Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!


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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Living Like a Saint~ Saint Paul of the Cross


"It is an excellent and holy practice to call to mind and meditate on our Lord's Passion, 
since it is by this path that we shall arrive at union with God. 
In this, the holiest of all schools, true wisdom is learned, 
for it was there that all the saints became wise."

~ Saint Paul of the Cross

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Homeschool Review~ Personalized Name Frame Plaque from CrossTimber


When you have a child with an uncommon name finding a gift with that child's name on it can be difficult and seem almost impossible. No coffee mugs, key chains, bookmarks, etc. This can be very frustrating for that child. When I was offered to chose a very special personalized name plaque from CrossTimber, I was extremely excited. Michael has a birthday coming up, so this would make a wonderful birthday gift for him!


For this review, I received a Personalized Frames Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse. When placing my order, I was amazed at all the products available from CrossTimber. If you are searching for a personalized gift for someone special, CrossTimber has exactly what you are looking for. This company is amazing!




CrossTimber offers a variety of gifts.

Framed Plaques
Mugs
Music Boxes
Bookmarks
Pocket Cards
Greeting Cards

These gifts can be personalized by adding the recipients name and choosing a background that would be chershed by the receiver of the gift. All the gifts offered from CrossTimber include the meaning of the name and a special bible verse.


I ordered the personalized name plaque. The name plaque measures 7 x 9 inches. My plaque included a 5x7 name print and a frame.You can customize the print with different backgrounds. CrossTimber offers images ranging from faith & inspirations, animals & creatures, people & relationships, and the great outdoors.You can even choose between four different frames to complement your name meaning print.

For Michael, I choose the Celtic Knot background design for his plaque. His real name has a Scottish background, so I wanted it to reflect his name and our Irish/Scottish heritage. His real name is not used on this blog, so I have blocked it out. 


M******
From Gaelic
Son of the Wind, Son of the Fire
Lead by the Holy Spirit



I loved how they took the time to pick a frame that matched the design I had chosen. This was a birthday present for Michael and he LOVED it. He was so excited to see something with his name on it. He immediately wanted to know where I had found it. I think a mug for hot coco will be in his Christmas stocking this year. Therese has already asked for her own personalized plaque. IN fact, I see a lot of great Christmas and birthday presents for friends and family this year.

Included with Michael's personalized plaque was a personalized bookmark for me. I was so surprised.  I absolutely loved it. It was beautiful and I really enjoyed learning more about my name.


Monique
From Latin
Beautiful Counselor
One Who is Set Aside for God


What We Thought About CrossTimber?

This is such an amazing company.  Wonderful, friendly, caring, and a fantastic company. They seem like a very sweet family. The have beautiful products and really take their time with their customers. They took the time out of their busy day to verify if Michael's name (his real name) was spelled right. They were quick to answer emails. They seemed just as excited as I was to finally have something with my son's name on it. They truly care about their customers!


Just in time for Christmas they offering a wonderful giveaway! Be sure to enter. You can be one lucky reader to win a free name gift or a $10 gift card!
The giveaway ends on December 4th.


CrossTimber 2016 giveaway


Want to see more wonderful products offered by CrossTimber? 
Just click on the image below and see what other items members of the review crew reviewed.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review~ Middle School French 1 from Middlebury Interactive Languages


Therese has been wanting to learn French for awhile now, so we jumped on the chance to review Middle School French I from Middlebury Interactive Languages. Her dream of going to Paris with her best friends may just come true no that she is trying to learn the language! For this review, we received a full one year access to Middle School French 1.




So what is Middlebury Interactive Languages?

Well, it's an online foreign language program for students of all ages. They offer language courses for Elementary school(K-5th), Middle school(6th-8th), and High school (9th-12th). They even offer an opportunity for students to take an AP Language course for 11th-12th grade. 
Parents and students will find language courses in....

French
Spanish
German
and 
Chinese

They have a variety of languages to appeal to all students. I'm sure they offer a language your child will want to study and learn! Middlebury Interactive Languages is a leader in offering a foreign language to student. They strive for academic excellence and align their courses to the world language organizations (ACTFL & iNACOL). They are currently working with John Hopkins University to establish a third party assessment of their foreign language courses. 



So How Do the Courses Work?

The courses can be broken up into semesters. 
One semester is 6 months, two semesters is 12 months.
For the Elementary courses, the semesters are divided up for the different grades. For K-2nd, a semester contains lessons for 35 days, while for Grades 3rd-5th a semester contains lessons for 45 days. Middle school and High school courses contains lessons for 18 weeks (90 days) per semester. Courses do expire 1 year from the date of purchase. This allows students to progress at a faster or slower pace depending on their language skills.
One nice feature of the Middlebury Interactive Language program is the option to have the courses taken with teacher support! 
Don't know the language your child wants to learn? 
Just sign up for the teacher assistant. The teacher assistant provides students with support, guidance, and important feedback. They offer assistance with the writing and speaking portions for the program. 

Each lesson is broken up into segments....Teacher Tip, Warm-Up, Matching, Speaking Lab, Reading, and Listening are just a few of the segments provided during the lesson. Each lesson offers students a chance to practice what they have been taught during that particular lesson. Students can even print out a copy of the vocabulary words or phrases they have been given during that lesson. I had Therese print the vocab pages out so she could practice on her own. We created a notebook to hold her printed pages. This is especially helpful if your Internet is limited or if you suddenly have problems with connections. They can still practice the lesson without being online.




How We Used the Program?

We got a slow start beginning this program since we were out of town on vacation when we were given the access to this program. During the school year, we homeschool 4 days a week for the most part. I assigned Therese to work on French Tuesdays and Thursdays. I did give her the option of working on a lesson on Friday if we were home. Therese has had some experience with French. 
When the kids were little, we learned some of the basics... colors, numbers, animals, etc. We used worksheets and a bingo game I had found online. I used my old French textbooks to guide them. She was about 5 or 6 at the time so not much stuck with her. I still speak a few French words to them off and on. I gave up teaching them a foreign language together when they decided that they wanted to learn different languages. We reviewed Middle School Spanish 1 from Middlebury Language last. At that time, I don't think Therese was ready for a Middle school course (or she just wanted that interested in learning Spanish).



This year, Therese is ready and eager to learn French. She has been taking it a lot slower than recommended but that is fine. I love that she is trying to master the language and really learn it. I'd rather her move slowly than give up. Her face lit up when I told her we were given the opportunity to review this foreign language course. She has been bugging me to learn French for awhile. When your favorite saint is from France


and when you dream of traveling to France with your best friend, it becomes important to you to learn the language of the country you want to visit!


What We Thought About the Program?

This is our second time reviewing a foreign language program from Middlebury Interactive Languages. We reviewed Spanish last year, so we were familiar with the layout of the program, I love how flexible the program is. I love how the program is interactive. As my kids have gotten older, I enjoy having them use a program that they have to work through on their own. I like being able to give them a little bit of freedom with their lessons. The option of not having to be right there next to them while they complete their schoolwork is nice. It gives them some confidence and helps them learn how to manage their time and work independently. Sometimes they do well, other times they may mess up. Either way it's a great learning experience for them. We are little behind right now, but I know we can easily add a few extra lessons each week as Therese builds up her language skills while working through this amazing program.





Find our more about the different languages offered from other members of the homeschool review crew. 

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Living Like a Saint~ Pope Saint John Paul II


"From Mary 
we learn to surrender 
to God's will in all things.

From Mary
we learn to trust
even when all hope seems gone.

From Mary
we learn to love Christ
her son and the son of God.

~ Saint Pope John Paul II


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TOS Review~ The Familyman's Christmas Treasury Audio Collection


Just in time for Christmas, we were given the opportunity to review The Familyman's Christmas Treasury-Audio Collection from The Familyman. The Familyman's Christmas Treasury is a compilation of various stories about Christmas of course.


The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
The Familyman ministries was started to remind dads about what is most important in life....their families! Todd Wilson and his wife, Debbie have eight kids. They are a homeschooling family that try to encourage other families along the journey. The Familyman website offers a variety of resources for dads(and moms). You'll find the top 10 lists, funny cartoons, articles for dads (and moms), directions to make cool things like a potato gun. I know my son was excited when I found that! Todd Wilson is the author of Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom and The Official Book of Homeschool Cartoons. Be sure to stop by their website and take a look around. Besides offering great products for families to buy, they offer wonderful advice and encouragement!
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
For this review, we received The Familyman's Christmas Treasury- Audio Collection Digital Download. I was also sent a single physical CD copy of The Bishop's Dream. 
The Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection Digital Download contains 6 Christmas stories. 
Captain's Chaos and the Manger Blaster
Cootie McKay's Nativity
The Stranger
Gladys Remembers Christmas
Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
The Bishop's Dream
In addition to the 6 stories included on this Christmas story treasury, my family received two additional Christmas stories to enjoy as a family. 
The Secret of Snow Village 
and 
It's Called Christmas
Adoration of the Shepherds 
Bronzino

We started with the Christmas story, Gladys Remembers Christmas. 
This is a charming tale about Gladys, a woman who dislikes Christmas. The beginning of the story gives us a little bit of background information about Gladys' childhood. We learn that Gladys's mother died when she was only 6 years old. We see how unhappy and lonely her life felt after the death of her mother. She grew to up to feel unloved and bitter. She never celebrated Christmas. After placing her elderly father in a nursing home, she takes on the task of cleaning out his house and finding a special package he asked her to look for. She heads to up to the attic to search through the items stored up there. Like many houses, the attic is filled to the rim. Memories of her happy past start to flood her mind. She realizes how family and the times they've spent together are so important....more important than any possessions we may have collected over the years. She finds a ton of Christmas boxes, when suddenly the smell of cookies baking comes drifting upstairs and she hears a woman calling her. The voice is peaceful and calming. She heads down the stairs to see what is going on. She see her mother.She can't believe her eyes. She immediately is filed with a ton of emotions.  Here mother helps her realize all the good times they had while she was alive. Her mother and her discover the Nativity set that her father bought her mother their first Christmas together. This was the special Christmas box her father had sent her to find. Her mother and the Nativity set reminded Gladys that God loves her. He always has. He loves us when times are good and loves us when times are bad. He never leaves our side. 
I found this story a little advanced for younger children. Small children may have a hard time understanding the pain we go through that may lead us away from Jesus and true happiness. I would recommend this for children ages 10 and up. I loved how it stressed to the listener to focus on God, family, and love. If we focus on these three things, we will find happiness here on earth and in heaven.
The next story, we listened to was Captain Chaos and the Manager Blaster. 
This story will defiantly appeal to young boys, especially if they love action figures. Jason, a young boy in this story, thinks the story of Jesus' birth is too boring! He feels it lacks excitement. While telling the story to his sister, he tries to add some embellishments. She, of course, says he can not change the story of Jesus' birth. Later that night, Jason gets a visit from Captain Chaos! Captain Chaos blasts Christmas away. When Jason goes down for breakfast the next morning and starts to pray, his mother questions what he is doing. Jason quickly realizes that without the story of Jesus' birth, there is no Christian faith. He runs around town and see that no one knows anything about Christmas or Jesus. 
The churches are gone. 
There is no Christmas.
There is no JESUS!
Can Jason save Christmas form being blasted away?
This story was well liked by the kids. I found it a little too cartooning at first. I'm more a traditional gal, so this was a Christmas story that was a little too modern for me. I did like how the story showed kids how the story of our Lord's birth plays such an important roll in our faith. It's rather quite simple...No Jesus, No Christians! It can lead to a wonderful discussion about how the world would be without Jesus. 

The third story we listened to was The Bishop's Dream. 
I had such high hopes for this story when it started talking about Bishop Nicholas (who we refer to as St. Nicholas). I even thought it might be a new story to listen to when we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6th. The story starts out fairly well. We are introduced to Bishop Nicholas from Myra. Bishop Nicholas was a wonderful man known for his caring and loving ways. He exemplified Jesus way of living by helping the less fortunate. He often cared for the poor bringing joy to others by also to Jesus. Saint Nicholas was leading a life of service for God. He was a wonderful example of the corporal works of mercy.
The story takes a turn when Saint Nicholas finds himself in the present world. He sees images of Santa Claus and wonders who this guy is. ***If your family partakes in the world of Santa Claus, please be aware that this story does talk about how he isn't real. Little kids may find this very upsetting.** Saint Nicholas wants to know why and how this new Santa Claus has taken over Christmas like so many of us do today.
I'll admit that I didn't finish this story. I can't tell you how it ends. While listening to The Bishop's Dream, I was bombarded with a lot of anti-catholic messages.
Christmas does not mean ritual. Christmas is translated from Latin as Christ' Mass. Our solemn Mass is not a ritual. The derogatory comments about saints and miracles were very offensive. I certainly didn't want my children to listen to something that was so anti-Catholic. It did bring forth a lot of discussion with the kids. I loved how my kids were able to pick up what was being said that went against our Catholic faith and teachings. They knew what we did believe and could easily discuss why we believe what we do! This story may be perfectly fine for non-Catholics (even though it does teach false teachings about the Catholic faith), but I would never recommend this story to Catholics. 
What did we think?

I loved the ease of downloading the stories. It made it very easy to listen to them. If you're like me though having a physical CD is great for listening to in the car.  Car homeschooling can be very helpful. I know I'm old fashioned, I don't put music on my phone or IPad. 
For us, this Christmas treasury of stories was not the right fit. Even though we are Christian and share many of the same beliefs, we have too many that are different.  
I do think the stories share a wonderful message about the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas should be about Jesus. He is the reason we are able to celebrate this beautiful day.
Find out what the other crew members had to say!
I'm sure they reviewed a few of the other stories.
 
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Living Like a Saint~Saint Teresa of Avila



"The smallest thing 
when done for the love of GOD is priceless."

~ St. Teresa of Avila
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TOS Review~ MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership


Recently, my busy family was given a chance to try out a new freezer meal plan from MyFreezEasy.com.  For this review, I was given access to the MyFreezeEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership. If your family is like most families now a days, the freezer meal plan from MyFreezEasy.com will be a life saver!


MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
So What is MyFreezEasy.com?

MyFreezEasy.com is a freezer meal planning tool that allows you to make 10 (or more) meals to store away in your freezer for those busy days! You can prepare and load your freezer up with meals in LESS than an hour. Having healthy, yummy meals ready for my family to eat is such a huge help when running around. 
This year, the kids have co-op classes, clubs, scouts, and sports. We are out and about 3-4 days a week. We are always walking in the door at dinner time. Having dinners ready to go are a huge help for this hectic mom! Not only do I have great meals for my family to eat, I'm saving money too. I'm no longer running to the store to pick up something for dinner because I forgot to take something out the night before or that morning. No more last minute trips to the grocery store.



MyFreezEasy.com offers freezer meals that will appeal to everyone in your house. Even those moms with picky eaters will find options for their families. 


MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

My daughter and I have Celiacs Disease, so I was very excited to see a Gluten Free Meal Plan offered. We gave this freezer meal plan a try. I did have to change it up a little bit to fit our families likes and dislikes.
We were away for September, so we tried out the October freezer meal plan. 

Our October freezer menu plan included...

Upside Down Nacho Skillet
Chicken Curry Peanut Soup (this was a no go in our house)
Baked Island Chicken
Slow Cooker Simple Beef Stew
Split Pea Soup (with 2 people who highly dislike peas this was also a no-go)

Each meal plan includes Recipes for the dishes, shopping lists for your meals, prep assembly instructions, meal assembly instructions, cooking instructions, and labels you can print on stickers to place on your freezer meal containers. No guessing what's in the bag. Each month comes with 5 recipes. To get the 10 meals for your freezer, you double up each recipe.


The first recipe we decided to give a try was the Upside Down Nacho Skillet. I figured you can't go wrong with nachos and tacos! The only substitute I made for with this recipe was changing out turkey burger for the ground beef. It still tasted great. It was a big hit for our family.

I prepared the Baked Island Chicken and the Slow Cooker Simple Beef Stew for the freezer. We haven't eaten it yet, but it was easy to prepare. I love how the assembly prep instructions included the directions for preparing 2 meals. It's nice knowing that I have meals waiting in my freezer. I feel  more organized and on top of things. I no longer feel overwhelmed with what to prepare for dinner.

We did try out a few of the other recipes. The Bacon and Ranch Chicken was a big hit with the kids. We had everything we needed already in the house....chicken, ranch dressing, bacon, and cheese. The dish was easy to assemble, took about 45 minutes to bake, and had wonderful flavor. The only thing I would change is the bacon. My family prefers their bacon crispier. I think the next time I make it, I cook the bacon first and then sprinkle it on top.
Between the gluten free meal plan and the clean eats meal plan, I know I will be able to prepare meals for my families. 

So What Did I Think of MyFreezEasy.com?

I found the meal plans easy to follow. Erin has thought of everything. Being able to print off my shopping list and head right to the store is great. The selection of meals offered are wonderful. The variety of meals is amazing. Every family will be able to find meals to fit their tastes. 
Being able to build my own recipe meal plan is a wonderful tool. I can adapt the meals offered to my on family. I love how I can save them to my own file and then print them out to head to the store.
My only recommendation is to have a dessert added to the monthly meal plan. It would be great to have desserts prepared for when last minute quests arrive for a visit.
The MyFreezEasy.com is great for homeschooling moms, stay at home moms with little ones, and working moms. It's great for everyone one who want easy dinners ready to go, wants to cut down their time in the kitchen, wants to save money on groceries, and most importantly prepare healthy tasty meals o eat! 

For this review, I received the Premium Annual Membership for this review. 
This freezer meal plan costs $95 a year. 
So what did I get?
2 months free access
Access to 8 new meal plans
Video instructions for assembly
Highlight videos for all meal plans
Ability to adjust serving sizes
Create my own meal plan
Customize Existing Meal Plans
and 
Create a favorites section for recipes

Learn more about MyFreezEasy on......

Be sure to stop by and visit the other members of the crew to see the recipes that they decided to give a try!


MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}



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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Living Like a Saint~ Sister Lucia



"There is no problem, 
I tell you, 
no matter how difficult it is, 
that we can not resolve 
by the prayer of the Holy Rosary."

~ Sister Lucia


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Living Like a Saint~ Saint Mother Teresa





"If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon Our Lady, just say this simple prayer,
  "Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me know."
I must admit this prayer has never failed me."

~Saint Mother Teresa





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