Our Family

Our Family

Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 10 TOS Reviews For 2010/2011

I just posted my last review for the 2010/2011 school year as part of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew. I completed 48 reviews for TOS this year and wanted to highlight some of our favorites.

My Top 10 (not neccesarily in order) Ok, I changed it to top 12 because I couldn't leave the last two off the list.

1. Read for the Heart
2. Reading Kingdom
3. Talking Fingers
4. Brill Kids Little Reader
5. Circle C Beginnings
6. Latin Alive!
7. Corps of Re Discovery
8. Maestro Music
9. Artistic Pursuits
10.Curiosity Files
12. Who Is God?

Lily's (2) Favorite- Brill Kids Little Reader
Christian's (4) Favorite- Maestro Music
Anthony's (5) Favorite- Talking Fingers
Alex's (7) Favorite- Big IQ Kids
Nick's (9) Favorite -Big IQ Kids
Chelsea's (14) Favorite-TenMarks

It has been a great honor and joy to be part of the Crew this year. While I am said to see this year ending (and so quickly too!) I do have other reviews to work on over the summer and will be setting sail again soon with the 2011/2012 TOS Homeschool Crew.

TOS Review: Apologia's Read For the Heart

Helping children learn to read and love books is something that will last a lifetime. We all know how important it is to read to young children to create a love of reading. We forget sometimes how much older children can also greatly benefit from being read to. What wonderful, special times we can have as a family all curled up over a great book. You can greatly increase your child's vocabulary by reading a story to them that is above their own reading level. Having books available for your child to read on their own is also very important. The difficult question becomes, "What do I give them to read or read to them? How do I know if it's a good book?" Apologia Press has a great book for you to read on the subject Read For the Heart by Sarah Clarkson.

Read For the Heart is a 384 page paperback book that is $17.00. The book contains recommendations for over 1000 books. Each recommendation lists the author, illustrator (if there is one), award (if applicable), date of original publication, a brief synopsis, other books by the author or illustrator,general age of category, and any cautions that you might need to be aware of such as the book contains magic or violence. Books are categorized by: Picture Books, The Golden Age Classics, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, History and Biography, Spiritual Reading for Children, Poetry,and Music, Art and Nature. The book also several appendices listing books by: Caldecott Medalists, Newbery Medalists, Historical Fiction by G.A. Henty, Landmark History Books, The Trailblazer Series, and the authors Favorite Read Alouds, Favorites for Girls, Favorites for Boys, and Favorite Audiobooks.

In addition to the book recommendations, Read For the Heart also contains wonderful and delightful stories by the author about what books and reading has meant to her in her lifetime. Her words are meant to show the importance of reading and to give you some inspiration. She also gives wonderful suggestions on how to begin and start building your library and finding books to read.

To view the Table of Contents click here.

To view a sample chapter click here.

This book should be on every bookshelf in America! Although the author was homeschooled, it is by no means limited just to those who homeschool. If you are a parent, grandparent, or have children in your life you will want to read this book and keep it as a reference. Choosing good books is not as easy as it should be. Whether you need picture books, read alouds, or books for your teen-ager, you will find that and more within this book. Each recommendation gives you a good amount of information on the book and what you will need to find it. The chapters are broken down so you can find just what you are looking for and the appendices in the back are a great quick resource.

Read For the Heart is so much more than a handbook of good books. This book will inspire you! It made me want to run right out that minute (too bad it was late a night) and begin searching the library for these books. It will kindle or renew your desire to read aloud to your children. Reading aloud has always been important to me but somehow it can get pushed to the back burner. After reading this book I have a strengthened desire to have reading aloud at the top of my priority list and have started to pick up some of the book selections that we don't already have as I find them.

I thought this summed it up nicely, "I hope you leave the reading of this volume feeling that we have poured over these stories together at the kitchen table, by the fire, or in a threadbare corner of your favorite couch." That is exactly how reading this book makes you feel! A great resource and a very enjoyable, inspirational read.

To see what other crew member have to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Read For the Heart for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Next Year's High School Curriculum

Chelsea has almost finished 9th grade. She still has some Math and Spanish she needs to finish up before she is completely done. For 9th grade she earned credits in the following courses:

English Literature 1
Spanish 1 (she finishes today) 1
Algebra 1 (she finishes next week) 1
Physical Science 1
Bible 1/2
World Geography 1
Home Ec 1/2
Phys Ed 1/2

We used Abeka for everything but Math, PE, and Home Ec. She also started working towards an Art credit and a Latin credit with review items we got ;ater in the year that she will continue next year.

For 10th grade we will no longer be using Abeka, but instead be using a variety of curriculum.

Latin 1- Classical Academic Press (continuation from last year)

Art-Artistic Pursuits (continuation from last year)

History- MOH volume 1- using along with the boys with Chelsea doing all of the older activities and literature selections to make it enough for High School

Bible-readings from the Old Testament to go along with MOH

Science- Apologia Biology

American Literature- Excellence in Literature

Health and Nutrition-Growing Healthy Homes

Algebra 2-Abeka

PE-aerobics, yoga, bicycling,

Whatever else happens to come our way in the form of review items.

TOS Review: Considering God's Creation


The boys (Nick 9, Alex 7) and I have been using a Science curriculum from Eagle's Wings' called Considering God's Creation for the last several weeks. The authors, Sue Mortimer and Betty Smith created this program for their own children and to meet a need of Homeschoolers for a hands on, affordable Science curriculum with little teacher preparation needed. Also available from Eagle's Wings is :History- Remembering God's Awesome Acts and Remembering God's Chosen Children, Bible- Celebrating Our Messiah in the Festivals, Phonics- Alphabet Island 1 and 2 and Eagle's Wings Comprehensive Handbook, Math- KinderMath, Geograhy- To Sate it Simply It's a Capital Game. For more information on these click here. We received the 128 page paperback Teacher's Manual, 269 page Student Book ,and a music CD containing 23 songs.


Considering God's Creation is,"a creative biblical approach to natural science." It was written for grades 2-7 but can be easily adapted for younger and older students. It can be used as a stand alone science curriculum or as a compliment to any other science curriculum. The lesson is read from the Teacher's Manual along with Vocabulary words, Bible Readings, Review Questions, and Evolution Stumpers. The activity instructions and notebook instructions are also contained in the Teacher's Manual. The Student book is made up of all of the activity sheets that the student will need to complete each notebook assignment. The book contains 36 lessons on the following topics:

The Universe
Human Anatomy and Physiology

To view some sample pages click here.

Considering God's Creation is $29.95 and includes the Teacher Manual, Student Book, and song CD. The vendor does give permission to copy within one's own family, but if you prefer to save yourself the time and trouble, you can purchase extra student books for $13.95 each. A recplacement Audio CD is $3. To order click here. The only other items you will need to use this curriculum is crayons or markers, scissors, glue, and some household items such as eggs pans, ice, flour, etc. Those items are listed at the beginning of each lesson under Preparation. A field guide may be helpful for flowers, rocks, and trees, and additional resources are listed under each topic so you can go further in depth if you choose or if it's a topic your child develops a lot of interest in.

There are so many things I love about this curriculum! Very little teacher preparation is needed. All I had to do was check the supplies needed and start reading the text. It comes from a biblical approach and includes applicable Bible readings in each lesson. The experiments all use things that you have on hand around the house and are simple to do. I love all of the notebooking activities. Notebooking is a great way to reinforce what you have learned and keeps it nice, neat, and all in one place. Plus, the notebooking exercises are fun and easy to do and are in black and white so if you need to make copies it is less expensive to do so.

The last time the book was published was 2006, so as far as the study on the universe and the planets is concerned, Pluto is still listed and included as one of the planets. Many of the notebooking activities are color, cut, and glue type activities. If your child does not enjoy doing these kind of activities it might not be the best fit for them.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Considering God's Creation for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Timberdoodle Review: A Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA

One of the subjects my older boys (7 and 9) have enjoyed the most is American History. Especially fascinating to them was when we studied each of the American Presidents. That's why I was so excited when I found out we would be receiving a volume of A Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA from Timberdoodle. We received How to Draw the Life and Times of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The book is a 32 page library bound book. The book is full of biographical information on FDR including: his birth, death, family, political career, terms of presidency, inportant contributions as president and his legacy. Along with all of this important information, the book contains 10 pages of step by step drawing instructions for things that are related to FDR's presidency. Some of the things you will draw are: Franklin Roosevelt, USS Arizona, Eleanor Roosevelt, the United Nations Flag, a radio microphone, a New Deal cartoon, the Executive Mansion, a wheelchair, the New York Capital, and Springwood. The book also contains a glossary, timeline, and an index.

Timberdoodle has an amazing deal going on these books right now. The 42 book set containing all of the Presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush retails for $1060.50, but they are selling the set now for $195.00 (limited quantities are available.) They are also selling How to Draw the Life and Times of Ronald Reagen, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush, George Washington and John Quincy Adams for $9.95 each (limited quantities are available.)

To order click here.

To see an example click on How to Draw the Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln here.

Nick (9) and Alex (7) working on their microphone drawings

I think this book is wonderful and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages. It is filled with factual information and pictures about the presidents (ours being FDR of course.) The information is presented in easily digestible chunks of information. Having the drawing exercises along with it is a great way to reinforce what is being learned. Your child could create a notebook filled with their own drawings of each president's life. There are written drawing instructions as well as a drawn example. The drawing instructions are numbered so you know which order to go in. New instructions are in red in the drawn example making it easy to keep your place.

Chelsea (14) Drawing of The New York Senate

Alex's (7) microphone drawing

At times, I felt that the written drawing instructions were a bit vague and could have been more detailed. You can follow along with their drawn example pretty easily, but I could have used a few more written instructions to read aloud to the children as they were drawing.

To see other History products Timberdoodle has to offer click here.

For a free Timberdoodle catalog click here.

I received a complimentary copy of How to Draw the Life and Times of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a part of the Timberdoodle Blogger Review team for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Camping at Lake Catherine State Park

One of things we love about living in Arkansas are all of the beautiful lakes we have around us. Along with that, we love going to many of the State Parks that are here in Arkansas. Combine the two for a wonderful week-end get-away. This is our 3 rd year going to Lake Catherine State park. The first time we went we had our motor home (we have sold because we outgrew it and are hoping to buy a camper in a year or two) and last year and this year we stayed in the cabins. You cannot beat the price of the cabins at Lake Catherine. They are fully stocked with all your dishes,pots and pans, towels, and linens, are lakefront with a fishing dock, and have a TV and air conditioning. They also have a back deck with a porch swing and patio furniture, a grill, and a picnic table. The cabin slept 6 with one double bed in the bedroom, a pull out couch and 2 pull out chairs for $79 a night. Since the cabins only sleep 6 we had to get two, so the boys slept in one and the girls slept next door. We had a great time playing at the playground, swimming in the lake, bicycling, fishing, and cooking delicious hot smoes (no, I didn't misspell it, think Toy Story 2.) Our Sate Parks also offer many free educational and fun programs. Unfortunately, we missed the one on owls because of rain, but we did get to go to the one on king snakes and meet "Elvis" the king snake. It takes a brave man to take 6 children fishing all at the same time (good job honey!) and have nobody fall off the dock or get hooked. I did not even have to cook a thing all week-end long. Breakfast was cereal and doughnuts, lunch was sandwiches, and Art cooked the meat and Chelsea the side items for supper. We had a great time and can't to do it again next year.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We had a great time at the cabin this week-end and just made it to the grocery store this morning. So glad that the rain held off because we were out of just about everything. Here's what we have planned for this week:

Sunday 5/22- pizza (takeout)
Monday 5/23- taco salad
Tuesday 5/24- pork chop casserole, broccoli
Wednesday 5/25- spaghetti
Thursday 5/26-beef stew
Friday 5/27- ? We usually make pizza on Friday but since it's my husband's birthday he gets to choose and he hasn't told me yet

See some great menus at www.orgjunkie.com

TOS Review: Pearson Education

Pearson Education gave the crew 3 different products to review: Scott Foresman 1st grade Social Studies, Scott Foresman 2nd Grade Reading Street, and 1st Grade EnvisionMath. I received 1st grade Social Studies Student Edition to use and review.

Scott Foresman 1st Grade Social Studies titled All Together student book is a 272 page hardcover textbook that costs $43.47. The book contains 6 units: Time for School, In My Community, Work! Work! Work!, Our Earth, Our Resources, This is Our Community, and Our Country, Our World. It also contains a reference guide with maps, geography terms, picture glossary, and index. In the beginning of the book there is a section titled, Explore the United States that has fun facts and pictures of various places and things in the US.

I used this book with my 7 year old son, Alex. We read several sections each day and answered the questions aloud. This is a very colorful textbook with several great pictures. My 5 year old enjoyed flipping through it and looking at the pictures. I thought the map and globe skills exercises were great. The biography sections were informative and interesting to read. I also liked the picture glossary that was included in the back of the book.

However, I think this book would be hard to adapt to using in a homeschool. I did not receive the Teacher Edition so I am not sure how they expect this to be implemented every day or what support materials you would want to go along with it. Many of the support materials on the website state that they must be purchases with a PO or a school credit card which is not something we as homeschoolers can do. Also, the entire first unit of the book is about a traditional public school.

To see what other crewmembers had to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of All Together for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

B Day!

B Day is one of the children's favorite 4 H activities. B Day stands for bicycles, bait casting, and B B shooting. You can choose to participate in one or more of the activities. For the bicycle activity they ride through the cones down and back and are awarded points based on how many cones are left standing and if they stop during the course and put their feet on the ground points are also taken off. For bait casting they do a written test on fish recognition (juniors and senors also do fish anatomy) and have to cast their line into a designated area. They get 3 tries standing up and 3 sitting down. Unfortunately, this year there were only 2 poles and a lot of trees in the area. Both lines got stuck in a tree and that ended bait casting for the day. For the BB shooting activity, they take a test on gun safety and then have 5 chances to hit the target. This year Chelsea only did BB shooting (and she was too quick I didn't even get her picture.) Nick and Alex participated in all three activities but we didn't get their awards because we couldn't stay until the end. Anthony is old enough to participate, he just would rather play at the park in the sand with Lily and Christian instead.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TOS Review: Wordy Qwerty

Last fall we had the priviledge of reviewing Talking Fingers, an online program that teaches reading, writing, and spelling. You can find my review on it here. We loved Talking Fingers and were thrilled to have the opportunity to review another one of their products Wordy Qwerty.

Wordy Qwerty-Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency is a program for 7-9 year olds that starts off where Talking Fingers leaves off. You do not have to have completed Talking Fingers in order to use Wordy Qwerty. Talking Fingers teaches how to read, write, and type, but children may not be able to spell some words correctly because they don't know how words are constructed. Wordy Qwerty teaches how words are constructed in English and provides reading and writing exercises (in the form of fun and interactive games) to increase fluency and reading comprehension. Wordy Qwerty has 20 lessons with 6 activities per lesson:

1. Patterns- Children make to lists of words by typing the word shown in the picture and sorting them by a given characteristic. They are directed to notice the patterns in the lists. If they cannot spell the word correctly the helping hands help them out.

2. Karaoke- There is a song about each of the 20 spelling rules. Children can read the lyrics on the screen and have the opportunity to sing along.
3. Recycler- In this game children are taught different vowel combinations that can make the long vowel sound. The recycle changes the first letters of rhyming words and children learn to distinguish between real words from non words.

4. Pop-a-Word -"Outlaw" words are best memorized by learning to quickly recognize them. In this game children are given a 4 word phrase to pop the ballons in order. The faster they pop the more points they are awarded.
5. Write Stories- In these 8 line rhymes, children are given the first line and then have to type out the second after they hear it. It can be repeated as many times as necessary but more points are awarded if they remember the sentence and spell the word correctly.

6. Read Stories- Childrem read a story in which every so often there is a missing word that the child chooses from 3 possible choices to fill in.

20 Lessons in Wordy Qwerty teaches the following rules:

1. Silent E 2. Sounds of C 3. Sounds of G 4. J or DGE 5. W or WH 6. C or K 7. CK or K 8. CKS or X 9. CH or TCH 10. LL,SS,FF,ZZ 11. OI or OY 12. VE words 13. Open Syllables 14. Double Constanents 15. Doubling Rule 16. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR 17. I before E 18. Plurals: ADD ES 19. Plurals Y to IES 20. Plurals F to VES

For a free online demo click here.

Wordy Qwerty is available in two formats:

Online (license is good for 5 years!) price starts at $25 for one user

CD (not compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6) $35 Includes Wordy Qwerty CD, program guide in a 3 ring binder, 1 Jingle Spells audio CD

The programs are also available for schools to purchase. For information on School License, Talking Fingers, or the K-4 bundle click here.

Nick (9) has been working on Wordy Qwerty for the last several weeks and has done really well with the program. Many spelling programs have kids simply memorize lists of random words. Wordy Qwerty does not do this. Instead, they teach that there are some patterns, or rules you need to know to help you spell. The activities that are used make learning the rules fun. Nick liked the characters of Qwerty and Midi and the story of building a music machine. All of the children liked watching the music machine being built and hearing it play when Nick finished lesson 20.

We did have an issue with the program loading. It takes a very long time for the page to load, but once we get into doing the activities we have had no problems. If your child does not pass the level, the game sends him back one time. If they still do not pass, they move on to the next one anyway. You can redo any level as many times as you would like, but the game will advance you even if you don't master the rule. I also wish that the CD was compatible with Windows 7 as it would be much more economical for larger families to buy the CD rather than pay for multiple online users.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary subscription to Wordy Qwerty for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: Promise of An Angel

I just had the opportunity to read a new 232 page e book, The Promise of an Angel by Ruth Reid.


In Mescota County, Michigan, an angelic visitor's words inspire Judith to a future she never imagined. After a barn raising accident, Judith Fischer’s convinced she’s met an angel. However, her attempts to convince others end up frustrating her Old-Order Amish community. Only Andrew Lapp believes her, but the rest, including Levi Plank, the man’s she’s waited to marry, demand she forget the nonsense. Meanwhile, her younger sister Martha has taken a fancy to Levi and sees her sister's controversy as a perfect distraction for turning Levi's head.

In a dream, the angel tells Judith she must choose her path. As her faith continues to grow, so do her feelings for Andrew. Will she continue to place her hope in the angel’s message, even if it means losing all she knows and loves?

I enjoyed getting to know the different characters in Promise of an Angel, especially Judith and Andrew. The story has a good message to stand up for your beliefs even when it's hard and others may not believe you. You have to continue to have faith and the Lord will increase your faith. It may not be easy to forgive those who wrong you but with the Lord's help you can do it and your life will be better because of it. Through all of her difficulties, Judith learns many important truths about life and love that she had never realized before.

The time period for this book is not very clear in the beginning. As it progresses and Samuel is taken to a hospital with modern ammenities it becomes clearer, but I thought that was a bit confusing in the beginning. Although I did enjoy the messages brought forth in the story, I did find the story a little odd as I was reading, but by the time the book ended it all made sense.

I received a complimentary e book copy of The Promise of An Angel from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation

TOS Review: Mad Dog Math

Mastering the basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) is a very important foundation that must be very strong to ensure your child will do well in upper level mathematics. A child will certaintly struggle with long division if they cannot remember basic division facts. Mad Dog Math has created a software to make learning basic math facts fun in only minutes a day.

Mad Dog Math drills all four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using math families. It can be used to supplement any math program and is for mulitiple users for K-5. The computer saves your progress as you go. Your child is timed as they complete 20 math problems. You have the option to practice problems without being timed and can change the timer from 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes. If your child passes they move on to the next fact family, if they do not they keep going until they pass. You can learn the correct answer by hovering your mouse over the problems you got incorrect. Your child earns a club sticker as they pass each family group at each timing level. There are 3 levels to complete plus a challenge level.

Mad Dog Math runs on a Windows PC and you can purchase their 32 bit or 64 bit download depending on which you need for your computer. A one year license is $19.99, two years is $29.99, or a perpetual license is $39.99. For ordering information click here.

They also have Instructional Systems for the Classroom or Homeschool, Flashcards, and Certifucates and Accessories.

Go to this page (about halfway down) for a link to a free trial, help in deciding which version you need, and download instructions.

I really liked that the program was easy to download, install, and start using. The different timing options make you able to cutom fit to your child's current ability and change it as they improve. The correct answers are shown to you so they can learn the right answer. I LOVE that you do not have to hit enter after you put in the answer. You put in your answer and it moves right on to the next problem. It is a small thing, but you don't have to concentrate on pushing enter, just entering the answer.

There are a few things I think could be improved. There is no drop down screen on the log in and with multiple children it can be hard to remember their log in information. If you forget to click on the time me button before you start, it doesn't count your progress. After you finish a fact family you have to manually click the next one you are supposed to go to instead of the program automatically advancing you. Also, the only way to see your child's progress is to log in as them.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary trial of Mad Dog Math for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Floor is Finished!

You might remember my post a few months ago about the playroom floor being finished. Well yesterday, the Family Room floor was finished! Over the last couple of months in his "spare time" my husband has tiled 800 square feet in our downstairs because the playroom needed a new floor due to water damage and we are converting our garage into a family room. We chose tile because it is water resistant, economical, and easy to clean (all important things when you have seven children!) Tile can be hard work to put down though. Way to go honey! Now you just have to trim, primer, paint, put in some ceiling fans and we will be ready to move in!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Steve!

He would've been 35 today. Memories of the birthday parties we had when we were kids have been floating around in my mind. Life seems so unfair sometimes, but all we can do is have faith and trust that God's plan is perfect and we will all be together someday. Happy Birthday big brother! Until we meet again......

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away." Rev 21:4

Menu Plan Monday

It was way too windy to grill this week-end, so I did have to make some changes to my menu plan and move things around. I try to always have some ingredients for quick and easy suppers just in case something comes up, and we will wait until this weekend to have the burgers and steak we were supposed to have last week-end.

Friday 5/13-pizza
Saturday 5/4- goulash, bread
Sunday 5/15- soup. grilled cheese, apples
Monday 5/16- chicken enchilada cassserole, rice
Tuesday 5/17-pork chops, baked potatoes, carrots
Wednesday 5/18-breakfast
Thursday 5/19- homemade subs, chips

To see some great menus go to www.orgjunkie.com

I Have Been So Blessed By the Crew!

The last Blog Cruise topic of the year is, "Please share your favorite homeschool experience in relation to your participation in the Crew this year." I really could write pages about what a blessing the Crew has been to me this year. I have received a lot of great products, "met" some amazing people, and have had so much fun while doing all of my "work." I have found it very exciting to be contributing to something that will help the vendors make decisions on how to bettter their products and helping homeschoolers decide what might fit their families. One product especially sticks out in my mind as been a wonderful answer to prayer and made a difference in my 7 year old's life.

Alex has has a strong desire to read from an early age. My older two children were both early readers and he really wants to follow in their footsteps and be just like them. However, after learning the basic letters and progressing to learning phonics, he just got stuck. He could not understand how to blend or sound words out. We backed off for awhile and took a break, but when we got back into it, the same thing happened again. I knew how frustrated he was getting and started doing some research to find something that might help him learn to read. Throughout thart research I read alot about different symptoms of dyslexia and began to suspect that Alex is mildly dyslexic. At the point where I was most frustrated and wondering which direction I should turn, I found out I was on the list to review The Reading Kingdom. You can find my review here. I cannot tell you how much of a difference it has made. Alex is reading! He is still on level 1, but he is making progress every day. The vendor generously gave us a subscription for a whole year, so I plan to keep on having him work on it over the summer. It has been a huge blessing in our lives and was just what I needed exactly when I needed it. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Anniversary Honey!

We look so young in this picture! I can't believe how much time has already gone by! 12 years ago today, I had the honor of marrying a man who is my best friend, a great daddy to our seven beautiful children, wonderful husband, and works so hard to provide for our family. It hasn't always been easy, but through it all we have learned so much and our marriage has grown stronger. I thank God every day for blessing me with such a good man for my husband. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: Beyond All Measure

I just had an opportunity to review my first e-book, Beyond All Measure by Dorothy Love (289 pages) on my Nook.

Book Description:

Beyond All Measure
By Dorothy Love
Published by Thomas Nelson
Average Blogger Rating:
4.29 Stars
Book Description
Unless she can trust God's love to cast out her fears, Ada may lose the heart of a good man.

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady’s companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt’s primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.

I love reading Historical Fiction, and I thought the author did a wonderful job in capturing the feelings and turmoil that existed in this country following the Civil War. This is not a "fairy tale romance" but instead deals with real life situations for that time period. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book and thought that they were well developed and believable. As you are reading, you think you know exactly where the story is going to go, but the author throws in a few surprises. You might just be surprised at who the "bad guys" and "good guys" really are. The author does a good job of showing Ada and Wyatt making peace with their pasts without making it look too easy to do. Beyond All Measures was a great read and I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

I received a complimentary download of Beyond All Measures for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

My New Nook!

I was going to post this yesterday, but www.blogger.com has been down. Sorry to my facebook friends who have heard it already, but I got a Nook for Mother's Day! When they first came out, I wasn't even really sure I wanted one. My mom has one and she really likes hers. I LOVE to read, but I like to have the actual product in my hand. Plus, I didn't think I would have the money to put books on it for myself because most of my book money gets spent on the kids. When the TOS Crew found out that www.yesterdaysclassics was on the review list (I did not get on this review but you can read other crew members reviews on the crew blog) there was a lot of "talk" about the different kind of e-readers and what you can use them for. I thought, wow! I want one of those! So, I added it to my ever growing mental list of things I would like to have for home/school. I never even told my husband, and he got me one for Mother's Day! I LOVE it!

What I didn't realize before, is how many places you can find and download e-books for free. Barnes and Noble has some available on their website to download to your Nook (look at these with caution as some of the titles are not family friendly if you know what I mean.) Many libraries now have e-books available to borrow, and their are numerous places on the web where you can download e-books for free. Also, some of the companies I review for are offering an e-book download instead of waiting for a physical product to come in the mail. The Nook also has lending capabilities where you can lend a book to a friend who also has a Nook for up to 14 days. I can read for a long time and not have to spend any money (unless I want to.) I also can download books for the kids to use in their schoolwork (if I decide to share!)

One of the things that I have discovered is that it is easier to rock/nurse a baby and read a Nook than have to hold a book open. I can just set it in the couch/bed beside me and read away! I love that you have the book available as soon as you download it and don't have to wait for something in the mail. The Nook is very easy to use and keep your books organized. It is not hard on your eyes at all it is just like reading text in a book. It has a large memory capacity (about 1500 books) that you can increase by storing on a SD card. Although my nearest Barnes and Noble is 2 1/2 hours away, there are a lot of perks you have access to in their store. It has Wifi and web browsing capabilities and a built in dictionary. The Nook can also play audio books and mp3's. I never knew it could do any of that!

There is one thing that I wish was different. It does not have a backlight which would come in handy when reading in a room with a sleeping baby (or husband.) You can buy a light to attach to it, but it would be easier if it was built in. I LOVE my Nook and maybe someday will have to buy one for the kids too! (or maybe a Nook Color)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tos Review: GoTrybe


Do you every worry about your children not getting enough exercise? Or maybe you are trying to find some fun exercise they can do indoors when the weather outside is miserable. You might be interested in GoTrybe.

What is GoTrybe? It is an online interactive community that is dedicated to the health and wellness of our youth. Their mission is to change sedentary screen time into activity and health education and to get young people active while combating childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. Trybers can interact with fitness, nutrition, motivation, and wellness content to help support their journey towards healthy living. There are 3 tribes for children:

ZooDoos-up to 5th grade
Trybe 180 6th-9th grade
Nextrybe 10-12th

You get to create your own avatar and customize your page. Children also get to choose and customize and save their own workouts, including a warm-up that were developed by Olympic trainers. As you hover your mouse over the video choices, you can read a description, length of video, intensity, and whether any equipment is needed. Workout videos are led by exercise professional. Nutrition and wellness information is taught using videos and quizzes. GoTrybe has a reward system that awards points for completing exercise workouts and answering quiz questions. Points can then be spent on Avatar upgrades. It also offers socialization with friends through the Shout Out messaging and forum features.

You can try GoTrybe free for a day by clicking here. After the free trial, the cost of continuing using GoTrybe is $19.95 for a one year membership.

I never used to worry about my children getting enough exercise. We spend lots of time outside and have bikes, scooters, roller blades, every kind of ball imaginable, plus play equipment. As my oldest has turned into a teen ager and she does not spend as much time playing outside, we have to be more deliberate about finding exercise opportunities for her. She really has enjoyed using GoTrybe. I did not even have to remind her she very willingly did her workout everyday. The ability to customize the workout to something she enjoys doing was a huge plus for her. Also, she could take the laptop to her bedroom and do the exercise videos without any of her brothers watching her. She liked watching the nutrition videos and answering the quiz questions. She thought it was fun to earn points and buy different things for her avatar. She did not "friend" anyone or give shout outs. I don't think it is necessary and actually could prove to be more of a distraction then an encouragement. I personally was quite pleases at the clothing the workout instructors were wearing in the workout videos, but during the nutrition and wellness videos several of the female instructors had very skimpy tanktops on with their cleavage showing. You don't choose which nutritional/wellness videos to view so you have no control over whether or not your child will be exposed to this.

To see what other crew members have to say click here.

I received a complimentary trial for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Next Year's Elementary Curriculum Plans

I have nailed down the curriculum we will be using for next year. I will have one in 10th grade, 4th grade, 2nd grade, Kindergarten, a 4 year old who will want to do Kindergarten, a 2 year old and an infant (who have to be kept occupied.) Here are my plans for 4th grade and under:

Math-Abeka- We used it this year. The boys really liked it and the workbooks are very reasonably priced. I do not do any of the speed drills or extra seat work, just the basic Math book.

History-Mystery of History Volume 1 Creation to the Resurrection-I was looking for something Christian based that I could use for everyone. So far all Nick and Alex have done is American History so I am really excited to start something new.

Science-Apologia Zoology 1 Flying Creatures of the 5th day-I love Apologia's hands on approach and their notebooking exercises. I think all of the boys will have fun with this this year.

Bible-readings will go along with MOH

Spelling- All About Spelling Level 1- All About Spelling recommends you start out with Level 1 regardless of age so that's what we are planning on doing even though Nick is already a pretty good speller there may be some spelling rules that he does not know yet.

Handwriting Handwriting Without Tears-The little guys need handwriting practice and Nick will start learning cursive. I like these books because they are quick and easy.

Language Arts- I don't do a strict grammar program with my kids because I think a lot of it is pointless knowledge. I do however think some of the basics are important and that they need to know how to write well. This year I will be using Writing Tales Level One with Nick for that purpose. The TOS Crew reviewed it but I wasn't on that review. After reading their reviews I bought it and am impressed with it. Alex will continue to work on his reading with Reading Kingdom.

Music- I found a great free website called www.classicsforkids.com.

Art- Artistic Pursuits-I reviewed one of their High School books this year and really liked it so I am planning on ordering one of their Elementary Books to use with the boys.

I am so excited about all of the things we will be using next year and whatever else happens to come our way!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Hope all the moms had a great Mother's Day! I really don't need gifts to make a good Mother's Day, I have already been blessed with the 7 most wonderful gifts a person could ever imagine! I got a Nook from my wonderful husband and breakfast in bed (a glass of milk, peanut butter and jelly, and hershey kisses) from my children. What could be better than that! Here's this week's menu:

Saturday 5/7-Stacked Burrito Pie
Sunday 5/8- steaks, mushrooms, baked potatoes, cauliflower
Monday 5/9-BLT's, cottage cheese, peaches
Tuesday 5/10- cheese ravioli, bread
Wednesday 5/11-meatloaf, mashed potaoes, green beans
Thursday 5/12- chicken patties, french fries
Friday 5/13 -pizza (of course!)

To see some great menus go to www.orgjunkie.com

TOS Review: Monkisee


Recently, Lily(2) had the opportunity to use a new TOS Review item from Monkisee. Monkisee is a video series designed to teach reading and also object recognition to babies ages 3 months to 4 years. The video series teaches body parts, first words, colors, shapes, animals, and more using music, poetry, puppets, and real life images. There are three DVD's in the series: Baby's First Words, All About Colors, and All About Shapes. Each DVD lasts approximately 30 minutes and retail price is $24.95. By going to this page, you can purchase a single DVD for $19.95 or the set of three for $49.95. In addition to the DVD's you can find other learning products such as flash cards and books by clicking here. We received the Baby's First Words DVD and the book Know Your Monkey $9.95 to review.


Baby's First Words teaches your baby body parts and first words while learning to read. In this DVD Howie and Skip, two Howler monkeys, will help teach your baby 40 words such as bottle, diaper, baby, mommy, daddy, arm, leg, shoulder, head and of course many more. The words are shown on the screen and several different images are shown of the word. The DVD uses puppets, music, and real life images. It also features a slide show to help review the words being taught and a parent's guide. You are encouraged to show the DVD to your child 5 days a week for 4 weeks. You can view a sample clip here.

Know Your Monkey is a paperback book featuring Howie and Skip. The book is 24 pages long and teaches 29 words. In this rhyming book children are taught to identify body parts. The words are seperated from the illustrations allowing babies to focus on the words without being distracted by the pictures.

This video was really not at all what I expected. It is very simplistic. Hand puppets, simple back grounds, some silly songs, and real life images are all that make up this video. There are some scenes in which computer generated monkeys "monkey around" and sing the theme song. This is a little odd and I think would have been much better if they stuck with the puppets. It is really not at all like television most kids are used to watching, BUT Lily(2) really likes it. Christian (4) and Anthony (5) also really like it. They sit and watch it everytime I turn it on and Lily has even asked to watch it. We did not watch it 5 days a week because I thought that was a little too much but we did watch it 2-3 times per week. The book Know Your Monkey makes a good compliment to the DVD. The cute monkey puppets and rhymes make it interesting to children to read. Will the video/books teach your baby to read? That I cannot answer as we have only had the product for a few weeks. I do think at the very least it will teach your children recognition of their body parts and some objects around them.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Know Your Monkey and Baby's First Words DVD for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's 19 Gifts!!!

I love The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and always look forward to it's arrival in my mailbox. It takes me days to pour over every page of the magazine and study all of the wonderful advertisements. They have a great special going on right now so if you don't already have a subscription or need to renew yours, now is a great time to do it!

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PLUS TOS is throwing in a 20th BONUS GIFT => a John Taylor Gatto E-Book entitled Hammering at the Walls of Public Schooling AND MP3 recording of him speaking on the topics of "Open Source Education" and "Everything You Know About Institutional Schooling is Wrong!

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*The 19 Gifts Promo is open to U.S Subscribers only.

Friday, May 6, 2011

TOS Review :Andi's Scary School Days

You might already be familiar with the Circle C Adventure series for ages 9-14 by Susan K Marlow. Now, there is a brand new series for readers ages 6-8 called Circle C Beginnings. In this series, readers can get to know Andi, her baby horse Taffy, and their friends and family on Circle C Ranch in 1874. There are 4 books in the series: Andi's Pony Trouble, Andi's Indian Summer, Andi's Fair Surprise, Andi's Scary School Days, Andi's Lonely Little Foal (coming Aug 2011) and Andi's Circle C Christmas (coming Aug 2011.) Each paperback book is $4.99. I received Andi's Scary School Days from Kregel Publications to read and review.
6 year old Andi wants no part of school. She would much rather stay on the ranch all day then have to wear dresses, sit still, and obey all the rules at school. She even has to sit across from a boy who throws dead flies at her. Andi was never afraid of anything before but she does not like being stuck at school and getting punished. She is leaving and not going back.

To read an excerpt click here .

For FREE coloring pages and activity sheets to go along with the book click here.

You can see what books are coming up, order books, see all available activity, coloring pages, lapbooks, and email the author by clicking here.

I have to admit that I was afraid the boys were going to think this book was too girlie, especially since the main character is a girl. But, once I started reading it aloud I realized this would not be a problem at all. Even though the main character is a girl, her best friend Cory is a boy and this is a book that will appeal to both boys and girls. Anthony and Christian were playing quietly on the floor the first day I read and everything came to a halt when Andi pulled a rattlesnake rattle out of her pocket. They all had to come over and see the illustration. From that moment on they all were hooked. Even Chelsea (14) really enjoyed hearing the story. I caught Nick (9) reading ahead after I stopped for the day because he wanted to see what happened next. Christian "read" the book after me. He loved looking at the pictures.
The story was very enjoyable to read and the illustrations were beautiful! We LOVED the free coloring pages and activities that went along with the story. I definitely would recommend this series and look forward to reading more of them.

To see what othere crew members are saying click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Andi's Scary School Days for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.