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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Birthdays

December is a very busy month for our family. My oldest and my youngest both have birthdays. This year Michael turns 25 and Alaina turned 11.

Even though there is a big difference in their ages and Michael lives 1600 miles away they still have a great relationship. Michael is the best big brother a little girl can have and Alaina adores him.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sweet French Bread appetizer

First of all I forgot to take a picture when I made these. This is the leftovers after they had sat out for awhile. They look a lot better when they are fresh. 

-Plain sliced French bread
-Softened cream cheese
-Fruit of your choice

-Set oven to broil. 
-Lay bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 
-Sprinkle an even layer of sugar on each piece and broil for just a minute. Watch it very close or it could catch on fire.
- Once cooled spread cream cheese over the sugar and top with fruit. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sugared Cranberries

These cranberries are so good and they look so pretty in a glass bowl or cup. 

- Bag of cranberries
- 2 cups sugar
-1 1/2 cups water

Heat water and sugar in a large flat skillet until sugar is dissolved and is boiling. Add cranberries and remove from heat. You will need to let them soak overnight or for about 8 hours.  Cranberries float so I put a plate that will fit down inside my pan on top of the cranberries to push them down. 

Remove cranberries onto wire rack to drain a little. I only let them sit for a minute. 

Roll cranberries in additional sugar. Let them dry in a single layer on a cookie sheet until they are dry to touch. 

Even people who say they don't like cranberries have enjoyed eating these. 

Homeschool Review Crew Winter Cooking Inspiration

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ishtar's Odyssey Review

Ishtar's Odyssey is the fourth book in a set of Advent adventure books. It is about Ishtar, a ten-year old boy. His father is a Persian wise man that will join the caravan that will follow a star across the desert. This young prince would rather stay at the palace then wander through the desert. He learns there are many things to see and do in the world and the dangers he encounters challenges his courage.

This 175 page softcover book is divided into several small chapters to be read throughout the advent season. We learned about the Magi, Advent customs, and made a connection with them through the photos, maps, and documents available online. Ishtar is from a rich family and has always had the best choice of foods. He experiences a whole new way of life and food while making this journey. There is also a list of Persian foods to help experience the culture and there is a list of advent and Christmas Eve dates from 2010-2081.

This is a great book to help your children experience the Advent season and learn more about the Persians and their way of life.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Ishtar's Odyssey free of charge in order to write my review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

3V3 Soccer Tournament

Amber's soccer team played in a 3V3 tournament in October. They divided up to make two teams. They ended up playing each other in the final game, so one team took first and the other team took second. They had so much fun. Way to go girls!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

GrapeVine Studies Review #hsreviews

Grapevine Studies Review
I like to study the bible with my kids in chronological order, so they can get the big picture of history. We just started using Old Testament 1: Creation to Jacob from GrapeVine Studies that is a chronological study of the characters and events. We received the Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob and Old Testament: Level 4 Creation to Jacob.

Grapevine Studies offers several bibles studies to teach believers God's word and how to become disciples of it. They teach the Bible timeline first and once this framework is understood then they teach bible passages, events, and characters. It works like a puzzle.You complete the outside pieces first and then move to the middle to get all the details. Finally you will have the complete Bible picture. 
Grapevine Studies Review
This course teaches the kids to draw stick figures through the Bible. They draw shapes, people, eyes, and other items to represent God, people, things, and events from the Bible. Old Testament 1 is divided into 12 chapters and teaches Creation to Jacob. We received three downloads for our Old Testament 1. A Teacher eBook, and two student eBooks Level 3 & Level 4. I have been using them with all three of my children. The supplies needed to complete this course are pretty minimal and we already had them all. Each student needs a copy of their appropriate eBook, the teacher needs access to a copy of that eBook, a Bible, and colored pencils. Level 4 also needs a Topical Bible, a Bible dictionary, and a concordance. 

The teachers manual is 98 pages long and offers a lot of information. It has a section on teaching multiple levels, a daily and weekly schedule, how to teach the lesson, teaching the timeline, and reviews for the timeline, lessons, a student review, section review and a final review. The lesson pages show you exactly what the student should have drawn on their page, key points, Bible verses, and memory verses. The answers for the questions and reviews are also included.
Grapevine Studies Review
The student eBook for Level 3 contains 67 pages. The timeline pages look like an open scroll that the student can draw their stick figures in. In the lessons there are drawing boxes, questions to answer, and places to write or recite memory work. 
Grapevine Studies Review
The student eBook for Level 4 is 65 pages long. It is set up like Level 3, but it adds in the use of a Topical Bible, the Bible dictionary, and a Bible concordance. There is an introduction for all three of these explaining what they are and then there are exercises to show the student how to use them. A Quest page is also included in Level 4. These pages has the student use the Topical Bible, the Bible dictionary, and the concordance together to complete the answers. 

I had Amber and Delaney use Level 4 and Alaina used Level 3. They thought it was fun to draw all the stick figures and it gives a great over view of Creation to Jacob that is easy for children to remember. The lessons are fairly simple for the student to complete and only takes a few minutes per day. The Teacher's ebook is very easy to understand and implement.  
Grapevine Studies Review
Here is a great chart to help you determine where to start your children.

The Old Testament 1: Creation to Jacob also comes in lower levels for younger children. This is a great way to teach children at a young age to Stick Figure Through the Bible. Members of the Homeschool Crew reviewed other levels from GrapeVine Studies and you can click on the banner below to read those reviews. 

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Mercy Me It's Christmas CD Review #flyby #MercyMe #Christmasmusic

I love Christmas music. I leave my Christmas CDs out all year and I have one that I listen to often. I just added the new Mercy Me It's Christmas cd to my collection. It came at a perfect time because we had a road trip planned and have been listening to it in the car. 

Mercy Me It's Christmas has some of my favorite Christmas songs and it has a few I'm not familiar with. Sleigh Ride and I'll Be Home for Christmas have always been songs that I could listen to over and over and learning Newborn and Joseph's Lullaby has been a good way to pass the time in the car. Alaina is loving Christmastime Again, all we heard from the backseat over and over again was "play #2".

1. Newborn
2. Christmastime Again
3. Sleigh Ride
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Hold On Christmas
6. A Holly Jolly Christmas
7. Go Tell It On The Mountain
8. Do You Hear What I Hear
9. Our Lullaby
10. Joy
11. O Come, O Come 
12. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Exclusive Bonus Track for Pizza Ranch)
13. O Holy Night (Exclusive Bonus Track for Pizza Ranch)
14. Silent Night (Exclusive Bonus Track for Pizza Ranch)
15. Joseph's Lullaby (Exclusive Bonus Track for Pizza Ranch) 

Mercy Me It’s Christmas​ CD will be available in Pizza Ranch locations beginning November 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.  It has 4 exclusive songs that can only be found on the CD version being sold by Pizza Ranch.  Each CD will be sold for $5 plus tax.  Pizza Ranch will give away the CD with a $25 gift card purchase as well as sell the full album at each of its 200 locations throughout the Midwest and Great Plains states.  "We are so excited to debut our new Christmas album, MercyMe, It’s Christmas, with Pizza Ranch” said Bart Millard with MercyMe. “Pizza Ranch is a fantastic restaurant with a great mission to glorify God. It's the perfect gift to give this Christmas season and the perfect CD to get you in the Christmas spirit.” 

About Pizza Ranch:
Cultivating its mission “To give every guest a legendary experience” since its inception in 1981, Pizza Ranch connects with its communities in a way that provides bridges for friends, family and colleagues to come together. Today, Pizza Ranch is based in Orange City, Iowa and owns, operates and franchises over 190 locations in 13 states. Consistent growth has been a Pizza Ranch staple, as the brand has become a beacon of community involvement and exceptional food. The Pizza Ranch buffet features legendary pizzas, salads and desserts, and is delivered with an unmatched service quality.  “We are extremely blessed to have a very close connection with our guests,” said Adrie Groeneweg, co-founder and president of Pizza Ranch. “This project extends the brand’s essence to a new dimension beyond our four walls and into their lives. It’s a new kind of way for us to relate to our loyal fans.” 


I have a copy of Mercy Me It's Christmas to giveaway. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Practical Critical Thinking Review #hsreviews

Amber loves the Mind Benders from The Critical Thinking Co. She is using one of the harder ones and loves to challenge me to see who can get them done first. Even when her older brother was home she made him work some with her. When I told her we could get Practical Critical Thinking to review she could hardly wait for it to get here. 
We received the Practical Critical Thinking book for Grades 9-12 and the Teacher's Manual to review. This softcover book has 378 pages. It is divided into 4 units with 8 chapters. This book uses novelty and prediction throughout the book to grab the attention of the students and to make them active participants. The Teacher's Manual is a 240 page softcover book that contains the answers and reproducible activities. 
  • Unit 1 Becoming a Critical Thinker~ This unit goes over what critical thinking is, why we should care about it, what makes a critical thinker, and more. There are also puzzles, mind benders, and games.
  • Unit 2 Adding to My Critical Thinking Toolbox~ Facts, opinions, evidence, arguments, vagueness, and more are included in this unit.
  • Unit 3 Critical Thinking and Arguments~ Learning about arguments and fallacies are covered in this section.
  • Unit 4 Applying My Critical Thinking~ The last unit covers advertising and evidence. The pros and cons, techniques, and back stories of advertising and testimony, direct & circumstantial evidence.  
This book is written directly to the student. It contains games, puzzles, question, thought questions, drawing boxes, charts, mind benders, and more. Each chapter is made up of the lessons, a chapter summary with important takeaways, individual & group activities, and discussions. Some later chapters use online resources. This links are available from The Critical Thinking webpage to make access easier. 
Amber is 14 and she has been using this book. She was so excited to get started and it is her favorite school book, this is the first thing she works on for her school day. We have only had it a few weeks and she is already in chapter 4. She hasn't had any problems understanding what she is supposed to do each day and she has shared a lot of the stories and pictures with the rest of the family because they are topics that really interest her. This book is helping her to become a better thinker. 
Catherine Connors-Nelson is a philosophy instructor who wants everyone to become independent thinkers, striving to be fair and balanced in their thinking. She has also published Smarty Pants Puzzles Level 1 with Critical Thinking. 
The Critical Thinking Co. started in 1958, and they offer over 200 products in reading, writing, math, science, and history. Their products are fun for the students, but they also learn to apply their critical thinking skills throughout their lives. 
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We have loved everything we have used from The Critical Thinking Co. and Practical Critical Thinking did not disappoint. Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed Fun-Time Phonics!, Surfing the Net: Science, The Basics of Critical Thinking, and U.S. History Detective, Book 1. You can read those reviews by clicking the banner below. 

The Critical Thinking Company Review
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Eat Your U.S. History Homework Review #hsreviews

My girls really like to be in the kitchen only when they want to. It is usually when they want some sort of dessert or if I am planning on cooking something they don't like. Every time we plan on having something Amber doesn't like she will volunteer to cook and it is always tacos or burritos. Or if they have been having a very heavy school day (usually when doing Algebra) they like to bake something before moving to the next subject. Lately we have been adding some US History to their cooking by using Eat Your U.S. History Homework from Ann McCallum Books.
Eat your U.S. History Homework is a very cute colorful 47 page hardcover book available for $15.95. It is the newest book written by Ann McCallum and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez. It contains six scrumptious recipes from history, there are also kitchen tips, a history review, glossary, and an index. Ann is a teacher and has written several cookbooks that make history, science, and math more fun. 

This book covers events from history by using recipes that are from history or what historians believe people ate during that time period. A timeline of key events from 1607-1789 is included in the introduction. The recipes are from Thanksgiving, Colonial time, French & Indian War, Southern Plantation, Revolutionary times, and celebration of Independence. Each recipe is introduced with a page of history. Key words are in bold print and they are included in the glossary of the book. After each recipe there is another segment about history, and a section with other information from history called the Side Dish. There is a History Review at the end of the book. 

The recipe itself is divided into four sections. Before You Begin has relevant information about the recipe including the prep time, cooking time, total time, oven temperature when needed, the yield, and the difficulty of the recipe. Then there is a list of the ingredients needed, the equipment, and the method. The ingredients are separated in a list and the method steps are in a numbered list.

All three of my girls read the book, but Alaina loves it. She loves when she has her own cookbook and when it is beautifully illustrated and easy to follow makes it even better. She loves the characters in the book and we have all enjoyed the recipes. Of course they all liked the sweet recipes, but Alaina loved the Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes the best. I really like this book, because it makes history fun, and it is important to see how our food and eating habits has changed over the years. The recipes are written in a easy way that my girls could follow without help. 

Ann McCallum is a high school teacher in Maryland, but she started her career teaching in a one room schoolhouse in Canada. Leeza Hernandez is a graphic designer and illustrate from New Jersey. Her art has been included in magazines, newspapers, and books. 

The Crew received several books from Ann McCallum and Alaina wants to get the other Eat Your..... cookbooks she has to offer. You can read those reviews on the Crew Blog by clicking the banner below. 
Ann McCallum Books Review
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Individual Potpies

Alaina loves when we make potpies. Her favorite is when I make individual ones for everyone. It is a lot easier than you might think and this would make an easy dinner to use up leftovers. 

 I usually make my own crust, but the store bought crust would make it even easier. I usually just put some cooked meat, mixed veggies, cooked diced potatoes, and then add some thickened broth or thinned gravy in small Pyrex bowls.  I only cut one circle of pie crust for the top of each bowl, making sure it is large enough to cover the entire bowl. Cut a couple of slits in the crust and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. 

The Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review #hsreviews

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
We love to travel, and visit new places. It's pretty easy for us to see the United States because we have family on the east and west coasts and we are almost right in the middle. We also like to travel through stories we read or listen to. Lately we have been traveling with missionaries in The Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3 is the newest audio drama of a real life missionary family. The CD set comes with four CDs for over five hours of entertainment. Season 3 contains 12 episodes and is available as a CD set for $27.99 or the download can be purchased for $17.99. The Provider is Episode 9 from season 1, you can listen to the entire episode free to hear how they trust in God to provide for them.

The Brinkmans are a real missionary family. The children on the audio stories are the real Brinkman children, but they use different names. The mom and dad didn't want to be in the stories, so the mom and dad in the recordings are not the real Brinkman parents. Some of the stories that are included in the series are from their own missionary journeys, but some of them are stories they have heard from other missionary families. 
If you head over to their website you can read about the real missionary stories that the adventures are based on. There are also pictures and videos from some of them, as well as behind the scenes videos that will give you a glimpse of what happens during a real recording. Printable coloring pictures are also available for episodes 1-6 of season 1, hopefully they will continue to add them for the other adventures. 

In Season 3 the Brinkmans travel the globe meeting other missionaries where ever they go. They are tested to their limits and are forced to face their fears as they discover God's truths. While getting ready for a wedding, business takes over, chores are forgotten, and cars are crashed. During a birthday hike the dad falls into a glacier, a young guy falls into a creek, flares are shot, and they are rescued by a helicopter. Another time the Brinkman's toys and bikes that were left in the yard were mysteriously moved the next morning. The items were found all over the yard, the tree, and the roof. 

Disc 1
  • God's Mule
  • Mountain Mover
  • The Silent Ambassador
Disc 2
  • Translating Trouble
  • Man-Up
  • Acorns & Oaks
Disc 3
  • A Saint's Story, part 1
  • A Saint's Story, part 2
  • Untouched
Disc 4
  • Busy Bees and a Bullhorn
  • Missionary Tourist, part 1
  • Missionary Tourist, part 2
All three of the girls and I have been listening to the Brinkman Adventures around the house. We listen while we clean, do laundry, dishes, or while we play quiet games We love listening to adventure stories and I am so thankful that we don't have to worry about inappropriate language during these episodes.  These are adventure stories so there is an element of suspense, but it wasn't anything that was inappropriate. My girls really like learning about other cultures and it is fun getting a glimpse at how missionaries in other countries live and trust in God.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review #hsreviews #SDAccelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
We love real books at our house. Even for school we use a lot of real books, reference books, and text books, but sometimes it's easier and more flexible to use an online program. We have been using the Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate the last couple of months and we have really needed that flexibility. 

Standard Deviants Accelerate has been offering educational videos for over 20 years. They have now taken those videos and added activities to create a better curriculum supplement. The homeschool courses offer science, math, writing, nutrition, and government and they range from third grade to AP high school classes. There are also progress reports to keep track of the children's progress. 

We received access to all of the homeschool courses for one year. I have my own parent account and then each one of the girls have their own. All the students must have their own email address to log into SDA. I can assign courses to each one of my girls from my account. I originally assigned the Nutrition class for grades six and up to Amber and Earth Science to Delaney. Alaina started sitting with either one of the other girls to watch their videos every day because she thought they were so funny, so I assigned her the nutrition class. She is my class clown, she finds humor in everything she does. When she started watching her own videos she would continually back it up to watch the funny parts again. Then she would want everyone to come over and watch it with her. 

After getting started with Nutrition and Earth Science, the girls wanted to know what other classes we had access to, so I let them choose more. Delaney wanted to do English Composition, and Amber is getting ready to start AP American Government and Politics. 
My girls accessed SDA on their iPad mini, and each day they would watch the video first. The video plays on the right of the screen and the dialog is in a box to the left. At the bottom of the screen is a box where they can take notes. The full transcript and the notes that were taken can be printed directly from this page. 

Next they would access the vocabulary words. If you click on the vocabulary word it will be read to the student for correct pronunciation. These words may also be printed. Each screen has an SOS button on the side. This allows the student to send a question to the teacher immediately when they are thinking of it. 
In the diagram tab the student answers the same example that was included in the video by dragging and dropping the correct answer. 
The quiz tab takes you to a multiple choice quiz.
There are also long answer questions relating to the video for each day. 
Each chapter has a review section that contains a post-test, an act it out section, and a critical thinking section. The act it out section has instructions for homeschooled students. The post-test questions are multiple choice, but they are questions from the daily quizzes that the student missed. If all the questions were answered correctly during the chapter then random questions are chosen for the chapter review test. After taking the post-test the answers are immediately available. If the student misses any questions a yellow arrow is displayed that will take them to the video segment to review that topic. The critical thinking question is not visible until the post-quiz is taken. I love the way the critical thinking question instructions are worded. It tells the student to not get overly concerned about getting everything correct in the answer but to take an educated guess. 
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
My oldest son just separated from the Army and has been home for a month. He flew out of the Denver airport for an interview in Florida while he was here. My oldest daughter lives in CO, so Amber and Delaney wanted to stay at their sisters house while he was gone. They took their school work with them to work on while their sister was at work. It was so easy for them to use SDA while they were there, all they needed was the internet. They took one iPad and took turns using it while the other completed other assignments. 
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate has been a great addition to our school. The flexibility is so nice when school has to be completed while out of town. My girls all found it very easy to maneuver through the course. 
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