Monday, September 18, 2017

Imagine... The Great Flood Book Review

Creative thinking and creative writing is a fantastic skill for writers and readers. To think outside of the box as to what might have happened or what could have happened and then take an imaginative journey down the pathways of the "what if". Discoveries, inventions, and innovative persons are rooted in this way of thinking. How can we encourage our children and get their creative juices flowing to view something in a way they didn't before?

My older two girls (age 7) had the honor or reviewing a paperback book called Imagine... The Great Flood by Matt Koceich published by Barbour Publishing and this book challenges your children to view the Great Flood and Noah's Arc in a whole new way.

Corey, a ten-year-old boy, has to up and leave all he knows and all he loves to move to a new city when his dad has a job relocation. Struggling with the changes, he is suddenly swept back into time to Mesopotamia in 2400 BC. He goes on an adventure with Shem, Ham, Japheth, Noah and their family as they gather the animals on the ark, fight and resist the Nephilim, and journey on the ark for 40 days.

This story has the common thread of the timeless lesson of having faith in God and who He is despite what our circumstances may tell us. Nearly every character continually points Corey back to the faithfulness and goodness of God throughout the story.

As Corey travels with Noah's family, he sees parallels from his own life and experiences moving to a new place with Noah's voyage of faith. He learns valuable lessons he applies to his life.

"Noah and his family had no idea where they were going, but they knew the One who was calling." (page 29)

"No matter how difficult it gets, we must never stop believing that the Lord is who He says He is." (page 31).

My eldest two daughters (both just turned 7), had an absolutely fantastic time reading this book. Once it came in the mail, they didn't hesitate to dive in. They switched off each reading a chapter out loud, but they were so engulfed in the book they would both have their fingers on the pages tracing every letter anticipating what was going to happen next. I almost got annoyed with how often they would break out laughing and how loud and enthusiastic they got when reading this book.

For instance, they thought it was HILARIOUS that Shem had never seen a cloud before. Why this was so funny is beyond me?

I got to have some cool discussions with the girls about what the Nephilim were and how there was a canopy of water around the outside of the earth before the flood. We got to discuss that this is an extra-biblical story and things in it are just speculation and not to be taken as the Bible which is absolute truth.

Alecia says,

"I really liked it because Corey learned about the Bible, Noah's story. I had fun reading it. I never knew about the Nephalim existed! But they got destroyed in the flood and I like that! Haha! I also liked that Corey saved his friend from falling into the river."

Ahavah says, 

"I think that this book was cool at the beginning to the end. I can't wait to read the next book of Imagine. MY favorite part was at the end when Corey saved his friend Noah from falling off of a railing I think it was? I learned about Noah and his family and I learned about his family I didn't know existed."

This book was exciting, engaging, and got our family to ponder deeper the story we have read over and over again. I definitely recommend this book as a great chapter book option for your growing reader :). I'm glad it's part of our library.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Finished Up Trimester #1 In An Unexpected Way

Week 7: Fantastic! Forgot I was pregnant

Week 8: More Emotional then normal and overwhelmed, threw up a lot but not nauseated. Pretty good week.

Week 9: Worst week yet as far as pregnancy sickness. Sore breasts, nauseous, emotional, exhausted, STARVING yet nothing sounds good. And cramping terribly.

Week 10: Unexpected event that we thought was a stroke which caused my whole left side of my body to go numb and me to lose some vision in my left eye. I was hospitalized for several days and weak and disoriented the rest of the week.

Weel 11 & 12: Struggling to walk, talk, think, and function. Using a walker to get to the bathroom, and a wheelchair to leave the house, I am still recovering from whatever it is that sent me to the hospital a couple weeks ago. Still numb, tingly, weak over entire body


Exercise: Pretty good actually in the beginning! 20-30 minutes every day. Was in great shape and surprised at what I could handle. Now I try to walk to the bathroom myself and stand to help Alex cook. Not much activity anymore.

Diet: Before my "stroke" episode, I was eating a very healthy diet, but now I am on a strict AIP (Autoimmune Protocol Diet) to hopefully reduce the inflammation on my brain and nerve bundles or whatever is going on. Also LOADS to supplements.

Weight Gain: Total for the first trimester is ... about 1-3 lbs depending on when I weigh myself. 

Life: Still homeschooled and pushed through serving in the ministries (until my episode- now I can't play guitar) I'm in even though most days I wanted to cry and quit. Learned new ways of teaching and training my children which you can read about in previous and upcoming posts. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Carole P. Roman Books Review

Carole P. Roman, mother, grandmother, and children's book author has really created some unique, educational and creative kids books that we had the privilege of reviewing! We throughly enjoyed reading Oh Susannah: It's in the BagIf You Were Me and Lived In... Kenya, If You Were Me and Lived In... Turkey, and If You Were Me and Lived in... Renaissance Italy! I can't wait to share a bit about these creative kids books!

My 5-year old Hayven and I had a great time reading through Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag. The character of this story actually reminded me of Hayven in her quirky thinking and view of the world around her. Susannah also tended to get side tracked and distracted by anything, which is similar to my Hayven. 

In this book, Susannah has a really bad day and each chapter of the book ends with her placing an object into her backpack that she accumulated from her unfortunate circumstances. Her bag gets heavier and heavier with every piece of unfinished sheet of homework, failed test, and invitation to a party she didn't care to attend, rotten banana and so on. Finally, Susannah makes it home, but her parents are too busy for her attention. She tries to hide her bag of overwhelming failure under her bed. Her parents caught wind of Susannah's sad temperament and worked with her on how to deal with overwhelming circumstances as well as realizing their failure to spend the time with Susannah that she needed. 

We had LOTS of laughs and lots of sounding out words that were new and challenging for my 5-year-old, but not too difficult with a little assistance. I think ages 5 and up is perfect for this book. 

We also got to explore and read about different countries and cultures from around the world and back in time with the books If You Were Me and Lived In... Kenya, If You Were Me and Lived In... Turkey, as well as If You Were Me and Lived in... Renaissance Italy. These books were unique in a variety of ways. They all included maps, words in other languages with their correct pronunciations and definitions, as well as a taste of what culture was like through every day life in each of these places. But, the most unique factor of these books was the perspective in which they were written. 

They address the reader as if a child from that area were explaining what life would be like if the reader (your child) lived there. 
"When you went back to school, you would call it Sokol (o-coo-la)." If You Were Me and Lived In... Turkey, page 20 
"Your favorite meal could be nyama coma (ni-am-a h-om-a), which is beef or goat roasted over an open fire, like a barbeque."If You Were Me and Lived In... Kenya, page 14. 
"Your name could have been Dolce (Dohl-chey) or Lisabetta (Liz-a-bet-ta) if you were a girl. Your parents could have chosen Lorenzo (Luh-renz-oh) and Cosimo (Coh-zi-mo) for your brothers' names." If You Were Me and Lived in... Renaissance Italy, page 6.

If You Were Me and Lived in... Renaissance Italy was a very dense book with what seemed like a well-rounded, almost complete view of what Renaissance Italy would have been like from a good understanding of the troubles of the era, to the rise of creativity in art and music, to the dress and hair style, the gender roles of the time, layouts of the home and what daily life would have consisted of. There is plenty in this book about famous people who came out of this era such as Michelangelo, Raphael and so many more! 

At the rear of each book is a glossary and/or pronunciation guide. 

These books are truly great to supplement a geography class or to assist in a project of a certain region of the world. They are excellent and easy for early readers to read and understand.

Do we recommend?: After reading the 4 books we were given, I would think that any book from this author would be a great quality children's books. Yes we recommend these books :)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Photo Bomb!!

My son and little brother... being boys... 

Handsome, yes?

Breakfast in a Large Family

These two weren't too happy about blanket time

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Halloween Evangelism Tract - Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract Review

Every year it comes around and the stores are filled with scary costumes, bloody images, and alluring sweets. After my husband and I did research on the beginnings of Halloween and why it's celebrated the way it is, we made an early decision not to participate in it, and every year we've taken our kids out to the movies or out somewhere so we would not be home. Our kids didn't even know what Holloween was until we explained it fully to them this year. However, I was privileged to come across this awesome Halloween tract that could change your approach to Halloween like it is ours.

We had the opportunity to review Let the Little Children Come's Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract. What a blast this was as a family! We read through the Great Commission in Matthew 28, then we read through the gospel printed in rainbow colors on this pumpkin cut out and assembled each little pumpkin placing a piece of our favorite candy inside! 

When it comes to anything, We don't teach our kids what we're against, we teach them what we're for. 

We are for light.
We are for truth.
We are for life.
We are for hope.

These things are not part of Halloween and my kids have never asked me why we don't celebrate it the way other kids do. This year, simply because we ran across this product, our plans for Halloween have changed!

About Let the Little Children Come
I would encourage you to read Let the Little Children Come's statement of faith on this page. They are spot on in their beliefs. Their mission is to create evangelism tools that grab kids attention, but don't take away from the central gospel of Jesus Christ. They also believe that these tools are completely useless without the power of the Holy Spirit! I love that!!

My best friend and her family of 7 do something a little differently then we do for Halloween. They turn all the lights in their house on, create large banners with scripture verses and post them on the outside of their house, buy the best candy and brew many pots of hot Dunn Brothers Coffee, blast Christian music, and stand by their door praying for people as they share treats and the gospel with everyone who approaches. These tracks would be PERFECT for a situation like this!

Another great application for these Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tracts would be a harvest party, an outreach event around the time of October, a door to door evangelism and hand out to neighborhood kids.

Do I Recommend This Product?
Let's just say I have two families ordering some this month! Teaching our children to share the gospel is at the foundation and root of Christianity. Without teaching this to our kids, we are just one generation from being extinct. The tools Let the Little Children Come offer, specifically this Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract are colorful, creative ways to not only teach our children how to share their faith, but also bring the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to kids in our circle of influence. Praise God!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Our Favorite Math Curriculum: Math-U-See Review

As a mom and teacher of soon-to-be 6 beautiful children, I have some specific things I look for in a Math curriculum.

(1) Open and Go
(2) Compatible with all learning styles
(3) Doesn't take more then 30 minutes a day
(4) Fairly independent for students
(5) Allows child to progress past their "grade" level or slow down to understand struggle areas
(6) Does NOT include Common Core Standards
(7) Lays a strong foundation for practical, every day use of Math

*At the bottom of this post I expound on how Math-U-See meets all our family standards for a math curriculum*

Our Story
Our first exposure to Math-U-See was at a homeschool conference. We had been praying and looking for something other then the frustrating curriculum we were using at the time that was dry, only worked for my oldest two students, and had many confusing aspects to it. I'll admit we were a bit skeptical of Math-U-See for several reasons, but we took the plunge and tried it out.

Last year my two 6-year-olds and 4/5-year old (she turned 5 half way through the year) completed Alpha (the second book in the Math-U-See series).  I was amazed at how my 4/5year old who I thought would forever struggle with math EXCELLED using this curriculum beyond what I thought capable for her. I mean hidden genius excelled!

So this year we received Beta for our 3 oldest girls (age 7,7,5) and Primer for our 4-year-old from Math-U-See to review. Once again, I am blown away at how this curriculum truly meets all our standards for a Math Program, and works for each and every one of my children no matter how diverse their thinking and learning styles are.

With me being pregnant with our 6th child, and now homeschooling 4 of our children, Math-U-See makes it so simple and not overwhelming to teach math and utilizes all the learning styles of my growing number of students and truly accommodates everyone perfectly (including busy, juggling mommy!) ;)

The Heart of Math-U-See

Please click here and watch their video on how their products work.

Why do we learn math? Really, it's to do word problems. To have real life application. Why do we learn decimals? It's to handle money. Why do we learn fractions? So we can do measurements. All this is for REAL LIFE application.

How do we make math applicable? By knowing math facts. Math-U-See focuses on children KNOWING formulas and math facts like the back of their hand so they don't have to spend time counting or figuring problems out; math will come with complete ease and confidence.

However, Math-U-See knows it's important to understand why we do things a certain way and when to apply certain facts and figures. This program seeks to give the child understanding of math concepts using all their senses and learning styles. 

Math-U-See works with any homeschooling style whether you teach using the Charolette Mason approach, Unit studies, classical studies, unschooling, or the traditional homeschool approach. It's truly a very versatile system. You can read more about that here.

What Math-U-See Includes
What Math-U-See is most known for is their block sets. There is one main integer block set that is used for all the math levels, then there is a fraction overlay kit, and an algebra/decimal kit.

There are different "set" options that offer a bit of a discount if you are ordering your first books that include the blocks. All these options can be viewed at

Let's look at the Beta sets, since that is one of the products I am reviewing.

(1) Universal set: Includes Instruction Manual with complete solutions, Instruction DVD, Student Workbook, Tests booklet, Integer Block Kit, and 12 months of access to their new Beta Digital Pack, which includes the Skip Count Songs MP3s and Songbook PDF. 

(2) Beta Level up set: for people who already own the block set. This includes  Instruction Manual with complete solutions, Instruction DVD, Student Workbook, Tests booklet, and 12 months of access to their new Beta Digital Pack, which includes the Skip Count Songs MP3s and Songbook PDF. 

(3) Student Pack: Basically includes the work book and test book

Click here to view prices.

Here's an example of the Instructor's Guide for Beta:

Here's an example of the Primer Instruction Guide:

You can also purchase the Skip Count book and CD which I highly recommend! It has coloring pages and really catchy songs to help your kids memorize their math facts and counting by 2's, 3's ect.

A Day of Math-U-See In Our House
Break out the books, the blocks, the crayons, pencils, erasers, and the lap top (for the video lessons), and we're ready to go!

I usually start my morning with my Primer student, my 4-year-old son. Primer doesn't have any tests which I like. We simply do a few pages a day until I feel I've lost his attention. He traces numbers, learns that each number is connected to a physical amount of something, he learns his shapes, he learns basic addition concepts ect. It's perfect for introducing math to a preschooler or kindergartener. 

I then break out my Beta student's books and read through the preparation for the lesson their on, we watch the video for their lesson together, we do a few practice problems, and I write down what pages I want them to accomplish! That's about it. Like I said, easy, pretty independent and takes us usually around 30 minutes.

The girls pass me their books, I correct them (Answers in the back of the Intrsuctor's Manuel) and circle the wrong ones in red for them to correct. When they're done, I write the date on the front page of their workbook and we put the books away for the day.

I do have one child that requires a bit more hands on instruction, but after that she is as independent as the other kids. 

You can see on one of my twin's (7-year-old) sheet they have lessons skipped. This is because I felt like they mastered the concept and could move on without completing all the assignments. This allows my children to move on when their not challenged and stop when they are... 

... like this child. She finishes every single assignment and then I print more practice sheets off the Math-U-See website when she needs extra practice. 

Breaking It Down

(1) Open And Go: There isn't much prep work for the teacher. The Instructor's Guide gives written step-by-step teaching instructions and most of these are gone over in the Instructional DVD. There are also different activities and games that can be exercised to give your child a better understanding of the concept at hand.

(2) Compatable with all Learning Stlyes: Includes blocks, videos, verbal instructions for the teacher, and written examples and directions in the work books to reinforce learning in every way possible. The blocks are truly the piece that makes this cirriuclum. They aren't like any other math manipulative I've ever seen or worked with. They're strategically a certain size and color and create a powerful visual for so many mathematical applications. The blocks give the child a visual understanding of what math looks like. By the end of each lesson they are independent of block use and can do problems mentally with speed and accuracy (No they don't become dependent on the blocks for life). 

(3) Doesn't Take More then 30 minutes A Day: We aim at finishing 2-3 worksheets a day depending on how well the child understands and excels at the lesson. With the instruction and worksheets, this rarely takes more then 30 minutes a day. We can adjust how much we want to do since there is no strict layout of what needs to be accomplished in a given day (see point #5).

(4) Fairly independent for student: My older kids put on their instructional video and build along with the teacher. This is usually all they need in order to progress onto their worksheets for that lesson. I simply write down what pages I want them to accomplish and they can do it all (for the most part) independently of me. My 4-year-old obviously needs me at his side the whole time, but we usually only do about 15 minutes together a day.

(5) Allows child to progress past their "grade" level or slow down to understand struggle areas: There are no grade levels in Math-U-See; there is no calendar with what needs to be accomplished in a given day or week. The freedom in this is FANTASTIC! I'll admit it bothered me a bit at first until I started using Math-U-See and really comprehend the benefit of this approach  If I have a child struggling to memorize their math facts, they can stay in Alpha for 1 year, 2 years... doesn't matter! Once they're ready, they move to Beta. No loss! They're learning math! If I have a student that blows through Alpha, then Beta, they could move all the way through Calculus years before they graduate. Again, no loss!

 My older kids can finish a whole lesson in a day if they understand the concept, or they can spend a few weeks in an area until they master it. My 5-year-old can be doing math at a 2nd-3rd grade level and keep working ahead without being held back by a proper "age-correct" label of 1st grade. The website offers additional practice material if needed and the Teacher's Guide offers more activities and games that solidify concepts.

(6) Does NOT include Common Core Standards: This is a make-it or break-it point for our family. Math-U-See teaches math the way it's always been taught, yet finds way to break it down into concepts that aren't as damaging as those of Common Core Math. Thank you Math-U-See! Please never comply to the wave of "new math"!

(7) Lays a strong foundation for practical, every day use of Math: Most American's don't know this, but in other countries and even in the foundations of America when we were #1 in the world as far as education goes, little ones were primarily taught to memorize their math facts.

1+1= 2
2+2 = 4
8+4 = 12

The entire book of Alpha is geared to memorize the addition and subtraction facts. This lays an AMAZING foundation for the proceeding books and your student's math journey! Beta is now effortless since the child can tell you any math fact at the drop of a hat, without adding or subtracting on their fingers. I don't see this in really any other math curriculum anymore and appreciate this so much!

I am amazed at how much our family loves Math-U-See. We plan on using it for all of our children from Primer all the way to Calculus. I truly believe in this system and see the maturity in my kids compared to other kids their age and older.