The Good, The Bad, The Irony

I am a bit behind posting.  I would apologize, but as no one really reads my blog I am not sure why I would have a need to.  Actually even if someone does read it, I would not apologize for having a life and living it.

I recently realized over obligating myself to others is a huge mistake.  When you do so and then have extremely urgent needs, those you have obligations to care not about what does not directly impact them…whatsoever! Freshly from a review on home school parenting, a topic addressed within their advice comes to mind. Learning how to say NO. This is something I have yet to learn. Only I see the irony in all of this.  Family comes first.  This will be my final year for many things.  I can no longer be all things to all people as where I am needed most tends to suffer.

To the point, this is a late post.  I shall lump what would have been probably three posts into one short post.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day

I had an absolutely beautiful Mother’s day.  I am blessed with an extremely loving and supportive family.

Mother's Day GiftsAs if their love was not enough, they also give me presents, make me gifts and cards, as well as take me out to dinner!

I certainly am blessed.  I do not know what I have done to deserve such a loving and supportive family, but I am extremely grateful!


Only Passionate Curiosity, Homeschool Rescue (A Review)


Homeschool Rescue


Only Passionate Curiosity


Let it not be said that I begrudge being a homeschool parent.  I absolutely love being able to spend each day with my daughter.  But….after over 13 years of spending each and every single day with my daughter 24/7, without a single babysitter or day off since she came home from the NICU when she was born, the exception being,  the one night after her hernia surgery when she was a baby……well…..there are a few days where I start to question what the heck I am doing.

At first, homeschooling was a breeze.  I mean, seriously, Kira learned her ABC’s at two and was reading by three.  It seemed only logical that I foster this young prodigy and help her learn at her extremely rapid pace. Flash forward to a teen ager with a teen ager’s angstitude. Yes, I make up words, but admit it, you know EXACTLY what I mean! There are some days where I feel as though I am in a sinking hole surrounded by dirt, with no way to claw my way out!

I remember the nay-sayers on homeschooling.  Mainly my husband’s family.  I mean, who wants a pasty white unsocialized freak? Not my words, this is what they said. Actually, I have had friends (using that word loosely here) who actually said homeschooling is a form of abuse that Christian cults use as a way to control! Although I still think they all have a warped sense of what homeschool is all about, those notions and those words stay. Like a cancer, they spread and infiltrate the mind…..especially on those dark days when I wonder if I made the right choice for my daughter, and her future.

Now, Kira will be the first to tell you that she has zero desires to attend a physical school building.  Whether it be public or private, Kira is completely against traditional education.  I honestly have nothing to do with her opinion on this either. I ask her routinely if she would rather go to school. I have even pleaded with her previously to at least try school. This would be amidst an angstitude moment!

When I first began homeschooling, I told my husband as long as she was progressing and learning to pace with her age range/grade level, I would continue homeschooling. I just never realized what it all entailed. Being a result of the public education system in Miami, I now realize how little I actually had to learn. I was blessed with electives.  I personally always chose art or music. How I managed to get by and never have a form of geography, or even economics, is beyond me. My daughter, however, is not afforded such luxury.  (That is a joke, it is not a luxury to be ignorant!)

The best part of being a homeschool Mom is learning everything you were never taught, right along with your child!

When days come where rolling out of bed and having to not only illustrate a book, create multiple advertisements for published books, deal with social media for a global company, do the laundry, cook meals, and be mentally alert, but then also have to be an attentive educator arise, and all I want is to sleep happen……what the heck am I to do?!?!?! I had been mentally unplugging.  Virtually going on autopilot.  Mind you, I did not know I was doing this.  I did not know the word NO! In doing this all, I managed to over obligate myself.  When I say over obligate, I mean full on 18+ hour days.  And these obligations provided virtually no reward of payment, or anything else, for that matter. My autopilot mode had lead me straight towards what could have been a meltdown.  Then I visited Only Passionate Curiosity!

Homeschool Rescue.  Those words are apt, it is a rescue!

The entire course provides immeasurable content and resources. Whether you watch the videos or read the transcripts, (this is what I did as I read as Kira was amidst her lessons) you realize you are not alone! Additionally, the Facebook group also provides an even greater sense of inclusion. Learning you are not the only Mom doubting every move you make is certainly a relief!

I personally was ready to jump straight to module 5.  However, I am glad I did not.  Each module presented key points and valuable resources for our homeschool.

I only wish this was available when I first began teaching Kira.  However, I do believe all things happen for a reason.  This came just in time for me personally.  My burnout was about a week away, in all honesty. Between my health, my increased workload,  and Kira’s angstitude, I began drastically doubting everything I was doing.

The 60 day planner alone was a God send.

I highly recommend Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity to each and every homeschool family!



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High School Essay Intensive From Institute for Excellence in Writing (A Review)


High School Essay Intensive From

Institute for Excellence in Writing



High school writing can be overwhelming with preparing for SAT and college applications. I was excited to receive High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing for my daughter.

Today I am reviewing High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.


By now, if you avidly ready any of my  blog,  you may realize that my daughter loves to read. What you may not know, however, is that Kira LOVES to write.  This passion began early on with Kira.  I have totes full of her stories.  I remember at the tender age of 6, Kira writing cute stories.  She also illustrated the stories at that time, which was an extra special treat! Now, at the tender age of only 13, Kira has 3 books, (not published yet, of course) and has several that are unfinished. Her imagination is simply unmatched. I remember when she was very little, watching her play with her toys, creating multiple voices, and adaptive story lines to coincide. Honestly, this child has talent. I am biased, I am sure, as her mother. Nonetheless, I am always impressed by her imagination and story making skills.

Kira has always excelled in Language arts. Spelling, well, spelling is not her strongest suit. Her writing style also lacked somewhat.  We were both extremely excited to receive  High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  Kira seemed a bit miffed when she first opened the box.  No doubt, she was expecting a book to read.  I swear, this child loves to read anything.  So when she saw the beautifully encased 5 DVD set, she was visibly disappointed. Immediately, she focused on the paperwork inside.  It was something she could read! Her frown instantly revealed a smile. She quickly unwrapped the printed materials and began to read.  Perhaps my little one might come around to actually enjoying watching a DVD and learning!

Much to her surprise, Kira found the DVD’s enjoyable! From the humorous instructor to the surprising elements therein, and the student responses, Kira was HOOKED! I absolutely loved hearing her giggle along with the other students as she watched the DVDs!

Prior to the lessons, I asked Kira to write a couple of paragraphs.  I wanted to have a comparison to show how she was able to display what she was learning.

This was her preliminary writing, prior to using  High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing;

A Day at the Beach


                The sounds of waves crashing upon the rocky shore and seagulls flying overhead surround me. The ground is grainy and rough beneath me, but the water is cold against my bare feet. A refreshing breeze brings relief from the heat and with it the sharp, tangy smell of salt.

                I feel at peace, in harmony with nature, here. I could sit upon these rocks and watch the tide change and waves roll all day, watch the clouds move through the sky and birds circle overhead, and be content. I love the beach.


Once she had completed several lessons, I asked her to please rewrite her paragraphs, but this time, I asked that she apply what she learned from High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing;


A Day at the Beach



                The sights and sounds of the beach surround me. Crashing upon the rocks, the waves roar as if lions. Loudly, but not too annoying, the seagulls squawk overhead. Beneath me, the sand is hot and grainy, but the lapping water is cool against my bare feet. A refreshing sea breeze brings the sharp smell of salt. It is a beautiful day on the water, and I have lost myself in the sensations of the shore.

                In this calming place, I could stay forever. Sitting upon these rocks, watching the waves roll and the tides change, I would never leave. The beach is another world, where peace reigns and war is not known. Upon this rocky shore, I am at home.


I am sure, as the reader, you notice a drastic difference. I was absolutely thrilled by the results. The TRIAC method works.  I kept hearing Kira repeat this along with the DVDs and she actually memorized it.

High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing is simply wonderful.  Whether your home school student is preparing for the ACT, SAT, or simply wants to further their general understandings for essay writing.  Kira and I highly recommend this fun Seminar and Handout set.



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Twitter:  @IEW


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May The Fourth Be With You

Growing up as the original Star Wars generation is simply wonderful. Not only did I get the best movie and toys ever growing up, but I now also get to experience it all over again with my own child!

When Kira expressed her love for Star Wars, I squealed with excitement.  The geekiness had indeed been passed down to my young Jedi offspring!

There has to be something said about the way it feels to watch the return of Star Wars to the big screen, (Yes, I know there have been many prequels, sequels and everything you can possibly imagine in between) and having your child watch it with you.  What made the experience of watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens all the more special was the fact we watched it at the drive-in! This added to my sentimental nostalgia.

Kira as Princess Leia. Halloween 2015
Kira as Princess Leia. Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

Before the movie even had been seen, Kira decided she wanted to be Princess Leia.  Thankfully, she already had the hair for the costume! Being an exceptionally tall child made finding a costume difficult, however. The solution came in an oversized sweatshirt/hoodie! I was amazed that this little costume, which was thrown together, virtually last minute, was a hit. Kira loved it.

Chew and Kira

Flash forward to Kira’s 13th Birthday.  Guess who she wanted to spend it with? That’s right, Star Wars.  A week in the Magic Kingdom it was.

From Storm Troopers to R2D2 and C3PO, we were in heaven!








I this year even had lesson plans to celebrate Star Wars Day! I know, silly but fun!! You really should visit this website;

Kira colored BB8

BB8 is perhaps my new favorite character. I was extremely lucky this Christmas and received a rc BB8.  He is the sweetest little thing ever, and drives our cats nuts!

In honor of Star Wars day, I also decided to push my neuropathy ridden, arthritic hands, and fibromyalgia ridden body, failing eye sight, and glaucoma eyes to their limits and paint a teeny tiny 2×2 acrylic Yoda!

Paint Yoda I Must
Progress shots

So, as you can see….this is somewhat of a family holiday. We embrace the force.  We also wish you all a very happy Star Wars day! May the force be with you all!!!

Lamplighter Publishing and The Secret Bridge ( A Review)


The Secret Bridge


Lamplighter Publishing

Kira was very excited when we received The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing to review!

Kira absolutely loves when she receives mail, but, to receive a book in the mail, well, she actually does her happy dance!  Needless to say, my little avid reader dove straight in! The beautiful binding to this book had me, as an illustrator of children’s books, in absolute awe!

Beautiful binding!
Amazing detail and texture!
Attention to detail, throughout!
Attention to detail, throughout!

By now, if you have read any of my posts about Kira, you know she is quite the little reader! Within as much, it was no surprise to me that Kira read The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing cover to cover in only a few days!

Kira loved this story.  She said it is well written, and that she loved how the story delved into the phycology of the characters. Kira especially loved the fact the book contained footnotes and direction to each verse in her bible.

Job 22:22 “Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth, and lay up His words, in thine heart.”

This passage is the one Kira said most represents the story in its entirety.

Kira found herself lost in the 1800’s!

Her favorite character would have to be, Mr. Jocelyn, because of his good heart and intelligence. She also liked his quirks.

I asked Kira what her one favorite part from the story was, and she replied, “How determined Bridget was when Godfrey returned home, that he would go to his family first.”

The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing  is simply wonderful. To think my daughter was actually enjoying a story written in 1899 is simply astounding. A vast contrast to the tales of myth and lore, such as Maze Runner, one of her favorites.

The story and the physical book itself are absolutely beautiful.  The intricate binding is absolutely unmatched.  This book leads to be passed down generation to generation…providing Kira does not warp the binding from rereading.  You should see some of her books; many look as though they were run over by a train! Kira has a tendency to reread books over and over and over!

Kira highly recommends this book to everyone.


Social Media Links:

Twitter:  @lamplighterbook

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ArtArchive, Entire Level III (A Review)


Entire Level III

From ArtAchieve

Today I will be reviewing ArtAchieve and the Entire Level III. As an artist/illustrator, I am always tickled when Kira gets excited about art. I do not expect her to follow in my shoes, but love that she enjoys art as much as I do. I admit, when I was her age, I was nowhere near as artistically skilled as she is.  I could attempt to take credit, as I did start teaching her extremely young. However, her talent is all her own doing; I merely foster her talent. When I was 13, I was nowhere near as able to grasp detailing, shadows and light as Kira is.  When I saw ArtAchieve, I knew it was right up Kira’s alley.  It is simple enough for the youngest budding artists, yet intricate enough to hold the attention of older artists,  admitting myself included!

Our lessons included a few from Level II, so Kira began with those.

Kira was excited to do the Level II Lesson 4 : The Elephant From Ghana. 

The background for the style provided is wonderful.  I found myself learning right along with Kira.  I also thought the relaxation technique was great! Kira especially enjoyed the warm ups! As an artist, I personally had never known of this, but it was quite obvious it helped Kira tremendously with the lessons.

Kira doing the warm up

At this point, I must add this in, Kira kept saying,  “Gandhi’ instead of Ghana by mistake.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the multiple Cross Curricular Connections opportunities.  In this one lesson alone I was provided the opportunity to help Kira learn not only about Ghana and the beautiful artistic traditions, but also a lesson about Gandhi. Each lesson provides wonderful opportunities for the Cross Curricular Connections.

Kira’s completed lesson

Next Kira tried her hand at Level II: Hiding Butterflies. This one posed more of a challenge for Kira.  But it was a good challenge, if you ask Kira.

Ready to paint her drawing!

 Kira tends to struggle mentally with her painting. She seems to love using pastels, markers, paint pens, or colored pencils more.  I am not sure why, as I absolutely love all of her paintings.  I was incredibly impressed with her clean lines on her drawings.  I cannot manage lines to smooth! The warm up technique certainly helps.

Kira loved the Cross Curricular Connections we were provided in this lesson.  Besides the fact we both are extremely fond of butterflies, Kira absolutely LOVES science! The science behind the camouflage thrilled her!

Kira amidst painting

As an artist, we have all materials needed for the lessons already, but the required tools are really inexpensive and easy enough to find! We have enough acrylic to paint a house. Kira chose her own colors and design. I, for one, absolutely loved it.

Kira's completed lesson
Kira’s completed lesson

Remember me mentioning Kira not being fond of her painting? Well, I am assuming this would be why she decided, on her own time, to do her own take on the lesson using her oil pastels. The techniques she learned from ArtAchieve were apparent!

Kira's own drawing.

Kira was ready to dive into Lesson III! By now, Kira was a pro.  She didn’t even need me anymore.  That is always a bittersweet feeling.  I still am not used to Kira turning the computer on and logging into a site and doing everything on her own.  Okay, I admit, I still feel odd when she makes her own breakfast and lunch too!  Sometimes it seems she is growing up much too fast.  I digress, I have strayed from topic! Lesson III: The Hawaiian Frog; Kira loved this one!

Kira and her Hawaiian Frog!

I could see Kira’s confidence building with each lesson.  ArtAchieve has helped build Kira’s confidence immeasurably!  Although I only ask one lesson a week, Kira expressed desire to more. Here are a few more pictures of Kira and her lessons.

Kira painting!
Kira’s progress

I am extremely pleased with ArtAchieve!

Kira and I both highly recommend ArtAchieve to all home school families, young or old.

Social Media Links:
Facebook:   @ArtAchieve
Instagram:   @johnahofland
Twitter:   @ArtAchieve
Pinterest:   artachieve
Google+:   ArtAchieve

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Planet 316, Daily Bible Jigsaw (An app review)


Daily Bible Jigsaw from

Planet 316

It has become part of early morning coffee routine to complete a puzzle with the  Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316.  For years, as far back as I could remember, I would start my day at my desktop and do a jigsaw puzzle and either Sudoku or Mahjong.  I had started back with MSN games, years ago, then moved on to Microsoft Games. As Kira got older, her home school lesson plans required more input, and I was working more between illustrating children’s books and book covers, I slowly weaned away from this daily ritual. I am not sure really why. Perhaps the couch seemed more suitable as my new coffee spot, as I had to do work on the computer and I was avoiding it as long as I could! For whatever reason, I lost some of my relaxation time.  It was replaced by work emails and lesson planning reviews. Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316 came just in the nick of time.  Mental sharpness requires stimulation.  I was amidst helping Kira with a Sudoku puzzle and was amazed at how long it took me to help her. When I was actively doing the puzzles daily, my solve rate was between 1-3 minutes. Let me just say, I could not even start it in that time! My mental sharpness had gone!

Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316 provided a wonderful solution. As it is available on virtually every platform imaginable, (all download links at the end of my review) I was able to download it in the iOS store to my iPod! I was already using my iPod each morning to check work emails and lesson plans anyway, so this seemed a logical choice! The only downside to this platform is that my iPod screen is dwarfed by my massive caveman-like thumbs! In hindsight, my cell phone may have been a more suitable choice for me.  The menu in the interface at first seemed like a hindrance for me to move pieces. By my third puzzle, however, I was used to it and it posed no problems.

Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316 has beautiful puzzles that are challenging and fun to solve.  Although there is a timer, it is a relaxed play.  I did not sync my account with Facebook as I am not really that into gaming via Facebook, but there is the option to do so.

You can go back and use the calendar to play puzzles you have missed, and there is a new free puzzle every day! The beautiful pictures offer an uplifting verse after completion.  Although Planet 316 was kind and allowed 500 coins free to play and review, I actually saw no need for the coins. I still have 472 remaining. I did use a few on a glitched puzzle that was quickly fixed when an update was released.  I imagine if you are focusing on your time and want a higher score, the tools would be handy.  I was relaxed in playing and never finished in under 5 minutes! Yes, I am SLOW! That is another reason why I did not sync it with my Facebook account. I do not want to feel a challenge or need to rush my morning relaxation coffee time!

The beautiful images and uplifting passages are wonderful. The simple interface is easy enough for young children, while the puzzles remain challenging enough for adults.

The user interface is simple to understand. The pieces rotate easily at the touch of a finger, when using on a touch screen device, even on my teeny iPod! This free (offers in app purchases) app is absolutely delightful! I have enjoyed using it each morning and even sometimes in the evenings to unwind.  I highly recommend  Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316!


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