Friday, October 30, 2015

Best Costume EVER

Yes, he's a banana! We had soooo many compliments and comments on his Banana Costume! Seriously, every couple of minutes someone was saying something about it, and the kids all LOVED it! Mr. B sure did feel good! He said, "Wow, everyone loves my costume. I guess it was a good choice!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Maestro Classics THE NUTCRACKER Review

Maestro Classics Review
Classical music is grounding for us, and Tchaikovsky is one of my personal favorite composers. So you can imagine I was pretty excited when I was chosen to review The Nutcracker for Maestro Classics. My favorite composer plus my favorite score plus Jim Weiss narrating?! YES, PLEASE! This is a 58 minute CD that seamlessly condenses the Nutcracker performance, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra,  with Jim Weiss narrating in only the way he can, to help explain what is going on and why. This product comes in either a physical CD (which is what we received) or a digital download. Both of these also come with an additional activity book that includes additional history and fun activities such as puzzles (physical book with the CD.) Also, they offer a free study guide on their website that suggests fun activities and additional learning experiences. 

Maestro Classics Review

About "The Nutcracker"

Clara is the goddaughter of toy maker, Herr Drosselmeyer. During her parent's annual Christmas Party, Herr gives Clara a special Nutcracker doll as a gift. Later that night magical things begin to happen, and ultimately the doll is transformed into a handsome prince! 
How We Used This:
When we are in the throws of what I call an "autism day" or an "autism spell" I turn on classical music, and it has such a calming effect on Mr. B. When he's doing certain subjects, such as reading or math, playing music helps to drown out some of the other distractions that he may pick up on. With that said, Tchaikovsky, and The Nutcracker in particular, are favorites of ours. I inserted our disk, and relaxed back to allow the music to calm us and set us up for a great day of learning! I also used the music to ground him during math and reading, to replace the distracting sounds he would pick up on. The music isn't distracting to him in the least, so this was a great bonus.

I initially had a hard time wrapping my brain around the logistics of how they were going to take such a magnificent work that The Nutcracker is and shorten it down to 58 minutes. I won't pretend to understand the how's behind that, but I will say they did so amazingly well! It is seamless and wonderful! I do not think we were left missing out on anything, nor do I think the work was particularly lacking in any way.

We worked through a little of the free, online study guide-focusing a lot on the actual ballet performance. We also researched the ballet and looked into specific dances individually, and at full length. My favorite, as always, is Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.


Overall, this is an excellent product to introduce or teach classical music and composers to your child. The narration is not obtrusive, and really adds to the overall experience. The arrangement is seamless, and you aren't left feeling as if you are missing huge chunks of the performance. If you are already familiar with The Nutcracker, this will only make your love for the performance grow. If you are not familiar with the performance, this is a perfect set to introduce you to The Nutcracker so your experience will be even more magical. I can't wait to take my son to see The Nutcracker this year, performed locally, and Maestro Classics will help him make the connections that he may not have made otherwise. This is a great tool for autism and ADHD therapy as it is grounding, calming, and helps your child to know in advance what to expect should you take him/her to a live performance. I highly recommend this! 

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Maestro Classics offers more than The Nutcracker, and this review period the review crew also reviewed "Peter and the Wolf." If you would like to read those reviews, and more on The Nutcracker, please click the banner below! 

Maestro Classics Review

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Wordless Wednesday

So true....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Reading and Autism

"They" say students with autism have difficulty reading most of the time. I'm not 100% convinced of this. Perhaps it is because my own son was hyperliterate (read early) or perhaps I'm eternally optimistic. I really can't say, but whatever the reason is, I'm not convinced students with autism have difficulty reading. I personally think they have difficulty showing us their reading ability.

For my own son, I read to him daily. I would point to the words, and let him use his echolalia to repeat the words as I pointed to them. This taught him reading by site. To teach phonics, I simply spelled words to him using their sounds and not the letters. CAT wasn't C-A-T. I sounded out the word cat. So he was able to put the phonetic sounds with the letters. After that, I just converted to multi-sensory spelling programs that thought outside the box, like Phonetic Zoo.

Now, my 10 yr old son can read college level books with ease, fully understanding everything he reads. He understands it so well he can paraphrase and summarize what he has read while "teaching" it to someone else.

That's the simplified manner of how we tackled reading with autism. I hope this helps someone else!

My Darling Niece.

21 years ago. I can remember every detail. I was 14. My Aunt Lois had picked me up from school earlier that day because the doctor had decided to induce her mother early....5 weeks early. I was going to be there for the birth of my niece! I was so excited. I had waited months for this! I was going to hold her, feed her, teach her to walk, talk, and be mean. She was going to be my little buddy. I was raised having some fantastic aunts, and I wanted to be that for her. I couldn't wait. Hours went by. So....many....hours. They finally decided, after A LONG time, to go ahead and take the baby. This was it! GO TIME! I was sad because I wanted to be there in the room when she was born, but with a c-section we had to wait. That was the longest wait ever. Then finally, after 23 1/2 hours of labor, my brother and nurse step out from the elevator.The nurse was carrying this little bundled up blog because my brother (It won't let me tag you bub!) had on cowboy boots and was concerned he may slip with her. Oh the look of pure joy on his face and he proudly handed her over to my mom. She was just so little. This teeny tiny human with glistening blue eyes. I was the 3rd person in the family to hold her. I had spend months feeling her kick, listening to her heart beat, seeing her on ultrasound and now....finally, I was holding the first person to ever steal my heart. She still has it. I was blessed to be given such a huge part in her life, and for that I am forever grateful. She is more than a niece. She's like a daughter, the daughter I never had. She was my little buddy. I took her shopping, out to play, to fairs and to school. I sat up all night when she was sick just making sure she was still breathing. I went to all of her school parties, and double checked her homework. I would sneak back to the parking lot nearly every day the first couple of months she was in Kindergarten to watch her play and make sure she was safe. She would wrap herself around my leg crying, wanting me to stay with her in school. I'd pry her little fingers away and walk to my car and sit there for a good 30 minutes crying, praying she was ok in there. I held her little hand the day before I graduated high school, and again the day she graduated herself. I suffered through every broken heart, and taught her how to "properly" dispose of ex boyfriend gifts. She's more than a niece. She's the daughter I never had, the little sister I always wanted, and a friend for life. 21 years has come and gone in blur. A blink of an eye.I don't know where the time has gone. Just yesterday you were holding my hands learning to walk. A couple hours ago you were wrapped around my legs in kindergarten. Now you are a fully grown adult, and my only hope and prayer is that you always put God first in all you do. Pray to Him for guidance, for direction, for wisdom. Do all things to glorify Him. I pray you always have something that brings you so much passion you are willing to stand up and fight for it, because with out that life is just boring. I pray you recognize your true friends, and hold them dear. Because a true friend, a friend who will grab you in a hug and ask no questions because they know you better than you know yourself....they are few and far between. I pray you learn from my mistakes, and don't make the same ones. And I pray that sometime, somewhere along the way, you know exactly what you mean to me. I loved you then, I love you now, and I'll love you forever and ever! "Winnie the....."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Apologia Educational Ministries The Ultimate Homeschool Planner REVIEW

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

I love Apologia Educational Ministries  so when I was given the chance to review their Ultimate Homeschool Planner (Orange Cover), I was excited to say the least! The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is not a small little flimsy planner. It is about the size of a "5 Star" 5 subject notebook. It has a variety of planner "modes" inside, transcript helps, suggestions of 8-12th courses, Bible scripture, etc. You are given the ability to plan for up to 6 children with this planner, but it is perfectly suitable for less, as well. The Orange and Blue covers allow for 48 weeks of planning, while the yellow cover allows for 52 weeks. This is part planner and part journal, all combined together!  In addition to all of that, it's just right down pretty to look at! For this review, I received one Orange Cover planner. 

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
My Thoughts:

Now, I'm not a planner person. Remember? HAHA! I always forget to use them, or I lose them, or they just don't have what I need in them. Well, that's not the case with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. This planner is not easy to lose. It is not huge, but it's not small and pocket sized either. A pocket sized version, or companion, would be FANTASTIC though! (Hint Hint Apologia?!) This is about the size of a 5 subject notebook, to give a comparison analogy. 
Inside, the pages are just as pretty as the cover! These are the boring old black and white sterile planner pages you may be used to! While you can use this to plan for up to 6 students, it is perfectly suitable for only 1 or 2. That is usually not the case with planners that allow that many students. I often find myself with a lot of additional pages, etc. that I don't need or use. But this planner is not like that at all.  These are works of art, with inspiring Bible scriptures on the pages.

This is on one of the first pages. I really like the emphasis that is placed on God and family. My only complaint, not every homeschool teacher is a mom (There are dads, too!) and not every mom is married. It is a pet peeve of sorts when I read things such as "The remaining steps are designed to help you execute and maintain the plan you and your husband set." I was once a single homeschooling mother, and a line such as this may have put me off somewhat. And I also think of the husbands who are doing the educating, again this line is a little out of place. I'm sure that is just nit picky at worst, but I personally feel it is an issue that could be addressed easily by deleting the "and your husband" phrase. Other than that, I really do appreciate the emphasis placed on family time. 

From the first page, there are words of encouragement. 

I also really enjoy the verses and quotes that are spread through out. 

This is the Year planning grid. This is the first planner I've used with a grid like this. At first, I was a little intimidated. It took me a while to decided how I wanted to use this haha. But after a few days, I soon discovered the benefits. (Of course, reading the How to Use section helps!)

The Monthly calendars are pretty great for keeping track of appointments, especially for us with all of the doctor appointments B has had lately. It's nice to have everything right there.

Here is a shot of part of the weekly planner. I like the amount of space I'm given for each day, and the note section on the right hand side. 

This is my favorite part of the weekly planner. It's what I call my personal Bible Battle Plan! It's also the journal area. Here is where I jot down happy memories, funny things, or even things that have bothered me. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pockets on the insides of both covers. GREAT for holding the week's printed work!

There are numerous areas for resource lists, field trips and outings, reading lists, and even a plan for 8th-12th grade classes. Here are a few photos that show those. 

Finally, this is my personal copy!


Overall, I have found this to be a really useful planner chalked full of goodies that I never knew I needed, but I do! The pockets on the side is a great addition to hold the week's printed work. I can put what needs done on one side and allow Mr. B to put what needs graded on the other. It's a great system. I love the resource lists, and of course my Personal Bible Battle Plan! I really like this planner, and hope to use it for a long time to come! 

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
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Annies Creamy Tomato and Bunny Pasta Soup REVIEW

I recently received my Comfort Vox Box from Influenster. In it was a box (A BOX?!) of Annies  Creamy Tomato & Bunny Pasta Soup. The soup is a creamy tomato base pasta that is bunny shaped "swimming" in it. I'm not a huge fan of tomato soup, but this wasn't bad. It was creamier than what I expected. If you like tomato soup, I suggest you trying this one! And the neatest thing? It comes in a BOX! It is VERY easy to open, and easy to store! ENJOY!

A Respectable Acress REVIEW

Hello everyone! I'm delighted to have been chosen to review A Respectable Actress written by Dorothy Love. To see more reviews, please visit Litfuse where you can find more reviews of this novel!

About the book:

"A Respectable Actress (Thomas Nelson, October 2015)
When India Hartley is accused of murder, she must uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, is now alone after her father's death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah's Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night's performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best---and handsomest---lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can't go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia low country and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip's dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her."

What I thought:

This is the first novel I've read authored by Dorothy Love, but I don't think it will be the last! From the first few pages, this book is a page turner. It is a historical fiction, and the author does a fantastic job of "teaching" the history of the period through the work, but beyond that it is a mystery/suspense novel. India Hartley is an actress during a period of time when actors and actresses were not the major celebrities they are today. A performance goes terribly wrong, and now she's thrust into a court battle when she's accused of murdering her co-actor. Philip Sinclair rushes in to help, but India starts to uncover secrets and things that put her suspicions on high alert. This is where the author does a brilliant job at weaving a "who done it" style web in such an intricately unique manner that even I was taken at the ending! I'm usually very good at "getting it" with in the first couple of chapters, but that was not the case with A Respectable Actress! 

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Institute for Excellence in Writing: Phonetic Zoo Spelling level A REVIEW

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Hello friends! Earlier this year in June I was given the opportunity to do a review of Student Writing Level Intensive A for the  Institute for Excellence in Writing. We really love Student Writing Intensive, so I was extremely excited when I heard I was chosen to review another great product from IEW! For this review, we were given a complete Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A starter set. The starter set we received includes Teacher Notes, Student word list cards, Audio CDs, Rhyme cards for the "rules," and digital mp3s. Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A  is a fun, independent spelling program. Phonetic Zoo uses phonetics, but also incorporates spelling rules via rhymes, while using an audio CD for a more independent mode of learning. Repetition is required for ultimate mastery, and this only reinforces the mastery gained from the program. 
 IEW Phonetic Zoo
How We Used This:

This spelling program is different than most. It is not a workbook with different worksheet like pages. It is a set of disks and cards. On the larger cards it has a picture of animals on one side that correspond with the lesson that is being learned. On the other side it has a large list of words, arranged in groups. There's also a smaller card that includes the same animals, and the rhyme that is associated with the spelling rule being used. the smaller cards are around the size of the "chance" cards from Monopoly, and the larger cards are roughly 5x7 sized. The idea behind Phonetic Zoo Level A is a more independent style of learning. Your child learns the words on the card, listens to the CD, and writes down the words as s/he hears them. they must score a 100% to move on to the next level, and this can take several attempts. The CD moves fast, but the conversation on each level is pretty entertaining.

With all of that said, that's not exactly how we ended up doing things. With Autism and ADHD, we sometimes have to mix it up a bit! So each day we would go over the little rhyme, until Mr. B had memorized it. On the first day I would take the card and give him a traditional style spelling test. The words he had issue with, I would put a dot next to. Each dot represented the number of tries it took to get it right. This allowed us to focus more on the problem areas to reduce any sort of confusion. We did this daily, focusing on the words he needed more help with while still throwing in some of the ones he knew, until he was getting them all correct. Once he could get them all correct with me speaking them slowly I would put in the CD. At that point, I had him do the program as designed, and he would have to score a 100% via the disk before moving on. With that said, this was no a quick moving program due to the way I chose to use it. But again, with autism/ADHD, concessions must be made at times. I would much rather move slowly and ensure mastery rather than move quickly and ensure mediocrity.


Overall, this is a very effective program. Mr. B has done very well with it, and it's the first spelling program that we have done where it's not been a battle to get him to do the work. Students are able to spell "big" words from the first lesson. I would have never thought my child would be able to spell words such as "Complainant" with ease just after one lesson, but he is! It is repetitive since they must score 100% before moving on, so some children may dislike that, but Mr. B felt a comfort from knowing what was going to happen, and it made him want to try harder to get that 100%. The mp3 files are great to play on the iPhone or iPad. He can listen to the lesson in the car or anywhere, so it's a mobile program in the sense. The conversational style audio disk is good for autism in that the student will need to pay attention and really focus on the verbal communication of the disk. If receptive communication is a problem for your student with autism, then you may need to sample this for yourself and determine whether or not it will work for you. It may also be a great therapy like program for situations such as that. 

Does Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A 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?

As you can see from my adaptations, it is easily adaptable. It's not an online based, or timed program, so you can easily move at your own pace. I would not jump ahead and skip anything since spelling is one of those subjects that builds on itself. It has taken us a while to get to the 3rd set where we are now, due to the way I've shaped it to fit our needs, but I still would not skip anything to move faster. That would defeat the purpose I think.

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. You get your package, and it contains everything you need except paper and pen. Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A is intended for grades 3-5, though older students who need spelling help could also use it. It is not "baby'ish" in anyway. You are locked into the level you choose because of the nature of the product. It is long lasting, and will accomplish a full year's worth of spelling.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

This is the tricky question. It's going to depend on your child. Mr. B has autism and ADHD, and usually too much repetition bores him and causes learning/progressing issues. This did not. He thoroughly enjoyed repeating the lessons until he scored 100%. Each daily lesson is pretty short lived. I think the most we spent on any day was 20 minutes. The variety of words, and the complexity of the words, in my opinion are a good ADHD challenge that will keep interest and attention. The audio CD's warrant the need to pay attention, close attention, in order to get all of the words. That will challenge ADHD students to focus, as well as students with autism to really focus on the spoken communication and make sense of what is being said.

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

This is just spelling, so there's no additional subjects covered really. It's not like the writing program that utilizes passages on other topics to teach the writing. 
If you would like to read more reviews on Phonetic Zoo Level A,or any of the other products that were up for review this time (such as Level B and a resource set) then please click the banner below to be taken to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog where you can read more reviews!
IEW Review
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MasterBooks Elementary World History - You Report! (Curriculum Pack) **REVIEW**

I am so excited to be writing this review of MasterBooks. MasterBooks features a host of books, DVDs, and curriculum choices from a Biblical perspective. For this review, I received a physical set of Elementary World History: You Report! Elementary World History: You Report! puts your child in the role of a reporter while they learn world history from Creation to the rebirth of Israel. For this review, we received phyical copies of the Parent Lesson Planner, Big Book of History, Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box Book, and Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box DVD. 

How we used this:

P.L.P (Parent Lesson Planner):

We have been using this as our main history curriculum. I have been following the Parent Lesson Planner guide, and we have worked only the lessons included on each day. The Parent Lesson Planner is a 8.5 x 11 paperback with 200 pages that are already 3-hole punched for convenience. The first pages are comprised of an introduction and the lesson plan, that is arranged by day. The lessons on each day are short enough to not take a great deal of time, but cover a specific lesson. The planner also includes all of the student worksheets needed for use with the remaining books from the set, and each lesson includes the needed Bible scripture, so you won't need to have out your Bible in addition to everything else. The worksheets put your child into the role of a reporter, and they will get to practice outlines, written and oral reports, reading comprehension, etc. while learning about early world history. 

Big Book of World History:

We have used the Big Book of History for both the school work as needed, and as just an entertaining book to look at and read. Mr. B even takes it in the car! This hardback book, measuring 9 x 14 x 1, has 21 "pages" but they are thick, glossy, sturdy cardstock pages that are folded accordion style so that you can either view them by turning the pages, OR you can pull it out into a 15ft long time line! It is VERY colorful, and full of facts and fun reading. 

Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box (DVD)

Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box (DVD) is a short, 24 running minutes documentary film produced by Answers in Genesis that truly examines the construction of the Ark and compares it to shipbuilding at the time Noah lived. It also brings to the forefront the trouble of the cartoonized notions of Noah's Ark, and how these fictional drawings or toys may cause some to be misled or come to believe the story is nothing more than a children's tale. This film puts the story of Noah's Ark back into a true, historical context


Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box (Book)

Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box (Book) is an 80 page 10 x 8 x 1/2 hardback book that works hand in hand with the DVD of the same name. Tim Lovett, Ark researcher, uses computer modeling and testing to more or less prove the Biblical account of Noah's Ark. He details a new Ark design that is more like the ancient shipping vessels of that day (not the cartoon like image we think of with a houseboat like structure and giraffes towering over the roof!) He explores the toll the flood waters would have had on the ship, and the skills needed to build it. In addition to all of that, the photos included are incredible.

Overall, this is the best full history curriculum set we've used to date. We love it. The lessons are short and sweet, but cover the point. The lessons are spread out in a stress-free way that even includes breaks. Your student will develop better writing and critical thinking skills while also learning about world history from a Biblical perspective. 

Does MasterBooks Elementary World History-You Report! 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?

There is a lesson plan that is planned by day (such as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc....) included in the first pages of the Parent Lesson Planner. I always suggest following the included plan, but you don't necessarily have to do that. You could easily make this last longer, or do it more quickly if you prefer.

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?

The books do cover multiple grades. This is suggested for grades 5-8, so you could use it with multiple grades if you have children who are different ages. These are physical products, so there are no hidden fees. They offer a free sample download of the products, so I highly recommend previewing them!

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

Honestly, this history curriculum is GREAT for autism and ADHD! First, the P.L.P. is well planned with lessons that aren't long. The lessons are fun, and playing the role of reporter is fun and entertaining. It's also a great way to emphasize pretend play/imagination in kiddos with Autism who may have difficulty with those. The books are VERY colorful and attention grabbing. My son LOVES this.

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

I would imagine it can. It can work with Bible studies you may have, writing, etc. It's a well rounded history curriculum.

**I received this product(s) in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.**

Koru Naturals REVIEW

Koru Naturals Review
I am very excited to bring you another great review of products from Koru Naturals. Koru Naturals features top quality body and skin care products from New Zealand, available to customers in the U.S, and abroad. They use natural ingredients with several health benefits that I'd never in a million years think to use! From Emu oil to Manuka Honey, Koru Naturals uses a variety of ingredients for great products. Earlier this year, I was blessed to review their Emu oil and Koolpurrie Restoring  Balm-You can check out that review here
 For this review, each crew member was given a 4oz container of their Skin Clear Cream , and one bar of their Honey and Propolis Soap. Individually, we were selected to review another product, and I was blessed to be chosen to review 1 set of their Emu Oil Shampoo and Leave-in Conditioner. This was definitely the box that just kept on giving!!!!
 Koru Naturals Review
I first dug into the cream! It smells so amazing! It has the consistency of lotion, but a little more moist. It's not really watery or anything like that, but it's not thick either. It's, hard to describe. It smells lemony, probably due to the lemon oil. I think it smells a bit like lemon pledge, which is probably one of the best scents in the entire world to me haha! It FEELS great. It's a mix of cold cream and lotion feel that soaks in pretty quickly. I used it at night after a bath on my face, arms, and legs. And I'd apply it on my face before make up in lieu of any other kind of moisturizer. I really don't know what I expected, but I did not expect my skin to be so clear! I've been blessed with clear skin on my face, but I still have pore issues like anyone else. Koru Naturals Skin Clear Cream got into my pores and minimized them like nothing else ever has. My upper arms have been prone to break outs, but not anymore! This cream is great! I receive loads of compliments now on how my skin looks like it's glowing. 

 Koru Naturals Review
Next I used the Honey & Propolis Soap. This comes wrapped in plastic, in a box. I kind of wish it had some sort of plastic container that I could keep it in. I also wish  I could put into words how this smells, but I can't do it justice.  It's not just a honey smell. It's a clean honey, amazing smell that will delight your olfactory senses! It's also pretty to look at. It's an octagonal shape. One side has a translucent, almost glycerin look to it while the other is more opaque. My skin loves this. It makes it so soft and smooth. Mr. M complimented me dozens of times over the soft scent of this soap. 
 Koru Naturals Review

I also used the Emu Oil Shampoo and Emu Oil Leave in Conditioner. These are both packaged in plastic bottles. These were not a good match for my hair. My hair is fine and naturally oily at the roots, and more dry at the ends. I know the amount of lather does not indicate the quality of shampoo, but I really like a lot of lather, and the shampoo does not have a lot of foamy lather. I also felt it weighed down my fine hair too much, leaving it a bit flat. The leave in conditioner was really good at minimizing fly aways and frizz, and it works well on tangles on wet hair. It's not a weightless formula, but it does work well, especially if you blow dry or use hot irons.  The shampoo did make my hair look healthier and shiny. Mr.B, on the other hand, has some frizz issues in the back. This shampoo worked fantastic for him, as did the conditioner. It helped his hair lay better, look healthier, and a lot less crazy. So really, it's all dependent on your hair type. While it didn't work great for me, it did him. And it might for you. 


I love Koru Naturals. They bring really great, quality New Zealand skin and body care products to the U.S. at an affordable price. You get free shipping on all orders over $35, and you can get a lot of product for that $35.00, too! Their products work as advertised, and even better in my opinion. I know these are on my must have list from now on, that's for sure! 
Please click the banner below to check out more reviews by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. 

Koru Naturals Review
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Brookdale House Drawing Around the World: USA REVIEW!

 Brookdale House Review
My son LOVES all things geography and art, so when given the chance to do a review on a product that combines the both, he was ecstatic! Brookdale House brings your homeschool fun ways of learning geographic facts, while also teaching your student how to the countries of the world with their books, Drawing Around the World. For this review, we received one digital copy of Drawing Around the World: USA. This is a PDF book that teaches your student various facts about each state, while also teaching your child how to draw the state, then how to draw the state in relation to its location within the country. 
 Brookdale House Review
How We Used This:

Brayden likes to learn about geography for fun, so we used this as a fun activity during breaks, at the doctor's office, and on the go. As the site suggested, we used transparencies and dry erase markers to practice the drawing before doing the "real" drawing that we saved each time. The site also gives a great resource list that you can use to fill in the state facts page for each lesson. Our favorite is 50 States. If you click on the states you get a list of state facts, but if you just hover over it you get a quick glimpse of the state abbreviation and capital city. Brookdale House also suggests Sheppards Software, which has a lot of fun games. Both of these sites are fun and help make a fantastic product even better.

Overall we really liked this product. It would be really great to incorporate it with a US History. You can do so much with the maps, beyond what is suggested. We plan to go back to them soon when we go deeper into our US History Studies. I plan to have him draw the states associated with Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Train, the Gold Rush, etc. The great thing about the system presented in Drawing Around the World: USA is that it systematically teaches your student how to draw each state independently, as well as together with its surrounding states, so your child can draw maps on their own! We are looking forward to all of the possibilities that have now been opened for us thanks to Brookdale House Drawing Around the World: USA! 
Does Drawing Around the World: USA 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 adapt it in that you can choose how much to cover. There's not set schedule, but the lessons are broken up by days. You can take breaks, but I would not skip or jump ahead. It is a system of learning state facts along with learning how to draw each state. To skip any of that would defeat the purpose of the book.

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?

This will cover multiple grades, and could be easily used as such. There are no hidden fees,and it is long lasting-especially if you just do one lesson each day.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

The lessons are short. It is fun and you can vary it as you need. We preferred to do each state covered in a different color. It is great for the fact lovers out there, too!

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

You could very easily tie this in with other things! We plan to come back to this with a greater study of US History, mapmaking, etc. This will be a mainstay in our homeschool for a while to come! 

 Brookdale House Review
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9 **REVIEW Plus GIVEAWAY!!!!!**

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to bring you this review of Galaxy Buck:Mission to Sector 9 (releasing 10/20/15.) This is a great 40 minute "must-see" by the creator of the VeggieTales! Think of this as VeggieTales meets Star Trek, with a "splash" of Star Wars! This show will take you and your children on a space adventure where they will learn about trusting God with everything, even our dreams. Galaxy Buck will leave your children on the edge of their seats while they try to deduce what is going to happen next.

This film is brilliantly executed. The puppets and graphics are well filmed without being cheesy. This is sure to please parents as well as the kids, while teaching Bible principles. 

About the movie:

Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9 is a must-see for all ages, from VeggieTales creator PHIL VISCHER! Kids will enjoy Buck Denver's latest adventure with his friends from What's In the Bible? and parents will appreciate the humorous nods to Star Wars and Star Trek. More importantly, Phil Vischer's gifted teaching delivers a clear message to kids and adults about God's love and purpose for our lives. Galaxy Buck communicates important Biblical truths that will add to everyone's faith foundation, whether a life-long Christian or a new creation in Christ.

Buck Denver has a simple dream - to save the galaxy. Working for the Galactic Mission Board, Buckdreams of carrying God's love to every corner of the Milky Way! Except he doesn't have a starship. Or a crew. Or even a captain's license. He just needs a chance. But when that chance comes andBuck finds himself leading a real mission into deep space, things don't go at ALL like he imagined! If he's doing what God wants him to do, why is everything going wrong? From VeggieTales® and What's in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer, Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9 is a wild, galactic adventure that teaches kids a powerful lesson about trusting God with everything - even our dreams!
Run time: Approximately 40 minutes 

But wait, THERE'S MORE! How about a GIVEAWAY?! Yes, that's right my favorite blog readers! You can enter below to win your own DVD copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Miracle Drug REVIEW

I was given the chance to review, Miracle Drug, written by Dr. Richard Mabry. This book is a medical suspense with a Christian foundation that showcases the medical crisis, and ethical dilemma, that strikes a young doctor, Dr. Josh Pearson. Dr. Pearson is suddenly, and unexpectedly, thrust into the middle of a suspenseful virulent bacterial outbreak after the death of his mentor. The book is full of suspense, but the prayer and Christian tones make for a lighter mood. It is not "in-your-face" religious. It is refreshing to read a suspense drama that isn't full of foul language and other "trash" that seems so prevalent now a days.

The book is well paced, and plot driven. It is clear the author has a medical background, but it is written in a manner that you don't need a medical background to understand and enjoy the writing. As with any good murder mystery "who-done-it," the identity of the killer is reserved to the end of the book in a much appreciated surprise. This is not one of those books where you pinpoint the antagonist from the first couple of chapters. The characters are well fleshed, the story line is deep and continuing.  Just when you think you know, something else happens to change your mind.

About the book: 

Miracle Drug (Abingdon, September 2015)

Overcoming these odds will take more than a miracle drug---it will take a miracle.

The infection wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn't. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why---his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

As if treating the President of the United States isn't stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation's eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.

About the author: 

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart." His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers' debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and Romantic Times' Reader's Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. "Miracle Drug" is his ninth published novel. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Connect with the author:


This is a great read. I would even go so far as to suggest it as a reading club book, or even as a college/advanced high school literature book. The ethical issues, medical research, etc. make for some fantastic discussion points. 

For more:

** I was given a copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't compensated in any other way, and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.**