Sunday, May 29, 2011

Denominational Differences?

My friend and I have been discussing the differences in the Presbyterian denomination. Changes to the PCUSA have brought about a possible choice for change in our local church. Some of the options include switching to the EPC (Evangelical Presby) or the PCA, at least these are the ones we’ve talked about. I have begun researching at least five other branches.

While I won’t delve into the details, I find it surprising that one denomination has such disparity in its approach to biblical authority (liberal, moderate and conservative). When one says, I’m a Presbyterian, it’s not enough to simply say that but one should identify what branch to give a clearer picture of what it means to be a Presbyterian.

This has all led me to think about other denominations as well – do all “branches” of the faith have their own separate branches with differing viewpoints.

Is this what Jesus intended when he created the church? Surely not.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cross Pen Review

Cross Pen

There’s just something about a good pen: a sturdy, stylish, fluid pen. I don’t know exactly what it is, but holding a nice pen in my hand just feels good. I enjoy writing with it. I enjoy owning it. I threaten my kids never to touch it lest they lose it.

As a BzzAgent, I got the thrill of test driving a Cross pen. It’s right pretty, isn’t it? This pen even features a cartridge allowing the pen to become a pencil. A luxurious pencil. Ok, I know, I’m a little silly about my pens. But, I teach writing for a living, so I should be more conscious than most about writing and what I choose to write with.

The Cross brand has been around for 150 years. Obviously, they are doing something write… uh, I mean, right. The stand by their pens offering a lifetime mechanical guarantee. Nice to have a product that truly focuses on quality! In fact, they also offer a 30 day money back guarantee on any non-engraved product to ensure your satisfaction.

Looking for the perfect Father’s Day or Graduation gift – may I suggest one of these pens? They come in a variety of styles sure to impress. Right now, using the code SHOPCROSS, you can get 20% off of your gift giving. I love a good discount! Not sure which one to give, use the Cross Gift Finder to get help selecting just the right one.

My grad is getting a Cross pen. He’s always loved a good writing instrument, just like his mama.

*** As a BzzAgent, I received my pen free for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture Review

Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture
Author: Tim Sinclair

Branded aptly points out that Christians are losing their potency when it comes to “making disciples of all nations.” We have become antiquated in our strategies, comfortable in our own circles, and unmotivated to move out of routine in an effort to reach the unchurched. The Christian “brand” is experiencing a slump.

As the author, Tim Sinclair, aptly puts it, “Many people have no problem with Christ, but a big problem with Christians. Expressed in marketing terms, the product isn’t the problem – the spokespeople are. Instead of bringing people to Jesus, it seems we’re more effective at turning them away.”

Sinclair highlights the Christian proclivity for displaying our Christianity through our jewelry, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and more. Just like we take a negative view of those with the Darwin fish on the back of their car, an unchurched or non-Christian person would not want to approach one of us displaying these symbols. These symbols attract like people; they don’t encourage those on the outside to come on in.

So, what are we to do? Sinclair uses examples of marketing greats like Apple, Best Buy, and Google to show that it’s really all about relationship. When a Best Buy employee is knowledgeable, friendly and works to meet your needs, you buy their products. Were that employee unapproachable, speaking in terms you couldn’t understand and quick to move on to another customer, you’d be unlikely to develop a long-term commitment to that company. Much like churches – we need to communicate, be friendly, offer a relationship, and encourage the seeker to ask questions and feel comfortable so that he/she will stay.

The last chapter of the book focuses on radical ideas for change. What about not tithing to the church one week and instead giving the money to someone you know who is recently unemployed? What about visiting other churches of people who believe differently? Would they be more willing to visit our church is we had a willingness to visit theirs? I love that he is thinking outside of the box. It appears to me that the box is the problem – we are comfortable where we are, with our fellow Christians, worshipping the same way we have for decades with the occasional Christmas outreach or mission trip or Habitat house without ever having to really welcome those on the outside in.

Tim Sinclair gets us thinking. He takes seriously the mandate to “become fishers of men” and seeks to make Christianity relevant while maintaining the truth of the Bible.

***I received this book free of charge from LitFuse in exchange for my honest review…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Week of School

I really can’t believe how time flies. This completes our third year of homeschooling and it feels like we just started last August. It’s a little scary because in four years, my older son will graduate. I just don’t want it to go by that fast!

We’ve had a great year – lots of learning, lots of experiences, lots of growing. Exactly as I had hoped it would be. Not perfect, of course, but a blessing.

Teaching Textbooks was our favorite discovery for this year. The boys went from hating math to tolerating it. I can’t ask for much more than that! I also got to review for The Old Schoolhouse magazine’s Homeschool Crew, which allowed us to try different curriculum we otherwise would not have. The boys were hesitant at first, but they got into the idea of trying something new and giving their opinions.

The big plans for next year are set. It’s amazing how much has to be done in May in preparation for August. Both the boys will be in Gavel Clubs next year working on their public speaking. Older has been accepted into the Homeschool National Honor Society and has begun working toward his Congressional Award. Our co-op has sent out the classes for next year, so we’re set with what they’ll have there and what we’ll tackle independently. I hope to help lead yearbook at the co-op with my older participating and will be coaching a Battle of the Books team with my younger as a member. Most of the curriculum has been bought with the exception of a few items I’m hoping to snag used or on sale.

Next year marks a new adventure for me as I tackle computer science with the homeschoolers. At the co-op, we’re offering Computer Applications and Alice, each a semester long. It’ll be easy teaching the Computer Apps, but Alice will be a new horizon. I’m blessed to be able to attend a two week program at Duke to learn how to integrate it into the classroom. It’s exciting!

Now, it’s time to think of summer and sneaking in all those “educational” opportunities under the guise of having fun. Learning never stops – it’s just not called learning during the summer.

Are you ready for next year?

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Pictorial View of our Mountain Expedition

My older son setup a homeschool expedition for us. He decided we were going to climb Crowder’s Mountain in Gaston County, NC. It’s the highest peak in that county and at one time served as a dividing barrier between the Catawba and Cherokee Indian hunting grounds.

It was quite the hike taking us a couple of hours, but what fun! Spending the day exploring the wilderness with my boys and hiking a mountain can’t be beat. Here’s a little pictorial view of our day… Enjoy.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Math Dog Math Review

Mad Dog Math

Cost:  One year - $19.95  Second year - + $10. Perpetual license -  $39.95. 
Ages:  K - Early Middle School

We were offered Mad Dog Math computer-based program for review. While my boys are a little old for the subject matter (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), I still opted to review this product because of the opportunity for practice, speed and repetition.

My youngest is eleven. He knows his facts, but he doesn’t like to move quickly. In testing situations, or even when doing advanced math, the ability to recall facts quickly and on demand is very important. That's how we used this program – as a tool to increase his speed.

Math Dog allows the student to choose what numbers to practice (1 through 12), what skill set to practice (+, -. *. /), and how much time to put on the timer (30 sec, 1 min, 2 min, unlimited). Additionally, once mastery is achieved, the student can choose the Challenge level to combine the skills being perfected.

My son liked the practice. They number of problems, twenty-four, was very manageable. It allowed him to really push himself without getting too stressed out with too many problems. He’s a big dog lover, so the Mad Dog theme really appealed to him.

What I really like about the program are the Club Stickers that students can earn for learning a set of facts.  My son has been practicing speeding up on his mulitiplication by earning his 2 minute, 1 minute and now 30 second stickers.  This little incentive lets me track where he's at and gives him a sense of accomplishment.

For us, I really like the concept and the program, the issue is that it is a bit pricey. There are several free internet based sites that provide the same timed tests for free. Since we are just using it to build up speed, the investment wouldn’t be worth the return. If my child were just starting to learn these concepts or if I had several children to use the program so that we’d use it for several years, I would consider the perpetual liscense a good investment.

To see other reviews by the TOS Homeschool Crew click here.

*** I was provided this program free of charge as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Turnaround Turning Fear into Freedom Review

Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom

David A. Russ, Ph.D.
Christopher T. McCarthy, M.Ed.

Cost:  Currently 20% off – 167.95 (payment plan is available)

If you have a child with an anxiety disorder, you know how difficult it is for that child to branch out or sometimes even get through each day, not to mention the hard task of dealing with night time.

My son has struggled with anxiety – it has been heightened with the onset of puberty. My heart breaks when I see him struggle with day to day tasks that many wouldn’t think are a big deal, but to him are sometimes insurmountable. He worries – constantly. To the point of freezing up.

I emailed doctors Russ and McCarthy, the developers of Turnaround, to see if they felt this program might be something that could help my child. After emailing discussions, we agreed that while my child is a little older than the target audience (ages 6-12) it was certainly worth a try.

Turnaround is a thirteen CD set. There are ten lessons or ten “days” that the child works through. There is also a “Chill” disk that the child can use at night to help with relaxation, and two Parent Guide disks. Additionally, the set comes with a workbook that allows the student to work through what they have learned each day and identify their areas of fear and how to overcome them.

The set was developed by Dr. David A. Russ Ph.D and Christopher T. McCarthy M.Ed. who together have over thirty-five years of trained clinical therapist experience.

The audio CD’s for the child are setup as a camping trip where kids with different anxiety based disorders go to get help overcoming their fears. Along on the camping trip is a previous child who overcame her fears the year before, two doctors, and several characters that help the child identify and face his/her fears.

The fears covered include – OCD, school phobia, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and panic attacks. Each disorder is addressed through a child on the camping trip allowing your child to identify with that character and see how he/she goes through the journey of identifying and facing down his/her fear.

You can listen to examples of the CD’s and the kids on the trip by clicking here.

What really helped my son was realizing that his anxiety was a separate thing from who he is. He isn’t his anxiety; anxiety is just one facet of his personality that he can overcome so that his other strengths can shine. Using the CD’s advice, he was able to identify the anxiety by name and recognize when symptoms of anxiety were coming upon him and focus on trying to control them rather than have them control him. He still has a long way to go, however. My son is very logical, and when what scares him appears logical it’s very hard to overcome. The CD’s talk about differentiating between What If’s and What Is. He’s still working on that.

Parents should listen to the CD’s with their child. What I found interesting while listening to the CD’s is that I too exhibit anxiety traits. Now I have a better sense of where he gets these fears and realize that I need to model strategies to overcome them.

This is a terrific tool for parents of children with anxiety. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to try it with my child. He has learned and will continue to learn from the lessons provided. Additionally, we have a branching off point to discuss further what his fears are and to try to come to reasonable and safe ways for him to face them.

If you have a child suffering from any of the listed fears, please take this opportunity to visit the Turnaround web site to better understand how this program can benefit your family. Now is the time to help your child so that he/she can grow into adulthood with confidence. Turnaround has a 90 day money-back guarantee – you can return it if you find it isn’t working for your child.

*** I received a copy of Turnaround free for my honest review.

Monday, May 16, 2011

WonderMaps Review

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press

Cost:  49.95

What homeschooling parent doesn’t love maps? I don’t know how many times I’ve had to search the internet for a blank map to use with my kiddos. Seems like an easy task, but, let me tell you, that isn’t always the case. The are formatted funny, won’t take up the whole page, are blurry, are too colorful, are not blank, etc. etc. etc. I think we’ve probably all been there.

The opportunity to review WonderMaps made me do a happy dance! At first, I was just excited about the maps. Once I saw the product, I was very impressed with the versatility of the maps. WonderMaps is a “customizable collection of 350 maps.” And when they say customizable, they aren’t kidding!

“The user can choose from:

• historical or modern-day maps

• outline, reference, political, or topographical maps

• black-and-white or color maps

• features including: names, borders, rivers, cities, physical features, and graticules

WonderMaps includes:

• 60+ maps of the world

• 60+ maps of the USA

• 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps

• The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II”

View this short tutorial to see what all WonderMaps has to offer:

What I really love most is the ability to select what I want on the map and what I don’t. Names of locations can be included or removed, geographic features are optional, I can go color or black and white. When it comes to countries, I can drill down to what I want to see. For example, I can choose to look at the states of the United States. If I select Colorado (where I’m originally from), then I can choose to manipulate the map by selecting the options on the right-hand side of the screen. I would NEVER get this kind of flexibility by relying on a web browser to find my maps.

We studied American history and American geography this year – boy do I wish I could have had this then! Next year, my youngest son will be studying World Geography while my older son takes high school American history. I am so excited to have these maps to go along with their studies. Here are some examples of the historical, thematic and geographic options we are looking forward to using (you simply click on the option to get to the map).

WonderMaps currently runs on Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0. If you have another version installed, it won’t run. However, since it’s a free download, this is really a non-issue. I run Adobe Professional on my PC, so I did have to go in and load Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0 and tell the program I wanted it to open using this program instead of Pro. Again, not a big deal.

Would we buy this program – you bet! I think it’s a wonderful investment! With purchase, you gain a membership that allows you to download updates as they are issued. Additionally, the program can be installed on two separate home computers so that one child can work on his maps while you or another child use the program. Nice!

This is one of my favorite products this year. As a geek, I’m amazed at what they were able to develop using the Adobe Acrobat functionality; as a parent, I’m thrilled that I have it on my desktop.

To see other reviews by the TOS Homeschool Crew click here.

*** I was provided the WonderMaps program free of charge as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew for my honest review.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We have a Winner - Blossom wins the No-Work Spanish CD's...

Congratulations to Blossom!
You have won the No-Work Spanish Audio CD's giveaway.
(I use to select a winner.)

Please leave me a comment with your email and home addresses so I can have your prize sent to you.  The comment will NOT be published.  Congratulations! 

Have a blessed day, All!

The Best Part of Being on the Crew...

This week, the Homeschool Blog Cruise asks What is your
favorite homeschool experience in relation to your participation in the Crew this year?

When I applied for the Homeschool Crew, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The first thing I had to do was start a blog. I had no idea whether or not I’d enjoy blogging, but I knew I’d love reviewing curriculum. I’m one of those that can go into a homeschool store and spend hours just looking. I LOVE curriculum!

So, one of my favorite aspects of joining the Crew, obviously, is the exposure to so many exciting and new curricula. I get the blessing of testing out programs that I would never have considered on my own. The boys get excited about trying something new and their involvement in evaluating how it works in our homeschool. They take their review responsibilities as seriously as I do. Sometimes we have had things we didn’t love, but for the most part we have been thoroughly blessed by each and every opportunity.

Additionally, I am thankful that the crew got me into blogging. As an English teacher, I teach writing all the time, but I rarely got to actually do it. Blogging has provided that outlet for putting words to print without being a burden, but rather a joy.

Finally, I’ve been able to connect with and interact with some amazing women (and man) through this crew. Women who homeschool their children, work in many facets of life, love the Lord and enjoy writing.

What more can a homeschooling mom ask for? Curriculum, blogging and wonderful connections! I can’t wait for the next year to start! Thank you TOS for this amazing opportunity!

To see additional interesting posts - hop on over to the Homeschool Blog Cruise...

Friday, May 13, 2011

We have a Winner - Shyla wins the Unplanned DVD...

Congratulations to Shyla!
You have won the Unplanned DVD giveaway.
(I use to select a winner.)

Please leave me a comment with your email and home addresses so I can have your prize sent to you.  The comment will NOT be published.  Congratulations! 

Have a blessed day, All!

Institute for Excellence in Writing Review

Institute for Excellence in Writing
Student Writing Intensive - Group C

Cost:  $99

I was excited to review IEW C because my children have already been through Level B. This gave me a bit of an advantage on the review and using the curriculum in my home. Level B was taught through our local co-op.

I would note that I teach college English, so my perspective is taken from what I want to see college students capable of.

What I really like about IEW is the concentration on improving writing. This isn’t a curriculum that teaches a complete novice how to write; this is a curriculum that teaches a decent writer how to become a strong writer. The curriculum teaches the student to incorporate the following “dress-ups” into their sentences:

“ly” adverbs * Who/which clauses *Strong verbs *Quality adjectives *

Teaching students that it’s not just what they say but the words they choose that makes for good writing is important. Working on making writing descriptive and engaging is a terrific skill.

In addition to the “dress-ups”, IEW emphasizes “Sentence Openers”.

Subject, prepositional, “-ly” adverb, -ing, clausal, and V.S.S. (very short sentences)

Again, not always starting with the subject is what adds variety and expression to our writing. I see a lot of what I would call “flat” writing in college. Students have a standard vocabulary and emphasize simple or compound rather than complex sentences. Pudewa’s enforcement of sentence variety is excellent.

All of this is accomplished through the use of rubrics (see examples above). Students must check-off as they write that these strategies have been incorporated into each paragraph. Forcing students to include these techniques and to evaluate their approach to writing is valuable. They see where they can enhance their writing through each exercise and rubric.

Each lesson provides students with a written work that they are to enhance. As an alternative, students can change the story, modify the characters or the storyline. This allows them to focus on the rubric rather than trying to develop a story of their own.

While I appreciate the focus on the stylistic details of writing, I do wish that there was emphasis on source citation. This may be provided in other IEW curricula. When a student simply changes the wording of a piece, this doesn’t make it that student’s writing. It still belongs to the original author. Since Level C is for older students, I believe it is very important to emphasize this. When they move on to college, plagiarism is a big issue. If they believe that changing the words makes the writing theirs, then they will be in for a hard lesson when their first writing class accuses them of plagiarizing. Since I deal with this every term, I know how important this lesson is for students.

My boys have spent the last two years using IEW to enhance their writing. They are both strong writers, so this curriculum was an excellent addition to our school year. They really had to focus on what they write as much as how they write. They didn’t love watching the DVD’s; however, I felt like they were strong instructionally. Additionally, I made the boys take notes as we watched the DVD’s giving the opportunity to practice notetaking that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

IEW is easy to use. It may seem confusing at first, but trust the instruction or use the Structure and Style Overview to help guide you.

Personally, I won’t rely solely on IEW for my boys high school years, but I am glad we spent two years working through the program and really enhancing their writing.

To see other reviews by the TOS Homeschool Crew click here.

*** I was provided IEW free of charge as part of my participation on the TOS Homeschool Crew for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Take me out to the… Opera?

Yes, I’m dragging, um, taking my two boys to the opera. They’ve been before. Once. It was The Barber of Seville. This time, we’re going lighter, with the HMS Pinafore. Hopefully, they’ll like it.

I never went to the opera as a child. No biggie one way or the other, but the opera always seemed like something rich people did in rich places, not us common folk. So, I want my kiddos to go and do and realize that the arts are just as “common” as, say, a ballgame.

My goal for years has been to get the kids to the symphony, a play and the opera each year. Plays we have under our belt. Symphonies – we’ve seen several. Operas, not so much. So, we’re adding to that goal tonight.

Hopefully, it’ll be an enjoyable experience. Even if they don’t like it, they’ve experienced it and when they grow up they can decide if they are going to drag… um.. take their kids.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blog Cruise - Loving Science

This week, the Homeschool Blog Cruise asks What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

The first thing that immediately jumps to mind is science.  I love science.  While I teach English, science definitely gets me excited about learning.

There are so many aspects of science that the boys and I have been able to delve into.  We've student animals groups of all kinds having raised butterflies, fish, African clawed frogs, a bearded dragon, and of course our cat and dog.  In addition, we were able to volunteer at a local waterfowl rescue giving us hand's on experience with many a feathered friend.  We still get to foster birds from time to time, feeding them until they can move on to the rescue in Columbia. 

In addition to that, we all enjoy dissection.  I know - many don't like it.  But - what better way to understand an organism than to see it first hand?  We've dissected plants, owl pellets, a frog, a sheep's heart and kidney, a cow's eye and a shark.  My husband and I are big believers in experiential learning - if we can do it rather than just learn about it, we're in!

Fortunately, there are many options for science open to the homeschool community.  Through the local parks and rec we've been able to go on nature walks, identify trees, learn orienteering and track many animals.  Last year, we took four days and went to Tybee Island in Georgia for a field study.  Beach, forest, and marsh ecology along with firsthand experience orienteering and working with many marine animals.

Can you tell I like the natural sciences? 

We love computer science too.  It's an essential skillset for kids to learn these days.  My husband works for a software company, so he is a HUGE advocate of computing.  I'll be going to a two week seminar this summer to learn to teach Alice, a 3-D visual programming tool available free through Carnegie Melon.  In fact, I'll be blogging about it when that time comes.  If you're interested in teaching your child programming but aren't quite sure how to start, monitor my blog starting August.  I hope to provide free information you can use to include Alice in your homeschool.

Of course, as we continue through school, we'll do chemistry, physics and delve into engineering. It's all just so exciting!  Personally, I can't wait to build robots - I know I'll be able to talk one of the boys into doing it with me.  :)

What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

To see additional interesting posts - hop on over to the Homeschool Blog Cruise...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and 19 Free Gifts!

Have you heard about all the gifts TOS is giving away just for subscribing to their magazine?

Here's what they have to say:

Start enjoying a two-year subscription to a high-quality magazine packed full of insights from leading homeschool experts delivered right to your door. You’ll love flipping through nearly 200 PRINT pages of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Subscribe Now and receive a plethora of gifts worth over $300!

You’ll receive hard copy books, DVDs, subscriptions to learning sites, CDs and more. CLICK HERE to see what we’ve got for you.

And hey, have you heard about our new subscriber-only benefit called the Teacher's Toolbox? This is ABOVE AND BEYOND the 19 free gifts you'll receive if you are within the first 5,000 two-year subscribers. Teacher's Toolbox is our brand new password-protected site which is FULL of resources for TOS subscribers only! Believe it or not, you'll also get ALL of our digital back-issues on this site! You'll be reading for WEEKS!

PLUS TOS is throwing in a 20th BONUS GIFT => a John Taylor Gatto E-Book entitled Hammering at the Walls of Public Schooling AND MP3 recording of him speaking on the topics of "Open Source Education" and "Everything You Know About Institutional Schooling is Wrong!

Get yours NOW before we sell out!

Don't miss your chance to get these 19 free gifts and access to our password-protected site stuffed full of educational material!

*The 19 Gifts Promo is open to U.S Subscribers only.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Knitting Knee-Highs Review

Knitting Knee-Highs

Barb Brown

When I received this book, I loved the beautiful patterns for the knee highs. There’s nothing as lovely as a warm pair of socks on a chilly day. However, it was immediately apparent that I had bitten off more than my meager skills could chew. So, I asked a friend and much more accomplished knitter what she thought of the book. After spending some time with it, here’s what she had to say:

“This book is for the advanced knitter who is bored and needs to heed the call of the wild in challenging patterns. The patterns are a combination of language and charting, which is not unusual for complex knitting. Instructions appear clear and succinct. The author has also helpfully provided variations on each pattern, for shorter, cuffed socks or leg-warmers. Unlike many pattern books, there are plentiful choices in this book. These knee highs and their variations are beautiful garments, which beg to be on needles! Outstanding photography gives ample visual motivation for getting started on your own pair of knee-highs.”

So, there you have it! If you are adept with your needles and looking for a challenge, this book may be just the ticket. However, if you consider yourself a novice or even just average, you might find this a little too challenging.

*** I received this book free of charge from BookSneeze for my honest review.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No-Work Spanish Review and Giveaway

No-Work Spanish

Order both for just $21.95

I love the Spanish language. Personally, I think it is absolutely beautiful. One of my goals in life has been to learn to speak Spanish. However, as I explain to my kids, wanting to do something isn’t the same as actually doing it. It’s a lot of hard work!

Reviewing No Work Spanish is exciting as new ways to learn Spanish always intrigue me. What I didn’t count on is how much my boys would enjoy it. My oldest was ready to try a new language – I was even in the process of selling our Spanish curriculum when these CD’s arrived. Both of my boys have enjoyed listening to the stories and my older son has a renewed interest in learning Spanish. Good thing the curriculum was only “almost” sold.  :-)

The format is simple – a story is told chapter by chapter. A few sentences at a time are offered in English then in Spanish. At the end, the entire chapter is given in Spanish.

For my youngest son, he loves Yaks March on Washington. In fact, he has proclaimed the yak to be his new favorite animal. The story is told from the perspective of the family dog. It’s entertaining, funny, and interesting. Personally, I liked Poster Girl as new vocabulary is introduced before each chapter. The No Work Spanish web site contains the pdf transcripts for each CD so that you can follow along. This is a big benefit as you begin listening and learning the vocabulary being used.

I didn’t feel like this is a curriculum in itself. However, I do feel this is a wonderful supplement for those learning Spanish. Anyone learning Spanish will benefit from the opportunity to hear the language spoken and translated in an interesting story format. We’ll be using these as my son (and one day hopefully myself) work through our Spanish curriculum.



No Work Spanish has generously offered to let me give away one CD combo. The lucky winner (U.S. only) will receive a copy of both Yaks March on Washington and Poster Girl.

To enter do the following:

1. Submit a comment telling me how you would use these CD’s.

For additional entries:

1. Friend me using GFC or NetworkBlogs (or tell me you already have)

2. Like Heartfelt Homeschooling on Facebook

3. Post a comment on Heartfelt Homeschooling on Facebook

4. Post this giveaway on Twitter and tell me you have

This giveaway will end Saturday, May 14th. The winner will be picked using

*** I was given these CD’s free of charge through Mamabuzz for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fifteen Years and Counting!

Today is our fifteenth wedding anniversary! Quite the milestone in my opinion. Four kids, a house, several jobs, homeschooling, peaks, valleys – it’s been quite a ride.

I remember meeting Scott – it was May 1994, and he was on the basketball court at work. He has some pretty good skills – even today! I love a man who can dunk a basketball! He wasn’t cocky. In fact, at the time, I think he was more interested in getting back to the game than talking to me.

We struck up an IM conversation sometime shortly after that. Yes, we’re both geeks. He invited me to lunch to hear about a trip he just took. A few days later, we had dinner and saw Forest Gump. He seemed like a nice enough guy. Then he invited me to the “mountains” for the day. Originally, I backed out, but then decided to go.

What a great date! See, I’m a mountain girl being from Colorado. I don’t think the Blue Ridge is really mountains, more like big hills, but I was game anyway. We started the date at a bakery followed by a hike to the cascades waterfall. Lovely! Then on to Boone to see his alma mater, lunch at Macado’s, and a walk through town. Partway through, we stopped at Mountaineer Mania where he bought my two young children t-shirts (I was hooked!). Hiking followed where we got “lost”, but he was able to find our way back. Finally, a little serenade with his guitar by the river and our first small kiss. We ended our day by going back to Blowing Rock for dinner and ice cream and an animated conversation on the way home. Perfect!

While in the mountains, I noticed there was a place called Tweetsie Railroad. What a fun place to take my three year old daughter and one and a half year old son. Scott agreed and back up to the mountains we went a few weeks later. He carried my little boy on his shoulders almost the whole day. I’m pretty sure that’s when I fell in love.

Scott has carried two more boys on his shoulders since then while shouldering the responsibility of our big, rambunctious household. I don't know what I did to get so lucky, but I do know I’m looking forward to the next fifteen as well!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Turning Gray at 40!

Well, I finally had to breakdown and dye my hair. I haven’t done it in a very long time. Of course, when I was younger, my hair was all different shades. I’ve been blond, red headed, etc. But, age took away my enthusiasm for funky hair and it’s been dark brown for a long time. That is until the grays started popping up.

Initially, in my late thirties, when a gray would rear its ugly head, I would pluck it out as a warning to any others thinking they would like to announce themselves. It didn’t work. As life moved on and teen stress mounted, the grays came out in greater number. Not enough to make a total transformation, just enough to convince me that I couldn’t afford to pluck quite that much hair.

The interesting thing about my grays – they are not even close to the texture of my darker hair. They are stiff and wiry. What’s up with that? I can pinch one between my fingernails and slide down the hair resulting in a curl not unlike a Christmas bow. On the bright side, they are the whitest white. Not dull gray, not silver, bright white.

Since they are this unique wiry texture, they tend to stick straight out of my head announcing to the world that age is overtaking beauty in a big way. I have these white antennae sprouting. If I let them grow long enough, they settle down, but geesh what a picture I'm going to be in a few years!

So, I broke out the L’Oreal and dyed my hair today. It does look much better. I’m relieved. How long until the grays reassert? I’m not sure, and I dread the thought of dyeing becoming a regular routine. Urgh!

So, what do you do when you decide to actually go gray? How does that work? Since I’m dyeing, when will I know it’s time to give up and give in? Do I dye the rest of my hair to match the gray? I’m so not ready… Being old doesn’t bother me, but I just don't have a grip on aging maintenance. Hmmm…