Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lord Heritage - HomeSchool Office {TOS Review Crew}

HomeSchool Office Review
This review comes from Lord Heritage, it is their HomeSchool Office, an online lesson planning program. The cost is $79 per year, and they have a 30 day Trial you can try out to see if it works for you and your family.

When I worked outside the home, before children, I was always organized and able to multi-task. In the last almost 10 years, my brain has disappeared and the ability to do that has left me. The most challenging thing about homeschooling for me is the lesson planning, well, that and motivating my kids to actually do the lessons without fighting me every step of the way. But, I digress.

HomeSchool Office is based on 5 major points. Those points spell out POWER.


I'm going to go over the key points of each section with you, and will tell you how it worked for me.

PLAN  - In this section, you will plan out your subject goals and objectives. Then build your Master Schedule, set up lessons, projects and your budget.

ORDER - Here is where you schedule lessons, add in those home and school activities, set up reminders (don't we ALL need those?), and can add customized lists, such as for housekeeping, or maybe you work at home also.

WORK - There's that 4 letter word. In this section, you can allow your students access, so they can check off their completed lessons. You can also print schedules for your students, manage to do lists.

EVALUATE  - In Evaluate, you can manage your requirements for your state, if you have them, check to make sure your students are doing this lessons, keep track of hours and handling grading.

REPORT  - In Report, you can print the reports you have to send in to your state, and even generate transcripts for your older students who are applying for college.

Now, for the how it worked for me part.

While the Help section did help in some aspects, I still found it hard to get the program to work the way I wanted it to. That being said, it's not a bad program, I think I'm just better off at using paper and pen. The ability to print reports, transcripts is great, and if my children were to that stage, or if we had a state where we had to send in reports, that would be great to have. The process of inputting lessons, not being able to copy and paste, and having to have the particular information for each lesson was a bit daunting to me. Our days are often in a turmoil, and sometimes it's late in the day when we do lessons, other times it's in the mornings. Having to work at a set time just isn't working for us right now.

If you are better at planning, and especially online planning, this program would be a good fit for you. With the 30 day trial, you can check it out for yourself.

Make sure you check out the reviews by my fellow crew mates.

HomeSchool Office Review
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 19, 2015

GPALOVEMATH ~ Online Math Program - GPALEARN Review {TOS Review}

Critical Thinking Company Review
We recently had the opportunity to review GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN, an online math program for grades K through 5th. We received a one year subscription to 5 levels of the program.

Math was not my favorite subject in math, in fact, I was considered learning disabled because of my complete inability to do it. How I wish there had been something like GPALOVEMATH!

Each grade level of GPALOVEMATH has an animated character that helps your child through the lessons. Each lesson is broken in to three phases, Instruction, Practice and Quiz.

There are over 250 problems and 10,000 questions. If your child works on it 4-5 days a week, they could essentially complete a grade level in 10 months. If your child is at a level where they aren't quite reading on their own, they can click on the words of the problem, and the character will read it to them.

My daughter instantly fell in love. I had started her in the 2nd grade level, but decided to give the 1st grade level a try first. I knew she loved it when she was going to the computer, on her own, even when we weren't doing lessons, in order to do her math.

When you set up your child's account, you choose rewards for them to work towards. Things like stay up 30 minutes later, 5 minute tickle session, make cookies with Mom, etc. There are also rewards from companies like Toys R Us they can work towards, a $10.00 gift card they can use online or in a store. For those rewards, Mom or Dad has to approve it before the award is sent through the email. Depending on the amount of rewards you choose, your child would have to work a number of lessons before they receive it, such as 12 lessons to receive a reward for they choose dinner. The rewards from companies, are based on points they earn.

She's received the reward from Toys R Us, and within a day of approving it, it was in my email.

The three levels of passing ranks are Rockstar, Excellent and Good Job. I've been amazed and relieved at the level of Rockstar levels she has received. Not because I'm saying she's a genius, but because it's showing me that she's "getting it", and the program is helping her to learn math in a way I never did.

After every lesson she completes, I receive an email that she's completed another one. You, as the parent, can also navigate the lesson they worked on, giving you the ability to see what they did, and talk with them over what they learned, or had problems with if that's the case. You'll also receive an email at the end of the week with a summary of the lessons they completed.

If you're looking for a great math program, that's online, affordable and incredibly easy to use for both the parent and the child, I would HIGHLY recommend GPALOVEMATH. It's affordably priced at $149 a year, or $12.99 per month, per child.

GPALOVEMATH is compatible with PC, MAC, iPad and Galazxy Tab on a variety of browsers. We have a laptop and desktop PC's and have used it with Google Chrome without any issues.
Make sure you check out the reviews from my fellow Crew Mates, they've used a variety of grade levels.

GPA Learn Review

Crew Disclaimer



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Digital Science Online {Visual Learning Systems} ~ TOS Review Crew

Visual Learning Systems Review

Our latest review comes from Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) from Visual Learning Systems. We received one year's access for our family.

Part of being a homeschool mom means I can teach my children how they learn. Whether they learn visually, auditory or kinesthetically, this program works for them. When the opportunity to review this came around, I knew my son would love it. Science is one of his favorite subjects and I knew we wouldn't have any problem finding an area he would enjoy.

Visual Learning Systems Review

The program includes numerous videos, graphics, animations and teacher resources that if I listed them all here, you'd need another cup of coffee. There are worksheets and learning objectives for each lesson, along with lesson related tasks and questions for your students to complete before they watch the videos.

On of the things I really loved was that the videos aren't lengthy, so I knew with his short attention span, he'd be able to get through them and I wouldn't have to hear "Mom, is it over yet?"  Ranging in length from 15-20 minutes, then including any work I did with him, I could easily get in about 45 minutes of lesson time with him working on Science. With subjects covering physical, earth, there was plenty for him to choose from. Between all the grade levels, there are over 250 lessons. You and your students have plenty to choose from, no matter their grade level.

With the videos being all online and accessible through any computer or tablet, the only downloads are the worksheets.

Each lesson starts with an intro video, and then there are several short videos relating to that lesson. No robotic voice for these videos, and they are close captioned if you need that option.

The worksheets are very in-depth; pre and post assessment, video reviews, quizzes, vocabulary and some general work. If your students are old enough, they can print the worksheets by themselves, freeing you up for other things.

If your student wants to get a little more in-depth, there are also short animations related to the lesson that they can watch.

The teacher resources are great too. You can download the entire guide for each subject in full, or just the parts you want your students to work on. Which is the option, I chose. It was easier than wading through the entire guide.

My son has reached the age where he's starting to want to do things on his own, so I decided to go that route for this review. It allowed him to choose the topic(s) he wanted to learn about, which seemed to change on a daily basis. If he wanted to learn more about space, he did. Or water, or plants, etc. He had no limit on to what he could learn.

Visual Learning Systems Review

Worksheets have never been a favorite of his, so we haven't used them much as far as him doing any work with them, but I would use them to ask him questions about what he had learned from the videos he watched. I do plan on implementing them in the future though.

There are enough worksheets to make a week's worth of work whether you do Science every day of the week, or just a few days. We do Science 3 days a week, and with this program, he didn't fight me when it was time to sit down and watch the videos. Although keeping up with his changing interests gave me a run for my money. Luckily, if he switched gears, it wasn't hard for me to find the worksheets or other materials I needed to download for us to use with the video.

If you're looking for a science curriculum for your family and videos are a plus, check out Visual Learning Systems Digital Science Online.

Don't forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew mates.

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Visual Learning Systems Review

Crew Disclaimer



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bee Loved Beeswax Lotion Bars ~ A Review & Giveaway

As a homeschool mom and business owner, I am all for promoting my fellow homeschool/business owner moms. Today I have the immense pleasure of telling you about my good friend Jenny, and her line of products called Bee Loved Beeswax Lotion Bars.

She does SO much more than just lotion bars though. There's Body Butter, Scar Serum, Lip Balm (the chocolate is my favorite, go figure), Sugar Scrub, Sunscreen Bar, Bath Salts and Bath Fizzies and Deodorant! Jenny started her business about a year ago because one of her daughters suffered from eczema and she was trying to find something natural to give her some relief. 

BeeLoved products are all natural, dye free, and handmade. They use only 100% pure essential oils. Indulgence has never been so pure and affordable.

Bath Fizzies

I had gotten the Sugar Scrub, Deodorant, Lip Balm and Lotion Bar just before Valentine's Day, and Jenny was kind enough to give me the Body Butter and Bath Fizzies for this review.

Body Butter

During cold weather, my hands and feet are like sand paper. My finger tips crack and bleed and hurt something awful. After just a few days of using the Lotion Bar, I could tell a drastic difference in my hands. Even my cuticles look better! Using the Sugar Scrub, then the Lotion Bar made them feel even better.

Sugar Scrub

Over the weekend, I was the only one up and decided to soak my feet using one of the Bath Fizzies. I had chosen the Lavender and it smells SO good. I fixed the water and plopped that little fizzy in and just relaxed and let my feet soak. The lavender is not an overwhelming scent, just nice and soft.

Lotion Bar
They're larger than this, I've just used it ALOT

After soaking for awhile, I dried my feet off a bit, and used the Sugar Scrub. Scrubbed it around really good, making sure to get the rough spots on my heels. Rinsed them off again and after drying applied some Body Butter, Orange Scent. I tell you, it smells good enough to eat! Once I had it rubbed in, I put my socks on. When I took my socks off at bedtime I was amazed at how soft my feet were. And still are!

I use the Lip Balm daily, and haven't had any trouble with chapped lips, which have always plagued me in the winter time.

Lip Balm

Check out the rest of her wonderful line of products on her Facebook page, Bee Loved Beeswax Lotion Bars, or go straight to her website and get yourself some goodies!

If you're REALLY feeling lucky, Bee Loved Beeswax Lotion Bars and Cocoaphilia are hosting a giveaway! You could win wonderful body products AND handcrafted artisan chocolates! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions ~ TOS Review Crew

Having a family history that dates back to 13th Century, you would have to guess that we’d be interested in anything that could expand on that history. And you’d be right. 

When the opportunity came to review the audio drama based on G.A. Henty’s In Freedom’s Cause, from Heirloom AudioProductions, I was literally dancing around the house. My son hasn’t yet developed that love of reading, but he loves history, especially anything that helps him learn more about our family history, so getting him to sit still and listen to the cd’s was relatively easy.

Heirloom Audio Productions brings history to life through their audio adventures. With powerful sound effects and talented actors, they will definitely keep your family captivated and entertained.

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

We received the In Freedom’s Cause Single Package ($29.97). Included was a beautiful 2 cd set, the In Freedom’s Cause Study Guide (Digital Download), In Freedom’s Cause Soundtrack (MP3 Download) and a Printable Copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (Digital Download).

In Freedom’s Cause is a theatrical performance based on the book written by G. A. Henty. We hear the story through the eyes of Archie Forbes, a young man who joins with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in the fight for Scotland’s freedom.

The cd is 2 hours of non-stop action and adventure for ages 6 to adult. When you pair it with the Study Guide, you can get a little more in depth with what you are hearing in the cd’s. We would listen for awhile, then stop and discuss what we heard, using the Study Guide to help with questions, and vocabulary words. While some of the questions and words were a little over my son’s understanding, they helped me to get him thinking about what he was hearing, and listening even more so he could talk about it afterwards. I used the vocabulary words to give him the definitions so he could better understand them when he heard them in the performance.

The Study Guide is a great addition for helping to expand on what you’re hearing in the audio performance. It has a page for each “chapter” on the cd’s. And for each chapter, it’s broken down in three parts. Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words.

The theatrical performance is made all the better by the talents of the actors playing the parts. Some of them are well-known such as Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abby as Anna), Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings, Master and Commander), Skandar Keynes, (Chronicles of Narnia), Cathy Sara (Woman in Black, Topsy-Turvy), and James Cosmo (Highlander and Braveheart).

Here’s where I tell you how my family history ties in with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

In 1296, when Edward 1 of England invaded Scotland, one of my ancestors was a Scottish Commander and was taken prisoner by the English at Dunbar Castle. Six of those in the family were forced to pledge their allegiance to Edward and sign the Ragman Rolls. William Wallace was one of many Scottish who refused to sign the rolls.

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to In Freedom’s Cause, and I fully expect us to use it again in the future as the kids get older and are able to work through the questions and vocabulary words on their own.

Don’t forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew Mates!

In Freedom's Cause Review
Crew Disclaimer



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Letting Go Of The Guilt

This is one of those posts that has been "percolating" for a while. It came to me recently when I was watching tv and a commercial came on for ANOTHER weight loss program, or maybe it was ANOTHER "youth" cream. Whatever it was, the thought came to me of whatever happened to aging gracefully? 

My grandmother is 96 years old. And she is as beautiful to me now as she has ever been.

She's never worried about looking younger, being someone she's not.

My mother is 74 years old, another beautiful woman. 

When I was younger, people often didn't believe my age when I told them. Do they still do that? I have no idea.

Then one day recently, I caught my reflection in the mirror as I was getting dressed for the day.

This time last year I was part of a health and wellness company. Yes, I lost a few pounds, not nearly what I had hoped to lose. When they came out with a new product and everyone was so gung-ho about it, and talking about what it was doing for them, I tried it too. And the weight I had lost, came back. And stayed back. No matter what I did, it wouldn't come off. By Christmas, I'd had enough. I was done with all of it. I decided it was time to follow my heart and do what I loved. And trying to convince everyone around me, both online and off, that they needed this health and wellness product to "fix" whatever was wrong with them was NOT it.

I'm 47 years old, I had two children in less than 3 years. Then 2 1/2 years ago, I had a full hysterectomy. My body is not going to look like I did when I was 20 or even 30. I have the scars to show what my body has been through, and I'm proud of those scars. 

I'm tired of the guilt. Tired of enjoying what I eat one day and regretting it the next. My husband loves me just the way I am, my children love me no matter how thin I am. 

I am going to enjoying making my chocolates, sharing them with those who want to enjoy them too. I'm going to stop feeling guilty every time I eat one. And no, I don't eat chocolate every day. Even when I'm working on orders, I don't eat it. But I do love it, I love working with it, coming up with new flavors. But must of all? I love seeing the looks on the faces of those who try my chocolates for the first time. Then I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm right where God wants me to be.

Do I begrudge those who are wanting to lose weight? No. I certainly do not. I just believe that you can find a happy medium. Be healthy, or at least healthier, but still enjoy the good things. Be it food, wine, or even chocolate. In moderation of course.

And that's exactly what I intend to do. 

Won't you join me?



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Camelot Kids Book Tour, February 2015

The kids and I are loving this book. We enjoy reading it together during our read aloud time, and the kids are really getting in to the adventures in the book. Geared towards middle grade kids, it took a bit to get going for me, but the kids got in to it from the start.

About The Camelot Kids

What happens when Merlin tries to save the world with 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table?

In The Camelot Kids, Ben Zackheim, author of the bestselling Shirley Link series, tells the exhilarating story of Merlin’s quest to save the modern world by recruiting 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table. Getting 150 teenagers to do anything can be tough. Even if you know how to handle them. Merlin has no idea how to handle them.

Luckily, Merlin finds Simon Sharp — a natural leader, but not a big fan of the Camelot myth. In fact, his parents, both obsessed with King Arthur, died in a plane crash on their way to an archaeological dig. So when Merlin tells him that he’s a descendant of Lancelot, King Arthur’s strongest warrior, Simon is skeptical and not receptive in the least. And that’s just the beginning of a story that will leave readers thrilled, wanting more and entirely convinced of the brilliance of Simon Sharp.

In the same way that magic is the code that holds Harry Potter’s world together, chivalry is the code, the foundation and the social dynamic of The Camelot Kids. Chivalry is, in a sense, real-life magic, and it is the real-life code Simon and the other teenagers learn to live by.

About Ben Zackheim

Zackheim’s storytelling chops span TV (Nickelodeon), Games (Sony), Books (Shirley Link) and screenplays (Chester Yang, an Austin Heart of Film Festival semi-finalist script). and Edward Hemingway have both highly recommended Shirley Link as a great book for Middle Graders.

Find out more about Ben at his website, and connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

THE CAMELOT KIDS is on Goodreads, and you can purchase it on Amazon



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