Saturday, April 30, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge

I am joining in on the Reading Aloud Challenge made by Debra@Footprints in the Butter this week. I hope to keep this up in the weeks ahead. The need to read aloud to my children more goes right along with the theme of the graduate class I am working on right now (for renewing my teaching certification which makes homeschooling easier in my state). The class is called Motivating Readers

The fact is that research shows that students who come from print-rich environments are far better readers (up to three grade-levels ahead) than their peers who do not come from homes where reading is valued and accessible. Wow. What a difference books can make...

In my opinion, what is one of the best ways you can show your kids you value reading? By reading to them. A lot. Often. Enthusiastically. Consistently. 

And you really ought to read GOOD books, ones you loved as a child, classics from the past, books that show the value of relationships and family and God (that is not stated in my class as it is from a secular's just my opinion). 

Did you know that you can read to your children books that are far above their abilities to read on their own? They can understand what they are listening to at a higher level than what they are able  to read. Reading them books that are rich in vocabulary, descriptions, characterization, and moral quality can only enrich their lives and their development. 

Snuggling with you on the couch, laughing over a funny part, crying over a sad part, and appreciating a good book TOGETHER is something that can only serve to deepen your relationship and their relationships with their siblings, don't you agree?

These things are all things I know, and tell people all the time. It is something I did well and consistently with my two oldest, and have many fond memories of doing with them over the years. Unfortunately, it is also something I have to admit I have been a bit more slack about over the past year or so. I am not feeling so good about this.

SO, having seen Debra's challenge to herself to do better, I am also taking up this banner and going to endeavor to read more books, more often, more consistently to my kids. I will post the books once a week, so I am accountable at least to myself, for the benefit of my kids

I am also going to include (at the bottom of the post), the books I am reading in my personal reading time, as well as the books Tex is reading in his, as my Motivating Readers class also stresses the importance of teachers (which in a homeschool is YOU, or me) being models of reading enthusiasm. 

"Research suggests that teachers who love reading and are avid readers themselves have students who have higher reading achievement than do students of teachers who rarely read." Lundberg and Linnakyla

Did you get that? If your kids see you valuing books, they will value them, too. It's a weighty responsibility we carry, but one I would not give up.

This month Tex is embarking on a reading challenge I have given him. It is to read fifty new (to him) books by September 1st. They have to be of certain genres (except for about eight free choice books). This is a means I am employing to widen his interests. As you can see by his reading choices below, he is firmly entrenched in his usual penchant for fantasy, We will give him a break this week since he had surgery and felt so poorly until today. Next week, however, we'll have to see about stretching his reading wings a bit...

If you'd like copies of the reading log I am using with him for this challenge, you can download it at my homeschool-for-free site. I am offering Tex a day trip to Barnes and Noble and a gift card to purchase a decaf latte and a new book if he meets the challenge. Another thing the MR class encourages, is that if you want your students to work for intrinsic motivators, then if you use rewards (and it is occasionally okay to do so), they should be as close to the task you are having them complete as possible...such as rewarding reading with a book, a trip to the library for more books, or extra reading time at night.

All that said, here is our short list of books 
I read out loud to the kids this week:
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A childhood favorite of mine...It was wonderful reading this with
the kids because it brought back some precious memories.
Hubby had never read it and I even caught him listening in.
My mom took over one night and read to the kids how children
used to have to be absolutely quiet and still on Sundays. It
was quite a treat to hear how shocked and amazed my kids were!

Andi's Indian Summer by Susan Marlow
A delightful Christian book for youngsters which I will be reviewing next week...

 These are the three books Ladybug read aloud to 
various people this week:

One thing the class suggests, is that to boost reading confidence, you can have developing readers read books that are somewhat easy for them to younger children. Then they will be able to be successful and "an expert" to someone else. This helps them want to read more. They can still read the challenging stuff at other times.

These are the books Cowboy read aloud 
to various people this week:

These are the books Tex read (to himself) this week 

These are part of a six-book series by Donita K. Paul, a Christian author.
Tex has been immersed in these all week. Apparently, what I used to call
"the Zone" has now be re-termed as "the Flow" in teaching circles. LOL.

These are the books I have been reading for my class this week. They are also on my April reading list (see my right sidebar) and are quite good, though they do pertain more to public schools than to homeschools.

I hope you will consider joining Debra@Footprints in the Butter next week for her Reading Aloud Challenge.



Also posted at What My Child is Reading
another great reading link-up.


Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…crazy weather, a few headaches, several doctor's visits, a pretty day on Friday, fun with the grandparents, a good lunch with Bubba (Mexican food, my favorite), watching the kids play outside, and lots of time on the computer doing classwork.
In our homeschool this week…not much happened educationally speaking. 

Tex had oral surgery for removal of a benign cyst on Monday, and hasn't felt up to doing much of anything all week. Boo had an appointment with the same oral surgeon on Tuesday because he has a mucocele in his mouth which is not going to get better, plus he has had bronchitis (different doctor altogether). Wednesday I went with Bubba to the local base because he needed some shots, and Thursday we prepared for a storm, which thankfully, veered out to sea before reaching us. Friday, was a beautiful day. On Friday, I had Physical Therapy and enjoyed watching the kids play for a while before settling in to work on my classes and a review

Basically, the little ones did their computer work a few days, and some good writing and reading work with my mom at her house while I was out with Bubba. Poor Tex has gotten nothing done at all but a little reading (two books for his Reading Challenge) and listening to a few audios (for his Listening Challenge), and that will just have to do.

I made up forms for his Reading Challenge and Listening Challenge, and they are available on my homeschool-for-free website, if you are interested in doing something like this with your kids over the summer.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…Next week should be more calm. Whew. We have a follow up for Tex, as well as an optometry appointment for him. We decided to wait to get Boo's mucocele removed until he's a bit older, and I have PT twice. My friend, Mrs. L. has offered to babysit one day so I can go work on my classes at the library. She may begin homeschooling her daughter this week, and I can't wait to help! 
We also need to go to the library and pick up the kids' prizes from the bookmark contest. Tex, Cowboy, and Firefly all won a prize (Ladybug's was adorable, but she did win first place last year...). The prizes are gift certificates to a local bookstore. The kids can't wait to spend their winnings! Great job, guys and gals! You ALL worked hard and I am so proud of you.
My favorite thing this week was…Sitting on my swing on Friday after the storm had blown all the humidity away, watching the kids running around and playing happily, riding bikes, swinging on swings, chasing the dog, picking dandelions and buttercups, and most of all, laughing. It sure did make me smile and lighten up my day. 
Boo sure does love the Little Tikes police car toy a neighbor donated to us last year. The others push him around in it and he goes, "Woo woo!"  I think they are going to crash, they go so fast, but he doesn't mind. He's just a happy camper. Awesome.
What’s working/not working for us…Still, my grad classes (to renew my teaching licensure to make homeschooling easier in our state). Too much to do, too little time. With doctor's appointments, physical therapy, sick children, shopping, laundry, and schooling, I am not sure which way is up this week. Help.
Homeschooling thoughts I have…You can never underestimate the importance of reading aloud to your children. Look at my left sidebar to see a new button for a new Reading Out Loud linky hosted by Debra@Footprints in the Butter. All you do is post once a week about what you are reading aloud to your kids, let yourself be inspired by what others are reading, and perhaps be motivated to read more (or maybe you will motivate someone else)!
A quote to share…
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.

                           Strickland Gillilan



Happy Birthday TOS Magazine!

In case you were wondering, TOS stands for The Old Schoolhouse...Magazine that is. My favorite magazine ever. In honor of its 10th anniversary, TOS Magazine is having a Blog Hop and all I have to do to participate is to tell you my favorite thing about the magazine. But I can't think of just ONE. So, I am going to tell you my top FIVE things. How's that for going overboard?

Here we go...

Heather's Top Five List of Things She Loves About The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

1. Getting it in the mail. Seriously, this is like the most exciting part of my month sometimes. A present for me. In the mail. And I can choose to sit down in my swing and read it right then, or I can stick it in my bag to save it for later, and savor the knowledge that it is waiting there for me. Somehow, I don't think I'd get this same feeling waiting for the digital version to hit my e-mail box.

2. The excellent, challenging, God-honoring articles. I love opening the cover and knowing that I am not going to have to worry about a) the quality of the articles b) the worldview of the articles. It's such a relief from the usual magazine where SOMETHING is bound to rub you the wrong way or make you gasp in disbelief. With TOS Magazine, every article may not be a perfect "fit" for me, but at least I know every one is well-researched, well-thought out, and prayed over.

3. The Ads. Really, I do love the ads. I get more good freebies and ideas from looking at the ads in that magazine than anywhere else. By visiting the websites of the advertisers (who often offer freebies), I see what they are doing with new homeschooling approaches, ways to get better organized, and even revisit some good, old tried-and-trues. I find that staying up to date with what is new and interesting in the homeschooling market keeps me on my toes, looking forward, planning, and striving for what is best for my students. I don't BUY everything I see, but I do get some good ideas I can make work for me without spending a penny. Just so the advertisers don't feel too bad, I do buy things now and then.

4. The reviews. Again, I love to know what is going on in the homeschooling market and I am always interested in what other people think about products I have been curious about, never heard of, or tried myself. The reviews are always thorough and thoughtful. I really appreciate that.

5. I like the stories of other homeschooling families' experiences. If you look at my right sidebar, you will see that in my list of favorite homeschooling books, there are several titles that are compilations of stories by/about homeschooling families and what they do to make things work for them. I am not someone who thinks homeschooling is a "one-size-fits-all" endeavor, and I am always looking for an idea that will make my job easier and my students' experiences smoother and more pleasant.

Well, there you go. I could probably go on, but I will spare you my rambling about my favorite magazine EVER. If you want to check out The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, click on the link and visit their site. Check out the blog hop HERE for more reasons to like TOS.

If you are interested in receiving a good dose of encouragement and information in your mailbox four times a year, then watch the 'net for announcements of special subscription rates and packages. They run them all the time and it is an investment that really pays off.In fact, I checked and there is a special right now!! If you go HERE and see the special "Bouquet of Gifts" announced, you have made it in time to "catch" the collection of 19 free gifts, which add up to hundreds of dollars of FREE! products...

You can also post your favorite thing about TOS Magazine, or favorite TOS Magazine memory, and join the link up party by clicking HERE.



Friday, April 29, 2011

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!

Koiné, or "common" Greek, is not spoken today. It is the language of the Bible's New Testament. Since it is not spoken today in Greece, or any other country, for that matter, why learn it? 

Well, there are several reasons you might find studying Greek a useful and purposeful pasttime:

  1. You are a believer in Classical Education and want your children to be familiar with classical Greek and Latin.
  2. You value thinking skills and desire an interesting way to challenge and develop the language and reasoning areas of your students' brains.
  3. You want your students to develop a better grasp of their own language, which incorporates many Greek and Latin roots (which will also elevate their standardized testing scores).
  4. You want your family to be able to read the Bible using the Interlinear Greek New Testament, so they will have a deeper understanding of God's word.
  5. You have a student who is very interested in all things Greek and/or Roman and you want to allow them to pursue their "delight" in a directed study.
  6. You are preparing a unit or study on Ancient Greece or Rome and want to add a new dimension to it by incorporating a language study.

If any of the above reasons fits you, then I have found an excellent product for you.

First of all, I will be honest and admit that I am not now, nor ever have been, a follower of the Classical Education model. It's not that I dislike every "great" work, de-value the importance of discussing literature or ideas, or disagree with the concept of "teaching the trivium" (referring to the developmental stages of children's brains, in which the elementary "grammar" years are spent memorizing facts, the middle "dialectic" years spent analyzing that information, and the high school "rhetoric" years applying and expressing what has been learned). 

However, I am naturally more eclectic in nature, and tend towards a Charlotte Mason philosophy, so while I take from Classical Education the parts that work in our homeschool structure, I don't adhere to it. It just wouldn't work for me.

That said, there are plenty of folks out there who DO use the Classical Education model and LOVE it. There are also those folks who are simply fascinated with things of a Greek or Roman nature. Some teachers see the benefits of learning Greek and Latin in relation to raising standardized testing scores. Still other folks have a desire to expose their students to a bit of everything, until they find what works best for their individual students. 

If you fit any of the above categories, then Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! would be an excellent resource for you.

We were asked to try out Level 3 of Hey Andrew! in our homeschool for this review. 

You can visit the Greek n' Stuff website if you want to see what each level has to offer, as Level 3 does not necessarily mean it is third year Greek. It's actually an introductory text for an older learner. If you are interested in this product, I urge you to check out their site and try out a few of the freebie sample pages before settling on a level to purchase.

We received the Greek Level 3 Full Set, which included the Student Textbook, the complete Teacher's Manual (which has the entire student text AND the correct answers), and the pronunciation cd.

Tex, being age 13 and easily capable of doing work at this level (our other homeschooled kids are ages 7, 5, and 3, plus a 1 year old, and those interested would have required a lower level), was the proud recipient of this product. He LOVES mythology and gets excited about anything Roman or Greek, so he dove right into this. 

His first impression when asked to review this product was that being able to write in Greek (even if it was just using the alphabet) would make a cool secret language for him and his friends. He showed it to them the first week we had it, and they hand-copied the alphabet to take home, and listened with him to the pronunciation cd a time or two, so they could all memorize the alphabet together.

After a month of using the program, here are my thoughts (based on Tex's comments):
  • The program's resources (especially the workbook) are excellent. I HIGHLY recommend them for anyone who already has a desire to study Greek or Latin (we didn't review the Latin, but I am assuming they will have the same commitment to quality in those books). The books are well-written, carefully designed, strategically organized, and easy to use.
  • For me, Greek is confusing. I can recite the Greek alphabet FAST ( a leftover from my college days) and I wish I'd had the pronunciation cd back then. I've been saying four of the letters incorrectly for YEARS! LOL. But seriously, the way the letters are all different just does not work for my overused and confused brain. Say a word out loud, and I have studied enough Greek roots that I can probably make a good guess at what the Greek word means, though. (Similarly, knowing your English, which has a lot of Greek roots worked into it, makes figuring out the words easier).
  • Tex, on the other hand, found the transition from using our usual alphabet to using the Greek alphabet not to be so difficult. He thought it was nifty. Not hard. Ahhh, the flexibility of youth...
  • Tex, being a lefty, was NOT fond of the MANY handwriting exercises in the book. The way it is designed, it sort of incorporates handwriting with language learning. Of course, you aren't practicing writing your own English words, but you are still getting practice on the strokes and tidiness. During his use of the program, I had to let him off the hook for handwriting, as it was just taking up too much time. I have heard from others, that their children did NOT encounter this difficulty. It has me thinking, "Thank goodness for computers and word processing programs." If we had to rely on hand-writing papers and all other work the same way we did when I was in school (back in the Ice Age), Tex would never write, and that would be sad. He's a creative, interesting writer. 
  • Back to Hey, Andrew!: Tex did not mind the amount of writing he had to do each day, once I eliminated his regular copywork. In fact, I think he liked it.
  • Tex only worked through Lesson 3 (out of 36). I know, it doesn't sound like much (it is supposed to be three weeks worth, but he took four for various reasons), but it is what fit in with our schedule and curriculum this year. It was plenty to get a clearn idea of how this quality program works.
  • Speaking of how long it takes to do this program, there is a proposed schedule in the book, if you like things competely laid out for you. It involves just about fifteen minutes a day (if you don't have a lefty who writes more slowly). 
  • After the month trial, Tex asked if we could save the rest of the book for next year, when we actually will be studying Greece and Rome as part of our World History lessons. Since I think it makes more sense for US to use this when integrating it with studies of that time period, I agreed to his plan. I think he's secretly hoping he'll get out of more copywork again. ;-) I think this series, this level especially, would be a fun and interesting supplement to a study of Ancient Greece. Really immerse yourself in the culture and all's not expensive (you don't have to get the complete set), and it does have value beyond just being something Greek.
  • We found the pronunciation cd to be helpful. Tex thought the Alphabet Song at the beginning was a bit young for his tastes (maybe they could come up with a slightly older version?), but we learned it, as well as the recital of the sounds of the Greek alphabet which is also on the cd. The pronunciations of each word taught in each lesson were useful, too, though it might have been nice to hear the words in a sentence, too, and not just alone.
  • Once you have completed the first few lessons on the alphabet, the lessons are varied in format and very interesting. You might have a fill-in the blank (write the Greek), matching, or tanslating exercise, on any given day. Each day, at the bottom of the work page, there is a box to check to indicate that you have studied your flashcards. My student needed that reminder and it helped.
  • One random impression I had: It really does seem sort of like having a "secret language" when you can look at the Greek words written in the Greek alphabet and "see" in your mind the English equivalent. This actually is kind of cool. I found that over time, and with repeated exposure to the words (using the vocabulary cards) the Greek words start to "look" more like what they are supposed to be. 

  • We made up the vocabulary cards (they are in the back of the book and can be cut out and pasted to file cards) and they were good for drilling, to increase quick recognition of words and letters (we made some with just the letters on them and wrote the pronunciation and name on the back). I would have prefered to just copy the drill cards onto cardstock to avoid some of the cutting and pasting, but I wasn't sure this was allowed (though the author does say you can copy the words, the wording is unclear whether she means by hand or with your copier). If I was going to continue with this program for the long term, I would just purchase the pre-made cards on a ring for each level as I started it.

  • There is a Bible Copywork book that is available. I think if I was going to continue with this program for long term, I would purchase one and have my student focus on a Bible verse a week. Here is a link to a sample of page one of the book.
  • The appendices at the back of the book include: the Greek Alphabet, Vowels and Dipthongs, Breathing Marks, Word Order, Mood and Voice, Tenses, Gender, Case, and Declensions. There is also a section covering how to do Greek Copywork using an Interlinear Greek Bible, which I see would be a useful thing to do, if you were truly studying Greek as a language you would eventually use (to read the Bible).
  • If your student enjoys puzzles and can use some more practice with the alphabet, there is a Greek puzzle e-book for sale on the website that looks like fun.
  • The prices for all of the components seem reasonable to me. Some language programs can be very pricey, but this one is not, costing just $21.95 for the Student Worktext and an additional $4.00 for the answer key (not the complete Teacher's Manual). You can add quizzes/exams for an additional $5.50, the flashcards for $8.00, and the pronunciation cd for $10.00 more.

Overall, I would say that this program is an excellent one
  • I liked how it was laid out. 
  • I liked how it is simple enough to not be overwhelming
  • I liked how the student can use it without excessive parental involvement. 
  • I also liked how it integrated good handwriting with the language learning
  • I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a program to expose any level of student to Classical Greek (or Latin, though we did not review any of Greek n' Stuff's Latin products).

Fun and useful Greek n' Stuff Links:
  • Check out their online store with sample pages for each level HERE
  • Check out the prices for all components of every level HERE.
  • Contact Greek n' Stuff HERE with your questions.
  • Request a print catalog with sample pages or an online pdf version HERE.
  • Already have Hey, Andrew! but want to add some fun over the summer? Check out the e-book of Greek puzzles available HERE.
  • Greek alphabet page HERE and Letter of the Month HERE.
  • Learn a Greek word every month HERE and check out the archives for past words HERE.
  • Fun classical languages studies links HERE.
  • Check out other reviews from TOS Crew members HERE.
  • All orders right now get a free Koine Greek Alphabet bookmark!


Disclaimer: I received free copies of the Student Workbook, Teacher's Manual, and pronunciation cd to enable me to give an informed review about this product. I am sharing with you our experiences using this product, and do not expect or guarantee that your impressions will be the same. I received no other compensation for writing this review. If you have questions I did not answer here, please feel free to contact me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this weekIt's been a crazy, busy week. Over last weekend, tornadoes hit our area, within two miles of our house. We were blessed that other than some tree limbs that needed culling anyway falling down, our property is fine. Some of our area's residents are without homes today, and some of the public schooled kids are sharing a school for the rest of the school year. Tex was supposed to have surgery on a benign cyst in his jaw on Tuesdsay, but it got held up by the insurance company. It has been rescheduled for Monday morning if you'd like to pray for him. We are hoping that the infection will be limited, the roots and the tooth will be saved, and a root canal will not be necessary. I will be powering through the coursework for one of my two graduate courses that is due at the end of May. My goal is to be done with this first one (Motivating Readers) by the end of April. My folks have done some babysitting for me, which has helped and it lookes like I might reach my goal.

In our homeschool this week…The kids did their usual online classes, read MANY books, drew some amazing pictures, played a few learning games, and helped me clean up the house for Sunday's company. We were like a well-coordinated whirlwind on Saturday, with Hubby working outside with them some of the time, and them helping me some of the time, and the downstairs of the house looks AWESOME (if I can say so myself, and I do!), as does the yard. It was so nice to wake up Sunday morning to a sparkling home and to head out to church stress-free, and just RELAX all afternoon. I think that all that cleaning counts as home economics, and is character-building, to boot. Next week, we will tackle the upstairs, in between my classes (funny how cleaning looks more appealing when there is something you want to do even less...).

Places we’re going and people we’re seeingWe stayed with my folks for several days as power was out in our area for three days. We went to the oral surgeon and spent three hours waiting to be seen before being sent away. We had a fun Easter egg hunt at church (following a Bible lesson) on Sunday, and family (brother, SIL, Little Bear and Brother Bear, their boys, and Bubba and his lady friend, Miss A.) over for a lovely picnic dinner, basketball, jumping on the trampoline, lots of talking, and delicious s'mores.

My favorite thing this week was…All the kisses Baby Boo (who is almost two, and I am going to have to stop calling him Baby...oh, no!) gave me all week. I don't know what was up, but a week ago he stonewalled me when it came to kisses, and this week he practically woke up with kisses on his lips.

What’s working/not working for us…What's not working is me having two grad classes to do (I am taking them to maintain my certification to teach in my home state as it makes it easier to homeschool here by a lot). What is working is that I am actually learning some useful things from the class (which I did not really expect to do since it is geared towards PS teachers). This week I generated two record-keeping charts for Tex. One is a reading record, and the other is a listening record. I gave him two challenges. The reading challenge runs through September, and if he reads fifty books of certain kinds (for example, I indicated that five had to be unabridged classics, five could be fantasy...his favorite...two had to be poetry, and so on), then he earns a day trip to Barnes and Noble and a gift card to buy a book and a decaf latte. For the listening record, I told him about some sites for free audio books, then challenged him to listen to twenty five audio books, of certain types. The reward for successful completion is a day trip to the big library and an audio cd of his choice. He's already read two books for the list since I gave it to him Thursday (the books have to be over 125 pages and approved by me or his dad). We are trying to broaden his reading horizons (he is pretty stuck in the fantasy genre), and I think this may do the trick. Yay!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…Homeschooling is a blessing. I did not have to worry when the tornado wrecked the local middle school. None of my kids have to get up at five in the morning to catch a bus so that they can start school by seven a.m. since they have to be done by noon, so the next group of students can arrive by one and not be done until after five p.m.. I also don't have to worry about getting behind due to surgeries or doctor visits or pretty days spent gardening. Homeschooling is freedom to live and learn, and learn to live.

Two quotes to share

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." Mark Twain

"When did you know you were a reader?" I asked Bubba (for an essay I am writing for my class).
"When you stopped telling me to read and I still read books all the time," replied Bubba.

Have a blessed week,


Sermon Sunday---The Triumphant Message of the Resurrection

by Ron DiCianni
Check out the link to learn more about this amazing mural and artist.

In the Garden                                               At the Cross 

Out of the Tomb

Happy Easter, friends and family.
Christ, our Lord, is risen today, hallelujiah!!

I pray you will have a blessed day, filled with appreciation for the unfathomable love our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has shown for us all...and that you will rejoice with me as we celebrate His resurrection and the gift of our salvation on this very special Sunday.


Here are a few of my favorite cross-and-resurrection-inspired praise and worship songs to start with.

I hope you get as much out of them as I do...a reminder of what today is really all about.

In Christ Geoff Moore and Adrienne Liesching 

Worthy is the Lamb by Hillsong with Darlene Zschech

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Amazing Love by Candi Pearson

How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Phillip's, Craig, and Dean

At the Cross by Hillsong

Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean

My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C. Mullen

And last, but not least: My favorite classic Easter hymn in an upbeat tempo, so you can really rejoice. Feel free to raise your hands in praise!!

Christ the Lord is Risen Today


And now, this week's sermon. My mom called up and said the sermon over at In Touch by Dr. Charles Stanley is a must-hear, so head on over there as soon as possible, and have a listen.

The Triumphant Message of the Resurrection---this week on TV link (you can watch it this week)
The Triumphant Message of the Resurrection---Video Archive link (click here if you find this post after a week has passed and the video link should be somewhere on this page)
The Triumphant Message of the Resurrection---Audio Archive link...scroll down until you find it (this one should stay here for a while)

Enjoy the day with your families. I will be thanking my Savior for all He has done for us, and all He continues to do. We are blessed to have family over today to share in the rejoicing. God bless you all.




A final word or two:

If you have not accepted God's gift, the sacrifice of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as an atonement for your sins, then please, watch this wonderful video. It could change your life, and your eternity:

A Love Letter from your Father

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Choose Nutrition...Live Longer!

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a three-in-one family nutrition and health program for all ages that presents the major body systems, how they function, their common health issues, the benefits of good food and the consequences of bad food.

Its 448 pages are divided into six units:

  1. The Brain and Nervous System
  2. Digestion and Elimination
  3. Respiration and Olfactory
  4. Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  5. Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  6. Endocrine System and Emotions
Biblically-based and packed with hands-on activities, science and art projects, and nearly 80 family-friendly recipes, this program teaches and reinforces the whys of what we should eat, not just “because I said so.” Containing a complete reference guide filled with nutrition facts, charts, practical tips and an exhaustive index, Nutrition 101: Choose Life! Will serve as a constant resource for improved health and abundant living.” (from the Growing Healthy Homes website)

Here's what you will find inside Nutrition 101: Choose Life!
  • Colorful pictures and illustrations
  • engaging and informative text
  • health statistics that will shock you
  • a new food pyramid
  • WHY you need to eat nutritiously
  • vitamins and minerals the body needs and where to get them
  • delicious POWER recipes
  • shopping lists, checklists, charts
  • sample healthy menus
  • how to choose the freshest foods
  • the importance of becoming a label reader
  • kitchen and home safety
  • fun food/health facts
  • homemade household cleaners
  • discussion questions for several levels
  • activity suggestions for a variety of ages
  • many Bible references
  • additional resources (books and websites)
  • many appendices...I mean, lots of information here!

I think this curriculum is great. I am saying this in spite of not being a big health and PE sort of person. I believe in using life as the best teacher in these areas, using daily meal preparation and our discussions of why we are making sprouts for Daddy again (to keep him healthy and full of energy) as our health lesson, and working on digging fence posts or biking to a (far away) neighbor's house as PE for the day.

However, at some point, every student should be exposed to a formal study of the human body and how it works, as well as to the importance of balancing nutrition and exercise in their lives. Some families will want to do this yearly, using a formal health text, and others will do this by having students take Biology or Anatomy in their later years.

Still other families will seek something a bit more in the middle...something organized and measurable, yet purposeful and very useful. I think that Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is that middle ground. This nutrition/health/anatomy/biology curriculum can fill the needs of all levels of students in your homeschool for many years to come. It is definitely worth your time to check it out.

This fascinating, detailed, and well-written book will help your entire family learn to make healthier choices. It is unique in that it combines human biology and anatomy with general health and nutrition, as well as scriptural truths related to the body and spirit. It covers not just what we need to eat, but why. Nutrition 101: Choose Life! walks you through making healthy choices that will not only improve your quality of life, but perhaps prolong it.


*Watch a video about Nutrition 101: Choose Life!:

**You can even see a sample of the beautiful illustrations and interesting topics HERE.

***Get more information on attending a FREE! live webinar for Nutrition 101: Choose Life! on Thursday, April 21, from 4-5:30 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. PDT) by clicking HERE.


During our review of this product, we chose to look at Unit 3: The Respiratory and Olfactory Systems (lessons one and two), since it seems everyone around us these days is dealing with one allergy symptom after another (especially Hubby). We hoped that we might find him some help for his endless sneezing and sniffling, or at least some temporary relief for us from having to listen to him snore so loudly!

What did we learn?

  • Fun facts first...did you know that some guy can hold his breath for over 17 minutes? Are you kidding me? How long can you hold yours? Not even close to that long...don't try to, either. You'll pass out!! Another poor guy had hiccups for a looooong time. How long? 68 years. Yikes!
  • Vitamin A can help soothe respiratory symptoms. We will suggest supplementing to Hubby. Perhaps it will help him out. Magnesium, Vitamin C, and Zinc are also useful for respiratory health. Time for a trip to the Health Food Store, I think.
  • We will also be telling Hubby that he needs to cut out milk for a while. It can aggravate respiratory symptoms because it it is MUCUS producer (this was one of my brother's favorite words when he was a kid...I bolded and wrote it in caps for you, bro!). I cut out milk about six months ago and have had very few allergy-related issues this season...maybe that is why (well, I still use a little milk if I indulge in Oreos, but they are not very healthy, so let's just pretend I never admitted that).
  • We cleaned our home filters, dusted our funiture with a damp cloth, washed our curtains and blankets, and vacuumed our few carpeted areas to cut down on airborne allergens.
  • I decided that one thing I want for my birthday is a set of essential oils. Scents like lemon, orange, rosemary, and thyme sound lovely for cleaners and natural health products. I think I would like to make my own. I've already made my own hand soap and laundry soap on occasion, so why not furniture cleaner, too?
  • Did you know that peppermint increases alertness and vanilla reduces anxiety? Maybe that's one reason I only wear vanilla scents. Unconsciously, I knew I needed help being less anxious and gravitated toward it...LOL. Actually, I have fragrance-triggered migraines (anything but things that smell like baked goods bother me), so reading about the Olfactory System in Lesson Two was very interesting for us.
  • We tried out the very fragrant Basil and Garlic Pesto recipe one afternoon, and Tex LOVED it. He is a big basil fan anyway, and we had fresh basil from our garden (one of my plants survived the winter and is already going gangbusters), but we had to use minced garlic instead of fresh. He still enjoyed it on french bread. It was a bit too garlicky for the rest of us who helped, but his dad liked it, too.
  • The little ones liked doing the experiments with smell by trying to tell the differences between leaves from a few natural items I picked and put into bags: bayberry leaves, basil, rosemary, mint, orange peel, pine needles, and cedar.
  • Another activity we chose to do for smell was to pick a scent to represent each season. We chose the following: Spring=dirt, Summer= hay, Fall=wood smoke, Winter=pine. The little ones drew pictures about the scents and the seasons in lieu of writing poems as was suggested.
  • We will be using this book more, this year and next (and for years to come) as part of our homeschooling curriculum. I feel very blessed to have recieved it. It is wonderful.

About the Price:

Yes, this book is a bit pricey. At $99.95 for the print copy, $79.95 for a cd copy (that can be put onto an e-reader, for example), or $129.95 for the combo pack, the price seems like a lot for one course's book. I am telling you in all honesty that if I had seen this at a convention, I would not have purchased it because of the price. You all know that my favorite price is FREE! and I do believe much of this information is available in various places on the internet (or in other books at your library) for free...

HOWEVER, you will not likely discover the same quality information without expending a lot of time and effort searching for it, and you will certainly not find it packaged in such a colorful, clearly illustrated, engaging, and useful manner. Nor will you find the delicious recipes, or the many, many fun, interesting, and applicable activities all in one convenient place.

AND since you are reading this review, if you go to the Growing Healthy Homes site and place an order using the code  TOScrew11 , you will get the same 15% discount you would receive if you were to purchase this product at a Convention. Does that make the price sound just a bit better? You betcha! Awesome!!

**My advice is that if you have been thinking lately that you need something a bit more formal for health/nutrition class before the kids graduate, or if you already plan to do a health class with your homeschoolers (or perhaps a co-op group), but find you are all getting bored with the regular BORING texts out there, take a look at this excellent curriculum, and decide to put forth the extra investment for the quality product you will obtain.

You will find yourself referring to it over and over again, over the course of many years and with many students. It is one text that will work for all levels, and can be used more than once without fear of its repetition becoming dull or tedious.

Buying this book will not likely be an investment made in may, in fact, be what turns your family's health/nutrition/life around.

Just a few more words: The author seems very firm in the stance of limiting many foods. I tend to take a more relaxed approach, with improving our diet overall as our goal (I am not going to tell my child to refuse cake at a birthday party, for example). Also, the author has very firm opinions on a few things like vaccinations and yoga that you may not agree with, but the fact that she shares her opinions made me respect her more, whether I agree with her or not. She always tells you why she has her opinion. You are free to disagree and follow the Lord's leading for your own life. Perhaps her opinion will make you think about something you've never deliberately considered before. It's not a bad thing.


You can find out more information about this product on the Growing Healthy Homes website HERE.

See a sample HERE.

You can see more information about their pricing HERE. Don't forget about using the coupon code if you order ('s TOScrew11)

You can read what other Crew members had to say about Nutrition 101: Choose Life! HERE.



Disclaimer: I received an ebook version of this curriculum in exchange for providing my honest opinion about it here on my blog. What you read here is what I honestly think of the product and how we used it in our homeschool. If you have questions I did not answer here, please feel free to contact me.

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