Sunday, July 31, 2016

Babies are a Blessing from Above...

and always worth celebrating!! Especially when they are long awaited! My cousin, Sarahbeth, is just 2 years younger than me. She has been happily married for a few years now, and thrilled to be a step mom to 3 amazing kiddos. But this spring, she got a very exciting surprise - she found out that she was going to have a baby! It is so exciting to me for us to be pregnant together...something I didn't really expect to ever happen. So of course I wanted as many of the cousins to get together and celebrate with Sarahbeth.

We had such a great time at the baby shower. Fun stories, great gifts - some practical, some hilarious - and pieces of advice from the more seasoned mamas that we all will cherish in the future.

Many prayers and well wishes are already covering this precious little bundle of joy. We just can't wait to meet the little guy!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ocean Commotion VBS

Whew, what a great week! VBS at Crossway is always an event, but this year really took the cake!! I am so thankful to have been a part of it. Not only did I have the opportunity to be a part of an amazing drama team, entertain over 200 kids, and help share the Word of God...I also got to be a villain!! So much fun, and I can't wait to do it again next year.

From left to right: Scubaman, Snorkelgirl, Alex, Shark, Octopus (me), and Turtle

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

We love adventure novels! We love audio books! And when you can combine the two, it is a real treat. GA Henty is considered even today one of the greatest English novelists of all time, and his stories can take you to a time and place that is no longer and make you feel as if you were there. Heirloom Audio Productions has once again outdone themselves with the newest product, Beric the Briton.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

This is our 3rd review for Heirloom Audio, having enjoyed In Freedom's Cause and With Lee in Virginia in years' past. Beric the Briton lived up to, if not exceeded, the expectations the kids and I have for this vendor.

Set around the 1st century AD at the height of the Roman Invasion and the beginning of Nero's rule of Rome, the story focuses around a young man named Beric. Beric is a chieftain of a tribe in Brittania, just at the time the Romans came to conquer and claim the land for their own. Raised to rule his people, Beric's mother, the chieftainess, encouraged him to pursue a Roman education. Because of this opportunity, he is put into a position torn between loyalty to his people and the admiration of the Romans and the lives they live. But that will not be enough to save him from the inevitable. When the time comes, he will fight with all he has. Beric and his best friend are captured and forced to become gladiators in the capitol of Rome. Here, in the least likely of places, they learn about true freedom - the freedom that comes through faith in the savior, Christus.

For the purpose of review, I received the two-cd set of the audio production, two and a half hours of non stop action. I also received several online resources as well:

  • an MP3 download of Beric the Briton
  • Beric the Briton EBook by GA Henty (389 pages)
  • the complete soundtrack on MP3 download
  • downloadable poster you can print off
  • Live the Adventure newsletter
  • inspirational verse poster
  • behind the scene videos
  • Study Guide (50 pages)
While we haven't used the study guide yet (we are still on summer break), I looked through it and was very impressed. I will enjoy using this with the kids this fall when we start back to school. The study guide is basically broken down into three parts: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are also many resources and activities such as recipes, pictures of famous landmarks, interesting historical tidbits, and so much more. I am excited to see the kids make even more connections between this time in history and Paul's biblical accounts of the time of Nero and the Roman Invasion.

This story is completely engrossing - two and a half hours of edge of your seat action and suspense. You will be drawn into the drama of faith and loyalty, war and love, peace and truth.The voices will, not surprisingly, seem familiar to some - actors famous from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dr Who and many more. The production is so very well done, I just can't say enough about it. We are true fans of Heirloom Audio, and we would recommend this story to anyone who loves adventure!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

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To see what other reviewers thought of the story, go read their reviews here:

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Learning by Doing - Field Trips

When a child has a chance to really experience something before or while studying a subject, the material will stay with them longer. Giving my kids an opportunity to be out in the community and learn about the people who work and serve there also gives them a better sense of how the world works. My kids love field trips for this reason! One of Caleb's favorites this year was the Willard Fire Department. He has always said he wants to be a police officer when he frows up, but after the field trip to the fire station...he may be weighing his options!!

Friday, July 8, 2016

A TOS Review: Laurelwood Books

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Handwriting can be that subject that is the fight of the school day. I've heard many excuses and complaints, such as: "I write in every subject - why do I have to practice it again???" Or, "Nobody uses cursive anymore, why do I have to learn it???" And, my favorite: "I can use a computer keyboard for all my subjects. It's not important what my handwriting looks like." I'm sure you've heard these or others from your children, as well. That's why I was hoping to see something that may interest my 8 year old in practicing his penmanship this summer. We were chosen to review a Laurelwood Books product called Patriotic Penmanship, Grade 3.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Laurelwood Books has been around helping the homescool community for 25 years. For many, they have become a one stop shop for all their curriculum needs. I had never used them before so I was interested in seeing the great variety of products that they offer.

Patriotic Penmanship is a consumable workbook/handwriting program that stretches from kindergarten through 12th grade, including transition and review books. It is so much more than a penmanship practice time, though. With Patriotic Penmanship, you get the opportunity to expose your child to pieces of important works of literature, historical quotes and speeches, or scripture referencing the freedoms we value as Americans today. There can be many rabbit trails to chase with this program, I can assure you! This could truly become a unit study on American History, giving you the chance to research some lesser known patriots that helped form and shape the ideals of our great nation.

Caleb has had a little practice with cursive, but very little. He is already beginning to improve after only a few lessons, but I realized on the third or fourth day of him doing these assignments that he really was guessing at what he was writing. Learning to write each individual letter was no problem for him...connecting them to make words was another thing entirely. I noticed how quickly he was doing the assignments, so I sat down with him and asked him about the excerpt he was copying from. He looked at me blankly. I asked him if he had read the excerpt before beginning the assignment, and he turned a little red when he told me that he couldn't understand it. What he really meant was that he couldn't decipher the words written in cursive. So back to the beginning we went. Learning to write and learning to draw can definitely be linked and be a great starting point, but when a child is still drawing and not making connections to what he is actually writing, cursive can be difficult. So we began to break down each word as we went. It took a little more time and effort, but I think it's going to make a big difference. He still isn't crazy about cursive and would rather print, but I am glad to be spending this year working on the skill so that he has the option of which he prefers to use later in life.

The readings we have been copying have been very interesting, too. We have had passages from Psalms, quotes from Michelangelo, Ronald Reagan, and Napolean Bonaparte, and a portion of a writing from John Milton, just to name a few. Here is one of our favorites so far:

The lessons give the child a chance to trace the words, then space to write the words for themselves underneath:

As you can see in one of the above photos, the entire alphabet is printed at the bottom of each page. It gives the child a reference whenever they may need it. There are 30 lessons in the workbook, so you could easily finish this book in a short time. The book actually states that one lesson equals one week's worth of work, but Caleb usually took one or two days to do the work. However, as I stated earlier, I will probably use it as an opportunity to do some further research and have him practice each passage throughout the week. 

Patriotic Penmanship is a good program that will give ample time to practice this still important skill. I know many public schools have chosen to eliminate it from their school day, but I believe it is an art that should not be lost. None of my boys may choose to use cursive all the time, but I'm glad that they will have the ability to do so if they choose.

Be sure to follow Laurelwood Books on social media:

To see other amazing products Laurelwood Books has to offer, check out these other TOS Reviews here:

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th!!

This little firecracker says Happy Independence Day to you!!