Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My New Favorite Christmas Book

I received *Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball* A Novella by Donita K. Paul, yesterday, November 29, 2010.  I finished it last night at 10:30 PM.  I just couldn't stop reading.  This has become my new favorite Christmas book in 24 hours time.

The setting and plot read like a classic old movie.  Cora is a single Christian woman living alone.  Simon is a single Christian man living as the head of his household which includes a learning-disabled sister, his mother, his aunt and his uncle.  An unlikely pair, they are thrust together at an obscure bookstore neither has visited in the past.  With a cast of mysterious characters, and the setting of a beautiful but busy city decorated for Christmas, I imagined the scenes in my mind as I read the book.  It would seriously make a great movie!

Although this is a quick read it is by no means pulp fiction.  I filled five notebook pages with quotes I wanted to remember.  I couldn't pick a favorite, but here's one that spoke to me:  "He didn't know what to do with the immediate future or what to do with the long-range future.  These questions should be fairly easy to address.  Follow God's direction, plain and simple.  Now to do it." -p. 142

The book is one that feels good in your hands.  The cover is beautiful.  The pages are thick and creamy.  And the words do not disappoint.

Please read, *Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball* A Novella by Donia K. Paul.  You will be glad you did.

I received a copy of Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball from Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program.  I received no payment, other an a complimentary copy of the book.  This is my honest opinion.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One of my favorite resources...

I have shopped at CurrClick even before they were called CurrClick!  They only sell e-books.  I've gotten lapbooking and unit study resources there.  I've gotten books to read aloud there.  I get lots of seasonal items at CurrClick.  I have shopped there for years.

Every Monday, I get an e-newsletter from Currclick.  In that e-newsletter is an informative article about homeschooling or some aspect of raising a child.  There is also information about Currclick's bestsellers.  But my favorite part is the freebie.  Every Monday, they send a free resource.  If you do nothing else after reading this article, go to Currclick and sign up for the newsletter.  You will get a free unit-study, or some other e-book every single Monday.

And this Monday is the granddaddy of all freebie days at CurrClick.  Sign-on early to start downloading 20 freebies!  Yes, you read that correctly.  20 free e-books.  And there are a ton of really great sale deals too.  Check them out today!  They are one of my favorite resources for homeschool e-books.

How to Make a Marriage Last

We spent Thanksgiving Day with 29 people we love.  It was mostly my family, but we have widened our family circle to embrace girlfriends, boyfriends, and friend-friends.  This year, our number included two of our best friends and their son who had no nearby family for Thanksgiving day. 

During our conversation, our friend, Mark, looked at my mother and said, "How long have you been married?"  When she told him that they were approaching 60 years, he said, "What's the secret to making a marriage last?"  My mom made a joke and never really answered the question.

I was thinking about that this morning.  There are lots of answers you could give.  Many of the standard/pat answers are "Keep Christ as the center of your marriage."  or "Never go to bed angry."  Once, another friend named Mark told us that his grandfather had given him this advice, "Always do the dishes together."  I can see how that is a clever marriage strategy.  By doing the dishes together after the evening meal, you and your spouse get a little bit of alone-time to talk about the day, or the kids, or whatever.

I thought about all this as I was making the morning coffee.  And that's when I realized why my marriage to The Big Dog has lasted.  Here's the secret.  Are you ready?  The secret to a lasting marriage is, "Always make his coffee first."  Deep huh?

In our house, we are a two-pot family.  I drink decaf.  Ever since having the boys, my heart has had a very negative reaction to caffeine, but I'm my mother's daughter and LOVE coffee.  So it's decaf only for me.  The Big Dog has an immunity to caffeine, he can drink regular coffee right before bed without a problem.  So we make a pot of regular coffee in the morning, and then a pot of decaf.  Generally, whoever is up first makes the coffee.  On the weekdays it's usually the Big Dog.  On the weekends, it's either of us.  Whenever he gets up first, he usually makes my coffee first.  If I'm half awake I'll tell him to make his, but he usually makes mine.  This morning I was up first and I made his coffee.  It's not a huge sacrifice.  The coffee is done and put in the thermos within 15 minutes, so it's a short-wait and a small sacrifice.

But a sacrifice it is.  We were talking about sacrifice yesterday.  There are those in our life who have never seen another person sacrifice anything for them.  Their parents are selfish.  Their spouses are self-centered.  It comes as no surprise that those people don't know Jesus.  How can you understand the supreme sacrifice Jesus made for you if you don't see anyone making small sacrifices for anyone else.  And so, we make sacrifices for each other in our marriage every day.

I would much rather crochet than do the laundry.  But I do the laundry.  The Big Dog's job is very frustrating and unpleasant.  But he goes everyday to supply healthcare and mortgage money for us.  The boys see us sacrificing for them and for each other.  And we make each other's coffee before we make our own.  That's our secret to a long-lasting (well 18 years so far) marriage.  Sacrifice.

Now go make some coffee.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Shopping from Last Year's Reviews

Recently someone asked for a list of items reviewed last year that we would suggest as Christmas gifts.  I went through past blog entries and made a list for the requestor.  That's when I thought, this would make a great blog entry!  So here goes, my recommendations of items I've reviewed that would make great Christmas gifts:
Virginia Soaps and Scents.  Pick anything from this fabulous family-owned company.  You can't go wrong.  I reviewed their shampoo bar, which I loved, and two soaps.  The soap lasted a long time and always held it's scent. 

For readers, I loved Bertie's War by Kregel's publications.  I would recommend this for a pre-teen early teenage girl, but truthfully this spoke to me, a 40-something adult.

The boys and I loved the Andrea Carter book we read last year, Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure.  We received this from Kregel, too.  If I were buying it for a gift, I would print out the unit study/activities to go with it.  That's what we did and we had a great time.

For a homeschool Mom I'd give a subscription to ABC Teach.  hmmmm...I have a friend who's a first year homeschooler...hmmmm  I thought this on-line resource had a plethora of things to do, supplemental activities, unit study ideas and worksheets.  It would make any homeschool mom's life easier.

A study pod packed with a few fun school supplies would be a fun gift for a college student.

For preschoolers/early elementary aged children, I'd get a Maestro's Classics CD.  We enjoyed the Tortoise & the Hare a lot.  It is a fun listening activity but also comes with a beautiful color picture book and suggested activities.  We enjoyed listening to this CD.
Another early childhood/Elementary product that I loved was the readers from All About Spelling.  A little person who is just falling in love with reading will love these beautifully illustrated books.  They feel good and sold in your hands.  The pages are creamy and thick.  And the text is as beautiful as the illustrations. 

And there you have it.  If I was Christmas shopping based on last year's reviews, this is what I would buy!  How far are you in your Christmas shopping?  Ours is "coming along."  (interpret that to mean we have LOTS of ideas, but not a lot finished!)

Merry Christmas!

-Lori Lynn

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Grade can you do Physics?

I love the Christian Kids Expore series of science books and recommend them to everyone who is exploring science with their middle-graders.  The books are clearly laid out.  I literally am able to pick up the book and teach.  I don't have to do a lot of reading or preparation ahead of time.  Every few lessons, I'll need to gather or purchase a few supplies but they are always readily available at a craft store.  I love the way these books mix an almost classroom-style learning with hands-on activities in each lesson.  By classroom-style I mean that there are reinforcement questions after each reading, which I sometimes use as quizzes.  There are also unit tests.  But there are hands-on activities for each lesson which keeps our boys involved and interested. 

I recently received a copy of Christian Kids Explore Physics from Bright Ideas Press.  This book is $34.95 on Bright Ideas Press' webiste.  It is a 400+ soft-bound book full of information and extra activities and resources in addition to those found in the lessons you are completing.  You can use these as you study physics with your 4-8th grader.  If you click here you will see all the resources available for Christian Kids Explore Physics, plus there are a couple sets of sample pages so that you can see what I'm talking about!

I also received a PDF file which contained all fo the student worksheets from the book on one file.  I highly recommend purchasing this file.  It will make life, and physics lessons, SO much easier!  This file retails for $12.95 on the Bright Ideas Press website and is available for all the "Christian Kids Explore" books. 

As always, please read the reviews of my fellow crew-mates here.  Different crew members received different products so you will get a really good feeling for all that Bright Ideas Press has to offer by reading the other reviews.  But, Bright Ideas Press can also be contacted by using the information found here.  They offer a ton of quality products/curriculum for the homeschool that could also be adapted to the classroom.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Christian Kids Explore Physics along with a digital file of the student worksheets in order to complete my fair and honest review.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Great Worksheet/Activity Resource

I have had so much fun these last few weeks exploring KBTeachers !  It  is a web site full of information, printable activities, worksheets, etc... for classroom teachers, but especially for homeschoolers.  Most of the worksheets I looked at or used were very suitable for the homeschool. 

KBTeachers offers a free trial for you to explore the site and see if it will work for you.  After that the price is $29 for a one-year subscription and $49 for a two-year subscription.  There is definitely enough information there to warrant a two-year sub.   And they are adding new activities and re-vamping what they have all the time.

One activity category they have that I really liked a lot were the webquests.  Usually a two-page printable, the first page contained a brief explanation of the topic, say Veteran's Day.  Under the explanation is a listing of websites to use to learn more about the subject.  So the children go to each of these websites and learn about the subject.  Then page two is a set of discussion questions on what they've just learned on the webquest with space for the children to write their answers.   I've not seen any other sites with information in this format.  The questions were often thought provoking and would require a paragraph more than just a few-word answer.  I really like the webquests.

But there is so much more on KBTeachers for all age students.  By all-age, I mean all-age.  There are K-2 worksheets as well as 9-12 worksheets and everywhere in between.  The subject range encompasses just about everything you may cover...language arts, math, sciences, health, even art and history.  I will be on this site for a long time and still not use everything available.   And the site will grow with you.  If you look on the art page, there were activities beginning with grades K-2 and ending with grades 9-12.  And, truthfully, there wer some K-2 activities that I would do this year with our 7th and 8th grade sons!

But do your research.  Check out their website.  You will find their contact information here.  And, as always, don't just take my word for it.  Check out the reviews of my fellow crew-mates here.

Harnessing the Power of the Wind

Today was windy.  Really windy.  After we finished lessons, our oldest son, Big Mac, was outside.  He was supposed to be shaking the kitchen rugs, but I looked out the window and he was flying a huge blue tarp!  It didn't take long for our youngest, T-bone to join him.  Check out these pictures and please don't mind the mess in our yard.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frugal Entertaining

I've been relistening to the October Schoolhouse Expo and blogging about it here.  This week I listened to Molly Greene's talk, "Company’s Coming! Friendly, Frugal Hospitality for Real Families." 

In this talk, Molly gives so many great ideas for hospitality.  She talks about what hospitality truly is and then gives great ideas for your own entertainment.  And her ideas are so easy to implement!  You can find things for your entertaining at dollar stores and thrift stores. 

When you finish listening to this audio, you will be brimming with ideas for reaching out to those around you and opening your home to friends and family.  Give it a listen today and then join the conversation here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Learning to Write-NonFiction

Paragraph Writing Instructions from The Write Foundation is a very thorough writing curriculum.  This is not a creative writing course, but a solid non-fiction, paragraph-building, essay course.

The courses come in three levels, Sentence, Paragraph, and Essay/Composition.  They have information about which level to use by age group here.  You can also see sample on their website for each level of writing curriculum offered.   I choose the Paragraph Writing level because our boys have really only been required to do creative writing in the past.  They were a bit beyond the sentence level, but no way near the essay level of writing.

What arrived in my package was a package of student worksheets, and a comb-bound lesson plan book with 15 lessons.  I was also e-mailed a digital package of additional resources that included grading information and game ideas.   Each lesson can be worked out over the course of a few days.  The book includes activities that can be done using a critical thinking book that is a separate purchase, but we chose not to do those as we didn’t have the materials.  Each day’s tasks are listed for you in the lesson plan book.

I found this to be a vey thorough writing curriculum and I plan to continue it with the boys later in the year.  It is a not one of those curriculum packages that you can unpack and use immediately.  I would suggest that you as the teacher read through all the materials to gain a firm grasp on what is exactly required.  I tried jumping into the first lesson, and it did not go smoothly.  Preparation is definitely required. 

As I said before, you can break each lesson into multiple days.  I didn’t realize that until we had spent 1.5 hours working on lesson one in its entirety.  Breaking each lesson down over the course of a week, would work much better for our lesson plans.  I like to cover a subject in 15-30 minutes each day.  If you carry a much more rigorous time schedule, then you may be able to work through these lessons much quicker.

There are lots of different ways to order from The Write Foundation, so instead of giving you that information here, I'm going to send you over to their order page.  You can select the level you want to purchase and then review the order options for yourself.  The suggested ages page of the website lists the earliest age as 11 years old.  This product can be used through age 17, also.

If you would like more information from The Write Foundation, you can get their contact information here.  And if you'd like to read the reviews of my fellow crew-mates, go here

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the Paragraph Writing Instructions curriculum from The Write Foundation at no charge in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Meet an Incredible Cast of Characters

The book Cast of Characters by Max Lucado was so beautifully written, and spritually inspiring, that I was sad when it ended.  Each chapter introduces you to another character from God's Word.  At the end of the chapters you are presented with a series of discussion questions.  These would work well in a small group setting, but I simply answered them each day as part of my daily devotions.

The questions took you into scripture and required that you look inward for many of the answers.  In each chapter, I saw glimpses of myself in these biblical figures that I have known since childhood.  It was very eye-opening.

I love Max Lucado's conversation style of writing.  Quite often I found myself smiling or laughing out loud at a comment or story he presented. 

This book is available for under $15 and is well-worth the cost.  The cover is beautiful.  And the creamy heavy pages are a pleasure to turn.  It's one of those books that feels good in your hands.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Cast of Characters by Max Lucado from Book Sneeze in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Learning More about Tyndale

Soli Deo Gloria Resources specializes in quality unit studies for all ages in a variety of subjects.  Recently I had a chance to use the William Tyndale Unit Study.  Retailing for $8, this PDF download is 21 pages long.  I loved that because I could print out the unit and not feel like I was breaking the bank with paper and printer ink. 

Another thing I really liked about this unit study was that the purpose of the study was stated at the beginning of the file.  I like to think about "why" we are doing things.  This unit can be used with all grades.  There is a thorough list of resources that are pretty readily available at your local library.  This William Tyndale unit study is liad out to be used over the course of five days.  It would be a great break to your normal routine.  You could take a week off and complete this unit study to cover all your courses (with the exception of Math).  The daily instructions are very clear and the parental preparation is minimal...which I love!

All-in-all, this is a solid well-done unit study.  And Soli Deo Gloria is a great company.  The owner splits her time between the US and Sieera Leone, where she helps to direct a mission to women there.  You can get to the other unit studies from Soli Deo Gloria by clicking here.

If you would like to know more about Soli Deo Gloria, their contact information can be found here.  You can read the review of my fellow crew-mates by going here.  The crew-mates had different unit studies to review so you can get a great overview of the company by checking out the different reviews.

If you give Soli Deo Gloria a try, I'd love to hear about it!  Leave a comment for me.  I love to meet new people through the blog and reviews.

I received a copy of the William Tyndale Unit Study from Soli Deo Gloria Resources in order to complete this fair and honest review.