Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Today's blog-hop topic is planning and record-keeping.  My take on that today is TRANSCRIPTS.

Depending on what aged children you are homeschooling, you may spend a lot of time thinking about grades or maybe none at all.  The philosophy I have had about grades for my children (prior to the high school years) is that the purpose of grades is for the parents to know how the student is doing...and the way we homeschool, I was intimately comfortable in my knowledge of how each child was learning/performing.  For this reason, I did not keep grades for my chidren's homeschooling all the way through 8th grade (I know you're horrified!!)  :)  Well, the exception was Algebra 1.  Since it's technically a high school course, though they took it in 8th grade, it was graded and recorded on the beginning of the transcript.

SO -- now, high school.  Knowing that there would be more people than just my husband and I who were interested in grades, I started giving tests (oh yeah, I didn't give them tests till high school either!!), grading essays, and evaluating work.  I kept track of these grades on a loosely-named transcript.


Until my daughter wanted to apply for college.  At this point I took a brief hiatus from my mindset of doing things simply and had a few momemts of panicking.  Transcripts for college must be very complex and highly-perfectly formatted, right?  I polled friends and acquaintances, asked for advice, had some people look over the transcript I had for her.  Basically everyone has a different idea of what a transcript should look like and what it should contain.

I'm not really a person who freaks out too much about stuff like this, but I was feeling definitely stressed.  What I had was a 2-page document which listed my child's demographic info, then listed (by year) the classes she had taken, the # of credits for each one, and the grade assigned for that class.  Each year had a GPA figured.  The only other thing I included was her SAT and ACT scores.

Some homeschooling parents mentioned that I ought to include her activities, community service, and volunteering.  Others directed me to (different) complex formats.  Several told me that it all must be on one page.  Okay, still panicking .

Then my logical side prevailed and I emailed the admissions office of the college she was applying to and told them that I was a homeschooling mom and I was getting a transcript ready and asked if they had a preferred format or required anything particular.  They said that they just wanted a listing, basically like what I already had.  We submitted that and she was accepted the next day!

She also wanted to take her senior year of high school dual enrolled at the community college near here, so, once again, the transcript question appeared.  This time my daughter called the admissions office and asked them what form they'd like for the transcript.  They told her they were looking for just a basic list of course/credits/grades.

SO--the moral of the story is to not freak out, just include the basics, ask the admissions office if you are concerned, and give the class names/credits/grades and SAT and ACT scores and that should cover you!

To read more about peoples' thoughts on record keeping and planning, read this article and check out these links below!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Writing implements (and our favorite pencils!)

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Do you have favorite "tools" that you use for homeschooling? (or regular school, I suppose) Pens and pencils are always being used, and we have found that in our family we favor certain types of pencils! Sounds kind of weird or picky, doesn't it? :) I'm laughing at myself a little for writing a post about pencils, but, hey! We like them!

Before pencils, though, let's talk about pens. In our household we are not too particular about pens. As long as it writes fairly nicely and smoothly we're not too picky. Because of this, let me tell you where most of our pens in this house come from...the fair! Or farm show or some such event! Haha!! All those pens that vendors give out to advertise their businesses...those are what fuel our inkiness in this family!
Here's a random selectoin of pens from around the house :) Notice the advertising...

Now pencils...well, we DO get some of those at the fair also, but we're pretty consistent with what we use in our schoolday (and preferred pencils for most days!)  The ones we use are mechanical pencils, but not just any mechanical pencil!  We LOVE the papermate mates easy to hold with 1.3mm lead.

The lead in these pencils is thicker, so there is not much breakage, and we find that although the point is not super sharp, the writing is smooth and we get a lot more writing out of it than a skinny lead.  They also sell replacement lead, which is a great thing.  The barrel of these pencils is a triangular shape, which makes it easy to hold (comfortably) when writing.

We love these pencils so much that I actually buy a bunch of them on Amazon when they're a good price and use them for gifts (I figure if we love them so much, others will as well, right?!)

There IS one other pencil that I (mom) personally like more.  It's a mechanical pencil as well, the lead is a little thinner (though not as thin as most) and the lead seems to write very smoothly. The pencil is comfortable to hold and write, the eraser always erases nicely, just a great pencil.  This one is also by Papermate and is called sharp writer.

So, there you have it!  My suggestions for pencils! 

How about you, any favorites?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Curriculum (again!)

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Choices of curriculum are wide and varied. As homeschooling parents, we have the luxury to choose which materials we will use with our children to assist their learning for the schoolyear. And it IS a luxury! We can evaluate our students and use materials that will enhance their learning styles.

For many years my homeschooling family used a curriculum which they could participate in much of together. This program was called My Father's World, and we really loved it! When we finished the "cycle" we started drawing more from different programs to kind of piece together our program. With highschoolers, we have had to look at requirements and college-prep lists and focus a little more on classes that are suggested/recommended/required for college prep.

If you have read my blog for the past few posts, you will have read my true confession about curriculum for this year :) :) Although I haven't settled on everything that we will be using this year, here are a few of our favorites!

Saxon Math! Yes, we love Saxon, and by "WE", I mean "ME" haha :) No, really, the kids like it too, pretty much. That's all they've had so that's "math" to them! Saxon style is textbook--lesson + explanations followed by problems that the student has to copy out into their notebook (or paper) and solve. What do I like so much? Great explanations, wonderfully complete variety of topics, and tons of review in every lesson.

Apologia Science! Beginning in 9th grade we use Apologia science. Biology in 9th, Chemistry in 10th, Physics in 11th ... that's as far as we've gotten thus far! What do I like about it? Well, first of all the Christian slant. Plus it's GOOD SCIENCE!! It has wonderful explanations and is very thorough. I was especially impressed with chemistry.

Wordly Wise: My kids just plain enjoy this curriculum, and if they like doing vocab, why not keep using it?!

So--that's where we are at this point. We will, of course, be adding things like grammar, history/social studies, Bible, and more.

OH, and I get a "curriculum break" this year as well--my oldest (12th grader) is going to be taking the early college (dual enrollment) at the community college, so I don't need to pick out curriculum for her this year!

One more note, about buying curriculum. Schoolbooks are very expensive! We usually buy as many books used as we can. Different places I look for used books are websites such as ebay (have found most of my daughter's college books on here for a fraction of the cost in the college bookstore!),, Amazon or (look under the "used" option), and a few facebook groups. It takes a bit of digging and searching, but you can save a lot of money buying used. If your child is taking a class that needs a particular edition, however, make sure that you pay attention to that and purchase the right one.

There are so many different curriculum options. Pray about it, do your research, find out what works well with your children, and don't be afraid to switch if it isn't working for your family!

I'm sure you would like to read more about curriculum from other homeschooling folks, and you can! Just click the links below:

Blog Post Link:

Back to School Blog Hop! :) It's that time of get ready to begin!

Surely I can't be the only homeschooling mom who's in denial about the start of the schoolyear, can I? Wow, the summer has zipped by so fast! Here we are looking at starting school in a few weeks...and this year I have a 12th grader, a 10th grader, and an 8th grader! I am sometimes surprised at how old my kids are getting!

Just before the start (or at the start) of the new schoolyear is a great time to check out what other people are doing/using/planning/experiencing for this schoolyear! Lucky for you, there's a whole series of blog articles that a group of folks are writing to share with you!

The series of posts will have a different theme for each day:
August 14 – Curriculum
August 15 – School Supplies
August 16 – Planning / Record Keeping
August 17 – Outside the Home
August 18 – Dear Homeschool Mom

Click on the link below and you will be directed to a series of great articles to inspire you as you begin your schoolyear!
Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson—my REVIEW

Sometimes I get into a rut with my reading.  I do like several different genres, mysteries, some adventure stories, some dramas, contemporary fiction, historical fiction…it seems like mostly what I’ve been reading lately has been kind of fluff fiction—and honestly, my life is so busy and dramatic with 3 teenagers (hahahaha!!) that fluff fiction is appreciated J J .  This book, Fatal Trust, was different than what I’ve been reading, and I appreciated that!

SO what kind of a book is this?  I guess I’d say a legal drama, a bit of a mystery, a suspense novel.  Kind of mob-like.  Kind of tense.  Definitely interesting!

In Fatal Trust, Ian is a new-ish lawyer who is struggling to keep his deceased father’s legal practice going while taking care of his mother who is slipping into Alzheimer’s.  He is plagued with financial difficulties and just when he appears to have no hope, he receives an offer he cannot refuse.  It seems too good to be true, but his father initiated it many many years ago, so he jumps on board.  As things that seem to be too good often turn out to be otherwise, so does his situation.  Ian is plunged into a family trust with stipulations for disbursement that he is to untangle.  Upon looking into these, he finds his own family mixed up in the matter, possibly criminally, as well as associating with other shady types. 

You’ll have to read the book to find out more…it’s a story I don’t want to give away! 

I would definitely recommend this book.  It’s a suspense story that will keep you guessing as you see parts unfolding.  I really liked it and my husband is looking forward to reading it next!  It’s not a quick read, you have to think a bit while you are reading it, but it is good!  It’s published by a Christian company (Bethany House), and while there are not really overt Christian messages, there is definitely a lack of profanity and other elements that you may find distasteful in many suspense stories.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Catching time

Okay, here's a game for you. What's going on in this picture?



Pretty much a normal thing these days...

Really? No guesses?

We'll, here I am again, sitting in my car, waiting for my kids to finish with whatever event they are participating in.  Tonight it's ballroom dancing--all 3 of my teens plus a friend.  I'm staying out in the car out of respect for their wishes :)

I'm surprised with myself and how many things we allow them to participate in, but glad that we are able to offer them these opportunities.  We live kind of far from many events, which is why I don't just drop them off and go home.

Sometimes I do grocery shopping or other errands.  Tonight I have my laptop (and phone! No WiFi here) and I'm writing some product reviews.

So thankful for the opportunities that God has given us to allow our kids to become well-rounded people!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God -- Bible study for kids -- my REVIEW

Alone With GodBible Study
Jonah & RuthNew International Version

How many of us study the Bible as much as we think we should?  What gets in your way?  Schedules, family responsibilities, work, sleep, recreation, etc etc and more, right?  I know for me, making Bible study at a certain time in my day a habit has really helped with maintaining regular times to read the Bible and pray.

How about kids?  Wouldn't it be great for your children to develop habits of reading the Bible and spending time with God, even apart from family Bible times or Sunday School or church?  One member of our family (my 12 year old daughter) received this Bible study book,  I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God Bible Study (13 week study) by Karen Mohs, produced by the company Greek 'n' Stuff  to use for the purpose of this product review.  We chose to review the study prepared for use with the NIV Bible, but there is also a similar publication for those who choose to use the KJV Bible.

The study is set up for use over thirteen weeks, Monday through Saturday.  The first 5 weeks the children will read/study from the book of Jonah, and the following 8 weeks from the book of Ruth.

There is an introduction for parents/teachers/students which explains the study and also directs the user to begin each devotion (or study) with praying to God and also reading or reciting the memory verse listed.

After beginning with prayer and reading the memory verse, the student reads a question with a Bible reference following it, as well as lines on which to write their response.    
 There are also boxes with additional information every week (things like "Is Jonah the only man to be swallowed by a fish?" and "How was barley threshed? Was it hard work for Ruth?" and "How was Obed in the line of Christ?") to further the study and give the student more contextual or historic information, or to assist them in applying the lessons to their lives.

Some of the questions are basically just read the question, read the verse(s), write out the correct answer.  Other questions are more thinking questions, such as "Do you think Jonah might have wished he had obeyed God in the first place?" 

Each week ends with a little "Think and pray about it" box, which related the learning they have done that week to application in their life.  

So what did we think?  I mentioned previously that my 12-year old (entering 8th grade this year) was the one to use this study.  When I asked her to write a little about it, she wrote: "I liked this Bible study 'cause I wouldn't  normally read the book of Jonah.  It was easy, and kind of not really in-depth.  I liked it, but it was kind of plain-ish (the book)."   This Bible study was intended for use with middle- to upper-elementary students, and I would agree.  At 12, she was a bit older than the intended audience, so it was not exactly what she was wishing for, but I think used in a younger setting it would be nice.  It IS plain, black and white, not really illustrated, but I really don't think that's a problem.  The focus is on the Scripture, the questions, and thinking it through.  It would make a great study for a child to do on their own and then review with a parent (who could then ask the types of deeper application questions appropriate to their child's age or level).  As an aid in a Sunday School setting or other classroom setting such as that, it would introduce the child to the material before group discussion.  

One thing my daughter got a little hung up on was the days of the week titles.  If she missed one day, she felt like she had to just skip that section and go on to the correct day.  We talked about that and how it is okay to either just go one by one or do two in one day if necessary.  I think that's just basically one of those things that goes along with growing up and realizing that you can do it as you wish to enable you to cover all the material.

I would definitely recommend this Bible study,  I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God Bible Study (13 week study) for children who are able to read and write.  I think it's a great way to begin a lifelong habit of studying the Bible on one's own.  There are many ways this could be used, individually, as a family, as a precursor to group discussion.  It is nicely bound in a spiral binding, so it lays flat whichever side you are writing on (definitely a good thing!)  

The name of the company who published this study is  Greek 'n' Stuff  which might sound kind of funny until you check out their website and see that they have many different curricula, including many Greek and Latin learning programs as well as more Bible studies.  They even have a curricula for French speakers to learn Greek!  

To see more reviews on this study, as well as some reviews on other products by this company, please click the link below! :)

Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It's that time of the summer that I usually begin thinking about the upcoming schoolyear.  By the end of the previous schoolyear I usually have the next year's curriculum in hand, or at the very least ordered.

This year I find myself here in the beginning of August without having ordered stuff yet!!  Yikes!  Better get on the ball!

How about you?  Do you wait till late (accidentally or on purpose?) or order early?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

In the Reign of Terror (audio theater) -- my REVIEW

Wow, that title sounds scary, doesn't it?

In the Reign of Terror

My family really loves audiobooks, especially when we are on a long car ride.  We were thrilled to have the opportunity to listen to and review this audio theater production of In the Reign of Terror by G. A. Henty.  This audio production was made by Heirloom Audio Productions and is a 2-cd set just about 2 1/2 hours long.  The story is dramatized, with different actors speaking the parts as well as sound effects.  It is very well done, the actors are professionals and it shows.  (for a list of some of the major actors, check out the cast and crew page and see how many of the names you recognize!)

SO what is it about?  It's about the French Revolution, told from the viewpoint of some of the nobility.  That description alone might catch some people's interest, but that doesn't do it justice.  It is a story told to a modern day boy about a boy in the time of the French Revolution.  This boy is British and plans to enter the army when he is of age, but his father has sent him to France for a season to live with a French family (nobility) and teach his son English and basically how to be a rough and tough boyish fellow.  Harry (the British teen) is warmly welcomed by the Marquis de St Caux, though his son takes awhile to come to respect Harry (he does eventually, due to some heroic actions).  Harry has a strong belief in God and His protection, as does the French family with which he makes his temporary home.

Tensions in France at this time begin to escalate, as the king and his family are essentially imprisoned, and the Marquis and his mother go to Paris to support their king and the law.  The lawless peasants (non nobility) quickly reach a point of semi-anarchy, basically using the upheaval to purge all who they dislike or don't agree with, namely anyone who has titles or money.  The Marquise and his family are attacked and they go different ways, trying to survive.  Harry pledges to assist them.

I don't want to give you much more of the story line, but suffice it to say, it is not a happy ending story, at all.  It's tough and makes you think.  So often when we hear about the French Revolution, I think that we kind of see the point of the peasants, hungry and oppressed, and see the nobility as the oppressors.  This story shows it from a different point of view, from that of certain nobility that were not oppressing, but rather followers of God who wish to uphold their laws, their heritage, and their dedication to God.

My family (my husband and I, and our 3 kids aged 17, 15, and 12) listened to this audio production in the car, on one trip.  The drama kept all of our attention and encouraged a lot of discussion.  The beginning and end of the story have two individuals discussing (teaching/learning) that the American Revolution and the French Revolution were basically nothing alike--listen to it and you'll see what I mean.

We all liked it, though it was quite sad (I usually like happy endings!).  My son, who loves the Lord of the Rings, wanted me to mention that he really liked that the actor who played Gimli the dwarf was in this production :) If you listen to it as a family and would like to do more than a standard discussion that flows naturally from listening to it, Heirloom Audio Productions also has produced a study guide to go along with the story.  This study guide divides the story into many parts, naming them with a location on the CD so the listener can do part by part.  It has a "listening well" section, which is kind of like a reading (listening) comprehension section--checking to see that the high points were caught.  Following this is a "thinking further" section which contains questions which incite more thought.  The next segment is a vocabulary section, entitled "defining words" which lists words to find the definition of.  These are occasionally followed by an "expand your learning" section which is a few paragraphs about something peripheral or slightly noted in the story (historical fact section).

There is another neat thing you will want to access with your children.  It is called the Live the Adventure Club   and besides the study guide, there are also neat things such as chapter quizzes, the scripts to follow along with, thinking further questions, vocabulary words (and if you hover over them you'll see their definitions), and more!  All of these enhancements make it much more than just a story or audiobook, but rather give the opportunity to easily expand this into a learning module.

So, yes, my family and I would DEFINITELY recommend this dramatized audio production by Heirloom Audio Productions.  It was easy to listen to, a good handling of the subject matter, encouraged family discussion, and gave us a lot to think about.  The way this is dramatized makes it very easy to listen to and visualize the story.  It's a great production!

Heirloom Audio Productions

To read more reviews of this audio drama, please click on the box below:
In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

  Ahhhh...what says camping in Maine better than cooking fresh scallops at 10:30 at night?!  DELICIOUS!!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ACTÍVA Products - my REVIEW

Do you have crafters in your family?  More to the point, do you have non-crafters in your family?  :)  This most recent review product is something you might want to look into when it comes time to make a prop or something to go along with a history lesson or to illustrate a talk or so many other things.

ACTÍVA Products has a product which is called Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit and an accompanying free e-book called ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS which gives ideas and instructions for projects you can make using this clay-like product.  

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

We received the products and upon opening them discovered that there are two rolls of a wrap material that kind of looks like it is plaster-impregnated and then a bag of a powdery substance. 

My kids read through the e-book and got an idea about how the products are used and what kinds of things they could make with them.  The e-book gives instructions for different projects such as little model animals, beads, bowls, decorative items, and more.  By reading through these projects they got the idea as to how to se the materials correctly.  

Next it was time for my kids to choose a project.  My 15-year old son and 12-year old daughter were the ones interested in giving it at try.  My son chose to make a Darth Vader mask :) and my daughter wanted to make a bowl like the peppermint candy bowl in the e-book instructions.

They found the objects they wanted to replicate and covered them with plastic wrap to protect them from the sticky stuff.    They followed the directions to moisten the Rigid Wrap and applied it to their chosen form.  (By the way, in case you were wondering what it is like, it reminds me of the old cast material they used to use on broken arms!)

They let their projects dry (it took several days, but it was pretty rainy and humid here, so that might have lengthened the drying time) and then my daughter painted hers with acrylic paints.  My son wanted to leave his white and plans to hang it on his wall.

There is another part of this product and it is the CelluClay.  The texture of it reminds me of finely shredded paper or something similar (with a name like CelluClay I assume it is some sort of cellulose type product?)  This powder is mixed in a ziplock baggie with some water (the amounts aren't given, but you can add till you get the right texture).  My son didn't like the feel of the clay so he didn't use that part, but my daughter did--she made a tiny knitting bowl and ball of yarn with toothpick needles in it for her mini dolls :) She also experimented with a few other different things with this CelluClay, but wasn't happy with the end result.

So...what did we think?  Well, we didn't love it.  The wrap material was pretty neat to use, but we didn't really enjoy the CelluClay.  It was hard to figure out how to use it with the initial directions that came with the kit, but the e-Book was helpful for understanding how to mix it up.  I think that these materials would be great when you have a craft that you don't want to take too much time--it's much faster and easier to use than papier-mâché and it is nice and easy to paint.  We had a difficult time getting it smooth, especially the CelluClay It would be good for younger kids as well, because the process (other than drying) is pretty quick and easy.  I will say, also, do this over newspaper or something, because it is messier than it might appear.  My kids used it on our island and we washed it like 5x or so to get it clean.  

Oh yes, all the mini dolls seemed to have some "major accidents" this week and find themselves in need of casts :)  haha :) that works too :) 

If you'd like to hear what others think about these products, be sure to click on the box link below!

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall -- my REVIEW

I usually like reading Amish fiction, often I feel it's just kind of "fluff" but oh my, this series of three Amish fiction books in the series "The Amish of Summer Grove" by Cindy Woodsmall are not really fluff, though they are easily readable and VERY interesting!

This book, Gathering the Threads, is (as it sounds) a culminating book in a series.  I would REALLY suggest that you read the first two books in the series, as they are wonderful reads as well (but if you don't have the opportunity, this book very nicely gives a little summary at the beginning of the book to tell you the high points of what has happened already in the series, which will be helpful to many.)

Ariana is a young woman (early 20's)  who was brought up in an Amish family with younger and older siblings, and even a twin.  She is dedicated to her Old Order Amish lifestyle and attempts to talk her sibling out of leaving the group.  Her world is completely shaken when she (and her parents) find out that she was mistakenly swapped at birth with another baby girl and she is actually not their biological child.  Ariana's parents find their biological daughter and her parents and, at the threat of a lawsuit by the English father, the girls go for a trial period with their biological families.

The biological child of the Amish family is Skylar, who is addicted to drugs and a very worldly lifestyle.  Her parents are not married to each other, and they are anxious to find a "fix" for Skylar's destructive lifestyle.

As Skylar enters an Amish family, she has struggles to find her place as well as coming to grips with her heritage.  Ariana, thrust into an English lifestyle, has a very hard time, and her bio father has many demands on her as he tries to broaden her horizons.  Through this all, a childhood friend of Ariana's (Quill) who has left the Old Order Amish life helps her out immensely.

This third book, Gathering the Threads, is Ariana's re-entry into Amish life.  Three months away have changed her in many ways.  She has longed to return to her Amish family and fiancee and now that she's there, she is confused.  She has learned that God's Word, the Bible, is what is important to follow, and is unsure about how the Amish bishops' rulings fit in with this.  She earnestly wants to do what is right and unfortunately the church leaders give her an amazing amount of trouble.  Her family is confused as well, and her Amish father exercises his strictness.

In the end, Ariana chooses her pathway--but of course, I'm not going to tell you what it was :)

It's hard to summarize this all, but I will say that it is a very good book, and I would totally recommend it.  It gives a bit of a different look at the Amish life, and makes the reader think a bit as well.  This is definitely a book that will make you want to stay up at night to read just one more page. :)

So -- yes, yes, yes--read it!  Enjoy it!  Struggle a little bit along with Ariana to figure out Who is really in charge.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

GIVEAWAY!!!!  I have the first two books in this series, Ties that Bind and Fraying at the Edge to give away!  What a great way to prepare to read the third book in the series!  This giveaway will start today (7/20) and will end on Saturday July 29th at 8 p.m. Eastern time.  Oh, and you must have a US mailing address  To enter, please leave a comment below!  I don't have a fancy setting on here that has you enter your email address, so if you are not someone I have a way to contact, please check back here the evening of the 29th or the next day, July 30th and let me know how to contact you :)  If the randomly chosen winner does not respond by Aug 1, I will have to choose another winner!

Z is for zoom!

I have a daughter who is driving!  She's been driving on a learner's permit for a year now, and has taken driver's ed, and is doing a great job.

Today we had the opportunity to go to a teen driving clinic put on by Ford, called Ford Driving Skills for Life.  It was amazing!  The teens learned so much from this course!  They drove a Mustang with casters on the back wheels to make them skid and spin out so that the teens could learn how it feels and how it feels to correct.  They learned about why distracted driving is so bad (did you know that just looking at your phone to see who texted you makes you take your eyes off the road for THE DISTANCE OF A FOOTBALL FIELD????!!!???  (yes, I meant to all-caps that, it is shocking!))  They practiced driving fast and stopping, so they could feel the ABS braking system engage.  They drove fast-ish in a smaller car and had to quickly maneuver into a lane (randomly selected by the machine just before they had to move) to avoid an "obstacle".

I took my daughter and a friend of hers who is a timid driver.  Both girls enjoyed it and said that they really learned so much.  They both said they felt so much more confident, having actually done these things now, as opposed to just learning about them in driver's ed.  For instance, they both had learned what to do if their rear wheels skid, but they'd never felt it before and had never gotten to actually perform the correction.

Definitely a great time.  Great learning.  Great instructors.  I'd highly recommend this program if it comes to your area!

Oh...and believe it or not, it was FREE!!  Amazing.  What a blessing to have something like this come to our little state :)

Here's a clip of my daughter in the mustang.

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin -- My Review

Do you enjoy historical fiction?  Are you looking for something to read?  :)  It sometimes seems like historical fiction is all set in the old west, a spinster schoolteacher or a widow looking for a husband...and it turns into just a plain old romance.  Well, that is not the case for this book!

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin is a book set in World War 2, in Belgium!  It is about a British nurse, Eve,  with Belgian family ties who loses her husband to war, moves with her mother to be with family in Belgium, loses her siblings and uncle to the war, and serves as a nurse while trying to survive the German oppression/slaughter.  She not only serves as a nurse, she is also a part of an espionage ring.

Eve is hurrying to a rendezvous with a British plane when she happens on a plane crash...the very plane she was supposed to meet.  She finds the pilot dead and the passenger severely wounded--and the passenger's face sends her into amazed shock because it is...(ummm, did you think I was going to tell you?????  You'll have to read it yourself!)

Eve's mission becomes more complicated as she tries to save the life of this person as well as two other people who she has learned are alive in France.  She continues her work with the wounded, gathering information and sending it to the Allied forces, while working to save this other soldier and retrieve and ensure the safety of the other 2 she is searching for.

This story is very complex, you have to think while you're reading it :) I wouldn't call it a light fluffy read at all.  It is hard.  It is war.  It doesn't overly-romanticize war.  Eve has her own ghosts to reconcile (a lot of them, actually) and peace to search for.  She has lost hope in one sense, while she works guided by hope in a different sense.

I know my review is a bit enigmatic, but so many of the key points are things you should discover for yourself.

I like this book, I would recommend it.  It is not my favorite, but it is a good book and does show a different side of the war -- and it's World War I, which I rarely find fictional books set in.  Give it a try!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation -- my REVIEW

Doctor Aviation
My son has recently joined Civil Air Patrol, and through that organization he has suddenly developed an interest in flight, airplanes, and general aviation topics (he has even been up in a plane!)  I was blessed to be able to participate in a review program for a video-learning series called Doctor Aviation, which is a six-month aviation education course and he was certainly happy to extend his learning through this online class!

Doctor Aviation is a series of fifteen lessons, each of which is about an hour long.  The sessions are basically lectures delivered by an extremely knowledgeable and experienced instructor.  They run the range of topics from aircraft, air traffic control, maintenance, airfield operations, and more about the aircraft (instrumentation and more.)

Each of the lessons contains different parts:  technical trivia, notable innovators, legendary aircraft, and aviation events.  

The style of the lessons is pretty much the instructor standing there, wearing a flight suit, near an airplane, lecturing.   The lectures are thorough and quite interesting to listen to.  A lot of vocabulary is introduced and explained nicely.  There is a historical component, with a student learning historic basis for well as a physics-type component, learning the forces of flight and how we have arrived at this body of flight knowledge that is current today.  There is a focus on those who pioneered ideas and methods and set the stage for what we have today.  There is also a section that goes over different distinctive aircraft and the features that make/made them so special. It's not just "kid stuff" either -- a lot of this information is probably new to adults as well!  (Or it takes info you already might have known about and shows how it fits into the subject of flight.  

There's also a really neat component, and that is the "guided notes" for the program.  There are notes in a fill-in-the-blank format for the student to follow along with, filling in the blanks as the answers are revealed.  I think this is very valuable for keeping the student on track and keeping them paying close attention!  I think this is a great training tool for homeschoolers--so much of my homeschoolers' learning is done from books, rather than lectures, so note-taking while someone is teaching is definitely a skill they need to hone, and these guided notes are a stepping stone to helping them learn to take notes independently.  
As I have told you, it is pretty much a guy standing and lecturing, but my 15-year old son will tell you that though that description may sound a bit dull, it isn't!  He really enjoys the lessons, and the way they are taught.  Here's what he had to say about it:  "The guy really knows his stuff.  He is very clear at trying to get the point across.  It is all really interesting stuff.  He moves at a good pace through the material in order to cover a lot of stuff."

To me, a lecture like this is interesting as well.  I love audiobooks and this reminds me of that...not as huge a need to view the screen (for the most part) and the information is shared in an interesting way.  If my child was younger, I'm not sure if it would be a good format without lots on the screen, but for my 15 year old son, it's great.

There are also tests and activities to take each lesson further.  If you are using it as a highschool course, you will want to make use of these to cover the subject thoroughly.  

There were a few things I had questions about over the course of trying these lessons, and when I asked the questions, I received quick and thorough answers.  I really appreciated that the course creator was so quick to follow through and take care of any issues/questions I was having.  This is very valuable in an online course.  

I'd definitely recommend this course, especially for the target audience of 16 years old and up.  

To see what other folks thought of Doctor Aviation, click the box below! :) 

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Trust Fund (movie) by Mapelle Films (and a bonus book -- Love Was Near) -- my REVIEW

Trust Fund Movie

Do you enjoy movies? Most of the members of my family do. When we had the opportunity to review the movie Trust Fund by Mapelle Films, everybody was up for it! We settled down as a family to watch the movie--my husband and I, our 17 year old daughter, 15 year old son, and 12 year old daughter.  We also received an accompanying book, Love Was Near, which I'll tell you about as well!

The movie is about a modern day "prodigal son" (well, daughter) as Jesus told about in his parable of the prodigal son in the Bible.  Without telling too much of the story--Reese, a young author who wants the easy way decides that her "tough" life is just not good enough, discovers a secret, and decides to go live her "fun" life in Italy, with a boyfriend, leaving her family, responsibilities, and more back at home.  She encounters difficulties, but has left home after doing something really bad (and she's made a lot more bad choices once she is in Italy)--so what is she to do?  Meanwhile, her sister Audrey is kind of like the perfect child on the surface.  She is working at her dad's company, doing all that is expected of her, being perfectly self-controlled and doing just right.

Reese wants to come home, but is not sure how or if she even can; Audrey resents Reese and the lifestyle she inhabits...and I won't say too much more about the plot :) I will, however, say that it reflects the story of the prodigal son in the Bible.

I mentioned that we watched this movie as a family...

and everyone enjoyed it.  It's an almost unimaginable story of forgiveness and who needs it.  We watched it all together and, since it was a review item, we discussed it together.

We all agreed that it isn't very "Christian" -- really it doesn't refer to Christ or Biblical principles, just tells a story that parallels the prodigal son.  We also agreed that it was a nice movie, enjoyable and entertaining.  It kept our interest and showed a father's amazing love.

Although there isn't much Biblical content in the video, there is a great study guide which details the parallels to the prodigal son, speaks of Biblical truth, asks hard questions for discussion or further thought, and helps each of us to apply the prodigal story to ourselves.

Love Was Near Book

There is also a book that is a great accompaniment to this movie, intended to be read/used AFTER viewing the movie.  The book is called Love Was Near by Sandra Martin.  I let my 17-year old daughter have this book and she started right in with reading/using it.  It has since found its place on her bedside table, at easy reach.  She's reading it and enjoying it.  It's not a book about the movie, really, well, it kind of is...It's kind of a journal as if written by the main character in the movie (Reese), in a "Dear Diary" fashion.  The diary entries are interspersed with thought-provoking questions as well as some words of wisdom.   My daughter is really enjoying this book--even though she doesn't like just journaling-type books--she likes to revisit the story, read more about what Reese was thinking/motivated by, and then think about those things as they apply to her life.

Quick overview...Trust Fund is an interesting, well-made, "clean" movie which parallels the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible.  There is a great study guide for families or groups to use (or individuals too!) as well as an "extension" book  called Love Was Near for girls 12 and up to read/learn/journal.  It's a great group of products and I would definitely recommend them!

To read more reviews about these resources, please click here:
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

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