No-Nonsense Algebra From Math Essentials (A Review)

No-Nonsense Algebra


Math Essentials


Today, I am reviewing No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.

Kira has always been a bit behind when it came to math.  Much like me, Kira tends to excel in English/Creative Writing, and math seems to always be a little bit harder.  This year, starting 8th grade, has changed that.  We were excited to receive No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. It was wonderful to know it included video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher.

With the curriculum I have set in place for Kira’s 8th grade lesson plan, we had Pre-Algebra set as the level Kira was ready to move forward with.  She also has been using online aides, and is well past pre-Algebra, and is amidst Algebra I. I knew that  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials would be the perfect supplement to help affirm her lesson plans, and only strengthen Kira’s math skills.

The minute No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials arrived, Kira began to read it.  Mind you, this was after her school day had finished,  (Her father brings the mail in each day when he comes home) when she is normally reading for fun or, most likely, drawing. At first glance, Kira was EXTREMELY nervous. Kira expressed that these were all similar to the previous math problems that she was struggling with.  Nonetheless, Kira was excited for the opportunity to unlock the mystery that was Algebra!

We scheduled No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials into our daily lesson plan, as a supplement to the Pre-Algebra, as well as Kira’s online math lessons.

Each day, without fail, Kira went for the No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials first. This is always a good sign.  Kira set a personal goal of two lessons per day.  Mind you, I have a very lax homeschool style.  I do not force more than what is required legally, but Kira, however, sets personal goals. Providing they are never unrealistic, we allow her to do so.  It was wonderful to also know that it included video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher.  However, Kira never needed to use them!

As of right now, Kira is up to lesson four of chapter four within  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.  Kira has expressed how excited she was to finally take end of chapter reviews and actually get all of the answers correct.  Compared to previously, this was quite an accomplishment and had helped build Kira’s own confidence in math!

The simple fact that  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials  along with the video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher, iterating that the student should work through each example on their own, is what made the difference for Kira.  Never before had any of our lesson plans suggested this.  I personally had never even thought of it myself.

Now, Kira says that math is fun, and getting easier for her! Her improved test scores throughout her regularly scheduled lesson plans serve as proof that No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials was the perfect supplement!


Kira and I both highly recommend No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials to any child struggling with math!






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Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 From Greek ‘n’ Stuff (A Review)


Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 


Greek ‘n’ Stuff




Today, I will be reviewing, Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff.

We were extremely excited to be a part of reviewing this product! The most Greek we knew was the word χιόνι (Snow) which is the name of one of our cats! Okay, so why did I name our white cat Snow, seems like a silly question, but why Greek? Well, that question is easy, I have been in love with everything Greek since I was a small child.  I have passed this love down to my daughter as well! We are so blessed to live a stones-throw away (55 minute drive) from a lovely Greek community. One of our favorite pastimes is driving down there to enjoy a Greek dinner.

Kira was elated when her package arrived from  Greek ‘n’ StuffThe package contained the worktext book, the CD, the answer key and the flashcards, (which are in the worktext book) normally, the lesson is two letters per day at first, but as Kira is older, we did four letters per day.  There is a quiz available on the  Greek ‘n’ Stuff website to help you determine which level is best to start out with.  As Kira knew virtually nothing, we opted for  Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2.

The pace is easy to follow with one page a day.  30 lessons are included.  There are wonderful flashcards which Kira had an absolute blast memorizing.  This time, Kira decided to include her father in on the fun.  It became an evening routine.  Every night when he came home, before dinner Kira would hand him her flash cards and let him test her.  I think he, too, was learning some Greek! Kira says the repetition of the cards helped her immensely.

Each lesson is clear and concise.  Kira enjoyed herself immensely, learning a little more Greek each day!

There, thankfully, is a pronunciation CD.  Although the book does provide a phonic spelling, I still recommend the CD.

Now, Kira loves learning, especially a new language.  She has been studying Spanish for a few years now.  Within as much, I knew she would not have an issue trying to learn another language.  When I asked Kira about Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff, she boasted how much easier this lesson was compared to her other language lessons.  She touted that an actual text book as opposed to a strictly auditory lesson makes a world of difference.

Although Kira is certainly not ready for us to take that 55 minute drive and order her dinner completely in Greek just yet, she certainly is learning more Greek than I had ever imagined.  The fact that her father has helped is also an extra big bonus for me!

I look forward to getting Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 3 Set next.

Both Kira and I highly recommend Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff. This wonderful program will have your child speaking Greek in no time!


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Fascinating Education, Fascinating Chemistry (A Review)


Fascinating Chemistry


Fascinating Education


Today, I will be reviewing, Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education. 

Science was one of my favorite subjects in school. I always found the how and why of it all very interesting.  I know I can directly attribute my love of science to Mr. Hubert.  I fondly remember this fascinating educator I was blessed to have while I attended Miami Shores Elementary, many, many years ago.  Mr. Hubert made science seem fascinating and magical. His educational approach made all of the difference in my own personal desire to learn all things science.  Between Mr. Hubert and the Mr. Wizard’s Science Show, I was destined to love all things science related! It was no surprise to find that Kira loved science. If you could have only heard the squeal she let out when she learned she would be learning Chemistry!


Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education is simply a wonderful lesson.   Dr. Sheldon Margulies’ approach to science education is quite fantastic.  The lessons’ approach teaches in a straight-forward but fun way, thus enabling the student to not only learn, but to enjoy themselves while doing so.

The layout of the lessons keep your child interested.  Dr. Sheldon Margulies speaks in clear layman’s terms that any child can understand.  The lesson, script, and test layout are a perfect way for any child to grasp.  There are even fun labs. Perhaps my daughter’s (and mine, but shhh, don’t tell) favorite part of any science course! With 12 labs available in this course alone!

Imagine growing your own salt crystals! This first lab was fun and cost us only the few items needed, which we actually already had around the house!  I imagine almost every one would have a jar, water, about half a cup of table salt, stirring rod, fuzzy string or pipe cleaner, and a pencil in their homes.

The lessons can be completed easily one per week.  Each lesson averages to about 45 minutes.  Each of the 19 lessons are exactly what a child needs to grasp the ins-and-outs of chemistry.

My daughter sometimes has a hard time understanding people, especially if they are speaking quickly.  It was wonderful that she was able to go back over what Dr. Sheldon Margulies said as many times as she needed to, or read the script, to fully grasp each and every word.

Although my daughter has not completed the entire course yet, I asked her what she has learned and understands thus far,  I was pleasantly surprised when she answered. Kira quickly boasted about what she has learned of the bond between atoms, the London dispersion force, strong force, and electronegativity! Needless to say, I was quite impressed.

Although not every child is as into science as my daughter is,  Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education is designed to help any child learn chemistry in a fun yet completely educational way!

Kira and I highly recommend  Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education to all home school families. We have enjoyed this experience so very much.  Once Kira has completed her lessons, we are looking forward to completing all of the other courses available from  Fascinating Education!





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Beakman’s World was after I graduated high school, so I sadly missed out on that fun and of course this is no longer aired for my daughter to watch.

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course (A Review)


The Typing Coach Online Typing Course


The Typing Coach

Today, I will be reviewing The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.  The course is intended to be used at a pace of a lesson per week, over ten weeks, which we followed. Although, at first, Kira’s pace ran a little over a week to master the first lessons.

Imagine if you will, for a moment, a teenager who loves to write books.  Now imagine said teenager hating to type.  It seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Especially in today’s digital age.  However, that is what I had on my hands! Kira would always cringe with her typing lessons.  I tried YEARS ago, first with Jumpstart, then with Elementary Advantage and Middle School Advantage.  No matter how I tried to help Kira, the connection was simply not being made. My Grandmother gave me my first typewriter when I was only 6 years old.  If memory serves, she purchased it at a garage sale.   As a daughter of a Word Processor, I learned typing quickly by watching my Mother when I would go to work with her.  Back then, the typewriters were simply gigantic! As time went on, the typewriters were replaced by computers. I loved to play on the computers at the law firm my Mother worked at, and pretended I was one of her employees!  I loved it so very much that I took typing courses in middle school and then business classes in high school. Unfortunately, my daughter did not share in my enthusiasm!

Then we received The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach! As with any subject Kira does not love, there was the initial anxiety.  The angstitude (My regular readers will recognize the term. For those of you who have not read my blog before, I make up words. They are easily discernible as a rule) had begun.

I imagine it comes from her father.   He even texts with one finger.  His typing….well…you can imagine.

Before giving up all hope and praying for technology to advance fast enough to predict our thoughts and virtually type them,  The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach provided just what Kira needed!

The course layout from the audio and the student packet to the leaning checks and test were just what did the trick for Kira to actually enjoy the learning process into typing.  She went from her angstitute to actually asking if she could do her typing lessons!!!

It was refreshing to watch Kira actually typing without looking down at the keyboard every millisecond and having BOTH hands placed properly on the keyboard!!!!

I asked Kira for her opinion on The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.  She said, “It is an awesome program! One thing that I like about it is, with other programs I had to type what was on the screen and when I looked at the screen, I could also see the keyboard. In reality, I wasn’t actually learning the keys, I mean I could still see them after all! Whereas, with The Typing Coach Online Typing Course, what needed to be typed was off to the side, not directly on the screen, ensuring I memorize the keys and properly learn them.”

Kira and I both highly recommend  The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach. Whether young or old, this course is absolutely wonderful and can help the worst typing students become a typist!




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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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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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Reviewing Bessie’s Pillow Published by Strong Learning Inc

Reviewing Bessie’s Pillow Published by Strong Learning Inc



This a review of the book, Bessie’s Pillow  published by Strong Learning Inc.

Kira loves to read.  Love is an understatement, actually. By the age of 6 she had read virtually all of the young children’s section of our local library. This was on top of her own personal collection which held 200+ titles.

Her love of reading was inherited from my Mother, I imagine.  Many of her personal collection were given to her by my Mother before she passed from cancer in 2009. I mention my Mother as the following review will have quite a bit to do with her.

I knew prior to receiving the book that this would be a wonderful lesson for Kira,  especially with the current state of affairs in our country with immigration.  As descendants of immigrants, I felt this was a perfect lesson prompt for Kira about immigration. Linda Bress Silbert’s “Bessie’s Pillow” is an absolutely perfect way to begin a homeschool lesson about immigration. Her historical fiction first person account of an immigrant’s plight truly is outstanding and a perfect way to introduce a young mind into the world of an immigrant.

Kira quickly read through the 279 (small font) novel in an afternoon.  I did not ask Kira to read it quickly.  This was her own doing.  Although she loves reading, she does not love every book she reads.  Bessie’s Pillow falls under the category of a book she loved.

Kira’s favorite character was Nathan Dreizen. Kira normally finds history boring, but said this story was great.

After reading the book, Kira was curious and eager to learn more.  She asked permission to visit the Bessie’s Pillow website as mentioned in the back of the book. Once we visit the site and landed on the Discover Bessie’s America page, the fun began!

Once we began exploring the website we quickly navigated to the European Immigration page. Once there, we started our own little ancestry search. I knew a handful of information only.  As I mentioned earlier, I lost my Mother in ’09 to cancer.  I lost my father at the tender age of 11.  Both my maternal and paternal grandparents have also passed.  Although I do have quite a gigantic family on both sides, I do not have a great deal of lineage information.  In tow with what little I could remember, we began our search.  What a delight this was!  I had done this once before in about 2007….information was not as readily available as now,  however, and I could not find much at all. This time though, we found a plethora of knowledge all at our hands courtesy of the links on :Discover Bessie’s America page!

My Mother’s grandparents hail from Ireland and Germany, we found them in no time. Our search took us back to my great-great grandparents before we were forced to stop for dinner! I printed off what we found. We next will begin our search on my Father’s side, then we get to begin my husband’s ancestry.

Now our St. Patrick’s day celebration and my preparation of brisket and soda bread has a new meaning for Kira, as do the decorations around our home on the holiday. The history behind the celebrations we have will help keep traditions for many generations to come, I hope.  I fondly remember my Nana telling me stories and now I can share those with Kira.

Bessie’s Pillow , published by Strong Learning Inc. provided the perfect gateway to a fabulous lesson which shall last us for several months.

Our searches have not cost us a single penny either! Although there are several sites out there that may provide more information at a price, we managed to obtain all our information without spending any money!

Kira and I highly recommend Bessie’s Pillow to every home school family.
Twitter:  @BessiesPillow


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