Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Favorite Recipes: Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

When the thermometer reaches over 90 degrees, you may not be interested in preparing or eating a hot meal. This is my favorite cold pasta salad, and I serve it with fresh fruit and home-made bread.

1 8 oz package egg noodles (or any other noodle you like)
2 tomatoes diced
1 pkg, cubed cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked chicken diced
1 cup Italian Dressing (I use fat free)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Mix in all other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What Do You Need to Buy to Use the Mystey of History?

I had a question from a reader that asked if the CD-Rom of reproducibles is a necessary purchase to use the Mystery of History.  I thought that might be a question others may have also, so I decided to do a post on the necessary components to the Mystery of History curriculum.

The only thing you really have to have is the Mystery of History book (whichever volume you choose to begin with.  We started with Vol 1 since it is a chronological history.)  The book contains the lessons, quizzes, tests, activity suggestions for each age range, maps, and keys that you need to complete the course.  Making a timeline is one of the projects that is suggested to work on during the course.  There are suggestions in the book for making the timeline, making your own timeline figures, or purchasing pre made figures from Homeschool in the Woods.  There are also teaching suggestions, suggested schedules, and additional resources (books, movies, etc..) listed in the book to further enhance learning if you choose but they are not completely necessary.

The CD Rom with the reproducibles is optional.  It contains the same material that is in the book.  It is something you may want to purchase if you do not want to copy from the book, or do not have access to a scanner or copier.  I do not have a scanner or copier, but I did not purchase the CD Rom because we do all of the tests and quizzes orally and I had an opportunity to review Wonder Maps last year and am able to print all of the necessary maps from it.  It is a program that allows you to customize and print different types of maps.  All of the maps used in each volume of MOH are in the program along with the answer keys.

There are many other components that are offered to enhance your study if you choose to buy them such as audio cd's, coloring pages, folderbooks, printable challenge cards, craft packs, and more.  Depending on your budget and your children's interests, some of these may be beneficial (and fun!) for your family, but don't feel like you need to spend a fortune on all of the extras to make the course more complete.  The book contains what you need and more for a fun, chronological, hands on, christian based study of history.

* links in this post are afffiliate links

Friday, May 25, 2012

TOS Review: Dive Into Your Imagination

Annie Crawley created Dive Into Your Imagination to change the way people view the ocean.  The images in the award winning books and DVDs uses the photographs and videos she has taken during her sea explorations.  Dive Into Your Imagination hopes that people will fall in love with the ocean because people protect what they love.  "I hope you will purchase the products from our store and give the gift of the ocean to all the children in your life and to schools everywhere.  There is something for everyone in the store, whether you are a corporation and want to inspire teamwork or a grandparent wanting to share our real Ocean.  Dive Into Your Imagination® was designed to be entertaining and educational for all ages." --Annie Crawley

Members of the TOS Crew were given one of the following videos to use and review: What Makes a Fish a Fish? , Who Lives in the Sea? , and Dive Into Diversity.  We had the opportunity to use and review Who Lives in the Sea?

“Who Lives In the Sea?” teaches children and their parents about animals living in the ocean. Why do dolphins move so fast? What kind of noise does a sea lion make? Did you know turtles walked with the dinosaurs? Meet whale sharks, octopus and blue-footed booby birds! After your kids watch this DVD, they will want to swim like a dolphin and laugh at the nudi, nudi, nudibranchs!

 The running time of the DVD is 45 minutes.  The suggested age range is for Pre-K and up.  You can choose to watch the entire DVD at once or split it up by the following chapters:

Let's  Swim With the Dolphins
Playtime With the Sea Lions
Baby Birds and Their Families
Dinosaurs of the Sea: Marine Reptiles
Eight Armed Animals
Living Forever Under the Sea
Nudi, Nudi, Nudibranchs
Whale Sharks: World's Biggest Fish
Bonus Chapter: The Ocean Alphabet

The special features sections contains information about Scuba Diving, the making of the music to go along with the DVD, and helping your kids love the water.

Along with the DVD, we received PDF downloads for the Pre-K-K and Grades 1-3 Educator Guides.  Each of these guides are over 300 pages long and contain activities to correspond with each of the chapters on the DVD in the areas of: Art, Language Arts, Geography, Math, Music, Social Studies, Music, Teamwork, Collaboration, Character Building Skills, Imaginative Play and more.  There are 6-7 different activity stations per unit.  The guide includes many printable activities along with Educator Keys.

The Who Lives on the Sea? DVD can be purchase here for $19.95.  The Educator Guides are available as a printed version for $299 for the whole set (all 3 DVDs mentioned above) or for $69.95 as individual PDFs.  BUT..... Annie has given us the following generous offer to extend to our readers:

"As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, she will gift you a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!"

Also for the entire months of May and June,  there will be free shipping on any order placed at www.AnnieCrawley.com/store.

I have watched the DVD many times since it arrived in my mailbox along with my 14 month old, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 15 year olds.  The timing of this review was perfect for my family because we are planning a trip to the beach shortly.  Who Lives in the Sea is wonderful DVD full of stunning footage of amazing ocean creatures.  The beauty of the ocean and its creatures comes through on the screen and makes you feel as though you are swimming in the ocean.  The narration is very well done and appealing to children and the enthusiasm of the narrator makes learning about the ocean exciting!  The video provides enough information to make it interesting but not too much to make it seem overwhelming.  I couldn't believe how much my children learned and remembered after viewing the DVD for the first time.  The ocean alphabet was their favorite part and they want to see one of each of those creatures when we go to the beach.    

On the DVD there is one section titled: Dinosaurs of the Sea Marine Reptiles that had me concerned before I viewed it.  I was afraid that it was going to be full of evolutionary content.  There is one line in the DVD,  "They have been living on our planet since the time that dinosaurs were roaming the earth."  I did not notice anything else that was evolutionary.  

The Educator Guide is amazing and much more than I expected!  As I mentioned above, they are over 300 pages long and full of printables and activities to go along with the sections covered on the DVD.  Some of the activities seem more geared to a classroom teacher but can easily be adapted to use in your homeschool.  There are 6-7 different types of activities for each section that appeal to a variety of learning styles and give you the flexibility to pick and choose what interests your family the most.  I love the printables especially the ocean journal pages that children can wrap up what they have learned that day. 

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

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew I received a complimentary copy of Who Lives in the Sea along with a PDF download of the Educator Guide for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.  Photobucket

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

As the 2011-2012 Crew year comes to a close, we are once again presenting awards to our vendors. The awards are known as the TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards.

I have been truly amazed at all of the wonderful products I have had an opportunity to review this year.  It has been a wonderful year and as the Crew Year has been extended through November, there will be plenty more reviews to come (I am working on several right now!)    The links go to my reviews if I reviewed it.  I reviewed all of the winners but two: Pitsco Education and Creek Edge Press.  The following vendors are the recipients of the awards this year:

 Favorite Reading Instruction Product:  Reading Eggs
Favorite Writing Product:  Write Shop
Favorite Language Arts Product: Progeny Press
Favorite Social Studies Product: TruthQuest History
Favorite Science Product: Amazing Science
Favorite Math Product: Math Mammoth
Favorite Online Math Product: Math Rider
Favorite Foreign Language Product: Visual Latin
Favorite Fine Arts Product: Artistic Pursuits
Favorite Christian Education Product:  Apologia: Who Am I?
Favorite Preschool Product: Before Five in a Row
Favorite Elementary Product: All About Reading
Favorite Middle School Product:  Write with WORLD
Favorite High School Product: Excellence in Literature
Favorite College or College-Prep Product:  Excellence in Literature
Best Online Resource:  Reading Eggs
Best e-Product: Heritage History
Best Homeschool Resource: Apologia: Educating the Wholehearted Child
Best Book, Novel, or Magazine: Apologia: How to Have a HEART for Your Kids
Best Children's Book: Amazing Animals by Design
Best Game or Toy: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything
Best Hands-On Resource: Pitsco Education
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: eMeals
Best Customer Service: K5 Learning
Most Adaptable Resource: Creek Edge Press
Most Family-Oriented Resource: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything

Kids' Choice (favorite of CHILDREN ages 0-12):  Reading Eggs
Teens' Choice (favorite per the TEENAGERS): Pitsco Education
All Around Crew Favorite: Visual Latin
Each winning vendor has received this wonderful award to display with pride:
  Congratulations to our winning vendors! We hope you will sail with us again! Many Crew Members are blogging about these awards as well. Click below to see what they have to say! Powered by Linky Tools Click here to see the Crew Blog Posts...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TOS Review: Heritage History

The mission of Heritage History is to make old fashion history books written for the enjoyment of young people easily available.  "At Heritage History, we seek to promote, not so much the study of history as the enjoyment of History. By making available old-fashioned history, as it was enjoyed as a pastime rather than studied as a subject, we hope to help reawaken the interest of a new generation."

Heritage History's online library allows you to read each one of their over 400 titles online free.  They are not only sorted by genre, author, series, and civilization, they are also color coded according to difficulty.  Green links are for introductory books, brown links for middle school, and red links for high school.  In addition to the books you can find thousands of historical images, a database of historical characters, and a complete battle dictionary.

In addition to their online library,  to make reading their books possible away from the computer, Heritage History has arranged their books onto CDs.  Each CD contains 3 versions of every book: printable PDF, MOBI for Kindle, and EPUB for any other ereader or tablet.  They have 4 different Library CD's: Early America, Spanish Empire, Christian Europe, and Modern Europe that each contain dozens of books from a 4th grade reading level to college prep.  They also have Classical Curriculum on CD.  Each curriculum CD includes biographies, hero stories, legends, historical literature, comprehensive histories, and a Teacher's Guide including timelines, historical maps and era summaries in printable format.  Their are 5 libraries offered as complete curriculum: Young Reader's, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, British Middle Ages, and the British Empire. We received the Young Reader's Classical Curriculum to use and review.

The Young Readers Classical Curriculum represents a broad introduction to Western Civilization including the subjects of American, European, and Ancient History, Bible and saint stories, legends and literature.  The 86 books included in the collection are intended to be read by an older grammar school student, but they also make great read alouds for younger students.  Instead of containing comprehensive histories they contain shorter stories selected to appeal to younger children.  The CD includes the complete illustrated text of 86 books, as well as timelines, reading recommendations, short biographies, historical images, and a ready to print teacher's guide.  If you prefer to have a printed bound Teacher's Guide, those are available as well for $20.99   After reading a few dozen of these books your child will be exposed to hundreds of historical figures and will have an excellent foundation for future studies.

Each CD in the Classical Curriculum series is $24.99 or you can buy the entire set for $99.99.  To order click here. The Library CDs are $19.99 each and can be found here.  You also have the option of purchasing e books separately.  Heritage History also provides links to their available print books.

Check the website for specials!  At the time of writing this is the current special.  You can also register to win a Kindle Fire here.

Heritage History is one of those companies that after seeing their website and working on my review I wondered how it is possible that I haven't heard of them sooner.  I was so impressed with the website and their Classical Curriculum CDs.  I LOVE that you get all three versions of every book: PDF, MOBI, and EPUB giving you the ability to print if you want to or load onto multiple devices.  Loading the books onto my Nook Color was very easy and the books look wonderful!  Heritage History is not curriculum specific.  It can be added to any curriculum you are using, or used on its own.  We used it to go along with some f the lessons taught with Mystery of History.  The Teacher's Guide is full of interesting and useful information.  I especially enjoyed  the section How Children Learn History.

I rarely comment about about price when I am writing a review, simply because cost is so subjective. What I believe is very expensive may seen inexpensive to my readers.  I do believe that with Heritage History (especially if you take advantage of one of their sales) that it is very affordable. Now that I have the Young Reader's Collection, I need to go back and order some of the others for my High Schooler.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Young Readers Classical Curriculum CD from Heritage History for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.  


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let Us Encourage One Another

One of the reasons homeschoolers choose to homeschool is to have freedom to educate their children in the way that works best for their children and their family.  There is no right or wrong way to homeschool.  There are many different homeschooling philosophies and many differences in each one of those.  We homeschoolers love the freedoms that homeschooling allows.  So why is it that we are so judgemental when other homeschoolers don't do it our way?

It is one thing to offer your opinions or suggestions when asked.  I love to look at what other homeschoolers are using for curriculum and what kind of schedule they go by.  I love to read curriculum reviews and recommendations to see what works and why for different families.  But, my homeschool is not going to look just like any one else's and just because you give advice doesn't mean they have to take it, or that it will work for them. 

It made me very sad recently when I was reading a post from a young mother who is homeschooling for the first time.  She was excited because of how nice it is that her children love working together.  They were working together on the computer.  One of the comments said something like, "So that's what you call homeschooling?" because she wasn't teaching them but letting them use the computer.

Another post I was reading was from  a homeschooler that wondered what she should do about another homeschooling family she knew.  The other family was not homeschooling "properly."  They did not have a single textbook and all they did was go to the library and read books.  There was no real teaching going on. 

I'll never forget the look of shock on another homeschooler's face when I told them I did not use a curriculum for pre school, or make my high school student diagram sentences.  There have been some that have said that if you don't subscribe to their learning philosophy that I am doing everything wrong.  Whether you are classical or relaxed, use textbooks or living books, computers or textbook, we don't need to judge and be negative to each other.  We enjoy the freedom that homeschooling gives us and need to understand that freedom applies to all homeschoolers.  We don't need to judge each other and bring each other down, we need to encourage and build each other up.  Homeschooling is hard and we face enough criticism from the world we don't need to be giving it to each other too.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thess 5: 9-11

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Heb 3:13

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Arkansas Homeschool Convention

This weekend there was a Homeschool Convention in Searcy, Arkansas.  I didn't get to go to a convention last year and the two years before that I went to a smaller one in Springdale (which they didn't have this year.)  A friend of mine has never had an opportunity to go, so we thought it would be fun to head up to the convention for the day.  Since we live so far away, we headed out at 6:00 am.  I had a few books I wanted to sell at the used curriculum sale that had to be there by 9.  We arrived in plenty of time and got to the book sale drop off point.  I was a little worried about getting my books in because I hurt my back last week and it was a very heavy box.  Luckily a teenage boy was outside the drop off location to assist with carrying books in. 

We decided not to go to any of the sessions and had to wait until the vendor hall opened up which wasn't until 10:30.  We browsed through a few vendors, took a lunch break, and headed back to the vendor hall.  I was very surprised at the number of vendors.  It seemed as though there was a lot less than the last time I was there and even less than Springdale had.  I was very surprised that some of the usual larger vendors (Apologia, A Reason For, and Sonlight) were not there.  I did get to order what I needed from Math U See (which was a lot!) and received free shipping.  I also found a fairly new vendor that I had never heard of before with a writing curriculum Essentials in Writing that is modeled after Math U See.  The lessons are modeled on a DVD and the students complete the assignments after watching the lesson.  They teach from grade 1 all the way through high school.  You have the option of buying just the DVD kit for $40 which contains a PDF file to print all the worksheets, or for $20 you can buy the spiral bound student workbook containing the worksheets.  We were both very impressed with the program and the vendor.  I bought 5th grade to use with Nick in the fall and my friend bought 2nd for her son.  This is exactly the type of writing program I was looking for and am hoping it works as well as it sounds.  I also had a chance to look at several things in person that I wondered about while browsing online and bought a few miscellaneous books.

I found a few things at the used book sale, but again it just didn't seem to be as big as in previous years.  After we finished at the sale we swung back by the vendor hall.  By then it was 2 pm and we still had over a 3 hour drive home so we decided to head out.  I was ready to get home since by the time we got there it would have been 12 hours since I nursed Emelia!

The children had a wonderful time with their daddy while I was gone!  They went to a car show, got ice cream, and played at the playground for 2 hours.  Emelia did not even miss me, although she was very happy to see me when I got home.  All night and this morning the children talked and talked about the car show. 

I enjoyed getting to go to the convention (especially the company!)  I am thinking though that it would be worth the time and extra money to drive two more hours to Memphis and attend the convention there next year. 

TOS Review: WriteShop

Teaching children how to write well is a very important task.  Writing is a skill that everyone uses in some capacity.  Teaching children to write well is not as easy as it sounds.  Award winning WriteShop offers quality writing resources for kindergarten  through high school helping both new and veteran homeschoolers teach their children writing with confidence.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review Write Shop Junior  Book D.  

Write Shop Junior is a flexible creative writing program that helps you guide your children through the writing process.  Each lesson uses games and activities that teach and review important writing and editing skills.  Book D is recommended for 3-4 th graders but has been successfully used with reluctant 5th and 6th graders.

The skills introduced in book D include:
Identify and use proper grammar and punctuation
Narrow a broad topic to a specific topic
Brainstorm before writing
Structure a sentence
Write a paragraph
Choose strong words instead of weak ones
Use emotion words to develop voice
Use the five senses to add descriptive detail
Self-edit and revise their work

Table of Contents 
 Letter of Invitation
Science Fiction
Historical Fiction
Personal Narrative
Expository Writing: Factual Article

There are 3 components to Write Shop D.  The Teacher's Guide contains daily lesson plans, writing samples, guided writing scripts, step by step instructions, and learning games and exercises.  The Student Activity Pack contains the Student Worksheet Pack containing all of the necessary worksheets for the student to complete and the Level One Fold and Go grammar pack that contains necessary worksheets to review or introduce grammar rules and essential writing skills.  The third component is the optional Time Saver Pack which includes several ready made learning props taking away the need for you to make them on your own.

Example of worksheets: Brainstorming cake

This page will allow you to download a sample lesson

You can purchase WriteShop D as a hard copy or an e book.  Pricing is as follows:

Hard Copy- Includes Teacher Guide and Student Pack $39.95.  Optional Time Saver Pack $13.95.

E book-Includes Teacher Guide and Student Pack $34.95 Optional Time Saver Pack $13.95

To order click here.

WriteShop has generously offered a coupon code for 15% off any WriteShop Primary or Junior product from the WriteShop store valid until June 15, 2012.  Enter the code CREW15 at checkout.

WriteShop is nothing like any other writing program I've seen before.  It teaches writing in digestible chunks using fun lessons and learning activities.  The creator's love and enthusiasm for writing definitely comes through and there is a huge emphasis on making the writing experience fun.  There are a wide variety of different worksheets and activities The lessons are planned out for the teacher and there is a script for the teacher to follow for every lesson.  There are many different skills and types of writing taught throughout WriteShopD.    I loved the Fold N Go Grammar Packs.  I thought those were a wonderful way to teach/review grammar and writing skills in a visual way that the child can use for a reference and go back and look at as needed. There are 2 different teaching plans you can choose from, a 3 week or 2 week plan, giving you the flexibility to choose what fits your homeschool best.  They even have a suggested schedule for how to teach two children in two different books.   

WriteShop is not designed as a course that you can hand your child to complete on their own.  It is designed a course that is designed for the parents to work closely with the child preparing them for writing independence as they get older.  Parents are encouraged to share in the whole process with the child.

We received the e book  version for our review.  This is not the first time we have reviewed e books for different subjects, but it was the most challenging.  It is a very difficult course to navigate in e book format.  I had to print out every page for each lesson including the Teacher's Manual,  in order for it to make sense to me.  The Teacher's Manual was the most difficult to navigate because you can not scroll through the whole thing at once.  You can only view one lesson at a time.  With the e book only being $5 cheaper then the physical copy, I believe it would be to your advantage to purchase the physical copy and have everything you need right in front of you. 

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

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a complimentary e book download of WriteShop D for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation. 


Friday, May 18, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 5/18/2012

Today was our last Art Class for the 2011-2012 school year.  Today the children made Indian Teepees using paper bags that they decorated, wooden bamboo sticks, a rubber band, and tape.  Then they finished drawing in their Art Books and did a special drawing for the teacher to add to scrapbook she keeps of all of her art students.  The children were kind of sad that the classes are ending.  It took almost the whole year to convince Christian to participate, and now that he is, it is over.  He did not have an art book or portfolio to put it in so he did one today.  He was quite proud of his drawings.  Anthony was sad it was ending too but took it a little better when I told him we were just taking a break and will start back again in a few months. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May Cloverbud Meeting

For our 4 H meeting today, we did some fun Science Experiments.  Science is definitely not my strong suit, but after we had a chance to review the Amazing Science DVD and my children were so fascinated by it, I though it would be fun to do for a meeting.  I decided I wanted to set up a few demonstrations and then come up with an experiment/craft that the children could take home.  All of our experiments came from that DVD : Color Changing Milk, Floating Eggs, Homemade Lava Lamp, and Inverted Cup of Water and all used ordinary household supplies and were very easy for the children to do.  Yesterday, I found a experiment/craft called Ocean in a Bottle that I thought would be fun to do and went along with the other ones.  I adapted the idea from one I found here.  Ocean in a Bottle was also on the Amazing Science DVD but I was looking for some ideas for more of a crafty feel.  We used 8 oz water bottles, food coloring of the child's choice, glitter of the child's choice, and mineral oil.  I wanted to find some shells or small sea creatures to put in the bottom, but my only store choices were Walmart and Dollar General and they had nothing that would work :(.  Even without something to float in it, it still turned out and is really neat to look at. 

Color Changing Milk
Homemade Lava Lamp
Inverted Cup of Water
Floating Eggs
Ocean in a Bottle
One of our 4hers also brought his hermit crabs to show and all the children loved that.  I am so thankful that the parents of the children in the group are so helpful and willing to do things to clean up and help the children.  It is not easy to try and lead the meetings even with my little ones and when you are working with younger children the more hands available to help, the better!  I appreciated my daughter too for taking pictures and for her and another mama for toting around Emelia.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TOS Review: CapJaxMathFax

Learning basic math facts is as important to being successful in math just like learning the letters of the alphabet is important to be able to read.  It doesn't have to be a frustrating experience for you or your child.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use an review a program designed to " put some happy in your math", CapJaxMathFax

CapJaxMathFax helps elementary aged students or older students that can benefit from extra practice master the four basic operations; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  CapJax works as a supplement to any comprehensive Math curriculum.  The program automatically generates exercises using parameters that the teacher puts in.  A patented rating system uses reinforcement and feed back data to create a game like feeling.  Students start out at an easy level that gets increasingly difficult as they achieve mastery.  Immediate positive reinforcement is given and easy to see giving the student a sense of achievement and building their confidence.  As the students progress through the different levels, they earn different merit badges.  In just minutes a day students can successfully get those facts down!

Teachers have the ability to set up and easily change the parameters that the students work in.  You can choose which operations to practice, how many facts in a set, and how much time for "super" answers. After setting these, teachers have no more work to do as the computer automatically generates the exercises.  Students can either practice or play for rating with playing for rating being the best way to achieve mastery.

CapJaxMathFax offers a free evaluation of their product which is compatible with PC or Mac.  Click here for a free evaluation. 

CapJax is available for purchase as a download to your computer for $29.95.  You can also purchase on CD for $35.90 plus shipping.  To order click here.

The first thing that I thought was great about CapJaxMathFax was that it was so easy to use!  After the program downloaded it only took a few minutes to set the parameters I wanted and we were ready to go.  I love that it is so easy for the teacher to decide on which operations to work or how many facts or how much time for super seconds.  The program gives immediate feedback and repeats areas that need work.  It is very easy to see progress that is being made which is helpful to both the student and the teacher.  It is easy for the student to use and only takes minutes a day to work on.

One thing you may be interested to know is that for some reason the program is not compatible with Norton Antivirus.  Norton will not let you download it.  It is a safe program and has been around for a long time.  You have to disable Norton for the amount of time it takes to download the program and after that it works just fine.

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

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a complimentary download of CapJaxMathFax for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's Our Anniversary!

Another year has gone by and its our Anniversary again!  I know its the same picture that I post every year, but its a good one and I don't have a scanner to scan in a different one.  We look so young!

I have been thinking a lot about marriage lately.  It is so easy to look at a couple or a family and think they have the perfect marriage.  In reality though, there is nothing that is perfect this side of heaven.  Marriage in not easy and requires a lot of hard work, compromise, sacrifice, and a willingness to put somebody else's needs above your own.  Over the years of our marriage we have faced many big challenges: relocation (more than once), job loss, financial difficulties, family problems, medical problems, death of a loved one, legal challenges, and raising seven children!  In addition to those big challenges we face small ones everyday: disagreements, difference of opinion, hurt feelings, managing a household,  supporting a family, and many more.  When we got married, we stood before God and made a promise, not to stay married only when it is easy, but to be together until death parts us, and that is not a promise to be taken lightly. 

Even though there have been a lot of challenges, there have been so many wonderful things, and through each challenge that we have been through, our marriage has become even stronger.  While we certainly don't have a perfect marriage, we definitely have a great one.  When I walked down the aisle and pledged my love and married my husband, I never thought I could love him more than at that moment.  Little did I know that that love would grow and grow and I love him even more now than I did that day!  God has been go good to us to bless our marriage and our family!

Thank you honey for marrying me, sharing my life, being my best friend, giving me this beautiful family, supporting me, and being such a wonderful father and husband.  Happy Anniversary!

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Finished Mystery of History Volume 1!

I have to admit that when we started Mystery of History Volume 1 way back in August I was not sure that we were going to finish in one year.  Even after just finishing it, I can easily see that it could even take up to two years to finish depending on the amount of activities you choose to do and the many additional resources (books, movies, etc.) that you could use to enhance your studies.  But, we did finish!  We started out our school year doing history 2 days a week and science 2 days a week.  We finished our science at the end of March and increased our history lessons to 4 days a week and just completed the last lesson and added the last time line figure to the board.

Making a timeline is one of the main suggested activities for Mystery of History, along with making memory cards and doing mapping assignments.  I loved the idea of making a timeline and knew the children would too.  I decided that making our own figures would be a bit more work then I could take on and still be consistent with it.  I decided to purchase the History Through the Ages Creation to Christ timeline figures from Homeschool In the Woods ($22.95.)  This was the perfect solution for us!  All the figures are a perfect size for a timeline and just needed to be cut out and glued down.  You could also color if you wish.  Each figure also has the dates on them and a synopsis of information.  I would highly recommend Homeschool In the Woods!

The timeline itself is a large tri fold science project board that I bought at Walmart.  Chelsea and I glued down card stock strips to make the lines to put the figures on.  We open the timeline to work on it, and fold it store away.

Mystery of History may be my most favorite curriculum ever!  That really is saying a lot because we have had an opportunity to explore a wide variety of different curriculum.  The children (and I too) have learned so much from Mystery of History.  We have already purchased Vol 2 to begin in August and can't wait to get started with it again!

* MOH links are my affiliate links

Saturday, May 12, 2012

TOS Review: Library and Educational Services Go Science DVDS

Library and Educational Services is a wholesale supplier of Christian, wholesome, educational books, CDs, DVDS, games, and more.  They offer a 30-70 % discount to wholesale customers including resellers, educators, libraries, churches, and schools.  Homeschoolers are considered educators and are able to create a free account and purchase through LES!  We had an opportunity to review one of their many products: Go Science DVDs.

Go Science is a DVD Series featuring Ben Roy who teaches Science Methods at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is the former director of a science program on television.  There are 6 DVDS in the series: Vol 1 Motion, Vol 2 Simple Machines, Sound, and Weather, Vol 3 Magnetism, Electricity, Engineering and Design, Vol 4 Chemistry, States of Matter, and Life Sciences, Vol 5 Air and Flight, and Vol 6 Water, Space, and Solar System.  Throughout the DVDs, Ben captivates, inspires, and motivates children ages 6-14 to be excited about science while giving them instruction based on scientific phenomenon. More importantly, each of his demonstrations has a spiritual application and points to our Creator, God.


Each of the Go Science DVDS has a list price of $14.95, but the wholesale cost from LES is $8.95 each or the set of 6 for $47.95.  Go to this link  www.libraryanded.com/goscience and click on  start shopping to create your account and purchase.

We received 2 of the Go Science DVDS, Vol 4 Chemistry, States of Matter and Life Science and Vol 6 Water, Space, and the Solar System.

Demonstrations in Vol 4 include:

Chemical Illuminescence
Exploding Bottle
Exploding Balloons
Flash Paper
Root Beer Float
Liquid Nitrogen
Single Cell
Optical Illusion
Lycopodium Powder

Water Disappear
Boil Water in a Paper Cup
Properties of Water
Floating Balls
As Cold as Outer Space
Make a Rocket
Living in Space
Solar System
Centripetal Force

My boys (10,8,6,4) and I  really enjoyed watching the Go Science DVDS.  Out of all the boys, my 6 year old was the most enthusiastic and wants to watch them over and over again.  Ben Roy's passion and enthusiasm for Science definitely comes through the screen.  Many of the demonstrations were not ones that you would be able to do at home so it was really interesting to see someone doing them.  The DVDs were about 40 minutes each, but you can choose to watch it all at once or split it up as the individual segments are between 3-6 minutes.  I loved that the DVDS teach science always in the context of knowing and being amazed by our Creator, God.

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

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew I received Vol 4 and 6 of Go Science DVDS complimentary for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Friday, May 11, 2012

B Day

One of the children's favorite 4 H activities every spring is B Day.  B Day stands for bicycles, bait casting, and BB shooting.  In the bicycle competition the children ride through a series of cones getting point deducted for stops, knocking cones over, or skids.  The BB shooting competition includes shooting at a target and taking a gun safety test.  For the bait casting, there is a fish identification test and then they cast their fishing poles into a target on the ground 3 times standing and 3 times sitting and earn points based on where the line lands.

The competitions are held at our city park.  This is great for me because then the younger children have something to do when the older children are competing.  The weather today was absolutely gorgeous!  Not too hot and the rain held off. 

Chelsea competed in the BB Shooting and won second place and then was the Teen Leader in charge of Bait Casting.  Nicholas won 1 st place in Bait Casting, 3rd in Bicycles, and a participation in BB shooting.  He could go on to the district competition for Bait Casting, but he doesn't want to.  Alex won 3rd place in all 3 categories.  Christian won 2nd in bicycles and did not want to compete in the other 2.  He was the youngest one competing and the only one with training wheels.  Anthony did not want to compete.

Since there is only one of me and so many of them, I never get pictures of everything.  I didn't even get one single picture of Anthony or Nick or Alex bait casting.


Dissecting Owl Pellets

Sometimes Science Projects are more fun with friends.  One of our upcoming hands on projects for Science was to dissect an owl pellet.  Our Art Class was cancelled for today so we decided to get together with another homeschooling family and dissect our owl pellets.

We had 3 pellets and split up into three teams.  I was thinking of putting older children with younger children but that is not the way it worked out, which was ok because the children did just fine.  First we did a small review on owls, their habits, and what they eat.  Then we talked abut exactly what an owl pellet is.  Then we got to work.  We used tweezers and toothpicks to dissect the pellets.  The children found many, many bones in their pellets.  I think they were very interested and learned from this activity. The younger children were really amazed that these were actual bones from a real animal that an owl ate.  Anthony (6) and our friend Logan (7) were the most interested.  They worked for a long time getting out every last bone and then took their bones and glued them onto a piece of construction paper.  Chelsea really was not that interested and thought the pellet smelled bad, but it still was a good learning experience for her.

Breastfeeding: When to Wean

I am very passionate about breastfeeding.  It has been proven over and over again how much better it is for babies then formula and there are numerous health benefits for mother and baby (that does mean however that women who don't breastfeed are not wonderful mothers.)   It kind of boils down to the fact that God made it much better than man ever could and He knew what He was doing when he made mamas able to feed their babies.  You can read my post on why breastfeeding is the right choice here.

After making the decision to breastfeed many woman want to know how long they should breastfeed for.  That is one of those topics that you will hear somebody's opinion on, often whether you want to hear it or not, and more often from someone who has never even nursed a baby.  Some will say the magic number is one. Some will say two.  Some will say as soon as baby is eating solid foods well.  Many are shocked by the idea of a mom still nursing a three year old.  The truth is there is no magic age that you have to stop nursing you baby.

I was talking to a young mom the other day who was wondering when to wean her one year old.  Many people have told her she needs to wean him since he is over a year old.  Why?  Breastfeeding still provides your baby with all of the good things at 12 months than it did at 3 months.  It is much healthier and natural than many of the foods we eat.  Some people may think it is strange to nurse an older child, but what is the difference between nursing a baby that is 23 months old and one that is 2?  It is not like you are picking up a 2 year old and nursing him for the first time, he has been growing gradually as he has been nursing.

I have to say that the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard on the subject was that babies should not be nursed past the age of one, because as babies get older they start to know the differences between boys and girls and by then know what breasts are really for.  What?  Yes, in fact a very young baby knows what a breast is really for, providing food and nourishment to them.  Whether it's a young baby or an older toddler that has been nursed his whole life you can believe they definitely know what breasts are for apparently better than many adults.

So, the real answer to the question of when to wean your baby depends on you and your baby.  If you have decided that you are ready to stop nursing or you need to for various reasons (for me the decision usually came when I was about 5 months pregnant with the next baby) then it is time to start weaning your baby.  If your baby looses interest and does not want to nurse anymore it is time to start weaning your baby.  My little angel is 14 months old and I am still nursing her 8-10 times a day.  At 14 months old my Christian decided he didn't want to nurse any more.  Every baby is different.  Make your decision on what is right for you and your family.  Do not wean your baby because you feel pressured by other people and their opinions.  Cherish the time that you have to nurse your baby because no matter how long you decide to nurse for it will go by very quickly.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Explore the Grand Canyon with Noah Justice

Millions of years ago......this phrase it used over and over again in books and other media to talk about or explain how the earth and everything on it is formed.  It is important for our children to learn and understand that there is physical evidence to prove the Biblical account of creation.  In the 30 minute DVD children and teens will take a trek to Northern Arizona with 14 year old host Noah Justice to find out how the 40 layers of the Grand Canyon were laid down by the Global Flood then carved the canyons quickly.  Noah Justice compares other geological processes found throughout the world which show additional evidence of quick geologic catastrophe confirming the historical accuracy of the Bible.

  • The Grand Canyon was cut in days not millions of years
  • Its massive layers show evidence of being laid down in less than a year
  • the Biblical record can be trusted as Earth's history book

You can find Explore the Grand Canyon with Noah Justice at Christianbook.com here.  There is a study guide you can purchase to go along with the DVD that contains a variety of follow up activities.   Additional DVDs in the series are Explore Yellowstone and Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest.

I watched this DVD with my 15,10,8, and 6 year olds.  I think the DVD does a wonderful job in explaining the evidence that shows proof of the biblical account of creation.  Our children need to have an understanding and be able to give an answer for why they believe what they believe and educational material such as this DVD will help them be able to do that. My three oldest found it very interesting and were able to discuss with me what they learned.  My 6 year old sat and watched the whole episode, but he started to loose interest towards the end.  But, I have no doubt that when we make it to the Grand Canyon, my children will be able to ignore all of the "million of years" signs and will be able to discuss how and when the Grand Canyon was really formed.

I received a complimentary Explore the Grand Canyon with Noah Justice DVD and study guide for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

4 H Talks/Demonstrations, Talent, Fashion Revue Contests

Every spring our county 4 H has several contests that the children  can go on to compete at the district level, and seniors also have the opportunity to compete at the state level.  Our county is very small so the county competition is really just a practice run for district although those competing earn ribbons.  Any 4 Her 9 and up that really wants to go on to district can in any slot that is available (in bigger counties only 1 st place winners can go on) and the Extension Agents will work with the children to prepare them for the competition.  Three of the main areas they can compete in are Fashion Revue: purchased or constructed, casual or dressy, Talent: vocal or instrumental, and a talk on any topic related to 4 H using posters or power point length of time varies depending on age, or a demonstration that is 4 H related.

Last year, the day of this contest there was a tornado watch all day.  Shortly after Art headed to town with Chelsea it turned into a warning and they had to leave the EH house and go to the tornado shelter across the street.  The weather was very scary, but lucklily the worst of it went south of us and didn't do much damage.  Monday (the day of the competition) it started out being hot and sunny with a slight chance of rain.  Shortly (like 10 min) after we (I had all the children since hubby was at work) arrived the sky turned black, the wind picked up, and we were under a dangerous thunderstorm warning.  It ended (thankfully) by the time we had to leave.

Chelsea competed in Fashion Revue in the constructed category with her dress that she made last fall for the Sew With Cotton contest.  She was the only one to compete in the constructed category and worked so hard on her dress.  She earned first place and will go on to the district competition in June.  She also sang in the talent competition and earned 2 nd place.  Alex is a cloverbud and not eligible to go on to district, but I thought it would be a good experience for him.  We talked about many different things he could do, but he ended up wanting to do a science demonstration.  He did the color changing milk experiment from the Amazing Science DVD we reviewed a few weeks ago.  He was the only cloverbud to compete and he did a great job!  Everyone was amazed by his experiment and he did an awesome job on the talking part even though he had to memorize it because he can't read well enough to read from note cards.  It was a very good experience for him and he was proud of his blue ribbon.

I was also very proud of the other 5 children who had to sit and be quiet for almost two hours!  They were very good and as a reward for all we bought a box of ice cream sandwiches to eat on the way home.  Next competition up is B Day (bicycles, bait casting, BB shooting) and it will be n Friday.