Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes {Homeschool Review Crew}

We have quite an excellent collection of audio dramas, thanks to my years with The Crew. Some of our favorites have been from Heirloom Audio Productions. We were once again blessed to review a brand new adventure. This time The Cat of Bubastes made its way to our home!

GA Henty (a favorite) wrote this historical novel in the late 1800’s (1889). The folks at Heirloom Audio Productions have brought to life with this excellent production.

The Cat of Bubastes is set in Ancient Egyptian times. Egypt has conquered Rebu, a small country, taking some of the residents to Egypt as slaves. Amuba, the young prince and his loyal companion, Jethro are taken to the house of Ameres, a priest of the god Osiris. He becomes fast friends with the priest’s son, Chebron and a part of the household. However, there are dangerous times ahead.

Along with this 2-CD set, I also received some nice extras.

  • An mp3s of the audio drama
  • The Cat of Bubastes eBook- This is the original G.A. Henty book
  • The mp3 soundtrack
  • A printable poster featuring the cast
  • A printable inspirational verse poster- The poster features 1 Chronicles 17:21
  • Live the Adventure newsletter
  • A behind the scenes video
  • A study and discussion guide

How We Used It

My husband (The Muffin), has become a huge fan of Heirloom Audio Productions and GA Henty. We have listened to them over many a road trip. This time around, we were heading out on a long trip. I popped the CD set in my bag and popped it in the car. The CD is around 2 hours long so it filled up a good portion of our trip.

I have gushed enthusiastically over Heirloom Audio Productions before. OH MY GOODNESS! They never fail me. We were treated to familiar voices like Brian Blessed and Anthony Daniels. And, of course, the man. John Rhys-Davies. The music is fantastic. The quality of sound is fantastic. The acting is fantastic. 

The Cat of Bubastes is not quite as intense initially as some of the GA Henty novels. But, never fear! It certainly turns into the action-packed story we know to expect.

One of the more interesting aspects of this story is the explanation of how the Egyptians worshiped their Gods. Certain regions of Egypt even worshiped differently. Certain animals were revered and treated royally.  

Of course, you know Moses had to make an appearance in this drama! 

We didn’t take full advantage of the Extras I received, but I took a peak and they look fabulous. I think this would be a great companion to any study of Ancient Egypt.

The Study Guide is certainly a terrific resource. It contains the following sections.

Defining Words ~ vocabulary
Listening Well ~ questions that help with recall
Thinking Further ~  questions that allow students to dig a little deeper and discuss what they have heard. 

There are also recipes, historical information and hands-on activities included to enhance the study. And you will be pleased to know that the Stud Guide also includes Bible Studies, as well.  

The Cat of Bubastes is a great adventure! 

We loved it!

You can connect with Heirloom Audio Productions via the following social media outlets.  Don't forget to click on the banner below for more reviews. 

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Spencer Learning {Homeschool Review Crew}

Over the past few weeks we have been reviewing the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning. 

If you have followed my blog for very long, you might be aware that our son, Josiah, is dyslexic. He really is doing beautifully at this point in his life. He will never be the voracious reader I am, but he has made so much progress. One thing I have discovered in our years of trial and error concerning reading instruction is that constant review is a necessity in our house.  

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a downloadable software that any age can use. There are no bells and whistles…no singing cartoon characters…no color certificates to award. My 14-year-old can work through it without feeling like he working through a “babyish” program.

Just a note: This is downloadable software.  You will receive a license that is good for as many computers as you have. It can be used by anyone in your household.  You will need to be running Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP; or for Macs, OSX 10.5.8 or higher. You will also need a set of speakers or headphones.

I want to show you how it works. 

First of all, I suggest having your child (or user of the program) to take this FREE 10-minute reading test.  There is a free 10 day trial of Ultimate Phonics you can also try out. 

There are 262 lessons in all.  The following screen shots are from Lesson 34. One of the great features of this program is that it is super simple to go to any lesson I choose. 

Lesson 34 talks about the "bl" blend (or pattern). Notice the little speaker on the left-hand side? This allows the lesson to be read to you. 

The single green arrows on the top will take you back and forth in the lesson. The double arrows will change the lesson itself. This is the word list. The student can hear the word by allowing the mouse to hover over the word.

Next the student goes through each word individually. Each section of the word is sounded out.

After going through the word list, the student is given a sentences to read. The sentences are always made up of words or sounds that the student has already reviewed.

And that's it! That's all she wrote! The lessons are short...which is perfect for those busy students who get squirelly if time passes to long.

I've peeked at lessons way on down the line and there is quite a bit of content. This is part of the very last word list. I don't know about your student, but mine has difficulty spelling words that aren't really simple. This visually and audibly shows him the patterns.

Pretty spiffy, huh! 

I suggest you look it over. Try the free trial. I know you won't be disappointed. 

You can connect with Spencer Learning via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Moving Diaries: It's Fall Ya'll!

Shew! I'm wiped out!

This moving stuff is tough work. We are slowly getting it whipped out. I've tried to set goals for myself. Some have been unrealistic. Some have been as simple as this.

"Today I will brush my teeth."

It's the little things. Am I right?

This week Fall arrived. You wouldn't know it here in my new state. They are telling us that they experienced the hottest summer in  years. They could just be pulling a fast one on us, but I've visited Indiana often enough in the past to know that this could be true. And that by winter I'll be wishing for this overly toasty weather.

If you know me well, this next bit of information won't surprise you in the least.

I don't even have my kitchen all unpacked, but I made Josiah and The Muffin hunt down The Fall Decor Buckets. Notice the plural.

That's the way I roll.

Currently, there are pumpkins and a turkey sitting on a desk in my living room. We can't completely get through said living room, but we are festive.

I haven't had as much time to spend on the blog as of late. I intend to remedy that in the near future (fair warning). In the meantime, I thought I would give you a few links to my favorite fall recipes. Keep in mind that the only hot food I've had this week is food that folks have (a) brought to my front door or (b) eaten in a restaurant.

Our church folks are so great! They made sure the fridge was stocked up with food. We haven't starved.


Here are some favorites.

This Chocolate Cola Chili always reminds me of fall. I made this for Josiah's first birthday party (he is a November baby). It yummy!

Ida Brown's Fresh Apple Cake  is a perfect sweet treat for a fall day. This recipe comes from my childhood and a sweet church lady named (you guessed it) Ida Brown.

Monkey Bread  is one my family's favorite treats. In fact, I've added to family holiday celebrations the last few years. It doesn't require a lot of ingredients. Just a little time for biscuit cutting.

One last link then I'll let you get to bed. A few years ago, I wrote up a post featuring all kinds of pumpkin educational projects,..including making a batch of easy peasy pumpkin muffins and a link for a yummy pumpkin chili. You can check out that post here.

I couldn't help sharing this picture again. This is Josiah and his cousin, Chris, investigating a pumpkin.  I can't even stand it! My baby now has facial hair and a deep voice.


So there you go, my friends.

I'm heading off to bed, myself.

After, of course, I brush my teeth.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 {Homeschool Review Crew}

We’ve had a chance to review something really fun lately. An email service just for kids and teens! If you are like me and have worried about the dangers of just throwing your kiddos out there into the wild world of email accounts there is a solution. It is an Annual Subscription from

Josiah has had an email account in the past to use with certain review products we’ve tried in the past, but this one I can let him use without reservation.  My own personal email comes with more junk and spam (really disgusting spam) than I care to admit. Thanks to Josiah can have his independence and I won’t have to worry about “Single in Missouri” making contact with him.

There are some really great features available with  You can chose any or all of the following:

1.       Your child receives mail only from the people on his or her contact list.
2.       Your child can send mail only to people on his or her contact list.
3.       You can allow your child to edit his or her contact list (or not).
4.       You can allow (or disallow) your child to send or receive images, links or attachments.
5.       You can receive a copy of any incoming or outgoing mail.
6.       You can implement time restrictions
7.       You can receive an activity log of your child’s email activity.
There are a few more features I know I’ve forgotten.

My Thoughts

We are presently in the middle of a big move to another state. Understandably, Josiah has been worried about missing friends and family.  Having his own email account is a great way to keep in touch with those he loves far and wide. Not only is there the benefit of staying connected, but he gets to practice his writing skills (yay!). Just tonight he sent an email to his grandparents in Missouri lamenting about the temperature of his room. It's hot! 

For my part, I am confident that he is not receiving any unsolicited emails. I have also found the parent controls to be super simple to use. In the meantime, Josiah's email contacts list is growing with our move and I am sure that will continue to be a much loved product in our house.

This is such a fun and PRACTICAL product. Check it out!

You can connect with via the following social media outlets.  Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. Annual Subscription
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Prayer-ers (Homeschool Review Crew)

Prayer is perhaps the most important aspect of a Christian’s walk with God.  Recently, I had the chance to review The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles, written by Mark S. Mirza from CTM Publishing

Mark S. Mirza is the founder of Common Thread Ministries. He also led the men’s prayer ministry for Dr. Charles Stanley.

The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles is a fictional account of what happens in the spiritual realm when we pray (or fail to pray). The main characters of the book live in three eras of time.

Epaphras, who is mentioned in as a fellow laborer with Paul in the book of Colossians, is a mentor to his nephew, Thales. 

In the 19th Century, Brother Alexander Rich is a traveling preacher in Georgia. He encounters rumors, gossip and other trails as he ministers to those in small towns.

Dr. Dale represents the current era. He is a track coach and the leader of a men’s prayer ministry.  Dale and his wife, Margie, face difficult circumstances prevalent with our own day and time.

Each prayer warrior learn lessons about prayer and faith, while we see what goes one behind the scenes of the spiritual realm.  Demons are trying to distract the pray-ers and throw opposition and discouragement in their paths. A guardian angel, Hael, provides encouragement.

My Thoughts

This is a book I read myself. I was intrigued with idea of a fictional book modeling prayer through its characters. My husband and I pastor a small-town church and I understand spiritual warfare.

In fact, I was reminded this evening how we fight not "against flesh and blood." This book is an excellent reminder. The Prayer-ers sheds the light on the absolute necessity of prayer and how true prayer warriors do it. 

Something I found helpful are the Scripture references provided at the bottom of certain pages. This is a handy way to connect what is happening in the story to Scripture. There are some sensitive subject matters, such as abortion, but they are handled gracefully. 

 I received a physical copy of the book, but is available in an e-pub version, as well. I believe that there is a Book 2 coming out soon.

You can connect with The Pray-ers via the following social media outlets. 

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Moving Diaries: Finding memories

We are still in the middle of packing it all up.

I seriously need a loooonngg nap.

I think one comes to the point while moving that you look around and think "Can't we just leave it all here?"

We made our final (maybe) trip out to our storage building on Tuesday. We have been going out once a week and going through things. Our storage building has been broken into 3 TIMES over the past few years. Besides making a mess, we think they snatched a bucket or two of Christmas stuff and our hand truck. I bet those unfortunate robbers were really disappointed when they started pilfering through our stuff. "What! Vintage China and Books? Who are these people?"

I know for fact that the guy who rents the storage building across from us stores vintage motorcycles and other, more profitable treasures. The deal is that they broke into ours 3 TIMES! I really can't see it being the same crew. "Let's go steal another box of Christmas lights!"


One of the treasures I came across (besides Josiah's baby clothes and  my wedding dress) was an autograph book I had when I was in Junior High. It's one of those books that also allows the user to record her favorite things.

When I was in 7th grade my favorite time of day was Noon. What? Why so specific Rebekah Allison?

When I was in 7th grade I liked to wear my penny loafers and twist beads.

My major accomplishment for the year was to clean my room. I wanted to be called Gwendolyn Raquel and marry Robert Redford. I don't even remember my infatuation with Robert Redford.

I also listed my favorite groups as Chicago, Wham (haha) and Petra. My TV shows were Dr. Who (yes!) and the A-team. And the man I most admire? Harrison Ford.

I was deep, ya'll.

It's fun to look back at my 13-year-old self. Oh the things I wish I could tell her.

In the meantime, I've got boxes to fill and more memories to make.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A TOS Review: Getting Started with French

Have you ever wanted to learn a second (or third) language? Recently, I had a chance to review Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press.

What I Received

Getting Started with French is a beginning language textbook. The subtitle on the book reads “Beginning French for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age.” It contains 172 lessons. Located in the back of the book is an answer key, a pronunciation guide, an index and a glossary. You will also need to download pronunciation files from the website. In addition, you will have access to a series of files featuring commentary from the authors.

Getting Started with French is intended to be flexible. It uses shorter lessons (about 30 minutes a day). This is their simple philosophy: “Teach one concept at a time and let the student master that concept before introducing the next one.”

Sounds good to me!

What I Thought

When this product came up for review, I asked to review it for myself. I took 2 years of Spanish in High School, but despite my French heritage, I had never been that interested in learning the language. As I’ve gotten older I have had more of desire to branch out and have new experiences.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to “experience” these new experiences so Getting Started with French sounded like a good way to jump in by learning another language.

I began my studies by downloading the pronunciation and author commentary from the website. Both are extremely important to have. For one, the author commentary is just like having a little chat with the writers of the curriculum. They also feature a native French speaker who gives his take on the 

This is the view of my commentary screen on my computer. Yours might look different. 

For example, in Lesson Six we are introduced to the “r” sound. The author commentary was so helpful! They made a point to talk about the differences in the pronunciation of “r” between the French, Spanish and English language. Because I learned Spanish first, I tend to roll my “r’s” with a brilliant trill. That is a no-no in the French Language. The authors explained that, instead, it is almost like a gurgling sound….which is exactly what I had being doing…but it felt wrong. I was assured that the gurgling is the way to go!

The lessons are super short and simple. They are not intended to  overwhelm. I could master that lesson before moving on. It’s tempting to rush through and just get it done, but I love this easy pace. Each lesson builds on another so it's important not to skip around. 

I found Getting Started with French to be user-friendly. It was actually fun to use!  This is really a great product. I recommend it for any curious learner. 

Armfield Academic Press has a few other language programs. Getting Started with Spanish and Getting Started with Latin are also available.  I believe that Getting Started with Russian is in the works, as well.

Check them out!

You can connect with Armfield Academic Press via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Moving Diaries: Attack of the Books

I do need a little updating before I let you read the rest of this post. Amidst all the crazy that is my life write now I realized that I hadn't posted about our BIG change here on the blog.


As you might know, The Muffin is an ordained pastor with the Assemblies of God and we have taken a church in the State of his birth and raising.

I wrote the post below last week when I was sitting in my little corner of the couch. Obviously, I neglected to hit "publish."

So here you go. Just a few thoughts from my fruity world.

When I close my eyes I can imagine that this is my view.

Pretty spiffy,huh?

The irony is that as I type this, The Studly Muffin and Josiah are watching Jaws on Netflix. I've got my headphones listening to music so I don't have to listen (not a fan of man eating sharks). Want to know what just came on through my headphones?

Ride of the Valkyers. I kid you not. It was meant to cover the sounds of screams of people being devoured by a crazy shark. I think all it does it enhance them.

Anyhoo. The real picture I have in front of me is much more terrifying than any shark. It is, my friends, the sights and sounds of moving.

Boxes, boxes everywhere.

I need to come clean here and now.

I am a bibliophile. I also am a book hoarder. Not only that...I am an unapologetic book hoarder.

I used to feel a bit guilty about that.

No longer. When we started homeschooling I realized that I could claim all my books as necessary educational materials. I had found my tribe. My peoples.

Needless to say the majority of my packing thus far has been books. Where in the world have I been keeping all these books?

Moving isn't for sissies.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A TOS Review: CHSH Download Club

In my opinion, one cannot have too many resource in their homeschooling tool box. Of course, if you are like me and have limited space in that “tool box,” online resources become invaluable. Over the past several weeks, we’ve been given the opportunity to review the annual subscription to the CHSH Download Club from (Christian Homeschool Hub) was started by Lynda Ackert, a homeschool mom and classroom teacher.  This is an online subscription service featuring tons of downloadable materials. Currently, it has over 50,000 pages of printables for grades K-12. I found the site to be easy to navigate. There is a search box available or the user can browse through each subject/grade or even month.

There is just about a little bit of everything on the site. Members can also contribute their own materials to share with others.

When I first received access to I went immediately and started poking around.  I knew fairly quickly that I would need to focus my attention on a few key areas. When I said that there is a little bit of everything…I meant it! 

Initially, I wanted to focus on some neat biography units I found on famous inventors. But as I started digging a little farther I changed my direction (at least for now).  I found a great leveled reading list. Josiah is dyslexic so I am always conscience about his progress.  The leveled reading list is terrific tool to help me gauge the difficulty of a book. I simply went through the list and made note of the books we already have. 

I also found a good selection of literature units on the site. I have been assigning Josiah independent reading. One of the books I have on that list is The Giver by Lois Lowry. This literature unit is easy to follow and has lots of different activities to help enrich the book.

Some more recent additions to the website have made it to our curriculum list this fall. 

I found some great  units on our election process and the American Government.  Being that this is an election year, I was interested in gathering materials that could help educate us more on our political process.

This first set of worksheets (just downloaded in August) is one of my more recent finds on the site. It is all about the Anatomy of the U.S. Constitution. This is an excellent resources!

I also found a great Election Analysis project for Josiah to work through. 

I don’t want to neglect mentioning all of the first-rate planning resources found on the site. Also, Josiah has outgrown the preschool and elementary resources, but they are truly excellent. As a former Kindergarten teacher, I approve wholeheartedly! is an excellent resource and I look forward to utilizing it this school year. You do have the option for a free membership. However, it only gives you limited access. You can have full access through a yearly or a lifetime membership. Go check it out!

You can connect with via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

A TOS Review: Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition

You ready for a trip to the stars!

One of my favorite Homeschooling companies is Apologia Educational Ministries. We’ve been blessed to have reviewed several of their excellent products. This time around we got to review Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. My box of goodies included:

* Student Text
* Notebooking Journal
* Jr. Notebooking Journal
* Audio CD


The course is intended to last for a school year (it contains 14 lessons). There is a suggested schedule included in the Notebooking Journal.

I want to talk just a little bit about each item I received.

The Student Text is just plain gorgeous. It smells like a textbook, but reads like a living book. There are beautiful pictures and manageable passages of text. The Student Text also includes fun and memorable activates that brighten the student’s learning adventure.  For example, there is an easy,but effective activity using balloons to create our solar system. No paper mache required!

Notebooking is fabulous tool for any learner. The Notebookand Junior Notebook Journal that accompany Exploring Astronomy not only provide additional levels of learning, but make it easier on the parent/teacher. Both notebooks contain activities such as; copywork, journaling...even the construction of mini-books to make the notebook more interactive. 

One activity encourages students to create their silly mnemonic to aid in remembering the planets.This is Josiah's.

Martina Vacation Earned Multiple Jokes Under Noses. 

Whatever works ,right?

The Junior Notebook focuses less on writing activities (it also uses primary lines). It contains more coloring options and has simpler activities. It is intended for grades K-2/3. 

The Notebooking Journals both contains a helpful parent guide that explains each teaching element of the notebook.

My favorite addition to my box of Apologia goodies is the Audio CD. You might know that Josiah is dyslexic. In fact, as a freshman in High School he is above the recommended age range (K-6) for this product. However, I felt that the readability of the text and the Audio CD would make this a great product for him to enjoy.

The Audio CD is a reading of the textbook. Jeannie Fulbright, who authors this book, is the narrator. I can’t gush enough about this product. Just a note: This is CD has to be played on a CD player that plays mp3’s.  We have a Blu-ray player that handled the task nicely (as well as our car CD player).

My Thoughts

Apologia is one of those companies that I know I can trust for a variety of reasons. There is a quality to their production value. I know that there will be solid Scriptural foundations. And I know that the educational aspect of the products they produce will be stellar.

Exploring Creation with Astronomy is no exception. In fact, it was the one book in the Exploring Creation series we hadn’t enjoyed.

This curriculum doesn’t require a whole lot of prior prep time. There are, however, materials needed for various experiments and activities. The Student Text has the whole list available according to lesson at the back of the book. There is also a downloadable list on the website. I didn’t see anything on the list that is too over the top for our limited budget.  I don’t know about you, but this is always a big concern for us.

I don't want to take anything away from the excellent Notebooking Journals, but if things are tight you can get away with the Student is worth every penny. 

I can’t even begin to tell you what having the Audio CD available means to us. Audio products were a game changer in our homeschool.  Josiah can read along with limited frustration…or we can stick in the car. I’m not sure when car CD players started playing MP3 products but I know ours will (our car is a 2012).  

And if all this wonderfulness isn't enough, there is also an extra special page on the website that has all manner of websites,videos and animations to help you enjoy your journey through space. One of our favorites is the link for the planet finder.

We LOVE this product! You can check it out for yourself by downloading samples of everything I've described above on the website.

Just a note to finish this off. One of the recommended products to use with this curriculum is the Apologia Field Trip Journal. You can read my review of this product here. 

Connect with Apologia via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews!

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition Review

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