Friday, July 22, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 6/24/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8), Zac (6½), Tyler (4), Nicholas (1)

Happy Friday! This week we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary and took time to reflect on our memories. Oh, how we've been blessed over the years. We have so many wonderful reasons to Smile.

1. Jake: "My eyes exploded out of my head."
Me: "Why?"
Jake: "Because you're so beautiful."

2. Tyler told me that the bathroom "looks good as new," which is a good thing, since everything in it is new.


4. Alyssa: "Zac and Nicky are some of my favorite brothers."

5. The Father's Day questionnaires the kids filled out.

6. Jake: "I set up twelve 4x2s (Legos) like Dominoes. They all fell down except one. It reminded me of Joseph and his brothers. (in the Bible)

7. Zac, playing with Nicky: "That never gets old
Me: "What?"
Zac, laughing: "The face he's making."

8. We spent the day at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

9. There was a little boy dancing around the living room naked.
Me: "Where are your clothes?"
Tyler: "I go-ed potty."  
Me: "But where are your clothes?"
Tyler: "In the baffroom."
Me: "Why?"
Tyler: "Because I go-ed potty."
Me: "But why did you take off your clothes? Did you pee-pee in your pants?"
Tyler, laughing: "No!"
Me: "Then why did you take off your clothes?"
Tyler: "Because I go-ed potty."
Me: "That's good, but why didn't you put your clothes back on?"
Tyler: "Do you want to see where they are? {takes me into the bathroom and takes the lid off our new hamper} Look, they're they are!"
Me: "Why did you put them in there?"
Tyler: "Because I thought they were dirty!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Beric the Briton

Heirloom Audio Productions  has become one of our favorite companies. Their audio dramas are some of the best we've ever heard, and we were thrilled to be able to review their newest one.

Our schooling is very literature-based. Our family loves read-alouds and will often sit together to read various novels for hours on end. I love reading my kids quality literature and sharing that time with them. Not only does it teach them life lessons, it also introduces them to new vocabulary. The only problem is that I don't always have the time to spend the day reading. That's why we love to incorporate audio books and dramas into our days. Whether we're folding clothes, driving in the van, or just needing some downtime, audio books are perfect. Beric the Briton has become the newest "favorite" in our house.

Beric the Briton is a theater-quality production based on the novel with the same name, written by G.A.Henty. We've listened to many different audio books and dramas, and none has ever compared to the quality of those by Heirloom Audio Productions. If you close your eyes, you feel as if you're there in the story. Think of it as watching a movie, but with no picture. The music, the actors, the sound effects--they all make the story come to life. You hear swords clanking and can visualize men fighting for their lives; you listen to the sounds of the wolves and lions and you feel the terror the characters felt; you hear the winds roar and the waves crash and you feel as if you're the one in a violent storm. It is that realistic. The narrator has a rich, powerful voice that makes the drama exciting to listen to. We were immediately pulled into the story.
The story takes place in the first century during the reign of Nero and the Romans' rule of Britannia. It follows the life of Beric, a Briton who was a slave to the Romans yet admired them, their power, and their way of life. Throughout the story, he fought wolves to save a woman and her children, became chief of his people, fought in many battles, was captured by the Romans again, was taken to Rome, experienced a horrible shipwreck and saved his enemies, became a Gladiator for the entertainment of his captors, and fought a ferocious lion with only a self-made rope and won. In all this, he remained true to his word, was an honorable man, and became an example to many. Along with the non-stop action and exciting adventures, there are plenty of morals and Biblical truths taught along the way.

Beric the Briton single package costs $29.97 (+ shipping and handling). Along with the 2-CD set, you will receive 3 bonuses:

  1. Beric the Briton Study Guide (digital download) -- This complete guide is used to enhance your learning and complement your study. Each section, which correlates to the tracks on the CDs, is  filled with review questions (Listening Well), ideas to get you thinking deeper (Thinking Further), and vocabulary words (Defining Words). There is more information about G.A. Henty, Nero, and Queen Boadicea; multiple Bible studies that coordinate with the story, many pictures from the times, and much more historical information. 
  2. Printable Copy of Inspiration Quote (digital download) -- "I will gladly die for him who died for me." This inspirational quote can be printed and framed to remind you of God's omnipotence.  
  3. Beric the Briton Soundtrack (MP3 download) -- Our family loves soundtracks. This beautiful music was written by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell (creator of the original score for C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Adventures in Odyssey, and more). We've enjoyed listening to this moving music while doing school, cleaning house, and folding laundry.
There is also an option of a family four-pack. For $99.97 (+ shipping and handling), you get 4 copies of the 2-CD set and the bonuses listed above, along with additional bonuses: Live the Adventure E-Newsletter; G.A. Henty's original Beric the Briton e-book; professionally designed, printable promotional poster; and a behind-the-scenes documentary featuring the cast and crew.  

Here's what my kids had to say about the story:

"It's awesome! I loved it."

"I like when they kill the wolves. It seemed so real."

"It was cool when Beric defeated the lion with just a rope!"

The 2+ hour audio production is ideal for ages 6-adult, but our entire family enjoyed listening to it. We used the study guide questions to review the story and tackle difficult topics. We stopped the CD multiple times to discuss things like Gladiators, Gaul, what it means to really be a Christian, honor, strategy, and more. Of course, the little ones didn't quite understand everything, but it's never too early to introduce quality literature. This will be a story that we reference throughout the years. Beric the Briton is a wonderful resource to have.

You can find Beric the Briton on Facebook or connect directly with Heirloom Audio Productions on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this title on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 6/10/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8), Zac (6½), Tyler (4), Nicholas (1)
Happy Friday! Renovations continued with our bathroom this week, we enjoyed some outdoor fun, and loved making memories as a family.  

1. Jake: "Mom, you did a great job picking out the vanity . . . The cardboard box it came in is great!"
2. Tyler, sitting in church: {whispers} "Mom, it's a good thing you don't have chest hair." 

3. Nicholas took a nap during the morning church service. That always translates to a rough Sunday afternoon at home. I tried to get him to sleep. He cried. I tried. He cried. I finally got him up. He smiled and played with my phone for a few minutes, but quickly became crabby and threw a tantrum. I told him, "You are not being a good boy. I'm going to put you back in bed." Immediately, Australian Siri told him, "Well, I'm still here for you."


5. Alyssa: "Zac and Nicky are some of my favorite brothers."

6. Tyler, after he made me bite my lip: "Is your lip still getting bigger?"
Me: "No, it stopped swelling, but it still hurts."
Tyler: "Maybe you need lipstick."
Me: "Why would I need lipstick?"
Tyler: "I said maybe."


What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Once Upon a Time in Latin

My kids are fascinated with foreign languages. It had been a while since we formally studied one, so I was pleased when a review for Laurelwood Books became an option. The idea of speaking and understanding a language not common in our area is especially appealing to my oldest (10 yr). While he has dreams of learning the Elvish language (yes, seriously), he was equally excited about studying Latin. He's pleased because it's a dead language; I'm pleased because of the benefits that stem from it.

Latin may not be one's native language any longer or be continually evolving, but its influence can be found all over. Not only will understanding Latin be beneficial for learning the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian), but it will give a better understanding of English, as well. I have fond memories of learning morphemes (the smallest part with meaning of a word). We'd sit around the table making up our own words by combining prefixes, suffixes, and roots.  Throughout the years, he taught me that I could have a basic understanding of almost any word (and could even understand many foreign words), as long as I had a grasp of the individual parts. Many of our morphemes stem from Latin and can be found in various areas of study, like medicine, astronomy biology, history, dentistry, law, and mathematics, to name just a few. It's because of this connection to our own language that I was excited to use Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I.

Derivatives I focuses on studying Latin words and the English words we derive from them. It can be used as a stand-alone vocabulary builder or as a complimentary resource to any Latin program. In fact, the words used in this curriculum are pulled directly from the first three volumes of Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin reader series by the same author.

A two-week schedule is recommended for each lesson of 10 vocabulary words.

Week 1
Day 1: Trace Latin and English Words
Day 2: Exercise I: Fill in the Blank
Day 3: Exercise II: Matching
Day 4: Exercise III: Story with Blanks

Week 2
Day 5: Exercise IV: Multiple Choice
Day 6: Exercise V: Write Your Own Story
Day 7: Crossword or Word Search Puzzle
Extras: Write Derivatives (every 5 lessons)

There is a detailed pronunciation guide in the beginning of the book. It breaks down each letter and its sound, explains double letters, and lists rules for accents and syllables. It also describes macrons, the diacritical mark indicating a long vowel.

The Latin vocabulary words in the book fall into 3 categories: verbs, nouns, and adjectives. For each word, the book lists the Latin word(s), the meaning, and the English derivatives.

1. dicere, dīcit, dīxit (v)                  to say, (he) says, (he) said           diction, dictionary
2. prīmus, prīma, prīmum (adj)       first                                             primary, premier
3. exīre (v)                                    to go out, exit                              exit

The exercises are fairly simple. My son completes them in 5-10 minutes each day. He's a little disappointed as he thought he'd be learning to speak Latin, rather than just learning random words. We did look up some videos so we could hear how it's spoken. The pronunciation guide is helpful, but he needed to hear it to fully understand. He doesn't appreciate the benefits of what he is learning just yet. I've tried explaining that this book is truly helpful in understanding English and decoding words he doesn't know. He just gives me one of those looks in return. I know, I know, one day he'll appreciate it, ha. Until then, I will have him continue to complete the exercises, if for nothing other than the English vocabulary he's studying. He is still interested in speaking Latin. I think this book would be a wonderful resource to use alongside an actual Latin curriculum.  

If you're looking for a good way to learn some Latin words and see how they've influenced the English language, Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I is a good option.


You can connect with Laurelwood Books on their website and Facebook.  

You can read more reviews of this book or of one of the many other resources reviewed by other homeschoolers on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Things That Make Me 5/27/16

Jake (10), Alyssa (8), Zac (6½), Tyler (4), Nicholas (1)

Happy Friday! This was the week we completely demoed our main bathroom. The kids had so much fun tearing it apart and making a huge mess. I plan to write up a detailed post one day, you know, once I get caught up om everything else, ha. Speaking of which, I posted another Smile list yesterday. In case you missed it, you can read it here

1. Tyler: "Am I getting bigger?"
Me: "Yes."
Tyler: "Yeah, because I keep eating. The more you eat the bigger you get."

2. Me, after a stressful morning: "Ok, this day just needs to be over. Bedtime for everybody."
Jake: "Ok! Can we just skip to Friday?" (because we always go to my parents'.)

3. Friend Day carnival at church.

4. Jake: "I tripped and fell while holding my water balloon."
Me: "Well, that's not good."
Jake: "My balloon didn't pop, but my skin did. Here and here."
Me: "Do you want a band-aid?"
Jake: "Band-aids are for sissies."
Me: "No, band-aids are for blood."

5. Jake, making funny faces at Nicholas: "You think I'm weird? Mom puts mud on her face."   

6. Tyler and I were playing a game where I kept trying to kiss him. Every time he'd get away, he'd say, "Missed me, missed me! Now ya gotta kiss me!" and he'd pucker proudly for  kiss. Over and over again. 

7. Alyssa brought a book with her to the store.

8. Tyler: "Mama, how old are you?"
Me: "34."
Tyler: "How old is Daddy?"
Me: "33."
Tyler: "Oh, yesss!!! You're older! That's why I love you so much."

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 5/20/16

Jake (10), Alyssa (8), Zac (6½), Tyler (4), Nicholas (1)

I promised last week that I would get an extra set of Smiles up within the week. I may have barely made it with only one day to go, but I made it! And another new list will up tomorrow, too. So much Smiling going on!

1. Jake: "When I grow up, do you think my family should come to your house on Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, or what? I think it would be good if we came over 2 days a week--as long as you don't spoil my kids as much as Gramma and Papa spoil us."

2. I was getting ready for church Sunday morning when Zac popped his head in bathroom and said, "Hi pretty lady!"

3. Tyler picked me "beautiful flowers."

4. Tyler, eating colby jack: "It's a good thing this isn't sharp cheese. That would hurt me." (sharp cheddar)

5. Alyssa, after helping me make and can two batches of jam: "One of my favorite things to do is help you."

6. Tyler, about the jam: "I want a whole bowl of it!"
Me: "You're not going to have a whole bowl of it."
Tyler: "Can I have a whole bowl with a little bit of it?"

7. Tyler: "Mom, I love you and Gramma and Great Gramma and even Alyssa."

8. Jake created a LEGO Game Boy (just from looking at a picture of a real one). He made Super Mario on the screen and even added "batteries" in the back.

9.  Me: "Have you ever heard 'two wrongs don't make a right'?'"
Jake: "But two nots make a yes. (double negative) So what's the difference?"

10. The kids and I were doing a school lesson.
Me: "Sometimes we say things we wish we hadn't. When you do, what are some things you can do or say to make the other person feel better?"
 Zac: "I'll give you a million dollars if you stop crying."

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Veritas Bible

My kids fell in love with Veritas Press when Jake studied and completed the entire Self-Paced History course for the Old Testament and Ancient Egypt a couple years ago. When the opportunity came to review for the company again, I jumped at the chance. But what's even better than reviewing for a company that you love? Being able to include the whole family! Last time, the other kids were disappointed that the self-paced course was only for Jake. It seemed like so much fun and they asked many times to use it too. This time though, we received a one-year family subscription to, meaning I'd have no sad little faces to look at. Everyone could participate!

Veritas Press was created by Marlin and Laurie Detweiler as a way to give their own children a classical education. After their curricula worked so well for their family, they wanted to make it available to other like-minded parents, as well. Since then, the company has grown to offer full curriculum, a publishing company, an online classical Christian academy, and two classical Christian schools. currently offers 3 courses:
  • Genesis to Joshua
  • Judges to Kings
  • The Gospels
Each course teaches 32 events that happened during the period. Each event is broken into 4 lessons, making 128 total lessons for each course.

The events are taught using a timeline. This format is beneficial since it helps the students to visually see the stories in the order they took place. Understanding the time frame is a good way to learn the history of the Bible.

The lessons are taught through videos. People in time-period costumes along with animated characters tell stories as they complete tasks in their every-day life. Woven throughout the videos are names, dates, cities, significant events, and more that pertain to the Biblical events.

Just like the self-paced courses, a memory song is sung nearly every lesson to teach the events. Each tune is different, yet they are equally catchy. I often get the songs stuck in my head, too! What amazes me about these songs is that they truly teach the kids the events, not just the names, but also dates or Scripture references for some. For instance, they learned 1446 B.C. the parting of the Red Sea, Zacharias learns of John's birth in 4 B.C., Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, the visit of the Magi in Matthew 2, and more. 

There are also games for review and tests at the end of each event.

Since we have a family subscription, the kids can log onto the site and easily login to their own account by clicking on their avatars. From there, they can choose which course they want and maneuver through the lessons. The events are shown on a map with a stop for the different events.

I gave the kids the choice of which course they wanted to study. Two kids picked Genesis through Joshua, so they are learning about 32 major events taking place from Creation through Joshua's Last Words. The third child decided on The Gospels, so his learning starts with Zacharias Learns of John's Birth and ends with The Ascension.

As the students progress through the lessons, more of the map is made visible. Plants grow, animals move across the screen, rain pours from clouds, people walk, etc.. The kids like showing me specific parts of the stories that are acted out on the map, like when Abel falls down from Cain's blow and blood pools around him and when the Red Sea swallows up the Egyptians and the men sink in the water. The animation is not graphic or disturbing at all, but shows the event as simply as possible. 

We school four days a week and I require the kids to complete one Bible lesson per day. However, the kids love so much that they ask to use it 5-6 days a week, often first thing in the morning even before our official school start time, and work through multiple lessons. They're using it so much, in fact, that they range from 31%-69% completion. Remember, each course contains enough lessons to last an entire school year, and one of my kids has finished nearly 3/4 of it in 6-weeks time. Saying they like this program is putting it mildly. Even more impressive is that they are retaining the knowledge! For one thing, they have to pass the tests before they can move to the next event. Even aside from that though, they can still answer questions about it and relate the stories weeks later.

The kids usually watch each others lessons too. I'll often find all of them huddled around the computer and participating. It's so fun that even my 4-year-old asked for his own account. He does need help with the tests, but he loves watching the videos and playing the games.
This is a little of what the kids have to say about the program:

"I like all the games and I like learning new stories I never heard of. 
I like the people in the videos too."

"I love it! I like the memory song and that I'm learning more. I love the games!"

"Critter Catch (game) is fun.That's my favorite." 
My only issue is that all the Scripture reading throughout is from a different version than we use. Most of the time it is not an issue as far as the lessons go, but there are times we pull out our own Bible to read from ourselves. is a fantastic program. Not only do the kids beg to do it every day (no joke), they're also learning and remembering important facts from the Bible and are gaining a better understanding of the events. We highly recommend Veritas Press.

You can connect with Veritas Press on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of or the Self-Paced Bible course on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
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