Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Tales- a TOS Review

Can you tell?  This is my FAVORITE product of the year.  They saved the best for last.  What is it?  I know you are on pins and needles...


I received both Writing Tales level 1 and 2 as part of the TOS Crew.  I am so excited to have received this product.

You can find a sample here and as you will see, it uses literature, fables and stories to teach language arts.  You start out the week reading a passage together.  Each week has a focus (nouns, adverbs etc.) and you use the passage to work on that theme.  You also start out narrating the passage and then work on refining it throughout the week.  You write a rough draft the first day, fix it up over the week and use misspelled words as spelling words.  There is also copy work at the beginning of the week.  Andrew isn't quite able to narrate AND think specifically on what a lesson might be.  He can get thoughts on paper but we are probably 6 months away from getting them CORRECTLY on paper with proper punctuation, spelling and what have you.  This is, of course, the reason for the rough draft at the beginning of the week but it is just a tad to much for him.  Right now I am having him verbally narrate the passage and do a small amount of the writing.

There are worksheets throughout the week and games that are in the appendix.  If you have been reading my blog you know I am a hands on teacher.  This program is more 'hands on' than 'hands off' but it can be adapted.  Andrew had read ahead (gasp) and read the next passage.  When he told me this, I just asked him to give me a narration.  He did so well.  So you could just give your students the material to do on their own and grade it later.  Because we are doing some oral narration I am more involved than you would have to be- but then again I enjoy that part of homeschooling- ESPECIALLY because Andrew really likes this as well.  And that is say a LOT when it comes to school stuff.  I don't think he has complained when we do language arts.  (Ok, maybe on the handwriting a little but he continued without major prodding.)  Oh if all subjects could just come so easily!

Level one is for 3rd and 4th grade.  The student text sells for $19.95 and the teacher manual is $24.95. I  have found the teacher manual to be useful.  It is somewhat redundant but still helpful.  Level two is for 4th and 5th grade.  We are not there yet but I am loving this approach and will continue to work thru it week by week.  Level two student and teacher texts are $24.95 and $32.95 respectively.

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One thing I just figured out while writing the review is that the teacher's manual is in two parts.  The beginning has lesson plans and the end is the answer key.  I note that because it wasn't intuitive to me.  I love that there are two copies of the text to be read; one in the student and one in the teacher book.  That way we can both be looking at it separately and it is also useful when working on an item that refers back to that text.

I "heart" Writing Tales.  Please click on the banner below to see what others thought of it.

I received this in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Would you like 17 bags of fries with that?

Today's title could also be..Monday Funny.    or... Small Family Logistics.    or... Enter To Win.

I was on the phone with a friend who has six kids.  She is the oldest of 19.  You can read her story as she blogs her current journeys on HERE.

So anyway- I was driving through McDonalds while I was on the phone with her.  I said, "hang on.  I need to place my order.....I'd like a medium fry please."

She started laughing....and said..

"You can do that?  You can order just one fry?"

She had been at McDonalds that week with her six kids and they have to make a list and check it twice.  (I'm still hoping for at least five more kids by the way.)

Maybe it was funnier in person.  But it made us both laugh.

By the way, Becky is having a contest... so go to her blog to enter!  There aren't many entries so you have a pretty good chance of winning!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I was having some quiet time this past week and God brought it to me that Easter is like a clean slate, a new year.  Of course I am so thankful that ANY and EVERY day can be a new day with Jesus but "Happy New Year" is symbolic.  So....  break out the hats and sound makers and yell HAPPY NEW YEAR..HE IS RISEN!!!!!!!

Thanks to Trish for hosting the blog.   It has been such a blessing for me to read and write during these 40 days.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Friday...But Sunday is Coming

See the Light- a TOS Review


I had the opportunity to review the See The Light art class.  This is a program that allows anyone to teach art at home...even those (me) who might not be so artistically inclined.  It is very beginner and I love the way she takes people through step by step.  We were given the first four lessons to try out and you can see the first three by going here.  Bonus!

Each lesson also ties in the Bible in some way. In one of the initial lessons, you shade in an apple.  She then goes on to talk about Adam and Eve.  It is a nice way to tie the two together.   There are not a ton of materials needed to do this curriculum.  Did you know that Michaels and JoAnns now have  teacher programs for savings?  

As for how we liked it.. I really did!  And I learned much.  Andrew is much more artistically inclined and also wants to do things 'his own way.'  I liked the step by step approach and can see this working for us later on but for him right now, it just isn't a good fit.  It is possible that I could do the lesson and then transfer the information to Andrew but we have other fish to fry at the moment.  And... it is not captioned.  So on that basis alone, even though I like it, I can't purchase it for Andrew.  On some review items I really don't care because I don't love the product but in this case it lends itself to 'guided participation.'  I really do wish it were captioned.  I asked them about future for captioning... and their response is below.  They seemed receptive to the idea.  So please contact them by going HERE if you would like to see captions.   Here is an excerpt of their response:

As of this moment in time, the videos are not captioned for the hearing impaired. However, if there seems to be sufficient interest  , we certainly will want to extend our ministry into this area.  

There are different ways to purchase this program and you can see that here.  The year curriculum sells for $99.99.   I was considering how I write my reviews in general.  I may have even said this earlier in the year, but when I write a review, I tend not to write the specifics of the program as you can find that out easily on the website.  Rather, I give more general information and then how we use it.  There is a ton of detail for this program on the website and in the other reviews which you can get to by clicking on the banner below.

I received this program in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great Narration!

We have been doing Resurrection Eggs over the last month.  This morning Andrew decided he wanted to re-intact it all from A to Z.  I pulled up the last chapters of the Gospel according to Mark and he did so well!  I wanted to video tape it but he asked me not to.  He basically was narrating these last chapters.  My favorite line was when Judas came to betray Jesus.  Andrew had Peter say, "Holy Cow!  What are you doing Judas?!" Andrew is wonderful about putting himself in the character's role and trying to figure out what they would say and feel.  And in this instance I think it fit.  Can you imagine?  You are at a Passover dinner with 12 of your closest buds.  Then the head guy wants to go pray in the woods.  You fall asleep.  Soldiers come with one of your buds with accusations.  What a night.  Most of us can put ourselves in Peter's place of denying Christ but he was the boldest of them all so that does make it surprising.  But at the point of Judas' betrayal that was unbelievable to him.   He never thought he would.....

Stay tuned tomorrow for a great video.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

His Love Endures Forever

A few days ago I wrote out Psalm 136 where the response is, "His love endures forever."  As I was reading a few of the comments I started thinking about that line...His love endures forever.   Which word do you put the emphasis on when you read it?   I always put it on love.  But each word is important.

His... Whose love?  God's love.  We can't always count on others but God's love endures forever.

Love.... What endures?  Love.  Not stuff.  Not relationships here on earth.  LOVE (His LOVE) endures forever.

Endures... What does His love do?  It endures.  It stands the test of time.  We can count on it.  It endures hardships, troubles and joy.  It sustains, it supports, it lasts....

Forever...  How long does His love endure?  Forever.  Not until tomorrow.. not until the second Tuesday of next week.  Forever.

Nutrition 101 - a TOS Review


I had the opportunity to review Nutrition 101 from Growing Healthy Homes.  This is a very comprehensive book that educates on all parts of the body.  I was given the PDF version of this book available via CD ROM.  When I signed up to review the book I didn't realize that I already owned the actual paper copy which I had purchased used.  So while this review is for the PDF/CD ROM version, I have the advantage of having a printed copy in front of me.

First, with the exception on the information regarding the hearing impaired (which I will get to later), I like the information presented in this book.  It is about living well..eating well..growing healthy homes!  It is right up my alley in terms of how I 'think.'  The various body systems are covered in detail and how we are to keep them healthy.  The graphics are wonderful.  Each section has information, activities and even Q&A if you want to do testing at the end of the chapter.

When I purchased this book last year as a printed copy I noticed some items in the hearing chapter that I thought could use some updating.  It mentioned that "younger people with profound hearing loss will generally learn sign language in order to communicate with the world."  If you know me, you know I couldn't let it go.  So shortly after purchasing the book, I wrote them and told them information about the cochlear implant, learning to listen and other FACTS.  Babies born with profound hearing loss can learn to listen either with hearing aids or cochlear implants!  And when intervened early, they will do VERY well.  When I realized the CD-ROM that I would be reviewing was the same book I was cautiously hopeful that these changes would have been included.  They were not.  I did write them again they said, "Because we have four authors, we have to come to a consensus on this.  We want to do what is right and, clearly, not to offend anyone.  We really appreciate you bringing this to our attention.  We've already started the 2011 homeschooling circuit, so we're working on a solution now."   As an fyi for those that don't know, Over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, and because people still believe that sign language HAS to be done for deaf children (it does not), it just is something I can not overlook.  It saddens me.  I do hope they make the changes at the very least for the CD version.  I will be glad to re-post when they do that.   To most this might not be a grievous error but it perpetuates a mis-belief that I just can't leave hanging out there without mentioning.

The book is eye catching.  Andrew has read some of it and found it very interesting.  We never read things from start to finish.  I believe this book can be used for a curriculum or a reference.  There is so much detail on all the parts of the body, the foods and nutritional components that feed into it... it is very comprehensive.  It is however, pricey from my perspective.  It is only $20 more dollars for a printed version and although I love ebooks, I found that format cumbersome because the book is close to 500 pages long.  (That could be because I already owned the printed copy.)  The CD-ROM is $79.95.   There is a CD-ROM/Printed combo that sells for $129.95. You can see the table of contents as well as a sample of the book by going to here.  I know that some of the Crew members were able to get the book printed off for about $10.  It all depends on how much you like the e-book format.  There are also options for purchasing for a co-op class.  You can find all of the pricing options here.  Please contact them if you are wondering how the license purchasing works.

We have also been authorized to extend a savings offer to you.  If you would like to purchase this product, you can use the code TOScrew11 to receive a 15% discount which is the same as you would receive at a homeschool fair.  Please note the date on this review.  If you are reading it long after it has been published, this code may no longer be valid.  Please click on the button below to see other reviews on this product.

I received this product in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Psalm 136

As I was researching Passover I read that part of this Psalm is read during the meal.  I know I have read this Psalm before...but i 'skip' the response at least in my head.  I just read it out loud, deliberately and each line.  Try it!  It truly gave a different feel to it.  

Psalm 136
 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. 
            His love endures forever. 
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. 
            His love endures forever. 
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: 
            His love endures forever.
 4 to him who alone does great wonders,
            His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
            His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
            His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
            His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
            His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
            His love endures forever.
 10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
            His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
            His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
            His love endures forever.
 13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
            His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
            His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
            His love endures forever.
 16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
            His love endures forever.
 17 to him who struck down great kings,
            His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
            His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
            His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
            His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
            His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
            His love endures forever.
 23 He remembered us in our low estate
            His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
            His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
            His love endures forever.
 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
            His love endures forever.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reflection Week

I have this 'epic' post in my drafts on what a Seder is..what Passover is.. and what each part is and what it means.  I learned a ton by writing it.  But there is nothing new under then sun in what I wrote.  You can find it on the internet and I encourage you to do so.  You will learn so much just in searching out the material on your own.  A friend sent me some wonderful websites and I will be putting together a 'link list' this week.

Andrew requested a "Passover meal."  He also wants to write with red marker on the doorstops.  (He is concerned since he is a firstborn son.)   I found one website that talked about putting red crepe paper on the door frames.  We will likely do our Seder after Passover because Andrew wants to celebrate with his friends and they are out of town until May.  I think that is half of what 'it' is all about.  You can do church at home too, by yourself, on the internet- but Jesus wants us to fellowship with others.  In that interaction we learn about ourselves and others.  It really isn't about a date on the calendar.

There is so much symbolism in the Passover meal.  Some of these have Jewish roots and there are Christian meanings as well.  But much of it is reflecting...asking God to speak to you to have your own interpretation.  God is personal.  He desires relationship.

On Saturday I will be having a grown up Seder with some friends.  We will also be celebrating communion.  Many times we just go through the motions but at our last group meeting the pastor asked us to really 'get ready' for communion which means to reflect.. to come to the cross.. to give Him your sins... to repent for those things you have done so that you can leave them at the cross and be done with them.  That is, after all, what Easter week is about.  So that finally we can say, "it is finished" to whatever burden we are hanging on to.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On His Blindness by John Milton

MY folks were visiting last week and my dad said he had heard the words, "They also serve who only stand and wait."  I googled them and it is a wonderful poem by John Milton.  He wrote this after he became blind reflecting on his disability.  But there are so many implications, thoughts, and potential intentions.  I think it goes along with Easter and Lent as well.  (ps:  I don't quite GET it all... I'm going to have to read this one several times over the next few weeks.)

When I consider how my light is spent

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest He returning chide,

"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need

Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,

And post o'er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait."

Friday, April 8, 2011

What If...

The host blog for the Lent season put this song on her blog a few posts ago but I have heard it many places since then and thought I would share it here as well.  It is Laura Story's song Blessings.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Yesterday I wrote "why not?"  Why are people who are not Christians..not?  I think it is an important question to ask.  One person responded on my Facebook as to why she is not and I appreciate her response.  I will not re-post (because she posted there and not on my blog) but you are welcome to go look at yesterday's Facebook post if you are my friend. At the end she did indicate that she is curious why a person would want to be a Christian.

So that is today...


Why are you a Christian?

For me it is easy.  I am so less than perfect.  I do feel the need for a savior.  I believe in the next life, in heaven and hell, and I believe that if we go by works I am screwed.  (Pardon my french.)  We had a Jehovah's Witness here one time and they believe that if you have had blood transfusions you are not eligible anymore.  Guess I'm out eh?  (Yes we brought that up with them and they had no answer.)  I can not do enough to get there.  And thankfully I have a Savior that bridges the gap.  I can not get there by works.

For honesty's sake, I will say that sometimes, I believe because I just don't like the other options.  Sometimes I choose Jesus because everything else just does not give me something to believe in.  I also, as I mentioned above, know and feel I fall short.  So we are back to the need for a Savior. works.  I pray to Jesus.  I see answers.  And I NEED answers on a daily basis.  They are not always as I think he should answer...but I have faith that he will work out the big and the little.  I have seen it.  I have felt it.  I will share just one small story.  AJ was having a 'moment' and I knew I needed to remove myself from the room and just go pray.  I did...that AJ would just feel the Holy Spirit move.  He comes to find me and says, "I can't get the fruit of the Spirit song out of my head!!!!"  Because he went from meltdown to that because of me lifting my words to God, I  knew he was real.  In that moment..and always.

For me also, it isn't about the value of being a Christian.  I do KNOW there are good people in every religion.   Again it is almost about NOT being good and needing a savior.  Guilt and redemption are at the core.   Again, my son often exemplifies the need for a Savior...and sometimes I think we are put smack dab in the middle of the Christian homeschool community to show others that indeed Christians are not perfect and in need of forgiveness.  I have so many stories on that front.  One that still touches my heart is from last year at our co-op.  (Or maybe 2 years ago...I have lost count of the years.)  My dear son went and popped a girl about half his size in a class.  I was mortified.  The next week I had to DRAG myself there because I was beyond embarrassed.  AJ's  'stuff' sometimes manifests in behavior but it still makes me want to go run and hide.  (I believe that is part of the devil's plan.)   By that time AJ was repentant and the girl said she forgave Andrew.  The mom said, "I just told my daughter that AJ is still learning and that although it was wrong we need to forgive."  It melted my heart...forgiveness with skin on.  Just imagine my God doing that a million fold.    I have quite a few stories from our co-op that are like that.  There have been times that people have not been as forgiving and in those instances I get a chance to forgive...and let go.

I also think that other religions can appear to 'work' in this life.  But it gets back to eternity for me.  And I'm not willing to gamble.  God is gracious and has provided me proof when I have asked. But the prayer needs to be asked.  When I asked Jesus fully into my heart in my early 30s I wasn't quite sure what I had signed up for.  I just asked him to be REAL for me.  And He was..and He is...

Please share WHY you believe... either in comments, email or on FB.  (

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why not?

I was in the shower.. thinking.  It is where all great thoughts happen.  I was wondering about my 'Sinners welcome' post yesterday.  And I thought..WHY are people NOT Christian?  I can guess the reasons. I looked up to see if there is a Facebook poll on it because there are a bunch of polls going around right now with a new feature they have.  (There is not.)  So the QOD is, if you are not a Christian, why not?  (If you are and want to share your story...hold that thought.)  Feel free to inbox me on Facebook if you are my friend, or email me at leave a comment.  Anonymous comments welcome.    I'm not going to try and convince you necessarily but I welcome questions.    I pretty much lay it out there and wear my heart on my sleeve when I talk about my faith. But I just wondered...why NOT?  (Maybe I will do a FB poll.)  I think this post goes right along with Lent.

Tomorrow's post will be for those that wish to share why they ARE Christians.

KinderBach- A TOS Review


Kinderbach is a online or dvd piano curriculum for young children that you can do at home.  We received a membership as part of our Crew team on The Old Schoolhouse.

So how did we like it?  Well, first of all, it is not captioned.  There are parts of the videos that have background noise.  Andrew WAS able to hear it and discern some parts and not others. I asked them if they had captions via the Internet or DVD option and they said, "I’m sorry.  We do not.   We learned the technology as we produced the videos.  Hindsight is always 20/20."  That was a tad disappointing.  I always hope a company will have captions at least in their future plans.  

  Andrew enjoyed the ditties presented in each but it was geared to a younger crowd.  (He is 10.  And although younger developmentally, this was geared visually to a younger age.  It is listed as for ages 3-7.)  Each lesson was very short which I liked.  By short I mean less than five minutes.   This VERY much works for us.  We are at the 'preschool' age of attention.

There were also PDF books to download with activities.  The activity books for each level are over 40 pages long. There are 6 levels in this program and 10 lessons in each level.    Although not all lessons use a piano, you do need a piano or keyboard to do this curriculum.

Because I do play the piano but don't teach it, I found it interesting the way that they presented the material.  They would call a quarter note a 'walk' and would speed things up or slow then down depending on the note used.  I think that might work well with younger kids but I found myself wanting to describe exactly what the note was called versus a comparison.  I was hoping that because this was geared to the younger crowd that it might work well for Andrew because that is where his attention 'age' is at.  Sometimes that works..sometimes it doesn't.


Because Andrew had some difficulty understanding the instructor because of the background noise...coupled with the fact that he spent most of his time laughing at the videos instead of doing what they asked.. it provided nice entertainment but not learning of how to play the piano.

I recognize that everyone is different and you may indeed like this.  As always you can click on the banner below to find others that reviewed the product.  In addition, you can do a free trial lesson.  So please look at other reviews and the website yourself to make your own opinions.

You can find the full price structure by going to THIS page on the KinderBach webiste.  It is $19.99 a month or $95.88 for the year.  You can buy DVD packages or pay the fee for online access.

I received this product in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sinners Welcome

My cousin took this picture in a drive by.  I just love it!!!  All churches should post it.  I just had a conversation Saturday discussing the fact that is a key difference between Christianity and other religions...  you don't have to DO anything.  It is all by grace.   That IS Easter.  I might have added.."Sinners Welcome.  You'll fit right in."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Only Grace....

I have a whole post I wrote yesterday to put up this morning but this came to mind in the middle of the night.  I love this song.  For me it encompasses Easter to the core.  Only Grace by Matthew West:

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterdayhas disappeared
The dirt has washed away
And now it's clear

There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace

You're starting over now
Under the sun
You're stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun

An there's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe meit's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace

And if you should fall again
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
Get back up, get back up
Get back up again

There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me it's enoughits enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's onlytheres onlygrace

There's only mercy and believe me it's enoughits enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
Theres onlygrace
So get back upget back up again
Get back up again.

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