Embracing a Healthy Family

My Fabulous Daughter the Self-Taught Cake Maker & Ovarian Cancer Survivor

When people think of homeschool, they don't always think of the way things really are. I think I was sort of ahead of the game when it came to homeschooling as 15 years ago, when my now 31 year old daughter started feeling out of sorts with the crowd at school, she wanted away from that bad influence. This is where I made the jump to take her out and find alternate ways to teach. We first started with a regiment plan of attending a course through Indiana University. After time, I chose the unschooling philosophy as she was the type that was already smart and could learn very easily. This flexibility allowed us to be more mobile and moves to places like New Jersey, Hawaii and Georgia were much smoother without the constraints of official school moves. Along the way, she was able to find subjects that interested her and with my own skills, she developed this into many different excellent skill-sets. She has battled ovarian cancer at a young age and is recently having issues with being able to carry a baby for whatever reason we don't know why but I tell her it's in God's hands.

Fast forward today, she's a very happy and fulfilled mother and housewife.  Yes, I said it. She is extremely happy being "just" a mother and a housewife. She does get caught up in the societal pressures that she must have a career and accomplish things outside the home like I did. I explained to her that being a single mother, I had to achieve that accomplishment to support her and later her other siblings. I also reinforced within her that success is many things and not just a paycheck or a title. Most of the time, she believes this and other times, I just smile and reassure her that she's a star and has the most important job of all and that is raising the future. Her children, now 9 and almost 5, are going to be upstanding, sound citizens and I couldn't be prouder! She's done it! She achieved what I call excellence as she's a fantastic daughter, a giving loving sister, a nurturing superior wife and mother. 

Throughout these many years, she has self-taught herself many skills such as sewing, cooking, baking and much more. She can make the most beautiful dresses and clothes. She can prepare an amazing feast and bake a killer cake. She also can do home repairs, lawn maintenance and she homeschools too. She does it all and quite frankly, she works harder than if she had an outside job in many cases. The whole point of this post was to showcase her cakes but as I started, I was pondering what a wonderful gift from God she is to all those she touches. She is simply amazing and I hope she believes in herself and recognizes what all that knows her knows.  

As my oldest, still my baby, continues on through life, I hope she knows how much she's loved and how talented she truly is! Thank you for looking at some of her amazing cakes and reading a bit about her very fulfilled life!

Britfield & the Lost Crown Giveaway on goodreads

If you had a chance to read our review of Britfield & the Lost Crown, you will know that it's a great book just on its own. If you homeschool or just want to add a bit more educational opportunities to your child(ren), there is a great study guide that accompanies the adventurous novel. Now on goodreads, you can also enter to have a chance to have your very own copy!  For my review, others in the  illustrious team for I review for received a signed copy from the author, C.R. Stewart and needless to say as my youngest put it, I was jelly!  

If you didn't get a chance to read my review, please click on this link to read why it's one of those novels you want to place on your own shelf.

To enter,  you have to login to goodreads and follow the instructions.

Our Review of Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox

My children and grandchildren love to play games as most kids do. My daughters also love to play chess as they were introduced to the game years ago by my beloved father. Since they still haven't mastered how to play, I jumped at the chance to review Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox. It's a fun, color-coded game system that allows you to learn as you go. What is also nice is you can play the Fun Family Chess way or revert to standard chess. The game is fully equipped with reference cards, a chess cube, a full color instruction book and of course the chess board and pieces which are made of wood. This seems to be a rarity anymore with many games made in plastic. This was even more special because their grandfather's chess set was made of wood too.

The folding carrying case holds everything and it's made of a nice velvet material inside with two velvet bags that holds each color of the wooden chess pieces. The chess pieces have nice felt bottoms which to me, rounds out how well this set is made. Every detail has been considered to make this a set that will be around for a long time.

As many know, chess isn't just for fun as it provides a chance to improve memory, increases problem solving abilities and helps with concentration. This set includes all you need to get the brain powered up along with creating a little competition! 

To play the Fun Family Chess, it's super easy and involves such a few easy steps:

  1. Each player places their pieces on the board as shown in the full color instruction book. The book is full of engaging illustrations, instructions and extra verbiage.
  2. The players are instructed to set out the Reference Cards and Chess Cube.
  3. As a note, the light side goes first by rolling the Chess Cube.
  4. The player will match the symbol from the Chess Cube to the same color on the Reference Card. A star rolled allows the player to move any piece they want.
  5. Based on the Reference Card's instruction,t he player will then move if they are able to. There are a couple of extra details that helps to explain situations based on pieces left on the board that you will have to buy the game to see!
  6. Players have to capture each other's pieces to move to the path of winning.
  7. The winner is the one that captures the other player's king which is similar to standard chess.

There are also instructions on how to play standard chess which does not involve using the Chess Cube, the player is not restricted in which pieces they want to move based on the Cube and Reference Card, pawns, once they make it to the other side, can be promoted to another piece, en Passant and Castling. I have to admit that I learned two things as I did not know what en Passant and Castling was.


This was a fun review for us and we loved the quality of the game from Brain Blox. The flexibility to play the Fun Family Chess way or the standard way was also nice. That flexibility of game level allows a young player all the way to adult. I would much rather my children play board games where they have to utilize brain power in solving problems and learn critical thinking abilities.

To purchase, just click on the Fun Family Chess link.


Follow Brain Blox on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is Recruiting Homeschool Bloggers

Are you a blogger and a homeschooler?  Check out the press release below and join in all the fun that I've had being a part of a cool group of bloggers and vloggers providing their reviews on homeschool curriculum and other products that I've found invaluable to the success of my own homeschool:

Applications are now open to join the 2020 Homeschool Review Crew
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine loves to connect families with the best homeschooling products and resources on the market. A key way it does this is through the Homeschool Review Crew—a community of families that get to try out (and keep) a wide range of curriculum and other products. Each family receives these resources for free, in exchange for a personal review of each item on their established blog or vlog.
The Homeschool Review Crew is currently hosting a recruitment season for the 2020 crew. Interested candidates are encouraged to complete the online application form. Those who are selected for the team will be notified shortly before Thanksgiving. Throughout the year, members will be given approximately six weeks to utilize in their homeschooling each item that is under review. They will need to maintain an active blog or vlog, and be committed to writing and sharing honest reviews on their social media platforms.
Publisher Gena Suarez describes how this review process helps all the parties involved. “Vendors benefit from the increased exposure for their products, potential buyers are encouraged by the testimonials of fellow homeschoolers, and crew members are blessed by the opportunity to enjoy the latest and greatest teaching resources for free!”
Members of the Homeschool Review Crew receive two additional free benefits—a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a family membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the full-curriculum website of The Old Schoolhouse®.
Interested homeschool bloggers and vloggers are encouraged to apply now, before all the spots are filled for 2020.
About The Old Schoolhouse®
The Old Schoolhouse® (www.theoldschoolhouse.com) is a privately held corporation that publishes the industry-leading homeschool education print magazine, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as well as hundreds of books and planning support tools for homeschooling families. SchoolhouseTeachers.com, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, supports over 7,000 member families, with more than 400 courses for preschool through high school, as well as educational videos, World Book Online, transcripts, report cards, planning tools, and recordkeeping. Established in 2001, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is focused on providing high-quality, encouraging, affordable solutions for homeschooling families.
Publishers Paul and Gena Suarez are available for radio interviews.
Contact: Paul and Gena Suarez 

Our SOUNDSORY® Review from Sound for Life Ltd.

My daughter was diagnosed with auditory processing disorders when she was five years old a short time after being diagnosed with epilepsy. I learned from the start that I had to handle conversations with her differently than my other children and had to have patience with her as learning was different compared to my other children. When I learned about Soundsory from Sound for Life Ltd, I definitely wanted to review it. Being able to help her with better memory and better attention is something that very much interested me. SOUNDSORY® can help people with more than just auditory processing disorders as it's a multi-sensory program designed to also help people with:

  • Motor delays, Balance and Coordination;
  • Autism spectrum and Developmental delays;
  • Sensory processing disorders; and 
  • ADD and ADHD

The Program Contents

The SOUNDSORY® program comes with a nice carrying case to store the headphones, guide, USB cord and headband to keep the headphones in place as needed. 

How it Works and Set-Up

The neuro-acoustic modifications provides the person with music that is delivered through air and bone-conduction for auditory stimulation with the headphones that are provided. It's important to ensure the headphones are positioned with the top part directly on the head and special attention has to be made to the right and left sides of the headphones to the head. We were able to use the first part of listening to SOUNDSORY® while my daughter drew or painted. The second part included five minutes of a movement paired with music. After inputting the special access code on their website, it was easy to follow along with each movement as they weren't complicated which was really nice as sometimes children can be resistant to change or the perception something will be difficult.

The setup was extremely easy with both an enclosed paper instructional as well as a quick guide available online. To charge, it only requires using the USB cord to a computer or an outlet adapter if you prefer (not provided). A nice feature is the headphones can be switched to bluetooth to listen to non-program music and phone calls.

While researching SOUNDSORY®, the information provided really grabbed my interest more:

  • SOUNDSORY® was specifically designed to emphasis the rhythm of music as rhythm is connected to many brain functions. This connection has been shown to be critical in effective coordination of mental and physical activity. 
  • Did you know that the auditory function (sensory organ) and the vestibular function (motor organ) of the ear are interconnected and that music can have an impact on balance, coordination, and balance? I thought that was really interesting!
  • The music was crafted to focus on rhythms which are similar to our body movement physiology such as the March music which I was listening to as I started writing my review. It's a very catchy motivational tune for me.
  • Each song is short enough to avoid habitual processing while long enough to allow the brain to get use to the rhythm and each day is organized with a change of tempo many times to challenge the brain.
  • Processing information requires the ability to predict and anticipate information. The tunes chosen provide a challenge to adapt as there are sudden changes in tonal contrasts triggered by timbre and intensity. Our brains are always trying to build a prediction on melody based on its understanding of rhythm and tempo. When the brain confirms the prediction, it provides satisfaction and confidence thus improving the ability to stay focused and develop organizational abilities. They provide the analogy of seniors listening to heavy metal music and how it poses a challenge to them. After I wrote this paragraph, I tried to reiterate this to my husband and kept forgetting key points so I've decided I will be utilizing the program starting today to see if it will help my brain functioning.

There are so many very interesting details, facts and information surrounding SOUNDSORY® it would be impossible to list everything so I tried to cover some that really were most interesting to me. The online protocol provides all the information needed to answer questions, to adjust for the auditory sensitive or the exercise portion, as well as how to utilize SOUNDSORY® to gain the maximum benefit.

After listening to the 30 minutes of music, the five minutes exercise concludes the daily program. It is recommended to use 5 to 7 days a week for 40 days. The exercises are found on the Sound for Life Ltd. website.  They are divided into four exercises with a young boy providing the example to guide the child such as:

  • Body Rubs
  • X Stretch
  • Front/Back Jumping
  • Open/Close

The headphones, which are already programmed, automatically shut off when each portion is complete allowing the user to precisely know when it's time to move to the exercise component or to stop and wait for the next day. The fit is extremely comfortable too and the exterior sounds are not audible.

The program can be restarted if there is a pause in listening but there are precise instructions on whether to restart at the very beginning or where one left off pending the number of days that had lapsed. The program can also be repeated but Sound for Life Ltd recommends waiting four weeks.

Our Review

My daughter was a little reluctant at first but as time progressed, she adapted to the use of the program and didn't mind it at all. I found that I at first, would help motivate her with performing the five minute exercises with her. After a few sessions, I allowed her to do the program in privacy as a 16 year old sometimes feel a little silly in situations like this. After I walked her through the benefits of the program and why it's an ideal fit for her and her epilepsy and learning disabilities, she was willing to continue the program. She liked that the duration of the music was only 30 minutes and that she was able to listen while doing another activity such as drawing. She also liked that the exercises were only five minutes. She noted how comfortable the headphones are and how well they fit. She said she feels she can think "clearer," and that she is having an easier time understanding directions. The true test will come this Thursday when she starts volunteering in the children's department at a local facility. I'm hoping she will have gained the perceived confidence in her ability to be an integral and effective addition. I will post an update in a few weeks. As of now, I definitely feel there has been an impact in her confidence level, her ability to listen and take directions as well as just seeming to be a little calmer and relaxed. 

The ability to utilize this program from home makes it a hit and the versatility for who would might benefit from it is wonderful. I'd like to try it with my mother for a cognitive boost. Overall, we recommend Soundsory by Sound for Life Ltd.

Social Media:

Check out Sound for Life Ltd. on Facebook and Instagram.

Homeschool Review Crew:

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Soundsory {Sound for Life Ltd Reviews}

Indianapolis Zoo is THE Very Best in the Nation

I've lived in many states across the country to include Hawaii and one thing I do know is the Indianapolis Zoo is the best zoo I've visited.  The zoo is clean, full of animal exhibits and have great things for kids to see.  We've been frequenting this zoo for at least 25 years and it's never let me down.

Here some of my favorite photo memories from the trip we just took:

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 by Easy Grammar Systems Review

Grammar is fundamental to every facet of life which is why I was eager to review Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 with the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 Test Booklet by Easy Grammar Systems. Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 provides 180 daily lessons in only 10 minutes of time each day. It utilizes the concept of continued learning through daily application building on the previous day(s). Another bonus with this curriculum is the ability to reproduce (with limitations) the student pages from the teacher's text. If one does not want to copy the pages for subsequent students, they can purchase the student workbook. The answers are provided in the back making it a very easy open and go curriculum. There is a separate test book with the answers in the back of the book and an option to purchase a downloadable version. The covers of both books are made of a nice reinforced material that does not tear or crinkle easily.

How it Works

A lesson a day in approximately 10 minutes is the expectation for this curriculum. For this review, we utilized it four days a week over a six week review period. 

Each concept is first introduced, expanded, and reviewed in the text. The Scope & Sequence provides rules and which lesson it can be found. Each lesson is set up in a repeating format that will allow them to complete each lesson with ease while focusing on what they are learning.

Every lessons consists of five sections for every lesson:

  • The first section consists of capitalization errors that the student is required to identify and correct. 
  • Section 2 requires the student(s) to correct the punctuation by rewriting the sentence or they can utilize the sentence to provide the correction. I preferred to have mine rewrite the sentences.
  • Section 3 and 4 are the teaching, reviewing and the application of the grammar rules and concepts. It starts out teaching concepts and then subsequent lessons build on it such as incomplete sentences, fragments, and run-on sentences.
  • Section 5 is combining sentences which gave my daughter the hardest time. With my help, we were able to work through them with greater ease as we continued through each day. The knowledge learned in the prior sections and previous lessons help the student gain the knowledge and concept to work through these without as much trouble when they first begin the curriculum.

From my experiences with the curriculum, the level of teacher involvement is dependent on the child's skill level. However, in the Suggestions and Other Information of the Teacher Edition, it does have guidance on how to teach the lessons. I definitely utilized the helpful tips and found it was the key to working with my student.

Getting Started

After I read the answer key for each day, we proceeded with starting Day 1. The suggestion is to have the student provide their insight and discuss answers. A thing to note with the sentence combining exercise is that it does provide information about geography, history, cultures and more so it's a great opportunity to take that knowledge and expand to make the curriculum go outside the grammar scope.

Here are some example pages from different days:

As the lessons proceed, they become a little harder and more intense but again, they do build on the previous lessons. Here is a look ahead at Day 155:

This is an example of the answers so the student can self-check or the lessons can be checked together:

The assessments are found in the Grade 9 Test book. The 18 assessments are given at practical intervals ensuring the student has retained and understood what they were taught. After Day 40, she had her 4th assessment:

Overall, I like the concept of a teaching textbook and the short concise lessons each day. It provides just enough to teach the concepts and to provide practice over the next lessons. I think my student would have benefited from the earlier grade levels and built up to this one as she might be a little behind due to her listening and learning disabilities from having epilepsy. I plan to utilize the grammar curriculum with my 12 year old as she's advanced enough to be able to grasp the learning material while breezing through the daily lessons. This is a gem for the child who prefers short and concise lessons. It provides the knowledge needed for test taking skills and the ability to speak and write properly.

More About Easy Grammar Systems

  • They have received the Parent and Teacher Choice Award from HowToLearn.
  • There are placement tests available at their website.
  • Videos are also available to learn more about Easy Grammar and the author, Dr. Wanda Phillips.

Social Media

Check out Easy Grammar Systems on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More Reviews

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

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