Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Last night we brought out the scope and the camera to set up for a shot of the StarTrain sattilites flyover as well as some deep space photography.

Faint line to the right of Venus is the StarTrain

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Have you ever looked at the Great Seal of the United States and wonder what the significance of the symbols on it represent? Did the Founding Fathers hide any hidden meanings in those symbolism when designing the Great Seal?   These are questions that are deeply researched in the book The Hidden Message of the Great Seal How Foundational Truth From The Dawn Of Liberty May Rescue A Republic In Peril  written by author Michael Kanis

About the Author

With a B.A. in business and an M.B.A. in Finance and Operations, author Michael Kanis has worn several hats in his career.  First making a career in technology and innovation for a Fortune 500 firm, followed by his own wholesale distribution business and now as a published author. 

The 256 page softcover book consists of 24 chapters:

1.    Introduction
2.    Time Capsule
3.    The Significance of the Seal
4.    Setting the Stage
5.    A Tale of Two Systems
6.    Studying the Seal
7.    How Could it have Been  
       Hidden So Long?
8.    Charles Thomson
9.    Francis Hopskinson
10.  The Pyramid
11.   Annuit Coeptis
12.   Novus Ordo Secorlum
13.   The Eye
14.   The Early Designs Part 1
15.   Early Designs Part 2
16.   The Covenant
17.   The Front of the Seal
18.   The Four Pillars
19.   Virtue
20.   Freedom
21.   Providence
22.   Unity
23.   Unexpected Connections
24.   Conclusion

The book opens discussing the restoration of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.  When workers removed the cornerstone, they found a time capsule that had been buried more than 700 years prior in the 18th century.  Inside they found newspapers, documents, coins, letters and most intriguing a silver plaque created by Paul Revere.  From then on, the book is filled with page after page of amazing facts about American history, our founding fathers, and the history of the Great Seal of the United States.

 The author spent many years digging deep into researching the material to discover if the Founding Fathers hid a secret meaning within the Seal and if so, what was that hidden message hidden among the allegory use of the specific symbols chosen.

But discovering the secret of the Seal is only the beginning. The author hopes that thru the research put into this book, that the current generation as well as future generations to come will understand the founding father's original intentions for this country and hopefully they will learn the secrets of the Seal to help guide the nation in their footsteps and virtues.

Filled with artwork, photographs and timelines, this book is great for a coffee table book that will peak interests of those who see it.  I would say the text itself is high school and college level, or a very advanced middle school student.  The writing was a bit heavy for my kids, so I've been reading thru the book myself and have been learning a good deal of history of our country.  I do find it a bit far fetched that the "secrets" of the symbol were unknown to history until the author researched it, however, I think maybe it would be correct in saying "lost to us" as the average American probably doesn't give much thought into it.  Overall, it's been a good read and I'm enjoying learning the many gems to be picked up from the book.

The book can be found on Amazon for $29.95, but I have included a coupon code for 50% off the cover price along with free shipping if you purchase the book straight from the website at To receive the discount, use the coupon code:  HOMESCHOOL at checkout.  The discount is good until 30 May 2020.

Be sure to click the banner below to see what other members of the Crew have thought about The Hidden Message of the Great Seal.
The Hidden Message of the Great Seal {The Hidden Message, LLC Reviews}

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review Item Alert

UPS just dropped off an upcoming review item to my house and I'm stoked to start using this with Ashleigh and Garrett... This is for the Workman Publishing book Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook.  This review will be published on the website on May 27th.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Not If But When (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Raising Christian children in today's world is difficult.  They are constantly bombarded with sexual images and language in just about any situation - whether it's commercials on television, songs on the radio or billboards while driving down the highway.  And as our culture becomes even more sexualized, we find that younger aged children begin to emulate what they say.  As a result, we see children speaking about sexual topics, looking at pornographic images and even engaging in sexual activities at a much younger age then in the past.

Speaking to our children about these topics, especially before their teenage years, can be very uncomfortable for parents.  It wasn't easy when I had to approach the subject with my now 21 year old daughter, and she was about 14 when we had our discussion.  Now, I find myself navigating those waters with my 13 year old boy and 12 year old girl, so I was especially interested when we were offered a review for Not If, But When from Christian Focus.

I should start this review with a bit of honesty.  I was not originally scheduled to review this particular title.   We had been selected to review a different book about Ole Testament prophecies that pointed toward the coming of Jesus.  Often times,  God has other plans and when my package arrived from the publisher, it contained Not If, But When instead.  As it turns out, this book is probably exactly what I needed for my kids at this time.

Not If, But When is a conversation between a parent and their child written in two ways - one between a mother and her daughter, and then written again as a father conversing with his son.  In both stories, the child has returned from a fun day at the waterpark with their friends but had a rather uncomfortable experience that included both inappropriate sexual remarks as well as seeing pornographic images on the friend's phone. During the conversation with the parent, topics such as lust, pornography, objectifying people, and how people can become enslaved to sin when sex is taken out of the context of marriage. 

This book is written by author John Perritt, the Director of Resources for Reformed Youth Ministries, and is beautifully illustrated by Alice Masteropaolo. The hardcover book is 59 pages long and has a read to age of 7-12 years of age.   The book is written to be read by the parent to the child as opposed to the child reading it independently, mostly due to the nature of the book.

Each of the two story options contains 8 chapters followed by a conclusion. The chapters each contain one page of text with an illustration on the opposing page (one chapter does have two pages of text).  Each chapter also contains a box that offers a scripture reading, brings the attention to the main point of the passage, and offers questions to ask the child to help guide them into a discussion.

How Our Family Used This Book

This is not the type of book you just say "Hey, come on kids, we're going to read a story!"  The topics in this book can be quite uncomfortable for a preteen to discuss with their parents.  With this in mind, I decided to approach this book over a period of days, one on one with each kid.  I would have each kid follow me to my bedroom, close the door and over the course of the week, we read the book together - first with Ashleigh and then again with Garrett.

For each kid, I had them start by reading the Bible verse for the chapter and then I would read the chapter to them.  The only rule was they could not interrupt or be disrespectful, even if they were uncomfortable with the topic we were discussing.

Ashleigh Showing me a rabbit in the book
Garrett reading the Bible Verse from the Tablet

Ashleigh is at a stage where anything remotely intimate between two people grosses her out.  Luckily, this book doesn't discuss biological functions and while it does discuss sex, it assumes that the child already knows how babies are made and instead focuses on sex being a gift from God between two married people. This made the discussion a bit more bearable for her.  We did talk more about the topic of pornography and how these types of pictures (and requests for these types of pictures) is disrespectful to her and would not be respecting her but only objectifying her body. With Garrett, I approached our discussions a bit differently.  Our discussions were more about why objectifying a woman is wrong and why looking at pornographic images is wrong.

Both kids were given ample opportunity to ask questions, regardless of the topic, whether it be about sex, pornography, relationships, sin, or their relationship with God and they were made aware that if they ever had questions, they could come to either myself or their father to find answers as well as why it would be better for them to come with us and get accurate answers then to get information from their friends.

Overall, I found Not If, But When to be a really great stepping stone for approaching these types of discussions with the kids.  My only slight complaint is that the illustrations seem to feature small children rather than older kids.  My daughter noticed this during and pointed out that "there was no way a girl that little is going to know things like that". 

For more information about Not If, But When and the other books published by Christian Focus , be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:


#hsreviews #christianfocus

Members of the Crew were offered their choice out of three books for different age groups to share with their families.  Click the banner below and read their reviews for all three.
Psalms for my Day, 30 Prophecies: One Story & Not If, But When {Christian Focus Reviews}

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Memoria Press 2nd Form Latin Unboxing

Super excited to get this package in my mailbox today and wanted to share it with everyone.    So welcome to what is my first ever unboxing video.   If you like it and would like for me to do more of these in the future, let me know :)

Today I am unboxing the 2nd Form Latin Complete Set from Memoria Press. We will show what's included and give a sneak peak of each component for this Latin Curriculum for Grade 6+. Be sure to visit the blog on May 20th when we will give a full review of the 2nd Form Latin curriculum.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Weekend Meal Planning

We are still under a Safe-At-Home order and it looks as if it will be that way for another month (Los Angeles County is ordered until May 19th). I don't know how things are where you are at, but here, I am going stir crazy.  I was really hoping to go to Death Valley during the super bloom this year for some camping and hiking - unfortunately those plans were overrode.  Being on the base, we have what is called HPCon (healthcare condition).  Right now, we are in HPcon Charlie, but they have been saying that we can go up to HP Con Delta at any moment, which will cause the lockdown of the base.  If we were to go off base and the base goes into lock down, we would only have a short period to return to base.  Death valley does not have cell service so we wouldn't know to return and could be outside of the return window.  Not a chance we want to take.   So, we're staying on base, wearing masks everywhere we go.

My husband Charlie, wearing his mask, shows that we are in HP Con Charlie

This week, I'll be trying to use up food that is already in my kitchen.  For example, I had planned for a while to make Manhattan clam chowder but for whatever reasons, we never got to it.  It's currently in the pot along with some crusty bread.  Same for a chinese chicken salad I had planned - it will get done this week.  I've got frozen salmon, tilapia and flounder in the freezer that also needs to be used up, and some beef for cheesesteaks ready to go.. So, this week, I'm challenging myself to use up a good portion of the stuff I already have so that I can restock with fresh foods next week. 

Saturday -  Thai Chicken Pizza with cucumbers and cilantro with salad

Sunday - Manhattan style Clam Chowder with crusty bread

Monday - Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon with baby carrots, broccoli and rice

Tuesday - Philly Cheesesteak potato bar and salad

Wednesday - Blackened Tilapia with roasted new potatoes and salad.

Thursday -  Dinner from Club Muroc

Friday -  Chinese chicken salad

Saturday - Navy beans and ham with salad

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

April Astronomical Report

We are in the middle of the month and I am sorry for getting this to you late.  Between Covid-19 and the isolation, it's been hard trying to get things on a normal schedule.  However, Lepus California Observatory was nice enough to provide me with a monthly report for April.   Be sure to head over to their Youtube Channel and check out some of their educational/ astronomy videos (all videos are generally child friendly although do preview for mild language).

April 2020 Astronomy Report

April is again a quiet month for major astronomical events but there are always something going on in the sky. There is a crowd favorite meteor shower coming up mid-month and the third in a line of four supermoons will be also shine brightly in April. Also, the comet that was once hoped to put on a great show can't keep it together!

On the Earth

This month brings the return of the Lyrids meteor shower, a somewhat major player in the annual roll call of meteor activity. As their name suggests the Lyrids have their radiant placed in the constellation of Lyra. Peak rates for this shower is somewhat low, somewhere between 10-20 streaks per hour. However, these meteors are known for producing bright streaks that leave behind bright smoke trails that last for several seconds. The moon will be in it's new phase so there will be no interference from moonlight this year. Best time to look will be after midnight.

In the Solar System

The third supermoon in a line of four for this year occurs on April 8. Being a supermoon means it will appear just a little brighter and a little bigger than normal. Expect an abundance of moonlight if the skies are clear. The fourth and final supermoon of the year occurs in May.

If you have seen some of the news lately you might be aware of a comet that was supposed to put on a good show later in May. Comet C/2020 Y4 Atlas is currently gliding through the inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Earth. A few weeks ago it began to experience an outburst in brightness and almost getting to naked eye magnitude. The comet was predicted to get very bright in May and put on a spectacular show. Alas, or should I say Atlas, it was not to be. The comet started breaking up in mid April. However, as one comet leaves, another has entered. C/2020 F8 Swan is the newest contender.

If you would like to see a wonderful conjunction of solar system bodies in mid April, you have but to arise early. The Moon will be teaming up with Mars and both Jovian worlds (Jupiter and Saturn) to put on a nice show in the early morning hours of April 14-18. All you need are your eyes to see but you will need to get up before dawn.

In the Milky Way and Beyond
The spring season is also known as galaxy season to amateur astronomers. Constellations like Leo and Coma Berenices contain hundreds of galaxies and many of them can be seen with a small scope or pair of binoculars. Examples include M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), M81 (Bode's Galaxy) and M82 (Cigar Galaxy), M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), M84 in Markarian's Chain (a long chain of several galaxies) and the Leo Triplet (contains M65, M66 and NGC 3628).

M81 (Bode's Galaxy) and M82 (Cigar Galaxy)
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy)

Lunar phases:
First Quarter: Apr 1
Full: Apr 8
Third Quarter: Apr 14
New: Apr 23

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Weekend Meal Planning (Late Edition)

I tell you - these few weeks have been crazy!!!   Sure, we're stuck at home but that surely doesn't mean a relaxing vacation by any means..  The stress level has been unreal - especially living on a military base that keeps threatening a full lockdown.. 

So, my days have been filled with trying to plan meals around what I have already in the fridge, making facemasks for families on base, trying to accomplish something that resembles homeschooling, keeping the household running, trying to help ease the minds of my friends on base, and still try to take some time for enrichment for myself, whether thru reading, meditation, paper crafting or even listening to lectures.

I have still be managing to feed the family, although not nearly as healthy as I would like.  I'm dreading stepping on the scale when this is all over lol    We are making a habit of ordering food from the Club on base once a week - they offer a family dinner for $22 that provides plenty of food for curbside pickup and it allows us to help support base businesses.  Last week we had smoked brisket, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls.  I added a salad and was happy with it.. They also offer fried chicken and meatloaf dinners as well.

Sunday:  Pan Fried Sea Bass with couscous  and salad

Monday: Pizza

Tuesday: Chicken cacciatore with angelhair pasta and salad

Wednesday:  Salmon patties, kale chips, green beans and mac and cheese

Thursday: Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Salad and steamed broccoli

Friday:  Take out from Club Muroc

Saturday: Goulash with Salad


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