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Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Buy a Wreath and Help a Poor Struggling...Oh, You Got Me...Help John Allen!
Mood:  happy
Topic: General

John Allen is at it again. He's selling Christmas wreaths from Wreaths of Maine! This is his fourth year selling and he loves doing it. These beautiful wreaths are made from Balsam Fir trees. But, they don't just sell wreaths, they sell swags, sprays...even roping for around your porch posts. They are great for decorating businesses, homes, or to give away as gifts.

The first year John Allen sold he donated his profits to help buy homeschool supplies for our family homeschool. Another year he (with a little help from us) bought himself a laptop computer. This year has been really special, he's been talking about all of the gifts he can buy for the family for Christmas. He's even mentioned the gifts he can buy for our pastor's twin boys.

Wreaths of Maine is a company that primarily works with homeschool kids as a way to help them earn money. I found them when I was looking for something for John Allen to sell and make a little money on his own. I remember selling all kinds of things when I was younger - from Christmas cards to green mints. I learned so much from being a salesman. I really think it has helped John Allen build confidence in speaking to others as well.

We would love it if you would consider buying a wreath. Although we would like to be able to come to your house to tell you about them personally, we can't be everywhere at once, so this year Wreaths of Maine has made a way for you to purchase a wreath online and John Allen still get the credit. Just go to the Wreaths of Maine website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above and look over their great wreaths. When you get to checkout, there will be a place where you can click on John Allen's name and seller number (4086). Thanks ahead of time from a proud father!

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:15 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2011 12:33 AM CST
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Tuesday, 15 November 2011
College Prep Genius - The No Brainer Way to SAT Success!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


I remember my college testing days from high school. The nerves. The "not understanding what I was really doing". The unpreparedness. Ugh. I get queasy just thinking about it! I was never a good test taker. I really wish there would have been something back then that would have helped me prepare for taking tests like the ACT and SAT. Even, now, I think about my own kids and how difficult it will be for them. I was thrilled when I found out that I was going to get to review College Prep Genius - The No Brainer Way To SAT Success.

College Prep Genius is a group of things that you can use to help you be prepared for the SAT. We received the College Prep Genius (Second Edition) Textbook, the College Prep Genius (Second Edition) Workbook and the College Prep Genius (Second Edition) DVD. They could be used separately, but we have been using them together, and, really, that's the best way to use them. John Allen isn't a real fan, but, what can you expect. Studying to get a good score on the SAT or PSAT is serious business. I really don't think John Allen fully comprehends what the SAT is all about yet.. College Prep Genius offers some great ways to prepare. Let me go through each item one by one to explain what it's all about.

The core item is the Textbook. This 325 page book is divided into six parts.

  • Part One: Introduction to the SAT
  • Part Two: The Critical Reading Section
  • Part Three: The Math Section
  • Part Four: The Writing Section
  • Part Five: Scholarship Search
  • Part Six: Journal for Test Success

As you can see just by the section titles, this book is full of good information. What makes this different than other SAT prep materials, though? One of the things is College Prep Genius' use of Acronyms. They have taken almost every scenario that you could think of and mad an acronym out of it. For example, one of the acronyms for the Reading Section is S.O.N. College Prep Genius suggests that you should:

Avoid answer using S.O.N.

  • S - Strong
  • O - Opinionated
  • N - Negative

They then discuss why you shouldn't choose those types of answers.

That is really another plus about this textbook. They have a lot of examples for each acronym's rule. They basically tell you step by step how you can score well on the test by using these acronyms to remember key things that will help you.

The next item is the DVD. The DVD is really DVD's. There are four of them that have four lessons on each. These lessons are really the core of this curriculum. I mentioned the Textbook above first, because it could be used alone, but it is really better to use it with the DVD. I made John Allen begin by just reading the Textbook, but I quickly recognized my mistake and have begun using the DVD's first.

Each lesson on the DVD is about 45 min. long. Along with the DVD are homework assignments. One of the assignments is always to read a section of the Textbook. That was my mistake. John Allen was reading the Textbook without the benefit of the DVD but, even though the teacher on the video says to read the textbook first, in my opinion, it is much better to watch the DVD first. I also suggest (and so does the teacher) to follow along in your textbook while the teacher is lecturing. It is always better to hear and see rather than just to hear or just to see. The DVD goes right along with you textbook.

The teacher on the video has a pleasant voice and seems very nice, but she gets right to the point. There is no messing around. Be ready for a packed full of information lesson whenever you watch the video. Have everything ready, such as your homework assignment printed out (you download them from the College Prep Genius website), all of your books, and several pencils.

Finally, the last item is the Workbook. It has reviews of the different acronyms,  a lot of sample problems for you to work out, and a few fun things. The Workbook really can't be used as a stand alone item.


As you can see, College Prep Genius is full of good stuff. I am so blessed that we were chosen for this review because it will be a great tool for John Allen to work through. I am sure it will raise his SAT score. The pricing for College Prep Genius is very reasonable. The price for the whole set of Textbook, Workbook and DVD's is $99. The three items can be purchased separately as well - Textbook $49.95, Workbook $19.95 and DVD's $59.95. You can find these and other great items from College Prep Genius by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what some of the other TOS Homeschool Crew members thought of this item and another great College Prep Genius item called "Vocab Cafe" click here. Happy Home Educating.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free set of College Prep Genius material - Textbook, Workbook, and DVD - in order to try out and give an honest review on my blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 12:02 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2011 12:27 AM CST
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Monday, 14 November 2011
Today I am Thankful for the TOS Homeschool Crew
Mood:  happy
Topic: Blog Carnivals!

For the past three years I have had the fantastic opportunity to review products with the TOS Homeschool Crew. You have know idea how blessed we have been to be part of that team. We are blessed because we are on a limited budget and the homeschool products that we have gotten to review have been fantastic. This year I had to spend a lot less money on homeschool products because of the great vendors that provided products for us to review in years past. Some items we would never have tried out if it hadn't had been for the crew. We may not have even known about them. Many of those items have been such blessings to us. I wouldn't say "life saving", but at least "life changing".

But, those great blessings don't even hold a candle to the great friendships that we have made along the way. Some of the crew members have now become life long friends. Friends that I know that I can turn to with any prayer requests or problems. I have even become friends with some of the vendors! I thank God for the great friendships that we have made because of the crew.

Thank you, Lord, for the TOS Homeschool Crew. Thank you for the blessings of friendships and products that this great group has provided. It has forever changed and the lives of each member of my family for the better. Amen

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:13 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 14 November 2011 11:37 PM CST
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Sunday, 13 November 2011
Keyboard Town Pals - A Unique Approach to Learning to Type!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


I think that I have said before that one of the things that I appreciated learning the most in high school was how to type. It's probably one of the things that I use the most every day. I was blessed to have a typing teacher that taught me how to type properly. I've determined to find a way to teach my children how to type correctly because I feel it is that important.

Now the problem is to find the right keyboarding program to us in a homeschool setting. I have searched and found free ones. I have even reviewed some. They have all been good. John Allen learned some basic keyboarding with one, but I still hadn't found anything for my youngest two until now.

Keyboard Town Pals is a very unique program that I feel younger kids who are learning to type would be drawn to. Joshua, our asperger's syndrome child, has been using it and loving it. It is like no other typing program I have seen. Why? Because it uses puppets to teach how to type!

They use an associative approach. An associative approach is when you train your mind to think of two things together. I learned the 10 plagues that God cursed Egypt with by using the associative method. I associated the number one with a pen and the number two with a coat hanger, etc. Here's how it worked.

I picked up a pen to write but instead of ink coming out there was blood. (The first plague was the plague of turning the water into blood).

Then I went in to my closet to get a shirt out but instead of a shirt hanging on the hanger there was a giant frog. (The second plague was the plague of frogs).

Okay, I know it's kind of different, but that's how I learned them, and it really worked. Later on, in my therapist days, we used the keyword (associative) approach to teaching the sounds of the alphabet. So, I know that the associative approach really works.

With Keyboard Town Pals the association is with puppets. Let me show you a little example. This is a preview of lesson one:

Now, I'll admit, the characters, like Miss Sunny, Amy, the Zebras, etc. looked a little silly at first. And the humor is somewhat corny. But, you have to realize that this is not for us, as adults, but for our kids and trust me, it really works.

Because my son is asperger's and doesn't sit well for long periods of time, he only does a couple of lessons at one setting but I could see how a child could sit and do all of the lessons at once. All of the lessons together only take about an hour. So, your child child could actually be  fully typing in an hour! It may not be fast, but it's proper typing and the more they practice, the fast they will become.

Joshua is really enjoying Keyboard Town Pals and I really like the associative approach. It may not be for every child, but I can really see it working for younger children and special needs children like my Joshua.

The other thing I really like about Keyboard Town Pals is the price. The cost is only $30 for either the web based version or the CD ROM version. Keyboard Town Pals also has several "companion" items such as coloring books, finger puppets, a concentration game and stickers that you can purchase. AND it comes in an English, Spanish or French version! To get to the Keyboard Town Pals website, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted posts above. To find out what the other TOS Crew Members had to say about Keyboard Town Pals just click here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given limited time access to web version of Keyboard Town Pals in order to try out with my children and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:38 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2011 10:40 PM CST
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Saturday, 12 November 2011
Gratitude Challenge - I'm Thankful for Our Church Family
Topic: Blog Carnivals!

Today I'm thankful for our church family at Memorial Baptist Church. If you've been on my blog lately, you've probably seen pictures of our family at some type of church event. Last night we were at another. The youth and some of the adults had a Murder Mystery night at the pastor's home. We each got a folder weeks ago with who we were, what our goals were, the list of other folks on the cruise (we were on a ship in 1914) and how to dress. I was a French chef named Blaise de Richilieu (who really wasn't a chef at all, but was a spy for the US Internal Affairs Department), Sarah was Elvira something or other, and John Allen was someone whose name escapes me but he was training to be a steward on the ship. It was a total blast and the youth and some adults spent the night. Sarah and John Allen stayed but I picked the youngers up at the babysitters and went home. We went back today to pick up John Allen and Sarah and the two youngers ended up playing with the pastors kids and Sarah and I stayed and talked and played game with the pastor, pastor's wife and another friend. Yes, even after they had been up half the night with kids and youth! I say all of this not because it seems like the church is having some type of an outing every week - they really aren't, but this was a particularly busy fall, but because of how open and accepting they are to us and our kids.

It's not easy to find a church that is understanding to special needs children. Even our oldest, John Allen, who's not special needs, requires some special care. It's not easy living with two brothers that are high maintenance. John Allen sometimes gets left in the dust. Not any intention of ours, but he often gets the short end of the stick. Often he gets very frustrated and angry at the situation. Our church body understands all of our kids and is patient and loving all the same.

Our church family is a true example of what God wants Christians to be. They are truly loving and caring and really want to obey the Holy Spirit. I am truly grateful to God for the body of believers that He brought us to.

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Posted by tink38570 at 7:19 PM CST
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