Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TOS Review ~ The Cat of Bubastes

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
Heirloom Audio Productions has created another marvelous story to bring history alive. Their newest CD is The Cat of Bubastes. This story transports you back to the time of Ancient Egypt.  
I love having a marvelous audio book to use in the car. It is such a wonderful way to squeeze in a little bit more homeschooling on those hectic days. Anything from Heirloom Audio Productions has been a perfect fit with our car schooling, so I jumped at the chance to review  The Cat of Bubastes. I wasn't disappointed. The kids and I were on the edge of our seats from the very first chapter. We were disappointed each time we had to get out of the car and found ourselves sitting in parking lots several times so that we could hear just a few more minutes of the adventure. 
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
My son is very particular about audio books, especially audio theater. He has many sensory issues and some auditory disabilities and can really struggle with all of the sound effects and voices in typical audio books. This isn't the case with audio books from Heirloom Audio Productions. Dean does just fine with their audio books and understands everything that is going on. They do a remarkable job of making the stories come alive and be filled with adventure yet still keeping the stories very clear. Every sound effect helps to clarify the story. My son also appreciates the very clear differences in the voices. It is easy to understand who is talking because the voices are different enough to make it easy for anyone to keep up. There are many famous actors and actresses in this audio book -- Brian Blessed, Anthony Daniels and Elizabeth Counsell, just to name a few. 
I appreciate how well the story is written. The story is filled with adventure but is believable. Everything that takes place could indeed happen in real life. Strong characters with good morals are presented throughout the story. The characters are believable, morally grounded, brave, and faithful. I appreciate how Christianity is woven through the story in a natural way.
In addition to this wonderful audio book, I received several digital bonus items, including a study guide. The study guide is filled with great discussion questions, extra historical information and lessons to further your students learning. Each chapter has an "expand your learning" section, which goes into further detail about something in the story, such as pyramids or the food of Egypt. I was pleased to see a recipe to make. My kids love it when we can make food to go along with any study. The recipe was for Ta'amia and the instructions were very simple. We found it easy to make. My 12 and 14 year old kids were able to make it on their own. 
I highly recommend this audio book. We loved it and it is the perfect way to bring history to life. My kids give this a thumbs up! To see what other TOS members had to say, click on the banner below. 
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
Crew Disclaimer
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Project-Based Homeschool Week

We had a great week. We did not do as much seat work as usual, but there was a lot of great learning. This is going to be a picture heavy post.

Dance ~ The kids had their first performance of the year. They danced with their dance studio on our city streets for a fitness awareness weekend. They had a great experience. They did a jazz piece, warm-up exercises and improvisation to music. To top it off, a production company was doing a music video near the dancers and asked Anne and one of her friends to be in their music video as extras. What an exciting opportunity! The music video will be released in late October.

Yes, she danced on a trash can!

Science ~ We had tons of fun in science this week. The kids made atom cookies, worked on their periodic tables, made a model of all of the parts of an atom and played chemistry periodic table games.

Art ~ They had an equally good time in art. They got to put the puzzle together of their drawings. It came out great and everyone learned so much about composition, working together, measuring and enlarging. They also began learning composition in nature.

Home Economics ~ One of my goals for them this year was to paint a piece of furniture. They painted an old green coffee table black this week. They gave it a new, fresh look. We are considering decorating the top with toile wallpaper and a clear finish.

They also helped me make freezer meals. This was our first time. We are reviewing a great website soon and were given the opportunity to learn how to make freezer meals. We now have 13 meals in the freezer and were able to take a meal to a family that is coping with a mother who has a very difficult illness.

So, it was a very busy and educational week. I am off to rest a bit. I am one tired Mom!


Weekly Wrap-Up

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, September 22, 2016

TOS Review ~ Annual Subscription
My daughter (12) has really enjoyed having her very own Annual Subscription to send emails to her friends. We had the opportunity to review this safe and kid-friendly account through In this modern, tech-savvy world that we live in, there are many dangers that our kids can fall prey to. It is nice to know that, with this great email host, the web is safer for my daughter. Annual Subscription
Setting up Anne's account was very easy. I had many options on how much control I wanted over her account and email. I was able to decide who was on her contact list and whether she could receive emails from those who were not on her contact list. I was also able to decide if I wanted to receive a copy of all incoming and outgoing emails. Additionally, I was able to decide if she was allowed to receive videos and whether bad words could pass through emails. 
We decided to go with a very restricted account, partially for review purposes. We received a copy of all of our daughter's incoming emails. We can then read them before deciding whether we want them to pass into her inbox. We did allow videos to come through email. My daughter had no prior experience with email and had never had an account before. For her part, she found the platform very easy to use. She enjoyed that she could change the background and also add emojis to her emails. She liked how easy it was to add her own links. 
One feature that I found useful was the censorship of curse words. No one on Anne's contact list typically would use any curse words, but we wanted to test what would happen if someone did. We sent a few bad words to her grandma and she sent a few bad words back. still let the email go through but put "censored" in place of the unacceptable words. I liked this feature. I also liked that the email still went through. It provides some accountability and self-correction if a child or one of his or her friends is having an issue with inappropriate language. Annual Subscription

My daughter mostly communicates through Skype or real face-to-face conversations with her friends. Most of her friends do not have email. She liked this program but said she probably would not use it often. It just isn't the way her friends communicate. However, she liked how "normal" it felt, even though she understood that it was keeping her safer than some email accounts would do.

I really liked how many options this program provided. I was able to make the email account very restricted or choose to provide her more freedom. I also liked that there were time limits that could be added. You can limit how much time your child spends on emails, if that is a place of struggle for your child. Also, the email account can be set on a "you're grounded" setting, if the child is being punished and is not allowed to email at this time. All of these settings are very easy to use.

I would recommend this system to anyone who wishes to create a safety net for their children who want to have their own email account. To see what other crew members have to say, click on the banner below. Annual Subscription
Crew Disclaimer
Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TOS Review ~ The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
I received the book, The Pray-ers/ Book 1 Troubles, published by CTM Publishing Atlanta as a review item. This book is a novel that teaches one how to pray. I was excited to receive a book that encourages prayer, because this is an area in which my children sometimes struggle.

Mark S. Mirza ~ The author of this novel is Mark S. Mirza, who is a prayer teacher and minister. He is the founder of Common Threads Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia, which teaches individuals how to pray. It is obvious that Mirza is very passionate about teaching prayer to others. He seems to be a knowledgeable teacher about prayer.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

About the Novel ~ This story takes place during three different time periods, the first century, nineteenth century and current times. It follows the fictional stories of three men who teach about the importance of prayer.
  • Epaphras, who is mentioned in the New Testament, tutors his young nephew Thales in prayer during Biblical times.
  •  A preacher named Alexander Rich, who lives in Georgia after the Civil War.
  • A track coach named Coach Dale, who also runs a prayer ministry for men. 
The book begins with the introduction of demons and angels and how they play a role in our lives as humans. It goes on to show through the stories of the three men how the demons create bad situations to try to draw the men away from their faith in God. The book is filled with references to scripture, and footnotes are included on many of the pages. 

My Thoughts ~ I really struggled with this book. I was intrigued to see how the author would create a fictional story to teach prayer. The book opens with the demons, and I found the story line confusing for multiple chapters. I also found the multitude of grammar mistakes to be very off putting. I am by no means a grammar expert. However, there are multiple grammar mistakes on many pages. There are many places where quotation marks are placed at the beginning of someone speaking but are never placed at the end. This adds to the reader's confusion. The text is choppy and filled with run-on sentences and punctuation in strange places. Also, the demons names are not capitalized. Mirza explains his reasoning for this in the preface. Although his reasoning is sound, it is another layer of confusion that makes the entire reading of the book more choppy. I wish the editor had done a better job cleaning the book up so that it would have been a more fluent read. 

Next, I feel that this book would be better as a study book in a Christian book club or reading circle for adults than a stand alone book for a teenager or a person searching for faith through prayer. It seems like a book that needs people to bounce ideas around and discuss them. I tried to get my husband to read the book with me, but he couldn't take the grammar mess and put it aside within two chapters. 

So, I am sorry to say that this book gets a thumbs down in its current state. If it was cleaned up and the story was tweaked a little, I think that it would be more cohesive and draw more readers into the story. I do like the concept of teaching prayer through a fictional story. To see what others had to say about this book, click on the banner below.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

Crew Disclaimer

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 16, 2016

How Are the Kids Doing?

This school week went better  than I thought it would. I anticipated a very hard week, but with lots of planning it actually went better than some lighter weeks go.

Goldilocks ~ I thought it would be a hard week because it was loaded with some difficult appointments for Goldilocks (our 15 year old, high end special needs daughter who lives out of the home). First up was applying for a program that will help her into adulthood. This required almost three hours of online forms and a phone interview that lasted an hour more. We won't know for a few months if she will get in, but it seemed like a positive interview. Our post-adoption advocate was on hand to help me through the interview. Secondly, we had an appointment at the hospital to discuss what to do about her scoliosis. She is developing a little bit of a hunch back right at the base of her neck and shoulders. The doctor didn't feel that there was much that could be done because of the location, but sent her for a physical therapy evaluation to help with her back pain. I haven't updated here on Goldilocks recently. There have been lots of issues going on in her current placement. Her house mom is working double time to try tocontrol her behaviors. She has recently been accepted into a special therapy program for Borderline Personality Disorder patients. She has not been officially diagnosed with this disorder yet, because, technically, she is too young and also hasn't completed brain development. However, this is the most likely diagnosis at the moment and is also the diagnosis of her birth mother. She starts the new program next week. We pray that this will help.

Dean (14) ~ This past weekend was the kick-off for youth group at church. There is going to be tons going on this year. I am glad to see so much more charity options on the calendar this year. That is by far the most important thing about youth group (to me). I think kids should do tons of charity work. Dean will be doing about half of the activities this year, since I feel that not all members of the group are a positive influence on my son. I also think there are too many activities. Therefore, he only will be doing the charity-based activities, occasional seasonal parties, and occasional youth group meetings, when they apply to lessons I am trying to instill. My husband and I will be teaching Sunday school several times this year. I am looking forward to getting to know some of the new teens.

Dean may say he wants to be an engineer, but he is an artist at heart. He loves all of the arts. His days are filled with music. He can almost always be found with a string instrument in his hands or a sketch pad and pencil. He really is into drawing hands right now. He also is working on a collaborative art piece in his weekly out-of-the-home art class. The students in that class all have been assigned to draw small sections of a bigger drawing that they will piece together. It's supposed to be a mystery as to what it will turn out to be, but Dean has figured out that it will be a portrait of Harry Potter, because one of his pieces was Harry's scar. He is also enjoying dance so far this year. He likes his teachers and is relieved to have two other guys in a few of his classes. He likes jazz class the best. The studio has already begun rehearsing The Nutcracker parts. So far, he has been giving the parts of a guard and a street sweeper. He is hoping to get a part in the party scene.

His lessons are coming along. Chemistry is his current favorite academic course. He is not motivated to do more than what is required in any of his academics. He does what he has to so that he can get back to his music or drawing. Thankfully, he is smart and the lessons come easily to him, so I know he will speed up when necessary.

Anne (nearly 13) ~ This girl lives to dance. She is loving all of her 10+ hours of dance classes a week. She even enjoyed her class with the dreaded, difficult to please teacher. The first week he made her and half the class cry, but this week she understood the expectations and took the class in stride. She comes home in pain from his class which is new for her. Most teachers can't get a decent stretch out of her, because she is so naturally flexible. So far, she will be a cat, guard and street sweeper in the upcoming Nutcracker. Her other parts haven't been announced yet.
Anne worked hard on hand position this week. She used a quarter as a balance.
On the school front, she is racing along. She started Teaching Textbooks 7 (math) this week. She is finding it easy and is completing four to five lessons a day. She is also completing two to three weeks of spelling lessons each week. She is enjoying seeing her progress and it motivates her to do more. She likes learning about the piano but in short periods. It is hard for her, but she sees the progress she is making. She is enjoying chemistry and art classes with her friend S once a week. S comes to our house one morning each week for chemistry, which I teach. She is a perfect fit into our school day, and the two girls are motivating each other through chemistry. Then Anne and Dean go to S's house in the afternoon for art lessons. Anne has also started doing a film making course that I will be reviewing soon. This course is right up her alley, and she is busy pulling out all of our camera gear and learning how to use it.

Spending one day a week with S for lessons in addition to 10+ hours of dance classes and seeing her best friends for field trips is more than enough socialization for my introverted child. She decided that she didn't want to join youth group or return to chimes choir this year. She prefers to use her down time to work on her film making, self-taught tap dance practice and choreography.
Perler Beads are always popular.
Tim (our special needs adult son) ~ Tim is doing so well at his brain injury day program. He is now a supervisor of chore time and is also a buddy to another client during chore time. He is teaching this client to sweep, vacuum and clean windows. It is a big growing opportunity for Tim. He also is looking at a training program that would give him a certificate as a peer counselor. It will take him a long time, since he will only take one course at a time, but it is great to see him trying new things. Speaking of new things, he is going to a brain injury camp this fall without any of his family members for support. One of his brain-injured friends is going, too, and his friend's wife says she will give Tim the extra support he may need beyond what the camp counselors can provide. I am grateful for her offer.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week 6 ~ Back to Dance Lessons

This was our first week back to a full schedule that includes all of our out-of-the-home activities. It went pretty well.

Jackson Pollock ~ We had art with Grandma this week. The twins came over and we had a blast. We were blessed with a bunch of paint from Freecycle, and after the art history lecture, the kids really went to town . My grass is all kinds of interesting colors now. HA!

Dean's painting
Dance ~ The kids are overjoyed to be back to their dance classes. On the second day of dance, they were assigned their first performance, which will be next weekend. It is shaping up to be a very exciting year.

Captivating Chemistry ~ We are having a great time in chemistry. I do think we are going to have to break down and buy a chemistry set. So far, I am not very impressed with most of the experiments we have done. This week we lit a dollar bill on fire which had been soaked in rubbing alcohol and water. It was supposed to be "engulfed" in flames yet leave the bill unharmed. We had a terrible time getting it to light on fire at all and then when it did it began to smolder. The rest of our studies are great and we are enjoying the videos about the periodic table of elements from Nottingham University and playing lots of chemistry games. 

State Fair ~ We went to the state fair on education day, which is our tradition. The kids did three rides this year and fell in love with a one day old baby cow. We had caramel apples and explored the education hall. This year we skipped all of the shows since we had seen them all before. I wish our fair switched things up a bit. We wrapped it up with lunch at Sonic. The food at the fair is outrageously priced! 

Yard Sale ~ We set up a table at the community center yard sale on Saturday. We were much more successful than we have been with yard sales in our own yard. We will do it again! They even let you set up the night before, which was very nice. 

Next week has several extra appointments amid all of the normal stuff. We will see how it turns out. It is going to be really busy.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Review

 Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
We love all of the resources and complete downloadable programs we found on CHSH Download Club from We were very blessed to have the opportunity to review this website. It is an absolutely amazing site, jammed packed with tons of complete programs for grades preK-12. There are hundreds and hundreds of lessons. I am sure everyone could find something or even many things to enhance their homeschools. It is just loaded with possibilities. Being a member of the Christian Home School Hub Download Club means that you can download as many lessons, workbook pages, and unit studies as you want. There are really endless possibilities.
Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

How we are using CHSH ~ Money is super tight this year, so we can't spend as much as I usually do on curriculum. I was really worried about how I was going to get all of the extra things that enhance my children's homeschool. Then I was given this website to review. All my worries went away. I needed more materials for our pieced-together physical science course. The answer was right here with the middle school physical science course. It is a complete course broken down into units. I can copy off just the units I need. The course could be a stand-alone course or used to supplement, as I am doing.
We are also using the beginners piano course. One of our main goals this year is to give our children more autonomy over their own education. This means that sometimes I will need to switch curriculum to meet their needs. After the first few weeks of school, my daughter decided that she wanted to change the curriculum we were using for her music course. I was able to oblige her, because we had access to this great website. Once again, they had just what we needed. She was able to switch courses with no additional cost to me. 

We also decided that we didn't have the budget to order some American Sign Language tools that I wanted to give my daughter so that she would not lose the gains she had made in an out-of-the-home sign language class last year. Once again, I found flash cards on Christian Home School Hub. There are not many ASL flash cards, but it was enough to get us started until I will be able to budget for other resources. 

I know we will probably be using some of the download units on Shakespeare and creative writing later in the year. 
This website is unique, because each subject has a complete curriculum, not just tons of worksheets. I suspect that a homeschool mom or dad could build an entire school year of education for each of their children from this one website alone, if they wished. That is an amazing value for just $25 a year. Of course, there would be the additional cost of printing, but that still would be pennies compared to purchasing traditional curricula. 
Lastly, all the units and print outs I looked at were engaging, well written and accurate. That is very important to me. I highly recommend this website. I know I am certainly sold on its usefulness. To see what other reviewers had to say, click on the banner below.
Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

Blessings, Dawn