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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury Review

I love Mary Engelbreit.  Her vintage style illustrations speak of a simpler time, but they are colorful and classic and usually feature quotes that remind the reader of the things that are truly important. This Treasury which focuses on friendship is no exception.  I was keen to review this book because I loved the fact that several of the quotes are Bible verses, and because I wanted my children to have the opportunity to see Mary Engelbreit's style of art firsthand, since so much of her art showcases children.

Besides the Bible, quotes featured in this Treasury come from sources like Oscar Wilde, Henry David Thoreau, William Butler Yates, and many others.  The illustrations all feature different representations of friendship- children with each other, with their stuffed animals, and with their pets, as well as adult ladies with their lifelong "besties".

Personally, I will forever associate Mary Engelbreit's work with a dear friend who has gone on to be with the Lord now.  We served on the steering committee of our local MOPS group together, and the theme that year was about the hats moms wear.  We painted hat boxes different colors to use as table decorations, and then to dress them up a bit, we decoupaged Mary Engelbreit's artwork onto the sides and top of the boxes.  It took hours for my friend and I to trim the little artwork frames (they were from several years worth of day-by-day calendars) and them decoupage them onto the boxes, and it was over that project, as we chose which pieces of artwork to include and why, that our friendship began to grow.  So to me, Mary Englebreit's work is synonymous with friendship.

You can purchase The Blessings of Friendship Treasury for $17.99.  It's a beautiful, hard-covered book with dust jacket, and would make a lovely gift for the friends in your life.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Get to Know Apostle Paul Review

When Zondervan sent their lists of books coming out this summer, I immediately asked to review this one.  I mean, Paul, he's just got such a great story.  From impeccable lineage, to persecution of the early Christians, to his ride side conversion, to his missionary journeys, and the various times he almost died, his is definitely an interesting biography!

And this book, part of a series entitled"Get to Know" by publisher Zondervan, does not disappoint.  Nancy I. Sanders does a wonderful job of writing a book on a 2nd grade reading level that is both engaging and informative, even for adults.  The maps and full color, real life pictures are phenomenal.  Each chapter has added tidbits like "Did You Know?" or "Eyewitness Account" that add insight.  There is also a glossary and bibliography in the back, as well as detailed source notes and a student resources list.

You can purchase Get to Know: Paul from Zondervan and other retailers for $6.99.  Also in the Get to Know series are Jesus, Mary, and King David.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

All About Reading Level 4 is Coming!!!!

Okay, I know, I'm a bit strange.  I got this e-mail earlier and it really, truly made my day.  Especially because it mentioned a sale.  Ooooo, sale.  I feel like one of those green aliens in Toy Story, but since this is our reading curriculum, if I can save money buying it, I'm ALL ABOUT THAT!

It will be available September 4th!  Not long at all.  And for the first 2 weeks, you can save $20 when you order the level 4 kit, so get ready now!  I'll be ordering on the 4th :-).

****affiliate link used because we use and love AAR***

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Three Things Thursday-The Friday Edition 8/29/14

Today I want to share three things I'm thankful for...

1)  Today, for the first time since we moved to NC, I am facing the end of the month/beginning of the month period without having run out of money before we ran out of month, and I am SO thankful!  We knew moving here that carrying our house in FL until it sells (and the accompanying water bill and power bill) and paying rent and all the bills here would mean there was no "extra" in the budget, and we were okay with that.  But the hardest time came right during this one week when we had the double whammies of rent/mortgage, double city water bills, and double power bills ALL due at the same time.  We thought this month would be the first month we would not have the double whammy problem because our FL house was supposed to have sold a few weeks ago.  But God had a different plan.  Instead, the deal fell through on the house 3 days before closing, BUT on Friday my husband received a bonus from work, and as of Monday, he will be getting a raise.  When God closes a door, He opens a window.  And today, I am breathing deeply in thanks.  I even went hog-wild and went grocery shopping, something I could never have done at the end of the month before!

2)  I am thankful for my sister, without whom I would be completely sunk when it comes to dealing with things that come up with our FL house.  She's 6 1/2 years younger than me, and we haven't always been close because of the age difference, but I'm glad that adulthood and parenthood equalizes a lot of that.  She is a huge blessing to me, and I'm very thankful she is willing to help me out.  I don't know what I would do without her!

3)  I'm thankful my mom and her husband are coming to visit.  They should arrive tomorrow.  This is the first time since we moved that they have come to visit, and I'm glad they are coming even if it's only for a short time.  The kids are glad too, since they get some unplanned days off of school!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Boxcar Children Animated Movie Review and Giveaway

About the Film: Four orphaned and homeless siblings happen upon an abandoned boxcar, which with a little creativity and hard work, they gradually furnish with all the comforts of home. Fearful that they will be sent to live with the reputedly cruel grandfather they have never met, the children keep their new home a secret - until a serious illness forces them to reveal themselves in order to save young Violet.
About the Cast: Featuring an all-star cast of voice actors, including Academy Award Nominee Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), J.K. Simmons (Spiderman), Zach Gordon (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Joey King (Fargo), Mackenzie Foy (Twilight series), and Jadon Sand (LEGO: The Movie), this is the very first full-length, animated feature adaptation of Gertrude Chandler Warner's best-selling classic!

OBM says:  Speaking honestly, I've always heard of The Boxcar Children books, but never read any of them as a child myself or to my own children.  Since they come highly recommended though, I happily volunteered for this chance to check out the brand new animated movie based on The Boxcar Children's story.  I was not disappointed.  While the animation itself is not major animation studio quality, that does not get in the way of it faithfully (at least according to synopses I read online) retelling the story of the first Boxcar Children book (there were over 100!) and drawing the viewing in to the sweet tale.  And the cast boasts all-star talent to be sure.  I loved this tale of these four kids "making it" despite their circumstances, and doing whatever it takes to stay together, and I think you will too.

The Boxcar Children is rated G and is safe for the whole family.  You can order a copy of The Boxcar Children from Walmart, or you can enter the giveaway below to win one.

* Giveaway for U.S. and Canada residents only

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Where the River Runs Review and Giveaway

I have a very short list of books that have changed my life by my reading them.  Books whose stories genuinely challenged me or inspired to be a better person by the stories they tell and the people whose lives they allow me the privilege of seeing into.  I would honestly add Wherever the River Runs to that list.

About the book:

In Wherever the River Runs, Kelly Minter invites us on a journey down a river teeming with piranhas and caimans, as well as machete-wielding mothers, heroic jungle pastors, faith-filled children, and miracles too seldom experienced in our part of the world. Kelly's honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth as well as on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite but have never fully believed.
 On this beautiful adventure through the jungles of Brazil and the tangles of the soul, Kelly rediscovers Jesus among a forgotten people living well beyond the corners of her previously defined faith--a people who draw her back to their country, their pain, and their hope in Him, again and again.
 "Kelly Minter writes the way a portrait artist paints." -- Beth Moore, Living Proof Ministries
 "The best thing I can say about Wherever the River Runs is that I closed the last page, bowed my head, and said, 'God, send me too.' Thank you, Kelly, for your courage, leadership, and faithfulness." -- Jen Hatmaker (speaker, blogger, and author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess)

Here's the book's trailer:

OBM says:  To say I loved this book is an understatement.  First, there was the way Kelly Minter writes-it's like she's your good friend and she's just telling you the story over coffee.  And yet it's so full of Biblical truths that I found myself underlining parts of the book to go back to, to ruminate on, to someday blog about.  So often what I was reading perfectly fit what was going on in my life, from a discussion in our life group about how meeting someone's need can also mean getting sucked into to their life to just the timing of the reading the book itself as we had a group from church just return from an overseas mission trip.

The book made me laugh and cry.
Such a beautiful story goes with this true, true quote.  It brought me to tears.

It encouraged me and strengthened me.
This quote actually goes with a verse that came up in my quiet time again this morning about praying to God and then waiting expectantly for His response.

 It challenged me and convicted me.
Like Kelly realized, we don't have to live in the Amazon to make a difference.  There are people right outside our own door that need us if we will just take notice and be willing to be used by God to meet the need.

Just like Kelly could never be the same after going to the Amazon, I don't think you could read this book and ever be the same.  We have such a sheltered experience with Christianity here in America.  Such a warped idea of what "hard" is.  Hard is getting all the kids out the door on time on a morning when you forgot there was no more milk for cereal and that the car needs gas. And then you read about what these people go through just to spread the good news.  The pastor who traveled 17 DAYS in the jungle to get to their first annual pastor's conference.  This untrained man of faith who was desperate to become even more equipped spiritually so that he could continue to do the work God had called him to do.  We are so blessed and we don't even know it.  Really, you have to read this book.

And now, here's the good news.  You can win your own copy of this book.  And if you don't you really should go buy it.  But to win it, just enter below.  And please, share the giveaway with your friends.  This is SUCH an awesome book, everyone should know about it!

*Giveaway for U.S. and Canada residents only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

Catchy title, no?  I know, but what can ya' do?  I mean, that's what this blog post is all about after all, so there you have it.

I think I've been dragging my heels about writing this post for SO long because I was up in the air about some things (and honestly still am) for SO long.  But here is the current plan:

Scott:  Scott is 17.  Let me be honest here and say I'm always on the fence as to how much to share about this child, as I feel like it's a fine line between not having his (or any of my kids') private information "out there" for just anyone to read vs. being able to help others who find themselves in similar situations.  So, the highlights are that this is his senior year, but it will be very different for him than for most other high school seniors.  He has Aspergers, and while most people automatically assume that makes him socially awkward, but smart as a whip, in his case, it makes him exceedingly social, still socially awkward at reading social cues, and with an IQ just above, well, not normal.  So he's maxed out academically in terms of progress, and what he does this year will be maintenance.  He's redoing IEW writing (Level A), and will do math drills, and has a continuous reading list.  In addition, he does Spelling City weekly (an online site where I create lists, and they do activities to learn spelling and meaning, and then there is a spelling and vocab test at the end of the week).  That's all the formal stuff I have planned for now.  Really, most of what he does this year will be life training.  More going to the store with me, learning to shop from a budget, making wise choices in what to buy when you only have "x" amount of dollars, etc.

Mimi:  This was my hard one.  This year is Mimi's freshmen year.  I hemmed and hawed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more.
Science:  She will be taking a Forensics class taught by a local lady I've never met before (talk about a leap of faith).  That will be her science credit this year.
Health: She will be taking High School Health (using AOP Lifepacs) at co-op.  She's also taking Archery at the same church, though not at the co-op. We'll call it P.E., 'cause that's how we roll.
Art: painting with acrylics at the co-op we will be doing.
Math: Algebra, we will be using VideoText.
Foreign Language: Right now, she is using Pimsleur to teach herself Japanese, but when she exhausts what is available from the library, we will probably switch to Mango Languages.
Spelling: Spelling City online
Writing: IEW    Right now, the older three are all plowing through level A SWI because they all did it in the past, and this is a refresher.  Sadly, I don't own level B, and the Level C that I own is a SICC, so the goal is to do the refresher of level A, and then slow WAY down and move into level C with perhaps just Mimi-I will have to see when we get to that point.
Bible, History, English, Grammar, everything else, and really, even the subjects listed above:  Far Above Rubies
Here is the big, huge, wow, this is a MAJOR step for me, for the next four years, she will be doing Far Above Rubies, a unit study based curriculum.  I bought it a few years ago, honestly not even sure that I would use it.  I looked at it and prayed about it all summer.  I read what other people had to say who had used it.  But most of all, I realized that what I want to teach my children MOST is to become learners.  You can never learn everything there is to learn.  But if you know how to acquire the knowledge you lack, you will be fine.  I think that FAR will give her that.  I also think she will NOT love it, at least not at first.  And I think it's more teacher intensive than I ideally would like, but that's because it takes a mother to impart some of those skills to her daughter.   So neither of us may love it, but I think it's what is best.

TJ:   TJ got a bit of a promotion with our move to NC and because of where his birthday falls, he could be an 8th grader here, where in FL he would be a 7th grader.  Personally, we've never been very "grade" oriented, and I don't care what grade they are in, but let's just call it 8th for those of you playing along at home.
Science:  Apologia's General Science  Knowing that he skipped 7th though will explain why he is doing General Science this year, and not last year.  He's doing it at the co-op we will be attending, so I think he will enjoy it.
P.E.: Fall Soccer and a Fishing class at co-op.  Yes, I know fishing isn't P.E., but I don't know what else to call  NC biology?
 Math: He will do Right Start's Geometry (which is their middle school math) for math.
Writing: He is also doing IEW for writing. Once we finish the refresher level A SWI, he may move into the SICC C a little early, but he will probably do an IEW book I have called Rockets, Radar, & Robots, which would be a great fit for him.
Language Arts/Grammar: Learning Language Arts Through Literature 7th grade (because he had read most of the books that went with 8th grade)    Because I'm crazy, and I got it in the Bundle sale, I'm trying something totally new to us and he will be doing this for his Language Arts.  That might implode on me...we'll see ;-).
Spelling:  Spelling City online.
Bible:  As a family, we will do Apologia's Who Am I?  to start off.  For him personally, I think I am going to take him and his younger sister through Grapevine Studies survey of the Old Testament.  I own it, I like it, I haven't done it in years, he hasn't done it ever...sounds good to me!  At some point, we will also use the Picture Smart Bible I picked up in the Bundle sale, but I'm going to do it myself first.
History:  Mystery of History III.  We love MOH.  History is actually the center of most of our study, and everything else comes from that.  For example, most of our literature is readers that go along with the period in time we are studying (pulled from lists like Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Winter's Promise, or just the shelf of the local library).  Our spelling words then come from words related to the time period or events in history, or from words I encounter as I read stories aloud to the kids (yes, I read aloud to ALL my kids, and they love it, even if it took me years to come around to enjoying it myself).  We keep a timeline, for which we use Homeschool in the Woods figures.  We do mapwork that goes with MOH.  Sometimes we use the MOH maps, sometimes maps from Homeschool in the Woods, or Knowledge Quest, especially their Time Trek maps, which I adore (affiliate links used, did I mention I love their maps and Geography) because they literally progress through time, so you can watch events unfold on the map, like the progress of the plague for example.  We also tie in Geography at the same time then, and this year we will use A Child's Geography: Explore the Classical World, a book which I got to help proofread, and bought as part of my Bundle in the sale because it is just amazing, and will go so well with our study of the Renaissance and Reformation.  We are currently breezing through A Child's Geography:Explore His Earth (all four kids) just as a good reminder of basic geography.

Sari:  Sari is 9, and grade 3/4, but behind in reading and math.  I guess it's God's providence that I was interrupted while writing this because something fell into place that would have been on my original list as I started this post two days ago.  Welcome to my world ;-P.
Science:  Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Botany- she's doing this at co-op and I'm thrilled because as much as I LOVE this Apologia series, this particular book was the most tedious with my other kiddos, as I'm happy as a clam that she gets to do it with other kids and someone else gets to teach it.  YAY!
Math: Right Start Level C-the original, not the new one that came out last week. (She's behind, and that's a HUGE book, which is why they rewrote it, but I've taught it 3 times before so I know we can make it through.)
Writing: IEW Level A SWI.  This is her first go around with IEW, and so it's all new to her.  She's doing well so far.
Handwriting:  Startwrite/Handwriting Without Tears.  Sari still has problems with forming printed letters incorrectly when she writes them.  She also is learning cursive.  We'll use a combination of pages I generate for her with Startwrite and the HWOT cursive book.
Language Arts/Grammar:   Lightening Lit grade 3.  This is what just landed in our laps.  They needed beta testers, and it looks like it works kind of like LLATL, so she will get to do the same type work her brother is doing for language arts/grammar.  This is a big experiment for us, and the back up plan is First Language Lessons Level 3 for grammar with Five in a Row for Language Arts.
Reading:  All About Reading Level 2 (affiliate link).  She's delayed, and I don't know why.  She's had all the right foundation, and she's either just my little Ferdinand, or she has a real reason for the delay.  If I can't work with her through whatever the disconnect is, I'll have her tested later this fall for a learning "problem".  We will also be doing fluency work and using Pathway readers and ABeka readers and anything else I can get her to read.  She's currently loving the Pathway readers, so that's a bonus.
Spelling:  All About Spelling Level 2 and beyond (affiliate link).  I love AAS and AAR.  They were the first, and for a LONG time, the only company I was an affiliate for because I believe in their products so much.  And their method is how I KNOW my daughter has a firm foundation.  And it's not just me.  A local "expert" that I met with uses these materials too.  So we will continue to build the foundation.  And she will also begin Spelling City online to allow me to expose her to more vocabulary.
Bible/History/Geography/More Literature:  All the same as TJ above.  She will do age/grade appropriate readers and activities and he will do more advanced ones, but their core will be the same.
Enrichment: Brain Gym and Dianne Craft.  We are also doing any therapy work at home we can to try to rewire whatever the glitch is that is giving her such trouble in reading fluency.  She's liking the lazy 8's exercise and the cross-crawl stuff, and we'll add others as we need to.  Oh, and her other co-op class is a P.E. class called SCORE that is game focused, and will just be good, old-fashioned physical exercise.

So that's the current plan.  It doesn't take into account field trips or the second semester of the co-op or anything FUN we might decide to do, but the fundamentals are all in place.  We'll see what happens as the year goes on.  Some things I know won't change.  Mystery of History as the springboard for a lot of everything that we do is set in stone.  Right Start is our math.  AAS and AAR are not going to change.  Apologia is our science.  IEW is the writing I adore and am committed to.  But there might be some flux as we give the newer elements a try and see if they fit with our life and our learning styles.  We'll see!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three Things Thursday- 8/7/2014

Time for Three Things Thursday, or as I like to call it, the once a week-ish time that I update my blog the way I mean to do every other day of the week, LOL.

1)  Our house in FL was suppose to close yesterday.  It didn't.  LONG story.  Please pray that God brings a new buyer...the right buyer...soon, and that I patiently wait on Him in the meantime, which is not exactly my skill set.

2)  We started back to school this week.  It's a light load so far.  We are doing A Child's Geography Book 1 in one week as a read aloud.  We also started IEW SWI level A for EVERYONE, although the older 3 will move at a rocket's pace and Sari has already branched off to move at a pace more suited to someone actually doing the curriculum at the correct age and for the first time.  The older kids will then move into SICC level C when they are done.  The other subject we have picked up this week is math for Mimi and TJ.  They are doing the first 15 lessons of a Great Courses math class, and then they will go their separate ways as well.  Sari has started with Dianne Craft's figure 8 work and some brain gym stuff, and she's doing supervised handwriting...I'm determined to get her in a better place because...

3)  I just got back from signing the 3 younger kids up for co-op.  It's a HUGE thing for us because I'm a rebel and I don't play well with others when it comes to the freedom of my homeschool schedule :-).  We were doing a small co-op in FL before we moved, but this one is like 150 families, and is much more rigid.  TJ will do Apologia General Science there and a fishing class that will also teach some other NC stuff.  Em will take HS Health and an Acrylics class, and Sari will do Apologia Botany and a sports class, so a balance of fun and hard word for her.  The fact that she is behind will be obvious in botany, so she really needs to work hard this year to catch up.  And if our brain gym/Dianne Craft work doesn't help, we will probably do some educational testing in the fall so be sure there aren't some other issues.

So there are my 3 things this week.  If you want to link up, just visit Heidi's blog.  Her list is more fun.  It's about Disney!
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