Friday, July 31, 2015

July Blogging Challenge: Why do I Blog?

Today is the last day of July so it's the last Blogging Challenge for the month. This has been fun and although I didn't get to do as many as I'd like, I look forward to another one in the future.

So today's post is Why do I blog ?

Well, it all started out when we moved 500 miles away from family. My family. We moved closer to Hubby's family. It was a new adventure and one I wasn't sure I was ready to take. This was the first time I'd ever been that far away from my family. Ever.

I started blogging after hearing a friend talk about it and though it was a great way to share our adventures and pictures of things we have done with family that we don't get to see nearly often enough. That was truly the beginning of why I blogged.

Then I discovered reviews and a new era started. I have had a blast being on the Review Crew and several other review sites that have been such a blessing to our family.

Another change happened for us and we became homeschoolers. Wow! That started a whole new reason to blog as well. Sharing our weekly adventures of learning, field trips, and excitement!

Now you'll find me blogging about our homeschool adventures, life in general, recipes, and reviews that come our way. You'll find Thankful Thursday posts where we count our blessings to remind us when things look bad, they aren't as bad as we think.

I'll share my heart and thoughts on faith, family, and fun.

Don't forget to check out the other links at Jennifer and Lynn's blogs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions: With Lee In Virginia Review

We love audiobooks around here and recently were able to review another fabulous creation by Heirloom Audio Productions called With Lee in Virginia. This amazing audio drama features another adventure of G.A. Henty that takes you to the time of the Civil War. 
We received a 2 disc CD set to listen to, as well as, a study guide with over 40 pages of activities to use to go along with the book. The digital download guide offers ideas such as Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. It all helps you and your child focus on aspects of the story and dig a little deeper into this tumultuous time period. 

There's also an MP3 download, famous quote, and posters that you can download from the bonus section.
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
As with all the Heirloom productions this CD set offers a thrilling adventure following 15 year old Vincent as he traverses the scary times of the Civil War, slavery, and making a stand for God. He gets to meet the famous generals along the way like Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee. 

As we travel along with Vincent and his friends he learns the pains of war, the sense of duty, and a strong stand for what he believes in. While he does fight for the Confederacy, he also fights for justice for all people. 

You'll learn in the story that one of his closest friends is a slave that his family owns. As they face these hard times ahead, Vincent learns valuable lessons and meets many other soldiers that are doing the same thing.

The list of stars who bring this story to life is an amazing one. You'll find your favorite actors such as Brian Blessed, Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin and more. For 2 1/2 hours you're with familiar voices telling a story of bravery, justice, and devotion to God. 

These characters seem to come to life in your imagination as you listen to this very powerful Christian Radio Theater. You can feel the hurt and suffering that comes through but you also build character as you take these adventures with G. A. Henty. Go behind the scenes with General Lee and learn facts about this general you may never have known before. 

We have done one other review of these amazing productions called In Freedom's Cause and it was a great one just as With Lee in Virginia. I highly recommend checking out these action packed stories filled with history, adventure, and learning to stand for God and what you believe in. My son loves audio books in general but he has truly fallen in love with these action packed radio theater versions that have all sorts of sound effects and truly bring it to life. If you love audio books or your kiddos do, this is definitely one to add to your collection 

The book is rated for ages 6-adult and you can purchase just the CD by themselves or the bonuses that really help you dig deeper. 

You can check them out on social media by clicking the following links:

Google +

Don't just take my word for it. Head over to other reviews by clicking the banner below!

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday

430. For the five pounds I've lost recently. I am glad to see the scale move in the right direction for a change :). It's tough losing weight anyway but when you have conditions that fight you every step of the way, it can be doubly frustrating.

431. For a day out with this kiddo. Even though we are having a lighter school load, the days of rain and rain can make for an anxious household. When you can't get out it's a bad case of cabin fever. Thankful we could get out yesterday for some fun.

432. For days when hubby gets home a little early and can grill the burgers instead of me having to pan cook them.

433. For our silly dog who keeps us laughing all the time.

434. For this kids creative imagination. Here's a throw back Thursday photo for you. He's still just as silly and imaginative.

435. The sun still shining, even if it just peeks through every now and then.

436. For downtime with my two boys

437. For a good book to read

438. For great friends

439. For protection even when we don't know God is doing it

440. For awesome new recipes like this one...

Friday, July 17, 2015

July Blogging Challenge - Summer Reads

Today's July blogging challenge over at Lynn's blog is for our summer reading choices. Hmm.. Is it bad I haven't completely read an entire book yet? Well, not for myself anyway. The kiddo and I have read through The 13 Story Treehouse.

It was a cute read and we are going to pick up the next one when we get back to the library. I have several books I want to read that a friend of mine shared with me. It is the prequel series to the Mortal Instruments series but I haven't completed them... yet...

My son is working on our library's reading program for the summer and also the Barnes and Noble program. They have some of his favorites on the prize list this year so he's super excited. So far he's doing great.

Does listening to books count too ? I guess they should. We are currently relistening to the 39 Clues Series. This is a favorite of both of ours and Boo Bear would rather listen to stories in the car than the radio.

So that's we're working on. What about you? What's on your list?

Home School in the Woods: Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages Review

History is one of those subjects I have a hard time figuring out. I loved American History when I was in school and for some reason, it's one of those we haven't done a whole lot with. While I have been working on adding more history to our homeschool, this review came up and boy was it amazing! 

We got the chance to check out the Home School In The Woods program called Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages. This hands-on history program took us back in time to the age of knights, castles, and even the Vikings. 
Home School in the Woods Review
Home School in the Woods was developed by a homeschooling family that was looking for a way to make history interesting for their children. These programs are engaging for your children, involve all sorts of learning styles, and are chock full of activities and timeline figures to help you remember what you've learned. This award winning curriculum is a great option to add to your studies and they offer a variety of historical topics. 

What We Received...
We received a full download of the Project Passport World History Study, The Middle Ages. This is a digital download product and includes items to print out, audio files, and instructions for you to teach this program. You can also get it on a CD-ROM if you choose. It will work with both your Windows and Mac programs. 
Home School in the Woods Review
The digital download file includes everything you need to teach about the Middle Ages. Start off with your Travel Itinerary. This goes over each "stop" you'll make along your journey. There are 25 stops in the Middle Ages and for us, a stop was usually a day or two , sometimes longer. You could stretch out the stops themselves by adding in extra studies on the areas of your travels. The curriculum itself says that the travel is around 6-12 weeks long. 
Each stop has corresponding printouts to work on. There's the reading information that you print to tell you all about the area of interest. The reading material can be read aloud to your students or they could work independently depending on age. For us, I read it out loud to him and he would work on the timeline. Other activities involved with the program include:
- Map work
- Newspaper articles
- Recipes/Dining out guide
- Postcards from famous people during the age
- Lapbook projects
- And the list keeps going!!!
 How we used it...
First we created our luggage and passport. This was very simple to make using items we already had around the house. I made up a binder for Boo Bear to put all his timeline pictures, newspaper articles and other work in as we worked with the project.
Each day would start out with the reading on the stop. There is typically one to three pages of information that I would read aloud about the area and time period. It goes over special events and the wars or battles fought during that time period. Boo Bear would work on adding his famous characters and symbols to his timeline as I read. We put it all in our Scrapbook of Sights to keep everything we saw along the way together in one place. 
After we went over our information for the day and added our characters, we would work on the projects listed to help with remembering the information. These included items such as mapping out invasions, recipes of the time, and filling out our newspaper. The newspaper articles are a great way for your children to use their imagination. They can write out an article as a journalist and it will also be a great refresher to go back to at the end. 
What we thought...
This was a lot of fun for both of us. Creating the binder and materials took hardly anytime at all as it was items I had here. I did the cutting out of the luggage as it was a little harder for him to do alone. 
The information is very thorough and you can work with as many of the activities as you want. We spaced them out, such as the newspaper writing, over a day or two simply because he's a boy and you know boys and their handwriting. 
There is a lot of information and items to go with your study so you get a very solid foundation and education on the topic, in my opinion. The hands-on activities are fabulous for those learners who learn easier by doing than by hearing only. 
The Passport Collection offers tours to Ancient Egypt and to the Renaissance Era. If you're ready to pack up and go on an adventure without ever leaving your home, this is surely the way to do it. You'll feel right in the heart of the action with all the extras including the dramatized audio files that are included. 
I highly recommend you check out this award winning curriculum option for your upcoming school year. You're sure to love how easy it is to work with and well put together it is. Your kids are going to love seeing new places and trying new things while they are in their own house. 
Check them out on social media at:
Google +
Discover other Project Passport adventures by clicking the link below and reading about other TOS Crew members experiences! 
Home School in the Woods Review
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

ThinkFun Compose Yourself Review

ThinkFun has done it again! Recently I was asked to review a new game they were producing called Compose Yourself. If you've ever dreamed of being a composer, this is your chance!!

Created by Maestro Philip Sheppard, this exciting new game puts you in the composer's seat. The game is designed for ages 6 and up with some adult supervision. Grab the cards and let's compose some music!

What I received...
You receive 60 transparent music cards when you purchase the game from ThinkFun. They are nice durable cards and it comes with a bag to keep them in. The instructions contain the online music code you need for the computer portion of this game.

How it works...
Playing the game is a lot of fun and here is where your creativity comes in. The cards all have numbers and music notes on them. Your goal is to write a melody with four cards at a time. You will lay out the four cards you like in order and then head to the computer.

Once you access the online site with your special code, you can begin inputting the card numbers on the top left of the card. The cards can be flipped over/rotated so it is different each time you use that melody card.

Once you have your cards in order and you're signed in, you can start putting in your music. The card numbers are entered in and you can use up to four sets of four cards. Plug in your numbers and sit back to hear what you wrote!!

You can choose for your melody to be played by Marimba, Orchestra or both of them together. You can share what you wrote, name and save it, or print out the music cards as well. The combinations are endless when you think about it!

You can purchase Compose Yourself on Amazon for less than $15. You get the chance to create your own music and play with it until you love what you hear.

What we thought... We had a blast playing around with this new game. I'm always impressed with ThinkFun products and this one is no different. The quality of the cards are very durable and tough. The carrying bag keeps everything in one place so you can always create more music when you're ready.

I highly recommend heading over to ThinkFun and checking out more of their great products. You can see other's I have tried by clicking here, here and here.

What is your favorite game to play with your family? Do you have regular game nights? Then this is another great one for your collection!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Homeschool Buyers Co-op: Homeschool Planet Review

I have a confession to make. I am a planner. I mean really. I plan to the very last detail. For my son's 1st birthday? I knew theme, park etc 5 months beforehand. It really causes me distress when I can't plan things out. I have learned along the way that it's okay to let it slide some but boy was I super excited to get this latest review!!!
Homeschool Planet Review
Recently I got the chance to check out the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op planner called Homeschool Planet. I've honestly tried several ways of planning lessons and keeping up with our daily work. I've tried paper planners, ones you print out online, planners I tried to create in Excel and honestly, I hadn't found the one I wanted... Till now.
What is Homeschool Buyers Co-op? I'm glad you asked! This is an online co-op where you can find all sorts of useful information, curriculum and programs at great discounts. Since you are getting a co-op price, you get great rates wherever you are! This sight offers a variety of things that I have personally used before including the printable homeschool ID's, free homeschool resources, and I've learned about programs I never heard of before. 
What we received - We received a full year to the Homeschool Planet's online planner subscription. This online planner allows you to do everything all in one place. You can create shopping lists and send them to your spouse, see an inspirational verse each morning, mark your assignments done, create different calendars and so much more!! 

Homeschool Planet Review
How I used this - Okay, so I'm highly impressed. Here's how I put this online homeschool planner to work for me. I started off by making everyone a sign in so they could mark off their own lists and see other's calendars. I also had my husband confirm his cell phone number through the program so I can send him grocery lists text. ( That's so awesome!!)
Once I had us all in there, I started planning. One problem I've had in the past is this simple fact... Life Happens. And when it does, it can mess up all kinds of things. Usually in my past planners I'd have to mark off the days, erase/rewrite plans or just have to write up the whole plan all over again. With this program, that is a thing of the past! 
I input all of Boo Bear's assignments from now until the end of the year. I added his subjects and putting in the assignments was a snap!
Homeschool Planet Review
Once I had that set up we started working with it. I can input assignments for Boo Bear, appointments for myself, my work schedule, due dates etc all on one calendar. I can choose to see everyone's items at once or choose to see just one person's set schedule. 
You can also see the calendar by choosing the specific day, see the whole week or the entire month at a glance. I typically keep mine on the week view so I can easily see what's coming up for the week assignments or check them off. 
You can choose to sign in each day and to mark off assignments or you can do it the next day. When you sign in and there are assignments to check off, you'll get a page that looks similar to this:
Homeschool Planet Review
You have the option to mark the assignment complete, do nothing, ask you next time or my favorite options!!! Carry it forward and shift your whole schedule!!! 
Can I get a round of excited applause? How many of us have had to redo plans because of an unexpected field trip, friends coming over, days we are sick etc? This amazing planner makes it so easy to shift your entire schedule with just the click of a button. I have had to do this several times during the review. 

I can't tell you how much that has already come into use here. Now you can choose to either carry the assignment forward and leave all your other assignments alone, or shift the entire schedule forward. I have had to do this several times during the review. Recently Boo Bear has had a major allergy attack (at least I'm hoping it's allergies). I have had to push some assignments forward that we weren't able to do. With this planner that is such a blessing and I'm thankful for this feature. 

What I thought... In case you can't tell I'm in love with this planner! It's an amazing blessing and is very affordable to add to your homeschool arsenal. I have to say the customer service behind Homeschool Planet is amazing to work with as well. They were quick to answer any questions I had and helped fix an uh-oh on my part. 
I have only just begun to scratch the surface of what this amazing tool can do for your homeschool and for life in general. You can keep things neat and in one place. No more different planners for different aspects of your life. You can easily plan everything for all members of your family in one convenient place. 
I highly recommend you check this planner out before you buy a new one for this school year. You won't regret it! I promise. I used to be a pencil and paper planner gal but this one has made quite an impression on me. 

Don't just take my word for it! Check out how the other Crew families used it by clicking the banner below. You can also check out the social sites for Homeschool Buyers Co-Op and Homeschool Planet at:
Google + 
Homeschool Planet Review

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