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, October 31, 2014

beauty captured {131/365}



Jim Hodges Audio Books: With Lee in Virginia ~ a TOS review

PicMonkey Collage 
We are big fans of audio books in our house. I find them especially helpful for one of my daughter’s who is not quite the avid reader as I would like her to be. We recently were given the opportunity to add to our audio book collection by reviewing  With Lee in Virginia by G.A. Henty and the corresponding Study Guide which were published by Jim Hodges Productions.

We received a physical MP3 CD copy of this unabridged  version of With Lee in Virginia. Written by an Englishman, this audio book retells the 1860’s account of the War between the States from a Southerners perspective. As we travel through the story Mr. Henty delicately knits the story of a young hero, Vincent Wingfield, who is a member of an old Virginia family with accounts of important battles of Lee and his officers.

Jim Hodges Productions Review

Vincent joins the army and joins up as a scout attached to Ashby’s cavalry troop. Throughout the story Vincent finds himself in a number of difficult situations because of his overwhelming sense of justice. Vincent is able to bring each crisis he faces to an end as his courage and resourcefulness never seem to fail him.

Jim Hodges Productions Review

For just $25.00 for the physical MP3 CD or $18.00 digital download you can enjoy over 11 hours of listening time and  become immersed within the story with these 20 chapters:

  1. A Virginian Plantation
  2. Buying a Slave
  3. Aiding a Runaway
  4. Safely Back
  5. Secession
  6. Bull Run
  7. The “Merrimac” and the “Monitor”
  8. McClellan’s Advance
  9. A Prisoner
  10. The Escape
  11. Fugitives
  12. The Bush-Whackers
  13. Laid Up
  14. Across the Border
  15. Fredericksburg
  16. The Search for Dinah
  17. Chancellorsville
  18. A Perilous Undertaking
  19. Free
  20. The End of the Struggle

MP3 CD’s can be played on any MP3 CD player, computers, or DVD players, however, they will not work on standard CD players. The great thing is that you can download them into your media library to install them on your smart phone or favorite tablet for on the go listening.


We also received the corresponding Study Guide to go along with our story. The study guide retails for $12.00 and allows the purchaser to make printed copies for members of your immediate family only. It is chock full with vocabulary words, comprehension questions, history and geography as well as activities for each of the 20 chapters.

We have a few other Jim Hodges audio books, and this one does not fail in quality either. Mr. Hodges has a great reading voice that draws you into the story and brings the characters to life. Once this CD arrived at our house I eagerly popped it into the player. Throughout the year  we have enjoyed several audio dramas, and this product is far from that. In fact, this is a true adventure story without all the background music. It is nice to have the opportunity to hear both.

Primarily I used this with Mikayla {11} as this is the time period she is studying. I will caution you and say that the language spoken may give offense, as the “N” word is used several times. I understand that was the “norm” of that time, but I do not condone its use and wished there was some sort of BLEEP button. Did I feel it retracted from the story? No. Just my personal preference for my family.

Each of the chapters range between 30 to 44 minutes in length and there is no way to stop the reading, mid chapter. So be sure allot enough time to finish the chapter, especially if you listen while on the go like we did the majority of the time. I also enjoyed the fact that this audio book gave me a break from reading aloud. My voice gets rather weak at times and this CD provided much needed rest :) These stories are best for ages 10 and up.

Overall, I think Jim Hodges has produced a quality audio book for this story. I am pleased with the thoroughness and quality of not just the audio book but the corresponding study guide as well. The Crew has had an opportunity to review several different G.A. Henty audio books from Jim Hodges Productions, so be sure to click the banner below and fit one that is in the right time period of what you are studying or what peaks your interest.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ Jim Hodges Productions

Product ~ With Lee in Virginia

Price ~ MP3 $25.00, $18.00 digital download

Ages ~ 10 and up

Jim Hodges Productions Review
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

beauty captured {130/365}

S October misc 377

another stunning capture from Madison!


Clued in Kids: Halloween and Multiplication Dragons Treasure Hunts ~ a TOS review

PicMonkey Collage

My girls are big fans of scavenger or treasure hunts! We have one every year as we start our new school year and it is always the highlight of the day. So you can bet I jumped at the chance to review two scavenger hunts, Halloween Treasure Hunt and Multiplication Dragons from Clued in Kids.

Clued In KidsReview

Clued in Kids was launched in November 2013 as both a dream come true and also as an escape from the realities of dealing with an autoimmune disease for the author, Helen Bertelli and her eight year old daughter. Their family were truly on a treasure hunt as they searched for a cure.


We received PDF files for the treasure hunts and they are simple and easy to set up. In fact it only takes 8 minutes!  Simply print the clues in either color or back and white, cut the clues apart on the dotted line, and hide them according to the included instructions at the bottom of each clue. The hunts we received are geared towards children aged 4 and up. Easy peasy!

Clued In KidsReview

Halloween Treasure Hunt ~  retails for just $5.99 and will have your kids saying Trick or Treasure!!!  With riddles and simple yet fun activities your child will be screaming for more. This hunt can help build up excitement for the day and provides an hour of fun for 1-10 kids.

Clued In KidsReview

Multiplication Dragons ~ includes five printable, teaching treasure hunts that will motivate your 7-9 year old {or older child still mastering multiplication facts} to learn their times-tables!  With fun puzzles, activities, and riddles it will not seem like doing math as your child goes on a multiplication adventure around your home. This set retails for $19.99.

cik4   Since these treasure hunts were so simple and easy to set up it was a win-win for our family. My girls Madison {13}, Mikayla {11}, Montana {8}, and McKenzie {5} all participated in the treasure hunts we received. Marie {17} helped me set up the clues. They were so happy when I told them we were selected for these treasure hunts. They immediately wanted to know what the prize was. Initially they scoffed at my reply of “knowledge” for the Multiplication Dragons, but had so much fun solidifying the math facts that it did not seem like learning that much.


Overall, we all have really enjoyed these hunts and look forward to adding more into our school year, especially the Slumber Party one as we have some birthdays coming up. I can’t recommend these enough, especially if you are looking for low teacher/parent prep but quality material!


we don't get our pumpkins until Halloween, so we improvised :)

If you want to give these a try before you buy, check out the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt that you may get for free by subscribing to the newsletter found here.

Be sure to click the banner below to see what my Crewmates thought of these two products plus the other 12 treasure hunts being reviewed including: Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt, Winter Treasure Hunt, Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt, Gluten Free Treasure Hunt, Homework Reward Treasure Hunt, Baseball Treasure Hunt, Soccer Treasure Hunt, Christmas Treasure Hunt In A Greeting Card, Playdate, Pirate, Princess, and Slumber Party.

 Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ Clued in Kids

Product ~ Halloween Treasure Hunt and Multiplication Dragons

Price ~ $5.99 for Halloween and $19.95 for Multiplication

Ages ~ aged 4 and up for Halloween and 7 and up for Multiplication

Clued In KidsReview



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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anthem for A Nation: Relighting the Torch of America’s Liberty ~ a TOS review

New Liberty Videos Review

American history is my favorite time periods to study. Learning all about how this great nation of ours was founded and what it stands for is so exciting. For that reason I was so excited when I found out we were selected to receive a DVD called Anthem for a Nation produced by New Liberty Videos.

New Liberty Videos was founded by an amazing husband and wife team of Brian and Marilyn Barkley. Mr. Barkley is no stranger in the motion picture business and has been involved in producing for 40+ years.

New Liberty Videos Review

Anthem for a Nation is a new 42 minute documentary released in January 2014 that showcases all of the qualities that made America the great country she is. However, in order to preserve this great country of ours for our children and future grandchildren we must as a nation re-instill the values that we were founded upon.

…dedicated to the freedom-loving Americans everywhere with the prayer that God will raise up in our day a new generation of men, women and young people who will walk with Him and are committed, whatever the cost, to see His righteousness restored in the hearts, homes and institutions of America.

The DVD begins as you take a virtual tour of our great country and hear the words of the Declaration of Independence, along with patriotic songs. Featuring 10 "scenes" or chapters, including:

  1. Opening
  2. America the Beautiful
  3. One Nation Under God
  4. A Christian Nation
  5. A Nation Adrift
  6. The War on the Unborn Child
  7. Have They Died in Vain
  8. America You're Too Young to Die
  9. The Rebirth of America
  10. God Bless the USA

There are also two special features at the end of the program also. 

  1. The story of Hanzi (Maria Anne Hirschmann) who tells of her life in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia.
  2. The story of Kitty Werthmann who grew up in Austria under Hitler's regime.

The video showcases the Christian principles that our great nation was founded upon along with highlighting where we as a nation have miss-stepped on such topics as abortion and Bibles in public schools. While this video is approved for General audiences, I would suggest previewing it yourself  if you have younger children. You can purchase this video for $19.95 for one DVD.

I suggest checking out the free two minute preview that can be found here on YouTube. To be quite honest this preview had moved me to tears when I watched it.  Once the DVD arrived at our home I watched it when the house was quiet.  Marie  currently taking a U.S. Government course while Madison is studying an in-depth look at American History. So this video was perfect for the both of them to watch. While, we didn’t do anything fancy, per se, we watched the video together, the three of us and had an open discussion of some of the topics. It was great that the parts that showed D.C. the girls remembered going there to visit last summer.

Overall, I think this is an excellent video that tells of what a great country we have and how we as a nation can get back to what the founders  originally planned for it to be. I really think you, the reader, should check out the preview and then get your hands on a copy of this documentary. I can’t wait to watch it again with my younger children when they are a bit older. I am eager to check out some of the other DVD’s produced by New Liberty Videos too.

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this video and the other five videos being reviewed, The Forbidden Book, Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls, A Nation Adrift, Teaching Origins Objectively, and Warriors of Honor, by clicking the banner below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ New Liberty Videos

Product ~ Anthem for a Nation

Price ~ $19.95

Ages ~ General audiences, but use parental discretion for your family

New Liberty Videos Review
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beauty captured {128/365}


Marie has committed to attend Liberty University in the

Fall 2015.

Way to go!


Friday, October 24, 2014

beauty captured {125/365}


Montana loves reading aloud to her younger siblings!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate ~ a TOS review


Its always a good day when I find an online curriculum supplement to use within our homeschool. A few weeks ago, the girls and I received a full annual subscription to try out Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate was created over 20 years ago by two college graduates. Their golden idea was to record full academic courses and make them funny and memorable. The brands clever name is actually a play on words based off the mathematical term “standard deviance” or “standard deviation,” which means the variation from the average. Pretty clever, if I do say so myself.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate provides supplemental online course instruction for grades 3 and up in English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and also AP Test Prep. I should note that some of the content is secular, particularly in the science courses, so use your discretion for your family. However, my family is able to look past that as we used the program. We received a yearly subscription which includes online access to over 14 course offerings, including:

Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+

All of the classes were designed to be used in a classroom setting, however, the company is currently in the process of making the process of learning easier for all. Primarily the courses offered are recommended for children 8 and up, but you the parent will know where to place your child. Pricing is based per course for use by one student for just $99.00 a year or $24.95 per month. AP courses are also available for one student for just $14.95 per month too!

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Getting started was really simple! Each user will need their own separate email address to log on and get started. Originally I planned to use this program with several of my girls in different courses. However, there are only so many hours in a day so I decided to focus on just using this with Madison, focusing on Algebra.


Once set up it was easy as logging in and clicking on the correct tabs to get started. The Algebra section has 7 sub-sections with topics ranging from Foundation of Algebra, to polynomial and factoring and quadratic equations.

Each section of each lesson is broken down into five different parts.


Video ~ watch the video and follow along with the transcript on the screen. You can even print the full transcript out if you are a paper person who likes to have a copy on hand. There is a not taking feature also and you can also save the notes in your “locker” or print them for reference.


Vocab ~ this section lists the essential terms needed to know while working the lesson. There is a handy feature to click on the speaker to hear the pronunciation of the word and the definition. This would come in handy for those with audible learners.


Diagram ~ This section is interactive and lets you drag and drop words and clues from the word bank to complete the puzzle. The program keeps track of how many tries it takes you to get the  placement correct and only the correct answers will “stick”.


Quiz ~ a short quiz section helps to test your knowledge on what you have previously learned. Submit your answers and that are graded automatically. Plus if get any wrong you can see a short video showing you the correct answer.


Written answer ~ a short section that correlates with the topic you just reviewed. Simply read the question and the jot down a couple of sentences to answer.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Overall, I am completely pleased with this program and we will continue using this as it is a valuable tool for our family and Homeschool e-learning. It works great as a supplement and Madison has been able to improve her Algebra skills in the process from just using the program 2-3 days a week depending on our schedule. As the year progresses , it is my goal to get Madison to use the U.S. History program also by Christmas break.

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought about this program and the courses offered by clicking the banner below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ Standard Deviants Accelerate

Product ~ Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses

Price ~ $99.00 a year or $24.95 per month, per student. AP courses are $14.95 per month, per student

Ages ~ 8 years old and up

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