Monday, May 25, 2015

Never Forget

Taking time today to honor the memory of all who have served in our armed forces and paid the ultimate price. From the depths of my heart, I am thankful to you and to your families who have courageously sacrificed as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Homeschool Legacy

I have found unit studies to be a welcome break from the sometimes monotonous daily grind of homeschooling. Typically, my children will express special interest in a certain subject, which will inspire me to put together some type of simple unit study for us to explore that subject deeper. Though this may sound lovely in theory, once I need to actually start pulling together materials from multiple sources to make that unit study meaningful, it becomes much less appealing. 

When I had the opportunity to review the once-a-week unit studies from Homeschool Legacy, I sensed that I just may have found the answer to this dilemma. We had the privilege to review Knights and Nobles, which is a four week unit study that is already assembled and ready to begin with extremely little preparation on the parent's part.

What is Homeschool Legacy? This is a company that was started and is run by a homeschooler! That experience is priceless when it comes to designing curriculum. The purpose of their unit studies has always been to bring families closer together, while helping the children thoroughly learn a certain topic utilizing all their senses, and applying it to all their subjects. 

What makes this unit study different?  This curriculum is extremely flexible, allowing us to take 4+ weeks to cover a topic, while incorporating it into our weekly routine and already established curriculum plan. It is meaty enough to really allow the children to dig deeply and learn, yet flexible enough that it fits into our routine and works for us. 

What grade level is this for? There are so many suggested reading materials, videos, activities, and games that nearly all age groups can find something to study, which is what makes this ideal for our family - we have grades 5-12, with a college kid as well. We found the material interesting enough that all of them could find something new to learn, and be able to participate on a level that was comfortable to them. This was neat because it meant the whole family could learn together and have meaningful discussions about the material.

How does the unit study correlate with current curriculum? In each week's lesson, there are ways to utilize math, reading, science, history, vocabulary words, writing, art, and even suggestions for field trips!   There is also a family devotion given for each week, which gives a spiritual application to that week's lessons.

What is covered in Knights and Nobles?

In Week One, students will learn about castles. Activities include learning how to play chess, building a castle, and learning/answering questions about medieval times.        

Week Two discusses Kings and Queens, and includes some really neat historical artwork.                                                                                                                                                
In Week Three, students really focus on Knights, and learn about the many things that made them special. The projects for this week are fascinating, including making their own catapult, 'shield', and 'stained glass'.  I love the family devotional about the armor of God this week.      

Week Four helps the student understand what "Life on a Manor" was like, complete with a great explanation of the socio-political structure of medieval times. 

There is an optional week five which teaches the family how to make a medieval feast. The recipes look great, and though we haven't had this feast yet, we are planning it for the very near future. 

A Bonus feature: Completing this unit study will fulfill a badge requirement for a Boy Scout or American Heritage Girl. It can also be used as a 4-H project. With completion of enough of the suggested materials, I feel this study could also be used as the sole history curriculum.

Why is it "once-a-week"? - The unit is designed to be pulled out and used by the entire family just like the title implies - once a week. There is a family devotion, several fun activities, and several 'learning' activities that don't really seem like work. It is designed this way to not be a burden to families. Like any good home school material though, there is definitely potential to expand it beyond once a week if the parent wishes to do so. With all the lists of suggested materials to read and view, there is plenty available to dip into it a little bit each day if the student and parent choose to do so.

What I liked best: There are several things I really like about this unit study. First is that everything (and I mean everything!) is laid out. There is absolutely NO prep work on the parent's part. Once I purchase the study, I can open it and start immediately if I wish. Even the lists of suggested reading materials have the correlating Dewey Decimal numbers to make the books easy to find at the library. Movies are listed along with the source to find them for viewing (typically NetFlix). 

I also love the flexibility of this program. If you can't find a certain book or movie, it is not a problem at all. There are plenty of alternatives listed. In fact, parents are encouraged to only pick a few of the resources, to not try to 'do it all', and there are plenty of substitute materials listed in case the parent can not find one of the titles. I love that there is no pressure to complete lists and lists of resources. The information contained in the unit study itself is very thorough, and the resources are just listed to make it easy for those who want to dig deeper.

How to purchase: The unit study can be purchased from the Homeschool Legacy Shop in either paperback or digital format. 

Check it out: The website has a sample week posted to get an idea what is included.

I like this program because I feel like I can successfully accomplish it! As a home school mom, I want to learn cool and awesome things together with my kids, and I feel like this unit study makes that possible. 

Connect with Homeschool Legacy on Social Media:

The Crew reviewed these thirteen different historical and scientific unit studies from Homeschool Legacy, pictured above. To read how they were used in other home schools, click the banner below:

Homeschool Legacy Review
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Taking Back My Home: A Short Diversion

As you know, I have been participating in Michele's 34 Weeks of Clean Challenge at Family, Faith, and Fridays.  The past two weeks we have been working on bedrooms - cleaning, organizing, and decluttering lots of 'stuff'. The girls have all willingly tackled their own bedrooms, and I have to say I am very impressed with their accomplishments. We have thrown out a lot, given away a lot more, and repurposed several things. We were given a beautiful desk which ended up in Kelly's room as her painting and art station. The girls have been very proud of the new look in their rooms.

Because the girls took over the responsibilities of this week's challenge, it freed me to tackle something that really needed to be done, but was not on Michele's list of challenges yet.  
I sorted through TONS of old school curriculum and materials, and was able to clean out an ENTIRE cabinet! (no pictures what's left is still a work in progress)

Recently I signed up for a free table at a used curriculum fair, and wanted to be sure I had enough sale items on hand to actually fill it. Surprisingly, I ended up with much more than just one table could handle. In fact, I ended up with 12 boxes/totes full! 

While I didn't sell everything, I am now enjoying the fact that it is all organized and boxed up. I plan on donating some and selling the rest online. (Kind of sad to see all the early elementary items going, but now that the youngest is starting 5th grade, it's time to part with them)

I will take the next few weeks, after we finish up the current school year, to organize what's left into the empty space I now have. I love having a spot for everything, and knowing what I have available so I can actually put it to good use!

We also had a big van cleaning project going on. After such a long, harsh winter, this was desperately needed. I'm sure cleaning out the car is coming on Michele's Challenge list, but we couldn't stand it anymore, hence our small diversion from the plan. 

I feel good about all the progress we made as a family this past two weeks - between the bedrooms, the school materials, and the van. I know we still have a lot to accomplish, but I am choosing to savor this progress. 

Join up anytime with the 34 Weeks of Clean Challenge! I am looking forward to taking some giant leaps of progress now that my main home school responsibilities are finished for this school year.

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Wordless Wednesday: Love Birds

Artwork from my youngest - she told me the birds represent her mom and dad! (awwwwww)

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont
Virtual Fridge Link Up

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Privileged Species

We are always on the lookout for good sources of Christian movies for education and entertainment, and recently we learned of a company that seeks to provide both! In fact, we even had the opportunity to review the DVD Privileged Species from

About the company: was started about a decade ago by a Turkish Christian named Dr. Enis Sakirgil. His purpose was to help produce and distribute a movie about the Apostle Paul and the rich Christian history in the country of Turkey. Once he immigrated to the United States, his business expanded to selling other Christian movies, and now the Minnesota based business exists to "glorify God through amazing customer service and quality Christian content." They are strictly an online store, with a selection of literally hundreds of DVD's spanning all categories of family-friendly, Christian viewing, including children's stories, Apologetics, Educational, Science, Historical, Romance, Drama, Biblical stories, and action.

About Privileged Species: This DVD, lasting 33 minutes, offers a simple exploration into the scientific study of our universe, and how humans are especially privileged to inhabit a home that seems to be designed implicitly for them. While the movie is very scientific, it is also simple enough that even children will find it understandable.

Who watched it: We watched this movie as a family. Of course, those who have studied more science (my two "college kids") were able to grasp all the scientific facts in a more meaningful way, but even the two younger ones, ages 10 and 13, had no problem understanding most of what was shown.

My summary of the movie: After opening with a video clip of a speech by Bill Nye, who was expounding on the fact that he is "only a speck", the stage was set for a thoughtful discussion on not only the purpose for humans to be here, but how the cosmos came to exist in the first place. Throughout history, it has been understood that man always had a special status. In the mid-1800's, when Darwin's evolutionary theories were being explored, this special status began to come into question.

This movie objectively and scientifically investigates many aspects of Chemistry and Physics, including four powerful physical forces of life, with special focus on the attributes of carbon, silicone, water, oxygen, and the human brain. There are several interviews with world renowned scientists, who share their impressions about the forces of nature and their relationship to human life on this planet. It is obvious that the evidence in nature itself promotes the idea of intelligent design, which has made a powerful impression on these scientists despite their own personal religious background or beliefs.

Impressions this movie made on me: Man is definitely not an accident or creature that got here by chance. If only one element were to be slightly changed, not only human life, but all life on this earth would cease to exist. The biochemistry of life was pre-ordained in the atom building process, allowing nature to replicate itself. Oxygen is the signature of this complex life.

Is this movie religious?  I actually found this movie to be non-religious. I thought the facts were presented in an objective and factual manner to make the viewer think. There was not an overtly Christian message. The message I walked away with was that there is no way all of this could have "just happened" and that there had to be an Intelligent Designer, which would make this movie a great view for scientists or people who hold to an evolutionary worldview but are open to challenging their thinking.

Conversation points: If you view this movie with your children, you should note that some of the scientists that are quoted refer to humans as "animals" that have unique and distinct characteristics. There are also a few sparse references to a "millions of years ago" time frame when discussing the origin of the universe. Personally, I find this to be mainstream conversation that just needs clarification when viewing with younger family members, but parents should take note of it so that they can clarify their own worldview with their children.

In a nutshell: Privileged Species breaks down the elements of the universe into understandable bites, expounding on the basis for intelligent design. I highly recommend it!

Pricing: The DVD is currently selling for $9.99 on the FishFlix website. Most of their DVD's are very reasonably priced, in order to make them accessible to Christian families. They also offer free shipping on all orders over $35.

You can watch a trailer of the movie Privileged Species:

You can connect with on social media:

Members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed a total of six different movies from To read the other reviews, click the banner below: Review

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Living By Faith

Have you ever thought about how tiny a grain of mustard seed is?  Jesus tells us several times in the New Testament that we will be able to see marvelous results to our prayers, if we will only have faith as a grain of mustard seed.

Matthew 17:20: "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Recently I had some very pressing matters that needed much prayer and definite answers and guidance from the Lord.  Along with several friends, I dedicated a day to prayer over these situations.

By the afternoon, we had some very direct and marvelous answers to prayers, both for my daughter, and my friend's son. My daughter absolutely needed a summer job for college expenses, and my friend's son had a pressing matter with some assignments that needed to be accomplished for his college courses.

My daughter had two amazing job offers given to her that day. Both are exactly the type of job she is looking for, and neither conflicts with the other for scheduling purposes. She is able to do both, gain valuable experience, and earn all the money she will need for her next year of college.  My friend's son was able to complete his assignments so well that even his professor was amazed. Both of these things were answers to prayer that could have not come any other way - definitely not coincidental!

As I was praising and thanking the Lord for the quick and complete answers to prayer, it was such a humbling experience to realize how much God did, and how little it had to do with my own strength. I was humbled that God would even consider my requests, earnest as they were, and choose to answer so swiftly.

As I sat pondering how little my faith truly is, and how meager my prayer efforts are, the Lord brought this verse from Matthew to mind. He knows how humble and small our faith is, yet He still chooses to bless even the slightest flicker of faith that we are willing to put forth, just to show off His greatness and power.

I am so glad that God chose the tiny mustard seed to compare our faith to, and promises to bless our faith and prayers even though it's small. I am looking forward to my faith growing, which always happens as I see God work in my life and in the lives of those around me, but I am no longer discouraged that at this point in my life, my faith is still so small! God knows, and cares, and I thank Him for it!

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: S is for Smiling Sunrise

Even though my children are well past the "learning their ABC's" years, we really enjoyed reviewing "S is for Smiling Sunrise" from WordsBright, written by Vick Wadhwa.

This short, hardcover book puts a whole new spin on early childhood reading. It is designed to be read aloud to toddlers and preschoolers, and also is easy enough for young, early readers to work through.

Each page represents a letter of the alphabet with a beautiful illustration and short rhyme about the word on that page.

What makes this book different from all the other ABC books for young children?  The words and rhymes chosen for each letter are very atypical for a child's book. They really expand the horizons of the young mind, by using accelerated vocabulary words and exploring the depths of nature. For example, the page for B discusses butterflies, how they 'flutter' with wings soft as butter. 

The author, Vick Wadhwa, states that he felt very uninspired and bored when reading early childhood books to his own young daughter, so he created this book as an interesting alternative. 

What we like: The book is very sturdy and of excellent quality, and the illustrations are lovely with vibrant colors. Children love looking at the pictures. The rhymes are very catchy and interesting, and frequently mention good virtues and character traits, which is an excellent positive reinforcement to the young readers.

How we are using this book: This book is a delightful read, and my teenagers have taken it along for their babysitting duties. It has drawn in and kept the attention of every young child that it has been read to. 

Some very nice extras: On the website, there is an opportunity to download a free mp3 file of the entire book set to music. It is set to the familiar tune of the 'Alphabet Song' and sung with soft background music. A child might even like to listen to it while reading along in the book! 

Also, the website has two free teaching guides, one for Pre-K and one for K-3, with questions, activity suggestions, and character development ideas for the parent to use alongside the book. Here is an example of the K-3 study guide for the first two letters of the alphabet:

The WordsBright website has purchasing information for "S is for Sunrise" and I am sure you won't be disappointed with this delightful children's book. 

To see what other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this book, please click the banner below:

Wordsbright Review

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Real Life Press

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide To Romance published by Real Life Press is a 176 page book written by homeschool veteran Heidi St. John. In this book, written from a ladies perspective, to other ladies, she addresses a really important topic for busy home school moms – that of keeping romance alive in their marriages. Homeschooling is hard work, and to do it right takes a huge amount of dedication and daily commitment. Ladies often find it difficult to balance all the requirements that life puts on us, and too often we take the easy road of neglecting the relationships that mean the most to us, because there is just not enough of us to go around.

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide To Romance addresses those concerns in a real-life, easy to read manner. Heidi St. John is extremely transparent, sharing some of the struggles in her own marriage, and the steps she took to overcome them. She talks about juggling busy schedules, and trying to prioritize ways to keep the romance in her marriage fresh and alive. I laughed my way through the chapter describing a typical day in her home school life, and I cried my way through the story of the passing of her dear grandparents.

The chapter describing a three-fold cord is phenomenal. It is plain to see how the relationship of two people living parallel lives can lead to a dangerous end if they do not purposely plan ways to fellowship together as a couple with our Lord Jesus Christ and live the way God intended: as a three fold cord.

As I was reading this book, several main thoughts became clearly focused. First, we must realize our own personal identity. Often we think of ourselves as a mother, a wife, a worker of some sort, or a (fill in the blank) but our true identity can only be found as a child of God. It is who we are, not what we do.

Once we identify our own personal identity, we can begin to prioritize our lives with those tasks that God has seen fit to bless us with: roles as a wife, a mother, or some other place God has put us.

In our marriages, as our world encroaches in on our personal space, it is easy to allow all the daily tasks and busyness to cause us to lose that first love. We often think we are doing the best we can by homeschooling and throwing ourselves into our routine, but by missing on building and repairing the foundation of a strong marriage, we are building our little homeschooling empire on shaky ground.

By faith, we must accept our God-given role and seek to fulfill all that God has for us as Godly wives. If our marriages are going to be strong, it will take work and planning on our part. We cannot lose sight of “that girl” that our husbands first met, and the love and purpose we shared before all the children came along. The children are to enhance that relationship, not replace it.

Lastly, consider the legacy that we are passing on to our children. Though it may feel endless during the middle of the busy home school years, those children will quickly be grown and launching out into the world to follow God’s plan for their own lives. What remains will be the relationship that we have nurtured (or neglected) through the years.

Heidi St. John doesn't give a formula in this book for repairing neglected relationships, but she does give some practical advice (such as making your bedroom a peaceful respite) and time management and communication pointers. The book really seeks to teach why our marriage relationship is important, and helps the reader to seek out personal ways to improve their own individual situation, since everyone is different. 

Personal Perspective: I found many ways to relate to Heidi St. John as I was reading through her book. We have been married about the same number of years, have faced some similar circumstances, and share similar ministry burdens.  I enjoyed this book greatly. The writing is friendly but pointed. It doesn't have a ton of fluff, but cuts right to the heart of the matter and really seeks to help busy home school moms with some practical advice and help. I highly recommend this book for all wives and mothers, not just home school moms.

Connect with Real Life Press and Heidi St. John on Social Media:

The Crew has reviewed six different books from Real Life Press, including devotionals and more for the Busy Home school Mom - click the banner below to read more reviews!

Real Life Press Review

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50th Anniversary Plaque

I wanted to share a special plaque I made for my in-laws 50th anniversary. I used a plain wood board, painted the edges a metallic gold, and painted the background with chalkboard paint.

When I was purchasing the chalkboard paint, I made an amazing discovery of chalkboard paint markers!  I used this for the lettering and it was so easy to use! No smudges.

For those who want to do nice lettering but don't have artistic handwriting (like me), what you can do is measure the size of the space you need to letter, and type your words into an MS Word document. After printing your paper, lay it over a sheet of face-down transfer paper, over the wood. Trace over your letters with a pencil. The transfer paper will make your design nice and neat right on your wood. You can then finish it off with paint, chalkboard marker, or sharpie.

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.