Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Moisturizing anti-aging facial mist

I have never shared one of my beauty product recipes before and today seemed like a good day to share this one. With summer here I have transitioned from my winter moisturizer to something much lighter. This is a toning blend that contains a few essential oils that I choose for there anti-aging properties.

I use a 2oz glass cobalt bottle with a spray top to blend everything in.

You need
4 drops Frankincence essential oil
4 drops Calendula essential oil
2 drops Roesmary essential oil
4 drops Rose hip oil essential oil
Witch Hazel
Distilled water

I like to put my oils in the bottle first then I fill the bottle 3/4 full with witch hazel and then add distilled water to fill it the rest of the way to the neck. Shake the bottle well before spritzing your face. I apply in the evening and morning after washing my face. One or two sprays does my hole face. Allow to dry before applying your makeup. It adds plenty of moisture to my skin with out having a heavy feeling. I hope everyone enjoys the blend.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Review

SmartKidz Media Review

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is a digital media resource library that is cram jammed full of learning videos. It is produced by SmartKidz Media  ~http://www.smartkidzhomeschool.com/. SmartKidz Media has basically compiled a bunch of educational videos all in one easy to access place. The library contains videos for a wide range of subjects. Including history, science, health and fitness, lifestyle and cuisine, travel and adventure, art, music etc. There is also a baby signs program, Quick study guides, a good ammount of Ebooks, and a fun zone that contains games puzzles and riddles. This is a subscription program and at the time of this review a one year subscription goes for $99.00.  The site does not have any out side ads or links. So its safer for kids to use. Although I still recommend supervision when kids are doing anything online.

The girls have been watching video lessons on SmartKidz for several weeks now. We have been getting a lot of rain lately. So these have been our rainy day go to videos. The videos are of good quality and play nicely from both our laptop and the Ipad. The videos keep the girls interest and they usually ask to watch more than one.

The world of discovery section has been the girls favorite so far. Specifically the animals and wild life collections. These videos give such great information about so many different plants and animals. We have actually seen quite a few of them already.  They have often spotted an insect or animal when we are out hiking or biking and have to look and see if we can find a SmartKidz Media video on it.  

I discovered that SmartKidz Media has some health and fitness videos. These give the girls a little something different to do for PE class. We do a lot of out door PE type activities. But when the temperature hits 100 its just to hot be out side for long. We have given a few of the health and fitness kids videos a try. The girls liked the aerobics and exercises for kids video the best. I found the music a little annoying but the girls loved it and really got into the movements the video was asking them to perform. So I let them do it when ever we cant get out side. I think these videos are a great way to get kids moving. The health and fitness section also has some videos for adults. Like pilates, and bodyforming. I tried out the pilates video it seemed a little to easy for me but I am circuit training kind of girl, so I am used to fast passed and heaver weights. It was still a good video and my mom enjoyed it the day she decided to join me for a work out.

I do not allow the girls to play video games but I do make the acceptation for the occasional educational game. I decided to use the fun zone as a reward for a job well done on another assignment. I allow the girls a limited amount of time in this area. We set a timer on the desk so they would know when their time was up. They tried out several activities in the Fun Zone, and the girls really enjoyed the find the hidden treasure game. They are big fans of the I spy type books and games and this is a lot like that. Across the top they will find the outline of some objects then they have to look through the picture to see if they can find the items. The girls usually work on this together as more of a team work activity. They like to try and find all the items before the timer runs out. They also think the monkey that giggles when you select the wrong treasure is the funniest thing ever.


In case you are wondering SmartKidz Media will be expanding
the medial library in the near future. We love all things history in our house. We are most excited to see that history videos will be added.  I often use videos as a supplemental for our regular curriculum. The girls read about it in our books, then if they can see a video it helps to cement the information in. The videos just make some things a little more exciting. I cant wait to see what videos will be added next. I am trying my best to use patience while I wait for them to be released.

Please click the banner below to see what other crew members are saying about SmartKidz Media.
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SmartKidz Media Review
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Garden success!

I am a new gardener last year was my first real garden. Me and girls gave it our best but it just did not produce much. So this year I decided I was going to figure out what went wrong and fix it. My goal is to increase the size of our garden so that it can provide all the fresh produce we need during the summer and may be even some to put back for winter.  I decided to test the soil and see if may be that was the problem. I bought one of those little test kits at Walmart. Me and the girls followed the instructions exactly and every tube was just about clear. No hint of color at all. I though ok the test kit is a dud. So I went back to a different Walmart and bought two more from different sections of the store. We tested the soil again using soil from different parts of the bed. Guess what no color again. We have DEAD DIRT! yup that's right my soil had basically little to no nutrients in it. No wonder why out garden didn't produce much last year.

So I made a trip to the local home improvement store and bought 4 50lb bags of cow manure. I put two bags in each bed. We waited three weeks and tested the soil again this time we got very faint colors. We still needed more this time my brother in law brought me some fertilizer and I basically dumped a bunch in each of the beds. Waited three weeks and tested the soil again this time I had color in the ok range all across the board. Me and the girls set about planting seeds as soon as the last frost had passed. We planted spaghetti squash, pickling cucumbers, green beans, peas, lettuce, purple cabbage, white radishes.  We are now a few months into this growing season and our plants are starting to produce actual produce something. We have 5 squashes that are happily growing on vines that stretch out of the beds and across the lawn. The cucumbers are taller than the trellis me and the girls built for them. We have already gotten more green beans than we did all summer last year. The lettuce is growing on straw bails and so far it has done well enough that we haven't had to buy any from the store, and we are eating salad every night. Since I appear to have garden success I thought I would share a couple photos of my crazy squash plants. The vines are about twice as long as in this photo as it was taken over a week a go and they have really taken off with the rain we have had the last three days. There are now 5 vines that trail out each side of the bed and run along the ground about 4 foot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CTC Math Review

CTCMath Review
Today I bring you CTC Math, this is a great math program that my kids have absolutely loved. You can check it out here http://www.CTCMath.com. We received the12 Month Family Plan for homeschoolers there is a special discount for homeschool families. At the time of writing this review the home school family plan is 2 or more children and is $118.80 for a 12 month subscription. Which gives you access to all grades from kindergarten through trigonometry. You can move between grades if your child needs to. It has 1,367 animated and narrated lessons that you can fast forward, rewind, and play as many times as you want. It includes test and 57,000 interactive questions. The CTC Math also offers instant feedback for both the student and the parent. The girls love that they can see how they have done right away. CTC Math is a full curriculum for grades K-6 and is recommended as a supplement for grades above 6th. I wanted to address the common core issue real quick since so many are asking. CTC Math is not common core aligned they teach math the traditional way.  It will also run on all modern HTML5 platform including Ipads and windows operated computers.
Each of the girls have their own log in. They log in and select the grade level that they need and then choose the days lessons from there. Both of the girls have been using CTC Math to review and brush up on any gaps that may have occurred this year. We will begin using it as our full time curriculum in a few weeks. For now I have given them each a list of areas that they need to work on. They are free to select from that list what they want to work on for the day or week. HotRod Princess has been working on the division and multiplication sections the most. Math is not her favorite subject and I have yet to hear one single grumble about doing a lesson for the day. The narrated lessons are so easy for her to understand. I love that it teaches using the traditional method. Division was something we had just began to touch on in our previous curriculum. It was clear that it was not clicking for her. I had her log in to CTC Math and find the first narrated lesson for division. I came back a little while later and she was already working on the interactive questions. I had her explain to me what she was doing and why. She was getting it, actually getting it after just one lesson. She admitted she had to watch it twice and said she did rewind it and listen to parts of it again. She proceeded through the rest of the lessons and interactive questions over the next two weeks. I had her take the comprehensive test instead of the standard test and she scored a 89%. 
Snoopy girl is just cruising along with CTC Math.  It has now become her program of choice. She actually ask to use it most days. We are at the end of kindergarten, and I felt she was a little behind in money counting.  I want them both to be able to count money and make change easily. So we used the money section as our jumping off point. The explanations have worked very well for her. They are simple down to earth lessons with out a lot of fluff. The girls both appreciate that it gets right to the point of the lesson. I was glad to see that it covers coins like 50 cent pieces and 1$ coins. We don't come across these types of cons very often any more. But I want the girls to be able to recognize them and know the value of them. I also love how realistic the coins and bills look. It makes it much easier to recognize them in real life.
Every homeschool mom loves a good report.  This is my favorite parent feature of the program. This makes some of my day so much easier. I can get an up-to-date look at everything they are doing that week and how they have scored on it. I can print it all out and store it in their portfolios.  Every lesson they do is logged and given a score it even logs what date and how many attempts they did. The reports can also be sent directly to your email account.  
As the kids improve and complete different levels of the program they are given awards. The awards are fully printable and the girls love hanging them on the wall. Another great feature that I consider a report of sorts. Is the ability to print the questions they have answered for the lesson. I can have them print off the questions they have finished for review or just to keep in their portfolio. 
 My next favorite feature is the speed skills game. This is an added bonus to an already great program. Your child can access it from the bottom of the home page. It has 4 levels and under each level you can select a set of skills to work on. My girls are working on memorizing math facts so this has been perfect. I never had to memorize these as a child and I wanted the girls to get a better start at math than I had. They have been playing this game using the level 1 over the last few weeks. They are now in competition with each other, to see who can get the most correct the quickest. It has become so much fun for them they are actually asking to practice it.
We are in love with CTC Math and I am excited to add it our list of curriculum for then new year. Be sure to click the banner below and read what other crew members are saying about CTC Math.
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CTCmath Review
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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dynamic Literacy-WordBuildOnline Review

JazzEdge  Review

Both of my girls are good readers, they both read above grade level. How ever I am always looking for a ways to improve reading comprehension and build vocabulary. We have been working with Dynamic Literacy using their WordBuildOnline program.

The program is designed to work in 10-15 minutes a day. If you do one activity a day the program should last you a full school year. Of course you can do more lessons a day if you have a child trying to catch up or just a speedy worker. The program is designed to improve reading comprehension, using morphology. Which is where you study the meanings of the individual parts of the word such as the roots, prefixes, and suffixes. After each unit your child's progress is measured and the program difficulty is adjusted either forwards or backwards depending on their needs. 

Several levels are available: Foundations Level 1 generally for students 2nd 3rd or 4th grade this is the level we are using and the level that I will be sharing about in this review.  They also have foundations level 2, Elements levels 1 and 2 is for 6th to 10th grades.  Each level is $30 per student and your child gets to use it tell they have completed the level even if it takes more than a school year.

The parent account has some useful features. It gives you the ability to manage students and groups, notifications, edit profile and view videos.  I use the notification feature as a simple way to keep track of what she has completed for the day. Then I can log into my parent account later to see how she did. The parent account also allows you to access a progress report for each student. Inside the progress report it tells you what level your student is working on. If they have moved up a level or down. It also gives a date, time, what the activity was that they worked on and if it was completed and how long they spend on it. You can also reset the activity data if you feel the need to. I used this feature the other day when I tried out one of the activities my self.

JazzEdge  ReviewWe are using Foundations Level 1 for my soon to be 3rd grader.  Every student is given their own log in. Once they log in it takes them to a main dashboard. The dash board has several things. First smack in the middle is the daily assignment with a big Lets GO! button that you click to start the activities for the day. There is also a score board that shows how they did for the day. Below that if you scroll down a little you will find How To Videos. I do recommend you have your child watch these. They really help in knowing how to perform each activity that they will be given each day. The videos are easy to understand and the girls understood them quickly. Down below the how to videos are the Wordbuild Videos. Your child NEEDS to watch these.  I do wish they would automatically play at the beginning of the days activity. The Hotrod princess tends to forget that she needs to go look at it before beginning the activity for the day. The Wordbuild Videos tell you what the prefix, roots and suffixes mean, as well as where they come from. So they are very important to watch. I encourage Hotrod Princess to view it more than once before beginning the activity.

We have been using the program every other day so that I can blend it in with her other reading work. So far she has a love hate relationship with the program. She loves how quick they are to do. The child hates any assignment that takes more than 15min of sitting still. How ever she is struggling with a few of lessons. Mainly the Magic square activity.  For some reason no matter what prefix or suffix is being used this activity is difficult for her.  She is getting better at it but I think it will take some time.

At the end of each unit the student will take an assessment this is a great evaluation tool. Hotrod Princess has already taken one of these assessments. She is showing improvement in her ability to figure out the meaning of words. I have noticed that when she read she is starting to use the roots, prefixes, and suffixes to help her figure out the meaning of the word.

I know she will continue to improve the more she practices with the program. I have been encouraging her to keep trying, and to watch the Wordbuild videos again before doing the activities for the day. Check out the link below, to see what other Crew Members are saying about WordBuildOnline and the other Dynamic Literacy products.

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Dynamic Literacy Review

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grandma's Hands

I lost my grandma earlier this year and today I was going through some photographs. I came across this photo-shoot that I did with my grandma and my two girls. The tattered Bible belonged to my grandpa and his dad before him and now it holds a place on my shelf and will one day be passed down to the girls. These have turned out to be some of my favorite photographs. Their hands tell a story, of the past and of the generation to come.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Movie Night at the drive in

We frequent the local drive in in the summer. For those of you that don't know what a drive in is, its basically an out door movie theater where you sit in your car or in lawn chairs and watch a movie. There are not many left here in the good ol USA. It saddens me every time I see one close down. I hope ours never closes. Most Friday or Saturday nights this is where you will find the families of our small little town. It is a great family event and we go most weekends in the summer when they are open. Families spread out in lawn chairs and blankets. Kids get together for a game of catch or touch foot ball. The little ones hit the swings and we get the chance to talk with friends family and neighbors. Family nights like these are just one of the things I love about this small town.
 This time we brought a cute little cousin with us. We call her bug though I have no idea how that ended up as her nick name. So we loaded up the car stopped for some snacks and hit the road. Its a whopping 16 minutes from our house. On the way we the Lord blessed us with this beautiful rainbow.
 Hear are the kids waiting for the sun to go down. They ate way to much popcorn and had too many sugar filled snacks but they had the best time ever and we cant wait to do it again.