Thursday, June 29, 2017

Grade 7 Lightning Lit Set REVIEW

Hewitt Homeschooling
We've recently been reviewing the Gr. 7 Lightning Lit Set by Hewitt Homeschooling, and I gotta say I am thoroughly impressed! This course goes over classic literary choices as well as poetry. For this review, we received the Student Workbook, Student Study Guide, Teacher's Key, and Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
Grade 7

I have always wanted to try Lightning Lit, but I could never decide on a level. When I first heard of them, we were into Mr. B's 5th grade year, and there wasn't an option for him. So I was VERY excited to get the Gr. 7 set.

The course starts off with a study on Tom Sawyer. I couldn't wait! I LOVE Tom Sawyer. BUT....sadly, Mr. B wasn't as enthused with it as I was. I think it is just his age right now, because if you remember, he's at that age where he could be going into grade 6 or grade 7. We are doing a mix of the two grades to accommodate, and I think he's just not mentally ready for Tom Sawyer. So instead of working from Chapter one, we skipped over to Chapter three since we've not done anything with poetry in a while.

When we last studied poetry, we did so from a memorization point of view rather than really learning the ins and outs of poetry-such as rhyming words and stanzas, and such. I was very eager to find out if Mr. B would take a liking to it. He LOVED IT! We started off by learning who Edward Lear was. Mr. B was quite intrigued when he found out Mr. Edward Lear was also taught at home, and by his older sisters. We actually ended up taking a mini break during our first poetry lesson while we researched Edward Lear.

We found out Lear was also an artist, illustrator, and a musician. He had been born to an affluent family, but money ran out and he was forced to move out with his sister when he was only four years old. He sister was more than twenty years older than he, so she raised him as her own.

His poetry consisted of Non-sense poetry, and for an 11-almost 12 year old boy, this was great! The Owl and The Pussy Cat is a cute poem that details the relationship between an owl and a cat. The owl and cat are in love, and they feel as if they have waited too long to be married. But they have one big problem, they have no ring! Lucky for them, they run across a pig with a ring in its nose, and they buy it from him so that they can get married. 

This lesson was on rhyming words in poetry. Other lessons in Chapter 3 cover Writing limericks and Haiku, and it gives a break down of poetry "guts" and Mr. B calls it-Stanzas, Lines, and introduces the importance of syllables for the beat. I like how the Student's Guide also asks Comprehension questions about the poems your child reads. Note: You cover more than just Edward Lear in Chapter 3, but this was Mr. B's favorite part, so I have focused more on it than the others.

After finishing up Chapter 3, we went on to Chapter four, Alice in Wonderland. Mr. B LOVES this book. This chapter discusses Creative writing. Again, it starts off by introducing the author, Lewis Carroll, and this led to a couple of days of research for Mr. B who had to learn all there was to learn about Lewis Carroll. We were both fascinated to learn that Alice in Wonderland started out as a story told on a boat ride! He later expanded the story when he wrote it all down. Like the poems in chapter three, each chapter in Alice in Wonderland is broken down in the Student Guide and Workbook. I like how there's a list of all the vocabulary words, and their meanings. We used these as "bonus" words in spelling, and we used it as copywork by having him copy the word and the definition.

The comprehension questions for Alice in Wonderland are really good. It's a good mix of critical thinking style questions and straight up fact style questions. I also like the ones that make him put in order how events occurred. All of these tasks work different areas of his brain that he needs to strengthen from a special needs perspective.

All of the comprehension questions are presented in the beginning of the chapter, with additional activities after that. I wish there was a mix of them, arranged by chapter. This would be better for kids like Mr. B who need things organized in that way. I like the activities in the Student's Guide, and Mr. B really likes the crossword puzzles. It's a bit confusing for him to go between the Student's Guide and the Workbook. I'd like to see an option where these two books are combined. I became confused at one point because I couldn't figure out which book I needed, and they both look the same. When we first started, I thought a mistake had been made and we had received two of the same book HAHA!

Overall, I really like Lightning Lit. the Grade 7 set is a good blend of what is on his level now, and what he will grow into over the coming year. I would like to see the workbook and student's guide be consolidated in some fashion, as that would be easier for our situation. It's been a little confusing for Mr. B to switch back and forth between the two student books. That wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, just pointing it out for others so that you know you may need to take measures to distinguish them for your special kiddos. I appreciate the included suggested schedule in the Teacher's Guide, but I'd love to see a checklist of sorts in the Student's Guide and/or Workbook as well.

Does Hewitt Homeschooling Lightning Lit 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?

These are physical books, so there's no time constraints that you'd find with an online program. I would say it is best to go in order, but we skipped Chapter 1 and went to chapter 3 with no issues at all. Then we went on over to Alice in Wonderland with no problems. You can set the schedule as you need, and there is a suggested lesson plan in the Teacher's Guide. 

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 is on par with Grade 7 material. Hewitt Homeschooling also offers other grade levels, and I noticed the same poetry book is used for their Grade 8 set, as well.  
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

This would depend on your child's likes and dislikes. Mr. B likes poetry, and he loves Alice in Wonderland, so it was great for him. He wasn't thrilled with Tom Sawyer, so we elected to wait a little and go back to that. Each daily lesson is pretty short. 

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

Other than Language Arts, that you can pull out of this, no other subjects are in here by default. We did couple some history and research by researching the authors. This is a literature program, and no a unit studies based program. 

The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed a few different Lightning Lit choices this review period. Be sure to check them all out by clicking the banner below!
Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Novare Earth Science: God's World, Our Home REVIEW

Novare Science & Math
I had never heard of Novare Earth Science: God's World, Our Home until I ran across the program while looking over some Memoria Press goodies. We just reviewed Nature's Beautiful Order, and I was intrigued by the recommendation to check out Novare Science & Math
Novare Earth Science: God’s World Our Home
Novare Earth Science: God's World, Our Home is intended for middle school aged kids. It's not an overly large book, but it is thick, and it is full of content that features minerals, historical geology,  planetary study, and more. This uses a mastery based approach, and is Christian based. For this review, we received a physical copy of the book and a digital copy of the resource CD. Note: The digital download I received was for my review only. It is sold as a physical disk, and not available as a download for sale. 

Mr. B LOVES all things science, so when the book came in he immediately ripped open the packaging and started reading. I received the disk as a digital download, and I set down to start downloading the components. I first looked over the sample schedule and lesson list. I really like the lesson list, and I use it for a schedule more so than the sample schedule. The Lesson list breaks down what is in each lesson.

I  like the spot for notes, too. I can print that off, and make a note of anything that has troubled him, or points we want to investigate further.

The disk also includes images for each chapter, and not just a few either. There are a lot of images for each chapter! 

The disk also includes quizzes, exams, experiment resources, and answers. 

The book is pretty straight forward. It's full of text with photos to illustrate. Mr. B enjoyed reading through it. It's intended for middle school grades, and I would say that's about right. Even up to maybe 9th grade or so.

How'd we like it?

Like it? Mr. B LOVES it! He has read the book, almost in its entirety. He's not worked on all of the quizzes and all of that of course, but he's read the greatest portion of the book. For us, the reading was on a good level. I could see older students, older than middle school, benefiting from this as well. 

It's a little wordy at times, but Mr. B likes the topic so he was ok with that. The font size is small, and there's a lot of words on each page. There's photos, charts, vocab lists, and activities mixed throughout that break up the actual text part, but those are still words.

 We like looking at the large photos from the disk. The quizzes were thought provoking. I allowed him to do open book quizzes, but I made him do closed book tests. We used the quizzes as study guides, too. 

I find this to be quite advanced, but suitable for the intended age range. I like how it's interdisciplinary in that it includes activities that can cross subjects like researching inventors, maps, and earth history. This course is Bible based, and from a Kingdom perspective.  

I appreciate the suggested schedule, and prefer that to the calendar outline. I also really like the weekly review. This is GREAT for spectrum kids to make sure they didn't leave anything out of their studies. Overall, we really like it.

Does Novare Science & Math 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?

It includes a suggested schedule, and a calendar that has lessons arranged every day. You could easily use the suggested schedule as a guide and set your own days for it. Since it is a physical product, you can easily take breaks as needed. You could jump ahead or skip, but you'd lose part of the overall mastery approach. 

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. The intended grade level says middle school students, but honestly it is so in depth that older students could use it as well. I could easily see a 7th/8th grader and a 9th/10th grader using the same book if you wanted. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
It can be a little wordy, and that could be overwhelming for some. You could break it down further and take your time a bit more if needed, offer up breaks, and that sort of thing. The pictures and charts help break it up, and Mr. B found it all very interesting. It could be intimidating for some kids, so you may have to work on a system that works for you. 

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

Even though it includes other subject activities, I wouldn't say it ties in really. By that, I mean you won't find unit studies or themed studies in the truest sense of the meanings. This is a great science program, and it's intended to be a science program. You won't find specific language arts lessons in here, for example. There are vocabulary word lists so you could do lessons if you wanted.

Members of the Crew also reviewed 
Introductory Physics,  

General Chemistry, and  Science for Every Teacher . Please check out the Homeschool Review Crew to read more Novare Science & Math Reviews!
Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, June 24, 2017


I buy peanut butter flavored ice cream because I know my son doesn't like it. HAHA!

What is yours?

2017 Digital Homeschool Conference

Have you ever wanted to attend a homeschool conference, but you just couldn't get there? Well do I have a deal for you! The 2017 Digital Homeschool Conference is set to begin July 3! If you want to here me, along with some other great speakers, that visit my link and get registered today! 

**Post may contain affiliate links. These do not in any way cost you anything! **

Friday, June 23, 2017

Developing a schedule and choosing curriculum

I've been tasked by my son's doctor to create  a picture schedule for his school work. This means I also need to make final curriculum choices! This is SO hard for us! 

Reading: I'm unsure how to proceed here. I thought I had it all settled, but now I'm not so sure. I kind of want to do a theme unit from WinterPromise, and their Sea and Sky package looks GREAT. That would cover reading, geography, science, and even history. Right now, we are using Lightening Lit. 

Math: CTC and UnLock math are winning thus far.

Science: many options. I was going to finish off Awesome Science Historical Geology, but I have NO idea what he did with the disks! He's also still using Memoria Press Nature's Beautiful Order and Novare Earth Science.

Social Studies: We go back to reading here. He is doing Masterbooks Biographies of the Revolution and I think we're gonna add in World History Vol. 1, if we don't do sea and sky. Veritas Press Self Paced is set to start Sept.1, too. 

Language Arts: I just bought Winterpromise LA6. 

At least I have Language Arts settled!

Get your schedule together with Homeschool Planet {REVIEW}

Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Hi...It's me, the non-planner who happens to LOVE Homeschool Planet and Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Honestly, I'm not even sure how I can possible keep anything straight without Homeschool Planet now! Homeschool Planet is a handy dandy online planner that keeps my crazy life together. Simple as that. It has almost everything I need in one place, and I LOVE IT! 

Ok, here's the first screen I see when I login. Login is easy, and of course that earns bonus points with me. I did not screen shot the entire screen for privacy reasons. To the left of this would be a list with out names. You can click on each individual person to access their to-do lists and schedule, as well. This is GREAT for us. Soooo many times M and I will plan things only to realize we are both busy doing something else. Or he will put off making plans because he has to ask me if there's something else already planned. With Homeschool Planet, he can login and check immediate! Oh, and you can change the background look! I love butterflies, so this is my chosen background. 

I did a more in depth "How to use this" type review last time, so this time I'm going to avoid a lot of the technical stuff. Instead, I'm going to talk about the ways we use this! 

1.) Email reminders. These are a lifesaver. Simple as that! I have a VERY hectic schedule. I input EVERYTHING into Homeschool Planet. Mr. B sees a dozen different doctors, M has appts, I have some, my family does...etc. I put them all in there that way, first thing in the morning when I'm checking my email, I can see what I have to do for the day that I no doubt forgot about. LIKE today! We had an 11am appt, and I had completely forgotten about it! Thank you Homeschool Planet for saving me $50 on no call/no show fee!

2.) Coordinate Schedules. M and I are able to input things into the calendars online, from anywhere. So if he needs to work over on the weekend, he can put that in. Or if he makes plans with friends, he can schedule it in there and I can see it and no to not make plans that must include him. I can put in all out of state appts, "me time" evenings, etc. and he can see all of that. It's really great to be able to have that link.

3.) I schedule my life. I'm a list maker, and a visual person. I need a list somewhere where it will not get lost. An online planner does that for me. 

4.) I can search amazon right from the calendar! Imagine you are working on lesson plans and you suddenly remember you have to buy a specific book. Well there's this handy look up feature that lets you do just that, and more!

I mean seriously, how cool is that?! 

5.) Widgets: I really appreciate the daily quotes and Bible verses. they are a true pick me up on any given day. I like I can glance at the weather, order from amazon, check something on Wiki, and even create a reading list. The only widgets they don't have that I still REALLY want are a home budget and journal. I'd love to be able to input our credits and subtract out our debits using some kind of integrated spreadsheet program that M can see, too. But that's not a deal breaker for me, I still LOVE Homeschool Planet.

6.) Shopping lists sent to M's phone so he can stop on his way home. This is such a GREAT thing! No more forgetting to call him or text him! I can also send To-Do lists and messages.

7.) Lesson Plans. They have several lessons plans already made up using a variety of different curriculum choices. Here's  a screen snip of the Math Mammoth lesson plans. 

As you can see, I do a LOT with Homeschool Planet. I schedule all of my photography sessions, medical appointments, and housework. I can easily look up M's schedule, sent messages and lists, and even check the weather and Amazon. This program coordinates my life, and brings a little order to my chaos. The widgets are great, but I still wish there was a journal widget and a household budget widget. I LOVE the reading list widget! LOVE IT!

Homechool Planet

To be honest, when I first heard about it a couple of years ago, I never in a million years thought I would need it as badly as I did! I can't imagine how crazy my life would feel if not for the sanity I get from being organized.I have used this product more than any other planner out there!

Something Extra special to note: Right now, right this very moment (6/23/17) if you sign up for a free 1 month trial, you will also get a FREE Lesson plan valued $5-15 from the new Lesson Plan Marketplace! How awesome is that?!

Please click the banner below to see what other members of The Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Homeschool Planet!

Homeschool Planet {Homeschool Buyers Co-op Reviews}
Homechool Planet
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I LOVE this photo

I took this photo in Grove City, PA. This is the chapel on the campus of the local university, and the location of the wedding I was shooting that weekend. I love how ethereal it looks!

Wordless Wednesday

UnLock Math REVIEW!

UnLock Math pre-algebra
It's not secret that we really like UnLock Math. So when they came up for review, I was so excited to take another shot at UnLock Pre-Algebra. Mr. B did this once before, but he was a bit young for it, and needed a little assistance here and there. I wanted to see how he would do at a more appropriate age.

UnLock Math is a unique, online based Math program that features online practice, videos with a REAL teacher (whom Mr. B has a crush on I think HAHA!) and online tests and quizzes. The program is great for kids on the spectrum, or visual learners who also need a visual chart for task management. For this review, we received a one year subscription.

Our Experience

Login is super easy, and if you have read any of my reviews, you know this is a MAJOR thing for me! You can skip around as needed, which is great for us right now. Mr. B. is already proficient in the earlier aspects of this program, so I was able to start him out where he needs the most help. That's a great advantage over other programs that may be locked until you complete the portions in order. You are restricted to only your chosen grade level, but for us that's ok this time. 

When your child logs in, this is the screen they see. They can choose which section they want. We call these chapters since that's easiest for Mr. B to understand. For us, we skipped one and two, and went straight to three. I already knew where to start him due to previous testing. I love how you can see the locks, and as you complete portions they unlock. And I like the gauge that gives a running tally of grade average. All of these visual details are perfect for kids like mine who may be on the spectrum, or just visual learners in general. 

Within each "chapter" you can choose your daily lessons. The great thing about these lessons is that you can repeat the videos as needed. Mr. B is having such a hard time with order of operations! So we have watched that one over and over again.

I also love the fact it gives an objective. This is great for kids like Mr. B because it tells them what to expect. Again, perfect for us.

 If you notice, there's also a place that says "Start" and at the bottom of the screen it says finish. This is PERFECT for spectrum kids, or kids who NEED that visual reminder! I can't stress enough just how great this feature is. And what is really interesting is that I spoke with the vendor about this, and it was just a sheer coincidence at the time! He'd never thought about how this design feature could or would fulfill such a huge need in this way.

UnLock Math
Practice Problems button is self explanatory. This is the "homework" part of the program. 
 The "Stay Sharp" feature is great. It's great practice for previously learned material. 

The reference notes are good if you need that tangible item to hold in your hands. I will often print these for my own use in helping him. 

Challenge Yourself is Mr. B's FAVORITE! I love the placement of this, because I've told him he can't skip any steps, and his "reward" is the Challenge Yourself part. These are critical thinking things. 

Overall, we REALLY love UnLock Math. It is easy to log in, provide excellent visual task reminders, and Mr. B truly learns for it. This is by far one of our most favorite math programs out there, and the one that gets the most use. HIGHLY recommended, and it will see a lot of use!

Do you want to save $50 off of a 1 year subscription?

If so then click that handy dandy referral link! 

Check out what the rest of The Homeschool Review Crew had to say!
Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

**Post may contain affiliate links**
Crew Disclaimer

Learn American History with Rush Revere! (REVIEW)

Adventures of Rush Revere

Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh is a ton of fun! We recently received all 5 book in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series.  And let me just say, the packaging on these is exquisite! The books are hardbound with gorgeous pages, and they come stacked and wrapped in a beautiful blue ribbon with gold embossing. I almost didn't want to untie them!

I love the premise of these books. Rush Revere is a teacher, and he travels through time with his students teaching them American History in action!
Adventures of Rush Revere

The books in the series include:
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims
Rush Revere and the First Patriots
Rush Revere and the American Revolution
Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner
Rush Revere and the Presidency

Mr. B opted to start at the beginning with Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. Mr. B had never even heard of the series before, so he was pretty intrigued by a time-traveling substitute history teacher with a talking horse named Liberty! Honestly we NEED a Liberty in our lives. No...not the talking horse exactly, but a stuffed Liberty. I've seen them floating around, and Mr. B would LOVE to have one. So if anyone knows where I get one, that'd be dandy! Anyway, Mr. B was intrigued by the overall idea of this time traveling substitute teacher and his talking horse, so he set in to reading The Brave Pilgrims because that is the beginning. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims takes place during the Pilgrim's first winter.

I was first hit by the overall quality. The books are hardback with a printed dust jacket over a solid book surface. The spine is embossed behind the dust jacket. The pages are very thick. They aren't your typical book pages at all. They are glossy, and full of color. They are made to look like old, yellowed paper. There are illustrated photos scattered throughout, as well as real historical photos. I will fully admit, I was kinda thrown off by the image of Rush Limbaugh's head cut and paste style on the cartooned body of the character lol. But the more I saw it, the more comical it became. Here's this big head, this little body, and it's all the same size as the horse...I began to see it for the comic relief it was intended to be.

I really like how these books present learning tidbits in a fun way. For example, at the beginning of Chapter 2 in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Liberty starts talking about all of the nutritional facts of an apple. It's pretty funny that the horse is off on a tangent about apples having dietary fiber and essential minerals when they are on a quest to learn about history! These little factoids also caused Mr. B to do side research. He stopped here and looked up the nutritional content of every fruit we had in the fridge, then finished off the chapter LOL!

One thing I did note was the deception in the book. They can't let the Pilgrims know they are time travelers, nor can they tell present-day people they are going back in time. So they make up stories. Some may have a problem with that. For example, Rush Revere goes over to William Bradford and they are talking. He's relieved when William Bradford automattically assumes he's been exploring when he and Tommy aren't around. And then he tells Bradford that he has a horse, then realizes they've never seen the horse before. So he tells them a native girl gave him Liberty while they were exploring.

The use of imagery is great in these books. Here's an excerpt from the Prologue of Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims:

"The sea was wide, cold, and blustery. The large wooden ship rocked hard against the rolling waves." 
This is as much of a lesson in writing as it is in history and reading. I had a professor in college tell me that we tend to write like what we we read. If we read books with a great deal of imagery, then our writing will feature more detailed images such as this. Mr. B needs a lot of work in this area, so reading books like this will ultimately, I hope, help him to be more creative with his writing!

Overall, Mr. B has really enjoyed these books. He's finished Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, and we are starting in on Rush Revere and the First Patriots. This is more in tune to our history lessons currently. This book teaches about the colonial period of George Washington and Ben Frankin  leading up to the Revolutionary War. I really like how these books make you feel like you are really there, too. It's like we are catching a behind the stage glimpse of history.
I'm excited to get to Rush Revere and the American Revolution. Looking through the book, there's a photo of where Paul Revere was captured! This time period fascinates me! I like how this book also includes the fighting we are facing today in Afghanistan.

Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner follows the American Revolution. This is great if you are studying The Constitution and that time period. They are visiting in the middle of the Constitutional Convention so that they can see all of the action. It doesn't feel like there are as many photos in this one, compared the previous 3, but I didn't actually count them. I think they are just more dispersed.

The series ends with Rush Revere and the Presidency. I thought this book would be about electing the president, and feature a lot of current day stuff, too. But instead it is focused on the early Presidents of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. It's a great foundation for kids. We can see how hard it was the lead an infant nation into greatness!

All of the books have the same "aged look" pages that are glossy and not like most books, they are all the same hardback with embossed spines and colorful dust jackets-they vary in color. They all have a good mix of illustrations and historical photos. I've flipped through the remaining books and noted the same kind of educational tidbits mixed throughout. I like how Rush Revere kind of quizzes his students, which leads to a repetition of facts for your child, but they don't realize they're reading a repetition like that. It makes them remember the details easily, and in a fun way. Of course the books are fiction, but they are historical fiction that is based on true events. These would be a great addition to any Early American History program!

Does The Adventures of Rush Revere 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?

These are physical books so you can read them as you like. You can go in order, or skip if you want.

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?

These books are written in such a way that you can read them to younger kids, and early readers can help read along, too. Even older kids would like these! I'm an adult, and I liked them!

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

Definitely not boring. The pages are colorful and there are a lot of pictures included.

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

This series would be a GREAT addition to an early American History course!  

Adventures of Rush Revere

Several members of The Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this series. Please click the banner below to check them out! 
Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Back into the swing of things.

Things have been so hectic for me lately. Multiple deaths in the family, Mr. B's needs and our bi-weekly trips to the children's hospital. I'm back to actual blog posts on the regular now, I hope, rather than the short little tid bits and motivational memes I've been posting lately. I appreciate all of the prayers we have received!

For Michael

You've been gone 1 year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. There hasn't been a single day in those 365 days where I haven't thought about you. There's not been a day where I haven't regretted not reaching out to you more than I did. I've lost a lot of family and a lot of friends but none have hit me as hard as losing you. You were more like a brother than a cousin. Born exactly 3 months after me, we shared classes together, fought with each other, took up for each other, stood side by side with each other, and I laughed the day Brayden was born on your birthday because I said it was so fitting....and I wasn't there when you needed someone the most. And for that, I will forever be sorry.
What would have happened if I had gone ahead and asked you if you wanted to come over for dinner? Or if you wanted to just come over and hang out some? Or if you wanted to go to the gym with me? What would have happened if I hadn't told myself you needed more time, and you wouldn't want to hear from me? We'll never know 
We used to laugh growing up about how we were going to be the grouchy old people of the family who scared all the kids on holidays in matching, creaking rocking chairs. There's no one to sit in that other creaking rocking chair now.
I'm so sorry we weren't as close in what ended up being our old years together as we were in our younger ones. If you couldn't beat it, no one could. The demon had latched on too strong. Who knows if I, or anyone, could have said or done anything to change this outcome. But I'll never know, because I didn't try hard enough. I didn't know. Words can't express the amount of hurt and regret I have for that. I will forever, every single day, miss you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Morning Routine Printable

Kids on the spectrum do very will with a structured routine. We've been having some issues lately getting anywhere on time. With the help of my son's doctor, we developed a system of visual charts to help. Each chart features space to the side to allow for stickers, checks, or whatever other measure you use to check off a "Job well done" for use with a reward system. Please subscribe to the blog and follow my Facebook and Pinterest so you don't miss out on the printables I will have! 

To access the printable, you must sign up for the mailing list.

I'll let you know when it is ready. I am also going to have shower/bath printables, daily schedule charts, etc. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The trouble with Social Media

Too many people airing their dirty laundry, spreading half truths or no truths, and too much time spent with our faces stuck to a screen. I miss the days before the internet. Sure, it's easy to google something now, and it's great to have information at our fingertips. That's all fantastic. But the bad starts to out weight the good sometimes, too. I wish there was a better balance.

Long Car Rides

What do you do to make the time pass more quickly on long car drives?

I tend to pop in a good audio book, create a good play list of music, or take a different route. I'd love to hear some other ideas!

CTC Math Review

As you  know, CTC Math is one of our favorite math curriculum programs. I was recently provided with a 1 year membership to review, and I am so excited! This program is great for kids like Mr. B. CTC Math online provides you with video lessons coupled with online practice, record keeping, and even printable lesson overviews. CTC Math is our definite Go To math program!

With a yearly plan, you have access to every lesson on every level. This is PERFECT for kids like Mr. B who have skill levels all over the place. He may need 3rd grade geometry, and 6th grade pre-algebra. It is so difficult for us to find a curriculum set that offers such a wide diversity of levels, and CTC has it.

 You choose the country you need, and for us that is obviously the United States. Different countries are going to require slightly different methods since many countries use metric and not standard. Ok, ok...nearly every country but the US uses metric! After that, you simple choose the level you want! It really is that easy!

Once you choose your level, you just move to the right and choose your overall area, then your topic. The interface is very user friendly, and I love that. Mr. B is easily able to navigate on his own, and I'm not standing here in frustration, scratching my head, trying to figure out where to log in or how to move about the program. 

You will get to a screen that has all of the activities needed for your child to succeed in their math lessons. 

The lessons are colorful, but not busy or distracting. The use of different colors helps kids note what is what. Differentiating terms and ideas with different colors is a suggestion many of Mr. B's specialists have made to me over the past several months. 

I mentioned record keeping above, right? CTC Math online tracks your child's progress, and saves it, so that you can easily print out a record of your child's work for use in end of the year reporting, transcripts, etc. You also get email updates that detail your child's progress. I love that I get an email letting me know my son is doing what he is supposed to be doing every day. It makes things so much easier for our busy life! 

Here are a few screen shots of some of Mr. B's practice work. 

The little green check mark lets you know immediately if you got the answer correct, or not. Every incorrect answer is marked with a red X, and the correct answer. This was a diagnostic test I had him complete on the 6th grade level. He missed 4 out of 40 questions, for a total of a 90%. I can see every answer he gave, so that I can determine if it was a truly incorrect answer, a typo, or what exactly caused the incorrect answer. This gives me great insight in to his strengths and weaknesses so that I can better able tailor the program to his specific needs. 


CTC has the perfect mix of color, video, and online practice. I do wish there were printable worksheets for the lower grade levels, but as it is we still love the program. The log in is at the top of the page, and easy to find. There's a parent log in and a student login, and that's perfect for us. I love the emails I get with updates on his progress, and I like that I can log in and print off progress reports. This is great for me to use in his portfolio at the end of the year, I take these to doctor's visits, and even show them to his bio dad so he can keep up with his work.

The video lessons are short, but long enough to cover the details. The topics are broken down into small segments so that the shorter videos work very well. This is great for autism and ADHD because attention spans can be quite short in those situations. More than 15 mins or so, and Mr. B just tunes it all out. Overall, I HIGHLY recommend CTC Math!

Does CTC Math 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?

Yes, you can customize your own schedule, the order in which you do things, etc. It is super easy and convenient. I can have Mr. B working in different grade levels if I choose!  

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 single plans and family plans available. K-advanced maths are covered, and you are not locked into one specific grade level. There are no hidden fees. This is a great deal! 

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

The videos are pretty short, and the practice questions are limited in quantity. Your child shouldn't have to spend a great deal of time at any one session. We typically do a video and 1-2 sessions of practice each day. Mr. B just completed 40 questions in less than 10 minutes. I have found it's GREAT for ADHD! 

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

This is a very well executed online math curriculum. It only includes math, so there's no tie in to history or anything like a unit study. 

Connect with CTC Math on Facebook

**I was provided this product free in exchange for my HONEST review. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family.**