Monday, December 29, 2014

Challah Bread Recipe 1

I made my first attempt with Challah bread this week because I wanted to try it before our first Shabbat. I used the Challah I Recipe from It was pretty good but I was low on honey and think I needed more. It turned out beautifully though.

You can find the recipe online. You can also watch a video of it as well. It was helpful to hear and see the instructions. There were things added there that weren't in the text.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Studying OT Biblical Holidays

I have been wanting to study the Old Testament Biblical holidays for quite some time but I wanted to wait until Gess was old enough to really get something out of it. Now that she is, I am anxious for the new year to begin. See, besides simply studying the holidays, we are going to actually observe them!  From January to December we will do each holiday as it takes place. In fact we are going to observe some of the non-biblical Jewish holidays as well.  We are using the book A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays to help us navigate what to do. They have lots of great information and many fun games, activities, and crafts to go along with them.

There aren't really any festivals at the very beginning of our year. They don't really get started to until the spring. It is pretty much Spring and Fall, with just a couple in the winter.  You can see the chart on the back of the book that explains when they are.

We also plan on observing the Sabbath, or should I say Shabbat?  While the book gives suggestions on how to do it, I wanted see one actually in action, so I found a few helpful videos online. Of course ours will be a Messianic observance as we will include how Christ is the fulfillment of what we observe.

Here is a simple explanation of how each blessing is to take place.

This one instructs you on how to observe most of the traditional aspects of the meal with your family.

This one is actually filming a Messianic observance in Israel.I think we will include the Shabbat Shalom song in ours!

Our first observance will be January 2nd.  I found the exact times at Ours looks like this:

Shabbat, Torah Reading: Vayechi
Friday, January 2, 2015
Light Candles at:
4:57 PM
Shabbat, January 3, 2015
Shabbat Ends:
5:58 PM
I am excited to get started! I will hopefully share some about each of our holiday observances but I want to be careful recording them as I want them to be observed with the reverence it is due. I will also be trying some Challah bread recipes and will share which one we end up using!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers That Mean Something

I got this in my email from Baptist Global Response and I couldn't help myself. I had to share it with you. BGR is a great ministry that truly meets the needs of those they help, both physically and spiritually. It's the place we give to the most, outside of our local church mission offerings.

When I got this in email I immediately shared it on Facebook and as my husband has started the habit, we never share anything about giving without actually giving ourselves. So, I purchased:

A Safe Place for Young Girls $5
$5.00 $5.00
10 Fish: $3
$3.00 $3.00
Feed a Hungry Child for a day $.50
$1.00 $1.00
Liter of water & food for one day $1
$1.00 $1.00



I printed out my receipt and I will actually place this in my daughter's stocking. That way she will know that in her honor we gave to help the needy as well as to make her happy on Christmas morning!  I can't wait to show her!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Middle of Middle School Year 1

When I grew up we called it Junior High, but here they refer to it as Middle School. No matter what you call it, this was Gess' official first year out of elementary school. It has been interesting trying to find curriculum to meet her needs but it has worked out so far. She is at least working more independently.

My most exciting and newest change has been our math curriculum. I want to write about it soon but haven't had the chance. It is called Life of Fred and teaches math through stories. While you follow the life of this interesting character named Fred you learn math. You practice math facts, learn geography, time, addition and subtraction concepts as well as early algebra. The greatest part is the child doesn't really know that they are learning. It feels like play. My only concern is that since I started at the beginning its all review for Gess so of course it comes easy. However, it is the first time in her life that Gess has been excited about doing math! She even wants to do it on the weekends! While this is elementary math Gess is still on that level. Math is where she struggles the most.

For Social Studies we are still using Veritas Press and are loving it. While my next unit won't be free as I am not reviewing anymore, the cost will be worth it to me to have a subject that Gess can do totally on her own!  Without my help she has a grade of 94%! We are still on Old Testament and Ancient Egypt and we are almost half way through so this will take us into the summer. Next year we will get New Testament, Greece and Rome. While these are geared toward elementary school, I am confident that the content is challenging enough for Gess. It is certainly something you don't get just anywhere. I considered using their Bible curriculum but they come from a Calvinist theology so chose not to.

For Bible we are still using God's Great Covenant. Again, while this is still elementary level, I feel there is enough content to make it challenging. We should begin Old Testament II in January or shortly thereafter.

For writing we we are still working our way through Essentials in Writing Level 2. This also has her reviewing basic English skills. She has them solid for reading purposes. Writing is much more difficult for her. She loves how they explain it here.

We will be hopping back into Logic of English in January. We are quite a ways in but since this is review for children who don't read well it is presented in a way that makes it on target for Gess' age group.

While taking a break from LOE we have been using some other worksheets along with Essential Skills Advabtage (ESA). We will continue to use ESA as a supplement.  Gess really enjoys it and it's FREE!

Science is what I am still up in the air about. We have been doing our own astronomy study using resources I already have. In January I think I will try Science Shepherd Homeschool Science Curriculum since it comes with video teachings and only costs $35 a year plus a workbook for the unit I want to start with. I will let you know what we think of it as I don't know much about it.

That's where we are at halfway through our school year. How has your semester turned out? Feel free to share resources you find are working for you! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas with the Co-Op

Today we had great fun with our new homeschool co-op. We went to the nursing home and performed The Little Drummer Boy. Gess was asked to be the angel, but she preferred to be a shepherd, so she was!

Next we invaded our local grocery store and split up into 2 teams. Each team had a budget of $20 to spend on getting food for a family in need. This needed to be non-perishable items that would make a good meal. Our team lost because we went over. Ours came to $20.43.  That's not too bad though. They picked out some good items. Macaroni and Cheese, veggies, cans of fruit, pasta and spaghetti sauce, juice, cake mix with icing and a few other things. 

After that we stopped at the old fashioned soda shop for a treat. Gess got a Dr. Pepper float and liked it!  That was a great way to celebrate Christmas I think. Our final meeting of the year is a mom's only luncheon. I am looking forward to that!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

First Snow

Having our first snow in November is something that doesn't happen too often around here. It came down on a Sunday while I was at church. As I was in the nursery waiting for children to arrive, I got some beautiful shots.

After lunch Gess was anxious to play, but first she helped daddy clean off the cars.

Then she tried to make a snowball but it wouldn't pack very good.

So, she settled for making a snow angel.

Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Novel Writing in One Month - I Did It!

For the first time in my life I took the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in a month. It was also the first time I have ever attempted to write a novel at all. I have started a few books that I never finished, but they were all non-fiction about homeschooling, the bible, etc. This was a novel, a book to read just for fun. It was hard, but I did it.

Now before you start wondering when this book will be available let me assure you that it never will be. When you are focused on the number of words you don't have time to edit and I absolutely did not do any editing. Not only that, but the story line is all over the place. I was doing a good job of building characters and relationships but it wasn't really going anywhere so I threw in a little crisis which held me for awhile but I didn't feel it was enough. So I added in some other aspects and the story took a major turn leaving the the other crisis completely ignored.

There were also characters who I began to develop that never came to fruition and the title of my book, based upon my original concept, didn't even seem to go with what was happening so I had to go back and throw in scenes to work it in. Oh, and while I had a place to keep all my characters I would forget to write some down and so a few characters had name changes along the way!  One time was because I confused them with someone else and the other was that I just plumb forgot what I originally called him! And I still don't have a firm setting in place. I tried coming up with a fictitious name only to find it actually existed. I just didn't have the time to research geography.

In spite of it all I got my 50,000 words in which left me with a pretty good chunk of an incomplete and frenzied novel, but at least it does have a beginning a middle and a end. While it might not be totally cohesive, the point of the project was reached. I proved that I could write 50,000 words in a month. Just think about it. If I can do that, what can I do if I take my time? It was fun and helpful to see how well I could get my creative juices flowing. I handled areas of writing I felt weak in much better than I had expected and in the end I am left with some well developed characters, a theme, a title, and a few ideas of where they might lead. You never know, one day there just might be a book, but it will be built upon this session, not actually what was written during it.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thoughts on my Media Fast

Since my blogging obligations for the Schoolhouse Review Crew ended in November, I thought it would be a good time to take a break from the internet and other media. So, from November 1 until Thanksgiving Day we went on a media fast.

Now, let me explain how we defined that for ourselves because we did not refrain from every form of media or even every website. Instead, we targeted areas where we felt most vulnerable. My husband makes his living from computers. He always has and probably always will. He started out in computer repair, then sales, and now he writes software, so expecting that we have no use of computers is kind of difficult. So what we did do during this time was limit ourselves from the majority of it.

What we didn't do.

We refrained from any type of video games on the computer or X-Box.

I also gave up social networking including Facebook. I did remain engaged in two local groups which we use for planning between meetings. I absolutely did not read my feed to see what friends were posting and I did not post anything publicly. (I did, however, have to post my reviews on my blog's Facebook page.) Other than those two final reviews I did not write, post, or even read other blogs. I did however, check the news and weather.

As for television. That isn't a huge distraction for us as we don't have cable television, but we did avoid it anyway with the exception of a couple of shows that we watched together as a family which happened no more than once a week. I also let myself watch a cooking or news show if I were on the treadmill.

We also took away Gess' mp3 player so she didn't listen to music all month unless we played some while doing chores or were in the car, which wasn't often. We did have a couple of karaoke nights where we all sang some Christian songs together. I also listened to some talk radio, but much less than usual.

I also took a lot less pictures. I love blogging and sharing about what Gess is learning. I do think it is important for people to see her do the same things that other kids do, but sometimes I just want to enjoy the moment. Therefore I have taken very few pictures. We even toured an entire museum and I don't have one picture to show for it! We do however, have our memories. Memories of me beside my daughter, not behind the camera. Don't worry, there will be more pictures in the future. but stepping back from that too was important. Some memories need to be captured, but some simply need to be treasured.

What we did more of

Leaving the internet, video games, and television behind really did free up a lot of time for me. Things I did to fill that extra time were:

Bible Study/Prayer - This was really one of my goals. To make God a priority. I was getting my morning devotion time in but not much else during the day. With some time freed up I was able to do my Beth Moore Bible study before my husband came home from work each afternoon. We also started doing more as a family. While I would like to see it grow we are now talking more about it at the dinner table. We are also holding each other accountable for memorizing verses.

Visiting People - I keep in touch with lots of people via Facebook, but seldom see them face to face. While I had hoped to do more visiting than we actually did we did have some people over and randomly went and visited others.

Baking - My husband was probably glad about this one. I had not made home made bread in awhile. Now I have made a few batches, among other things. I am also cooking better meals in the evening, though I could still improve on that as well.

Reading - I have read more books this month than I had in awhile. However, this month, when I would normally sit down and watch a show, I read a book instead.

Read Alouds - I always love family read alongs but we don't always make the time. This month we did. We are currently reading The Hobbit as a family several nights a week. We are still busy with other obligations so we don't remember or have time every day. But this has been the most consistent we have been.

Exercise - I used to joke that I seemed to never be able to fit in exercise, Bible study, and chores. I could manage 2 in a day, but not all three. Well guess what. Dropping media made it happen! After my bible study but right before dinner I was able to get in my exercise and by this time my chores were already done. It's amazing!

Write - I took the NaNoWriMo challenge that I will be posting about soon. But what I found is that even in the 15 to 10 minutes I would sit killing time on Facebook was enough to get another scene written in my book, or at least part of one.  I hope to keep that up now that the challenge is over and take my time to write something good. Who knows, maybe one day you can buy my book!

What we learned

My husband and I were talking about these changes one evening and he said the thing he noticed the most was that we were more dis-tractable. I liked that phrase. It pretty much said it all. We aren't absent parents. We don't veg so much in front of technology that our daughter is ignored. I have been through phases in my life where I was like that but I identified and corrected it a long time ago.

We always try to have family game night and things like that. In fact, if you notice, playing board games wasn't something we did more of because we always made time for that. It wasn't so much what we did that was the difference, it was when we did it. We now had the flexibility to do it the moment it was asked of us. "Dad, you want to build with me?" "Let's play monopoly." "Can we go for a bike ride?" Those are things Gess asks a lot but this month they were answered with an immediate action to do the thing instead of, "Yes Gess, in a little bit." "We will do that later tonight." Or even, "Maybe tomorrow or this weekend."

I also had the ability to act upon my own inclinations right away. Through my Bible study and prayer time I am learning that to be God's servant I need to be available. So, part of our visits were stirred out of the fact that I had someone on my mind. Instead of just praying for them, or even sending a card or calling I baked them something and saw them in person. I am more willing and able to follow the prompting of the Spirit when I am less distracted by media.

I also learned that while I have a lot to say, no one needs to hear it, at least not all the time. The first couple of weeks I had several things run through my mind where I would think "I need to post that on Facebook." Sometimes it would be something humorous, or a serious slant on a social problem of the day. Other times it was just something I thought people might find interesting. I was faced with the reality that I really did think people needed to hear what I had to say. I realized that so many of my pithy comments were more about building up my ego than about informing or entertaining others. That was a harsh reality to face.

I have to tell you the hardest day for staying away from Facebook was election night. I was glued to my television watching the results online and I had so much I wanted to say. But you know what. No one who needed to hear would listen and everyone who did already agreed. I was OK enjoying the evening alone and instead of giving man the credit, I gave it to God. He is the one who puts rulers in place. Not a one of them will save this country. Only He has the power to do it.

The truth is that life is about relationships and things like internet and social media have its place in assisting us with them, but all too often it ends up replacing them. We interact with more people than we ever have before and at the end of the day people feel more alone than ever before too. So my goal is to log off more often and get out into the real world. See people face to face. Not in a virtual book or on a website but live and in person. That is how God made us. To be together. I hope that I will not lose that perspective as I enter back in. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

10 Reasons for Thanks Week 4

1. I am thankful that a holy God would love me enough to save me. That while I was still a sinner Christ died for me. He did not wait for me to be worthy, for that I would never be. With the psalmist I ask, what is man that God is mindful of Him? Not knowing or understanding such a love, I simply thank Him for it, each and every day.

I am thankful for God's Word. How I have access to know more about Him and to learn how to experience His love, mercy, grace and peace. I am thankful that I have many copies, in many versions, when there are people around the globe risking their lives to get one. I am also thankful there are missionaries working diligently to get those to them.

I am thankful for answered prayers. That God hears and has mercy and grace. I am also thankful for unanswered prayers as God truly does know best and can use things that I don't understand for His glory. I am thankful that I can boldly go before the throne of grace and know that He hears me. That is truly enough.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fewer Reviews Coming

Now that our Schoolhouse Review Crew has officially ended I wanted to let my readers know that I am now leaving the crew, at least for awhile. Even though I won't be reviewing products, it is a great resource for finding new things so keep them in mind. If I get opportunities to review individual products I may take those offers, but for the most part my posts will simply be about what is working for us.

As Gess enters middle school it is more difficult to find resources that are "age appropriate." I am eager to find what others are doing for the middle school and high school years. We do have some products we have kept from the crew and a few we have added apart for it. I will probably share more about those after the holidays. I want a little more time to see just what is working as we enter the 6th grade!

It's been a blessing and quite a ride, but its time for me to step back and focus on some other things. So those looking for specific reviews, my old links will remain up. Feel free to like me on Facebook and/or ask me specific questions there or via comments. Also remember that if you are homeschooling a child with Down syndrome we have a Down Syndrome and Homeschooling Moms Facebook Group we would love for you to join!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

10 Reasons for Thanks Week 3

4. I am thankful for my friends. The ones that I don't see as much as I would like to but are ready with a yes when want to play cards, go to a movie, bowling, or some other thing. Those that still gather for game night, karaoke, and cookouts. Those who were here to greet me when I first arrived and still love me even now to those I am just now getting to know. I am also thankful for those I have known over the years but lost touch with only to find you on here again. You are all dear to me!

3. I am thankful for my church family. With my actual family being spread around the country I am extremely grateful for a place where I can feel those bonds face to face, day to day. I have many great mentors and friends. They will laugh with me, cry with me, travel with me, work with me, and pray with me. This has truly been one of the few places in life where I feel like I fit in, so the fact that they even put up with me is reason enough to say thanks! 

2. I am thankful for my family. My husband treats me with great love and respect and never leaves me in doubt of how much I mean to him. My children make me proud in many different ways. I love that they love each other and that they love their mom. We have been through much together and I think it has made us all stronger.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Blue Ribbon Awards

The Schoolhouse Review has provided us with some amazing products, some of which I might never have found. Now our crew has voted for our favorites. Today I am sharing their post that shows what the entire crew thought. Later I will post of some my favorites. For now, see which vendors won the Schoolhouse Review Blue Ribbon Awards!

2014 Blue Ribbon Awards

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10 Reasons for Thanks Week 2

7. I am grateful for kids. My kids, grandkids, friend's kids, church kids, kids with special needs, kids who know everything, kids who know nothing, kids who are chatty, kids how are quiet, kids who make me laugh, and kids who like to cry. Kids are a gift from God. May we treat each of them with the love, care, respect, and dignity they deserve! Hug a kid today! Tell them you care and are glad they are in your life!

6. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, clean water, and plenty of food to eat including things that are not so good for me but taste really good. I am thankful we have cars to get us form place to place, air conditioning the summer and heat in the winter. We have clothes in our closets, shoes on our feet, and beds to sleep in.

5. I am grateful for laughter. It really does do the heart good like a medicine. I am glad that even when things get tough I can find a reason to laugh. From a simple joke to a silly thing my daughter might say to my husbands cutting commentary while watching a show, laughter makes me happy and for that I am glad!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Purposeful Design

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Rom 1:19-20)

I had just memorized these verses when I was received my latest review from Purposeful Design. I was extremely eager and have been very blessed to use the Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation in our homeschool.

Jay Schabacker does a wonderful job explaining how God did exactly what Paul said in Romans. Our world was not simply made by an intelligent designer, but with a very specific purpose. It was designed for us. God made each one of us to have a relationship with Him and He made this planet for us to live on. He gave it so much love and care and in it we can see His eternal power and divine nature. It was purposefully designed.

The Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation has 7 chapters, with each one focusing on a different day of creation. Each chapter begins with a beautiful display of God's creation over layed with the passage of Scripture that discusses that particular day. It's a hard back book, with thick pages and easy to read font and text, a definite bonus for my daughter who has special needs. Some chapters are long, and some are short. The book is about 95 pages in all. The stunning images throughout really enhance the message of how everything was magnificently and purposefully designed.

Now this is not simply a book that says on day 1 God made this and on day 2 He made that. It tells us first what was made and then goes into the significance of it. The book points out things like how each element of the water cycle is necessary for each other element and how our earth is set perfectly at 23 and 1/2 degrees. Any difference in any of these things would not provide the necessary components to sustain life! You get to explore vegetation and realize how important plants are to our daily lives and how the instincts of animals are miraculous and can't be explained by science. Then of course we learn about how amazingly unique human beings are! The book ends on God's day of rest, giving us some lovely Scriptures to meditate on.

Along with the book comes the Purposeful Design: Young Explorer's Club which is a FREE curriculum pack that goes along beautifully with the book. It has fill in the blank questions from the chapter, verses to study and memorize, questions for contemplation, and an area to draw something significant from each lesson. There is also a puzzle and certificate of completion at the end. This comes with both the student workbook and teacher's answer key. We used this and turned reading the book into an entire study in both science and the Bible!

We covered two chapters a week, but allowed for more time for chapters 4 and 6 since they were much longer. Gess really enjoyed reading the book and learned so much from it. She was truly excited and when I would say it was time for science she would run and get the book. I think her favorite lesson was chapter 4, The Fourth Day - Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Of course she does happen to be really into space right now. I learned things myself as well. For instance in chapter 4 it explains how the first three days of creation were the "preparation" for the next three days of creation which are the "filling." I had never thought of it that way but it's true! Days 1,2, and 3 are necessary to place the things created in days 4, 5, and 6. God is so amazing!

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation sells for $18.95 and is for all ages. You can read it to your youngest children who will just love the bright, engaging images and older students as well as adults will find some helpful apologetics. I would highly recommend this to every Christian family. To learn more about the book visit the Purposeful Design website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

10 Reasons for Thanks Week 1

10. I am grateful for books. I love to read and learn new things. I am thankful for the awesome library we have in our community, for used book stores, and online shopping. I love my ebooks, hard back books, paperbacks and lately large print books! While I get to travel so little in real life I can pick up a book and explore far away places, go back in time, head into the future or even brand new worlds! Books are just cool!

9. I am thankful for Down syndrome. Yes, that is right. I am thankful that Gess is how she is. As with any parent I would rather my child be healthy, but the blessings that have come from this experience are too numerous to over look. Especially the friendships that have been made. I am so glad for the bonds that have been made because of one adorable little girl named Gess!

8. Homeschool mommas. That is another group of ladies I would not know outside of a common bond. Our educational choices have brought us together from across the globe! I am so thankful I can get advice from more experienced mothers and that I have people to turn to, both local and far away. You make schooling fun! I am so glad that we met!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: If He Had Not Come

I can't think of a better way to start thinking about the Christmas holidays than with the book I received for my latest review. David Nicholson is a retired teacher and missionary who brought back to life a Christmas story that he often shared with his own children. Originally written by Nan F. Weeks, If He Had Not Come shares the meaning of  Christmas that reveals the true impact that Jesus has made on the world. With beautiful color illustrations this story comes to life and makes one consider what Christmas is truly all about.

In the story Bobby and his Father are reading the Bible together on Christmas Eve before Bobby heads off to bed. As they read John 15:22 the words "If I had not come" jump off the page to him. After he falls asleep he hears a voice wake him up abruptly on what he thinks is Christmas morning. Instead he finds himself in a world in which Jesus had never come! There is no Christmas tree with presents underneath, but more importantly there are not any churches, homeless shelters, or hospitals.

I really loved the way this story played out and it is a perfect tool to use to emphasize to children the impact that Jesus has had on our world. Even as adults we sometimes fail to realize the effect that Jesus Christ had on our culture. Think of all the helpful organizations that surround us because people felt led to follow His example. A large portion of our hospitals were started and are still run by churches. Feeding the poor and showing love and respect to others happens because Jesus first loved us.

At the back of the book they have some excellent tools for exploring the book further. There are interactive topics for families and Sunday School teachers to use. These are very thought provoking questions that can really get children thinking. We went through each one and talked about them. The Going Deeper segment has you examine the Scriptures to learn exactly why Jesus came into the world. This really gets you in your Bible and connects the true meaning of why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Gess is good at looking at Scripture so this part was really fun. They also have some ideas to think about as you decorate your tree.

They also have a gospel message in the back of the book.They use the ABC method which we are very familiar with because we use it every year in our VBS - Admit you are a sinner, Believe in Jesus, Confess Him as your Lord. They preface it with the thought that while we receive gifts at Christmas we must realize that the greatest gift of all is Jesus. They go through the ABC steps explaining each one thoroughly while providing Scripture to support it. At the end is a sample prayer to pray if you want to receive the gift of salvation.

If He Had Not Come sells for $18.95.  It is a large hardback with very easy to read font and the pictures are lovely. It is recommended for ages 6 and up. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think every Christian family would love to have this addition to their home library. It would make the perfect Christmas present for any child. They also have it in ebook form for a lower price.

To learn more about David Nicholson and the book If He Had Not Come visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking Time for Me

Some of you may remember my review of Captivated, a DVD from MediaTalk101 which brings to life the reality of how our society has been saturated by media. It surrounds us on a daily basis and while it appears to be helping people stay connected, it actually does the opposite. In one of Beth Moore's studies she talks about how having instant access to information makes us more anxious not less. While it is great to get news quickly when we don't get that news we are not happy. We used to have to wait days, weeks, or even months to hear from someone, and we dealt with that. Now if we don't get a response to a text in a few hours we are in panic mode! There really can be too much of a good thing and media is one of them.

So, now that my review year is almost over I feel it is a great time for me to take a break. Therefore I am taking the month of November off. No don't rush off because I have actually scheduled some posts to finish out the month so there will be activity here. There will also be a couple of reviews coming that you won't want to miss as well some posts on Thankfulness. These are pre-scheduled though, so it may be much longer before I respond to any comments or can be reached on Facebook. This isn't a permanent thing. I am just taking time to step back and work through some priorities and keep media where it needs to be in my life, as a helpful tool, not a distraction.

To learn more about what I am talking about see my review of the Captivated DVD. You should purchase this and not only put it to use in your own life, but share it with friends. It might change your life. It certainly did mine! It is actually inexpensive to watch it online.

I want to thank you each of my readers, old and new. As we spend this month thinking about what we are thankful for, know that you are high on my list!  God bless!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Clued in Kids

Who wants to hunt for treasure? Maybe a better question would be, who doesn't? Treasure hunts are lots of fun and my recent review had us doing two of them. Clued in Kids was created by a mom who realized that hunting for treasure is a great hands-on way to teach a concept. It is not only fun, but healthy too because it allows the child to get up and move around. For the purpose of my review we received two PDF printable hunts: Homework Reward Treasure Hunt and Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt.

When you get your printable hunt, it is in a PDF booklet form. Both of mine were 8 pages in length. They came with easy to follow directions and the clues were divided into two per page. At the bottom of each clue it tells you exactly where to hide it, so set up is really a breeze!  All you have to worry about is finding something for a prize at the end. While these were beautiful, full color photos, I printed mine in black and white.

Each page has an activity that you must do to find the next clue. You might have word puzzles, scrambled words, math problems, fill in the blanks, deciphers, and other things like that. They also have fun activities like make a paper airplane or cluck like a turkey. Once you finish the puzzle it has a word to help you figure out where your next clue is. It might be one word like milk so you have to think about where that item would be kept. Other times it will say a specific phrase like "look beneath a bedside table." You start by handing the child their first clue. Then it is off!

The first hunt we did was the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt. I have blogged on here a couple of times how I have trouble motivating my Gess to do her "homework" independently. Part of her struggle is due to her special needs, but part of it is just lack of motivation. Well, this turned out to be a great motivator. I told her if she completed all of her tasks in one week she could go on a treasure hunt! The first week after I mentioned it, she was not successful. I was actually glad because I think that failing first gave her even more incentive to try harder the next week.  Finally, her tasks were done so on that Saturday, she went hunting!

I started by placing her first activity clue on the table with her bucket of colored pencils. Every time her clue had an activity to complete she would come back there to do it. It was fun to watch her finish and then run off to the find the next one!  She really enjoyed hunting for them!

For her prize I got her a new CD that I knew she was wanting really badly. Of course your prizes can be much smaller. A page of stickers, a coloring book, or whatever special thing your child will enjoy. I just wanted an excuse to get her something cool.

You can actually try this hunt for free if you sign up for their newsletter!

The next hunt was the Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt. This was a little tricky because it is not quite Thanksgiving season yet, but we are getting there. What I did was wait a little closer to the end of October and made my prize a pumpkin with a carving kit. Granted the carving part is not a traditional Thanksgiving item, but the pumpkin can be! Since we will start studying the Pilgrim story this was a fun way to review and prepare for the upcoming holiday!

Gess struggled a little bit with the dates of when certain events happened but otherwise they were easy enough. That was good though because knowing what she has down and where she struggles will help me know what to focus on as we study it this year.

My only problem with the hunts were that some of the puzzles were a little hard to make out. It was only a couple of them, like the leaves that spelled scarves. It probably would have been easier if they had been in color so keep that in mind. Otherwise they were fun and as I said, easy to follow. I had no trouble with set up and Gess had no trouble with figuring out where the clue was. She had trouble finding a few though, even when they were right in her face, but that is part of the fun!

The Homework Reward Treasure Hunt and Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt are for ages 4 and up and sell for $5.99 each. Kids of all ages will have fun with these. They say they only take about 8 minutes to set up and that is pretty much accurate. With only one child doing them they lasted about 20 to 30 minutes to complete so it made for some fun random family time. I asked Gess if she enjoyed it and she said yes. I think she wants more!

To learn more visit the Clued in Kids website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below. And don't forget, you can also try one for FREE if you sign up for their newsletter.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: New Liberty Videos

My most recent review was from New Liberty Videos a company dedicated to producing Christian movies. For the purpose of my review I received a copy of the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This video actually covers topics other than the Dead Sea Scrolls. In all it covers three topics and is about an hour total in length. Let me tell you a little bit about each segment.

Dead Sea Scrolls
The first segment is the Dead Sea Scrolls, with Joel Lampe. This features what appears to be a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls. While I have heard a lot about them I really was not well versed on their exact significance. Joel did an excellent job of covering a wealth of information in a very short time. I was so fascinated with what all I learned, such as the fact that while they call them scrolls, there was actually only one scroll found completely in tact!

He shares how many scroll fragments were found and how they were pieced together to become whole scrolls. I was not aware that many of the scrolls found were not even Scripture. What is even more fascinating is to learn how that work continues even today. They are not done studying this amazing find! Joel also shares about the languages they were written in, what they were written on, and the most fascinating part is why they were left there in the first place!

Hebrew Word Pictures
The second segment was Hebrew Word Pictures, with Dr. Frank Seekins. At first I was thinking that this segment seemed out of place but by the end of it I was totally in awe of God. Dr. Seekins does an incredible job teaching how the Hebrew language was written in both words and pictures. He then begins to show you the picture that goes with each letter as you read some simple words. This language illustrates the true beauty and intent behind each word written in the Bible we hold so dear. Dr. Seekins calls it the heart of Hebrew. I think that is a great definition.

By the end of this short segment I was reading in ancient Hebrew! It was fascinating to me when he shared how the letter also symbolized an image which made it very easy to read. Without the images I can't really show you well, but all I can say is I want more of this!

The Forbidden Book
The final segment was The Forbidden Book, with Dr. Craig Lampe.This appears to be a partial segment of another video with the same title. In this one, the speaker gives you a brief history of how brave men sacrificed to get the Bible into the language of the ordinary people.

He begins to be pointing out that the Bible was originally available in several languages all over the world until the dark ages when Latin was made the only official language to read it in. While I knew the Bible was kept from ordinary citizens I never realized that there were also many errors in those Latin translations.  Then came Wycliff, Luther, and eventually Tyndale whose work led to the common people being able to read the Bible for themselves.

I learned interesting facts about each of those men and what led up to their determination to translate the Bible. Can you imagine being burned at the stake for simply speaking Bible passages in your own language to your children?  They were doing that. Mother's and many others were burned at the stake for not complying with the order. Tyndale also suffered that fate, but not until after the Bible was translated into English. While the segment was short it was fascinating. 

While all three segments were interesting, only the first one dealt with the Dead Sea Scrolls. This video is basically a recording of three separate live presentations where the speaker shares about the topic in front of an audience. I do not feel any of these are complete talks. I think they just took a part of a live lecture and put it on video. At the end of each talk they give you information on how to learn more. I would have rather had the video only cover one topic more thoroughly than to see each separate segment because I felt I like I was just scratching the surface on each one. While my daughter did not participate in watching with us, my husband and I really enjoyed it and did learn from it. I will hang on to it and use it in her studies as she gets older.

The Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls sells for $19.95. It is for a general audience and has no specific age range suggested. I would suggest it for middle school on up, though some elementary school students might find it of interest. To learn more visit the New Liberty Videos website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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