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Friday, September 30, 2016

Family Traditions (52 Lists)


This week, those participating in the 52 Lists blog share were asked to list their family traditions.

52 lists with Chasing Slow


This one was actually harder for me.  Here's what we currently do.


January
Watch the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena.
Eat ham, black eyed peas, greens and cornbread
Celebrate my birthday
Listen to Coast to Coast Prediction Show

March and April
Celebrating Ashleigh's birthday
Celebrate Easter and Christ's Resurrection

June
Celebrate Alyssa's Birthday

July
Freedom Bash on base
Watching fireworks and laughing at the base catching fire every year.

August
Family camping trip

Oct
Celebrate Garrett and Charlie's Birthday together.
Decorate the house for Halloween Together.
Trick or Treat / Pass out Candy.
Visit a local farm for Autumn Festival

Nov
Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
Cook a Traditional Thanksgiving meal along with with Native American sides.
Go to Black Friday at Home Depot to pick up Christmas Items on sale.
Decorate Christmas Tree and listen to Christmas Music

December
Decorate the house for Christmas
Lighting the Advent candles
Reading Advent readings
Watch Polar Express on Christmas Eve with Hot Chocolate, new pajamas and popcorn
Watch New Years Fireworks/Ball Drop on TV

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Am I Reading? (September Edition)




Ben-Hur  by Carol Wallace


I was pretty excited to receive this book, and while it in itself is really good, I guess I didn't think it
was going to be only based on the original.  This version was written by a relative of original writer Lewis Wallace and unfortunately, she pretty much gutted the story.  The original is a very vivid and richer story while this is a condenses version which many of the things that made the original so great gone.  This might be great for those who have been intimidated by the length of the original and want to read the story but for those of us who enjoyed the depth of Lewis's version, it comes up flat.

That's not to say this isn't worth reading. It is. Again, if someone is intimidated by the length of the original but wants the just of the story, this would be great for them.  The just of the original story is contained in this book and you won't feel cheated out of a good read.  But I wouldn't recommend this version for anyone who is a fan of the Lewis Wallace version.  It lacks the sparkle of the original story teller.



Mommy Needs A Raise (Because Quitting Isn't an Option) by Sarah Parshall Perry.

I've read a previous book by Mrs Perry and found it disappointing but I thought maybe this book would be a bit better.  This time around, the book was engaging and funny, however, Mrs Perry's writing is very scattered and all over the place.  It was a bit hard to follow what she was talking about as she jumps from one topic to another without any tie in to what she was previously writing about.

The book does have moments that are very encouraging towards mothers of all walks of life.  However, there were moments that were a basic rehash of her previous book, talking more about herself and what she was prior to becoming a mom, the sacrifices that she made and how hard it has been on her.  My opinion is that this is her "pat on the back" volume two.  I do not believe I will be reading any more books by Mrs Perry in the future as I just can't relate to her.





Honor Redeemed (Keys to Promise Book #2) by Christine Johnson

Christine Johnson is a new author to me and I am always looking forward to trying new Christian
authors.  This book was a great read and I really enjoyed it.

This book is about Prosperity Jones, a young woman who waited patiently for her betrothed to send for her and marry her after he left her behind in Nantucket Island to make his life in Key West with the US Army.  Two years later, after the loss of her mother to a long term illness, Prosperity heads south to join David, knowing in her heart now that she has no family left, he will finally marry her. Instead she finds him already married to another.  With no where to go and no family to turn to, Prosperity finds employment at a hospital where she meets a kind doctor.  Her life takes an unexpected turn when David's wife develops complications in childbirth, leaving Prosperity in a situation where she must overcome her feelings of hurt and betrayal.

This book had some great character development and Johnson is a great writer.  There are moments this book does move a bit slow but readers will be rewarded if they follow it though at the end.  This is a story of forgiveness.  There are times you will not like Prosperity very much, but at the end, you will see her turn around.


Unashamed:Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny by Christine Caine

I really enjoy listening to Christine Caine speaking at conventions so I was really excited to read this new release by her.  I hadn't read any of her books prior.

We've all had life experiences and have made choices that have left us ashamed.  Maybe the way we parent, choices we've made in our marriage, or even things we did as a teenager all weigh heavy on our heart.  This guilt can have unexpected consequences on our lives and Caine tackles the many aspects of our lives where this guilt and shame can take hold.  She then provides the reader with the way in which we can release that pain and guilt, reminding us that one of Jesus's reasons for the cross was to take that pain and shame off of us and take it upon himself. She shares her own journey through life, showing us that we are not alone.

I really enjoy personal books like this, especially when it's in regards to someone that I look up to spiritually.  It shows me that even those that I view as secure in the Lord and their faith have moments of doubt and question deserving salvation because of what's in their hearts.  This is a great read.  There's also a workbook that accompanies the book which I eventually would like to purchase and work though along with the book.





Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes (A Homeschool Crew Review)



Regular readers of my blog will know that Heirloom Audio Productions are one of my absolute favorite companies.  We've been so blessed to have had the opportunity to review four of the five previous releases and they have quickly become cherished recordings that will hopefully be passed on to my children's children.   Just recently, Heirloom Audio released their 6th release, The Cat of Bubastes and members of the Homeschool Review Crew were once again given the wonderful opportunity to review it.  



The Cat of Bubastes is based on the book by the same name by G.A. Henty and is part of Heirloom Audio Productions series "The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty".   It is also my favorite book (so far) by G.A. Henty and the Heirloom Audio Production of the story did not disappoint. 



What We Received:

I was given the opportunity to review the 2 CD performance of The Cat of Bubastes presented in a visually stunning, full color trifold case.  I also received the accompanying Study Guide as well as the extras that included access to the MP3 download of the performance, an Ebook copy of The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty, The Cat of Bubastes Soundtrack MP3 download, a printable cast poster, a printable poster containing an inspiration quote from 1 Chronicles 17:20 , access to the newsletter website and access to the documentary of behind the Scenes of producing The Cat of Bubastes



Review:

As mentioned above, The Cat of Bubastes is my favorite of the G.A. Henty books, at least those that I have read so far.  So I was really excited for the release of this particular release.  Like all other Heirloom Audio productions, the stories are brought to life through the amazing voice actors and great sound affects.  Just as every other Heirloom Audio Production, an all star cast and an amazing soundtrack by John Campbell leads to a 3 hour journey that engulfs you in the story, transporting the listener this time to Ancient Egypt around 1250 B.C. 

The story opens with the young prince Amuba being carried away as a captive to Egypt after his father, the King of Rebu, is killed in battle with the Egyptian Army and the Rebu nation is conquered.  Along with Amuba is his faithful guard, Jethro.  Upon their arrival in Thebes, Amuba becomes the servant and companion to Chebron, the son of Ameres, the high priest of Osiris. 

Amuba and Chebron find themselves in several difficult situations such as uncovering plans of murder within the ranks of the priesthood, a murder they are unable to prevent. They also have the unfortunate experience of accidentally killing Paucis, a cherished cat who is to be the successor to the Cat of Bubastes, one of the most sacred animals of Egypt.  As the results of these situations come to the front, Amuba, Chebron and Jethro find themselves returning to Amuba's homeland.


Once again, Brian Blessed (Star Wars, Tarzan)  returns to the sound room to voice our story teller, G.A. Henty. Other well known voices are John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, One Night with the King), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars) and Sylvester McCoy (Dr Who, The Hobbit). 


As with every other Heirloom Audio Production, the purchase of either the physical CDs or the MP3 downloads come with the complementary full color, downloadable study guide and Discussion Starter Ebook. These study guides are always a welcome addition with the audio as they provide a good amount of information in the life and history behind the period of time the story takes place. The Study Guide is a wonderful addition as it allows me to ask the kids the questions as we progress through the CD's and check to see how much they are actually picking up from the recording. 



Time stamps are included at the top of each page in the study guide.  This makes it extremely easy for people like myself who prefer the convenience of  listening to the MP3 format on tablets, computers or phones to jump ahead quickly to find the proper track to match with the guide, as the MP3s are not divided into individual tracks. 


Included in the 47 page ebook Study Guide: 

Listening Well Questions:  These provide the perfect opportunity to test listening comprehension in regards to what your child has heard and remembers. All answers are easily found within the listed track. 


Thinking Further Questions:
  These questions require a bit of independent research or deeper thinking beyond just what was heard.  These are great for older students as a platform for independent study on the various topics covered in the recording. 

Defining Words:  These provide vocabulary lists of words that were used in the recording that students might not be familiar with.  These words are easily found within a standard dictionary. 

Expanding Your Learning:  New with this particular study guide, the Expanding Your Learning section includes short tidbits of information pertaining to Egypt such as Ancient Egyptian Diet, Hierarchy, and Mummification.  These short extras do not directly relate to the story but do provide interesting information about the time period and the way people lived in Ancient Egypt as well as insight into their beliefs. 

Bible Study:  A three page study is also included.  Each page uses Bible verse to allow students to see what the Bible says in regards to the fact that with God nothing is by luck with a study called "God Meant it For Good",  how men run away from God with a study entitled "The Knowledge of God", and how man has failed to follow God but instead created false gods in order to follow their own lusts with "Idolatry and Tyranny". 


The study guide ends with a few page that discuss the ancient Egyptian civilization and their practice of polytheists as well as their high regards and reverence of cats. 


In addition to the Audio production and the Study Guide, Heirloom is generous and also includes a downloadable full text version of the original G.A. Henty book that the recording is based off of.  This ebook is in the popular PDF format which can be read on most tablets, phones and computers and is published in full color with beautiful photographs as a backdrop for the story.  I always enjoy this extra as I can easily transfer it to my Kindle and read it at my own leisure.    It's also something I look forward to giving to the kids when they begin to read the Henty books on their own as I find it to be so much better than just reading the plain black and white text on a reader.  


Both the entertainment as well as the educational value of Heirloom Audio productions puts them high on my favorites list.  These are recordings that families will enjoy listenig to over and over again - from long car trips to just quiet evenings at home instead of watching the television.



And I'm already making my Christmas list and waiting with baited breath for the next release.. A Story of the French Revolution. Tentatively due to release on 10.17.2016.  





For more information about The Cat of Bubastes and the many other wonderful Heirloom Audio recordings, visit their website or one of these social media websites. 

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program (A Homeschool Crew Review)



Reading has been the bane of Garrett's homeschool existence.  He really dislikes to read and he struggles with it.  We've made great strides in working towards getting him caught up to where he should be at but we're still behind that targeted goal.  Because of this, I am always looking for curriculum and other tools in which to help him build confidence and develop the skills he needs.  One of the latest tools we have used has been the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning.

What is the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program?


The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a computer software program available on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. A one time purchase of a license for the software allows for unlimited use with no expiration which can be used with multiple family members.

The program consists of 262 individual lessons that introduces students to over 4,400 words and 2,100 sentences as it progresses students for early reading to advanced level reading while teaching phonics sounds and the various rules to the English language.  The program can be used by a number of different types of students, from the beginning or struggling reader, ESL students, students with dyslexia and even adults who are uncomfortable with their current reading level.

Lessons start by introducing the 26 letters of the English alphabet and the sounds they make and end with the student reading sentences such as "When you have a fever, your temperature will rise about normal".  Each lesson progresses through a phonic sound or blend that students learn and build upon in subsequent lessons. Lessons are broken into 4 sections, starting with the idea/pattern that will be covered in the lesson, a word lesson that lists what types of words will be presented in the lesson, a breakdown of the words into components and finally practice sentences that are to be read. These sentences are made up from both words learned in previous lessons as well as the focus words for the current lesson.

How We Used the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program

For this review, I used this program exclusively with Garrett several times a week.  Typically, we would complete one or two lessons each session. Lessons would take us about 10-15 minutes.  We've thus far made it to Lesson 38.



The format of this program is very simple.  Garrett quickly learned to navigate the program by himself and was able to work with  the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program independently.  Each section of the lesson offers both visuals as well as audibles.  Pronunciation of the words were as simple as Garrett hovering the pointer over the word for him to hear it properly.   He was also able to have the sentences read to him after his own reading to be sure that he got all words properly.   This approach seems very simple but does appear to be effective in teaching proper phonics and reading skills.


At this point, I will say that Garrett's reading has improved but to be honest, the lessons we have done so far have been a bit below where he's at. I did not, however, want him to skip any of the lessons so that any phonic sounds or consonant blends he might not have a strong understanding of could be reinforced.

I found the program ran without any issues and did not go any resources on my computer.  An internet connection is not needed after the initial download and registration and the program is easily accessible though a desktop icon.  The menus are very simple and easy for Garrett to navigate and the program does remember where the student left off from previous sessions.

I'm looking forward to watching the results as Garrett continues to progress through to the final lesson and see where his reading skill will be at that point.  I'll probably choose to revisit this review when we reach that point to report what the end result will be.  Until then, we will continue to use this program as a tool along with our regular reading program as I do believe it's making a difference for him.

#hsreviews #phonics #phonicsapp #dyslexia #strugglingreader


For more information on Spencer Learning and the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program, including a free ten day trial of the program, be sure to visit their website or visit them on the following social media sites:


Twitter:  http://twitter.com/spencerlearning @spencerlearning






Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

Thursday, September 22, 2016

KidsEmail.org (A Homeschool Crew Review)



One of the hardest parts of being a military family is living across the country from our families.  When we move to California in 2010, we left my husband's family in Indiana and my family in both New York and Texas.  Without the opportunities to travel as much as we would like cross country, it's very hard for the children to feel like they are able to communicate with their grandparents.  Now that both Ashleigh and Garrett are at a level in their education that they can compose emails, we were really excited when we were given the opportunity to review the annual subscription from KidsEmail.org and allow the kids the opportunity to start sending and receiving emails from family members.


About KidsEmail.org

KidsEmail.org is a child friendly email client that allows up to 6 children in your family to have their own email address.  Parents are able to set restrictions for each individual account as well as restrict who your child can send or receive emails from.  A "Safe" contact list allows for parents to add family members who are trusted that children can email without restrictions.  Parental settings allow for control over who the child can send and receive email from, send a copy of all emails to a parents email account for review, monitor files and images that are attached to emails to their child, restrict outside web links, and block profanity from email their child receives.

Setting up the accounts for the children was super easy.  Parents have their own login which allows them to access the dashboard where they can set up each child's individual account as well as select which restrictions to place on that account.  Parents can opt to set up more restrictions on a younger child and less restrictions on an older child.  There is also an option for a Teen account which offers a more "grown up" look and feel as well as a @kmail.org address versus the standard @kidsemail.org.

Comparison of Child's Account Versus Teen Account
Some features that are accessible from the parent account is a "Ground Child" option, which blocks the child from being able to access their account during a specific set period of time and a "Time Restriction" option that limits the child's ability to log into their email at only specific times of the day- so no checking and sending emails late at night when they should be asleep. Parents can also change the look of their child's dashboard by changing the background and theme to match their child's interests.


The child's dashboard is very simple and easy for smaller children to maneuver.  The dashboard consists of the inbox (which is shown as soon as the child logs in), the option to write an email, a folder option for organization of the inbox and sent emails, the contacts list, and a settings options that allows the child to change the background image if they so desire.  The teen account is set up with similar options but with a feel more like that of a typical email client.

Email can be accessed through the website on any computer or tablet and also through using a free downloadable app available for both Apple and Android devices. A version of the app is also available on the Amazon store for access and monitoring of emails via a Kindle Fire tablet.

How We Used It

Ashleigh and Garrett both enjoyed being able to pick out their own email addresses and both came up with ones that were specific to them.  During our trial period, they had a great time emailing some of the other crew children and learning about their home states and what they enjoy doing with their time as well as writing about their various interests.

They were also both able to email their grandparents, which they both enjoyed doing.  Ashleigh discovered that she could attach photographs and drawings to her emails which opened a whole new world of sharing for her.  They also had fun emailing Daddy when he was at work and were always tickled when they would receive a response from someone.

Ashleigh typing an email to her Grandpa in Indiana

Having their own email has been a good thing for them as it has allowed them to practice their language arts and reach out to others beyond our small household and also gives them some independence as they begin navigating the cyberworld.  Ash has always been a chatterbox but being able to discuss Minecraft and videogames with other boys his age has really helped to get Garrett writing.  As a parent, I enjoy the fact that I can monitor each email that they send or receive and not have to worry about unwanted Spam or potential viruses and unwelcomed emails that I wouldn't want the children to see, so it's a win both ways.
#hsreviews #kidsemail #emailforkids

KidsEmail.org offers a 30 day free trial of their email service to allow parent to see ahead of time if they are comfortable with the service. Pricing is reasonably priced at $4.95/month for four email addresses or at a discounted rate of $38.95/year for up to 6 email addresses.

For more information about KidsEmail.org, be sure to visit them on any of the following social media platforms:



Or be sure to click the banner below and read what other members of the crew had to say about KidsEmail.org

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription


Favorite Places to Shop (52 Lists)



OOhhh Goodness!!!   Shopping!!!   I love to shop.  This list should actually be entitled "Favorite Places to spend all my husbands paycheck" because basically, that's what it means ;)    Sad thing is, as much as I like to shop, I tend to spend the money on everyone else in the household and rarely buy anything for myself.

For this weeks 52 Lists Blog hop, we were asked to list our favorite places to shop.   Unfortunately, with us living so far away from civilization, much of my shopping occurs online.

52 lists with Chasing Slow


  • Amazon!!! ( I don't want to know how much I've given them.. lol)
  • Christianbooks.com  (I actually get alot of homeschool resources from here)
  • Family Christian (we have one in town that I like to go to)
  • Aldi
  • Trader Joe's
  • Petsmart
  • Michael's
  • Joann's fabrics (especially when patterns are on sale for 99 cents)
  • Bev-mo  (I love all their weird sodas but best of all I can get Cheerwine!!!!)
One place I REALLY miss is Hobby Lobby.  There's not one anywhere around here and I LOVE Hobby Lobby.. 

Do you have your own favorite shopping spots?  Click on the 52 lists banner and you can link up your own list :)  


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