Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (World War I Conclusion) - July 15

World War I:  Costs, Treaties and Consequences

World War I Aircraft
Wasn't easy getting a decent picture of this poster!  This is one of my kiddos favorites!  World War I Aircraft
This week we wrapped up our study of World War I focusing on the outcome and how it set the stage for The Third Reich.

Selected reading about WWI
Selected reading about WWI
Some of this week's reading.  Homer Price is missing from the picture.

My boys finished their bi-planes.  (I got these kits from Consumer Crafts and they save my sanity!)

Bi-plane kit
Bi-plane kit
My oldest's....not bad for my 'One Crayon' Kid!

Bi-place kit
My second in line informed me that this design belongs on a tri-plane, but, he adapted it for this bi-plane model.  For some reason, he had issues with his landing gear and in the end chose to leave it off.

My daughter finished the Rebecca series and worked on her lapbook as well.

American Girl Rebecca
American Girl Rebecca

Also in the mix - Potato Latkes and Noodle Kugel which were each met with a 50% approval rating from The Circus.

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes
By request, some of the Latkes were extra crispy.  Why don't mine look as pretty as the picture on the original recipe?

And finally, this is Sascha.  He is an adult Green Tree Frog that was captured during a rain storm while we were studying the Russian Revolution.  He stayed with us for about a week and after a series of nightly serenades he was let go!

Green Tree Frog
Green Tree Frog

Next up:  Some R&R!  See you all in a few!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Illustrated Bible Review

Family Illustrated Bible
Family Illustrated Bible

Family Illustrated Bible is a beautifully illustrated collection of stories from the Bible from The Creation to The Revelation.

Initially upon flipping through this book, I see a number of pages that have a Dorling Kindersley (DK) feel to them.  Checking further, I see that I am correct!  These pages are filled with fascinating photos and historical facts  BUT  are lacking when it comes to true Biblical knowledge. 

For example, on page 314 under "The Christians" is says:

"Soon after Jesus's crucifixion, his followers in Jerusalem preached that he had risen from the dead and was the Messiah foretold in the scriptures.  The first Christians were Jews, who did not see themselves as followers of a new religion.  As time passed there was a growing conflict between the followers of Jesus and other Jews.  Christianity was then given a new start by Paul, who preached the faith to gentiles (non-Jews)."

A new start?  This passage seems to elude that Paul started a new movement or is somehow singly responsible for the spread of the Gospel during this period in History.

On the next page is mentioned, "The Gospel of Thomas"  saying that it "taught that believers would be saved through self-knowledge, for "The Kingdom of God is inside you."  "

The Gospel of Thomas isn't even in the Bible and is not representative of Biblical Doctrine!

I wish New Leaf Press would have been more selective in the DK information they choose to include.  Because of this, I have a hard time recommending this book.  This book would be acceptable if this erroneous information was removed.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Living Fossils Curriculum Review!

Living Fossils Evolution:  The Grand Experiment
Living Fossils Evolution:  The Grand Experiment

Living Fossils begins with an account of the challenge given to the author, Dr. Carl Werner, during his sophomore year of college to answer the question, "How could life begin if proteins do not form naturally?"  This book is a 30 year compilation of that quest and to prove evolution, right or wrong.

"Many perceive the fossil record as the greatest proof for the theory of evolution that life in the far distant past was comprised of strange and unusual animals and plants that evolved over time into the familiar life-forms that surround us today.

Many who oppose evolution argue that plants and animals have not fundamentally changed over time.  Although some animals, like dinosaurs and flying reptiles, have gone extinct, the others have remained substantially the same since their origin.  These viewpoints radically contradict one another.

In order to solve this controversy, I have reviewed thousands of fossils from  the dinosaur era - fossils from Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous rock layers - and compared them to the animals and plants of today.  According to one reviewer, you will not find a more complete picture of life during the dinosaur era anywhere."

Upon first receiving this book, I am awe struck with page upon page of spectacular photographs.  The majority of which contain shots of living creatures next to their counterpart fossil that are supposedly millions of years old.  It is rather difficult to believe in evolution/millions of years when faced with these "living fossils".

Each chapter of this book is packed with a wide array of information that is "just-right" for the 7th grade and up crowd.  Within these 25 chapters, you'll find a fascinating, revealing and informative study of living fossils from aquatic life, reptiles, snakes, birds, mammals and plants. 

Currently, my children are in 8th, 5th and 3rd grades.  I decided to do the first couple of lessons with all three.  Obviously, I don't have the same expectations for my 3rd grader as I do for my oldest child - but there are some concepts she is able to grasp on a more simplistic level.

Using the Teacher's Manual, we followed the first 6 steps:

1.  Teacher reads 'Purpose of Chapter' in this Teacher's Manual.

2.  Teacher leads students in 'Class Discussion Questions'. 
     All of my children could do this with varying degrees of understanding.

3.  Students watch DVD (optional). 
     We do not currently have this DVD, but I would not hesitate to purchase it based on the quality of  
     information presented.

4.  Students read chapter.
     I went ahead and read it out loud and stopped when necessary to answer questions.

5.  Students are given 'Objectives of Chapter Worksheet' after reading the chapter and are
     directed to complete the answers.
     My 8th grader did these on his own.  I did some of these orally with my younger two.

6.  Teacher administers 'Chapter Test A'.
     I gave this only to my 8th grader.

So far in our studies, my older two were struck with the subjectivness of the "Name Game".  On dig sites there's not a committee of scientists to determine whether a fossil is a new species or a variation.  Whoever finds it, names it and most likely that scientist supports evolution in which the new species name may reflect this.  Often times a scientists will gain more recognition by doing so.

A great photo example of this concept is from page 24.  There are 6 pictures of variations in American Oysters.  They are all the same species. If they were found fossilized miles apart from each other, they might be incorrectly assigned a new species name.   Other examples include:  Sassafras and Magnolia leaves.

My youngest could easily figure this out by looking at all the variations of dog skulls that were also pictured.

I won't spoil the conclusions of the author, but I will tell you that he does address: 7 Problems of Evolution, Influence of Fossil Orientation, Use of Fossils Found Below Dinosaur Layers, Difficulty in Vertebrate Identification and Assumptions in Fossil Reconstructions.

My children mostly enjoyed this study.  My oldest prefers Physics to Life Sciences.  But, he did enjoy reading the evidence against evolution.  My younger two, who are avid animal lovers, enjoyed the pictures and building knowledge against evolution with Living Fossils.

I would recommend this book in a CO-OP or individual setting and would be a wonderful summer science study as well!

This is the second book in this series.  The first, Evolution:  The Grand Experiment Volume 1 can be viewed here.

I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (Russian Revolution) - July 9

This week in our homeschool, we studied The Russian Revolution.

But first a trip to the beach.....

a trip to the beach
A trip to the beach

This was the Nip Nappers first time at the ocean.  It was a wonderful time of relaxation and getting recharged!

Then, it was a cause to celebrate America's Independence !

Red, white and blue ALL AROUND!

Red, white and blue ALL AROUND!

Selected reading about The Russian Revolution
Selected reading about The Russian Revolution
This is some of this week's reading.  We also watched the documentary, "October".  It was a bit hard to follow, but, between our history books and hitting 'rewind', we managed to grasp the majority of it.

Modern American History Lapbook Vocabulary
Modern American History Lapbook Vocabulary
The boys' worked on their Modern American History lapbook.....

thank goodness for handy Daddy's!
And started work on their biplane kits....thank goodness for handy Daddy's!

American Girl Rebecca and Biblical Jewish Holidays
American Girl Rebecca and Biblical Jewish Holidays
Meanwhile,  my daughter and I read Book 2 and 3 of the Rebecca series and checked out Biblical Holidays.  We had a really good conversation about whether or not it was right for the teacher to expect Rebecca and the other Jewish immigrants to celebrate Christmas.

vocabulary and geography sections of her American Girl lapbook....
She also worked on the vocabulary and geography sections of her American Girl lapbook....

along with the Martyoshkas (Stacking Russian Dolls).

Join us next week for finished Bi-planes, Noodle Krugel and Potato Latkes!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Complete Zoo Adventure: A Field Trip in a Book Review

I have to admit that we've grown tired of the zoo.

Looking at one animal after another...cage after cage just wasn't exciting anymore.

Since I have a toddler in the mix, I knew that sooner or later I would have to start visiting the zoo.  <sigh>  That thought did not thrill me until I got my hands on The Complete Zoo Adventure.

Complete Zoo Adventure:  A Field Trip in a Book!
Complete Zoo Adventure:  A Field Trip in a Book!

More than just a guide to animals in your local zoo - this complete curriculum contrasts humanistic evolution with biblical creation.

"Based on repeatable observation, science is a fantastic way to learn about animal life in the present.  But scientists can't see into the past beyond scientific records.  The Bible, on the other hand, takes us all the way back to the very beginning of life, and it gives us a record of earth history from God's perfect creation, ruined by man's greed and selfishness, almost destroyed by Noah's flood, to be restored to new life in Jesus Christ.  Working together, science and Scripture can help us better explain some of our zoo observations, such as why some animals with sharp teeth and claws eat meat (a change in behavior after man's rebellion) while others with teeth and claws just as sharp and strong eat only plants (the original diet God created)."

This kit includes:
Planning Calendar
Encounters with God's Creation
Field Fact Cards
Biome Cards
Field Journals
Hooty's Smart Rules
Discussion Questions
Activity Sheets
Teacher Aids

Besides learning general information about birds, mammals with paws and claws, mammals with hooves, reptiles and amphibians you'll also learn evolution defying facts about these creatures PLUS how to relate evidence in God's world to the 4 C's in God's Word.
"Designs in God's perfect world  -Creation, ruined by struggle and death following man's sin   -Corruption, nearly destroyed in a global flood    -Catastrophe, restored to peace and new life in Jesus Christ."
One of many examples of evolution defying creatures that you will learn about in this book is the Peacock.  Evolutionists say they evolved to have brightly colored feathers so they could win 'the mating wars'.  But albino peacocks with no color are successful in mating.  So Darwin thought their feathers would scare away predators - but they tuck in their tails and run to avoid predators.

As you prepare for your trip to the zoo, you are encourage and strengthened by 7 Devotionals/Looking Ahead readings which include:

1.  Jesus, The Creator - Presence of God / The 4 C's - God's love vs. Darwin's war.
2.  Holy Spirit Moved - The Power of God / Adaptations - God Came First
3.  Measuring Time - The orderliness of God / Who Eats What and Why
4.  A Garden Zoo Called Eden - Wisdom and Perfection of God / Ecology and Geography Before and After the Flood
5.  Fall of Man, Satan and the Whole Creation - The Justice of God / Who's in What Group and Why
6.  The Ark, A floating Zoo & The Lost World - The Protection of God / What's in a Name and Who's in Danger?
7. God's Gift to a Lost World - The Love of God / Stewardship - Till & Keep, Heal & Restore

Chose the animals you wish to explore.  On the day of your trip, hand out field assignments, badges and field journals to your students.

Your group leader can take turns reading data and concepts on a given animal from "Encounters with God's Creatures" or from the "Field Fact" cards.  Each 'researcher' can draw the special features of the animal in the grid squares of the "Field Journal".

After zoo activities include:

Fabulous activity sheets with REAL pictures, connect the dots, copywork for the younger crowd.  Intermediate to advanced activities include using information from the 'Field Fact" cards to rank animals' on the basis of length, weight, life-span, diet, ecological area, grouping, day created, etc, etc.  There's also a section for Creative Arts activities, Journalism and Advertising.  Advanced students will enjoy the activities on Patterns in Creation, Biomes with Map work and Life Science Projects.

Since using this kit provides 'meat' for all levels of learning, I can honestly say we are all very excited to start visiting the zoo again and viewing creation with new eyes, information and activities.

One suggestion to extend learning time would be to buy a zoo pass, and only do 1 of the 5 'At the Zoo' sections per visit.  This way, you can take your time in learning all about God's wonderful creation from the point of view of God as Creator!!

I received this book for free in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (World War I, Woodrow Wilson) - July 2

America in WWI - Over There and Over Here

Our study of WWI continues.....

Home Improvement Time
Home Improvement Time?
But first, a little home improvement.....

This week was one of 'those' weeks.  My oldest had just returned from ministering to the elderly during 'Week of Hope' and was much more wiped out than we had imagined.  During this time of recuperation, we did some learning via Netflix taking in "Sargent York",  a documentary on Woodrow Wilson, "War of the Worlds"  (the original version....also our literature selection from 2 weeks ago) and the American Girls "Samantha" movie.

Our reading did include:

Selected Reading for WWI
Selected Reading for WWI

For my daughter, we finished up Samantha and have moved onto Rebecca.  More lapbooking activities to follow for next week!

American Girl Samantha
American Girl Samantha

She also finished her first embroidery project.  Happily, she enjoyed it so much she's ready for, off to the craft store we go to get more supplies!

Embroidered Handkerchief
Embroidered Handkerchief

And Mom FINALLY got to her first sewing class!  It's been years since I operated a sewing machine and was in need of a refresher.  When your daughter knows more about it than you, but, needs your assistance....well....

Homemade pillow case
Homemade pillow case

My first pillow case.

Homemade pillow case

Close up of fabric.  My daughter loved the 'funky colors' so much, the pillowcase is now on her bed!

Happy Independence Day !!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bombus the Bumble Bee Book Review!

Bombus the Bumble Bee
Bombus the Bumble Bee

Bombus the Bumblebee is a delightful book that draws attention to the diversity in God's creation and encourages individuals to celebrate their uniqueness.

The book opens with  Bombus busily enjoying nectar when some naughty honeybees decide to show off and put doubts into Bombus' head in regards to his ability to fly.

After listening and watching the honeybees, Bombus concludes that he is too big, too fat and too ugly.  He begins to compare himself to the other flying creatures and sees how his differences cause him to 'fall short'.

God speaks to Bombus, telling him to fly because He gave him flight regardless of what other creatures are telling him.

This colorful books is also filled with Bumblebee facts, discussion questions and fun, creative activities.

I read this book with my 7 year old daughter who really liked the illustrations and activities.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Hospitality ~ Just DO IT!

About a month ago, I asked my Facebook friends' these questions regarding hospitality: 

"I enjoy hosting hospitality's, but, it's something that I really have to try at. I have two specific questions: How do you become more hospitable when you weren't raised "that way" AND hosting people when your house is small and parking is limited."

Seems I'm not alone!  Their answers were eye opening and encouraging.  Here's what they had to say:

Crystal:  I've heard that the book The Reluctant Entertainer is great by Sandy Coughlin. And Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains. I've got the same issues.

Heather:  IDK, I love to entertain and will do so even when my home is not very clean. Usually those times are reserved for my GURLZ who do not care, but if it's 2 hours till time, every room gets a 5 Minute Room Rescue and that's that.

As far as having a small home & limited parking, I really don't have a lot of experience with that. Do you have a yard or are you in an apartment complex? If I were faced with that I would simply include a note on the invitation asking folks to carpool. Especially if you're using an internet-based e-vite type service. Usually, when you're inviting people over, several know each other. I would feel completely comfortable asking whomever I knew closest - personally, in a phone call because verbal is better than electronic for this kind of thing because it's more personal - to let me know if they know who's close to whom, who would they be willing to bring, etc. As a direct sales consultant, I encourage my hostesses to ask their guests to carpool. It's more fun because the party starts sooner and lasts longer for those folks, plus it's a boost for attendance.

Don't feel shy about having any of your younger guests sit on the floor. Buy some good throw pillows for just such occasions and buy space bags to store them.

Dawn:  We have a VERY small house (like 800 sq ft)...but a large yard. We try to have folks over when we can eat outside. We have also become very creative on how we entertain inside the house. We eat in the living room as it is the biggest room of the house. Then after we eat, we move the tables and sit around in a circle. Some on the couch, some on chairs from eating. I can *TOTALLY RELATE* to the "not raised that way" part! I do not entertain like Martha Stewart would but everyone seems to enjoy it!

Lori:  I was not raised that way either. Several things I have worked on. I try hard to remember to greet people warmly at the door and make them feel welcome, whether they were invited guests or my children's friends stopping by. I work at trying... to keep extra food and drinks on hand. I keep frozen lemonade stocked in the freezer and have worked hard on putting together a quick meal at the spur of the moment with whatever I have on hand. Also, have learned to add to a ready to serve meal when suddenly someone drops by. Open up a jar of applesauce. Grab another loaf of bread or pkg of rolls from the freezer, etc. to stretch the meal. Bonfires are a great way to have a bunch of people over even if your house can't fit them all.

Dawnmarie:  We entertain a lot. A few small pieces of advise that I could give would be this.

1. Friends will go to visit you, not to critique your home, so try not to stress in that area.

2. Encourage people to carpool or find a nearby place where people can park and have a DD give rides to your home.

3. The more that you entertain, the easier that it can be. Being hospitable, like many things, is something that you can train yourself to be.

4. For meals, if there is not enough sit-down space for everyone, finger foods are fantastic for people to munch while standing around.

5. Relax. Do not be so busy trying to entertain that you spend the whole time being harried and do not enjoy the occasion yourself.

6. When people offer to help clean afterward...let them! It will make things easier for you later.

7. Remember that the time if for fun and fellowship, so relax and let it be just that. 8^)

Sheri:  I used to struggle at that too - now I always offer to host events, parties, and groups. Several things I learned - don't expect your house to be perfect, no one else expects that, either. Simplify your menus and do as much as you can ahead... of time to lessen the stress. Potlucks are easier so you don't have to buy everything. Use paper and plastic plates and utensils, and buy them in bulk so you'll always have them on hand. Be sure to have plenty of food - we learned the hard way that running out of food is very, very bad. I always way over-plan, and have lots of extras in my freezer that can be quickly heated up and served.

Oh, and one reason I love FlyLady - my house is never perfect, but it is usually only about 15 minutes away from being clean enough for company. My kids all know the drill as well and always pitch in to get things company ready.

Samantha:  I would gladly accept just a class of ice water offered in love.

And a wonderful note from Jan:

One Key to Unlock the Door of Hospitality
My house is too small.  They won't have a place to park.  The carpets are always dirty.  Sit on the floor?  Are you kidding me?  I can't cook.  What if I run out of things to say......

Why be hospitable?  Do people even need your caring words or actions?
Are people hurting today?  Yes.  Are they thriving or are they in survival mode?  Do they have peace or are they in need of peace?  Can you offer them a glass of water?

I'm not known for my hospitality.  My mother is a gracious person.  I don't have any excuse.....except one.  Perfection.  I want things to be perfect.  And they aren't......ever.  My desire for perfection doesn't even come from wanting to please others as much as it comes from my own pride.  Ugg.  The ugly cards are out on the table now.

Martha, just call me Martha.

But when I consider those I think about hosting I know that they need ME.  They need the love of Christ that I can share that day.  They need a loving touch or a listening ear.  They need to relax and have a moment away from the demands overwhelming their lives.  They need a meal.....any meal.  A friend recently got excited when I invited her to come over "one day soon."  I told her I wasn't sure what I'd cook.  She quickly responded, "Grilled cheese would be fine!  I just want to come visit!"  It really isn't my food she longs for, it's His food she knows she'll get!

Another friend wants to come over.  She has never been here but she likes some of the things that consume my time.  She just wants to sit and be encouraged, she wants to take a deep breath and slow her pace.

As I prepared for our wonderful fellowship yesterday with my Polish friend, Maria, I knew that I wanted the focus to be on her, not the food.  I bought some fruits, cubed some cheese and set out crackers.   We made a delicious punch and had hot coffee and tea available.  The table looked bare so I thought about buying a few pretty flowers but I didn't have a lot of time to run out and get them.  As I walked into my kitchen I saw some (old....I'm being honest now) "silk" flowers in a vase.  (I really feel like I'm using the term "silk" loosely.)  At that moment I felt God say to me, "Jan, this isn't about perfection and you have only Me to please.  Wash the old flowers, put them in a vase and set them on the table.  This day isn't about your idea of beauty.  It is about showing them My Love.  Just love."

The day was full of dark skies, strong winds, hard rain, impressive lightening and powerful thunder.  The phone began ringing as two o'clock approached and I braced myself for regrets.  Instead I had requests for:  driving instructions, permission to bring a friend, and "Is there anything you'd like me to bring?"  Everyone showed up and they were all on time!  They brought smiles, umbrellas, diaper bags, excitement and anticipation.  We all sat in my living room and compared our circle to what the early church must have been like huddled in the catacombs.  What a wonderfully glorious day it was.

They sat on the sofa, dining room table chairs (that don't match the table and were bought from an old army kitchen), the floor....even the inexpensive folding chairs I bought to use outside!  There was laughter, some tears, many hugs and prayers.  We sang aloud a few songs that have guided and strengthened Maria....and we sang them acapella.  Talk about missing perfection.  But I'm certain the angels were singing along too.

My friends (from all walks of life and many not knowing anyone else before coming over), left refreshed.  They looked more filled and complete than when they first walked in the door.  They were built up and ready to "go forth."

The kitchen was not as clean as I would have liked.  A few prep things I had planned to do never got done.  My little projects even sat in their places unashamed, waiting on me.  It was obvious.  She didn't get her whole "look" finished.

But now I know.  We weren't really going for "my look."  We were going for His look.  And since He is Perfection, what was I worried about after all?

IF He is my Boss (and He is!), then I need only concern myself with the assignments He puts before me and they are never too much or too hard.

My friends relax when I relax.  And before I know it the meal is finished and they're drying dishes and putting them in my cupboards.  (Never my intention or desire by the way!)  But they smile and say, "Wow, we're a lot alike.  I'd put my such-and-such here too if I were you."  Then we're laughing and I'm understanding that they just want to be my family for the day.

They got a lot more than nourishment at my table.  They got loved.  They felt cherished and listened to and the ride home is an easier one because they know I care about them and they have another sister looking out for them.  The harsh world is a little less harsh because they felt loved and not with a love that is superficial....but with God's love, the Perfect love.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears."  1 Corinthians 13:10
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13: 13

Be the balm that is needed, the oasis that is desired, the friend that is loving and available.

I am tossing the pride of my own need for perfection.  My Boss expects obedience, not my simple idea of excellence.

The world is in too much need to wait for us to finally get over ourselves.  Set aside personal agendas and Love One Another!  The time is nigh.

Can I count on you?
Can He count on you?
Jan aka The New Mary

So, after reading all the comments, what's my feeling on hosting people at my home now?  Well.....Just DO IT!!!!