Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Father of Lights DVD Review

FATHER OF LIGHTS chronicles the journey of filmmaker Darren Wilson and his team as they fearlessly travel the globe, far from the daily existence of the typical evangelical believer in the West. By thoughtfully documenting the stories of extraordinary believers and candidly filming miracles, visions and other supernatural occurrences, Wilson engages viewers in modern day examples of the true nature and character of God.  

Wilson gives honest access to his own spiritual questions as he tackles the religious misconceptions he has struggled with throughout his life.  “I went into making this film by asking the simple question: who is God? I wanted to know His character, His personality, and who He truly is. To answer this question, we had to peel back the many layers of religious garbage that has been passed onto him through generations. That He is angry. Vengeful. Wrathful. And in general, that He doesn’t like you very much. The truth, as you will see vibrantly in this film, is that He is the most loving, compassionate, and wonderful Father you can imagine.”
You can visit the website HERE to read more about the film, read testimonies, and purchase the movie.  Check out the Facebook page HERE  and watch a trailer on YouTube HERE.

I was given a copy of this DVD in exchange for this review and my honest opinion.  When I was first offered this opportunity and watched the trailer, I was excited!  I couldn't wait to receive the DVD and watch it.  As the film progressed I found myself uncomfortable with some of its content.  My husband was unsettled as well.  Afterwards we did some of our own research about the people involved and the Finger of God trilogy, of which this is the third film.  Our findings confirmed our reasons for discomfort.  I don't want to get into the details, but I would say that I would not recommend this DVD to my friends because I feel that some of the content and the information I gathered from its supporters is not biblical.  It is so difficult to say this as I always hope to love an item that is given to me to share on my blog.  But, my honest opinion is asked of me.  I am only one person with one opinion and I encourage you to make your own decisions for yourself.  Check out the website and research the production company and its supporters. 

 "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being Grounded Stirs Creative Juices

Matthew has a chart that he needs to follow each day.  You know, things like his chore list, lesson completion, stay within media limits (1 hour a day!), etc.  If he does everything on the list then he has privileges for the next day.  If he doesn't, then he loses those privileges.  By the way, we consider privileges things like TV, video games, computer use, and treats.  It's all up to him.

*cue sad violin music*

He lost his privileges for today.  Of course, the morning started with tearful groans and a toss of a limp body on the bed in dramatic protest.  When he gets like that I just tell him to go to his room and come on out when he has regained control of himself.

He was in there for a long time.  Hmmmmm.....should I check on him?

Finally, he emerged, excitedly, with notebook papers in one hand and a stapler in the other.  He worked eagerly at the kitchen table completing his project.  Oh my, what has he created?

He was so anxious for me to see what he had done.  He had written a story, complete with illustrations.  Now, Matthew has never been very artistic and he rarely uses color when he draws.  He prefers a good old fashioned pencil.  He used his best cursive handwriting, and it was beautiful!  Here's how the story goes.....

The Legend
by Matthew Gadow

Long ago in a land known as Hyrane, there was peace in the land and all were happy.  But, one day something happened where a great, unstoppable evil was released.  The beast destroyed all and released evil onto the land.  The beast was known as The Dark One.  Then, something else happened.  Something the beast never thought possible.  A Hero of Light rose against the beast, wielding the ancient Sword of Light.  There was an epic battle between good an evil.  In the end The Dark One could not be stopped completely.  So, they sealed him in the center of the earth.  There was still evil, but good always came out on top. 

The End

It's short.  But, I was blown away at the use of adjectives!  This is a 12 year old boy who less than 6 months ago would cry if I asked him to write a couple of sentences describing his day.  Now, after using Institute for Excellence in Writing he is.....

1.  Writing by choice without being asked. 
2.  Developing his own story line without any help.
3.  Using excellent vocabulary and descriptive words.
4.  Using excellent grammar and punctuation (thank you Daily Grams!)

Being grounded has stirred his creative juices.  Maybe this should happen more often.....

*cue Mom's evil laugh*

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sugar Free Applesauce Spice Cookies

I volunteered to bake for a fundraiser my church is having for a missions trip.  The last time we had a bake sale there were several people asking for sugar free items, but we had none.  This time I was determined to make something to offer even though I had never made a sugar free baked good in my life.  If you are familiar with my monthly Foodie Wannabe article at Homeschool Mosaics, then you know I am famous for making recipes I have never tried before for people or events. 

Get your ingredients together:

1 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. raisins - I almost left these out and I'm glad I didn't.  They added a nice natural sweetness & texture)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. nuts (I didn't use any in my batch)
 
Mix flour, baking soda, spices and oats. Add remaining ingredients. Batter will be slightly runny, but they do not spread during baking. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.
 
I really enjoyed the spice flavor.  It was a nice Fall cookie.  The texture was a little spongier than I like in a cookie.  It was a little cake-like.  But, it was moist and yummy.  They are definitely not sweet like a good old fashioned Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie, but they had great flavor.  If you want a little more sweetness you could use 1/2 unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 sweetened applesauce, or add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Hmmm, I'm thinking these would be good with a cup of hot cider.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tourette Syndrome: The Main Ingredient in Alphabet Soup

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuro-biological movement disorder characterized by frequent, repetitive, and involuntary vocal and motor tics. Well, that was a mouthful. TS…our first ingredient in the alphabet soup.
TS often manifests itself in early childhood, usually by the age of six or seven. It can begin with simple tics such as blinking, sniffing, or eye rolling.  Or, a tic might be complex, involving different muscle groups at one time such as kicking, hopping, or spinning. TS is different from a simple tic disorder because the symptoms involve both vocal and motor tics and last for longer than a year. TS has a genetic predisposition. My husband has Tourette syndrome and passed the gene to our son. My son has a 50% chance of passing the TS gene to his children. The exact cause of TS is not known, however evidence points to a metabolic imbalance of dopamine in the brain.

Most often when people think of Tourette syndrome they think of a person shouting profanity or racial slurs (coprolalia) or making obscene gestures (copropaxia). This is what is usually portrayed in the movies. Actually, fewer than 15% of people with TS have these tics.  More common vocal tics would be coughing, humming, clicking, or cheek sucking. About 200,000 people are known to have TS in the United States today.  TS often goes misdiagnosed because it is so complex and is typically accompanied by other co-morbid conditions. Here is where we add the other ingredients to our alphabet soup.  OCD, ADD, ADHD, SPD, AS, and more can be added to the mix. Look at all of these letters!

Obsessive Complusive Disorder (OCD) is a very common co-morbid condition. The OC behaviors of a person can be minor and more of an annoyance or it can be a serious daily disruption. OCD involves obsessive and compulsive thoughts and/or actions. A person may need to wash their hands repeatedly, touch something before moving on, or dwell on a thought or idea. For example, my son needs to place items in a certain order and will become very upset if they are disturbed.  He will obsess about ideas or thoughts and this sometimes keeps him from participating in other daily activities. We call these his “mind tics”. TS and OCD are often intertwined. Since a tic is an involuntary, compulsive movement or sound and OCD is an overwhelming need to perform a movement, sound, or thought they are often confused in diagnosis.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are common conditions that mask the true diagnosis of TS. Although it is common for a person to have ADD or ADHD along with their TS, it is more often that a person is misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD instead of TS. For example, when my son was in kindergarten he would get in trouble all the time for moving around in his seat, making noise, fiddling with his pencil or paper, and overall having disruptive behaviors. He had a very difficult time concentrating in class. His teacher was convinced he had ADHD.  On initial assessment, his pediatrician agreed this was a strong possibility. However, shortly after his time with a Pediatric Neuropsychologist my son was clearly diagnosed with TS. The three disorders share such a common ground that it is easy to misdiagnose a child if a thorough history and assessment is not performed by a qualified professional. My son was not exhibiting ADHD behavior. He was ticking!

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex spectrum of different sensory dysfunctions. When my son was younger he was extremely tactile defensive. He was very defensive towards textured surfaces. He would scream as if in pain from such things as the feel of grass, coarse fabrics, or a hair brush. He was resistant to touch mushy textures with his hands such as mud, wet sand, or shaving cream. As he has gotten older his tactile defensiveness has improved. However, he is still aversive to soft foods such as mashed potatoes, pudding, or oatmeal and he will have a strong need to wash his hands or body if he gets things like mud, wet sand, or paint on himself. Other forms of SPD may involve vestibular senses, auditory senses, olfactory senses, proprioceptive senses, and social and behavioral processing. An excellent resource to learn more about SPD, including a comprehensive check list, is The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center website at http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/index.html.

Children with Tourette may also be on the Autism Spectrum. Many of the characteristics and behaviors are similar. It is also common for people with TS to have a learning disability such as dysgraphia, dyslexia, or executive dysfunction. My husband struggles with dysgraphia which is a learning disability resulting in the difficulty in expressing thoughts into writing. In addition, children with TS are often socially and emotionally immature.

As you can see, Tourette syndrome usually doesn’t stand alone. With all of these other disorders it is just the main ingredient. Typically, the symptoms of TS will increase in severity during adolescence and then improve greatly into adulthood. There are cases where an adult may have the same or more severe symptoms than when they were younger. Often coping skills and maturity are valuable aids to being able to mask tics. Because my son has been ticking since he was an infant (which is very rare), he has become very skilled in masking and controlling his tics. He will usually do this when in public or when he is around people he does not know well. This requires a lot of energy, though, and he can only withhold his tics for a short period of time. Once he is alone or in a more comfortable environment, he will tic heavily for a long time to release the impulses that he has been holding in. It is sort of like if you had to hold in a sneeze, cough, or ignore a horrible itch. It can be almost impossible and can be very distracting. He is very open about talking about his Tourette and he prefers for people to ask him questions rather than assume things about him, not have the correct information, or sometimes just stare at him. We have taught him from the beginning that educating others is the greatest key to fighting ignorance.

Currently, there is no cure for TS. There are medications and treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms, but a person who has TS will always have TS. My son has benefited greatly from medication that helps to keep his tics manageable. It can be difficult to find the right combination of medication and that can be very discouraging. Other types of treatment may include behavioral therapy or deep brain stimulation. You can learn more about Tourette syndrome at the National Tourette Syndrome Association website

Living with Tourette syndrome is like living in a mystery or suspense novel. You never know what you will wake up to. My son has had tics come and go in a matter of days or weeks and he even has tics today that he has been doing since he was born. He is now twelve years old. He has had tics in the past that were extremely socially inappropriate or disruptive that we have had to work through using behavioral therapy. Because drawing attention to a tic will make it worse, my husband and I only address a tic that can harm him or another person or is invasive or inappropriate towards another person. We have been fortunate in that this has been a rare occurrence, but this can present its own unique challenges. When my son was four he had self injurious tics involving punching himself in the stomach and legs. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult time for our family. When TS decides to rear its ugly head it can do so in the most cruel ways.
If you know someone with Tourette syndrome the best thing you can do is get to know them as a person. You’ll find that underneath the odd movements and sounds they are just like you and me. They desire to be loved, accepted, and live their life to the fullest. Get to know them; ask them questions; understand them. Realize that their intention is not to be annoying or disruptive with their tics. Believe me! They wish they could stop what they are doing MUCH more than you do! I hope that you will take the time to visit the National Tourette Syndrome Association website, visit a TS support group, or check out a book from the library about TS. Learn more about this fascinating syndrome and, if you are lucky enough, maybe you will even have the precious gift of knowing and loving a person with Tourette.

Check out my original posting of this article and lots of other interesting articles by talented writers at the Home Educating Family Blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The American Bible Challenge - Review & Giveaway

Woohoo!  Good family fun!  If you haven't had the chance ..... or maybe you didn't even know.....to check out The American Bible Challenge then you have got to mark your calendar and set your DVR so you don't miss this new show!  How fun!  It's a good old fashioned game show all about the Bible!  The show is equipped with its own jammin' out choir and fabulous host, Jeff Foxworthy.  

Comedian and author, Jeff Foxworthy hosts this studio-based game in which contestants compete based on their knowledge of the Bible.  Utilizing current as well as historical references, questions will be drawn from the rich, dense narrative found in the world's best-selling book.  The contestants will share their compelling back-stories and each team will be playing for a charitable organization.

Check out this video on the making of the show and you will be leaping to your feet with excitement to gather your family together on Thursday nights to watch.

For more information, visit The American Bible Challenge website,  or visit their Facebook page to get in on all of the talk and hype with others just like you!  Don't forget to tune in on Thursdays at 8/7 c on The Gameshow Network.  Check your local listings for the channel.

That's right!  Woohoo!  A giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a The American Bible Challenge t-shirt AND a Zondervan Quest Bible.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Wednesday, September 12, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter. Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entries only.  This giveaway is not connected to any social media site.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Get started now on Rafflecopter...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Well Planned Day - Review and GIVEAWAY

It's that time of year for many of us!  A new homeschool year brings all kinds of excitement and......insanity.  Lesson plans, independent work assignments, logging literature read, grades, and educational activities.  Then, there is meal planning, grocery lists, appointments, sport practices, piano lessons, etc.

*SIGH*

Excuse me while I put my head back on straight.

I only have one child.  I tip my hat and curtsy to all of my fellow homie-schoolers who have multiple children.  I do not know how you do it.  But, I'm here to tell you about something that just might make it a whole lot more manageable.

My Well Planned Day software from Home Educating Family takes all the things everyone loves about their book planner and puts it in a software...and, of course, adds a few extra special touches.  This is not a download so don't worry about it taking up space on your (likely) already working hard computer.  You will be able to access your planner from any internet accessible device.  And, because Home Educating Family knows how busy we are they are already working on developing an app that will allow you to access your information even when you don't have internet access.  Sweet!

Here are just a few examples of what you will be able to do with your Well Planned Day software:

  • Customize your look with 12 different color combinations
  • Record attendance, lessons, assignments, grades, activities, and reports individually for all of  your children
  • Upload pictures of your children to link to their personal file where you can customize their home education portfolio with the curriculum they are using and their own schedule and activities.
  • Utilize the Home Management component to organize your budget, chores, shopping list, menu, calendar, and projects.
This is just a glimpse.  To get a more full picture, visit the website , go to their Facebook page, or watch the tutorial.

I was given the opportunity to use My Well Planned Day in order to prepare for this review and giveaway.  I was so excited because I had decided over the summer that this would be the first school year that I would use a planner.  I just didn't know which one!  There are so many facets to the software that it became apparent to me I would need the tutorial.  I am not super computer savvy and there is definitely a specific step by step process to input your specific curriculum, create lessons, and schedule assignments.  My desire and focus was in the area of homeschool lesson planning, tracking assignments, and grades.  So, at this point I have not even tapped into the Home Management portion of this comprehensive software.

It was a rough start for me.  It took about 3 trips on the tutorial ride in order to understand how to input my curriculum and set up assignments.  I won't lie.  I was frustrated.  But, once I got into the groove it was simple.  I've always been a paper and pencil kind of gal.  Even my datebook is a good ole spiral bound and not on my smartphone.

My Well Planned Day would be the PERFECT tool for a multi-child home, for a parent needing support for home management (budget, meal planning, etc.), or for someone who really prefers computer tools instead of traditional paper tools.  For the low price of $65 for a year membership, it is a good investment to meet these needs.  PLUS, there is a 30 day money back guarantee (minus a 10% processing fee).  I always respect when a company offers a great guarantee.

HERE IS A SPECIAL GIFT JUST FOR MY READERS!!!!!

Here is an awesome coupon code you can use to get $15 off the price!

26wpdblog12

This code is good until October 1st!

Thank you Home Educating Family!


 One lucky winner will receive their very ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO MY WELL PLANNED DAY! Wow, that's a $65 value.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter. Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entries only.  This giveaway is not connected to any social media site.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Get started now on Rafflecopter...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's on the menu for 7th grade?

Yeah, that's right!  7th grade rocks!  For Matthew it means he is really in the midst of middle school and he is almost 13.  That's a good reason for a kid to celebrate.  For me it means I still have 2 WHOLE years before Matthew is in high school and I still (at least for a while) have a non-teen in my house.  Somehow these reasons are very different, yet the excitement still remains.  We are both excited to start a new year in our homeschool.  After careful consideration, Matthew has decided to change the name of our school.  For the past few years it has been dubbed the prestigious Star Wars Academy.  It fit us.  Now that Matthew is older and wiser, he feels that our school needs to be more of a reflection of his future.  So, I would like to present to you.....
LEGO ENGINEERING ACADEMY.  After all, Matthew has been saying since he was five years old that he will be a lego engineer and now that he is getting more serious about his future it seems only natural to enroll in that now.

So, we would like to share what is on the menu for this year in our home school. 

For Math we are staying with Saxon.  Matthew will move on to the 1/2 book which is pre-Algebra.  We started using Saxon math in 5th grade after using ABeka for 3 years and really liked it.  We stay away from the drills and extra worksheets.  The lessons and just the lesson problems are enough.  Something must be right because Matthew scored in the 90 percentile for math this year on the CAT test.

For History we are using America the Beautiful from the Notgrass Company.  This is a Christian based curriculum.  We started using this last year and LOVE it.  The style is easy to follow and understand.  Plus, it includes mapping/geography, timelines, historical documents, suggested additional reading, and frequent activities that the whole family can enjoy.  We plan to stick with this for the long term since Notgrass also provides World History and Economics.
For science we are using Apologia's General Science, a Christian based curriculum.  This is the course recommended for grade 7.  It included a variety of topics so Matthew will get a great exposure to many areas of science. 
 We also purchased the lab kit that goes with this curriculum.  There are many fun labs to do and we thought it would be much easier to have all of the materials needed so we don't miss out on anything!  Yay, science!

Now, Language Arts/English is that complicated subject that is hard to pin down.  IMHO there are so many different facets to this subject that it can't be contained in one curriculum.  So, here is the run-down for our Language Arts...

 Wordly Wise for Vocabulary

 Daily Grams for Grammar
Institute for Excellence in Writing - Student Writing Intensive Level B for Writing


A variety of classical books for Literature/ Poetry


Of course we have to have Fine Arts in our school, so Matthew will continue his guitar lessons


Physical Education will be.......karate, of course!  Matthew already has his brown belt and will continue this year working on his review belt which will prepare him for his black belt test.

And, the most important subject of all.  Bible.  This brings it all together.  In the past we have used structured Bible curriculum, but this year Matthew will focus on just having time in the Word and building his own style of devotions.  He has started staying in the sanctuary on Sundays instead of going to kids' church and he started attending the weekly youth group.  We purchased a new study Bible for him that will be his close confidante as he grows into adulthood.

So, what's on your menu this year?  Share about your curriculum and plans!




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Unique Ways to Teach Your Kidlet O'Energy

Homeschooling a child with unique needs is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle while the pieces keep changing. For a child with Tourette Syndrome, each day can be a different puzzle all together. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary motor and vocal tics. What I’m about to share with you are a few unique techniques to teaching your energetic child or kinesthetic learner. Please, hold your “aha’s” until the end.

Let me introduce you to my son, Matthew. He has Tourette Syndrome (TS) and Obsessive Compulsive tendencies. He is also hearing impaired. Matthew is twelve years old and this is our fifth year homeschooling. Here is a scenario of what a day was like for Matthew when he was in school:

Tap foot, spin pencil on desk, write answer to question four, bark like a dog

“Matthew, be quiet. This is a test.”

Cough, scrunch face, lick lips, tap foot, spin pencil on desk, write answer to question five, get up to sharpen pencil.

“Matthew, don’t get out of your seat without permission.”

Cough, scrunch face, lick lips, tap foot, spin pencil on desk, write answer to question six, bark like a dog, scrunch up scrap paper, get up to throw away paper.

“Matthew, don’t get out of your seat without permission. If you do it again you’ll get detention.”

Spin around twice, sit down, cough, scrunch face, lick lips, tap foot, spin pencil on desk, write answer to question seven, bark like a dog, get up to sharpen pencil.

“That’s it Matthew. You have detention. Go to the Principal’s office.”

 Uh-Oh....This is Matthew's "not happy face"

What happened? Matthew was ticking so badly that he couldn’t even work at a steady pace. His OCD was the final culprit that got him a ticket to detention. His compulsive need to have a perfectly sharpened pencil and his aversion to having any garbage (the crumpled paper) near him was too strong to resist. My suggestion to the teacher to allow him to use a mechanical pencil and keep a trash can next to his desk was not welcome. So, homeschool, here we come.

When we started home school it was apparent that the creative juices needed to be turned to high flow! When Matthew was younger I could barely keep up with his changing tics. My son was not capable of sitting still in a chair for more than a few minutes. Even though we did a lot of hands-on learning, there were some parts of the day where he needed to be able to sit at the table. Aha! That therapeutic ball in the corner collecting dust was about to get a real workout. It was our new best friend.

Matthew would sit on that ball while working at the table and instantly his concentration improved. Sure, he was lightly bouncing, rotating in small circles and shifting his hips forwards and backwards, but, the energy from his tics was being focused directly into that therapeutic ball which allowed his hands to be free to do his seat work. The ball provided the vestibular stimulation his body craved and allowed him to dispel his tics without interrupting his work. And, of course, there was a pencil sharpener and trash can right next to him. Take that, Kindergarten Teacher!

The therapeutic ball worked wonders, but its magical powers wouldn’t last forever. We had other subjects to conquer that didn’t require sitting at the table. So, picture this…Matthew is spinning in circles, doing headstands on the couch, running across the room, and jerking his head so sharply that I think it might just snap off. I can’t even track him in the room, never mind when he darts down the hall. Hmmm, how to contain him without the use of duct tape? Think, brain, think.  It looks like my mini trampoline is going to become our *next* new best friend.

Matthew jumped on the trampoline while spelling his words, reciting his vocabulary definitions, and drilling his math fact tables. The kinesthetic activity was the perfect complement to his energetic tics. It was small enough to fit in the middle of the living room when in use and then slide behind the rocking chair to store it. It sure tuckered him out after about an hour, too! Amen, it’s time to take a nap.

We were on a roll! I felt like we had tackled two of our biggest obstacles; being able to sit for longer than a minute and avoiding pinball syndrome around the house. Yay, team! Hurdles related to Matthew’s uniqueness started to feel more like mini speed bumps. On days when Matthew’s tics were so bad they prevented him from writing, we would play our “baseball game” instead. We set up the living room like a baseball diamond. I would toss him a ball from the “pitcher’s mound” while asking him a question. If he answered correctly, he could move to the next “base”.  He loved to slide into home plate, especially because it earned him bonus credits.

I hope these few tips will help you to realize that schooling your “kidlet o’ energy” can be fun and rewarding. Matthew has grown so much in his own ability to control his tics since those first years and does not need some of these special accommodations any more. You’ll still find us sneaking in a game of “baseball” or taking a hop on the ball though. After all, it’s fun! I believe that Matthew is the confident learner that he is today because of the unique approach we took to his lessons when he needed it the most. Above all, I believe we have equipped Matthew to think outside the box, so when he is faced with the ever changing aspects of his special needs he won’t back down. He may not face them head on though. He may sneak around the back and pounce on it from his trampoline.

What new and exciting activity or tool will you bring into your home school this week? Make learning come alive for your child! Have fun and create learning memories that will impact him for a lifetime. I hope you’ll share your ideas and experiences here with me. I’m looking forward to learning from you!

Check out my original posting of this article and lots of other interesting articles by talented writers at the Home Educating Family Blog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Woodcarver DVD - Review and GIVEAWAY

Faith & Family Films presents The Woodcarver DVD! 

I cuddled up with my hubby and 12 year old son to watch this movie last week.  What a great time spent with my family!  (The buttery popcorn was a plus, too)  Remember Cliff from Cheers?  Do you love the voice of Hamm in The Toy Story?  That's John Ratzenberger.  He plays the lead role in The Woodcarver.

Here's a little bit about the movie....

Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home. When he vandalizes the local church to get back at his parents, Matthew has to repair the damage to the church to avoid criminal charges. While working at the church, he meets Ernest (John Ratzenberger), an accomplished wood carver who created the intricate woodwork decoration that Matthew destroyed. Ernest has become something of a hermit, but reluctantly comes out of reclusion to help repair the church. Now Ernest and Matthew must work together to preserve the church's beautiful antiquity, and along the way, they also manage to restore their faith in God and in life.

The acting was good, the storyline had some surprises and the message was loud and clear....faith, forgiveness, grace, and second chances.  That's my kind of message.  I loved that my pre-teen son enjoyed the film.  It's movies like this that will keep him interested in wholesome entertainment.  Take a peek at this trailer and you will want this DVD for your next family movie night!



This movie was just released on DVD today, March 13, 2012.  You can purchase it for only $10.92 at ChristianCinema.com The regular price is $14.99 so don't wait!  I don't know how long that awesome discount will last.


This giveaway has ended.  Thank you, everyone, for your comments and entries!  Congratulations goes to Dealsfan32.  You can visit her blog HERE.

One lucky winner will receive their very own copy of The Woodcarver!  Be sure to leave ONE comment for EACH entry and include a way for me to contact you.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Monday, March 26, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter and this is only open to US & Canada residents.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Remember, you can get ONE entry for EACH of the following....

  • Be a public follower of my blog using GFC 
  • Follow me using Networked Blogs
  • Send me a Facebook friend request.  My Facebook name is Doreen Petrucci Gadow
  • Share this blog post on your Facebook page
  • Post on your own blog about this giveaway with a link for your readers to come visit it (leave a comment with a link to your own post on your blog)
  • Find another post on my blog that interests you and leave a comment telling me which one and why (be sure to leave that comment here and not at that other post....or do it in both places if it suits your fancy)
  •  ****Guess What??  Athena over at The Loose Screw is also giving away a copy of The Woodcarver!!!  If you go over and enter at her giveaway, come back and let me know you did and I will give you one additional entry!!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie - Review & GIVEAWAY

Adventure + Romance + Inspiration = 
The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie

When I was first asked to review this book, I wasn't quite sure what my response would be.  I've never been a fan of romance novels.  I've found them to be predictable and raunchy.  The couple of times I tried reading a romance novel I was left flush cheeked with embarrassment and hiding the cover that revealed a bare chested burly man pressed against a tight corset wearing woman. Not for me.  No thank you.

But, I had never read a Christian themed romance novel and that left me at ease that there would be no burning loins or swelled breasts to make me blush with discomfort.  And the cover!  A beautiful (and modestly dressed, mind you) young woman wearing my favorite color....red!  This book might be something I could get into!  Here is the synopsis you will find on the back of the book...

Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.

When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.
You also might enjoy this trailer that brings to life the main characters of the story...
I have to admit that it took me a bit to get into the book.  The imagery and wordage is set in days long ago in England.  But, by the time I got to Chapter 3 I didn't want to put it down.  Here is this young woman venturing off on her quest to find her parents and solve a mystery of a treasure hunt!  Now, you're speaking my language!  I won't get into details about the story line, so don't worry....no spoilers here.  I will say that the ending is a cliffhanger and it leaves you marking your calendar for July when Book 2 of the Forgotten Castle series will come out, The Forgiven Duke.

If you want to get your own copy of The Guardian Duke, you can visit Amazon.com and snatch it up for only $11.18 right now.  That is a sale price from the original price of $14.99 so don't wait.  You can also visit The Guardian Duke facebook page and read what others are saying and get in on the great chat. 

One lucky winner will receive their very own book!  Yup!  One of you will received The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie.  Be sure to leave ONE comment for EACH entry and include a way for me to contact you.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Friday, March 9, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter and this is only open to US & Canada residents.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Remember, you can get ONE entry for EACH of the following....

  • Be a public follower of my blog using GFC 
  • Follow me using Networked Blogs
  • Share with me about someone special you know who may have had a life saving heart surgery.  How has this person touched your life?
  • Send me a Facebook friend request.  My Facebook name is Doreen Petrucci Gadow
  • Share this blog post on your Facebook page
  • Post on your own blog about this giveaway with a link for your readers to come visit it (leave a comment with a link to your own post on your blog)
  • Find another post on my blog that interests you and leave a comment telling me which one and why (be sure to leave that comment here and not at that other post....or do it in both places if it suits your fancy)

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three Hearts DVD - Review and GIVEAWAY

When I think of Samaritan's Purse I think of Operation Christmas Child.  Every year my church fills shoe boxes with special treats, toys and necessities and sends them off to be distributed to children in other countries as a tool to carry the Gospel message.  Am I the only one who didn't realize Samaritan's Purse was so much more?

They also have a program called Children's Heart.  WOW!  It's amazing!  This DVD, Three Hearts , gives such a beautiful picture of how God is using this organization to change lives and save lives - both physically and spiritually. 

Here is a synopsis of the movie:

Follow Cissie Graham Lynch---granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham---as she interns with the Children's Heart Project, a mission connecting U.S. sponsor families with medically at-risk children around the globe! You'll hang on every moment as she supervises the arrival and surgeries of three Mongolian children whose future depends on the life-saving interventions of heart surgeons and nurses with Samaritan's Purse. Riveting! 98 minutes. 

I laughed.  I cried.  I prayed.  I went to the website for Samaritan's Purse to learn more about this amazing program.  Did you know that this program has provided life saving operations for over 800 children?  Still hundreds more children are waiting and hoping for their chance at life.  Take a peak at this trailer and you will be as excited as I was to watch this DVD. 


You can purchase your own copy of this DVD at Christianbook.com for only $19.99

One lucky winner will receive their very own DVD of "Three Hearts".  Be sure to leave ONE comment for EACH entry and include a way for me to contact you.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Thursday, March 8, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter and this is only open to US & Canada residents.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Remember, you can get ONE entry for EACH of the following....

  • Be a public follower of my blog using GFC 
  • Follow me using Networked Blogs
  • Share with me about someone special you know who may have had a life saving heart surgery.  How has this person touched your life?
  • Send me a Facebook friend request.  My Facebook name is Doreen Petrucci Gadow
  • Share this blog post on your Facebook page
  • Post on your own blog about this giveaway with a link for your readers to come visit it (leave a comment with a link to your own post on your blog)
  • Find another post on my blog that interests you and leave a comment telling me which one and why (be sure to leave that comment here and not at that other post....or do it in both places if it suits your fancy)

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Mile in His Shoes - Movie Review and GIVEAWAY!

Can I get a Whoop!  Whoop!?  "A Mile in His Shoes" is a gmc World Premiere Movie that is fit for the whole family.  Amen....go pop your popcorn!

From the director of "Angels In the Outfield" comes an inspiring story about a special boy with an amazing gift, and the coach who believed. Dean Cain and Luke Schroder star in the gmc movie based on the book "The Legend of Mickey Tussler".


Here's a synopsis taken from Amazon.com:

Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur 'Murph' Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent for the team, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher's arm. However, Mickey's parents are reluctant in allowing him to join the team because he has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey's parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn't realize just how much his new recruit will help the team s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on a true story, Thomas Kinknade Presents: A Mile in His Shoes is an inspirational film that celebrates faith, determination and the power of friendship. 

My family cuddled up on the couch to watch this movie together the other night and loved it.  It's a story filled with inspiration, hope, and determination.  Marry those with the exciting baseball scenes, great acting, and honest depiction of a young man with Asperger's and you've got yourself a movie that is sure to please.  Each of us liked it for different reasons....

I loved the honest story line and the unique piece each character brought to the table.  Coach Murph was filled with compassion and selflessness towards his team, especially Mickey.  Mickey's mother was beaming with the hope of her son budding out into the world to discover his own dreams and talents.  Mickey's father overcomes his need to shelter Mickey from the world and the hurt it can bring him and shows he is really feeling vulnerable to losing the protective grasp he has on his only child.  I found it to be a beautiful story, filled with inspiring characters.    

My son, age 12, said he liked that it showed that anybody can be anything they want no matter what.  He liked that it showed that people with Asperger's are regular people and have dreams and talents too.  He also said that it wasn't boring and he liked watching it and wants to see it again.

My husband liked it because he thought it was encouraging.  He felt that the message was strong that no matter what life hands you, you can do anything you put your mind to.

Here is a clip of the movie.  Sit back and enjoy it before you hop over to Amazon.com to order your copy....
This movie is normally $14.93 at Amazon.com, but it is on sale now for only $10.99 so don't wait!  Grab it!
To get more of the scoop on this great DVD, visit the gmc website and check out the Facebook page.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Now, what you have all been waiting for.....
CONGRATULATIONS TO KIMBERLY!!!  THE WINNER OF THIS AWESOME DVD
One lucky winner will receive their very own DVD of "A Mile in His Shoes".  Be sure to leave ONE comment for EACH entry and include a way for me to contact you.  All entries must be received by midnight EST on Wednesday, February 1, 2012.  Entrants must be 18 or older to enter and this is only open to US & Canada residents.  The winner will be contacted via e-mail and have 48 hours to respond.  If I don't hear back from you then I'll pick another winner, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out!  Remember, you can get ONE entry for EACH of the following....

  • Be a public follower of my blog using GFC 
  • Follow me using Networked Blogs
  • Share with me about someone special you know with Asperger's Syndrome or Autism.  How has this person touched your life?
  • Send me a Facebook friend request.  My Facebook name is Doreen Petrucci Gadow
  • Share this blog post on your Facebook page
  • Visit and Like the Facebook page for "A Mile in His Shoes".  Leave a post there to let them know you visited.
  • Post on your own blog about this giveaway with a link for your readers to come visit it (leave a comment with a link to your own post on your blog)
  • Find another post on my blog that interests you and leave a comment telling me which one and why (be sure to leave that comment here and not at that other post....or do it in both places if it suits your fancy)
 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Maestro Classics - Swan Lake - Review

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Classical music for kids!  Maestro Classics can help you introduce your family to classical music.  Their mission is to cultivate a love of music through education and joyful performances.  Their selection of CD's are geared towards ages 5-12 and their parents.  The three major benefits that Maestro Classics claims to offer are to:

  • expand listening horizons
  • develop listening skills and accumulate musical memories and
  • encourage children and adults to listen to music together
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Maestro Classics has 9 CD's in their collection. 

Titles include:  Peter and the Wolf, The Soldier's Tale, The Story of Swan Lake, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, My Name is Handel:  The Story of Water Music, The Tortoise and the Hare, Casey at the Bat, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and  Juanita the Spanish Lobster.  You can purchase each CD separately for $16.98 or an MP3 download for $9.98.  You can also save some money and purchase the complete 9 CD selection for $128.00.  There are other set options to select from.  Click HERE to see everything.

I was given the opportunity to use The Story of Swan Lake in exchange for this honest review.  Let me start by telling you what was on the CD and what came with it.  As you can see in the center of the picture above, the case is beautifully illustrated and colorful.  A 24-page activity book included with the CD contains a biography of Tchaikovsky, information on acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music and words for a sing-along song, explanation of major and minor keys, puzzles and more.  Children can also join the Kids Club for more learning and fun.  Check it out HERE.  The total play time of the CD is almost a full hour.  It includes a narrated version of the classic tale, additional tracks about Tchaikovsky's life, a heavy metal version of the main theme, and the "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet" sing a long.  I found it to be a comprehensive classical music lesson!

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So, what did we think about it?  The clarity of the recording was wonderful and the narration was clear.  The music was beautiful...after all, it is Tchaikovsky!  My son is 12 and was not at all interested in the sing along.  He was also bored with the narration.  I found that it would be best suited for a female, probably one who was interested in ballet or similar story lines to Swan Lake.  If I were to be able to pick a CD on my own, I would not have selected Swan Lake for my 12 year old son.  Maestro Classics does offer other choices more geared towards a boy.  But, I wasn't given the choice, so Swan Lake it is!

I do feel that this product is very fairly priced.  It would make a wonderful gift for a child who loves ballet or classical music or the classic stories.  It would be great to listen to in the car, or as a bed time activity.  Please visit HERE to be able listen to a sample from each CD and decide which would best suit your family!

 Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family.  I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Z-Guide to the Movies - Review


 The Gadow Homeschool loves using educational movies and documentaries to enhance our lessons.  Imagine my excitement to learn about Zeezok Publishing!  They offer a wide assortment of companions to many movies.  They are called Z-Guide to the movies!  When the opportunity came up for the TOS Crew to review these guides there as no question about it....I wanted in!  The only dilemma I was faced with was....hmmmm, which one do I choose?  There were so many!  I finally settled on the Z-Guide to the Movies for the movie, Johnny Tremain.
This 36 page e-book download (or get it on CD) is chuck full of activities and study guides to accompany the movie.  It begins with a synopsis of the movie and a little history and a little history of the events (Boston Tea Party).  Following the introduction, you'll find an assortment of activities from fill in the blank, short answers, crossword puzzles, mazes, etc.  I particularly loved the 25 questions that were to be completed WHILE watching the movie!  This really made sure that my son was paying attention.  I gave him the remote so he could pause the movie as needed.  I was very please to see that he got 23 of the 25 questions correct...and very happy to have the answer key at the end of the e-book...thank you Zeezok!

Z-Guide to the Movies offers a variety of guides for elementary through high school.  I checked many of the titles offered and all of the ones I did check were available either through my public library or Netflix, so that made it even easier!  You can purchase either an e-book or CD and the price is $12.99 and up.  Here are some of the titles offered and from what point or interest in history.  This should tempt your tummy!

ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS
One Night with the King

ANCIENT EGYPT
The Ten Commandments

ANCIENT GREECE
Jason and the Argonauts

ANCIENT ROME
Ben Hur

MEDIEVAL EUROPE
Knights of the Round Table
Adventures of Robin Hood
Luther

16TH CENTURY EUROPE
A Man for All Seasons

17TH CENTURY EUROPE
Cromwell

18TH CENTURY EUROPE
A Tale of Two Cities 
Amazing Grace

American Revolution
Johnny Tremain

FRENCH REVOLUTION
Scarlet Pimpernel 
The Count of Monte Cristo

19TH CENTURY EUROPE
Les Miserables

WAR BETWEEN THE STATES
Red Badge of Courage 
The Horse Soldiers

U.S. Westward Expansion
The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin
Grapes of Wrath

WORLD WAR I
Flyboys 
Sergeant York

THE ROARING TWENTIES
Inherit the Wind

Now, the question is...which will you choose?
Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family.  I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.