Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Progeny Press Has Literature Guides for YOU!- REVIEW

I am going to let you in on a little secret about our family...we love to read.  I mean, like REALLY love to read.  All six of us.  We aren't too picky, just give us a book and we are content.  And probably with said book in a corner reading.  Which is why I love Progeny Press and having the opportunity to review new literature guides they offer.

This time up, we had the opportunity to use The Scavengers eGuide for grades 5-8th.  Because we are still in temporary quarters and have decided to begin our new school year early, the timing for this review was perfect.  I did a quick order of the book and downloaded the literature guide and we were ready to go.

Let me give you a real quick overview of the book.  The Scavengers, written by Michael Gilleland, is clearly a middle school book.  It tells the tale of a girl named Maggie and her family who are living as scavengers "outbubble."  Quickly you realize there is indeed an "underbubble" area as well, though details of that far off place are offered only sporadically.  Instead you mostly learn of the world that Maggie (who likes to refer to herself as Ford Falcon), her parents and little brother Henry (Dookie) live in.  Mystery and intrigue are prevalent in this book and our original two-chapters-a-day plan quickly went out the window.

Colby, age 11 and a new 6th grader, and I took turns at first reading a page at a time to each other, but quickly he decided that he wanted to read the whole chapter himself.  After that he would read a chapter to me, then I would read one to him, usually continuing until I called uncle.  We had a hard time stopping because of the suspense, especially towards the end of the book.

Scavengers eGuide
So about those literature guides...

Let's start with the fact that they are from a Christian perspective. Four different levels are available- Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High school. All e-guides offered by Progeny Press include basic information on the story and author, as well as suggested pre-reading activities, general comprehension questions, critical thinking questions, vocabulary, suggested additional reading, scripture references and more.  The Scavenger e-guide is 73 pages long and an answer key is provided.

You can choose to download and print out your study guide or you can now use the interactive eGuides that will download to Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0 and just type your answers in and save them, depending on which way you prefer.  In the past when we have reviewed various levels we usually print out a copy since I am a hands on paper kind of person.  This time around, due to the fact that we are currently without a printer and Colby now enjoys typing on the computer, we used the interactive eGuide method.

The 59 book chapters are broken into 7 separate sections in the guide.  My original intent was to read the chapters for each section and then complete the corresponding section of the study guide.  That worked for the first two sections, but once we sped up our reading, I admit we did the guide a little behind.  The one danger I see is we had to backtrack and re-read a few sections to refresh our memory about some of the smaller details.

Each separate section follows the same pattern- vocabulary, basic factual questions, thinking about the story section, dig deeper questions and finally, optional activities.  The vocabulary is often a matching exercise but sometimes will have you write your definition and then look up what the dictionary says and write that as well, while the question sections offer short answer, multiple choice or longer answers.

Optional activities encourage you to research or try something that is discussed in the book.  In the case of The Scavengers, one of the suggested activities was to research and try your hand at Morse Code.  We spent some time doing just that and decided we stunk at that kind of communication and would have not been good at it at all!

Most of the additional activities offered at the end of the study guide are time and research intense so in our current living situation, we have decided to skip those for now.  However, Colby really wants to try to recreate the water telescope described to use on the pool.  Once we get settled into our new house I am going to put his father right on that project! ;)

Let me tell you why I love these guides!

  • They make us slow down!  We all tend to devour books at a quick pace and move on, so these guides make us slow down a bit.
  • They challenge our vocabulary.  It is one thing to think you know what a word means, but when you have to stop and actually TELL someone the definition, well, you get the point.
  • They make us think!  Simple rote fact, comprehension questions my kids usually master.  But once you start to dig deeper, especially with my middle schooler, I am often surprised at concepts he doesn't quite get simply because we have never discussed them before.  These guides often teach him new things outside of just the basic what-did-you-read facts.
  • They allow us to incorporate scripture into all aspects of our lives.  Several questions in each section require you to look up scripture and then apply it to the book and your lives.  It is a good reminder to our family that our Christian worldview does and should affect all aspects of our lives and how we process information. 
  • They are easy to use.  Regardless of which format you choose to use them in, Progeny Press has made it easy to download and print or download and use these guides.  They are straight forward and while very thorough do not have a bunch of unneeded fluff!

 So do we love them?  Yes!  Do we recommend them!  Absolutely!

With so many to choose from and 4 levels to choose between, you are sure to find one to fit your studies and excite your children!

We are already gearing up for our next one!

Parent Warning- There are some intense scenes in this book, including Maggie's parents disappearing and her brother being injured.  There is talk of funny "creatures" called grey devils, as well as futuristic times of government takeover.  If you have a sensitive child, I would highly recommend you read the book first to determine if your child is ready for it.  Maggie is quite snarky at times and uses the word "butt" often, so we had to have a gentle reminder that was not an attitude or a word we used.

New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Sound familiar to you?  If you have been around Family, Faith and Fridays for a while now, you may remember that we reviewed Bible Study Guide For All Ages years ago, when our youngest was just 6.  At that time we were using the beginner level, but this review time we have been using the Advanced level, intended for 5th and 6th graders.  Spoiler alert- loved it then, love it now.

So what is it?  
The Bible Study Guide For All Ages is a Bible curriculum for groups or individuals that comes in four levels- Beginner (3-K), Primary (1st-2nd), Intermediate (3rd-4th), and Advanced (5th-6th).  If completed you will cover the Old and New Testaments in 416 lessons.  If you are teaching separate ages, the different levels run the same allowing you to cater to each child at their individual level.

There are two main parts to the program- the Teacher's Guide and the Student Pages.  You will complete the front and back for one lesson.  The student pages are consumable so you need a set for each student, and the Teacher's guide pages are identical to those pages, except they have the answers as well as any extra information that might be helpful in teaching, such as what parts of the time line need to be added if you are using that resource and what places need to be added to the wall map if you are using that.  Additional scriptures are listed for your reference as well as a place for you to add any additional notes you may want to use while teaching.

You can also buy a pack of Bible Book Summary cards, as well as a CD with original songs on it to help with memory work.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

If you have the room, there is also a wall map and time line set that is to die for!  Seriously, makes me long for a dedicated school room to put it all up on the wall.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

How have we used it?
Because our oldest son has grown out of the age range for this program, Colby, age 11, got to use it alone this time around. He is perfectly capable of doing the lesson by himself, but for the most part we did the lessons together, 2-3 a week depending on our schedule.

Each lesson begins with a Remember It? section, reviewing what you learned in the previous lesson.  There are spaces on the student pages for your student to write down the answers.

Following that there is the Memory Workout section.  Here your child reviews 2 things they have learned, whether a song, divisions of the New Testament, or something similar.  Every few days those are changed up a bit to keep it interesting.

The Guess What... section gives additional historical information such as why a firstborn child was considered special (when the father died he was given twice as much as other children) or what a cupbearer's responsibility was (to taste the king's food and wine to make sure it wasn't poisoned.)

The Time Line Activities or Map follow and have your child filling in details of the time line that is on their page, or labeling the map with places talked about in the lesson.

Get Active is intended to further explain the lesson, usually with group activities.  These are usually active lessons, requiring your child's participation. Since we are using this with just one child, I read ahead and see if there is an activity he can do alone or just with me.  It is hit or miss, but I will say that if you are teaching in a group setting the activities are great for getting kids up and active.  It would be a good way to either start the lesson or give kids a creative break in the middle.You know how squirmy Sunday School kids can get!

The last section on this front page is Apply It!  Here your child looks up a scripture and answers a few questions.  It always ends asking the child how this applies to their life or what is God saying to them.

On the back side of the page is where your child can really work independently- Discover the Bible.  It begins with the Bible chapter being studied, and I take that time to read to Colby.  He then works through the numbered questions one at a time and asks me if he needs help or is confused by anything.  Often the questions require just a one or two word answer, but your child will also be asked to draw pictures and look up scriptures.

I love that, while the content of the study is thorough and makes Colby think not only about what he is learning but also encourages him to think how to apply it to his own life, it is also lighthearted and fun enough to keep him from being overwhelmed with busy work.  The pictures often make him laugh and he is still young enough to enjoy drawing quick pictures.

My only complaint with this curriculum is the page size.  Silly I know, but you know how particular we homeschool moms can be! ;)  The pages are approximately 8.5x14 and therefore awkward to store on a shelf with our other books and notebooks.  I can see how this size would benefit a larger group setting, but I would love to see a version made that uses the typical 8x11 page that could be hole punched and added to a three ring notebook.  Not a show stopper, but it would be a perk.

Regardless of the page size, we are enjoying Bible Study Guide For All Ages and look forward to continuing to work through the additional lessons!

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, July 6, 2018

Still in the Desert

Literally.  And figuratively!

Monday will mark our 6 week point of being in Arizona.  6 weeks!  It doesn't even seem possible in some ways.

We do love the area.  It is beautiful and it is sunny.  Seriously sunny!  We have seen rain once and it was just a few sprinkles (regardless of the fact that the weather app notified me of rain and flooding), and wispy clouds three different days.  It was funny, they were here and then they were not.  Not sure where they went but they didn't stick around for long.

That I can get used to!

So people keep asking if we are settling in.

That's where the STILL IN THE DESERT figuratively part fits in.

Another dust devil

 Oh my word, are we in a desert.  Dry and lonely.

Did I mention lonely?  We went to a family friend's house this past weekend (had a blast) and it hit me that they were the first people I had talked to, outside my family and the shop cashiers and a few sweet friends on the phone, in FIVE WEEKS!

OK, I said hi to the greeters at church and asked a few questions there, but I am talking about real conversations, people.   It's not that I don't like my kids and husband, but well, even then there is not much to talk about after 5 weeks in an Airbnb.

Needless to say, we are growing weary of our current housing status.  We are eager to move into a house we can call our own, establish some friendships, and move on with our lives.  Oh, and get our stuff out of storage!  I am ready for my own bed, my own dishes, and the rest of my clothes.  We have bought and read way too many books (there IS such a thing) and played way too many games!  It is like a never ending vacation, and while I know that may sound like fun to some, let me assure you it is not all rainbows and ponies.  The space seems to shrink daily, tempers run short, and there is a shortage of things to do. 

I have bought plates because I was tired of washing the same 6 three times a day, more forks for the same reason, a mixing bowl because there was not one here, and numerous other things to "get by".

Doing vacation in an Airbnb is one thing, but dong life is by far another.

By now I am sure you are saying what a whiny lady!  Right?  I promise I only whine a few times a week.  Mostly.  But this is a real blog with real people behind it and we are just trying to keep it real.  So while we are ever so thankful for this new job, and new state- we are anxious to find new friends and a new place to live.

Until then, would you whisper a prayer that our Nebraska house sells?  And that if you call me to chat you don't catch me in one of my whiny moments! ;)


Friday, June 22, 2018

Marriage is Worth It

I have a sweet friend who is new to the blogging world that I just adore.  I actually met her when she was a teen- the daughter of a friend that God brought into my life when I didn't even know I needed a friend.  (I did!  And she has blessed me over and over again through the years!) She is so dear to my heart and of course, her sweet daughter is too.

By the grace and goodness of God, we were all reunited years later in Omaha.  That sweet teen has grown into a lovely young woman, who is now married and raising three precious girls.  I mean seriously, precious!

She shared a blog post this week that spoke to my heart.  It reminded me of my younger days with a new marriage and young children, and the challenges that holds.

And it reminded me of the importance of fortitude, and determination, and love and GOD!

It had a lot of good reminders to us all, whether a newlywed, or an old married pro.  (do those even exist?)

So I asked if I could share with you all!  She said yes!

Here ya go folks- enjoy and be blessed and remember that God's plan is perfect, even through the ups and downs!

You can find Kailah blogging at The Mindful Life.  Nebraska mama to 3 precious girls & wifey to my mister. A blog about real life, motherhood, meal planning, relationships, minimalism, and our passionate journey to Homeschooling.

My husband and I are celebrating seven years of marriage this coming Monday! These past seven years have flown by, and have blessed us more than we could have ever imagined. We have a very short timeline of when we met, when we got engaged, when we married, and when we had our first baby. Many people had doubts, but we knew that our commitment to one another was nothing to take lightly. We had a shotgun wedding, as some would tag us as, but the amount of love and support that we received from our friends and family was simply incredible. Now, seven years later, three miracle babies, three pregnancy losses, a home purchase, several family trips, the loss of my grandpa, an unbelievable amount of family drama that showed us that we cleave and settle into one another, instead of letting it tear us apart, and everything in between, has shaped the best and worst seven years of my life....

Read the rest here!


Monday, June 18, 2018

Still Here...

Literally.  Still here  In an AirBNB.  Living out of suitcases.  Minimal school books, minimal clothes, and minimal things in general.

Are we having fun yet?

Go on, you answer- I will just sit here quietly and try not to cry!

OK, it is not THAT bad but it could be close to getting that bad!  Our oldest went on a trip for a week to visit a friend.  Well timed- I think she was starting to go stir crazy.

Clarke left this morning for a quick two day trip.  Again, well timed!  Excited for him, bummed for me.

Thankfully there are some things to be excited about.  

We found a house we really like.  Just gotta figure out how to buy it while we still own our house in Omaha.

Clarke loves his job so far!

Friends are starting to make plans to come visit us and our calendars give us something to look forward to!  Make your reservations quick!

We have found some new school things to start so if, I mean, when, our stuff finally gets delivered we will be ahead in a few school subjects!

AND....we are featured on the Timberdoodle Blog today!  If you remember, I review for them occasionally, as they one of our favorite homeschool curriculum catalogs.  The products Timberdoodle Co. carries are amazing and fun and many can be used for any kiddo, not just homeschoolers.  Take a look sometime!

Here is the link for our "Day in the Life article" so you can read about what our day currently looks like while we strive to survive...and THRIVE!!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, 11 Year Old!

Wishing this amazing kiddo of ours a Happy 11th Birthday!


He keeps us young and keeps us laughing.
He challenges us to be better parents and shows us what it means to love.

He is a joy and a gift!  He may have only been home for 9 years, but he has been in our hearts forever!

He is LOVED!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Day to Day and Back to School

Let me just start by saying when your hubby has been home for a month and with you day to day, when he goes back to work it gets lonely!  And quiet!

Well, ok not too quiet with five of us at home, but you get the idea.  It is a weird transition.

One of many.

Like seeing him head to work in dress clothes rather than that familiar green flight suit.
And spending our mornings swimming and afternoons doing school.
And having all the kids home at one time.
And living in a house with minimal possessions for who knows how long.
And not having friends just around the corner to do things with.
And still waking up every morning at 5:30 because our internal clocks have not yet caught a clue.
And having trouble connecting with old friends because of that time change.
And... you get the idea.

We are still working on some details. ;)

But there are some great things happening!
Colby turns 11 on Monday!
We are blessed to have a pool and hot tub at this temporary house and loving that!
We LOVE all of the sun!
We are starting to find our way around some and having fun exploring.
The girls have found a cute little coffee house around the corner from our house to escape to.
Clarke likes his new job already and has been warmly welcomed.
We are anticipating friends moving here and several friends visiting in the fall.

 And we KNOW and TRUST that God has a plan and it is good.  And so we are working hard on practicing patience while we wait through this transition.

What better way to wait than do school! ;)  Just ask the boys!  OK, don't ask the boys.  They are not as excited as I am!

But start back to school we did!

Because we homeschool, we do tend to school "year round."  We do school when we can and we take breaks when we need to.  Prior to this move we took a two week break and then the first week here off.  But let's face it, with no house to settle into and no friends yet, we have a lot of spare time on our hands.  We have several things we (read mom) wanted to work on, and we try to always continue forward with math.  Colby is working on Music Appreciation and writing as well, while Salem is doing some summer reading and a Algebra review to prepare to take a CLEP test at the end of the summer.  My only regret is that I did not just bite the bullet and bring their next grade school stuff.  I just did not think that far out.  On several things...but that is a post for Monday!

Regardless, while it is REALLY hot outside, we are spending about 2 hours in the afternoon inside schooling.  It is a nice break and sometimes familiarity is good for the soul.

Trust me, my soul could use some familiarity!


Monday, June 4, 2018

Something's Fishy!

There are times that reviews come at the most perfect time and it makes me giddy!  Such was the case with Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha from The Critical Thinking Co.  Seriously!  We are in the middle of a move and our school schedule has been a bit wonky, so this gem of a product was a perfect fit for when the boys and I had some time here and there to work.

The Critical Thinking Co. has always been a favorite in our house.  Their colorful workbooks and mind challenging products never disappoint.  We have used a few math books, a few deductive reasoning books, and even a few of their computer programs over the years.

Something's Fishy at Lake IwannafishaWe received Something's Fishy by way of a downloadable PDF.  I printed it all out with one easy click of a button and then spiral bound it myself.  I did choose to separate it into two parts so it was easy for us to read the "lesson" part of the program and work on the case without having to flip back and forth too much.

There are instructions for how to print out multiples of specific pages if you choose to do this with a larger group such as a co-op.   Since I used it with just my two boys, we printed one complete copy, but then made each of them responsible for reading separate parts.

So what is Something's Fishy?
It is a Forensic Science detective program.  Geared for grades 5 and up, it is quite challenging.  The case file is presented and the crime scene is described.

The pages following are informational and meant to teach basic forensics that will be needed to solve the case.  Topics cover-
  • Anthropology (determining age, gender, race, height of a person) 
  • Arson
  • Ballistics
  • Counterfeit money
  • Death Investigation (Place of death, time of death, etc.)
  • Forensic Autopsy
  • Document and Handwriting Analysis
  • Fingerprints

How it works-
As you proceed through the case, different elements of the crime are mentioned and then questions are asked.  You begin by filling in investigation notes, describing the evidence and things like where it was recovered and how it might help you solve the case  You also list who you want to interview and why.  Witness interview notes are included as are witness statements and other needed reports.  The next thing to do is fill in several forensic lab reports.  You must reference the information pages to answer the questions and form opinions on the who, what, and whens of the case.

What is neat about this program is your child is in charge.  They must use their brain to determine what questions they want to ask, who they want to interview and what evidence is important.  I imagine that if you did this with 5 different children you would see five different ways they tackled the crime.

Our experience-
As I mentioned, my boys worked on this together.  That was not the original intent.  Colby, our 10 year old, started it alone with me, but our 16 year old soon got interested and joined us.  They took turns reading and writing in answers over a period of several days.  I really thought our favorite part would be the ballistics part of the program, but as it turned out the counterfeit money section piqued their interest and we took a LARGE bunny trail to look up a bunch of stuff on counterfeiting.  The program provided a great website address with tons of information and Salem, our 16 year old, provided the money to investigate.  We remembered we had a black light used for art and were able to see some of the markings on the bills that are not easily seen with the naked eye.

Another part that Colby really enjoyed was the fingerprint section so we spent some time examining our own fingerprints as well.

I will admit that Colby was the first to solve the crime.  He's quick like that!  Doesn't hurt that he read ahead of us a few times as well.  I checked the answer key, and yep, he was correct!

His only complaint with this program was that it did not tell the WHYS of the crime.  Being a detail person like he is he wanted more details...why they did it, and exactly every single step of the timeline.

Note from a fellow mom- I did not think the forensic details in this program were over the top, gory, or inappropriate for kids 5th grade and above.  That being said, do be aware that it discusses a murder case and talks about autopsy details, how to determine when someone died, and processing bones.  If you have a child that may be sensitive to those kinds of details you may want to preview first or skip this altogether.

My sons, especially the youngest, are pretty protected, and the youngest is exceptionally sensitive, but they loved this program.  They viewed it from a scientific and mystery stand point only and never once blinked an eye at the details presented.  If you have a child with an investigative mind who likes a good mystery, they will probably love Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha.

Thanks to our friends at The Critical Thinking Co. for offering this great coupon code to our readers.
Happy shopping!

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Quick Catch Up

Loading up!
Welcome to Arizona.

Attitudes are big and patience is small. Ours, not the locals.  They have been lovely.

Poor dogs had a huge space in the car but insisted on laying on top of each other!
My view for THREE days of driving!
Lest you get the wrong idea and think this family is perfect let me quickly correct you. We have had a whirlwind past month (major house staging and packing up, house on the market, sold and unsold, 5 day trip to get college kid, husband's hernia surgery, retirement a week later complete with visits of friends and family and large party, a week of packers and movers, a three day trip to AZ riddled with long days and a overheating truck pulling a car, settling into a rental and house hunting for the next two days and realizing we will be in this house which is not close to where we want to buy at least until the end of July), and we are tired- and prone to being cranky.

Did I forget anything?  Oh yes, now we have two sick kiddos, one of which had to go to an urgent care.

We are taking the weekend off, hunkering down, trying to relax, regroup, and reconnect. We need some down time and it shows.

On the upside, and there is always one when you look for it, we have a pool and hot tub at this AirBNB to enjoy

the sun is always shining

and the area is beautiful!

We have been exploring a bit, founds several areas we really like and even went to a farmer's market today.  Tomorrow we are headed to a local church- hopeful to find a new church to call home and be in fellowship with.

If you think of us, whisper a prayer- moving away from those we love is hard and often lonely.  Being in temporary quarters no where near where will settle adds to the challenge.