Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jazz Edge {my review of an online piano teacher}

Jazz Edge is a company that was founded by Willie Mynette, a Berklee College of Music Graduate.  They host a myriad of websites. One of those websites is PianoWithWillie

I was given access to the Studio Membership.

Studio Memberships Include:
  • Unlimited access to over 3,000 lesson chapters
  • Instant access anytime, any device, anywhere!
  • Personalized Piano Plans™
  • Access to our active user community
  • All styles from jazz, blues, latin, gospel, funk & rock
  • Live chat with our support team
  • Downloadable MP3 & MIDI tracks with sheet music
  • 30-day, Piano Success Guarantee

Piano With Willie allows you to teach yourself piano using online piano lessons.
At first glace after logging in, Piano With Willie Studio Access can seem very overwhelming.  There really is a lot to it. 

He emails you a step by step introduction plan. 

Step 1 has you watch a video on how to use the website and sends you some piano start resources.

Step 2 has you download and begin the 30 day success playbook.  This is 30 lessons of piano success, starting with the basics, like rhythm, technique and reading.  Then moving along to songs and improvisation, and more.  Each video lesson is from 5-12 minutes long.  Then you spend time practicing.

Step 3 has you moving on to more advanced piano foundations.

Step 4 gives you an even more in depth look at the website navigation.

Emily began with the 30 day success playbook and did not enjoy it, she felt it was way to easy so the beauty of this program is that after using it for a very short time she decided to move on.

She was able to click on the lessons tab at the top and look through the over 3000 lesson chapters available to her.  The sort function here is amazing and came in very useful! Using the lessons tab to choose what songs she wanted to learn and what techniques she wanted to work on was her favorite.  She needed that freedom. 

They also have a 22 point assessment that you can take to have a lesson plan created for you to tell you exactly what to work on next.  This is my favorite part, considering I can be indecisive. 

You will need an actual piano or a keyboard with at least 61 keys on it to use this appropriately.

Here is a picture of one of the videos.  You see Willie teaching, you see his hands actually playing and you see the keys he is playing light up.

Our thoughts and feelings:
Piano With Willie is NOT for the beginner pianist. They do have a beginner program that some of the other crew members reviewed.  Emily has taken piano lessons for a few years now, and then we had our big move.  I hadn’t had the chance to find her a new piano teacher yet, so we were both excited when this came up for review.  She was able to jump in and learn songs she wanted as well as some technique work that will help her with all of her piano playing.   This studio access is great for going at your own pace and being able to pick and choose what you want to learn.  What it lacks is accountability.  I had to be the one to hold her accountable for her lessons.  (You can add this accountability through Piano With Willie’s Premier Access.)  She was used to going to a piano teacher once a week and practicing all week long then going back and showing how she had improved.  With Piano With Willie he would teach her and then she would practice for that day and then move on the next day. This got her advancing quite quickly through piano.   Something that we found really wonderful about Piano With Willie is the ability to have the freedom to study piano when you want and what you want to work on.  You truly have the freedom to choose. 

Something else that we found really great about it is that I didn’t have to drive her anywhere.  She was able to “take piano lessons” late at night.  Being the night owl teenager that she is.

Piano With Willie can be found on social media at these locations:


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Friday, May 29, 2015

Running around!

For Christmas my mom bought me a FitBit.  This has been an amazing gift.  Many of my friends have them.  We have competitions all the time.   It's based on how many steps you take daily.  My most to date is just over 30K.  This has encouraged me to begin running.  More steps faster!  Yea-ah! Since Christmas I have ran a 5K with my friends, a 10K on my own and I am now training for a 1/2 marathon.  My very first!  This Fit Bit has given me a new outlook on running.  I can seriously say that even though I am brand new, I feel that running has changed my life.  It has shown me that I can do incredibly hard things.  I think a lot while I am running.  Running has since become my sanity saver.  I never thought I would say this, but I just love running now! 

Who am I?  

The new me, that's who! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Take charge of your own life. OWN IT!

Some very exciting things are beginning to happen around here.  Trust me, it's been stressful to say the least, but here we go.  

Are you making great things happen in your life? 

I fully believe in creating the best life we can with what God has given us.  Don't leave things up to chance.  Take charge.  Show life that you are more.  

You've got this!  OWN IT! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

S is for Smiling Sunrise {a review}

WordsBright is a small independent publisher dedicated to learning. Their focus is on children’s books that are both fun and educational.

Their very first publications is S is for Smiling Sunrise.  A very cute children’s ABC book written by Vick Wadhwa for his daughter and he has decided to share it with the world.

Let’s start with the care that has gone into this book.  First, the book was definitely created with children in mind.

The book is made with high quality, CPSIA-compliant materials. It is also carefully designed to support children’s vocabulary, language, and character development.

The book is a neat.  I really enjoyed reading this book to my children as well as they loved having it read to them, or even reading it themselves.

As you travel through the alphabet with things like E is for Evening, or K is for Kaleidoscope, S is for Smiling Sunrise and U is for Universe.  You can see that this book was uniquely written and the explanations under the quality illustrations are just as neat. 

There are both the uppercase letter and the lower case on the page. Then the word.  Below the word is the picture and the saying.  Let’s use U.

U is for Universe

Sun and moon and stars

Earth and planets, spinning comets

Galaxies so far!

There is a really simply done teachers tips guide that is offered for FREE.  There is one for Pre-K and one for K-3. You can download those from the sight.  The teachers guide gives each letter/ page of the book some suggestions for you to do with your child.  There are concepts discussed, questions to ask, vocabulary and activities to do.

For example, U is for Universe; for the concepts you read about what the universe is. For the questions you discuss what the universe is, it’s size, who lives there and where you live in the universe.  For the vocabulary there are words like universe, sun, moon, stars, and more. For the activities you could visit a science museum, or look through a telescope.

Oh and did I mention, that they offer you a FREE MP3 download of the book being read is sing song form.  SO FUN!

Our thoughts and opinions:

We enjoyed the book.  I love the quality.  You can feel it in the pages.  Not those easy to rip pages where your children tear the books “accidentally” and then BAM book shreds to pieces everywhere.  The illustrations were just right, not too simple, not too complicated. 

This book is so different, in a good way to any ABC book I have ever seen.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reaching my goals



I realize that I set big lofty goals and I am good at achieving about half of them or even half of just one goal.  For instance the 30 days in a row blog post series.  I got started, I got all gung ho.  I even pre-blogged some of the topics.  Then life happened. Then I ended up moving during all of it.  The goal of blogging for 30 days straight fell by the wayside.

I have other bigger badder goals.  I am not going to let myself fail at.  I need to figure out a way not to half-ass them anymore.

I have tried things like goal journals, vision boards, and more.

One of my current goals is to run my first 1/2 marathon at the end of July.  I have been training off and on for a few months.  The longest I have run is about 6 and 1/2 miles non stop.   I haven’t been taking the training plan as serious as I should.  I get at least my one long run in a week, but I need to be doing the pace runs and easy runs also. 

Another goal I have is to deep clean my house once per week.  I’m not talking spring clean deep clean. I just mean a clean where everything is cleaned on the same day, bathrooms are done, bedrooms are cleaned and vacuumed, dishes are done, laundry is clean and put away, floors are mopped.  I have noticed if life happens and I don’t get to everything in the one day I have set aside, then for the following week, my house never feels clean. I just get further behind on laundry, and further behind on everything. I feel like I need that base day to gather, plan and prepare for the upcoming week.  I need to make this day more of a priority, while remaining flexible on what day it happens on, because, you know, life and all.

Right now, my biggest goal of all is to remain being a mother and homeschooler, all while being a real estate agent.  I will take my licensing exam the end of May and then begin working very shortly after.  I will not let myself fail at this goal, I have never set such a high goal for myself.  My husband is a huge support and believes in me, while other people in my family put me down for trying it.  They make me feel like I am not good enough.  These are also the same people that make me feel like they never believe in me and like I can’t do anything right.  The more self esteem and goal books I read the more I see that I need to get rid of toxic people in my life, but what if they are family…….

Monday, May 11, 2015

SUCCESSFUL Homeschooling Made EASY! {A Review}

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy was created by Stephanie Walmsley.  She is a homeschooling mother of 5, who loves spending time with family and friends.  She dislikes windy weather and bad drivers.  She is also so much more.  She has the experience and know how of how to not only homeschool, but to homeschool successfully!

She has chosen to share her insight with all of us through Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course.

This 26 lesson course is done with one lesson a week.  Upon signing up for the course you will immediately be emailed your first lesson.  This lesson doesn’t beat around the bush.  It gets right down to it on how you can easily start homeschooling today!  Even if you’re not brand new to homeschooling it can help you to start an improved homeschool life.

Some of the things that the lessons cover are:

  • Practicalities,

  • Schedules,

  • Lesson plans,

  • Organization,

  • Planning,

  • Teaching,

  • Housekeeping,

  • Extracurricular activities,

  • How to choose curriculum,

  • And much more.

Take the time to sit back and relax as you create a successful homeschool.  You will need to devote some time to this, not much, about 30 or so minutes a week for the lesson and then another 30 or so minutes a week for the homework.   I know that this hour a week can be hard to find.  I’ve been there.  When I began this, I thought how can I create more time by spending time on something else.  It happened.  I feel like I am still doing the same amount of stuff, but I have more time.

Let’s see what the typical lessons look like:


Each lesson will begin with a preface. This will gear you up for what you are about to learn. 

Then the meat of the lesson.  Sometimes you will answer questions that are specific to your family and your situation.  These questions get you thinking.  You may read some examples of other homeschooling families and their routines.  You will evaluate how things are going so far.  You will incorporate what you are learning into your life.

The lesson ends with a summary, an assignment. Usually, the assignment consists of spending time answering any questions you didn’t get to, do any recommended reading, taking care of yourself and incorporating something new into your schedule, (like doing art one day this week).  The end of the lesson will also give you a small preview into the next weeks lesson.

A day/week in our life:

Each week I would receive my lesson and immediately print it off.  I would add it to my binder and then let it set.  I wouldn’t get to it right away.  After getting through the first few weeks of lessons, I decided to create a special time to do this.  I began by choosing a day of the week to sit outside on my front porch alone and spend time with myself on the lesson at hand. 


When I first started, I felt rushed.  I felt like I needed to just get through the lessons quickly.  By the time I moved it to outside me time, I noticed I spent a lot more time on the lessons.  I realized I was getting more out of each lesson. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

While I have homeschooled for about 6 years, I gleaned a lot of great advice from this course so far.  It has helped me to find myself and be okay with who we are.  I discovered even more so that I don’t have to fit in with the stereotypical norm of a homeschooling family.  Actually, I discovered that there really isn’t a norm. 

The biggest thing I have gotten from the course so far is a higher self confidence of who we are and why we homeschool.

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy can be found on social media here:


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Visiting a real fort!

We had a neat opportunity to take a spur of the moment field trip with a bunch of local homeschoolers to a real fort.

We visited Fort Buena Ventura on a homeschool field trip.

The day was perfect!  IMG_6932The kids learned about a vertical cabin. 

IMG_6934We were able to go in and see two cabins, one furnished and one unfurnished.  We learned about what it took to build cabins/ houses back in 1852.


Katey even got to try out a recliner made out of reeds.


We met a real mountain man. He showed us many mountain man tools and supplies and explained to us why a mountain man would have such tools and how many of them had a dual purpose.  IMG_6947He taught us many ways to make a fire. 

IMG_6952They had an awesome candy canon. All of the kids lined up and the host filled a small real canon up with taffy.  He lit the fuse and had the kids count down. IMG_6955 Once it went off the kids went crazy.  It was definitely Tyler’s favorite part. He told every body who would listen about it.

IMG_6956We rented a canoe and floated a dammed up area in the river.  This was fun and I’m glad I had Tommy with me.  He sure knew what he was doing. 

IMG_6990The two younger kids fell asleep for the ride home.  It was a fun day!


Friday, May 1, 2015

La La Logic ~ A Preschool Curriculum {A Review}

La La Logic is a company that strongly believes in the combination of online Brain Challenges, printable worksheets, and enrichment activities. Together these create a strong critical thinking foundation in your child that will result in an enhanced capacity for learning.

They have created a 100 week Preschool Curriculum to teach children ages 3-6 critical thinking and logic skills. The Preschool Curriculum is based on multiple popular IQ tests. (See this page and scroll about half way down to see the list)

When you purchase this curriculum you get a lifetime membership to use with multiple children (up to five). There is no time limit on how long you take to complete it with your child.

The curriculum is broken down into 3 main parts.

1. The Brain Challenge

2. The Worksheet

3. The Extension Activities

During The Brain Challenge your child spends time on either the computer, iPad, Android Tablet, or Mac doing some interactive activities.  Each activity gets more complex as they pass the previous ones off.

The Worksheet portion gets kids using their problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as fine motor skills as they will need to color, cut and paste the worksheets. The first time I printed out the teacher plan, which I will explain below, I made the mistake of printing it double sided and then my son had to cut the worksheet, which in turn, cut up the enrichment activity.  Don’t make that same silly mistake.  Smile 

The Extension activities vary from things like word games, scavenger hunts, stories, narration, solving puzzles, dramatic play, picture study, copywork, nature study and more.

These activities usually got done over 2 days the suggested days were Tuesday and Thursday.  You would spend the first day reading a provided story to your child, then on Thursday see if they could remember what happened and narrate it back to you.  You would also discuss the story some more with some given questions.

There is also an area where your child can just play the extension activities and go on and on.  This is a fun way for them to play on a device while still learning some preschool logic games.

Now back to the beginning.  When you first log into the site there are two choices for you.  One says Home- Students.  The other one says Continuous Brain Challenge Mode. For the first week of using this I could not figure out how to get to the lessons, I kept having my son use the Continuous Brain Challenge Mode.  When I finally discovered the weekly lesson plans I felt so silly.  They were right there above where I was clicking for him to play and learn on the Continuous Brain Challenge Mode.

Under each student you will have the choice of La La Logic Curriculum or Extra Practice.

If you click on La La Logic Curriculum it will take you to a section that has 20 of these cute little chalkboards.  Each chalkboard is labeled as a set, like Set 1, Set 2, etc. Each set has 5 weeks worth of lessons in it.  Once you click on the week you are in a suggested weekly schedule appears along with the weeks Brain Challenges and the downloads you will use that week. There is also a section for you (the parent/teacher) to make some notes, and mark the lesson as complete.



A day/week in our life:

How did you use the product?

Once we got going correctly we used the curriculum exactly as it suggested. The weekly schedule looked like this.

Monday- Brain Challenge

Tuesday- Enrichment Activity

Wednesday- Brain Challenge and Worksheet

Thursday- Enrichment Set

Friday- Off.

Each day took about 10 minutes total with the exception of Wednesday which took between 10 and 20 minutes.  This was the perfect amount of time for my little guys attention span. He is at the high end of the age for this with him being 5, but he really enjoyed it. 


Our thoughts and feelings:

Each lesson is completely laid out for you and I mean completely.  This was the easiest- on me – curriculum ever as far as teacher prep went.  We would log in and he would usually work on his iPad while I printed out the weeks stuff and then we would just come to it each day and do what it said.  This was so simple one week I even had my 14 year old teach him and she understood it all perfectly without having to have me explain to her what to do.  I also really appreciated the fact that you could play the logic games and not mess up where we were at in the lessons by using the Continuous Brain Challenge.  This allowed my 10 year old to play some of the games too. After she saw her little brother playing some games during school, you know she wanted to try them out too.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew


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