Our Family

Our Family

Friday, December 30, 2011

TOS Review: R.E.A.L . Homeschool Spanish

The idea for R.E.A.L Homeschool Spanish came from Dr. Williamson-Coria's frustration that she was unable even as a french professor to find time in her own day to teach her children French.  After investing in computer based programs she discovered that her children could not self direct their own learning or communicate what they had just learned.  While giving Spanish classes to homeschoolers at the same time, she was inspired by how quickly they learned and how conducive homeschooling was to learning a language, but most materials that were available to teach with was geared towards large classrooms not a homeschooling environment.  She decided to develop a program that could develop speaking abilities and incorporate language into daily routine.

REAL Homeschool Spanish is for grades 5-13 and was made specifically for the home educator and home learning environment.  The program makes it possible for you and your child to learn Spanish together in fun and interesting ways not just during the lesson but throughout your week.  Tips to the Home Educator is full of ideas to help you accomplish this and is included in each section.  Each unit is made up of vocabulary clusters.  There are 33 vocabulary clusters and 15 Idea Sections each with 3-4 activity sections  along with audio files of native speakers from Mexico using the vocabulary. A Daily Curriculum Guide with lesson plans is also available.   You can view the Table of Contents by clicking here.  There are also Free Culture Links are also available on the website.

You can purchase REAL Homeschool Spanish as a download or hard copy.

Book Bundle Download including book, activity book, answer book and audio files is $49.95
All of the above as a download plus the Daily Curriculum Guide is $59.95

The Book Bundle as a hard copy (book plus 2 cd's including activity book, answer key and audio files) is $89.95 (free shipping U.S. only).
The Book Bundle Hard Copy plus Curriculum Guide is $99.95 (free shipping U.S. only).

To order to click here.

Even if you had zero experience in teaching a language and knew nothing at all about Spanish, you could teach your children (and yourself) with this curriculum.  I like that it does not have a heavy emphasis on grammar but is more focused on teaching through real life every day situations and conversations.  There is a wealth of activities and ideas to choose from for each unit so you ca pick and choose your activities based on what your child likes best.  The audio files are included which is especially helpful if you are unsure about pronunciation.  We are not on big on  worksheets, but I thought the worksheets that went along with the lessons were fun and helped reinforce the lesson.  We decided to work on them as a family and my boys actually argued over who was going to fill them out!

One thing I did want to mention is that it is very confusing to try and use this program without having the pages printed out.  I started out trying to save some money on ink and only print out the activity sheets, but it didn't make much since to me until I had it all printed out and in front of me.  You will have to consider the added cost of printing the curriculum out.  Also, I wanted to remind you if you didn't see it mentioned up above, that this curriculum uses Spanish spoken from Central and South America, not Spain like most Spanish curriculum I have seen.

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

I received a complimentary download of REAL Homeschool Spanish for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: The World of Animals

I love it when a book impresses you from the moment you pull it out of the package.  As soon as I opened up this beautiful  book from New Leaf Publications, I knew it was going to be a big hit with our family, and I was right!  The Wold of Animals is a sturdy hard cover 256 page book with glossy pages.  It is full of beautiful illustrations, photographs, and fascinating facts about animals. 

From the back of the book, "The World of Animals investigates and describes the anatomy, behavior, and habitats of over 1000 animals.  From microscopic worms and insects to reptiles, birds, and mammals, this book will provide children with an insight into the incredible range of life in God's wonderful world." 

Some pictures of the inside:

The introduction starts off , "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...."(Genesis 1:1)  Then it goes on to talk about the flood and the fossil record, what animals are, God's design for animals, variety and grouping.  Then it goes on to the seven different sections in this book: Simple Animals, Worms, Snails, and Starfish, Insects and Other Arthropods, Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals.  Also included in the back of the book is a glossary and index.  The arrangement of the book makes it easy to find information about a specific animal, or just browse as you like.  The book is very engaging to children.  Even though some of the vocabulary is difficult for younger children (my 4th grader could read it just fine) younger children can still benefit and enjoy the book just by looking at the pictures.  My 6, 4, and 2 year olds love sitting in my lap and asking me questions about the animals and pictures. I have learned quite a bit by reading to the children.  There is so much information contained in World of Animals!  It is also so nice to have a beautiful book about animals without having to worry about evolutionary references!  Truly a book that can be used by the whole family and will last a long time.

I received a complimentary copy of World of Animals from New Leaf Publications for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: An Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

When a wedding reenactment turns real, this cowgirl suddenly finds she’s an accidental bride.
Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite her hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but.
Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.
Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busy body and an absent minded preacher, the wedding reenactment results in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she’ll lose her home. But if she accepts, she may lose her heart.
Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

I really enjoyed reading this story.  It was a quick and easy read.  The characters were believable although the storyline was a bit of a stretch.  The story had a great message that I think we all at sometime in our life deal with.  Shay spends too much of her time focusing all of her time and energy worrying about what other people think. Instead of focusing her life pleasing God, she is always trying to please man.  That message ends up being carried on to her daughter.  Ultimately, Shay realizes what she is doing and starts to work on it and it makes a big difference in her life and her daughters.

I received a complimentary copy of An Accidental Bride from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Friday, December 23, 2011

An Uplifting Story

I had read the article on Yahoo News the other day about the Christmas Angels that are paying off layaways at K-Mart.  It was such a touching story and showed that there are many people in the world who will go out and do what they can to help others.  It doesn't take a lot to make a huge difference in someone's life.  Beyond the actual gift of the money paying off the layaway, these people were also given a huge gift of knowing that someone in this world loves and cares about them.  A good friend of mine had a similar experience the other day that I wanted to share with you.  It was a story that really touched my heart.

My friend is having a lot of difficulties this year.  She received a gift in the mail from one of her family members.  It was a pre paid American Express card and she decided she was going to use it to buy some baking supplies to bring some holiday cheer into her house for her two little boys.  She loaded her 3 and 2 year olds up in the car and headed towards Walmart to get what they needed only to find the car was almost completely out of gas.  She barely made it to the gas station and slid her card into the pay at the pump slot.  It wouldn't take it.  She took both boys out of their seats and into the gas station.  The attendant told her that they don't accept American Express.  My friend was very worried now.  She was almost completely out of gas and no way to pay for it.  She didn't even think she could make it the two miles back to the house to see if there was any cash at home.  She walked out and started to buckle the children back in.  The attendant came running out to tell her that a lady in the store had pre paid $10 worth of gas for her.  Merry Christmas!  It seems she saw the lady who did it as she was pulling out and the same lady was in Walmart when she was cashing out.  She had the opportunity to thank her.  The lady told her that earlier in the week when she had been low on cash and was in a similar situation, someone had done the same for her.  My friend said she did not deserve someone's kindness like that, and I told her of course she did!  She was in a situation that she was in need and provided someone an opportunity to serve her.  Someday she will be in a position to do the same for someone else.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4 :10

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.  Proverbs 19:17

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Matthew 20:28

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Your Dy Doesn't Go As Planned......Bake Cookies

This week, instead of doing our "regular" school work, I had planned on working on a review item for the rest of the week.  We needed to watch a movie and then do several activities to go along with the movie.  We got the movie from Netflix on Saturday.  Yesterday when we took it out of the envelope, we discovered it had red marker all over the back of it.  We tried to play it anyway, but of course it kept skipping.  All of my plans for school for the week went out the window without the movie.  We have requested a new one from Netflix but who knows when it will get here and we have planned to take next week off.

With nothing planned for our school day, I decided we would head to the kitchen and make cookies.  You can cover a lot of different subjects in the kitchen:

Health-hand washing, kitchen safety
Reading-reading,following directions
Math-fractions, counting
Science-baking powder reactions

I even got some Latin in by turning Adeste Fideles on the radio while we were mixing the cookies.  Our Peanut Butter Blossoms were delicious, we had fun, and we got in a little bit of "school" after all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Gingerbread House 2011

Every year, the children look forward to decorating a Gingerbread House.  Usually, I buy the kit that has the house already put together and all you have to do is decorate it.  This year, Walmart did not have any of those.  So, we bought the only one they had which luckily came with a tray with slits for the walls to stand up in.  Chelsea helped me put the house together and then decided to occupy Emelia and let the "little kids" do all the decorating.  You are supposed to wait 15 minutes after putting it together before decorating.  It was the longest 15 minutes of my children's lives!  They were so impatient to start putting candy on.  Even after waiting the 15 minutes, we had some trouble with the roof sliding down several times but we managed to get it decorated without it collapsing.  This kit also did not come with any decorating tips, so you couldn't get very fancy with the icing.  It did come with a little gingerbread man and a Christmas tree though and the little ones loved that! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Chelsea, Emelia, and I went shopping Friday for the first time in two weeks.  I was very glad when grocery day rolled around because by then we were out of almost everything!  Here's my menu plan for this week:

Fri 12/16-Pizza
Sat 12/17- Chicken Parmesan,Spaghetti, Mozzarella Sticks
Sun 12/18-Carolina Baked Pork Chops. Noodles, Applesauce
Mon 12/19- Chicken Enchiladas, Rice
Tues 12/20- Homemade Sloppy Joes, Tator Tots
Wed 12/21- Broccoli Cheese Soup, Bread
Thursday 12/22-Breakfast

See some great menu plans at www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Favorite Recipes: Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

Anytime we go out to eat, my children always want to order mozzarella sticks.  They love them!  So I thought it would be fun to make them at home.  I made some yesterday to go with our Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti and they told me they were better than what we get from the restaurant and that I need to make them again!

8 cheese sticks cut in half
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
spaghetti sauce for dipping

Beat egg and milk together in a bowl.  Place flour in another bowl and bread crumbs in another.  Set up an assembly line with flour first, then egg mixture, and bread crumbs last.  Roll each stick in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  Put on a plate and freeze 30 minutes.  Heat up oil in a deep fryer.  Drop sticks into hot oil (I did 5 at a time) for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Place on paper towels to drain grease and serve with spaghetti sauce. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Favorite Recipes: Oreo Cookie Balls

Chelsea had to make a dessert for a Christmas Party and wanted to try something new.  We decided to try these Oreo Cookie Balls.  Christian and Lily were very willing assistants.  We made a test batch and tried them out the day before she had to make them for the party.  This recipe requires few ingredients and is easy to make.  The trickiest part is keeping the chocolate melted long enough to roll all the balls in it without letting it get hot enough to burn.

You need:
1 pkg. Oreo Cookies (we bought Great Value)
8 oz cream cheese
2 pkg semi sweet baking squares melted

Crush oreos and mix with cream cheese.  Roll into 1 in balls.  Freeze 10 minutes.  Dip into melted chocolate coating all sides.  Place into pan lined with wax paper.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

Another idea would be to use white chocolate and decorate with chocolate to make a snowman face.  These were delicious and didn't last long in our house!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TOS Review: World's Greatest Stories

From the website: " The World's Greatest Stories are an award winning series of Bible stories that make the actual words of Scripture leap off the page and into the hearts of children of all ages.  Children love the stories and listen to them over and over again often memorizing the entire CD."

The texts of all the Bible stories are taken word for word from the Bible and brought to life by the voice of dramatic storyteller George W. Sarris.  Carefully chosen music and sound effects are also added in making the end result a very exciting story that comes straight from the words of Scripture.

The current audio series contains 23 different stories on 6 different CDs or Cassettes with a listening time of approximately 1 hour for each one.  Each volume is available in either NIV or KJV.  The cost of each volume is $7.95.  Shipping is free if you order 6 or more items.  To order click here.

Volume 1 The Prophets: The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, The Prophecy of Jonah

Volume 2 The Life of Christ: The Real Story of Christmas, The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus, The Healing of the Blind Man, Things Jesus Said and Did, The Real Story of Easter

Volume 3 Beginnings: In the Beginning, A Lame Man in Lystra, A Jailor in Philippi, The Story of Ruth, The Raising of Lazarus

Volume 4 Joshua and Esther: The Battle of Jericho, The Book of Esther

Volume 5 Joseph and His Brothers

Volume 6 Defeating Giants: David and Goliath, Namaan the Leper, Micaiah the Prophet and Jehosaphat the King, The Sacrifice of Isaac, Gideon and His 300 Men

We received a complimentary copy of the NIV version of The Prophets on CD to use and review.  I was very impressed that instead of being another interpreted Bible Story, these stories come directly from the Bible.  Mr. Sarris is a very powerful story teller and brings the words from the pages of your Bible directly into your living room.  The music and sound effects were an excellent compliment to the storytelling.The timing of receiving this CD was very good for us because we were studying Elijah in History and the CD made a great addition to our study.

On the website it mentions that appropriate ages for these stories  is 4 and up.  I did want to mention that the storytelling is a little intense on the CD that we received (if you know any of the stories you know what I mean) and may be scary for little ones.  You can listen to a sample audio clip of any of the CDs by clicking here and selecting which version you would like to listen to.

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

I received a complimentary copy of Volume 1 of World's Greatest Stories for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Our Christmas Traditions

Many families have special Christmas Traditions that they do every year.  I thought I would share with you some of ours.

Every year we go to the Christmas Tree Farm to pick out and cit down our tree.  We have a family picture taken in front of the tree and put it up and decorate it as soon as we get home.

One of the fun things the children like to do is decorate a gingerbread house.  I buy one that is already put together and has the icing and candy already in the box.  The children look forward to this every year, and I don't have the stress of the walls falling down while we are trying to decorate.

A few years ago we went to the three gift rule for Christmas.  Each of our children get three gifts for Christmas symbolizing the three gifts that Jesus received.  Not only does it have symbolic meaning, but I think it helps the children appreciate the gifts they do get more.  I would much rather have them enjoy three gifts then rip open and never play with (or break within a day) a whole pile of toys they don't care about.  It also makes it easier for me when buying their gifts.  I just need to make sure they each get three.  They also get candy and a few small items for their stockings.

Every year we go to the candle light service on Christmas Eve (weather permitting.)  It is my most favorite church service of the entire year.  After we get home the children get to drink some hot cocoa, eat a cookie and head to bed.  Then Art and I get to wrap all the gifts and put them under the tree.

Breakfast on Christmas morning is bagels, muffins, and donuts.  That way the children can go and grab themselves something to eat when they get hungry.  When I used to make a big breakfast, it never got eaten because they were too busy playing with their toys. 

We do a traditional ham, mashed potatoes, corn , and rolls for the afternoon meal every year.  Supper is leftovers or sandwiches.

Dessert on Christmas Day is always a birthday cake for Jesus.  Christmas is Jesus' birthday so we make and decorate a birthday cake.  It is not incredibly fancy, just a simple cake decorated for Jesus.  It helps the children to remember why we have Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TOS Review: Vintage Remedies for Kids

Vintage Remedies was established in the summer of 2005 to be part hobby/job of founder and homeschooling mom Jessie Hawkins who was eager to share her knowledge that she had collected through the years.  From the website,  "Vintage Remedies was established primarily to fill the gap in natural wellness options. We stand squarely in the middle of the medicine wars, believing that prevention is the key to health and that natural options are usually the best first steps to regain wellness. However, we also appreciate the advancements of modern medicine and the life saving techniques that are available for extreme situations. We seek to empower mothers, wives and parents across the globe that strive for excellence in their calling. Our basic programs are designed to enable individuals everywhere to relearn the basic techniques and skills that were so commonplace decades ago. Our advanced programs are suitable for current or aspiring professionals that seek to include wellness initiatives and natural options in their services."  We have had the opportunity to use and review Vintage Remedies For Kids over the last several weeks.

Vintage Remedies for Kids was written to help parents teach boys and girls ages 2-6 healthy and natural living.  The book is spiral bound and contains 202 black and white pages.  There are three sections: Food and Drink, Health and Wellness, and Healthy Lifestyles covering a total of 18 different topics.  Each topic has a section for the parent to read, a section for the parent to read to the child, additional comments, discussion questions, a lead by example section, a featured project, and additional projects.  There are free coloring sheets available to go along with the book  on the website for your children to color while you are reading to them or setting up the project.

You can purchase Vintage Remedies For Kids for $25.00 by clicking here.

Vintage Remedies offers a wide variety of  programs and products for a variety of ages and interests.  Click here to see all of the different products they have to offer.

From the moment I received the package I was very impressed with this product.  The cover of the book is adorable.  The spiral binding makes frees mom's hands from holding the book open which is a big blessing when you are juggling a wiggly baby while reading and also when you are working in the kitchen on the projects.  The layout of the book is fantastic.  The separate readings for parents to read themselves and to read to the children make it so easy for the parents to learn along with the child (and I am learning a lot!)  Each section has a featured project, but there are also additional projects listed if you are not interested in making the main project or just want to do more.  Necessary supplies to complete the project are listed clearly listed so you can look in advance and see what you need to purchase. 

Vintage Remedies for Kids is both educational and fun without being overwhelming for mom to implement.  Although it is geared for ages 2-6 I used it with my 2,4,6,8,and 10 year olds (I just didn't tell the older two boys it was for ages 2-6 ;)  I did change the wording a bit when I read from the Read to Me section.  They would have frowned a bit hearing the term "owie." Children learn best by doing, and we have had a lot of fun doing the hands on projects.

Here we are making and enjoying smoothies

You do need to make sure that you plan ahead so you can purchase what you will need for the projects.  We have been doing one topic and project a week and I have been adding the supplies we don't already have to my grocery list on Friday to use on Monday.

I am very impressed with Vintage Remedies For Kids and look forward to all of the fun and educational projects we will have coming up.  As a thank you for reviewing their product, they also sent me The Kitchen Herbel  which is full of wonderful information and delicious recipes!

To see what other crew members had to say click here.  In addition to Vintage Remedies For Kids, other crew members reviewed Vintage Remedies For Guys or Vintage Remedies For Girls.

I received a complimentary copy of Vintage Remedies For Kids for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Shopping for 2 weeks at a time has been working out really well for me.   have been writing a 2 week menu plan for supper and doing a big shopping trip every other week with a small trip for fruit, milk, bread, and lunch meat in between.  Having 14 days of suppers planned at a time also makes it wasy to change things around if we have something come up at the last minute and lowers the temptation to eat out.

Friday 12/9-pizza
Saturday 12/10-baked potato soup
Sunday 12/11- chicken and rice casserole, bread and butter, applesauce
Monday 12/12- pork chops, oven roasted potatoes, cauliflower
Tuesday 12/13- spaghetti
Wednesday 12/14- deer steaks, baked potatoes, broccoli
Thursday 12/15- breakfast

Go to www.orgjunkie.com to see some other great menu plans.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What To Do About Math?

The subject that I have the hardest time finding curriculum for is Math.  I did very well in Math when I was in school, although I admit I didn't like it very much, but I struggle with finding the "perfect" Math curriculum.  I don't even mean for my family as a whole, but for each individual child.  I started out using Math U See and I really liked it, but I did feel like it left quite a few things out in the younger years that I thought were important and I had to add on my own.  I switched and went to Horizons after a recommendation, but it was too distracting for my younger children and was full of busy work that we never were going to do.  Then, we switched to Abeka.  It is affordable and my 9 year old likes it, but it is written for a classroom not a homeschool, and again is full of busywork that we will never do.

Recently I reviewed Math Mammoth with my 2nd grader and really like it so far.  I am thinking I will be using it for all of my boys next year, but that still doesn't solve my Math trouble with Chelsea (14).  She is having a terrible time with Algebra.  I think most of her problem lies in the fact that she never "got" a lot of the concepts from PreAlgebra.  She became very good at guessing which multiple choice questions were the correct answer, but when it comes to solving the equations, she can't remember which steps go first.

So now we have decided to revisit PreAlgebra, but we will not be using Abeka.  I really think with Math especially you should stick with a curriculum if it works for your child, even if it has some short comings.  Chelsea was very successful when we were using Math U See.  She is an independent learner and likes watching the video lessons without having to wait for me to teach.  Right after the holidays she will be starting PreAlgebra, and then we will move on to Algebra after she has proven to be proficient in all off the basic concepts.

What about you?  Have you found the perfect Math curriculum for your child?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Favorite Recipes: Baked Potato Soup

I love soup in the winter!  It's warm, cheap, and really hard to mess up.  You can throw just about anything into it and it will still taste good.  Soup also makes great baby food!  Tonight I tried a Baked Potato Soup Recipe and it was really good (although Alex and Christian still like my Broccoli Cheese Soup better.)

I doubled this recipe for my large crew.

2 lrg baking potatoes
3 TBSP chopped green onions
4 TBSP butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups of milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Chopped green onions. crumbled bacon (I used turkey bacon), shredded cheese for garnish.

Bake potatoes in a 375 degree oven for about an hour.  Make sure you pierce them with a fork before putting them in the oven, or you can bake them in the microwave.  Scoop out insides of potatoes and set aside.  Add butter and onions to a stock pan and cook until onions are soft (I left the onions out since my children do not like them.)  Add flour to stock pan and stir until well combined.  Slowly whisk in milk.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick and creamy.  Be careful not to let the milk scald.  Add in potato insides, cheese, and sour cream stirring until well combined and cheese is melted.  If the soup is thicker than you like, you can thin it out with milk or water until you get the desired consistency. Garnish and serve. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: The Christmas Siniging by Cindy Woodsmall

Mattie thinks she is happy with her life three years after Gideon coldly broke her heart.  She has found a nice, safe man that she will marry one day and has been running a successful business that she truly loves.  Mattie pours her heart and soul into Mattie Cakes.  Even though she is a bit scatterbrained and forgetful, she has a gift for designing cakes and keeps all of her designs and notes in a notebook that has been years in the making.  When the unexpected happens, she is forced to return home and work in close proximity to the man who broke her heart.  Will she find out the truth about why Gideon broke up with her, and if she does will it enable her to heal or cause her more heartache?

The Christmas Singing was a wonderful book!  I loved the main characters, Mattie, Gideon, and Sol.  The author writes about them in a way you can really identify with them and their situation.  You can feel the sadness, heartbreak, and joy that the characters are facing.  Even though what Gideon did was wrong, he felt he did it for the right reasons.  Forgiveness isn't always easy especially when the hurt comes from someone you love so much.  I loved the story.  It was a little different from your "typical" Amish romance and had some interesting elements.  The descriptions of the people and places make you feel as if you are a part of the story.  I loved the ending!  The Christmas Singing is a wonderful story of romance, heartache, and restoration.  A wonderful Amish romance and a heartwarming read.

You can read the first chapter of the book by clicking here.

Order The Christmas Singing (and any other title) before December 20th and get 30 % off and free shipping by using promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout when ordering from WaterBrookMutnomah.com.

I received a complimentary ebook copy of The Christmas Singing from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

And The Winner Is......

The winner of my Cooper and Me and The Winter Adventure is

Kristi!  Thanks for those who entered!

Thankful Thursday

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18.

So often when we are going through difficult or trying times we focus on all the bad and don't believe that we have anything to be thankful for.  But, there is always something to be thankful for in every situation.  Garden of Learning is hosting a meme called Thankful Thursdays to help keep the focus on all the things w have to be thankful for.  Won't you join in?

I have been sick all week and really have not been able to get off the couch.  It has been pretty rough!  But I am so thankful that it was not worse.  I am also thankful for my daughter making lunch and dinner all week long and for the children chasing after their baby sister and bringing me drinks and toast.  I am thankful for my sweet husband who has gone to Walmart every day this week, tried to keep the children out of my hair in the evenings, and trying to console a crying baby in the middle of the night even though he is "not the mama."  I am also thankful to be feeling a little better and that none of the children have gotten sick!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homeschooling When the Teacher is Sick

Thankfully I don't get sick very often (not counting of course all the many months of morning sickness with my last 3 children.)  But, for the last several days I have had a nasty bug complete with tummy troubles, fever, chills, and body aches.  Not fun to say the least.  My children have done a pretty good job helping out by making their own meals and feeding the younger children, chasing after Emelia, and bringing me cans of 7 up.  I have been on the couch since Sunday with the exception of the little bit of cleaning I made myself get up and do on Monday.   Really praying no one else in the house catches this.

We still have gotten our schoolwork done, just a little different than we normally would.  I have done all of our Bible, History, and Science readings from the couch and we did not do any experiments or projects to go along with the reading.  We did skip our read aloud because I was just not up for it.  We also listened to World's Greatest Stories (review coming soon) that went along with our History lesson about Elijah the fiery prophet.  Another review that we have coming up is Swan Lake from Maestro Music and it was the perfect opportunity to pop it in and listen to it while I was not feeling well. We did take a break from languages this week but will get back to it next week.

The children have been doing their afternoon Math and Writing the same as always (we were reviewing and I didn't have to teach).  I will admit that Alex has missed two days of Spelling, but instead he read 4 stories out of his reader all by himself during spelling time!  That is  a huge accomplishment!  He also wrote a story all by himself.  Some of the letters are backwards and words are spelled wrong but you can read and understand his story and just that he even tried to write it is a big deal. 

The best advice I have for homeschooling when the teacher is sick is that it is ok to get out of your regular routine for a few days.  Pop in an audiobook, turn on an educational DVD (getting ready to do that right now), postpone the Science project.  Keep it simple and easy until the teacher is back on her feet. 

How do you homeschool when the teacher is sick?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kregel Blog Tour: Baby's Little Bible

160 pages $9.99 each

Baby's Little Bible, by Sarah Toulmin; illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

About the Book: Baby's Little Bible was written by new mom Sarah Toulmin as a way of sharing the stories she so loved with her own little ones. Her ultra-simple retellings of twenty favorite stories, from Creation to Resurrection, are filled with a sense of wonder, expressing God's love for creation. Featuring Kristina Stephenson's heartwarming, baby-friendly illustrations, this little Bible offers lots to look at and point to while parent and child share this delightful book together. Now available in a small format with a padded cover in either pink or blue, or as a gift edition with gilt edges and a ribbon marker, Baby's Little Bible is a perfect starter Bible to share with a much-loved child. 
When we signed up for this tour, we were told that they were sending out the different colors at random and you couldn't pick pink or blue.  I was very excited when the package came and we got the pink one because I have a sweet little 2 year old daughter that I knew would love it.  She did!  The book is very sturdy with a padded hard cover and the perfect size for small hands to carry.   The stories are short enough for little ones to pay attention to and the illustrations are adorable.  She loves having her own Bible to read and carry around with her.

You can take a peek inside by clicking here.

I thought it was an adorable Little Bible that would make a great gift for the little ones in your life.  There was one thing that I did not like.  The Bible begins with, "Once upon a time"  I think we need to be careful to set the Bible which is real and true apart from fairy tales or it could become confusing for children.

I received a complimentary copy of Baby's Little Bible from Kregel for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Monday, December 5, 2011

15 Years Ago Today.....

I just have to say I can't believe it's been 15 years!  I am getting old.  Some people don't believe that miracles happen any more, but they do happen everyday.  Here is the short version of my story:

I was 28 weeks pregnant with Chelsea and woke up in the morning feeling not quite right. I had not been sick at all during my pregnancy and thought it was odd that I was feeling so sick at this stage. As the day progressed I felt worse and worse. I was achy, nauseous, and vomiting. By late that evening I also had pain that had settled in my right side. After heading to the ER and having blood drawn I also had a very elevated white blood cell count. My doctor thought it was probably a kidney infection, but shortly it was discovered that I had appendicitis. I was told I had 2 choices. I could not have surgery and the baby and I would both die, or I could have the surgery and I would probably go into labor and the baby could die. My OB (who had delivered me) had never had a pregnant patient with appendicitis and my surgeon had never taken an appendix out of a pregnant woman. Needless to say I chose to have the surgery. They gave me spinal anesthesia because it was less dangerous for the baby so I was awake during the surgery. At first, I was terrified. I was not worried about myself at all, but I did not want my baby to die. I remember laying on the table while Christmas music was playing, watching the clock tick, and praying. After a few minutes, a wave of peace came over me and I knew that everything was going to be all right. Even though I was not living my life anywhere near the way I should, even though I had not been to church or even prayed in a very long time, I felt the presence of God as I laid on that operating table and my prayers were answered. I never even had one contraction and the baby's heart rate stayed strong. I recovered my my surgery and 12 weeks later delivered an 8 lb 8 oz very healthy little miracle who changed my life forever.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book Review: Smitten By Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, & Diann Hunt

Four friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country's premier romantic getaway-and each finds her own true love along the way.
With Smitten Lumber closing, residents wonder if their town can stay afloat. Then four friends and local business owners-Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese--decide the town is worth saving. How will they do it? They'll turn Smitten into a honeymoon destination!
As Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese work to save the town, each discovers romance in her own life. Meanwhile, the faith of a little child reminds the whole town what it means to have real faith in the God who is the always and forever Love.
Discover a novel written by four of Christian fiction's most popular romance novelists- friends in real life who've drawn an amazing story of four friends! Includes a Reading Group Guide as well as "Conversation over Coffee with the Authors"

The idea of a collaboration of 4 authors into a book containing 4 stories about 4 friends was a good one.  The story behind it of a town that is dying due to the economy and a plan to save it using it's name and beautiful setting to change it to a tourist location made for a great story.  The flow of one story to the next was very good.  I enjoyed reading Natalie and Reese's stories the most even though they were full of mistrust and misunderstanding of the men in their lives.  Julia's story quite honestly offended me a bit because of the light in which she sees and presents her mother as a housewife and I had a hard time getting past that.  Shelby's story bothered me a little too.  Shelby has a traumatic secret from her past that at one point she says she has asked for and received her Savior's forgiveness.  Later on she accepts no responsibility for her  actions and lays all the blame on her father. She does  forgive him for what the part he played, but still does not accept responsibility for her choices.  Overall even though I really wanted to like it, I found the book to be disappointing.

I received a complimentary ebook copy of Smitten from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Visit to the Christmas Tree Farm and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Today we headed into the "big city."  We enjoyed lunch at Olive Garden and then went to the Christmas Tree Farm to pick out and cut down our tree.  This is our 5th year to pick out and cut down our own tree and the children love it!  We usually go on Sunday after church, but it is supposed to be rainy and nasty tomorrow, so we decided to go today instead.  It was cloudy, but in the 60's, so the weather was beautiful.  We picked out a nice 6 ft tree, some of the children rode the hay ride, and we got some hot cocoa.  When we got home we decorated the tree and only broke 4 ornaments.  Keeping the baby and the cat out of the tree may prove to be challenging.

A trip down memory lane.  Christmas pictures with our trees in the past.

December 2008
December 2009

December 2010

Friday, December 2, 2011

December 4 H Cloverbud Meeting

Last night was our December Cloverbud meeting for 4 H.  I did it early on the month because we missed November and before it got too crazy because of the holidays.  The children wanted to have a pizza party, so we used some of club money to buy pizzas and some of the parents brought some snacks.  We had a great turnout with 12 4 Hers (ages 5-10) and 5 younger siblings.  For our community service project, we made decorations to take to the nursing home. 

In addition to markers, we got really brave and got out some glue and glitter to sprinkle on (even after vacuuming you could still see some sparkles in the carpet.)

Then, we did two edible craft projects.  We made and decorated trees using: ice cream cones, frosting, M&M's, Andie's crushed mints, and red licorice.

The trees didn't last very long because they were eaten as soon as they were completed.  After that, we made Snowman Soup.  We mixed 3 cups powdered sugar, 2 cups dry milk, and 1 cup cocoa into a bowl.  Then, each child got 1/4 cup of mix, 5 marshmallow, 2 Hershey Kisses, and a small peppermint candy cane to put into a Ziplock bag.  I found these cute tags to go along with it.  My children drunk theirs after lunch today and said it was delicious.  It would also make a great inexpensive gift along with a snowman mug.

All in all it was a good meeting.  I think the children enjoyed it.  It was a bit chaotic, but we were trying to get a lot done with a lot of children in a short period of time.  I am not the most organized person in the world and I forgot a couple of things which added to the chaos (including a change of clothes for the baby who of course leaked through her diaper luckily there was a prepared mom there.)  Also, Emelia was demanding to be fed halfway through the meeting so I had to step out for a few minutes and feed her.  I am very thankful to have parents who are so wiling to step in and help during the meetings and to have Chelsea as a youth helper.  Hopefully I will become better in a leadership role as time goes on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure Review and Giveaway!

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the next book in the Cooper and Me series, Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure by Monique and Alexa Peters.  Cooper is a fun loving black Labrador whose adventures help children navigate challenges and emotions of real life everyday happenings.  More than just a great children's book, the Cooper and Me series of books provides teaching opportunities and conversations for adults to have with their children.

Book description:  Cooper and Bella can't wait to go sledding, but what happens when they wander a little too far from home and a snowstorm makes it difficult to find their way back? 

Also included with the book are: A Special Memory Creation page, Life Lessons paragraph on what to do if you get lost, Connections taking about emotions, and Learning Together questions and answers.

Contact Information:

Other Books in the Cooper and Me series include: Cooper and Me, Cooper and Me and the First Halloween,  and Cooper and Me and the Military.  You can purchase any of the books for $12.99 by clicking here.  There are other items available for purchase including a plush Cooper stuffed animal and music CDs to go along with the books.  $1 of every Winter Adventure book sold will go to advance research & treatment of pancreatic cancer, via the Lustgarten Foundation (http://www.lustgarten.org/)

 Make any purchase of $25 or more at CooperandMe.com and get FREE SHIPPING now through December 15.  MUST USE THIS CODE @ Check Out:  COOPERBLOG.

We really enjoyed reading Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure.  The children (6,4,2) love animal stories and really liked  the rhyming story and the delightful illustrations.  My children especially love stories about winter and snow (probably because we don't see very much of it.)  The book is hard cover with a very strong binding which means it will hold up for many, many readings.  In addition to the sweet story, I thought the Learning Together questions and answers in the back of the book were a great compliment to the story and helpful when teaching children how to avoid being in the situation and what they should do if they are.  A great children's story doesn't just entertain, but also educates in a fun way and Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure does both of those things.

Now for the Giveaway!

Interested in winning a copy?  All you have to do is leave me a comment with an email contact.  For an extra entry, follow with GFC or tell me that you already do in a second comment.  Giveaway will close on 12/07/2011 at 11:59 pm.  Good Luck!

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally 
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance 
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Homeschooling Preschool

What kind of curriculum do you use for preschool?

There is a big push in our country to start schooling our children at younger and younger ages because it will make them "smarter."  Not just in public school, but also in private schools and homeschools too.  Parents are spending hundreds of dollars to send their children to preschool by the time they are three.  Homeschoolers are spending hundreds of dollars on curriculum for their 3 and 4 year olds.  Does anyone remember when preschool was for playing?

I have shocked people before with my answer, but I do not use curriculum with my preschoolers and its not because I don't want to spend the money either.  I think that preschool (and kindergarten) is a time where children should be learning through play, through reading,  and real life experiences.  I spend a lot of time reading at my house.  I read  history and science aloud, I read from the Bible, and I read chapter books and the little ones are playing close by.  Every afternoon I read picture books to the younger children and we will do activities related to the books.  Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row is a great resource for picture books and activities related to them.  A great website for lapbooks and activities related to FIAR is www.homeschoolshare.com. We sing songs when we clean up or to the baby.  We count and do colors by using blocks, buttons, toys, or my favorite M and M's.  We have plenty of art supplies available and ready for drawing, cutting, gluing, and painting. One of my favorite craft sites for younger children is www.dltk-kids.com  Any project that the older children are doing that the little ones want to participate in , they can.  We spend lots of time in the kitchen together.  We have toys to inspire imaginative play: kitchen, blocks, dollhouse, knights and castle, cars, costumes, etc...They are learning through play all day long.

Now sometimes preschoolers want a math book or workbook because their older siblings have one.  I usually get an inexpensive preschool workbook to pull out during school time.  If we are making a craft or working on a map I always print enough for the little ones too so they can do it if they want to.  For those times when an educational DVD would come in handy, I pull out one of our Leap Frog DVD's.  The children love those. 

You can successfully and inexpensively teach your preschooler at home.  And have lots of fun doing it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Today is the last day of the Gratitude Challenge 2011 and today I am thankful for the challenge and for Brenda for hosting it.   I think if we all remembered every day to keep our focus on all the good things in our life that we have to be thankful for, we will have much happier lives!

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus  1Thesallonians 5:18.

Chelsea's Sew With Cotton Contest Entry

Every year, the Arkansas Farm Bureau sponsors a Sew With Cotton competition to promote the use of cotton by requiring 100 percent cotton in all materials used.  There are 3 divisions, youth 14-19 and adult (no professionals allowed)  and special. The entrant must construct all of their garment and model it themselves.  There is prize money for the top 5 placements in each category and the sweepstakes winner can also win a portable serger.

Chelsea is the only youth in our county that entered.  She has been working for months on her dress along with the help of our county extension agent and our 4 H program assistant.  She has been spending 8 hours every week in the office working on the dress.  It has been so good for her to work with the 4 H ladies especially since my sewing skills are no where near theirs (or even Chelsea's now.)  I am so proud of how much work and effort she put into her entry and how well it turned out.  She headed off to Little Rock today and the competition is in the morning.  She is excited but also a bit nervous so say a prayer for her.  She doesn't expect to win anything, she said she was doing it to gain the experience and at 14 will be one of the youngest entrants.  Here is her dress:

 Didn't she do a great job?  (Sigh)  My baby is growing up way to fast!  We will know tomorrow afternoon how it went.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Today's school day some how started with a conversation about what I did, did not have when I was a kid.  One of the boys wanted to know if there were telephones when I was little.  I explained that yes there were but they were attached to the wall and had a rotary dial (I showed them Emelia's play phone so they would know what that was.)  The conversation went on to cover whether or not I had other things too.  It made me think about how thankful I am for the technology we have today.  Information is literally at the tips of my fingers when ever I need it.  When the children ask me a question I do not know like what a peanut plant looks like or what kind of spider is more venomous a black widow or brown recluse.  When studying birds we can hop on the web and watch different kind of birds hatching and map their migration route.  If we forget where to find information on the Bible, we google it.  I can access audiobooks and download them in moments for my son to listen to (the one he downloaded today made him so happy!)  Technology is truly an amazing thing.

All About Reading Level One!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I am using and having great success with All About Learning's All About Spelling program and corresponding readers.  All About Learning Press has now created All About Reading, a program designed to teach reading in the most effective way possible.  The readers used in this program are the same readers that go along with the All About Spelling Program that we use for level one and I can't recommend them highly enough!  They are beautiful hard covered readers with adorable illustrations that my 8 year old is so proud to read!  They are sturdy enough to last a long, long time.

To celebrate the newly released All About Reading Level One, from now until December 6th all  Reading Level One products are 10 % off  and any orders of All About Reading Level One that includes a Teacher's Manual will get free A Taste For Outer Space ($8 value.)  Click here for more information and to order.

Looking for a reading program for preschool or Kindergarten?  Check out All About Reading's Pre Level One here.

Links used in this post are my affiliate links.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 27 and 28 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Day 27-  I am so thankful for our country and the freedoms we have here that we take for granted everyday.  Sometimes I think we forget how good we have it.

Day 28- Pancakes.  I am thankful for pancakes on a day when I completely forgot to take meat out of the freezer for supper.  The children love breakfast for supper and they enjoyed it even more with the leftover whipped cream and strawberry pie topping!