Summer Reading Adventure ~ Product Review

I would imagine by now that it is not a well hidden secret that we are a family that loves to read.  We incorporate great literature in our studies, but there are also times that we just love to snuggle up for some pleasure reading.  Our latest review is from Shiloh Run Press with their new release, The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins. When we saw that Jerry Jenkins was one of the authors, we knew we were in for an action packed adventure that would be hard to put down. For those of you that do not recognize his name, Jerry Jenkins was one of the authors of the well-known Left Behind Series for both adults and children.

This novel was written with ages 10-14 in mind, but is certainly an engaging read for those older as well.  Depending on the child, you may wish to reserve this for future reading pleasure if younger than the recommended reading age.  Allow me to explain by telling you a bit about the book.

The Glass Castle is a 250 page book broken into 41 relatively short chapters.  The text is medium-sized making it inviting for younger readers.

The story line is fast-paced from the very opening chapter. It begins with Avery and her younger brother, Henry, wandering the woods when they suddenly get kidnapped.  When set “free”, Avery finds herself within the walls of the King’s Castle, but without Henry.  In her desperate attempts to find her brother, she comes upon the inner circle of the other children who have also been kidnapped.  The strange coincidence is that all of the children are orphaned and all 13, except Avery.  Avery is 13, but her father is alive and waiting at home.  Her mother disappeared two years prior, but was never confirmed as having died.

The intrigue of the storyline continues as Avery seeks her freedom and reuniting with her brother.  Will she find him?  Who do you trust?  The children were brought to the Castle in attempt by an old woman to protect them.  Protect them by hiding them in the least likely place – right under the king’s nose in his own castle.  For this reason, the children realize that they can not distinguish which adults to trust and which they must stay hidden from.  As Avery learns more and more from the inner circle of children, there is one realization that hits her.  The things she is learning about life in the castle tie into stories her mother told her from her younger years.  What connection does her mother have in this new sequence of events in her life?

Are you curious about the answers?  You will be even more so if you begin reading even the first couple of chapters of The Glass Castle.

Our Thoughts…

My 12 year old son and I both read the book independent of one another.  What did we realize?

  • The plot is very addictive – you will not want to put this one down.
  • There is always an imminent sense of danger and adventure, but there were not any scenes in the storyline that would prevent me from having my child read it.
  • Children who have an unusually high fear of being kidnapped, have been kidnapped, or those that have been adopted, may be more sensitive to the turn of events and themes of the story.  Parental discretion is definitely warranted in these cases.

When I asked my son if he had a favorite part of the book, he really just stressed all of the adventure and intrigue.  Conversely, when asked if there were things that he didn’t like, he did have two comments:

It went by too fast!!!

The sequel, The Ruby Moon, won’t be out until Fall 2016.

As always, you don’t have to take our word for it.  Check out the other reviews from

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
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Eating Your Homework with Ann McCallum ~ Review

Instead of letting the dog eat your child’s homework, Ann McCallum provides some really neat resources to let your child eat his or her own homework.  Yup, that’s right.  We recently received a copy of Eat Your U.S. History Homework from Ann McCallum Books to use and review.  It was a lot of fun and certainly the most delicious days of U.S. History study we have done in a while.

About the book:

Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds is not only fun and educational, but it is simply beautifully put together.  This is a hardback children’s book that has a full glossy image cover as well as a paper book jacket.  The book is just under 50 pages in length including the history excerpts, recipes, history review, glossary, and index. The author’s enthusiasm for her work is seen right in the introduction.  I loved this quote from the intro as it really encompasses what I have always hoped that we are accomplishing in our homeschool.

“But wait, history doesn’t need to be deadly dull.  In fact, it is anything but boring when you munch and crunch your way through it!… Get ready to eat your history homework.”

 The physical beauty of this book does not end with the covers.  The illustrations are fun for any child’s eye,  accents rather than overruns the content, and just make you smile.

eat-your-us-history-homework-spread

The beauty of this book does not end with just its physical appearance – that is just icing on the cake as some of my favorite bakers would say.

Eat Your U.S History has great overview content with some interesting facts related to:

  • The First Thanksgiving
  • The Settling of the Thirteen Colonies
  • The French and Indian War
  • Plantation life during pre-Civil War days in the Deep South
  • The Revolutionary War
  • The 4th of July and Independence Day

Here are some of the little kernels of U.S. History we learned from our time in Eating our U.S. History Homework

The first “Thanksgiving” feast lasted for three days

The colonists came from not just England, but also France, Spain, and the Netherlands

Hoecakes were actually cooked on a hoe next to the field that slaves would have been working in

Patriots during the Revolutionary War did their planning in taverns and coffee houses.  Were these the original coffee clotches?

Our Thoughts:

Although Eat Your U.S. History Homework appears to be a children’s book, our 17 year had just as much fun as the rest of the family.  We loved exploring the recipes for Thanksgiving Succotash, Lost Bread, Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes, and Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies.  Our favorite though was the Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt!

This book and others in the series – Eat Your Math Homework and Eat Your Science Homework – would be great supplements to your regular homeschool curriculum or even as gifts during the upcoming holiday season.  When we can take out studies into the kitchen it is always a winner.  After all, as our 11 year old would say, cooking is a lifeskill cause a man has got to eat.  When we can learn along with the eating, this momma is happy.

As always check out the other reviews being posted by the other families with the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Ann McCallum Books Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

The Conversation – Product Review

This review is for you homeschool mommas out there; especially those among you contemplating whether homeschooling through the high school years is the right course for your family.  The answer is Yes, You Can be Successful Homeschooling the High School Years.

The Conversation from Classical Conversations speaks to the heart in helping to formulate what those high school years can look like from a classical approach.  Although, our family is very eclectic in our approach to homeschooling, there are lots of valuable helps throughout this book.

About the Book

The Conversation written by Leigh Bortins and published by Classical Conversations is a approximately 225 pages of encouragement and discussion in using the classical approach through the high school years.  This was written with the homeschool parent in mind, but would also make a great discussion starter as you get your teen more involved and responsible in educational decisions for his present and future.

The book is broken into three basic sections:

  • Part 1 – High School at Home
  • Part 2 – The Rhetorical Arts
  • Part 3 – The Appendices

Part 1 are real words of encouragement and explanation to the parent.  The first chapter focuses solely on your role in homeschooling your youth and how your confidence is critical.  At first glance, that seemed kind of scary.  How many days do I wake up feeling anything but confident in schooling or even parenting my ever changing teens?  But I found myself running for my highlighter to capture some of the kernels that I came across.

“Our goal is not to launch our children as individuals, but to unify a family that can face the challenges and rewards of life as a team.”

“Parents like coaches, contribute to their children’s education in three ways: authority, habits, and content.”

I found myself gaining confidence in realizing that the actual schoolwork is my child’s responsibility.  There are curriculum sets available that almost feel as if they match the number of the stars in the sky.  It is not our job as parents to be experts on every subject our children study.  It is our job as homeschool parents to insure that our children have a healthy respect for authority, develop excellent habits in school and life, and provide them with the curriculum that can be used as a tool in learning the content that they need to.

Chapter 2 in this first section does a basic introduction to what Rhetoric is.  I have personally backed away from the classical approach to education, because of some unfamiliar terms that seem integral to the approach.  Rhetoric just seems so lofty.  The classical approach focuses on the different developmental stages of learning: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  Because this is a text about the high school years, the author focuses on the Rhetoric stage.  Bortins states that Rhetoric is simply all about conversations and expressing truth.  In the sidebar on one of the pages in Chapter 2, she shares

We must teach our students to be both wise and humble as they attempt to separate truth from lies and persuasion from manipulation.

Part 2 is the core of the book.  It visits each of the primary subject areas in a high school education and explores the art of developing conversation to learn and master material.  The chapters in this section are:

  • Reading
  • Speech and Debate
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Math
  • Government and Economics
  • History
  • Latin and Foreign Languages
  • Fine Arts
  • A Graduation Conversation
  • Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Some of the best learning that has happened in our home happens around the dinner table.  Conversation allows us to really work through the things we learn and then sharpen one another in how to apply this new learning.  It helps us to determine truth from opinion, assist us in creating strong arguments in the healthy spirit of debate, and really take ownership for what we believe.  It was once shared with me that you never really know what you don’t know until you try to teach.  The same principle holds true in using conversation more extensively as a tool in translating learning into wisdom.  These chapters in Part 2 provide examples and explanations of how to do just that as you journey through the various subject areas of your child’s education.

The examples and explanations provided in these subject centered chapters help to also walk the parent who is educating with the classical approach to see how to apply the 5 canons to each subject.  These canons are invention, arrangement, elocution, memory, and delivery.  There are many fleshed out examples in each chapter showing how these canons are applied in greater detail.

The final section of The Conversation is a group of Appendices.  These included Conversation Games, Common Rhetorical Devices, a bibliography of the resources referenced in the earlier chapters in Part 2, and a section where real parents have responded some questions about fears and concerns in homeschooling through the high school years.

After the Read…

I am not sure that we are quite ready to shift gears to the Classical approach to educating our children.  However, I have a much greater grasp on the Rhetoric Stage of learning as well as the effective way of applying the five canons of Classical education across subject areas.

The greatest value, and why I would strongly encourage others to read The Conversation, is what it will do for your family.  Between the battle of chaotic schedules and so many interruptions in life by technology and mobile devices, our families are falling apart.  This is in large part due to the fact that we just don’t talk any more.  Communication and the lost art of the conversation, in person and without text-ese, are critical to maintaining healthy relationships.  We desperately need the types of conversations that Bortins writes about in The Conversation not just to bolster our students learning, which I believe it will do, but to save our families and develop conversation itself as a habit in the lives of our teens.  A habit we can only pray will continue into the next generation.

Classical Conversations Review
Crew Disclaimer

A Great Resource for the Homeschool Mom in Your Life

It seems only fitting that our latest product review is something specifically for the homeschool mom in your life and just in time for Mother’s Day.  I recently had a chance to read a copy of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight written by Heidi St. John and published by Real Life Press.

The Book:

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight is a resource for homeschool moms that are looking for tips on better managing their days as they homeschool their children.  There are a few tips on actual homeschool methods, but much more on time management, household management, and how to homeschool at the same time without losing your mind.  The book is broken into eight chapters focusing on:

  • Being Intentional which addresses why we even need to have a plan to get it all done.
  • Being Organized not just in your homeschool, but in your home.  Is clutter and disorganization rendering you ineffective?
  • Having a Schedule that helps to organize your day after you have organized your space
  • Being Prepared to feed the hungry among you.  Great tips on ways to feed the hungry tribe both during and after your schoolday.
  • Lifting the feelings of discouragement when the plan does not seem to be working
  • Consolidating your day through multi-level teaching when homeschooling more than one child
  • Time and energy thieves in your day that may be stealing the joy in your journey
  • The last chapter is really first in surrendering our endeavors to the Lord in all things

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight is a total of 195 pages of insights, tips, and encouragement.  This text comes in both digital download as well as a paperback physical copy.

Thoughts after the read…

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight is a wonderful resource no matter where you are in your homeschool journey.  It didn’t really matter what chapter I was on, it felt that like Heidi St. John and I were sitting around the kitchen table chatting.  So many of the topics in this book are so applicable to just about every homeschool family I have met.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the topics presented have a way of getting worse with homeschooling.  I have often wondered how my mom had so much time to visit shut-ins from our church, always have a homemade meal on the table right on time, a clean house that felt livable, and time in the evenings to help us with homework.  It was in looking back that I realized it was because we were in school all day.  In accepting the fact that I have a full-time job called “Educator” to my children, it is now understandable why my house and life do not match what I remember of my mom.  A critical factor is not only do I not have all those hours available, but I have four people here all day with me that contribute to messes and make demands on my schedule and organizational skills.  There was a time in my life that I did work full-time while having children.  I did a much better job of planning and organizing.  I attribute this to the fact that when I got dressed and left home for work it felt like a real job.  Many of the things that I was doing right then, I have not readopted since homeschooling our children until my eyes were opened to treating my job as homeschool mom as a real job.

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight was a real call to action to evaluate where we are, prioritize our goals, and figure out our own plan of action that will recapture those organizational tips and changes that will make our home run more smoothly while homeschooling.

These are just a few tips that really hit home for me:

  • Taking time to really evaluate what season of my life I am in and how my life needs to reflect this
  • Intentionally planning at least 2 days a week where we go no where.  This has been a tough one with two teens working outside the home and another teen gearing up for basketball summer training.
  • Inspiration into new ways of using a crock pot and slow cooker to my advantage in getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.
  • The corkscrew path to success and principle of mastering our family schedule rather than letting the schedule be our task master.
  • Be conscious of just where my time is going.  Social media, internet browsing, and even text conversations can be such time monsters and become greedier by the day.

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight really focuses on managing your home and homeschool.  We mustn’t forget that we are simultaneously managing our marriages.  You will want to check out some of the other reviews by clicking on the graphic below to learn more about Real Life Press’ other release, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance.  Additionally, some Crew members also did reviews on the Firmly Planted Bible Studies published by this same company.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and would encourage you to check it out.

 

Real Life Press Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

Thick as Thieves ~ Product Review

A great way that our family spices up our study of history is through the addition of some great books.  Historical fiction is not only entertaining, but educational.  Our latest read is a review of Thick as Thieves from Circle C Milestones.

Thick as Thieves is the first book in the Circle C Milestones. This is a follow up series to the original Circle C Adventures series that follows the main character, Andrea Carter, from the age of 8 to 14.  The story line takes place in the late 1800s on a huge cattle ranch in the Fresno area of California. More than their lucrative ranch, the Carter family is known throughout the area for their lives of integrity and faith in God.

As Thick of Thieves begins, we find Andrea Carter now 14 years old.  She is reaching the upper end of her formal education and facing many of the normal struggles of life as a teen.  Her passion is the work being done on the ranch and training her horses.  We see no shying away from the hard work to be done and the satisfaction of doing a job well.  Like most teens however, Andi does struggle in seeing the value in continuing her formal education when there is “real work” to be done on the ranch; work that her heart calls home.

Like our lives, it is in the places that we least expect it that God uses Andi throughout this story to reach the unlovable with His love and compassion.  She encounters a new classmate that would be considered an untouchable. Most of her peers shun this new student and even are intimidated by her roughness and distaste.  How will Andi handle this newcomer?  She is honestly faced with a battle between her own desires and a struggle with what God would have her to do as His child.

The 173 page book is intended for young adult readers.  When our copy arrived, I read through it first and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I then encouraged our 16 year old and in house Andi Carter to read it.  For some time, she did not mention it as all.  In preparing for this review, I asked her if she had had a chance to read any of it.  She surprised me by saying she had finished it in a night and loved it.  Well, actually here is her abbreviated review.

Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves was an amazing read! It was a book full of adventure, mischief, love, and faith.  Plus, it keeps you on your toes!  I highly recommend it. ~Michaela, age 16.

As a mom of teens and preteens, I love that there is great historical fiction like Thick as Thieves available to my children both for their pleasure reading as well as possibly incorporating it into our school day.  There were no parts in this book that I felt that I needed to censor.  It is truly filled with strong messages about Christian character, loving the unlovable, and peer pressure all wrapped up in a fun and adventurous story line.

Accompanying the book is a free study guide that can be downloaded from the publisher’s website.  The study guide includes further investigation into literary devices, vocabulary, historical significance of the book, as well as lots of information on horsemanship and cattle ranching. As the student does character sketches and examines the character development in the story, (s)he is challenged to compare what (s)he is learning to Scripture verses in even determining how they would handle similar situations or challenges. The study guide is 40 pages in length and includes printable pages for your child as well as an answer key for parents. In really evaluating the content of the study guide, I would generally recommend that it be used in conjunction with the book in making a unit study ideal for the middle school student.

We are anxious for the next book in the series, Heartbreak Trail, to come out in the Fall of this year.  Until then we encourage you to read what others reviewers from the Review Crew have to share about their thoughts on Thick as Thieves.

Koru Naturals Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

Shake Up Your Studies with a Little Audio

Our family has reviewed a lot of core curriculum as well as supplemental resources related to homeschooling.  One of our favorite resources are great audiodramas.  We recently had the pleasure to receive and use In Freedom’s Cause Single Package from Heirloom Audio Productions.  The single package edition includes a physical 2-disc CD set with the audiodrama, a digital download of a the accompanying study guide, an MP3 download of the production’s soundtrack, and a printable download of The Prayer of William Wallace.  The main audiodrama in this package contains over 2 hours of listening pleasure and education.

In Freedom’s Cause is an audiodrama rendition of G.A. Henty’s work by the same name.  It is not only the retelling of these historical times and work of literature, but combined with a full soundtrack and characters that truly come alive give meaning to the theatre aspect of audiodrama.  This is the telling of the battle for Scotland’s freedom during the time of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. For the non-history buff, you will want to be warned that learning is contagious when embedded in such creativity and sense of adventure.

How We Enjoyed It:

In having already reviewed Under Drake’s Flaganother Heirloom Audio Production release, I can honestly say that this CD set went directly from the mailbox to our CD player.  It then traveled to the car and eventually was loaded onto our 10 year old’s MP3 player along with the downloadable soundtrack. Yes, it is like an oreo.  One is just not enough.  In this case, listening just once didn’t seem like a possibility.

When we realized we would be on the team of reviewers for this product, I didn’t really have anything planned in history related to this period of time.  We have been struggling to keep on schedule and I didn’t feel like I could mix things up.  So, my intention was that we would just listen to it, enjoy it, and then take it back out for educational purposes when we got back around to that point in our history studies.  What I found was that the result of listening to In Freedom’s Cause just once really got the ball rolling on interest driven learning ~ that really cool kind of learning that takes on a life of its own.

Here are some of the learning pathways we found ourselves on:

Were Wallace and Bruce real people?

Did they really receive their inspiration in battle from their Christian faith?

What in the world is a goat woo?

How do you make a celtic knot and what does it look like?

Were the battles and warfare tactics really like we imagined them in listening?

Celtic Trinity Knot
Celtic Trinity Knot

In addition to these questions, our children became interested in interrogating their father who has a strong Anglo-Saxon ancestry.  What did Daddy know about his family roots?  We took time checking things out on maps both today and maps from that time in history.  It lead to further study of the major empires of the world.

The kids enthusiasm spilled over into taking some time from our busy schedule and discussing a few of the delving questions we found in the study guide that can be downloaded to go with the audiodrama.  The study guide has general listening comprehension questions, vocabulary study, and also some questions that make for great reflection, critical thinking, research, or just family discussion around the dinner table.  This guide can provide the springboard for turning this audiodrama into its own unit study when partnered with the adventurous spirit that naturally grows from listening.

In Freedom’s Cause had a wonderful way of bringing together some of our family’s favorite things…

Swords, Chivalry, and Scholars

Freedoms Cause

I can’t imagine that my fellow reviewers would not find themselves thoroughly overjoyed with In Freedom’s Cause, but I do encourage you to read their reviews.  There are some pretty creative folks on the Crew who I am sure took their learning in different directions than we did.  If we had not received In Freedom’s Cause for this review, I would have been more than thrilled to purchase a copy for our family.  It is simply a very high quality recording that is both entertaining and educational.  A huge thumbs up from our crowd!

In Freedom's Cause Review
Crew Disclaimer
 

A Review of Indoctrination – A Documentary on Public Education in America

About a month ago, our family received a DVD documentary IndoctriNation – Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.  This documentary is published by Great Commission Films.  Even though we homeschool, I was interested to see how much of what was shared was just the opinion of those producing the film and how much was based on fact.  My husband and I were astonished by what we learned.

The Product

For this review, we received a physical DVD copy of IndoctriNation.  This documentary is 102 minutes in length and generally recommended for adult viewing.  This recommendation is not because of offensive content, but just the level of discussion and factual nature of the material as opposed to it being “entertaining”.  We did have our children ages 10-18 watch it with us.  Our intent in this was to provide them with an awareness of where public education is heading to start instilling a desire in their hearts to make the best educational decisions for their children someday.

The Content

Before considering the content of the movie, it is important to identify the intended audience.  I mention above that it is directed at adults and older children.  In addition, the focus is specifically trying to reach Christian adults and parents.  Is this because those behind the making of the movie are trying to be divisive or exclusive?  I don’t think so.  I believe the intent is that whatever doctrine each family believes in the parents would want their children to be educated along a similar belief and value system.  IndoctriNation is examining whether there exists a mutually supportive role between Christian parenting and the values of the current public education system.  If there is a disjunct, then these parents would need to determine the best course of action for their family.

IndoctriNation combines historical facts related to key contributors in the creation and direction of the public school system, a view of where education started in our country, and the road it has traveled over the course of our nation’s history.  The developments in public education closely mirror and many times are precursors to political changes.  We see many parallels in the cases being heard in our courts as we hear being battled in school board meetings across our land.

Let’s take a step back and think on why this is.  I would propose and believe that Colin Gunn, the creator of IndoctriNation, would agree that a country steers the education of its children to help bring about unity of thought, philosophy, and beliefs to support the direction that the country’s leadership wish to take the nation.  For example, we would not expect a communist nation to endow the value of free enterprise into its students.  A Muslim nation would not design literature classes that helped to instill Christian values. And countries that are built on the Enlightenment and belief in relative determinations of right and wrong would not encourage the teaching of absolute truth.

America is struggling as a nation in defining who she is.  At her birth as a nation, the founders of our Country desired freedom to worship as they saw fit rather than having a governmental system dictate worship practices as was the custom in England.  It was never a matter of freedom from religion, but freedom to pursue religious practice.  Among the early colonies, Christian families were predominant which resulted in their children being educated in line with their beliefs.  Much of their education was hands-on learning of trades and what we would call life skills.  The educating in reading was really intended to help insure that the children would grow up to read Scripture and be able to interpret it.  Math skills were focused heavily on being able to carry out business.  This training was largely accomplished at home.  As more and more immigration took place, the demographics of our nation have changed.  The concept of ultimate personal freedom has grown a culture that has changed this focus of freedom of religion to freedom from religion.  We see this in the gradual shifting of the educating of our children through the history of our nation.

In the later 1700’s and into the 1800’s, a shift occurred that brought formal education into light as a value until itself and a goal to be achieved rather than just a tool used to prepare one for life as an adult.  This formalizing of schools provided the platform for more widespread dissemination of values that could be endowed in young learners paving the way for the Industrial Revolution and other major historical events that would bring fundamental changes to what defines us as a nation.

IndoctriNation is a truly accurate description of what is happening.  It was used largely during World War II by the Hitler regime and in Socialist and Communist nations around the world.  America is no exception.  We like to believe that we are raising free thinkers that will become some higher order of beings through advanced education.  In actuality, if we are really honest we are allowing the public school systems operated by our government to mold and shape the value systems of our children (the next generation of leaders in our country) through what is selected to be included in textbooks, the perspective in which it is presented, what we allow or restrict our teachers from sharing, and even the policies related to behavior, dress, and foods that our children can be exposed to while in their government run institutions.  Do I do the same in homeschooling my children along the tenets of my Christian faith?  Absolutely!  That is the basis of this DVD.

Our thoughts on Indoctrination

There is a long standing debate among Christians as to whether we need to remove our children from an educational system that has become largely pagan in nature or infuse the school systems with children from Christians homes to try to reform the system.  Colin Gunn would argue that children should be removed from what has become a Pagan society within the walls of our schools.  Prayer is forbidden, teachers who have a Christian faith are forbidden from sharing it, evolution is taught as fact rather than theory, Christmas music concerts have been replaced with winter concerts devoid of all spiritual music Christian or otherwise, and curriculum is becoming filled with more and more value based learning from non-Christian religions.  There are great battles in our land over the movement to Common Core.  In researching this personally, much of this value based instruction is founded on the pillars of Islam and expression of personal freedom in sexual activity and complete tolerance and instruction in all forms of sexual expression.

Uses of this Documentary

As a Christian family who is already homeschooling, I found value in watching IndoctriNation in reminding me of some of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool our children.  I see a much greater platform for this documentary to be shown in churches across our land.  Parents need to be reminded that they still have the choice over what should be taught to their children and where their education should occur.  Our nation’s leaders would convince parents to give up this right so that mass education of our children can produce the same uniformity that mass production of cars produces at the Toyota plant right up the street from our home.

No matter where our children are educated, they will be indoctrinated.  The decision Christian parents must make is if what is offered in government run public schools is the indoctrination of our students minds and hearts that is best for our children.  Should we try to save the system or save our children?  The choice is yours, but watching IndoctiNation from Great Commission Films provides great factual information and the state of our government run schools to help make that determination.

As always this is just my opinion.  I encourage you to check out the other reviews that can be found by clicking on the banner below.

IndoctriNation DVD Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

The Civil War through Literature

The boys and I are about to embark on something we have never done before in our homeschool experience.  We are about to study the Civil War!  With my family roots being in New York and my husband’s in the Rebel State of Mississippi, the Civil War is not a very harmonious topic.  However, over the last few years I have been gathering some wonderful resources for the boys and I to study the great battle between the states from both perspectives.

IMG_1813[1]

During my research of this topic, I was reminded of a great piece of living literature that shared both the Northern and Southern perspective of the Civil War as well as fit our family in being situated in the State of Kentucky, our children’s home state.  Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt is just that book.

This is the story of young Jethro Creighton who comes of age during the Civil War.  His family is living in Kentucky.  His father is aging and his brothers each go off to war.  In this story not only is the country split, but Jethro’s brothers are divided with some fighting for the Yankees and others taking up arms in sympathy with the Rebel Cause.

The story is told from Jethro’s perspective in bearing the responsibility of keeping the family farm going and supporting his parents as they worry over their sons off to war on both sides of the battle. The struggles the family face from those in a community where no matter what side they are on Jethro’s family is perceived as traitors, because of his brothers’ divided loyalties in the war.

I encourage you to take a few hours and enjoy this great piece of literature.  Regardless of where your family roots were established, you will more than likely start seeing a new perspective as you walk Across Five Aprils  with young Jethro Creighton.

Motivate Your Child – New Book Release

During the past month, I was given the opportunity to read through a pre-release copy of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.  Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller are part of the National Center on Biblical Parenting.  What I will say is Get Ready, Get Set, Go Get Your Highlighters…

Motivate Your Child Graphic

Motivate Your Child is just one of those types of books.  There are so many hidden gems throughout.

What was My Motivation in Reading it?

When our children were younger, our family always stressed different rules of the house.  Pick up after yourself.  Be Kind to others. If you turn it on, then turn it off when you are done.  Don’t take things that don’t belong to you.

As our children grew, we started focusing more on family mantras such as Do the Next Right Thing and Finish Well. Some of our children are now reaching adulthood while others still have a ways to go.  My husband and I desire for each of our children to be independent, contributing members of society.  In order to thrive as adults, children must learn to be self-motivated and to use initiative in achieve things on the horizon.  That initiative word is a big one!  When I consider that word alone, I sometimes feel like we are still so far away from the mark.  Fellow moms and dads, you know what I mean.  All those times when our children’s response is “But you didn’t tell me” or “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that”.  It can be a task that they have done a million times before or just something that seems so obvious that it should slap them in the face.  Our response to theirs is almost a shriek of “How could you not know to do that?”

There is an old adage:

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink

Does this apply to our children.  Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller would disagree.  The difference lies in that horses do not have a conscience, while children do.  When we choose to parent our children’s heart and not just their behavior, we begin to see lasting changes that come from character growth rather than just a fear of temporary punishments or consequences.  Like many parents, we have overused punishment and consequences to get a short term fix to a situation in our home, but have not always reached our children’s heart.  Let’s take a small glimpse into some of the basis for Motivate Your Child.

Motivate Your Child Cover

The conscience gives four promptings: do what’s right, deal with wrongs, be honest, and care about others.

If you are like me, this was revolutionary.  Each of the things listed are things we have attempted to instill in our children, but I honestly have never seen them as all part of the conscience.  Why does this matter?  It is in looking at them together that it becomes apparent that many times our children are faced with dilemmas in balancing these different elements.  This can require a certain way of addressing others and putting ourselves in their shoes.  It also requires a maturing in what it really means to care about others while being honest.

I remember as a small child getting into wars with other children over who had the bravest daddy or the best mommy.  The thought never crossed my mind that if my daddy was really the bravest, what did that say about another child’s daddy and what about the child that did not have a daddy at home?  Some fathers are really brave while others may be exceptionally brilliant while brave is not their hallmark word.  It takes growing in character and yes, our conscience, in realizing that not everyone has to be brave to be special and how we say things affect others sometimes more than what we are trying to say.  This is the cornerstone to parenting your child’s heart.  It is about learning about to approach different life situations with our children that we speak to their hearts and not just the circumstances as stand alone instances.

Motivate Your Child is broken into two parts.  The first begins by exploring our character, personalities, and the importance of our conscience and how this translates into development of our integrity and initiative.  The second half of the book takes our human nature and applies scripture and biblical principles to show how we can really touch our children’s hearts for Christ and shape them to be achieve His purpose for them on this earth.  Exerting initiative is essential in being successful as an adult.  Achieving this with a heart for Christ allows our children to be world changers as their lives become testimonies to all around them.

As I read through this book for the first time, I kept wanting to stop, but then also to not stop.  It was too good to put down, but I feared that if I didn’t stop there was just too much good stuff that would be lost.  Too many gems to collect and store in my own heart as I touched my child’s.  I reconciled myself to the fact that this was not going to be a book I read just once.  The first reading went quickly as I familiarized myself with the bigger concepts and saw them applied in the various scenarios and vignettes presented.  I then went back with highlighter in hand to pick out solid truths and concrete things I could do a better job of putting into practice in our home.  Yes, there will be times when this book sits on my nightstand for extended periods as I begin implementing each of these gems one at a time in my parenting of our children.

Before I close, please remember it is never too late.  As long as you and your child still have breath, there is always today.  Each little investment we make in their hearts has the potential to dramatically change their future.  Keep the course and little by little we will start seeing more and more self-motivation, initiative, and character development in our children that will all be signs that they are ready to make that transition from childhood to adulthood.

Motivate Your Child Disclaimer

Pursuing Justice – Christian Book Review

A great love of mine in the wee hours of the morning is to read.  Most recently, I had the opportunity to read and now review Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma, with D. R. Jacobsen.  The subtitle of this work is The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things.  This is actually what drew me to this book.

http://www.doubleofarmsky.com/pursuing-justice/

This 301 page paperback publication authored by Wytsma is built on the premise that the only way to find abundant life and happiness is to give your life away.  What exactly does that mean?  It kind of reminds me of Paul’s declaration in Philippians 1:21 where he states, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  This definition of life being totally consumed in Christ is what Pursuing Justice is about at its core.

According to the author, justice can be equated with righteousness.  Righteousness can be equated with not a single act, but rather the very essence of striving to exhibit Christ in all things.  He uses the majority of the work providing illustrations in how to take this heart condition and put feet to it.  Not in a naive way, but one that strives to mirror Christ in how He saw others and gave of himself to others without interest of how it would benefit him.  We gain our purpose in life, not by external accomplishments and achievements, but through the way in which we see ourselves as the conduits of Christ’s love and righteousness to the world.

I have to admit that getting my head around the author’s definition of justice took a bit.  My mind wanted to define justice in terms of the political environment of our society as it moves more and more toward socialism.  The author is in no way suggesting socialism to be equivalent with justice.  When I was able to see that God wanted us to treat others justly in all things, the remainder of the book made perfect sense.  After all if God is a Just God then He must treat us justly.  In so doing, in becoming more Christ-like we are to strive to treat the world around us and all its inhabitants in alignment with a reflection of God’s justice.

The insights shared in this book were on target biblically.  The manner it was presented in was a bit more philosophical than I was hoping.  It was not until the second half of this work that I felt it moved from the celestial sphere down to the nitty gritty of life and the theme’s application to our everyday lives.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”