Monday, June 1, 2015

Home & School Mosaics - Something Great and FREE! from the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op for the Summer!

Sorry for not blogging regularly, but I'm not only teaching my boys - I'm a student myself! That doesn't leave me much time for blogging.  

All of my boys have different learning styles, and that can make it difficult to find something to work for all three of them. There are three things I put into my homeschool budget every year - an annual subscription to Learning Ally (audio books for folks with a diagnosed learning disability), Amazon Prime, and Discovery Education. So I am excited to share the news that you can try it for FREE for the months of June, July, and August!

I was very excited to learn that the Homeschool Buyers Co-op is giving away a FREE subscription to Discovery Education Streaming Plus for the summer to homeschoolers.  A 1 year subscription retails for $375, so this is a bargin.   It has over 12,000 full-length educational videos, games, interactives and more.  Check it out here:

Homeschooler Testimonials here:

You can watch from your computer, laptop, or tablet. I always find more videos that we could possibly watch on any given subject, but I'm always able to find what I need for each boy.

You have nothing to lose, so hop on over to Homeschool Buyer's Co-op and take advantage of this gift today!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Homeschool Mosaic Reviews - Homeschool Planet

I was given a free trial of Homeschool Planet for review purposes.

Homeschool Planet is the name of an online planner produced by Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I can't count the number of great deals I've gotten over the years through Homeschool Buyers Co-op so I wasn't at all surprised to find that they produced this quality product.

Homeschool Planet is completely online. This means you can access it on your tablet, computer or smart phone.  It does not care if you have a PC or Mac or iOS or Android. If you prefer a paper planner - which I do - then you can print out your information.

Even better - this is not just a school planner. You can enter EVERYTHING - your schedule - your spouse's schedule - the kids activities - church activities, etc. It can sync with your other online calendars - I synced mine with Google. It really helped with the data entry process.

Easily confused? (That would be me.) They have a handy series of tutorials to help you out. You can access these here. They cover using widgets, deleting a single day, getting started with attendance, grading, creating a student login, making family profiles, scheduling your classes, and how to find that pesky share address to sync the program with your Google calendar.

I went back to college this fall so I haven't been able to enter all of our information in it yet. It is perfect for my husband - who just retired - to keep track of everything and I can also keep tabs on how the school work is progressing.  I'm also going to create logins for the boys so they can go in and check off their assignments. One of the things I love most about this are the possibilities.

I love that you can customize your display. You can see a week for everyone, for one student, or all of your family. You can see by day, week, or month. You can look at the calendar or just the planner.

I'm sure there are tons of things you can do with it that I haven't had a chance to attempt. This planner is versatile, easy to use and portable. You aren't limited by the operating system on your computer, though you do need to have internet access. The learning curve is very slight and the tutorials and the super responsive customer service staff will help smooth any bumps along the way. The initial data entry is probably the hardest part of using the program. All the information you enter is saved and you don't lose it when you convert your trial subscription to a paid one. All of your information is encrypted and is backed up nightly by their servers.

I like the different backgrounds because it makes it easy to find one that is soothing to my eyes. I also like the widgets:

These are also customizable and you can add the ones you wish. Choose from Messages (which you can use to send texts or emails to family that you have entered that information for), To Do, Weather, Shopping List, Daily Bible Verse, Daily Quote, and Lookup (choose to search Google, Bing,Amazon, Homeschool Buyers Co-op, Bible, Dictionary, Thesaurus, Recipes or Wikipedia. You can customize your Grading and track class hours if you need to do that for record keeping purposes. You can create your own subjects and classes. There is also a feature to create transcripts.

Best of all, you can start a 30 Day Free Trial without entering any payment information. You have to join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op but that's free and you get Smart Points when you sign up to be a member.  After that if you'd like to continue you can choose from a monthly fee of $6.95 or an annual fee of $65.00.

I'm looking forward to getting my college assignments put in as well so I can check off my work also! In case you hadn't noticed, I'm completely sold on this product.

To see what others on the review team had to say about this great product, click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mosaic Reviews - Wizzy Gizmo

     I was given a copy of 'Who Created Everything?' Audio CD. This is Episode 1 in the Wizzy Gizmo Old Testament Bible Series. This Audio Drama is a great Bible study tool. We listened to it in the car on our various trips around town. I had also planned on using it as a bedtime Bible story if we hadn't finished it during our car rides. It is available in CD and Digital Format or just in Digital format. My older car does not have a Mp3 jack so the CD was a great thing to have.

    It is very affordable - $14.99 for the CD/Digital version and $9.99 for the Digital version. There are also many samples to check out before your purchase - here. Created by Chris Del Aguila and Justins Cumnins (illustrator), this would be perfect for family devotions and paired with the companion book ($12.99 - here) would be a great homeschool curriculum addition for the child who learns best by hearing and reading at the same time. (I have three of those!)

    Even though my youngest is at the end of the target ages -  4 to 12 - all three boys enjoyed the story and the engaging characters.  They have studied Genesis 1 several times but this was a fresh fun look at it. I recently completed a college course on the Old Testament and enjoyed the story myself. Youngest thought Wizzy Gizmo was a lot like Doc Brown in 'Back to the Future' and liked Qwacky the best. He also wants his own Gizmovision. Knowing that he has an engineer mind, he just might do that very thing!

     In 'Who Created Everything?', we first meet Eli, who is new in town and is not looking forward to being the new kid at the beginning of summer. That is until he meets Olive in the park and the rest of the gang comes to tell them the exciting news - Wizzy Gizmo has finished his invention. They all rush to go and have a look. Here we meet Qwacky - the robot duck - and Pepe - the dog who likes to read. Wizzy explains he has finished the Gizmovision and decides to show them how it works. He choses the beginning - from the Bible - and the machine which can take them to the place inside of any book - takes them to the very beginning of time. The creation is a literal six day creation in the story and they are frightened by the darkness and then relived when God creates the light. During the trip through the six days, we find another of Wizzy's inventions - the Gizmoblaster vehicle which can travel in space and underwater. 

     As a parent, I really liked the approach of helping the listener/reader get a clear picture of what it must have looked like during the days of Creation. In particular I liked the way the question Eli asks - why God said - 'Let us create man in our image....' - is answered with a simple explanation of the Trinity. It is a difficult concept for an adult but the way Wizzy explains it to Eli made it clear for my boys. This is a well done, engaging series of Bible stories for children and I highly recommend the products.

    The second book in the series - 'In His Image' - continues the adventure through Genesis Chapter 2. It is only in book form at this time for $12.99. Other products include a Fast Track Bible Pack - a 24 card set to aid in the study of the New Testament ($14.99) and in the works is a 52 week devotional. All orders $25.00 and over qualify for free shipping.

     Wizzy Gizmo can be found all over social media - Facebook - Twitter - Google Plus - Pinterest - Vimeo - for more information.  Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to get updated information on new products.

   Not everyone on the team reviewed the same item - to hear more about Wizzy Gizmo products the rest of the team tried click here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Year - Back to an old friend and a new friend - curriculum wise....

By the end of December - when we took our Christmas break and I finished up the last of my reviews for Mosaic Reviews - I knew we needed a change. I needed a change. I felt we were spinning our wheels and getting nowhere fast. 

A couple of years ago I bought Tapestry of Grace Year 1 Unit 1 after looking the 3 week DE sample. I entered the 'TOG Fog' and never emerged. The boys didn't really seem interested in that era and I could not let go of trying to do every. single. thing. on. the list.

Now bear in mind this curriculum reminds you that no one can do every single thing on the list and you should not attempt to do so. It does this a lot. I put it aside and sighed heavily, thinking my kids would never get the Classical Biblical education I wanted for them. 

Then I read TOG was finished tweaking the curriculum (for the most part) and was now starting to train support staff. Since my reviewing days had come to a halt I went to check it out.

Suddenly the TOG fog lifted and I saw how to make it work for us. I started Advisor training at Tapestry University and even if I don't wind up going past Advisor the training has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for this curriculum. This is it for my younger two. We are home.

We started with Egypt last week and are into our second week and loving it.

Well, two of them do. Oldest was working very hard but I just could not really make TOG work for him - not at Year One - and I'm not comfortable doing two different years of TOG with two kids. I happened upon Pandia Press' History Odyssey Early Modern Level 2 and Modern Level 2 at the local resale shop.  I ordered Kingfisher - thinking you can never have enough reference books and something about it clicked with Oldest - even though it's not on Learning Ally (an invaluable resource if you have a dyslexic child that is an auditory learner!). IEW finally clicked with him as well so I see lots of KWO and summaries in our future. The time period interests him. Yes, it's secular but I'm adding in Bible and pre reading as well. He's also my most grounded child and very nearly a man so I don't worry much about him.  It's a good curriculum and can be beefed up if need be. 

Today I got a new God wrinkle, someone gifted me the Classic TOG - Years 1, 3 and 4. I've been reading it and gaining an even greater appreciation for Tapestry of Grace - how Lampstand Press has refined it and I just love it more than even. I'm hoping to dovetail Oldest back to Tapestry when the time periods line up again. Perhaps I'll luck up and find Classic TOG year 2 used too!

We are still using Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred, IEW SWI and Fix It Grammar and we've added Sequential Spelling. The boys really like the DVD and the program. 

I've also been exercising regularly and Jerry and are taking a walk every evening. We plan to do at least a mile a night and keep adding on a quarter mile every day. 

I've been pretty quiet because I've been busy planning and training. I hope to update more regularly and soon. This Friday is Youngest 12th birthday and I made him a special cake.

Til then I am THANKFUL!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014! My One Word for the Year - Thankful

Last year was the first year I focused on One Word. 2013 was the year of Faith and I got plenty of opportunities to exercise that faith that God will always provide in every circumstance.

My husband was laid off from his job - he'd been with the same company with nine years and at that same time was scheduled for knee surgery. God provided - the surgery was covered with the severance package through a month's worth of paid benefits. God also provided the money for us to keep him on Cobra until we could see about the insurance for his new job.

Because the company was smaller the insurance was more than we could afford and I was having no luck on the healthcare exchange website. It appeared we were not eligible for a subsidy because his employer offered insurance - even if we couldn't afford it. We were not eligible for Medicaid. I thought we were stuck and would be entering the year uninsured.

A friend referred me to a wonderful insurance agent who helped me navigate and get us health care at a very affordable cost.

My brother moved to a new town and he did it all by himself. He also - thanks to our agent - will have health insurance for the first time in many years.

I distanced myself from just about everyone I knew - including our church and our new Pastor. I distanced myself from God. But God did not stop having faith in me and made sure I got His messages - in unlikely places - two funeral sermons that involved people dearly loved who died young.  I was moved to apologize to the Pastor and I've not been back to church as much as I would like due to chronic health issues but I'm hearing God there again.

I had times of fear and doubt in 2013, despite me wanting it to be a year where my Faith was strong and unwavering. But as usual, the joke was on me. It wasn't about me having unwavering Faith in God - it was God telling me He had unwavering Faith that I was His and I would make my way back.

He put Thankful in my head early in November. I'm quite the pessimist and I don't look at my blessings as much as I should. So every day for this year I will take time to be thankful for a blessing God has given me.

This week - I am thankful for family. This is a picture of my Daddy - he's the youngest boy there on the end in front of the truck (A Ford - no doubt) - and his brothers and his Daddy.  There were thirteen of them that lived to adulthood and seven were boys. These are my people. My roots. And I love them dearly.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - HelloFresh

So who wouldn't jump at the chance to try a delivery service that not only sends you fresh food but everything you need - including recipes - to make three meals?

In exchange for my review I was sent a 'Classic Box' of three meals via the weekly home delivery offered by HelloFresh. The cost of three meals is $69. per weekly shipment (The Veggie box is a bit cheaper). The service is not available in all areas so be sure to check before signing up. You have the choice between the 'Classic Box' and the 'Veggie Box' for two persons or four persons. Once you sign up then you view the menu for the coming week and make your selections of three meals from the five choices. Please be aware that HelloFresh cannot guarantee allergy free or cross contamination free products. I understand this can be a downside. We have no food allergies - or none that I was aware of until now (more on that later) - so it wasn't limiting our options as far as menu choices.

If you don't like the choices or are going out of town then you can pause your deliveries. The website is VERY easy to use and navigate. If you decide the service is not for you cancellation is also quick and easy via email. Do be aware of time deadlines for choosing or pausing your meals if you decide to continue with a subscription.

I was hugely impressed with the packaging of my box. There was no way anything in this box was going to get warm - it was surrounded by icepacks and very nicely insulated. Deliveries are via Fedex and this came on a Wednesday. 

I decided to make the Chicken Polpetti first and pulled out all the ingredients. 

I then followed the clear and step by step instructions on the great recipe cards. 

We had never tried ground chicken before so I was a bit worried about getting it done well enough - and I'm not a very good meatball maker - LOL.

The results were extremely yummy and there was plenty for Hubby and I for dinner and lunch the next day. This recipe was a keeper for sure.

Next I made the Shrimp and Chorizo Stew with Kale. Shrimp is a particular favorite of mine and I love stews especially with a bit of cold weather headed our way. 

The dish turned out well except that I discovered that I am allergic to Kale. No worries - DH just took it to work for lunch and enjoyed it.

Finally was the Spicy Thai Beef which I thought DH would enjoy. I'm do not like coconut so I made this for him to take to work for lunch.

This was not a particular hit but two out of three is what I consider a success. 

I confess that I do not like cooking with a lot of prep work involved. Both my husband and I like our dinner to be easy prep. But we really enjoyed cooking these dishes together (and eating them). I think this would be a great gift to send to friends and family that like to try new dishes or have just had an addition to their family or an illness.

HelloFresh has been a great company to work with! Please check them out:

Website - HelloFresh

To see what the team had to say about this product - and there are a lot of good recipes described with  100 reviewers with different weeks involved - click here.

I'm sad to say this is my last review for the Mosaic Review Team. I really enjoyed my time with them and this was a great way to end.

Mosaic Reviews - A Tale of Two Kingdoms - God's Unfolding Story of Salvation

I was pleased to receive A Tale of Two Kingdoms and God's Unfolding Story of Salvation by Heather A. Kendall to review as part of the Mosaic Review Team.

Both books are part of a Bible study written by Heather Kendall who wanted a Bible study that helped Christians see the big picture of the Bible and God's plan of Redemptive Salvation. It's very easy to get bogged down in topical Bible studies and miss the entire tapestry of Salvation God has woven for us.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms can be used as a stand alone but I got the most out of using with God's Unfolding Story of Salvation. I like to read the Scripture, the main book and then go back and use the study questions to help me delve deeper.

Even though it can be confusing to match the study guide with the main book, I did find it easier as I went along. I'm not nearly done with either book as I really like to stretch out my Bible study and the Bible is a large book with a full and rich story. I've done other Bible studies in the past - Beth Moore studies and the United Methodist Churches Disciple series and I believe this one is just as enriching and deep as any other I've used.

Our story starts - of course - at the beginning with Genesis - God as a Creator, His plan for Creation, and the Fall. We then start to see how God foreshadow's the coming of the Savior through Abraham and his sons.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Melchizedek. I learned that he was the king of Salem. I had learned before that he was the Priest of God to whom Abraham tithed. I did not know before this study that Melchizedek means 'king of righteousness' and Salem means 'peace'. I did not know that Salem is the oldest recorded name for the city of Jerusalem. I love learning more about the Bible - it is a book that you get something new from every time you study it.

We then study how Israel was established as a nation, about David, the two kingdoms of Israel, the fall of Judah, the captivity and the years of silence before Jesus birth. The second part of the book covers the ministry of Jesus and beyond to Revelation.

This set is perfect for any group that would like to get the big picture of God's redemption of Creation or an individual wanting a deeper understanding of God. It was written for teens but I would believe it would be more well suited for young adults and beyond. It is a meaty study. I plan on finishing this set as my main Bible study.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms can be purchased from Amazon or the author's website. Amazon has the Kindle edition for $9.99 or the paperback for $18.86 plus shipping and handling.  From the author's website it is $23.00 with free shipping and handling in paperback.

God's Unfolding Story of Salvation is only available in paperback from Amazon for $20.70 plus shipping and handling and for $22 from the author's website with free shipping and handling.

To find out what others on the team had to say about this Bible study, click here.