Random 5 on Friday

Random 5 on Friday

Oh I just realized this is the LAST ONE for the month of February.

Random Five Circling February 27, 2015 Edition

1. This past Sunday was Forgiveness Sunday. My church always has a special vespers service. This is the service that liturgically ushers in lent even though the fast doesn't start until the next day. About half way through the service the altar cloths , vestments and candle holders are changed from gold to purple.

2. Forgiveness Sunday is the liturgical anniversary of my reception into the Orthodox Church.  My whole family was chrismated together.  It’s been five years.  It’s been wonderful.

3. My first review of the 2015 Review Crew year posted earlier this week. Did you catch it? If you love history especially Scottish history you may want to check out my review of In Freedom's Cause by Heirloom Audio Productions.

In Freedom's Cause Review

4.  Did you see my post Introducing Catherine’s Pascha? This is a lovely book written by my good friend (a REAL friend, not just an e-maginary friend who lives in my computer) Charlotte Riggle. You can also read Tailorbear’s thoughts about the book.

Christina enjoys Catherine's Pascha.  A wonderful story of the celebration of Pascha (Easter) told through the eyes of Catherine.

Introducing Catherine's Pascha

5. How do you know it is Lent at my house?  We eat soup two to three times a week instead of once or twice a month.  Variations of vegan vegetable soup.  No pictures of this weeks soups but the first was one Garden Vegetable Soup from Build A Menu.  It was tomato based with broccoli and cauliflower. Wednesday was my mock beef vegetable soup.  Vegetable Better-than Bouillon plus some soy sauce gives almost the flavor of beef.  Add in some mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and cabbage it you could almost fool yourself into thinking you’re eating vegetable beef soup.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


In Freedom’s Cause ~ An Audio Drama Review

We are a literature loving family of all girls. Well, all girls except for Dad. So having only daughters I never really explored books by G.A. Henty. I know they come highly recommended in home school circles as great adventure books based on historical events. What I didn’t realize though was that my husband liked G.A. Henty. He spends close to two hours a day driving around, and I’ve been on the look out for things he can listen to in the van.  Tailorbear found her daddy’s copy of the Classic Illustrated version of In Freedom’s Cause and when she saw the cast list for this audio drama version she decided she also wanted to listen so I expressed strong interest in receiving In Freedom's Cause Single Package.

In Freedom’s Cause: The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce from Heirloom Audio Productions uses audio theater to tell the story of William Wallace and the fight for Scottish freedom. Heirloom Audio Productions refers to their productions as active listening audio dramas.

In Freedom's Cause Review

We were expecting to receive the bonuses from the Single Package but Heirloom Audio Productions very generously also gave us the bonuses from the Family Four-Pack Package. The starred items are included in both packages.  We received:

  • *Physical 2 CD Set
  • *In Freedom’s Cause MP3 Download
  • *In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Digital Download)
  • *In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 download)
  • *Printable copy of The Prayer Of William Wallace. (Digital Download)
  • 30 Minute Video Behind the Scenes Documentary (Streaming ~ watch online)
  • In Freedom’s Cause Cast Poster
  • In Freedom’s Cause eBook (PDF format)
  • In Freedom’s Cause Cast of Characters Roadmap
  • Free unlimited access to the In Freedom’s Cause membership website

I think it would be best to describe this audio theater production as an adaptation of G.A. Henty’s novel. John Formof, who wrote and directed In Freedom’s Cause: the Real Story of Wallace and Bruce, did his own research into the life of William Wallace and wanted to bring out more of Wallace’s faith as the backbone of his strength.


Study Guide and Discussion Starter:

This 49 page full color pdf helps younger students talk through the story. It can also be used as written assignments for older students. It is divided into sets of questions based on when the story or narrative changes. Each set of questions is divided into three parts. There are no answers included.

The three parts are:

  • Listening Well ~ These are comprehension style questions which can be answered just from listening to the story. Some are harder than others and you may need to listen to the story more than once.
  • Thinking Further~ I like to think of these as the discussion starter questions as you dig deeper into the story and make connections or draw conclusions.
  • Defining Words ~ This section requires a student to define vocabulary words. It might be a good idea to use these sections before listening to the story in order to increase comprehension and understanding of the story. Students may need to use a dictionary.

I do wish that the study guide included answers to all of the questions. It would make it easier to use from a parental perspective. I want to foster independent study and learning in my children but I do not always have time to listen to the story 3 or 4 times to make sure that I know all the answers to the comprehension questions and I do not always know what they are trying to get at with some of the Thinking Further questions. I do know most of the vocabulary but having the words already defined would make this a much more valuable tool for homeschooling families.

In addition to the sets of questions, the study guide includes notes about the history of Scotland, suggestions for further reading, and three short bible studies. 

I found the Study Guide difficult to use. It’s very pretty and the graphic design is stunning but because the backgrounds are colored and textured it makes reading the text very difficult. It also does not print well. It would be easier to use the Study Guide if the pages included graphics or pictures rather than the paper scroll look. I admit I do like how it looks but I’d rather have something that I can use.

Honeybear’s Thoughts:

I found the audio drama overall well put together and well presented.  The actors involved sounded as if they truly enjoyed participating in the story.  The script followed the main plot points of the actual story pretty well from what I can remember (although I read the Classics Illustrated comic book version of the book and not the actual book).  It brought back my desire to read both the comic and the actual story.

My one criticism was the name of the main character, which if you are familiar with the book can distract you from enjoying the story.  In the book his name is Archie Forbes, but in the drama his name is Ned.  However, there is one scene in the audio drama where the uncle asks him if his name was Archie, which seemed to be a 'nod' to the story.

Tess Note:  In the Behind the Scenes documentary we learned that the writers used the names Ned and Gerald because those were the non-historical boys from the previous production. 

Behind the Scenes

Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 15):

I enjoyed it. It was an interesting story. I really didn’t like mom though in the beginning. It’s my issue but the whole pushing of the faith was too much for me. The mom’s character was good though. The voices were fantastic.

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I liked it. It’s good. I like how his mom told him about his father’s death. She saw his father stabbed with a sword. I like how Ned and the girl met when she was up in the tree. I like how they tell story.

Thoughts from BooBear (age 19, college sophomore):

I enjoyed the story and found it interesting as a way to look into Scottish history and important figures. The plot was interesting and driving. It had a wonderful mix of humor and adventure.

Final Thoughts:

I am really glad that I was able to watch the behind the scenes documentary. It gave me background on the choices that the writers and producers made.  Knowing why they choose to emphasize Wallace’s faith or why they added certain scenes helped me to enjoy the story better. It really helped my husband to understand why the main character’s name was changed to Ned.  I think Heirloom Audio Productions may want to consider adding that bonus feature to the Single CD Package as it increased the value of the CD for my family.

The Details:

  • The Vendor:  Heirloom Audio Productions
  • The Product: In Freedom's Cause Single Package
  • Executive Producer: Bill Heid
  • Produced and Directed by: John Fomof
  • Written by: John Fornof, Aaron Fullan, Bill Heid, Nick Heid, and Nick Huizenga
  • Format: Available as a physical Audio 2 CD set or as an MP3 download.
  • Also Available:  Under Drake’s Flag which the crew reviewed in 2014 and coming soon With Lee in Virginia.
  • NOTE: This is not an audio book but rather it is a dramatized adaptation of G.A. Henty’s novel In Freedom’s Cause.

In Freedom's Cause Review

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.


Introducing Catherine’s Pascha

Many years ago my friend Charlotte was searching for a book about Pascha (Easter) to read to her young children. Not finding what she was looking for she wrote her own book.  Today Phoenix Flair Press is releasing Catherine’s Pascha

Catherines Pascha Cover Image

Written by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes, Catherine’s Pascha tells the story of celebrating Pascha through the eyes of one little girl.  The story begins at Catherine’s normal bedtime on Holy Saturday and continues until Catherine and her family return home from the Pascha celebration. We experience the joyous celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ through Catherine’s eyes. Her excitement is contagious.

The story is simple enough for young children to follow and engaging enough to delight adult readers. The illustrations are detailed and add multiple layers to the story making it fun to read again and again just to notice the things you did not see the first several times.

I’m not just excited about this book because it is an adorable way to share about Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter) but as a home schooler, it’s a great way to sneak in some school while learning about Pascha. The Catherine’s Pascha website has a section just for activities that includes book activities, lesson plans and educational activities for both younger and older children. There are even crafts listed!

The website also has links for more information about Pascha including information about the Paschal calendar, Paschal greetings, and why the Paschal Liturgy is at night.

Supergirl got to hear the story read aloud by the author.  She also got to look at the book in a special PDF copy that I had. She begged me to purchase the book.  What she didn’t know was that I had already planned on purchasing a copy. I wish I had a picture of the look on her face when I handed her the already beloved book.  Like Catherine her favorite foods are Cheetos and hot dogs. She has been walking around the house hugging the book.

Introducing Catherine's Pascha

Awhile ago Tailorbear had the opportunity to read the book aloud while babysitting.  You can read her perspective here.

Be sure to visit Catherine’s Pascha on the Facebook Page and don’t forget to explore the Website

************Note: I purchased a copy of this book. I was not required to write a review.  I am posting because my daughter loves the book and we both love the book’s author.  I received no compensation of any kind for this post. **********************


Random 5 on Friday ~ Food Related Theme

This week’s Random Five is not so Random.  It’s my Five Thoughts on Eating Healthy or Five Thoughts about FOOD. Cause it just seems like I am obsessed with food.  Especially when you’re the chief cook (but not bottle washer).

This week’s Random Five is not so Random.  It’s my Five Thoughts on Eating Healthy or Five Thoughts about FOOD.

1. Why am I thinking of food so much?  Why do I feel obsessed?  One word.  One life altering word.  One turn your world upside down and smack you in the head word:  Diabetes. Yes, I have it but that didn’t smack me in the head. My husband has it. That has rocked my world. The positive thing ~ can there be a positive thing? ~ is that in trying to learn how to take care of him, I am taking better care of me and I am taking teaching my children about health more seriously.

2. Food can be healing. No, I’m not talking about the emotion driven urge to feel better by setting off endorphins in the brain. I’m talking about choosing to eat foods that nourish the body to promote the natural healing of cells. I still have far more to learn but I made bone broth.  Need to make more.  I also want to make homemade fermented cabbage aka sauerkraut.

3. I was once anti-Paleo. I thought it was more Atkins as in don’t eat veggies either. There’s lots of wiggle room in the definition of Paleo. For me I’m concentrating on avoiding grains, avoiding sugars and eating whole foods.

4. Some Paleo proponents do not do dairy. I’m not one of them. I like my Greek Yogurt and my cheese and cream, but I have become quite particular about which dairy products I buy and which brands. Not all Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese or Half and Half is created equal. I’m getting good at reading labels.

5. We’ve been following the idea of Trim Healthy Mama and separating out fuel sources so one meal would be protein centered with fats and another meal would be protein centered with good carbs. The foods that I am choosing, for the most part, would fit into the paleo philosophy of whole, real, unprocessed foods.  To help me with meal planning we subscribed to Build A Menu which gives me options for Paleo and for Trim Healthy Mama.  It gives me other options as well but those are the two I always gravitate towards.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


My Current Obsession

I’ve been very quiet on my blog lately. I’ve got several post ideas and lots of rough drafts started but I’ve found it difficult to make the the time and sit down and blog as frequently as I would like. It’s a simple reason:  I’m consumed with health and nutrition.

My health has been slowly declining over time but I’ve ignored it. I thought if I pretend the symptoms aren’t there then I could pretend I wasn’t really facing major health issues. I’ve been lying to myself.  It was ok.  It was just me. It was just my health. Not the health of my husband or my children.

Sure we’ve been dealing for 17 1/2 years with a family member with chronic illness and a life-threatening cardiac condition. She pretty much came that way so I think I just accepted that this what it is. Yes in some respects the journey to thinking about the connection between what we eat, nutrition and health began with understanding that this little bundle has an immune system that doesn’t quite work like the rest of us. Bacteria? No problem.  Bring it on.  She’s as strong (or as weak) as anybody else when it comes to bacterial infections but a virus? Well, that’s when we get to witness how ineffective her immune system really is but that is really a separate topic.

We started following a more whole foods/real foods approach when I was pregnant with Tailorbear. We switched to whole grains and brown rice. I eliminated lot of the processed food and I switched over to using cane juice crystals and honey instead of sugar. We still ate junk but not as much.

Then circumstances changed and I started allowing more and more processed foods into our diet. Finances changed and I stopped buying the more expensive higher quality whole foods. It didn’t seem like such a bad thing then but looking back it wasn’t such a good thing either.

Obsessing over health and nutrition at Circling Through This Life

In June 2013 our world was rocked when Honeybear had a mild heart attack. We got more serious about our health and started baby stepping our way back to a better more whole food, real food approach.  We started canning our own food.  We shopped at the Farmer’s Market for better produce. We still ate way too much processed junk though.

In March 2014 I crossed from pre-diabetic to diabetic but I buried my head in the sand. I made a few changes but nothing major and most of the time I was in denial. In November of 2014 I could not deny it anymore.  I am sick of living in pain.  Sick of having no energy.  Sick of feeling yucky and I had to face the reality that I am diabetic.

I knew I had to make serious changes to the way I ate but it was the week of Thanksgiving!  I did though make some baby steps and managed to make it through the weekend.

But but but our world rocked again.  Honeybear had some blood drawn for a regular follow up cardiology appointment.  His blood sugar was high.  We tested it with my brand new meter on Saturday after Thanksgiving and it was a whopping 268!  He called the doctor on Monday and came home with his own diabetes diagnosis and his own matching glucose meter.  His and Hers the doctor said.

So I’ve been spending my days trying to understand all the little things that affect blood sugar. I’ve become quite good at pricking my finger.  Honeybear has gotten good at pricking his finger. At least neither of us are on insulin.

Since that Monday that Honeybear learned he had uncontrolled diabetes we’ve made huge changes in our diets. We still have more that we will be making as we learn more. There’s still too much junk and processed food in the girls’ diet but that is slowly changing as well.

I plan to blog about our changes and about what I’m learning. We’re following the basic premise of Trim Healthy Mama along with some Paleo Diet principles so watch for blog posts with more of a health focus. I’ll still be blogging about other areas of our life and faith and homeschooling. I will still be blogging reviews but I am obsessed with understanding our new diagnoses.


Lent is Coming ~ Eat all the Bacon!

Somehow I have lost track of time. I just realized this morning that this Saturday is the 14th of February.  Say what?!!  Valentine’s Day.  Or Chrismation Anniversary as we think of it now. 5 years ago Valentine’s Day fell on Forgiveness Sunday, the day before Great Lent started.

Pascha is a week later this year than that year so Forgiveness Sunday is next week. But but but but that means that this Sunday, the day after Valentine's Day is Meatfare Sunday.

Meatfare Sunday is the last day that meat like beef, chicken, pork, and lamb, or really anything other than fish or shellfish, is eaten until Pascha.  I made Salisbury Steak the other night. I’m making something with hamburger tomorrow night, maybe stuffed cabbage rolls.

We tried a roast recipe from Build a Menu a few weeks ago.  It calls for a beef chuck roast but I used a pork tenderloin roast.  We loved it so much that I am making that same roast again. It’s not the healthiest of roasts with a packet of au jus and a packet of dry ranch seasoning but oh my.  It was delicious and the perfect meaty meal for Meatfare.

Lent Is Coming! Time to eat up all the meat so eat more bacon!

I bet you’re wondering about bacon.  I did mention bacon.  I love bacon.  Great Lent means no bacon.  I made bacon Monday morning for breakfast. Bacon and fried eggs for breakfast and left over bacon on my chicken club sandwich (served on lower carb flat bread thing) for lunch.  I made bacon again on Tuesday morning.  Bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Saving the leftover bacon for another chicken club sandwich on Thursday.  That leaves two more pounds of bacon in my freezer.

Saturday morning will be the last full meaty breakfast.  I’ll cook up both one pound packages of bacon and maybe I’ll make biscuits and gravy or maybe I’ll do up scrambled egg sandwiches.  Or or or maybe I’ll just be a piggy and eat all the bacon myself.  I don’t think my family would like that very much.

All I know is that this is the week to eat bacon. And more bacon and then even more bacon.  Then maybe, just maybe I’ll be sick of it and not want to eat any bacon until Pascha. I can hope, right?


Tailorbear shares Catherine’s Pascha

I rarely put up guest posts on my blog but when I found out that my daughter was the first person to read aloud Catherine’s Pascha to a young child I just had to get my daughter to talk about it.  The author, Charlotte Riggle, a dear friend, loved the idea of Tailorbear sharing her experience.  Here is Tailorbear’s blog post:

Christina enjoys Catherine's Pascha.  A wonderful story of the celebration of Pascha (Easter) told through the eyes of Catherine.

Catherine's Pascha is a wonderful new children's book written by Charlotte Riggle and Illustrated R.J. Huges. I had the pleasure of reading it aloud to a child I was babysitting while her mother and brother baked cookies with Mrs. Riggle.

The story was sweet and enjoyable. I love how Catherine seems so very eager to stay awake for the service and how she and her best friend Elizabeth are allowed to sit next to each other. I love how the service is very accurate!

I loved how things were described and even though there were words I couldn't pronounce it was still really easy to understand! I think it showed a lot about culture as well. I also love how realistic the attitudes of everyone are. They are all happy, just as they should be on Pascha!

The illustrations were also very good! They were lovely to look at and helped present the story in a very good way. One of the things I especially loved how the illustrations told part of the story like when the parents and grandparents were talking about whether or not the kids would stay awake for the whole service. I liked the details of the illustrations.

Catherine's Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

The book held my attention. It wasn’t too babyish for older kids like me to enjoy. It was a very pleasant read. Although there were some words I couldn't pronounce, as they were Russian and Greek.The plot was easy to follow as well! It was quiet simply the story of Catherine, her family, and her best friend Elizabeth, and how their Pascha goes pretty much every year. I loved the subtle humor in the book as Catherine says: “i wasn't sleeping! I was just resting my eyes!” It truly shows the excitement of the younger kids for Pascha!

I think Christina liked it as well. Christina, being so young, was very distracted by a furry doggy friend, but whenever he wasn’t around, she would sit next to me and listen to the story. She especially smiled whenever I came across a Russian or Greek word I didn’t know and I would say: “A word that I cannot pronounce…”

Over all I really enjoyed this book. I found the story very charming and wish that it had been around when I was younger! I would love to have this book to take along with me when I babysit! I enjoy babysitting, and good books are always good, fun, and help with babysitting!

Visit Catherine’s Pascha on Facebook or check out the Catherine’s Pascha Website!



Tailorbear is a 15 year old Orthodox Christian convert. She experienced her first Pascha when she was 11 years old. She loves books, children and her church. When not attending church, babysitting or reading, she can found be drawing or playing video games.