3 Ways to Love Your Spouse {L is for Love}

I have frequently said that Honeybear loves me far more than I love him. I am not a great wife. I am not the woman I want to be.  He’s not perfect.  Far from it actually.  Sometimes I get dragged down into that selfish place of if-he-really-loved-me-he’d-do whatever it is he’s not doing that I want him to do.

3 Ways to Love Your Spouse from Circling Through This Life

True love doesn’t look like the fairy tales (well setting aside Once Upon A Time which is a fabulous show but very twisted with the fairy tales).  Love is an action.  It’s a choice.  It’s often sacrificial and always concerned with others not self.  When I look at love from that perspective,  I can see the different ways my husband does love me.

So here are 3 Ways to Love Your Spouse

1.  Listen to Music You Barely Tolerate.  For 21 1/2 years I have thought my husband shared my interest in the music of U2.  He’d even turn up the radio for me. I just found out this past weekend that he really doesn’t like them. He tolerates them for my sake because he loves me and he knows I really like U2 music.

2.  Eat Your Partner’s Favorite Food Even Though You’d Rather Eat Something Else  My Daddy made the bestest spaghetti sauce in the whole world.  He called it “stuffed peppers” but really it isn’t anything like those stuffed pepper recipes I’ve read.  He would stuff several green peppers with uncooked hamburger and then make more meatballs with more hamburger.  He browned Italian sausage and included that too.  He put the peppers, sausage and meatballs in a giant roasting pan on the stove and added lots of tomato sauce, and then he’d let it cook all day long.  We’d serve the sauce over spaghetti noodles and mostaccioli noodles. (Don’t know what those are?  They look like Penne Pasta to me.)

So I call the sauce GrandpaLarry sauce.  I serve this sauce to my family for years and then one night my husband finally confessed to me that he’d really rather eat his spaghetti noodles with a meat sauce rather than with meatballs. He knows how much I love that sauce and how I make it ‘cuz of my daddy.  So now sometimes I make a variation of GrandpaLarry Sauce that is more of meat sauce.

3.  Make Late Night Drive for French Fries (or other special food).  When I was pregnant with my oldest I craved French fries.  Not just any fries though.  They had to be McDonald’s French Fries. I didn’t have morning sickness. I had nine months of all day long sickness and sometimes the only food I could keep down was the food I was craving when I was craving it.  Honeybear made quite a few McDonald runs at 9:30 at night.

I am convinced that Honeybear loves me more than I love him.  He reassures me though that he feels loved. He understands that love is a choice and an action.  I choose to love him when I do his laundry even though I want to strangle him and I know he chooses to love me when he does those three things above even though I am not always so lovable and he’d rather strangle me.

Do you do certain things for your spouse because you love him?  Do you recognize when your spouse is loving you?

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Moving Beyond the Page: LA and Science Packages (Crew Review)

I love literature based home schooling! In 2013 we had the opportunity to review two packages from Moving Beyond the Page so when they came up again this crew, Tailorbear expressed super high interest. I mean she was super excited and did the research to give me her first and second and even a third choice!

She chose her language arts package based on the book that interested her most and she chose the science package that coordinates with it as her first choice.  I wish I had a picture of her reaction when I told her that we would be reviewing Language Arts Package - The House of Scorpion /Online and Science Package – Genetics and DNA.

Moving Beyond the Page Review by Tess at Circing Through This Life

Program Overview

Moving Beyond the Page is a research based, comprehensive, integrated curriculum with activities designed so that students not only understand the materials but learn how to apply them. It can be used alone as a complete homeschool curriculum for Language Arts, Social Studies and Science, or it can be used as a supplement.

Individual units can be used alone, however, the Language Arts Units are designed to complement the Science and Social Studies Units. MBtP also integrates art, music and drama creating an integrated full year program. The integrated approach helps students apply knowledge from one field to another.  This helps students see how the fields are related. This is especially noticeable when using a Science (or Social Studies) Unit with the complementary LA Unit.

The units we received are both from the Age 12-14 section. The product page for The House of Scorpion LA Unit states that you must be able to read chapter books on an 8th-9th grade level and that this is usually used by students in 7th or 8th grade.  Tailorbear is 15 and finishing up 9th grade. This was not below her at all. There is so much depth to this unit that I can’t imagine using it with a child only in 7th grade! At this level “students are responsible for working through the units independently.” (Science Unit page 4 but is speaking about the program in general at the 12-14 year old level.)

Although the program states that you should be able to complete each unit in approximately three weeks, I found that pace to be overload for both Tailorbear and I.  In the how to use this program section it states that a typical day would include a minimum of 4 hours a day on the Moving Beyond the Page Subjects of Science, Social Studies and Literature. This would not include math. They also recommend another 20-30 minutes a day for vocabulary review and another 30 minutes a day in physical activity. That makes for a very full day!

We only received LA and Science and found that taking two to three days to complete a day’s worth of assignments and activities fit our home school. If I were using this with a student in 7th grade, I would consider dropping some of the activities in addition to slowing them down or just slowing the pace down even more. For a hands on learner like Tailorbear the activities are important so we completed most of them.

The Language Arts Package

Cover Image The House of Scorpion MBtP review at Circling Through This Life

We received the Online Package which included a physical copy of the literature book, online access for three months to the Language Arts Unit and a clear plastic ornament to be used in one of the lesson activities. The three months of access does not begin until you activate the unit. If three months is not enough time, you only need to email them and they will extend your access. 

The Language Arts Package – The House of Scorpion/Online has 14 Lessons. Each lesson is well laid out and divided into: Intro, Activities, and Conclusion.  Lesson 1 is a multiple day lesson and is clearly divided into what the student should complete each day.

Each lesson intro includes:

  • An overview telling the student what will be done such as reading chapters 34-36, preparing for the unit test and responding to a holiday in the book.
  • Stuff You Need; a list of materials needed to complete the activities
  • Ideas to Think About
  • Things to Know ~ Cultural things such as the Mexican holiday referred to in the book or vocabulary
  • Reading and Questions ~  This is not in the intro section of Lesson 1 because Lesson 1 covers 4 days.  Lesson 1 does have a Reading and Questions section but it is on day 3.  I really love how this section is laid out!  The student clicks on the keyboard icon in the upper right corner and a window pops up with the questions and a space for typing in the answers. The student can then click print and it will download a PDF of the answers! I had Tailorbear email that pdf to me. It worked great for us and saved paper! 

Reading  Pop Up MBtP

Activities range from learning how to create source cards and write 5 paragraph persuasive essay to creating an advertisement. Tailorbear also learned more about logical fallacies and one activity included playing a game: create logical fallacies to support an argument. She loved the book. She did not follow the reading pace but rather finished the book in couple of days and then referred back to the book when completing the questions. I think her favorite activity though was the completing the comparison with a Venn diagram. I appreciated the grammar review activity pages and I liked that there were two options so I could pick the one best suited for her needs. After completing the exercises for passive versus active voice she said to me “ok, now I am really understanding passive voice.”  Yay for Moving Beyond the Page!!

Playing the Fallacy Game from MBtP review at Circling Through This Life

The final tab of the lesson is Conclusion and restates or summarizes the main points of the lesson content. 

The last lesson, number 13, includes a 4 part Unit Test and an Essay Reflection as the only activities. 

MBtP LA Unit Tab Lay out


The Science Package

First I’m just going to state up front the topic of Genetics and DNA intrigues me and I was thrilled that it was Tailorbear’s first choice. I know I learned from this unit and I had fun playing with the chromosome models!

Genetics and DNA MBtP Cover Image

This package included the physical Genetics and DNA Unit along with the two books required.  Page 7 of the Unit includes a Material List of items you will need.  Most of them are easily found around the house such as salt, rubbing alcohol, coins, timer, tape, glue, scissors etc.  Other items are easily obtainable for me such as pipe cleaners, strawberries, or cheesecloth. I had plastic forks, spoons, and colored beads on hand.  The material list also notes whether or not these items are optional or if they are included as part of the Kit that you can receive if you purchase the full year package.

Like the ONLINE LA package, the lessons are well laid out and follow the same framework.  Each lesson has a Getting Started (called Intro in the LA ONLINE package) which includes the same categories as the LA:

  • Stuff you Need ~ This includes the specific materials you will need for the lesson such as small funnel and does indicate if it is from the kit.
  • Ideas to Think About
  • Things to Know ~ This is primarily vocabulary
  • Reading and Questions

The Getting Started Section is followed by the Activities. The Lesson ends with a Wrapping Up Section (called Conclusion in the LA Online). Any work pages, charts etc. for the lesson follow the Wrapping Up section. Sometimes this confused Tailorbear because even though it is marked in the upper right corner with the activity number she would not realize which sheet went with which option. I tended to look ahead and put the specific page number next to the activity in the lesson.

One thing I really like about the physical version is the the check box to indicate that the activity is complete.  I do wish there was same way to mark each component of the online lesson as finished instead of just the whole lesson.

Genetics and DNA has 8 Lessons plus the Final Project. 3 of the Lessons are divided into 2 Days (and are clearly marked in the table of contents and is clearly labeled as Day 2 in the lesson itself).  The Final Project is divided into 4 Days. Like the LA unit, we often divided a days worth of work into 2 days.

I loved that with this unit we got to extract DNA from from a strawberry, build model chromosomes out of of pipe cleaners and then use those to explore recombinant chromosomes. In the LA unit we explored cloning from social and moral perspectives and in in the Science unit we explored the science of genetics and DNA. Lesson 8 focuses on cloning and what makes cloning a possibility. 

Chromosome Models Science from Moving Beyond the Page review at Circling Through This Life

Recombinant crossing over gametes model

The Final Project which involves designing your own creature, and also includes a Unit Test.

Our Thoughts

When I reviewed this last year I was leaning towards preferring the Online Version but my ideal would be a combo. I included a list of advantages and disadvantages of both formats. Tailorbear has a clear and and strong preference for the Online Format and I have to say that though I generally prefer physical over online, I am now fully in the Online Format preferred camp.

These two Units as well as the two units we reviewed last year, are challenging and engaging. I don’t think it fits my home school to use the full year packages but as break or supplement?  Yes. Especially the Language Arts. I know there is at least one other (Watership Down) Language Arts package that Tailorbear wants to do. I think I’ll be adding that to my wish list.

Moving Beyond the Page Review at Circling Through This Life

The Details:

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about the different units from Moving Beyond the Page.  

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.


K is for Kicking Bad Attitudes to the Curb

If you’re looking for ideas for conquering the bad attitudes in your children, you’ll need to keep looking. This post is for me to help me kick my bad attitudes to the curb. Some days I am just a grouchy, horrible, prone to angry outbursts, witchy woman who, unfortunately, finds offense everywhere.  *sigh*

Instead of seeing the good, I focus on the bad. Instead of “oh, look, they’re shipping the dvd!”  I think “really?  they’re just now shipping it and I still won’t get it for another 7 days??!!”  I sink into a self-pity party and travel to woe-is-me-everyone-is out-to-make-me-miserable-land. It stinks. It’s wrong. I don’t like it.

Kicking the Bad Attitude to the Curb

My poor children. I don’t want them walking on egg shells wondering if they’ll get their heads ripped off because today’s the day that nothing will please mom. My children are talented, intelligent and I hope well educated, but they are also human and that means words hurt.  On Mom’s a Witch days, glances and tones hurt. My children are beautiful inside and out and I do not want to break their spirits. I don’t want them thinking or worse yet believing they are not good enough just because mom is a big old tub of sin. Sure they have their own sin issues and yes, they can on my nerves but my stinky bad attitude is not an excuse for me to focus on their faults or blame them for my failures.

So when I have a day like today this what do I do to kick that bad attitude to the curb? It begins with acknowledgement. I am faster now than I was 10 years ago with recognizing that I’m just in a bad mood. I’m still struggling with fully recognizing the signs and preventing it.  For now, I’ll just be thankful that I recognize it, and that I can work to get rid of it.

I think the best way to get rid of the attitude and reset my thinking is to take a shower and pray.  (What?  You don’t pray in the shower?  Sometimes, especially when the girls were little, the shower was the only time I had peace and quiet and could pray.)   So I pray in the shower and then I come out of the shower and I pray some more. The more Orthodox I become, the more I need my formal prayer time.

Tea (or hot chocolate) and chocolate are also very helpful.  Some days the bad attitude is mild enough that just having some chocolate, some good British Blend or Irish Gold tea and the time to read a chapter from a book is enough.  Other times the kicking requires extra prayer time.

Often hymns are helpful. Hearing my daughter sing “Be Thou My Vision” puts my focus back where it needs to be and realizing that particular hymn was written as a tribute to St. Patrick just makes it sweeter.

Oh and Scriptures. Tea or any hot beverage, chocolate, and a good book is a good choice but when they are not strong enough the Psalms are a good place to start.

And naps. Do not forget about naps. Sometimes the bad attitude sneaks in because I’m too tired.  A nap can reset the whole outlook.

What do you do when you need to kick a bad attitude?

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Random 5 on Friday! July 4th Edition

Short sweet and to the point today!

random five flower blog button

1.   Today is July 4th!  If you are an American, Happy 4th of July.  Ok, ok.  Happy 4th of July to all those who have today as the 4th of July on their calendar but but Happy Independence Day to those who celebrate the 4th of July as a Holiday.

2.  So writing number 1 made me wonder about Old Calendar American Orthodox Christians. It’s a civil holiday so it is not on the Julian Calendar but the Julian calendar is really only used for religious observance right?  July 4th on the Julian Calendar is still 13 days away.  Logic dictates that being a civil holiday it is ok to celebrate it on the civil calendar date.  Sometimes I am thankful that we follow the revised calendar which currently matches up with the Gregorian Calendar.

3.  Three of my girls went to camp this week and came home yesterday.  No pictures though because I forgot to send a camera with them. Boobear went as a camp counselor  and the other two as campers.  The campers are already begging to be allowed to go next year.  Hmm days of peace and quiet for me, time with friends for them?  Yes, I think we could consider letting them go again.

4.  Did you see my post from yesterday about Jamming and Canning?  Today we did up 4 more jars of green beans.  These beans came from my favorite stand to buy cherries.  They are not my favorite stand for green beans. We’ll stick to buying cherries at the stand and buying green beans at the farmer’s market.  (I’m pictureless with the green beans too because they are in the canner and I’m not sure where the camera is.  I know where it isn’t.  It isn’t lost because the girls didn’t take it camp (see number 3 <grin> )

5.  Though we have very mild summers compared to most of the rest of the United States, we do get our “heat spells” and with a daughter with a heart condition we are much more careful about getting over heated.  Usually we set up the window AC in May and use it a couple of days a week for a couple of weeks and then it sits unused or nearly unused in June.  Well, we never got around to putting it in May but didn’t need it like we did last year.  We just put it in today.  (Yup July 4th) and oh man did I wish we had it this past Tuesday when temps outside pushed 90 degrees.  (That is very hot for us! We get beautiful summer days with temps in the 70s and into the 80s.) We do not have good ventilation or cross draft in the house so the house gets really warm and uncomfortable but is especially uncomfortable for Supergirl.

The Pebble Pond


J is for Jamming and Canning

I did not grow up with a canner. My mother did not can. My maternal grandmother did not can or least not when I knew her. My paternal grandmother did can but she lived so far away and I saw her so infrequently that the closest I ever came to canning with her was the fall that I made applesauce (which I didn’t can, but froze instead). I didn’t have any idea of what to do. My mother didn’t know.  But I called granny.  Not only did she know how to make applesauce she walked me through it.  While we talked on the phone she told me what I needed to do. Somewhere I have her hand written instructions for making apple butter.

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The first bit of canning I ever did was with a friend from church.  Boobear and I went out to her house and we made jam. I fell in love with canning. Later that summer we canned peaches.  The next year my girls and I canned peaches.  Last year we invested in a pressure canner and Honeybear and the girls canned green beans and carrots.

This past fall we canned tomatoes. That was another first for me. It was a blast canning tomatoes with my friends and my oldest daughter. We did have a problem though. We didn’t can enough.  Oh we canned and we canned but I didn’t realize how many pints and quarts of tomatoes my family goes through.  We’re planning on canning tomatoes again this year. More tomatoes.  Maybe more than one session.

My husband’s family canned and he had many memories and stories of canning. We talked for years of getting a pressure canner and doing our canner. I already knew I preferred home canned green beans, carrots and tomatoes because when we were first married we often “shopped” at his parents pantry.  I was very grateful, and very much enjoyed my mother-in-law’s canning.

Last year we did invest in a pressure canner.  The great thing about this canner is that I could still water bath half pints and pints. It will pressure can those sizes as well as quarts.  Last year we used it as the pressure canner and canned green beans and carrots.  We discovered that like the tomatoes I canned with Boobear and friends, we did not do enough green beans or carrots.  This year we plan to do more.  We already did 4 pints of green beans last weekend and we’ll do another 3 pints this week and maybe another 4 pints this weekend.  That is if we make it to the produce stand or the farmer’s market.

Boobear and Tailorbear with little input or help from me did up 12 1/2 pints of strawberry jam this past weekend.  That means we’ve done up two dozen 1/2 pints of strawberry jam. Fresh local strawberries are no longer in season so that means if we do more strawberry it will be from store bought or frozen berries.  We’ve already eaten two jars.  I am nearly certain we did not make enough.

We have a raspberry jam making session scheduled for next week and I’m thinking blackberry jam will be happening soon.  I might make a mixed berry jam with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and some non-local strawberries.

strawberries and blueberries

Applesauce and Peaches are on our list of things we’d like to do as well as dilly beans.  I’m thinking I might even do something with marinated/garlic/dill cauliflower, carrot and bell pepper mix.  It’s too late this year (I think) but pickled asparagus sounds yummy.

Does summer mean canning to you?  Did you grow up canning?  What’s your favorite home canned food?

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I is for Icons or from iconoclast to icon lover

If you would have said to me 6 years ago, maybe even just 5 years ago that I would some day write a post sharing about my love of Eastern Orthodox Icons, you would have gotten an earful about the “graven image” part of the 2nd commandment and how wrong I thought the whole idea was.

Circling Through This LIfe Alphabet Blogging

I’ve come along way, baby! It wasn’t easy though. I really wasn’t sure I could become an Orthodox Christian because I just didn’t understand icons or iconography or why they were important.  Why would I want to have these hanging in my house?  Do I have to kiss them?  Why?

My very first visit to on Orthodox service was overwhelming.  The walls are covered in icons! There are three analogions (podiums).  The one in the center held a wreath with a cross. This wreath holds a teeny tiny fragment of the True Cross and I have since learned is only displayed at certain times.  The other two analogions are the left and right side as you look at the iconostasis.  When facing the iconostasis the one on the left holds the icon of the Theotokos (Mary) and the right holds an icon of Christ.

I was so relieved to see the cross.  That didn’t freak me out nearly as much as the idea of an icon in the center of the church!  Imagine my surprise (and near freak out!) when the next time we showed up there was an icon!  In time I learned that particular analogion holds the icon for the Parish Feast day or other special icons or saints on the those feast days.

I first accepted and became comfortable with the icons that depicted feast days or events.  Then I began to be ok with icons of Christ.  But it would take more time before I would be comfortable with icons of saints.  At point in those early days I even asked the question “would be possible to be Orthodox without icons?”  The answer?  Nope.

Event Icon Taking Christ Down from the Cross

But it’s a journey and one isn’t expected to jump in feet first and accept everything. It took time, and learning about icons and for me a personal epiphany if you will before I reached the point where I went from “I think I can tolerate icons” to “I want some icons” to the point I am now “I need some icons.” 

It helped for to know that icons are written not painted. That there is meaning even in the colors used. It also helped me when I learned that the style is intended to represent transcending time.  Icons are glimpse into heaven: a place where time does not exist. I think I’ve heard the term “windows to heaven” when referring to icons.

After we had been part of an Orthodox parish for a few months, I attended a memorial service.  I still wasn’t gung ho about icons and still did not have any hanging in my home. During the memorial service there were framed photos and a large screen that displayed different photos of my friend and former pastor. Suddenly it hit me that, in a way, icons are like memorials. An icon of a saint is a like a framed photo of someone loved. When I kiss the icon, I am remembering that person.  I am contemplating her life or his contribution to the faith.

Icons of People Christ and His Mother

Seeing all the icons on the walls at church reminds me that we are one Body in Christ.  There is one church and it transcends time.  The church transcends space. The icons also remind of us of the truth of the Resurrection. Those men and women are not dead. They are alive in Christ. Sure their physical bodies have no life in them but they are alive and the icons remind me that they are with Christ right now and I have hope that I will be with Him someday.

There is one truth though that completely won me over to the side of icon lover: an icon of Christ points to the Truth of His incarnation.  Jesus had a flesh and blood body. He had a physical form and that physical form can be depicted in an icon. Though some have tried to do icons with God the Father depicted as an old man, those are incorrect.  No one has seen the Father. No one that is except the Son. The Holy Spirit is often depicted in the form of a dove or as flames because that is how the Holy Spirit appeared but the true form of the Holy Spirit can not be written on icon.

There are far better websites and blogs than mine if you are looking for explanations of the theology of icons. Or more information about Orthodoxy in general. I am simply sharing my journey from an iconoclast to an icon lover.

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Homeschooling with Three NOOKs and a Kindle

Yes I own four devices: three of them are NOOKs and one is a Kindle.  All of them were purchased as investments in our homeschool. We didn’t purchase them all at once though.  We added them one at at time over several years starting with a NOOK 1st Edition in spring of 2011.  Most recently I got a Kindle Fire HDX 7”.  It was a Mother’s Day gift but I could only justify it if we would use it for school.

homeschooling with three Nooks and a Kindle

We can read e-books on all four devices and we could access the internet through wi-fi connection on all of them, but there is a huge difference between an e-reader and a tablet. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

I have 3 e-ink technology Nook e-reader devices. They really do read like a regular book, just not as lovely to hold and you can't flip through the pages and you miss the new book smell. These do not have the computer like screen with the bright lights or flashing colors. There is no glare. You can read it in bright sunlight. You do need a light to read (well the NOOK Simple Touch Glow has a light but I don’t own that one.). Though you can access the internet most websites aren't going to work well and the primary purpose of the Simple Touch Nook is to read e-books.

NOOK Tablets (or NOOK Color) and Kindle Fire devices are tablets not e-readers. I also (recently) got a Kindle Fire Tablet. It really is more like using a mini computer. Unlike an e-reader, you can use apps such as Goodreads, Facebook, or game apps. Tablets have screens like computers.  It’s difficult to use my Kindle outside because of the glare. It’s bright.  It’s flashy and my eyes get tired just like when using my laptop.

Yes, you can read e-books in Kindle format (epub for NOOK) but I much prefer reading e-books on my NOOK. When you are going out and about doing errands or taking day trips or spending hours in a waiting room it’s much easier to bring your mini-library with your when it’s contained in an e-reader or tablet. I have around 200 books currently on my NOOK that are *just* from Barnes and Noble.  Most of those I picked up for free!  I have another 300 to 400 epub e-books (give or take 50 or so)  stored on my computer thanks to places like Gutenberg ProjectYesterday’s Classics and Heritage History.

So we use the NOOK to read great literature in the public domain such as Shakespeare.  Having more than one NOOK means that we when read aloud something like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night we can all follow along and use the version.  (We’ll be reading Twelfth Night soon to do a literature study.  I am looking forward to it!)

The *main* reason we invested in the Kindlefire is because tablets can handle PDF's much much better than NOOK e-ink tech can.  So much of what is available for homeschool is now digital.  The tablet is a home school investment. I don't like the computer screen aspect of it for reading books but I have a few books that are only in the Kindle format and that I do not have in the epub format.

I like that with the full color Kindle Fire the pictures that are in color in the PDFs show up beautifully and I can *snuggle* with Samantha while reading her history assignment and share those pictures. That's not something that I can do so easily with laptop. We have this fabulous health and nutrition book that is a pain to read on the computer but is *beautiful* on the Kindle Fire. It's a mess and not worth the memory storage on the NOOK. Because the tablet can do videos, the girls have been using the Kindle Fire to watch Homeschool Piano videos (review coming soon!). 

I think having both e-readers and at least one tablet gives me the best of both worlds and allows me to give my daughters more educational opportunities.  I like that we can read books with the e-readers and snuggle and watch lesson videos and read PDF color books on the Kindle Fire.

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