Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Intentional Joy

One of our kids has a very cute way of answering in the affirmative when asked a question. "Do you want to get something to eat. Almost every time, if answering yes, she'll say, "Uh. . .yeah. Okay, well you have to be there, cause it IS cute ;)

My husband and I were wondering aloud where in the world she had picked up the habit of saying it that way. Today, we got the answer. He asked me if I knew where a certain coupon was, and I answered, "Uh. . .yeah. We had a laugh over that, but later on in the day, I was wondering about other possible habits that the kids may have learned from my example, both good and bad.

Sometimes, when I listen to them, I smile to myself, and yes, even pat myself on the back, when I hear my words coming out of their mouth as they speak sweetly to another child, or offer an encouraging word to each other. Then there are the times that I cringe when I hear, yes, my words, in a sharp tone, a critical attitude, or a downright ugly response. They learn by example, and I'm sobered as I realize that my time with them is fleeting. In a few more years' time, they'll be preparing to make a life on their own, and what lessons from me will they take with them?

I have noticed that my joy has been largely missing these days. I suppose it might be attributed to what the Bible calls the cares of this life. At any rate, I seem to have lost my smile, my laughter, my fun. It hasn't been lost on me, what effect that has on my children. I don't want them to look back on these years and see a cranky, exhausted mom who was a stick in the mud.

So what to do? I guess that this relate to my last post about my chosen word for the year 2014. I will be Intentional in finding joy. The truth is, I have much to be joyful about in my life. Let me clarify, joyful, not mere happiness. Happiness often relies on circumstance, whereas joy is in the spirit, full of hope regardless of the external. And I know that there are many things for me to be joyful for.

Look out 2014, there's a new attitude coming your way!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Word of the Year

You may have seen this topic floating around over the past few weeks, The Word of the Year. It may mean different things to different people, but I think it's a way to kind of focus on specific areas of your life. I had a word for 2013, and now that 2014 is upon us, I'm ready for my new one.

So, this year, my word will be Intentional. It applies to many areas of my life, and captures what I hope to accomplish, or at least strive to, in these next 12 months.
These are the areas that have come to my mind in applying the word, although there may be more as the year moves on. . .

Intentional in:

My prayer life. This is my biggest one. I want to be diligent in seeking God in prayer this year.

My  Bible study. Next biggest one. I can't grow closer to God if I'm not consistently in His Word.

My eating habits. This is a toughie. I strongly desire to kick my sugar habit!

Exercise. I know I feel better when I'm in a routine, it's getting started that's so difficult for me.

Cultivating and maintaining the friendships in my life.

Being joyful! This is so hard for my curmudgeon kind of personality. I'm a half empty gal, and I want to reverse that. I know I have much to be joyful over!

Taking every thought captive. Garbage in, garbage out. Focus on the positive.


As I said, I may add more, although there is plenty for me to work through right here! Do you have a word for the year?

Friday, December 27, 2013

So, we made it through Christmas, and the new year arrives in less than a week. I'm thinking about the same thing that I do pretty much every year at this time- sugar detox. I fell for the lure of the many holiday goodies that tempted me from the covers of magazines, the shelves of the stores, and bakeries. Sugar, everywhere.

What reminds me that now is the time that I should grab a salad instead, is the annual push that can be found in those same magazines and stores. Replacing the sweets are energy bars, large containers of whey protein, and exercise equipment that feature photos of young, lean, athletic people and their rock hard abs.

You can say what you like, but there is not a doubt in my mind that sugar is a drug, and I am an addict. Who can blame me? It goes down so easily. It seems like a harmless vice. But I know it's not true, and I'm feeling the effects of it on my body, and not only as it relates to my jeans size. You would think that the answer is to simply put the candy bar down. But it goes deeper than willpower. It's an emotional thing. And when I' happy, sad, mad, or glad, I want the sugar.

Well. it has to stop. It will catch up with me, and I want to be in the best health that I can for my family, as well as myself.
I'm determined, but at the same time, I'm kind of dragging myself, kicking and screaming.

So with much prayer, I'm taking the first step. Pulling out my  beat the sugar addiction types of books and such. I figure that if I start now, I have a jump on things before the official New Year begins. And by then, I'll already be nearly a week ahead. So here I go, let's do this!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Foster Minute

When you decide to become a foster parent, you bring a child into your home, and do your best to provide them with a stable family. You want them to feel the love and belonging that a healthy family can provide.

There are constant reminders that this child does not belong to you. The many hoops that need to be jumped through, the constant need to get permission for anything from a medical procedure, field trip, and even a haircut, are all reminders of this fact.
Still, we are the ones who are in the trenches. We are the ones cooling a forehead hot with fever. We are the ones drying tears. We are the ones dealing with teething, potty training, tummy bugs, and tantrums.

On the flip side, we also bear witness to the many good things. The milestones, first steps, first teeth, first words. There are sloppy toddler kisses. We become the only one who will do when they need to be soothed. We are the ones who know that child. What their favorite fruit is. What makes them giggle with sweet abandon. What frightens them. What comforts them.

I don't say any of this to be judgmental on birth parents, or the system for that matter. I don't say this to imply that I have a claim on any child that is placed with us.

I say these things as a reminder that this, this foster experience, it's a privilege. It's a gift to be the one to experience life with these children. To be that safe place for them to grow, and to just be a kid.
There is enough that is hard about all of this, and it's good to step back once in a while and remember what we're doing this for.
These kids are with us for a lot of reasons. I frequently think about the fact that the birth parents miss so many ordinary moments, and it makes me sad.
Because of that, I don't want to forget how important the daily, seemingly mundane parts of life are actually important. And it makes me want to do this foster parenting, and biological parenting better each day.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reindeer Footprint/ Handprint Craft

 
 
Here's a really cute last minute Christmas craft for your little one to make.
What you need:

White cardstock
Brown paint
Yellow construction paper
Red construction paper
Blue construction paper
Glue or glue stick
Markers
Red and gold glitter glue

To make:

Paint the bottom of your child's foot. Press on white cardstock to make print. This is your reindeer's head. Set aside to dry. Trace your child's hand, and then cut out. These are the reindeer's antlers. Glue on top of footprint. Use construction paper and/or markers to make eyes and nose. Take glitter glue and use on nose and antlers. Cute!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fa la la la la. . .

You know, I wish I had really taken some time to think about the timing of our kitchen renovation. I suppose there probably is never an ideal time to rip apart your house, but doing it so close to Christmas was not exactly brilliant.

It will be worth it in the end, and for the most part, I've tried to keep a positive attitude in spite of the fact that my dining room is filled with everything that was once kept in the kitchen.

But now I'll be real for just a moment. I'm tired of the house being in such a state of disorder. There's a layer of dust on everything. I'm tired of paper plates. I really want water in the kitchen again. And a counter. Sigh.

Enough whining. It's an enviable problem that many would be happy to have, and I am, to be honest. Soon, I won't need to do the dishes in the bathroom, and all will be well in the kitchen once again.

Here's a pic or two of the progress:


 
 
 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Foster Minute

I'm sure that I've mentioned that when it comes to my experience as a foster parent, I'm reminded of the quote from the movie A League Of Their Own, that says "It's supposed to be hard, it's the hard that makes it good".
I guess that I kind of use that phrase as a mental pep talk to myself when I'm struggling with a difficult day. We all need an encouraging word to stay the course.

Last night was our agency's annual holiday party for foster families. Honestly, I was kind of looking for a reason not go. Not because the gathering isn't any good. On the contrary, it's a wonderful event. A great catered dinner, crafts, games, and gifts for the kids, cookie decorating, fun fun fun! The girls look forward to it all year. I do too actually.
But this year, my husband was at a business meeting and would have to miss it, leaving me to get all of the kids, including a cranky toddler, to the festivities in arctic temps. I was tired. But, we did go, and I'm glad that we did.

Over and over, on this foster care adventure, I get the best boost and sense of renewed purpose when I have the opportunity to get with other foster parents. I always feel a sense of kinship with others that feel called to this purpose. It may sound corny, but its true.

So last night, I was introduced to a couple who were brand new foster parents, licensed just a few weeks ago, and awaiting their first placement. It took me back a few years when that was me and my husband. Newbies to the core, looking for advice and fellowship. Now here I was, with a little more experience - very little, I think- but still experience, offering my own advice. It was good to restate aloud the reasons we choose to do this. There's a verse in Scripture that says that he who refreshes others will be refreshed. It's true. I'm glad we went if for that purpose alone.

I would encourage others thinking of pursuing foster care to make sure that they are intentional in connecting with other foster parents. You need the support that sometimes comes best from those walking the same road that you do. Even though we have the support of family and friends, there are aspects of this life that they don't understand. And there are always other foster families that have been where you are, and can empathize. Likewise, you will be that help to a family in the earlier stages of foster care. We need each other, so don't go it alone.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Great Big Kitchen Remodel - 2013 - Making Progress

We are almost one week into our kitchen remodel, and I think we're on the upswing. Old cabinets are gone, most of the new ones are up, and just a little more to get that part of the project completed. Our new appliances have been delivered, with the refrigerator proving to be the most hair raising to get in through the door, and up the stairs to its destination. It's gonna be nice!

So here are some more pics. . .


Had to take off the railing to get the fridge upstairs. . .
 
 
 
 

Our new cabinets, awaiting set up.







New cabinets going up ! It's going to be so nice, loving it already :)
 
 
 
 
To Be Continued. . .

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Great Big Kitchen Remodel of 2013

It's been a long time coming, but we're finally ripping out our old, dated kitchen, hurray! So that means a lot of dust and clutter for a few weeks around here, but it's going to be worth it. I suppose that there isn't a lot to say about a kitchen remodel, so I'll just post some pictures of our work in progress.



The cabinets are going. . .going. . .


Gone!





You find out how much is stored in cabinets once you have to empty them. Our dining room table is making us look like we need to be featured on an episode of Hoarders ;)


More pics to come soon. . .

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcome December!

Hello December! The year is quickly coming to a close, and I feel myself already behind as it relates to the holidays. Maybe it's because Thanksgiving came so late this year. Whatever the case, I'm eager to get in gear and start the holiday preparations.

As far as everything else goes, the month is looking busy. There's a few more weeks of school before we break until after the new year. And because we're crazy, we decided that this would be the perfect time to replace our old kitchen. I'll be posting pics and the progress as we go. The finished product will be great!
I have several books that I would like to get started for read alouds for the girls, so I suppose we better finish the current two that we're in the middle of.

I also feel that it's a good time for me to take Nancy Leigh DeMoss' 30 Day Challenge to encourage my husband, which includes refraining from saying anything negative to him for that time. I think it will be a very good thing, but yes, a challenge. I'll update on that as well.

And of course, to round out the month that features Christmas, there are holiday parties, dance recitals, baking, family visits, special craft projects, and shopping! It's enough to overwhelm me, but I'll take it one step at a time.
Most of all, I'm hoping to make this season count, not rush through it in a frenzied, and stressed out manner. I want to create some good memories, enjoy my family, and enjoy the Christmas season in general.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot to get to, so that's just what I'm off to do!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Thanks- Days 27-30

Already time to wrap up the month of November. I'll finish it up with a catch up on my list of thanks for the last 4 days.

Day 27 - I'm thankful for a warm house during such cold temperatures, when I know that so many don't have this luxury.

Day 28 - I'm thankful for a day set aside to remember all of our blessings, big and small.

Day 29 - I'm thankful for a day to recover and rest from a busy day of cooking and cleaning, and anticipate the coming holiday season.

Day 30 - I'm thankful for my family. They are forgiving, and long suffering. They are my biggest cheerleaders, and fun to be with. They know me better than anyone else, with my many faults and weaknesses, and still, they love me.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lilla Rose - Holiday Sale!

 
 
 
 
Hey,
just wanted to make you all aware of a great sale that Lilla Rose is having for Black Friday. It goes from Friday, November 29, 2013 through Saturday, November 30, 2013. You'll find  beautiful hair clips for up to 50 percent off! These are great stocking stuffers, and I'm on my over to the site to see which ones I'm getting for my little fashionistas.

Bonus: Free shipping on all orders over $50.00! Happy Shopping!


Lilla Rose

Lilla Rose Flexi Clips - A Review

Some women have a gift for beauty. They just seem to have a natural flair for always looking put together. They know how to style their hair beautifully, dress in the latest fashions, and carry themselves with style.
Guess what? I am not, nor have I ever been, one of these kind of ladies. No matter what I select when I shop, I still feel frumpy. I'm not any better with hair. I do the best that I can , but it's an effort.

I was blessed to have two daughters. I am not one of those moms who can do her child's hair up in an adorable French braid, or fancy flippy do's, pony tails are about as adventuresome as I get. When I had to put my eldest's up in  a bun for her latest dance recital, it nearly gave me heart palpitations.

Now, my daughters are very different. One is just like me, she is pretty much a no frills, "I wanna be comfortable, so don't really care too much about fashion". The other is definitiely a fashionista. She loves color, fashion, and is always changing up her hair style, often several times a day. She has inspired me to at least attempt to learn a few ways to style her up.

In this pursuit of beautification, I was thrilled to have a chance to review an extra small Flexi Clip from Lilla Rose, and see if it made hair styling as easy and fun as I 've seen it advertised.

When we received our pretty little clip, my stylish sweetie was eager to try it out. They come in a variety of sizes, six to be exact, from mini all the way up to extra large. You'll find convenient sizing tips on the  website . They offer a great video for this very purpose, and show a variety of examples, hair textures and types. After watching it, we determined that the extra small would be what we needed.



There are so many beautiful clips to choose from, with selections for every season. We spent a long time browsing, and oohing and aahhing, over all of them. Makes me wish I had longer hair, but I will style vicariously through my girlie girl.

Then it was on to the actual fitting of our clip. It's all one piece. All you need to do is pull back a section of hair, position the clip around it, and then clip the Flexi on. It has several notches on the back to help you achieve the most secure fit. Easy, even for me!



So what do we think? We both like it a lot and are pleased. Little girlie has already selected a few more for her wish list. It's a really nice product, and we are new fans. Your little girls, and you grown up girls too will like them too! Try one, and we bet you'll recommend them as well :)


Lilla Rose

Flexi Extra Small - Celtic Knot Gold

Price: $14.95





Disclaimer: I received a free Flexi Clip in exchange for my honest review of it on my blog, with no additional compensation.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Thanks - Days 25-26

Boy, I seem to keep missing my days here! Time to get going before I get further behind!

Day 25 - I am thankful that God's kindness leads to repentance. He doesn't treat me as I so very often treat others. This is to my shame. I want to condemn and criticize. God does not do that. He does, however, give me enough rope to get myself completely entangled. And in that, He is stripping away the traits and habits that are displeasing and dishonor Him. He softens the heart. And I'm so grateful that He cares enough to want my best, and not allow me to stay in this state. The sanctification continues.

Day 26 - I am thankful for my husband and kids who get so jazzed about surprising me, and making me feel loved and special. They are quick with words of encouragement and affection. They are very special blessings.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The First Christmas Night - A Review



                                                  The First Christmas Night
                                                  Written by: Keith Christopher
                                                   Illustrated by: Christine Kornacki
                                                   Publisher: Ideals Books
                                                   Hardcover: 32 Pages
                                                   Ages: 4-8 yrs.
                                                   $16.99


About the book:
The First Christmas Night is a beautiful retelling of the birth of Jesus on that joyous night in Bethlehem so long ago. The poem begins with the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and winds through Christ's birth, the angels' appearance to the shepherds, and the visit by the Wise Men. The simple yet elegant verses will appeal to little ones and are accompanied by the rich acrylic illustrations.

'Twas the very first Christmas when all through the town
not a creature was stirring-there was not a sound.
The moon shining bright in the heavens so high
gave the look of midday to the Bethlehem sky.
The animals were nestled in warm, cozy places
with looks of contentment on each of their faces.

About the author:
Keith Christopher is a composer, arranger, orchestrator, and educator, and he has served as editor and producer for several major music publishers. In addition to writing and studio producing, Keith served on the faculty at the Blair School of Music of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.


Ideals Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdealsBooks
Buy! Ideals Website: http://www.idealsbooks.com/First-Christmas-Night-Keith-Christopher/dp/0824956532



It's always a wonderful treat to receive a book in the mail to review, and then discover that it's a hardcover! The First Christmas Night is a lovely, richly illustrated children's book that is a perfect read now that we're on the cusp of the Christmas season. I was struck by the beautiful blue's that are used in many of the illustrations. The color is all the more dramatic as it is naturally, portrayed at night. Illustrator Christine Kornacki paints a striking contrast of the light in the stable against the dark night. The tiniest of detail is intricately done, yet the portraits as a whole have a softness to them. It's easy to forget that you're looking at drawings, and not actual photos. What an amazing talent.

The story is in poem form, actually modeled after "Twas the Night Before Christmas". The text on each page is short, a paragraph per page. It takes the reader through Mary and Joseph's journey into Bethlehem, the angels visiting the shepherds, the birth of Jesus, and the Wise Men's visit.

We used this as a fun family read aloud, although my 8 year old took a quick preview, as she simply could not wait for everyone to gather. She figured that she could give me her personal opinion of the story for the purpose of my review ;) Her words (mostly).
The book is perfect for this, and what is really great about this book, is that the length of the story fits a squirmy toddler's attention span in a most delightful way. It's just enough to keep her interested, and, paired with those gorgeous pictures, make for an enjoyable, and meaningful, family read that spans a wide range of ages.
The last page of the book is the biblical story of Christmas, right from Scripture, and is, in my opinion, a nice way to finish.

We highly recommend this title, which can become a new and special part of your family's Christmas celebration for years to come. Really, get a copy!


Wouldn't this be a perfect gift for Christmas this year? How would you like to get a copy of this book for your child just in time for the holidays? Simply follow me here, leave me a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you are selected), and please share this giveaway :) This giveaway begins Monday, November 25, 2013, through Friday, November 29, 2013.




"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe would be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November Thanks - Days 23-24

Moving on to Day 23 already, and I'm thankful to have my husband home from a business trip. It's always good to be back together again. I always feel like half of me is missing when he's away. My kids feel the same way. Good to have quiet, routine days of our family life together.

Day 24 - I think that I mentioned this earlier, but I'm thankful for my church. The truth is preached unashamedly, and I always leave feeling challenged in my walk with God.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November Thanks - Day 22

Day 22 already. Wow , this month is flying by.
Well, today I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful that he is dedicated to caring for our family, working hard for our family, and making sure that we have all that we need. He's a good man, and willing to put up with me ;)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Thanks - Catch up

Wow, did I get behind in this! Time to catch up, so here we go.

Day 9 - I'm thankful that I can stay at home with my kids, and be there in the everyday moments.
Day 10 - I'm thankful that I have the freedom to homeschool my children.
Day 11 - I'm thankful to live in a country where I can freely worship Jesus.
Day 12 - I'm thankful that my kids express their affection freely, and have no hesitation in saying I
               love you.
Day 13 - I'm thankful that my kids are comfortable asking me anything about anything.
Day 14 - I'm thankful for quiet afternoons and hot tea.
Day 15 - I'm thankful for the weekend, and a break from the regular work of the week.
Day 16 - I'm thankful good books.
Day 17 - I'm thankful for a church that unashamedly preaches the Word of God.
Day 18 - I'm thankful for the privilege of being a foster parent, with all of the joys and challenges.
Day 19 - I'm thankful for good doctors to provide care whenever we need it.
Day 20 - I'm thankful that business trips are few and far between for our family.
Day 21 - I'm thankful for sweet and sloppy toddler kisses.

1 Girl Nation - CD Review



Landing in the space where One Direction meets Toby Mac, 1 Girl Nation is an exciting blend of upbeat pop music, with lyrics that are totally focused on living life for God, even while you're young. 1GN, as they've already been dubbed, stars Carmen, Kayli, Kelsey, Lauryn Taylor and Lindsey, five girls with a passion for telling their fans about Christ through their music.



I am blessed to have the opportunity to review all kinds of wonderful books, products, and resources, and this particular one has to be one of my daughters very favorites.
Both girls are in that magical preteen age where they are just beginning to discover various music genres. I admit, it both thrills and terrifies me ;) You know, there are bands that are innocent, there are bands that are on the fence, and there are bands that are just off limits for them.
I do think about what message I want my impressionable kids to be absorbing, and even emulating. That's precisely why I have been careful in what I allow them to listen to, let alone purchase.

This CD is just what I've been looking for! When I read the description of what this band is about - "One Direction meets Toby Mac" they were hooked! And when the actual product arrive din our mailbox, whoa baby, it was a race to the nearest music player :) From the first upbeat and make you wanna get up and dance melodies and lyrics, we were all instant fans. Not exaggerating in the least.

Parents, you know those bubble gum bands that drive you insane? This is not one of those. The harmonies are great, the music is so much fun, and if you're looking for a faith based message to impart to your kids, particularly your daughters, stop right here.
Personally, my two favorites are While We're Young, and Vertical. And let me tell you, over the past several weeks, I have listened to this with my girls over and over and over!  My oldest loves the last track, 1 Girl Nation, and my middle girlie is currently loving Daddy's Girl. But they're all great! This CD is constantly being passed around our house from kid to kid.




In fact, the music has brought out the creative side of one of the girls. She made a little booklet with the name of the songs, and then drew pictures of carton girls with "costumes" that she felt fit the song's feeling.






Love it. You will get two very enthusiastic tween thumb's up from this house, and mine too actually. In fact, guess what CD we'll be picking up for a few people on our holiday shopping list this season?
C'mon, click on the links below, and see what this band is all about. And get in on the giveaway too!

http://www.1girlnation.com/
https://www.facebook.com/1GirlNation
https://twitter.com/1girlnation
http://www.youtube.com/1girlnation


Ages: Preteens and up, yes parents, even you! ;)


Now THIS is a giveaway you will want to participate in! Whether you have preteens or teens in your home, or know someone who does, this will make a great holiday gift! As always, it's easy too. Follow me here, tell me who you'll pass this CD on to, and don't forget to leave me your email address so I have a way to contact you. Don't miss out on this opportunity! Enter today, Thursday, November 21, 2013, thru Friday, November 29, 2013. :)




"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe would be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Sparkle Box - A Review



Written by Jill Hardie
Illustrated by Christine Kornacki
Available now!
Hardcover with jacket, 10 x 10, 32 pages, with a fold out sparkle box included!
Ages 4-8


Author Jill Hardie and her family began placing a gift for Jesus under their Christmas tree as a way of bringing more meaning to their holiday. The first time they opened His gift, the commercialism of the season melted away and they felt a profound joy and peace. Jill hopes that The Sparkle Box will spark a new Christmas tradition, bringing light into thousands of lives.

At a very early age, illustrator Christine Kornacki developed a love for painting and bringing stories to life. After receiving a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, her dreams of illustrating children's books began to take shape. She spends her days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming café in New Haven, Connecticut.

About the book:
Sam is so excited about Christmas! He's thinking about his Christmas list, looking forward to holiday parties, and puzzling over one very mysterious gift, a sparkly box sitting on the mantel. In the midst of the festivities, Sam and his family participate in various acts of kindness to others. On Christmas morning, when Sam finally opens the Sparkle Box, he finds only slips of paper that record the family's good deeds. Sam's mom explains that the things that they've been doing are in fact, a gift for Jesus, for Jesus said whatever we do for those in need, we do for Him.


I bet that I'm not the only one who feels as if the holiday season has been sprung upon us. As my mind has been swirling with lists of things that need to get done, I was all too happy to have a great new Christmas book to review!
What a beautiful, early Christmas present! This hardcover, 32 page children's book is simply lovely. The book jacket features rich and colorful illustrations, including a glittery Sparkle Box, which of course, is the theme of this story.

The book opens with young Sam enthusiastically getting his list ready for Christmas. While snuggled up on the couch one evening, he notices something special decorating the mantel. He inquires about the sparkly box, but all his mom will reveal is that it is special, but needs to be filled before they can open it.
The days pass as they move closer to Christmas. He watches as his parents serve the community in various ways. They collect blankets and food for those that have neither. Once in a while, Sam asks his mom and dad if it's time to open the box yet. They patiently tell him to wait a little bit longer.

Soon, Sam has the opportunity to serve someone in need for himself. He begins to understand in a new way, what it is to help others.
Finally, the long awaited day approaches, Christmas Day! As they finally open the mysterious little box, Sam discovers that it isn't what he expected. There is no physical gift, but lots of slips of paper. As he looks closer, he sees all of the acts of love that he and his family have participated in, written down.

What are these? As his parents explain that these are gifts to Jesus, he slowly begins to see how serving others in Jesus' name, is serving Jesus. And Sam finds out that that is the very best gift of all!

Well, simply put, this is a beautiful book, in its text, as well as in illustration. It's been a wonderful read aloud for our girls, who took turns reading.
I don't have to tell you about the ways that commercialism has taken over, and I treasure good reminders of the True Reason for the season. This story provides great ideas for your own family to give to Jesus this Christmas season. Better yet, the book also includes a fold up Sparkle Box that you can put together and set out in a prominent place as you fill it up. What a nice way to stay centered.

Our family has done something similar in giving a gift for Jesus, but what I like about the Sparkle Box, is that it stays out for the season, and you fill it as you go. Getting the kids involved is an effective way to keep them excited about learning to have a giving attitude. So we're putting our box out, and we'll all add to in these weeks leading up to the big day. What will we add? There are so many opportunities around us. There is Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army, Angel Tree, and world Vision to name  few. What will your family do this holiday season?

Now you can get a FREE copy of this book for your own. The publisher has generously offered to give away this story, and all you need to do is follow me, and leave me a comment telling how you will fill your Sparkle Box. Easy, yes? You have until Wednesday, November 27, 2013 to submit, so do it now :)



Website: http://www.idealsbooks.com/The-Sparkle-Box-Jill-Hardie/dp/0824956478
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdealsBooks
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/49762666
Author Video: https://vimeo.com/49763494



"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole - A Review






It's not too difficult to convince me to review a book. The title of this particular read, At Home in Dogwood Mudhole ,caught my eye and had my interest piqued. Written and put out by Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole , this is actually the first in a series, with the subtitle Volume One: Nothing That Eats.
I love a good series, because I enjoy knowing that I have several books then lined up to satisfy my need to read!

The first thing to understand at the beginning, is that this is not a novel or an average story. It's a compilation of excerpts spanning seventeen years from the life of Franklin Sanders that he published in his monthly  newsletter The Moneychanger. As such, it doesn't necessarily flow smoothly from one subject to the next. A theme may come up, and when it's done, it's done. That didn't interfere with my enjoyment at all, but I did want to mention it.
So you'd probably like to know what the book is about, so here goes.

It won't take any time at all to discover that the author is a Southerner in every sense of the word. There are certain rules as it were that therefore dictate how certain parts of southern life should function, and he unapologetically shares what they are, but graciously.
A man of faith, he easily weaves his faith into the stories here and there. He spends a considerable amount of time sharing bits of history from the South. He and his family really enjoy taking part in re-enactments, and he shares quite a lot about those as well.

Sanders and his family have traveled quite a bit, and have visited many different restaurants, shops, and other touristy places. And he does something that I find very neat, and great for those business owners- after sharing about them, he provides their contact information to the reader. So yes, you too can have the nice experience that they had and pay them a visit if you ever have the opportunity to pass through those areas.

 He makes it a point over and over to  reveal the trusting expectations from many of the people that he and his family come in contact with. Those shopkeepers who trust that Sanders and his family won't steal, and therefore have no problem leaving them unattended, the hotel owners who leave a note with a key, telling them to make themselves at home, and other similar stories. It hearkens back to a simpler time, and succeeded in making me nostalgic for a more innocent era.

The first part of this book lays the foundation for what will ultimately be the family's decision to move to a simpler way of living, and drastic too, from probably the viewpoint of most folks. The motivator seems to have been Y2K- remember all of the concern surrounding that date?

We the reader, have the privilege of getting glimpses into their very honest, often humorous, and all around real life experiences in all of this. They succeed and they fail, they laugh and they cry, and we benefit from what they have learned through it all. If you're like me, you will be entertained, touched, encouraged and motivated by these little snippets. I know that my Spirit was lifted more than once.

I have thoroughly enjoyed having this book to savor over the past month or so. How do I describe it? It's simply enjoyable. I feel like this family are old friends of mine now. The honesty of the text is refreshing. With chapters that have titles like "The Great Chicken Slaughter", "Pig Versus Man", and "An Olfactory Excursion", you know it has to be fun.
 I like that because of its style, the fact that it isn't  a straight novel, but rather, entries, I can put it down, and even if I wait a week to pick it up again, I haven't gone off track. I'm glad that this is one in a series of books, because they too will soon be a part of my library :)
I also have a few people in mind to give this to as Christmas gifts.

Sound good to you? You can read about what others had to say about this book by clicking the links below. And then maybe get a copy for yourself ;)





Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

Price: $22.95 - paperback
           $16.95 - Kindle/ePUB/PDF

Ages: A good family read aloud, but especially for teens and on up


Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew









Tuesday, November 12, 2013

French Essentials - A Review






Bonjour, mes amis! Are you shopping around for a foreign language program, specifically French? Are you looking for an online option that will provide lessons, quizzes, games, an introduction to the French culture, and more? Well then, this review is here to help! My daughters and I have added an all in one French language study to our daily routine.
French Essentials has provided our family with the Full Access Program (one full year, all modules of their French lessons) , and we were all too willing to see what it could do for our foreign language skills.


Included in the program we received:

*  access to audio within the exercises- just click on the letter or word and hear correct pronunciation

*  videos - not only will students watch, they will also have the opportunity to listen and repeat
     French phrases

*  written/printable exercises

*  online quizzes/tests

*  games

* online flash cards

*  Savais-tu? -French culture

This program has been designed by experienced French teachers, and targeted for homeschool students. No previous experience in French is required. The pace is gradual, so if you begin at the earliest level -2nd or 3rd grade- it will take you through high school. Upon completion (10 modules), the equivalent is 2 years of  high school French. Right  now, there are 5 modules, with more coming soon.

Should you have experience with the language, there is an online placement test available so you can identify which module to begin with.
My daughters are just beginners, so we started at the first module.

You'll find the downloads waiting in the student area, and it will display the options to choose from.
The lessons are downloaded in pdf's, with audio embedded in them. Everything is laid out clearly, just read, and follow the directions. You are told when to read any special notes, click on an image, and when to move on to the next section.
So, first you'll read the objective. Next, the audio, and you'll click on the image to hear the online teacher. Then comes listen and repeat, where you. . .listen and repeat ;)
Now it's time to write it out, and move on to the online exercises. It's pretty simple that way.














The first several lessons are fairly easy to work through, and didn't take long, then the work increases as you move on up. Then, you'll hit your individual pace depending on age and experience.

The material also provides information regarding French culture. The main focus is Quebec and France, although other areas are looked at as well. The girls found this section interesting, as they like to compare their life experiences to other cultures, and learn about traditions and such.

We worked on lessons 4 times a week. My daughters are at the early end of the recommended age, and it was very necessary that I do the lessons with them. That was fine. I did find it a little challenging to find some of the online exercises and get to certain sections that we needed to get to. Directions weren't always clear to me, and the time it took to get there interrupted the flow. Once we were at the section, it was good, and the girls did well in taking in the material.










In general, I vacillate between  appreciating the convenience of an online program, which allows me to print off just what we need as we progress, watch videos, and listen to audio, versus just wanting a physical textbook in hand with everything already there in its entirety. Various issues of  computer speed, and the need for certain additional downloads slowed us down more than once.
I also felt like I had to hunt around the site to find what I needed to access, which once again, took up some time that I would have rather spent teaching and learning.


This has been one of those reviews where my experience and my daughters' experience just didn't align.. I was really excited to introduce this into our home school. I absolutely love the French language, and have a little knowledge of the language from my college days, and I was excited to share some of that with the girls.
I can't pinpoint exactly why the enthusiasm wasn't there, but it simply hasn't clicked with them. It hasn't been that they are actively resistant to going through the lessons, there's just an all around lack of enthusiasm in general. It may be due to the fact that they are still on the younger side of the spectrum as far as the material goes, and that as we progress, they may enjoy it more. At any rate, we'll keep plugging away.

Keeping this in mind, this will probably work great for students that are in the older elementary grades. There's so much that has been put into this program, and definitely worth looking over to see if it might be a good fit for your homeschool.



French Essentials

Full Access Program (one full year, all modules of their French lessons)

Ages: Grades 2-12 can use this, Grade 3-8 is ideal

Price: $149.95 for 1 year of full access to all modules (over 90 lessons), plus online activities
            Individual modules may be purchased for $69.95 each



Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew




Sunday, November 10, 2013

Apologia - Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics - A Review




You know, when I think of homeschool science programs, particularly those that are aimed at the early elementary age, I don't typically think of Chemistry or Physics. However, that is exactly the kind of science that we have had the privilege to introduce to our daughters this month. Thanks to a very favorite company of mine, Apologia Educational Ministries , we have had a blast reviewing both the physical book, Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics , and it's companion, the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal .






Honestly, when I excitedly told the girls what we would be receiving and studying, their initial response was, "Chemistry?!" in a somewhat apprehensive tone. It sounded complicated and grown up to them. Then we got the awaited package in the mail, and I unveiled these beautiful books. The girls looked through the notebooking jornal, and quickly decided that this would be pretty cool after all.

We kind of jumped right in, but I will mention that it is a good idea to peruse the first few lessons before you actually begin, as of course you're doing all the time anyway, right homeschool parents? ;) Because, there are a LOT of science experiments and activities throughout the lessons, which is so very totally great! However, you'll want to make sure that you have any and all necessary materials to complete these. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me go back a little and start by telling you what you'll find in this wonderful homeschool science curriculum .

This course is designed to take you through the school year, with 14 lessons that will be divided so that you work on them 2 days a week. Of course, this is just the schedule as suggested in the notebooking journal. You can work at your own pace to adjust to your needs. We usually do twice a week, but there is a lot of reading and activities, so occasionally, we add an extra day of it in our schedule.
The text book is lovely, hardcover, brightly colored and generally high in quality. Built to last. :) These are the lessons you'll cover:

*Chemistry and Physics Matter
*Moving Matter
*Building Blocks of Creation
*Compound Chemistry
*Multitude of Mixtures
*Mechanics in Motion
*Dynamics of Motion
*Work in the World
*Sound of Energy
*Light of the World
*Thermal Energy
*Electrifying Our World
*Mysterious Magnetism
*Simple Machines

I love the text, because it speaks right to the child, in easy to understand vocabulary. The beginning of a lesson starts with reading, for our family it is me reading aloud. When we finish a specified section, the kids "narrate" what they learned from the text. I can see if they're tracking by doing this, and explain any parts that were confusing for them. Then we'll do the "Try This!" that is featured frequently throughout a lesson. These are games, activities, and/or experiments that are a hands on way to get the lesson across. This book has a lot of these to do, and they are fun! The girls love them!
Sometimes what we'll do is wait until after my husband gets home from work, and do these activities in the evening, so he can do them with us, as he gets a kick out of them too.
Let me show you a few of our experiments:


These pictures show what happens when you place an egg in fresh water versus salty water- a lesson in buoyancy. As you can see, they enjoyed themselves :)






Here, we fashioned boats out of aluminum foil, and floated them in water. The girls took turns placing as many pennies as they could without sinking them. We got up to 40 pennies on one of them.




This one was so cool- we made lava lamps! The effect is kind of lost with the picture, but it was cool!





Your students will be working through their journal along with the textbook. The beautiful thing about  Apologia is, they are so organized, and the scheduling is done for you. There is a schedule at the beginning of the journal, and lists the activities for each day.  The journal is the hands on part of the curriculum, and this one is filled with coloring pages, crossword puzzles, fun fact pages, where your child will write out what they are learning, mini books to cut out and paste in the pages, copywork, and I know I'm leaving out some things. By the end of the year, you have a science portfolio. And the book is just so nice- a thick, spiral bound notebook, very colorful and inviting.

How about a look inside?

 
 







 
 

We've used Apologia before, and have always been pleased with the quality, the text, the activities, and the teacher's suggestions that they provide. In my opinion, the price is well worth all that you receive. And most importantly, my girls are learning, and enjoying the process as well. When my daughter and I are just having a random conversation, and she compares an experience that she has had when swimming, and then compares it with the concept of buoyancy, and does so accurately, from the lesson we recently completed, I know she gets it, and that is just a great feeling.

This is a fabulous resource, and I really hope you check out the links below, and explore your options!



Apologia Educational Ministries


Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics - Book
Price: $39.00
Ages: K-6th Grade


Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal
Price: $24.00
Ages: Early Elementary



Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew




Friday, November 8, 2013

November Thanks - Days 7&8

Day 7
I am thankful for the end of the week, when we can take a break from the day to day routine and often the stress it brings. I'm thankful for the chance to take that time to do something different with the family, whether it's simple errands, or a day at the mall.

Day 8
I'm thankful for new beginnings every morning. I seem to blow it way too often as a wife and mother, and it gets me down. Each day brings a clean slate, and a fresh opportunity. And I sure need them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IXL.com (Math and Language Arts) - A Review



My girls have been keeping their Math and Language Arts skills fresh this month thanks to IXL.com
Our family was given a  free Online Math Membership , and Online Language Arts Membership in exchange for a review. We were very happy to participate in that agreement :) The ladies always benefit from extra Math practice, and I was interested in seeing what the Language Arts had to offer.

I didn't have any particular expectations regarding this review, but when I began exploring the Math program, I was very impressed with the huge amount of material that they offer. First of all, grades Pre-K through 12th are covered, so this appealed to me since we teach several grades. When you get to the Math page , all of the grades are there, along with a sample of some of the skills. Just click on the grade you're working on. Then, prepare to be amazed ;) Why? Because you have the option of clicking to see ALL of the possible skills for any particular grade, and it has them all!






You should have no problem finding that area that your student needs to practice. We're working through 3rd and 4th grades, and both sections have well over 200 skills available. I will just note here that this is a supplemental program, not a curriculum in and of itself. Just click on the skill you want, and it will take you there. That's a feature that I like. It doesn't start and stop at a specific point, so you can use this at any point throughout the year, with whatever curriculum you might be using.

There are two ways to log in, one for the parents, and one for the student. This makes it easy to keep track of how your child is doing, but IXL.com goes further than that. They email progress reports for every amount of time spent working through a skill. They're all personalized, very colorful, and cheer your child on. Included in those are printable certificates that can spur them on, if you happen to have a child that is motivated that way. My girls get pumped up about those, so they're effective for us.
In addition to the reports, they also send reports about the percentage of proficiency in the grade your child currently has in the program. So, you might find that handy as well for your school records.

Now, a little about what a lesson looks like.
Your child logs in, and chooses a skill. It only made sense for us to select one that related to what they're learning in their main Math curriculum, so that's what they did. As they work through a set number of problems, they accumulate points that are visible on the right side of the screen. It also displays how many more points/problems are required to finish that section. When an answer is correct, they get points and move closer to the goal, which is a virtual prize- I'll talk about that shortly. If they answer incorrectly, they lose a couple of points, and then get a mini lesson on what they did wrong, what the correct answer is, and how to get to the correct answer. Then they have to click a button that says "Got it!" to move on.  I like that! Just make sure that you're close by as your student is working, because you may have one or two problems where the child is tempted to skip the lesson when that happens, and move on, without necessarily having learned why they answered wrong. My oldest tried that a couple of times ;)
Of course, as we have found with many computer programs in general, sometimes they do know the answer, but either don't click all the way, or click to fast, and get it wrong unintentionally. But I'm still close by just to make sure they're on the straight and narrow.

When they successfully complete the set of problems, they get to visit a virtual game board for their grade level. It kind of looks like a Bingo board, with lots of squares to uncover. Each board has a different theme. The board will show which squares can be uncovered after receiving a reward. The rest of the squares have question marks on them, to be uncovered at another time. You can find out what skill is required to master, by hovering over any of the squares with your mouse. My girls love to visit the rewards page :)

I think the Math is the favorite page, but they've done well with Language Arts too.
You know, we've never referred to the subject by that title- not for any particular reason- it's just been, spelling, grammar, writing. So, I think that at first they were scared off by the name. I assured them it would be familiar to them, and when they saw for themselves that they did, they were relieved and ready to get on with it.

Language Arts works like the Math. Choose your grade level and the skill you want to work on. There are a limited number of grades for LA at this point - 2nd-4th grade- but we're told that more are on the way soon. Fortunately for us, we have two girls right in that range, so both were able to benefit from the over 100 skills available in this subject. Again, as with the Math, we chose skills that related to our current Grammar lessons, and used this to supplement. The nice thing with the questions, is that they automatically adjust to your child's progress, and increase in difficulty as appropriate.




You'll work on all the things that you would expect:

Types of sentences
Pronouns
Subject and Predicate
Homophones
Irregular Tense
Verbs
Titles

And on and on.
Hover over any of the skills, and you'll get sample sentence to see what will be covered.
And like Math, there are progress reports, awards,  and help for incorrect answers.

As I wrap all of this up, I would say that my girls and I are new fans of this online program. It's exceeded anything that I would hope a program as this would include. It's a great supplement to our main studies, and has already improved their understanding in several skill areas, particularly Math. I have no hesitance in recommending this for any family to add to their homeschool. For those that don't homeschool, it's still a great addition for extra practice. Click on the links below to see more for yourself and read what other crew members had to say.



IXL.com

Online Math Membership (Pre-K- 12)

Online Language Arts Membership - (2nd - 4th)

Price:  $9.95/monthly $79.00 for either program, or $15.95/monthly $129.00 yearly for both
                                                                                                                            



Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew



















Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November Thanks - Days 5&6

Aack. I missed yesterday's post. So today I'll cover two. First, I am thankful for hot tea. There's something that is soothing to body and soul about a hot cup and a quiet room. If it's an overcast Fall day, and I'm warm and cozy inside, with a child napping, and the others quietly busy, it's all the more calming.

I am also thankful for the end of the day. Some days are good, some are not, but they all have a conclusion. I'm thankful to have that time to recoup and hopefully relax. Every morning provides a clean slate. As the Scripture says, "His mercies are new every morning"
I'm all too aware of my shortcomings, and I'm glad there's always a fresh start.

King's Faith - A Review




About the film:
Eighteen foster homes. Nine arrests. One life-changing moment.
After Brendan King's life spiraled to rock bottom, the teen found hope in a new relationship with Christ while serving time in a juvenile penitentiary. Recently released from prison, Brendan finds solace in the foster home of a couple struggling with suppressed grief.
As the city-bred teen enrolls at a suburban high school, he finds support from a group of believers. Yet the bonds of his old way of life- and the gang that wants to know where he hid their stash on a long-ago night- are strong. In his darkest moment, Brendan found faith. Now he must decide if it's worth the price to hold on to it.

Release date: October 22, 2013
Run Time: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Suggested retail price: $14.99
Special Features: A 10-minute behind-the-scene feature, commentary, discussion guide, Bible study clips affiliated with the LIVE IT OUT Bible Study


Watch the trailer:







There's nothing like a good movie review to jazz up an evening with the family. I was looking forward to this one in particular, as the theme centers around foster care, and we are foster parents ourselves. Just to mention up front, this is a family movie, but not for the younger kids, as there is some mild violence, and mature themes , as they say.

This was anything but a lighthearted movie, but good and quite powerful. I'm always happy to see a faith based movie that can hold its own, and not come across as corny or stuffy.

The movie begins with scenes from the main character, Brendan's past. As is the case with several other story lines throughout the film, we don't see all of the past events. Some are suggested, through the dialogue, and some are viewed as flashbacks. I like that actually. I don't think a movie needs violence for the sake of violence, a good story can stand on its own.

We meet Brendan after his prison sentence, and after his conversion  to Christ. He is a sympathetic character, his intentions are honorable, and he just wants to take a different road. He's close to aging out of the foster care system, when he 's taken in by his next foster parents, Mike and Vanessa. Mike is a solid and positive influence in Brendan's life, encouraging him in his faith walk, and willing to gamble on him. Vanessa, on the other hand, is very cautious, even wary, and you can feel her mistrust and reticence. Through certain inferences, we find out that Mike and Vanessa are still dealing with their own personal tragedy.

Then there's the family friend of Mike and Vanessa, who also happens to be a detective. He is definitely not thinking that taking in this kid with such a troubled past is worth the trouble. He makes it clear that he believes Brendan will fail.

The battle is uphill all the way, but Brendan keeps going. He is doing everything he can to break from his past, and finds love and support through fellow believers at his high school. But then his old "friends" find him and begin intimidating him, trying to pull him back into his old life. The question is whether Brendan will stand for Christ, or throw it away.

I don't want to give the whole story away, so you'll have to trust me and check out this DVD for yourself. It's a sobering depiction of what many kids in foster care face as they age out, with no one to offer  a better way, a secure family, the hope of a good future. Mike and Vanessa present a great picture of the impact that we can have as parents, foster parents, teachers, whatever you are, on someone who is in desperate need. A great example of being the hands and feet of Christ to those in need.

As foster parents, it's always encouraging to find a movie, a book, a story that shares about this life. It's a world that most people know next to nothing about, and I don't say that to judge, it just is what it is. I know that for us, it opened up the door to a completely different way that people are hurting. The impact of a good foster family can have a huge and lasting impact on the life of the foster child, and possibly their biological family. We often see foster parents portrayed in a negative light for wrongs they commit against the child, or are accused of being in it for the money. I love to see them instead as real people seeking to offer a child/teen a place to hopefully thrive, heal, and succeed.

Those are my thoughts, check it out for yourself :)


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KingsFaith

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kingsfaith




"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Carole P. Roman - A Review

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Geography, anyone? My girls and I had the chance to review a set of books by Carole P. Roman .
This set of  books takes readers around the world with four different destinations:
If You Were Me And Lived In...Norway
We were blessed to receive  all four titles, an inflatable globe, a couple of paper "passports", and two cute pencils with an international design. I knew that my curious girls would be very happy to read a little bit about a few different cultures, and they were :)
 
 
 
 
This is what we received. The inflatable globe was a hit!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Each paperback book is between 20-26 pages long. All have pleasant, brightly colored illustrations. The format is about the same in all of them. The book begins with a picture of the country, and where it is located on the globe (which you can then show to your child on the inflatable globe :) ). Then, you'll learn what the capital is for that specific country and get some basic information about it.
Then, you'll read examples of people's names that are common to that culture, as well as how one would address their parents.
You'll read about popular destinations, and activities that are available there. Then, it's time to learn about the food! Is it spicy, sweet, or savory? Do they use forks and spoons, or chopsticks?
 
What about holidays? Do other cultures celebrate Christmas, or New Year's? What kinds of traditions are included? Are there any presents? You'll find out all about it.
And school. Do children in other countries attend school? What is it called in the different languages?
These books are a quick and concise resource to provide an overview for young children about these four cultures. And to aid you in your pronunciation skills for those words that are a little tough to sound out, there is a guide in the back of each book to help you out.  
 
 
 
 
 This was the first one that we read. We have a bit of Spanish under our belts-just a bit-and the kids had fun testing what they knew.
 
 
 
 The girls enjoyed learning about South Korea's currency, and the fact that chopsticks are the eating utensil of choice. They tried it themselves - with limited success. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In this book, the girls liked the names of people. They liked that they recognize some of the words, as we've been studying a bit of French in our studies.






The favorite fact from this book for my oldest, was learning that there are times where the sun never sets. She enthusiastically talked about never having to go to bed, and playing outside non stop with her friends, no matter the time of day ;)

 
 
 
 
 
 
These books are great for anyone looking for resources to enhance a geography study for the younger ages especially. They provide the basic facts, and are an easy read. The age range is pre-k to 8 years. I think that's a pretty accurate target. Our kids range in age from toddler to 9, and all enjoyed what they learned, although I would not have necessarily thought to purchase this for my 8 and 9 year old.
 
We didn't use these along with a specific study, but as a fun, general read aloud that also happened to teach geography. I had the older girls read them aloud, and stayed close by to assist with some of the hard to pronounce words. Not that I was always a help there, until I discovered the guide in the back ;)
 
Overall, we all liked these books, although I do think the price is a bit on the high side. As we discovered, they span a broad range of ages, which is helpful in households with a variety of grade levels. I would recommend these to anyone.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If You Were Me And Lived In...Norway
 
 
Ages:  Suitable for all ages
 
Price: Right now, you can find the books available for under $9.00  
 
 
 
 
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew