Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: A Heart's Disguise by Colleen Coble

Book Description 

" In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young woman searches for her lost love at the edge of the West. The Civil War has destroyed Sarah Montgomery’s marriage before it’s even begun. After Sarah receives word that her fiancĂ©, Rand Campbell, has been killed fighting for the Union, her brothers and ailing father persuade her to pledge herself to Ben Croftner—despite her strong misgivings. But when Sarah finds out that Rand is in fact alive—and that Ben Croftner knew it—she indignantly breaks off the engagement and goes in search of Rand. But Ben Croftner does not take rejection lightly—and a single woman with a sick father makes an easy target. When Sarah is abducted by her treacherous fiancĂ©, Rand finally comes to her aid . . . only to reveal that he has been posted at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and intends to take her there as his wife. But could Sarah leave her dying father’s side for the love of her life? And what plans are forming in the jealous heart of Ben Croftner?"

The author's note at the beginning of the book states that this is the fist series that she ever wrote and they have not been in print for nearly ten years.  A Heart 's Disguise is book one of six in The Journey of the Heart series.  It is under a hundred pages long and a very fast read.  I think it has the makings of a good story, but I am not a big fan of books that are divided up so much.  It seems as though they rush through the story and  just when you are getting into it, they cut off in hopes you will purchase the next one in the series.  I also think  that splitting a story into 6 separate books causes the consumer to spend a lot more money then necessary to get the complete story but I see that Amazon has a set of the whole series as one purchase available for preorder.....

That said, this could be a fantastic story by the time it is finished.  It has interesting characters and a good plot, complete with hints of danger, love, and mystery.  I absolutely loved this (talking about how it can be hard to see God's plan in our lives), "She was doing some embroidery work, and I looked up at the underside of the hoop.  The yarn was all tangled and gnarled.  A real mess.  But when I climbed up beside her and looked down on what she was working on, it was a beautiful garden.  That's the way our lives are.  We're looking at the picture from underneath, but God is working out a specific plan from above."

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day!!

I grew up in Western New York.  Snow was NOT something very exciting there.  I can remember having snow on Halloween and still having it past Easter.  Very cold temperatures, lots of snow, wind, shoveling, and dressing in layers was just part of life there.  Snow didn't stop anyone or anything unless it was extreme blizzard like conditions.

It has been more than 15 years since we lived in New York and I do not miss the snow at all.  I will take the heat of  Arkansas summers any day.  The children however, think snow is wonderful.  Every year they worry and wonder if they will get to play out in the snow.  Usually we get one good snow every year.  We have had several possibilities of snow this year that have all fizzled out or gone around us.  Earlier this week they predicted snow and ice.  We got the sleet but hardly any snow. When the forecast showed snow for us today, we were doubtful it would actually happen, especially when it started this morning as sleet again.  But, around 9 am the sleet started turning into fluffy white snow flakes.  The children were so excited!

Since it is such a novelty we did cancel school and had a snow day.  The children and the dog spent most of the day outside making snow angels, sledding, and building snow men.  When they came in to warm up I threw their stuff in the dryer so they would be dry to put on again.  It snowed until after 4 o clock and when I measured around 3 we had 3.5 inches of snow.

the dog stole the first carrot nose!

Even Chelsea wandered out

We made some snow ice cream

And a few more snowmen

 Anthony made a snow chair.

And I spent the day in front of this.

Ok, I also cleaned out a closet, did some laundry, some baking, and wrote a review.

Happy Homeschooling!

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

After our review of Under Drake's Flag last year, I was really hoping that we would have an opportunity to review the next one that was getting ready to be released.  We were thrilled with to be offered a chance to review the In Freedom's Cause Single Package from Heirloom Audio Productions.

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review
In Freedom's Cause,  an active listening audio drama for ages 6 and up, is based on the book In Freedom's Cause by G.A Henty.  It tells the story of Archie Forbes (Ned in the audio drama) as he joins Scotland's fight for freedom with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  In Freedom's Cause has a star cast including Billy Boyd from Lord of the Rings, Skandar Keynes from Narnia, James Cosmo from Braveheart, Joanne Froggratt from Downtown Abbey, and Cathy Sara from Women In Black.  It also has a beautiful sound track and sound effects and a fast paced adventure designed to draw the listener into the story and keep them on the edge of their seat during the over 2 hour performance.

The single package ($29.97)  includes:
In Freedom's Cause CD Set-Physical Copy - 2 CD set of the audio drama In Freedom's Cause contains over 2 hours of non stop adventure that takes the listener back in time to live the adventure of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the many men and women who fought for freedom against the English.

In Freedom's Cause Study Guide Digital Download-A downloadable study guide designed to complete the audio presentation.  The sets of questions begin and end as the story takes new turns.  Each set of questions has 3 parts:

Listening Well-questions that ask what your child remembers from that section of the story

Thinking Further-more in depth questions that require further thinking or investigation

Defining Words-a list of vocabulary words used in each section for your child to define

Also there are three Bible studies based on the themes of the story, information on G.A Henty, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, a note on the history of Scotland, and a recommended reading list for those who would like to learn more.

There are no answers provided in the study guide.

In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack MP3 Download- The soundtrack comes in a zip file and once you extract it contains 29 different tracks of award winning music by John Campbell.

Printable Copy of the Prayer of William Wallace- Printable copy of Psalm 23 from the Latin Vulgate Bible.

We love audiobooks at our house.  We live out in the country and spend a lot of time in the car traveling from place to place.  I also like to use audiobooks on a rainy day or when doing other tasks like cleaning bedrooms or building LEGOS.  As I mentioned above we really enjoyed the first audio drama we received from Heirloom Audio Productions and were really looking forward to getting In Freedom's Cause.  We covered William Wallace and Scotland's fight for freedom last year in history and I wasn't sure if the children remembered much of it.  But, the background information given in the study guide gives you the back story which is great as a refresher or for those who are unfamiliar with the story.  

My children (13,11,9,7, and 5) all listened to In Freedom's Cause with me.  We listened to the first half one rainy morning and listened to the second half on the way to archery club one afternoon.  The story draws you in right from the very beginning.  The music and the sound effects are amazing!  The actors are wonderful!  I have to say I especially love the voice of the narrator.  The story is one of faith and perseverance and standing up for what's right even when you face defeat.  It reminds us how precious our freedom really is.  In Freedom's Cause is action packed and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.  

You do not have to worry about any of the content in this story.  It has a strong Christian message with main characters that show good character qualities.  Because of the time period and the story itself, there are periods of the story that are a bit intense (it is a literal fight for freedom after all and many died along the way) but there wasn't any details that were gory or frightening to any of my children.  If it is something that you may be concerned about if you have young children, I would recommend listening ahead of time.  

The study guide is set up so that if you wish, you could pause the CD and answer the questions after each section.  This may be a useful tool for those who want to make sure their children are actively listening or for those who are using it to go along with their history studies.  I prefered to allow the children to listen all the way through and then go back and answer some of the questions orally.  Older children could complete the guide completely on their own, but without the answers being included the teacher or adult would have to be familiar with the audio drama as well.

One of Heirloom Audio Productions goals is to make history come alive.  I believe they are achieving that goal through these amazing active listening audio dramas.  The next one, With Lee in Virginia is set to release on around Memorial Day, so stay tuned!

To see what my Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.
In Freedom's Cause Review

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 23

If I had it to do all over again, Art and I would've bought the king size bed when we were buying furniture for our first house.  It gets a little crowded at night!  We get Emmie for sure every night and Lily if there is a storm or she has a bad dream.  This morning I had to stand up and climb over Art so I could get up and start breakfast.  The sleeping beauties weren't at all disturbed.

Week 23 in Our Homeschool

Bible: This week we finished lessons 99-102 in Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  This set of lessons ends at Lesson 104.  I am not going to purchase the next set for two reasons.  First, the children like it but it seems like they are paying more attention to the instructions for each section rather than listening to the message itself.  The second reason is that my 11 year old has a really hard time with these worksheets.  I have noticed that he has trouble with instructions that come in series (part of dyslexia), and with these worksheets it asks you to do several things in each section.  He does well with the first thing usually but then gets bogged down and frustrated because he can't understand the rest of the instructions.  I switched him from the advanced to the intermediate worksheets thinking ti would help but it doesn't.  He is the last one finished every day and is frustrated.  I do not want his school day to start out with him being defeated every day.  So we will finish up the last two lessons and then move on to something else for the rest of the year.  I am thinking maybe a study of Proverbs.

History: This week in Mystery of History Vol III we finished Lessons 58, 59, and 60 on The Thirty Years War, The Pilgrims Land at New Plymouth, and Squanto.  We also did the timeline figures and memory cards for this lesson.

Science: We finished chapter 13 on magnetism in Apologia's Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics.  We watched the primary and elementary level videos on magnetism by Visual Learning Systems.  We also pulled out our electricity and magnetism kit we did a few years ago from MOving Beyond the Page and did some experiments with magnets.

Grammar/Writing/Literature- Nick and Alex finished Lesson 20 of Fix It! Grammar and Lesson 15 of Medieval Writing.  Christian's Lightning Lit book this week was The Story of Ping and his grammar assignments focused on contractions.  Anthony started Charlotte's Web and his grammar also focused on contractions.

Spelling/Reading-Alex finished Lesson 26 of AAS Level 4. Anthony and Christian finished Lesson 8 of AAR Level 2.

Math- Nick finished lesson 23 of Pre-Algebra.  Alex finished Lesson 20 of Delta.  Christian and Anthony finished Lesson 21 of Beta and Gamma.

My Father's World Creation from A to Z

Lily finished up "g" for goat this week.  She did a drawing page for the letter g, and a cut and paste page.  We read the book, A Year on Maple Ridge Farm which was really cute!  I had never read that one before.  We started the next unit on "C" for cow.  She completed her picture card page, sound discrimination page, and handwriting page.  We discussed information about cows.  The Bible lesson is on "God's Word Helps Me Grow."

Other Activities This Week:

Monday archery was cancelled because it was a holiday.

Gymnastics was Tuesday.  I did not take any pictures this week.  Chelsea is taking 3 online classes this semester one of which is a science class.  After she does her labs she has to have someone photograph her to show she really did it.

Wednesday we woke up to some snow.

Thursday was archery.  I didn't take any pictures.  After archery we ran to Walmart to grab frozen pizzas for pizza and a movie on Friday because we were supposed to get freezing rain Friday morning and I didn't want to go out and go shopping.

Saturday Emelia, Lily, Nick and I went shopping.  We had a ton of stuff we needed to buy.  I was thankful Nick came to help.  By the time we were done we had 2 full shopping carts.  A lady passed by and said, "looks like you bought enough for a month."  I said, "Nope.  More like a week."  But we did have to buy paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, laundry soap, etc.. that will last more than a month.

Saturday was also Anna's birthday.  We made a cake but didn't give her any.  The present we bought her she quite enjoyed for the brief time it lasted.

Emelia has been quite the mommy's helper in the kitchen this week.  She has helped me make supper every day, helped make a few desserts, and even set the table a couple of times.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review: The Mineral Book by David McQueen

One of the challenges when teaching topics that fall under the earth science category is that the majority of books are evolutionary.  That is not some thing you need to worry about when purchasing from Master Books.  Not only are their books free of evolution, they also give honor and glory to God.  As part of the Moms of Masterbooks Team, I recently had an opportunity to reveiw one of the newest books in the Wonders of Creation series, The Mineral Book by David McQueen.

The Mineral Book is a 96 page hardcover book that is available from New Leaf Publishing Group for $16.99.  The book is color coded for 3 different skill levels: Level One for young readers, Level Two for older, more skilled readers, and Level 3 for advanced readers.  The book is full of information, full color pictures, and illustrations.  There are 8 Chapters in The Mineral Book:

Chapter 1: Where Do We Find Minerals?
Chapter 2: What Is A Mineral?
Chapter 3: How Do I Identify a Mineral?
Chapter 4: Discovering the Minerals in the Bible
Chapter 5: A World of Valuable Minerals
Chapter 6: Minerals and Creation Science
Chapter 7: Minerals and the Lordship of Jesus
Chapter 8: Building a Mineral Collection

At the end there is a beautiful full color Mineral Identification Guide, a list of Bible References for Minerals and Metals, a Periodic Table of Elements, and a poster of Mineral Pigments Around the World.

I so wish we had this book a few months ago.  We live very close to the world's only public diamond mine in the world (which by the way is mentioned in the book) and we took a field trip there in the fall.  The children brought home loads of minerals that we really knew nothing about.  This book would have been a great help to us before we had visited the diamond mine.

The Mineral Book is packed full of information and as mentioned above is split up into three different reading levels.  The book is probably best geared for middle school students, but even the youngest children can enjoy this book simply by looking at the pictures.  Aren't  they gorgeous?

I love the information about minerals that were mentioned in the Bible, the scriptures and fun facts that are included,  and the information about how they are used today.  There is a wonderful section on mineral identification that would be helpful to both students and hobbyists. Also there are great tips for starting (and sharing) your own mineral collection.

While we may have missed out on the opportunity to do an in depth study of minerals before our trip to the diamond mine, by using The Mineral Book we have learned about and learned how to recognize different mineral.  This information will be useful to the children for the next field trip, the back yard, and for starting their own mineral collection.  But most importantly it teaches about the creativity of God and the gift of God's grace and provision in our lives.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Homeschoooling High School: Does it Need to Be Accredited?

Homeschooling High School tends to make people nervous.  Parents who feel capable teaching their children in the younger years start to worry about what will happen when their children are old enough to go to High School.  Fears about teaching upper level classes, how to track credits and grades, how to prepare for standardized testing, diplomas, and getting into college are all issues parents with upcoming high schoolers deal with.

There is this worry that if the curriculum that you are using with your child isn't accredited, that means it doesn't "count."  I actually have had two recent phone calls and an email asking me about this.  I had a lady tell me she had completely messed her daughter up because she had been using a curriculum for the first half of 9th grade and since it wasn't accredited it wouldn't count and she would have to start over.  This is NOT true.

You are just as much in control of your child's high school homeschool curriculum as you were in elementary and middle school.  You do not need to go through an online accredited school for your child's credits to "count."  Some people choose to use an online accredited school but that is a choice, not a requirement.

When my oldest was getting ready to start high school, I took a look at the basic requirements for our state's local public schools.  I wanted to make sure she at least meant the same credit requirements that the local students were required.  We took those courses and then others that she was interested in or that I felt were going to beneficial to prepare her for college and life.  I counted credits based on the number of hours spent on the course and/or the course recommendations for what credits to award.  I wrote a post about choosing classes and counting credits here. 

We had a transcript made by the Arkansas Education Alliance that had a sign and a seal on it and showed all of her credit hours and classes she had taken.  Her test scores and GPA were also listed on the transcript.  All of the colleges she looked at accepted this diploma with no questions.

In the state of Arkansas, for homeschoolers to get a driver's permit you have to have your Notice of Intent form signed and notarized.  Some parents were given the information that they needed an accredited transcript to do this.  That is not true.  Now that the NOI is online you have to log in to your account, print out the form, and have it notarized.  You must take that paper with you to take the written permit test and again to get your license after you pass the road test.

I did a more detailed post about homeschooling high school the senior year that talks about ACT's, the FAFSA, and applying to colleges here.  My knowledge is based on our experience.  I am NOT an expert.  The HSLDA  is a great resource for all of your legal homeschooling questions and if you are in Arkansas the Education Alliance is a fantastic resource.

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauk

Book Description 

" Prince Stephen came to America to escape responsibility. But what he found complicates his life more than ever. Corina Del Rey is happy with her life in Melbourne, Florida. She spends her days engrossed in her career as a journalist and has her sights set on climbing the corporate ladder-if for no other reason, to distract herself from her dissolving family. But when she is confronted with the past she fought so hard to put behind her, she struggles to make sense of her future. Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom has moved on since the tragic death of his buddies in Afghanistan. A star professional rugby player, he has no intention of looking over his shoulder at what could've been But when a notice arrives in the mail requiring his and his wife's appearance before the courts to dissolve their marriage, he must deal with the questions rumbling around in his heart. He thought his marriage had been annulled long ago, but his memories of Corina Del Rey remain close. Does he still love her? Can he even find her? Above all, can he tell her the truth about that fateful night in Afghanistan seven years ago? If he does, he might really lose her forever."

The first book I read by Rachel Hauck was The Wedding Dress, which still to this day remains one of my favorite books ever.  After reading that book, I kept my eyes out for others by the author and was fell in love with both of the other books in The Royal Wedding Series.  I was so excited to see How to Catch a prince come up for review and hopped online to request it as soon as it appeared on the list.  I was hoping it would make to the house before the week-end, because I have more time to read on Friday and Saturdays and to my delight UPS delivered it just in time for me to turn a movie on for the children.  Of course I started reading right away!

I don't know if I can explain adequately how much this book touched me.  On the book jacket there is a mention of Corina being under a fog of grief due to a tragedy of war.  We find out early on that part of that tragedy is the loss of her brother.  I find it completely amazing that this book arrived at my door on the 11 year anniversary week-end of my brother's death when a drunk driver hit him head on. It is a fictional story, but the reality of the feelings of Corina and her family are very real and were shockingly similar to things I have thought and felt and experienced within my family. It had me in tears more than once.

But, the story is not all about sadness and grief.  It is a fairy tale!  We have an opportunity to dive back into the life of the Royal Family of Brighton and all of the glitter and glamour that goes along with it.  And we get to meet some new rather eccentric and mysterious characters as well.  There is a wonderful mix of reality and fantasy in this story and a depth that exceeded my expectations.  But best of all it points us to the Truth and the One whom we should put all of our faith and hope in as we learn how to love well.

I would highly recommend How to Catch a Prince,the two other books in the Royal Wedding Series, and others by Rachel Hauck.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosiing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 22

Those that still worry about homeschoolers not getting enough socialization should take a look at our schedule each week!  More often then not we have to pick and choose and say no to opportunities just because there are so many options available, even in a small town ;)

Week 22 In Our Homeschool

Bible: We completed lessons 96, 97 and 98 in Bible Study Guide For All Ages.
Poor Anthony was trying to do his Bible worksheet and Anna really wanted to play ball

History: We completed lessons 55-57 in Vol III of Mystery of History on Samuel de Champlain and Henry Hudson, John Smyth, and The Marriage of Pocahontas.  We also did the timeline figures and memory cards and answered the test questions aloud.  Someday we will get back on track with the mapping/geography lessons.

Science: Since we finished reading Chapter 12 on Electricity in Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics, all we had left to do this week was the notebook journal assignments.  But we are also working on a review of Visual Learning Systems, so we completed the worksheets on electricity for both the primary and middle/high school level, and did one of the experiments and built a model of an atom.

Grammar/Writing/Literature-Christian's Lightning Lit assignments this week were based on the book Stellaluna.  At the end of the week we watched the Stellaluna movie we found on Netflix streaming.  Christian kept commenting on how it wasn't very much like the book, but it was cute.  Anthony read The Big Wave this week.  Nick and Alex completed Lesson 19 of Fix It! Grammar and started (but didn't finish) Lesson 15 of Medieval Writing.

I found this painting of The Great Wave that I thought went well with this story

Spelling/Reading-Christian and Anthony finished Lesson 7 of AAR Level 2.  Alex started Lesson 26 of Level 4 of AAS.

Math- Nick finished Lesson 22 of Pre Algebra.  Christian and Anthony finished Lesson 21 of Beta and Gamma and I am happy to say that Alex has begun to grasp long division and he will be moving on to his next lesson of Delta next week

My Father's World Creation From A to Z

It didn't seem like we had a lot of time to spend on this this week.  We started the letter "g" for goat last week Thursday.  MFW units are scheduled to take 6 days each, but occasionally we finish in 5 days.  We watched a video from Visual Learning Systems on mammals.  We read about goats and looked at pictures of the different kind of goats.  Lily completed her picture card envelop for g, did a sound discrimination page, a baby animals worksheet, and made farm animal puppets.  She started learning about telling time and did a "g" handwriting page.  She also made her goat badge that says "Jesus Died For My Sins."   We will finish up "g" this week.

We went back and looked at the pictures of when we went to the Drive Through Safari and petting zoo and got to feed some goats.  This was in 2012.  Lily remembered it she said but she was amazed at how little hair she had!

Some other cute photos this week

Emmie doing some "school work"

The girls just had to play that Cupid's Arrow game again

The girls wanted me to include these pictures of the Playdough Mermaids they made.

Other Activities

Archery was Monday.  I am happy to say the weather was beautiful!!

Tuesday was Gymnastics.

Followed by the 4 H Bread Workshop.

Wednesday was our Grandview Co-op.

Thursday was the first time in over a week we got to stay home!!

Friday we were off to the grocery store and had to drop off spring soccer forms.  Soccer should be starting in a week or so.

Saturday was Valentine's Day.  We had a Valentine Egg hunt (more on that in an upcoming review) and I made cherry ice cream floats for the children for dessert.

Happy Homeschooling!