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Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Day of Advent

Yesterday morning it started to snow...
It snowed most of the day,
but it was too warm to see any white on the ground.

This morning, we woke to find everything covered in white.
The world is readying itself for Christ's coming.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Blessed Thanksgiving!

We had the privilege of spending this Thanksgiving at Grammie's house in Lincoln, NE
and dinner at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City.
Grandma Carol and Grandpa Jim were also visiting from Maryland,
so the kiddos are completely hopped up on the Grands:-)

This picture was 1 of 8 taken in rapid succession...
no they aren't all smiling,
but at least they are all looking in the direction.

I think the group shot came out pretty well.
Notice the dusty shoes.
We were blessed to visit Poppy's final resting place in Nebraska City
and to walk among the stones of his ancestors.
It was bitter cold, windy and dusty.
We left with more than we came with.

It Takes Time to Learn to Read...

Splish the frog longs to read but just doesn't seem to get it...Is there a child in your life who faces this same challenge? Or maybe you remember facing it yourself? Gena Suarez, the author of And then Mama Takes Time to Learn to Read, has created a delightful little book that models acceptance of others as well as acceptance of one's own personal limitations and reminds us to open our hearts to God's plan in all things, including reading. Does Splish finally learn to read? You bet he does! But it happens when it's meant to happen and he has the loving support of his homeschooling family all the way.

And then Mama Takes Time to Learn to Read
is available from the Schoolhouse Store in softcover for $9.95.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday FREEBIES!

Click on the banner above to go to and check out their Black Friday FREEBIES. 28 FREE e-books: lapbooks, copywork books, unit studies, and more. No catch, you just need to register, and they will not sell your email address. Hurry, the free downloads are only available until 10am EST on Sat. Nov. 29th.

Note: If you experience download delays, once you have clicked the download button and it processes (don't close the window that opens), the file will be in your account available to download later (you can download each file up to 5 times for your own personal use), even after the freebie period is over.
Helpful, too, if you have dial-up.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pssst...Big Savings Coming Wednesday!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
is having an amazing sale on subscriptions during their annual Black Friday Sale November 26 – 30. For those 5 days only, they are drastically reducing their one-year subscription price to $7.95! That's the price you would usually pay for just one issue at a bookstore (please note, this is only good for new subscriptions, not renewals)!

This is their lowest price ever on the magazine and they want all of you to take advantage of this offer and share the info with your friends.

Please don't miss out. Your one-year subscription will pay for itself time and time again as you receive practical tips and Biblical encouragement to keep going strong in your commitment to homeschooling and to the Lord. Since it's a quarterly magazine, they even have a monthly subscriber's only E-Newsletter called Teacher's Toolbox that will give you seasonal teaching ideas and a free E-Book download! It's like joining a unit study of the month club! The free E-Books alone are valued at almost $250/year. It's really perfect for people who are homeschooling on a shoestring or just wanting to add in some little extras to your teaching.

Plus during the Black Friday Sale, they have all kind of bonus gifts when you spend $50, $75, $100, or $150. Some are electronic downloads that you can download immediately, while other are physical products mailed from various vendors directly to your home.

AND, their Win Big contest is going on so if you just happen to be customer 67,000, you will receive a prize package valued at almost $500 which includes a $150 gift certificate to the Schoolhouse Store! Who couldn't use that? And you can qualify to win it no matter how much or how little you spend!

Mark your calendars for November 26 - 30th and do a little shopping from your seat, not your feet at the Schoolhouse Store's Black Friday Sale!

Click on the banner below to go to the Schoolhouse Store.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Socialization? What about it?

Socialization...that scary "s" word that whispers in your ear every time your child's pediatrician suggests that a behavior problem might be due to a "lack of a peer-group" or when your mom quizzes you on her grandchild's "social activities". What is socialization anyway and how do we know if our children are on the road to becoming valuable members of society or if they'll have trouble even making friends? These are just a few of the important questions addressed in What about Socialization? Dispelling the Myths, a brand-new e-book now available from The Old School House Store. This 45 page e-book contains 12 short, easily digestible chapters, 11 by homeschooling parents and the final one written by an 18-year-old homeschool graduate.

Sometimes we need a gentle reminder of why we chose to homeschool in the first place. Was it to provide a superior academic opportunity for our children or to produce mature, well-rounded adults with exceptional character? This is not a "nuts and bolts" book that focuses on how to socialize your children. It was written for the Christian family and focuses a great deal on discipleship and raising children of good character. While there is practical advice on how to incorporate social activities into the homeschooling day, the real point here is to not lose sight of the Big picture. Let's embrace our role as parents, treasure the miraculous gifts that God has given us in our children, and fulfill our duty to educate those children in such a way that they can in turn have a God-centered life. It is in learning to be Christ-like that our children can and will be valuable members of society, not in learning how to "talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk" from their peers.

This short book is filled with personal reflections by real people who share these same challenges, and while their thoughts are often comforting and even inspirational, this is a book to be read one chapter at a time, picking it up when you need a little pick-up, rather than plowing straight through to the end. Each author follows a bit of a formula by first defining socialization, and then sharing from personal experience. Admittedly, a straight-through read would be a bit monotonous, but I don't think this is the way it's intended to be read. There are a lot of little nuggets of wisdom here that shine brightly if taken a bit at a time.

Perhaps you know a family who has been considering taking the homeschool plunge but the little "s" whispers are holding them back...or a family who spends their days running from one activity to another in an effort to fill the perceived void...or have you been hearing those whispers yourself? What a wonderful gift this could be, a gift of peace in the mind and heart, just in time for Christmas.

To order your pdf of this book available for immediate download for $12.45, click here.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook to facilitate my review. I received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Global Destruction

Further proof that a family's destructive force rises exponentially
with the addition of each child.

Peter has been blamed.
I'm no fool...
I have no hope of getting to the bottom of this.

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

A sample of some of the questions my kids ask me:

Mary: Mama, what's that day that's not Christmas that you eat that meat that's not chicken?

David: Mama, who are the other 2 Beatles? There's George and Ringo, but who are the other 2 Beatles?

Free Resource for Art History

This is a tremendous resource to add to your art study. Artchive has articles on different periods of art as well as biographies of various artists and HUNDREDS of images of paintings that can be viewed full-screen on your computer and saved to your hard-drive. It is ad supported and all free. You can become a patron for $50 and received the entire site on cd as well as ad-free access, but the free access is more than adequate for our purposes. I would strongly recommend previewing any articles/art before turning your children loose...obviously there will be artwork and life stories not appropriate to all age-groups;-)

When you go to this link, you will see a scrolling alphabetical list of artists to the left and the main frame has different categories/periods of art.

If you go to an artist's page, you will see their bio at the top. Scroll down to the bottom for links to images of their work. Click on a link, and for most images you will be taken to a page with a thumbnail of that image. Click on the thumbnail and a new window will open with a viewer, you can then adjust the size of the image. You can also save the image by right clicking and then select "save image as..." or the equivalent in your browser.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Make Math Amusing!

The November module for the Schoolhouse Planner is out: Amusing Mathematics. It's available from the Old Schoolhouse Store for $7.95. While the modules are designed so they can be used with the planner, they are actually stand-alone unit studies. This 48 page e-book is full of activities you can add to spice up your math studies and make them more amusing. Within its pages you will find:
  • 14 pages of copywork, including quotes from Einstein and Galileo, and number writing practice for little ones with little rhymes to remind them of how to form the numbers
  • 2 cool weather recipes
  • 4 coloring pages
  • addition and multiplication drills
  • fun math jokes and riddles
  • different currencies from around the world
  • multiplication table practice and charts for multiplication families form 1 to 12
  • a Sudoku challenge
  • how to make your own pattern blocks and tangrams
  • a few cool math tricks to impress your friends
  • a list of websites for more resources
  • and more!
If you have a reluctant math student, like I do, you'll appreciate the variety of activities listed here, and many are appropriate for multiple age groups.

Admittedly, there is nothing included in this module that I haven't encountered elsewhere and the riddles are as old as the hills, but it is nice to have it in one nice little package on my hard-drive instead under a dozen different bookmarked websites. It's ready to be taken out and printed as I wish on a rainy (or snowy) day. To order your pdf and have immediate access, click here.

To read reviews by other homeschoolers, click on the TOS Homeschool Crew banner below:

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a girl!

Click on the pictures for a larger view.
Everything seems to be as it should be.
No, we don't have a name, yet;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Finally, a Nativity Set That Will Survive My Kids!

Introducing One2Believe's complete nativity set, especially designed for little fingers (ages 3 and up). One2Believe is a company that specializes in Bible-based toys, including Warriors of Faith, Messengers of Faith, and P31 dolls. The nativity set is part of the Tales of Glory series of figures. Each set comes with a tiny storybook, 14 figures (approx. 3' high), a stable, a manger, a palm tree, and a hay bale, all carefully wired into the box to avoid damage in shipping.

When I was asked to review this product, I had no idea that my children would be so anxious to get their hands on it. In fact, once I got it unwrapped (which took quite a while:-), they were actually fighting over the pieces. Everyone settled down as I read the short version of Christ's birth contained in the little storybook. While the version given was not enough to satisfy curious minds on it's own, it was enough to spark a conversation about the topic and so we had a good time remembering everything we've learned about Christ's birth.

The pieces are all made in China of PVC. One2Believe takes their ministry seriously, they regularly visit their manufacturers in China to inspect facilities and working conditions. All pieces meet federal safety standards, however if you have a little one who still likes to mouth toys, you may want to read a little about PVC and the additives used in it to decide if this one is for your family.

The set is available from One2Believe for $24.99.

If you'd like to read more reviews on this product by other homeschoolers, click on the Homeschool Crew banner below:

Deal Alert! Build YOUR Library!

Just a quick note: Homeschool Library Builder is having their last Bin Sale of the year, $1, $2, $3 and $5 bins now throughout November. Spend $50 or more and receive a free hardcover copy of Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, while supplies last.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Missing Link: Found?!?

I was recently given a free copy of The Missing Link: Found and the opportunity to review it here on my blog. This is the first book in the Truth Seekers Mystery Series, and is available from Media Angels for $8.95. There are currently 3 novels in the series and more to come. You can purchase the complete set at for $22.00 or the set of 3 books with 3 study guides for $40.

If Media Angels sounds a little familiar, it's because the owner, Felice Gerwitz, has produced a Creation Science curriculum and, among other things, has been a speaker at Cindy Rushton's online Homeschool Conventions. With this series of books, she and her daughter Christina have attempted to provide a Christian alternative to mainstream young adult fiction. Missing Link was conceived by Christina when she was a young teenager and brought to fruition with publication in the year 2000 at about the time that she entered college. This is the revised copy which came out in 2004.

The aims of the series are to:
  1. Promote Christian values using homeschooled, Christian characters,
  2. Promote a Creationist worldview and the ability to defend it,
  3. And to reach tween to teenaged readers who would rather be doing anything other than reading by providing an entertaining story.
One look at the cover will show you that this is not a tame story, by any means, so if you are loathe to introduce violence in the form of FBI agents with guns, exploding boats, or artifact smugglers holding teenagers at gunpoint, you can stop reading now, this isn't the book for you. That said, it is not wall-to-wall action, either.

We are introduced to the Murphy family and specifically to the oldest children, Christian and Anna. Their father is a professional photographer and a former archaeologist. Their mother homeschools them and their younger brother. There's not much chance to get to know the Murphys before they are caught up in intrigue with the FBI while on a fishing trip off the Florida Keys. Then, the next thing you know, Anna, Christian and their father are off on an archaeological dig to help their ailing Uncle Mike with what appears to be the Missing Link ( a transitional fossil linking man to ape). But the Murphys are creationists and they jump right in debating the validity of former so-called missing link finds with their cousin, David, who is an evolutionist and an atheist. At first Anna and Christian don't like David too much, they find him to be abrupt and rude, and they can't understand his lack of faith. Their relationship changes and develops as the story continues.

I won't give you any spoilers (what would be the fun in that), but I will put your minds at ease by saying that no one is hurt or killed in the course of this novel. And let me say that I am obviously not the intended audience for this book. In terms of reading ability, I would put it at the 11-16 year old range, although some readers may have difficulty in getting through the scientific facts presented. There is a glossary provided at the back of the book to aid with unfamiliar words.

The action scenes in the beginning pages definitely draw the reader into the story, and it has a bang up finish, but the middle of the book may be a hard read, especially for a reluctant reader. There's a lot of time spent in explaining Carbon-14 dating, for instance. And while some of this has been simplified to make it easier to understand (to the point where it is slightly inaccurate), it is still a hard read. My oldest son who reads at this level, and can plow through 500 pages of Peter and the Shadow Thieves in a couple of days, could not get through this 200 page book. He got hung up on the carbon dating pages and an inaccuracy he spotted right away: one of the characters states that a shark can go through 20,000 teeth in a year (it's actually in a lifetime).

While I applaud Christina and Felice Gerwitz in their attempt to provide an alternative to some of the teenage twaddle that is taking up space on library and bookstore shelves, this book seems to have a limited audience and is not entirely successful. But it is an ambitious first attempt by a young homeschooler and I can't help but be impressed by the amount of work and dedication this project must have taken. It would be interesting to read the other two books in the series to see how Christina has grown as an author.

Looking for a different perspective? Click on the Homeschool Crew banner below to link to reviews on this book by other homeschoolers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Gathering of Leaves

Well, the fall harvest for us means a gathering of leaves. And since we have 4 mature leaf dropping trees on our property, it's a harvest that keeps on giving and giving and giving...

We did our first clean up Sunday in balmy 70 degree weather...the leaves were dry and crinkly and the kids enjoyed piling them up and jumping in. Before Chris started the leaf-blower, we had an ankle deep carpet over the entire lawn.

Today it's a little hard to tell the piles from the newly fallen leaves, but at least you can still see the grass...

Princess Bride Revisited

It's been brought to my attention that there haven't been many new pictures of the kids lately. Sorry that it took me 3 whole days to get on the Halloween pictures. I'm really falling down on the job.From left to right we have The Man in Black (Wesley), Princess Buttercup and a dragon (you're right, there is no a dragon in the movie, but he's soooo cute!)

The Princess Bride came out 20 years ago, but it's still a great adventure story, void of gore, foul-language and sex and one of our family's faves. (note: I forgot, there is one scene towards the end with rough language---see the comments.)