Lightening Bug Lullabies: A Review AND Giveaway!!!

Our family loves music. All three of my girls play the piano and sing their way through life, sometimes familiar songs and sometimes their own made-up tunes. We listen to everything from classical to KLOVE, but the girls enjoy music geared towards them. One of our absolute favorite singers is Mrs. Kate Carpenter. Her music is loved by children all over the world…I know because her grand-kids live in in Ecuador! 

Mrs. Kate’s music glorifies God and His creation in each note. She has concerts in all sorts of venues including churches, schools, nature centers, libraries, and festivals, drawing a crowd at each event. Our church had the opportunity to host her a couple of years ago and all the children who attended had a fun-filled time!

Mrs. Kate’s newest release is Lightening Bug Lullabies. I have to say, this may be my favorite! Of course, I feel that way every time she has something new. The songs are perfect for bedtime with just the right mix of cheerful and relaxing tunes that will soothe your little ones to sleep.

We allow our girls to listen to stories at bedtime on the weekends, but on school nights we only allow them to listen to lullabies. They ever since we received this new collection of music they have listened to it every night…every night. Even on the nights when they listen to stories, I’ve had whichever girl was still awake come and ask if they could put Mrs. Kate in the CD player for them to fall asleep to. This is a true sign of how lovely it is. They usually want something new every couple of nights, but after several weeks they are still enjoying Lightening Bub Lullabies.

We were delighted on day when they were singing one of the songs in the car. They graciously let me video them again at home so you could hear one of their favorite songs from the CD.

Adorable, right? Now don’t you want to hear your little ones singing this? To get these songs for yourself you can visit Mrs. Kate’s website or download from any major internet store including iTunes and CD Baby. I assure you that you will be blessed by all of her music and especially this newest release. 
Now, thanks to Mrs. Kate’s generosity, ONE of my readers will be blessed with a copy of the Lightening Bug Lullabies CD! Enter below! 
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Lightening Bug Lullabies to review from Mrs. Kate Carpenter. This review is my own opinion and I was not required o write a positive review. 

Homeschool Helper Review and Giveaway!

I’m so excited to hold a giveaway for one of my favorite homeschooling tools, the Homeschool Helper App! This app does everything I need it to and more! I used it last year, but this year feel more prepared to utilize all aspects I need to fit my needs. (You can read my original review here)

There are just sooooo many features in this app, many options that I think it will work for absolutely every family now matter how you homeschool or what curriculum you use. I’m going to highlight some of my favorites…

I absolutely love the attendance feature. Our state has minimal requirements, but one of those requirements is attendance. I have a form I am required to fill out, but it is a pain to take it out every day. I already keep my iPad handy, so I take attendance here and then update my required form every few months. You have the options for a full-day, a half-day, and absent.

I love how I dictate what courses we are studying and how grades are calculated. I can give percentage amounts and change how the letter grades are separated numerically. I prefer a 10 point grading system and only grade for classwork and tests for the few subjects I give. On the summary page for each student you can see not only their overall average at a glance, but also attendance records (just in case I forget to click that button one day!), upcoming field trips, and upcoming tasks. I don’t utilize the task function yet, but I like the idea of having it available. 

Grading is probably my least favorite part of homeschool. It is funny how I used to pretend school as a kid and I thought this was the most fun! Now it is just a tedious necessity. Homeschool Helper has taken out much of the hassle. I already mentioned the ability to calculate grades as you want, but the actual inputting of grades is so easy. There is a little calculator to the side where you can input the number correct, the number possible, and it will calculate a percentage grade for you! I have been doing a much better job of keeping grades this year because of this app. I do take the time to input the lesson because if one of my girls struggles in an area I need to know what it was. This also lets me see how they are doing overall quickly at a glance. My total grading time if I do it all together in the afternoons is right around 15-20 minutes. I grade grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and math in the traditional way and the other subjects as a participation type grade.

Sweet little Grace is still officially in preschool, so I am not required to do any of this for her, but you had better not tell her this! She wants her report card just as much as her sisters and she isn’t shy about telling me this. For her I use an effort based grading system which is an option I love. She’s doing great so all of those E‘s mean excellent. I also love how I can add as many subjects for each student as I need. The most you can include is 14, but I seriously can’t imagine needing all 14 ever.

The last really neat feature is the field trip planner. I have several field trips in mind, and I am currently using this list for my own use. However, once we take a trip, it will pop up on their summary and report cards, which is really cool. I do give my girls report cards because as much as I know grades are not everything, it is a good teaching tool. They can see where they are growing and learning and I think they deserve a chance to feel good about their hard work. It is also fun for them to show this to their grandparents which they heartily do!

 I think this is one of the best valued apps for the price I’ve ever come across. The current cost in the app stores is $4.99. It is well worth the price and it is available for Android users, iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook color!

And now what you have been waiting for!!!! Your very own chance to win this app! I wish everyone could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prelude for a Lord Giveaway!!!!!!

I have had the chance to read some great books this summer. My favorite without a doubt Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot. You can read my full review here.

Camille Elliot has generously offered to bless one of my readers with an autographed copy of the book! I’m so excited to have this opportunity because I personally love to read, but my book money is now reserved for wonderful homeschooling supplies and it is a rare treat to have a book all to myself.

The giveaway is open until next Monday and only for residents of the continental US.

I wish you all could win!

Odyssey Adventure Club iPad Mini Giveaway!

Ahhhhh! I’m so incredibly excited!!!! I’ve given away some great stuff before, but I’ve never had the chance to offer one of my readers an iPad mini! We have thoroughly enjoyed the Odyssey Adventure club. My girls were so excited to get to listen to Odyssey in the evenings in our tent when we went camping and my girls keep begging to borrow my iPad to go listen to adventures all over the house. They absolutely love having it all at their finger tips!
Enough chit-chat…are you read to enter!?!?!?!?!

 The end of summer is in sight, and OAC is giving away an iPad Mini back-to-school bundle!It might seem like summer just began for your kids, so if they need some added motivation to get their homework done, remind them they can jump on the Odyssey Adventure Club after their papers are written and their math problems are solved.

As members, your kids can also listen to Album 58 before the album is released to the public! Sign up today for just $5!

Here’s what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.

Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive. Plus, here’s a sneak peek of a new episode called “The Lone Lawman”!

LoneLawman_Final 2

 Jason, Whit, Red and the gang rustle up herds of fun while performing a new Kids’ Radio show set in the Old West. “The Lone Lawman” features a confused boy getting mixed up with a shifty band of bank robbers. Can a hero on horseback set things right? See just how wild the West can get in this action-packed send-up of old-time radio dramas.

NOW . . . on to the iPad Mini back-to-school bundle. One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. All winners will be announced August 28th on the widget on this page.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit this page again on the 28th to see if you won! (You’ll see the winner’s name in the widget.)

More Than "Mere" Education Giveaway!!!!!

  I am incredibly excited to be on the launch team for the Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal! I’m looking forward to using it personally to engage my mind. With young children I have not been challenging myself academically and so this is going to be great! 
As part of the launch team I’m excited to help host and INCREDIBLE giveaway! I mean absolutely incredible! There will be two winners and both prize packages are beyond amazing, full of popular homeschooling resources your family would be blessed with! 

The Home School Adventure Co. Launch Team is excited to help celebrate the release of the Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal with a special giveaway filled with books that will compliment your classical studies, as well as a couple of special surprises.  

The best news is that there will be two winners, each receiving a very valuable prize package!  

We would like to thank the following friends for their generous sponsorship of this giveaway! Be sure to stop by their websites to say thank you!

Institute for Excellence in Writing
Nancy Pearcey
Trivium Pursuit
Bright Ideas Press
Raising Real Men

Here are the prize packages you could win! 

Prize Package #1

Our first prize package contains all of the print resources from Home School Adventure Co., as well as wonderful books, curriculum, and even a marriage retreat. This prize package, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Nancy Pearcey, and Trivium Pursuit, has a value of $500!

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal $28.95
Philosophy Adventure – Pre-Socratics Complete Set $89.95
Philippians in 28 Weeks ESV $28.95
The Wise Woman with Literaray Analysis Journal Questions $28.95

IEW Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Pack (Winner’s Choice of Levels A, B, or C) $249

The Soul of Science $11.99
Total Truth $25.00
Saving Leonardo $26.99

Teaching the Trivium Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style $20.40
The Fallacy Detective $22
The Thinking Toolbox $22

Prize Package #2

Our second prize package is filled with all of the resources offered at Home School Adventure Co. in their downloadable editions, as well as a set of all 3 volumes of The Mystery of History by Linda Hobar. This prize package, sponsored by Bright Ideas Press and Raising Real Men, has a value of $300! 

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal Download $18.95
Philosophy Adventure – Pre-Socratics Digital Download $39.95
Philippians in 28 Weeks ESV Download $14.95
The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions Download $14.95

The Mystery of History, Volume I $49.95
The Mystery of History Volume II $49.95
The Mystery of History Volume III $59.95

My Beloved and My Friend book and Marriage Retreat Online $45
Pollyanna Audio Book Download $18

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older please.

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Waterproof Bible: Review and Giveaway!

As we focus this week on thankfulness many of us think back to the Pilgrims. Under increasing persecution these steadfast individuals made a seemingly impossible journey on ship built for trading, not passengers, during inopportune months of the year all in the name of faith freedom. It is difficult for those of us living in America nearly 400 years forward to even imagine the type of persecution which would lead them to this drastic journey. Beth and I have spent a good portion of our year studying about the Pilgrims and one thing we learned was how limited they were in what they could bring. Precious cargo space could not be filled with anything frivolous. We do know at least one Bible would have been aboard as this was considered treasure above all else.

I’m reviewing and hosting a giveaway for something I think the Pilgrims would have heartily approved for their voyage across the ocean…a Waterproof Bible! Bardin and Marsee Publishing has created this very unique publication of Scripture for the purpose of use outdoors without the fear of damage. Whether camping, hiking, hunting, or hanging out by the pool, this ensures your ability to meditate on the Word of God without fear of damaging the binding or pages. 
The girls and I have really enjoyed this Bible. I am reviewing the New King James Version which matches what the girls use for our lessons as well as in Awana. One of the concerns I have with taking school outside is damage to our books. Since Bible is core to our homeschooling day this is a huge incentive to be more mobile with our schooling. 

As soon as I showed it to Rose she asked, “So, can we test it out?” It only made sense, so we proceeded to do what seems completely insane…pour water onto the Bible. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy to do the first time. I was nervous. I believed what the company said about their product, but intentionally putting water on any book goes completely against my upbringing. However, once we tried it out, it was way too cool not to do again. Rose is very much looking forward to warmer weather so she can give it a test at the pool!

The pages feel almost rubbery rather than the stiff plastic texture I was expecting. When water was placed onto the page or cover it forms as a little pool and does not soak through. I could easily dump it into the sink and then use a towel to quickly dry the page. According to the website (along with video proof!) it can be completely immersed and will eventually dry even with no special process needed. I did not test this particular feature, but take a minute to check out the videos. It is pretty awesome to watch. 

I love their slogan: Be Inspired Anywhere. I see this particular Bible being extremely helpful for missionaries and our military who are serving in areas with little to no protection from humidity. It can be written on although the website tells you to specifically use pencil or ball-point pens. Dry highlighters may also be used. The key is using something which will not smear if it does get wet. There are also a variety of accessories available to go along with this Bible including waterproof journals and bible covers.

Something else I love is this is a family business. Bobby and Anna Bardin have a passion for seeing God’s Word taken to all corners of the earth and have a really wonderful story. They also have a lovely blog giving you a peak into their personal life. 
And now…the giveaway! I can’t wait for one of my readers to be blessed with their own copy of the Waterproof Bible. There are several ways to enter so don’t delay! 

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Homeschool Helper App: Review and Giveaway!

Record keeping for homeschooling isn’t always easy. Although I live in a state with minimal requirements regarding record keeping, I keep lesson plans, grades, field trips, and attendance in a notebook so I can easily see where we are. My main reason is to help me stay on track and know where my girls are at in their learning. In the past I was spending a good hour or so at the end of the week grading and recording grades. Bleh…not my favorite part of homeschooling, but definitely something I felt was necessary. 

When I purchased my iPad one of the first apps I wanted to download was the Homeschool Helper App. I had heard of it about a year ago and really liked what I saw. This very functional app is available for iPad, Android tablets, Nook Color, and in the Amazon store for Kindle. The $4.99 cost is well-worth it once you realize all this app can do! In addition this is a one-time purchase with no need to pay for updates. 

The first thing I noticed about this app after installing it is just how pretty it is. Many of the life-management apps I have looked at are very functional, but also very sterile. I love the look of the opening screen for this app because it feels so personal. I quite often have my steaming cup of tea by my side as I work on record upkeep and I’m very much a pencil and paper kind of girl for the most part. Using this app makes me feel happy and not like I’m turning into a technology zombie. I appreciate the effort that the creators put into making this eye-pleasing in addition to being extremely functional. 

As for the features, wow there are just so many! As I began to use this app I would find myself enjoying features I never thought would have been included. One I particularly like is the inclusion of field trips. We try to take 1-2 field trips a month as a family. I kept a mental list of what we did, but now we have a formal list. I do not have to report at the end of the year to our state or create a portfolio, but it is really nice to be able to look back and see some of the fun we’ve had. 

I can add as many students as I want which is a nice feature for families with lots of kids. My three girls were very easy to setup. My oldest two are receiving letter grads and my youngest daughter receives effort based grades. I like being able to have it both ways and that I have the ability to set how the grades are calculated. I can also enter up to 14 subjects. I thought that was more than I could ever need, but I ended up using all of them for my oldest daughter because I included things like art and computer.

The lesson planning feature allows you to input lessons for each day and every subject. You can also track what lessons have been taught and which ones are still waiting to be covered. This would be very nice for families who create their own curriculum and lesson plans. Since we follow a pre-planned curriculum this has not proved as useful for me. I do make a weekly checklist but it is still fast for me to do this as a pencil and paper project than it is to type into my iPad.

I really like the grade calculator because I prefer a points based system and the grade calculator allows me to do that and then quickly input the number onto the subject page. I would prefer a points only system as and option since that is what I’m most comfortable with using, but this is working out fine. 

I printed report cards for my girls last week and they were so beautiful! I easily sent them to my e-mail and now have a lovely printed record of my girls grade including their school name, attendance record, and exact grades.They are attractively designed and look as formal as traditional report cards. 
A lot of thought and time has been put into the creation of this to make it as user-friendly as possibly for homeschooling families. It was intentionally created as self-contained with no need for the internet so that it can be used 100% of the time. This is nice for us since we do not have 3G capability on our device. The only feature I could think of that I would like is to be able to set quarters and semesters at the beginning of the setup. Right now I can print grades from any date range and create my own quarters/semester. 
Take a moment to also learn a little about the family who created the Homeschool Helper App! They are homeschoolers and I think this is very evident from how easy and functional this little app is.
Now for the giveaway!!!! One of my readers will be blessed with a code to receive this for free for the iPad app!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclaimer: I was provided with this app for my iPad for free for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received. 

Mrs. Kate Carpenter’s Hug-a-Bug-a-Boo DVD: Review and Giveaway!

Mrs. Kate Carpenter has been a friend of our Family for a long time. Not only is she a dear friend, she is also an amazing song-write and singer! Her fun folk tunes engage audiences of all ages. We had the chance to have her in concert at our church a few weeks ago and the girls were so excited to see Mrs. Kate in person! If you didn’t read it yet, check out the field-trip post!

Hug-a-Bug-a-Boo is Mrs. Kate’s newest DVD release. We own several of her DVD’s as well as her first DVD. I’m glad it’s not a VHS because we would have worn it out by now! Mrs. Kate uses song to teach kids about manners, positive behavior, nature, and more. She even has a potty-training song included which leaves all of us laughing. Mrs. Kate and her guitar will have you humming and dancing as you follow along with the motions to the catchy tunes.

My girls love these songs. Some they knew already and others were new. One of my new favorite songs was Habit the Rabbit. Habit teaches kids all sorts of important manners such as not interrupting (except for emergencies!) and texting while interacting with others.

My girls favorite new song from the DVD Colibri  which is Spanish for hummingbird. We have thoroughly enjoyed the hummingbirds around our feeder this past summer and this fun little song has left us anxious to see them again next year!

I love that Mrs. Kate’s faith comes through in all her music. Even if the songs do not come directly from Scripture her heart for Jesus shines through with every note. She often has the opportunity to present anti-drug and anti-bullying programs in schools, both public and private as well as community groups and libraries.

And now for the awesome giveaway! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Mary Frances Cookbook from Applewood Books: Review and Giveaway!

I like to say I’m an accidental Charlotte Mason educator. I can’t claim to have chosen this type of learning because I was two years into our curriculum before I’d ever heard of Charlotte Mason, let alone realized our curriculum was modeled after her style! The heart of Charlotte Mason is good habits, first-hand experience, and living books. A living book is defined as a book which is written as an exciting narrative which draws the reader in. It may be on any subject and engages the reader and entices them to learn more. I can attest that this style of learning fits our family well. I believe in it and my girls love the books we have used so far.

The Mary Frances Cook Book by Jane Eayre Fryer is a wonderful example of a living book originally published in 1912. While a cook book may not be something you automatically think of engaging your children, I can assure you this is something altogether different! This is a storybook about a young girl whose mother is not feeling well, so she decides to help her out in the kitchen. Much to her surprise all of the pots, pans, and utensils in the kitchen come to life and help her learn all she needs to know. Through the course of the 26 chapters, each a little story of its own, Mary Frances learns to make 40 recipes! Each of the recipes is included in the book along with detailed instructions on how to prepare them in a kid-friendly words.

I’ve been reading this to the girls during lunch. I’ve been letting them help me prepare meals for a while and lunch is one of the easiest. They were really excited when I told them I’d read to them during their meal which surprised me since they knew they’d need to be quiet during the meal.

They have enjoyed every chapter and I can never get away with reading just one! Since it was published in 1912 some of the wording and phrases feel old fashioned, but not as much as I expected at first. I do tend to reword as I read at times for simplicity, but I rarely had to do this. We are still reading the book, but it won’t be long before we finish at the rate we are moving.

These are some pictures of the girls helping me make lemonade recently. They love to help in the kitchen and can’t wait to try out some of Mary Frances’ recipes. We will have to make some modifications simply because of the modern conveniences we use now, like using an electric toaster rather than a wire one held over a fire. These simple substitutions have provided lots of opportunity to talk about how things are different now than they used to be. 
Now for the giveaway!!!!! I just love this company! One of my blessed readers will receive one of the four books I reviewed this week from Applewood Books. (Click here to see the choices!)  Make sure you take advantage of all the ways to enter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveawayDisclaimer: I received The Mary Frances Cook Book from Applewood Books in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my own opinion. 

Hello, Florida! from Applewood Books: Review

Florida feels like the girls’ second home. Rose and Beth were both born in Florida and my husband’s parents live there. We visit the state a couple of times a year and the girls have enjoyed many of the sites in South Florida, but it is such a big state and there are so many other places for them to learn about!
Hello, Florida! by Martha Day Zschock is a fun board book all three of my girls fell in love with! I’m always happy when something I have for Grace gets my other girls excited. She is in preschool so I don’t usually expect her books and activities to engage her sisters. This was one of those times and Grace’s older sisters took great pleasure in reading this story to her! 
The first time I read this to Grace her sisters were working on their lessons. I figured they wouldn’t be interested in their sister’s new board book, so I didn’t think about reading it to all of them. Imagine my surprise, when I suddenly realized they had come up behind us and were reading over my shoulder. They really enjoyed seeing what the alligator tour guides told about Florida next.
Grace asked her sister just today, “Will you read to me?” I love that the girls enjoy reading to their youngest sister and it’s a fun way for them to practice oral story telling. So many different areas of Florida are represented in this short book. Florida is a diverse state, so much more than just the beaches and amusement parts normally remembered. The diversity of the land is well represented. The beautiful illustrations capture the imagination and once again the girls asked if we could visit the areas mentioned the next time we visit. 
My favorite pages were about the Everglades, the area we lived in when Beth and Rose were born. We used to count the alligators in the canals created in the Everglades as we traveled to and from our town, but none were as cute as the two in this book! They are so sweet and made for excellent tour guides. 
Whether you are visiting Florida for the amusements, the history, the beautiful nature, or because you have family there, this will be a fun book to take along with you. Perhaps you’re studying through various states around our country. This would make a fabulous addition as would many of the other books in the series. The detailed pictures make it fun to read over and over and will give even your youngest travelers a sense of what is in store for them!
Disclaimer: I received Hello, Florida!  from Applewood Books in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my own opinion.