Wednesday, October 12, 2016

MyFreezEasy Review

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I love freezer meals. They are seriously the only thing that got me though several pregnancies and deployments. There is something so comforting about knowing that dinner is ready and in the freezer waiting for you. No mad rush to make dinner or figure out what in the world you are going to make at the last second. That is why I was so thrilled to learn about MyFreezEasy!  Our family was delighted to be chosen to receive a Freezer Meal Plan Membership! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
I don't know about your family but my family is pretty busy these days. With six children in various activities, a full homeschool curriculum to fulfill, a full time employed spouse, and my own 5 days a week in the gym I am spinning like a top most days. Anything I can do to simplify my life is a gold mine for my sanity. I learned a long time ago that freezer meals are the way to go for busy families. 
Over the years I have put away 3 months of meals every time I got the verification that I was pregnant. I get pretty severe morning sickness and the thought of having to cook for all of these people while trying desperately not to throw up was not working for me. I would spend one entire day making up freezer meals and then just have to reheat the meals through my first trimester. I loved knowing that I had meals ready to go for my family and I did not have to touch raw meat or smell cooking food while sick to my stomach.

I would then repeat the process right before I was due to give birth. Again knowing those meals are in the freezer and ready to go for my family while I am in the hospital and for those first few months with a newborn is priceless. Having to go grocery shopping, meal plan, and cook with a newborn and 5 other children under foot? Not happening. By stocking my freezer and pantry before hand I was able to send my husband to get a few odds and ends (bread and milk) though the week and spend my time relaxing and recovering. 

Freezer meals are not just for new mothers however! My youngest child is 3 years old and I am not currently pregnant. I however still continue to stock my freezer with meals for my family. Why? What happens if you get sick but everyone else in your house is fine and starving? What about when your child spikes a 104 fever on the day you intended to go to the grocery store? Or you were up late working on a project and have to be out of the house a dawn for a meeting? 
I have found a food emergency fund is just as important as a financial emergency fund. Both protect your family in times of sickness, job loss, and injury. Yes, you COULD go out to eat but who can afford that more than once or twice a week? For some reason these little people need to eat three times a day...what is up with that?

I think we can all see the value in having freezer meals at our disposal. The snag for most people seems to be the planning and implementation of the meals. It can be a lot of work to come up with a list of freezer appropriate meals that actually taste good and do not break the bank. I found the MyFreezEasy site to be a wonderful solution to this issue. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy} 
The MyFreezEasy freezer meal plan membership I was given was a wealth of information and recipes. There were so many different types of meals available each month. I personally chose to review the 10 meals available in the Clean Eating Meal Plan, but as you can see there were 7 other options to chose from! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy} 
I was able to peak into all of the meal plans offered above and they all had very yummy recipe options! Once you pick your meal plan you are given access to that month's recipes, grocery lists,  and instructions for assembling and freezing the meals. I found these instructions to be extremely easy to follow and very clearly written. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy} 
What about the actual meals? As I stated I reviewed the Clean Eating Meal Plan. The recipes within the meal plan were all very tasty, made with clean ingredients that were easy to find, and simple to make. For the month I reviewed I was given recipes for Paleo Chicken Taco Salad, Spinach Chicken Burgers, Bolognese Sauce, Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Vegetables, and Mediterranean Chicken Thighs. Each of these meals were doubled and then placed in the freezer to be used within the months to come. Since I needed to review the meals for this blog post I doubled the meals, ate one, and froze one. My family really enjoyed the meals and will not have an issue with eating the second meal waiting in our freezer. 

I have to say I really enjoyed reviewing this product and look forward to using more of their meals in the future. Want to know what the other reviewers at the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this product? You can click HERE or on the banner below to find out! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Everyday Education, LLC

If you are a regular reader of my blog you already know that reading and handwriting are do not come easily to our 10 year old daughter. She has dyslexia and dysgraphia which makes reading and writing "properly" difficult. I am sure you can imagine we have tried every thing we could find in an attempt to find something that would make things easier for her. When we were given the opportunity to try out Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting  by Everyday Education, LLC we were excited to check it out.
 Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC} 
When teaching a child to write we have all seen or used printed ABC sheets to teach the child how to properly form the letters. I can not count the number of times I have said "take the line up to top line and not past" to one of my children while they are working on their handwriting assignments. It always goes the same doesn't it? Same sheets, same technique, same struggles. The author of Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting has a different approach. She has found that an italic style of writing is easier for children with learning difficulties to read and write. By using a triangular writing style the children are better able to not only read the letters but also form them while writing. 
The book Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting starts at the beginning, always a good place to start right? The lessons start with learning how to write the ABC's in this new italic form and then move on to simple CVC words. After the child has learned the new style of handwriting the author introduces yet another new concept....slant writing. This is where my brain starts to struggle with the concept but it seems to be helping children who have a difficult time with handwriting and reading. Our daughter has not progressed to this point yet but I am really interested to see how it works for her! There are several pages of copywork with the slanted lines pre-printed as well as several sheets of paper with just the lines for the children to use for their own writing assignments. From what I understand of the process, again we have not implemented this section of the book yet, the lines help the child to "cement" the placement of items on the page. It is a very interesting concept that I am looking forward to trying out!
 In the last few weeks our daughter has progressed from "I can't read and I hate writing" to "I love to read chapter books and write....just not in my spelling book." While I would love for her to be an amazing speller I am finding solace in the fact that she is learning to love to read and write. That to me is more than half the battle. In this day and age spelling is overrated...I can not even count the number of times I have used spell check on this post! The ingrained love of reading and writing is the real gold mine for future success. The fact that this curriculum can help make that love easier and faster to complete makes it a gold mine as well. I am excited to keep trying this curriculum with our 10 year old daughter and will definitely consider using it with our younger daughter who is showing signs of dyslexia as well. 

The Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting book by Everyday Education, LLC was not the only book the Homeschool Review Crew were given to review! Everyday Education, LLC was quite generous and also shared their  Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers and their Working It Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

If you would like to see what the other review crew members thought of Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting or either of the other books offered you can click HERE or on the banner below to find out!

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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Review: Away We Go Media

Our family is a bit obsessed with living history books at the moment.  Specifically books concerning how children lived in various time periods. There is something very appealing to our children about this type of learning approach. They find they can relate to the historical subject matter better when the main character is someone their own age. When we were give the opportunity to review a historical book series centered around children's lives during a wide range of time periods we jumped at the opportunity. We were blessed to be chosen to review Brought to you by Carole P. Roman and
If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

We are currently studying American history from colonization to 1850. When we were chosen to review this amazing book series we found several that fit perfectly into our current school program.

The first book we chose to read was  If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4. 
If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

I was pleasantly surprised by how in depth this book went into the history of Colonial America. I have found that many well illustrated books lack on content and are geared towards much younger children. This book series however is quite different. I found the books to be on a middle school reading level with colorful illustrations on alternating pages.

This book begins in England in 1620 and follows the puritans from their initial move to the Netherlands and their subsequent dissatisfaction and progression to America. The book goes in depth into the difficulties of the journey on board the ship and how difficult life was once they landed. The author beautifully manages to cover the difficulties and the trials of the colonial children while still showing the beauty and love found within families.

At the end of each book there are two informational sections concerning the time period the book is centered around. For the If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4) selection this consisted of two pages of information concerning people who influenced the colonies along the entire eastern seaboard as well as a glossary of terms used  throughout the book.

In our family if I assign a reading item I also assign the child to design their own project based on what they have read. I have found by assigning the child to design and complete their own project they pay better attention to the material and think more in depth about what they are reading. We have completed a wide variety of projects over the years. Some examples include themed meals, art projects, dioramas, decorative crafts, etc.

After reading If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4) our 12 year old daughter chose to make her own rag doll like those made by children in Colonial America. After a quick google session we were able to find instructions on how to make the doll from fabric scraps found in my sewing stash. Our daughter read the instructions and then proceeded to make her very own "poppet".

The second book we chose to read within this series was If You Were Me and Lived in...the American West (Volume 7).  This book follows much of the same format as the first book we read. Again we start out in a well established city and follow a family as they make a pilgrimage to a new and undiscovered land. In this book however we follow a family as they leave an Eastern American town and progress out into the American West as part of the Great Migration of 1843.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

The book follows a family as they learn how  to live out of a covered wagon, the hardships they faced during the journey, and how they found their new homestead. The book does not end there however! The author then takes us through how the family would have built their new home from logs foraged from the land, learning to till the land and plant crops, taking care of livestock, and much much more. Again I was thrilled with how in depth the author went into the logistics of life in the American West in 1843 while still including illustrations on alternating pages. I personally think that information is easier to "upload" into a child's brain if there are illustrations included in the text.

With that in mind our oldest daughter chose to design her own illustration for the book as part of her project for this book.

We were given four books within this amazing series to look through and review for you! The two other books we were given include If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1).

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

And If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3).

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
I have read through both of these books and can not wait to share them with our children in the future! I am absolutely thrilled with this series and can not wait to delve further into these books and complete our collection! 
Want to check out the entire series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and ? 
Here you go!

If you would like to see what the other Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew members thought of this series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and you can click HERE or on the banner below to be taken to a list of reviews.
 If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall is in the air!

I have to say fall is by far my favorite season! There is something magical to me about the leaves changing, the weather cooling off, and the thought of sweatshirts by a fire pit roasting hotdogs. 

One of our favorite fall activities would have to be visiting a local farm for their military appreciation day. It is not often that you can find such an amazing activity for the entire family for FREE! Yep totally 100% free! 

While we were there this year the children took part in several activities inducing the mummy wrap. Yes that is one of my children wrapping another one in toilet paper. I was a bit worried they would try recreating the mummy wrap here at home but so far so good.


The fun did not end there however!  We were also treated to a free lunch, face painting, bouncy houses, barrel rides and much much more! 

The coolest part (for me anyways) was the hayride out to the pumpkin patch and the SIX free pumpkins they gave us! 

We absolutely loved getting to spend time exploring all of the activities provided and can not thank the local farm enough for opening up their grounds to so many military families. It was wonderful to be able to spend time enjoying the moment and making memories.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

4H has blessed our lives

Living in the middle of New Jersey as a military family we do not have a lot of opportunities to experience farm life. Things that were common every day experiences for me as a child are unique and amazing experiences for my children. When looking for opportunities to add more farm based activities into our lives I found our local 4H program to be a wealth of activities and information. 

I had no idea that the 4H programs covered such a variety of topics or that you did not have to own your own livestock to participate. I feel like a whole new world has opened up for our family! 

We started off my joining our local "Chicken Club". We get together as a group once a month to learn about chicken facts, do activities, and play with chickens. We also were assigned one day a week to feed and care for the chickens on a local farm. My children love getting to experience life with chickens....and I love not having the responsibility of 24/7 care! 

The 4H leader for our chicken club wanted any children who were interested in raising chickens to have the option to do so at home. With that in mind she purchased several chicks for the children to borrow and take home to raise. We came home with these adorable little balls of fluff!  The children get to take care of the chicks, play with them, and watch them grow up! When they get too big to stay inside any longer and we are ready to send them back to the farm we simply take them back and introduce them to the flock on the farm. I love it!

Our oldest two daughters will also be borrowing two chickens from the farm to show at Farm Fair this spring!

We did not stop and just chicken club however. We also joined the gardening club located on the same farm. Our family was given a small plot of land in which to learn square foot gardening. In this area the children are able to plant anything they like. The go each week to weed and care for their garden. The amazement on their faces when they pick a tomato they grew is seriously magical!

After working on their own square foot garden the children then get together to work on the community garden surrounding their private gardens. The children work together with the club leader to plant all sorts of new and exciting plants. Seeing all the children working together to plant and maintain the community garden is such a blessing to me. They always come home exhausted and absolutely filthy.

One of the huge blessings we have received through our gardening club would have to be the fact that it has gotten our 10yr old dyslexic daughter excited about writing! I know this sounds kind of odd...a gardening club does not necessarily scream "Learn to love writing" to me either. Our daughter however was extremely excited to be elected as the club reporter. She could not wait to start taking notes and writing articles to publish each week. I almost tipped over dead when she enthusiastically added her name to the election process for reporter. This is the child that has always hated reading or writing in any form. I will forever love 4H if for no other reason than showing our little girl that writing can be fun.

We did not stop with just two clubs that would be slacking. We signed up for two more that are a little more outside the preconceived notions about 4H.

All six of our children are taking part in a 4H based art class as well! I am head over heels in love!

 Our second unusual 4H program is a 6th though 12th grade engineering club! I was a bit nervous about signing our oldest daughter up for this club. It was a bit outside her comfort level but I figured it was worth checking it out. She absolutely loves it! On their very first day they made toothbrush robots and art bots. She was so excited to show me her little robot and tell me all about how she built it. She has been dealing with autism related social anxiety since she was a very little girl so seeing her jump right into a club and flourish has been amazing. She did not stop there however! She was voted as the club secretary and could not be more thrilled with the position.

I know a lot of people think 4H is just for the farm children in the community but that could not be farther from the truth. It is an amazing program that will bless any child that is able to take part. I strongly urge you to contact your local 4H agent and see what they have to offer in your area. If they do not have a club you would like to see already set up it is a simple process to start a club yourself. If took me about 2 hours to get certified as a 4H volunteer and a friend and I have another club in the works!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Lizard Lady Strikes Again!

Our 10 yr old daughter is obsessed with lizards. 

No seriously she is flat out OBSESSED. 

She spends hours each day out in our backyard catching lizards and studying their markings and anatomy. I was shocked at how many small lizards she was able to catch each time she went out. I don't know about you but I am not the fastest moving person on the planet. The thought of being fast enough to catch a baby lizard just blows my mind.

Not only did she catch one....or two...but she has caught as many as eight in one afternoon!

She and her siblings used an old cooler to build a lizard habitat in which to keep them and continue studying them through out the day.

I do insist that she let them go at the end of the day. Of course that is always met with the puppy dog eyes and the "but mmmmmooooooooooommmmmm" response of a heartbroken child. I do not think I am going to be able to hold her off on purchasing her very own lizard for much longer.

I am trying to find ways to incorporate her love of lizards into her school day. I am currently researching different field manuals with the intent of having her identify each lizard type and hopefully keep a record book of her discoveries. If you have a favorite field manual please let me know!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Invertebrates are cool

Our science lessons this month have been revolving around invertebrates. I don't know about you but I am not all that keen on bugs. Butterflies are cool...the rest...nah....not so much. Unfortunately my children feel the same way about bugs as I do. I an attempt to spark some interest I thought a little field trip to the local bug museum was in order. 

First off who knew there were whole museums full of just bugs? That is entire building full of all different types of beetles, ants, butterflies, walking sticks, and much much more. 

We loved these "windows" into different habitats scattered through out the museum. It was like a game of where is waldo as we tried to find all of the different types of moths, walking sticks and such scattered through the "picture". It was a great chance to talk about camouflage techniques and  native habitats.

Of course the butterfly displays were the coolest things in the entire museum according to my oldest two daughters. They were however very sad that so many butterflies had to die to make these displays. We did learn a great deal about them as we worked our way through the museum. We can now tell you all the ways a butterfly is different from a moth and why the blue morpho butterfly has "eyes" on the underside of it's wings.

The coolest part of the museum would have to be the touching section! We were able to hear a brief talk about several different invertebrates before being able to touch them! I touched a hissing cockroach, a millipede, a scorpion, and a tarantula.  Some of my children were brave enough to touch a few of the specimens. Most however declined. We did learn a great deal about each of the invertebrates before they were brought around for touching. For example if you see a scorpion with small pinchers you want to stay far far away, it has very toxic poison.

So was I able to instill a life long love of all things creepy crawly? Not on your life.  I did however get a little more knowledge into their little heads and I got bonus points for a field trip in the middle of the week. That is always a hit with my family. I am looking forward to studying something a little more cuddly in the future....panda bears anyone?

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