Monday, November 1, 2010

Follow Up to Insight

For those of you that read my last blog post, I've decided to write a follow-up post!
I know some of you were concerned that I even allow my children to watch tv, let alone have the 20 cable channels it takes to have access to Insight's On Demand feature. If you know me, you'll know that I am not one who sits my kiddos down in front of mindless television day in and day out to rot their brains. Trust me, I'd much rather not even have a tv, but live on a farm where my children could learn values by milking cows and feeding chickens.

But alas, we do not have free access to said farm, cows, or even goats, for that matter. So yes, on occasion, I do let my boys view a cartoon!

As for Insight, I received a very nice email from an employee. He stated that my concerns were founded; and that he would check into my proposal of having a parental control on the previews. I hope that actually happens! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I am appalled with Insight Communications

We don't watch TV a lot. But on occasion, we do allow our children to watch preapproved shows. In general, I am pretty dissatisfied with children's programming. So when I do allow television usage, I opt for either PBS or the On Demand menu channel option through our cable company, Insight Communications. We have as basic a cable as we could get. We don't need a lot of channels, but the fact that many programs can be found on On Demand were intriguing to us.

While choosing a program from the On Demand menu, there is a preview screen that continuously plays. Frequently, those previews showcase sexual innuendos, gun usage, and recently, halloween-themed-murder-and-mayhem flicks. The previews are incredibly inappropriate for ANY young viewer.

A couple weeks back I called Insight Communications to complain. I was told nothing could be done. We all pay for this service. Shouldn't we be allowed to choose what is shown in that little preview box? Or at the very least there should be an option to turn it off!

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Do you have this option on your television?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scout Centennial Jamboree

Some of the more popular Cub Scout events...

slingshot




bb gun shooting (yes, i know my rules, but at least it's safe and it's cub scouts!)





and it makes for neat photographs!






*sniff
i can't believe i have TWO cub scouts this year!!






raingutter regatta

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Life Voices performs Sunday

Are you a fan of New Life Voices (or of mine, for that matter?!)? We are performing in Campbellsville this Sunday. You can find us at Faith Baptist Church at 6:00 pm. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Schoolhouse Expo!


It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online
Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool
speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22,
and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free
E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie
Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim
Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely
want to listen to these sessions. A topic that touches every homeschool will be focused upon--writing. Plus there will be an
array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your
homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session come with your LIVE event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr.
Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to
celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of
another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our
children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is
just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This
week only, pay just $14.95!

You can visit here or here to get more information.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I breastfed, did you?

If I advocate anything wholeheartedly, it is breastfeeding. Unpopular in my state, recently in the news down the road from where I live, moms are being banned to restaurant bathrooms to feed their babies the way they should be fed. The more we breastfeed our babies in public, and the more people see it, the more they will realize it's what's best. Breastfeeding is natural, beautiful, and the only way I would choose to feed my little guys.

Here's a video that was made for August, National Breastfeeding Month. Maybe the choice of wording isn't what you or I might use, but the message is important.

Video: "Breastfeeding Doesn't Suck!" Celeb PSA

Pass it on!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it Dad.

Anonymous

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Review of the Review Process

Over the past year, I have had the privilege of being a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I have reviewed all kinds of products, from an extensive collection of historical maps, to soap, to online preschool piano lessons. (You can see the complete list of what I reviewed over to the right in the sidebar.) I have experienced some great things. I've also had some difficult times. Unapologetically, I'd like to share some of my thoughts with you.


At the beginning of the year, each crew member (reviewer) was given a "first mate," as a mentor. I'm not 100 % certain, but I believe that person was there to answer questions, and encourage new reviewers throughout the year. The reason I'm not certain, is because I only conversed with my fm through emails a few times. I didn't ask that person a lot of questions, as I know she was very busy, just as I am. I know each of us has our own personal lives happening. I do wish, however, I'd been able to get to know her better, so that I might learn from her previous experience as a reviewer.

As a former-computer-problem-person, I think reviewers need to be told that there will be lots of e-products and online programs. I wish I'd been given the choice of receiving curriculum in ebook format OR printed version. I know the economy's tough on the vendors, just as it is on my family, but I am reviewing a product for them. I think they'd want my best review. And they would have, had I had a physical product in my hands. I did, by the way, work extra hard on those particular ones, even though a couple of them cut off my access to their site before my review was due. (I wish I'd had this new, faster computer in the beginning too!)


I was so glad there was a forum where the reviewers could meet others, ask questions and get answers. Being able to discuss things with other reviewers was the best part about my review period. It was nice to know what other reviewers thought about a product.

I had a little difficulty in posting my reviews. In order to post the link to my review, I needed to remember in which month I received the product. They were organized according to shipping date. I think maybe for future years, the products could be organized by due date, instead. That would have made posting much simpler.

Although it's nice to be able to see lots of different programs before you purchase one, I felt overwhelmed by math! Over the review period, I reviewed 8 math programs, 5 of them due in one month alone! It might be nice if products within one subject area were spread out over the 9 months. In fact, there may be a better way to spread out products in general. The reviewer would be able to concentrate on one item and give a more thorough review.

Overall, I am glad I was given this opportunity. Thank you to all the vendors who traded their goodies for my review. Thank you to TOS for bringing together this team of homeschoolers. I met some super ladies (and one gentleman) whom I might never have known. I am learning lots of new things about homeschooling. I have gained plenty of experience in multi-tasking (mommy, wife, teacher, business owner, cub scout leader, singer and the list goes on!). I hope I have been appreciated. Maybe I have inspired. I know I'm one exhausted lady on today, the last Friday of May. This is the conclusion of one stepping stone in my life's journey. Now I'll have to think of some things to blog about!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cerebellum

It's been an exciting year being able to review some great products. For this final one, I'll tell you a bit about a DVD I reviewed.

From cerebellum corporation, I received Light Speed chemistry AP Exam Prep. Other than the fact that I abhorred chemistry, probably largely due to the icky teacher I had, I think this DVD would have helped me 17 years ago.

"This exam prep provides students with a comprehensive review of critical chemistry topics. Stoichiometry, Kinetics, Thermodynamics...the essentials are made easy and fun! "
It "...provides tips and strategies on passing the test, and gives insightful advance on writing the short-response answers. "

The two disc set also comes with a digital workbook on CD-ROM that includes handouts, quizzes and activities that reinforce the topics discussed on the video.

If you need this DVD, it'll help you to know that the topics are:

Atomic Theory and Structure
Chemical Bonding
Nuclear Chemistry
Gases
Stoichiometry
Equilibrium & Kinetics
Thermodynamics
and much more!

even though I haven't the faintest memory what those things are!

Should my children decide to learn chemistry, despite Mommy's distaste for the subject, I can see this video coming in handy. Energetic students (or actors that look about high school age!) present the components in the DVD, making it highly appealing. Here's an example.




If you're interested in Light Speed chemistry AP Exam Prep, you can purchase it for $14.98 right here. Oh, looks like it's on sale right now for $11.24! If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought, you can do that here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lobster Network

Lobster Network is a one of a kind application that allows users to share, trade, sell and organize products of their choice. By setting up communities in Lobster Network with their friends and neighbors, users can expand their accessibility to almost any type of item. After joining the network users can search for any number of items to trade, borrow or buy. Users also have the ability to place items for sale to any other users (member or non-member).

What I have understood so far, is that you sign up for the free site, enter some of your personal belongings that you want to share, trade or sell. Then wait for someone to bite. While waiting, you can check out what others have to loan.

Although I think the idea of Lobster Network is a good one, so far, my access to the site for review purposes really hasn't done me much good.
I have heard that some users are sharing Lobster Network with their homeschool support groups, but I am not a part of a group. I do not have a huge network of connections. So for me, I'll be happy to pass the word along should I encounter someone, but Lobster Network just isn't for me at this time.

You'll find Lobster Network if you click right here. I suggest you read what the owner has to say too. She explains it quite well! If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought, just click the Crew graphic below.
I reviewed this product with no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ideal Curriculum

"Preschool Curriculum" is a niche market. Having a preschool/daycare in my home, I receive little pamphlets and brochures almost every other week with the newest resources available. As my review year is coming to a close with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I reviewed month one of Ideal Curriculum's Transportation theme kit.

Ideal Curriculum says on their website that each of their monthly curriculum kits include
"•Daily lessons and activities for literacy, math, calendar, oral language, and science/social studies
•Teaching guides
•Workbook
•Music CD
•Science, sight words, and concepts about print books
•Supplemental activities"


And the Skills Taught are


"•Letters and Sounds -Letter Names
•Phonological Awareness -Listening Skills
•Concepts About Print -Print is all Around
•Sight Words -Name Recognition
•Math -Rote Counting"

Ideal Curriculum would be great for a facility preschool teacher just starting out, that wants to provide the children a little something more than just daycare. She could pick and choose so that the children wouldn't have too much deskwork at their fragile age. A homeschooler might use this curriculum to supplement what she already uses, or just as a change for the little guy who wants to "do schoolwork" with his older brother.

The songs provided with the transportation kit were cute and Babyman (2) loved them. There are some printable pages for those who teach using worksheets. I really liked the real-photo books provided. However, I have so much stuff on my shelf like this already from my preschool teaching days, that I would not have purchased Ideal Curriculum.

You can order your Ideal Curriculum Kit here. My readers can get a 10% discount by using the code welovekids before May 31st. To read what other reviewers thought, go here.

I wrote this review in exchange for the product above. I did not receive compensation and the opinions are expressly my own.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beeyoutiful

In exchange for my review of their product, I received from Beeyoutiful a free eight ounce bottle of Berry Well.
From their website...
"Never fear the flu when you keep Berry Well on hand. Each ingredient in this pleasantly fruity syrup holds its own against flu, colds, and a swarm of bacterial and viral infections."
Those ingredients are elderberries, raw honey, bee propolis, organic echinacea and raw apple cider vinegar.

Now, there were several things that made me nervous about Berry Well right away.
1. I don't do liquids.

2. I have tried bee pollen capsules in the past and it seemed that they made my allergies worse.

3. Hero is allergic to bee stings.

4. I've never heard of this company.

5. I typically do lots of research before I try anything new.


My solution was to call my big sis. She's my natural remedy go-to-gal. She reassured me about many of my concerns. So I decided that Middleman and I would try Berry Well.


Although I have a very strong gag reflex (which is one reason I don't take cough syrups or any other medicinal liquid), my tablespoonful of Berry Well actually wasn't that bad. The elderberry flavor is quite tasty. However, the vinegar did turn my stomach a bit. Middleman (5) excitedly drank his teaspoonful and promptly asked for more. I hadn't planned for Babyman (2) to review the syrup, but he asked where his was, so I relented. He loved it.


We didn't take Berry Well "regularly" as I didn't really know how often that was supposed to be (although that info is not printed on the packaging, I did eventually find it on the website). We did try it several times, and the boys plenty more than me!

I received the suggestion to put Berry Well in a water bottle and I did that on one occasion for Middleman. He and his baby brother drank it together and enjoyed every minute of their "Berry Bottle."


For the most part, I felt like we were reviewing the taste of Berry Well. No one has been sick since we've been taking it, so I don't know if it's kept us healthy, or if we wouldn't have been sick anyway. It has not made my allergies worse, so that's good news. It really hasn't made the three of us feel any different.


I'm pretty novice when it comes to natural medicines, so it's hard for me to recommend something that didn't make me go "wow, we felt so great!" If you'd like to try Berry Well ($18 for an 8 ounce bottle-whew!), or any other product made by Beeyoutiful, check out their website. They have lots of products to choose from. If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought about Beeyoutiful, you can do that here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Unlike many homeschoolers, before I received one of her books, I had never heard of Sue Gregg and her healthy cookbooks. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to review Introducing Whole Foods Cooking. First of all, I wouldn't really consider Whole Foods Cooking to be a cookbook. To me, it's a teaching manual on how to change your eating lifestyle, and change your recipes to keep your family healthy.

Here's what's in the book.

Nutrition Basics including extensive info on on the nutritional value of of whole grains, nuts & seeds, fruits & veggies, oils, animal products, beverages and seasonings. Ms. Gregg also includes allergy information and coordinating Scripture.

Recipes and Menus which includes 26 whole foods recipes, suggested menus and nutritional charts.

Serving and Connecting
I've never seen a section like this in a cookbook. The ideas of how to pray at your table, how to bring Jesus to your meals and include songs, beauty and books are relatively new to me. I found the info in this section fascinating.

The Next Steps section discusses actually enjoying your food, and teaching your family unique ways to help you improve your recipes. She explains many ways to nutritionally improve current favorite recipes.

Menus for Weight Management offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menus using the recipes from the book.

Food to Faith is a short Bible study.

The book also comes with a PowerPoint CD with great step-by-step photographed instructions.
Introducing Whole Foods Cooking has certainly taught me many things about food I did not know. I decided not to go all out and radically change our whole eating lifestyle, but to make small food changes a little bit at a time. In my city, there are specialty stores that sell some of the ingredients listed in the recipes. However, they are not all affordable. Also, my family must have small, unnoticeable changes when it comes to their food.

When we made the Blender Pancakes, we used the same old blender we've had for years, and our trusty skillet. My family did not enjoy my choice of brown rice as an ingredient. I hope to try the recipe several more times with different grains. I'm not advocating lying to my family, but they'll do much better when I don't tell them exactly what I'm making. Is it so bad if they don't know it's good for them? The Parmesan Chicken Nuggets were simple, and were a huge hit. We love tacos, so the Taco Chip O'le was yummy. Unfortunately, I have a very choosy eater. So I simply could not serve most of the recipes that contained an obvious fruit or vegetable.

Overall, I really enjoyed Introducing Whole Foods Cooking. But I wish that I'd had it before I had children, so that I might have started off on the right foot!


If you'd like to read what others thought about Sue Gregg's cookbooks, you can click on the picture below.

This product was given to me free of charge in exchange for my review. The opinions are expressly my own, and I did not receive compensation.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lesson Planet

Lesson Planet, a "search engine for teachers," allows educators to search "over 225,000+ ... online lesson plans and worksheets." Your searches can be narrowed down by keyword, grade level, overall rating, subject, theme and state standards.

I have used Lesson Planet over the last few weeks to search for various plans and printables, with topics including Easter, the water cycle, endangered species and natural resources. Although Lesson Planet brought up many different websites for me to choose from, I still found myself searching for appropriate plans and worksheets for us. I found that I had to pick a little from this one, a bit from that one, to make it fit exactly what I needed. I think it's nice to be able to search by grade level, but I quickly learned that wouldn't work for me. What your typical public school educator thinks is on point for a third grader doesn't always work for my "third grader." By leaving all the search filters open, I had much better success.
If you're a public school teacher, this site might be very helpful. If you're a homeschooler, it's great to be able to pull up lessons that fit your state's "standards" so you can steer clear!

You can try Lesson Planet for free for 10 days. If you'd like to subscribe, the cost is $39.95 a year. For me, I'd rather search the net and put together exactly what I want for free! If you'd care to read what other reviewers had to say, click the pic below.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Super Star Speech

"The Super Star Speech materials have been designed by a speech-language-pathologist to assist parents in helping their children achieve developmentally appropriate speech and to provide some of the necessary resources to do speech therapy at home. The focus of these books is the correction of articulation (speech sound) errors." That said, feel free to click the link and check out Ms. Lott's website. She has lots of info on her Speech program.

Ms. Deborah Lott also offers Super Star Games for homeschooling enrichment and those are what I reviewed. These well thought out games are perfect additions to Science, Geography and History unit studies.

The Inventors Game was probably our favorite, as it gave us a jumping off point for a small unit study about inventors. We were able to use the famous people and their inventions to come up with a list of library books we needed to read. After printing and mounting on card stock, we cut out all the inventor, invention, and date cards (24 of each). We played a memory game, cards were placed face down on the table and turned over to find a match. We were somewhat successful (at least with the ones we already knew), but learned that we need to study inventors a bit more!



Silly Snail is a parts of speech game, that has been perfect for my third grader in his grammar studies. Road to Revolution is an American Revolution board/dice game that we mounted on a file folder to play. It's the perfect time of year for the Insects and Climb the Vine games, where you'll learn all about insect parts and plants.

We also reviewed Colony Quest (a fun game about the 13 original American colonies), Covering the Continents (a fact-filled geography game), Explorers of the World (a matching and timeline game, and fantastic supplement to a study of explorers), Exploring Egypt, Planets, Moon and Stars (a quiz game with great graphics) and All About Animals (we learned even more new things!).


Although I have primarily played these games with Butterbean (8), Middleman (5) loves games and most of them can be adapted for his age.

The enrichment games contain everything you need to print out and play. You may need to add a die, or a file folder. You'll need to cut out your cards once you've printed them on card stock. And for us, some of them, we've chosen to color in, as we printed them in black and white (cheaper!).


Super Star Games are available to download at Currclick for $3.50 each. I think they're a steal! Thank you so much Ms. Lott for allowing me this opportunity! We have loved your games, and I'm thankful all I had to do was cut and paste!


If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought about Super Star Speech or Super Star Games, click the banner below.

I wrote this review in exchange for free copies of Super Star Games. The opinions are my own, and I was not compensated.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alphabet Beats

Alphabet Beats "are fun, educational videos that teach children how to write the alphabet quickly and easily...using a multi-sensory approach of visual demonstrations and rhythmic chants." Ok, so I was more than a little skeptical when, in the intro to Alphabet Beats, the ladies said my child would "love Ms. Marnie." I am about to admit, that, in fact, Babyman (2) did love Ms. Marnie! Middleman (5), who this review was intended for, was not as thrilled with the "teacher," but he did enjoy Alphabet Beats. Butterbean (8) had to be excused from the room, because of his compulsion to be a typical eight year old boy!Middleman wasn't aware that you're supposed to watch one 5 minute letter segment at a time, and he wanted to watch the whole thing in one fail swoop. Being the mostly-child-let-fab-teacher-mama that I am, I longed for a "play all" button. But alas, there isn't one. So, after teaching my five year old how to click on the letters himself to start each segment, I sat down and relaxed to watch the video too.

Ms. Marnie is definitely funny to my 2 and 5 year old viewers. They laughed as she wore a veil and went "off to Vegas" (v). I'm not sure if I was excited or not having to explain what a belly dancer was for b. And they informed me that water was wasted during the washing of hands for w. I was pretty concerned that for m, marshmallow was misspelled.

Middleman asks to watch Alphabet Beats often, pulling out his dry erase markers and board to practice his letters. He occasionally uses the rhymes from Alphabet Beats. He sometimes disagrees with the rhymes, and tells me that's not how he does it! There were a few rhymes I didn't quite get either, like those for s,w and p. Babyman will often be heard chanting "up ound, ittle a."

Overall, we have really enjoyed Alphabet Beats, and I know my littles will continue to watch it. As for teaching Middleman to write, I can't give that credit to Alphabet Beats. I still think he learns better with one-on-one Mommy instruction, and Alphabet Beats has not made him any more interested in writing than he was before. However, the program has given me little tips for teaching printing, at least for some of the letters. Thankfully, I received the DVD to try out, because I probably would not have purchased it myself. It's a little expensive for our budget.
You can download free activity sheets and lined writing paper that go with the videos here. For a demo, click here. You can purchase Uppercase or Lowercase Alphabet Beats for $35 each. Or purchase the set of both for $64.99.

If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought, you can do that right here.

In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the DVD Alphabet Beats writing lower case letters. I received no other compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time 4 Learning

Middleman was so excited when he first sat down to help me review Time 4 Learning.

Time 4 Learning is an interactive "online curriculum for pre-K to 8th grades." When you subscribe, you'll have "access to 1,000+ Student-Paced Lessons, Math & Algebra Tutorials
& Worksheets, Language Arts, Phonics & Grammar Lessons, Science & Social Studies for Most Grades, Detailed Reporting for Easy Record-Keeping," and "Lessons Correlated to State Standards."

To Middleman, who assisted my review of the preschool level, all the above mouthful just added up to lots of fun! Time 4 Learning has been a great supplement to our everyday learning. He began his journey with 20 different preschool themes to choose from (colors, shapes, numbers, food, vehicles for example). After choosing an area, Middleman could read along with a story, answer questions, write his own stories, or play a variety of games. He also took advantage of the idea book, that gives suggestions for hands on activities. He had fun making colored ice cubes and putting them in his water!

Time 4 Learning has a parent resource section as well. There, I found the Getting Started guide, which gave me suggestions for how to use the program. The lesson planning section might be helpful for parents that aren't sure what portion of the program to use each day. I didn't use it at all for the preschool level. I did peek at a few of the other levels' plans, and those would probably come in handy for us.

A parent is supposed to be able to view a child's progress. Although I didn't find that on the preschool level, I'm assuming that it's there on the other levels. I think preschool is pretty new, so maybe that part is under construction!

We have really enjoyed our review period with Time 4 Learning. I wish I had been able to review other levels in addition to preschool. Middleman really liked the learning games with their cool sound effects and very well done graphics.

If you'd like to subscribe to Time 4 Learning, you can sign up right here. They offer a two-week money back guarantee if you're not satisfied. If you want to see some demos of the program first, just click here.

I received a free 30 day trial subscription to Time 4 Learning's preschool in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Terrestria Chronicles

Hero (my hubby and homeschool Daddy) and I are editors. There have been many books that we think are important to read aloud to our children. Sometimes, however, the writer's choice of wording must be changed slightly in order to be appropriate for our family. It's not unlikely in our house to walk by the door and hear that a ferocious lion has injured or wounded his prey, rather than killed him. We are very cautious about the subject matter that we choose for our three precious boy minds. Sometimes, especially when dealing with the classics, for example, it's imperative for the book to be read aloud, instead of handing the child the book, in order to protect their young minds and hearts.

"The Terrestria Chronicles allegory series was written with a three-fold purpose: to honor Jesus Christ as King, to challenge young readers to love and serve Him, and to teach them to guard their hearts for Him. The focus of the series is always on the King. " Now I think that's a noble cause if ever there was one, however...

After reading the first two paragraphs of chapter one outloud from The Sword, The Ring and The Parchment, I emphatically decided that this book is not appropriate as a read-aloud for my children. In fact, I came to the conclusion, that I, alone would review the first two books in The Terrestria Chronicles series.

The reason for my decision: Chapter 1. Ed Dunlop goes into great detail describing the horror of being a slave to, who else, but the devil. This allegory by Ed Dunlop, goes on to tell the story of a young man learning to live his life serving King Emmanuel. Now, after laying down the background of the young Josiah, the book does get better. I have really enjoyed the second book, The Quest for the Seven Castles. It tells of the travels of young Josiah, who is tested many times over by King Emmanuel. In fact, I can see allowing my boys to read the books after they turn, maybe 13 or so.

Now remember, I agreed to write this review in exchange for free copies of the two books. The opinions expressed are mine. You may or may not agree. You can read excerpts as well as purchase each of these books for $7.99 by going here. If you'd care to read what other reviewers thought, simply click the banner below.

All About Reading

One of the hardest things for me as a mommy is to see my boys arguing. However, and don't take this the wrong way, but there's something almost special about them fighting over a book. So when this piece of art came in the mail, and the boys were "Mine, all mine." "No, it's mine, just like the first one," I had to smile on the inside while reprimanding on the outside. We have had the priviledge of reviewing the newest reader in the All About Reading series. You may remember my review of the All About Spelling Program and the Beehive Reader (being retitled Cobweb the Cat). What Am I contains ten wonderfully illustrated short stories that fall right in line with All About Spelling's Level 2 curriculum. However, you certainly don't have to own AAS to enjoy this hardback reader.

This book is sturdy and the pages are well made for beginning readers. The stories are interesting. They're not stories you'd find in your average reader. They hold my boys' attention, even Butterbean, who's not a beginner anymore! And I must stress that the illustrations are beautiful. They are what captured my attention the most.
Middleman loved finding out what happened when
"... a boy visits an elf in the Alps
...a broken robot throws figs
...a smelly musk ox goes for a swim
...a family of skunks moves into the shed
...a bunch of snakes escape their cages"
I knew What Am I had to be good when my boys argued over who it belongs to. I can't promise that yours will fight over it, but I do believe they'll enjoy reading it! If you want to read what other reviewers thought, go here. If you want to order What Am I, you can go to the All About Reading website right here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Mint

Family Mint is a web based money appreciation program. It's "a mixture between a personal money management tool and an online bank." From their website...

Kids manage their money by setting goals and entering transactions.
Parents motivate through interest rates they set, ...automated allowances... and matching deposits. It's a fun system that makes it easy to see... where money came from, how much they have... and what they want to use it for.
So basically, if children earn an allowance, receive gifts of money, or have money through other means, you can enter their totals into your Family Mint family bank. Then as they use money, you can track it together through the parent and kid interfaces.

I think the concept is a good idea. However, money really doesn't exchange hands around here. We haven't gotten much use out of the Family Mint program thus far. I can see how it might work should my children ever handle their own money and need to learn to manage it.
Find out more for yourself here. The membership is free! Read what other reviewers thought here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Children's Bible Hour

From Children's Bible Hour Ministries, we received the Seasons of Faith illustrated picture book series. As I had never heard of Children's Bible Hour, I flipped through the books myself, and then we listened to the recordings while following along.

My boys loved listening to these stories. Titled Race With Midnight, You Can't Come In, Seventy Times Seven and Braving the Storm, the books "encourage children to learn about their faith in God." The narration was well done, and we really enjoyed the illustrations.
Through the innocence of young children, these stories share the message of faith in God, Salvation, forgiveness and God's love. Each book concludes with a page about Salvation, using Bible Scripture for reference.

Each softcover book costs $10 and you can read lots more about them here. If you order your Seasons of Faith book set before April 15th (my tenth wedding anniversary!) you can get free standard shipping. Just use the code FREESHIPAPR15 when you order. If you would like to read what other reviewers thought, you can do that here.
I received these books free of charge in exchange for my review.

Monday, March 15, 2010


If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off!

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S.
only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more! Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.

The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May!
Pre-register now and save $5!

As homeschool teachers, what do you need to learn? More about teaching multiple grades? All about different homeschool methods? Transcripts?
Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?
Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school, those dreaded, advanced courses? Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way?
Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, a 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse® Speaker's Bureau.

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31. You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.
Get the details and preregister here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homeschool Library Builder

Hero denied my request to line the hallway with bookshelves. Yes dear, I know it's a fire hazard. We're running out of places to stack them, though! Should I ever have a house big enough to line the walls with bookshelves (I've always dreamed of having a home library.), I would have absolutely no problem filling them up.

If you ever have the desire to make a library in your home, or just want to find a good deal on books, check out Homeschool Library Builder. Created by homeschool moms, the company
is "geared toward serving homeschoolers and others who use excellent literature to educate."

They offer plenty of books (from curriculum such as Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside, Five in a Row, Beautiful Feet, and others), and a book search feature, to hunt down those out of stock books or books they don't carry.

Homeschool Library Builder offers free product marketing to members. Throughout the year they preview and select websites for the current season or holiday and also provide links to some favorite homeschool sites.

Through a program called Helping Hand, Homeschool Library Builder has a "specially designated category of books whereby all money goes to helping others." They also offer a frequent buyer points program to members.

The best part... membership is FREE! So please, check out Homeschool Library Builder today.

I received no compensation for writing this review.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off!

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S.
only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more! Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.

The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May!
Pre-register now and save $5!

As homeschool teachers, what do you need to learn? More about teaching multiple grades? All about different homeschool methods? Transcripts?
Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?
Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school, those dreaded, advanced courses? Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way?
Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, a 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse® Speaker's Bureau.

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31. You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.
Get the details and preregister here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Math Galaxy

Was I excited about yet another math review? Not necessarily. But that is indeed what I received! The Galaxy of Education allowed me to download several of their Math Galaxy products for free, however, so I couldn't complain! Here is what they offered in exchange for my review.
Whole Numbers Fun
Fractions Fun
Decimals, Proportions, % Fun
Word Problem Fun
Pre Algebra Fun
Algebra Fundamentals

As Whole Numbers Fun is geared toward first through fourth grades, we decided to focus on that one. From the creators "Math Galaxy starts from the beginning, with addition and multiplication tables and single-digit operations, but its main focus is on where children start having trouble with math: multi-step problem-solving... Math Galaxy Whole Numbers Fun is a comprehensive math tutorial that is like having an interactive textbook and your own private tutor, with explanations, practice and games that cover whole number operations, including place value, rounding and estimating, patterns and number sequences, word problems, time, money, graphs, probability, and geometry concepts appropriate for lower grades, including length, area and volume."

Having already taken several math programs on a test run, Butterbean did not find Math Galaxy interesting. Now don't get me wrong, this program definitely has value. My 8 year old would learn from the tutorials and games, if I forced him to give it a chance! Unfortunately, for this particular product, he is a bells and whistles kind of learner. If a game isn't sparkly, he won't stay with it for long. I think for some, Math Galaxy may be a little shiny, but there's just not enough action for my little ball of energy!
I can see how Math Galaxy would work for some families. There are lots of worksheet-type-but cooler activities to choose from, including fun little games and riddles. The program is well laid out, and could be used supplementally for many years. But sadly, for now anyway, it just isn't our cup of tea! Don't take my word for it, judge for yourself. You can purchase Whole Numbers Fun for $29.95 here. If you'd care to read what other reviewers thought, you can do that too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Homeschool in the Woods

I have conducted many a web search for printable maps. So, of course, I was thrilled when I received a massive collection of maps to review from Homeschool in the Woods.

"It is our desire to encourage, through a variety of hands-on, visual ways, an excitement and love of learning history that leaves a student itching to know more! Mapping through history is crucial, as it helps a child determine "where" the topic of study takes place. It creates an anchor point, allowing the child to understand the topic in context to its climate, politics, and geography."
Old World Style Modern and Historical United States Maps (a set of over 180 maps) has three types of printable maps for each state (labeled, unlabeled or an outline). There are several historical maps dating back to Colonial America. Present day physical and political maps of the US are included as well. And then, there are state fact notebooking pages for every single United State and full color flag pictures too! I'd love to have the flags in black and white, but didn't find those in my offering. Old World Style Modern and Ancient World Maps (over 130 maps) almost contains too much for me to even describe! It is perfect for an historical study, as there are printable maps from ancient China, Egypt, Palestine and Rome (and many more). Modern day maps are there from all seven continents plus oceans. There are more than 40 different notebooking pages where students can describe people of the past, flora and fauna of certain countries and even note a country's distinctive food using the recipe cards provided. (Those are just a few examples.)

I have already used some of the state maps for my Cub Scout den, along with a few notebooking pages. As my boys grow, these maps will be perfect for our History and Geography notebooks.
The best part is, I don't think I'll have to do a web search for a map for a long time!

Please note, this product was given to me free of charge in exchange for my review. I received no additional compensation.

The Critical Thinking Company

I have been receiving this catalog for about a year now, and I always enjoy browsing through and marking up a wish list. I was excited to receive a book from The Critical Thinking Company to review.

Their "award winning products have helped students of all abilities achieve better grades and higher test scores with highly effective lessons that sharpen the mind..." They are "committed to developing children's critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life."
Just because I question their mission statement, doesn't mean I can't love their products, at least this one! I received Balance Benders (beginning level for 2-6 graders), a Logic and Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles book. Now, typically, I am really excited about receiving things to review by snail mail. But upon opening this book, I thought for sure I had missed the critical thinking boat. Hero (Daddy) and Butterbean (8) cracked open this puppy at the kitchen table and proceeded to whiz right through the first twelve puzzles. Every now and again, Hero would ask Butterbean to explain the problem to Mommy! This softcover book, Balance Benders contains 40 pages of puzzles that involve basic algebraic concepts. But trust me, your child doesn't have to be studying algebra to try them out. Butterbean is eight (3rd grade) and he and Hero truly enjoyed this little book!

We will surely use Balance Benders for a while to come, as there are some puzzles Butterbean has trouble with! Print out and try a page before you buy, or go ahead and order Balance Benders for $9.99. There are several levels, and you can check them all out right here.
And remember to read what other reviewers thought by clicking the banner below.