Memoria Press was super amazing and sent The Homeschool Review Crew all sorts of goodies to review. Please click the banner below to read more of those reviews! 
New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fun learning with The Critical Thinking Co.™ {REVIEW}

The Critical Thinking Co.™

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a ton of really awesome offerings. They blessed the crew with a few different choices and we were chosen to review Critical Thinking Detective Book 1. I chose to review this because I really thought it would help develop and strengthen executive functioning skills that we are trying to work on right now. We received the book in the mail, and immediately started working on it. 

Critical Thinking Detective™ Book 1
Our Experience:
The book is quite colorful, but not in a distracting manner. It is thin, but there are enough scenarios inside to really get a lot out of it. I would like to see perhaps a larger, more comprehensive book developed at some point, too, because Mr. B really enjoys these! Working at a pace of detective cases a week will put you at finishing this book in about two months time. The book is intended for grades 4-12+. I was a little concerned at first at how they could possible mesh such a wide age range together in one product but I have to say they did...and they did a great job doing so. As an adult, I have enjoyed using this as much as Mr. B!

You read about a crime or situation. Within the paragraphs are clues that you must use to figure out "Who done it." It sounds like a simple task, but some of the clues are ambiguous and really take a lot of thinking power to come up with the correct answers. These are very similar to their Mind Benders (logic puzzles) but without the charts, and with more story line and plot.

I really liked how we both had to really put on our thinking  caps to figure out the stories. We were able to share laughs and giggles while both making mistakes. It was great to have Mr. B correct me and tell me WHY he thought his theory was more accurate than mine. By the middle of the book I could really tell that he was doing better in his abilities to read the clues held within the story, and use those clues to deductively choose a correct answer. 


Overall, I really like this a lot. Mr. B has really enjoyed it, and frequently started working on it on his own with no prompting from me at all. It's a very good supplemental book, and great if you kiddo is like mine and needs to strengthen his/her executive functioning and critical thinking skills. It really works well to help spectrum kids think more abstractly and less concretely, and helps them develop a greater detail vs. big picture ratio. I definitely recommend this to others! 

Does Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

You can work at your own pace, and make adaptations as needed. For example, Mr. B and I would discuss the "Why" part of most cases instead of him writing out his explanations of how and why he came to his conclusions. I preferred this method so that I could make immediate corrections and guide him when needed so that he could make better sense of things.   

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

There are no hidden fees, and it does cover multiple grades. As for lasing a long time, not really. The book is only 32 pages so there aren't a great deal of cases. Working at a pace of 2 a week will take you about 2 months to get through all of it. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

Mr. B loves it. This held his attention, and he liked working in it a lot. He spent a long time on some cases, due to his own choosing. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

No. This is just logic style detective cases that help build and strengthen critical thinking skills. There's no additional subject matter. You could use this as a supplement to other subjects such as reading or math. (I say math due to the logical nature of the book, not because numbers are used.) 

Please click below to read more reviews by The Homeschool Review Crew! 

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

The Critical Thinking Co.™

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018


How do you deal with mental exhaustion? What about that double whammy of mental AND physical exhaustion?

I'm suffering from some serious mental burn out. I don't even find joy in photography right now....and that's saying a lot. I love my clients, and I'm thrilled with how their photos turn out. But I'm all the time.

I left for the mountains on May 15th. I had several sessions scheduled for the 19th and 20th. It rained every day, so all but 3 sessions were rescheduled. I'm very thankful to God those three photo sessions were able to be done, and they turned out so well. I was home for less than 48 hours when I had to repack and head out another 6 hours away for a medical appointment. The trip was...hard. the appointment was good, but the overall trip was rough. Now I've been home just over 24 hours, and I'm just wore out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Home School Navigator REVIEW

Home School Navigator
I was so excited to get a chance to review a 1-year subscription to Home School Navigator, complete with an interactive notebook to help make this course fantastic! 
Home School Navigator
Home School Navigator is your one stop shop for reading, language arts, grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Everything is planned and organized for your convenience. Ashley and Beth (the originators) have really put out a great product here that is easy to use, and covers multiple areas. 
Homeschool Navigator includes read alouds, worksheets, games, and more. 
Our Experience
I was really excited to get started with this. Mr. B and reading aren't exactly friends. He LOVES being read to, and he doesn't mind reading homework. He LOVES reading what he wants to read, but not necessarily what I want him to read. Thus the love/hate relationship. I'm always after a good reading curriculum that will work for him, and that also targets language arts skills, too.

I am always a little skeptical when it comes to anything reading, but I had no reason to be with Home School Navigator. We got to experience and try out a few different levels, and I ultimately chose the BLUE Level as his "official" level. 
So we started on the first level of the level Blue. The read aloud book is Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. now you're probably thinking the same thought I had. WHAT?! That's WAY below his level! And you're right, it is. That's when I found out it is intentional. The reading level IS lower (about a 4th grade level) so that the student can focus on the concept, and not the reading. THIS IS PERFECT FOR MR. B! He doesn't have to worry about the story so much as what is being taught by the story-such as compare/contrast as this particular section was teaching. On top of the that, this story is just right down funny! I knew we had a winner when he had hit replay for the 4th time, and the giggles never stopped. 

There are also what I like to call "teaching videos" that really benefit Mr. B because he is more apt to pay attention to someone else, rather than me, at times. 

The teacher's guides are so handy! Everything is planned out by the week and day. I like to print a month at a time, and go from there. It's nice to just check things off, and know I have that to keep in our records for his end of the year portfolio review. 

I also give the daily print off to Mr. B. This way he has a visual of what he has to do, and he can easily mark through what he has completed. He doesn't even have to ask what to do first, because they are numbered for him already. This is great for kids on the spectrum who need that little nudge to know what to do, and when. 

The printable worksheets are really great. I'm not going to show a screen snip of everything included for one week, but these should give you a pretty good idea. This is a full on curriculum, and really everything you need for the whole year. 

The font is easy to read, and I like that there's not a lot of distractions. I also like how each page features the level number (B 1.1.5 for example) so you  know what worksheet goes with what day/week! 

There are books that go along with this. We are reading "Holes" right now. But the books are easily found at the library if you don't already have them. 

Overall, I can't be happier! Mr. B will willingly do his reading work, I can get a few things done around the house since I don't have to hover over top of him and keep him on task, and he really enjoys it, too. He's learning a lot! I HIGHLY recommend this to others! 

Does Home School Navigator Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

You can work at your own pace, however the plan is a 9 month school year. You are bound by your subscription time limits. You can skip ahead, or repeat, as needed.   

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

There are no hidden fees, but you are responsible for acquiring the books for each part. You do not have to have the read aloud books, as those are on video for you. The books are easily found at the library. Home School Navigator does cover multiple age. Mr. B is 12, and we were working on the Blue Level.  You are locked into your level. I'm not sure how difficult it is to change levels if needed. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

Mr. B loves it. He usually wanted to work ahead! I think this is VERY special needs friendly!

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

This would cover reading and language arts.

Please check out the Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews. 
Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}
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