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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Turtle Cheesecake

This year for Christmas dinner we decided to have a spiral ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, & green beans. We needed a special dessert to go along with it & decided to have turtle cheesecake. It was so good, we will be having it again.

Turtle Cheesecake
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter 
Caramel for crust:
30 caramels
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 (8 ounces) cream cheese room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips + a teaspoon of shortening. Heat together to melt
10 caramels + 1 Tablespoon milk. Heat together to melt.
Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, & melted butter. Then press into a springtime pan.
Sprinkle pecans on graham cracker crust. Melt caramel & milk in a microwave bowl & pour over pecans.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar & vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl often. Add one egg and beat until smooth & scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do this with both of the other eggs. Scrape down the sides of the bowl & beat for 2 minutes.
Fill spring form pan with filling and bake for 40 minutes at 325°. Let cool & remove from pan.
Garnish top with pecans and melted chocolate & caramel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O is for Ornaments

Every year my kids pick out a new Christmas ornament. We have quite the collection & this year we put up 5 trees. We have our big tree, and 4 small trees. 
Michael usually picked out sport team ornaments, mostly Huskers. The first Christmas he was married I gave him his box of ornaments. That was a very sad day for me. There is so much history in that ornament box & I hope Shelby appreciates having a part of his childhood. I kept his stocking, I didn't want to part with it!
I still have Morgan's ornaments. The girls decorate our green 3' tree with hers. She picked out a lot of different ornaments over the years.
 Amber has a purple tree that is in her room. She probably has the biggest variety & her favorite one is her nutcracker.
 Delaney has a blue tree. She tends to choose dolls or elegant ornaments. One of her favorite ornaments is the china doll in pink.
 Alaina has a pink tree & she usually leans toward animal ornaments. Last year I think she ended up buying a couple of pig ornaments.
This is our main tree & some years I decorate it with the red, white, & silver ornaments, and other years I use purple & silver. My favorite ornaments are my blown glass icicles & my sayings.
I filled the glasses on my piano with ornaments this year. I don't normally like blue, but I think they look pretty.
 My sweet hubby brought me some purple flowers the other day, so I pulled out some of my purple ornaments to go with them.
 The girls haven't picked out their ornament for this year yet, I guess we better do that soon.
Blogging Through the Alphabet
Thanks Marcy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

 M is for Magazine.....
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is my favorite magazine of all time. It is full of encouragement for homeschool families, and a lot of information about school subjects & curriculum. This is the only magazine that I even like all the adds. And the best part is it is FREE. You can read it on your computer or from apps on your smart phone or ereader.
You will definitely want to check out the Show & Tell article on page 20 of the December 2012 issue. It is about my family!!
Hope you enjoy visiting our home.  

Blogging Through the Alphabet
Thanks Marcy

Friday, November 16, 2012

Purex Plus Oxi and Zout Giveaway

Purex is at it again. This time they have come out with a new stain-fighting liquid Purex plus Oxi and Zout. It is the most powerful detergent available, and works against over 101 different stains. This works because Purex plus Oxi contains three stain-fighting enzymes to work against different stains. Even though it can fight so many stains it is still safe for everyday laundry or heavily soiled loads. It safe for high efficiency machines, comes in the Fresh Morning Burst scent, and it is hypoallergenic.

It is so powerful you can even use it as a pretreater:
  • Pour Purex plus Oxi on stained fabric, rub together and let it sit for 5 minutes before putting it in the washer.
  • Then add Purex plus Oxi to your wash as you normally would.
We were gone on vacation last week & when we got home there was plenty of laundry to wash. Vacation laundry isn't like regular laundry. We put our dirty clothes in bags so we don't have to put them back in our suitcases & they don't smell the greatest by the time we get home. The girls also like to swim in the hotel pool, so we end up with wet clothes in the bag for a couple of days. I used Purex plus Oxi and Zout on all of our vacation laundry and everything came out feeling clean and smelling fresh. We had a lot of laundry & I didn't look for clothes with stains (I know I should have). I do know that Delaney had a white shirt that she had spilt something on & I forgot about it until I pulled it out of the dryer......and the stain was gone!!
Purex is also offering another SWEEPSTAKES!
Purex will give 1 lucky winner $1000!
250 second place winners will receive $25!
All you have to do is fill out this form!
I also have a giveaway!!
3 lucky people in the United States will win a coupon valued at $6.00 to use on your very own Purex plus Oxi detergent.

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Disclaimer: As a Purex Insider I received a bottle of Purex Plus Oxi free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was given 3 coupons for Purex Plus Oxi to use as a giveaway on my blog. No other compensation was received.  

Bible Detective

My girls love puzzle books, Alaina is always on the lookout for a new one. This time we found one with Bible stories that she knows. The Bible Detective is a puzzle book with 17 scenes of Bible events where kids can find items within the Bible story. Each puzzle covers two pages and gives a short summary of the Bible account. The items to be found are things that are from everyday life of the time of each story. The year of the event & Bible reference are included to make it easier to read the Bible account for yourself.  
My girls really liked finding all the objects for each puzzle.
After reading the Bible story the kids get to be the detective by finding all the images within the colorful illustration. Some of the pictures you are looking for in the scene contain facts about the person or object. Don't forget to find Wiley the Fox, he is hiding in every scene.
I was a little puzzled myself as to why the dates are given in CE & BCE instead of AD & BC, and in the story of Peter preaches about Jesus used the sentence "Three days later, however, they claimed they had seen him alive, and that he had told them to spread his message." The Bible says Jesus did raise from the dead three days later & it is my understanding that the reason people use CE & BCE to reference an era shared in common between Christians and other religions. It thought this was odd since it is a Bible Detective book with Bible stories.
The Bible Detective was written by Peter Martin and Illustrated by Peter Kent. 
Disclaimer: I received Bible Detective free of charge as part of the Kregel Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vocal Coach Singer

My girls love music! They can very easily spend hours a day practicing the piano, ukulele, flute, and saxophone. Sometimes they even argue over who gets to practice piano first. They also love to sing. They sing along to songs at home, in the car, and have sang for church. After piano lessons and band a vocal program was next on our list to try.
Vocal Coach Singer is a voice program that is really private voice lessons for beginners or professionals. It includes 7 training CDs, 4 workout CDs, an instructional guidebook, plus a CD with printable lead sheets for the vocal exercises & your own singer's journal. This program is available for $119.99 or you can purchase it as MP3 & PDF files for $99.99.

7 Training CDs:
  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections
We received the download version of the program and it was very simple to download and works very nicely on the computer. I chose this program over Teaching Kid's to Sing because Amber has so much musical ability & I wanted her to be able to really excel with this. I started using this program along with Amber (age  11), Delaney (age 10), and Alaina (age 7). Alaina didn't last long, she couldn't control her laughter while we all practiced breathing and singing "Mee May Mah Moh Moo." I'm really hoping that is because she thought the words were funny & not our singing!

There isn't an exact lesson plan to follow with this program, but listening to the Getting Started CD & then starting with Complete Breathing is recommended. If you like keeping a daily log of what you are doing a Singer's Journal is included.

We started out listening to the Getting Started CD and this gave us a brief overview of the program. Chris Beatty not only tells us what we are to do he also explains why things are important. The first CD to use is the Complete Breathing. In the 23 tracks we are told why it is important to breath correctly and the importance of exercises & correct posture to sing our best. He then sings a selection showing us where we should breath & we sing it after him. The exercises gradually get longer before taking a breath. We are just now finishing up the breathing exercises and are looking forward to moving on & can't wait to see how much we can improve our singing. I have already noticed a difference from using this first CD.

We are now ready to move on to learn how to sing our vowels & consonants, improve our tone, and expand our range. The techniques that are taught in this program will benefit every type of singer as well as improve your speaking. We are also given tips on choosing songs to sing, facial expressions, sound systems, selecting the key, and more.
Chris & Carole Beatty created Vocal Coach products and have sold millions of products world wide. Vocal Coach Chris is an accomplished singer, songwriter, author, and mentor and has taught & coached thousands of singers of all ages and abilities for over 40 years. Chris also offers one-on-one instruction at his studio in Brentwood, TN or online. He keeps a blog where you can find articles, free resources, and even ask him questions.

Some members of the Review Crew received Teaching Kid's to Sing. Sail on over to the Crew Blog to read about it & other reviews of Vocal Coach.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received Vocal Coach free of charge to use with my children in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

J is for Jar with Found Money

How much is a penny worth to you? If you see one on the ground will you stop and pick it up?

Alone it isn't worth very much at all, I don't even know if you can buy anything with one penny today, but if you put several together they can add up to quite a bit.

We try to go for a walk every day and last year we seemed to find pennies on the ground almost everywhere we went. On October 1, 2011 we went for a walk and we found some money. As we were walking the girls decided it would be neat to save all the money we found and see how much we could accumulate. When we got home that day they got a quart jar and labeled it "Found Money Only" and the date. Throughout the last year every time we picked up any money we brought it home and added to the jar. Almost every time we added more money one of the girls would want to count how much we have. Most of the time we find pennies on the ground, our biggest find was 3 quarters in the bottom of the pool.

Can you guess how much we have?

Picking up money really does pay!!

The girls were planning on going out for ice cream when they found enough, but now that it is starting to add up they have decided that they will wait another year and see how much they have.

Blogging Through the Alphabet
Thank You Marcy for hosting Blogging through the Alphabet.

growing up wild

I think every kid at one time in their life dreams of living in the wild somewhere in the middle of nowhere and flying in and out for supplies. My girls like to build forts in the yard and pretend they live in them. They were very excited to learn about kids who really do live in jungle hut.

The Growing Up Wild DVD set shows us how a missionary family with 4 boys live in the jungle of Papua, Indonesia in the Wano village. Interestingly enough the family's last name is Wild so the title is very appropriate.
The Wild Family

The Wild family decided to make the DVD series of their lives to educate and challenge children, and to help raise up a new generation of missionaries. Growing Up Wild started out as a creative outlet for the Wild family and took 3 years to film and produce. There are now 5 volumes and they are recommended for children ages 5-12, but can be enjoyed by everyone. Each volume is $18.99 or you can save 15% if you buy the entire series for $80.99.

We received volume 1 & 4 of the Growing Up Wild series. All 3 of my girls ages 7, 10, & 11 were very interested in them. Each volume contains 3 episodes on a DVD and activities for each on a CDRom.


Volume 1
  • Home Sweet Hut ~ In this episode we get to see the house of the Wild family. We are told how the house is constructed and how it differs from the other Wano houses and how it is like ours. Some of the suggested activities are building a hut like the Wano people, fill in a Venn diagram comparing your house with the Wild house. For an extended project create a photo journal of the trees in your area by taking pictures for each season. 
  • Supply Trip ~ Here we get to see how the Wild family get their supplies and how they get them to their jungle home. They walk almost two hours to meet a plane just to go to town, on the return trip they take the plane & then a helicopter will meet them to drop off their supplies at home. They must keep track of the things they use every day so that they can purchase enough supplies while they are in town. Activities for this episode include keeping track of what your family eats in a week, tour an airstrip, interview a missionary, and create a thankful list or song to God for what you have.  
  • Sun & Water ~ How do you get electricity & running water in the middle of the jungle. In this episode we see how water is collected from the stream and pumped into their home. This allows them to wash clothes, dishes, and have a flushing toilet. By using the sun & solar panels electricity can be obtained and stored in batteries to use when needed to run the lights, computers, a few appliances, and the radio. The bible lesson for this episode is how God is the light of the world. Activities include studying alternative power sources, making a solar oven, learn where you get your electricity & arrange a field trip there.
Volume 4
  • Amazing World Around Us ~ How would you like to catch an 11 foot snake to cook for dinner? In this episode we get to see some animals that live in Indonesia & learn a little about them. The activities for this episode include comparing reptiles to mammals, look at creation & evolution and compare the differences, take a trip in your neighborhood and learn about the animals that live there, and learn about the environment & the ecosystem.
  • Adventures in Culture ~ We learn about the Wano culture, how they live, fight, hunt, dress, and play. We get a look at some things they eat & how they make spoons. A big thing with the Wano people is the piercing of the septum and we watched as 2 of the Wild boys get theirs pierced. The activities include comparing our culture with that of the Wano people.
  • Tribal Calling ~ The Wild family and other missionaries that live with the Wano people learned the Wano language in three years and created an alphabet for it. After learning the language the missionaries translated the Bible into the Wano language and started a church to make disciples of Christ. We are encouraged to look at our own lives and ask God to make our paths known to us. The activities include making an iceberg picture with missionaries above the water & all the people who play a roll in their success under the water, and researching and writing about a christian hero.
My girls really liked the episodes & have watched them several times, it has been there first look at missionaries in a jungle. They were very intrigued by the Wild family house and how they picked up supplies, although they couldn't imagine eating squid tentacles, and fish eyes at a restaurant. We were all very surprised at how many modern conveniences the Wild family use in their daily lives. The thought of getting your septum pierced was gross & would hurt, but in our culture most girls have their ears pierced. My girls had a lot of questions as we watched the episodes, not only about the Wano people but also differences within our own country. We also talked about how we can be missionaries right where we are by telling others about God's word. The activities really add to the episodes. We learned so much more than just what missionaries do and how they live. We studied about animals & reptiles and visited a zoo. Researched power companies and solar energy, and now my girls love to make Venn diagrams for everything they compare.

Disclaimer: As a member of TOS Review Crew I received Growing Up Wild volume 1 & 4 free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Grace & Truth Books

PhotobucketI read a lot of books out loud to my family and we are always on the look out for new stories or authors to add to our collection, some of our favorites have been older books. We just finished reading a collection of stories that was first published by the American Tract Society in the 1800's.

The Collector's Edition: Seven Favorite 19th Century Children's Stories is another volume of The Children's Heritage Series from Grace and Truth Books. The 7 stories are Farmer Goodwin's Rule, Ruth's Reward, Little Bill at the Pump, Who Is a Coward?, The Lost Lamb, The Good Shepherd, and The Death of Emily. This paper back book retails for $7.50 but is $6.50 from Grace & Truth Books.

All 7 stories include good moral and biblical characteristics. We see that we can serve God even when it is difficult to do so. Our words and actions can change people to want to live a life of service to God even when the hearer doesn't take head to them for many years. We are shown that a coward falls into sin, and that it is better to stand alone and be laughed at by men, than frowned on by God.

I like that these stories quote scripture and show how they can be applied to the lives of the characters. Our favorite story is Farmer Goodwin's Rule. This story helps us realize that you can make a difference in someone's moral character. We may think that the things we say are often forgotten and never applied to an individual life, even years later our words can still make a difference in people's lives.

I read this book to all three of my girls ages 7, 10, & 11. While we read the stories we discussed the good & bad things that are going on in our lives that were like the characters. We talked about how we can change our lives to better ourselves, and to be more of an example and encouragement to others.
Grace & Truth Books is an online Christian bookstore that offers products that will glorify God, strengthen His people, and help them find joy in knowing & following Him. They are not interested in fancy packaging and following the latest trends. They offer books, music, videos, bible helps, items especially for kids & teens, and even titles in Spanish. Their Children's Heritage Series address children in talks that challenge their character, and encourage them to live godly lives. 

Members of the Crew reviewed several books from Grace & Truth. Sail on over to the Crew Blog to read about them.


Disclaimer: As a member of TOS Crew Review I received The Collector's Edition free of charge from Grace & Truth Books to use with my children in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

We just got back from vacation and now it is time to start shopping for the Holidays. Melissa & Doug just announced their Terrific Twenty Holiday Gifts for 2012 and they are having "20 Days of Terrific Twenty" Giveaway on their facebook page. Starting November 6 they will be giving away one item a day from the Terrific Twenty list. All you have to do is like Melissa & Doug on facebook and then  enter to win.

Check out the Big Rig Building Truck Wooden Play Set from Melissa & Doug, my oldest son would have loved that when he was little (he is 21 maybe he still would) & I have one to giveaway. If you live in the United States enter below.

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Disclaimer: I am receiving one Big Rig Building Truck Wooden Play Set to keep & one to giveaway in exchange for my blog post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Journeys of Faithfulness

Do you ever think about what kind of people God uses in the Bible to do his work? In Journeys of Faithfulness, Sarah Clarkson challenges today's young women in their relationship with Christ by looking at heroines in the Bible. By taking a closer look at the lives of Ruth, Esther, Mary & Martha, and Mary, mother of Jesus, Sarah shows us that the women God used are just as ordinary as young girls today.

In Journeys of Faithfulness we are introduced to each heroine through a biblical fiction story of how they could have lived & what they could have been like. There are devotional sections where the author shares a personal story, Bible study with references, and Journey Journal pages to make your own notes. The first chapter can be read at Apologia. 

I read this book out loud to all three of my daughters ages 7, 10 & 11. I have mixed feelings about Biblical Fiction because it is easy to think that what is being said is fact. I made sure to tell my girls that this is one persons opinion as to what could have happened. We also read the Bible account of each of the stories to see exactly what it says.

On the other hand I love the way this book is written, the stories really got us to thinking about the heroines and how they are not perfect. It caused us to think of the biblical women as real people. We also talked about what we thought the young women could have been like, what character traits they have & how we can apply these to our own lives. Since we read it together we used the Bible Study questions as discussions. I like that a Bible reference is given and there are some fact questions so my youngest daughter could answer some & that there are thought provoking questions that got my older girls thinking about how they can live for God.  

This book is for young christian women, I guess that means I'm still young because I benefited from this as much as my daughters. I like to be busy & active, so the story of Mary & Martha really hits home for me. I am definatly more like Martha, and need to work on being more like Mary.

Journeys of Faithfulness is recommended for ages 12 and up, the 232 pages are divided into 4 parts containing 12 chapters. It is available from Apologia for $13.00.

Sarah Clarkson began her walk with God at age 16, and she is passionate about passing on the ideas of literature and Scripture through writing and discipleship. In 2009 she published a guide to the best children's stories, Read for the Heart.

Apologia Educational Ministries has been publishing homeschool curriculum since 1996, and now offer new books, online courses, networking and encouragement, and live conferences.
I have 2 copies of Journeys of Faithfulness, and I would like to bless one of my readers with my extra copy. If you live in the United States enter to win your very own copy.

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Disclaimer: As a member of TOS Review Crew I received Journeys of Faithfulness from Apologia free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Activity Bags

Where Fun and Education Fit in the Same Bag!

My girls really like hands on projects. They like to craft, cook, experiment, and act out everything. It doesn't matter how many hands on projects we do in our school they always want more. Sometimes the hardest & most time consuming part is getting everything rounded up & ready. Activity Bags has taken care of part of the problem.

Activity Bags was started when Sherri MacLean wanted to come up with a way to keep her toddler busy while she taught school to her other children. She called her friend Paula Reetz and they came up with the idea of putting preschool activities in a bag. They decided it would be easier if they had several moms work together. They would each make enough of one activity bag to share with everyone in the group. They soon had 25 moms to participate in the swap. They realized there were other moms who needed help keeping their preschoolers busy so they decided to make a book of the activities. Then decided they would also teach other moms how to coordinate a swap of their own. They now have Activity Bag eBooks for Preschool, Science, Reading, Travel, Math, and Daily Activity Journals.

We received the Science Experiments In a Bag eBook 1-3, and Math Games In a Bag. I let the girls choose which Science eBook to start with & they chose #3. We printed off all the activities for Science eBook 3 & the Math Games. It is suggested to print the science activities on different colored sheets of paper according to the type of science, but we didn't have any & were very eager to get started so we used white paper & highlighted the title of the experiment in the suggested colors. It took a while to get the bags printed and set up, but my girls wanted to help & had a great time filling the bags. Once we got the activities bags put together we stored them in a large tote.
Amber (age 11), Delaney (age 10), and Alaina (age 7) all used the activity bags. Even though it took awhile to put the bags together, it was wonderful when they were done. We decided to put our Math Activities in one end of our tote & the Science in the other. That way they would know what subject they were choosing, but they wanted it to be a surprise as to which activity it was. They would just randomly choose a bag from each end and get to work. They needed very little help from me partly because everything they needed was right there.

The girls were very excited over the science activities, but not so much over the Math games until they started playing them. They have been enjoying the math games so much more than I thought they would, and Delaney even brought some of them on vacation to get her older brother to play. Alaina thinks the games are wonderful & she decided to make up her own. It doesn't have any math or science in it, but it got her thinking about making a game. She taped pieces of paper together to draw her board on & used shaped erasers for her pieces.

Science Experiments In a Bag was written by Sherri MacLean and is recommended for K-8 grades. It is $15.00 to purchase one eBook, you can purchase eBook 1 & 2 for $27.00, or all three eBooks for $39.00.
Science Experiments In a Bag eBook 1 contains 25 science experiments covering Biology, General Science, and Nature. On this 7 page sample you may see the complete list of experiments in a chart telling you if the experiment needs to be completed inside or out & from which science category the experiment covers. There is also a short description with all supplies listed. We learn about waterfalls, wind power, sun clocks, seeds, and more in this eBook.
Science Experiments In a Bag eBook 2 also contains 25 experiments. They cover Chemistry, Human Body, and General Science. There is also a sample of this one with the chart, description, and supply list of each activity. In this book we get to make a big bubble, a blob, discover the senses, static electricity, and more.
Science Experiments In a Bag eBook 3 contains 25 activities in Chemistry. We have gotten to discover microbes, oxidation, green copper, iron mining, a secret message, and more.


Math Games In a Bag eBook 1 was written by Sherri MacLean and is recommended for elementary students and is $15.00. The math games are designed so that the child can have fun & build a positive attitude toward math. This sample lists all the games and the supplies that are needed for the math games. Some of the games cover fact families, memory math, bingo, telling time, tricksters, and more. There are a few games that were too easy for my 10 & 11 year old, but they played along with Alaina & had a good time.

Science Activities In a Bag also include instructions on coordinating an activity bag swap, but if you purchase eBook 3 or the Math games you may request a free copy. An Activity Bag Swap is where several families get together and plan on swapping activity bags. If ten families participate then each family would put together 10 bags of the same activity and then trade. This could free up a lot of preparation time & it would be like giving and receiving gifts. Participating in an Activity Bag Swap would be a lot of fun & could make putting the bags together easier.

The Activity Bags were great once they were put together because they saved so much time in our school day. We had most of the supplies that were needed already around the house. The few items we did need to purchase were very minimal cost. We plan on putting the other 2 Science activities together once we complete all of eBook 3.

Members of the TOS Review Crew also reviewed Reading Games in a Bag eBook, Travel Activities in a Binder eBook, and Preschool Activities in a Bag eBook 1 & 2. Sail over to the Crew Blog to read about them.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received Science Experiments In A Bag eBooks 1-3, and Math Games in a bag free of charge to use with my kids in exchange for my hones review.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

H is for Home Economics...

H is for Home Economics.....

The girls and I were talking one day & they wanted to know what was my favorite subject in school. I wasn't very scholarly, so I told them probably Computers & Home Ec. They wanted to know what I did in those classes. They were really surprised that there would actually be a class on cooking in school.

The next week Amber was struggling with her math & was just not having a very good day. All of a sudden she jumped up out of her chair & proclaimed, "I'm going to do Home Ec." Then she asked, "Is that OK?" So off she went to the kitchen to make some cookies. This has now become her release when she is frustrated with her work.

All three of the girls like to cook & they have been searching and trying new recipes for a local recipe contest. Amber enters every year, but Delaney & Alaina have missed a few years. This year the theme is Favorite Holiday Ethnic Recipe. Mike is half Finnish, so Amber & Alaina decided to find a Finnish recipe to take, but Delaney chose one of her favorites that is from Mexico. Amber chose Suomalainen Pulla which is a braided sweet bread, Alaina chose Mairea Karpaloita which is sugared cranberries, and Delaney chose Mexican Hot Chocolate. They all tasted great & they had a good time searching for recipes & trying new things.

I think they all turned out great. The sweet bread was good, I liked the hot chocolate because it isn't overly sweet, and those cranberries.......they are addicting!!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sugar Creek Gang

You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be - I had a mother who read to me.
I just love this poem from Beloved Books. Reading together as a family has always been a big part of our lives and I hope that my kids feel they are rich from our time together.
Another thing we like to do as a family, usually while we are cleaning house, is listening to good quality books on CD. The last few weeks we have been listening to the Sugar Creek Gang from Beloved Books.
The first Sugar Creek Gang book was published in 1939. Paul Hutchen was a preacher when he came down with tuberculosis. While he was recuperating he decided he would try writing and eventually wrote 36 books in the series. The CD version of the books were recorded by Paul Ramseyer. Beloved Books began manufacturing and distributing of the Sugar Creek Gang Time audio stories in 1998.

We have been listening to volume 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang. These stories take us on the adventures of a group of boys called the Sugar Creek Gang. They are much different from what we think of as gangs today, they are young boys looking for adventure. Some of the boys are Christians and they convince some others to accept bible teachings for their own lives.

  • Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1
    • The Swamp Robber
    • The Killer Bear
    • The Winter Rescue
    • The Lost Campers
    • Chicago Adventure
    • The Secret Hideout
Even though the stories are about boys all three of my girls ages 7, 10, & 11 loved listening to the them. While we listened to some of the stories we were suppose to be cleaning the house, but I would occasionally catch the girls listening so intently they forgot what they were doing.

These stories have become some of our favorite to listen to. I love that they portray Christianity in a good way & that the boys try to encourage others to become Christians. It is so refreshing to hear stories that have family values and that the children have a responsibility to the family first before their friends and activities. One of the boys dad is an alcoholic and this behavior is discussed in a negative way with everyone wanting to help him and his son. Sin and disobedience is discouraged throughout the stories.

There are 2 CDs for each book for a total of 72 CDs in a complete 6 volume set. That is over 100 hours of story time. Each volume of the Sugar Creek Gang is $54.95. You can save $50.00 by ordering the entire collection at once. The first story the Swamp Robber is FREE.

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received Sugar Creek Gang volume 1 free of charge from Beloved Books to use with my children in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Samson's Classroom

Samson's Classroom is an online program where children in grades K-5 learn sight words, spelling words, and work on reading comprehension. This program is an "umbrella" product and you have access to every product in Samson's Classroom. If new products or upgrades are added you will automatically have access to those with no additional cost.

I have been using Samson's Classroom with Alaina, age 7. She has a login name and password and so do I. When I log into my account I can see how many games have been played & who the top students are (for more than one child), and if anyone has earned their black belt in sight words. I can play all the learning games from my page, and see all the students scores plus mine on one page. This is also where I can add my own spelling list. When Alaina logs in she has the option of changing her password, see her profile, check on all her scores, and play the games. Her scores contain 3 sets of statistics one for each category. Each set shows the lesson or level that has been completed and perfect scores are marked with a check in a green box, if they need more improvement the box is read & contains an X.


Sight Words with Samson is set up for beginning readers where they can master the 224 most commonly used words in the English language. When sight words are first introduced to the child they are given a group of letters in random order. The child will hear the word pronounced and spelled, and they will click on each letter of the word in order. In the lesson above the child is told a word & they click on the correct one. Below the child is read a sentence and they must click on the correct word to fit in the blank to collect diamonds.
Spelling with Samson uses more than 5,000 words to captivate students while they are improving their spelling. The student can work on spelling lists that are included or the parent/teacher can create their own lists. There are 4 parts to the spelling. There is a word list where the child sees the word, hears the word & it is used within a sentence. In another section they fill in the missing letter of their words. If it is answered correctly Samson uses karate to break a board. In the spelling scramble (above) the child tries to run into all the letters before the spider catches Samson. Once all the letters are gathered the child is told a word and they must arrange the letters in the correct spelling. In Crunch time Samson needs help crossing the icebergs to get to the igloo by typing the correct spelling. If you take to long to spell it correctly the walrus will knock Samson into the water turning him into an ice cube.

Reading with Samson helps students with their reading comprehension and they learn to draw conclusions and answers based on the selected reading. In this section students are given a reading selection to read with questions to answer. If the problem is answered incorrectly the paragraph that the answer is in turns red. After completing the lesson the child earns hammer points so that Samson can have a turn at the hammer game. The child is awarded points for each hammer strike. These points are then used to rank students with high scores.
Alaina has really enjoyed working in Samson's Classroom, it is more like a game to her than actual work. Her favorite part is where she fills in the missing letters and if she gets the correct answer Samson karate chops a board. She was very frustrated with the Spelling Scramble, she had trouble getting Samson to move where she wanted him to go. I really like that I can add our own spelling lists or use the ones available if I don't get a new one added. I really like the reading selections, they seem to be just the right length and questions to build her comprehension.                       

In the Resource Section you have free access to articles on sight word statistics, lesson plans, flashcards, worksheets, certificates, and sight word games.

Samson classroom is available in several different pricing options. For home use with one child it is $30.00 per year and only $50.00 for 4 students. There is also pricing for classroom & school use.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received a family subscription to Samson Classroom to use  with my children in exchange for my honest review.
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