Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun Friday- Let Me Introduce Myself to You!

--This upcoming series started out as a fun idea to highlight my kids on my blog.  They are, afterall, very much an integral part of my life and who I am.  I am a mom.  But I am also a few more things,  including wife to an amazing man so I decided to slip in a quick post about my hubby and myself first. 

Starting the first Friday in June, that's next week ya'll, I will introduce the four kids.  Fair warning, I got to interview them and they are more interesting than my hubby and me.  It's ok, it won't hurt my feelings of you agree!

Isn't he cute?  And lately he is 20 pounds lighter.  No kidding.  We started a weight loss challenge together and he beat me by a few weeks.  Not that I am jealous or anything.  And that's a whole other post. Moving on...

How did we meet?  In 8th grade.  Yes, really.  He was new at the school and I heard everyone talking about him being "back".  They knew of him from a few years earlier.

Did we always date?  Yes.  We dated each other, then each other's friends.  You remember how that used to work!  Sad, but true.

Are our kids allowed to date?  Heavens no. ;)  No casual dating allowed here.  We know how painful that can be.  OK, any relationships can be painful, but we want to avoid as much drama as possible.

Did we go to the same college?  Not by a long shot!  I tease him that I went to a real school.  He went to the AF Academy.  They actually had rules there.  Boring! heehee

How long have we been married?  Seems like forever, but it has only been 20 years.  Almost 21.  Where has time gone and does that make us old?

Where and when will we retire?  That is a VERY good question. I am just putting that out there in case he feels called to answer.  :)

Do you all really like moving THAT much?  Mostly.  I never saw my life with going on 13 moves in it.  BUT, it has been an adventure.  And a mostly good one at that!   Have I mentioned we are packing up yet again- in 17 days?!

Are you all as strict of parents as you seem?  Probably.  We love our kids dearly, expect a lot from them and then grin ear to ear when they live up to our expectations.  We figure if you are hard on them in the early years, you can enjoy them in the later ones.  So can everyone else.  So far, our theory is working.

Where do you see yourselves in 20 years? Tired.  heehee Just kidding!  Hopefully, snuggled in a little cabin in Colorado surrounded by our friends, kids and maybe a few grandkids even.  And thanking the Lord for the life He has blessed us with!

OK, I promise next week will be more interesting... I'll start with the first born.  Just wanted to let you know there was a real person behind the blog title. ;)


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2012-2013 Year in Review- High School

Ahhhh, high school.  The years that "count".  No pressure, right?
Actually, I love teaching high school, though teaching is a relative term.  We have found that by this point in their journey, they are pretty self sufficient.  Other than grading tests, talking out some things, and maybe experiments, our high schoolers are mostly on their own.  This is a time to learn to be self motivated, as college is just around the corner and mom will not always be there to check up with you!

Anyway- we have had a good year, though quite busy.

9th Grade


Sonlight- History, Bible, Reading

Abeka Biology
arts,calligraphy,communications,fountain pens,pens,writing implements,writings
One Year Adventure Novel- We almost did not get this program because of the price but my daughter begged.  I am glad she is persistent.  After 8 months of writing she completed her first novel and is now revising it.  Proud momma moment!
Rosetta Stone Spanish, Levels 1 and 2- I am going to just put this out there…I am CONVINCED that the reason my daughter has done so well and moved so fast with this program is because of her previous Spanish courses.  For that reason, I highly recommend you have your child take Spanish A and B from Classical Academic Press.  It is a very sound program, thorough, and the video teaching helps the child hear what they should sound like.

Art Appreciation

Teaching Textbooks Geometry

Wordly Wise

Monarch- Physical Health

books,colleges,education,Fotolia,girls,homework,learns,people,Photographs,posing,reads,scholars,schools,students,studies,studying,universities,women,works,young Our favorite review products-

Writing Fiction with Sharon Watson- Again, God’s timing is perfect and this came when we were finishing up the Adventure novel.  I was concerned nothing could follow, but this was a wonderful program that further encouraged my daughter with her writing, fine tuned it even more and spurred her on to work on the second draft of her novel. 

High School Genius Prep- We recently reviewed this and are still reading it.  If your child is headed to college you really should own a copy of this!  There is now a code for all my readers for $5.00 off this book.  See the updated review!  You can start using it as early as 7th grade.

No Nonsense Algebra- When we reviewed this product, we liked it.  Now that my daughter is getting ready to take the Algebra CLEP test, we like it even more.  The lessons are short and minus any fluff and teach solid algebra!

I know that many very capable homeschooling mommas out there panic when their children near the high school age.  Can I just say, DON'T!  With a little planning, they can be great years.  This is a time to bond, learn together and grow in your relationship!

Blessings, Michele

You can find Part One here!

Monday, May 27, 2013

2012-2013 Year in Review

We are done with school!  Well, as done as one can be when you school year round.  But we ARE done with the lessons for the "school year".  This is our week off and then the following week we will plunge back in the with our summer schedule.

notebooks,budgets,fotolia,office,prints,reports,schools,writings,yes,penSummer usually consists of math and reading, plus a few child specific subjects on a much lighter schedule.  For the youngest it will be mostly reading, for the 5th grader we will add typing and the 9th grader will be studying for the biology CLEP test.  We also have a few fun TOS Reviews in the works that I am very excited about.  In the middle of all that we have to move, set up a house, and work on our summer bucket list!

For now, I am taking a breath and thinking back on our year.  It has been a good one.  CJ learned to read like a champ and settled into '"real" school better than I anticipated.  SCP finished 5th grade with a  happy heart.  That is saying a lot for a 5th grade boy!  It was a much tougher year and one to ready him for much more independence next year.  He came through with flying colors.  The 9th grader did great!  9th grade is one of our favorite years to study with Sonlight and in addition she wrote her first novel.  Revision is one of the things she will be working on this summer, but it is done- all 19,000 words of it and I must say I am very proud of her.  I will talk about her school year in detail on Wednesday, but for now here is a review of our Kindergarten and 5th grade years...

-Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
-Saxon Kindergarten Math
-ABEKA 1st grade Science and History Readers
-Christian Liberty Press Workbooks

Our favorite review products-
PAL (IEW’s reading program)- I am CONVINCED this is what has made my son such a strong reader!  He learned quickly and loved every minute of this program.  He developed a love of reading early and I could not recommend this product enough.  Yes, it requires some set up time, but it is worth every minute.
Phonics and Reading with McGuffey – As you have heard me say before, I did not think I would encourage iPad apps.  I changed my mind.  We are still using this app almost daily and I still say if you only buy one app this year for your beginner reader, BUY THIS ONE!
ABeCeDarian- This program has taken us to the next level of reading.  Though completely different from PAL, it appealed to my son as well and challenged him to the next level.  We will continue to use it!
Touch Math- This program came to us right as we were finishing up our scheduled Math.  It was a great transition for us.  It got challenging pretty quickly, but with the help of the software you can buy, it is still a favorite.  Because we reviewed 1st grade, we will be able to continue using it in our new school year.  Hands on curriculum works for us!
Song School Spanish-  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  Catchy songs, puppets and easy games kept us having fun.  Short manageable lessons for the younger grades make learning fun and not a chore.  While my son was familiar with most of the vocabulary in the book (he was born in Guatemala, remember) this program allowed him to use Spanish with no reservations or fear.  The songs alone are worth the price!
Speekee TV- This silly little pur9ople guy won our hearts and CJ could watch those videos all day if you let him.  They are finishing up production of a new set and we cannot wait.  Again, a natural way for younger children to love and learn Spanish!
academic,arithmetic,education,equations,erasers,learning,mathematics,numbers,papers,pencils,supplies,schools,writings5th Grade
-Sonlight- Reading, History, Bible
-NOEO Science
-Spelling Power
-Teaching Textbooks

Our favorite review products-
Apologia’s Who Is God? Bible Study-  We were able to review the third book in this series and loved it, so we decided to go back and start at the beginning.  I would recommend using the four for 5-8th  grade!
Computer Science for Kids- This is one my husband and son do together, but I love watching them.  It is fun to see the two guys work together and get excited about things I will never understand!
Spanish for You!- We are currently using this one and it is my new favorite Spanish program for 3rd-8th grade levels.  Easy to use, affordable and great audio tracks!
Essentials in Writing- Honestly, writing is NOT my son’s thing.  He does not enjoy it and therefore it is not fun to teach him.  I was blessed by this program because by video, someone else was teaching him and took the pressure off me.  I love the smaller, more manageable lessons and I love that my son got to have a male for a teacher for a change.
The Pilgrim Story and Sacagawea, - Two different approaches, but GREAT History!  These are at the top of my son’s list for sure!
There were many other products we reviewed that we liked and once again I am reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of such an amazing group of men and women who love what they do.
I am also reminded of how thankful I am to be able to homeschool my kiddos.  Every minute may not always be fun, but every minute is always filled with love.
See you back on Wednesday to talk about HIGH SCHOOL!

This post is linked with Amy at Raising Arrows!
We  are also linked up at Hearts for Home blog hop!
We are also linked up with The Homeschool Village Blog Hop!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Great New Resource- Schoolhouse Library


As most of you know, I am a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  That is where I find out about so many of the amazing products I share here on my blog and on my Family, Faith and Fridays facebook page. 

Well, now they have yet another amazing new thing I want to share with you....

This 175 plus item resource is full of books, and even a few videos.  Now, for a one time price of $25.00 you can access all that there is there now and any new resources they add.

Here is just a sampling of what you will find-

  • 2 Study Guides from YWAM
  • Draw Write Now Sampler E-Book by Barker Creek
  • Heroines of the Past-Victorian unit study from Amy Puetz
  • Map Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History from Knowledge Quest
  • Teaching Writing E-Book from WriteShop
  • 15 audio E-Books from My Audio School in history and literature
  • A Glimpse at Carnivorous Plants Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child
  • Video from Jessica Hulcy on “Learning as a Family”
  • From Frazzled to Focused: 7 Planning Tools for Busy Moms from Mary Jo Tate

  • Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been doing it for years and just need a little encouragement or some new ideas, I think you will find what you need here!  Who doesn't need a virtual homeschool library at your finger tips?

    Schoolhouse Library has all you need and more to support, encourage and cheer you on as a homeschool family.



    Mom needs a vacation!

    Military moms are use to it.  OK, let's face it, moms in general are use to it.

    When it rains it pours.

    My oldest had her wisdom teeth taken out yesterday.  "Oh, it will be easy" they said. "Teens bounce back so much easier" they said.  "She'll be fine the next day" they said.

    NOT. SO. MUCH!   Codeine is not her friend.  Motrin isn't quite enough. 

    We are not having fun.


    The 5 year old developed a 101-102 temperature this morning.  This is the kid who did not get sick once this whole winter.  Not once!

    The 11 year old fell off the retaining wall in the back yard and hurt himself this afternoon.  It is only because of the grace of God we did not end up in the ER.
     boys,emotions,healthcare,injuries,kids,medicine,pains,people,grazed knees,web animations,web elements
    And did I mention, my husband is out of town?  Of course!  Well, actually by the time you read this he will be on his way home.  Thankfully.

    I am pretty sure he is now in charge for the rest of the month.

    Mom needs a vacation.

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    TOS Crew Review- Learning in Spite of Labels

     photo joyceherzog_zps3c5942dd.jpg"We are an educational support company; we help people learn." (from the web site)  That statement from the  Joyce Herzog website peaked my interest!  After all, I have four kids and they all learn very differently.  I have made it my personal mission to discover those learning styles, and tailor my teaching to best suit them individually.
     photo LearninginSpiteofLabels_zps646b6f6f.jpgLearning in Spite of Labels, published and written by Joyce Herzog,  is a book that can help you do just that.  While it does not go into huge detail about individual learning styles until the fourth section, it does provide tons of helpful tools specifically for helping any child that has a unique "label" to learn. You know those kids - those with ADD or ADHD, those with visual, speech or language delays, or those that just seem to process differently.

    Divided into four sections, Joyce addresses:
    *What Do I Need to Know?
       This section talks about how children learn, behavioral characteristics, and additional issues to consider - such as discipline or even where to best place your child.

    *What Do I Need to Do?
       This second section starts with 25 teaching techniques that work.  My favorite is number 1- I will thank God for this situation and for this guidance and blessing.  The one we use the most in this house - #10 - I will give limited choices to allow the student to have some control.  It also includes a section called Teeny Tiny Teaching Tips that focuses on areas such as food, motor skills, and even pencil grip and handwriting.

    *Where Do I Start?-
      With the realization that your child is a person, not a problem!

    *And Furthermore-
       This final chapter talks about the laws, ADD/ADHD, speech and language development, IEP's, and Depression.  One of the things I found the most interesting in this chapter was a list of famous people who overcame some pretty big obstacles in their lives.  Did you know that Olympic medalist Kristi Yamaguchi had casts on her legs for the first two weeks of her life and wore corrective shoes until she was four? Or that President Woodrow Wilson did not read until he was 11?

    There is also a very comprehensive appendix at the end that lists a great many additional resources  with contact information for parents to use.
     What I liked about this book-
    This is a simple read, really.  It is broken down into manageable parts and is very user friendly.
    Joyce obviously speaks from her heart.  She is passionate about helping kids, and it shows in every word she writes.
    It is from a Christian perspective.  "God gives you the grace to do the job He calls you to do." (page 209)  I would tell every homeschooling mom and dad out there to write that down and plaster it all over your home!  More importantly, plaster it on your heart!
    It puts power into the hands of the parents.  Instead of looking for ways for society to "fix" our kids or take over the teaching responsibility, Joyce encourages parents to get into the arena, become your child's best friend and advocate and make a difference in their lives.  "A mom can understand her child, and God's call on his life better than any teacher can." (page 207)
    If you have a child in your life that struggles with something, anything really, this is a book that will encourage you, guide you, and get you on the path to a better understanding of them.  I highly recommend it.
    As Joyce says,
    "Let's concentrate on our ables, not our labels." (page x) 
    You can download a free sample of this book if you want to get a feel for the style.  Joyce is also available for phone and email consults, as well as tutoring!
    Cost- $15.00
     Fellow CREW members reviewed several other products from Joyce Herzog, including the Scaredy Cat Reading System.  Click on the banner below to see those reviews!
     photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Summer Bucket List

    When I saw The Happy Family Movement blog  issue a Summer Bucket List Challenge, I signed up immediately!  I love this idea!

    Our family typically takes one vacation a year.  We save money each month for it (read about our budgeting here) and then plan accordingly.  Other than that, we don't go too many places.  I am NOT a field trip kind of mom. 

    Add a move into our summer, and well, it has the makings of a boring summer.

    The Summer Bucket List was just what we needed to help us be deliberate in the memory making business.

    Of course, everyone had their own ideas (some of which did not make the list- no, Disney is not an option this year, CJ and R) but we finally got organized and put together our list for Summer 2013. Without further ado...

    What about you?  What do you have scheduled for your summer?

    Get busy making memories!


    This post is linked to Amy, at Raising Arrows!

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    A Day in the Life of Four Kids

    Yes, I have them all home...mostly!  One went to the grandparents for a few days (and had a blast) one is headed to the mountains for a few days on a mission trip on the Appalacian trail hiding in her room sick now and trying to keep up with three online classes,  and one seems to be living mostly in the the dance studio for practices... but technically they are ALL home.

    Wanna see what we have been doing?
    I'll show you!


    LOTS of hugging!
    Lot of baking!

    My bread maker is back!
    Three online classes

    Sewing business- Tee shirt quilt

    Two more quilts done!
    And of course, Nerf Wars

    And the King of Nerf Wars!
    The fun never stops!  And this momma's heart is happy!

    Happy Friday, friends!

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    TOS Crew Review- Spanish for You

    Do you teach a second language at your house?  Are you bilingual?  If not, then you may have found that teaching a second language can be a challenge.  We have found that the vocabulary part is pretty easy to pick up, but as for the mechanics and conversational part, well, that is another story.  The other thing we have found is that programs for the elementary age students are either filled with fluff or are hard for the "normal" non-Spanish speaking mom to use.  Until now!

    Spanish for You Logo photo spanishforyoulog_zpsa3fadef7.jpgEnter Spanish for You!, created by Debbie Annett, a Spanish teacher of 14 years.  Spanish for You! was written by Debbie and intended to teach children grades 3-8 Spanish in a simple and affordable manner.  And there is NO fluff.  Intended to be taught four days a week,  this program covers not only vocabulary, but the mechanics of grammar as well.   There are two themes available at this time, Fiestas and Estaciones, with a third theme coming soon.  Each one will cover a year, 24 to 32 weeks, depending on the grade you are using.  We were given the opportunity to review the complete program which has lesson plans for grades 3rd through 8th.

    A quick and easy download of a few files will get you started.  Downloads include the lesson guides,  self checking worksheets, pictures and flashcards for each lesson and two audio files.  One audio is of Debbie reading each lesson, the other is that of a native speaker reading the lessons.  Also included was a softbound lesson book for your child to use.  Once we downloaded the material I printed off the lesson plans and bound them for easy reference.  While we had access to all the grade levels, we decided to print off only the grades 5-6 for our use.

    Each week is broken into four days of scheduled activities.  Each day listed tells you exactly what to do...from reading a specific part of the lesson to listening to part of the audio, playing a game or using the flash cards.  Debbie has now divided the downloads up by grade levels so you can quickly access the files you need to listen to or the worksheets you need print out for the day.

    *As a side note, the files we originally received were not divided up well.  With a few comments from our review crew about it being hard to find what we needed, Debbie divided up the files into grade levels.  Talk about listening to input.  It was only the beginning for me of being impressed with not only the program but the availability of the publisher.  Debbie is a dedicated educator who obviously believes in her product, and wants to present it in the best possible way.  For me, that knowledge makes the program even more special!

    How we used it-
    My son, a 5th grader, has been exposed to Spanish before.  His younger brother was born in Guatemala so we use many Spanish words and phrases in our home.  But this is the first time he has been formally introduced to the grammar part of the language.  I have to say that I was impressed.  He picked up on it quickly and was even able to do the worksheets without help from me.  One of the things that I think really helped his retention were the audio files.  I think that not only for the auditory leaner, but also for anyone, hearing the lessons after reading them helps solidify things in their minds.  We especially liked hearing the tracks with the native speaker.  We have learned in the past that just by hearing a native speaker say things helps you be less intimidated by the language.  It becomes more natural to your ear and, of course, ensures you are pronouncing things properly. 

    I also like that the lessons are broken into manageable sizes.   We followed Debbie's four day schedule presented in the lesson plans.  Information is presented slowly and then repeated often with practice in the form of suggested games, worksheets and flashcards.  It is easy to follow and laid out in an organized manner.  Often Debbie starts a lesson with flashcard practice, but even when she did not, we found it to be a good way to start our lesson.  Let's just say that the fifth grader learns faster than the teacher sometimes!

    Fiestas chapters cover the holidays of:
    a birthday, 
    Day of the Dead,
    Holy Week in Spain,
    and The April Fair.

    Each chapter is meant to be done in order as the learning spirals on itself, but individual books can be done in any order.  Working with more than one grade of child?  Not a problem.  Because the complete set has lessons for all three levels (3rd&4th grade, 5th&6th, and 7th&8th) you can teach multiple levels at one time, having each child do the corresponding worksheets.  Bonus- We were able to include my 5year old in many of the lessons!  While he is still too young to do the worksheets, he picked up  the vocabulary quickly and is always ready to play a Spanish game.  He may not have understood all the conjugating of verbs, but he was able to at least know how to say something in first person.

    I cannot wait to start him with this program on his own in 3rd grade and will continue to use it with my 5th grader until we are finished.  Then on to Estaciones!

    Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpgYou can see a sample of the Fiestas curriculum as well to help you get a feel for how the material is presented.  The first 14 pages of the book are "extras", including common phrases and commands, the alphabet, colors and numbers as well as information on making and using flash cards and games and other activities to use to enhance learning.  There is also an information section about each of the 5 celebrations studied.

    To order Fiestas or any other products visit the Spanish for You! website.  The grades 3-8 package costs $64.95 and includes the soft cover book (or e-book), lesson plans, worksheets, audio file of the entire book, as well as the audio file by a native speaker and flashcard/activity pictures (pdf file).  Extra workbooks can be ordered for $12.95.  You can also order separate grade levels.  Also on the Spanish for You! website you will find free mini lessons and worksheets to print off.  Go take a look and see what you think.  You will not be disappointed!


     photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Fun Friday- Saving Money in the Kitchen Finale and Giveaway!

    Well friends, welcome back to the last installment of Saving Money in the Kitchen.  Here we go...

    Dinner time!  What's on your menu?  Fast food, you say?  Honestly, we do not usually eat out just for the fun of it.  Usually the service isn't that great, the food is just OK, and for a family of six it is just plain expensive.  Nope, we usually are only tempted to eat out when mom does not know what is for dinner.  It is irritating, it is unhealthy and it is costly. 

    But I struggle with menu planning.  Can anyone relate?  The planning part is not so bad really but the coming up with things to actually put on the plan, well, that is another story.  I waffle between feeling like I am boring my family to death to trying out long, fancy recipes that take a lot of time and they all turn their nose up in the end anyway.  So. Done. With. That!

    I have a new solution!  You are going to love it!
    I have just finished up my second round of cooking what someone else tells me to cook for a 13 week stretch.  I love it.  I just open the book and follow someone else's plans and recipes.  Easy!
    My worn, well loved copy!

    I have mentioned Rachel Master's cookbook, Supper's on the Table, Come Home before.  In this 253 page, spiral bound gem, Rachel gives you 13 weeks of 5 meals each with sides along with their recipes. To sweeten the deal she also adds a complete shopping list for each week- staples included!  AND to make it even better, a special dessert and one snack idea are included for each week with all the recipes AND ingredients list.  What else could you need?

    It was written by a mom with kids for a mom with kids.  'Ya know what I mean?  None of that creame de 'la something, or fancy-smanshy, I cannot pronounce nor will my family ever eat recipes.  Just real life stuff, with real life ingredients.

    These are good solid meal plans- a main dish, a veggie recommendation and often a bread of some sort or a fruit.  Did I already mention kid friendly?  I admit to having 3 out of 4 picky eaters.  I do not know how it happened, but yes, my kids are somewhat picky and opinionated about food.  Out of the 80 meals listed I only replaced about 5.  And they were pretty easy fixes.  Where split pea soup was listed, for example, I just changed it to pork loin. (sorry Rachel)  I simply marked out the ingredients for that meal on the shopping list and added my own.  Now when I shop, I copy the week's ingredients list, mark out all the things I already have on hand and go get the rest of what Rachel tells me I will need.

    A no brainer.
    And a life saver.

    Could it get any better?
    Well, actually it can!  Because at the end of the book are bonus recipes for everything from homemade mixes (we use the biscuit mix recipe all of the time) to holiday meal ideas and a even section on food allergies.

    Why reinvent the wheel?
    Actually, I did reinvent the wheel a little.  I admit the organizational side of me loves this concept, so I got out a notebook and the recipes I have that my family loves and made my own 13 week schedule, complete with shopping lists.  It is not nearly as well done as Rachel's, but it will do.  Now I do not have to menu plan for 26 weeks.  Yea me!

    This cookbook makes a great gift for young people just starting out with cooking.  Because most recipes are not too labor intensive, it is an opportunity to learn how to ease into cooking.  Rachel gives start times for each portion of the meal, helping to get it all on the table at the same time.

    Want one?  You can order a copy of Rachel's book, Supper's on the Table, Come Home from her website ~ for $15.00.

    Rachel is going to bless one of my readers with their own copy for free!   Enter the rafflecopter below to win.  I know you will love it.  Thank you Rachel!

    Looking for ways to save money?  Menu planning can be a great tool to keep you out of the grocery store too often, and keep you from those impulse items that end up costing us way too much.  Give it a try and see if it doesn't help!


    This post is being linked up with Amy, At Raising Arrows!

    Welcome Home Wednesdays

    This post in being link to Caroline at The Modest Mom!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclaimer- Opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way by the publisher.  I did not receive compensation in any form for this review.  The cookbook offered is from the generous offer of Rachel!

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    TOS CREW Review- Papa's Pearls

     photo papaspearlslogo_zps7e410f29.jpgWe love family.  And we love story telling.  One of our kids' favorite things to do is get their grandparents to tell stories of our childhoods or of their own.  That was one of the reasons I was excited to review Papa's Pearls, a story written by Diane Flynn Keith retelling stories of her childhood and that of her father's.  Papa,  Carol Joseph Flynn, was born in 1922.  After a shady couple of years of gambling and hanging with the wrong crowd as a youth, Papa readjusted his thinking and turned his life into one of joy and integrity, focused on family.  The stories that Diane recounts are arranged into 17 short chapters, each bearing the title of a saying or sayings that she remembers her papa saying from her childhood.  Those familiar sayings shaped not only the people she and her siblings became, but also the generations that have followed.

     photo papaspearls_zps509cd1df.jpgOur thoughts-  Though written for adults, we decided to read this book out loud as part of our nightly family devotion time.  We love the idea that a family can learn from the older generations and we want our kids to learn to value and respect them.  The love and respect of this family for their "papa" is obvious and warmed my heart.  I want our kids to see that the older generation has much to pass on and is a group to be respected, not feared.  Many of the stories related are humorous and it was fun to laugh out loud together as we read.  The kids especially enjoyed a story about Papa becoming "contaminated" after some sewer work.  Often times the stories read led to a lively discussion afterwards of similar things that we have had happen to us or just general conversation about the phrase highlighted that Papa used.  Some of our favorite were-

    Keep a Foxy Pocket.
    I love you, you know that, right?
    You don't kick someone when they're down, you give them a hand up.
     Be grateful every day!
     It's all about family.

    The other thing that this book allowed us to do was talk about the history of another era.  From the Great Depression to World War Two we were able to share with the kids information that they may have heard in a history book, but will now better remember because it was presented in a more personal way.  Several things mentioned were new to some of the kids, like the Civilian Constitution Corps, and led us to look up and discuss those things.

    A word of caution-
    There were several instances where we felt that the subject matter discussed was not suitable for younger children.   While those situations were not glorified, tales of drinking and dating at a young age and birth control are not things we felt like our two younger boys needed to hear.  We passed over several of those stories.  In addition, there are a few instances of curse words that I wish she had left out, making it an easier multigenerational read.  Once or twice I felt like money was overemphasized by Papa, but let's face it, during the time he grew up and then was raising a family was a particularly hard time in history and money concerns were a central theme and worry.  Papa was Catholic, but his faith was emphasized in a respectful, non threatening way.  I do not think you would be offended if you are not Catholic- we were not.  It did allow us to talk about peoples' different beliefs.

    Our Bottom Line-
    I think you would enjoy many of the stories Diane shares in Papa's Pearls.  She has a knack at bringing a story to life and making you feel like you could just hear papa saying the words himself.  Despite a few instances that I wished we had read ahead of time to filter out more, I think it is a delightful read for older kids and adults.  Now that we are finished with it, I am excited to pass it on to my mom and grandmother to read.  I have a feeling that it will make them smile and bring back some fun memories.  Maybe some they will even share with us!

    You can order an autographed copy of Papa's Pearls for $21.97.
    Diane is also author of  Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities To Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time, and coaches parents through her websites, writing, private consultations and speaking engagements.

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