Friday, May 29, 2015

Read For The Heart - The Ultimate Reading List! A Throwback Thursday Post.

While searching for an old post for Throwback Thursday, I found this review I had done of Sarah Clarkson's Read For The Heart and remembered what a fantastic book it was. This was a no brainer since summer is upon us and many folks are making out their summer reading lists. This book IS the ultimate reading list, summer or otherwise, for your kids and even for you. I don't know how many books we have read that were featured in this book but there have been a lot, and they are all good, wholesome, books that you don't have to worry about when your kids begin to read them. I would really encourage you to take a look at this book. I just checked, and the price is still the same. It is well worth it! Enjoy the review that was written four years ago but remains pretty much the same as when I originally wrote it.

Friday, 27 May 2011
Read for the Heart - It'll Do Your Heart Some Good!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
This review is one of my favorite review items this year. So what is this great item? It's Sarah Clarkson's book Read for the Heart published by Apologia.
I can hear it now, "What! Another book?!".
Yes, another book, but it is a good one. It's not just a book ~ it's a book about books ~ good wholesome books that we should all have in our family libraries.
Let me tell you a little bit about the TOS Homeschool Crew. Sometimes they tell us about an upcoming item, let you research it a little and then fill out an interest form if you think it would be good for your family. You don't always get it if you fill the form out, and, sometimes, you are chosen to get an item even if you didn't fill out a form for it. They just want to know interest.
Anyway, when I looked at this book on the Apologia website, one of the first things that I noticed is that, in the appendix, the author had a complete list of G. A. Henty books. Now G. A. Henty has written some great historical fiction books but isn't a really well known author. I've seen lots and lots of lists of books that are "must reads" or that you "have to have in your children's libraries". I've learned to take lists with a grain of salt. However, when I saw that this book had a Henty list, I knew that it had to be different so I filled out the interest form.
And I was right! This book is different. Sarah Clarkson begins by making a case for why families should be reading good literature. She talks about what has happened to literacy in America and how to change that in your household. She continues with how to change your reading lifestyle and how to use her book to help you get started. She then lists some great books to consider adding to your library.
But it's not just a list of books, it's a list of great books that are in different genres of children's literature. Sarah Clarkson recommends: good children's picture books; "Golden Age Classics"; children's fiction; fairy tales and fantasy; history and biography; spiritual reading; poetry; and music, art and literature. But they aren't just lists. She explains why this author is a good author and why this book is a good book. Not only does she explain why the author and book is good but why we should read those types of books.
She doesn't stick with just the usual authors, either. She has done her research and mentions some unusual or not well known authors and books. G. A. Henty is an example, as is Gene Stratton Porter.
I really can't say enough about Read for the Heart. I have pored over her book and enjoyed reading about books that she grew to love as a child. I've been intrigued by the reasons why she likes a specific genre or author. And, last but not least, I've enjoyed reading some of the recommended books myself.
I'm going to tell a little secret about myself and give you, my readers, some neat information. Copyrights on books expire after so many years. If the author or family doesn't pick up the copyright, it goes into public domain and any company can print the book and sell it. It also means, though, that any book can be reprinted on the internet and be downloaded for free. There are lot's of online sites that offer free classics. And I'm talking classics like Tom Sawyer, Pride and Prejudice, etc. Recently we bought a used tablet - you know, one of those hand held computer's and I have downloaded a bunch of free books to read. 
So, what does that have to do with Sarah Clarkson's Read for the Heart? Well, I have been so excited about some of the titles that she's recommended, I've searched for them and downloaded them! So far I have read three of the books that she's suggested, The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling and Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. I'm now reading another Porter novel, Girl of the Limberlost. And, get this, I downloaded them all for free! Starting a family library of good books doesn't need to cost a lot of money. Now I'm reading Just So Stories to the boys and they love it. It has been great family time and that's exactly what Sarah Clarkson wants ~ a family that reads good wholesome literature together and on their own.
As you can see, I'm really excited about this book. It has begun to change my reading habits and the reading habits of my children for the better. And, it has also brought good family time back into our lives. This book is a must have!
So, how much is this book? Just $17.00! You'll make up for the cost of it by downloading all of the recommended books that you'll find for free. Just click here or on any one of the above hi-lighted links for more information on this and other great books by Apologia. Happy Reading!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of Read for the Heart in order to read and review on my blog. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

8 Great Summer Activities for Kids–All found on Pinterest!

I was doing some research for our summer day camps when I came across these fantastic ideas for summer activities to use with your kids – all found on Pinterest. I hadn’t even thought about searching on Pinterest until today. They looked so cool (pun intended) that I wanted to share them with you all. I can’t wait to try them. Just click on the titles to find out more about each one. Leave a comment letting me know what you think!

1. Water Balloon Target Practice

We love water days and this activity will fit right in!

2. The Water Blob

A friend of mine sent the link to this one a few weeks ago. This is going to be a hit at day camp!

Why buy a sprinkler for you kids when you can make one yourself? If it breaks just get another 2 liter bottle!

I have seen this in various places but never tried it. It looks like a lot of fun.

5. Homemade Moon Sand

This is a really easy recipe to make Moon Sand for hours of fun!

A few years I remember creating something like this for the camp I was the program director for. It was loads of fun.

What could go wrong with hula hoops and balloons filled with helium?

8. Water Bag Piñata

Now this is my kind of game!

I couldn’t resist this one so I had to add it. The “erupting” is what caught my attention!

There you have it. Don’t forget to click on the names of each activity to get more information. A summer full of fun already and this is just the beginning of what I found. Part two may be coming soon!

Have a happy summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

God’s Creation is, Indeed, Very Good–Scripture Sunday


God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31 (NASB)

Behold It Was Good

I’ve been coming to Tennessee since 1983 and my second year here I was introduced to a beautiful lake situated on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Dale Hollow Lake has got to be one of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. I love going to one of it’s many docks or someplace else on it’s 620 miles of shoreline and just enjoying God’s creation.

Today, after our morning services, our church went to the lake for a baptism, picnic and swimming. As usual, I marveled at God’s beautiful creation. God’s creation is, indeed, very good.

Thank you, Lord, for your creation. Thank you for making beautiful things like flowers, trees, lakes, water, and  all of your creation for us to enjoy. We praise you, God, for how wonderful your creation is.


Faces at the Lake

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5 Days of Traveling With Kids - Throwback Thursday

Summer is upon us! And with summer comes family vacations. I have tremendously fond memories of family vacations when I was growing up. Believe it or not, those vacations and trips helped shape the person that I am today. Dad was a big history buff and a big nature buff. We traveled to some great historical places like Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Boston, Plymouth, and New York City, and we were always looking for great nature areas and scenery.
Traveling with my family was always an adventure. That's one of the reasons why my desire is to make sure that my kids remember our vacations in a fond way as well. Although we often do the fun things, we also try to do a lot of things that are educational. We have visited national, state, city and private parks and gardens, lots of museums, historical areas, tons of zoos and aquariums, and other fascinating places. We have really been blessed.
A few years ago I wrote a five part series titled "5 Days of Traveling With Kids" and I thought, since summer is upon us, that now was a great time to share it once again. Just click here or on the banner above to get to the five posts. I hope that some of you find them useful. Happy traveling!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Beauty of Home Education - A Recent Homeschooling Day.

There are a lot of advantages to homeschooling. Some are the obvious ones such as freedom to choose the curriculum that you like. Freedom to teach about God. Not having to deal with the negative social influences that public schools often have. Being able to work at the speed of your child and give one on one attention. I could go on and on.

One advantage that is not always touted is that your time is flexible. That advantage alone is worth it all for us. Since we have two children on the autism spectrum, being flexible is a must. The rigid schedule of a school would not fit well with either one of our children. To use two old clichés, we need to "strike while the iron is hot", and "know when to fold them" with two of our kids.

There are some times of the day that just don't work with our boys. Early in the morning or when they first get up is not a good time for homeschooling for either one of them. We know the general times that are good homeschooling times, but then there are moments when you can just feel that it is a good time to learn and you have to "strike while the iron is hot". That also means that you have to be ready to pull something out right at that time. I do that a lot with Joshua. I can tell when he is in the mood for learning and I'll give him an assignment.

After I do give an assignment and work with them for a while, I also have to "know when to fold them". There are times with both of our younger boys when enough is just enough. It is time to quit! There is no use trying to pull another chapter out of the book, another question off of the worksheet or another rabbit out of the hat. It just won't work. When that happens you just have to put the books down and wait for another opportune time.

Joshua and Jacob are a lot the same, but they are also a lot different. Sarah teaches Jacob and I mainly work with Joshua. Both can work in the evening, but I need to watch Joshua especially to see when he has had enough.

All of the things mentioned above are reasons why we really like homeschooling. All of those usual things are great as well, but the fact that we can choose when to study and how much we can study is a real plus for us. Joshua especially would have a really hard time in a regular classroom. Plus, in a regular classroom, you take all classes with all of your other classmates on that grade level. Joshua is way ahead of grade level in geography, but is way behind in math. Where would that leave him if he went to a public or even private school? It just wouldn't work.

Here is a typical homeschool day for us.

Because Joshua often has a difficult time sleeping, he tends to sleep in late. When he finally does get up it takes a while for him to get fully awake and for his medicine to take effect. We might not really begin our school day until late morning or early afternoon. Lately I have been giving him a language arts writing assignment to do first. We have been using a great program that I am presently reviewing with him and it is working wonders with his writing and language skills. We watch a video together, and I will often stop the video to explain some things to him if he misunderstands. Then he begins on the writing assignment. The other day I had to leave for work early, so I left it up to him to finish the video and do the writing assignment. The video lasted another hour or so after I left and he diligently watched it and took notes but had no energy left to tackle the writing assignment which was okay. I had no idea that the video would last that long and praised him for sticking to it. When I got home form work it was after nine, but Joshua was up to the challenge so we did math and vocabulary with two more programs that we are reviewing. All of the above we will probably continue using because he likes them so well. You may notice that geography, history and science are missing from the days work. That is the beauty of homeschooling year round. If there is a day where we just can't get it all in, we just make sure we get it the next day. Remember, though, that geography and history are his strengths and things he likes to explore on his own so even though we did not officially work on the geography curriculum he is using, I can assure you that he did work on those subjects and we did, indeed, work on science the next day.

Jacob is an evening person as well. Sarah does a great job of working with him for long periods of time when she gets home from her part time job. He is really advancing in his reading skills, and has taken off with his math skills. I have been adding in science and social studies with another program that we are reviewing.

Although our homeschooling day often takes on many forms, the above description is very typical. There are days we get more done than this and there are days we get less, but it all seems to balance out in the end. I keep track of what we do and where we are with each subject. They have really been learning and doing well lately. We thought that our newly added part time jobs would effect our homeschooling negatively, but our recent homeschool days have been some of our best so far this year.

Homeschooling does have many advantages. Some are well known, but there are just as many advantages that are unique to different homeschooling families. Kids are different and so are families. Homeschooling allows people to adjust and do the things that work best for their situation. That's the beauty of home education!

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Will Give You Rest - Scripture Sunday

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
I was looking at my blog this evening and I couldn't believe it. I missed my Scripture Sunday post. Since I began blogging again I have never forgotten to write one. The reason why, however, was not hard to figure out. I am tired.
I have been tired for a few weeks now since I started my part time job. Most of you know that we are full time missionaries but the ministry building and house that we were blessed to use for free was recently sold. The owner is getting older and he didn't want his wife and children to have to worry about his rental properties so he is liquidating many of them. So, we had to find a place to live and a place to store all of our ministry things. Then, one of our major financial supporters, Sarah's grandmother, passed away. So we not only had to deal with the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of some financial support. That and the added expense of rent has forced Sarah and I to both find part time jobs until either some bills are paid off, or we raise some more missionary support.
So, for the past six months we have been moving almost non-stop. We have moved ourselves and our ministry, dealt with two deaths in the family (Sarah's mom's boyfriend who was like a grandfather to our children also passed away), had to reorganize our ministry and are now running it our of our small apartment, and have taken on part time jobs.
I'm tired. It seems like I can't get ahead and can't get enough done. My ministry is lacking because I just don't have the time I had before. I am asking all of my readers to please pray.
As I was thinking about this post, the above verses came to mind. Right now the only thing that I can do is trust God, take on His yolk and give my burdens to Him. I need to trust that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Really, that is all I can do right now. I need to trust that it is going to get better. That is the only thing that is holding me together right now is that faith.
I am asking you right now to please strengthen me. Not only me but my whole family. We are tired. We know and really feel that our ministry needs to continue. Please forgive us for making unwise decisions financially and help us to be able to pay off some bills. Please send some faithful financial supporters to us - sooner rather than later. Thank you that for all of these years you have loved us and supplied for all of our needs. We love you Lord.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Aleks Math - Throwback Thursday


So, why am I featuring an old homeschool product review for my Throwback Thursday post? Well, because this is one of our absolutely all time favorite products that we have ever reviewed with the TOS Review Crew. Aleks Math has been a lifesaver when it comes to John Allen and high school math. We used Aleks Math for a little while in middle school during and after this review. Then, when we were struggling with Algebra a couple of years later, John Allen remembered Aleks Math and how much he enjoyed it. Sure enough, it was a great success for his high school math and we have used it through Algebra, Geometry and now Pre-Calculus. This is my original review from six years but the prices haven't changed and, although the one month trial isn't available, there is still a free trial option. Enjoy the review and know that we probably love it even more now than we did back then.
Friday, 21 August 2009
Aleks Math
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
I have always been skeptical of online homeschool curriculum. I don't know why really. I guess I like the personal interaction that I have with my child. At least when I am teaching, I know what he is doing and keep track of his progress. I have used different computer programs to supplement my child's education, but have not found a program that I feel can do as good of a job teaching as I can with personal one on one time with my child. Until my son tried Aleks Math!
I have always liked math, and enjoy teaching it to my children. The oldest, John Allen, doesn't necessarily like math, but continues to plod along, learning what he needs to get by. Thankfully, homeschool curriculum tends to be advanced, so he is learning more than most kids, but has never made any great leaps in his learning, nor, really liked it. I was pretty sure that Aleks Math would be the same way. Boy was I wrong!
This math program is for grades 3-adult, but an advanced first or second grader, or even a very advanced kindergärtner could use it as well. I signed John Allen up for the "Middle School Math Course 3" which is for a 7th grade student getting ready for pre-algebra in 8th grade. To insure privacy, John Allen was given a login name and password for whenever he signs in to continue working on his math studies.
The first thing that he did was take a pre-test to determine what he knew and didn't know. The immediate results told us that he knew 11% of what this course covered. The program is set up so that a student doesn't need to relearn things that he already knows. Will he have to review those things? Yes, but he won't have to go through a class where something he already knows is tediously taught step by step. If he were in a regular class, he would have to do this for all of the students who still need to learn those concepts. Even in a one-on-one homeschool environment, we would have to look over each lesson and try some problems before determining whether or not to move on to the next lesson. Aleks does all of that for you.
Next, we were presented with John Allen's pie. However, the "pie" isn't something that he can eat, but a pie graph that tells what John Allen already knows and still needs to learn. His pie was divided into six slices Whole Numbers and Integers; Rational Numbers; Measurements, Proportions, Percents and Probabilities; Variable Expressions and Equations; Functions and Graphs; and lastly, Geometry. The darker portions of the chart represent how much he has learned, and the lighter portions tell how much he still needs to learn. As he progresses through the course, more and more of the pie will become darker until, hopefully, sooner or later, the pie will be completely dark, which means he has completed this course. When John Allen presses on a piece of his pie, it gives a selection of topics that he is ready to learn. He can press on any topic, and begin the teaching process.

The teaching process is very user friendly. A screen will appear with a problem or a group of problems on it. You simply choose an answer from a multiple choice list, or put the correct answer in a box using your keyboard. They are very encouraging and tell you nicely to try again or congratulate you and ask you to try another problem. When you have answered several in a row correctly, they will end that particular topic and encourage you to try another. After going through this with several topics, they will give you an assessment to make sure that you have truly mastered that topic. Occasionally you will press on a piece of pie that will tell you that there are no topics for you to learn in that area until you master one or two topics from another slice of the pie. Of course, with some things, you have to have a pencil and paper handy to figure a problem with, but that is really all of the outside equipment that you need. They even have an online calculator that they allow you to use with some types of problems! Every thing is easy, efficient, and very encouraging! They even send the parent a weekly progress report or, they give you a password to check on his progress any time you want.

I must admit, that when we were first given a one month trial to evaluate this product, we were on vacation and not able to use it right away. Then, when we were finally able to begin, we were given another math review program to evaluate as well. All in all, John Allen has probably used this program for about two and a half weeks, for only about half an hour a day on average. Which is much less than he would normally spend on math, but we had to make time for the other review program as well. I tell you all of this because after only about 9 hours of use, John Allen now has 22% of the course mastered! He has doubled his knowledge! If he were to keep up at this pace, he would finish this course in only half a year! All without fuss - he actually likes it! In fact, he asked if we could sign him up for the whole year.
If you would have told me a year ago that this would happen, I would have thought you were joking. Now, I am sold on this product. I heartily recommend Aleks Math. But, don't take my word for it, sign up for a free month's trial today and see for yourself. Just click here:

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Aleks Math can be used as a complete math program or as a math tutor for students who are struggling in a regular math class. Although Aleks may be a little more expensive than a regular homeschool math curriculum, it cost a lot less than a math tutor or one of the tutoring centers that you could take your child to. And, when you think about the gas that you could spend to take your child to a tutor or center, it makes the price a little more bearable. They give you several options for purchasing. It can be purchased month-to-month for $19.95 per month, or $99.95 for six months, or $179.95 for 12 months. Family discounts are available for 6 and 12-month subscriptions when purchasing for multiple students. We're already planning on signing John Allen up for another month and see where it goes from there. He actually asks to do math now. This is the happiest I have ever seen him when it comes to math. And, as they say, you can't put a price on happiness! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What's On My Bedside Table? My Summer Reading List!

Actually you don't really want to know what's on my bedside table. It is a mess. However, if I were like many of my friends, all the mess would be gone and there would be a stack of books that I have as my goal to read this summer. Oh, the stack of books is there, it's just that there is some added junk along with the stack. Anyway, let's skip that part and just get on with the list of books.

As you can see, since there are 13 books listed, I don't believe in bad luck. You can also see that there is a diverse type of books that I am reading as well. Some are biographical or autobiographical, some are Christian, some are motivational, some are just good old fashion fiction, a couple I've read before, others I began a long time ago but had to put down for one reason or another and, still others, I have never read. I'll explain a little about why I want to read each book underneath the pictures.

Remember, though, that if you click on the picture it leads to my Amazon affiliate page for that particular book. If you should choose to purchase anything at that time, I will get a small percentage of the proceeds. Again, thank you ahead of time if you should choose to purchase under my affiliate. Every little bit really does help. If you should choose not to purchase through my affiliate, you may exit out of Amazon and, when you go back to the Amazon site, my affiliate link won't be there anymore.
I don't think it's any secret what my political affiliation is. I am a republican, however, I have been known to vote otherwise from time to time. At any rate, with the crowded republican field this presidential go around, I really have no idea who I might vote for. Although I may or may not vote for him, Ben Carson does intrigue me so I found a used copy of his autobiography, Gifted Hands, and am presently reading it. It's very interesting! 

Yes, I know, if you look at my list of books from a few months ago, Life Without Limits, was on it. This is one of those books that I began reading but had to put down for one reason or another. It is an excellent book and is one of John Allen's favorites. I enjoyed what I read and am looking forward to picking it back up again.
I can't remember at what point in my life that Amy Carmichael became one of my favorite historical missionaries. However, she and another female missionary, Mary Slessor, are at the top of my top 10 missionary list. I have read different biographies about each one and have taught missionary stories in Bible Clubs and camps about each one. A Chance To Die, by another great female missionary, Elizabeth Elliot, is a great biography of a great missionary. It's not often that I read books twice. They have to be really, really, good for me to do that and this one is.

The Magic of Thinking Big is another one of my "started reading but life got in the way" books. It is a really great book that helps with goal setting, thinking positively, being creative in your thinking and dreaming and more. This is definitely a motivational book and I know that in the world of self-help books a Christian has to be very careful that these type books don't go against what God says in His Word. Although, I have not read this book all of the way through, I have not seen anything that is totally wrong yet. I will let you know if I do.

Many, many years ago I read Knowing God by J. I. Packer and loved it. I don't recall everything that it said but I do know that it made a big impact on my life back then and am very much looking forward to reading it again at this stage in my life.

Another motivational book that I have perused and saw nothing totally against God's Word. I have also watched videos of Brandon Burchard, the author, and really like him. As with any motivational book that is not totally Christian, I would encourage you to do your own research before buying. I'll let you know what I think about The Charge after I get done with it.

Although John C. Maxwell, is a motivational speaker, he is very much a Christian. I have read other things by him and really like him so I have no qualms at all about recommending Failing Forward. Many of you know what is going on in my family's life right now, and although I know that we are not failures, I'm sure this book with help in dealing with our emotions.

No, I am not disappointed with God, but I do wonder at why He does things sometimes. I know that He knows what is best and we just need to trust Him. Sometimes trusting without seeing exactly what the future holds is difficult. Disappointment With God was either in some donations that we got for our ministry or I found it at a used book store so I snatched it up. I read the first chapter and am hooked and can't wait to finish it.

Yes, I know, some people would consider the above to books as "rag" books that are useless to read. Let me explain my love of Phyllis A. Whitney though. Some of the first books that I read were from the children's series "The Bobbsey Twins". When I got into the older elementary years, though, I wanted something a little more advanced but still in the mystery genre. When I was at the library one day the librarian recommended the mystery books that Phyllis A. Whitney wrote for young people. I checked one out, loved it, and was hooked from then on. Although some of her adult mystery books may be classified as romance, they really are not. There is little romance in them and certainly not any inappropriate scenes or language at all. The fact that the books are written in travel destinations and/or historical places all over the world also drew me into the books. Each place and it's history is always described in great detail and always makes me want to visit the destination. So, anyway, call them what you want, but every once in a while I just want to read something that doesn't require me to think and put forth any effort except enjoyment. That's why The Stone Bull and The Turquoise Mask are on my list of books to read this summer.

This might also be considered a useless book to read by some, but Eugenia Price wrote excellent Christian historical novels. I have read many of them and loved them. The Waiting Game is another book that I picked up at a used book store for next to nothing and can't wait to read.

A couple of months ago I read and loved Christie, the novel that the popular TV movie and series was based on. I absolutely loved the book that was loosely based on the life of Catherine Marshall's mother. Julie, is loosely based on the life of Catherine Marshall herself so I it is a natural progression that I should read it as well. I know it is going to be just as good.

If you want a good Christian adventure novel that is also accurate in it's portrayal of the cultures and situations involved, you cannot go wrong with a Jeanette Windle novel. She is so accurate in her research that government agencies have questioned her to see if she had access to classified information. I'm sure the fact that I personally know her has nothing to do with me reading this autographed copy of Veiled Freedom. *Smile*
So, there you have my summer reading list. I'm sure I won't get to all of them and I'm sure the list might change a little bit as the dog days of summer go by. What's on your reading list for the summer? Leave me a comment and let me know. I may publish another post including the top picks of others. At any rate, have fun reading!