Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Call To Anguish - David Wilkerson

Years ago I read "The Cross and the Switchblade" about the ministry of David Wilkerson's. I had never, however, heard him speak until last night when this brief audio of one of his sermon's was played before a prayer time with some other members of our church. Although it really stirred me then, it stirred me even more when listening to it again a moment ago. Please take the time to listen. Hopefully it will change the whole perspective of your Christian walk.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Creation Illustrated - The Continuing Saga of Marge and Babs!

You've read about Marge and Babs before. They're the two homeschooling friends that always seem to find a way out of all of their problems. It's usually the TOS Homeschool Crew that helps them somehow. Well, this time the two ladies have gotten the summer doldrums and, to their displeasure, so have their children. Let's listen in on one of their conversations.

*Scene One - Late one hot Wednesday afternoon in June sitting at the counter in Bab's kitchen sipping a cold glass of sweet tea.*

Marge - Ugh! We are only into the second week of our summer break and my kids are already bored! We"ve already been to the library twice and if we go one more time to the pool I think they will turn into fishes.

Babs - Don't you know it. Honey, my kids have gone to every VBS possible and have already been to three of them - two of them had the same theme and everything. If they sing that silly mermaid VBS theme song again I think I'll scream!

Marge - *sigh* I feel for you. This is the time of the summer where I could kick myself for not homeschooling year round. I just can't bring myself to doing that to the poor little things. My kids just need a break for a little while. I know we'll have fun on vacation, but that's not for another month. I need something for them to do other than sitting in front of the TV or playing video games all day long. Something that will exercise their mind without seeming too schoolish.

Babs - Well Honey if you find somethin' then please pass it on to me. I've had about all I can take from my youngins this summer and it's only just begun!

Marge - Hey! You know what? I just remembered I pulled out a subscription card from some magazine at my doctor's . office called "Creation Illustrated". It looked really interesting. My doctor is a Christian and she says it's a great magazine. Let's see, where is that thing in this purse? Aha! Hear it is.

Babs - I think I read something about that on the Homeschool Review Crew's new website. Let me see that card. It says something about a free issue. Hey, Marge, let's send it in. Maybe the kids will like it. It's worth a try.

Scene Two - One week later at Marge's Back Door

*Knock. Knock*

Marge (Opening the door) - Babs! What in the world happened? You are as red as a beat.

Babs (Waddling in slowly) - Don't touch me! Don't touch me! Just pull out a chair for me to ease into. I knew it was a mistake to take the kids to the pool for the fourth time. I use sunscreen. I sit under an umbrella. I cover myself up. The kids swim in the hot sun all day. Who gets the sunburn? Moi! That's who! Anyway, why'd you call me over?

Marge - We got that free magazine yesterday. You know the one called "Creation Illustrated"? Babs, it is a really neat magazine! I'm already thinking about ordering it. I was reading it yesterday and it has a recipe section with healthy recipes. It's called "Genesis Cuisine" and it teaches you how to eat the way God intended for us to eat! And, you know what the featured food was for this month? GRAPEFRUIT! You know how I love grapefruit. There was even a recipe for grilled grapefruit! I'd never heard of such a thing. Last night we had a cookout, though, and I tried some. It was delish!

Babs (Grabbing the magazine) - Let me see that thing. Look at this! Here's an article called "God's Light Show" about the summer night sky. You know my Johnie loves astronomy. And...look here...there's even a children's story that little Penny would love!

Marge - I know! I saw that! I looked through it last night and Creation Illustrated is divided into three sections. There's "Creation in Nature", "Creation in Scripture" and "Creation in Living". It teaches you how to use creation to prove scriptures and how to tell others about God. And, you know how Mikey is always talking about conservation? There's even a section on how to take care of the earth from a Christian perspective.

Babs - Well, Honey, I did a little research on my own. You remember how we saw that the Homeschool Review Crew had reviewed this. Well, I looked up some of the reviews... 

Marge - Oooo...did you look up the one written by that hunk Tim Tinkel? You know he posted a new picture of he and his boys and they are cute! They are caaauuuutttte! Boy would I like to hook some of my girls up with his boys...

Babs - Earth the Marge! Earth to Marge! Focus! As I was saying, the Homeschool Review Crew really liked it! I'll tell you what. I'll keep the magazine for three days and then you can read through it for three days. We'll get back together next Tuesday and compare notes.

Marge - But if we each kept it for three days that would be next Wednesday!

Babs (With a mischievous grin) - You already had it yesterday and I can't wait! It's next Tuesday!

Marge (With an equally mischievous grin) - Now listen sister!


Scene Three - The next Tuesday (Babs won) at Marge's kitchen table.
Babs - So, what did you think?
Marge - Oh my goodness! I love the series they are doing on the days of creation. Although the article about "The Creation of Creeping Things" did creep me out a little!
Babs - Oh, Honey, I know...
Marge - And Debra is going to love entering the Youth Photo Contest. That is right up her alley.
Babs - So, you're going to...
Marge - And you know what picky eaters my family is. Can you believe that they loved the Savory Mushroom Pepper Cupcakes?

Babs - Oh my kids loved the...

Marge - And I'm planning on using Creation Illustrated and it's "Instructional Guide" for the youngers and their science this next year. It's going to be a great supplement. I just wish it were more than a quarterly magazine!

Babs - Oh, Honey, I know...

Marge - And the article about that lady who was a volunteer...

Babs - Earth to Marge! Earth to Marge! Focus! Come up for air! So, are you going to order it?

Marge - Order it!?! Sister, I already have! You can't beat the price. A one year subscription is only $19.95. My kids devoured the free copy. I didn't have to take them to the pool once last week. They were too busy reading and photographing and conservationing and naturing...oh, and listen Babs...!

Yes, you, too, could be like Marge and Babs and order Creation Illustrated or ask for a free copy to check it out. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. If you want to see what the other TOS Review Crew members had to say about it just click here. You can even read what that hunk Tim Tinkel and his cute boys thought (Oh, that's right, you're already reading that one aren't you?).

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was given four free copies of Creation Illustrated in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pearson My Math Lab Algebra = Success

I'm going to tell you up front and from the start that Algebra with John Allen this year has not been fun. Can you believe that I tutored college algebra back in the early 2000's and, for most of the year, it seemed like algebra since then has totally changed? We had been using another popular online algebra program. It was a program that we had used successfully before in previous years.

This year, however, was horrible! The deeper we got into the program the harder and more confusing it got - not just for John Allen, but for me as well! I knew that unless we made some kind of a change then John Allen would fail algebra for this year. I went ahead and bought another algebra program from a curriculum that he had used with success in the past and he was doing a little better.


Then, thankfully, we were chosen to review MyMathLab Algebra from Pearson. Pearson has several online programs to choose from, including many algebra programs. We, however were chosen to review Algebra 1, MyLabs Homeschool Edition, by Elayn Martin-Gay. There are many ways to use this program, but let me tell you how we use it, and while I do let me tell you about all of the things that we really liked about the program.

Like #1 - It was extremely easy to set up. Yes, there are certain program requirements and you have to download something called a MathXL Player. Overall, however, it was very easy to set up both the teacher and the student accounts. We just received the instructions and codes in the mail, went to the website and plugged in the information.

Like #2 - It was extremely easy to use. At the beginning of the course there are is a tutorial section on how to type in your answers and use the program but, it is really simple.

MyMathLab is also simple to navigate through the course. If a student is new to algebra, then there is a video done by Elayn Martin-Gay that they can watch and an online textbook that goes along with it. Since John Allen had done some algebra before, we chose to go right to the homework section. Each of the ten chapters are divided into different section. For example, the first chapter has 13 sections or "practice sets".  I usually assign John Allen to do one (or if he seems to be breezing through a chapter maybe two or three) sections to do. All he does is read a problem and work it out. If he has difficulty, then there are several options that he can use. He can watch a clip of the video that pertains to how to do that particular problem, he can read the section of the textbook that has to do with that problem (with some practice sets the video is required - it is actually scored as a problem and, after you click on the video to watch it you get the credit), he can print the problem out to work on away from the computer, or he can even email his instructor (me) with a question about the problem. I had to laugh about the email thing at first, but when I thought that some homeschoolers might be involved in a co-op, I thought that this was ingenious!

The amount of problems that he has to do in each "practice set" varies from a few - nine or ten - to up to 30 - 35. He has to make a 90% or above on his present set before he can move on to the next set. About half way through the practice sets for a particular chapter there is a mid-chapter test that he has to take, and then, at he end of the chapter, he must do a chapter review, then take a chapter test. With each thing that he does, he has to score a 90% or higher to move on to the next thing. With the homework practice sets, he just clicks a button and it tells him if the problem is right or wrong. If it's wrong, he has two more chances to correct it and still get full credit. With the tests, there is not that option. The beauty of the whole thing is that he can continue working on that practice set, or test unlimited times until he can score a 90% or better on it! So far he hasn't had to use that option, but it is nice to know in the future that he won't be penalized if he doesn't understand something the first time around.

As I mentioned before, a new student can watch the full video in the first setting if he wants. There are also sample questions that he can work through before he does the "official" practice sets for credit. There are even some neat charts to show how a student is doing.

It is all very simple and well done. The textbook is well written and the videos are excellent and Elayn Martin-Gay does a wonderful job at explaining each concept. Trust me, I know she does a wonderful job because I skipped ahead to watch a video of a concept that was giving John Allen and I fits with the previous program we were using. As I watched Elayn Martin-Gay do it I had one of those "Aha!" moments. She explained it so much better. She actually made it look easy! And, you can actually see the instructor. It's not one of those things where you hear a voice and the problem miraculously works itself out on the screen.


There is also a great instructors log-in area where you as the instructor can keep track of everything that is going on. I think you can even order things a little differently. I, truthfully, have not used the instructors section that much so I don't know everything that it does, but what I have used has been wonderful and beneficial.

Like #3 - MyMathLab has brought John Allen's joy of math back! That is worth it all. He went from a struggling algebra student to a happy algebra student once again. He actually likes doing it. It's even kind of fun! I'm sold on it anyway.

So, speaking of sold, I'm sure you are wondering how much all of this costs. Well, would you believe that MyMathLab is just $49.97 for each student and $30 for the parent. If you had more then one child using it, you would have to buy each one an account, but you would only need to pay one parent/instructor price. And, each account lasts for a year! You can find out more about MyMathLab by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. We are really thrilled with this. It is the best we have seen so far. A keeper for us!

Other TOS Homeschool Crew members reviewed MyMathLab and other Pearson Homeschool products and you can find out what they thought by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free student enrollment and a free teacher enrollment to MyMathLab in order to try out and give an honest review on my blog.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Oh My Poor Forgotten Blog! I'm so sorry!
To my poor forgotten blog,

I'm so sorry my dear Families Again blog. I can't believe that it has been over a week since I first wrote something on you. The loneliness must be unbearable. Summers seem to do things like this to us. Busy schedules make folks forget to visit their dear blog friend. I will try not to forget you this week and will write a lot of posts to make up for last week. Like the post about the first week of day camp complete with pictures that I plan to post tomorrow. Please know, blog, that I still love and appreciate you. Again, I'm sorry!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Tim's Oral B Movie!

This should actually be called "Tim's Oral B Video - The Comedy" because, as you can tell by watching this, I am not good at making info-mercials. I would not make it in that business! At any rate, one of the requirements for reviewing the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide was to make a video describing my experience using it. Well, I can tell you truthfully that I really did love it. Can't you tell by the video! LOL LOL LOL!

Anyway, to find out more about this product, just click on the link below. You can also follow Oral B on Twitter and Facebook using the links below! And, don't forget the $10 mail-in rebate on select power toothbrushes through June 16, 2012. Happy Brushing!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination - A Heartfelt Review

What Others Might Say

We had the privilege of reviewing a great series of videos from Dive Into Your Imagination. Usually I tell you all about what we thought of a product and then direct you to the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog where you can find links to what other TOS Homeschool Crew members thought about the products. This time I'm going to link to the Homeschool Crew links first and then tell "our story". Please, though, don't just click on through to the other reviews but finish reading this review first. I think you'll find that "our story" may be a bit different than the others. We have a different view on these videos and curriculum, so do please read to the end.

To find what the other TOS Crew members thought about the Dive Into Your Imagination video that they received just click here.

You might find that the other crew members will talk about the beautiful video that they received. These videos are well done and beautiful. They are made by Annie Crawley aka "Ocean Annie". We happened to receive the video "Who Lives in the Sea?". These videos are well done with so much information. In "Who Lives in the Sea?" you can Swim With the Dolphins, have Playtime With Sea Lions, or learn about the Dinosaurs of the Sea: Marine Reptiles or Marine Birds and their Families. Those are just four of the eight sections of this DVD. Another really neat thing about this video is that it has three different sound tracks - an English Version, a Spanish Version and a Music Only Version. So, you can watch it to educate your children or just play the music only version for a relaxing time with your family. This video was recommended for children 3-8 but please don't go by that - everyone in your family will love this. And, have a mentioned that the video's are beautiful? Here is a sample of the video that we received:

The other TOS Crew members might talk about the fantastic "Educators Guides". The guide that we downloaded for "Who Lives in the Sea?" was over 300 pages. Yes, I said over 300 pages long! And it is packed full of wonderful information and has awesome ideas. Really it has everything that you can think of. It has recommended crafts, games, imagination play, and much, much, more for each section of the video. And it involves every sense that you can think of. Just for the first part of our video - Swim with the Dolphins - you learn about the character trait love, learn 12 vocabulary words from the treasure chest, feel the different textures of different sea creatures, dance like a dolphin and, play "Dolphin Go Seek" to use your sense of hearing. And, yes, those are just a few of the things that you can do just with the very first part of this video. There are many more things that use other senses of your body, teach cooperation with others, use your imagination...etc. etc. There are so many choices that if you used them all, you could be spending  month on each section! Hey, then you could use this as a whole curriculum...hmmmm...that's an idea!

Or, the other TOS Crew members may talk about Ocean Annie herself. Just reading her biography on the Dive Into Your Imagination website is inspiring. Raised in inner city Chicago in a row house, there wasn't much opportunity for Annie to get into the nature that she loved. But, Annie used her imagination and had archaeological digs in her back yard, had a tree climbing club in the local park, spent her Saturdays in museums, aquariums and zoos and her summers camping. Later in life she had the opportunity to travel the world and do and learn many things. So, what led her to become an internationally renowned scuba diver, underwater photographer and speaker/educator? You'll have to go to the website and read her biography for yourself.

I'm sure the other crew members will talk about the wonderful prices of these videos. The one that we reviewed was just $19.95. And, I'm sure they will mention that the price of the fantastic educator guides is usually $69.95 but that you can receive it for free just by mentioning in the "notes" section that you are a homeschooler and that you would like to receive it when you order the video. You can do all of that by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links in this post. Please, though, don't stop here - read below about what Jacob and I thought of this product.


Our Story

As I said before, our story is a little different than what you'll read in the other reviews. 

We have been blessed to receive many products over the years from the TOS Homeschool Crew to review. Many of them have changed our lives and the way we homeschool. Usually we are assigned a specific product based on the age of our children and the circumstances of our family. Occasionally, though, we are able to choose a product that we would like. Sometimes we'll be able to choose a book from a series or, in this case, we were able to choose which video from Dive Into Your Imagination that we wanted to review. We had the choice of several. When these decisions have to be made, usually I will make them since I am the main teacher in the household. This time, however, there were sample videos that we could watch to help us make our decision so I decided to include the kids.

Since many of the were for younger aged children I called Jacob, our six year old that is on the autism spectrum, to sit and watch with me. He was a bit reluctant and tense at first, but, as soon as the video began to play his body began to relax and he snuggled up against me. We had a wonderful time watching each video and listening to the wonderful music. We loved hearing the descriptions of each creature and we loved talking about the marine animals that were being displayed. We would often rewind each video sample over and over again in order to watch it again and would always learn more or see something that we missed before. Still, even months later, we talk about the sea anemones and other things that we learned about.

We watched and watched and learned and learned and discussed and discussed. Just me and my youngest son. With a child that is developmentally delayed and is very phobic, times like these are few and far between. This time, however, was one of those special times.

At the end of our watching and snuggling, when it was finally time to go to bed, Jacob said the words that I love to hear - "Daddy, can we do this again tomorrow?" Of course, I said "Yes".

What he didn't realize is that we would be receiving this wonderful video to review. We have and will have many more watching and snuggling sessions to come. Just me and my little six year old son...

And that will be worth it all!

Thank you Annie Crawley.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of "Who Lives in the Sea" and a free download of the "Who Lives in the Sea" educators guide in order to review and give my honest review on this blog.