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Monday, October 31, 2011

TOS Review First Form Latin

When my oldest was in second grade or so I had someone ask us about homeschooling.  They weren't really interested in homeschooling they were just interested in grilling us.  They asked all kinds of questions but the one that stuck with me was, "Do you teach Latin?"  I was flabbergasted.  Of course I didn't, why would I need to teach Latin?  I asked if they were teaching it in their children's public school and they said no but they had heard that it was a good idea.  ;-)

huh, interesting.  I have often thought of that conversation over the years but especially when we started doing Latin in our homeschool! lol

Since those early years I have discovered the importance of Latin and truly want our girls to learn it well.   Fortunately with The Crew I have had many opportunities to try different curricula and have found ones to fit each our daughters' learning styles.


This time I was ever so lucky to be selected to review First Form Latin from Memoria Press.

First Form’s grammar-first approach focuses on grammar forms and vocabulary because those are the grammar stage skills suitable for the grammar stage student. However, the First Form Series is for students of all ages because all beginners, regardless of age, are in the grammar stage of learning. Syntax (how to use the grammar) and translation are logic and rhetoric stage skills, respectively, and quickly overwhelm the student unless they are introduced at a slow, gentle pace and taught for mastery. First Form is the ideal text for all beginners, grades 5 & up, or is a great follow-up to Latina Christiana I at any age. Now every school and homeschool can have a truly successful Latin program that creates Latin scholars rather than Latin drop-outs.


After mastering First Form, the student will have a solid grasp on the six indicative active tenses of the first two verb conjugations, five noun declensions, first and second declension adjectives, and 185 vocabulary words.
Features include:

  • Designed for students and teachers with no Latin background
  • 8x8 inch Student Text, small, concise, unintimidating with 34 two-page lessons on facing uncluttered pages
  • Limited vocabulary of 185 words
  • Full-size Student Workbook with 4-6 pages of exercises per lesson
  • Vocabulary derivatives and detailed explanations of Latin sayings
  • Grammar catechism for daily rapid-fire review
  • Milestone markers for each grammar objective
  • Everything-you-could-possibly-need teacher manual
    • Organized for easy access
    • Student Text inset with answers in color
    • Chalk-talk scripted lessons
    • Recitation schedule
    • Pronunciation reminders
    • Workbook with key
    • Unit tests and lesson quizzes booklet
    • FYI section for extra background
There is a little bit about it from Memoria Press's website but here's what we think about it.

We love it!  I had my 12yo who is in 7th grade use it and it totally fit her learning style.  The combination of the DVD, workbooks and student text allowed her to be on her own to a greater degree which gave her confidence in her abilities.  She loves the size of the Student Text.  It is a little smaller than the workbook which makes it the perfect size for holding when reading it or scanning through it to find answers for the workbook.


I love the Teachers Manual and how it is written.  Since I don't already know Latin I need something that is easy to understand and implement.  This is.  I have been able to answer her questions and direct her on how to find her answers.  That is pretty valuable to a busy homeschooling momma that has kids spread out over five different levels of leaning.  Know what I mean?

Watch this video and see what you think.

First Form Latin is a great program.  It is designed to be used after Latina Christiana 1, but my student didn't have that course and is fairing just fine.  First Form is a great introductory program for older students if this is their first foray into Latin studies.  I recommend it for just that reason.  Although a 5th grader who is continuing their Latin studies would find it interesting it isn't written in a way that would make an older student feel like they were doing a "baby" curriculum.  The writers do a wonderful job of handling the possibly wide age range of students that could be doing this curriculum. 

Here are some samples for you to look at.  Here is a sample of the Student Textbook, Student Workbook, Teacher Manual, and Table of Contents.  You can also see a sample of the First Form recitation.

The First Form Latin package I received sells for $115 and includes:
Teacher Manual
Student Text
Student Workbook
Quizzes and Tests Pronunciation CD
plus Flashcards and DVDs

You can also buy a package without the DVD's and Flashcards for $55.  OR you can buy the individual items that you need.  All of that information is listed on their website.  Check the right hand side of this page for all the options.  I really do recommend the DVD's though, they really help give a visual/audio component to the learning. 

Check it out for yourself and you'll see what I mean.  In the meanwhile if you want to find out what other Crew Members thought of First Form, head on over to The Crew Blog and check them out.


**I was given a set of First Form Latin from Memoria Press through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

A non-review post!

Life has been just moving along at racing speed.  First I had bronchitis, then Bug got sick-which ended up being croup-, then our 6yo started getting sick, and now our 13yo is showing symptoms of getting sick. 

Can you say done with sickness?

I am.  Truly and wholly done.

While all that was going on we had Sabbath Week, school, soccer, ballet, two drama practices, BSF, a van that wouldn't start, a leak under the house, a printer that won't work, two computer crashes, a job change for hubster, and I'm sure more than that.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Nah, I don't think so either.

But, I know whom I have believed and I trust Him to make things right and to take care of us until that time.  He is faithful.  He is wonderful and generous and kind and loving.  He knows the trials we face and is waiting for us to ask Him for help.

So, we keep going on and pray daily for strength and peace.  Life is good even with all the troubles. 

It's good because we have Jesus.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

TOS Review Excellence in Literature

To say that I love literature would be quite an understatement.  For as long as I can remember I have loved books.  I used to ask for them for my birthdays, Christmas presents, etc.  To read the written word has always brought me great joy and filled my imagination with stories and pictures beyond what movies can conjure up.

To further fan the flame my high school had an amazing teacher, Mr. Cramer, that had a way of getting students excited about literature.  He had a class called short stories and each week we would read a story and then analyze it in class.  We would talk about the characters, the plot, the denouement, and the whys and wherefores of each part of the story.   I loved that class!  It was truly one of my favorites and what we learned in that class has stayed with me so that I can now teach it to my kids.

Although I remember what Mr. Cramer taught me, I had trouble translating that into something tangible to teach the girls.  I knew what I wanted to do but couldn’t get figure out the how. 

Until now.  With The TOS Crew we were given the chance to review Excellence in Literature from Everyday Education and I jumped at the chance.  I think I may have begged actually!  Winking smile  I am so very fortunate to have been selected for this review. 

I received the download for Excellence in Literature Introduction to Literature and immediately started perusing it.  My excitement started mounting!  The Introduction is written to the student and explains very well how and why we study literature.  Next comes the Overview and Frequently asked questions section.  Don’t skip these.  They contain valuable information and should be read carefully.  The section How to Read a Book I found particularly interesting.  I think this is a lost skill and I am thrilled to have a tool to help my children learn it.  Discerning Worldview Through Literary Periods was eye opening.  What a valuable tool for our children and ourselves to help analyze what we are reading. 

Whew!  Those are just the sections BEFORE the beginning of the first Unit!! 
When I turned the page and saw what Unit 1’s required reading was I squealed with delight.  I was so giddy that my 13yo asked what was wrong with me.  What could produce this kind of outburst you ask?  Let me tell you.  The first Unit assigns short stories to the student to get them used to the curriculum and the very first short story is one of my all time favorites.  The White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett.  I read it in Mr. Cramer’s class and have treasured it ever since.  I was thrilled that my girls were going to get to read it and discover the meaning in it. 

But my excitement didn’t end there because the other short stories were some of my other favorites!  Stories from Guy de Maupassant, O’Henry, Poe, Welty, and Thurber were all included and as luck would have it I owned them all. 

The curriculum breaks down the assignments for the Unit by the week and lists the things the student needs to be doing/watching for.  There are great questions aimed toward getting the student to think of the story/book critically and in a way that brings deeper understanding of what the writer was trying to get across.   There is also an honors track if your child is advanced or wanting the honors credit. 
Here is a list of objectives from the curriculum:
By the end of the course, students will:
  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
This is a great curriculum that I look forward to diving into more in-depth with my children.  Just look at this page for more information on Excellence in Literature Introduction to Literature, there is a lot of info here if you are at all interested in this curriculum.  The print book sells for $29 plus shipping and the ebook sells for $27and is intended for grades 8-12.
If you want to see what other Crew members thought of Excellence in Literature, head on over to The Crew Blog and check them out.

**I received a copy of Excellence in Literature Intro. to Literature through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Life Lessons that come with a laugh

Yesterday our van wouldn’t start.  Steven came home and got it started for me and we were set for the day.


Today, I needed to get our third dd to a bday party so we set out just in time to make it.  Only the van wouldn’t start.  Again.


I called Steven knowing that he wouldn’t be able to do anything, I just wanted to hear his voice.  We called the bday girls’ mom and let them know what was going on and told them we would get Peanut there if we could.


Thankfully, God worked out for our neighbors across the street to be home today.  They are almost never home during the day but they were today.  I sent our oldest over to ask for their help and got my 12yo to help me.  I put her in the drivers seat, turned the key, and put the car on neutral.  I explained which pedal was the brake and instructed her to push it down until I told her to let up on it.  I then started to push the car out of the garage.  Just as I got the van out of the garage I realized that she wasn’t steering it and it was headed into the grass!  I told her to push on the brake just as the neighbor came and asked if I had someone to put the brakes on!  She applied some pressure to the brakes but not enough to stop the car and so I started beating on the hood yelling, “Push down on the pedal, push down on the pedal!”  She finally did and the car came to a stop. 


Whew!  I stopped pushing and started around to the drivers side when the van started moving again.  She let up on the brake!  I yelled for her to push down on the brake again but she wasn’t doing it hard enough and the van was still rolling backward towards the street!  I started pounding on the hood and yelling when she finally applied the brakes hard enough to stop the van.  I ran to the drivers door, yanked it open and applied the brakes.  I also put it in park before anything else could happen. 


When said girl got out of the car I explained that the brake only worked as long as you kept pressing down on it.  her eyes grew wider than I had seen them and she exclaimed, “I thought that you only had to push on it one time and it would stay that way!!!”  lol I guess we have some explaining to do about cars and how to operate them.  heehee


Our neighbor came and we hooked up the cables making sure the girls knew that red was positive and black was negative and to not cross hook them up.  Also to never let the two clamps touch once they were hooked up to a car.  

Very important life lessons were happening today! 


I won’t say that I’m thankful for the van not starting but it did provide some comic relief and opportunities to teach very applicable lessons.  Hopefully another opportunity such as this won’t happen again for a very long time!



Said 12yo that got the experience of her life while trying to control an almost run away van!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What is THAT??

Tonight for dinner my oldest and I made fettuccine Alfredo with chicken, sugar snap peas, corn, and bread and butter.  It was a delicious meal  if I do say so myself!  I wasn't sure if Bug would like it because she has been feeling sick but we tried it just to be sure.

She looked at the noodles and chicken at first like it was a foreign invader on her tray but then she tasted it and we couldn't get her to stop eating!  She had at least four helpings of fettuccine and corn and wanted more.  We had to cut her off when her poor little tummy was too tight for her to bend over. lol

Actually the only way we got her out of her chair was to tell her she was going to take a bath.  She LOVES taking a bath!  I got her diaper off but didn't wash her up too much since she was just getting in the water anyway.  She sat down eagerly and started playing immediately.

I didn't realize there was a problem until she started grunting and moving her legs away from something that was in the water.  I looked but didn't see anything until I looked closer.  Every time she moved her legs the item in the water moved also.  She kept grunting and moving and the "thing" kept was so funny.  I finally stopped laughing long enough to pick the offending material out of the water.

It was two kernels of corn!!  roflol  It was completely wigging her out!  I pulled it out of the water and threw it away but Bug wouldn't be comforted until Maggie, the dog, came in and checked things out.  Bug yelled and yelled, "Daggie" which is Bug speak for Maggie until she came in the bathroom.  After Maggie came in, sniffed around, and walked out Bug was able to play and have fun.

And boy did she have fun.  She loves to put her face in the water and blow bubbles, slide around and splash the water on me.  She especially likes doing that!

After her bath she likes to have a baby massage.  Now, I don't do it as well as Aunt Bobbie but Bug allows me to fill in.  ;-)  She gets baby lotion and a massage and then we snuggle.  That's the part I like best.  Tonight she stood up and wrapped her arms around my neck and snuggled up tight.  After a few minutes she started kissing my cheeks, first one and then the other.  She just kept kissing me and snuggling me.  It was too precious and made me want to cry.  What an honor to have the love of this little girl.

TOS Review George Washington Carver DVD

Who doesn't like an educational movie to supplement their homeschooling studies?  I know we sure appreciate them.  I love to use movies to put flesh on subjects to make them more real and alive to my kids.  This DVD is no exception.

Marshall Publishing's George Washington Carver is a gem to treasure.  I wasn't sure when I first received it and even when I put it in.  I was more than a little concerned when I started the DVD playing.  But, I gave it some minutes to really get going and I am glad I did.  This DVD is not a flash in the pan video filled with excitement but a subdued video filled with beautiful pictures and wonderful information about this delightful man.

I was surprised at how much I hadn't known about George Washington Carver. It was a pleasure to watch this video and learn about this amazing historical figure.  The background music and the pictures were beautiful and peaceful.  This 30 minute DVD is just the right length for almost all ages.  My 6yo watched it happily as did my 13yo. so I would easily recommend it for the whole family.

I look forward to checking out their other videos and am sure they are just as wonderful as this one is.

If you want to see what this video is all about, head on over to Marhsall Publishing website.  Don't forget to scroll down to find some discussion questions that you can use after you have watched the video.  While you are there check out the other videos they have to offer and some of the other items listed. 

George Washington Carver His Life and His Work is sold for $19.95 on their website but for The TOS Crew readers they are offering a discount with this code: TOSC1.  That code is good for a 15% discount! 

If you want to read what other Crew members thought of this video and a video on Fire Trucks, head on over to The Crew Blog and check them out.


**I was given a copy of the George Washington Carver DVD through the TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend happenings

Well, the weekend is over.  We had a rather big weekend planned but it didn't pan out quite the way I expected it to.  Friday night my sister, Robin, came over.  We had to go to soccer practice and then home for some nachos and t.v.  Saturday morning started early with Steven and the guys working on the fence.  We are tearing down the fence between our yard and our neighbors so we can build a new one.  That work started at 8 a.m.  I had errands to run while they were doing that but somehow those plans were derailed.  I did do some sorting of books and ran around getting water for the guys but that is all that happened Saturday morning. 

Soccer games started at 1.  Our oldest had her game first.  We were playing a team we had played last year and were hoping that some of the players weren't going to be there.  They were.  :(  Our girls were playing alright but not great.  The other team scored first but we came back hard and ended up winning 4 or 5 to 1.  There were a few scuffles but generally it was a great game.  Our coach ended up having to be the ref as well but they handled it really well. 

Shortly after after the first game was underway, Steven had to take Bean to her game.  Bean's team ended up losing by two points but Bean was a BEAST during her game!  She was everywhere all the time.  She was a super defender and she scored a goal!  She was awesome!!  She had so much fun and she was so fun to watch. 

The weather was gorgeous and my sister got to see them play again.  We finished up with soccer and headed home to rest.  But only just a little because then we headed out to dinner with friends.  By the time that was over I was completely done.  I was wiped out and coughing a lot.

Sunday found me over-sleeping and so I didn't make it to church.  I just lounged around recuperating and it felt great.  Sister went home and I took a nap!  We watched a little t.v. as a family and then remembered that the girls were supposed to have gone to small groups...UGH.  We completely forgot about small groups.  grrr  I hate it when that happens.

*sigh* The evening progressed with much t.v. watching and pizza.  Everyone went to bed early in preparation for a long day on Monday. 

I love it when weekends can be restful and yet still be filled with what needs done.  It doesn't always happen that way so it's a double blessing when it does.  ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

TOS Review Say Anything Family Edition

Another great game has been played at our house!  Much fun has been had by all and it has been requested as the evening entertainment every night since we opened the box.


What game is so much fun that the kids are begging to play it?

Say Anything Family Edition.  That's what it is.  And if you enjoy games you just have to get this one!

Say Anything is a light-hearted game about what you and your friends think.  It will get people talking, laughing and having fun in minutes.  Enjoy it with three to eight family members or as an hilarious party game with adults.  So dig deep into your heart or just come up with something witty - this is your chance to Say Anything!

We opened the box and were able to play it immediately.  The rules are simple and set up is a breeze.

Each player is given a dry erase board, marker, and meeple tokens that are color coded.  There is a score board, question cards and the Select-O-Matic 6000 to round out the contents of the box.

PhotobucketTo play you need to select a Score Keeper who will get the Score board.  That was the coveted position in our family until they realized that they would all get a chance with the Select-O-Matic 6000!  lol  This state of the art gadget is passed from player to player when they are asking the question.  It is used to select the answer that the questioner chooses.  It wields great influence and seems to have special powers...but maybe that is just in our family!!

A question is asked by the keeper of the Select-O-Matic 6000 and everyone else writes their answer on their dry erase boards.  The answers are then placed face up on the table as quickly as possible.  This can be a game in and of itself! lol  Once all the answers are written the keeper of the Select-O-Matic 6000 chooses the answer they want, indicating it on the Select-O-Matic 6000.  That is then place face down on the table.  Then the fun really begins.  The rest of the players have to decide which of the answers on the boards will be the one the keeper of the Select-O-Matic 6000 chooses.  Meeple tokens are placed on the appropriate boards and points awarded accordingly.

If your family is like ours then the players will start answering the questions based on who was asking the questions.  It got pretty crazy with several people insisting that they knew the "perfect" answer.  I won't say that some bribery or special favoring was used but I wouldn't deny it either.  ;-)

We had so much fun playing this game but there were also some poignant moments as well.  Like when my 9yo answered the question of What do you most want to do when you grow up with "Be a wife and mother."  Yeah, that was awesome to see.


Say Anything Family is a great family game that would make a great addition to your family's game night. It is intended for ages 8 and up and for 3-6 players.  I will tell you that our 6yo played it and loved it!  It retails for $19.99 and can be purchased at retail stores like Target or

To see what other Crew members thought of Say Anything, head over to The Crew Blog and check them out.


**I was given Say Anything through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Mighty Macs Review

Okay, I have a movie to recommend to you.  You just have to see this movie.  Really.  It is an awesome movie that I will definitely own when it comes out on DVD.  I can see it becoming a family favorite.

The Mighyt Macs is and AWESOME movie!  I was privileged to be able to preview it this week before it comes out in theaters. It is a heart-warming story that is worth your time and money.  Please plan to support this movie in the theaters so that we will have more family friendly movies in the future.

It's 1971. Cathy Rush is a woman ahead of her time ... and she's about to embark on an adventure for the ages. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women's basketball.

In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women's Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush is about to find Immaculata College.

Recently married, Cathy is dealing with the aftermath of a truncated playing career. While cultural norms would have her staying at home, she's willing to do the hard work necessary to help her new team reach their goals—or perhaps she's just trying to achieve her unfulfilled dreams through them.

From the beginning, her challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. Cathy learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school's Mother Superior, and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team!

While it appears the Macs don't have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday—a spunky assistant coach—and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team—and the school—together.

Will this pioneer buck cultural norms and spur her rag-tag team to unexpected heights? Or will her hard-driving ways create a wedge between the coach and everyone around her? One thing's for certain: there's never been anyone like Cathy Rush at Immaculata!

I can't say enough about this movie.  It was such a joy to watch.  This is one of those movies that makes you believe that anything is possible and helps you to keep rooting for the underdog.  


Check it out and then make plans to go and see it.  You won't be disappointed.

**I was given access to this pre-screening of The Mighty Macs in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Time to Vote for the Misfits!!

Nominations have been made for the Misfits Awards and I am pleased to say that I have been nominated for a few.  Yay me!  I am a card carrying Misfit and I'm glad someone recognizes that. lol

So, now you have a job to do...go vote for your favorite Misfit.  I would love to have your votes, of course, but vote for whomever you want.  No one will ever know if you didn't vote for me, it will just be your conscience you have to deal with when I corner you in a dark alley and ask whether you voted for me or not!

bwahahahahaha!!!  ;-)

What are you still doing here?  Go vote for me! heehee

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TOS Review Wits and Wagers

Family night just got better!  We were so fortunate to be asked to review this game.  We love games and love to find new ones to play as a family.

With life being so crazy and schedules being what they are it is getting harder and harder to sit down as a family and just play.  There seems to always be something happening or needing to be done. 

I really don’t like that.  I like it when we can all sit at home and just enjoy being with each other.  Better yet is when we can play games together.


Wits and Wagers is a great game to play when you don’t have tons of time but want tons of fun. 
From the website:

Wits & Wagers Family simplifies the rules and scoring system of the popular Wits & Wagers. Now families and kids can get into the Wits & Wagers action! First, every player writes down a guess to a fun question. Then players try to score points by choosing which guess is closest to the right answer without going over. That is it!

The game features 300 new family-friendly questions. And even better than that, Wits & Wagers Family includes Meeples-- fun, cute, human shaped wooden pieces that the players use to select which answers they think are correct. Meeples have been a hallmark in European style strategy games for years, but this is the first time they have made an appearance in a party game.

When they say all ages, they really do mean it.  Our six year old was quite capable of reading the questions and answering questions with just a little work.  Her spelling wasn’t great, of course, but her answers were easily understandable and she was quite proud of herself for playing with the big kids! 

Wits and Wagers Family Edition is very easy to set up and play.  The rules are simple and scoring easy to understand so you don’t spend much time preparing, just playing. 

Each player is given a card, dry erase marker and meeples.  All of these things are color-coded and have drawings of meeples on them.  There is a stack of question cards, a score board, and of course meeples!

A question is read and each player or team chooses their answer, writes it on their board while waiting on the other players to finish their answers.  Once everyone has written their answers down all the players choose which answer they think is right.  You place your meeples on the answer you choose.  Scoring is based on the size of meeple placed on the winning answer.  It’s that simple. 
Wits & Wagers Family sells for $19.99 and is well worth it!  We have found this game to be addicting fun. 

Check this game out for your next family night evening of fun and laughter. 

While your checking out this game check out the other games NorthStar has to offer. 

Don’t forget to head over to The Crew Blog to see what other Crew members are saying.


**I was given Wits & Wagers Family through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TOS Review Educating the Wholehearted Child

Ever since we started homeschooling I have had people ask me for books to read about it.  They were interested in homeschooling their children and wanted to get more information.  There have been a few books that I would recommend but never one that I could say with any firm conviction of being "the one to read."  Some were too lofty and intellectual, some were too touchy feely.  None were just right.

Until now.  I have found a book that I would recommend with complete confidence.  This book is that good.

Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson is a book I wish I would have had when we started on this journey.  It would have relieved some burdens and bi-passed a whole slew of other problems that have arisen from not completely understanding the mission of homeschooling.

"A home-centered, wholehearted approach to learning is a biblical lifestyle, not an institutional experiment in education.  It is a renewed expression of living and learning within the trusted biblical institution of the home."

This book is about so much more than how to educate your child at home.  It is about following God's path in your family's life and in your child's education.  The first section of the book talks about the Home.  In this section they cover the Three Priorities of a Christian Home.  Those priorities are: Home Nurture, Home Discipleship, and Home Education.  Each of these topics is covered in depth and with great care to consult the Scriptures.  There were so many moments of a revealing of something in our lives that needed to be brought to light that I can't even list them all.  I have highlighted so many things that I could make a book of just those items!

"A Christian home is one in which the parents purposefully keep Jesus Christ in the center of every area of family life."

Section 2 talks about Learning, The WholeHearted Learning Method.  In the first chapter of this section the authors list the different types of schooling and what they entail and how they are accomplished.  It is an exhaustive list and well worth the read.  I really thought I knew what each of the "styles" were but was surprised at how much I didn't know.  Or understand about them.  It has really made me re-think our chosen method not because I think we are wrong but because I am seeing that we haven't fully understood the path we are on.  Does that make sense?  I think we can become so focused the academics that we lose sight of the heart of our children and what God has planned for their lives.

"In God's economy, to be educated is not a matter of something you know or have achieved.  Rather, to be educated is something you become.  A truly educated child is one who has the desire and the ability to learn and to grow as a whole person.  The desire to learn(will) is from the hear; the ability to learn(skill) is in the mind."

"Your child is not just a soulless brain that needs to be filled up with facts by a teacher but a person in relationship with you and God who has eternal value, dignity, and purpose because they are made in the image and likeness of their Creator."

That puts a whole new perspective on things, doesn't it?  It sure did for me.  The rest of Section 2 focuses on the different aspects of WholeHearted Learning all the way up through 14 years of age.  There is a great chapter called Beyond the WholeHearted Child that talks about the teen years and preparing your child for God's call on their lives and their future careers.  I know this is one section that will be well read in our house!

Section 3 is all about Methods.  This is the section that most homeschooling books focus on so much so that everything else is lost and the mom feels so overwhelmed and under qualified that she is tempted to give up.  I know that there have been several homeschooling books that I quit reading because I didn't feel smart enough to even be reading them let alone educating my child.  It is quite depressing when that happens.  I have not felt that with this book.  At all.  I have been encouraged, exhorted,  convicted, and had so much revealed to me about our home life and our home education.  But I have never felt like it was too much.

Section 4 is all about Family Life.  In this section there are some wonderful descriptions of the mother and father and what their responsibilities are within the family and homeschool.  I was, again, encouraged and convicted by what I read.  One thing that really stuck out to me because of where we are at right now is the acronym FIRST.  It stands for:

F=Managing Family
I=Managing Information
R=Managing Rest
S=Managing Stuff
T=Managing Time

Each "managing" is defined and then later talked about in-depth to give you a complete picture of what they mean and ideas to help your family in each section.

"...on a practical level, there really are few other things in your homeschooling life that will challenge your attitudes and spirit more than the daily duties of domesticity and the tasks of homemaking.  They never go away, at least not completely, and will be a constant and demanding drain on your already limited time and energy if you don't find some way to contain them.  You must find some way to make managing your family manageable."

That completely spoke to me.  That is where I am at and I am going crazy with trying to figure it out.  In this section there are some very simple yet practical ways to help with each of the "FIRSTS."  This is another section that will be read many times over the years.

There is just so much in this book that I could not possibly tell you about it all.  I highly recommend this book and will tell all my friends about it.  This is my new "go-to" book for new homeschoolers or moms that are in the midst of homeschooling and needing some rejuvenation.  I am in love with this book.  I have been taking it everywhere and reading things to my husband as I highlight them!

I almost forgot the Resources Section!  In this section there is a list of favorite books and forms, forms, forms.  There are quite a few of these forms that I will be printing off in the very near future.  ;-)

Educating the WholeHearted Child is not a book to breeze through it must be digested slowly, in small bites, with much prayer and careful study.  But when you do start reading this book I highly recommend having a pen and highlighter to mark the things that speak to you.  But a word of warning-there will be a lot of highlighting when you are done!

Educating the WholeHearted Child is available from the Apologia website for $22.  It is an over-sized paperback book that contains 376 pages of incredible information.  The side of every page is filled with Scripture, quotes, and more information on the subjects covered in the pages.  The side notes are amazing in and of themselves. 

If you are looking for a book that can refresh your vision for homeschooling and encourage your heart, this is the book for you.

If you want to see what other Crew Members thought of this book, head over to The Crew Blog and read their reviews. 


**I received Educating the WholeHearted Child through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

TOS Review E-mealz


Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling, momma has its immense benefits.  One of those is not meal planning; at least not for me.  It doesn't come naturally to me and I tend toward planning the same meals over and over again until we are all sick of our once favorite meals.

I have tried researching online databases, cookbooks, even bugging friends for recipes but it has been to no avail.  I give up because it is just too time consuming.  Not that my family isn't worth it, they absolutely are.  It is just with all the other responsibilities pulling at me, this one is easiest to let go.

But when I do let menu planning go the budget goes right along with it.  Now, I don't know if your family is like ours but our food budget is very tight and doesn't get a lot put into it.  Meager might be the word I am searching for here.  A family of seven isn't easily fed on a meager budget without some craftiness and planning.

So, when this review came up at The TOS Crew, I just had to be on it! lol  I really want to teach my girls to plan meals, plan food/grocery budgets, and to teach them to use wisdom when feeding their families.  It is a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.  To say I was thrilled to be chosen for this review would be an understatement!  I am pretty sure that I was jumping up and down and doing a happy dance.  :-)

What I didn't know was how much I would fall in love with E-mealz.  As soon as we were given our trial I logged on and started hunting around the sight.  It was proving to be even cooler than I had suspected.

But before I start gushing, let me tell you about E-mealz.

E-mealz was started by Jane DeLaney while searching for a way to plan meals for her family and to make dinnertime a less stressful time so the family could come together and decompress.  Jane's sister joined her and they created E-mealz to aid families in bringing back the art of family dinnertime.   

"Jane and Jenny share a vision for inspiring other families to connect at dinnertime, strengthening that crucial bond and making a simple tool available to them. E-Mealz is just that… a practical tool and a means to an end."

"Now thousands of family cooks have been given the practical help they need to end the struggle to pull off dinner in the midst of all their responsibilities through E-MEALZ. They have found that it is budget-minded meal planning system with easy to follow (or delegate) shopping lists and recipes. The instructions are simple and the plan is easy to customize to any family. This is a tool that has helped Jane and all the other families of the E-Mealz team to connect and communicate in a meaningful way around the dinner table without the stress they all use to experience on a regular basis."

You should really read the complete story on their website.   It is a great story and will help you understand where the company is coming from.

PhotobucketBut what is it, you ask?  E-mealz is a program that costs only $15 every three months and for that small fee you gain access to meal plans already made up with the grocery list for that menu plan listed by categories.  The grocery list includes the price of the item and if it is available at the store you are shopping at.  There are many options to choose from such as Wal-Mart, Dillons, Aldi, and others.  You get to choose the store you shop at most or is in your area and each week you can print off a ready made Menu and Shopping List.  You also choose whether you want a Family Plan, a Regular Plan for Two, Specialty Meals for a Family, or Specialty Meals for Two.  Just look at this list of options for Meal Plans!  Wow, right?

Sign up, pick your list and it's all done for you!  It really is just that simple.  Better yet, you can see a sample of each list so you can be sure which list you really want.  Just check out this page and click through the lists to see which one is right for your family.  Gotta love a plan that gives you options that fit into what you are already doing, right?

Don't forget to check out their FAQ page to answer any other questions you have. 

We have truly enjoyed E-mealz.  I think have enjoyed it more than anyone else but is to be expected, right?  Since I am the one that is responsible for the planning, shopping, and cooking for the family.  But, the rest of the family is benefiting as well because they are getting to taste the new and wonderful meals that are on the menus.  Some we have loved and will continue putting on the menu and some were not quite to our liking right now but might be later as the kids get a little older.  ;-)

I will say that one of the cons, of which there are few for us, is that the cost of the menu items is only for supper.  Now, we chose the Aldi plan and it runs around $75 a week which isn't bad but that is just for suppers.  We are not used to spending quite that much on our suppers since we have to spread the money out a little more tightly than that.  I think that we could make this work with substituting a few of our "regular" meals in place of some from the E-mealz plans to bring the cost down just a little more.  Other than that, we have enjoyed it thoroughly!

If you want to know what other Crew members thought about the plans they chose head over to The Crew Blog and check them out.

** I was given a subscription to E-mealz through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

TOS Review Always Ice Cream

I'll be honest here. I don't really care for kids' websites that are supposed to be educational but "fun." There I said it. There are so many out there and too many of them are just fluff and stuff with no real value to them. Now, I am not opposed to just fun websites with games and things but if that's what the website is, then be honest and tell me. Right?

So, when I was put on this review I was skeptical. The idea sounded good to me but I was pretty sure I would find the same old thing.

PhotobucketI am very pleased to say that I was so wrong!! Always Icecream is just what it claims to be. It is a fun website for kids that has real educational value to it.

Here is a little about Always Icecream:
Always Icecream is an educational and entertaining website exclusively for girls between the ages of 7 and 12. Always Icecream is unique in the way the site motivates girls to learn.  By completing the learning materials and videos users can earn ice cream $coops - the virtual currency on Always Icecream. This currency can then be used to play games or access other fun content. If parents enable the “social” features of Always Icecream, girls participate in fun competitions based on their achievements. Always Icecream is the first website that combines all these aspects of online usage in an educational and safe format.

Sound cool? That's because it is!

I signed up two of my girls because I wanted to get both of their opinions about Always Icecream. Peanut is 9 and Sweet Pea is 12 so their experiences would be different enough to get a good idea about the website and whether they found it fun and interesting. 

After I signed the girls up, I let them play for a bit. It was supposed to be only for a few minutes between subjects but what I heard was way too cool to stop. They were sitting side by side answering trivia questions, working together and pooling their knowledge to find the right answer. Some of the questions were, "How many teaspoons in a tablespoon" or "What is the main ingredient in porridge." There were a whole slew of other questions that I thought were great and applicable to an everyday base of knowledge. The questions were ones that would come in handy at some point and they were having fun finding the answers! Bonus!!

Peanut says, "Always Icecream is AWESOME!!  I love it!  The games are fun but I really like the trivia questions."

Sweet Pea says, "I really like having an online pet and earning scoops."


Always Icecream serves "virtual ice cream," or $coops, to girls in exchange for practicing basic math, advanced math, geography, language arts, science, typing, and more. Girls use $coops to play fun games, decorate their homes on MiniWorld, and feed their virtual pets on Pet World.



Worried about online safety for your girls?  I know I am.  Always Icecream has addressed security measures thoroughly, just check out this page to see for yourself.   While you are there be sure to click through the entire site and check it out for yourself.  You won't be sorry you did. 

Always Icecream also sends out reports to the parents detailing what their kids have been doing and what progress they are making.

Always Icecream is a great sight for your girls. It is a safe environment where they can make friends, have "pets", play games, and so much more.  The membership fee is $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year.  Not a bad price for such a great site.  You can go to the website to try it out for FREE!

To see what other Crew Members thought of Always Icecream go to the Crew blog and check them out.


**I received an membership for Always Icecream through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homeschool Misfit Awards

It's that time of year when the Homeschool Blogger awards are making their way around the blogosphere.  You know the ones that make all of us regular, not above the norm bloggers feel bad about themselves.  The awards that we could never even hope to be nominated for...Yeah those.

I don't usually even vote for those unless I "know" the blogger well enough to care.  Otherwise it is just a huge popularity contest and I don't do those.

Okay, I don't do all of them.  There is one blogger award that I can relate to and hope to aspire to.  It is the Homeschool Misfit Awards.

Yup, you read that right.  These awards are for the rest of us normal, non-super bloggers.

You should really check them out and then nominate your favorite Misfit!


The super funny categories are:

  • The WannaBe Award 
  • The Squirrel Award 
  • The Harried Homeschooler Award
  • The Perfect Procrastinator Award
  • The Blabber Award 
  • The Not Coming Soon Award
  • and others
Click the button and start nominating.  psst...I wouldn't be too upset if you nominated me for one or two or more!! lol