Our Family

Our Family

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Fire Prophet by Jerel Law

What if you could actually see angels and fallen angels engaging in battle—and you were expected to join the fight?
It’s been one year since Jonah Stone and his sister, Eliza, discovered that their mother is a nephilim, the product of a union between a human and a fallen angel, which makes them and their little brother, Jeremiah, quarterlings, or one-quarter angel. After embarking on an epic journey to rescue their mother and the other nephilim, who were kidnapped by fallen angels, the Stone kids have enjoyed a little peace and quiet.
But when Jonah and Eliza are attacked by fallen angels at school, they learn that quarterlings all over the world are being targeted, and separating them from their parents is the only way to keep them safe. The kids undergo special training to help them discover their own unique angelic gifts, which come in handy when they embark on a mission to find a mysterious prophet who they believe holds the key to Abaddon's defeat in a massive battle between good and evil.

I had the opportunity to review Spirit Fighter, the first book in this series, and couldn't wait for the second one to be published.  It did not disappoint me.  These books are full of adventure and battles between good and evil.  I love the characters.  Children (8 and up) can easily relate to Jonah, Eliza, Jeremiah, and their friends.  The best part about these books is that they are Bible based!  Today's tween and teens will get so much more than adventure out of these books!  They will see Scripture coming to life and that it does apply to the world still today. 

In The Fire Prophet I loved the focus and teaching the children according to their Spiritual Gifts and how their gifts helped them work together as a team.  I loved the very real visual of the prayer barrier of protection.  I loved the story and the ending (but I'm not going to tell you about that!)  If you have children in the 8 and older range have them  read (or read aloud) The Sons of Angels series.  This series is the first Christian answer to Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles , Harry Potter etc...But, the message is scriptural and shows throughout that God has a plan and is always in control.  I enjoyed reading it myself and look forward to more books in the series. 

I received a complimentary ebook copy of The Fire Prophet for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fever and Coughs and Hives! Oh My!

Last week started out pretty easy.  We had the 4 H crafts workshop on Monday and some friends  over to play on Tuesday.  Wednesday Anthony started running a low grade temperature.  The rest of us did some schoolwork and made pies and fudge for Thanksgiving while he rested on the couch.  Then his fever went up to 103 and he started coughing and sneezing.  Next Emelia started running fever and then started having nasal congestion and cough.  We did have a good Thanksgiving.  The food was delicious and Art got a buck first thing Thursday morning.  I spent some time Thursday afternoon doing some online shopping and found some really good deals.  Friday afternoon Lily climbed into my lap and was burning up with fever and started coughing and sneezing.  Alex started complaining of headache and Nick and Christian started coughing and sneezing. 

Even though they weren't feeling 100 percent, the weather was very nice and the boys spent quite a bit of time outside especially on Saturday.  They had made a huge leaf pile and put it at the bottom of the slide.  They had so much fun playing in that leaf pile.  Saturday night I sent everyone to bathe or shower and after his shower Nick asked for itch cream.  I told him to get it out of the drawer and didn't think much of it.  Sunday morning Chelsea and I were getting ready for church when Nick woke up.  He came downstairs and was covered from the neck down in hives!  I don't know what he got into rolling in a pile of leaves but Oh My!  That poor itchy boy!  I gave him Benadryl every four hours but it still looked pretty bad when he went to bed last night so I woke him up twice during the night to give him more.  I am hoping when he wakes up it will be much better or he is off to the doctor.

Lily and Emmie are still running fever, coughing, and sneezing.  Emmie is having a hard time nursing.  Lily hasn't eaten since Saturday and is giving me a hard time about drinking.  The other boys are still coughing but no fever, and now I am coughing too :(.  There has been very little sleep in this house over the last several days and I am exhausted!

I am thankful though that it isn't something worse.  The children are hardly ever sick and very rarely are they all sick at once (although there was that one time with the stomach bug......)  Today's agenda will include, TV, naps, and medicine.  School can wait for another day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Homeschool Update

I started out this homeschool year thinking I could write a weekly blog post highlighting what we had accomplished that week.  I think I made it through 3 weeks of that.  I could not find the time to get it in.  Even though I do highlight some of the "special" things we have had going on (field trips, art class, hands on activities) I never got back to doing an overall what we've been up to kind of post.  After this one catches up from August to now, I hope to write one at least monthly in the future.

We do P.E., Bible, and History as a family.  Earlier in the year we reviewed Family Time Fitness and loved it!  Each morning we start out with P.E.  It is a great way to start our school day.  We finished up Apologia's Who Is My Neighbor worldview curriculum a couple of weeks ago and have gone back to Classical Academic Press's God's Great Covenant New Testament.

The boys are doing Apologia's Swimming Creatures for Science.  To go along with it we bought a fish tank and some fish.  Then we got a tadpole that we are watching transform into a frog.   We are working on the chapter on Primeval Reptiles and are also planning on trying to hatch some triops. 

We read The Swiss Family Robinson as our read aloud and finished it up last week.  After we finished, we watched the movie.  The kids liked the movie but were very disappointed in all of the changes they made from the book.  They agreed the book was much better.

Chelsea (11th grade) is working through Math U See Algebra 1.  She has about 15 lessons before she finishes the book.  She completed her 8 week Time For Writing; Explorations in Essay Writing in September and started working through Lightning Literature British Mid to Late 19th Century.  She is currently reading Great Expectations.  Chelsea has been having a little bit of a hard time with Chemistry.  She is not enjoying it at all.  It is very heavy on Math and formulas which is not he favorite thing in the world.  But she is working through it.  She also started Classical Academic Press's Latin Alive Book 2.

Nicholas (5th grade) has been doing VERY well with Math U See!  Last year when we started fractions with Abeka, everyday's math lesson was a struggle.  Using the Math Mammoth Fractions PDF helped a lot, but I knew we would not continue with Abeka math.  I switched all of the children to Math U See and am so glad!  He started in Epsilon and actually understands fractions now.  I thought he would resist using the fraction overlays and almost didn't buy them, but he does use them.  He likes watching the videos too and that he can do his math independently.  Nicholas is using Essentials in Writing this year which is very similar to Math U See.  Though he doesn't like it as well as math, he still he doing quite well with it and likes the independence he has with this program.  I had planned on adding Visual Latin back in, but we were so busy with reviews that we never did.  We will be adding it back in the first week of December. 

Alex (3rd grade) is also using Math U See.  He is working through Beta and doing very well.  Though he resists using the manipulatives, I do encourage him to use them, especially when starting to learn a new concept.  He does need someone to read the word problems to him everyday so he can't work entirely on his own.  Alex is learning cursive using Handwriting Without Tears and his cursive is much neater than his printing has ever been!  He is still using All About Spelling Level 2 along with the Level 2 readers.  We have just finished What Am I and started on the first story in the Queen Bee.  He still does the best at spelling when he can build the words with the tiles.  He is also using Samson's Classroom for practice with sight words and reading comprehension.

Anthony (1st grade) is using the Alpha Book of Math U See and is doing a great job working through it.  He likes it well enough that he will do more than one page per day even though he only has to do one.  He is using The Reading Kingdom for reading and LOVES it!  He even writes and illustrates his own stories using the words he learned on Reading Kingdom.

Christian (K) is using PAL for reading and writing.  We have made it through all of the letters of the alphabet.  He is so funny.  He thought he had "finished" all of his schoolwork forever because he had learned his letters all the way to the zipper letter.  He was happy though to find out there is lots more to learn and do with PAL.  He loves playing the games everyday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

4 H Holiday Craft Workshop

Every year, 4 H does a Holiday Craft workshop where we get to make Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts. Usually they do it on a Saturday morning, but this year with all of the local Public Schools being off all week it got scheduled for this morning.  They had a great turnout!  Out of all the children signed up only one ended up not being there.  The children got divided up in groups of 3 to rotate through each of the stations.  Chelsea volunteered as a teen leader helper and Nick, Alex, Anthony, and Christian all were signed up for the workshop.  Lily is technically too young for 4 H (just don't tell her that!) but she got to make some of the crafts too.  I helped herd children and worked at a station after one of the teens had to leave while keeping Emelia happy and out of trouble.  Usually she is fine to wander around the EH house, but all of the completed crafts were sitting on the floor and I didn't want her to break anyone's stuff.  I wanted to get pictures of every craft they made, but got busy and missed a few.  We made: Pumpkin Cupcake, Cookie Ball Ornament, Elf Food , Reindeer Food, Thankful Wreaths, Santa Calendar (count down to Christmas), Turkey Magnets (using child's hand), and Thumb Print Ornaments.  We accomplished all of that in about 2 hours!

Schoolhouse Review Crew Break

The Crew year used to take a short break in the summer for June and July and start posting reviews early in August.  Last year it was decided that it would be a better decision for vendors and crew to continue through the summer and take a break for part of November and December.  I really thought this was a great idea since we needed some things to do over the summer anyway when it was blazing hot.  For those of us that continued on with the Crew it meant that we have been reviewing since August of 2011 without taking a break.  This extended "half year" of crew reviews was very busy!  From June until November, my family did 36 reviews for the Schoolhouse Review Crew!  We are now officially on break for the rest of November and December with new products shipping in January and reviews starting to post again in February.  The Schoolhouse Review Crew has been a HUGE blessing to my family and I am excited to be continuing on another year!  There are already quite a few vendors on deck so stay tuned for those upcoming reviews. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

And the Lucky Winner Is...........

The winner of the Melissa and Doug tea set giveaway drawn by random.org is........

Shannon F!

Shannon check you email!

Thank you so much to everyone that entered! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Bible Detective

Bible Detective is a hard cover puzzle search book recommended for children ages 5-9.  The book contains 17 different illustrated stories from the Bible: Noah, the Good Herdsman, Abraham's Nomadic Encampment,  Slaves in Egypt, Moses The Law and the Tabernacle, Farming the Land, A Battle Against the Philistines, King Solomon's Jerusalem, An Assyrian Attack, Exiles in Babylon, A Census in Bethlehem, A Schoolboy in Nazareth, A Fishing Town on Lake Galilee, The Temple Courtyard, The Death of Jesus, Peter Preaches About Jesus, Preaching in Corinth, and The Port of Caesarea.  Each page has a short story on it and several items with descriptions for the child to search and find in the picture.  For example on the Port of Caesarea page there is a short paragraph about Paul and his preaching.  Some of the items to find are Paul leaving for Rome, 2 dockside cranes, prisoners n chains, a giant steering oar, a family struggling with their luggage etc...Solutions to each page are included at the back of the book. 

You can purchase Bible Detective for $14.99 here.

 See inside the book here.

My boys love puzzle search books and it was really nice to see one that is Bible themed and contains both the Old and New Testaments.  The illustrations were very well done.  I like the paragraph and descriptions of the items you are searching for.  Finding some of the items is very challenging, even for mom.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Vocal Coach


Chris and Carole Beatty creators and founders of Vocal Coach have taught and coached singers for over 40 years.  In addition to offering personal lessons and seminars, they also have products that have been designed to be used in a home setting.  We had an opportunity to use and review the mp3 version of Vocal Coach Singer.

 " You can become a better singer today with the most complete instructional singing systems available. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, Vocal Coach Singer teaches and builds upon the fundamentals essential to an accomplished singing voice. From posture to performance our tested and proven techniques will help you deliver your songs with consistency and confidence!"

Vocal Coach Singer contains over $2000 worth of personal coaching time.  Their step by step easy to follow singing lessons will make it easy to gain more power, clarity, and confidence in your singing.  This course, designed for older children and adults,  will help you be able to sing your best and teach you to maintain your singing voice for years to come.  Vocal Coach doesn't teach a particular style of singing, but instead will teach you to master the principles of vocal muscle memory which allows body parts to produce excellent sound and amplification.

Vocal Coach Singer includes:

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal &; Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections
Vocal Coach Singer is available on CD's for $119.99 or mp3 for $99.

My teenage daughter loves to sing.  She sings in the church choir on Sunday mornings, around the house all of the time, and even has sung in a 4 H competition a time or two.  Voice lessons are not a possibility for us because of the distance we live from town and the cost of the weekly lessons.  I was excited that there was such a thorough product that she could do at home to improve her singing voice.  The lessons are easy to follow and complete.  The teacher's are very personable and interesting (and sometimes funny) to listen to.  I really liked that Vocal Coach isn't teaching how to sing a particular style, but instead how to properly exercise and get the most out of your singing voice. The printable Pdf's help you to be able to see and hear the lessons.  A printable singer journal helps the student to track and evaluate their progress.  In addition to all of the breathing, diction, expanding your range and other singing exercises I thought the section on Performance was outstanding. 

The voice is an instrument, and anyone can learn how to sing well and improve their singing voice.  Vocal Coach makes it easy and economical to learn how to improve your singing voice, properly train and maintain the vocal instrument, and better your performance right from the comfort of your own home.

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

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary downloadable version Vocal Coach Singer for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: His Love Endures Forever by Beth Wiseman

An unplanned pregnancy. An absent father. Can love really endure all things?
Danielle Kent is anything but Amish. But as destiny would have it, she has fallen in love with an Amish man.
Now she’s 18, pregnant, and hopeful that the child’s Amish father—Matthew Lapp—will do the right thing and marry her. She knows Matthew plans to leave his Colorado settlement for a life in the Englisch world. But that plan never included a baby.
When Matthew walks away from her and their unborn child, she has nowhere to turn. Her unlikely friendship with Levi offers some comfort—yet they have so little in common. This wasn’t the plan she had for her life, and she has never felt so alone. She doesn’t want to be pregnant. Doesn’t want to be Amish. Doesn’t want to trust God.
And yet.
God has plans beyond what her mind can imagine . . . loving plans to show a lost young woman that His love never fails but endures forever.

His Love Endures Forever is definitely not your "typical" Amish romance.  It was a very good story of faith and always, always trusting in God's path for your life even when it seems exactly opposite of what you think He wanted for your life.  Levi trusts in God and does what he knows God wanted him to do.  Danielle comes from a difficult life and has a very hard time trusting anyone, especially God.  But God used an unplanned baby, Levi, and his family to turn her hear towards Him showing us that God does use all things for good.  I think my favorite character was Levi's mother who honestly I didn't like very much at the beginning of the book.  But she has very real character qualities and flaws and ultimately does the right thing for her family, Danielle, and the baby and really makes a huge difference right when she is needed most.

I think that each part of the story had a good resolution.  As I read, I wondered how the author was going to resolve several of the issues the characters faced successfully without making it seem to simple for some pretty big troubles.  I think problems had very good resolutions that people facing the same problems in "real life" can relate to.

I received a complimentary e book copy of His Love Endures Forever for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 11/9/12

All week long the children looked forward to Art Class.  Last week they were told that they would be making shields this week to go along with learning about Romans.  That was our first project and Friday which was a good thing because they were so excited about it.  I love how each of the children's different personalities show through their art work.  Alex's shield was just like Captain America's.  Nick's was Tim Tebow #15 with a #18 down in the corner.  Anthony drew knights on his, and Lily and Christian just did random colors.  The shields were made out of a think foam board with a cardboard handle attached with duct tape.  The children used marker and chalks to do their designs.  Unfortunately after they finished them, it was hard to get the children to put the shields down and focus on their other projects so class was cut a little short.  They did some more drawings of the Colosseum and Roman chariots, this time using the art easels.  They also made their teacher Thanksgiving drawings to post at the Art Center.  We will not have class for the next two weeks because of the holiday and a bazaar taking place at the center on our class day.  After class the weather was beautiful so we headed off to the park for a picnic.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner

Meg has dreamed of going to Florence since she was a child and she fell in love with a painting at her grandmother's house.  But after her grandmother's death her less than reliable father is always putting the plans on hold.  Even though she is now a grown woman, Meg waited to take the trip because she believed her father would fulfill his promise to her.....someday.

A series of strange meetings and conversations with her father take place and this time she truly believes he will do what he says he will.  But, when Meg arrives in Florence her father is nowhere to be found leaving her all alone in a foreign country.  Luckily through her job, she knows of a brother/sister photography team that lives in Florence and had told Meg of a tour guide/aspiring memoir writer named Sofia.  Not only is she at home, she invites Meg to stay with her while she is in Florence and show her around the city.  Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long ago Medici princess communicates with her from the great master pieces of the Italian Renaissance.

As Meg sees Florence through Sofia's and Nora's eyes her views of life are changed forever as she and Sofia answer the question: "What if renaissance isn't just a word?  What if that's what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn't what has to be?"

I was immediately drawn in and captivated by The Girl in the Glass.  It was nothing like I had ever read before.  It had the mystery element, an element of romance, and history.  But it was more than that too.  The book kept me guessing even when I thought I had it all figured out.  There were parts that I thought were a little odd.  There was a section that a deception took place having to do with Sofia's father, uncle, Meg, and Lorenzo that bothered me and I wished it had been written differently, but overall it was a great story.  I loved the characters and the setting.  The author's descriptions of Florence were wonderful.  I also really enjoyed the ending.

I received a complimentary copy of The Girl in the Glass from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Melissa and Doug Bella Butterfly Tea Set Giveaway!!!!

Melissa and Doug have wonderful, quality, imaginative play toys for children.  Yesterday I posted this blogpost  to tell you all about the wonderful giveaways going on on Melissa and Doug's Facebook page.  Guess what?  In addition to the great opportunities to win one of their Terrific Twenty Toys on Facebook, Melissa and Doug have offered several bloggers the opportunity to host Giveaways on their blogs, and I am one of those bloggers!!!!!

I am hosting a giveaway for the Bella Butterfly Tea Set for ages 3 and up.

Description: "With rosy colors and charming decorations, this 17-piece butterfly-themed tea set sweetens tea-party play. The durable, food-safe plastic components are usable at snack time, too!"

Retails for $19.99.

Little girls will love playing tea party with this beautiful tea set!

To enter the giveaway: 


Leave me a comment telling me who you would like to win this for.  Include a way for me to contact you like email (this is mandatory.)

For extra entries (make a separate entry for each of these) :
Like Melissa and Doug on Facebook and tell me that you did.
Like the Happy Homeschool Mom on Facebook and tell me that you did.
Follow The Happy Homeschool Mom Blog or tell me that you already do.

Giveaway address must be in the United States.  Within 10 days of winner's reply, the product will be shipped by the vendor. 

Giveaway will close on Friday 11/16/12 at 11:59 pm.

Good luck!!!!

Want an easy way to find all of the blogs hosting giveaways for Melissa and Doug Terrific Twenty toys?

Schoolhouse Review Crew: IEW Primary Arts of Language (PAL)

 Institute For Excellence In Writing has been very well known in the homeschooling community for their excellent writing curriculum for older students. Recently they have developed a program called the Primary Arts of Language (PAL)  based on Anna Ingham's award winning Blended Sound Sight System of learning.  PAL provides everything you need to teach your primary aged student (K-2) reading and writing. 


I had heard lots of great things about IEW, and even had listened to one or two of Andrew Pudewa's talks, but I had never used any of their products.  When the opportunity to review PAL came up and I started doing research on the product and listening to the WEBINAR, I was AMAZED!  After receiving PAL and having the opportunity to use it with my 5 year old, I cannot imagine a better more complete way to teach my children to read and write.  In fact, I kind of feel like my older children were cheated because they did not have an opportunity to use PAL and learn to read and write in such a fun and engaging way.  This review may get a little long because there is so much to talk about, but hang in there, it is worth reading.

PAL has two separate parts, reading and writing, that are designed to be used concurrently, but you can choose to use them separately.


PAL: Reading  "Using poetry, the reading portion of the Primary Arts of Language teaches phonics and whole words. Students are introduced to letters through letter stories and discover the vowel and consonant pairs that help us read. Daily games played during “Activity Time” reinforce the phonetic concepts so that a student can know them completely."  The PAL Reading complete package includes:

PAL Reading Teacher's Manual
PAL Reading DVD Rom containing: Instructional video by Jill Pike, The Four Language Arts mp3 audio by Andrew Pudewa, Poetry as an Integrator mp3 by Anna Ingham, Nurturing Competent Communicators mp3 by Andrew Pudewa, Intro to the Blended Sight Sound Program mp3 by Anna Ingham, PAL Reading student book (e book)
PAL Phonetic Games Book
PAL Phonetic Farm Folder with Stickers

 The cost of the package is $69.  You can also purchase items separately.  Click here to order.

See a sample of the Teacher's Manual here.

See a sample of the student pages here.

See a sample of Phonetic Games here.

PAL Reading has four different stages. 

Stage 1: Foundations
During Foundations the teacher is the center of learning helping your student build a strong foundation in phonics and whole words.  Poetry is the centerpiece of each lesson.  Each poem will be read for several days and used for many purposes.  Students learn sounds through fun letter stories.  The Phonetic Farm is a fun place where students add colorful stickers as they learn the phonetic rules.  Phonetic Games made from the Phoenetic Games Book and file folders are used to give your students plenty of fun hands on practice with phonograms and sight words.  The Card Game makes practicing sight words fun and easySight words are printed on a 3x5 card with the phonograms marked to help students identify them.

Beginning in this stage and continuing through Discovery daily work pages are completed.  Cut and paste activities helps reinforce the lessons and a reading practice page provides a few sentences for reading practice from the vocabulary that has been taught.

The amount of time spent in Foundations can be several weeks or much longer depending on the child.

Stage 2: Activity Time
 Around lesson 19 a 30 minute activity period can be planned for each day to reinforce what has been learned.  You continue to teach new phonograms, words, and games while your student practices what he is learning through games and his work period.  Your child continues to play 30 minutes everyday until you are sure he has mastered the phonetic rules reinforced by the games.  This can take anywhere from 2-4 months or even longer.  Mastery of the rules is very important and can't be rushed.

Stage 3: Discovery
 Once your student masters the phonetic rules by playing the games in Activity they are ready to move on to Discovery.  Instead of playing games for 30 minutes they will spend that time working through Discovery Card packs.  The student works on decoding 10 cards at a time.  Students usually take 2-4 weeks to work through the 30 packs of cards.

Stage 4: The Library
 Once they master the words in Discovery students move on to spending 30 minutes a day reading beginning level books aloud to a partner.  As their confidence in reading grows the difficulty of books can be increased.  


PAL Writing: "  The writing portion is divided into three parts: printing, copy work, and composition. Spelling is included throughout the course. The printing section provides an entire handwriting program to teach your student how to correctly form his letters. The copy work exercises will make printing automatic in preparation for the composition lessons, which will gently teach your student to write stories and paragraphs with style."  The complete package includes:

PAL Writing Teacher's Manual
PAL Writing DVD Rom containing: Instructional video by Jill Pike, Reading Comprehension mp3 by Adam  Andrews, Dictation, Narration, and Public speaking mp3 by Andrew Pudewa, The Four Language Arts mp3 by Andrew Pudewa, PAL Writing student book (e book)
All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit
All About Spelling Level One
Bonus e audio downloads: Units one, two, and three In the K-2 Classroom mp3 by Shirley George, Preparing the K-2 Writing Environment by Richelle Palmer

The cost of the PAL Writing Package is $89.  Components can be purchased separately.  Click here to order.

See a sample of the Teacher's Manual here.

See a sample of Student Pages here.

See a sample of All About Spelling here.

PAL Writing is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1: Printing and Story Summaries
Introduces printing and story summaries and takes about 30 minutes per day to teach.  The Story Sequence Chart is used to retell short stories.

Part II: Copy Work and Style with All About Spelling
Printing will become automatic through copy work.  Style enrichment lessons will gently introduce the basic parts of speech and give your child opportunity to play with stylistic techniques.  All About Spelling, a multi sensory spelling program presented in 24 steps will be begun.  Daily story summaries will continue.

Part III: Composition With Style
The composition lessons focus on the IEW Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Units 1-3 and 7.
Unit 1: Key Word Outlines
Unit 2: Summarizing From Notes
Unit 3: Story Writing
Unit 4: Creative Writing

There are a few things you will need to go along with PAL:
Manila File Folders (at least 35)
3x5 cards (2 packs)
A box or crate to keep files in
crayons, markers, colored pencils, comfortable pens, scissors, glue, tape, black Sharpie
3 ring binder with 5 tab dividers
a notebook (composition or spiral bound)
3x5 card box
wide ruled notebook paper
magnetic whiteboard (optional for using with AAS)
printer paper and ink for printing student pages

The Phonetic Farm
This is how the reading and writing works together.  Each section you work through fairly quickly.  I am going to use Lesson 1 as an example.  First you read the poem September.  Next you write in your class journal.  Then you introduce the days letters (lesson one was a, c, and o)by teaching the letter stories and writing them on a whiteboard.  Then your child practices the letters on the whiteboard and then paper.  Next you read aloud a story (lesson one was Goldilocks and the 3 bears) and use a story sequence chart to help the student summarize the story.  Then you move on to the Phonetic Games (in lesson one you play #1, 2, 3, and the card game.)  The next activity is to put your stickers in the phonetic farm folder.  Then your child does his agenda work (worksheets from student book.)  Later on in the day you briefly go over the phonetic farm and give an informal "spelling test" to reinforce the sounds your child learned that day.

Christian practicing his letters on a whiteboard before moving to paper.

I have been using PAL reading and writing with my son Christian who is 5 years old.  This is his first experience doing any kind of formal schoolwork.  He had no prior reading or writing experience other than listening to me read aloud.  We take two days to complete each lesson.  He loves PAL!   He asks to do it even on the weekends!  He loves the letter stories, the phonetic farm,  and the games especially feeding Mugs.  He also really loves the stories and doing the story summaries.  He already has learned so much over the last 6 weeks and can't wait until he learns all his sounds so he can start reading books. 

Feeding Mugs

What I LOVE about PAL: 
  • Reading and writing are taught together.
  • The teacher's manual is very well written and easy to follow.
  •  The program is very easy to teach.
  • The teacher's manual is spiral bound and lays flat on the table.
  • The letter stories are so much fun and make children want to learn.
  • The inclusion of poetry.
  • The inclusion of short stories and story summaries.
  • The file folder phonetic games are absolutely wonderful and provide a hands on fun way for children to learn.
  • The phonetic farm is a fun, exciting, and colorful way for children to learn and remember phonetic sounds.
  • The program is very flexible!  You can go at your child's pace.  Lessons can take one day or several days.  You can use the poems and stories provided for you or choose to use your own.  You can print the student pages for the handwriting worksheets or use notebook paper. 
  • The program can be used with multiple children (although each child may want their own phonetic farm.)
  • Because the student pages are an ebook, you can print as many pages as you need for more practice, or multiple students. (they do offer a printed copy of the student books if you'd rather purchase it printed.)
  • All About Spelling is a wonderful multi sensory spelling program and I am so glad they have included level one to go with PAL.  I have not yet reached the section in PAL where you start working with All About Spelling but have used it with two of my other children and can highly recommend it!
Letter Stories

There are a few things I wished I had done differently at the beginning.  First, when you box comes, do not start looking at everything and panic.  Stop.  Take out the DVD Rom in the Reading Teacher's Manual and watch the instructional DVD.  After listening to Jill explain it all it will make sense to you and you will see how it all comes together!  The first day, I tried creating the file folder games with Christian.  There were three games we needed to do that day.  It made me very stressed and him very impatient to try and put the games together with him.  I also noticed that they were not as sturdy as I wanted them to be.  I bought some laminating sheets and spent a whole Saturday laminating all of the game boards and pieces.  Then I used double sided tape to tape the boards into the file folders.  This made a huge difference in both the appearance and the sturdiness of the file folder games and I don't feel rushed during lesson time because all  I have to do is cut out the new pieces we learn that day and add them to the game.  The first few days I was determined to get one lesson done each day, but I noticed that Christian would start getting tired a little more than halfway through the lesson and really wasn't focusing as much as he should've been.  By dividing the lesson in half and taking two days to complete one lesson he has been able to absorb everything much better.
Mugs did got get laminated and is already starting to be a little beat up

The laminated games look a lot nicer and are a lot sturdier.

 PAL is very teacher intensive, especially at the beginning.  Some people might see this as a negative, but I really enjoy spending this one on one time with Christian.  I think it is really interesting too that when my older children are listening in when I am teaching and comment on how fun they think the program is.  I really do wish that this had been around when they were younger, but now that I know about PAL I will be using it with my younger children and even have used some of its ideas (like telling the difference between b and d) with my 7 and 9 year olds too.
working on his agenda worksheet

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

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of PAL for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Tadpole

To go long with our Apologia Swimming Creatures Science curriculum, we decided to get a fish and fish tank, hatch Triops, and raise a tadpole.  We ordered our Triops kit and Grow A Frog kit from Home Science Tools.  The Grow A Frog kit came with a post card that you had to mail in to receive your tadpole.  We sent ours in back in August, but they can only ship them when the weather is just right and it had been way to hot to ship.  Last week, right before we started our lesson on Herps, just in time we got our tadpole.  He is an African Clawed aquatic frog which means he will spend his entire life in the water.

Here is a picture of him last Monday when we got him.

In the last week he has already started growing his back legs.  I took several shots to try and show them but it is hard to get a tadpole to cooperate!

If he can survive the very curious cat, we should have a frog in a few weeks!  Nick wants to get the bigger habitat and frog friend so he won't be lonely. 

Melissa and Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

Melissa and Doug is having a 20 Days of Terrific Twenty to celebrate the holidays.  The Terrific Twenty list is the "best of the best"  gifts for the 2012 holiday season.  Every day on the Facebook page starting November 6th they will be giving away one of the items on their terrific twenty to list to one of their lucky fans! 

You can find the Melissa and Doug Facebook page here.

Melissa and Doug has some of the best quality toys for imaginative play.  Check out the toys on their Terrific Twenty list here and hop of to their Facebook Page to enter to win one everyday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Beginner's Bible iPad App

The best selling children's bible story book, The Beginner's Bible is now available as an iPad app.  The app for children 2-6, has audio, animation, and sound effects that brings 94 Bible stories to life.  In addition to the stories, the app contains puzzles, coloring pages, and games to go along with the stories.  The first story pack containing six stories: The Beginning, Adam and Eve, The Sneaky Snake, Noah's Ark, The Tall Tower, and a New Home along with puzzles, games, and interactive coloring pages can be downloaded FREE!  The next two story packs can be purchased for $1.99 each with more story packs releasing in the next few months. 

We love the Beginner's Bible iPad app.  It is a great way for young children to learn about the Bible.  The narrator and sound effects are very good.  The children loved the voice of God.  The illustrations are adorable.   The best part is that as the words are being read, they are also highlighted so children not only hear but also see the words that are being read.  The interactive coloring sheets, puzzles, and games are great to reinforce the story that the children have read. 

Download the first story pack free from the app store.

Disclaimer:  In exchange for The Beginner's Bible, I was asked to download and review the iPad app.  All opinions in this review are my own and no other compensation was given. 

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Grace and Truth Books


Grace and Truth Books is an online Christian bookstore that doesn't focus on the latest trends or fanciest packaging.  Instead they are built on a different approach: " what will glorify God, strengthen His people in their walk, and call all peoples to find joy in knowing His gospel and following Him."  Recently we had an opportunity to read and review Of Knights and Fair Maidens by Jeff and Danielle Myers from Grace and Truth Books.

Of Knights and Fair Maidens is a hard cover 114 page book written for ages 14 and up and their parents.  It was first printed in 1996 and since going out of print had been widely requested so it was reprinted in a hard cover version in 2012.  Jeff and Danielle wanted a different kind of relationship than what is considered "normal."  They interviewed married couples to find out the keys to a successful courtship and used those principles in their own relationship.  Later they used those principles in this humorous heart warming book.  From the back of the book, "Everybody thought Jeff and Danielle were odd.  They didn't date.  They communicated mostly through letters.  The time they spent together was almost always in groups.  Even though they were adults they asked their parents' permission to develop their relationship.  And strangest of all, they didn't kiss until they were engaged.  How can this possibly be a recipe for a great marriage?"


Rethinking Relationships
So You Want to Go Back to Medieval Times?
Rethinking a Very Old, But Very Cool Idea
How We Met and Committed to Marriage Before We Fell In Love

Important Steps to Great Relationships
Breaking the Lone Ranger Habit
No Masks
Waiting in the Wings
How to Fall in Love, Courtship Style

How to "Do" Courtship
Okay, Smart Guy!
Involving Others in Your Relationship
Just For Guys
Beyond Pizza and a Movie
Getting Ready, Part One
Getting Ready, Part Two
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Question Is
Happily Ever After

The Article that Started it All

Of Knights and Fair Maidens shows you how to develop relationships the old fashioned way.  Through a question/answer interview format you'll hear the story of their unique relationship, learn ideas about how to form the foundation of a solid relationship, and build exciting unique qualities in the guy/girl relationship part of your life.  This book will challenge you to think about guy/girl relationships in a completely different way.

You can purchase Of Knights and Fair Maidens for $9.75 here.

I was interested in reading this book because our oldest daughter is 15 and I want something better for her than the world's "dating scene."  Of Knights and Fair Maidens was very funny right from the opening chapter (and actually very true and quite sad through a humorous little story.)  It is true and so sad how much our society has diminished the importance of marriage and commitment.  The book is written in a conversational interview style where you get to "hear" both Jeff and Danielle talk about the whys and hows of their courtship.  The book talks about a courtship model that teens and singles can use in a variety of circumstances that focuses on the principles of accountability, character, and preparation using their experience as examples.  They also offer several ideas that they tried or heard from other people for putting these principles into practice.

It was a very quick read, but one that you really come away with thinking.  Even if you are not 100 % sold on what you think is courtship (or your teen is not completely convinced) you will come away from this book with many ideas for a dating model that is so much better than most dating in the world today.  I loved the book!  I thought this said it very well, " Courtship does not guarantee a perfect relationship.  It cannot promise freedom from trouble.  But it does lay a strong foundation which will make things better than you imagined.  Courtship allows you to develop a relationship leading to marriage while maintaining and even improving your relationship with your parents and family.  If offers protection and the opportunity to really get to know the other person.  The self control you develop will create trust in a relationship, leading to a marriage with no regrets.  It passes a godly heritage of purity on to your children."

Oh and the knight in shining armor at the end was the one every fair maiden dreams of unlike that of the knight in the opening chapter!

To see what crew mates had to say about this book and several others from Grace and Truth Books click here.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Of Knights and Fair Maidens for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Superwoman Syndrome

I am not Superwoman.  I cannot be all things to all people all the time.  I am not perfect.  I do NOT have an infinite amount of patience (that's something people assume when they see the size of my family and that I homeschool.)  And yet, even as I write this I know that I have Superwoman Syndrome.  I want to be able to be all things to all people all the times.  I want to be the perfect wife and mother.  I don't like to make mistakes. I don't like to feel like I've failed.  I get my feelings hurt very easily by other people especially when I am getting criticized.  I have a very hard time saying no to people when they ask me to do something, even when I am stretched beyond my limit and should not add anything extra to my overflowing load.

So for all the women with Superwoman Syndrome, we need to be more realistic.  We are not perfect.  Our children are not perfect.  A bill is going to be forgotten to get paid.  You will forget to give your son his medicine.  It may take 3 days before you remember to look at your son's Math.  Your child will at sometime have a meltdown over schoolwork.  They may even act rude or throw a temper tantrum in public.  Your husband may go to work with mismatched socks and there might be an endless supply of laundry on the back of the couch.  These things are not "failures."  It is life and no one can do it all all of the the time.

People are always going to criticize, or think they can do something better than you can.  That's one of the reasons I hate being in leadership positions because nobody else wants to be in charge, but everyone certainly can tell you when you are doing things wrong.  A wise lady once told me that if they think they can do it better, let them step up and take do it.  I need to remember that.  I put my whole heart into everything I do, and if someone thinks that is not enough and they can do it better,  more power to them.  Don't let people discourage you or make you feel inadequate.

The verse, "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me," does not mean we should attempt to do all things.  It means He will  give us strength for the things He has given us, not all of the things we have given ourselves.  Even though it can be hard.  Even though we might upset people who we care about, sometimes you just have to say NO.  Being wives and mothers should always be the first and most important priority.  Homeschooling is another top priority.  When too many other things come in, those are the areas that suffer.  Even small things or commitments can cause havoc in a household that is already stretched.  Then there is the added stress of not just doing extra "things: but the scheduling and juggling that goes along with it.  Aaaahhhhhhhhhhh.  It gives me a headache just thinking about it.  I know for I need to learn to say NO to people , how about you?  Oh, and be mindful of asking other people to do things too, especially if you know they suffer from Superwoman Syndrome.

I leave you (and myself!!) with this thought, Who's approval should we be seeking?  We will never be Superwoman and will not ever be able to do it all.  But, we do need to look not for the approval of man but of God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Homeschool Blog Awards

Voting has begun in the 2012 Homeschool Blog Awards.  I was very surprised to see The Happy Homeschool Mom nominated in the Best Homemaking or Recipes category.  I didn't even nominate myself!  You can vote once per day in every category.  Hop on over here and vote for all your favorite Homeschool Blogs. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Favorite Recipes: Chunky Chicken Chili

I tried a brand new recipe tonight.  Sunday nights in the fall and winter are soup nights at my house because we eat such a late lunch after getting home from church.  I like to make soup because it feeds a lot of people inexpensively and is pretty easy to make.  I had never thought of making a chicken chili, but it sounded really good.  It was yummy!!  I will definitely be making this recipe again.

 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can corn (drained)
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 cup water
1 pack mild chili seasoning (I only use half a packet)
1 lb cooked chicken diced
shredded cheddar or other cheese

Put all your ingredients in a pot and mix well.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.   Ladel into bowls and top with shredded cheese.  Delicious!!

I think this would make a really good crock pot recipe also.  Put everything in the cock pot and cook on low all day.

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Apologia Journeys of Faithfulness


Apologia is mostly known throughout homeschooling circles for their creation based science curriculum.  But, Apologia also carries a wide variety of other books for homeschoolers including worldview curriculum, resources for homeschooling parents, and other great books.  We recently had an opportunity to read and review Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson.

In Journeys of Faithfulness, Sarah Clarkson challenges girls ages 12 and up and their mothers to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ by exploring inspirational and faithful women of the Bible.Journeys of Faithfulness is a 232 page paperback book with 12 chapters covering: Mary and Martha, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Esther, and Ruth.  Each section includes historical information that we know of the characters plus fictional authors insight into what they may have thought or felt, a devotional, Bible Study questions, and pages for journaling.

Part 1: Mary and Martha
Chapter One: Learning to See
Chapter Two: A Circle of Glory
Chapter Three: The Hush of Love

Part 2: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Chapter 4: Story-Formed Soul
Chapter 5: Swords and Starlight
Chapter 6: The Great Adventure

Part 3: Esther
Chapter 7: Heart Alive
Chapter 8: For Such a Time
Chapter 9: Courageous Beauty

Part 4: Ruth
Chapter 10: Claiming the Light
Chapter 11: To Walk in Darkness
Chapter 12: Desire of My Heart

You can view a sample chapter by clicking here.

Purchase Journeys of Faithfulness for $13 here.

Over the last three weeks, Chelsea (15) has been reading through the stories, devotionals, and working through the Bible Study questions in each section of Journeys of Faithfulness.  This is what she had to say about this study:

" Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson is a mother/daughter/women's Bible Study book.  It can be read over several week days or weeks depending on the reader. The book covers the lives of Mary the sister of Martha, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Ruth, and Esther.

The study dives into the incredible spiritual, emotional, and physical journeys undertaking women on their way to discovering just what God has in store for their lives.  Their courage, steadfastness, love, kindness, and compassion is shown through their acts of faith.  Mary, Mother of Jesus was given the most wonderful and trying experiences of all time.  Mary and Martha both got to know and love Jesus in the flesh during His life on earth.  Esther was willing to give up everything for her people.  Ruth gave up all she had known to convert to the beliefs and stay with the mother of her dead husband.  These women were indeed extraordinary.

Reading this book gave me a more in depth look at these women I have already learned so much about.  It really opened my eyes to the wonderful and sometimes terrifying lives they lived.  And while the section of the book containing the stories was good, the devotionals and sections for Bible study were amazing!!  It really made me look at my faith compared to theirs and realize I can do more for God than I am doing.  With God all things are truly possible!

I would definitely recommend this book to other women and teenage girls in the hopes that it will open their eyes as it did mine.  It was well written with clearly defined lessons in faith that can be applied anytime, anywhere.  I truly enjoyed the learning I did through Journeys of Faithfulness."

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

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of Journeys of Faithfulness for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.