Friday, February 15, 2019

For the Temple (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

It’s my first Homeschool Review Crew of the year! And it’s coming from one of our very, very favorite vendors. It is always a pleasure to review an audio drama from Heirloom Audio. The newest production from Heirloom Audio is For The Temple.  It didn’t disappoint.

I can’t say give enough love to Heirloom Audio. They are a company that produces audio dramas based on the books written by G.A. Henty. Every one of them has been as exciting and well-produced as the other. If you haven’t heard of G.A. Henty, I recommend any of his stories for the homeschool family. He wrote with such conviction. Heirloom Audio brings out the best of his books.

For this review, we received a 2 CD set. The whole listening experience takes about 2 ½ hours….or at least how long the CD’s run. We get plenty of great listening in the car on the way to and from all of our activities. The quality of the production is first rate. The music! The actors! The message! 

So I need to tell you just a bit about the story itself.  We open with the narrator, voiced by the fabulous Brian Blessed, visiting with a young man in Vienna. After conversing about the beautiful architecture, the narrator begins the story of the destructing of the temple of Jerusalem.

And so begins the adventure. The time is AD 67 and we are introduced to a young man named John. His life plan is to take over his father’s vineyard one day and marry a family friend. But after a storm on the Sea of Galilee, he meets a man named Josephus. Josephus is a resistance fighter and encourages John to join the Jewish army.  You might know that Josephus was an actual Jewish historian AND resistance fighter. I love how these stories insert real-life figures.

While defending the city of Jotapata from the Romans, John meets his sidekick Jonas. By the way, Jotapata has a really cool pronunciation. Though I don’t remember naming any children Jotapata…no matter how it rolls off the tongue.

Anyhoo. Jotapata is soon lost to the Romans and John and his friend, Jonas escape the city. John forms a band of men and begins to hassle the Romans. As the story continues, John becomes determined to fight to save the temple of Jerusalem from Roman destruction.  It is all for not, but John meets followers of The Way during his adventures and comes to believe in Yeshua as the promised Messiah.

This story is filled with so many great themes. Integrity, loyalty, and courage…all important things I want to impart into my son. And as far as entertainment value…there is loads of that.  The battle scenes might be a bit scary for the younger crowd, but we appreciate all the battling. 

In addition to our CDs, we received a pdf download of the excellent Study Guide. It is 51 pages long and is filled with all kinds of goodies.

The Study Guide is divided into three different sections. The comprehension questions are located in the Listening Well section. You can find discussion and follow-up questions in Thinking Further and there is vocabulary in Defining Words. Of course, each section is found for every chapter.

In addition, you will find three Bible studies that accompany the story.  This study below talks about Proper Worship. It looks very timely. 

There is also quite a bit of historical information available (which I plan on incorporating into our lessons). 

Some is peppered throughout the guide.

Still, more is included in its own section.
You can see that the quality of the whole guide is just excellent. We have used Heirloom Audio guides for years and they are always thought provoking and extremely well-done. You can tell that great attention is paid to every detail. These Heirloom Audio folks are such talented folks. 

I can't say enough about Heirloom Audio. They have added such a richness to our homeschool experience. You can read more about our adventures with Heirloom Audio below. These are all my reviews for this great company!

You need For the Temple in your homeschool library! 

You can connect with Heirloom Audio via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below so you can read what other reviewers thought.

Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial

For The Temple {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Favorite Homeschool Podcasts and More

It's true. Sometimes I need a little bit of encouragement. Or ideas.

Lately, I've been into watching these young chickees on youtube cleaning their houses to cool, hipster music.

While I am going to be posting a few more videos to my blog in the near future, you will most likely never see a cleaning video from me.

Nobody wants to see that.

But isn't it ironic that I get some sort of sense of accomplishment out of watching someone clean her house?

I personally love listening to people talk about their experiences and their lives. Especially when there is a nugget I can connect to.

Let's be honest. As a homeschool parent, I need all the positive encouragement and love I can get. Sometimes the real world doesn't understand us. It is so important to have people in your life that are on your side and those who can mentor you through your journey. We always can't have them living next door to us, but the interwebs have made it possible for a whole host of lovely people to visit us every day.

I know that you are anxious to read down the list and see what little gems I have found for you.


Homeschool Sanity
I have been receiving Dr. Melanie Wilson's emails for years. She is not only a homeschool mom, but she is a Christian psychologist. Dr. Melanie knows some stuff. I really enjoyed this podcast about How To Be Consistent in Homeschooling.

Homeschool Solutions
Pam Barnhill is the creator of the Morning Basket (which was a brilliant addition to our homeschool). She has lots of content. This podcast called How You Are the Enemy of Your Best Morning (just over 8 minutes in length) kicked me in the hiney recently.

The Homeschool Sisters 
Cait and Kara are both homeschoolers and (obviously) sisters. Both gals are interesting in themselves and they chat about a variety of topics. I found this podcast on Gameschooling to be right up our alley. They speak my language.

Read Aloud Revival

You probably have heard of the Read Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie. For one, she has awesome booklists. But her podcasts talk about books and she talks to the authors of those books. This podcast about what your kids can do while you are reading aloud and is AWESOME. I have used the read aloud as a primary tool in our homeschool from the beginning and love this list. One day I'll have to do a blog post about what I have used with Josiah over the years.

Did you know that IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) has a podcast? YAASS!! If you have followed any of my homeschool blogs you might know that I ADORE Andrew Pudewa. I have heard him speak many times and have used IEW products all through our homeschool career. This is a great podcast about Beating Burnout.  It gave me some insight into pushing through a tough time.

Sally Clarkson
A few years ago I was one of many bloggers who promoted one of Sally's books. It was called The Lifegiving Home. Sally wrote it with her daughter Sarah. The Clarkson's homeschooled all of their children and give me hope. All of their kids are such interesting people. The family so warm and connected with their mission to show Jesus Christ. I love Sally's podcast. This encouraging podcast, called Waiting For Life to Bloom came right when I needed it too.

Flourish at Home
This is another author whose book I have reviewed. Mary Jo Tate is the author of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms. She also has a podcast.

Did you know that there is a whole podcast station dedicated to homeschoolers? It is called the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Show. You really need to go take a look.

Youtubers and Videos

I haven't listed as many of these. There are many families who homeschool on youtube. These are just my favs and ones who offer a variety of content. We can't talk about homeschooling all the time.

The Daily Connoisseur 
Full disclosure. I have all of Jennifer L.Scott's books. I have had them for a long time. Initially, she wasn't a homeschooler. Even when I discovered she had a youtube channel. But she liked all the things. Classical music. Hot Tea. Mystery Books. She is just plain classy. Now Jennifer has joined us homeschoolers and while she doesn't have videos about homeschooling necessarily....she is still classy and has all kinds of great content. Right now she has a "Chic February Assignment." Which I'm all about.

Our Tribe of Many
This family is precious. And HUGE. But they are also pastors and aren't ashamed to share their love for Jesus. She is super organized and just terrific.

This Gathered Nest
Another big ole family. Their kiddos are adorbs. They also are big proponents of adoption and we all know I feel about that whole thing.

Life In Grace
She isn't on youtube, but Dr. Edie Wadsworth is a treasure. I follow her on Facebook and she has wonderful live videos. She also has a book out that is m

Hopefully...I've given you a few looks and listens that you hadn't encountered before. Let me know if you have some others you love.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Scripture Cards!

Hey friends! 

I thought I would share some Scripture Cards I've created. Posting Scripture in strategic spots in my house is one way I like to encourage myself and the other people who live in my house. 

You can go to the links below on Google Drive and print off these yourself. I printed mine on cardstock. They aren't exactly all the same size, but they will do. I eventually plan to run them through my laminator. 


You know how it is.  

In the meantime, I have some big things going on right now and I need all the focus and comfort I can get. It is so important to put first things first. In my life, this means that my relationship with God needs to be first. 

I hope these will be helpful to someone. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mid-Week Update

Hello, sweet friends.

It's Tuesday evening here at the Parsonage. I'm wedged into my favorite spot on my comfy couch waiting for a pot of chili to finish the business of simmering. Today was an uneventful day....filled with our usual Tuesday happenings. We did have a visit from a sweet church lady. I think she had just gotten her hair done and was getting rid of some cabin fever while we have a few days before some more snow.

Yes! We have snow. It is the first significant snowfall of the winter. And from what these native Indianan's tell me (including The Studly Muffin) it's late. We have another weather event happening this weekend.

Yeah, buddy.

I thought perhaps I tell you a few things we are doing right now...perhaps provide someone out there with some mid-week/snow day inspiration.

Keep in mind that MOST homeschoolers would rather take their snow days in the spring. In our house, we have been known to mix it up with an impromptu winter nature study or a Tolkien binge-a-thon (which is happening very soon).

Anyhoo. It's how we roll.


We are reading Beowulf. I've taken the easy road and purchased Robert Nye's retelling of the epic poem.  It is nice and grisly. Listen to this.

"Out in the black fen something stirred. It was cruel and slimy and its eyes shone green. A part of the night it moved through, its wicked heart was darker than the darkest place in that night. Even the moon would not look at it."

Isn't that deliciously horrifying? We are going to watch The 13th Warrior later in the week and another movie adaptation next week. 


One of the best Audible purchases I've made in a while has been unexpected. On a whim I got Medical School For Everyone: Emergency Medicine from The Great Courses. If you aren't familiar with The Great Courses they feature university-lectures on many, many subjects. This one has been a huge hit with Josiah. It comes with a PDF that features all of the lectures in written form. I have been printing them out as we go and filling a notebook. Josiah simply reads along.

It's almost like watching Grey's Anatomy without all the icky relationship stuff.


Last year, I purchased a book called The Useful Book. It basically is a whole book of life skills everybody needs to know about. It is AWESOME! And the very first lesson? How to boil water. I kid you not. Josiah learned how to deep fry french fries last week using a lesson from the book. And that my friends is a dangerous thing. I'm not talking about the dangers of hot, boiling oil. I'm talking about plates of deep-fried french fries. I think this week we will focus on how to chop vegetables for salads. We need to counteract all of that french fried goodness with some green stuff.

Well, that's all I have for this evening. Sleep tight!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Random Thoughts: The New Year/Life Updates Version


It's been a few days since I've posted anything on the ole blog here. A couple of reasons. I'm sure I'll get into them in what is sure to be a widely entertaining and often rambling post.

I'm sure you can't wait. Instead of boring you with my life's novel, I have decided to do all updating in an orderly fashion.

I love a good list.

1. The Big Black Dog

I have sad news. Solomon (the Big Black Dog aka the Rottweiler) died just after Thanksgiving. We knew he probably wasn't going to make it through the winter. He had lived an awfully long time for a Rottweiler.  His deep black coat had turned red and gray and he was painfully thin. He was still faithful to try and crawl into the car and sit on my lap when we first arrived for our Thanksgiving holiday. That was 169 pounds of Big Black Dog, by the way. I always had special feelings for Solomon. We were living with my parents when they brought him home as a puppy. It was a particularly painful and tough season in our lives. I was in active heart failure. We had resigned from our church and were basically homeless. Solomon would crawl into my lap and put his great puppy head on my shoulder. He was a welcomed playmate to a busy little Josiah. As he grew into that great massive dog, my little nieces would ride him around like a pony.  He was really the best dog. We're going to miss him.

2. 17! 

This baby turned 17! I can't even stand it. My mom took his usual birthday pictures. He spent most of his time trying to be cool about flinging his hair out of his eyes. That is a lot of hair to manage. I've mentioned his fascination with 80's rockers. He has dreams of glorious hair.

Me too, buddy.

The car belongs to my nephew. It used to belong to my brother and before that, it belonged to our great uncle. At least, I think that is the chain of ownership. At present, the car doesn't have an engine. But it is really great to lean up against when one is trying to look cool.

3. Surgery

When last we spoke, I had just had my surgery. I have really done well, but it has taken me a bit longer to recover than the average Joe (or Josephine).  This is one of the reasons I have tried to lay lower than usual. Let's be honest. 2018 wasn't a banner year for me as far as my health goes. I seemed to have hung on by the hairs of my chinny chin chin. By the time I had the surgery, I had about 3 functioning brain cells and even those were dodgy.  I wasn't even able to read a book....which left lots of time for Netflix binging watching. Which, I'm pleased to tell you, I am really good at.

Overall, the winter months are really tough on me. I am hoping that I can prevent some of the nastier effects by focusing on good habits.

4. 'Tis the Season

I always approach the end of the holiday season in two different minds. I am always a little sad it's all over. On the other hand, I am THRILLED it's all over. Thankfully, we had a great holiday season. Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence.  You'll just have to take my word for it. We got to spend time with family. And I was able to rest when I needed to rest. And I got some really great stuff. One of my favorite things was a porch swing! I have been talking about wanting one for quite some time now. The Muffin and some of our sweet friends from church went in on one. It's red and hangs from the rafters of our porch.

I'm in love.

I do have one final confession about Christmas. I still have a small pile of Christmas cards that need to be mailed on my coffee table. And, yes,  you bet your bippee I'm going to mail them.

5. New Year's

I am always a big maker of resolutions. This year is no exception. I always think it's a good time to reflect on the direction of one's life and how one could live more beautifully and fully. For one, I need to focus on developing my routines and rituals. I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my stretchy pants. I have come to realize, however, that flying by the seat of my stretchy pants isn't necessarily the best plan for me or my "issues."

Plus, I want to do so much...I need a few routines in my life to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Our yearly Downton Abby "binge-a-thon" is quickly approaching. I need to be on my game!  One of our traditions for the past several years has been to binge-watch Downton Abby during the winter months.

It's the little things, my friends. 

I think I've said all I want to say for now. I've got a list of things I want to do today and time seems to be passing. I've got all of our sheets in the washer and a pot of coffee brewing on the counter.

Have a GREAT New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Setting a portion of one's day aside to spend time with God is one of the most important things we can do. It can be challenging to set aside that time or build the habit in the first place. Devotions can beautiful and inspiring tools to help us be faithful to our time with God. I recently had the chance to review a devotional book for young women from Zondervan. It's called Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

This is a lovely, lovely hardback book. The artwork on the cover is delicate and is set off with a simple ribbon bookmark. 

The pages inside are also pretty to look at. They are printed with a border of the same floral pattern located on the outside of the book. The devotional itself is very well organized. Instead of being organized into calendar days, the days are marked by numbers. I REALLY like this, myself. I have had many devotionals that have been separated into calendar days. It can be very discouraging to know you have missed half of March. I like being able to simply pick up where I left off.

The devotions, themselves, are brief and can be read in a few minutes. The focus verses are about the women in the Bible.  While all of the topics are age appropriate the devotions don't shy away from some hard issues. After all, not all of the women in the Bible had days filled with sunshine and roses.

There is also a journaling space on each page. 

I found the devotions to be heartfelt and thought-provoking. For example, several devotions talks about Naomi and her relationship to her daughter-in-laws. Day 172 deals with how we can feel that we don't have anything to offer. It encourages us to dig deep to see those gifts God has given us and be willing to share them with the world.

"It's easy to forget all we have to offer sometimes. When we don't feel particularly blessed with wisdom or gifted with talent, we might decide it's better for those we encounter to spare us a quick nod and go on their merry way. But we can't lose sight of all that God has given us to share with the world."

What an encouraging word for the young woman of today! In fact, some of old"ish" gals could stand to hear it.

We are fast approaching Christmas. This would be a WONDERFUL and thoughtful gift for the young women in your life. In fact, I have some young women in my life who would love this lovely little book to add to their daily devotions.

You can read more reviews by clicking on the banner below. Don't forget to check out Zondervan on the following social media outlets.


Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Guitar 360 Method (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

My friends. The time is near. We are heading towards the end of our Review Crew run this year. 

Which means, shortly, we will be taking a good long break. In the meantime, I want to share with you with a good one. We got to review guitar lessons! This is really one of the best jobs evah. We got to try out the Semester 1 Bundle from Guitar 360 Method. This included 5 weeks of the Absolute Beginner bonus content). 

The Guitar 360 Method is an online course developed and taught by Krisz Simonfalvi. Mr. Simonfalvi has ooodles of experience playing professionally. He also has mentored and taught students all over North America and Europe from ages 4-74. 

I will talk more about his approach in just a minute. For now, you have to know that we have access to plenty of guitars in our house. The Muffin has a new Taylor and an old Martin. Josiah has ownership of an old honkytonk guitar that used to belong to my grandfather. But other than an impressive air guitar game, Josiah's guitar playing experience has been limited. 

We have been talking about music lessons for some time (with someone other than The Muffin), but things just haven't come together.  We all have a variety of musical experiences and education. Plus, some challenges. We pastor a small church and we don't have all "kinds of time." 

So back to Guitar 360 Method. This method is for beginners and those who know a bit more but want to expand their knowledge. This approach is a wonderful mix between learning to play the guitar for fun and learning music theory. 

The cool part is that the Absolute Beginner Course is FREE! Can't get any better than that! Semester 1 (which I was given access to) is for the "motivated beginner." I would suggest starting off with the Absolute Beginner Course and going from there. I think you will find Mr. Simonfalvi's methods refreshing.

The whole thing is taught by cyclical pedagogy. Basically, this means that the student is taught building blocks and those things are frequently being "cycled" back to in the lessons. I really could have used this approach when I learned to play the piano. There is just great freedom in that method of instruction. 

How We Used It
Josiah was so excited to start this course. Krisz Simonfalvi is a pretty cool teacher. He is most certainly teenager approved. However, I think it was a bit harder than he thought. His honkytonk guitar hasn't seen a lot of action for quite a number of years, but I imagine Josiah thought it would just magically start singing under his fingers. 
The lessons were (and are) exactly the pace he needed. The Absolute Beginner Course starts on basic things like finger placement, strumming, and picking. 

He's not quite through the Absolute Beginner Course yet, but I've had the opportunity to look through Semester 1.  I am really impressed. The content is excellent. The videos are well-produced and easy to navigate. And I love, love that we can watch them as often as we can. 

So here is where I get to the nitty gritty (along with a little pep talk). In our house, we have varying degrees of musical background and education. I have piano training, more vocal training and with that comes quite a bit of theory. However, playing the guitar is a different experience. My husband (aka The Muffin) has only had one guitar lesson in his life but has had years and years of "on the job" playing experience. He wishes he had more music theory in his life and a bit more barre chord know-how. 
And then there is Josiah. Who absolutely kills it on Guitar Hero. 
A program like Guitar 360 Method is a fit for all of us. It provides the hands-on visual practice we need. We can take our time. We aren't tied to a timetable. It provides excellent music education that gives us musical freedom AND a foundation for great technique. 
There is really SO MUCH GOOD STUFF here. The content is impressive.  
Right now is a great time to dive in. There is currently a discount on  Guitar 360 Method for homeschool families. Use the code HOMESCHOOL20 at checkout for 20% off the course.
You can connect with Guitar 360 Method via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}
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