12/31/11

The Last Day of 2011

If you regularly read my blog, you’ll have noticed that I really haven’t posted in the month of December.  In fact this is my 4th post of the whole month!  I had such high hopes of blogging about Advent and then blogging about our wonderful Christmas but I guess instead I just kind of took a blogging break.

On my blog in 2012 you can look forward to a review of Joshua Harris’s novel I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  I also have a pending review for Booksneeze: a children’s Bible story book called Hero’s and Villains.  I also have a couple of pending TOS reviews: a Zeeguide to the Movies from Zeezok and a history video program called Learn Our History.  There are more TOS Reviews coming up and I’ll keep my sidebar updated.

In January I hope to post a year in review and/or a goal type post.  Or better than goal perhaps a “where I’d like to be on Dec 31, 2012”.  I am planning and hoping to participate in more recipe memes.  I like Tasty Tuesday but I so often forget to post!  And there is a soup one for the month of January.  That sounds yummy and interesting.  I’ve been finding it difficult to participate in the Review Crew’s Blog Cruise which is currently on break.  I’d like to participate more regularly with that when it resumes. 

I can’t say that I am really sorry to see 2011 go bye bye.  It’s been a rough fall for me and I’m hoping the New Year will bring a much need uplift for me.  I’ve got a new paper “Plan Ahead” planner by Mead (a lovely Christmas gift from Turtlegirl.).  I really love the layout.  Each month starts with a two page month at a glance followed by a two page week at a glance for each week of that month.   I tried and tried and tried to make my TOS Planner do that for me and it just didn’t have the right monthly and weekly forms for me.  Still, using my TOS planner and the Weekly Planning pages are perfect right now for trying to plan out what to accomplish for school to get caught up.  I guess you could say that I really dropped the ball on being organized in 2011 and I need to be more organized in 2012, especially with my time.

Oh and expect some changes on my blog.  I woke up a few days ago to find my blog all messed up so I started playing with backgrounds.  Since I’ve been celebrating the Holidays, I haven’t really played with my available options for blog backgrounds. 

I’ve been informed that our New Year’s Eve snacky food style supper awaits.  We’ll play some games and eat our way to the New Year.  See you next year!  Oh and here is a pic of our feast tonight!

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12/14/11

TOS Review: World’s Greatest Stories

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Years ago I heard a friend do a dramatized reading of a Bible passage.   She read the actual Bible. I think it was the King James Version.  She brought the Bible to life.  It was incredible.  When I visited the website for World’s Greatest Stories, I could not help but be reminded of Nikki and her Bible readings.  If these CD’s were dramatized Bible stories, I knew I would love them and my daughter’s would enjoy them.

I was not wrong.  Through the TOS Review Crew, we received Volume 1 of The World’s Greatest Stories “The Prophets.  We were given our choice of the KJV or the NIV version.  I love the language, style, and poetry of the KJV so I picked that one. This is available in both CD and Cassette Tape format. We received the CD, which retails for $7.95.  Visit the website at Worlds Greatest Stories or give them a call toll free at 1-888-STORIES for more information.  Visit the FAQ page for some great questions and answers such as “Does Mr. Sarris memorize the stories before recording them?” (The short answer: Yes.)

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This volume contains the following stories: “The Blazing Furnace”, “The Handwriting on the Wall”, “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”, “Elijah and the Prophets of Baal”, and “The Prophecy of Jonah”.  Professional actor and narrator, George W. Sarris, brings these stories to life using the art of dramatic storytelling.  These stories are word for word from the Bible.  No words are added and no words are taken away; it’s straight from the Bible!

All four of my girls found some aspect of the CD enjoyable but I’ll let them each share their experience:

Thoughts from Supergirl (cognitively  around age 7): “My favorite story is the one about the Fiery Furnace.  I like when he talks about Meschach &  Abednego walking around the furnace. I liked the sound effects of the fire.  Another story I liked was about Daniel trying to read the [handwriting on the] wall and the king’s wives drank the wine.”

Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 12, 7th grade):”I liked when he did accents otherwise I thought he was way too dramatic but that was just me.  He’s a great storyteller otherwise.  He talked the characters the way I would have talked them probably just not during the story part.  I would have preferred the emotion to be when the character was speaking rather than during the narrative part of the story.  Some parts I enjoy hearing and others I don’t care for.”

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 14, 9th grade): “I just really liked the CD.  I’ve always enjoyed well told stories and these were very good. I liked how with the things that he did made it sound like it wasn’t word for word from the Bible.  It was much more interesting than just hearing or reading the Bible passage word for word. I liked how he changed his voice for each person.  I liked his vocal expressions. I didn’t really have a favorite story, I liked them all.”

Thoughts from BooBear (age 16, 11th grade): “I thought they were very interesting. I enjoyed his talent for story telling and dramatizing. I think they are very good for little kids to learn about the Bible in a way that is more interesting.”

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Perhaps it’s because of my theater background or maybe it’s because of my friend Nikki who I mentioned above, but I found these very entertaining.  It was hard to not to smile and giggle while driving but my oldest and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the “drunkeness of the King as he slurred his words.” or the “anger of Nebuchadnezzar” as he ordered the furnace to be heated up 7 times more.  I appreciated that these stories were straight from the Bible.  It’s less than two weeks until Christmas but these would make great Christmas gifts.  I’m considering getting Volume 2 “The Life of Christ” as a Pascha (Easter) gift this spring. 

Click on the banner below to read what my fellow crew mates had to say about World’s Greatest StoriesPhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

12/12/11

Lots of Stuff

If you are on Facebook, then you know that in the space to type your status it says “What’s on your mind?”.  So what’s on my mind?  Stuff.  Lots of stuff.  I haven’t been blogging.  Not because I haven’t had anything to write but more that I just haven’t been managing my time very well and I just couldn’t take the time to blog.

I look at the calendar and I am shocked that it says 12/12/11.  What?!  How did that happen?  What do you mean I haven’t blogged at all the month of December?  I said I was going to blog about Advent/Nativity Fast.    Wait just a minute.  It can’t be half way through December yet. 

But we did manage to get the Christmas Tree up so if feels a bit more like Christmas really is coming.   The Advent Chain is getting smaller (though we’re still several days behind).  But yet, I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it really is December.  It really is nearing the end of the year. So Christmas is one piece of “stuff” on my mind.

Another bit of “stuff” on my mind:  Judgmentalism.  It bugs me.  Not that we can’t judge “righteous judgment”  or use discernment.  I’m just not liking stereotypes being applied to judge people’s hearts and motives.  I’m guilty of it.  I constantly have to remind myself that I don’t know what is going on in that person’s life.  I repeat over and over again to myself the verse that says “with what measure of judgment ye use, you shall be judged.”  OUCH.  I want mercy and grace so I better give mercy and grace.

But there’s still more on my mind.  SCHOOL.  Yup, school is screaming at me.  I feel like I’m spinning in circles going faster and faster and yet, I make no progress. Oh I’m sure there’s some progress, we’ve just not accomplished what we set out to do.  We decided today that we’re not taking a full two weeks off as originally planned for Christmas.  Week 2 (which starts Jan 2) will be “catch up week” so I still leave it as “Christmas Break” so that no NEW assignments will be generated but the girls will have a few days to maybe make some headway.

The true meaning of Christmas has been dancing through my head and I’m sure there’s a whole blog post I could devote to that.  In fact I want to do some blogging about Christmas and what it means to me now as an Orthodox Christian.  I’d love to do a couple of posts, maybe as a series about my Christmas Celebrating (or non-celebrating) Journey over the years.

So maybe now that I’ve mentioned some of the stuff on my mind, maybe I’ll actually get around to blogging a bit about it!

12/5/11

TOS Review: Pitsco’s Medieval Machines Pack

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One of the most fascinating aspects of studying medieval history is learning about siege warfare.  I don’t know anyone who could resist building and playing with some flinging type weapon such as a catapult.  I think getting to play with a catapult is the real reason my daughters wanted to study that time period!

As a member of the TOS Review crew I received the Medieval Machines Pack from Pitsco Education.  The pack included a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, Mass Plates, and the Siege Machines book. Pitsco also included some extra clay for us.  This package retails for $21.95. For more information about the Medieval Machine Pack click here.

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Turtlegirl’s friend came over to help her build the machines. He had this to say: It was fun but frustrating to build. They need stronger wood.”  We did have a piece of the catapult break while building but fortunately,it was only the trigger so the catapult still works you just have to hold it down manually while loading.  Release your finger to fling. 

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Thoughts from Turtlegirl:“The trebuchet was a bit more complicated to build. The directions were reasonably clear, but it would be best to read through the whole thing first, and then go back and start building. We didn’t read through the whole thing first, so  we would do steps and then have to go back re-do them because we didn’t have enough information. Catapult instructions were crystal clear. We didn’t have a problem with those directions.  I liked the trebuchet because it was cool to watch and figure out the mechanics. I also liked the catapult because it flung stuff really well. (Sorry Mom for hitting you and Tailorbear)  The book is very interesting and I am planning on doing more with the activities. I’m especially looking forward to playing with the variables on the trebuchet.”  

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My Thoughts: I think this is an excellent package to use to add science and math to a Medieval or Middle Ages Unit Study.  I don’t usually comment on the value of a product because value is so subjective but for $21.95 I think it is a steal!  I love that the Siege Machines book addresses standards from three national education organizations.  This would be very helpful in planning how to integrate these activities into a unit study to cover math and science.

Pitsco Education has a section just for homeschoolers.  Check it out here.

Click on the banner below to read what my fellow crew mates had to say about the Medieval Machines Pack.PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received the Medieval Siege Machines Pack free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.