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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning


Happy Sunday everyone.   It's time for another weekend meal planning, where you get to find out what the heck I'm feeding my family this week.. LOL 

This time around, I'm actually cooking for two families. A friend of mine had a baby last week and I've been trying to help reduce the stress on them by organizing a meal train and cooking several meals for them as well.   On top of that, I'm going to be attending a Friendsgiving on Monday, so in addition to the regular meals, I'll be making homemade rolls as well as apple and sausage dressing to bring to that.   I'm expecting to be spending a bit of time in the kitchen this week. lol

Sunday - Rosamary Chicken with pears and leeks

Monday - Buffalo Chicken Bites with Celery and Carrots

Tuesday - Tacos (Taco salad for mom and dad)

Wednesday - Philly Cheesesteak Casserole with salad and zucchini fries

Thursday - Black Pepper Chicken with Rice

Friday - Lasagna with steamed broccoli and salad

Saturday - Meatloaf with Potato cakes, steamed asparagus and salad.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Gods Mail Vol 3 (A Homeschool Crew Review)


I'm always looking for uplifting, inspirational or motivational reads - those types of books that I can just relax with for a few moments, read a few pages of them feel a bit better about my day after doing so.

For the last few weeks, I have been reviewing the digital edition of God's Mail Volume 3, the third book in the God's Mail series.  Written by Ronald Hardin, God's Mail is a collection of poetry based on Scriptures that address the challenges that both believers and non believes face in their lives.


Mr Hardin states that these poems were given to him by God in a prophetic sense and the book begins with a forward from Mr Hardin's pastor, followed by several pages of testimony from those who know Mr Hardin and  claim to his ability to prophesied for God.   I don't really buy into this myself - I do believe that the ideas and the scriptures were probably impressed upon his heart from God and I do believe that God gives us the gifts of communication and spreading his word to others but I'm not going to go so far as the poems themselves are directly from God.   However, I kept an open mind while reading and reviewing this book and decided to judge the book on that.

This book contains 95 individual poems, each preceded by several scriptures that provide Biblical support to the topic of the poem.



The poems themselves cover a wide array of topics. There was one that talks about the fact that angels are not these winged people that we see in paintings, another about abortion and adoption, teen pregnancy, no taking your partner for granted, infidelity, mid life crisis, and more. 


My Opinion

I really tried to like this book, after all, I enjoy scripture and I like quality poetry.  Sadly this isn't what I was looking for..  I found the sing songy rhyming pattern to be more like something an small child might write for Sunday school more so than a learned man of God.  The pattern just got too repetitive for me, to the point I knew what the last word on the next line would be.  Every poem was a series of couplets with no variation whatsoever.   And I definitely didn't find any of the poems prophetic in any way.

Because he claims that these are words directly from God to him, I did get rather irritated by his use of  things such as "these words from the Lord are to give you encouragement" in a poem about guilt following an abortion - but then doesn't use scriptures but instead writes as if God is using him and his words to talk directly to them targeted women.  I guess it irritated me because we have a cult church here in this area that the pastor claims that Jesus himself taught him how to lead people to Heaven and anyone who goes to any church other than HIS church will burn in hell.  I'm always leery when anyone says God himself spoke directly to him - as I said, I believe messages can be impressed on one's heart but I don't buy into people selling books claiming God actually speak to them.

Overall, I wasn't impressed and the book just gave me a creeped out feeling.  It's not something I would recommend to others, especially when there are other resources out there that are Biblical  sound and much more encouraging than this particular book. 


#hsreviews #bible #Godsmail

While this book was not to my own liking, we all have our own opinions and taste, so be sure to click the banner below and see what other members of the Crew thought of this book.
God's Mail: Volume 3 {God's Mail Reviews}


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Elephant Learning Math (A Homeschool Crew Review)


Members of the Homeschool Review Crew have been reviewing 12 Month Subscription to Elephant Learning Math Academy with their families for several weeks. . 


Elephant Learning Math Academy from is a online browser based math program from Elephant Learning Math Academy that boosts that your child can learn a year of math with just three months of usage. Designed for students 2-16, the company says that results are achievable by using the program for 10 minutes daily.    The program is $35/month for up to three children with zero registration fee and the company offers merit scholarships to help with tuition costs. 

Upon registering, the student will take a placement test in which the program establishes their starting "math age" based on their math knowledge. The program then uses this to present the student with activities that are designed to improve the student's "math age".  

Students are given an option of several graphic packages that appeal to their liking.  The activities do not change based on this selection but simply use graphics that correlate with the student's preference. 



Activities focus on those math skills that the student did not display knowledge of during their assessment.    







I'm going to be completely honest, this program just was not a fit for our family.  We really tried to like it but my kids absolutely hated it.  The heavy Indian accents were hard for them to understand and when the activities weren't absolutely clear, it made it hard for them to know what was expected.  The program glitched many times when they used it, which was also frustrating for them.

Probably the main thing the kids disliked about the program was that it was just too repetitive.  The activities were the same, day after day.  They quickly got bored with it and after a few while, they absolutely refused to do the program.  The graphics just weren't exciting, the activities were the same over and over and it just didn't appeal to them.

That's not to say they weren't learning.  It did show improvement from their assessment. But if they won't use it, it does us absolutely little good.  However, I couldn't really do anything to figure out where they needed improvement or what they were working on. The program claims to provide great feedback for the parent with detailed reports - these reported never worked for me.  For example, when I look at the reports for "Estimated Decimals Between 0 and 2", it said Garrett had already completed almost 77% of the curriculum.  However, the report says 0 minutes in playtime and didn't give me nay information whatsoever.   The only report that I could get to work for me was the average overall time they used the program each week.



This program just wasn't a fit for us.  It was frustrating for the kids, frustrating for me.  I can see where it could be helpful to other families but it's not something my family will every use again, to be honest.


For more information about Elephant Learning, visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:





While Elephant Learning was not a fit for our family, that doesn't mean it won't work for your family. Click the banner below and see how other families on the Crew used the program and what they thought.
Elephant Learning Math Academy Subscription {Elephant Learning Math Academy Reviews}

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series (A Homeschool Crew Review)



For the last month, members of the Crew have been sharing the four books from the Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series with their families.  Written and published by Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books, these books immerse readers in American history through the eyes of the horses who lived through it.
For this review, we were given the four physical books of the Horses in History series as well as a digital download of the Day and Night Enrichment Guide.


Each of the four  stand alone books focuses on a historical period in American history as told from the viewpoint of a horse as they observe the events unfold from an unbiased point of view.  These are paperback books ranging from between 77 pages (Dusty's Trail) to 149 pages (Day and Night).  The books are intended for ages 8-14 or anyone who loves horses and history. The books are researched extensively for accuracy.

About the Books

Appaloosy
ISBN 978-0-9838171-0-9
This book tells the story of the Nez Perce Indian War and the roots of the Appaloosa Horse.  It is told from the point of view of Storm, a brown Appaloosa stallion longing to run free.  (125pp)

Dusty's Trail
ISBN 978-0-9838171-1-6
Dusty's owner Levi wants to answer an advertisement to join the Pony Express.  Dusty, however, doesn't agree with Levi.  Dusty enjoys his quiet life on the family farm and the idea of risking death daily just doesn't appeal to him. Readers will learn about the time period of the Pony Express, the trails that were used and more in this high action story.  (77pp)


Golden Sunrise
ISBN 978-0-9838171-2-3
Cheyenne has a very special bond with her owner, Jared and will follow him anywhere, including the battles for Texas independence.  Cheyenne witnesses the Battle of Gonzales, the Battle of the Alamo and eventually joins with Sam Houston's forces to defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. (99pp)

Day and Night
ISBN 978-0-9838171-4-7
This book tells the story of two horses brothers, Tucker and Shiloh, who find
themselves on opposing sides of the Civil War.  Tucker is sold to the US Army while Shiloh ends up with Confederate army. Will either live long enough to see the end of the war and will they ever see each other again? (149pp)


Day and Night Enrichment Guide
ISBN 978-0-9838171-6-1
This supplement is to be used with students while reading Day and Night. Broken into 8 Parts which each covers a set number of pages of of the book, each part covers reading comprehension questions, vocabulary, geography, horses in history, biography about historical figures, and more. We were given the digital version of this resource but a physical project is available.   (99pp)





About the Author

Formally known as "North Dakota's Teen Author", Mattie Richardson began writing at the age of 13 AppaloosyDusty's TrailGolden SunriseDay and NightThe Secret of the Hemlock Forest, and Blackberry Blossom.  Currently a full time journalist, she also enjoys being a part time musician, playing the fiddle and guitar and performing bluegrass music.  An avid horse lover, she currently owns two horses and has a passion for riding. 




Our Thoughts

For this review period, we decided to read Golden Sunrise together.  This particular book is about the Battle of the Alamo and being both a Texan as well as a descendant of one of Texas First Families, the Alamo will always be very special to me. 

We opted to read this book as one of the selections for our morning read aloud. We read this book together as a family twice a week.  The book itself is 8 chapters in length so it took us a month to read it at our page.  However, this worked in our favor as we added other enrichment such as watching videos about the Battles, looking at a tour of the Alamo, and discussing other aspects of Texas history written about in the book.

As mentioned before, the Battle of the Alamo is something special to me - basically to anyone from Texas.  The Alamo is scared land that I have visited on many occasions.  The Battle of the Alamo is one of those things you better get right or you're going to really upset a Texan.  With that said, I can say that I had no issues from reading this book with my kids. I did wish that there had been a bit more details, but overall, I found the book true to historical fact.   I loved that Mattie Richardson mentions about Davy Crockett playing the fiddle as history tells that Crockett would play his fiddle along with  John McGregor playing the bagpipes (Richardson mentions someone with bagpipes but did not mention McGregor's name).  When we got to that portion of the book, I couldn't help but to show the kids the famous scene from the movie "The Alamo" with Billy Bob Thornton as Crockett standing on the walls of the Alamo and playing his fiddle along with the Mexican Army's Deguello.

The kids enjoyed the book very much, especially the hand drawn illustrations included throughout the story.   The kids explored various rabbit holes throughout the story, such as why the cannon at the Battle of Gonzales was referred to as a 6-pounder.

I liked the inclusion of the Spanish to English phrase page so that readers would know what the Spanish phrases meant.  One suggestion I would give is a pronunciation guide though.  Especially for the name of San Antonio de Bexar - as I'm sure many readers will pronounce Bexar (Bear) wrong.. LOL

After we finished Golden Sunrise, Ashleigh said she wanted to read Day and Night for our next read aloud.  This book is about the Civil War and follows the story of two horses who separated and put into service on the opposite side of the war.  We were also using the Enrichment guide that goes along with this book and I'm finding the activities well thought out. I can easily print out each part as we are reading that section of the book without having to print out the entire guide at once.


Overall, we're really pleased with adding these books to our reading library and are enjoying learning about history from a unique viewpoint. 


For more information about the Mattie Richardson's Horses in History book series, visit the authors website.  You can also find the author on the following social media sites:



Be sure to click the banner below to read the reviews from other Crew members. 
Book Set: Appaloosy, Dusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise & Day and Night {Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books Reviews}

Saturday, November 9, 2019

30 dollars to Heal a Heart


Three weeks ago, on October 20th, we lost a very important member of our family.  It's taken me these three weeks to be able to blog that sadly, Picket passed away.

It's hard for anyone to understand how losing Picket has affected our family, especially myself and my husband.  We found this completely helpless bundle of fur and somehow, we managed to hand raise her from a few days old to 18 months old.  Her loss affected us deeply, almost like losing a child. I've only seen my husband cry on two other occasions and he cried more in these last three weeks than any other time previous. 

Picket the night before she passed

We knew that even at the beginning, she only had a 30% chance of survival when we found her - even in the best of care and we were idiots scouring Google as to how to feed her.   We knew that hares do not do well in captivity and most don't make it beyond the first year.  We hoped that we would beat the odds, and while we did make it beyond the year, it still wasn't enough.  Picket will forever be a part of this family and it broke our hearts to say goodbye.  But right up until the end, she lived a spoiled life and well beyond the life she would have had in the wild, being chased by coyotes and bobcats or dodging cars. 

My husband asked why did she have to go - were we being punished for something?  I struggled for an answer but I told him that I think we weren't punished, I think we were blessed with a very special experience and whatever purpose Picket was to play in our lives, she fulfilled it and it was time to go. 

This week, we did something we never thought we would do.  We drove to a local animal shelter and we adopted two rabbits - rabbits who were living on borrowed time.  We had a rabbit once, it was a horrible creature with a bad temperament who would hide under the table and ambush you as you walked by, biting the back of your feet.  We swore we would never own another rabbit.  However, Picket left a huge hare sized hole in our hearts.

When she first passed, we said we wouldn't get another rabbit - after all, they cannot replace the special creature she was.  After two weeks, my husband said he wanted to being looking at rabbits.. We expected not to adopt  - not to even like any of the ones we looked at but there was a pull to at least look. 


The first time I saw Caramel's picture, I didn't give him a second glance.  Nothing struck me about him.  I don't know if it was Picket or what, but I kept coming back to his picture.  Finally, I told my husband I wanted to go see the rabbit, but again, I expected not to want him but I knew his days at the shelter were limited and he was on borrowed time.  I told the kids it would have to be a very special rabbit for me to adopt him..

I was extremely shocked to find a very tiny little rabbit as the photo made him look like a pretty standard sized rabbit.  Instead, I found a 3lb Mini Rex rabbit in the cage.


 I felt an almost instant connection with him.  We arranged to have a meet and greet with him. We sat on the floor of a cat room and they brought him in.  He was a bit shy at first, but after a few minutes he laid next to me and let me pet him. I told Charles I was pretty sure he was coming home with us to which the lil bunny began to do the "binkies" and I knew it was the right decision. 

While I waited in the car with him on the way home (he did ride in a carrier while the car was in motion), he allowed me to cuddle with him.  I almost wonder if Picket was whispering in his ear telling him what to do..

  Want to know how much a bit of warm furry healing costs?? 15 bucks to save a life. 

I decided to keep the name Caramel for him.  It seemed fitting, he is golden brown, he is small, he is sweet.  We brought him home and set up the kennel for him.  We bought a new bedding for it for him on the way home because we couldn't bring it to ourselves to allow him to sleep on the same pad that Picket slept on.  We picked him up a litter box which he used almost immediately.  Then we allowed him to explore the house. 

I had very mixed feelings to see him do two things - he laid down in the exact spot where Picket always laid down in front of the entertainment center and he would "binkie" in the exact spot where Picket always made her jumps.   

Caramel sitting in Picket's spot

So, Caramel has quickly become my little buddy.  He chases me through the house, hops on he bed with me and just lays beside me to be with me.  

Kenny and Caramel together

I have to watch my feet while I walk because he has a bad habit of running under or circling my feet when I walk.  He loves everyone and everything and is just a general happy go lucky lil dude. 
My Little Buddy
However, even with the addition of Caramel, things just didn't seem like it was complete.  We talked about it and decided we might look for a buddy for Caramel.  Hares are solitary creatures so having a friend for Picket was never a thought, but bunnies tend to do better with a buddy.  As Caramel was already neutered, we decided to being looking for a female doe to bond him with.  We looked at the local shelters websites but the only rabbits available were male.  We had seen a pic of a black rabbit at the same shelter that Caramel was at but it was a male and he was at surgery to be neutered the day we went to see Caramel.  However, when I checked on Wednesday, the black bunny was no longer listed as a male but was listed as a female. (They had her mislisted)..  I had a dental appointment the next day so we decided to go check her out.

Once again, we drove to the shelter and signed in to look at the rabbit.  She was in the same exact cage that Caramel had been in originally.  And once again, we were not expecting the bunny we saw.   After finding a 3lb rabbit the first time, we found a rabbit twice his size this time.


I told Charles since I had the instant bond with Caramel, I thought he should see how he felt about this rabbit.  He walked over to see her in the cage and he came back to where I was and all he said was "She's beautiful. and her face reminds me of Picket".. I admit, I knew we were coming home with that rabbit but we still set up for a meet and greet to visit with her to know for sure. 

I wish I had taken pictures of the meet and greet.  My husband sat on the floor, they put her on the floor and she instantly went over to him and laid down next to him and for the next ten minutes, she stayed beside him and let him love all over her.

Yeah, she came home with us that day. 
Another 15 dollars, two lives rescued and we had another bunny.     The name given to her was Talley.. Originally it was Talbot as they thought she was a buck.  Tally just didn't fit her and considering we had Caramel, we figured two candy names would work well.  So, she was renamed Licorice.  She's an extremely calm, laid back girl.  We have determined that she is a Silver Fox rabbit. Her card says she was a stray and we wonder if maybe she had been released due to the recent fires in Los Angeles. 


For the first two days, she's been confided to our bedroom to keep her and Caramel apart.  She had just had surgery and was still recovering, just getting her appetite back and just starting to move around so we wanted her to have as little stress as possible.  She spent a ton of time under my bed, coming out for affection and to eat. 

Today, we introduced the two together to give us an idea of how they would do for the bonding process.  We were expecting to have a bit of trouble but instead, they quickly seemed to bond.  They have been following each other around the house, laying together and playing.  It seems as if again, we made the right choice. 
The Bunnies spending time together (Licorice is checking Caramel's Kennel)
Enjoying Dinner together

I mentioned what possible had been Picket's purpose in our lives.  I think one of her purposes was for us to learn that if we could trust a wild hare enough to share our home and enjoy the love of that creature , that we could learn to love and trust a regular rabbit.  And in that lesson, we rescued two rabbits who were on borrowed time (Caramel probably had a day left - Licorice had maybe three or four).. 

They will never be Picket, and she will NEVER be forgotten, but we didn't get them to replace her - after all, it took two bunnies to even begin to heal the hole her death has left in our hearts.



So, while we won't have anymore Picket updates - I hope that you'll be just as happy to have the Adventures of Caramel and Licorice, hopefully for a long long time.

 I miss you every day. 
Never Forgotten - We Love You Picket

Thursday, November 7, 2019

CrossTimber (A Homeschool Crew Review)


Probably one of the toughest decisions we make from the moment we find out we're having a baby is what to name our child.   Some people name their children after cherished loved ones.  Other's pick names based on what flows well with another name they like.  Some parents pick a name out based on the meaning of the name.  Regardless to the reasons we choose names for our children, we try our best to give them a name that will stand the test of time.  After all, that name will be them for their entire lives.



Recently CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts added a product to their website. Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! is a full color video approximately 30 minutes in length (28:30) that features your child as they learn about the meaning of their name and discover what God has said about names and what a great treasure is in a name.  Over the course of the video, your child's name is spoken over 20 times and is shown on screen more than a dozen various ways.

Just some of the ways your child's name is displayed on the screen. 

Personalization of the video was fairly simple.  I added my son's name, his photograph and a piece of artwork that he created.  I also wrote a letter from myself and my husband that is "delivered" by one of the characters during the video.  The staff at CrossTimber did the rest.

After about two weeks, Garrett's personal video was delivered to our email.  I had the option to both watch it online as well as download it to my computer.  Once downloaded, I called Garrett over and we sat together and watched the video together.

The cartoon follows the adventures of a pencil (Ben) who helps your child discover the meaning of their name.  Using scripture, Pencil as well as other characters such as Stars, Mr Owl and Rescued the Black Sheep who teach the child how their name has meaning to God.


The child's artwork that was submitted at the time or ordering is featured throughout the video, creatively as modes of transportation.  Ben the Pencil starts by creating a rocket ship from the artwork to blast off to space. 


After his space adventure, Ben then uses the artwork to create a parachute to return to earth.



At the end of the video, Mr Owl presents the child with a virtual name plaque (which can be customized by the parent when placing the order).  Pencil then reads the meaning of the name as well as it's origin and Mr Owl reminds them that God knows the child not only by their name but who they are as well. 


At the end of the video, the stars spell out your child's name and the photograph submitted with the order is displayed, really driving home that the video was specifically made just for them. 


This video was really a lot of fun and Garrett really enjoyed it.  Many times he was laughing and I was giggling myself at the family names on the Owl's tree. 

Two of the names on Mr Owl's family tree. 

For more information about both this product as well as many other personalized name products, visit CrossTimber's website.  You can also find CrossTimber on their Facebook site .




Be sure to click the banner below to read the reviews from other Crew members.

Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! {CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts Reviews}

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