Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting "Behind" In Your Homeschool

I often hear homeschooling friends talking about how they feel they are behind, or that one of their children is behind compared to other students their age.  There are a couple of different reasons homeschoolers woory about being behind.  Some face the possibility of putting their child back into a private or public school setting.  Some worry because of all the negativity about homeschooling coming from friends and family and that it will be fuel to their fire if their child does not do as well at Math or Reading like a friends child or family member.  Some homeschoolers write up a schedule for their year and begin to worry when Dr. appointments, sickness, or big changes in family or situation cause them to not be able to complete the work when they have scheduled it.

Being behind is something I worried about as a new homeschooler, but it is not something I worry about now.  One of the best things about homeschooling is flexibility.  You can work on what you want to work on when you want to do it.  If there is something in your life like a move, illness, pregnancy that causes you to not be able to get the amount of work done when you thought you should, there will be time to do it later on.  There is no rule that school can only be done September- June, Monday-Friday 8-3.  You do not have to follow the public school schedules for vacations.  Homeschooling is flexible and if you feel that you are getting behind now, you can always "catch up" this summer.  Also, check your expectations and see if maybe you are trying to fit too many things into too short a period of time. 

Children are not going to learn at the same pace.  If you are worried that your 5 year old is behind because he can't read like your neighbor's 5 year old, don't panic and start doubling his phonics school work.  All children learn differently and they should not be compared.  Your 5 year old might just be 10 times better in Math than your neighbor's.

Your homeschool is not and should not be just like anyone else's.  There are going to be times when "real life" is going to take the place of what you had planned in your homeschool.  During these times, don't add more stress on yourself because you are panicking because you feel your child is getting behind.  Sometimes, that little break you face just makes your child that much more mature and able to tackle his Math problems faster and easier than he would have if you had tried it the month before.  You may also be surprised by just how much your children are learning even when you are not able to sit down and teach them.   

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/30

I had to plan this weeks menu to include a special request.  Christian (4) loves spaghetti and he says we haven't had it in forever!  When I told him we would have it this week, he told me I was the best mom ever and he really loves me!  It was such an easy thing to add in to this weeks menu and I will have a very happy little boy tonight.

Friday 1/27-pizza
Saturday 1/28-mexican chicken casserole, rice
Sunday 1/29-broccoli cheese soup, crescent rolls
Monday 1/30-spaghetti
Tuesday 1/31-ham, mashed potatoes, corn
Wednesday 2/1-BBQ chicken legs, potato salad, fruit
Thursday 2/2- beef stew, biscuits

For some great menu inspiration go to www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

TOS Review: Kinderbach

Kinderbach was one of the vendors that I was most excited about on the TOS Crew list this year.  I was unable to review it last year, but was really, really hoping to be able to review it this year.  I was so excited to have the opportunity, especially since our subscription started around Christmas and the children had just gotten a keyboard as one of their gifts this year.  The timing was perfect for us to begin using Kinderbach's online piano lesson program.

Kinderbach teaches note reading, rhythm, singing, and composition to children ages 3-7.  They use cute and fun characters to help children learn their lessons through a series of short videos and hands on worksheets.  Children will get to sing songs, play songs with entertaining characters, enjoy games and puzzles, and play the piano.  They have the opportunity to develop a love of music and musical skills at a very young age.  Parents do not need to have any musical knowledge, Kinderbach does all of the teaching for you.


Kinderbach has a total of 240 available lessons in 6 levels.  Each level has a printable PDF lesson book full of coloring pages, music, crafts, and games to go along with the lessons.  After completing the entire program your child will be able to:

  1. Know all the notes on the piano by location and letter name
  2. Be familiar with the grand staff,
  3. Read some individual notes on staff and all notes by pattern on staff,
  4. Understand and read rhythms from eighth to whole notes,
  5. Have improved listening skills so that he/she can interpret rhythms, intervals and patterns heard.
  6. Play familiar melodies,
  7. Play hands together or separately,
  8. Have a working music vocabulary,
  9. Understand basic composition methods

Kinderbach is available for purchase to use online (including new apps for the iPad, Android Tablets, Kindle Fire, or Nook)  with high speed internet, or you purchase Kinderbach on DVD.   A yearly online subscription is $95.88, or you can purchase monthly for $19.99 a month.  You can purchase DVD activity packs by level.  Each pack contains 3 hours of video lessons on DVD, 1 PDF activity guide on CD with a parent guide, and 1 audio CD with performance and demonstration tracks for $40.45 per level.  You can save money by buying value packs (more than one level at a time)  and they also have songbooks available for purchase.  Kinderbach offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

For a free online trial click here.

 Use the following coupon code TOScrew2012   to get 30% off of any Kinderbach purchase!  Good for one whole year!

I wrote in my introduction that Kinderbach was  one of the reviews I was most excited about this year.  I am happy to say that the program has exceeded my expectations!  I have been using the online version with my 10,8,6,4, and 2 year olds.  We have what is considered high speed internet, but it is pretty slow.  I have had no problems, pauses, or delays playing the videos.  We have been completing 4 videos 3-4 days a week.  They love watching the videos!  They love the characters, especially Dodie and the "beat bugs."  We have had a lot of fun playing our rhythm instruments (although I will admit that 5 children playing rhythm instruments for hours on end can get a little tiring for mom ;)  I really like the printouts that go along with the lessons.  My 6,4, and 2 year olds enjoy doing them, while my 8 and 10 year olds do not.  They love the songs that they have been singing.  I love that the program does not just teach notes on a keyboard, but teaches music appreciation also. The children are learning things that they would need to know if they ever decide to go on to another instrument. 
Anthony, Nick, Alex watching videos on laptop
Christian and Lily watching videos on Nook Color

 If you are looking for a program that is going to teach children to just play songs on a keyboard quickly, this is probably not it.  We are in week 9 of the online lessons (4 videos per week) and have yet to actually play a real song on the keyboard.  We have played the keyboard and played beats to go along with songs, but have not actually played a song using different notes.

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

I received a complimentary online subscription to Kinderbach for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movie Review: Dolphin Tale

We still have pizza and a movie night every Friday.  We have been doing it for years, since before Christian was born.  Sometimes the pizza changes from homemade, frozen, french bread, calzones, or even on the rare occasion take-out.  The children love to be able to sit in the family room and watch a movie.  It is their favorite day of the week.

I had heard great things about the movie Dolphin Tale, and have been waiting (not so patiently) for it to become available through Netflix.  We finally got it yesterday, just in time for pizza and a movie.

Dolphin Tale is based on the amazing true story of Winter, a dolphin who was caught in a crab trap, and had to have her tail removed to survive.  Through the combined effort of the young boy who saved her, The Clear Water Marine Aquarium, and Dr. McCarthy (who specializes in Prosthetics) they are able to create a new tail for Winter and save the dolphin's life.

This is the kind of movie you want your family to see.  It is inspiring and uplifting.  There is nothing objectionable in the movie.  No bad language, poorly done romantic scenes, no violence, or even any blatant advertising.  We even enjoyed the soundtrack.  My entire family (well not the baby, 2 years old and up) loved this movie.  If you are a homeschooler and you haven't heard already, you may be interested to know that one of the characters in the movie is homeschooled.  I honestly wish that I had not waited for it from Netflix, that I just went out and bought the movie.  Dolphin Tale is the kind of movie you want to have on your family movie shelf.

One thing I did want to mention is that it is a little long.  The movie is 1 hour and 53 minutes, so if you have little ones they may not want to sit and watch the whole time.  My two year old (girl) did, but my 4 year old boy played with his cars while he watched.  He liked it but there was no way he was sitting and watching for that long.  He needed something to keep his hands busy.

After we watched the movie, the children wanted to see Winter.  So we visited her website and watched her via webcam at www.seewinter.com.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 1/27/12

Our Homeschool Art Class was a lot of fun today!  Their first project was something I had never seen before.  It was string art from the Huichol Indians.  The children used these sticky 2 layer foam sheets and drew pictures on them with a wooden stick.  Then, they peeled back the out side layer and used string to cover their drawings and make more things in the background.  The idea of using the sticky foam was great and so much easier than trying the same thing with glue. Chelsea and Nick both made geometric designs.  Anthony made an outdoor design with an Indian and Alex did an outdoor design with a deer.  They all turned out so cool!

The second project was using 4 different color papers to create a puzzles.  First they drew a design.  Then they went over it with chalk and then water color paints.

Christian and Lily did some drawings, painted with water colors, and played with the stuffed animals in the basket.

Last they did a pencil drawing of different things that were displayed in the room. It was a very busy class!  Next week, we will get to use the pottery wheel and make something out of clay.  The children can't wait!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cloverbud Meeting "Wings Over Arkansas"

For our 4 H meeting tonight, one of the Cloverbuds did a talk on a project he is working on called "Wings Over Arkansas."  With this program, you bird watch and record what kind of birds you see and when.  When you  record specific numbers of birds, you earn a certificate and a pin.  Anyone of any age can participate, it is not just a 4 H program.  You can find more information on the program here.   It takes a lot of courage to talk in front of a group of people and even more so when you are only 6 years old!  After he did his talk, we made a bird craft and a simple bird feeder by stringing Cheerios on a piece of yarn.  It was a fun and productive meeting, although a bit chaotic which is to be expected when you are dealing with 15 children, ages infant to 10 years old.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Curriculum In Our Homeschool

We have a few changes and additions to what we are using in our homeschool, so I thought I would tell you about them.

I mentioned before Christmas that Chelsea was struggling in her Math and we needed to make a change in her curriculum.  We went with Math U See Pre-Algebra.  She is doing great!  She loves she can go at her own pace and can do all of her work independently.  More importantly, she is really understanding the concepts and not just guessing her way through multiple choice questions.  It was well worth the money spent.  She will finish Pre-Algebra by June and start working through Algebra 1 over the summer.  She will be sticking with Math U See for the rest of High School.

Nick has started in fractions in his Abeka Math book.  He has done really well with Abeka up to this point, but they move really fast.  Before he is really understanding the first fractions concept, they move on to the next topic and we are getting frustrated. So, I bought the Math Mammoth Fractions Worksheet Collection.  We will be working only on fractions until he understands all the different topics.  I am not sure what he will be doing for Math next year, but I know it will not be Abeka and I am thinking we may stick with Math Mammoth.

Last year, we had the opportunity to review Apologia's Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him?  Read my review here.  This year, we received the second book in the series, Who Am I and What  Am I Doing Here? to review.  This year, we got the complete set including: textbook, notebooking journal, audio files, and coloring book!  We started it yesterday.  Look for my review on it next month.

The other new curriculum that I am really, really, really excited about (can you feel my excitement?)  is All About Reading.  We received All About Reading Level One and the Deluxe Interactive Reading Kit.  We also started this yesterday and I am using it with my 6 year old and 8 year old.  My review on this will also be next month.    

We have been having a great week so far even with the changes and additions and have been getting a lot accomplished.  I am hoping the rest of the year continues on as well!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Digital Edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine on Nook Color

I have to admit that I was not thrilled when The Old Schoolhouse Magazine switched from a quarterly print magazine to a monthly digital.  I am not a real big fan of change (even though I know all change is not bad) and I really liked it just the way it was (keep in mind I also didn't like the idea of an ereader when they first came out either and I love mine!)  I do believe though, that the magazine rack is going to be a thing of the past sooner than later.  I decided that I would give the new magazine a chance.

I got a Nook Color for Christmas and besides reading a couple of books, loading some apps and children's books, I hadn't taken much time to see what else I could do with it.  This weekend I decided I would try and figure out how to read TOS Magazine on my Nook Color.  I had tried to go directly to the magazine using the internet and it did not work well.  Even though I could zoom in, it was too blurry for me to be able to read.  On a recommendation I bought the ezPDF Reader Pro App ($2.99) on my Nook Color.  Then I downloaded the January edition of the magazine to my PC and side loaded  it to the Nook Color using the USB cord.  The magazine then showed up on my shelf in my ezPDF Reader App and I could open it.  I could easily zoom in and out without it being blurry. I could move ahead or back several pages easily.  The colors and advertisements looked great on the Nook Color.  It was easy to read and I was very impressed with the digital edition.  I read through the whole thing in a weekend. 

Yes, I am a little sad that I will no longer be able to read TOS Magazine in the bathtub.  But, there are definite advantages to reading in on the Nook Color.  The Nook saves my page.  Children can't wrinkle the pages or spill something all over it.  I also don't have to find a place to store it when I am finished reading it.  It just stays safe and sound in the memory of my Nook.

You may also be pleased to know that TOS has just released a  new free App for Android Phones and for Apple Devices.   What are you waiting for?  Download your app and check out the digital version of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine today!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

paperback 354 pages $13.99
When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall is the 3rd and final book in the Sisters of the Quilt series (When the Heart Cries and When the Morning Comes are books one and two.)  Hannah receives a desperate call from her sister and has to return to Owl's Perch the Old Order Amish community that she fled in disgrace two years ago.  She has finally found her place in the Englischer world with a wealthy man that she loves, his adorable niece and nephew, and her dream of being a part of the medical community is about to come true.  Her return to Owl's Perch reopens all of her old wounds.  She is forced to work for her sister;s mental health with her former fiance Paul Waddell.  After being gone for two years and reuniting with friends and family, her old community begins to pull at her.  She also finds out that things were not all that they seemed when she fled, there were many deceptions, and all was not what she thought it was.  Will Hannah choose the Englischer world and the man that restored her hope, or will she return to the Plain Community and even back to her first love?

I chose this book because I have really enjoyed other books by Cindy Woodsmall.  I knew that it was the 3rd book in the series and I was hoping to get my hands on the first two before I read it, but I did not.  It is very possible to read this book and enjoy it on its own without having read the other two.  There is enough background within the story for you to understand the events that have already happened and get to know the characters quite well.   It was not what I consider to be a typical light hearted Amish fiction.  The book deals with some heavy topics and you will shed a tear or two.   It is an amazing story of love and forgiveness and a great example of the Lord working all things for the good for those who love Him.  The characters were real, believable, and genuine and the plot was great even though the ending was a bit predictable.  This is definitely my favorite book by this author so far.

Even though it is possible to read and enjoy When The Soul Mends without having read the other two in the series, I do wish that I had read them all.  I enjoyed the book so much it would be great to have the whole picture.  I still may go back and read the other two.

I received a complimentary copy of  When the Soul Mends from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

First Homeschool Art Class of the New Year

Today was our first Homeschool Art Class since November.  Our teacher had been ill and was unable to teach for 8 weeks.  The children have really missed it and were really looking forward to going today.  Unfortunately, Lily started running a temperature of 102 in the middle of the night.  The only other time she has ever run fever is the only time she has ever had an ear infection, and with it being Friday I decided she needed to go to the doctor.  Fortunately, they had a 10 am appointment available and Art Class is literally right across the street from the doctor's office.  I sent Chelsea, Nick, Alex, and Anthony to class and took Lily, Emelia, and Christian to the doctor with me.  Luckily she did not have an ear infection and her lungs were clear.  So it seems she just has this upper respiratory stuff that has been going around.  The little ones and I had to run into Walmart very quickly (even though I hate taking sick kids to Walmart) to get Tylenol, tissues, and refills for our Pediacare plug ins, and got back to Art Class about 30 minutes early.  The children were finishing up with their projects so they cleaned up and we headed home.  I did not get to take pictures of them in class, but I did take a picture of the three different projects they worked on today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Vessel Project

I have always loved to read.  I do not have a lot of extra money to be able to buy books for myself, especially after buying school books and other books for the children.  Knowing how much I love to read, my husband bought me a Nook last year for Mother's Day, and then got me a Nook Color (which I love!) this year for Christmas.  One of the things I was worried about was that I was not going to be able to have any money to put books on my Nook.  We have a library card to a library that offers ebooks and audio books, so I started out doing a lot of borrowing of books.  Then, two of the companies I review for started offering ebooks.  I have found websites like the Gutenberg Project that has thousands of classic ebooks that are all part of the public domain.

Barnes and Noble does offer several free ebooks on their site, but it can be difficult to search through all of their titles, and since they have all different "types" of free books, it is not exactly family friendly either.  Yesterday a read a suggestion in a forum about a site that lists free Christian books for Nook and for Kindle called The Vessel Project.  I had never heard of it before so I decided to check it out. The Vessel Project is a website for those who love Christian books, ebooks, and audiobooks.  They have a section that lists free Christian books for Nook and Kindle (click here.)  When you find a book you are interested in, the link takes you to Barnes and Noble or Amazon so you can download the book straight to your Nook or Kindle.  Usually when a book is free on Kindle it will be free on Nook too.  Books are free for only a certain period of time, so you should always check that it says $0 before you download.  I downloaded 3 books last night and "liked" The Vessel Project on Facebook.  This morning there were several new free books listed for Kindle, but when I searched them in the Barnes and Noble shop on my Nook, they were free for Nook too. 

If you are looking for free Christian ebooks, check out The Vessel Project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: A Mile in His Shoes

From the director of "Angels In the Outfield" comes an inspiring story about a special boy with an amazing gift, and the coach who believed. Dean Cain and Luke Schroder star in the gmc movie based on the book "The Legend of Mickey Tussler".

 Only a miracle can help Arthur "Murph" Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team.  He accidentally stumbles upon a boy (Luke Schroder) who has an amazing pitching arm but his parents are reluctant to let him try out for the team because he has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.  He convinces his parents to let him and that Mickey will benefit from using his skills and having a life outside of the farm.  What Murph doesn't know is how much his team (and himself) will benefit from having Mickey, and not just their game but their spirit too.

My husband and I watched this movie with our 14, 10, and 8 year olds while the little ones played nearby.  We all really enjoyed the movie.  It is a movie that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls.  Mickey is an amazing person who shows us that people should not be limited according to their labels.  Not only does he prove that he can survive in the out in the world, he also serves to be an inspiration and example to those around him.  What makes it more amazing and inspirational is that it is based on a true story.  

There are a few things you may want to be aware of before watching with your family.  There was one scene where there was one word I wish would have been left out.  There is a scene with young people at a party drinking, even though it is not clear what they are drinking.  There is also a scene where Mickey is violently attacked although it was well done with the violence taking place off screen, you know what is coming.

Overall, I thought A Mile in His Shoes was a great, inspirational, family friendly movie that was definitely worth watching.

“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.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

TOS Review: Virtue Clues


From the website" Let's be honest, instilling virtues in kids is hard work. But can it be fun too? We think so. In fact, there's no better way to learn. So We Choose Virtues brings memorable catchphrases, endearing characters, and just plain fun to simply inspire character that lasts. It's the best choice you can make for the kids in your life."

We Choose Virtues has several different products designed to be used everyday  as character development tools for your children (and maybe a bit of a reminder for moms and dads too ;)  You introduce the virtues, demonstrate them, memorize the catch phrases, learn the antonyms, and take advantage of the teachable moments that present themselves to you throughout the day.  There are several different products available for ages 3-18 for churches, homes, homeschools, and private schools.  You can see all of the different products by clicking here.  We were given a brand new product to use and review called Virtue Clues.


Virtue Clues are a take everywhere set of cards featuring the Virtue Kids, their names, catch phrases and antonyms, and a "You Can Do It" challenge listed on the back.  The set includes: 13 cards (2x3.5 in) with the following virtues: I Am Obedient, Forgiving, Diligent, Helpful, Perseverant, Content, Self-Controlled, Patient, Kind, Gentle, Attentive, and Honest.  The cards come in a plastic carrying pouch (3x4) with a velcro closure for $5.99.

The card we have been working on says, "I am obedient.  Ok, whatever you say I will obey, right away. I am NOT argumentative, slow, or unwilling, and I don't refuse to do what I am told."  The backside says, Choose to go the whole day doing everything exactly as you are asked to do it...with a smile! Oboe Joe knows you can do it!"

We were also given a complimentary download of the Kids of Virtues Coloring Book available by download for $3.00 to compliment the Virtue Clues.


And the Teacher's Handbook $4.99 as a download and $19.99 for a hard copy.


There are also many free assessments, reports and schedules that you can download for free here (scroll to the bottom of the page.)

"Like" We Choose Virtues Facebook page for tips on parenting, leadership, and inspiring lasting virtue.

Here are the current specials being offered:

  • Kids Virtue Poster now $11.99 (from $14.99)
  • 3 Rules Poster now $9.99 (from $11.99)
  • 100 Days of Virtue Chart with Butterfly Stickers now $13.99 (from $14.99. The stickers are still pretty pricey for me)
What will happen to the 3 posters we currently have in stockCLEARANCE SALE!
  • 2011 Kids Virtue Poster $9.75 (from $14.99, 35% savings)
  • 2011 100 Days of Virtue Chart and Butterfly Stickers $11.99 (from $14.99, 20% savings)  
  • 2011 3 Rules Poster $7.75 (from 11.99, 35% savings)
There is a CLEARANCE category on our website only while supplies last.

I loved the Virtue Clue Cards and the whole idea behind We Choose Virtues.  It makes it easy to spend a few minutes a day teaching and talking about an important virtue in a way that is fun and easy for children to understand.  Then you can revisit that lesson during appropriate moments throughout the day.  I listed the "Obedience" card as my example.  After teaching and discussing that card, when the children do not remember to obey right away without arguing, I remind them of the card and ask them to tell me what it said.  It is making a difference.  The cards are high quality and the colors are beautiful!  The size makes them very easy to put in your purse, bag, or backpack to take with you when you are on the go.

I do worry about losing the cards though, especially if we take them out of the house.  I think it would help to have a way to keep them altogether.  I will probably punch a hole in mine and put them on a small plastic or metal ring.

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

I received a complimentary set of Virtue Clues for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Mid America Science Museum

Nick and I both had birthdays in the last week, so my mom and dad came down for the week-end to celebrate.  Since we had to miss out on Homeschool days at the Mid America Science Museum since Christian was sick, we decided to surprise the children and go on Saturday.  We had a wonderful time!  A few things had changed since we were there 4 years ago.  The Tessla experiment has been moved into a separate room and costs extra (we skipped it.)  Where it used to be are stations with different building materials that you can build things with.  The aquarium is gone (disappointing.)  The children's favorite parts were the Underground Arkansas which is a cave where you go across, up, and under things.  I think they went through that like 10 times (even Lily wasn't scared and went through several times with Chelsea holding her of course.)  Their other favorite was the worm tunnel (I lost track of how many times they went through that.)  It was a great time and they already want to go back.  If you are ever in the Hot Springs Arkansas area and are looking for something fun and educational to do, you should stop by the Mid America Science Museum.

Christian 1/14/12
Christian 2/8/08 (last time we went in front of the same mirror)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beef Stew Recipe

I have always made Beef Stew in the Crock pot using beef gravy, carrots, potatoes, and onion.  But, I was looking for some new recipes that I could use our deer meat in and came across this beef stew recipe.  It was delicious and so easy to make!  The leftovers were great too.

I doubled everything except the meat

2 lb boneless roast cut into one inch chunks (I used venison tenderloin steaks)
2 cups water
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
6 carrots peeled and cut unto 1 in pieces (I used baby carrots)
3 baking potatoes peeled and sliced
1 onion chopped
1/4 cup steak sauce

Bring meat, water, barbecue sauce to a boil in a dutch oven or large skillet.  Cover and simmer for one hour on med low heat.  Stir in all of your vegetables cover and simmer for another hour til veggies are tender stirring occasionally.  Add in steak sauce, cook 2 minutes, and serve.

Review: Learn Our History

Learn Our History desires to teach American History in a fun and unbiased way.  It is important for children o understand, appreciate, and remember the history of our great country.  They have developed a series of videos that follow the TimeCycle  Academy, a group of school kids who develop a time machine and learn history by traveling back in time to watch it happen.  Five videos are currently available with several more planned to be released this year.  Available titles include:  Columbus and the Great Discovery, The Birth of A Revolution, 9/11 & The War on Terror, Origins of WW II,  and The Reagan Revolution.  Click here for more information on these titles and future titles and their release dates.

At the time of this writing, the current offer is as follows:

Order Columbus and the Great Discovery for $9.95 (plus $3.95 shipping) and get the Birth of A Revolution Free plus free streaming to all of your online devices.  If you are not satisfied, you have 30 days to return it for a full refund.  Then once a month you will get an email telling you the next DVD that is scheduled to ship for $11.95 plus $3.95 shipping.  You have 10 days to call in and let them know you don't want that selection.  If you don't call in, the title will be shipped and your credit card billed.  You will continue to receive your monthly mailing unless you decide to call in and cancel your subscription.

I was very excited to be able to review Learn Our History.  I thought that the concept of teaching American History using animated DVD's with characters going back in time to see the actual events would be something that my children would enjoy.  That kind of product would be a great supplement for homeschoolers, private, or public school children to go along with their American History curriculum.  But, I have to admit that I was very disappointed in the product.  The animation was not very well done.  When the children travel back in time, the interactions with the people in the past are very strange.  They don't notice that the kids are "strangers" and do not speak appropriately or wear correct clothing.  The conversations do not seem natural and are a little forced.  I could look past most of those things and still see the educational value in the DVD's, but the biggest problem I have with this series is the way the characters talk and interact with each other.  They are rude and nasty to each other.  Every time Connor opened his mouth, I cringed.  He is a bully and the way he treats the others is just awful.  There is a very strange scene at the beginning of the Birth of A Revolution DVD where one of the boys comes running in and the other characters make fun of him for what he is wearing and that he smells bad from working outside.  One of the girls actually sniffs him and tells him he should have taken a bath.  These characters are not something I would want any of my children to imitate and if this is stereotypical of "normal" teenagers today, it just makes me very glad to have abnormal children.

I think Learn Our History has great potential and could be a wonderful learning tool if there are a few changes made to the videos.

I received a complimentary DVD copy of Birth of A Revolution and access to stream 9/11 & The War on Terror for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: World of Science

Science is not one of my favorite subjects, but I am very impressed with World of Science.  From the back cover, " World of Science explores God's creation all around us from the furthest star in the Universe to the smallest atom under our feet."  This hard cover book contains over 800 illustrations and photographs and includes over 60 science experiments.  The book contains an introduction, 7 sections, glossary, scientific units, and an Index within its 240 pages.  The sections are:

  • Matter and Chemicals
  • Energy, Motion, and Machines
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Light and Sound
  • Earth and Life
  • Space and Time
  • Science Experiments
I thought the introduction answered the question Why Do Science? so well.  It states, " Science can help us see the intricacies of God's creation allowing for enormous advancements in our world."  Later it says, "Without restraint or godly wisdom, science can become a tool of devastation."  There have been many scientists who have seen God's handiwork in the world around them.  That's why I think it is important to teach science to our children, to show them God's handiwork is in all things and to raise up a generation that will come at science from a Christian perspective in whatever field they are working in.

The layout of World of Science is very easy to read through or find exactly what you are looking for. Each page Each page is full of illustrations, photographs, charts, and a science discovery on the topic.  The book is engaging and interesting for children to read.  Younger siblings who cannot yet read can enjoy looking at the pictures.  My children love studying space and the planets.  Here's a peek inside what we were looking at:

One of the best things about this book is the experiments included in the back of the book.  There are over 60 experiments listed.  Each one is written out in an easy to understand format with pictures to show you what it should look like.  Each experiment has a list of what you will need and anything you need to be cautious of like, "Be careful with the mold.  If you touch it wash your hands afterwards."  Here is a picture of one of the experiment pages (which by the way my boys want to do all of them)

The World of Science would make a wonderful elementary science curriculum or great addition to your homeschool library.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Breastfeeding In Public

A few months ago, we were out having lunch at the Olive Garden.  We were sitting at a table off to the side of the rest of the room, and my back was to the rest of the restaurant.  Before our entrees were served, Emelia decided that she needed her lunch too.  I flipped her blanket up over my shoulder, settled her in and started nursing her.  The only thing you could see was one part of her foot sticking out of the blanket that she was kicking up and down.  The woman behind us (who again could only see my back and the baby's foot) started talking very loudly to the other woman at her table and just couldn't believe that I  had the nerve to be nursing my baby in the middle of a restaurant.  She kept going on about it loud enough for me to hear.  After I finished feeding Emelia and handed her back to her daddy, I had to take one of the children to the restroom.  I had to walk past the lady that was so outraged at me feeding my baby discreetly under a blanket, and she was wearing a very tight fitting low cut shirt that showed more of her breasts than I have ever bared feeding any of my children in public.

I have been seeing and reading more and more lately about the "controversy" of breast feeding in public, and I have to say, I really don't understand why this is such a "controversy."  It is a well known and proven fact.  Breastfeeding is absolutely best for babies.  Breastfed babies are healthier and happier than formula fed babies.  There is absolutely NO formula that can even compare to breast milk.  God made women so we could feed our babies, and man will never be able to copy that formula.  Why then does this have to be such an issue?  The world has no problem with string bikinis or low cut revealing clothing, but we are going to look down upon and embarrass woman who are providing nutrition for their babies?  What is wrong with this picture?

For the last 10 years, I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both.  I have nursed my babies just about every place you can possibly imagine.  I don't think that because I am nursing a baby that I should stay at home, or be separated from the rest of my family when we are out in public.  Not that the "nursing rooms" are a bad idea.  It can be convenient when there is no other place to sit down, but I am not going to go out of my way to walk halfway across the mall without the rest of my family with a screaming baby that could have been fed and happy by the time I got there.  Breastfeeding can be done in a very discreet manner and if you don't want to see a woman breastfeeding her baby in public, all you have to do is look away.  If seeing a baby's feet sticking out of her blanket or even a nursing baby not covered by a blanket so upsets your sensibilities, don't look at them.  

Instead of making nursing moms feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about nursing in public, we should be going out of our way to educate women on the benefits of breastfeeding and encourage them to nurse their babies.  Breastfeeding is a healthy and natural way to feed your baby and whether or not people want to admit it, that's what breasts were made for.

Read my blog post here for more information on why breastfeeding is the right choice.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Little Disappointment

Today we were supposed to be heading to Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs AR for Homeschool Days.  We have visited the museum once before (4 years ago) and it is wonderful!  It has over 100  hands on exhibits to see, touch, and explore.  My older children remember it from before and have been asking to go back.    For Homeschool Days, the admission was almost half of what it normally is and they were going to have special demonstrations and experiments set up.  My children have been looking forward to it for weeks.  Last night we even got on the website again so they could see the kind of things we would be able to do.  Well, in the middle of the night last night. Christian got sick.  It seems he has the stomach bug that has been going around.  So needless to say we were unable to go and had to miss out on the museum today.  The children were very disappointed!  I hate that we missed it, but sometimes you don't have any choice.  Instead, we dove into our regular ordinary schoolwork and had a normal day.  I told the children that we will still get to go to the museum. We may just get up in the morning one day and I will surprise them and tell them we are going.

Menu Plan Monday

I did not write out a menu plan last week.  Can you believe it?  I had an idea of what I had on hand and what I would/could  probably make.  Last Wednesday rolled around and I lost track of time, forgot to take meat out of the freezer, and soon it was 4:45, hubby would be home in 15 minutes and I had no idea what was for dinner!  I ended up making homemade mac n cheese, but didn't get in on the table until 5:30.  I write all this to say that I could've avoided the stress of figuring out what was for supper and had it ready on time if I would've made out a menu plan. 

This week's plan:

Friday 1/6- pizza
Saturday 1/7- beef stew (I used a new recipe and it was delicious!  Will be posted later this week) dinner rolls
Sunday 1/8- grilled cheese, chips
Monday 1/9- burgers, french fries, applesause
Tuesday 1/10- ham pot pie
Wednesday 1/11 taco pasta, biscuits
Thursday 1/12- breakfast

For great menu inspiration visit www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review: Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt

Carly Westlake is living the dream. She spends her days at a spa (okay, so she owns the place), she's dating a hunk, and she's surrounded by chocolate—milk chocolate, her favorite—that she uses for the chocolate facials that made her spa famous.
But when long buried secrets threaten Carley's business and her friendship with business-partner Tom, she fights like crazy to keep the dream—and the illusions—afloat.
It takes a miracle of grace to get Carley to finally make that bittersweet surrender to love and real life.

I enjoyed reading Bittersweet Surrender.  The story had some great elements to it.  The characters were well developed and the descriptions were very good.  The story had originality.  I honestly don't think I have read another book that is set in a chocolate spa.  The book had some very serious, heavy, elements to it but at the same time made me laugh out loud.

The story was predictable.  At times it seems like it went on and on about one particular part of the story, but then there were others that I didn't feel like were resolved as much as they should of been.  All in all in was a very enjoyable read.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Big Book of History

The Big Book of History is a fold out 15 ft timeline from the first day of Creation to the present day.  In this book your child (recommended ages 7-12)  will discover:

  • the birthdates of conquerors, kings, inventors, scientists, and famous men of God
  • wars and wonders of ancient and modern worlds
  • the 969 year old man who shared the true history of the world with Noah
  • the first ancient inventions and discoveries of chocolate, yo yo's, batteries, movies and so much more
Through a color coded timeline with yellow marking Biblical/Christianity, orange marking word events, red marking civilizations/empires and green marking inventions/technology, plus interesting facts and photos, your child will love using this book just for fun or as an educational resource.

"The Big Book of History is a really cool book!" That's according to my son Nicholas (9.)  As soon as we opened the box he had to open it up and start exploring.  And of course we had to unfold the whole thing to see how long it really was.

I couldn't get the whole thing in the picture!

Here are some closer pictures of the inside:

  The Big Book of History is right up my son's alley.  He loves history and loves timelines.  This book presents a lot of fun and interesting facts and figures many of which you wouldn't find on a regular history timeline or even in most history textbooks.  You do not have to unfold the entire book in order to read it.  It opens in such a way as you can unfold it or read it like a regular book.  The Big Book of History is a wonderful addition to any home or homeschool library.

I received a complimentary copy of The Big Book of History from New Leaf Publications for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.