Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Email for Kids & Teens! (Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I can remember the first time I had to set up an email account for my son. He was much younger at the time (he’s currently 16) and needed his own account for an online class. I have to say that it gave me the scroovies (probably not a word). Was this safe? Who would have access to my child?

Kids Email

A few years later, I got to review a fantastic email service from Kids Email, A few weeks ago, I received a  one-year subscription to Kids Email Safe Email for Kids to check out some of their new features.

I have to say I let Josiah lose in the technological world with fear and trepidation. Using Kids Email has eased some of my worries. Josiah has proven himself to be a fairly responsible user.

There are three levels of accounts within Kids Email. Josiah is using the advance mode for teens, but there is a simple level for young kids and a basic level for most elementary children.

Basically, the simple level is the least customizable. However, it is easier for young children to navigate. By contrast, the teen level allows the user to organize folders and looks a little more “grown-up.”

Kids Mail allows the user to personalize their screens. This is Josiah's. He picked it out. I personally would have gone with something pink and flowery.

While I let Josiah pick out his screen, I chose the security features. There are many! This is just a partial screenshot. Notice the option to allow bad words? Mother approved. I also get to preview his emails and chose who he gets email from. There is even an option to add my husband into the loop if I need him to take a turn with previewing emails.

So the safety securities are pretty great, but the extra features will just blow your socks off. And I mean that in a good way. 

If you want your child to receive email during certain times of the day or days of the week, no problem! You can put time restrictions in place. I haven't used this with Josiah. So far he hasn't stayed up all night getting emails from anybody! 

The same goes for the "Grounding" feature. Oh, yes. Let Kids Email do all the heavy lifting for you. You can see that it is easy to "ground" a child from using their email for a time period or a specific date.

I can easily help him manage his contacts. That big purple rectangle was put there by me. Underneath is the contact's email. 

As for as emails from those on the list that haven't been approved, they wind up here. It's been a while since we've deleted any. These are mostly news articles and the like.

I have found that Josiah uses his email mostly for correspondence. I like sending him little notes and have even started sending him assignments and chore lists. I really think it is vital for kids today to know how to navigate an email. Plus, I can guide him along with some of it. 

What is appropriate to send? What are some good rules of email etiquette?  

Now there are apps available for email users on the go. Josiah has both a android phone and a Kindle Fire and both are primed for email use. 

I thought I would share with you an email exchange we had recently. 

I reminded him to pick up his stuff in the living room. I also informed him he was in charge of supper and that hot dogs would be appropriate. 

He wrote back and told me that since he was in charge of supper he would rather go out. 


I will say that I have had to fight a little bit with myself during our email exchanges not to correct grammar, etc. Now you can certainly chose to use it that way if you wish.

However, I have enjoyed using it just as another way of communicating with my teenager. Plus, don't look too closely to my grammar in the above post. I misused a verb. 

So you can see that we are fans of Kids Email! It is a fantastic and safe way to get your kids properly introduced and active in the cyber communication world! 

You can connect with Kids Email via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Safe Email for Kids {Kids Email Reviews}
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Monday, May 14, 2018

This and That...

I know!

It's fooorrevver since I've posted something.   Can I just say that May is turning out to the busies month evah....

I started out my May by attending a special retreat. I will talk about it in another post, but I will say I am not going to give away too many details. There are some special things that happen when you go...I don't want to ruin the surprise for somebody else.

This past weekend we had a Mother's Day event at church AND I gave my testimony on Mother's Day Sunday.

So. Basically, I cried.

A few other notes. I had some sort of stomach bug Saturday night. I showed up to my physical therapy appointment AT THE WRONG TIME this morning. And I'm about 2 weeks behind in everything I need to get done.

Other than that....

We had a very sweet Mother's Day celebration. The Muffin and Josiah bought be a shirt and a purse and then took me out for Chinese food.

They get me, obviously.

I did want to share this picture.

A precious gentleman in our church (who happens to be over 80) made the fence and we decorated it up with stuff from my house.

I did get some pictures of our Mother's Day luncheon on Saturday, but I don't have them in my possession yet.

Right now, I've got a list of stuff I should be doing...which mostly involves laundry and writing about the Civil Rights movement.

Good times.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

CodeWizardsHQ - LIVE Computer Coding Class (A Homeschool Review Crew)

Josiah just had the chance to take a great LIVE coding class from CodeWizardsHQ! Not only do they offer coding classes for all students but they offer homeschool computer program courses, as well.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}

Before I tell you about his experience you need to know a little bit more about CodeWizardsHQ. This is a site that offers online computer programing classes for students from ages 10-18. The classes are one hour each and are offered for 12 weeks.

We really have never done an online class before. We’ve done a lot of self-paced courses, or video courses. I honestly wasn’t sure how Josiah was going to respond. Would he even speak to the instructor or other students in the class? Or would he really get all “homeschoolcentric” and recite every line (word for word) from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Plus, we are busy. I like being able to schedule a class for 2pm or 2am.

You do realize I’m joking about the 2am thing.

The set up itself was easy peasy. For the purpose of this review, Josiah basically was given a sneak peak into the world of coding. We were sent an email with all the information and got to choose from a list of available class times.

I did make sure to follow the instructions to check and make sure Josiah’s laptop met all of the requirements.  You will need a computer with a microphone and a speaker. At the time of the class, I had ordered a headset (it is for other projects, as well). However, it didn’t come in on time. The laptop microphone worked fine. On the website, we are told that most laptops bought within the last five years should have a microphone. There was one girl in Josiah’s class who used the chat option instead of the microphone….though I know Josiah found talking to an instructor from the other side of the country “live” from our dining room table to be pretty cool.

You will also need a browser installed on your computer. We use Chrome and Josiah didn’t have any issues whatsoever. I will say that you MUST have a good internet connection and a spot to take the class that doesn’t have a lot of background noises or other distractions. For example, our cat was equally interested in the coding class. Josiah kept having to prevent her from walking across the keyboard.

Something else you need to be aware….I don’t think a tablet or smaller device can be used as effectively. Having the availability of all the bells and whistles of a traditional keyboard and screen was necessary.

Back to Josiah’s experience.

Josiah signed into his class fairly early. I think he was worried he was going to miss it. The instructor, a lovely lady named Lynn, popped on about 10 minutes early. As different kiddos came online, she would greet each one. When the class officially started she introduced herself and asked the kids to do the same.

The classes are only 6-8 kids. I’m not sure how many were in Josiah’s class, but it was a manageable number. Miss Lynn didn’t have to spread herself too thin. The ability and experiences of the kids were also varied. Some had more knowledge of computer programming than others.

Josiah only has some general knowledge. We have used computer programing courses previously, but they were mostly intended to be informative. The BIG advantage to this kind of course is that the instructor (in Josiah’s case, the lovely Miss Lynn) could correct mistakes and address questions as the kids started on their projects.

Miss Lynn explained the different kinds of coding and then informed her students that they were going to be doing a project using html coding.

She explains to them how to use their dashboard and shows them how to open up the editor on the dashboard. All this time the students can see exactly what she is talking about because she is taking them through the process as she teaches.

This lesson was all about creating a comic strip.

Miss Lynn was so patient and able to answer questions as they came.

Towards the end of the lesson we had a big snafu. The computer died!

Oh, yes.

Then when we finally got it booted back up we couldn’t hear the class! Now that was frustrating. However, it was a great lesson in the fragility of technology. Because Josiah had followed instructions and saved his work as he was going along, he didn’t lose anything.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get to hear the end of the class and wasn’t sure what he should do next. I should have encouraged him to email his instructor (they have a 24/7 support system), but we had to run out the door for a dentist appointment.

The saga continues because I realized just this week that he hadn’t finished the assignment completely. Josiah is the kind of kid who needs a check list and I hadn’t made it part of his daily list.

No problem!

Just yesterday, he was able to get back on his editor and finish the assignment without any difficulty.

I am about to share some screen shots of his experience. You're welcome.

This is a pic of the what it looks like inside the "editor." Not too complicated, eh?

Here is what Josiah's comic looked like at the time of the computer meltdown.

And here it is when he finally got it completed.

What Josiah Thought

Josiah is in love. With Miss Lynn. With html coding. And with this Live class. He was so disappointed when he realized that this was going to be a one shot “look see.”

He really had a blast and asked me if we could find a way to continue with the classes.

I’m not sure about that, but I am so thrilled he had such a great experience. Though I think he is plotting to show me how wrong I was when I told him “you aren’t going to be able to make a living playing video games.”

What do I know.

What I Thought

If you are able to afford this and you kiddos is a big coding nerd this is definitely something you need to do. The interaction with a person who actually knows what she is doing is invaluable. And Josiah is the kind of kid who thrives around that kind of interaction.

If you are worried about making the Live class every week, no worries! The classes are recorded. You can go back and watch at your convenience.

I also found the company to be very diligent with their correspondence to address any questions I might have. I like that.

This experience was such a positive one and I am beyond thrilled Josiah enjoyed himself so much. Again, it is a commitment financially, but for those who are looking for a career in this field it would be worth the time and money.

Here is what the company says about Homeschoolers. This is a program for any student, but we are making a special offer for homeschool students. They are offering a significantly lower per-student pricing based on the # of students in the class and the flexibility to pick their own class time. 

You can connect with CodeWizardsHQ via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner for more reviews.  Please make note that there is a Facebook Group especially  for parents who are interested in coding for their children. How neat is that? 

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KidsCodingHQ/  

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/codewizardshq  
  • Twitter:  https://twitter.com/codewizardshq   
  • https://www.pinterest.com/codewizardshq/
  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4NM0jfN0LI8_vWtiwLqgGw

  • Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Tuesday, May 1, 2018

    C.S. Lewis (YWAM Publishing) - A Homeschool Review Crew Post

    YWAM Publishing has become my favorite spot for excellent Christian biographies. I have been privileged to review many of their excellent titles. Recently, I had the chance to read C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller found in the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. We also received a study guide to look at, as well.

    Christian Heroes: Then & Now

    I have reviewed lots-o biographies from YWAM and, remarkably, I have never asked to add the one about C.S. Lewis…until now. I say, “remarkably,” because C.S. Lewis has been a faithful friend since the first time I picked up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was about 8. From the minute, I started reading about Mr. Tumnus, Lucy and those wonderful Beavers, I was hooked.

    You can bet that the minute Josiah was able to sit for more than a minute, I shared with him the wonderful world of Narnia.

    The Book

    C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller was an interesting read. There was so much I didn’t know. You would have thought because I am such a major fan girl that I would have learned all I could about Mr. Lewis. 

    I will tell you that I intended to let this book be one Josiah worked through on his own. He is dyslexic, but I have found that he can handle short spurts of reading…especially if it is a subject matter that interests him. However, I have a confession…I stayed up and read the book the very day we got it in the mail.

    Little Clive Staple broke my heart. He had a relatively idyllic childhood, but suffered tragedies that changed the course of his life. Storytelling became a much-needed balm for his troubles. He eventually became a Literature Professor (after a stint in World War I) and was friendly with other famous authors...one whose name rhymes with “folkien.”

    There are bits and pieces about Mr. Lewis’ life that are remarkable. His devotion to a fallen friend’s mother. His unlikely love story.  And did you know that he died the same day as JFK’s assassination?

    Even more remarkable is the author’s path to faith and his point of view. His story is truly inspiring.
    The book is intended for ages 10 and up…and I think it is suitable for a wide group of ages and interests.

    Josiah is working his way through the book now and it has inspired him to get out the Narnia books, once again. Don’t you love when reading turns to more reading?

    The book is well-written and is an attention graber, for sure. Mr. Lewis had such a vivid imagination.The authors, Janet and Geoff Benge, tell his story beautifully. 

    The Study Guide

    We also received a fantastic digital study guide.

    Now this study guide has NO recommended ages because there is a little something for everybody. 

    I am now going to employ my signature "screenshot" moves.

    I LOVE this format. I like being able to find my stuff. And, trust me, YWAM gives you LOTS OF STUFF.

    I haven't met a Study Guide from YWAM that hasn't been stellar. One could easily follow 100 different rabbit trails. And the HTML format helps you take them all.

    The Guides are simply ideas and suggestions on how to use the book and the Study guide in a classroom/homeschool setting.

    If you are a serial biographer assigner (I just made that up), you will find the charts found in the Classroom & Home Guide to be super helpful. In this pic, I've narrowed down the YWAM titles available that are about those who live in the Americas and their timeline. I love this feature.

    There is also a suggested schedule available for students. Some of need a plan.

    You will find the meat and potatoes of the Unit Study under Unit Study 1. Here is a screen shot of the table of contents. And, believe you me, there are plenty of options under each and every heading.

    Here is a creative writing assignment found under Student Explorations. There are also Hands On projects, Audio Visual projects...literally, there is something for every kind of learner. 

    The Appendixes' are filled with helps for you! I love the lists of books and articles that tie into the life of C.S. Lewis.

    Unit Study 2 contains reproducible materials. These include a United Kingdom report form and a couple of maps. 

    I wanted to mention another neat part about the study. Moving back to the main page you can see a bonus materials tab. It takes you to a section found on the YWAM Publishing website that has lots of fun stuff for the kids. Here you can see links for Word Puzzles. 

    You can see that this Study Guide is pretty awesome. I am always impressed with the thoroughness of each and every one of them.

    The books I have received from YWAM Publishing have been some of my favorites. I have reviewed many, but I thought I would direct you to one of my favorites, Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems.

    YWAM has a host of other great titles about many great men and women of faith...We have been blessed to read about everyone from George Washington to George Washington Carver.  These books make a wonderful addition to any home library.

    I'm ready to read about Elisabeth Elliot next. Her life has always inspired me!

    You can connect with YWAM Publishing via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews!

    Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Friday, April 27, 2018

    What Matters (5 Days of Homeschooling for the Weary Momma)

    Welcome back to the 5 days of Homeschooling for the Weary Momma.

    Today I am, once again, going to send you to another blog.

    This time it is the Homeschooling With Heart Blog. It is the blog for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I happen to be a contributing writer.

    The post I wrote was in honor of my friend, Mindy. She went to be with Jesus just a few months ago.

    She was 40 years old and had 4 sweet kiddos.

    Another time, I will talk more about Mindy...for right now I want to encourage you to treasure the relationships in your life.

    When it gets hard and you get tired of dirty laundry, empty milk cartons, half-finished workbook pages and sassy-mouthed preteens...hug them all close. That dirty laundry will wait. Just put those half-finished workbooks in the assignment pile once again and kiss that sassy-mouth teen right in the middle of the forehead.

    Or burst out into spontaneous song in the middle of the Dairy Queen. Might I suggest Every Breath You Take by The Police? Nothing like a song about a stalker to remind your teen that YOU SEE ALL!

    Talk about the things that are important to you and live out your faith in front of them.

    And, above all, laugh. Laugh with your whole heart.

    That's all any of us can do.

    I am joining my friends from the Homeschool Review Crew this week. Check 'em out!

    Coming Soon ... 2018 Annual Spring Blog Hop

    Thursday, April 26, 2018

    Rest is Not a Dirty World (5 Days of Homeschooling for the Weary Momma)

    Welcome back to my 5 Days of Homeschooling for the Weary Mom.

    So on the first two days I talked mostly about stuff just for you. How you need to keep hope alive and I shared with you an awesome post written by my friend, Julie. I also talked about taking care of YOU and told you about the routine I have at the end of those really hard days.

    You might notice that this blog hop is called 5 DAYS of Homeschooling..... For the first time in my doing this bi-annual blogs, I am not going to blog all 5 days.

    I really did have a nice, little practical post all lined out for you. It listed a few of my favorite "school-type" things to do when I was run down or worn out.

    And I do really need to finish it...but it won't be today.

    I have had a week filled with Physical Therapy appointments, dentist visits, ministry meetings and some sort of stomach bug.

    This morning Josiah took a live computer coding class and I stayed in my nightgown.

    My stomach still feels like I have Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers doing a little dance inside. There is an extra refrigerator in my kitchen (long story) and I am pretty sure I am down to my last clean pair of underwear.

    And I am tired. So very tired.

    So today I am putting myself in timeout. I am only doing the things that are absolutely essential. For example, I took my meds. I petted my cat. I greeted my son with my usual "Good Morning, Sunshine" and told him to help himself to some white bread and creamy peanut butter.

    There are some things I am willing to die on a hill for.

    White bread, wearing appropriate clothing in the middle of the afternoon and answering my phone today are not those things.

    Sometimes we just need to stop. We have to say "no" and take a day or a week and do something different than what we have been doing.

    I personally think the idea of "rest" is horribly neglected in our culture. We feel guilty for a morning spent with a cup of coffee and a puzzle.

    My goal is to build a time of rest into my week. It's a work in progress.

    My post today is not intended to list all the benefits of rest on the human body or the mind. You are grown people. You know that your body is telling you that you have been burning the candle at both ends. You know that you are exhausted emotionally and that you are snapping at the people in your life far too often.

    It's time to take back your time by releasing some of it to rest.

    So, my dear friends, are you taking your rest? Are you carving out a time during your week that you are structuring your family life so that those same family members can do the same?

    I'm joining my friends all this week. Take a bit of time and sit down with a cup of coffee! Be encouraged!

    Coming Soon ... 2018 Annual Spring Blog Hop

    Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    Beke's Quick Recipe for Self-Care (5 Days of Homeschooling for the Weary Momma)

    Welcome back to my 5 Days of Homeschooling for the Weary Momma!


    Yes. I need to take my own advice.

    Recently, there have been many trips to Taco Bell. Too many late nights. Not enough time for rest.  Not enough water.

    Yup. I'm talking Self-Care.

    If you have some time, go check out a post I wrote a few years ago.

    It's called Handle with Care. 

    And truthfully, I need to revisit it this week. There are things I'm not doing well.

    When you are weary it is MOST important that you take care of yourself. I get it. If you are a the momma of a new baby the most self-care you are getting is a shower.

    If that is all you can muster, just be sure you are using some of that good smelling body wash.

    We have to get our kicks somewhere.

    There are a few principles I would like you to wrap yourself up with...like a fuzzy blanket.

    We have to remember that most situations are temporary. However, the habits and self-care practices you put into your life will help you through those crisis moments.

    Sometimes it feels like we are just fighting fires and jumping from one crisis to another. It's especially important during these times to focus on the important things. And, yes, YOU are one of those important things. Don't become a martyr at the altar of busyness.

    Don't feel as if you can't provide yourself some "ME" time. I have had to learn this the hard way.

    Another important principle to remember is that you are a survivor. Think back to all the things that God has brought you through in your life.

    You have learned to praise God in the "whatevers."

    It's also time to be intentional with self-care. Make taking care of yourself part of your daily schedule. This perhaps has to be one of my greatest failings.. I find that when I have a lot going on or I am particularly stressed I will do things like not take my medicine when I need to or eat right.

    Something else you might not have considered is that you are modeling self-care for the youngin's in your household...especially those little women.

    And we women are notoriously bad for treating ourselves poorly.

    What I am about to reveal to you now is the secret formula passed down from generation to generation in my family...give or take an essential oil or murder mystery. It is what you need to do for yourself at least once a week and possibly more.

    If you can't manage the whole shebang, at least take what you can do...nobody ever died from sipping on a cup of chamomile.

    Undoubtedly you will have "those days." It's during those days that you feel like giving up. "Those days" can suck the life right out of you. It's especially important that you have a plan to regroup and re-energize and relax at the end of one of "those days."

    So here is Beke's Quick Recipe for Self-Care. Or Things My Momma Might Have Told Me.

    Don't underestimate a good soak in the tub. Especially after a hard day. In fact, go run yourself a tub. Dump in a good portion of Dr. Teal's Epsom Salts.

    Immediately after leaving the bath, lather yourself in a good moisturizer. Whatever kind floats your boat.

    After my bath, I like to brew myself a cup of hot tea. If it's close to bedtime don't make it a caffeinated tea. You'll thank me later. Drop in a bit of honey if you are so inclined.

    Now here is another important thing. Chose some kind of something to do that will help you unwind. Try and stay away from anything homeschool related. Turn off the news. Stay away from Facebook.

    Those people in your feed only make you nervous.

    I like to read a good book or watch something completely mindless on youtube. Sometimes I get really weird and watch a ballet or some kind of interesting documentary. Interestingly enough, I enjoy a good mystery. Nothing like a 'whodonit' to take the edge off.

    If you are an oily kind of gal, now would be a good time to diffuse your favorite. I also like to put some in my bath or rub them on the bottom of my feet when I need to relax. Dr. Axe has a good article on the best kind of oils for dealing with anxiety.

    Before going to bed here are a few things you need to remember. Be sure you turn off the lights and your devices at a reasonable time. Tell all your people that you love them...no matter what the day might have held.

    Sleep sweetly, my friends. And remember...You are loved.

    I'm joining my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew this week. Take some time to read their posts. I know you won't regret it!

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