For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Parenting Made Practical - TOS Review

Parenting is hard. Anyone who has or is raising kids will tell you this. There is no way around making it easier, it is just what it is. No matter the age your kids are a , there are challenges to being a parent. That said, learning to deal with kids and raise them the best way possible, can definitely be helpful and make the whole process less stressful as well as more purposeful.

This is where this resource I was given the opportunity to review comes in. I was not familiar with it until it came up for review, but I must say it is a good one. Parenting Made Practical offers parenting resources to help parents navigate those parenting waters and challenges. Its goal is to equip parents with tools to help children become responsible adults. They offer a wide array of books and DVDs.  I chose to review the Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting your Kids to Think video download.

There is lots to say about the video I watched. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very helpful. Some of the material was not new, but put into a different light and presented in a quite enjoyable way. It made the material fresh again, and renewed the challenge for me.

The material at Parenting Made Practical is put together by a couple used to dealing with youth and families in church and other contexts (the husband having served as Youth and Family pastor and the wife being a social worker). As such they know the challenges and needs of families. They are able to come up with resources that address exactly those needs. Their  material offers help in parenting children from age 2 to college. Here is a list of books and videos you can find on their website:

Why Can't I Get My Kids to Behave?
Navigating the Rapids of Parenting
Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate... What Works?
What Every Child Should Know Along the Way

What I liked about the video I watched

I do not know about you but lecturing my kids is second nature and is a very easy trap to fall into even if we know better. In this video Joey and Carla Link explain and demonstrate to you the failure of lecturing (or nagging or yelling), your kids as well as how to avoid doing it by showing what to replace it with. They take your hand and show you step by step a better way. The better way being to lead them to think about their behaviour and owning it. The lecture has a lot of aspects that make it enjoyable to watch, as well as very helpful:
  • They cover a lot of topics in a 50 minutes video. They manage to include a description of temperament types which is helpful to take into consideration when learning how to avoid lecturing
  • The husband and wife team-teaching is very effective as it becomes a dialogue. They even included a live example with the help of their daughter, making it more interesting
  • They do try to include some humor, even of the whole lecture looks and sound pretty scripted and somewhat rigid
  • The video is just the right length. Though 50 minutes sounds long, I can guarantee you that you won't see the time pass, that is how engaging Joey and Carla are more because of the content that is covers than the style itself 
  • A good addition is how they include extra resources for the audience to check out to complement their teaching.
  • The style of teaching is very direct yet gentle. They say things the way they are, while in the same breadth giving you hope and solutions to correct the problem or bad habit.
  • The advice and tips are very detailed and practical.
  • I also love how the steps appeared on the screen as they went through them.
This video was very helpful to me as I was reminded of some habits that I had neglected, such as not accepting certain types of answers or putting off doing something to a later time. I had already been doing some of the things they talked about, such as the whole questioning approach, but it was nice to be given extra tips and advice on how to do that even more efficiently. Joey and Carla rightly put the emphasis on the heart of behavior and not just external behavior change, and for that they are a resource I would definitely recommend. That said, like every parenting  resource, every parent has to see for himself how to best apply the principles being advocated, and not necessarily apply them blindly.

Find Parenting Made Practical on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and make sure to check the reviews of the other material they offer.

Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - Science Center Days

We had a field trip at the Science Center today. While the older boys were having fun with friends and enjoying a Mars mission lab, baby Al discovered the place for the first time!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bytes of Learning - TOS Review

Typing has never been my strong suit. You would think as a blogger I should have that down, but I don't. So, when a curriculum that teaches typing came along for review, I thought this would be something I should probably try.

Bytes of Learning is a company that specializes on developing multimedia software to aid students (as young as 8 years old ), and adults learn better. Members of the crew were given the opportunity to try out their UltraKey Online Family Subscription with access for a full year.

Before having the kids try this software I decided to take the review period to test it on myself. The way this software works is actually pretty straight forward. There is nothing to download, it is all done online. Once you've got your account set up, you are welcome with this screen from where you can access your dashboard.

The dashboard is a very important place in UltraKey because this is where you set up and manage everyone who will be using the program. The family subscription allows you 7 users , each with their own sign in which the main user sets. UltraKey is very adaptable and offers you many options. The student enrollment is the most basic. UltraKey allows you to manage the family as a whole (common features such as access to games and forum), and also to manage each student. When it comes to managing the students, there is an array of setting you can go through:
  • Goal setting, which is very detailed and specific: speed, accuracy, with custom or automated options
  • Setting of the interface itself: background color, sound, practice amount, coaching intensity
  • Goal and progress report
Each section of the program has an introductory video which explains to you what it is about. There is also a thorough PDF guide that details to you every aspect of the program.

I really like this program. What I appreciate most is the fact that it is like having an instructor that guides you step by step. The program is incremental. It starts with the real needed basics such as posture and position of the fingers. Then with each lesson you are introduced to a set of new keys. As you go though the lessons, the practices are pointed enough that it allows you to really internalize what you are learning. Though you can set your own practice amount in the dashboard, you can also do more or less during the lesson itself.  I love the repetition. You can only move forward as you reach the goal for each lesson, usually in both accuracy and speed;  the next level gets unlocked. The program teaches you typing by introducing letter pairs and chains.

The program is so engaging that it is easy to just keep working. I found that what stopped me was tiredness of the fingers or brain starting to go numb. Mentally I found myself wanting to do more, but could not focus anymore. I love the way the assessment details to you what you did wrong and gives you tips on how to improve. I also love the voice over which works well for auditory learners  and visual learners.

On top of the lessons, the student can have extra practice though the forum or in the game section.

The program works on all platforms. The software  is oriented towards the American keyboard and North America spelling and content. A UK and an Australian/New Zealand orientation is coming  in 2018.

I am looking forward to have the boys use this program and I know they will enjoy it and that it would be beneficial.

UltraKeys is an innovative, engaging online keyboarding software which I think would work for many. Check out Bytes of Learning on their Facebook page.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Week in Review in 5

I am going to try a new weekly post where I will share our week in 5 points. So let's start.

1. This week has been a pretty snowy week here for us in Toronto.

2. In our History co-op, we resumed back after a week off and I had fun teaching a rhetoric class aon Ghandi.

3. I discovered a cool series of Storybook DVD's for Daniel

4. With me borrowing so many books from the library it brings back a lot of memories from when my older boys were younger. I am feeling nostalgic :-)

5. This week we had fun trying a few recipes from the Goodfood company. We were blessed with a coupon that allowed us to get 3 free meals. I have to say they were pretty good! I love how you do not need anything from your own pantry except salt and pepper.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Curriculum We Have Loved Using - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3

Welcome back to week 3 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair hosted by Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. This week we will be sharing what we actually are using with our children.

Since I already have a run down of all the curriculum we are using this year in the post  2017-2018 Curriculum Line up, here I will share with you the curriculum companies I have loved using during our 10 years of Homeschooling.

As I mentioned last week, our homeschool debut was geared towards classical education, so I have had an affinity to classical homeschool companies over the years. These include:
  • Tapestry of Grace: This has been our core curriculum for the humanities up to now. It incorporates History, Geography, literature, worldview and in the High School years Philosophy and Government. It involves lots of reading and critical thinking. The past 3 years I have had the boys join an online co-op to enhance the discussion aspect of the curriculum.
  • Classical Academic Press: I love this company. I have used their Latin curriculum, Latin for Children, and am currently using their Writing and Rhetoric series, which I started at book one. We are now at book 6.  I have also loved using their logic series, The Art of Argument, last year, and this year the Discovery of Deduction(or the next year, since we still have not started it).
  • The Well Trained Mind: I used their First Language Lessons program all the way to level 4 (skipping level 3)
  • Michael Clay Thompson curriculum. We have mainly used and loved their Grammar program, which we used up to the 1st book of the high school level. I am still debating whether to keep going. or not.... I like the whole language approach it offers.
Other companies I have loved include:
  • Veritas Press. I enjoyed their Bible curriculum, and they also have a good History program, which we tried out one year for a review.
  • Life of Fred, which worked better for my Math oriented son. I am still using it with him
  • Bible Road Trip. This is a Bible curriculum that I really like. It goes through the whole Bible in three years and includes memorization and thinking question. Unfortunately I dropped the ball on the third year, but am still hoping to give this another rotation.
  • The Logic of English, which I really enjoyed using with the boys for Phonic and Spelling. You can read my review for more details about it.
When it comes to science, we have jumped around a lot when it comes to curriculum and I have yet to find a curriculum that I truly love and embrace. The two that came close are Visual Learning System (which was a review item), and Classic Science, although I kind of like Real Science 4 Kids as well but found them not meaty enough.

Same story applies for our math journey, though we have used CTC math for most of the years, as I kept getting it for review. Last year we switched to Lifepac (Alpha &Omega), more because we wanted to witch to paper Math. Their foundation gained with CTC seems to be strong enough.

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers! 
Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources - An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace
Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Choices, choices - how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Our Curriculum Needs - grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time
The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
What We Have Loved Using - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses
How We Homeschool Together (Our Curriculum Choices for Preschool, First, and Tenth Grade) by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Monday, January 15, 2018

Our Current Homeschool Routine - Virtual Homeschool Fair - Week 2

For week 2 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair, which is hosted by Homeschooling Hearts and Minds, we are talking method of homeschooling.

When it comes to the how of homeschooling, and the method that we all follow, with the 20 plus blogger participating I can guarantee you, no method will be the same. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and a path unto a goal or toward a direction that each family sets for itself. For us, this encompasses academic rigor, as well as Christian values and depth of understanding of how to live in this world as Christians. To that end, earlier on we had settled on a classical education.

10 years into it, I cannot say we have been very good classical homeshooler. We did not follow the method and philosophy to a T but instead adapted it to our family's routine and rhythm. We became more relaxed classical homeschooler. I had good intentions with the Latin and Greek, but not enough discipline and it did not appeal to the boys; my oldest son did two years, the other son, one year. Memorization and copywork has not always been consistent, but present. That said, even with our method becoming more relaxed Classical homeschooling, we have been able to work toward our goal. How you may ask? By focusing on the essentials:
  • Strong emphasis in the humanities
  • Solid Math foundation
  • Instruction in logic and reasonning
  • Instruction in writing and rhetoric
  • Instruction in Biblical literacy and doctrine
  • Emphasis on critical thinking
When it comes to routine my goal has always been to steer my boys to independent work. My youngest, being an organized child by nature, picked it up early and does all his school work on his own schedule. My oldest on the other hand has had a harder time, being the procrastinater and dreamer that he is. So, with this year being his sophomore year, I had to be more hands on and work with him every night on his next day's schedule. This has been going on a week, as this is the new endeavor of this semester (since the first semester on his own did not go as planned), and he has been liking it leading to his work been completed. Success!!!!

I do not run a school at home, so the boys have lots of latitude when it comes to time. They tend to go to bed late, but I do require their work to be completed on a weekly basis. My youngest is a late riser, but self-scheduled. My oldest does not mind waking up early, so we set a schedule up for him with an early start and fluid transition time between his subjects.

We always eat dinner together, which is when we go through our catechism. We play a lot of games together and watch lots of movies or TV shows together, as my oldest is very much into movies and everything that has to do with the movie industry. I find that watching the movies and tvs shows opens up a lot of conversation and keeps the boys  aware of what our society is like and what they will have to face in the future. I do not believe in sheltering. Homeschooling is shelter enough, now they need to be taught wisdom and discernment. I love this definition I read recently:
“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
—C.H. Spurgeon
Next week I will talk more specifically about the curriculum we used and have used, but for this week, this is in broad strokes, what our routine and method consists of.

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time
A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace
Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy
So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - TOS Review

I am back reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I am thrilled to start the year with one of their wonderful product: I have known of for a long time, but every time I go check it out there are always new exciting things to be discovered. is your resource heaven for homeschoolers, and I am not exaggerating! Let me tell you why.

In this review I will be talking about all the resources and benefits you get with a Yearly Membership to

So what is is an all in one online curriculum where home educators can find everything they need to homeschool their kids from preschool to highschool. At you will find curriculum for all subject matter and for every levels, preschool, elementary, Middle School and High School.

When I say has everything, here is a list of all the subjects and topics you can find resources for:
Language Arts
Computer and Technology
Drama and speech
Health and Fitness
Social Studies (Government, Economics, Career)
Unit Studies on all the topics just listed as well as holidays and transportation

I particularly love their electives section  which includes:
Graphic Deisgn
Image editing
Social Justice

With my oldest being in grade 9, I was very interested in having him take the career course elective. Most of it is done online, so I had to set my high schooler up to on his computer. Most of the courses work in the same way, where you have to click on each lesson of the course so as to be taken to the actual lesson page. I also printed the lesson plan and workbook for him to answer the questions in.

If all of these were not enough, has resources for parents, the perfect homeschool parent support. You will find help with:
  • Lesson planning and homeschool planners for everyone (which was of course my first stop!). 
  • Grading
  • Special needs 
  • E-books and courses on almost every possible topic you might need help with ranging from homeschooling to homesteading. This is a section I definitely want to explore more.
  • Menu planning
  • Charts
  • Certificates
All the resources at are easy to find, as everything is organized by grades, or by levels, or in their appropriate categories. The whole site makes perfect sense and is easy to navigate.

Additional Areas has a few other adds-on on top of the full scale curricula that it offers, and these, add even more appeal and make it really well rounded.
  •  Focused Learning Centers. These are places where they did their best to pull together all the resources available for you to address a particular subject matter. 
  • Playschool Playground. Having had a baby recently, I was excited and curious about that one. There is a lot in that section to keep your little one entertained and busy.  This area is organized by topics: Bible, Motor skills, Language Arts,  Craft and Music, Manners and Healthy Habits, Numbers, Patterns and Cognitive Skills, Science, and Social Studies. I loved the songs and nursery rhymes that I was able to play for my 9 months old, but there are also plenty of printables, games and activities to explore and use.

  • The Video Library. Not only offers you tons of curriculum, printable lessons and activities, it also offers you a wide array of videos for every levels and subjects. You will find educational, entertaining, and engaging videos, ranging from leaning to read, to studying apologetic. If you have ever heard about RightNow Media (the Netflix of Bible study as my husband calls it), you get free access to a lot of its content through
  • The World Book. With you can have access to a multitude of libraries through what is called the World Book. This is an invaluable resource. With access to many databases of articles, videos, encyclopedias, interactive resources, games and activities, research and exploration of themes and topics are literally at your finger tips. You do need a log in, which your membership provides you with, and then the world of learning becomes wide opened to you. You can browse this section by category or by grade level. Again, the preschool section was pretty cool! That said, I planned to have my older boys use this in the future for any project that they will have to work on.

  • The Literacy Center. Here you will find all the resources needed to improve reading and comprehension, all gathered in one place. I love how they provide you with a collection of downloadable books and early reader collections among all the other help, strategies and resource to help your preschool and elementary children on their road to becoming fluent readers.'s wonder resides in the breadth of what it offers. I have not quite seen an online resource that well stocked. Yes, it is online, and for some that is a stopper, but a lot of it can be printed and just the videos and World Book access would justify the membership. This is the perfect option for homeschooling on a budget as you get everything you need in one spot. It is very well rounded and exhaustive. If you already have your curriculum set out, this is still perfect for filling gaps or complement any topic or subject. I personally am planning to have my High Schooler do the Media Socialization course, as he is very much into movies, and count it as a credit.

For more on, read what other bloggers have to say about it and make sure to check it out on social media:

Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - { Reviews}

Homeschool Copywork Membership Sign-Up
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