Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What's On Your Nightstand - November

What's On Your Nightstand

The end of November has approached and I found this month I didn't quite get everything read that I was hoping to get read. I have two books from last month still on the list. I am over half-way through quiet and my goal for Gone with the Wind was to start it, which I did (a whole whopping 20 pages). I don't know how conducive December is for reading, but we shall see.


From October's Nightstand I read:
  • The Four Graces (Miss Buncle Book 4) by D.E. Stevenson - This book is set in Chevis Green (from Miss Buncle Married). I enjoyed the Miss Buncle books more, but this still was an enjoyable read.
  • A Question of Honor (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd - I think this has been one of the most suspenseful Bess Crawford books so far. I have really enjoyed this series so far.
  • The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma - Okay this book falls in the dreaded memoir genre, which I tend to love or hate. This book is not about books, but rather about the period in the author's life that known as "The Streak", a time when her father read aloud to her everyday, and what happened in her life during that time.  If you want to be encouraged to read-aloud to your kids you may enjoy this. If you are wanting to read a book about books, then this isn't it. Honestly, I recommend skipping the book and listening to The Read-Aloud Revival podcast in which the author is featured.
I also read:
I listened to:
  • Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie - Continuing on with the Poirot series. I think Hugh Fraser does an awesome job of narrating.
See what others have read over at 5 Minutes for Books.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snake Oil: It Cures what Ails Ya! by Out of the Box Games (TOS Review)

Out of the Box Games Review

Games are always a great family activity. Lately we have been playing a new game, Snake Oil: It Cures what Ails Ya!, produced by Out of the Box Games which I received for review.

Out of the Box Games Review

Snake Oil is a game ages 10 and up and for 3-10 players. There are different variations included for a large group of people which include a Tournament and TV contestant game.  In this game every player gets numerous opportunity to be a snake-oil salesman, which means you are allowed to create a very creative and interesting (and most likely possibly made up) sales pitch.The rules are pretty basic:
1. One person is picked to be the first "Customer" and they pick a customer card.
2. All the other players look through their cards in their hands (six cards) and then pick two cards to create something for their sales pitch.
3. Then the craziness starts--each player persuades the "Customer" that their item is best. This can go on for a while (though the "Customer" can stop the sales pitch after 30 seconds) and can get quite noisy as each person pitches their sale.
4. The "Customer" then picks the sales pitch the like best and that player gets the customer card. The first player to collect three customer cards wins the game.

Out of the Box Games Review
I played this with my kids 18, 15, & 12. This game had an easy learning curve and went fast. It seemed like we had only been playing a few minutes when the one player already had three customer cards. That was easily fixed by just continuing to play or making the winner have five customer cards. This is a family friendly game, though there were a few cards we chose to exclude,

During one round Chantry was a "Teenager" for the customer. His sales pitch included--banana juice, a sleep closet, pajamas cloak, and a booger poster. Chantry picked the least pushy salesman (Caleb) who was selling pajamas cloak.

A couple of my kids were pretty good with coming up with their sales pitch, while it was harder for others. There were a few times it was just plain hard to come up with a sales pitch at all. This could have been due to us requiring the winner to have more than three customer cards. There were a few times we needed to start over and all get new cards at a certain point.

Snake Oil provided us with plenty of laughter, but in the end my kids mentioned they preferred other games to this one. I can only put it down to having weird kids. I would really like to see this played in a bigger group setting with a bigger mix of people.

Snake Oil has won numerous awards including Mensa Select. This game is a great family game which provides plenty of laughter. This game will really appeal to those who like a good argument, are great with words, or love being the life of the party!

Snake Oil: It Cures what Ails Ya! is available at Out of the Box Games for $19.99. Also, make sure to check out the other Review Crew review of Snake Oil - Party Potion for ages 8 and up.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker (TOS Review)

Purposeful Design Review

I always enjoy reading about the Creation of our world, especially when it is written in a format that is has a nice presentation and easy to understand. We recently have had the opportunity to review Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation from Jay Schabacker.

Purposeful Design Review

In Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is a beautiful, hardcover coffee-table book that is appropriate for all ages and looks at the principles of science that rule our world and explains the elements of design that make life possible. It also presents evidence that shows the purpose of God in these designs.

It includes:
  • Introduction - The Man on the Moon
  • The First Day: Creation of the Heavens and the Earth--the Foundation of It All
    • What Keeps it Things Going?
  • The Second Day: Creation of the Atmosphere and Water
    • Quenching the Thirsty Earth--The "Rain Cycle"
  • The Third Day: Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation
    • The Importance of Vegetation and Plants to Humans
  • The Fourth Day: Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
    • The Suns Ray and the Earth's Tilt
    • Use of the Preciseness of the Sunrise
  • The Many Benefits of our Moon
    • The Beneficial Ocean Tides
    • Stars
    • The Fifth Day: Creation of Land creatures and Humans
    • God Made Domestic Animals for Us
    • The Amazing Uniqueness of the Human Beings
  • The Seventh Day
  • Epilogue--Who Made the Cookies? 

There are several themes that run throughout this book. One is that the creation of the world didn't just occur--there is a Purposeful Designer. The second is how creation was designed for our benefit, which include the seasons, animals, food, and so much more. The third is the perfection that God used when he created our world. Think about it--if our world was tilted at anything other than 23.5 degrees life as we know would be vastly different if not existent!

I read this over a couple of weeks to my children (6, 12 & 14) for our devotion time. We read it in short chunks and spent time looking at the pictures and discussing what we had read. Thought his is recommended for all ages, this did not keep my six year old's attention and most of it went over her head. I had some interesting discussions with my older kids and overall felt that Purposeful Design left us marveling over the greatness of our God.

Also a free curriculum is available for download. This covers all seven chapters that will enhance your child's readings and help their comprehension. The questions start easy for younger children and then section of testing and comprehension questions. There are suggestions for memory verses and additional scriptures for reflection. Though this could be used with younger elementary children, it was better suited for older children who have strong reading and writing abilities. Also, available is the Teacher's Answer Key which includes the answers, a certificate of completion, along with some additional points for discussion.

Purposeful Design is truly a beautiful book that can be used in a more relaxed learning environment or it can also be easily enhanced with the free curriculum and used as a short Creation Science course.

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabaker is available for $18.95

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Wednesdays with Words (The Four Graces)

I recently finished reading  The Four Graces (aff) by D.E. Stevenson, which if you are familiar with Miss Buncle Married by the same author you will notice that this is also set in Chevis Green.

My quote comes from the author's preface, which I think I enjoyed just as much as the book. I find my favorite kind of fiction can be summed up in this description.
The people in the story are imaginary and bear no resemblance whatsoever to anybody the author has met, but they are intended to represent human beings; if they fail in this, they fail in everything. The Graces are unusual, perhaps, but surely not incredible. They talk a good deal of nonsense and certain amount of sense; they disagree violently on occasion and sometimes are extremely rude to one another, but they are also extremely loyal and show a united front to the outside world. It may be that the Graces will be criticized for levity upon important matters, or, on the other hand, for taking trifles sérieux au grand, but the author is of the opinion that life is bearable only if it be leavened with humor, and that a spice of humor is not out of place even in the most solemn and weighty affairs. When we find Sarah taking to heart the slight misunderstanding with Miss Bodkin, and Elizabeth "laughing wild amid severest woe," we need not conclude that the former is too anxious-minded, nor the latter too frivolous to be true to life...for life is like that (so the author has found) and all the best people have at least one bat in the belfry.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Happenings

November 9 Collage 

Life has been happening. I am very happy to say that we seem to have found a routine that is working. A few weeks ago I implemented Bible reading first. This has morphed into getting our other readings finished for the day. After that I am able to work on individual subjects as needed and take/pick-up Caleb to school. I have to admit that our days have been much smoother. So here is what we have been up to:

1. My table--I think it is hopeless. I clean it off and in a few hours it look like this (sigh).

2. & 3. Bible/Reading time--When my kids get on a roll they tickle each others funny bones and then we have a lot of laughter. Yes, it makes our time a little longer, but laughter is good for a soul and one day my house will be too quiet. For now I am enjoying it.

4. & 5. Music Study. We are listening to Tchaikovsky. We have been using the SQUILT notebooking page sheet offered by Mary Prather from SQUILT:Music Appreciation Made Simple.
Delani loves doing this and even though she can't spell she sits right next to me and has me spell the words for her. You can see a sample of her sheet.

6. Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Bread. A hit!

7. Destini has started her new cross-stitch project.

8. We had a very warm fall and our trees haven't been very pretty. Our weather finally cooled off and the trees at the library where I work turned their brilliant red color. I'm sure by next week they will be on the ground.

9. Destini celebrated her 15th birthday on Saturday. My kids are growing up waaaay too fast!!!

Homegrown LearnersWeekly Wrap-Up

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 15th Birthday, Destini!

 Wow, it is unbelievable what happens in 10 years. (10 sounds better than 15!;) )
Happy Birthday to a beautiful young lady!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Christmas Story - If He Had Not Come (TOS Review)

Christmas Book Review

I love a good Christmas book and just in time for Christmas I had the opportunity to review If He Had Not Come, a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks, and reintroduced by David Nicholson.

Christmas Book Review

David Nicholson was first introduced to If He Had Not Come, which was originally published in 1938, over 30 years ago. He was so touched by the story that he continued to share the story with his family every year. He has now been able to reintroduce it for a new generation with illustrations done by Charlie Jaskiewicz.

If He Had Not Come tells the story of Bobby, a young boy who is very excited for Christmas. On  Christmas Eve Bobby and his dad do their daily Bible reading and the phrase "If I had not come." from the Bible reading rolls around in his head.

Bobby goes to sleep and is soon awakened. He is excited for Christmas but when he goes downstairs there are no Christmas decorations or presents. He then notices that the factory down the road is rumbling. He heads to the factory to see why they are open and is astounded that no one knows what Christmas is. He then heads into town and and continues to ask, but no one seems to have heard anything about Christmas.

He continues on his journey only to find out that there is no church, no children's home, and no hospital, bet every time he is greeted with the message, "If I had not come." Finally, in his desperation he heads back home to look through the Bible his dad read from the evening before only to find...can you guess what he will find?

At the end of the book there is a list of interactive topics to use as a family or even in Sunday School. These are open-ended questions to encourage discussions. There is also a page that goes deeper into the message of the story along with a page on the gospel message.

The illustrations are engaging and one of my favorite things in the story. When everything is "normal" the pictures are in full color, but when Bobby is searching for someone who know about Christmas the pictures are only in partial color.  This added so much to the story.

If He Had Not Come

I read this aloud to all my kids ranging from 6-18. My six year old had fun predicting what was going to happen next. I felt this was a sweet story with an important message, though I found the ending a little flat, but we did spend some time discussing it which I think helped in getting  . My kid's also noticed how much it reminded them of the film It's a Wonderful Life, which was interesting considering that it wasn't made until 1946.

This would be a great book to add to any Christmas book collection you may have or to make it part of your family tradition. In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, If He Had Not Come shares an important message of what the world would look like if Jesus hadn't come.

If He Hadn't Come is available from David Nicholson for $18.95 (hardcover) or $3.99 (e-book format).

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Wednesdays with Words (Longfellow)

I am not a poetry loving girl, but I am trying to read poetry to my kids, who unfortunately seem to be too much like their mother. We have been reading through Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and every time I read The Children's Hour to the kids I get a lump in my throat. (Maybe there is hope for me after all!)

The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
      When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
      That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
      The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
      And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
      Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
      And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
      Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
      To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
      A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
      They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
      O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
      They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
      Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
      In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
      Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
      Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
      And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
      In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
      Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
      And moulder in dust away!


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