Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Winner of A Cry From Egypt is......

Lori H!

Lori check your email!  Congrats!  Thank you to all who entered!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Studying insects is so much fun and can be a great way to learn about them.  Last year we got Painted Lady Caterpillars and a butterfly garden so we could watch them turn into butterflies.  It was so cool!  The children loved it!  We also got an ant farm, well two actually.  We started out with one that you put sand in and have to feed the ants and then found an inexpensive ($10) gel ant farm that lights up and you don't have to feed and water the ants because they get it from the gel.  The children had seen a ladybug kit in a catalog and they really wanted to try and grow some ladybugs.  We checked Hobby Lobby, but they were all sold out, so after checking online prices, I found the cheapest one on Amazon.  The habitat was $14.99 and came with a free coupon to send away for 15-20 larvae (with a $5 shipping charge.)

After we got the habitat, we went online and put in the coupon code, and a few days later, we had our ladybug larvae.  All we had to do was open the viewing top and gently put the larvae and the food into the habitat.  We also had to moisten the sponge with water so they would have some water.

They were really small and looked a little like baby alligators!  They ate and ate and after a week or so looked this this:

Then after a few more days they began making their way to the top of the habitat.

They sat up at the top for a few days, kind of curled up, and then they turned into these:

To feed the ladybugs, we put in some wet raisins.

After watching the ladybugs for a few days, we decided to set them free.

We had a great time with our ladybugs!  It was a great, hands on, fun science project!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 4 H Cloverbud Meeting

Our county 4 H just ordered T-shirts for the first time since we have been involved in 4 H.  I love how they turned out!  Here is Emmie modeling hers (it is a little big!) and she did spill her snack on it before I took the picture.   Don't tell Emmie or Lily they are not old enough to be in 4 H yet because they sure think they are!

love that smile!

This month, we headed back out to Grandview for our meeting.  The program was on Arkansas mammals.  The room was set up with all kinds of different furs and skulls that were numbered.  The children were given a piece of paper with the animals listed at the bottom and numbered lines for the children to fill in which animal they thought it was.  Some of the children couldn't write them all down by themselves but we had some parent help to go with them (I had to help Anthony and Christian) After 15 minutes the children sat down and we discussed which animals each number was and facts about each of those animals.

I had 15 children at the meeting and they all really enjoyed it!  There is a 4 H competition that they can compete in once they are 9 that involves identifying wildlife and several of my 4 Hers would love to do that when they are all old enough.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our Baby Chicks and Their New Home

I don't always plan things out well.  When we decided to hatch some of our own chicks, and knew we were getting baby chicks or 4 H, I just figured we would throw them in together at first.  The problem was, we got our 4 H chicks 2 weeks before our chicks were supposed to hatch.  There is a BIG difference between newly hatched chicks and 2 week old chickens.  If you try to add babies in with them, they will kill them, or could smother them.  So, when the chicks actually hatched (I didn't completely believe we would be successful) we needed somewhere to put them.  I know many people who just use a cardboard box, but there are quite a few stray cats around here that will get into the shop and could easily kill them, so that wouldn't work for us.

My husband constantly amazes me!  He has this incredible brain that can fix and/or build just about anything. He told me not to worry that after work on Monday he would build a box for my chickens.  And he did. Without buying a single thing.  He used some scrap wood and some chicken wire we had here at the house and had it done in about an hour.  Nick, Alex, and Anthony helped build the box.  They are learning a lot from their daddy!

We ended up with 5 fluffy baby chicks and they are all doing well!

Favorite Recipes: Honey Mustard Chicken

I saw this recipe  the other day, and knew I would have to try it.  If you have ever had the Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse, it tasted just like it!  Very good!

I pkg thin cut boneless skinlees chicken breasts
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1 pk mushrooms
6 slices of bacon
Shredded cheese

Honey Mustard
1/4 cup mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp mayo
1 pk dried onion flakes (I didn't have these so I left them out)

Season chicken with Lawry's and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  In the mean time, make your honey mustard.  I also like sauteed mushrooms, so I sauteed my mushrooms.  Cook 6 slices of bacon until crispy. Do not discard grease.  Brown chicken on both sides for 3-5 minutes.  Place in 13 x 9 baking dish.  Spread honey mustard over top of chicken leaving plenty for dipping.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon over top, and mushrooms over that.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until chicken is completely done.  Serve with leftover honey mustard sauce to dip.

The Winner of Economics For Everybody Is.....

Kristi Kerr!!

Congrats Kristi!  I just sent you an email.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  If you didn't win, today is the last day of The Compass Classroom's 30% off sale!

I will be hosting a giveaway for American History from The Compass Classroom in a few weeks, so watch for that as well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury

A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury contains 3 full length novels: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Comes to Stay, and On Every Side.  It is a paperback book that is 752 pages long.

Where Yesterday Lives- Ellen Barrett, the oldest of five siblings grew up in a very happy house.  But as the children got older, things began to change and they were no longer the close knit family she remembered from her childhood without really knowing why.  After learning of the death of her beloved father, Ellen returns home to say good-bye, to make peace with her family, her past, and her future.

When Joy Comes to Stay- To those looking from the outside, Maggie Stovall has the perfect life.  A wonderful successful husband Ben, great job, beautiful home, and sweet foster children that they take care of.  But there is more than meets the eye.  Maggie has carried a terrible burden, a secret for many years that causes her to sink into a horrible depression.  Joy is a foster child who has been abused, broken, and thrown away.  But she still has an unshakable trust in God.  God has a plan that can bring healing to them all.

On Every Side-  Faith Evans has to take a stand, one that could ruin her career and cause her to come against a man she never imagined would be her enemy.  Jordan Riley is an attorney who fights against God under the guise of "separation on church and state."  He is demanding that Faith's beloved town's Jesus statue that has stood for over 100 years in the park be taken down.  Can Faith be strong enough to stand firm, face the opposition, and trust God?

This is the first time I have ever read any of Karen Kingsbury's books.  She came highly recommended so when I saw this book come up for review, I jumped at the chance to review it.  Karen Kingsbury has a way of drawing you right into the story and caring about all of her characters.  Her stories have a wonderful message.  But, they are so sad.  I am a very fast reader, often finishing a good novel in a week-end (if I can get in enough reading time in the evenings), but this book took me forever to finish, and not because it was 3 novels in one, but because there was just so much sadness and emotion that I couldn't sit and read it for long periods of time.  It was weighing me down.  Some people may enjoy these types of books and find comfort reading about people and situations that can relate to and seeing how the characters overcame that situation. I am not one of those people.  Reading a book with all of that sadness and emotion and being able to relate to parts of it does not comfort me, but instead drags me down.  The stories have a great message, if you can wade through the rest to get to it.  Out of the three books in this novel, On Every Side was the one I liked the best, but even it had a lot of sadness with Faith  dealing with the recent loss of her dad, and Jordan still trying to cope with his mother dying of cancer in his teens and him and his sister being separated and thrown into foster care.  But, it was a good modern telling of the story of Jericho in the Bible.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Cry From Egypt by Hope Auer Giveaway!!!!!

If you one of my regular readers, you know that I love Historical Fiction.  Reading a great Historical Fiction is a wonderful way for the whole family to learn about the fascinating events that shape our history.  Last summer, I (and other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew) had an opportunity to review A Cry From Egypt by Hope Auer.  This wonderful book is both written and illustrated by homeschooled kids!  That is so awesome!  A Cry From Egypt is being released this Friday (April 26,2013.)  You can pre order on Amazon for $12.50.  To celebrate, they are having a week long party with some fun giveaways on her Facebook Page, Hopeful Stories, and offering a signed copy to one of my readers!!!!! (I am jealous, my copy isn't signed ;)

Here is a portion of the review I wrote about A Cry From Egypt

 A Cry From Egypt was both written and illustrated by homeschooled kids.  Hope Auer began writing the manuscript as a school assignment at age 13 when her family was studying Ancient Egypt and she has been editing and rewriting it ever since.  Mike Slaton is a talented homeschool artist who did some cover sketches for the book that was just what they were looking for.  It is so exciting that homeschoolers were able to follow their delights and God given talents to write and illustrate this book!

A Cry From Egypt is the first book in the Promised Land series and deals with the Israelites while they were still in slavery.  It is a Historical Fiction and although the plagues and other events are things that really did happen, the story is built around a fictional character named Jarah and her family and friends.  Jarah and her family were slaves in Egypt.  Their lives revolved around hard work and orders by the Egyptians.  Added to that, her family was torn by those who believed in the Egyptian gods and those who believed in Yahweh, the one true God.  Jarah struggles with who and what to believe in.  Life begins to get even more complicated than usual when two people named Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and demanded that the Hebrews be let go.  Work gets even harder for the Hebrew and soon, strange things start happening.  The Nile is turned to blood, plagues cripple the Egyptians but not the Hebrews causing even more danger.  Throughout it all Jarah learns what it is to have faith and that Yahweh hears and answers prayers.

Advanced Reader Copies are available for $12.50 here.

For me, one of the things that determines a good book is one that draws you in right from the beginning of the first chapter and keeps you captivated until the end. .  A Cry From Egypt does just that.  Chapter one begins, " Jarah ran down the dark, narrow street.  Her breath was coming in short, painful gasps and her legs felt like they were made of putty.  Tired as she was she could not let the Egyptian soldiers get her."  But, even before I got to chapter one, I was already drawn into the story.  Why?  Just reading the author's preface made me want to read this book.  Especially this part, " I wanted children, young adults, and adults to be able to read something that would encourage them and inspire them to spend more time in the Word studying God's plan for the world and His plan for His Chosen People."  What an awesome motive for writing a book!

A Cry From Egypt is an exciting, action packed book.  The characters are real and believable and go through struggles that families can relate to even today.  The settings and descriptions makes you feel as though you are a part of the story.  The author does a wonderful job in staying true to history and the culture of the time period.  Although it is a fictional story, she also stays true to the Biblical account of Moses and Aaron and the plagues to the point that she doesn't even name the Pharaoh or his queen because it is not known for sure which Pharaoh it was.  A Cry From Egypt would make a great family read aloud for those studying Ancient History, Egypt, or the book of Exodus.

A Cry From Egypt is recommended for children and adults ages 8 and up.  Parents with children on the younger age range or especially sensitive children may want to pre read before reading aloud or handing it over to your child.  Although the book is in no way graphic, there are scenes in which the slaves are beaten by the Egyptians.  There is also a scene in which an Egyptian girl is beaten by her father after they find the first born son is dead.  These things may be disturbing to younger or sensitive children.  None of my children were bothered by it, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

To see what other crew mates had to say about A Cry From Egypt or Children in Church click here.


Interested in winning a signed copy of A Cry From Egypt?  Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway will end on 4/29/13 at 11:59 pm.  Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our Baby Chicks Hatched!

For the last 6 years for a  4 H project, we have raised chickens.  The children have been wanting to hatch some of our own for quite a while, but for one reason or another we have never been able to do it.  Last year, we got a new batch of 4 H chickens and ordered a rooster along with the hens so we could hatch some.  But, our rooster died.  A friend of mine had an extra rooster that was looking for a home, so we took him.  He is a beautiful Rhode Island Red that Nick named Bronco.

After pricing incubators for several days, we ordered Farm Innovators Still Air Incubator from Amazon. The incubator has a built in temperature and humidity gauge and came with a second thermometer to help monitor the internal temperature.  The incubator is big enough to hold up to 4 dozen eggs.

We had to set it up somewhere where the cat and baby wouldn't be able to get to it, so it ended up on a high dresser in my bedroom.  We ran it for 24 hours to make sure it could hold temperature well(99.5 degrees), and added some water to keep at the proper humidity.  Then we marked the dozen eggs we had gathered a few days before and were keeping at room temperature with x's on one side and o's on the other so we could keep track of when they had been turned.  We put in a dozen hoping for 4-6 to hatch.

For 18 days, we turned the eggs 3 times a day.

We did not candle the eggs at all to check for development.  On day 20 we could see a few of the eggs wiggling.  Later on that night we started to hear some peeping.

The morning of Day 21, we saw two eggs with cracks in them!

We went to church and came home, but it still wasn't hatched.  After lunch and Emelia getting up from her nap, I went back in to check and our first chick had hatched!

She was looking pretty lonely so we were glad the other egg was close to hatching.  The chick that had hatched would peep and the chick still in the egg would answer it.  The hatched chick was even snuggling up to the cracked egg.  It was really cute!

Later on that night, we had a third egg hatch.

We decided to gently move the incubator to the laundry room so Art and I wouldn't have to listen to peeping and scratching all night.  We had one more hatch right after we moved them.

All 4 look great this morning!  We should see today if any more are going to hatch and move these ones into a box with a heat lamp this evening.

It was so much fun watching these chicks hatch!  The kids loved it and it was a great learning experience!  We will definitely have to do this again!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Math Rider

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Back in 2011, I had an opportunity to review Math Rider with my son Nicholas. It was then and still remains my favorite software for drilling math facts.  I was thrilled to have an opportunity over the last several weeks  
to review the program again with Alex (9) and Anthony (7.)

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Math Rider was designed for children ages 6-12 by a parent who was frustrated that he couldn't find any good math games that worked really well for his kids.  So he took matters into his own hands and developed a his own math training game.  Math Rider is a game that drills 4 different operations of math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from numbers 0-12.  There are four difficulty levels in each area: easy (numbers 0-5), medium (0-10), advanced (0-12), and mastery.

In the game, your child is in the land of Ray, riding on a horse named Shadow, and setting out on 4 different noble quests (one for each difficulty level.)  After completing each quest, your child earns a reward that appears on the quest map.  Each of the four operations has the same four quests for your child to complete, but they continue to earn rewards for each operation. A quest map shows your child where he is and how many more points he needs to complete the quest.  Points are awarded for correct answers and bonus points are awarded for speed.

All your child has to do to play the game is type in the correct answer and hit enter.  The game will speed up and slow down based on the child's response time.  If they get an answer incorrect, they have an opportunity to try again.  If they get it incorrect again, the answer is displayed for them.  All of the child's answers or unanswered questions are analyzed by the game so it is customized to each child and they get plenty of practice on the facts they need to practice.  Feedback is giving during each ride and both the child and the parent can see which facts the child needs to work on.

Math Rider is a program that you download to your computer. Up to 8 riders can use Math Rider on a single license.  Each rider gets their own login.   You need to have internet access to download and validate the registration key.  Math Rider uses Adobe Air runtime and will work on Windows and Mac.  To see the full set of system requirements, click here.

You can request a full 7 day trial here.

You can purchase Math Rider for $47 by clicking here.

Watch this short video to see how the game works.

 I used Math Rider with my 7 and 9 year olds.  The program was very easy to download and set up the riders.  In minutes we were ready to start playing.  We have been using Math Rider 4 days per week for 15-20 minutes per child per day.  My 9 year old started and worked on the program completely independently, but my 7 year old wanted me to sit beside him while he worked on it everyday.

After creating a log in and password, you have the option to take a practice quest, or start a new quest.  After clicking on start a new quest, you are taken to a screen where you can choose which operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) you want to start with, and with level of difficulty (easy, medium, or advanced.)  You click on the operation and level of difficulty and then start quest.  Then you hear  and see the introductory story for the quest and begin your quest.  After completing your first ride, you can see how many answers you got right and how many points you earned.  The map shows you how far you have come and how many more points you need to finish that quest.  When you earn earn all of the points you receive a reward on your map and you can begin another quest.  The mastery level only opens up after you have achieved 100% on the advanced level quest for the chosen operation.

There is so much I love about Math Rider!  I love that it is so easy to download and use.  I think turning memorizing math facts into noble quests was a wonderful idea!  It makes learning math fun!  I think the quest aspect is something that can appeal to both boys and girls.  We love the animation and the stories that go along with the quests.  We love the map and the rewards that you earn as you complete each level.  I think it is wonderful that the game is so easy to use.  I love that the game is so intuitive and speeds up and slows down to adjust to your child's answering speed and repeats the problems that your child missed.  It is very easy to see how your child is doing even if you are not sitting right there with them.  I think it is wonderful that one game covers all 4 operations, but you do not need to complete all 4 in order to master the game.  Each operation is separate.

Math Rider does contain magical fantasy elements including a magic flower and a wizard.  Some of you may be interested to know that before purchasing.

I think Math Rider is a great, fun way for children to work on those important math facts.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

4 H Illustrated Talks, Talent, and Fashion Review Competition

Tuesday was our county competition for Illustrated Talks, Talent, and Fashion Revue.  The Illustrated Talks can be a demonstration, power point, or illustrated with posters on any topic that falls under a wide variety of 4 H project areas.  Seniors have up to 7 minutes to talk, juniors (9-13) have 2-5 minutes, and Cloverbuds (5-8) have no time limits.  The talent competition is musical instrument or vocal.  Fashion Revue has constructed and purchased, dressy or casual categories.   They have to talk about what type of material their clothes are, how to care for them, where they would wear them to and how much they cost.  For the county competition, 4 Hers can compete in one or multiple areas.  Juniors and Seniors can then go on to compete in the District Competition in June.

This year there were more Talks than I have ever seen since we have been in 4 H!  Yay!  We heard talks on Container Gardening, Swine Diet, Frogs, Child Hunger, The Volkswagon Beetle, Fishing, Rabbits, saw a demonstration on Container Gardening, and a Floating Eggs Science Demonstration (that was Alex.)  I was glad to see so many and was very proud that 3 of those were Cloverbuds and 4 were from my club.  Since all of the talks fell into different categories, all of the participants got 1st place.

1 person entered the Talent Competition.  Chelsea sang a song called Breathe.

4 people entered Fashion Revue.  Chelsea competed in the dress that she made last fall for the Sew With Cotton competition.  All 4 participants were in different categories and won 1st place.  Chelsea can now compete in the District Competition in June for either talent or Fashion Revue and go on to the State competition in July.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Progeny Press

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 From the website, "Progeny Press has over 100 study guides for literature, covering kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school. Progeny Press study guides concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on God's scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"  Last year, we had the opportunity to review the Julius Caesar literature guide.  You can find my review on it here.  We were very pleased with the study and were very excited for the opportunity to review The Hobbit Study Guide over the last several weeks.

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Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who lives in the Shire in Middle-earth.  He is drawn into an exciting adventure one day after receiving a visit from Gandalf the wizard and 13 dwarves who are on a quest to reclaim their families home and treasure from the terrifying dragon Smaug.    They are in search of a burglar to accompany  them and although Bilbo would rather stay home where he is safe and comfortable, he goes along with them and faces trolls, goblins and worse as they travel to the Lonely Mountain, where the treasure and dragon are waiting.

The Hobbit Study Guide is recommended for high school grades 9-12.  You can purchase it in 3 different formats:

Printed Booklet for $21.99
CD for $18.99
Instant Download for $18.99

To complete the Study Guide, students will also need a copy of the book, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible, and at times access to the Internet.  The high school guides take around 8-10 weeks to complete working on one section per week.  Completing a high school level study guide is equal to 1/4 of a high school credit.

The 62 page guide starts with a story synopsis, information about the author, and several pre reading activities.  Questions in each section include: vocabulary, comprehension, thinking about the story, and digging deeper.  There are also questions on different story elements such as characterization, setting, parallelism, irony, and more.  The guide ends with an overview, writing assignments,other projects, and additional resources.  A complete answer guide is also included in your purchase.  You can choose to print out the pages and write or the answers, or the guide has an interactive feature that allows you to type in the answers on the screen.

My 16 year old daughter has been working through The Hobbit Study Guide on the iPad.  I first downloaded the files from the Progeny Press website to my computer because it was a zip file that you cannot download directly to the iPad.  Then I emailed myself the file and opened it in my Notability app so Chelsea could type her answers right into the iPad.  She has been working on one section per week.

Here are some of the examples of questions and answers.


"Dwalin and Balin here already, I see,"  said Kili.  Let us join the throng!"
Part of speech :  noun
b. party
c. family
d. mess


What do Thorin and the rest of the dwaves hope to accomplish in their quest?
They hope to accomplish the retrieval of their home and their families' treasure.

Thinking About the Story

In the first three chapters of The Hobbit, Tolkien introduces us to four of the many races of Middle Earth: hobbits, dwarves, trolls, elves.  Compare and contrast these races.  What seems to be the most distinguishing characteristics of each?  What race do you find the most appealing or interesting?  Why?

Hobbits-small, large feet, homey sort of creature, enjoys comfort, not very adventurous
Trolls-large, meat eating, unable to be in sunlight, hoarding, disgusting
Dwarves- small, tough, miners, strong willed, determined, able to see beauty in many things
Elves- tall, graceful, ethereal, wise, beautiful

I find the elves most fascinating for their grace, skills, beauty, and language.

Dig Deeper

When Gloin challenges Gandalf's choice of Bilbo, Gandalf replies, "There is a lot more in him than you can guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself."  Gandalf sees potential in Bilbo that others do not.  A reoccurring theme in the Bible is God's choice of unlikely people to do His will. Read 1 Samuel 16: 1-13, Amos 7: 10-15, Mark 2: 13-17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.  Why might people in these texts be considered unlikely candidates for serving God?  Why did God choose them anyway?

The world does not consider any of those choices as strong or important, but God sees in them strength and skills that men overlook.  While men see the exterior, God sees what is within.

I love the interactive feature of the Hobbit Study guide.  Being able to complete it on the computer or iPad is wonderful and saves the time and cost of printing it out.  Using the iPad also means it is portable and can be worked on when we are on the go.  The Hobbit Study Guide is a way to dig deeper into the book and increase your child vocabulary and comprehension.  I love the Digging Deeper questions.  I really like the inclusion of not only optional writing assignments but also other projects such as a diorama, acting, or illustrations.

We have enjoyed using The Hobbit Study Guide and look forward to using more guides from Progeny Press in the future.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.