Our Family

Our Family

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!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: His Mighty Warrier by Sheri Rose Shepherd

How Do You Captivate the Heart of a Boy?

With words from a loving God about the courageous man of honor he will one day be.  Little boys love to play pretend and imagine they are daring knights slaying dragons and searching for mighty adventures.  The truth is they are really the child of a real King and an important part of a real kingdom.  His Mighty Warrior is written as a two way conversation between that King and his warrior-child. 

The book covers very important areas that our sons need to face: having good character, keeping promises, powering up with prayer, being courageous, a protector, being loving to your family, always being your best, fighting the good fight, honoring others, money, being a leader, dealing with disappointment and anger, greed, telling the truth, not to seek revenge, and many more.  Each page is written as a letter from the King on a particular topic and followed by scripture backing up the perspective on the letter.  The next page has a prayer that the child can pray about that specific topic.  For example When Anger Happens a short letter is written telling the child to call out to God in anger and He will change your heart and help  you through it.  The scripture reference is Psalm 4:4 In your anger do not sin: when you are in your beds, search your hearts and be silent.  Then there is a prayer: Dear God, Thank you for not getting mad at me for how I feelI like having a Father in heaven who understands my heart.  When I feel angry help me to still do the right thing.  In Jesus's name I pray, amen.

His Mighty Warrior is a beautiful (in a manly way) book.  I loved the illustrations that go along with each page, although the same ones appear over and over again.  The book is hard covered and sturdy enough to last a young man for a long time.  The book is written in a very conversational easy to relate to tone and covers very important areas of a boy's life.  This book would make an excellent gift for the young man in your life.

I received a complimentary copy of His Mighty Warrior from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 26 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful all of the good desserts are gone!  Birthday cake, pie, fudge, and birthday cake again was just a little too much of the sweet stuff this year.  I need to stock up on fruits and veggies tomorrow.  Holidays are a terrible time to loose those last few pounds of baby weight, but I will admit the fudge was delicious!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 24 and 25 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I can't believe that after posting every day so far, I forgot to post on Thanksgiving!  I don't even really have an excuse except I forgot until almost 11:00 last night, and by then was way too tired to string a thoughtful sentence together, so I am combining yesterday and today into one post.

Day 24-  I am so thankful to have had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family!  We had the best fried turkey ever and a mountain of other foods for our afternoon meal, and then a light supper with lots of different pies and fudge for dessert.  It was a great day of food, family, and of course football!

Day 25-  I have finished my Christmas shopping and did not have to fight one single crowd!  I really did all of my shopping online this year.  Besides Walmart, Target and Kohls, I also got some fantastic deals yesterday and today at Vision Forum and Bass Pro.  Although it technically wasn't a Christmas gift, I even got a fabulous deal (what's better than free) on a cell phone upgrade for my husband.  I am hoping he will love his new Droid 2 when he gets it this week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23 Gratitude Challenge 2011

We got to pick up our checks today from the 4 H Livestock auction.  I am so thankful for the members of the community that donate money to the children to help them pay for and raise livestock.  Any amount of money helps pay expenses and encourages the children (who are our future farmers.)  The price of chicken feed has gone up so much this year, I cannot imagine the cost of raising some of the larger animals.  I am thankful that the money the children received this year will pay their expenses for next year.

Book Review: An Amish Wedding by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long

Three Amish women yearn for the perfect wedding.

"A Perfect Plan" by Beth Wiseman

Priscilla King has been planning to marry Chester Lapp since she was sixteen years old, and when Chester proposes on Priscilla’s nineteenth birthday, wedding plans begin immediately. What wasn't planned was all the problems the couple encounters as their big day approaches. A house disaster, a ruined wedding dress, and a sick attendant all make the couple wonder if God's sending them signs to call things off.

"The Perfect Match" by Kathleen Fuller

Naomi Fisher has had great success at matchmaking her family members and friends. Now with her sister’s wedding right around the corner, Naomi wonders why she’s able to find husbands for her friends and family, but not one for herself.

"The Perfect Secret" by Kelly Long

Rose Bender has recently become engaged to handsome but somber Luke Raber. She agrees out of a sense of duty and a willingness to settle for solid friendship as a basis for the engagement. But as she watches her friend's excitement over her soon-to-be wedding, Rose wonders if there shouldn’t be more to her relationship with Luke. She begins to examine Luke and his life more closely and is amazed when she stumbles upon an exciting, secret side of him that engages her mind and heart

What's better than a great Amish story?  Three stories in one book.  Even though this collection of novellas are written by three different authors, the characters and stories intersect which I enjoyed better than a collection of similar stories thrown into the same book.  Each of the three stories have similarities but are also very different.  I loved the characters and their stories.  I love that their happy endings didn't come with a perfect problem free life.  An Amish Wedding was a great quick and easy read that made me smile.

If there was one thing I wish was different it is that I would have like to read more about Naomi's story.  We don't get to see as much of her "happy ending" as the other two.  I would have liked there to have been another chapter finishing off her story.

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

No Black Friday Shopping For Me This Year

For a long, long, time it has been a tradition.  Get the paper on Thanksgiving, go through all of the ads, and plan a strategy for getting the most out of the Black Friday shopping experience.  I have always loved Black Friday shopping and we have had some fun times!   But, 5 am on Friday was moved back to 12 am last year, and now 10 pm on Thursday this year.  It is no longer Black Friday, it is Thanksgiving Thursday, and maybe it is just me but I don't want to end my Thanksgiving holiday early and I am sure that many working in retail would rather be home with their families.  Not to mention that I am not willing to hang out in Walmart for several hours waiting for the next sale to start (some items go on at 10, 12 and then 5 am) nor am I able to shop the whole day toting a nursing baby that would much rather be in bed.

So this year, The Happy Homeschool Mom is doing all of her Christmas shopping online.  Many retailers are offering special online deals and free shipping.  Some Black Friday deals will be available online, although Walmart is limiting most of its really good deals this year to in store only :(.  Kohls (my favorite store!) has some great deals for this weekend and I have a 15% off coupon and free shipping!  Cyber Monday is another day to stock up on some really good online sales and free shipping offers.

Since the children are so used to getting packages in the mail from reviews, they don't even bat an eye when the UPS man comes up our driveway.  This year instead of fighting crowds, I am shopping in my jammies!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful for our house.  When we were house hunting 5 years ago, it seemed like we would never find a house that suited us that we were willing to pay for after not getting our first choice.  Then in God's perfect timing we were shown this house that actually suited us better than the one we had wanted!  It is not perfect and there is always something that needs work but it is the perfect house for us.  Not only did I get a schoolroom inside, we got a large shop for all of Art's tools, and plenty of space for the children to grow and play outside.  We can raise our chickens (and bigger livestock if we chose), observe all kinds of deer and other small wildlife, and the children can play outdoors without having to be concerned about who is walking by.  I am so thankful for our home!

Favorite Recipes: Oven Fried Chicken

I found this recipe over the summer when we were going to the lake for the day.  Art and I were discussing whether to take sandwiches or bring something to cook on the grill.  He said he wanted cold fried chicken.  I didn't want to spend all night frying chicken so I searched for an oven fried chicken recipe and found this one.  It was delicious!  Great recipe for eating hot or refrigerating and taking on a picnic or camping.  I used dru sticks, but you could use any kind of chicken adjusting the cook time if it is boneless.

2 beaten eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine bread crumbs and flour.  Dip chicken in egg then bread crumb mixture coating completely.  Place in a 13x9 baking dish with 1/2 cup vegetable oil in the bottom.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 min, turn chicken over and bake another 30 minutes.  Place chicken on paper towels to drain excess oil.  Enjoy!

Tip- Do not use disposable aluminum pans.  The chicken will not be crunchy and will be soggy instead.  I discovered this trying to save myself the trouble of cleaning up the pans after.

TOS Review: The Reading Game


Anthony (6), Christian (4), and I have spent the last couple of weeks trying out a new game called The Reading Game.  From the author of Wordly Wise, Kenneth Hodkinson, The Reading Game was designed for children just learning to read or having trouble learning to read.  The Reading Game teaches your child 180 vocabulary words using a fast action memory game and 6 beautifully illustrated storybooks. 


Game Contents:
6 Illustrated Storybooks
6 decks of matching cards (30 cards in each deck)
Teacher and Parents Guide
$24.95 each 
15% off orders of 8 or more

Each of the 6 stories is told using just 30 words that are broken down into 6 sets of 5 words.  The student learns to read each set of words using an easy word matching game.  After the student has mastered the words in each set, you move on to the next set of words.  The student is able to read the book after they have learned all of the words in the set.

For example, the first 5 words in game one book one are can,cat,not, is, and me.  After playing the 2 player memory matching game with these words and showing mastery of the words you move on to the next 5 words (game 2 book one) which are: sad, she, stay, this, with.  You can then test your child's knowledge of these words by using a few practice sentences.  After showing mastery of the words in game 6 book one, the child is ready to read on their own, book one, The Skunk Book, a 32 page illustrated rhyming book.  The process is the same for the rest of the books: Snake, Bear, Penguins, Unicorns, and Zebra.  After completing all 6 books, your child will have learned to read 180 words. 


The Reading Game is supplemental curriculum material that compliments most reading curriculum and meets the criteria of Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Reading and Foundational Skills for kindergarten and first grade.  A pre and post assessment is available to test sight word recognition before and after playing each of the 6 card games.  The Test Sentence Assessment Worksheets can be used to track a student's progress as you work through the games in each set.

I have been playing The Reading Game with my six year old son Anthony who has developed an interest in learning how to read.  Anthony really liked playing the game and was able to read the first two rounds of words very quickly.  The rest of the words took much longer to master, but after several weeks of playing, Anthony is able to read book one, The Skunk.

Anthony loved playing the game and loved the story.  Any kind of teaching in the form of a game makes it more interesting to children. The game can be played in just minutes a day.   Needing to learn only 30 words to read an entire book did help build his confidence and his desire to go on to the next book.  There were times that he did show some frustration at not being able to remember the words as we were playing and not being able to go to the next set of cards, but with some practice and some patience he did very well learning all of the words.

I wish that the cards were a bit sturdier.  After Anthony, I have at least 3 more children that will be learning to read and would like them to be able to use The Reading Game.  The cards are just like a deck of playing cards and bend and rip easily.  I love the black and white illustrations, but some of them did not come out as clear as the others in the books.

The Reading Game does not teach how to decode or sound out words.  It is teaching memorization of the words needed in order to read the books.  From the website, " By the time students come to the end of the zebra story, 180 words are hard-wired into memory. Phonics can then be incorporated into the game by using the cards to develop links to similar words and sounds."

Overall, we have really enjoyed using The Reading Game and will continue on with the next book today.

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

I received a complimentary copy of The Reading Game for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


And The Winner Is......

The winner of The Grace Effect is Beverly!  Thanks so much to all that entered!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Making Smoothies

We are reviewing a product, Vintage Remedies for Kids (read my review on Dec 12th) that teaches healthy and natural living for kids 2-6 and includes a lot of fun hands on projects.  Today, the children and I had fun making an experimenting with some fruit smoothies.  The smoothies were very easy to make and only need 1 cup of fruit, 1/3 cup orange juice, and either a  whole banana or 1/3 cup yogurt for one serving.  We made some with strawberries, some with bananas, and some with both.  Most of the children liked the one with banana and yogurt the best.

Alex chopping strawberries

Lily eating a strawberry

Nick measured the orange juice

And then added everything to the blender

Christian loved the strawberry one best!

Emelia even got to have some and she loved it!

Day 21 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Warning (in case you'd rather not see)! There are photos of deer and deer meat in this post!

I had written a blog post recently about trying to gain control of my grocery budget.  A day or two later, Art was out hunting and got his first deer of the season, a seven point buck.  Having the deer meat will make a big difference in our grocery bill, so today I am thankful for deer meat, and also for Art teaching the children about being a responsible, safe hunter and taking the time to teach them how to process the meat.

Menu Plan Monday

Looking forward to a great week with my hubby home for a couple of days and family coming for Thanksgiving.  I am excited too because Art got a deer the other day which will help a lot in my goal to lower my grocery budget!  Here is what I am cooking up this week:

Fri 11/18-pizza
Sat 11/19 oven fried chicken (recipe coming soon) cheesy potatoes, corn
Sun 11/20- mac and cheese with birthday cake for dessert (Alex's birthday)
Mon 11/21- tacos, rice
Tues 11/22- spaghetti, dinner rolls
Wed 11/23- french dip sandwiches, carrot sticks, applesause
Thurs 11/24- Fried Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, rolls, sweet potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce and fudge and pie for dessert

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Be sure to visit www.orgjunkie.com to see some great menu plans!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 20 Gatitude Challenge 2011

My sweet Alexander is 8 today!  I am so thankful for 8 year old boys and their birthday smiles!

Alexander Adolphus 11/20/03 8 lbs 7 oz 

Alexander Adolphus 11/20/11 
For his birthday meal, Alex chose take out pizza, so we ordered it while we were leaving church and ate in for lunch.  His cake will be strawberry with vanilla icing (Walmart didn't have strawberry.)  He really wanted a new bow he could practice with.  He was so happy to get this one and that it looks like his dad's complete with a whisker biscuit.  Alex is such a sweet boy and so easy to please.  I am so thankful for him and his birthday smiles!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

4 H Holiday Craft Workshop 2011

Every year in November, our county 4 H does a Holiday Craft workshop.  This is one of the children's favorite workshops to go to.  There are several different crafts available to make and the children rotate from table to table.  This year they made a gingerbread ornament, a ribbon ornament, a foam doorknob decoration, a place mat, a stocking ornament, a reindeer headband, a stained glass pumpkin, a decorated candy cane, elf shoe magnets, and a decoupage ornament.  They also were able to make ornaments that were leftover from last year to donate to a local nursing home.  Nick, Alex, and Anthony signed up to participate in the workshop and Chelsea volunteered to be a helper.  There was not very many others signed up and a few that were didn't show up.  Lily and Christian wanted to make a couple of the crafts and were excited that they were able to since there were plenty of materials to go around.  The children had a wonderful time!

Day 19 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful for our county 4 H program.  My children have had so many fun and educational opportunities through being involved with 4 H.  One of the best things about it is that most activities are free or low cost and 4 H is something the whole family can participate in together.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful for my blog readers!  I read and appreciate all of your comments.  One of the reasons I write this blog is to be an encouragement to others, but those of you who read and comment are a huge encouragement to me!  Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful for my Nook.  I love to read and being able to read on my Nook (especially while nursing) is so much easier than balancing a book.  It is much easier than taking a stack of books with you and I can read my favorites over and over again without damaging the binding or bending pages.  I have read a ton of books on it, but have never bought any of them.  It is the my most favorite gift ever!

Potty Training ! (again)

I am not one to push potty training at a young age.  If your child is not ready it ends up back firing, and will be a lot more work.  How do you know when they are ready?  Well, every child is different and there is no magic age for readiness.  Some signs your child may be ready are: going for long periods of time without wetting, complaining when their diaper is wet or dirty, interest in sitting on the potty, and ability to dress themselves.  For the boys, I didn't even attempt potty training until they were three.  That seemed to be their magic number that they showed they were ready and it only took a couple of weeks until they were daytime trained.  The exception was Anthony who we began potty training right before his 3rd birthday, but had his tonsils out the week after his 3rd birthday.  The surgery put potty training on hold until several weeks later when he was completely recovered and back to normal. 

Lily won't be 3 until March, but she really wants to use the potty.  She has never liked having a wet or dirty diaper and as soon as she could talk would ask to be changed.  She can dress and undress herself with very little help and she has a strong desire to wear pretty panties.  We bought some Disney Princess ones when she saw them at the store and she couldn't wait to put them on.  Yesterday we starting working on potty training.  It's been about 12 years since I have potty trained a girl, but I was successful with the last one and all the boys in between. 

My tips for potty training (when your child shows readiness)

  • Don't start potty training before a big change in a child's life (move, new baby, illness, siblings starting school, parent job change etc..)
  • Pull ups are a huge waste of money and don't really teach the child to be potty trained.  We go straight from diapers to underwear and only use pull ups at night once a child is day trained.
  • Keep books or other small toys in the bathroom to encourage your child to sit on the potty.
  • Make a routine for the child-potty as soon as she gets up in the morning and at nap time and try sitting on the potty every 30 min or so for a few minutes (some children will not need to go this often) 
  • Make it fun!  My children love coming out of the potty and having the older children clap and cheer for them.  We also do a small reward (sticker/candy) every time they go.
  • Make sure they are wearing clothes (or not wearing any sometimes) that they will be able to get on and off easily.
  • Don't make a big deal if they have an accident.  Clean it and them up and move on.
  • Be ok with backing off if it is not going well, the child resists, or is not feeling well.  Forcing the issue will not be good for you or them. 
  • Don't be concerned if your child has to wear pull ups at night for a long time.  Children's bladders are small and they can be deep sleepers.  It is quite common for children who are trained during the day to still wet at night.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 Gratitude Challenge 2011

This is a picture of my brother holding baby Alex the last time I saw him, Thanksgiving 2003.   I am thankful for all of the time I had with my big brother and the memories I still have to cherish.

Getting Control of the Budget

For the longest time I was doing so well at coming in or under our monthly grocery budget.  Food/household items are our second biggest expense every month.  Ever since I was pregnant (and so sick) with Emelia, I started not paying so close attention.  It was much easier to buy frozen foods then to make from scratch.  Menu planning and couponing moved lower on my priority list.  Running through a drive thru on our way to various activities just became easier (which is not cheap when you have a big family even if you order off the dollar menu.)  Then, the cost of groceries has been steadily creeping up.  I raised our budget after Emelia was born to account for the extra diapers we would have to buy.  Soccer season soon came around and we were spending an outrageous amount of money on gas and snacks.  Even with the raised grocery budget, I have still been consistently going over every week.

I had to go over our finances and with the extra money at the grocery store, extra gas money, and occasional take out food, our monthly spending has been way over what it should be!  Even the chicken feed went up.  It is time to take control of the budget once again.  Avoiding take out and lowering our gas money should be fairly easy especially now that soccer is over.  I will have to avoid the temptation of eating out, and commit to only eating out for special occasions.  I will have to be more diligent in my menu planning/price matching/couponing to try and pay the lowest price possible for the food we buy.  The frozen/convenience foods that we have gotten used to in the last year since I was pregnant with Emelia will have to be replaced by foods made from scratch.  I will go back to shopping for 2 weeks or a month at a time with a smaller weekly shopping for milk, lunch meat, and produce.  I have found in the past that shopping/meal planning for a month saves me the most money, but requires a lot of extra planning and patience at the grocery store (hard to maintain with the crowd.)  Shopping for two weeks will probably work out best for us right now.  I am committed  to lowering our expenses so we can stay on budget, pay off our debt sooner, and become debt free. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.
With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.
Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

I chose to review this book because The Heart Mender by the same author remains one of my most favorite books that I have had the opportunity to review.  I chose this book knowing it was the sequel to The Traveler's Gift which I have not read but plan to do so.  I had no trouble understanding The Final Summit, but I do think that it would be beneficial to the reader to read them in order if possible.

Andy Andrews did not disappoint me with this story.  It was a wonderful read that both entertained and educated me about people and events in history that I knew nothing about.  Although the book is fiction, there is quite a bit of interesting factual information about famous (and not so famous) people that I found fascinating.  There is a problem to be solved and all of humanity depends on whether or not David and his team of Travelers can solve it.  They believe they can solve the answer fairly quickly and easily, which I believe says quite a bit about man and his arrogance.  They learn rather quickly that it is not as easy as they believe and they must work together to come up with a solution.  The ending in itself was not predictable like I thought it would be.  The book has a positive message (which I am not going to tell you and ruin it for you) and was truly an enjoyable read.

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

Day 15 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Today I am thankful for the rain.  After being so dry for so long we are finally getting some much needed rain.  The children were so excited to see it raining, they wanted to go out and play in it this morning.  When the big boys were out feeding chickens, I found Christian (4) outside in the pouring down rain wearing shorts and a tank top and splashing in a mud puddle.  He was having a great time!  I did make him come in though since it was not that warm and we started getting some thunder and lightning.

TOS Review: Math Mammoth


Math.  It is one of those subjects we all have to teach but we as homeschoolers (at least I do) struggle with choosing and sticking to a curriculum that is just the right fit for our family or even just a particular student.  I was excited to have an opportunity to choose one of the many available products from Math Mammoth to use and review.  I was not in love with the curriculum that I was using for my second grader, so I chose the Light Blue Series, Grade 2.

Marie Miller, the author of Math Mammoth, wanted to create products that would teach Math so both the students and teachers would really understand what was going on.  The curriculum does not have a separate scripted teacher's manual.  Instead, the "teaching" portion is contained in the workbook making it possible for the student to self teach, and requiring very little preparation from the teacher.

Math Mammoth recognizes that Math is a case of "one size fits all" and offers a variety of different products for you to choose from including:

Light Blue Series-full curriculum for grades 1-6
Blue Series- worktexts by topic for grades 1-6 (7)
Golden Series-worksheets by grade grades 3-8
Green Series-worksheets by topic grades 3-7
Make it Real Learning Workbooks-in depth activities taken from real life grades 3-12
States by the Numbers Workbooks-one workbook for each state grades 3-6

Math Mammoth offers a 7 day virtual tour giving you time to digest the information on the website and even ask the Maria which product would be best for your child.  During the tour you will receive a package of 300 worksheets and sample pages, 7 emails (one per day) answering FAQ's about Math Mammoth, and Math Mammoth Math newsletters. 

Math Mammoth strives to offer their products at affordable prices.  Products are available as both download or print versions.  Prices will vary depending on the product with workbooks ranging from $2-$7 a piece for the electronic versions and the electronic versions of the full curriculum being priced around $34 for the electronic versions.

We are loving Math Mammoth!  One of the very first things I noticed about Math Mammoth is that it is very straight forward with no distractions on the page.  That is a big deal if you have a child (like mine) who is distracted by a lot of pictures or bright colors on pages.  I had to do no advance preparation.  I printed off the pages, went over the teaching part, and we worked on the problems.  Although it is written so it is possible for some children to self teach, my so is not a good reader and I need to sit with him to explain the problems to him.  I was a little worried at first because some of the areas in the "review" section for 2nd grade were not things we had covered yet, but my second grader picked up on it very quickly and we have moved on with no problems.  I like the way Math is taught with Math Mammoth, very understandable for student and the teacher, and does not keep doing the same problems over and over again.  You have the ability to go in and make more worksheets on a specific topic if your student needs more practice.  With the Light Blue Series, it is a full curriculum with cumulative reviews, tests,and an answer key (haven't had to use it yet thank goodness), so there isn't anything else I have to buy.  She does recommend having an abacus (optional though I do plan on getting one) and a few common household items (rulers, measuring cup, alarm clock) to help teach the lessons.   The most important thing is that Alex and I both love it!

I did not think at first that I would like using a download for Math (even though print books are available we were given a download for review.)  I am a bit of a scrooge when it comes to using printer ink and though a print version would be better.  But, the license for the download version says that a teacher can print for as many of their own students as necessary.  I didn't find that they used a ton of ink (although some of it is in color) and I wouldn't have to buy it again for the younger students in my house.  I found it very easy to print it out, punch holes in it, and slip it in a notebook.  

 You may be interested to know that the chapter on money (chapter 5) is included in five currencies: US, Canadian, British, European, and Australian money. You will automatically get all five versions when you buy the Grade 2 Complete Curriculum or the 2-A part.

 One thing to keep in mind is that Math Mammoth is more of a mastery based curriculum rather than a spiral step by step curriculum.  Math Mammoth focuses on studying in depth a few major topics at one time.  There are not a lot of review problems from previous topics.  If your child needs extra review you can use the worksheet generator to use for review.

To see what other crew members have to say click here

I received a complimentary download of the Light Blue Series Grade 2 for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


And The Winner Is......

The winner of The Imagination Station Books 5 and 6 is....


Congratulations and look for an email from me.

Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Tauton

About The Grace Effect:
"Simply defined, the ‘grace effect’ is an observable phenomenon—that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.
What does Christianity give us beyond televangelists, potlucks, and bad basketball leagues?  Not much, according to the secular Left.  The world, they say, would be a better place without it.  
Historian and Christian apologist Larry Taunton has spent much of his career refuting just this sort of thinking, but when he encounters Sasha, a golden-haired orphan girl whose life has been shaped by atheistic theorists, he discovers an unlikely champion for the transforming power of grace.  
Through the narrative of Sasha’s redemption, we see the false promises of socialism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and how a society cultivates its own demise when it rejects the ultimate source of grace.  We see, in short, the kind of world the atheists would give us: a world without Christianity—cold, pitiless, and graceless.
And yet, as Sasha shows us, it is a world that is not beyond the healing power of “the grace effect.”  Occasionally infuriating, often amusing, but always inspiring, The Grace Effect will have you cheering for the courageous little girl who shamed the academic elitists of our day.

I can honestly say that reading this book changed my thinking.  As a Christian living in the free United States of America I had never given much thought to how much of an influence Christianity has had on our culture and on the non believers around us besides the obvious Christian holidays.  It is so hard for me to imagine what it would be like because I have never experienced a society without grace.  Reading the Grace Effect both broke and warmed my heart.  My heart breaks for all those who have to live an experience life without grace.  It breaks for those like Sasha that are living in such deplorable conditions and the corruption that surrounds and hinders them from getting out of those conditions.  The Grace Effect warmed my heart because Sasha is a living testimony to both sides of the equation.  We see what her life was like in a society without Christianity and what a difference the power of grace had on her life.  The Grace Effect is an inspiring story that will leave a lasting impression on how you see the power of grace on the world.

And Now For the Giveaway:

If you are interested in winning a copy of The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Tauton, leave me a comment with a way to contact you.  For an extra entry, follow with GFC or Networked Blogs and leave another comment telling me you do.  Giveaway will close om 11/21 at 11:59 pm.  Open to US/Canadian mailing addresses.

“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.

Day 14 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am very thankful for my handy husband's ability to fix things!  I am so glad to have my computer back!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13 Gratitude Challenge 2011

I am so thankful today for those who see a need and step up to fill it!  Children's Church was much less stressful for me today thanks to someone helping out even though it wasn't "her turn."  It made my day much easier and was very helpful to a new volunteer.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 Gratitude Challenge 2011

Today I am thankful for nice relaxing days I can stay at home with my family.  It is so nice to be able to be at home without rushing around to get everyone ready to go somewhere.  I even managed to take a 15 minute nap today while the little girls were napping and the boys were watching Cars 2!