Monday, May 22, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 4/28/17

Jake (11), Alyssa (9), Zac (7), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

Happy Monday! This week, we took the kids to Greenfield Village and took advantage of our rides pass by going on the Model Ts, the train, an old bus, a horse-drawn carriage, and the carousel multiple times. We also enjoyed the playground and had a picnic. There were many Smiles!

1. Me: "Jacob, don't be gross."
Jake: "It's what boys do. We can't help it."

2. Jake: "You can call money dough which is a female deer, but you can also call it buck which is a male deer." 

3. At Greenfield Village --
Lady driving the horse-drawn carriage: "I want the kids to close their eyes and make a wish as we go over the covered bridge."
Tyler, opening his eyes: "Hey, it didn't happen!"
Me: "What did you wish for?"
Tyler: "I wished for the whole world to be covered in ice cream!"


5. Tyler, about the arm a bands to show that we had tickets for the rides at the Village : "Do we get to keep these?"
Me: "Yes."
Tyler: "Yay! I want to keep this on my whole entire life!"
{2 minutes later}
Tyler: "Can I take this off now?"

6. Jake, before going someplace new for the first time: "I chose khakis and a red polo because I'm going to walk in and introduce myself, 'Hi, I'm Jake from State Farm.'" (And then he did.)

7. Alyssa, while eating breakfast I cooked: "My mouth is full of goodness!"


9. Tyler: "What is RV?"
Zac: "Rolling vehicle."
Me: "Recreational vehicle."
Zac: "Oohhhhh."

10. Tyler, looking at a forest: "I love seeing all the trees together. It's like a family!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Captain Absolutely

It's another book review! We've received many books already this year, and since literature is the foundation of our schooling, we are always pleased to read new material. The kids are required to spend a large portion of our school day reading, and while they do have some say in what they read, there are some things that I do not allow. For instance, they can read comic books, but it would be considered extra reading and not count toward the quota for the day. So, imagine their surprise when I handed them a typical super hero comic book and told them it was school reading!   

Captain Absolutely was originally written and illustrated for the  Focus On The Family Clubhouse Magazine. The strip, a spin-off from Adventures in Odyssey and written by Wooten Bassett, was written to explain how values, priorities, and perspective can alter one's worldview. As Christians, our worldview is based on the Absolute Truth found in God's Word. Captain Absolutely helps kids to recognize the things that might take our focus off of Christ and what they can do to combat the lies.

My 11-year-old was the first to snatch the book when we received it. He immediately sat down to read it. An hour an a half later after completing the whole thing, he said, "Are there more of these? That was awesome!" He wrote the following description of the story for me:
A man named Josiah King works for a library. One day, his friend Darren Gray drops a sunflower seed on a computer, causing it to explodes. The blast throws Josiah into a room full of Bibles, so he starts reading and discovers Truth. A leek in the city's radioactive core started filling the room with toxic fumes, giving Josiah super powers. He decides to use his powers for good and becomes Captain Absolutely.
The first villain he meets becomes his arch-nemesis, Dr. Relative. Captain Absolutely catches him stealing computers. Spraying his Neutralizer that makes you forget absolute truth by reminding you of all the wrong things you've done, Dr. Relative is able to trap him in the Shackles of Selfishness. He explains his plan to release Lirus (lies) that will spread through Tvs, phones, and computers. Captain Absolutely realizes that his arch-nemesis was his old friend Darren Gray (who was thrown from the explosion into the philosophy section of the library and discovered Relative Truth). After a bit of a struggle, Captain Absolutely is able to disable Lirus, return the stolen computers, and lock his former friend in jail.
Captain Absolutely started cleaning up the garbage in Metropolitanville and learned about the robotic Vile Ants (violence) that have mind-altering rays that were making everyone angry. Farmer Vile's plan was to fill everyone with rage so he could steal the best farmland for himself. He and his formidable Formicidae were no match for Captain Absolutely, and he too ended up in jail.

As a super hero, he continued fighting other bad guys like Cap'n Crastin (procrastination), Fear Chemist (fear), Baron Von Confuser (confusion), the Unifier, Sloppy Joe, the Pajama Bandits, and Mrs. Grudge. He saves children, gains a sidekick, build his Fortress of Solid Truth, and defeats the evil in the city.

My 9-year-old daughter was the next one to read it. She, too, read it start-to-finish in the same amount of time. Then, she read it a second time by the next morning. My 7-year-old was finally able to claim it by the next day. He read it 3 times in a row before he let his older brother have it back again. In other words, my kids absolutely (see what I did there?) love this book. Sure, they love super heroes and appreciate a good comic, but more than that, they are drawn to the truths that are in the story.

The book is definitely more appealing to the younger crowd and is a bit cheesy in a cute sort of way. It has jokes and comments from Wooten throughout it along with some Scripture references (not KJV like we use, but various other versions). Of course, it also has the typical Splat! Pow! Crash! Thud! Fwing! Squish! Glop! Kaboom! and various other sound words all over, like every good super hero comic strip should have. 

Here's what my kids had to say about it:

"I loved it. I like that it has super heroes and that it's a comic book and not just words." 

"It was an awesome book! I like that Captain Absolutely fights bad guys for the 
sake of God. I like that he quotes Bible all the time." 

"It was awesome! I like that he loves the Bible."

Captain Absolutely is a hit with my super-hero-loving, comic-book-reading, Bible-truth-seeking kiddos. And any book that teaches the Truth, draws my little ones to God's Word, and makes them want to read extra is a hit with me, too.  

My favorite quote from my daughter, as she was starting the book for the third time, really is the best review I can give it. "The last time I read this, it made me want to read my Bible more."

You can connect with Focus On The Family and Adventures In Odyssey on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this book on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 4/21/17

Jake (11), Alyssa (9), Zac (7), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

This week we celebrated Alyssa's and Tyler's birthdays with a party, spent a beautiful day out geocaching, and enjoyed a wonderful Easter holiday. I hope you've had many reasons to Smile.

1. Me, leaving the house: "Oh, good, it's not raining."
Alyssa: "I prayed. Twice."

2. Jake, after eating an ice cream sundae and commenting on the sweetness of it: "You know what I noticed? The older you get the less sugar you can handle."  


4. Jake, listing off everything in his backpack for geocaching: ". . two Bibles--"
Me: "Two Bibles?"
Jake: "I need to be prepared."
5. Tyler, after I finished assembling my Creator Expert Lego set: "I am impressed with this set ... what does impressed mean?

6. Alyssa: "I can't wait until Dad gets home so he can see me in real life and not just a picture of me wearing this dress."

7. Alyssa: "Knowing how to make a pbj is a survival skill."
8. Three of the kids were fussing over Nicholas who (barely) got hurt.Jake  piped up, "Is he breathing? Is there blood? He's fine."


What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Secret Bridge

I've mentioned countless times how important quality literature is to our family and how much we love reviewing books. There is always some sort of read-aloud that the kids and I are sharing together. And while I absolutely love reading and can easily get lost in a book, I don't read literature silently to myself very often. Oh, I used to; I used to read multiple novels a week. Then life got busier and I allowed my personal reading to be pushed aside. Every now and then though, a book comes along that begs to be enjoyed, to be read, to be made to come to life in the mind of the reader. The Secret Bridge was one such book.

I was excited when I learned that I was receiving a book from Lamplighter Publishing. The company is known for its wholesome books (both printed and audio) that are filled with characters that encourage faith in God. While the particular books they sell can be found elsewhere, their versions are "edited within a Biblical theological framework to ensure that each story reflects the character of God." Key Scripture references, footnotes with definitions, and biblical truths make these titles unique and highly valued over other books with the same titles. 

The Secret Bridge was written in 1899 by Amy Le Feuvre. The foundation of our home school is literature, and we often pull books from the late 1800s and early 1900s for our learning. The majority of the time, the vocabulary is richer, the godly character traits more pronounced, and the plots more beneficial. Amy Le Feuvre was an accomplished author in England. Being a granddaughter of a reverend, she used her religious upbringing to write many stories that are filled with biblical principles.

The Secret Bridge begins as Bridget Channing is sailing to England. Her widower father had recently died, leaving her to be cared for by an uncle oversees. On the journey, she met Godfrey Bullingham, a naval man from a very well-to-do family. There was a instant mutual attraction, so when Bridget discovered that her uncle had passed away weeks before her arrival and she was subsequently on her own, she agreed to marry Godfrey. The day of the wedding, he left for a year-long voyage at sea, leaving Bridget to keep the marriage a secret from everyone except the elderly couple caring for her in a farm house on Bullingham property. During this time, she was introduced to the Fitzroys, the Bullingham's greatest rivals. As she draws closer to both of these influential families, Bridget discovers another secret--one that could either potentially bring to two families together, or tear her husband's family apart. She must use her new-found faith in God to help her make the proper choices and trust in Him to work out the details.

The story is filled with biblical truths and sprinkled with quotes from Scripture. The reader witnesses Bridget's faith unfold and she learns about God and what it means to climb the ladder of faith. Hardships, struggles, dependence on God, grace, delight. Her relationship with Godfrey is a picture of the Christian life. When she met him, he meant nothing to her. Once they became acquainted, she longed to know him better. He came and saved her in her hour of need, and she became his. Even though he wasn't there in person, she had his letters to get to know him better. He cared for her, provided for her, loved her. It's the same way with Christ. We start off not knowing Him. Then we're introduced to Him, and He saves and we become His child. We know Him better through the Bible. He cares for us, provides for us, loves us. We are His.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Bridge. It was an easy read that reinforced many godly qualities. The book itself has a beautiful, turquoise hardcover with a soft, velvety finish. It would look impressive on any bookshelf as a collector's item. While my children do read literature from this time period, I don't think they would be too interested in this one quite yet. Ultimately, it is a love story (one that pictures our relationship with God), and though there is nothing inappropriate in it, I think it would be more appealing to the teen and older crowd.

Lamplighter Publishing aims to develop "Christlike character one story at a time," and I think that they accomplished that with this book.

You can connect with Lamplighter Publishing on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this book on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Drive Thru History

My kids like when we get curriculum to review--new stuff is always exciting--but it's a real treat when the product isn't typical "school" type of work. They especially love whenever I tell them we're watching TV for school. This time, we were able to study the subjects of both Bible and history in a fun way with Drive Thru History®. I had never heard of this world-wide, award-winning television series that debuted in 2004, but a quick look at some of their video clips had me intrigued, and I knew I needed to see more.   
Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” is the latest title of the collection. The 18 episodes focus on the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus as accounted in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The host, Dave Stotts, takes you on an an exciting journey to over 50 ancient sites as he drives all across Israel and "thru history." His energetic personality and conversational style along with bits of humor tossed in make this series a joy to watch. The amount of information and facts that he spouts off throughout each episode is astounding. The story of Jesus' life is woven as you learn about the people, places, and events showing evidence from history, archaeology, and geography. 

Here is what you can expect to learn from "The Gospels":
  • Episode 1: The Historical Landscape
  • Episode 2: The Announcements
  • Episode 3: Jesus is Born
  • Episode 4: Jesus Grows Up
  • Episode 5: Jesus Starts His Ministry
  • Episode 6: Jesus Returns to Galilee
  • Episode 7: Jesus Begins His Miracles
  • Episode 8: Jesus Teaches with Authority
  • Episode 9: The Sermon on the Mount
  • Episode 10: Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
  • Episode 11: Jesus Travels North
  • Episode 12: A Final Trip to Jerusalem
  • Episode 13: Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
  • Episode 14: The Last Supper
  • Episode 15: The Trial of Jesus
  • Episode 16: The Crucifixion of Jesus
  • Episode 17: The Resurrection of Jesus
  • Episode 18: Who is Jesus?

Each episode showcases multiple ancient sites that are still preserved today. Synagogues, cities, the remains of a fish market, Herodium, and even possibly Peter's house. Dave travels all over Israel and visits cities including Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Chorazin, Magdala, Hippos, Cana, and Samaria and places such as the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Dead Sea. He recites Scripture (though not the version we personally use) and references ancient quotes. He explains the culture during Jesus' life and shows how the rule of the Romans influenced the people. Dozens of paintings and illustrations that depict the stories are shown throughout each episode. Dave makes it easy to visualize the shepherds as the angel announced the birth of Christ or John as he baptized Jesus in the Jordan River or Jesus Himself as He healed blind Bartimaeus. The stories come alive.

Included with the 3-DVD set is an accompany study guide. It is broken down by disc and episode. The format is consistent for each episode: a famous quote, summary of the episode, a list of discussion questions, corresponding Bible passages, and an additional tidbit of information or "side road." The pages are covered with additional art and photographs. The guide contains no answer key as it is meant to spark discussion for families, small groups, or Sunday School classes and not designed for testing purposes. My kids are enjoying looking at the various pictures and reviewing the topics of discussion. The study guide itself is attached to the middle of the DVD case. While I appreciate the fact that my little ones cannot misplace the booklet, it does make it somewhat difficult to use. I would rather have the guide printed as a separate book that could be placed in a sleeve in the case.

Our entire family has loved watching "The Gospels." I like when the kids shout, "Hey! I know this story," or "I learned about this at church." It is always fascinating to me to see how the Bible and other historical events line up. Though I know that the Bible is fact and the events truly happened, it can be difficult at times to see how everything comes together. Drive Thru History® has done a phenomenal job of portraying the chronological telling of biblical stories mixed in with information from other resources. There is so much information that we could watch this multiple times and still not remember it all. While some documentaries can be dry and boring, Drive Thru History® is fun, exciting, and entertaining. It is appropriate for the whole family and is an excellent educational resource.

Take a peek at the trailer and experience a little of Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”.

You can connect with Drive Thru History® on the following social media sites:

If you'd like to see how other homeschool families used this resource, please read the reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 4/7/17

Jake (11), Alyssa (9), Zac (7), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

Happy Weekend!  This week we bought a new van, finished a new book, and made many Lego creations. Did you have a good week, too?

1. Jake, after listening to the nursery rhyme: "Mom you just need to get old and live in a shoe. You already have so many children."

2. Zac: "Mom will you maaaaarry me? Haha, I'm just kidding. One, by the time I'm old enough, you'll be too old. Two, you already married dad. Three, there is no three."

3. Alyssa: "Boys are so disgusting!"
Jake: "Thank you!"
Alyssa: "You took that as a compliment?"


5. Zac, to Alyssa: "Whenever I think of Mom, I think of a picture of her with a sweet smiling face. That's always the first thing I think."

6. Alyssa: "My foot fell asleep. It feels like there are bouncy balls bouncing inside it."

7. Tyler sneezed in the living room.
Nicholas, who was already in bed for the night, shouted back, "Bess you, Ty-Ty! Bess you Ty-Ty!"

8. I received this note under the bathroom door.

9. Jake, incredulous: "How could anyone not like vegetables? I mean, how could you not like broccoli?"

10. Jake: "I don't remember it at all. How old was I? One?"
Me: "Yes, one. I could show you pictures."
Jake: "They had cameras then?!"
Alyssa: "TVs were even around then."

What made you Smile this week?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 3/31/17

Jake (11), Alyssa (9), Zac (7), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

Happy Easter! We had a crazy busy weekend, so I'm just getting to my Smiles. I am so close to getting caught up on my lists. I think. Ha. This particular week, Alyssa and I spent a day alone to celebrate her birthday, the kiddos started swimming lessons, we made blanket forts, and laughed a lot.  Did you Smile a lot, too?

1. Me, while Alyssa was trying to decide on a book at the bookstore: "This is going to take a while, isn't it?"
Alyssa: "You bet it will."

2. Tyler: "Zachy, did you know I love you?"

3. Jake: "In all those princess movies, the princess always sings at the top of her lungs. I mean, she's like screaming. And there's no one even listening! Who does that?"

4. Zac: "Mom, Alyssa hit me for no reason!"
Me, sternly: "Alyssa."
Alyssa: For no good reason."

5. Tyler: "Hey, Mom! The squirrels are playing tag!" 


7. Tyler, about homemade apple butter: "I love it 100 percent!"

8. Jake, while sitting under a new, fuzzy blanket: "It feels like I'm sitting in a cloud!"

9. Me: "Jake, it's rude to chew with food in your mouth."
Jake: "Yes, ma'am."
I realized what I said and started laughing.
Jake: "What?"
Me: "I said it's rude to chew with food in your mouth."
Jake: "Oh, hahaha!"
Zac, confused: "It's not?"

10. Tyler: "Mama, are you older than all the 100s?"
Me: "No."
Tyler shocked: "Reeeaally? You're less?"

11. Jake: "I'd hate to be a spider. I mean, you could just be sitting there then, squish, die. And your life is over."

What made you Smile this week?

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