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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


by: Kathleen Basmadjian, PhD 
& Robert K. Basmadjuan Jr.

I received the physical book for review.
Price:  $14.99 

What Is This? -

This is a short story about a young modern day boy, named Abraham.  He sets out to achieve the American dream with his strong faith and great imagination.  

The story takes place during the Great Recession.  When his parents recently lost their jobs, they were struggling and fell short of  buying Christmas gifts for Abraham and his little sister.  Abraham feels bad for his sister and is very troubled.  He wants to help with the problem, but how can he help? 

So while Abraham is in his room on his smart phone trying to find out from his friends how he can make some extra money to help his family, Abraham Lincoln starts chatting with him!  Mr. Lincoln brings the boy into the cyber world to show him how to help save his family this Christmas.  

Abraham sets out into the cyber world with Mr. Lincoln himself to find a way to help his family and also learn what it means to live the American Dream.  Along the way, Abraham meets other famous people in history as well.  He meets Mr. Norman Rockwell, Amelia Earhart, a preacher named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and Mr. Bill & Melinda Gates. 

Read the rest of the story to learn how he helps his family and what he learns about the American Dream along his journey into the cyber world.

What I Thought -

I would say the recommended age for this book would be 3'rd-6'th grade in my opinion.  The book is filled with colorful illustrations.

I read this to my 9 yr. old son.  I thought this book brought up some great points we used for discussion.  For example, living the American Dream doesn't mean wealth.  It means being creative, being determined, finding one's talent and being able to help others when they need it.  Also being in a place financially to help others is a blessing.  I'm not sure if my 9 yr. old understood the whole 'bringing people into the cyber world', but I do think the important points that were being taught were absorbed.  It taught many virtues and that everyone has talent in something, we just have to find it.

My 14 yr. old read this story as well.  I think he was a bit too old for the book.  But I did ask him what he got out of it.

My 14 yr. old's response, "Everyone can achieve the American Dream.  Everyone has the opportunity to have a successful life if they desire."


I did like that in the back of the book was a section with 'definition of terms' and some character biographies of the famous people talked about in this book.  My youngest son didn't know who Mr. & Mrs. Gates were or Mr. Mark Zuckerberg.  It was nice to have easy access to that information right at my fingertips to read to him.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

College Common Sense TOS Review


Going to College and Paying For I

Online Video & Workbook 

dvd online


Price: $25.00 for 12 month log in access.


      They also offer an actual DVD and workbook for $50.00 (plus $5.00 shipping & handling).



What is it? -


This is a series of videos and workbooks created to help educate families step by step on how to prepare and pay for college.  I received the online video and workbook series to review.  I also signed up for FREE lesson plans The videos links & workbooks come in pdf format.  You print them and place them in a 3 ring binder.  So you will need the following: access to the internet, a printer, a 3 ring binder (or other folder form), paper & a pencil. 


The online course comes in seven sections:



The Big Picture

How Financial Aid Works

All About the Free Money

The System That Works

You in the Process

Pull It All Together



The site offers a free monthly newsletter as well.



Denise Ames has worked in Texas in the Financial Aid office for over 10 years.  She herself tells you everything you need to know step by step in this video series.  Although this series is recommended for teenagers, Denise does suggest having your 6-12 yr. old watch as well to grasp the information.


Click here to watch an introduction video Denise Ames has created and placed on youtube. 

This program encourages parents and teaches your child how to be responsible in finding money to help pay for their college education.  She talks directly to the student (child) to educate them.  She stresses that it is their responsibility to make sure they do what is needed to help get money for college.  


There are 6 videos (plus the introduction) and corresponding workbooks.  These workbooks will give you important concepts and exercises for your child to do.  The workbook sections can be printed so you can have them while watching the videos.  It is suggested that you, the parent, follow along while your child watches the videos. Each section is around 15-25 minutes long.  


With colleges having hundreds and even thousands of new students coming into them, they cannot possibly tell each family what they need to do to help pay for their child's education.  This is why Denise created this course for families.  



What I thought -


We (my high schooler and I) watched and used this course together.  



It answered many different questions that we had.  

*  Where do I find scholarship information?

*  How old do my children have to be before they can apply for a scholarship?

*  Who offers scholarships in my state?

*  What is a FAFSA?


  It also opened my sons eyes to what he can expect in order to apply and earn money for college.  There is a lot of FREE money out there for children to apply for.  This course shows you where to look to find it.


I like that the course is geared toward the student to make them aware and become responsible for their education so it doesn't all fall on the parent(s).  It also gave me a clear idea of what my son plans to do and his thoughts on going to college.  


A wonderful point that Denise Ames spoke about is the importance of starting out your life in college without any college debt.  I personally know several people who are in their mid 30's still paying their college debt and a few aren't even working in that profession anymore!  It was good to hear someone so professional talking about these young adults staying out of debt if all possible.  This goes along with the concept that we, personally, teach our children.  If you cannot pay cash for it, don't buy it.  Having no college debt may not work for everyone, but making it a goal is a great idea!



We did find the information a bit overwhelming at first.  But in all fairness, this is our first child we'd be sending off to college.  I would think every parent involved in this process feels a bit overwhelmed at first.  We also homeschool our children, so the part of the 'guidance counselor' also falls on us.  When a child is in public school the guidance counselor has most of the scholarship information for the student and the information he/she needs to apply.  This course taught us how to find that information and what to do with it.  We now have a much better outlook on what is to come with our children and their college path.


Overall, I found this to be very informative.  I would highly recommend this to any parent with a child who has college interest in their future.



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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home Economics with construction?

We have been doing some construction in our house lately.  My high schooler enjoys doing this kind of work but I was reluctant at first due to his schooling.  Being in high school he needs to earn a certain amount of credits in order to graduate.  But after thinking about it, I decided that Home Ec./construction is very important as well.  He is earning credit hours in this course already this year, but this would definitely be a learning experience!

In the picture above, my son is helping us build a homeschool / office area onto the back of our home.  He learned to use the nailgun to nail the flooring boards in place.  He also has been been learning to paint, lay paper under the hardwood floor.  He even has helped install our hardwood flooring! 

Even my younger son helped with re-building our stair railing upstairs!  They both worked together as a team and accomplished the job!

I am so proud of them.  I know I made the right decision on letting my high schooler participate instead of sitting at the table doing his bookwork!  He has learned more in one week than he would have in a whole semester in public school shop class! 

And as far as my younger son, he is learning so much at such a young age! 

I am so proud of both these boys and how hard they worked and how much pride they took in their jobs!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The egg slam!

Well, it was that time of year again.  Our local library celebrated our "100'th Day of Homeschooling Celebration".  This is our third year doing this event and my 9 yr. old always does some kind of project.  This year we decided to do an experiment.  He didn't want to do any of the talking so the wonderful mom I am (who by the way....absolutely hates public speaking) did the talking for him.

We took 2 zip baggies.  One baggy we placed a raw egg in and zipped it closed.
The other baggy we placed an egg, filled with water, and then zipped.  The experiment is to show how God made our brains and skulls with lots of protection.  He placed liquid between our brain and our skulls so it can absorb any hard blows we may endure.  How genius is our Lord?  He is amazing! 

I explained this to the group of children, then my son took the baggy with the raw egg in it and slammed it on the ground!  Of course this egg is supposed to break showing that without liquid between our brain and skull, our brains would be hurt, bruised, etc.  Well, for those who don't know my son...he is an extreme handful!  lol.  He, so very 'He-Man' like, not only smashed the egg, but the baggy broke!  We had egg all over the floor.  Yes, this is my life....everyday. 

Then, my son took the other baggy with the egg & water and slammed it to the ground!  Again, the baggy broke on impact but this time the water was spilling everywhere. Now, the mom that I am, made some provisions in this experiment that I didn't let my son in on.  I boiled that egg to make sure the experiment would flow correctly.  So when the egg didn't break everyone was in ahhhh.  At that point, my 'He-man' like son grabbed the egg and says, "Hey, this is boiled"!  Yep, I was busted. 

The experiment ended up working out just fine and the kids got a good laugh, but this is my life with my 9 yr. old.  It is always full of surprises, excitement and un-deserved stress.  I love him dearly.  He keeps me on my toes all the time.  He is like no other, and I love him completely!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fruits of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

As adults, we need to not only memorize the fruits but use them in everyday life.  
Do you teach your children the Fruits of the Spirit?  
Here is a great printable for you to teach your child the Fruits of the Spirit.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Apologia Anatomy & Physiology TOS Crew Review


  This is a TOS Crew Review for Apologia's  
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Textbook, Anatomy Notebooking Journal and MP3 Audio Book.
by: Jeannie K. Fulbright and Brooke Ryan, M.D.

I received all three of these items for review.

Texbook- recommended for grades 4-6
Anatomy Notebooking Journal - recommended for grades 3-6 or for students who have mastered handwriting, can take notes, and enjoy upper elementary level activities.

Apologia does offer a 'junior' notebooking journal as well for the younger children who have not mastered the note taking, handwriting, etc for the same price.

Textbook - $39.00 Nice hardcover textbook.
Anatomy Notebooking Journal - $24.00  Consumable/spiral notebook
MP3 Audio Book - $29.00

Textbook ISBN: 978-1-935495-14-7
Anatomy Notebooking Journal
ISBN: 978-1-935495-15-4
MP3 Audio Book - ISBN: 978-1-935495-83-3

What Is This? -

This is an anatomy & physiology course in the Exploring Creation series from Apologia.  It explores the human body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes!  It explores the history of medicine, explains DNA, your cells, your body systems and so much more!  It shows how carefully and detailed God created our bodies.  This textbook is a nice hardcover filled with wonderful colorful illustrations.

It course contains 14 lessons.  This textbook has lesson plans to guide you.  Most lessons can be divided into 2 week segments.  (You are able to use this without the notebooking journal if desired.  But you'll want to  have a notebook of some kind to document what you have learned.)  You would read part of the lesson one day, and then another day do the assignments, projects and experiments.

The notebooking journal has lesson plans with additional activities for you to incorporate into the textbook lessons.  For example, they have 'cut and fold miniature books' to make, vocabulary crossword puzzles, field trip sheets, scripture copywork and much much more!  Depending on your family and ages of your children, you may take more time to accommodate your families needs than the lesson plan suggests for each lesson.

Each lesson has an experiment to do.  There is a list in the front of the textbook that shows the items needed for each lesson / experiment.

The experiments utilize household products that most homes already have and other basic supplies.  They do however require some supplies through specific sources.  They offer a science kit for this.  But keep in mind, you do not have to do every experiment, although they do recommend that you do a few to become familiar with the scientific method however.  A Scientific Speculation Sheet is provided for you in the front of the book to document all the experiments. (You are allowed to copy this for your family to use for all the experiments you do with the course.)

They offer a course website to dig even deeper into each lesson. The text has the course website and password in the front of the book for easy access.

The MP3 Audio Book is for your child to listen to an audio of the textbook on his/her MP3 player, computer or CD player.  Note: This is not a CD-Rom for your computer; it is an audio only.  This is wonderful for students who are auditory learners, slow readers, or other learning disabilities that make reading difficult.  It is also a great accompaniment to the textbook.

About the company -
Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc., is a family-owned corporation and was created by parents who wanted their children to have an creation based education that would deepen their Christian faith. The company offers K-12 creation-based science curriculum, inspirational books about homeschooling, retreats for moms, and online classes from Apologia Academy.  They even offer college classes in their Apologia Academy!

How we used this course & What I thought-

One of the wonderful things I really like about this course is that you can adjust the lesson plans to your families needs.  Apologia is great for this!  Lets face it, things come up.  For our family, to follow a formal lesson plan is very stressful for us.  So I was able to tweak the lesson plans to accommodate my 9 yr. olds needs.  For example, we took two days for reading including some activities as well.  The third day we did one of the bigger activities and the experiment.  So we used this textbook and journal three times a week most of the time.  However, some weeks, when we didn't have such a busy activity calendar, we used it everyday!  There is so much to do and you as the parent can determine which projects, experiments, etc. you want to do.  My son loves the experiments in this course and is learning so much!  I am learning a few things too! ;)  We incorporated the MP3 CD in when I would be called away to take a phone call or something of that nature.  This was very easy to use.  Our MP3 players are never around when we need them, so we just popped the CD into our computer and pressed play on the section we were on! 

There isn't really anything I didn't like about the course.  Although, I do have to say that I found it a bit overwhelming for my son in the that very first lesson.  That first lesson is all about 'cells' and he seemed like he wasn't really understanding what we were covering.  Even though they do have great explanations in the textbook, I just felt some things were a bit above his level.  That is just my opinion, so I would suggest no younger than grade 4.  As homeschoolers we know that every child is different, so your child may not have any issue with understanding.  Being in my 9'th year of homeschooling, I know that even if they don't grasp the context entirely, they are listening.  They will understand it at some point.  So I don't sweat it when one of my children doesn't quite 'get it' when first introduced.  

This course is recommended for high elementary & middle school ages children, but I could easily see a high schooler doing this course and receiving a full credit in Anatomy & Physiology!  You could always incorporate more writing assignments, essays or even research assignments as well.  Remember, the textbook has a course website for further research to dig in deeper to each lesson (as mentioned above in the description of this course).  In fact, my 10'th grader kept asking questions and trying to participate during our lessons.  This may be something he incorporates into his studies as well.

This would be wonderful for a large family!  If you have younger children than grade 4 and wanted them to do the course, they can do some of the color pages in the junior notebooking journal while mom reads to them.  This is great for the homeschool mom who wants to teach one subject to all her children (of several ages) at one time!

We both enjoy this course so much!  We are still using this and plan to finish it this schoolyear.  Our favorite part of this course is that the textbook has sections in each lesson called 'Try This'.  It is a little activity to do to help the student understand the lesson and to help them visualize what is being taught in the text.  The picture below is one of those 'Try This' section activities.  We are demonstrating how your brain has fluid between it and your skull.  We did this demonstration for our "100'th Day of Homeschool Celebration" at our local library.

Our family personally loves Apologia!  We have used several of their textbooks, CD's, etc.  My 10'th grader is currently using the Biology textbook and absolutely loves it!  Apologia offers so much more than the normal science curricula does with the Biblical Creation teachings.

Bottom Line -

I highly recommend this to any family who wants to deepen their Christian faith and have a great time learning about science and the human body in depth!

A big A+ to Apologia once again!


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse 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. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No grumbling or complaining!

I teach a children's ministries class (ages 3-7yrs. old) on Wed. night at our local church.  The lesson for tonight was from Philippians.

Philippians 2:14
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings."

We (including myself) forget that this does include adults.  ;)
I for one am a complainer at times.  I do not like to be cold for example, so when our house is chilli, I start complaining.  Recently I have been catching myself and stating aloud the positives of the situation.  I come up with them and then thank the Lord for them.  Just tonight, when I was chilli, confessed with my mouth to the Lord, "Thank you Lord for my warm home, bed and pillow to lay my head".  This helps remind me and my children on how we need to be thankful for what we DO have instead of what we do NOT have. 

Here are a few I have been dealing with lately.

Complaint:                                                                 Thankful for:

My emergency / spare cash is getting low.                    I HAVE an cash fund.
I didn't get through our homeschool lessons today.      I am able to homeschool.
My closet is too full and small.                                      I have lots of clothes wear.
My laundry is backed up.                                             I have loved ones living me.
I hate doing dishes.                                                       I had food to eat today.

See, it's not very hard once you get in the routine of it.  

So my challenge for you this week is for every complaint or negative in your life, exchange it with a positive and thank the Lord God for it!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is always FREE!


The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has some great articles, advice & always FREE!

Click the picture above to read or download for FREE!

Are you looking for a new curriculum for your children?  
Don't forget to check out TOS reviews inside!