Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making Cough Syrup

Because, naturally, everyone is coughing the past couple of days.

This morning, I ran across a link in my Facebook feed to The Coconut Mama and her Honey and Lemon Cough Syrup with Coconut Oil.

And I thought... we have all of that.  We need to try it.

Once I got started, I realized.... this is all Bountiful Baskets

With so many of us, I figured I'd double the recipe right off the bat.  Pretty easy:
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 3/8 cup lemon juice
Put it all into a saucepan, heat until the coconut oil melts, and either take just as syrup, or add to hot water or tea.

From start to finish (pulling ingredients out to drinking some syrup myself) took me about five minutes.

After making this up, one thing I'll do for my next batch is to add about a tablespoon more of honey.  Because honey has a lot of great things going for it, and chief among those is that it will make the lemon juice go down a bit more easily for my youngest two.

Go read what Coconut Mama has to say about all the benefits of these ingredients...

About twelve thumbs up here. At least, once we made it a bit sweeter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading Aloud Challenge: We're back to it!

Last week, I posted that we have not been reading aloud.  Even though I think it is so critically important.

And I vowed to change.


Of course, what happened after that post?  My kids took turns being so sick they barely got out of bed.


The best laid plans of homeschool moms... or something like that.

So, we did FINALLY actually start reading aloud again.

And we started a book I actually paid money to put on my Kindle.

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman.  We started it yesterday.  My Kindle tells me we're 21% of the way through it.  This book is hysterical.  I had to stop, gasping for breath between laughter.  My kids, too, are finding it very funny.

Definitely a good choice.  And I've read it enough to highly recommend it.  Though for younger ears, there might be a spot or two that you'll want to edit on the fly.

The other book we're continuing to read aloud is The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennett.  Since we lost <ahem> three weeks, we're at least doubling up in our readings from here.  With any luck, by the end of 2014, we'll have gotten through it.  Oh, wait, the plan is to be caught up sometime in February.

We're talking about switching gears and reading The Hobbit instead of starting on Lord of the Rings.  We're starting back up with some other things too, but more on those next week.

And while I promised a photo, an image of my Kindle isn't fabulous.  I'll work on improving that.  Cleaning off the screen would likely be a good first step.

How about you?  What are you reading out loud?  I'd love some inspiration, so feel free to link up your posts about reading aloud, or leave me a comment and tell me I can do it...  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I love Bountiful Baskets

So this past weekend, my Bountiful Baskets experience was reasonably miserable.  I woke up to an email that the truck was going to be late (I don't recall how late now), so I mentally adjusted my busy, busy day.  Then another email.  And another.  And the truck was still an hour later than the emails told me.

Dale, naturally, asked me if this is really worth it.  I told him I think it is, and this kind of thing (to this extreme) is not the usual.

But it is frustrating.  So why do I do this?

One of Saturday's baskets
  1. I get more produce for the dollar than I could get if I went shopping myself.  This week, for instance, I priced out my per-basket cost, and my $15 basket would have cost $26.34 at Safeway.  So I got an extra $11 worth of produce.  Times 3 baskets.  Roughly $80 of produce for $46.50.  This is actually the lowest value I've ever had when I priced them out.
  2. I've budgeted for my Bountiful Baskets contribution each week.  That means that I know absolutely that I will be getting fresh produce into my house.  If I were going into the store with just a general grocery budget, I'd look at the prices and freak.  I'd buy potatoes, onions, and occasionally a bunch of bananas or a bag of apples.  Occasionally, I'd buy lettuce (not lately though).  But that's it.
  3. Bountiful Baskets means that my family has a variety of vegetables, and we can eat fresh fruit almost every day.  Usually multiple servings.  I could never afford this otherwise.
  4. My children are learning to like a huge variety of fruits and veggies.  Brussels sprouts?  I never would have bought them, and now they are a family favorite.  
  5. I'm preserving some for our more long-term storage.  Tomatoes, salsa, apple/pomegranate mix, peppers, onions, carrrots, canned pears, pickled spicy veggies, pickles, to name a few... we're able to store up the excess.
  6. I love the people I've met at Bountiful Baskets.  Love 'em.  
  7. I've learned about a bunch of other great things through the people I've met at Bountiful Baskets.  Like Zaycon Foods.  Through Zaycon, I bought 80 pounds of fabulous chicken breasts at a good price.
  8. The "I have no idea what we're going to get" factor is fun.  Some weeks, like this past one, the basket is filled with fairly normal, staple-types of produce.  Potatoes, onions, celery, green peppers -- how much more "normal" can you get for veggies?  Nothing in this basket really requires much thought from me.  Some baskets force me to be more creative.  I like that.  Because if I was spending money individually, I'd never try some of these things.
  9. I was already pretty good at using up whatever we had around.  Bountiful Baskets brought that to a whole new level.  When I started doing the baskets, I would invariably end up tossing out a few things at the end of the two weeks (and that was with getting 1-2 baskets every second week).  Now, I get 1-2 baskets (or three this past weekend) nearly every weekend, and I rarely have to toss things. 
  10. I feel more a part of my community since Bountiful Baskets came out onto the plains than I ever used to.
So yeah.  The late truck thing is incredibly frustrating.  But I'm sticking with it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Les Misérables

Recently, we had the opportunity to review a Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production, Oliver Twist.  We enjoyed that immensely and were reminded about how much we have enjoyed every one of the Radio Theatre products we have listened to.  So when Les Misérables was offered to me, you better believe I jumped at that chance.

My kids were  only a bit skeptical.  You know, why do we want to listen to a story when we can't even pronounce the title?

But they have learned that once I say yes, they are stuck, so they decided to make the best of it.

It took about a chapter for them to be completely sucked in.  Focus on the Family Radio Theatre does a fabulous job.  As always.

If you haven't read Les Misérables (I have started it), or seen the musical or one of the movies, there is a basic synopsis of the plot in this description from Tyndale:
The story that has thrilled millions comes to life in a brand new way in Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's Les Miserables. This audio drama beautifully portrays the redeeming power of forgiveness through the story of Jean Valjean, an embittered convict whose life is changed by a single act of kindness. Recorded in London with some of England's finest actors, it will mesmerize adults and families alike.
I was familiar with the storyline, and it sure seemed that this production stayed fairly true to that.  Minus most of the extra non-plot discussions about the sewers of Paris or the Battle of Waterloo.  From reading a reasonably detailed plot synopsis, I noticed a few differences between this production and the original story.  Obviously, though, to condense an enormous novel into less than three hours of audio, you are going to have to make some changes.

The cast is fantastic and the music and sound effects enhance the story. This production convinced me to seriously start reading the book again, and it also got my husband to put one of the film versions on hold at the library.

You can check out a very brief clip to hear it for yourself.

I highly, highly recommend this production.  You can purchase it either as a download or as CDs.

Disclaimer:   I received this production for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: January 26

Other than a very, very, VERY, V-E-R-Y late truck today, Bountiful Baskets was wonderful.

Here is a photo of ONE of my baskets:

This arrangement is courtesy of William.  He made a point of it not being symmetrical.

All together, my three baskets contained:
  • 5 huge green peppers
  • 5 bunches celery
  • 12 yellow onions
  • 3 five-pound bags of potatoes, plus an extra 5 potatoes
  • 14 tomatoes
  • 3 watermelon
  • 23 bananas
  • 13 bartlett pears
  • 3 pineapples
  • 3 boxes strawberries
This is just another basket where it is really tough to tell you what I'm going to do with it all.  The fruit will all get eaten.  All of the veggies are staples, and they'll just get used.  Pretty boring, huh?

I can say that just last night, Dale suggested that we truly 'do' baked potatoes, since we have an oven that works.  So that is one thing that will happen -- I'll be baking potatoes.

Oh, and I swung through Safeway to price stuff out.  I just haven't felt like weighing what I got.  Just the price per unit stuff though (the 5 pound bag of potatoes, the watermelon, the pineapple, and the box of strawberries) came to $12.50 per basket.  I clearly got more than $2.50 worth of green peppers, celery, onions, extra potatoes, tomatoes, bananas and pears.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: The Tainted Coin

This is the third book in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series that I have read and reviewed, but like the others, the book does stand alone.

The Tainted Coin by Mel Starr finds Master Hugh married with a young daughter, and continuing to encounter mysteries that need to be solved.  This time, it is a man found beaten near to death, and among his final words, he tells Master Hugh, "They didn't get me coin."

Or, as the publisher summarizes it:
It is the autumn of 1367. Master Hugh is enjoying the peaceful life of Bampton when a badly beaten man is found under the porch of St. Andrew's Chapel. The dying man is a chapman--a traveling merchant. Before he is buried in the chapel grounds, an ancient, corroded coin is found in the man's mouth.

Master Hugh's quest for the chapman's assailants, and his search for the origin of the coin, begins to make progress--but there are men of wealth and power in league with his old nemesis, Sir Simon Trillowe, who wish to end his search . . . permanently.

But Master Hugh, and his assistant, the groom Arthur, are determined to uncover the thieves and murderers, and the source of the chapman's coin. They do, but not before they become involved with a kidnapped maiden, a tyrannical abbot, and a suffering monk--who needs Master Hugh's surgical skills and in return provides clues that assist Hugh in solving the mystery of the tainted coin.
This story sucked me in, and once again I found myself loving so many of the characters. 

Starr does such an amazing job, vividly painting the sights, sounds and even smells of the 14th century.  I love historical fiction, I love mysteries, and this series combines them well.  One really great aspect of this book is that it starts off with a glossary, FIVE pages worth, where all kinds of terms are defined for you.  Then they are used in the story without explanation.  Just to name off a few, I'll list the "H" entries:  haberdasher, habit, hallmote, and hamsoken.   I did know the first two, but did not know the last two!

There is a map, which is helpful since in this story they always seem to be heading somewhere.

The Afterword gives a bit of real history about some of the items or events of the story, and I like this especially. 

The book ends with the first chapter of the next book, An Uncertain Sleep, which I refused to read.  I'll find the book when it comes out, thank you. 

I'd highly recommend grabbing the book on Kindle this week for $5, and then finding the earlier books in the series.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through Kregel Blog Tours.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Abel's Field

Something that never fails to excite my family?  Getting a DVD to review.  Because that means a movie night, with Mom actually watching.

So the arrival of Abel's Field was met by cheers.  And everyone settled in to watch.  The previews included movies like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, which we love, so that got everyone even more fired up.

When the movie started with a football field and flashbacks to the game, my non-sports-fan family was excited.  They have come to really appreciate a good football movie.

The movie quickly introduces the main character, Seth, and his totally adorable little sisters.  Then we meet Kevin Sorbo's character, Abel, who works as groundskeeper for the school.

The movie meanders at a slow, this-feels-real pace, and you gradually start to grasp at least some of the issues that are central to this movie.

About Abel's Field:
Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER’S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.
This is a great, family-friendly movie.  Although there are a couple of funny moments, this is not a movie with much comic relief.  Gritty would be a better description, and full of a realistic small-town feel.  Mostly, you watch and want to slap the people involved (especially the football coach, wow, I want to give him a piece of my mind!), while you keep hoping someone will come along and love on those beautiful little girls, and at least this mama of teen boys kept praying that someone will come along and give Seth a break and show him some respect.

I do most definitely recommend this movie, and it gives oh-so-much to talk about.  And I have one to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reading Aloud Challenge: the Confession Edition

So I have not been reading aloud.


I said it.

I mean to, I really do.  I know it is critically important.  I know the vocabulary benefits, the language patterns benefits, the benefits of shared reference points for my family.

But I have been a total slacker the last couple of weeks, so I haven't been posting.  That has to change.  I mean, sure, Dale was home from work all last week, which makes reading aloud less likely.  And things have been pretty busy this month as a whole.  But those are excuses.  If I really wanted it, the reading aloud would still have happened.

It is so stupid on my part (I am completely a believer that "stupid" is a very appropriate word sometimes) as reading aloud is something truly wonderful for my children that no matter what else is going on for us, we CAN afford to do it.  I could probably read aloud six hours a day for three years and not exhaust the (age appropriate) books we own.  And then I could go on for a few decades by utilizing the library and free Kindle books, and review books, and...

There is no excuse.  I'm just being stupid.

One thing I did was to put Fellowship of the Ring on hold at the electronic library.  Having it on ebook shortens the amount of time I have available to read something, so it will force me to be intentional about getting it read.  And I do struggle with reading thick books aloud.  I like to read for an hour or two, and my hand cramps up before my voice goes.  On the Kindle, it is so much easier.

The other thing I did was to buck up and start this post.  Because I said I was going to post on Tuesdays.  And let people link up, because that encourages me.

So whether or not anyone ever links up, I'm going to post.  And next week, I'll have a picture of the books.  I will.

I'd love some inspiration, so feel free to link up your posts about reading aloud, or leave me a comment and tell me I can do it...  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: January 19

I did not want to get up at oh-dark-thirty this morning to go get my basket, but as always, the produce is great and the people are fabulous.  So I'm glad I went.

I got two baskets this week.  And (not sure how I pulled it off) they were identical.  Here is the photo of one:
This arrangement courtesy of Richard & Trina
What all is there?
  • a nearly full 5 pound bag of potatoes (we had to pull one potato out of each bag to distribute stuff)
  • a head of Savoy Salad.  I got purple in both.  I wanted one white and one purple, but oh well. Isn't it pretty?
  • 3 avocados
  • 7 Granny Smith apples
  • 4 bananas
  • 4 lemons
  • 5 oranges
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 box of strawberries
This is a basket that doesn't require a lot of thought.  The fruit will get eaten.  Well, the lemons will probably become lemonade.  The weather is appropriate for that.  Then potatoes will be used (and we were running low on potatoes, so it is great to have them).  Avocados, well, since this is one of very, very few things my family balks at eating, I have to either be creative or use them myself.  The Savoy Salad -- I already used a leaf of it in the breakfast skillet this morning.  I'll do that some more, and we'll see what else I come up with.  I heard that it is great used just like kale chips... and now that we have a working oven (it has been YEARS since it worked right), I might attempt that again.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: The Lesson

I just finished reading The Lesson, by Suzanne Woods Fisher, which is the third title in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series.  The series follows the stories of three sisters, with each book focusing on one of them.  The Lesson is the story of the youngest Lapp sister, Mary Kate.

I have read the other two titles, but I do believe this one would stand on its own.  There are certainly little pieces of the story that mean more to someone who has read the others, but I really don't believe any of it is essential.  Well, there is at least one major plot twist that you can figure out before the characters piece it together if you are familiar with the series already.  But I'd still say the story stands alone.

From the publisher:
Centered on one of Suzanne Woods Fisher's most loved characters, this is the story fans have eagerly anticipated. The precocious M.K. is all grown up (well, almost) and ready to take on the world-with surprising results. Fisher's trademark plot twists and turns are as unexpected and satisfying as ever in this third book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series.
In her wildest dreams, spunky and impulsive nineteen-year-old Mary Kate Lapp never imagined herself behind a schoolteacher's desk. A run-in (literally) with the schoolteacher compels her to act as a substitute teacher, just as her restless desire to see the world compels her to apply for a passport . . . just in case. The only thing of interest to M.K. in the sleepy Amish community of Stoney Ridge is the unexplained death of a sheep farmer that coincided with the arrival of a mysterious young man into the community. Frustrated that no one takes the crime seriously, she takes matters into her own hands. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case for M.K., she jumps headlong into trouble.
This book was fun to read.  Mary Kate is a great character, and one I could relate to in some ways.  Smart, impulsive, and not really sure that she wants to stay in Stoney Ridge, she makes a great protagonist. 

I particularly loved that as part of her job as a schoolteacher, which was thrust upon her, she ends up in the library researching dyslexia.  One of her students is clearly dyslexic, and oh, did my heart go out to him.  He was not a major character, and I would have loved to find out more about what happened in his life.

Fisher writes in a way that makes her characters seem oh, so very real. One thing I enjoy is that being Amish is just one aspect of who the people are -- the story doesn't revolve around their "Amish-ness" at all.  When things happen and the police need to be called (the dead sheep farmer, for instance), the characters head for a public phone without a lot of explanation as to why they wouldn't have a cell phone on them, or even why there isn't a phone in the house.  It is just how it is.

When I reviewed The Haven (book 2 in the series) I talked about the twists and turns of the plot.  Fisher doesn't disappoint in that with this title either.  I especially loved that everything didn't wrap up in a nice little bow.  There were loose ends, and not everyone has a happy ending. 

Celebrate the release of The Lesson with Suzanne Woods Fisher by entering to win one of TWO iPads!

Two winners will receive:
  • A brand new iPad
  • A $15 gift certificate to iTunes
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 20th. Winner will be announced on 1/22/13 at Suzanne's Blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: January 12

Two weeks without Bountiful Baskets is just TOO long, I tell you.

It is so nice to have them back!  We were down to so little as far as produce goes.  And this was such a fun basket.  And I got to take the picture myself with my new camera.  This is one of my two baskets.  I also split a 40 pound box of apples with a friend.

So, here is what I got in both baskets --
  • two bunches of celery
  • sixteen rainbow carrots
  • three avocadoes
  • about 4.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts
  • about 1.5 pounds of peppers
  • two boxes of grape tomatoes
  • two boxes of strawberries
  • fourteen apples
  • nine oranges
  • seven oro blancos
  • thirteen bananas
I stopped at Safeway and priced out produce, and to buy the above stuff (with normal carrots, not rainbow ones) would have cost me over $58.  I spent $30 for the two baskets.  Okay, so I'd never spend that kind of money on Brussels sprouts, nor would I buy grape tomatoes or strawberries.  But we love them, and they will be eaten.

I love Bountiful Baskets.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Have you joined Tyndale Rewards?

If not, you should.

You can earn points at Tyndale's Rewards Program for all kinds of pretty easy things.  Like having a birthday, or taking various surveys, or sharing about the program on your blog (!) or Facebook.

Or by writing up reviews of Tyndale books.

But even without reviewing anything, you can easily earn enough to get the occasional free item.

I've received two free books, and I just ordered two more.  The first was a Christmas gift for Connor:  Finding God in the Land of Narnia.

The second I got for myself.  Only Connor spotted it and wanted it.  How could I say no?

Tyndale Rewards Program.  Join at this link, and I get some points towards more free books, and you start off with 25 of them for yourself.

It's a great thing.

Book Review: J.R.R. Tolkien

I love a good biography.

I love everything I've read by J. R. R. Tolkien.

So a chance to read a biography -- J. R. R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend?  Oh, you bet.  I'm there.

Colin Duriez does a fantastic job of writing in an engaging way.  Not a dry, factual biography, he truly tells the story of Tolkien's life.  Clearly, Duriez knows his subject.  In fact, according to his biographical info, he appeared as a commentator on the Lord of the Rings DVDs.  You can bet I'm putting those in again to find that commentary.

The publisher's blurb has this to say:
Long before the successful, Lord of the Rings film trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginary world and characters enthralled and delighted millions of readers. But who was this man who dreamt up the intricate languages and perfectly crafted world of Middle-earth? 
Tolkien had a difficult life. Orphaned and poor, his guardian forbade him from communicating with the woman he loved. He also went through the horrors of the First World War. An intensely private and brilliant scholar, he spent over fifty years working on the languages, history, peoples, and geography of Middle-earth, aided by his vast knowledge of mythology and early northern European history and culture. 
This delightful and accessible biography brings this legendary man to life and explores the deep Christian commitment that inspired and informed his work. A close friend of C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, Tolkien was one of the famous Inklings, a group of literary figures in Oxford in the 1930s who met to discuss their work, which included C.S. Lewis's Narnia books.
This biography was fascinating.  Most of what I knew about Tolkien came from reading about C. S. Lewis, so it has been particularly intriguing to learn a bit more about Lewis through reading a biography of Tolkien.

One thing I love with this book is that it doesn't shy away from his religious upbringing and thoughts, but that is far from the only part of Tolkien's life that is explored. 

A very readable biography, this is a book I will hand to my children to read as well, as it is certainly appropriate for teen readers.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through Kregel Blog Tours.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Awesome Science: Explore Yosemite and Zion National Parks

Today, I get to talk about probably my favorite science DVD series ever.  Awesome Science, hosted by 14-year-old Noah Justice, is just so much fun.  We own four of these titles now (and the other two are on my "to get" list) and they just keep getting better.

This title, Explore Yosemite and Zion National Parks, was especially fun for me.  I've never been to either park, nor do I really know much about them.  I grew up visiting National Parks all the time, but we just never got to these.

The publisher describes the series like this:
The first DVD series for teens by teens showing how science & the Bible agree!
  • Hosted by the engaging 14-year-old host, Noah Justice
  • Evidence of biblical history and truth at some of the world’s most amazing destinations
  • Fast-paced and informative presentations with a biblical worldview are filmed on location at these national parks
  • Study guides create educational opportunities for home or church study
The Awesome Science video series takes teens and adults on a field trip around the world to explore geologic and historical evidence which supports the biblical record. Innovative, high-quality, and designed to make science fun, this new series for the whole family helps discover evidences that the Bible is the true history book of the world!
My teen/tween boys (12, 14, 15) love the Awesome Science DVDs.  My 8-year-old enjoys them too.  The 6-year-old, however, wants nothing to do with it... well, except she enjoys watching the bloopers in the bonus features.  So I'd say this is good for somewhere around ages 8 and up.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

I think what my boys like the best is the high-energy style that Noah brings to the series.  He spits out a lot of information, and is always so upbeat.  And he's a peer, so it is just more fun for them to watch.  The blurb above says that this is by teens, for teens... but I think this would appeal to tweens and adults. 

Connor, my oldest, gets a little frustrated sometimes that some of the topics addressed are just "too general, lacking the specifics.  Okay, so there are 'a dozen' whatevers that are inaccurate.  Can't he give one or two actual examples?"  However, he also praised the video where there is a fair amount of detail given on one topic -- like radiometric dating, in this video.

I think it inspires us to do some of our own research. In addition, hearing Noah present the topics drives my kids to explore our book and DVD shelves to see what else we have around on some of these topics.

I grew up visiting National Parks on a very regular basis.  My kids aren't blessed with that opportunity, but through this series, we get to see various parks, and we get to hear about the history and geology from a non-evolutionary point of view.  It does not get much better than that.  Well, I'd rather do live tours, I suppose.  But we can't do that for under $20 ($15 for the DVD, $4 for the study guide).

The study guide is great.  It includes some text, and it is very nice to see some of this in print instead of watching/listening to it.  There are some worksheet types of activities, which are great for us to run through orally, just to see if everyone was paying attention.  It also has discussion questions for each section.

You can see what other Moms of Master Books had to say about this episode of Awesome Science.  And there is a Facebook party coming up on January 17 (Thursday) at 7:00 MST where you could win cool prizes, probably including this title, and discuss the DVDs

Link up:

Disclaimer:   I received this DVD for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

100 Bible Verses in 2013: Week 2

Week 2 of working through the verses in the book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert Morgan, and I am already off in posting about it.

100 Bible Verses in 2013
I hope to post every Monday, er, ahhh, Wednesday.  And I hope we can keep up.

The idea is to work on two verses a week for the first 50 weeks of the year.  For this week, we are continuing to recite the first two verses --

Genesis 1:1 -- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  (ESV)

John 1:1 -- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (ESV)

And working on two new ones.  Well, we basically know verse #4.

John 1:14 -- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (ESV)

John 3:16 -- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Review: Everything Christmas

As we are nearing the end of the 2012-13 Christmas season, I figured I'd close it out with a Christmas book review.  Well, actually, I'll still be talking Christmas in my next read-aloud challenge post, as we are still in our Twelve Days of Christmas Read-Alouds through tomorrow.  But I'll be talking about other things there too.

Today, I'm talking about a great little book that I received this past week.  Now, I normally do not turn around reviews that quickly.  But receiving a book with the title Everything Christmas on January 3... well, if I don't review it immediately, I won't review it at all.

So, I sat down a couple different times these past two days, and read substantial chunks of the book.  I'll confess up front that I did not read the entire book, but I did go through roughly ten of the twenty-four "days" of readings in full, and a smattering of individual items within the remaining days.

The publisher has this to say about this book by David Bordon and Thomas Winters:
Opening this book is like opening a box full of Christmas cheer. 
Christmas is a time of celebration and wonder, a time to embrace longstanding traditions and establish new ones. It’s a time for meals made of memories and heartwarming stories shared around the fireplace. It’s a time for worship, reflection, and remembrance of God’s greatest gift.

Everything Christmas brings all the best ideas for the holiday season together in one volume. In this book, you’ll find your favorite classic Christmas stories and a few new ones destined to join them. You’ll discover the most delectable holiday recipes, enjoy the words to treasured hymns and carols, be encouraged by inspirational Christmas poems, and find renewed joy in the Nativity story. From decoration ideas to Christmas trivia and humor – it’s all here!
This book is set up so that there are 24 days worth of readings, dated for December 1 through 24.  Each day includes multiple, mostly very short, reading selections.  Let's take a day, say December 5:
  • Each day starts with a short quote.  Today's is by Bing Crosby.
  • There is a three-page story, "A Refugee Camp Christmas," about an 11 year old in 1947 at a camp in Austria.  All of the days include a story, some are of people looking back on a past Christmas (like this one), some are fictional.  This is one of the shorter ones.
  • There are two pages about candy canes, including a bunch of ideas for using them.
  • A recipe for Pork Loin Roast follows.  From what I saw, every day includes at least one recipe.  Many are for traditional Christmas dinner types of food, many are for candies and cookies.
  • The words to "I Wonder As I Wander" come next, along with a brief historical note about the song.  Most of the days include music.
  • "Little Tree" by E. E. Cummings is next.  Most days seem to have a poem.
  • There are some gift ideas listed.
  • A couple of pages about Christmas in Portugal are included, and these sections are definitely my favorite part.  Most days have an entry for Christmas in another country.
  • Finally, there are a couple paragraphs of 'trivia' -- one about Christmas bells, the other about the National Christmas Tree.  Trivia types of things seem to be tucked in somewhere on all of the days.
Not included on December 5, but included on about half of the days, is a craft type of suggestion.

What do I think?  This is something I can see using as a read-aloud, though not necessarily following the dating in the book.  I don't see where anything really ties to the date  (except Christmas Eve), which was disappointing.  I'd have liked to see the story of St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas Day (it is on December 13 instead).  Or the story "God Jul!" on St. Lucia's Day.

Everything is definitely family-friendly.  And most everything could be read in little short moments throughout the day.

This is a book we will use more next Christmas season. When I own it for more than the final three days of Christmas.

If you want to see a bit of the beginning of the book, you can.  Just be warned that the formatting on it seemed a bit weird in my browser, so let me note that the colors and page backgrounds in the real book are quite pleasing.

I'd love if you would rate my review!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading Aloud Challenge: The Twelve Days of Christmas

What I try to do every year is to read Christmas stories aloud.  Lots of them.  And that usually comprises a bunch of our schoolwork for the 12 Days of Christmas (Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Eighth Day, probably, by the time you read this!)

I've been feeling rather lousy, though, so we didn't do as much as I would like. 

In no particular order, in the past week, we've read --

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson.  What a great story.  We had read it year ago, but none of the kids remembered it at all.  Great story to get us all talking about bullies, goodie-goodies, and the true meaning of Christmas.

The Grumpy Shepherd, by Paddie Devon.  I read that one to Richard and Trina on the Second Day of Christmas, while all the big guys were at a birthday party.  Cute story, fun illustrations.

The Bells of Christmas, by Virginia Hamilton.  This, we read over a few days.  Christmas in 1890, with the Bell family.  Lots of fabulous pictures, including a bath in a wooden tub in front of the stove.  I've never read this one.

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.  Another one I read to the littler two when their brothers were away.  I have read this book for sixteen Christmases in a row now.  It was a gift to Connor on his first Christmas.  I am going to break down crying the Christmas that I cannot get anyone to listen again. 

Silent Night, illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  Such a pretty book.

We've continued with some other reading too.

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto.  We took a break here for Christmas, but I'm including this so that I will remember to post about it next week.

The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennett.  We started fresh today with the January 1st reading about the Emancipation Proclamation. 

100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert Morgan.  We're working through all 100 of these this year, so I'll be reading aloud the pages about the two verses for the week.  So expect to see this book here all year long.

Goals for next week:  We'll be finishing off our Twelve Days of Christmas read-alouds.  We'll continue with the long-term titles above.  And next week, I plan to start something new.  Not sure what yet.

Rules for this linkup - if you are blogging about things you are reading aloud to your children, or just blogging about reading aloud in general, feel free to link up.  Audiobooks count too.  I would very much appreciate if you link back to this post.  I'll leave the linky open through Monday at midnight.

How about you?