Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Strawberry Lemonade" Free QP - Dandelion Dust Designs

Oh dear, I realized I never posted my QP for "Strawberry Lemonade" by Dandelion Dust Designs.  This was a Facebook Freebie earlier this month, when they hit 1,000 likes!  Way to go!  "Strawberry Lemonade" was perfect for scrapping my strawberry-picking photos from earlier this summer.

This is what the kit looked like:

The free kit is no longer available, but hopefully you snagged it while it was up!  Here is the QP you can get now, just before the summer ends!  Click image to download it from Mediafire.  P/U only.

Didn't get a chance to download the free kit?  Never fear - there is another freebie up right now!  "Like" Dandelion Dust Designs on Facebook to download these fun "Sizzling" frames, which match the "Sizzling" Paper Pack on sale at ScrapTakeout right now!

Happy Scrapping!  :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

I was very excited for the chance to review the e-Book Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers from Christian Liberty Press.  This school year, I have decided to cut back on some of the extra-curricular activities and have more time at home to spend on some projects with the kids, including music.  One of the things I specifically wanted to cover this fall was hymnology and some of the histories behind the hymns, which have always fascinated me.  This book fit right into the lesson plan!

“Now then, now then,” came the Cabby’s voice. 
“I think the best thing we could do to pass the 
time would be to sing a ’ymn.” And he did. 
He had a fine voice and the children joined in. 
C. S. Lewis 

Douglas Bond, the author of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, had me from the beginning with this quote from The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis.  I love C. S. Lewis, I love The Magician's Nephew, and I love hymns!  From there, he drew me into the story of two fictional American teenagers who are spending their summer in the small town of Olney in England.  I could do a unit study with my kids (it would follow well after the Olympics in London this summer) about the British culture, and then about the organ that was played by the children's new acquaintance, Mr. Pipes.  Later still, they were introduced to the harpsichord - one of my very favorite instruments!  The real story, however, is in the hymns and hymn writers about which Mr. Pipes teaches the children.  While sitting out the rain, taking them fishing, and showing them around Olney during their summer vacation, he tells them stories about the history of the area, the Church, and the hymn writers who lived in England.  The writing is engaging, and the stories of the hymn writers are interspersed throughout the rest of the story.

"I like that fact that it's, like, a story that's actually fun to read," said my daughter about the book.  (I had to get in that extra "like" so that I did not misquote her!)  "You learn something, but it's like you are just reading a book."

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is the first in Douglas Bond's series of four "Mr. Pipes" books written to teach children about the hymns of the Christian faith.  An English teacher at a Christian high school, he has a passion to share this part of our history with young people.  The books are recommended for 7th-10th grade.  I believe my 5th-grade daughter may enjoy them as well, but for this review I only used the book with my older children.  I plan to buy the other books in the series and use them with her as well.

A children's choir director and former piano teacher myself, I love all different kinds of music, and I love teaching children about them.  I love hymns and contemporary choruses equally - any music that is used to praise God!  I have always been fascinated by the stories behind some of the old hymns.  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is a unique and entertaining tool for teaching these things to the next generation.  I highly recommend this book.

Here are the important facts:

Product:  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, available as hard copy or PDF download
Author:  Douglas Bond
Ages:  7th-10th grades
Price:  $9.89 hard copy, $8.79 PDF download

See Christian Liberty Press for the rest of this series and other homeschooling curriculum.

Click the banner below to see what my Crewmates thought of this book:


Disclaimer:  I received a free downloadable PDF copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

What?  You need faith to be an atheist?  Well, when a lot of people think about faith, they think about blind faith.  Believing something just because.  Is that what our religion is to us?

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, the authors of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, point out that many atheists go through the same thought processes as many Christians.  In fact, they say, scientists who claim to be objectively observing the facts can become agitated when evidence seems to contradict what they believe to be true, just like people whose religious convictions are challenged.  Atheism itself can become like a religion for some people, with its own strong set of beliefs and opinions.  Can we know who is right and who is wrong?  Can we draw an objective conclusion from the evidence we have in this world?

"So," my son asked, "if we descended from apes, and we still have apes, and we still have humans, why didn't the in-between species survive?"  He is thinking right along the lines the authors want him to think.  In fact, they point out, not only didn't they survive, but between-species creatures could not survive.  If birds with feathers evolved from reptiles with scales, as Darwin asserted, then there would have been some sort of in-between species that no longer had scales but didn't quite have feathers.  That creature could not have survived, so no bird would have evolved.  Scientifically, this is impossible.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist draws on a little bit of Intelligent Design (one of my favorite topics in the world), historical documentation, scientific evidence, and lots and lots of logic to show that there is plenty of evidence that proves the truth of Christianity.  We do not have to believe in God based on "blind faith," and in fact, it requires some "blind faith" to believe otherwise.  As James Tour, a Nanoscientist, is quoted saying at the beginning of one of the chapters:  "Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith.  If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God."
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 KJV

I have taught Intelligent Design, historical documentation for Christianity, and logic to my kids in homeschool, and am always looking for curriculums that support these themes and our Christian worldview, so I was thrilled to see that Apologia (simply one of our favorite companies for both science and Bible curriculums) has developed a workbook to go along with this fabulous book and turn it into a whole curriculum.  At first, I planned to use this with my children all together, but I realized it was going to be over the heads of all but my oldest.  He's beginning 9th grade this year, and this book is right up his alley.  He's right at the stage on the classical education spectrum where he should be reading and understanding this kind of logic, and he is.  He has a very logical, practical mind like his dad, and I am glad to have books like this to use with him, because I believe it will stay with him for life.  I am working through this entire book and workbook with him, and I believe I am learning as much as I am teaching!

Apologia's workbook for I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is really much more than a workbook.  When I think of a workbook for a study like this, I expect it to basically have discussion and review questions to go along with the text.  Apologia's workbook, however, develops the ideas in the book and turns the textbook into a complete curriculum.  It reviews each chapter of the text, provides additional information for diving deeper into the issues, gives assignments and ideas for research and projects so that the student can learn more on his own, and discusses application of what he has learned.  I loved the extra information given on key figures on both sides of the Christianity/Atheism debate, such as Carl Sagan, C.S. Lewis, and Richard Dawkins.  (My son's favorites are C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien!)  There is also biographical information on historical characters such as Hitler and Josephus.  Logic charts, historical information, information on other religions and worldviews, and some photographs of things like the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and ancient art all work together to make this what I would consider to be an effective "capstone" high school course.  A "capstone" course is one that brings together all the other courses you've studied and helps you apply them to your life.  After you've studied all this history, art, science, literature, and religion, what do you believe?  What is your worldview?  How does it affect how you live?  I am using this as a "capstone" course over what we have studied up to this beginning-high-school point, and to be effective, I may repeat it (or parts of it) during my son's senior year.  I may also use this as a Bible study or small group for teens or adults.

Many of us grew up in Christian households with parents who were brought up in Christian households in communities where most people went to some kind of church and had some minor denominational differences.  Not so with our children.  They are already being exposed to a multitude of worldviews, religions, and a plethora of scientific evidence.  This is not a bad thing.  People whose ideas have been tested know more firmly what they believe and why.  We do, however, need to give our children the tools with which to evaluate the overload of ideas that are being thrown at them.  Using a course like Apologia's that teaches them how to think rather than just what to think will help them navigate these intellectual waters throughout high school, college, and their lifetimes.  Apologia has several worldview books to this end, and I believe this workbook used in conjunction with the text of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is one of the best I have seen.
If you have a high schooler, if you are leading a college-age small group, or if you would like to firm up your ideas about what you believe and why for yourself, here is the information you need about this curriculum:

The Product:  I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum workbook by Frank Turek and Chuck Winter and
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist book by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek
Vendor:  Apologia Educational Ministries

Ages:  High School thru Adult

Price:  $16 for the book I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
      $33 for the I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum workbook

I'm going to say you probably just need to go right now and order this curriculum, but if you'd like to see what my Schoolhouse Crewmates have to say, click the banner below!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the book and workbook for I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist from Apologia Educational Ministries for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Birthday Wishes" from Dandelion Dust Designs

Dandelion Dust Designs has released "Birthday Wishes," just in time for a couple of big birthdays in my household!

I just love this kit, with the swirlies and the pastels and the circles and the cupcakes!  You can pick up your "Birthday Wishes" kit exclusively at ScrapTakeout.

Want some Quickpages for faster scrapping?  Pick these up FREE at Mediafire!  P/U only.

Happy Scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Birthday Wishes" kit in exchange for layouts.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Vocab Videos

It's here.  High School.  My oldest son is beginning 9th grade this fall.

He is yelling gleefully, "I can't believe it!  Only 4 years left and I'm outta here!"

I am sighing mournfully, "I can't believe it.  Only 4 years left and my baby will be gone!"

And we are entering the world of transcripts, credit hours, college searches, and SAT preparation.

I've read that vocabulary counts for up to 150 points on the SAT now.  Out of the 2400 possible points, 800 are math, 800 are language arts, and 800 are essay.  Of the 800 for language arts, vocabulary counts for almost one quarter.  Better get those flash cards ready.

I was looking for some good SAT Prep materials when I was given a chance through The Schoolhouse Review Crew to review Vocab Videos.  These online videos were developed specifically to teach SAT vocabulary words to students.  The series of comical videos with older teens/young adults incorporates 500 frequently tested SAT vocabulary words in short, fun skits that the students will enjoy.  Each word appears on the screen with its meaning; the narrator pronounces the word and states the meaning; and then a section of the skit is shown illustrating that word.  I printed a study guide for each of my kids watching the videos so that they could take notes on the meanings of the words while they watched, and I printed a glossary for each of them with all 500 words, in alphabetical order, and their definitions.  There is another version of the glossary with the same 500 words, but they are arranged in groups of words with similar definitions.  I copied all of those for each of the kids to put in their binders.  After each episode of the skits, the kids can do a crossword puzzle, a quiz, and a worksheet to cement their learning.  We can also print out flashcards of the words.  You may choose the best study helps to help you.  There are then cumulative quizzes after watching several episodes.

We received the Small Educator Classroom subscription, so I was able to sign up each of my kids individually.  I am mainly doing this program for my 9th grader, but my 7th and 5th graders also enjoyed the videos and seeing how they can do on the puzzles and quizzes.  They are doing surprisingly well, actually!  Perhaps they will be that much ahead by the time they reach the SATs!  The kids generally watched the videos together, and I printed out the worksheets and puzzles for them. Later, they could each sign in on the laptop under their own account (with a password) to watch the videos again if they would like, pausing it sometimes to take more notes, and to take the quizzes.  The quizzes can also be printed.  When they take the quizzes online, I then receive notifications in my account telling me which kids have done what quizzes and what they scored.  I gave the kids an additional challenge to try to use words from the SAT list in general conversation around the house, and when I hear the words in conversation, I give them points, which will later be turned in for a prize. I am now being inundated with large vocabulary words being sagaciously used in regular sentences!

My kids really enjoyed these humorous videos, and I've got to tell you, their retention level of these words is amazing.  This beats our old method of flashcards and wordlists by a mile!  I have decided to continue the program throughout this school year and for all of us to try to learn all 500 words.  I believe this is one of the most effective test prep tools I have seen.

That said, I must also put a disclaimer in here.  Unfortunately, there were some words and subject matter in the videos that I did not care for.  Specifically, the Name of the Lord is taken in vain frequently. Truthfully, this bothers me more than hearing curse words.  Yes, of course the kids hear this everywhere, even from their friends on the phone, but I do not believe it has a place in educational materials.  There were a few curse words and references to drinking.  Again, nothing the kids won't see elsewhere, but I believe educational materials should be held to a high standard both educationally and morally.  My husband and I discussed this at length and decided that we would continue to use the program, even though we strongly objected to that facet of it, and that we would make "teaching moments" by explaining to the kids that even though we hear these things from friends, on TV, and even in our homeschool materials, we have chosen to live without that kind of language in our household.  Since I realize most of my readership is probably more on the conservative side of things, you will have to make that decision for your own family.  You can see clips of some of the videos at Vocab Videos.

If you are interested in this program, here's the pertinent info:

The Product:  Vocab Videos  subscription website
Brought to you by:  A-List Education
Ages:  High School (can be used with younger children who are good readers and who are ready for a vocabulary challenge)

Or for just one student:

There is also a workbook available for $11.99.

To see what other Crew members thought of Vocab Videos, click the banner below:


Disclaimer:  I received a free Small Educator Classroom subscription to Vocab Videos in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Review: Economics for Everybody

I think that since my second child was born 11 years ago - when all of our stocks began to plummet - everyone has been talking about the Economy.  It is the topic of dinner parties, small group get-togethers, and elections.  What went wrong?  Who can make it better?  Is God punishing us for wrong-doing, or is it simply out of our control?  Some preach a health-and-wealth gospel - the more you serve God, the more independently wealthy you will become (of course, this is not backed up by many real-life examples among missionaries or ministers).  Others believe servants of God must be minimalists, to avoid being tempted to serve money rather than God.

Does your high-schooler understand economics?  Do you?

I must admit that economics is not a field in which I have a strong understanding.  I know that on a personal level, we need to tithe, then save, then spend, and that we need to be responsible and to live within our means.  Economics on a national or global level, however, has been confusing to me.  Are we on our way to another Depression, or do we just need a little recession every couple of decades to balance out the inflation?

I was excited, then, to review Economics for Everybody, by R.C. Sproul, Jr., from Compass Cinema.  This series of 12 lectures on DVD or digital download explains the field of economics in terms I can understand and from a Christian Worldview.  Mr. Sproul explains that while we are not always directly rewarded or punished financially by God, it is true that a society that follows God's economic principles will, in general, prosper.  In short, God gave us principles that work, and the reason our nation has been prosperous to this point is because our forefathers followed these principles.  These principles include ideas about ownership, stewardship, and the government's role in economic policy.

In addition to watching the lectures, we also downloaded the accompanying study guide.  It is basically a comprehensive outline of the lectures, with discussion questions at the end of each one.  My 9th-grade son has completed several of the lectures, taken notes, and completed the discussion questions.  Compass Cinema recommends that if you wish to use this course for a high school credit, that you supplement it with Basic Economics, Third Edition, written by Christian economist Paul Cleveland and Clarence Carson.  After completing just a few lessons in the curriculum, I am planning to obtain that book and use this entire curriculum for a high school credit.  I believe that not enough of our students have an opportunity to take classes like this and get a firm grasp on the subject of economics.  And if they do not understand them, they will be at the mercies of others who do when they become adults.

Here is a clip from the series:

I highly recommend Economics for Everybody for any middle schooler, high schooler, or adult who desires a greater understanding of the field of economics.  The economy has such a great impact on our day-to-day lives, we owe it to ourselves to take a little bit of time to understand the principles better.
Here's what you need to know:
The Product:  Economics for Everybody from Compass Cinema
Ages:  Middle School, High School, Adult
Price:  Special Presale Offer of $29 for the DVD or the download ENDS TODAY, AUGUST 16!  After that, it will return to the regular price of $45.
         Study Guide included, extra copies for additional students available for $7 in the presale ($9 regular price).
Hurry and order your Economics for Everybody curriculum before these prices end!
Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the Economics for Everybody downloadable lectures and study guide in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Afternoon Mini by Dandelion Dust Designs

Here's another mini from Dandelion Dust Designs.  I'm looking forward to fall myself, but we still have some August memories to make, so here is the Summer Afternoon Mini kit!

Get the Summer Afternoon Mini exclusively at ScrapTakeout:

Get your free QP from Mediafire!  PU only.

Happy Scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the Summer Afternoon Mini kit in exchange for a layout.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Spotlight on Kits by Albums to Remember

Albums to Remember is the August sponsor of RAK Scraps.  We got to play with two huge kits by ATR this month:  "Time to Travel" and "All In A Day."  These kits are packed with fun papers and elements.  "Time to Travel" has neutral colors, while "All In A Day" has brighter, fun colors.  Together, they make a great addition to your digi-scrapping library!  You can get both kits at  See more LOs with these kits at

All In A Day:

Time To Travel:

Happy Scrapping!  :-)

Disclaimer:  I received free copies of the "Time to Travel" and "All In A Day" kits in exchange for LOs.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

"School Zone" by Dandelion Dust Designs

Are you ready to go back to school?  Hmmm, that's a tough one.  As a homeschooler, I'm loving the summer off (kind of - we're still doing "lite" school and reviewing products), but we have a lot of cool projects planned for the fall, too, so I'm just trying to get caught up on my house and personal projects before we start.  In the meantime, Dandelion Dust Designs has a really great kit for those "back to school" photos!

Get the kit exclusively at ScrapTakeout:

Don't forget to download your free QPs from Mediafire!  PU only.  Click images below.

Happy Scrapping!  :-)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the School Zone Kit in exchange for LOs.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Schoolhouse Review: King Alfred's English



All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players; 
They have their exits and their entrances, 
And one man in his time plays many parts…  

From As You Like It
William Shakespeare 

Here's a pop quiz for you:

1)  Shakespeare spoke and wrote:
   a) Old English
   b) Medieval English
   c) Modern English

2)  King Arthur was:
   a) The King of the Britons
   b) A legendary figure
   c) A seeker of the Holy Grail whose mother was a hamster and whose father smelled of elderberries

3)  Druids were:
   a) Celtic Priests
   b) Warriors
   c) Scary guys in hoods

4)  St. Patrick's Day is all about:
   a) Celebrating your Irish roots
   b) Remembering the man who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland
   c) Beer and Irish Whiskey

The answers are:  1) c,
2) b - but of course the legend could have been based on facts,
3) well, probably all of the above, and
4) b.

Do your kids ask you questions like these?  What are Druids and who was King Arthur?  Did you know that we decorate with shamrocks because Irish tradition says that St. Patrick used them to illustrate the idea of the Trinity to the Irish people?  (Well, I explained that one, but then my kids wanted to know what the fourth person of God is on the four-leaf-clover and why is it lucky?  Sometimes these things backfire!)

My children and I have really enjoyed reading King Alfred's English by Laurie White.  The subtitle is "A History of the Language We Speak And Why We Should Be Glad We Do."  That is a good summary, but I found so much more interesting information in this book than I expected to from just the title.  It contains history about legends and traditions that we encounter in everyday life and of which we never knew the history.  I learned why we ain't supposed to use the word "ain't," why there are so many exceptions to the rules in our language, and why "you will never see Shakespeare’s name on a list of the 'top ten writers in English.'”  The story was entertaining and full of "aha" moments for my children.  It told us how we got the Bible in English.  This book showed how throughout its history, the English language has been tied to Christianity, or at least a Christian worldview.


In addition to the book itself, there is lots of supplemental information on the website at  There you will find "chapter by chapter links to online images, articles, videos, and relevant literature excerpts;" "chapter worksheets and tests."

I highly recommend King Alfred's English for anyone studying Medieval History; Romans, Celts, or the history of England; the English language; or just as an independent reading assignment.  At 144 pages, you can read it with your children in just a few days as a supplement to your English studies or as a break from them.

Here's the bottom line:

Product:  King Alfred's English, available in paperback or Kindle version
Ages:  12 through adult (my 9 and 10-year-olds are enjoying it as well)
Price:  Retail $16.95

While the book retails for $16.95, you can find it at several outlets, some at a discount:

CBD $14.89 paperback
Amazon  $16.95 paperback, Kindle version $5.95
Rainbow Resource Center $14.95 paperback

In even better news, the author has authorized us to give away several discount codes.  I can send up to 5 readers a discount code for 50% off the retail price for a paperback copy, or $8.47.  The code will only be good through September.  If you are interested, leave a comment below with your favorite fun-fact about Old English, your favorite Shakespeare play, or your favorite line from Monty Python's Holy Grail!  If more than 5 people leave comments, I will randomly choose 5!

To read what my fellow Crewmates thought of King Alfred's English, click on the banner below:


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital PDF version of King Alfred's English for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"H" for the Camp Blog Train

I have been told that there is still a problem with the "H" in the Camp Blog Train Alpha.  I apologize for that; it's been downloading just fine for me.  Here is it by itself.  I hope you can use it!

Book Reviews: The 5 Love Languages of Children and A Perfect Pet for Peyton

About The 5 Love Languages of Children:

To be their best, children need to feel loved. But if you and your child speak different love languages, your affection might get lost in translation, affecting the child’s attitude, behavior, and development. Dr. Gary Chapman’s groundbreaking Five Love Languages series has helped millions of couples communicate love more clearly, and Dr. Ross Campbell M.D. has applied the innovative system to children as well. The 5 Love Languages of Children gives practical suggestions for learning how your children interpret love and creating a sense of security in which they can thrive.

About A Perfect Pet for Peyton:

This wonderfully imaginative children’s hardcover book by bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne, featuring four-color illustrations (with hidden details!) by Wilson Williams, Jr., will help children learn the importance of love. Based on Gary’s highly successful The 5 Love Languages®, A Perfect Pet for Peyton tells an entertaining and playful story of five children who each, with the help of Mr. Chapman and the unique pets at his special emporium, discover their own personal love language. Children and parents alike will experience firsthand the power of the love languages as they cuddle up and spend precious time together reading this book over and over again.

This was a review I loved doing!  If you have been in any kind of small group or Bible Study group, or if you've been in pre-marital or relationship counseling, you have no doubt heard of Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages.  Perhaps you've taken some personality-type tests and figured out what your love language is and what your spouse's love language is.  You've realized why he never buys you anything, and he's realized why it's so important to you that he does.  But have you thought of applying these same concepts to your relationship with your children?  How many children (or adults reflecting on their childhood) have lamented, "I know my parents loved me, but. . . ."

How can you show your love for your children in a way that makes them really feel loved?  Why do some children feel that their parents do not love or approve of them, while their siblings in the exact same family and living circumstances do not have that problem?

In The 5 Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell take these concepts that have become household terms in recent years, and apply them to children.  They give practical advice on how to determine what your child's love language is and how to apply that to discipline and learning situations.  They give practical advice on how to use this knowledge if you are struggling as a single parent.  In short, they offer help for parents trying to communicate with their children.  And heaven knows most of us need all the help we can get!

A Perfect Pet for Peyton is even more fun.  I read it to my little ones but found the older ones looking over my shoulder as I read.  Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne have found a perfect way to explain the love languages so that children can understand them.  While we were learning about love languages, we were also enthralled with all the different animals in the pictures, and intent on finding the hidden pictures on every page.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  This book held my littlest one's attention, and then he wanted to read it again.  In fact, I had considered using this book as a birthday gift for friends after we reviewed it, but I ended up deciding to keep it for my own children because they loved it so much.  The only problem is, now they are dying to go to Mr. Chapman's Pet Emporium and come home with their own baboon or lizard.  Who wants a plain old puppy anymore?!

I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children and A Perfect Pet for Peyton.  Spend some time cuddling with your little ones and learning a little bit more about communication together!

                A Perfect Pet for Peyton:
                    *Free interactive app with in-book experience COMING SOON to the Apple App Store.
The 5 Love Languages:

Happy Reading!

 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

Book Review: The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie

About the Book:
Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon - the path of least resistance - Alexandria Featherstone sets off toward Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. A glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton - the path less traveled by - on Dublin’s shore still haunts her.
Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able,” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.
The powerful yet wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love.

I anxiously awaited the arrival of this second book in Jamie Carie's Forgotten Castles series, having been left hanging by the ending of the first book, The Guardian Duke.  I like the characters and the setting.  I feel like I've gotten to know Alexandria Featherstone.  I'm rooting for her to get together with the Duke and to find her beloved parents.  I love the castles and the adventure through various European countries of yesteryear.  Still, though, I've been having a hard time putting together this review.  At the risk of spoiling the ending for you again, I'll just say that I'm having a hard time viewing the heroine as a chaste young Christian girl.  She pushes the envelope too far and then wonders why the bad things happen, and perhaps that is the author's intent - that she needs to learn to take more responsibility for her actions in the first place.  At the very beginning of this book, Alexandria is traveling with her fiance, John Lemon.  A man she is thinking about marrying.  She lies and allows him to lie about their relationship, saying they are married so that people will not question them traveling together.  His uncle, who has been a protector for her, allows and even encourages this, telling them to wait to get married.  In the time period that she lived, when young women simply did not travel without chaperones specifically so that they would not be taken advantage of by men, why would a chaste young Christian girl have traveled with this man and lied, saying that they were married?  Why would her protector, his uncle no less, have allowed that?

Once again, I'm waiting for the next (and final) book in the series with bated breath.  I think I will only know whether or not to recommend reading these books after I have read the entire trilogy and have seen how it is resolved.

The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie was released in July 2012:

Happy Reading!

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Schoolhouse Review:

In my last review, I indicated that there was a second product I'd reviewed this summer that will save me lots of money when it comes to curriculum.  Today I'd like to introduce you to

For me, it all started with the planners.  I love organization.  (Note that I didn't say that I AM organized, just that I LOVE organization!)  During the month of August, when we are preparing to start our new school year, I can spend hours assembling charts and calendars and to-do lists.  Each of the kids has their own binder that is just jam-packed full of useful stuff - you know, in case they ever decide they want to use it!

I started using The Old Schoolhouse Planners in my binders several years ago.  They have book report forms, lists and calendars for keeping organized, historical timelines, lists of basic things like the state capitals and US Presidents, and not-so-basic information on things like composers and inventors.  We kept track of our books read, field trips taken, and community service hours worked.  The planners by themselves were just a gem for me.  After that, I started using other TOS resources, like the Teacher's Toolbox e-books and unit studies.

Now, it has all been put together in one amazing site, and so much material has been added that I can quickly go into overload just browsing through.  Plus, new content is continually being added! is now your one-stop shop for finding supplemental activities like lapbooks or activities for current events like the Summer Olympics, filling in gaps in your curriculum, or putting together a full-service curriculum.  Teachers who are experts in their field - like Geography teacher Terri Johnson, who has homeschooled her own six children and runs the business KnowledgeQuest; and Joey Hajda, who holds a degree in veterinary medicine and one in education and taught science in public school and community college in addition to homeschooling his own ten children - provide lessons and activities that are planned and ready for you to teach to your children.  New lessons are provided by the month in each subject, plus there are "Schoolhouse Dailies" that are new every day.  These are not just a collection of worksheets that you can download.  The lessons include discussion, hands-on activities, and integration between subjects.

I love the fact that provides a complete package, and recognizes that many of us are on a budget.  I have realized, as my son is getting ready to start high school, that high school math by itself could need it's own separate budget, by the time I buy graph paper, tools, and a scientific calculator.  So I loved that included with August's high school math lessons, teacher David Chandler included links to free internet tools - such as Libre Office and Geogebra - that could be used to complete the lessons.

The Schoolhouse Dailies are one of my favorite features.  I already had curriculum in many subjects and didn't really need full curriculums in Science, History, or Language Art, but things like "This Day In History" and having a daily writing prompt keep things fresh and current.  I like to slack off a bit from the schedule during the summer and have activities that are still educational but that are fun and a bit more hands-on, so the Summer Shakespeare program was perfect for that.  There was even an option to send in photos or videos of your own Shakespeare productions that you put on during the summer.  We did not actually have time to complete the Summer Shakespeare program or to put on a production, but that would be a fabulous summer activity to plan ahead for next time!

Under the "Schoolhouse Extras" and "Schoolhouse Library," you have an entire library of resources available in addition to the general subject lessons and schoolhouse dailies.  There are the teacher and student Planners (still my favorite resource), the TOS Magazine, back issues of the TOS Magazine, e-books to download, copybooks to download, lapbook studies, archived teacher lessons, reading lists, arts and crafts, spelling help, and even recipes and housekeeping helps.  Like I said, this is a complete package that you can use every day.  If you've ever thought, "You know what would be really helpful to have for my homeschool. . . ?", you can probably find it here!

You can download sample lessons from  Give them a try and see what you think!

Overloaded with information yet?  Here's what you need to know to get started:

The Product: website
From:  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Ages:  All ages.  There's something for everyone, pre-K thru high school.
Price:  $1 for the first month and $5.95/mo after that.  See what all is included here.

HSLDA Members receive one year FREE!

To see what my crewmates thought of this fabulous resource, click the banner below.


Happy Home-schooling!
Disclaimer:  As part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a free subscription to  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.