B is for...

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Basketball! Every March, my boys and I fill out a bracket and see who can pick out the winning teams. We also love to watch the games during the "March Madness" weeks. 

This year was a tough year picking teams for our brackets. Obviously, if you have been watching or paying attention, there have been some major upsets. I think my bracket broke during the first round. It's hard picking those first round wins, you never know what is going to happen.

We gave ourselves a second chance during the second round and we still missed a bunch.  Who has even heard of Florida Gulf Coast University? I haven't and never thought such an underdog team could make it to the final sixteen.

It's been fun watching and participating with my boys. We look forward to the rest of the games.

In case you are wondering ~ I live in NC, but am picking Indiana to win it all. 


Adventus ~ Review

When I was given the chance to review MusIQ Homeschool offered by the company Adventus, I was excited.  I had taken piano lessons as a child and have wanted my children to be able to learn how to play the piano, but it was never in our budget. MusIQ Homeschool is offered as a monthly subscription for $10.95. It is recommended for children ages 4-18. With each monthly subscription, you receive seven levels of curriculum/software. It is downloaded onto your computer, but does need the internet to be working in order for the software to work. Also, a piano with MIDI capabilities and a usb/midi cable is required to use this software. Once downloaded, you just plug the usb/midi cable into the piano and computer and start up your lessons.

The different levels consist of three years of Children’s Music Journey for ages 4-10 and four years of Piano Suite for ages 10- adult. Lesson plans are available for an additional cost when paying for the monthly subscription. The lesson plans include activities, assessments, and quizzes. Since my children had no piano knowledge at all, I decided to start them all on Children’s Music Journey Vol 2.

Using it with my children, ages 11, 9, and 7~
When your child first gets started, a famous composer greets them and leads them through the lesson.  There is a short piece of music written by that composer before and after the lesson. I thought this was a great way for the children to get to listen to some classical music.

First lesson in Children's Music Journey 2 

During the lesson, the composer guides the child with finding the right notes on the piano.  I went through some of the lessons to see how this was different than when I took piano lessons. I really liked that the software was child friendly and encouraged the child to play the right notes. Even my 2 year old wanted to learn. She is “helping” me in the photo below.  

After the child has done their lesson, they go to the practice room to practice what they have just learned. Miss Melody helps the child to become better at what they learned. My children were surprised that when they missed a note, she reminded them to be careful. They said that this helped them to learn the notes and it made practice fun.

Molly- the practice teacher
Since I have had lessons as a child, I skipped through the lessons quickly. About halfway through the lessons in Children’s Music Journey Vol 2, the child gets to give a concert. They practice with Melody and go to the next lesson and play all the songs they have learned and practiced. I loved that the children are able to actually have a mini concert and will learn to play three different songs on the piano. Here is a short video of one of the songs (I am playing):

Another favorite area for my children is the games. I let them play as many games as they wanted after they had done their lesson and practice. As you can see from the photo below, they have unlocked four different games. As the lessons go on, a new game will be unlocked and eventually all of the games will become unlocked.

Games that are unlocked

As you can see, there are a lot of ways for the child to learn to play the piano and it is fun for them. It was something they looked forward to every day. They could not wait until it was time for them to practice the piano or do the next lesson. They love it! I have also enjoyed going back and learning some things I had forgotten. I look forward to them being able to play many songs in the years to come.

Additional thoughts ~
As I mentioned earlier, I did take piano lessons when I was a child.  I am going to admit that when I first started out, I loved it. I loved my teacher and I loved the piano my parents bought me. After a few years, my teacher moved away and my mom found another teacher. It was with this second teacher where I started to dislike taking piano lessons. I feel she put too much pressure on me and if I didn’t play the song her way, then I was a failure.

I loved that with this software the children are able to take the lessons in the house with some great teachers. This software is interesting, colorful, and engaging. The best thing about this program is that you, the parent, are able to be involved with their lessons. My parents never attended my lessons and had no idea if I was even practicing the right pieces of music. Another thing I liked about the program was that the lessons are not very long. The lessons take no more than 10 minutes. This helped to keep my child’s attention. I also let them practice and play games for 30 minutes a day. When I went through through the lesson, practice, and games, I also found them very enjoyable. There was no pressure on you if you played the wrong note during the lesson or practice.

Conclusion ~
My kids and I give this a five star rating!

Bonus: You can try out this software for a week for free! All you need is a midi capable keyboard, a computer with internet, and a usb/midi cable (about $5 on Amazon).

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A is for...

Blogging Through the Alphabet

A is for Amazed!  I was looking through some pictures last night of my boys when they were just babies.

It's just so amazing how fast they are growing up and turning into young men.

I look at my oldest daughter and am amazed at how much she has grown and matured over the last couple of years.

And then, to look at my baby and see how quickly two years has flown by, I realize how short of time I have left with my children.

Watching your children grow up is amazing!  Be sure to make the most of it with the time you have left with them.


Even If

One of my new favorite songs that I recently heard on the radio is called "Even If" by Kutless.
Here are some of the lyrics:
"Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come"

I hope it is as much of an encouragement to you, as it has been for me.


Uncle Jesus ~ Review

Uncle Jesus by Georgia Lee Anderson is a heartwarming story that helps us imagine what it would have been like to be Jesus' relative while He lived on earth. Jesus had brothers, including one named Jude, the author of the Bible book of the same name. In Uncle Jesus, Jude's fictional son, Shem visits Grandma Mary, the mother of Jesus. He relates some first hand experiences he had with his Uncle Jesus when He was still on earth.

This was a great little story to read to my children. There was just one part that was not explained well. It mentioned that Jesus had died, but did not say anything about how He was raised from the dead and went to live in Heaven. It was just assumed. Shem, the fictional nephew of Jesus, had a great time visiting his grandmother, Mary and remembering all of the things he did with Jesus. Mary then tells Shem about how the angel came to visit her, Jesus' birth, and Jesus' life.  She tells Shem how she had to explain that Jesus was the Messiah when her other children questioned her. My kids enjoyed listening and reading this story. I think it helped them to be able to realize that Jesus probably did have nieces and nephews and how they felt after Jesus went to live in Heaven.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Two Month Lifestyle Change Update

Wow, I cannot believe it has been 2 months since I started on this journey.  I have lost a total of  17 lbs. I try to walk 1 mile every day, outside if the weather permits or inside with a DVD.  I still struggle some days with making healthy choices. My downfall around this time of year are Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Egg Clutch

I am trying to tell myself that in order to burn the 150 calories in each egg, I have to walk for an extra mile. So far, I have done good and have only had one or two since Valentine's Day (when the Easter candy came out).

Here are some healthy snacks that I regularly eat:
~ apples with peanut butter
~ rice cake with peanut butter
~ any kind of fruit (peaches, blueberries, strawberries)
~ raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, green peppers

healthy snack

Some other changes I have made:
~ drink 8 + glasses of water a day
~ track my calories on myfitnesspal.com
~ track my exercise
~ no more sweet tea or soft drinks

I am to month three of my lifestyle change and cannot wait to see how far I get.  I will check back in around April 7.  Eat healthy!


My baby turned 2!

Last Saturday, my baby turned 2 years old! I can't believe how fast time is going by. We had a fun filled day with her.
Birthday lunch at McDonald's
Blowing out her candle



Lone Star Learning Review


Have you ever tried to explain a science term to your child and they are just not getting it? Lone Star Learning offers products for math, science and reading. My children love science. They were very excited when we received the science vocabulary picture cards, set 1. These cards are available to use for children in third grade through eighth grade.


As you can see from the picture above, the cards show the child what the word means. For example, see how the word “inherited” shows a father and son who look alike. The child can see that “inherited” means looking like a family member or from the answer sheet: a characteristic that is passed from parent to offspring. With set 1, my boys, ages 11 and 9, knew what almost every word meant in the set. They still had a lot of fun going through the cards and looking at the pictures. They would tell me what they thought the definition of the word was according to the answer card that came with the set. My daughter, age 7, did not know what most of the words meant, but it was very easy for her to catch on just by looking at the picture. She has a lot of fun going through the cards every day and looking at the picture words. We are using these cards when we do our science almost every day. If any of them come across a word from the set in their science curriculum, they like to see how it is explained in picture. We will continue to use these as we finish out our science for the school year. I also wanted to mention that these cards are not small, they are a good size (5.5” X 8.5”) and they are very sturdy. 

Target Vocabulary Pictures

Because of a shipping mistake, I originally was sent the math target vocabulary pictures, set 1. Lone Star Learning allowed us to keep the this set. They did not have to let us keep the cards, but they were generous and allowed us to keep them to use also. While I did not use this set as much as the science set, I did let my children look through them whenever they wanted.

The science vocabulary cards are $29.99 for each set. There are four sets to choose from for 3rd through 8th and one set for kindergarten through 2nd. The math cards are also $29.99 and come in two different sizes and also have four different sets.

Disclaimer: I received  a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.



Book Review ~ Abraham’s Journey


Inspiring the American Dream has a book titled Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream.  This book was written by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian.  You can purchase this book for $14.99. This book is recommended for children ages 7-12.


From the website:
ABRAHAM’S JOURNEY: A Celebration of the American Dream tells the story of a young boy, who through his faith, imagination and entrepreneurial spirit, sets out to achieve the American dream. Colorfully and meticulously illustrated, young and old alike will be captivated as they follow Abraham on his magical journey.

My thoughts:
When I first received the book, I was surprised by the cover. The cover shows the boy with a smart phone.  I actually thought this was going to be a book that took place a long time ago.  I started reading and was very surprised that this story takes place in today’s world. This story takes place during the Great Recession. Abraham finds out his family is struggling and wants to find a way to help them. I enjoyed the story as Abraham was taken back in time (through his phone) and was able to meet several famous people, both old and new. Abraham is on a journey to help his family through a difficult time and the people he meets have all been in a tough place. They persevered and were able to overcome the obstacles and therefore find the “American dream.”  Is Abraham able to overcome his obstacles and help his family? Will he find the “American dream?” I won’t spoil the ending, but Abraham and his family are able to have a great Christmas.

I did find that the authors pushed the “American dream” too much, but overall it was a good book. We teach our children that in order to achieve their goals, they need to pray and read God's Word. What I gathered from the book, the "American dream" teaches that if you and only you work hard enough, you may achieve your goals and have a good life.
I liked that the authors did include a definition of terms and character biographies at the end of the book.

Disclaimer: I received  a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.




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