Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 30

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for...God!!

Today is the last day for the Gratitude Challenge and it has been fun to read what everyone is thankful for!  I think it is fitting to save the best for last!  

God is our creator and we would not have life without Him.  There would be nothing to be thankful for if it were not for Him.  So to sum up this Gratitude Challenge, I am thankful for God!

Is Homeschooling Right For You?

There are many people who want to homeschool but are not sure where to start.  Here are a few tips that I hope will help.

1.  Talk with your spouse. Homeschooling is a family decision and you should include your partner every step of the way.  Make a list of pros and cons.  Talk about how it will affect your family.  Is it right for both you and for your children?  Maybe it is better for one child and not the other?  Homeschooling should not be taken lightly and deciding whether to do it may take a while.  No matter what though, you and your spouse should be on the same page. 

2.  Talk with other homeschoolers.  Homeschool parents love to share ideas.  They can offer support and advice on homeschooling, and can tell you how they started and what obstacles they may have faced.  Sharing your concerns with other parents who have been in your shoes can be helpful!

3.  Join a homeschool group.  Some groups may accept you even if you haven't started homeschooling yet.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  It is a great way to have a circle of friends for both you and your children.  We have been in the same homeschool group since our daughter was three (and obviously we were officially homeschooling then).

4.  Research online.  There is so much information on homeschooling online it can be overwhelming, but if you find a good website, group, or homeschool forum, you can ask questions and find some great resources.

5.  Budget.  If you were working prior to homeschooling, it may be a financial adjustment.  You can do it though!  Homeschool families come in all shapes and sizes, even single parents can homeschool.  We budgeted when our daughter was first born, but didn't anticipate me still being at home 7 1/2 years later.   It takes some adjustment, but it can be done.

6.  Pray!  Homeschooling is a big commitment and is not a good fit for every family.  Pray for discernment and help on making the right decision.   Maybe now is not the right time for your family but next year is.  Give it to the Lord and listen for His response.

I hope if you are on the fence about homeschooling, these tips have helped.  Even though it is a commitment, the rewards are so great!!  These years with your children are very precious!  I could not see myself doing anything else! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 29

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for...Everything Else!!

Running water, heat and air conditioning, washers and dryers, hangers, beds, fans, garbage collection, sewers, cleaning products, toilets, showers, shelter, doctors, transportation, slippers, clothes, kitchen appliances, refrigerators, grocery stores, electricity, nail files, umbrellas, shoes, dentists, trees, toothbrushes, forks, buttons, toilet paper, razors, mirrors, and everything else that makes life easier!!

Extracurricular Activities

Some may say I over schedule.  Some may say we do too much.  I just like to say that our daughter is well rounded!  ;o)

So, what do we do for extracurricular activities?  Let's go back to when our daughter was 3.  I was so excited that she was finally able to enroll in something.  We signed her up for her first dance class.  It was a ballet/tap combo.  She loved it and I watched every second of her dancing around on that floor, each and every week.  She is 7 1/2 now and she is still at the same dance studio, but is now taking 1 hour of ballet, 1 hour of jazz/tap, and 1 hour of their mini company class (yes, I am there 3 hours a week).  She's been there for over 5 years now and she still enjoys it!

When she tuned 4 we enrolled her in soccer at the local YMCA.  The contact between her foot and the ball was far and few between, but she loved practicing her ballet moves across the field and digging holes in the dirt.  We have braved the 100 degree summer heat to watch her and her team attempt to work together in getting the ball down the field.  This coming spring will be her last season with the U8 age group, then she would move up to the bigger kids.  I'm still not sure what we will do.  To break it down, she hates the heat and hates running in the heat...but she still says she wants to keep going because "the more she practices, the better she will get." She is right, but I'm still not sure what will happen.  

When she turned 6 we enrolled her in the swim team at the Y.  Swim team is a big summer commitment but she loves to swim and she does pretty well.  Thankfully summer swim is not as competitive as the year round swim (she is not quite at that level).  This summer she will move up to compete against the next age range, so it will be a bit of a change, but she is enjoying it so far and has several friends.

When she was about 6 1/2 we started her with piano lessons.  She's been taking them about a year right now and absolutely loves it.  She will usually play her pieces without me asking her to and has performed in a few recitals.  We don't have a piano at home so she has to practice on a keyboard.  We are hoping something will fall in our lap one of these days.  ;o)

So, yes, we do have several extracurricular activities, but two out of the four are seasonal, and don't happen at the same time.   From the end of fall to the beginning of spring, things are a little more relaxed.  Soccer and swim keep us busy, but it is fun at the same time.  We are all usually excited when they start and ready to be done towards the end. 

Jim Weiss CD Review and Giveaway!!

Back in October I wrote about the incredible storytime we were able to attend by master storyteller, Jim Weiss.  After his performance I purchased his recording of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and The Story of Rome.  We were studying Rome at the time and thought this CD would be the perfect addition to our studies.  We immediately started listening to it in the car and my daughter loved it!

Since that day, I have had the opportunity to receive four more of his CDs to listen to and review.  But before I tell you about those, let me tell you a little about Jim Weiss.

"Jim Weiss has been a storyteller for over 25 years. In June, 1989, Jim decided to do something more with the craft that he had formerly practiced solely for pleasure. He and his wife, Randy, formed a production company, Greathall Productions, and have thus far produced forty four (44) storytelling recordings with enticing titles from classical literature, such as Greek Myths, King Arthur and Sherlock Holmes." 

His recordings are available for ages 3 and up (from Animal Tales to the Classic stories), ages 5 and up (from King Arthur and His Knights to Greek Myths), ages 7 and up (from Masters of the Renaissance to Romeo and Juliet), and ages 12 and up.  

His newest title is Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers.  I know we will be using this one next year in our American History studies!  

Jim travels throughout the United States giving performances at schools, libraries, and events, which is how we saw him, through a homeschool group.  On his website, you can book a performance or view his travel calendar.  

Our daughter's favorites so far have been Galileo and the Stargazers, followed closely by A Christmas Carol.  She has listened to both more than twice.  

We all enjoyed listening to Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America in the car on the way back from a trip.  It was a great way to hear the story of Abraham Lincoln without having to even pick up a book.  Even my husband and I learned some things from the story.   

My Thoughts:  Jim Weiss did an excellent job in his live performance for the kids and the audio CDs have been beyond our expectation.  They bring new life to timeless stories and have been very entertaining and educational.  I think these are a great resource to use along any curriculum.  

On their website you can view all the titles available in either a timeline or by subject.  I think these are both great tools to use to find what is best for your family.

Thoughts of a 7 Year Old: The Jim Weiss audio CDs Galileo and the Stargazers, (including Archimedes and the Golden Crown,) Gone West, A Christmas Carol (including The Gift of the Magi and Dick Spindler's Family Christmas,) Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America and Julius Caesar and the Power of Rome are fascinating, full of surprises, and extremely hilarious - there's no end to these stories when you listen to them countless times again! 

P.S. I swear my daughter wrote that paragraph above...I think she can take over for me! 

Find Out More:  You can find out more about Jim Weiss and his recordings at his website Greathall ProductionsAll Greathall Storytelling titles are available on CD for $13.45.  The Greathall Boutique includes unabridged readings (including their newest release, Carry On Mr. Bowditch) and read-along book/CD sets at various prices.  They also offer gift certificates, which is a great gift idea for any holiday!


So, here's how to enter to win a Greathall Storytelling Title by Jim Weiss ($13.45 value)!  For each comment, you will get one (1) entry.  Only the first comment is mandatory, all others will just increase your chance at winning.

1. Visit the Greathall Productions website and let me know what CD you think your family would like best.  This is a mandatory entry! Leave me a comment and this will give you 1 entry.

Additional Entries:

2. Subscribe to the Greathall Monthly e-NewsletterCome back here and leave me a comment telling me you did this and that will give you another entry.

3. Follow my blog using Google Friend Connect (on the right side of my page) or let me know you are already a follower. Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.

4. Follow my blog using Networked Blogs (on the right side of my page) or let me know you are already a follower. Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.

5. Subscribe to my blog by email though feedburner HERE. Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.

6. Like my Facebook page HERE.  Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.

7. Follow me on Twitter @OurHSReviews.  Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.

8. Share this giveaway on your blog or twitter. Leave me a comment sharing your link and this will give you two (2) entries (leave separate comments for both).

9. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page. Leave me a comment and this will give you another entry.  

**Remember to please leave a separate comment for each entry**

One random winner will be selected using Random.org on Monday, December 6, 2010. (U.S. Entries only.) If I am unable to reach the winner within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected. Your entry is only valid if you include a way for me to contact you (either an email address in your comment or on your profile). 

Disclosure: This product was given to Our Homeschool Reviews for free for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I have received no compensation from it and all opinions and experiences within this review are my own.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 28

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for...The Christmas Season!! 

I've missed a couple days of the gratitude challenge (and posts in general) this weekend because we have just been taking it easy and relaxing.  Plus, the past two days the Christmas bins have been blocking my computer desk so I haven't really been able to access it.  ;o)  

Yesterday we decorated the whole house inside and it is starting to feel a little like Christmas around here now.  I really hated to take down all the lovely fall colors to put up the bright red and green, but now that it is up, I feel more in the season.  Our Christmas village has expanded this year and it looks so much better! 

We buy our tree each year, so we will probably get around to that this week sometime.  We also have to decorate outside the house, but since going with lights in the bushes only, along with some blow up decorations, it doesn't take much time at all.   We nixed the lights on the roof a couple years ago and the process has been so much more pleasant!!  :o)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday and 2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 26

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, of course.

Yesterday I was in the kitchen cooking from about 7:30am to 1pm, when we ate.  All the food turned out tasty (thank goodness) and it was nice having our families over.  Afterward, we rested for a couple hours, ate dessert, and everyone left by about 6pm.

This morning my plan was to be out of the house by about 6:30 to check out the sales.  This year was the first year our stores started opening way before 5am.  Walmart, for instance, opened at 12am, and other stores were opening at 3am and 4am.  I really thought I would have no chance of getting anything good.  At least when they open at 5am, I miss the big rush and can still find a few things two hours later.  So my hopes were not high.

BUT, I was still going to get out, regardless...and it was worth it!!  I was out of the house by 6:15 (although I did wake up at 3am and really thought about going that early...I went back to bed though).  I did find most of what I wanted to get, minus a couple things like Blu Rays and DS Games that went on sale at 12am.  Those got snatched up quick! 

So what did I get?  I got the usual $5 Barbie, $6 jumbo playdoh pack, and $4 pj's at Walmart.  Not essentials but nice extras under the tree.  I was able to pick up one $9.99 Tinkerbell DS game at Gamestop.  Thankfully most of the people who shop there are not looking for Tinkerbell.  ;o) 

My two super buys were the Waffle Maker, which will be $8 after my MIR and the Shark Steam Mop for $36.  I was lucky to get the mop.  After walking around the store a couple times looking in the return bins, I found the very last one at the return desk, as I was about to leave the store.  

When we had our wood floors installed I had looked at them and they were pretty expensive, so I passed.  I have used it today already and LOVE it!!!  I am so excited!  I'll be vacuuming all my floors tomorrow and steam mopping them.  :o)  Oh, and the rest of the crew are out right now buying ingredients to make waffles for dinner.  It was two against one for waffles vs leftovers from yesterday.  I lost.

So, did anyone else get out today and get any good buys?  If so, let me know what you scored!

And The Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Winner Is...

Comment #48:  Jennifer said...I would like to win this. I have so many favorite children's books. One is Good Night Moon. 
I used Random.org to pick the winner and I have already notified her via email.  
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Giveaway via Our Homeschool Reviews and thanks again to Cheerios and MyBlogSpark for allowing me to offer this great DVD! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CSN Stores for Gifts

I know you all have heard me rant and rave about CSN Stores already, but as the busiest shopping day and weekend are nearing, have you thought about browsing around their website for gift ideas?  Every time I check out their site, it seems like they either have something marked down or are offering free shipping.  Are you looking to buy for your family?  Perhaps your mom or dad?  If so, they have a great selection of briefcases.  I like this one in particular, but there are so many to choose from! 

With over 200 stores, I find myself in the Cookware store the most, but if you are looking for something for your children, they have tons of gift ideas in Toys and Games!

Regardless, you are sure to find something on your shopping list at CSN Stores!  Stay tuned to see what I decide to purchase next and review!

Have A Great Thanksgiving!

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 24

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for...Generosity!!  Today my daughter and I planted ourselves at a local grocery store for two hours ringing the Salvation Army bell.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go at first.  It only took her 15 minutes to ask for a chair (lucky I had our folding chairs in the car).  She was a trooper and rang that bell, the whole time saying, "Good Morning", "Hi", "Thank You", "Happy Thanksgiving", "Have a Good Day", and "May God Bless You."  If you were lucky, you were told all of the above...lol!  

I was amazed at the number of people who gave money into that little red bucket!  I would say that at least 70% of those who walked into the store gave something.  I was not expecting the number to be that high.  Maybe it had something to do with that adorable little girl in the over sized apron...maybe not.  It was just nice to share that holiday spirit with others and exchange smiles with strangers!

Wordless Wednesday: The Good Year Blimp

This was back in October.  That is the peak of our roof.  That blimp was way closer than this picture shows (click on the pictures to enlarge them).  It was pretty cool!

  1. Reaping a harvest
  2. Shibley Smiles w/linky
  3. And Miles To Go. . .
  4. Baby To Go
  5. Harriet-LINKY
  7. 3 Princes And A Princess 2
  8. Lisa @ My THoughts w/Linky
  9. Goober Grape &Monkey Man w/linky
  10. Larry @ Cakeblast
  11. Casey @ MaritimeMom
  12. aldon @ orient lodge
  13. ananimales kiddos
  14. priest's wife
  15. FeeFiFoto Autumn Harvest
  16. Crazyland: Tales from the Motherboard *LINKY*
  17. Baby Journey w/ Linky
  1. Cocoa the Bunny w/ Linky
  2. Bibi @ Queen of Average
  3. Traci66~Halloween at Camp (Linky please stop by and link up)
  4. @ PamelaMKramer Princess (w/linky)
  5. Home and Pantry-Save on ORGANICS!
  6. The Life of Rylie. . . and Bryce too! {w/linky}
  7. Growing by Leaps and Bounds on The Journey Mom.
  8. Growing by Leaps and Bounds on The Journey Mom (w/Linky)
  9. JDaniel4's MOm
  10. alicia @ a beautiful mess *LINKY*
  11. Lolli's search for brown
  12. AskMsRecipe-LINKY
  13. Typical Suburban Family {w/ Linky}
  14. Home and Pantry-Money Saving Recipes
  15. Smidge of Fall - OneDay
  16. Lauren @ Hobo Mama = Running route (w/linky!)
  17. This linky list is now closed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recipe Share

As Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to share a wonderful, quick, and easy recipe I received from someone a few years ago.  Since then I have cooked this each year, around this season.  It is great any time of day, but especially good first thing in the morning.  The smell just says "November!"  

Does anyone else have any good recipes?  If so, please feel free to share! 

Pumpkin Nut Dessert

For Crust:
1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 C)
½ C margarine
1 egg

Reserve 1 cup of the dry cake mix.  Using remainder of cake mix, blend together with ½ cup margarine and 1 egg.  Pat mixture into bottom and up sides of ungreased 9x13 pan.

For Filling:
1 large can pumpkin
2 eggs
2/3 C milk
1 C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix filling ingredients together and pour over crust in pan.

For Topping:
Reserved cake mix (1 C)
¾ C sugar
¼ C margarine
1 C nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of filling.  Bake for 50 min at 350 degrees.

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 23

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for. 

Today I am thankful for...Friends!!  I am very thankful to have several friends who I can talk to, laugh with, and confide in.

Before having our daughter, I pretty much kept to myself.  At work I didn't socialize too much, ate lunch in the break room, and certainly didn't go out after work.  It was just my husband, myself, and our families.  

Then I became a stay at home mom.  It wasn't until after the first year when I realized I needed to start getting her out more.  I had to...socialize...lol!  Since then, through playdates, birthday parties, activities, and mom groups, I have made some wonderful friends...hopefully lifelong friends!!

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado Book Review

I'll be honest and say that I have never read a Max Lucado book.  I've heard about him though, so when I had the chance to read and review one of his books I jumped at the chance.  Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado shows us what we can do with our lives to help others. 

This was an excellent book and it was hard to put it down.  It was so good I had to get my yellow highlighter as I read.  :o)  

Someone asked the question recently, "At your funeral, what do you want those who survive you to say?"  What defines you?  Are you a good housekeeper?  Do you care for your family?  Are you an animal lover?  Can you save a buck?  Do you make a mean potato salad?  Some of those are true for me, but this book made me think...I can do more, I have to do more! 

Chapter 2 is titled Calling Mr Pot Roast.  Max shows us how God uses the common Joe to do extraordinary things!   

"We are Joe Pot Roast.  Common Folk.  We sit in the bleachers, eat at dinners, change diapers, and wear our favorite team's ball cap.  Fans don't wave as we pass.  Servants don't scurry when we come home.  Chauffeurs don't drive our cars; butlers don't open our doors or draw our baths.  Doormen don't greet us, and security doesn't protect us.  We, like the Jerusalem disciples, are regular folk.  Does God use the common Joe?"


Chapter 3 talks about the clamshells we all wear to protect us from the outside world.  "When news reports describe Afghan refugees, into the shell I go.  When a homeless person appears with a cardboard sign, I just close the lid.  When missionaries describe multitudes of lost, lonely souls, I climb in."

"Let God unshell you!"

Those are just of a few excerpts of this wonderful book!  There is also a discussion and action guide in the back with questions for each chapter.  

Find Out More:  Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado is available online in hardcover for $13.74 and $9.99 for paperback.  100% of the author's royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith based compassion. 

Disclosure: This product was given to Our Homeschool Reviews for free by Book Sneeze for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I have received no compensation from it and all opinions and experiences within this review are my own.

Great DVD Deals on Amazon

Here are a few great DVD deals on Amazon...think Christmas presents!

The Blind Side is only $3.99 right now!

Mamma Mia! The Movie (Full Screen)  is a Lightening Deal for the next 3 hours at $3.99!

Surf's Up (Widescreen Special Edition) is also a Lightening Deal for the next 3 hours at $4.99!  This is one of our favorite kids movies!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge - November 22

For the month of November Our Homeschool Reviews will be participating in a Gratitude Challenge hosted by Brenda at Garden of Learning.  For each day, I'll post about something I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for...Being able to Homeschool!!  

When our daughter was younger she was a quick learner...quick like she was able to sound out three letter words before her third birthday!  I remember her first reciting the alphabet when she was only 15 months old.  Now, I have to say that I thought this was normal.  I was never around many children and she was our only one, so I read to her every day and we practiced our letters and numbers really early.  It was because of this we decided that homeschooling may be the way to go because she would be bored in Kindergarten.  I think since then God has shown me the real reason to homeschool!

When she was three we enrolled in Community Bible Study.  I had never been in a formal Bible study before, much less ever really read the Bible.  Yes, I had gone to church all my life but never really understood it all.  CBS has opened my eyes and has shown me the real reason that homeschooling is so important!  But, if we hadn't chosen to do it, regardless of the reason why, we wouldn't be where we are now.  

This homeschooling journey has taught me a lot, more than just how to teach reading and math.  It's taught me patience and perseverance and I have been able to teach my daughter about God's love for her, and all of us!  

Don't get me wrong, it's not always fun and happy, and sometimes I want to pull my hair out, but I remember "Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer let your request be made known to God."  Philippians 4:6

This Week's Blog Walk

Here are some blogs to check out this week from my fellow Crew members. And if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, check it out HERE!

Our Homeschool Reviews Celebrates the Holidays

"How does your family celebrate the holidays?"   

Well, let's start with Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving we have my parents and brother and my husband's parents come over to our house.  I have always done all the cooking, from the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, to the corn, beans, and bread.  My dh does make the gravy from scratch and carves the turkey!  All I ask is that each family bring the desserts.

We usually eat sometime between 12pm-1pm.  Once we sit down we go around the table and everyone says what they are thankful for.  My daughter especially likes this.  She enjoys hearing what everyone else has to say.  After dinner the moms clean while the boys watch football.  After cleaning, if I'm not ready for a nap, I will go though all the after Thanksgiving Day ads and decide where I am going to go the next morning.  Then it's time for dessert and time for everyone to go home and for me to collapse...lol!

For Christmas we mix it up a little bit.  Christmas Eve we either go to church service with my parents, or at our own church, and then meet my parents for dinner.  While out of the house, if our daughter has been good, Santa's elves will deliver "Magic Pajamas" and slippers under her pillow.  She gets so excited when she gets home to check!

Throughout the month of December and leading up to Christmas, we always read through the scripture to understand what Christmas is truly about.  Christmas Day, we open presents at our house, get dressed, and then go to my parents house (5 min away), to open presents there and eat lunch.  My mom does all the cooking on Christmas, so no cooking for me!  After a few hours at their house, we leave, head back home, get about 30 minutes rest before my dh's parents come over to open presents.  They usually bring some finger foods over for dinner.  Then it is time for everyone to go home and I collapse again...lol!

We are very thankful to have our families in town and close by.  I know I have great memories of visiting family over the holidays and I am sure our daughter will too.