Saturday, March 21, 2020

Freezer Cleaning Project–Preparing for These Changing Times

What does one do with extra free time on the weekends now that coronavirus has so greatly limited our ability to go anywhere?  Well, with food available in limited quantities and becoming harder and harder to find, hubby and I decided it was a great time to clean out and organize all of our freezers!

We have 2 deep freezers…a smallish one in our laundry room and a large commercial-sized one in the garage…plus the freezer portion of our side-by-side fridge in the kitchen and the top section of our old back-up fridge in the garage.  You see, we buy a lot of foods in bulk with our large family comprised of mostly adults, and I rarely pay full price for meat…I stock up whenever I find it marked down.  But we’ve become rather sloppy putting groceries away over the last few months since my shoulder surgery, and we weren’t using our frozen foods most of last year when we were following a whole foods nutrition plan that was largely comprised of fresh vegetables.  As a result, we had no idea what was in those freezers…we just knew we had a lot of food, and that there was going to be a lot of meat scattered around.

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It took the two of us most of the afternoon, but it was well worth the effort!  Both deep freezers needed some defrosting anyway, so we were able to kill two birds with one stone.  We emptied everything out of all 4 places and took a complete inventory on paper as we sorted and replaced everything into logical locations.  We took the van out of the garage so we’d have the garage floor free to use various bins and coolers to stage everything in the interim.  But we got it done!

Now that we have pages and pages of inventory written down and everything is neatly in its place, I have the cumbersome task tomorrow of entering everything into a spreadsheet so that it’s organized, easy to locate in categories, and easy to maintain going forward as things are used or added.

The big relief is that we have plenty of everything, and we no longer need to rely on hasty trips to the stores to try to locate something specific to make for dinner.  Everything seems to be out of stock, and picking up a list of 5 items might take you to 3 stores.  Not only is it an exercise in futility and a huge waste of time, but it also exposes me to unnecessary risks of catching the dreaded coronavirus as it becomes more prevalent in DFW.  And let’s not even talk about how there’s not a bottle of sanitizer to be found anywhere!

I’ve completed this project many times in my 25 years of marriage, but never have I had another adult to help me undertake the daunting task.  To get all 4 freezer spaces organized and inventoried in one afternoon is amazing…teamwork!

It’s comforting to know that if we end up with a stay-in-place order (and it’s getting really close to that now since they even closed houses of worship today and limited any one space to 10 people with 6 ft of social distancing), we will be able to feed our family for a couple of months.  And if we know people in need, we have enough to share.  With the way things are going, I am seriously beginning to doubt that my daughter will ever be allowed to return to public school this school year, which ends at the end of May. 

I feel very blessed that my husband has a secure job that is considered essential (he is the electrical project manager on a hospital expansion project), we aren’t lacking the ability to pay our bills, and we have sufficient food to tide us over for quite some time.  And our adult son is fortunate to still live at home.  If he loses hours at his job as an assistant manager at Sonic at any point, he at least lives rent-free, has health insurance through us, and will only need to maintain his car and phone payments.  And with so many grocery stores hiring extra people to stock, he could always pick up another job to hold him over.  My daughter is blessed to have been homeschooled until 2 years ago.  If necessary, we can return to that or use it as a way to continue her learning while public school is on hold.  My youngest son is blessed to still be homeschooled.  His life continues much as he’s used to it being before this. 

I know this is an unprecedented crisis in our country.  Who ever thought we’d encounter a pandemic in our modern lifetimes?  Clearly, our economy is going to suffer for an unfathomable time.  All the aid necessary to keep people afloat while everything is on hold will be costly.  Even with stimulus checks expected to be sent out to all American taxpayers shortly, what in the world will Americans spend it on but rent and food?  It’s hard to forsee a way out for so many.  This is when we must rely on God and pray for all those around us who will suffer through this historic event.  Let’s help each other as much as we can and do our part to bring this to a safe end for as many as possible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

REVIEW: The Action Bible Anytime Devotions by David C Cook

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

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We were very happy to have a chance to review The Action Bible Anytime Devotions by David C Cook.

WHAT IS IT?:

Front CoverThe Action Bible Anytime Devotions is a 195-page book of devotions for children ages 8-12.  It contains 90 relatable stories, each tying a real-life situation children might face to a story from the bible, giving them a sense of how the bible is the ultimate resource for dealing with everyday issues.

The paperback edition is available for just $13.80, or you can obtain the Kindle version for $9.99.


OUR EXPERIENCE:

In our homeschool, we use a 4-day schedule.  For 2 of those days, we do an in-depth bible study.  For the review period, we used it all 4 days, but I’m really interested in using it for the other 2 days as a source of discussion going forward.

I was immediately struck by how visually stimulating this book is for my son, who has ADHD and can become distracted easily if there isn’t something interesting to keep his attention.  Each devotion has a 2-page spread with full-color graphic illustrations that remind me of comic-book style.

The booDevotion Samplek includes themes of courage, hope, trust, love, faith, kindness, service, and strength.  It has a variety of topics to which tweens can relate, such as loneliness, friendship, bullying, insecurity, discouragement, self-doubt, anger, leadership, and compassion.

Each devotion begins with an everyday situation that any child might encounter in their own lives.  Then it relates a similar story from the bible.  Afterwards, it has them looking inward for how they may have dealt with things in the past and what they can do better in the future.  Next, it provides a prayer that kids can use to ask God for guidance with each situation and in growing their character to deal with it, as well as some action steps that children can take to apply the biblical solution to their own lives.  Last, there is a “take it further” section that refers to a specific bible story from The Action Bible (if you have it) and specific scriptures to read to understand more.

I loved the way this devotion brought scripture to my son’s daily Back Coverexperiences.  I think that even for adults, the best way to use the lessons from the bible as tools in our own lives is to relate scripture to situations that we still encounter today and learn how to apply it in a functional way.  That’s exactly what this book did for my 12-year old son.  It prompted some great discussion of his own situational experiences and how the bible can help resolve them.

We have really enjoyed this book and plan to continue using it.  I really hope David C Cook produces more of these books in the future. 

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this devotional book by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Coronavirus Tracking

Everything you’ve seen and heard over the last 48 hours has been about coronavirus, new cases, lack of testing, and government entities declaring states of emergency. 

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There’s plenty of information out there about the telltale symptoms…fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath that are usually not accompanied by other symptoms you’d typically expect from the flu.  Some people feel chest pains.

Personally, I’m not afraid to go out and live my life.  I’m shocked at the empty shelves and long checkout lines in stores.  There’s no sign of any cold or flu medicines, vitamin C, bread, paper goods, pasta, rice, water, or ramen noodles, of all things!  Even meat is in shorter-than-usual supply.  It’s hard to figure out just what people are thinking, unless they are expecting an all-out ban on going out in public.  Personally, I have 2 fridges and 2 deep freezers, and all are full.  If that happened, I’d be able to feed my family quite well on what we already have.  I’m really not worried about that.

Here in Fort Worth, schools were on spring break this week.  Now they are not expected to re-open until March 30th “at the earliest.”  I saw a memo to teachers telling them they would not even be permitted to “stop by” the school building to pick anything up.  In addition, the week before spring break, FWISD’s computer server was attacked with ransomware, so in the week before spring break, schools were already handicapped with no email, no wi-fi, and no online access of any kind.  Teachers had no ability to update attendance or grades, and students couldn’t take any tests online.  They weren’t even sure if the computer system would be back up by next week when they originally planned to return from spring break. 

With all this time off from school, kids will be going insane since everything is closed!  No Six Flags, no zoo, no museums, no sports, no concerts, no parades, and basically no public events anywhere.  At least they have wi-fi at home! 

While my daughter will likely be bored out of her mind, my son, who is still homeschooled, has school as usual resuming this coming week as our spring break comes to an end.  Nothing has changed for us.  I can’t say he’s too happy about that when his sister is home from school for at least 3 weeks straight, but at least he gets to keep his usual routine, and there’s something to be said for that.

I’m a bit disgruntled at how all these events we’ve paid for…symphony, YMCA athletics, city sports leagues, etc…are not offering any type of refunds for tickets or subscriptions.  I realize they aren’t responsible for the shutdowns, but they also aren’t doing anything to earn the money we’ve paid!  For instance, I just paid $120 for my son to play 7 soccer games with my husband as his volunteer coach.  He had one game, and then they canceled for the rest of the month.  Lame!

There are plenty of news reports and stories surfacing multiple times per day, but I’ve found that most of them have somewhat late information in terms of the numbers.  If you want real-time tracking, bookmark this site that’s maintained by Johns Hopkins University to get an up-to-date look at what it really looks like all over the world or just in your area. 

Trust me when I say that it’s an eye-opening experience to watch the numbers rise in the U.S. at such an alarming rate!  As of this moment, we’re at 2,951 cases and 61 in just my state of TX.  We currently have family members visiting from another state, and we’re keeping an eye on whether or not there are any restrictions to domestic flights before they return home on Tuesday.

Be smart about personal hygiene such as frequent hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces and stay safe!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

REVIEW: Carole P. Roman’s Assorted Series by Carole P. Roman

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We have always enjoyed educational books by Carole P. Roman in the past, so we were thrilled to be able to select additional books from Carole P. Roman’s assorted series to review this time around.

WHAT IS IT?:

Carole P. Roman is an author who offers assorted series of books for children that cover topics in geography, history, and world cultures.  They are all written from a child’s perspective so that it’s easy for your child to imagine living in the time period, place, or culture that’s described in each of the books.

All of the stories give a good amount of educational content while keeping things concise to match a child’s attention span.  Each 2-page spread includes large, colorful illustrations to keep your children interested as you read aloud to them or as they read the books on their own.20200309_161530

Softcover books in the world culture series run about $9.99 each at Amazon, whereas the books in the civilization series run about $12.99.  Many Kindle editions are also available for significantly less.

For this review, I received 4 books:

    • If You Were Me and Lived in Germany
    • If You Were Me and Lived in Viking Europe
    • If You Were Me and Lived in the Mayan Empire
    • If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece

My review will mainly focus on the first two books I listed above.


OUR EXPERIENCE:

Holden loves these stories, but he doesn’t love reading anything to himself, so we used them as read-alouds to read together during our leisure time.  We selected If You Were Me and Lived in…Germany to read first (from the series called A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World), because my husband was in the Army stationed in Germany for 5 years before we were married.  He often talks of his time there, so I thought Holden (age 12) would enjoy learning a little more about the place his dad once called home so long ago.

This was a lovely story that began with the geography of Germany and where it’s located on a glo20200309_161417be.  It went on to describe the capital city, landscape, and the Berlin Wall.  This was particularly of interest to us, as my husband was in Germany when the wall came down.  He received a plaque with a piece of the wall for his service there at that time. 

Then it talked about the typical names for each gender, as well as the German words used to reference various family members.  We learned about the currency used and many famous attractions that are of interest to residents and tourists alike.  We read about popular foods, sports, and activities.  Then there was a list of five interesting facts about Germany.  It gave a great overview of everyday life in the country.

The next book we chose to read was If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe (from the series called A Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time).  Holden chose this book, because he’s always been fascinated by any talk of the Vikings!  This story did not disappoint him!

The book begins with the setting of the story and compares a tow20200309_161336n in Norway back in the 800’s with what it might look like today.  Holden enjoyed flipping the page back and forth to compare the illustrations, looking for any similarities.  Then it talked about some Norse words and a brief bit of Viking history.  Then we were introduced to typical names for each gender, how people were named based on incorporating their father’s or mother’s name into their last name, what kinds of things Vikings were known for, how they lived and traded, and what signified a wealthy status. It described the three social classes and what kind of work they did.

It went on to describe their homes, useful skills they were taught, and the different types of boats they used.  We learned about the foods they ate, how they entertained, and the fact that they made use of everything at their disposal without a lot of waste.  We found out that they made all of their own clothing, and every household had a spinning wheel and loom for this purpose.  Since we’re part of a wealthy family in the story, we got to see what types of clothing, jewelry, and adornments would be worn in such a family.

We found out they only ate two meals per day, exactly 12 hours apart, and they viewed the world as having only two seasons…summer (the time of light) and winter (the time of darkness).  We learned about the skills that were taught to boys and girls, and what it meant to serve in the army.  We found out that suitors were examined starting when a girl became 12 years old, and she was usually married by the age of 15!  The story went on to describe the role of women in Viking society.  They were surprisingly respected and had many more rights that in a lot of other countries today!  We also read about their leisure activities and feasts.

The book revealed that the Vikings used a special alphabet with 24 characters, and it is believed that most of them could read and write at least a little, as evidenced by the discovery of signs along roadsides.  We also learned that the Vikings were polytheistic.  The book described some of the Norse gods and what their roles were.  The story ended with descriptions of many important Vikings from history.

At the back of both books, there was a glossary of key terms and their meanings.

We thoroughly enjoyed these stories!  They were both very engaging and entertaining.  The colorful, full-page illustrations make them particularly interesting as read-aloud stories, as I was able to fold back the opposite page so Holden could look at the illustration while I read the corresponding text.  The Viking story was 69 pages, not including the glossary, and when were done, Holden asked me how I finished the story so fast.  That’s because it was so fascinating that he hadn’t notice how very many times I had turned the page.  That’s a winner in my book!

The additional books I received were also from the series on civilizations pertaining to Ancient Greece and the Mayan Empire.  All of the books in this particular series follow a similar pattern of historical topics as the Viking Europe story I described above.  They are definitely very meaty and give a wealth of vital information in an easy-to-follow, easy-to-digest format that makes the reader (and listener, as the case may be) feel like you are there, experiencing that part of the world in real time.  The culture series follows the format of geography and everyday life in a particular country.  It’s a more gentle introduction that a younger child could easily read on their own.

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I love that all of these books fit a variety of interests, purposes, and age levels.  They make great supplements to history and culture studies, but they’re also fascinating just for entertainment purposes.  I have so many of them on my schoolroom bookshelves!  I like to select one periodically that pertains to the time period we are studying in history and use it as a fun supplemental reader to sum up what we’ve studied.

I’ve reviewed Carole P. Roman books several times in the past.  If you’re looking for a particular topic, you might want to reference my previous reviews:

Review #1:

  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…American West
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy

Review #2:

  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Mexico
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America
  • I Want to Do Yoga, Too
  • Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience

Review #3:

  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Australia
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…India
  • If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia

There are even some toddler/preschool books to choose from, some of which are featured in one of my past reviews.  Carole P. Roman books have so much to offer your family!  Check out what’s available.  There are sure to be some to suit your needs, and they are just a joy to read!  I’ve even used them as bedtime stories in the past.

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about a variety of Carole P. Roman books by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

DQ Blizzards–B1G1 for 80 cents

It’s time to celebrate Dairy Queen’s 80th Birthday!!!

BOGO $.80. Buy one Blizzard® treat at regular price, and get one of equal or lesser value for $.80. At participating locations. Find a DQ.

Starting March 4th for a limited time, buy one any size Blizzard treat at regular price and get a second one of equal or lesser value for only 80 cents!  What a bargain!  That makes it a great time to have a frozen treat with a friend or family member.  You can also do the deal multiple times in one order.  FDairy Queen Homeor instance, I went on the first day of this promotion and ordered 4 blizzards, and I only paid 80 cents for 2 of them.  Get this deal while it lasts!

This offer is available at participating locations. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

FREE Pancakes at IHOP Today!!!

IHOP

It’s National Pancake Day!  Celebrate with a FREE short stack of pancakes from IHOP between 7 AM and 7 PM, today only!

While you’re there, considering making a donation to a children’s charity.

Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2020

REVIEW: Let’s Go Geography, Year 2 by Let’s Go Geography

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Since we reviewed Year 1 of the program a couple of years ago, we were very excited to have the opportunity to review Let’s Go Geography, Year 2 by Let’s Go Geography so close to its premier!


WHAT IS IT?:

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Let’s Go Geography, Year 2 is the second installment in what will eventually be a 3-year geography study intended for elementary students in grades K-5.  That being said, I’m using it with my 6th grader and still find it entirely age-appropriate.  You can take a look at the 3-year schedule and see what countries are included in each year of the study.  With so many topics and activities included, it’s easy to pick and choose what you want to use to make it adaptable for older kids.  I actually found it interesting myself!

Each lesson explores the geographical location using maps, the country’s flag,Product Image demographics, national music, things to explore (food, interesting places, cultural practices, etc.), a coloring page with facts about the items included in the picture, and full-color instructions on a craft and how the project is related to the culture. By providing your email address, you can also get a free download of a passport your child can create and place each country’s flag inside as a record of where they’ve explored.  Instructions and printables are included in the first lesson on creating a travel journal where your student can keep their completed notes, coloring pages, and maps, along with print-outs of sight-seeing photographs and facts provided for each country.

This second year of the program has kids explore a new country or region every week for a total of 32 weeks.  A 2-year subscription is available for just $27.99 and gives you access to download any of the lessons for a 2-year period in any order you would like.  Once you’ve downloaded the lessons, though, you don’t actually need access to the website, so you can even download them all at once.  If you don’t want to store the downloads on your computer and want to be able to access them from anywhere with internet access indefinitely, you might prefer to purchase lifetime access for $34.99.


OUR EXPERIENCE:

We definitely enjoyed Year 1 of the program when Holden was in 4th grade, but I have to say that I think Year 2 is even better!  Instead of a 36-week program with built-in off weeks and reviews, Year 2 just gives you the 32 lessons and allows you the flexibility to schedule your own breaks and handle review as you see fit.  I also felt like there were more links to videos and more photographs and facts included…it just felt more meaty!  For us, it made Year 2 even feel appropriate for my 6th grader, even though the program is designed for elementary students.

Since we’ve previously worked with the first year of the program, I started by pulling out our existing Travel Journal and Passport.  If you’re new to the program, the instructions and printables for creating the journal are included in the first lesson.  Then we selected the countries we wanted to study during the review period, and we decided to work on the South Atlantic Region of America that includes VA where we used to live (lesson 4), Mexico that borders TX where we live now (lesson 5), England in the UK where I was born (lesson 12), and Germany that was my husband’s home when he was in the military (lesson 16).  I really like the flexibility of being able to jump around to our countries of interest or which supplement our other studies.

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Each unit includes a checklist of activities to complete during the lesson.  We started with coloring 2 flags for the country (one to glue into our Passport, and one to glue onto our map page) and then working through our map activities.

Checklist of Activities 20200224_190251 20200224_190228

Some lessons include a set of geography questions to work through about the maps based on observations.  Using the England lesson as an example, the lesson offered us two versions of the questions…a simpler version for younger students that involved marking things with color or circling things on the map, and then a more advanced version for older students that we used where the questions were open-ended.  Then we listened to traditional music from the country.

 20200224_192656 The Music

Next, we began exploring the country through printable photographs, facts, and videos.  All videos link through a kid-friendly “safe” version of YouTube, which made me very happy as a mom!  You can never be too careful with your kids on the internet.  These are just snapshots of all that’s included…there were multiple pages of each feature!  We probably spent the most time watching all the great videos.  That was Holden’s favorite part!  There’s nothing like seeing for yourself.  It mad e us feel like tourists!

Fact Page Photo Album Sightseeing 

Last, we took some notes from what we learned, colored the coloring page, and worked on the craft. 

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Create 20200224_190658

Full-color photos and instructions are included, along with a list of all of the supplies you’ll need to complete the craft.  These items and all of the printables went into our travel journal to help us remember our “travels!”  With only one 6th grade boy in our homeschool now, we don’t do a lot of crafts, so our craft supplies are long gone!  We improvised a bit on this project by coloring strips of paper and gluing them on in lieu of popsicle sticks and construction paper.  It still had some dimension by layering the paper, and I didn’t have to run to the store for supplies we would never use again!

Craft 20200224_190033

I like the flexibility to take or leave various elements as you choose.  My son doesn’t enjoy writing and had some delays in writing, so we do most of our work orally.  That means if I want to, I can leave out the optional note-taking sheets and just keep it fun and interesting.  He was never much into coloring or crafts, either, so we’ll just do those if there’s something he particularly wants to try.  He absolutely loves the video links about interesting places, traditional music, and cultural practices, so reading the facts, doing the mapwork, and following the media links will likely be how we primarily use this product going forward.  But since there are so many activities included, there’s something for everyone, and everything is there so you can adapt to suit your needs without any real effort on your part.

As we used the links, we only found one link that didn’t work properly.  We were able to use it by searching for the link manually, but the lesson includes instructions on how to report a bad link so an update can be made to the program, so that’s great!

Overall, this continues to be one of our favorite ways to study geography!  It’s truly fun, light-hearted, yet meaty without being too intense.  My son has ADHD and has a really short attention span, so moving from one activity to another quickly works well for him.  We both really enjoyed the program, myself included!  I particularly enjoyed giving him a tour of my country of origin, and it was nice to see a bit of “home,” as well.  It prompted additional discussion as we talked about currency, food, and other differences between England and America.  We look forward to continuing to use this program throughout our school year.

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this program by clicking the banner below.