Thursday, October 23, 2014

Aren't I a Missionary too?

A friend of mine recently said this to me, "The days are long but the years are short." I couldn't agree more. Suddenly, my first born is thinking about college, my daughter and I are sharing clothes and little Max (who I just gave birth to like.. yesterday!) is now in the Preschool class at our Homeschool Co-op.

Do you ever stop to wonder if you're doing it right? I know I do, almost daily. We aren't raising kids, we're raising men and women. Future mothers, fathers, teachers, missionaries and preachers!! I used to get frustrated, thinking that I wasn't doing much for Christ. Several years ago I felt the call of missions in my heart.

Ever since, I've wanted to go somewhere and do something for Him.

I love missionary month at our church. They come from all over, sharing how things are happening  in their part of the world. As they show their slide show pictures of the people they are engaging, the progress being made and the area in general, I start to envy their life. My heart aches to go with them when they leave. I know missions isn't easy or glamorous and it can be down right exhausting and beyond bearable at times. It just seems like they are doing something so much more tangible for Christ.

However, as I sit here watching my little ones play and my son make dinner I am reminded that I am a missionary. My home is my mission field. Their souls are at stake! I may not be in Italy, Brazil or Cambodia but my field is just as important. Today, I thank God for this reminder.

I pray that I never forget.

Middlebury Online French Lessons {a Crew Review}


Speaking a foreign language has so many benefits. From college entrance and career availability to becoming a missionary. Knowing another language beyond your first is almost mandatory. Middlebury Interactive Languages offers full semester German courses for grades 3-12, Chinese for grades 3-12, Spanish for K-12 and French for grades 3-12. We reviewed the middle school French Courses for grades 6-8. Julia, my sixth grader, worked on the first semester of year one of the course.
The semester is comprised of 9 units, each of which contain 10 lessons, with the exception of the 9th unit which deals with the final exam, for a total of 90 lessons. A midterm is also included between units 4 and 5.
Middlebury recommends for both the middle school and high school programs that the student complete a lesson a day for 18 weeks. Thankfully, the lessons are self-paced so she could work as slow or fast as she needed to. Julia completed all of unit 1 and part of unit 2, moving at approximately 3 lessons a week. The lessons vary in length and complexity. Some of the lessons she repeated either because she didn’t do so hot or just needed the review.


This online language course is a graded one. The quizzes and tests are all recorded with percentages, date completed, the unit and lesson it belonged to, as well as being able to go back and see what was missed- all from the grade book. Being a Charlotte Mason-esque homeschool, I don’t assign grades to my children before high school. That being said, my Julia is an over achiever and settles for nothing but perfect. She was highly motivated to do her best to achieve the best grades. Perhaps I should assign her grades to get that kind of motivation for our everyday school work! J
Unlike other online foreign language programs, this one incorporates listening, speaking, reading and writing. The course is quite comprehensive when it comes to what they learn. Being taught everyday, applicable vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure, Julia was exposed to real life conversations. With Mom being on the Schoolhouse Review Crew, she has tried a few other foreign language programs. She’s told me that not only is this one her favorite so far but she wants to continue on to semester two when she’s finished with this one. Score Middlebury Interactive!!
Middle school French One (grades 6-8) is available without a teacher (self-paced) for $119 per student, per semester. There is an option to have a teacher actually grade and work with your student; this is an additional $175 per student, per semester for a total of $294.
My bottom line
Every once in a while, a program or course comes along that not only captures your child’s interest and becomes something they look forward to using but also helps build their confidence as a student. For us, this has been Middlebury. Seriously, she loves it. Julia talks about someday being able to use her French to set up an orphanage in a French speaking country. By the way, did you know that French is the second most taught language, after English? Yeah, she’s definitely going to be able to use this down the road. Thank you Middlebury Interactive Languages!


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

All American 15-1/2qt. Pressure Cooker/Canner GIVEAWAY

Having prepared food on hand is such a lifesaver. I'm a firm believer in having a few extra meals in the freezer ready to pop in the oven in a pinch or give to a family going through a hard time. Along with freezer cooking, canning is another way to have healthy, homemade food ready to go. From green beans to peach pie filling, the canning options are endless!!

What better way to dive into canning than with a FREE Pressure Cooker/Canner???

Why Pressure Can?

Pressure Canning kills more germs and bacteria than water bath canning. A water bath canner can only get foods as hot as boiling water, which is 212 degrees. But a pressure canner can get foods up to 240 degrees, which is necessary for safely canning non-acid food like meats and beans.

Getting Started Guide

Ball Getting Started Canning Site, with videos and canning instructions.

How To Use A Pressure Canner

Instruction Manual

Here is the link to the All American Pressure Cooker/Canner Instruction Manual

Click Here!

The Giveaway




Valued at $336.00!!

How Many Winners

There will be just one winner.


Begins - October 19th at 5am MDT ( 7am EST )

Ends - October 25th at 5pm MDT (7pm EST )


To enter you must be at least 18 years old, and are a resident of the United States of America.

Winner Notification

The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders.

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Some Good Canning Books You May Like

Friday, October 17, 2014

Apologia's iWitness Book Series - Uncover the Truth! {a Crew Review}

As a Christian family, both Dad and I receive a lot of biblical questions from the kids. I’ve been asked everything from, “Did God make my cheese stick?” to “Where was the Garden of Eden?” . Some  questions are easy to answer, some, not so much. I am so thankful for companies like Apologia Educational Ministries who produce such helpful materials like the iWitness books. The three books, New Testament iWitness, Old Testament iWitness and iWitness Biblical Archaeology, are full of visually pleasing pages containing biblical truths. Having the right answers to the kids’ questions, whether they are two years old or a teenager, is imperative to creating and maintaining a Christian worldview. The books are at about an 11 year old reading level but make great read alouds.

I cannot convey the excitement that welled up within me as I opened the package from Apologia containing these books! I quickly scanned the pages and was immediately impressed. The pages don’t have your usual read left to right and top to bottom layout. Each page is filled with pieces of art, photos from times past, old biblical documents, archeological finds, and other things. Even the text itself is written in a special way. Each page has what looks like papyrus sheets containing the text, and the text font varies from sheet to sheet. It truly is beautiful!

We began with the Old Testament book. Immediately I knew I was  in over my head. I highly recommend having a Bible dictionary within reach when you go through these. Some of the names and places were new to me and I had no clue how to pronounce them, let alone read the book fluently aloud to my children!

The children and I were learning new facts immediately! It takes you on a journey to find out how the Bible came to be: where it came from, who wrote it, how it was copied down from generation to generation. It was neat to learn about the different techniques of copying the Bible (before it was the Bible we have today). We learned about the different scribes who had different rules and safeguards to maintain the original text- some of which were most stringent!

Do you know what a canon is? No, I don’t mean the thing used on ships and in wars to defeat the enemy (that’s a cannon). Before reading the Old Testament book, that was the only definition of the word I knew. The canon I am talking about is an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture. Learning how the canon of today’s Bible was very interesting!

The Old Testament book also covers the prophets- both minor and major, books of wisdom, a small bit of archaeology, a timeline and much more!


The New Testament book discusses some of the first bishops and theologians of Christianity. The New Testament canon is covered in great detail, like which books were kept and which were not considered worthy of the Bible we have today. Learning about the apostolic fathers was very interesting! What’s an apostolic father? They were the important church leaders and theologians who were alive before the death of the last apostle. The apostle John died around A.D 98, marking the end of the apostolic age.

How the New Testament came together is amazing. Through the centuries, persecution, deception and tyranny, it survived. And not only did it survive, it thrived… exactly as God would have it to be.
The Archaeology book was definitely my favorite of the three. I have always enjoyed reading and watching films about fossils and artifacts being found. Noah's ark and the exodus take up a good portion of the book and the information is fascinating! The book covers finds from both the Old and New Testaments. The Dead Sea scrolls and Jesus' burial shroud sections were very good as well.

Written and Designed by Doug Powel, each of these 9" x 6" books are beautifully created from cardstock-like paper, making them very sturdy. About 60 pages long, the books are available from Apologia for $14.00 each

My Bottom Line
The iWitness series is great for family discussions, read alouds or even used as a devotional. Of course reading them on your own or having your children read them is always an option too! These books will be pulled out again and again to reread. There is so much information that you'll want to take it slow and not rush through them. Possibly my favorite aspect of the series is that it simply provides the facts and lets you uncover the truth for yourself (great discussions with the kids!). I highly recommend this series for anyone looking to dig deeper into how the Bible came to be.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker {a Family Christian Review} Plus Giveaway!

About the Book:
In A.D. 30, you'll step back into the year of our Lord, and dive head first into a war that is raging between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.
The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars.

From there, Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews. It would be a journey filled with great danger. If they can even survive the vast trek across the desert, they will enter into a brutal world run by kings and emperors.
On the way, Maviah crosses paths unexpectedly with another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

My Review:
When you hear the title, the first thing that comes to mind is Jesus. Or at least it was for me. The book takes you on an adventure across deserts and seas in the search of both Maviah’s salvation and that of her people. Along the journey Maviah begins to hear about a mystic by the name of Yeshua. Her motives change from her original reason for journeying across the land to seeking Yeshua.

Many scenes from the Bible are played out in this historical fiction. You get to know Levi (Matthew) the tax collector and Nicodemus on a personal level. It’s amazing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t really being given an insider’s look at what happened in Matthews’s house or on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus calmed the seas. Dekker’s writing is so convincing that you feel like you’re right there riding the camels with Maviah, Judah and Saba or sitting on the hillside listening to Jesus (Yeshua) teach.

This book pulled me in like few books have. I laughed out loud and cried along with Maviah. I stayed up late, barely able to keep my eyes open just to read one more chapter. I can’t wait for his upcoming book, A.D. 33.
Due to be released October 28, 2014 , A.D. 30 will retail for $25.00 but is currently available from Family Christian Stores for $14.97
Connect with author Ted Dekker on his website and Facebook !
How would you like to win your own copy? Check out the Giveaway below!

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Many thanks to Family Christian Stores for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post

Fortuigence Online Writing Course {a Crew Review}

I have always enjoyed writing so when it came to my children, I figured it would naturally come to them as well. Boy, was I wrong. Getting my big kids (15 and 12) to write more than a few sentences at a time is like pulling teeth. Seriously, there are tears involved. We were given the opportunity to review Fortuigence, a company that offers online writing courses for teenagers. After looking over the website, I realized that maybe the kids didn’t actually *loath* writing but were more frustrated at not knowing how or where to start. Because my son is a sophomore and will be going to college in a couple short years, we opted for the Essay Rock Star (ESR): Expository Essay Writing Course. All the ESR courses are ideal for ages 12-18.

Fortuigence offers four different Essay Rock Star courses:
Personal Writing Course
Persuasive Writing Course
Textual Analysis Writing Course
Expository Writing Course

All the courses follow the same five-step process:
  1.       Brainstorming
  2.       Organization
  3.       Free Writing
  4.       Revision
  5.       Editing

The Expository Essay is the most common type of essay kids will write because they will be asked frequently to use it in high school, college and the work place. The purpose of this type of essay is to explain or inform about a specific subject.

Oscar's specific subject? Waffles.

The program is completely online and easy to use at your own pace. Possibly the best aspect of ERS is the personal attention of an ACTUAL teacher. Each lesson is composed of video lessons, short lessons to read and assignments. The assignments are uploaded and looked at by Lily Iatridis (the teacher). After assessing the work, she gives feedback to the student via email. Oscar was delighted to receive emails from the teacher. The program is set up so that the student cannot move on to the next lesson until the previous lesson is received and checked off by the teacher. Personally, I think that’s a great idea and keeps the kids from hopping around and rushing through the work.

Oscar had just started a Speech class with our homeschool coop when the ESR review became available. He kept telling me how much the ESR course was helping him with his Speech work too. The easy-to-follow instructions and the way the course is laid out makes it really user friendly. In general, Oscar has a hard time with online programs, especially those that require reading the computer screen. Somehow, he did just fine with this one, actually, he did well. I was impressed with his willingness and overall eagerness to send his completed assignments to Lily, who by the way was a joy to work with. She always got back to Oscar or me quickly. She was always positive and professional yet super friendly in her correspondence.

I was so impressed with Oscar’s essay that I want you to see it too. Keep in mind this is his Free Writing or rough draft. It took so much self-restraint NOT to correct the errors.  :)

So, here it is… Waffles by Oscar
Waffles were created over thousands of years ago. They have become a very common breakfast items. Waffles have become so common that people have named their restaurants after them. For example, Waffle House .They had been created in the Neolithic Ages made of rustic hotcakes and cereal pulps. Back then there was no access to the ingredients we have today, so the Greeks had used herbs and cheeses for a savory flavor. Back then, they had used hot iron plates to make their waffles during the Iron Age. Whereas now we have pans we place on our hot stove tops and griddles we just plug in and put our mixture onto. Some people even cook them in ovens if they have the right supplies. Then there is the easiest way now to make waffles, the waffle iron.
Choosing a good recipe is a wise thing to do before making waffles. Along with having all your ingredients the recipe calls for. There are multiple upon multiple kinds of waffles to make. Choosing a recipe isn’t just go online and find a random recipe. You should look for what you want, look for your favorite kind or if you’re not too much of a cooking person, use pre-made boxes at the store.
There are many ways to make your own recipe by adding or subtracting ingredients to your mixture. If you are looking for a nice sweet tasting waffle, maybe add some extra sugar or add some chocolate chips. If you’re trying to eat healthy, take out some of your sugar and throw some sliced bananas or some fresh blueberries from the grocery. Or if you are like me, looking for an amazing savory flavor. Make some bacon on stove top or what I do, broil it in the oven for and extra crisp or if you’re just a plain person and only like plain waffles, just put the batter in the griddle or pan and enjoy your plain waffles.

The end bit about being a plain person cracked me up.

The Essay Rock Star courses are available for $57 each and come with an awesome 100% money back guarantee. If the course just doesn’t work with your student’s learning style they will refund your money. They give you 14 days to decide, and that’s 14 days from the day your student actually starts, not the day you purchase the course.
My Bottom Line
This is an amazing course. It increased my son's writing confidence which put him that much closer to the ultimate goal of independent learning! Thank you Fortuigence!
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Preschoolers and Peace {a Crew Review}

When we began homeschooling, I was pregnant with my now three year old. So for the first year it was pretty much just me teaching the two older children. Fast forward three and a half years and we have a three year old, two year old and a three week old. Getting through a school day is much harder these days, so when I was given the opportunity to review the e-book, Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet, I jumped at it. The title itself represents what I try to do on a daily basis. Preschoolers and Peace has created this e-book for moms just like you and me.

The book is written by Kendra Fletcher, a veteran homeschooling mom of 8 kids who has been actively teaching at home for over 16 years.

“Homeschooling works. Homeschooling successfully with little ones underfoot is entirely possible. You will be tired, sometimes frustrated, and always needing to lean on Jesus but you can also be joyful, excited to dig in, and totally blessed.”

The 47-page e-book is comprised of 13 chapters, a Meal Planning 101 section and a Resources section at the very end.

The 13 chapters are:

1.       What a homeschooling Mom Needs
2.       Preparing yourself to homeschool older kids with little ones underfoot
3.       Planning around preschoolers
4.       How do I keep them busy?
5.       What does a 2-year-olds day look like?
6.       How do I get any preschooling done?
7.       How not to just kill time
8.       Circle time , or how we pull the little ones in
9.       Preschool boys
10.   When all of your kiddos are preschoolers
11.   Preschool chores
12.   Planning for preschool
13.   When mama is worn out (or pregnant)

From chapter one, Kendra’s love for and faith in Christ is evident. Her love for her children is visible on every page. In the first chapter she writes about how she realized that even though she began serving God at a young age, idols (like interests, friends, college, career, marriage, and children) had stolen her identity.

“So, why all this gospel and identity talk in an e-book about keeping your little ones content? Because simply put, there just isn’t any other place to begin. This is it. The gospel is where we begin, dwell, and end. The gospel… is the lens through which we see everything else. It’s the center from which the Old and New Testaments radiate; it’s the crux, the pinnacle, the end-all, be-all. And the good news of our creation, fall, redemption, and restoration by Christ should be what we remind ourselves of each and every day.”

There is so much good advice and so many good ideas in this book that I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to share. If I shared everything I liked about the book, there wouldn’t be much left to read on your own when you purchase the book… which is a steal at $2.99!!

A few things that I plan to implement into my own life from Fletcher’s book…

1.       “Determine what you can do in the presence of toddlers and what you would rather not do with them there.” This was such an ah-ha moment! Why had I not scheduled our day around nap time before??

2.       Circle time, circle time, circle time. “Circle time is our fabulous, all-ages-are-welcome, group teaching time that allows us to pray together, laugh together, and to get to things we often run out of time for.”  Bringing circle time into our home is something I really look forward to. I’m currently making a list and prayerfully considering what the Lord would have us do together. I really believe our own Circle Time will be a great blessing to our family as whole.

3.       In Fletcher’s book, you’ll find lots and lots of helpful ideas for busying your toddlers and preschoolers. Her idea to make a list of activities your little ones could do during the day, along with how long each one will take is GENIUS!

My Bottom Line
My overall problem is lack of organization and motivation, especially since Ana was born. Things in the house have fallen to disarray to say the least. Schoolwork is behind, housework is behind and I don’t even want to talk about the laundry. Why is it always the laundry that suffers the most when a new life event takes place?? Anyway, Kendra Fletcher’s book have given me so many ideas and a bit of motivation as well! I highly recommend the book. It’s an easy, enjoyable read that any mom could benefit from.
Thank you Preschoolers and Peace for the opportunity!

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