Random 5 on Friday {May 31st Edition}

I completed and utterly missed last week.  I had every intention of posting a Random 5 last week but well, it didn’t happen.

1.  This past weekend BooBear had her last piano recital. Well the last one as a minor. She’ll be attending college in the fall studying music and playing the piano so I’m sure it’s not the last time ever that she’ll perform but it is the last time she’ll perform in this type of recital.

Boobear plays the piano during the recital Boobear poses with flower after the recital.

2.  We’ve had an awesome week of product deliveries! All for the review crew! The science will be technically for the next school year but the Lily Lapp books are some fun read alouds to end our school year and the pile of books from Moving Beyond the Page is a wonderful way to finish up Tailorbear’s 8th grade! We also received our download copy of the TeenCoder C# series from Home School Programming.  Boobear may be graduating in 3 weeks but she has said she “will probably work on this over the summer anyway.”

Science, social studies, and literature review items!

3. Graduation season is upon us!  I know I am incredibly stressed out trying to get everything ready and finished and planned and sorted out for my first student to graduate from our home school.  We’re planning a small little ceremony with cap and gown (just the family!) and then out to a nice dinner (haven’t picked where yet!).  The next day, we’ll have a graduation open house to celebrate with friends and family. (Well, the family that are able to come!) I still can’t believe my baby is all grown up! Here are some pics from her senior picture photo shoot:

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 4. It has been raining and raining and raining. I’m afraid the garden has washed away but Honeybear assures me that though it is very wet, it is still there. We’re hoping that the sun comes out this weekend and the the sunshine will cause a lovely growth spurt.

5. Tailorbear made dinner tonight.  Shrimp Creole. She followed the recipe (for the most part) in the Fix it and Forget it Cookbook.  Sorry no pictures but it smells awesome!  It tastes pretty good too, especially if you like shrimp.  She’s pretty pleased with herself and I am very proud of her. She asked me what I did to it because it smelled so good. I told her I did nothing. I made no adjustments to it all. She did all the work!

 The Pebble Pond


Blogging through the Alphabet I, J and K

I is for Intentions!

I had every good intention of blogging every day in May.  Really I did.  I had my list of ideas and the list of suggested daily topics. I started out so well!  And then . . . and then . . . it’s like I developed an allergy to Live Writer or blogging or something.  I had plenty of intentions but no desire, no inspiration.

I also intended to blog twice a month about reading aloud with one of those posts being an update on my personal reading goals for 2013. It’s rather difficult to consistently blog about reading aloud to one’s children though when one finds one self NOT reading aloud for days on end.

J is for Justification

I could be full of justifying reasons for why I haven’t blogged.  Or why I chose to do this, that or the other thing instead of blogging.  But I’ll just leave it at I really have no justification.  I think I simply burned myself out with all the things I have going on right now and blogging went out the window.

K is for . . .

I’m having a really difficult time coming up with something for the letter k so let’s just go with:

K is for Kitty Cat!

Both of my kitties like to find odd places to sleep.  Lacey loves to be squished and her favorite place to curl up is behind someone’s back when they sit on a chair.  Though I currently have the chair to myself, she is a frequent companion while I blog.

This week George found a new place to take a nap.  We woke him up giggling over his new spot so he is looking awake here. He managed to push/pull the fabric and batting out of the bottom shelf of my sewing cabinet and made himself a new hidey hole. Guess I better be more careful about keeping that door closed!



Come join Marcy for Blogging Through the Alphabet!

Blogging Through the Alphabet


A New Resource for Home Schooling Families!

The Old Schoolhouse is now offering:

The Schoolhouse Library!

Are you new to homeschooling?  Perhaps like me you’ve been around the block a time or two and you’re a veteran at this home education stuff. The Schoolhouse Library has something for everyone!

This brand new digital resource offers over 175 e-books or audio books for just $25!

One of these awesome resources is a Map Trek set from Knowledge Quest!  I love Map Trek! There’s a book about teaching writing from Write shop!  These are just two of the products that I recognize! Check out the Schoolhouse Library and see a list of a few more included items!

These e-books and audio books cover 25 different topics such as spelling, grammar, economics, and geography.  Visit the Schoolhouse Library page to see more topics.

***Disclosure: As a reviewer for TOS, I will be granted access to this resource free of charge in exchange for promoting it. This is not a review; I am not required to promote this product.***


Memorial Day: Remembering Our Freedom

Earlier today one of my friends posted about her granddaughter on Facebook.  The lovely, little 6 year old girl had defined Memorial Day as a day to remember our freedom.  She went on to write “freedom to play outside.” This struck a chord deep within me and inspired this hastily put together blog post.

I do not know if young S has any idea of what a profound concept she touched.  Freedom to play outside.  On the surface the statement brings a smile.  It’s a beautiful testimony to the simplicity to play outside. I dug a little deeper though and brought tears to my own eyes.

Freedom to play outside means freedom from fear.  My children are free to play outside without fear that they will be shot by enemy rifles or caught in the crossfire of “friendly” gunman.  My children are free to play outside without the constant fear that they will be snatched to be sold as part of the human trade.

There are children around the world who live in fear.  They do not have the freedom to play outside.  Perhaps they do not even have the freedom to complain about not being able to play outside.

(As a side note, I realize that even here in the United States, some children can not play outside with fear.  Gangs, drug wars, violent crime isn’t just related to wars and terrorists.)

Most of the time when I think of memorial day and freedom I think of the “big” things like the freedom to say what I want, like here on my blog or the freedom to practice my religion. I don’t always think about the privileges I enjoy as a “free American citizen” such as the freedom to choose which method of education I want for my children.

Today I remember John Burke, my ancestor (I do not know how many greats to put in front of grandfather!) who fought for the right of Americans to govern themselves in the Revolutionary War.  I think of Woodrow and Elmo, my grandfathers who served in the Navy during World War II.  Though they did not sacrifice their life, they did serve so that Americans would be free from fear of invasion.

Thank you to all who have served; who have sacrificed in one way or another whether in the military or in law enforcement keeping us safe and free from fear.  Thank you to the spouses, children, parents, siblings, and loved ones who support the solider, the seaman, the airman, the police officer, the fireman. I know the fear and the worry that comes with knowing your loved one is putting his or her life on the line.  THANK YOU.

What freedom are you especially thankful for today? 


{Crew Review} High School Prep Genius

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!***

I have one student on the verge of graduating ~ eek, less than a month away! ~, one student in the middle of high school and one about to enter high school. Boobear has definitely been my guinea pig throughout her home school career, but after this experience, I decided I wanted more help for Turtlegirl and I’d really like to do things “right” from the beginning with Tailorbear so I was thrilled to receive a copy of High School Prep Genius from College Prep Genius to review.

Cover Image High School PrepGenius

This softcover, 440 page guidebook helps parents and students navigate through high school and prepare for college and the future. With 18 chapters, High School Prep Genius provides practical help in these four areas:

  • Part I: Introduction ~ More than just a “how to use this book,” the introduction also includes a helpful timeline for grades 9 through 12.
  • Part II: Foundation for Personal Success ~ includes topics such as interests, beliefs and finances
  • Part III: Foundation for Academic Success ~ topics include test prep, getting organized, and effective studying.
  • Part IV: Foundation for Future Success ~ this section will help you with choosing a college and the college application process.

The book also contains 5 appendices:

  • A: How to Build a Homeschool Transcript
  • B: Talent Searches
  • C: Great Books to Get You Started
  • D: Reduce Test Anxiety Through Relaxation Techniques
  • E: Admissions Terminology

The section, “Foundations for Personal Success,” includes the first five chapters but is my least favorite part. It’s not that it doesn’t contain some great info; it does. It’s just that it’s personal and though I agree with the authors, Jean Burk and Judah Burk, I can’t help feeling that this section is more of a parenting guidebook, rather than an high school prep section. It was nice, however, to have Turtlegirl affirm that Honeybear and I have been teaching her responsibility, helping her to own her own beliefs and giving her the opportunity to learn financial wisdom. Perhaps, because those topics have been, even if briefly, addressed in my home, that is why it is my least favorite section.  It certainly isn’t because I disagree!

I mentioned my least favorite section so it seems logical to mention my most favorite section. The problem is I can’t decide which is my most favorite section so I’ll highlight a few of my favorite chapters:

  • The Introduction ~ in particular the timeline sections and the section giving some suggestions for a 4 year high school degree plan.
  • Chapter 8: “Effective Studying” ~ this is just not something I’ve actually addressed with my children.  Not directly.  Not specifically.  Yes, I’ve done the “find someplace quiet.”  “No, you can’t watch tv and read your history book.” But this chapter outlines specific suggestions and gives a step by step guide for “Reading to
  • Chapter 10: “Getting Organized” ~ this just sings to my “want to be organized” heart.  More than just a “how to create a schedule” but also addresses prioritizing and procrastination. 

Why I recommend this book: 

First, I do not recommend waiting until your children are about to enter 9th grade.  I would consider purchasing this book when my children were starting school.  Yes, much of the practical aspects of the guide, such as transcripts and college applications, won’t apply to such young students, but the first section: Part 1: Foundation for Personal Success would be very helpful to parents. And Chapter 7: “Academic Development” explains well the importance of an education.  I know it was long before high school when I asked the “but why do I have to learn this stuff” type of questions. Chapter 7 would empower parents to help students understand the benefits of an education. For me, the heart message of “Academic Development” represents the key reason why my family chooses to home educate.

The purpose of education is to form the frameworks in your mind to help you understand the world in which you live. Education is a vehicle for viewing and understanding life. Education is also a means of learning and developing new skills. Thus, education in its most basic and practical sense gives you the tools needed to live everyday life better. (p. 178)

Second, I recommend this book because it allows parents to be actively involved in the education of their child whether the education be public, private or home instruction. The book is written to the student with sections, “Guide for Parents,” at the end of each chapter.  Each chapter also includes “Parent’s Homework.”

This book isn’t just a how to plan out which classes to take in high school or how many and what kind of credits you want for a college prep experience, but it is a tool for laying a foundation for the future. Learning and applying good study habits in high school will prepare a student for any high education experience and gives a solid start for taking responsibility as an independent adult. The discipline developed through routine effective studying becomes the self-disciplined responsible adults need for making wise choices.

 The Details:

I also found High School Prep Genius, though optimally used by students starting high school, beneficial even for my senior daughter. I sometimes worry that I have not prepared her enough for college and “real life.”  Though “too late” to be of real service for high school, she is working her way through the chapters such as Chapter Eight: “Effective Study Habits” and Chapter Nine: “Tests and Papers” because those tips and suggestions apply not just to high school courses but to any course.

Whether you choose private, public, or especially homeschool, this is one resource every parent of high school students should read.

Is your high school student prepared to take the SAT? You might want to consider College Prep Genius SAT Prep DVD.  Want to know more? Read my review of College Prep Genius SAT Prep DVD.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about High School Prep Genius from College Prep Genius.

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

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.


I Have a Garden!

Well truth be told, my husband has a garden and our 14 year old daughter, Tailorbear is his assistant but though they have done the work, I get to ooh and aah over the growing little plants and later this summer, I get to cook with and eat those yummy “fruits.”

Note: Botany Lesson follows:  Other than carrots, everything else we are growing are biologically classified as fruits.  A fruit is a “womb” for the growing seeds for the next generation. (Yes, I learned that by teaching an elementary school level botany class to the girls several years ago.  They might actually have retained more than this old dog who still tries to learn new tricks!)

We’ve got 2 rows of green beans, 2 rows of peas, and one row of carrots.  My husband says that the carrots are coming in but I’m not so sure those just aren’t stray bits of grass.


The peas and beans are doing much better and are coming along quite nicely. I didn’t think I’d get so thrilled to see these plants poke through the dirt and begin to grow. We didn’t buy organic seeds this year but I’m pushing for organic seeds for next year.

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And on Mother’s Day we picked up and Honeybear planted two tomato plants, two bell pepper plants, two zucchini plants, two crookneck squash plants and one lonely Japanese Cucumber plant.


Do you have a garden?  What are growing?


H is for Happy Mother’s Day!

Today in the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day.  I like Mother’s Day at my church. Teen girls help make corsages on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning they pin them on the moms as they come into church. 

I love two-tone roses.  I’m particularly fond of Fire and Ice roses but I’ll take any two-tone over a solid color.  The lovely teen pinning corsages this morning was my beautiful daughter. She knew exactly which rose corsage to pin on me!  (Thank you BooBear!)


My husband took me shopping to pick out plants for our tiny garden and while we were gone my girls made a lovely ham dinner.  We had special potatoes (think twice baked potato filling) inspired by some awesome potatoes that a friend made for our Agape Feast and ham.  BooBear was excited because she’d never done a ham before.  I am a very blessed mother.

I wish I could spend mother’s day with my momma but she and I live too far apart.  I did call her today though and it was so good to hear her voice.  I miss her.  My girls miss her. Even my husband misses her. <grin>

This morning we had a hierarchal liturgy.  It’s hierarchal because the Bishop is present.  At the end of the service he talked a bit about Mother’s Day.  He said that the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women would be a more Orthodox choice of a date because these women gave of themselves to nurture and care for Christ and were with him until the very end. They are the ones who went to tend to His body in the Tomb and found the Tomb empty! We sang many years to all the moms but also to grandmothers, Godmothers and all those who care and nurture for others.

With that in mind I wish all my readers: mothers, mothers-to-be, mothers-who- want-to be and those who nurture, care and mother others a very special Mother’s. Day!

Blogging Through the Alphabet


Random 5 on Friday {May 10th Addition}

Yes, I know it’s Saturday.  I did it again.  Do good intentions count? I really intended for this to be published on Friday.  *sigh*

1. I was determined to post every day in May.  Hahahaha.  I think I just went three days without posting.  The first day, I simply forgot. I was still in recovery mode from Pascha.  The second day, I gave up.  The third day?  Well that was yesterday and was supposed to be this post. 

2. We’ve had incredibly wonderful weather (ok so it’s a bit on the hot side for Western WA as this time of year but I’m  trying to focus on the SUN part and not the hot part.)


3. Speaking of hot, I mean beautiful gorgeous, and sunny days.  Pascha (Eastern Orthodox Easter) was the most beautiful day.  We had lovely sunshine for our Egg and Treat Hunt and our Agape Feast Picnic.  Here Supergirl gets ready to collect her candy. The air is full of joy and shouts of “Christ is Risen” 


4. Our tiny little garden is coming along nicely! Well the beans and peas anyway.  The carrots not so much.  Tomorrow’s agenda includes going and getting some zucchini plants, tomato plants, bell pepper plants and perhaps some yellow squash and/or cucumber plants. We’ll be doing the peppers and tomatoes in containers and planting the zucchini, squash and cukes along side the carrots and behind the rows.


5. Today, Bright Saturday, is our Altar Feast, a special feast day for our parish. (Our parish is named after the Resurrection.  A Parish named after a saint, would have their feast day). It was a big day; for our parish had a visit from our Archbishop (The right reverend Benjamin, Archbishop of San Francisco and the West).  Traditionally the handmaidens of the church go out and meet the bishop and present him with flowers.  Today the only handmaidens present were my girls. Supergirl, who *has* met and talked with His Eminence before, turned very shy and would not look at him.


Waiting for the Bishop to arrive.


What do we do now?


The Bishop arrives!


Greeting the Bishop!

The Pebble Pond


{Recipe} Pot of Pasta

I dusted off this old recipe ~ so old that my 3x5 index card is yellowed with age! and made this for our church potluck.  I made enough to take to church and another pan to leave at home for us for tonight.


Here’s the original recipe (which I got from my mother-in-law, I think!)ingredients in {} are my additions

  • 16 oz. cooked shell macaroni {I prefer shells because they are pretty but elbows work}
  • 12 oz. sour cream {Do NOT skimp on the sour cream!}
  • 2 lb. hamburger {I used half hamburger, and 1/2 Italian sausage}
  • 1 large onion {I used 1 med}chopped
  • {1 med. green bell pepper, chopped}
  • 32 oz. Spaghetti sauce {home made would be awesome! The recipe said Ragu but I used what was on sale.  Also I used more like 52ish oz.. two of the 24-26oz size cans. We like it “saucier” than the recipe says
  • {1/2- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese}
  • 16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3-4 tsp. oregano
  • {3-4 tsp. basil}
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Mix shells with sour cream and set aside
  2. If Italian sausage is in link form, brown it and then chop it up.  If it is in bulk sausage form cook it with the hamburger.
  3. Brown hamburger with onion and bell pepper.  Add cooked, chopped up/sliced sausage.
  4. Mix meat mixture with spaghetti sauce and add seasonings.
  5. Layer pasta, meat mixture and cheese.  I used a lasagna pan this time so I put the shells on the bottom, poured the sauce and meat over the shells and then topped with cheeses.  In the past, I’ve used a casserole dish and layered 1/2 of shells, 1/2 of sauce mix, 1/2 of cheese and then repeat layers.  Because it is thicker it would need to cook longer.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until hot, bubbly and cheese is melted (single layer).  I cover with aluminum foil for the first half to three quarters of baking time so that the cheese does not get brown too quickly.  For the casserole dish bake for 45- 1 hour.
  7. This can be made ahead.  Increase baking time if refrigerated.



Pascha 2013

In the Eastern Orthodox Church we call Easter, Pascha.  It means Passover.  It is the Lord’s Passover.  The week following Pascha is known as Bright Week. The Pascha Divine Liturgy is served during Bright Week and the doors of the Iconostasis are left open.

Today is Bright Monday.  My parish has a tradition of serving Liturgy at a little tiny historic temple and then going out to brunch together. Alas, this year my family could not participate.  Today was a gloriously beautiful sunshiny day.  A wonderful, bright, day for celebrating Bright Monday.

Yesterday, Pascha was also a glorious bright, beautiful, sunny day! I thought I would share a bit about our Pascha weekend.  In pictures!  (No, it’s really me, Tess. I haven’t been hacked. I’m actually just going to show a few pictures and stop talking writing now!)

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May 5th NOT just Cinco de Mayo!

Today is an incredibly important day for Orthodox Christians.  Today is Pascha!  We shout Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!  We sing:

Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!


Pascha’s date changes every year. But there is one thing that I remember today and that date never changes.  My daddy was born May 5th, 1936.  If he had lived he would be 77 years old today.  Miss you Daddy!  May your memory be eternal!

army photo

Above, daddy was so young! I think he said he was 16 (yes, he lied about his age!) when he ran away to join the army. In the picture below he holds Turtlegirl when she was just a few weeks old. It is one of my most favorite pictures. We were all gathered at the hospital in August 1997 for Supergirl's first open heart surgery!

with Emily


Random 5 on Friday {May 3rd Edition}

This is holy week so most of my Five are going to be church related just thought I’d give y’all a heads up <grin> And yes I know today is May 4th and a Saturday but time is, to quote Dr. Who, all wibbly-wobbly this week and I did actually lose track of what day it is. And true confession time, I dislike posting to my blog twice in one day so I pushed this post to Saturday so that I could post my review and giveaway for the movie Ring the Bell (Did you enter yet?)

1.  I felt like a stage manager on Palm Sunday coordinating the handmaidens and getting them into position for the procession.  The thought crossed my mind that maybe I studied theater in college so that I could understand the process of rehearsing and cueing for special services. I know I gained a far better appreciation of the work involved in getting feast day services to run smoothly.

2. I posted this as my status on Facebook: “Another year, another Bridegroom Service, another blubbering Tess.”  EVERY year, I cry during the Bridegroom Matins. We got to hear the exposwhositthingy in Greek as well as English.  I think it made me cry even more.

3. The number 3 is really important in the Orthodox world.  3 represents the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My daughter giggled that all the recipes for the special bread and cheese for Pascha all make 3.  Three loaves of bread, 3 molds of cheese.

4. On Wednesday evening at the service for Holy Unction, my husband did the epistle reading for the very first time.  He’s read other things in church (Psalms, Hours, Post-Communion prayers).  The really cool thing was the first epistle he read (he read two of them!) was the reading from our wedding!  I don’t have a picture of him reading the epistle but I do have a picture of him reading something else at a different Holy Week service. Ah found one of him getting ready to read the prayers and Psalms for a Bridegroom Matins service earlier this week:

Waiting for Bridegroom Matins to start and getting ready to read the six Psalms.


5. Earlier this week the girls and I got together with a friend from church and we baked special bread and made a special cheese for Pascha. Then a couple of days later, my daughter made another kind of special bread for Pascha.  The first one is “plain” (how plain can a bread be that has milk, eggs and butter in it? This will make excellent French toast during Bright Week.) and the second kind is more of a sweet bread.  It also has eggs, milk and butter but it also has dried fruit and some even have nuts. My daughter will make a glaze to put over the fruity one.

Freshly baked Pascha Bread!

Six mini-loaves of Pascha Bread (with fruit)

We’ve been going to church a lot this week.  I blogged about it so if your interested you can read more about Holy Week in the Orthodox Church!

What’s been happening this week at your place? Come join Miranda for the Random 5 on Friday Link Up!


Ring the Bell {Movie Review and Giveaway!}

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned below for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

 Ring the BellI love baseball.  I love the music of Casting Crowns.  I love a "feel good” family movie.  It was a “no-brainer” to respond the email to say “Yes, I would like to review the movie Ring the Bell.”

Rob Decker isn’t just any sports agent.  He’s also the President and CEO of his own agency. He’s at the top of his game and he’s picked out the next baseball superstar. There’s just one small problem. Shawn wants to go college. He doesn’t want to go straight to the big leagues. Other agents from other agencies have tried to sign Shawn but failed. Rob must go himself to the small town and get Shawn to abandon his plans and sign with Decker Sports Group.  Rob finds out that it isn’t going to be so easy and his life is going to change.

For some reason I thought this movie was going to be about Shawn. (I had baseball on the mind, I think.) Nope. It’s about Rob and his journey to discovering that there really is more to life than working all the time in the big city and making more and more money.

About Ring The Bell (from the promotional email):

Ring The Bell shares the story of a slick, big city sports agent Rob Decker who seems to have it all. But on his latest mission to sign a high school baseball superstar, Rob becomes stranded in a small town where the simplicity of life—and the faith of the people—stand in stark contrast to his own fast-paced, win-at-all-costs mindset. Torn between these two worlds, will Rob have the courage to let faith transform his life? This heartwarming story of redemption is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.

Ring The Bell features a host of well-known Christian music artists, such as Mark Hall along with his band Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Matthew West, who all play a role in this inspirational drama. Several former and current Major League Baseball all-stars are also featured in the film: ESPN analysts John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe (a former Cy Young Award winner), along with Ben Zobrist.
This family-friendly movie was produced by Mark Miller, Beach Street Records' founder and Casting Crowns’ producer. Miller, who is also the lead singer and founder of country music group Sawyer Brown, co-wrote the script with Thomas Weber and Weber directed the production.

Ring the Bell is available NOW on DVD for just $19.95! DVD Special Features:

  • The Heart of "Ring the Bell"
  • Casting Crowns “The Well” Music Video
  • On Set with Casting Crowns
  • Famous Faces
  • A Very Special Movie
  • Ringing the Bell
  • The Artists and Music of "Ring The Bell"

My Family’s Thoughts:

We are Eastern Orthodox Christians so we have a slightly different perspective on evangelism, nevertheless, this was an enjoyable family movie with a wonderful reminder message of just how much we need Christ. We watched this movie as a family the weekend before entering into Holy Week. The theme of repentance and restoration of the movie was a wonderful preparation for those same themes of redemption we find in our Holy Week services. I think this DVD may become a “start Holy Week” family movie night tradition.

I also think this movie, with it’s unabashedly Christian theme, would be great for church camps or youth events especially when followed by discussion with church leaders. I appreciated the reminders that I must turn from self and turn back to Christ. My favorite line in the movie is about accepting Christ.  Accepting Christ is really “accepting that God has accepted you.”  I think we all need to be reminded of God’s great love towards us.

And though it is a little thing, I really liked the baseball trivia sprinkled throughout the movie.

Website:  http://ringthebellthemovie.com
Watch the Trailer: http://ringthebellthemovie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RingTheBellTheMovie

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Great Empires from Home School in the Woods {Crew Review}

Recently I realized that Supergirl needs more “hands on” or project style activities to help her process and retain information from our literature based studies. I eagerly expressed the highest level of interest in the Great Empires activity study from Home School in the Woods because of the variety of projects included. I am familiar with Amy Pak and her Home School in the Woods company because we own and use her History Through the Ages timeline figures.


What is Great Empires?

Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Spain, England, and the United States are just a few of the 14 empires you’ll study. Sample a bit of history, the culture including philosophy, the arts, and food! Enjoy making nesting dolls while exploring Russia, create a history of Spain in pictures using beautiful drawings from Amy Pak. Each empire study includes:

  • Text
  • Maps
  • Reproducible Masters
  • Recipes to Try
  • Suggested Resources for Additional Reading
  • A variety of different craft style activities or notebooking style activities such as:
    • Make a mini-book of Ancient China
    • create replica coins of the Vikings
    • create matchbooks (lapbook style mini-book) of Who’s who in English History
    • Make and Play a game: Yankee Doodle Dandyland!

The Set up:

We received the download version ($18.95) and it came in a zipped/compressed file. I was expecting an e-book style format but instead this is a collection of PDF files. There are separate files for masters, text, and projects.  There is a PDF with copyright, usage and acknowledgment information.  I do wish that this particular PDF mentioned that there is a timeline and timeline figures for the Great Empires in the Master file. I missed it when I first looked through the masters.

Though I think I would prefer to have all parts and pieces of each empire in one place, it was not difficult to switch folders to print what I needed when I needed it. I printed out the text and the project pages as well as the masters we needed for the empire we were studying. We’re finishing up a read aloud and map or two for China and we’ve begun our study of Mongolia. I’ve printed out the text and project pages for Egypt so I can begin to gather resources but I won’t print those masters until we we’re ready for Egypt!

Layout of our study of Ancient China Layout of our Mongol Empire Activity Study

Using the activity study:

I am using the Great Empires activity study with Supergirl. She has some fine motor challenges but has greatly improved with her coloring skills. I let her color using colored pencils or crayon twistables depending on what she was coloring. Amy Pak’s drawings are very detailed but not so easy to color for those with fine motor issues; however using a colored pencil instead of crayons makes it easier.

Supergirl colors the page for Mongul Empire

Great Empires activity study would make a great supplement to any history program but especially to literature based history programs. If you were using these projects along side your regular history program, you might not need to use the additional resources suggested because the information needed to complete the activities would be covered in your history curriculum.

Because I am using Great Empires as a spine or jumping off point, I am very grateful for the suggested readings. The suggested readings are also fabulous for digging deeper into each empire.  We have really enjoyed studying the ancient China and Mongolian empires and look forward to Egypt, the Vikings and more!


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