This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 15th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries: What on Earth Can I Do ~ a TOS review

Apologia Review
We are huge fans of Apologia Educational Ministries and the products they produce. Recently we had the opportunity to review the fourth and final book in the What We Believe series, What on Earth Can I Do? over the last few weeks.
If you are new here, let me tell you a little bit about this series. When most people hear Apologia’s name mentioned they immediately think of their award winning science programs.  But did you know that they also offer excellent Christian worldview curriculum too? Over the last few years, the girls and I have had the pleasure of reviewing all of the books in the What We Believe Series. Now we have been given the opportunity to review the final installment and I am equally thrilled!
For this review, Mikayla (11), Montana (7) and McKenzie (4) worked through:
Apologia Review
What on Earth Can I Do? (hardback book)
Apologia Review
Apologia Review
Apologia Review
So, what makes this program so great in by book? Well for starters it comes with a recommended lesson plan. That is always a big plus in my book as it which simplifies my life. With the suggested lesson plans you can take anywhere from four to nine months to teach and complete the 8 lesson curriculum. This homeschool resource is also ideal if you have several children on different grade levels. Recommended for children ages 6-14 you have the opportunity to beef it up or water it down as much as needed for your family and students.
While this is the final installment of the series, you can actually start using any of the books in the series in any order, as they stand alone, with each having with a different theme. The overall theme of this fourth book in the What We Believe series is about being a good steward of what God gives us. This book explains how all that we have comes from God. Showing us all how we can serve Him, by wisely using what He has given us in our daily lives.
Each lesson in the book has several components, including:
~ The Big Idea: introduces the lesson theme and reviews what has been previously covered.
~ What You Will Learn: gives details on what concepts the lesson will be covered.
~ A Short Story: details the character(s) who are living out the principles being read about.
~ Think About It: a series of questions for discussion.
~ Words to Know: important vocabulary words to know before you read.
~ Hide It In Your Heart: Scripture verse(s) that correspond to the lesson.
~ Integrated Learning: history, art, and science articles that tie in to what the students are learning.
~ What Should I Do: character traits to work on.
~ Prayer: a prayer for children to read and apply.
~ Parables of Jesus: a re-telling of one of Jesus’ parables that makes the parable easier to understand on the child's level.
~ Going Deeper: thinking questions about the parable.
What on Earth Can I Do? is affordably priced at $39.00 for a hardback book, $24.00 for either the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal or What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal, and $8.00 for the What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book. Like I said earlier, each book in What We Believe series is meant to stand alone. You do not have to use the previous three books in order to use What on Earth Can I Do?
The notebooking journals enable you to use this book with multiple ages. The notebooking journals are a huge hit here in our home. They are filled with questions, word searches, and other activities to help your kids dive deeper into the topics within the book. For younger children, Apologia has created a coloring book so even the youngest of children can be involved. Each drawing within the coloring book depicts a story or teaching related to the lesson.
We were able to use this Bible curriculum 2-3 times during the week. I would read aloud to the girls after breakfast and they would color or do the activities for the day while listening. My girls all enjoy the coloring book, but especially my youngest daughter, McKenzie, because she feels apart of the action during school time.
The single most important subject in our HOMEschool is teaching our children worldview; how we see the world and what we believe. If I have done nothing else in this journey of raising my daughters and son, I hope to have instilled a Christian Worldview in them so  that when they leave the nest, they will know the truth and have a stable beginning. Apologia Educational Ministries helps me do this by producing quality products.
We wholeheartedly recommend this book hands down, and the entire series for that matter! Apologia produces great products, whether for science or Christian worldview, so be sure to check out their website. Check out what my Crewmates thought of this product by clicking the banner below.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Price ~ hardback book $39.00, notebooking journals $24.00, coloring book $8.00
Ages ~ grades 1st - 6th
Apologia Review

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

beauty captured ~ Introducing baby Micah {73/365}


Introducing my son, Major Michael aka online Micah. Born at 36 weeks 4 days on May 20th, 2014. Weighing in at 6 lbs, 4 oz and 19.5 inches long.

We are all in love!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

beauty captured {72/365}


Trident Kraken A.M.S. Case ~ a TOS review

Trident Case Review

When I received my iPad a few years ago for Christmas it was a big surprise to me. I knew right off the bat that I needed to protect it because the girls would be using it too. I was so excited to find out that just recently we had the opportunity to review the KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE FOR APPLE IPAD 2/3/4 from Trident Case as our current case was getting worn down.
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Trident Case was founded in 2010 in sunny Southern California with its sole mission to create the toughest cases available for all types of mobile devices. With there own manufacturing facility and an in-house design team they create fresh and unique designs that meet Military Standard MIL-STD-810F for vibration, dust, sand, rain, and being dropped.
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The Trident Case includes the following features:
~ Made in the USA
~ Cases for a wide range of devices in multiple colors
~ Cases that meet Military Standard MIL-STD-810F
~ Eco-friendly materials that are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable
~ Build Your Own Case option
~ Additional Accessories
~ One to three layers of protection
trident 1
We were able to pick out which color we wanted and in keeping with tradition I chose the black with hot pink accents. Installing the case on the iPad was so easy my 4 year old actually did the the majority of it on her own. It's was as simple as removing our old case and slipping the iPad into the three part protection case.
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The iPad is used daily in our house and I have to say I love this case and it's protective qualities.  Four of my daughters ranging in age from 13-4 years old use the iPad for everything from school work, to watching movies/shows, or just for playing games. Plus since we have a busy travel schedule with sports it is on the go with us a lot. McKenzie (4) has put it to the test and has dropped it a few times, once outside on hard ground at a tennis match and once down the stairs. It survived both times. Even though I was sure there would be damage it does not have any scratches at all on the hard polycarbonate outer-casing. The touch screen has everyday usage smudges but in no way does it detract from product.
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The Kraken A.M.S. Case for Apple iPad 2/3/4 retails for $69.95.  In my opinion it is worth every single penny. I am planning on buying a Trident case for our Kindle and Samsung phone in the next few months. The best part is that they offer free standard shipping in the US and Canada. And even better the Trident Case is proudly made in the USA!
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We give this product two thumbs up and recommend it to everyone who asks. Be sure to click on the banner below and read what my CrewMates think of the KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE FOR APPLE IPAD 2/3/4 and other products reviewed.
Click to read Crew Reviews

Company - Trident Case
Price - $69.95
Ages -  all ages
Trident Case Review

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Golden Prairie Press: American History Curriculum ~ a TOS review

Golden Prairie Press Review
Our history train was derailed at the end of last year when we decided to make a switch {again} in programs. Luckily, I had the curriculum and resources I needed for the oldest two and just needed to find something for Mikayla (5th) and Montana (1st) for the rest of the year. We dabbled here and there with different resources as I knew that a couple of History programs were scheduled in the Crew run. The last several weeks we have had the opportunity to work through the Golden Prairie Press history curriculum called Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum.
Golden Prairie Press is the brainchild of Amy Peutz, who  is a homeschool graduate and a self-taught historian. History has always been a passion of hers since childhood and because of that she publishes books that show history at it’s best.
Golden Prairie Press Review
We received the digital edition of the Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum to review which is best for children in grades 1st – 6th. However, it can be adapted for older children.  It is a 30 week history curriculum and once purchased you have immediate access to the entire curriculum which includes:
~ Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1
~ Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2
~ Additional Materials CD
~ Historical Skits
~ Sing Some History CD
~ Listen to Some U.S. History MP3 CD
The curriculum is available as a physical printed edition or a digital edition and are both priced the same at $98.99. Both editions are the same and available for purchase online here. You will just need to pay shipping charges for the printed edition.
Golden Prairie Press Review
To facilitate the broad age of the curriculum, each of the 30 history lessons are divided into two sections. The first page of the lesson includes words with a larger font and a basic introductory overview for 1st & 2nd graders. The following section, written towards the 3rd – 6th graders, includes the same information just more in depth. Periodically throughout the lessons are writing topics, maps, timeline activities,and geography questions. Each lesson also includes comprehension questions with answers for the teacher in the back of the book.
Each week a memory verse is also suggested. I chose to write our memory verse on the whiteboard in our schoolroom so that both girls could see it daily. The memory verse for each section is to be recited on the fifth lesson.  Also included within the lesson pages are the stories of heroes or heroines of the past with some reprints of old stories and some by modern authors and are designed for all ages. These stories allow the student to experience living history through stories.  Additional recommended resources are given at the end of each unit to help expand the lessons even further.
To fully appreciate the hands-on component of history, you have to go beyond the words on a page by playing games, cooking recipes of the past and completing arts and crafts. Each day there is an activity that brings history to life for your students.  I must say though, do not succumb to the pressure of thinking that each activity must be completed. You will not be able to do them all. {I write this more for myself than you :)} They are merely given as suggestions and you will have days when something must be skipped. The beautiful thing is that maybe you can come back to it on the weekend.
Some of the activities in this book include: 
~ Examining Historical Art
~ Games of the Past
~ Cook Up Some History
~ Sing Some History
~ Listen to Some History
~ Crafts
~ Experiments
For the older students, 5th and 6th graders literature selections are included. These books also could be used as a read aloud for the younger students as well. The books do not come with the curriculum so you will have to purchase them separately.
They include:
  • Ten Great Adventurers by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
  • Ten Girls from History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
  • Heroines of the Past: Bible Study by Amy Puetz
  • Two Little Americans in Spanish California by Frances Margaret Fox
  • Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott

  • We school 4 days a week in our homeschool so I didn’t exactly follow the lesson plan how it is written out. We also did not start at the beginning of Vol 1, but towards the end of Vol 2 in the United States a World Power, section 24, as that was where we were in our time period. I will say we were truly blessed to have received this curriculum when we did. It helped get us through the modern stage of late American History and has lined us up perfectly to start back at Ancients in the fall. I love the way the curriculum was designed and set up and Mikayla and Montana enjoyed the hands on part of learning about history.
    The attention to detail that Amy has put into her curriculum shows and we definitely give Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum two thumbs up from our family! Once we roll back around to American History, McKenzie, (currently 4.5 years old) will be able to benefit from this amazing hands on curriculum and that excites me that we get another round of it. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this American History curriculum by clicking on the banner below.
    Click to read Crew Reviews
  • Price ~ $98.99 printed or digital edition
    Ages ~ 1st- 6th graders recommend
     Golden Prairie Press Review
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  • Thursday, May 8, 2014

    beauty captured {67/365}

    bc67lost the 2nd top tooth before the game


    Maestro Classics: Casey at Bat & Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel ~ a TOS review

    Maestro Classics Review

    The girls and I have been big fans of Maestro Classics since we were given the opportunity to review Peter and the Wolf back in 2011. I was so glad to see the vendor on the vendor list again this year with more titles to review, including such classics as Casey at the Bat and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel that we received to review.

    Maestro Classics is not just your everyday run of the mill audio story. It’s more than that. These stories are designed so that the classical music brings out the story behind the story for children to understand the whole picture better. As an ambassador of great music for both children and adults alike, Maestro Classics helps listeners experience the classical music art form in new and exciting ways while discovering the magic that can be found within music.

    Maestro Classics Review

    Casey at the Bat is a great poem about the Mudville Nine baseball team who are most certain to lose the game. That is until  Mighty Casey takes his turn at bat. This thrilling story will have fans holding their breath as each pitch is thrown.

    The London Philharmonic Orchestra creates an upbeat, jazzy musical performance for this piece. With  cheering crowds and spectators and  vendors hawking their wares you are transplanted to a seat in the stadium with the sounds of the ball being hit. As a bonus the complete poem by  Ernst Lawrence Thayer is included along with some amazing facts about baseball.

    Maestro Classics Review

    Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is the classic American children’s book by Virginia Lee Burton. This story has been a favorite of mine and of many children for many generations as it tells the story of Mike Mulligan and his aging steam shovel Mary Anne.

    The London Philharmonic Orchestra brings to life this tale of loyalty and friendship, good ideas and perseverance with Irish bagpipes as Mike Mulligan travels to find one last job with Mary Anne. This musical production is so great, it has  won a Parents’ Choice GOLD award!

    Each audio series has three significant benefits:

    1. To expand listening horizons ~ each series of recordings introduces the listener to an orchestra's magical sounds and awe-inspiring power. It helps them to further  understand that music can be dramatic, can paint mental pictures, and is often filled with humor.

    2. To hone listening skills and accumulate musical memories~ the musical discussions will sharpen listening skills of children and adults alike. With discussion of the story, conversation will be about human values, and the musical work will leave each listener whistling a new tune.

    3. To encourage adults and children to listen to music together ~very young will listen for the story, slightly older children will enjoy the music, and the adult will be surprised by how much he/she has learned.

    Each of the  CD’s we received  includes a 24-page program book, that tucks nicely into the CD case and retails for $16.98 plus shipping. With roughly  7-11 tracks on each disc you hear the performance and also learn about the composer, conductor, narrator, various instruments, extra stories and more. Also included with each CD are fun little activities in the program booklet including a dot-to-dot, matching, song lyrics, descriptions of instruments, and a crossword puzzle.

    Currently,there are 11 individual CDs available to purchase from Maestro Classic for $16.98 each or you can purchase the musical files as MP3 downloads for just $9.98 each. The following stories are available:

    Peter and the Wolf

    The Story of Swan Lake

    The Sorcerer's Apprentice

    My Name is Handel

    Casey at the Bat,

    Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,

    The Tortoise and the Hare

    Juanita the Spanish Lobster

    Carnival of the Animals

    Juanita la langosta espaƱola

    The Soldier's Tale

    The girls and I have truly enjoyed listening to these two CD’s for many hours whether it be in the van on the way to practices or games or just in the comfort of our home. We each have our favorite story but overall they are both gems in there own special way! If you are looking to add Classical music to your household and daily routine these CD’s are the way to go. Since the start of this review, we have added another CD to our collection, The Tortoise and the Hare. Like the other CD’s in our collection we have not been disappointed in the least! Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of each of the CD’s being reviewed by clicking the banner below.

    Click to read Crew Reviews

    Company ~ Maestro Classics

    Products ~ Casey at the Bat and
                        Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

    Price ~ $16.98 CD or $9.98 MP3 Download

    Ages ~ 4 years and older

    Maestro Classics Review




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