Hey, It's Jade! and family

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arms of Love by Kelly Long Review

I enjoy reading Amish Fiction because I find their lifestyle and faith intriguing.  The description of this book caught my attention, because it spoke of a tale from "Amish Beginnings," being set in the midst of the Revolutionary War.  A lot of the Amish novels I've read tend to repeat the same 'ole story lines and tend to get a bit redundant and boring.  Arms of Love written by Kelly Long, however, is different because it told of the Amish settlers pursuit of freedom in the middle of a war they didn't want to fight.  It's the love story of Lena and Adam intertwined with tests of faith, the truth of war, harrowing adventure and the ever-present reality of family joy and turmoil. 

I enjoyed reading this book, especially the last half of it as it gets more and more exciting while craftily drawing to a close.  It's hard to put you finger on these characters because one minute you think you have them figured out, the next moment they do something you didn't expect at all.  This keeps you on your toes as you read and never allows you to assume anything.  You yearn for Adam and Lena to end up together, but then... maybe not.  The author does a fantastic job of creating the scene and setting, yet does not overburden the reader with too much unnecessary detail, which gives the reader a chance to use their imagination to bring the story alive.  

The end of this book offers a Reading Group Guide and a 4-week Bible Study to further dig into the faith and find ways to apply the lessons from Arms of Love.

I review for BookSneeze
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this eBook free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A little Callen Update...

Callen is... a handful.  He cannot be left alone for more than 60 seconds before he is, literally, destroying something.  I have never had to watch something or someone so close in all my life.  He breaks stuff, spills stuff, ruins stuff faster than anything.  Ever.  And I don't know what his obsession with taking his diaper off is... but I'm really tired of cleaning poop out of the couch, the rug... everything.  He's definitely two.  Despite his craziness that keeps me constantly exhausted, he's a sweet, smart boy... and I wouldn't trade him for the world.  But catch me at the right moment, and I might just hand him over for a good, long while.

His vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds just in the past few weeks... he repeats nearly everything.  He can sing songs, tell stories and will certainly make known what it is he wants.  "Want snack!  Want breakfast!  Want Mama hold me!"  

I was able to catch some sweet video of him cooperating the other day (this was in between him breaking a Dublin Dr Pepper coffee cup and chucking his sippy cup at Preston, splitting his lip right open, sigh).  He was singing "Bob Song," which is the VeggieTales Theme Song and he said his name, ABC's, counted, etc:

We also finally cut his hair a bit.  It was getting really long and he had these precious ringlets in the back (like mine!).  
Sad to see these little curls go!
For a while he was going to bed really well, would just lay down in his bed and fall asleep.  The past few months have had him standing at the gate in his doorway, screaming and crying and trying to climb over for 20 minutes or so, sometimes less, sometimes more.  Michael has gotten really good at calming him down and singing him to sleep.
He wasn't feeling well.
We are working on potty training, attempting to be more consistent.  He gets SO excited when he goes on the potty and will run around announcing it over and over: "I poop on potty! I poop on potty!"  I think if I make a point to be more consistent, he'll get it down pretty soon!  That'd be nice!

Callen is so far nothing like Preston - in looks, in behavior... so it's definitely been an interesting ride thus far!  I pray that as the boys get older, they'll get along better... right now they tend to fight more than anything.  They do play well together at times, which blesses my heart so much, love to see them being sweet and helpful with each other....but it almost always ends up in Preston getting hurt by Callen somehow.  =(
Brothers w/haircuts.
No matter how much trouble this little one gives me, I treasure these moments of toddler-dom.  I know they'll before over before I know it. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Down with the sickness...

Everyone in the house has been sick.  Not. Cool.

It started with Preston and Callen two weeks ago having fevers and coughing and way too much snot.  Took them to the pediatrician, and they got two different diagnoses.  Callen's was an ear infection; Preston's... his usual allergies.  Hmm, ok.

Fast forward a week, Callen finishes up his antibiotic and comes down with another fever.  Preston is doing fine.  Back to the pedi, Callen has an ongoing ear infection... prescribed a stronger antibiotic.

And the next week?  I am suddenly stricken with a ridiculously painful migraine that has me in bed all day... well, between ralphing every thing that dare enter my body.  I couldn't keep any medicine down... nothing.  I go to the doctor and she treats me for migraine and thankfully I started feeling better right away... but I lost two days of my life somewhere.  And somewhere in there Preston had more fever, says his throat hurts and he wants to throw up...so he goes to the doctor the next day.  There's a spot on his throat, thankfully NOT strep, just a virus that will go away.  The pediatrician literally prescribed ice cream.  Ok.

And through all this, Michael is dealing with general not feeling well and tinnitus in his ear.  He goes to the doctor and gets meds for that.

Good grief, I think we're all on the mend at this point.  But I'm really tired of paying doctor visit co-pays.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homeschool Recap, May 16th (Week 33) DONE!

That's it, folks.  First Grade is over for Preston.  Man, it went by so quickly!!!  We had fun, we had tears, we did some really fun stuff, we argued a lot, but all in all... we learned.  And that's what matters!  We both enjoyed using My Father's World First Grade and look forward to starting up Adventures in My Father's World in a few months as a Second Grader!  Woo hoo!

On Monday, Preston finished up the last of his Science With Plants book, learning about how plants use other plants to grow, spread and function.  Then I gave him a Math Mammoth First Grade end-of-the-year test, which he passed with a 97%!  So proud of him.  The rest of the week we've been reviewing and putting together his First Grade Binder, which holds a little bit of everything we want to keep and remember from each subject.  It was fun looking back at all the things we've done since September.  He's learned hymns, some Spanish, adding and subtracting double digit numbers, lots of Bible history and plenty of science concepts!  His handwriting has improved, as long as he WANTS to write, lol.  He is reading exceptionally well.  I couldn't be prouder of him!  Way to go, kiddo!

I didn't really do "Tot School" as much as I hoped... or at least not in the way I envisioned it in my head as we started out.  Obviously, Callen has grown and learned by leaps and bounds since we started our school year, so I certainly can't complain about that.  He did what he needed to do while we did what we needed to do, and it was frustrating and majorly distracting for Preston and me at times... but that's the way it goes.  Here's hoping next year we can figure out a better system, though.  Haha!

Here's Preston's reaction to being DONE with First Grade:

Friday, May 11, 2012

SongCompanion Review

The song "How Many Kings," written and recorded by the band Downhere, is a beautiful story of just how amazing our God really is.  It tells the story of Jesus' humility and sacrifice for us.  As a reviewer for Buzzplant, I was sent a copy of a SongCompanion for this particular title.  A SongCompanion is simply an interactive PDF page that explains the song, offers further insight into the topic, Bible references and a chance for you or your group to dig deeper into the meaning behind the song and how to apply it to your life. It's a really interesting way to explore more of a song that just it's words and sound.

The SongCompanion for "How Many Kings" features the song lyrics and information about Downhere, as well as an explanation of the song's purpose and questions that ask you to read some specific Bible verses and expand on the topic, which, in this case is humility.  There are also little videos embedded in the page to watch and learn from.  

SongCompanions are great for personal or group use to further study a specific Bible topic.  I think these would make great home group type studies for young adults who enjoy music and would like digging further into the lyrics of some their favorite modern songs.  The PDF pages are artistically illustrated with bright, colorful and interesting graphics and photos, and as mentioned before, offer video and lots of information in a compact package.  SongCompanion.com has more information.

[I was sent a copy of the above mentioned SongCompanion from Buzzplant in exchange for my posted review.  I was not further compensated for my opinion and the text written above are my own words.]

Homeschool Recap, May 11th (Week 32)...

In our Homeschool this week...
Tot School: Callen's vocabulary is continuing to expand by the day... repeating everything, putting words together to form sentences, singing songs.  So exciting!

Bible: Preston and I went over Proverbs 19:21 (which is a personal favorite of mine, definitely something that needs to be remembered constantly!), "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."  We also finished up our Bible Timeline by reading and talking about the church, Paul's conversion, Peter in jail and the New Heaven and the New Earth.  Preston read me all of his summaries written in the Bible Notebook as a review.

Reading/Writing: We went over a few things as review, such as "What is an author?" and things like that.  We are finishing up Hank the Cowdog #13 at bedtime, and he's been reading stories to himself and his little brother all week.  =)

Math: We continued the Math Mammoth chapter reviews and he did very well again.  Seems to have all the concepts down he was suppose to learn in First Grade, at least according to MM's curriculum.

Science:  This week's science from book Science with Plants was about plants and soil.

Music/Art: Nothing new this week.  His "art" lesson was to use the I Can Draw Animals book to draw some pictures for the Mother's Day cards we sent to the grandmas.  I caught him singing and humming "Holy Holy Holy" a lot this week... he says it's his favorite hymn that we learned this year.  That makes me happy to hear.

Spanish: We informally reviewed some various Spanish topics and words throughout the day.  I'd just point at something and ask how to say it in Spanish, or mention something in Spanish and have him tell me what I was talking about.

This was our last full week of lessons.  Next week we have basically just review for three days, and he's done with First Grade!  Wow!

We are using My Father's World First Grade. See our curriculum here.

Blog Hoppin' with:
The Homeschool Mother's Journal Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener Review

We started off our homeschool year with a super-cheap hand-held pencil sharpener, and I soon realized that it was just not going to cut it.  My 6 year-old First Grader needed his pencils sharpened constantly, giving me frequent hand cramps.  Yes, I know... first world problems, right?  But after going a few months of having to stop every five minutes to sharpen a pencil, I began researching pencil sharpeners.  Electric ones would require a plug... and in our cramped "classroom' (aka the kitchen/dining room), I just did not have that available.  So, I needed a decent sharpener that didn't run on electricity or batteries (we go through enough of those already).  A teacher friend of mine posted about how much she ENJOYED sharpening pencils with her Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener and I drilled her for more information.  "Really?  You ENJOY sharpening dozens of pencils at a time for your class?"  I thought she was crazy.  But, she convinced me it was something I'd have to try for myself.

The fine gentleman behind Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener was sweet enough to provide me with one of his adorable blue pencil sharpeners in exchange for a review.  Yes, I did just call a pencil sharpener adorable.  It really is cute.  Very retro looking, and it's blue - my boys LOVED that!  I set it up on our cabinet with the provided clamp (they do let you know that the clamp may not work for all arrangements, just FYI) and got to work.  Ok, yes... it WAS fun to sharpen pencils!  What I love best about it is that the sharpener actually lets you know when the pencil is sharp!  And the points on these pencils are ridiculously sharp, BUT they are strong and don't break easily.  Other sharpeners will continue sharpening and wasting your pencil all day long, or they create such a point that it breaks the moment you try to use it.  I also love that it's easily portable since I don't have a specific place where I can leave it.  We pull it out, use it, put it back (don't even normally use the clamp, just hold it with our hand).  This really is a fantastic sharpener, and we are enjoying using it!  And, no more hand cramps!
See?  It is adorable, right?
Very cool design, stops when it's sharp!
Strong and sharp point!
I couldn't finish a review like this without showing you a video of the sharpener in use!

These sharpeners come in Groovy Green or Cool Blue and can be purchased for $24.99 with free shipping through the website (there are also teacher and school discounts for buying more at a time!).  If you are looking for a sharpener that works, is portable and quiet, and looks cute at the same time.... give this one a try!

[Disclaimer: I was provided a free Pencil Sharpener in exchange for my blog review of the product.  The review posted above is my own, honest opinion and I was not compensated further.]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Homeschool Recap, May 4th (Week 31)...

In our Homeschool this week...
Tot School: Callen's vocabulary is exploding... he's definitely putting words together to form sentences, picking up on new words constantly.  That boy is growing!

Bible: Preston and I went over Proverbs 11:30, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise."  We also went through Jesus's ultimate showing of love, His dying on the cross, his resurrection and Pentecost.

Reading/Writing: Preston's writing is continuing to improve, however we still have the daily battle of simply getting him to do the copy work or the summary sentences for the Bible Reader.  When he WANTS to sit and write, he does so well... but when it's "time to write," he is totally disinterested.

Math: We'll be starting Math Mammoth for 2nd Grade next school year, so I wanted to make sure we had covered everything they go over in 1st.  We've been working through the chapter reviews and Preston is doing so well!  He can sit and do nearly all of the worksheets himself with very little errors!  Yay!  We also reviewed graphing with one big bar graph about our weather.  Since school started we have kept track of the weather each day on a monthly graph, then we took all that data and put it on a large combined graph to see which kind of weather we experienced most!

Creating our large bar graph from our data.
Sunny days obviously won!  =)
Preston also spent some time playing with the pattern blocks, and made some fun 3D type designs, including a cross section of our Earth (Preston showed me the core, outer core, mantle and crust - all on his own!).
Earth in back, random cool design in front!
Callen wanted to play too!

Science:  This week's science from book Science with Plants was about new plants from old ones and plants leaving home.  We boys also had a blast following around a fuzzy, black caterpillar all over our yard the other day.
We never did figure out where he was going.
Music/Art: No new hymn this week, we finished our Hymns for a Kid's Heart book last week!  Preston looked through the Come Look With Me art books and I had him draw some animals from I Can Draw Animals.  He liked that a lot.

Spanish: This week we continued going over days of the week and months of the year.

It's been warm during the day so we have been trying to play outside in the morning or in the evening.  The boys enjoyed time outside after dark this week, thanks to our lights!
Backyard fun after dark!
We are using My Father's World First Grade. See our curriculum here.

Blog Hoppin' with:
The Homeschool Mother's Journal Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 2012 Tweets to Remember...

Apr 7th - We got up, got stuff done and now we're exhausted. That's Saturday for ya!

Apr 12th - Oh yes, its come to the countdown! Our gets out mid-may!

Apr 18th - 100 day til the Summer Olympics? Yaaaayyyy!

Apr 18th - My boys drive each other (& me) nuts, but right now they're swinging & chatting & being sweet. Love!

Apr 23rd - Monday is not being kind to me. Well, not really Monday. More like... my kids are not being kind to me. But I'd rather blame Monday.

Apr 29th - Watching a marathon of News Radio & WKRP. Its much more amusing to me now that I've been in radio than it was way back when.