Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bonus WW! That Time I Got Free Foundation!

So I got this incredible box from Influenster with the Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation and the Ultra HD Stick Foundation. The colors are an amazing match (I got the lightest in each - duh). It's $86 in free foundation. What's not to love...well, the foundation. Sad, sad day. I don't have oily skin (dry, actually, thank you thyroid), but when I use the foundation stick, my skin looks oily within a few hours. The Ultra HD liquid foundation just doesn't have enough coverage for this old lady. My rosacea is so much better these days, but I still have freckles and, well, darker freckles around my eyes (you may, if you are rude, call them age spots) and I crave a full coverage foundation. The finish of this one is beautiful, but it's just made for someone else I'm afraid. This isn't a review, just my initial-ish thoughts. I've only used a synthetic brush. Maybe a beauty blender is the way to go...

FTC - I received these products free in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation.

Wordless Wednesday with Uncle Eric

My favorite of our current read alouds. I think it will really help the kids with LD. It's just kind of funny that they actually have an Uncle Eric...

Review of Heirloom Audio Productions' The Cat of Bubastes

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
Heirloom Audio Productions puts out the best audio theater for homeschoolers, so I was really excited to be able to review The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty! All Michael (11) had to see was that Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor) was part of the cast to know that he wanted to listen to this one! Given that The Cat of Bubastes was one of the first books I read when we began homeschooling, I, too, was anxious to hear the audio production (I say production, because you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that this is an audio book. It's not. This is a full-on immersive audio experience. You really have to try it to believe it. Fortunately, clicking on the link above will give you a small sample!).

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Sylvester McCoy is not the only amazing actor in this star-studded cast. I never cease to be amazed by the talent Heirloom Audio accumulates for its productions. These are not your run-of-the-mill voice actors: these are bona fide movie stars. You will begin listening to The Cat of Bubastes, and you won't stop until it's over around two hours later.

In addition to the wonderful two-disc audio drama, Heirloom Audio Productions also sent us so many awesome bonuses! Michael was happiest with the MP3 downloads (including the soundtrack!), because that meant he could have The Cat of Bubastes on his phone to listen to anytime, anywhere. We also received the most beautiful pdf copy of the book itself. This copy is certainly more beautiful than the one I first read ten years ago! Here's a peek:

We also received unlimited access to the "Live the Adventure" Letter E-Newsletter, which uses news, articles, and lessons to bring Christian history to life. 

A beautiful poster with 1 Chronicles 17:20 was also provided, which was truly providential, given that we are reading through 1 Chronicles right now! A second poster comes in the form of a printable cast poster (part of which I snipped above). I know that Michael would love to have this one on his wall. 

The download that would probably be most useful for many families (apart from the MP3s) is the comprehensive study guide. For each track of the disc, there are three sections on the study guide: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There is also frequently a section called "Expand Your Learning" that provides greater background information about something in the story, such as Egyptian language, flora, or fauna. Again, like with book pdf, the study guide itself is gorgeous:

The final bonus sent to us was a "Behind the Scenes" video on the making of the audio drama. I love things like this, and my kids really enjoyed seeing all that goes into the making of a production like this one. It really is unbelievable. It takes a small army to make the story come to life. It is so worth it, though. I can confidently say that Michael, especially (the child who is most like me - among my younger three - in his love of audio productions of all kinds), far prefers productions like this to movies. He loves everything that comes from Heirloom Audio Productions. Like me, he can't wait to see what they come out with next!

If for any reason Ancient Egypt isn't your thing, I strongly encourage you to check out their full catalog. I can guarantee they will have something you will love. You don't want to miss out on their offerings! Don't take my word for it, though. Click the banner below to see what my Crew mates have to say!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beginning of the Year...Stuff

It's already that time of year where I can't remember what it felt like to have free time, except we have added more activities this year, so I *really* can't remember what free time felt like! I can't remember what it felt like, but I know I miss it...

You know, I wonder how many people actually have that real friend who they can call when they are despairing - when everything is going to hell in a hand basket and when they feel like they have no one to turn to. I know some people have that person for sure, but I do find myself wondering if such a friend is an urban legend. 

I have always taught my kids (like other parents do) that life isn't fair and that there is absolutely no point in wishing it otherwise. I have never tried to parent them "fairly," because they each have very different personalities and very different needs. For some of my kids, I can see that lesson paying off. Therese suffered an injustice last week. There's no point in going into it, but she got screwed. She was really upset for a few days. Then she picked herself up, enumerated the good aspects of the situation, realized that it was the way it was and she wasn't going to be able to change it, and she got on with her life. She's fine now. 

I don't have SAD, in fact, I love the winter. I love short days and long, cold nights. I do get SAD to the extent that getting back into the swing of not being home always brings me down, though (introvert problems!). The solution to that problem is just not to wallow in it. I know that depression is a clinical condition. With my family history, how could I not? I also know, though, that so much related to feelings is a *decision*. That's one reason I get so irritated when people say things like, "I just wasn't in love with him anymore" as a rationale for divorce. Love may start out as a feeling, but its continuation is a decision. Similarly, sadness is a legitimate feeling. Deciding whether or not to indulge it is just that - a decision. We are not ruled by our feelings. That's why I don't buy the argument (regarding sex) that kids are going to do it anyway - let's give them all the condoms they can carry and wish them well. We have mastery over our feelings. We decide when and how much to indulge them. We can (and should) acknowledge them, but we should never allow them mastery over our lives. If they *are* taking over our lives (any feelings), we need professional help. 

I realize I'm probably babbling - it's just that last week was a hard one with a few things happening both to Therese and me that made us, well, sad. We both realized independently, though, that we don't have time to be sad. Life marches on. We acknowledge our sadness and then ask ourselves what we are going to do about it. In many cases, you can sit around thinking and talking and writing poetry about how sad you are, or you can get up and join the human race and live your life proactively. Make things happen. Offer up your sadness and get over yourself. I only wish I had enough time to sit around thinking about how sad I am! I barely have enough time to write this blog post!

N.B., I'm not talking about people who are sad because of a legitimate life event, like the death of a loved one. I'm talking about people who give into that impulse that nags at your brain that says, "you're sad - aren't you sad? Do you realize you feel sad?" Really, I'm talking to melancholics like myself. We have to fight that impulse all the time, but fight it we really must, or we will become absolutely insufferable to live with. I can't even stand myself when I succumb to that voice. 

Funnily enough, another thing I always tell my kids is that nothing good ever comes of being angry. I say that because, well, I have a bad temper! I should listen to myself. I lost my temper (which is rarer these days, thanks be to God) and screamed at Nicholas. I scratched my throat in the process (or did something that makes it hard to talk without needing to drink constantly). Too bad I have to give a 20-30 minute talk tonight. Joke's on me...

Back to our regularly scheduled day...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review of Armfield Academic Press

Therese (15) has expressed an interest in learning French for awhile, so having the opportunity to review Armfield Academic Press's Getting Started with French was perfect for her! What was even more perfect from both of our perspectives was the fact that these lessons, particularly those at the beginning of the book, are very short and easy and are designed to be completed in only minutes. What could be better than Therese getting to learn to French without it interfering in any meaningful way with her other subjects?

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
Getting Started with French is a book designed specifically for homeschoolers (and self-taught students), which could be one of the major reasons that it slips so well into your existing curriculum plan. I know that one reason that I have been hesitant to let Therese pursue her interest in French is that I didn't think she had room for it in her schedule, but with Armfield Academic Press, she does.

Getting Started with French is a 281 page softcover book, about 8.5" x 11". It contains 172 lessons, a short introduction explaining how to use the book, a short page of advice on how to continue the study of French, a comprehensive answer key, a pronunciation guide, a glossary, and a subject index. Although it may be tempting to jump right into the lessons when you first get the book, especially given the brevity of them, resist! The section titled "How To Use This Book" is critical. It is full of great information and tells exactly how the book should be used to its fullest effect. It also tells how to find and download the accompanying free pronunciation recordings and audio commentary of the book's authors. It's truly the best of both worlds. You can move at your own pace and teach yourself, but help is truly right at your fingertips (or your earbuds). You aren't at the mercy of your own ability to interpret a written pronunciation guide. I really enjoy this method of learning. Once you've settled into the program, it is suggested that you devote about 30 minutes a day to it.

Therese and Getting Started with French

The way Therese typically likes to do many of her school subjects is by binging: she will do days and even weeks worth of work at one time. She likes to get in the zone of a subject and stay there. That method is especially tempting with a course like this one where the lessons are very short. The authors specifically caution against that, though. Because it is necessary to internalize a foreign language, to marinate in it, it really is most effective to only do one lesson per day. As I indicated previously, though, that's actually better for her schedule. It's nice when everything conspires to give your child what she needs anyway!

Each lesson proceeds in the same way. First, you learn the new word for the lesson, listening to the pronunciation guide (spoken by a native speaker) to make sure that you are pronouncing the word correctly. Next, you read the grammatical information in the lesson, listening to the audio commentary in order to most fully understand how the French language actually works in practice. In many lessons translation exercises come next. One can choose to do them mentally or to write them down. Then, the authors stress the importance of verbal practice, or French conversation. After all, the best way to really learn a language is to speak it. Finally comes French Composition, or the art of translating English to French. In order to do this, the authors suggest using the answer key to translate the English translations of the French exercises back into French. This curriculum really is all-encompassing!

I really appreciate the simplicity of Getting Started with French. It is thorough but gentle. It includes everything you need without requiring you to purchase a huge expensive curriculum package. The audio downloads are a wonderful (free!) addition. This curriculum is proof that you can incorporate language study into your day without it becoming either invasive or a hassle.

If you don't want to study French, don't worry! You can also select from Getting Started with Latin or Getting Started with Spanish! Getting Started with Russian is also in the works! I like this method enough that I will likely check out one of these other books (as French is not really my language of choice). Also, don't forget to click the banner below to see how other Crew families are using Getting Started with French!

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


The other food craving I've been having/indulging lately is smoothies. I typically make them thusly:

  • Frozen fruit (any mixture)
  • 1 banana
  • Protein Powder
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Spinach or spring mix
  • Almond milk with coconut
If I eat (drink) this mid-morning, I'm typically full until dinner. It is *so* good. You don't taste the green stuff at all (and I put in a lot). It helps solve two problems for me: I don't like to eat breakfast and I sometimes forget to eat lunch (especially once the school year gets going). It doesn't hurt that it tastes *really* good!