Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Freedom's Cause The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce Audio Theater CD Review

My family and I love audio books! We love to listen to them while: I am multitasking, we have a long drive ahead of us, or there is cruddy weather and we are stuck inside. My family usually enjoys them better if they are fun and adventuresome. I believe they are better than movies because more imagination is required and lots of imagination is great for growing minds.

I love it when a story pulls you in and holds you till the very end. This is what In Freedom's Cause from Heirloom Audio Productions does. This audio production and theatrical radio drama consists of 2 and a half hours of masterful storytelling on 2 CDs recommended for ages 6-adult. I cannot say enough good things about this. Really, the presentation is very extraordinary! It brings the history to life.

This audio theater is about the epic true story of William Wallace and how he changed Scotland's history forever with his faith in God and vision for freedom with Robert the Bruce. The audio version is upbeat and engaging with themes of faith, courage, freedom, strength, perseverance, virtue, valor, determination, adventure, and heroism. You might have seen the movie Braveheart which spins a slightly different tale on William Wallace. The story is similar, but the retelling by radio theatre In Freedom's Cause is apparently more accurate. Both Braveheart and this audio theater version are based on the book by the same name as this audio program. G.A. Henty authored many historical fiction novels in the late 1800's and early 1900's, including In Freedom's Cause in 1885. The CDs follow the book by G.A. Henty fairly closely although the main protagonist is named Archie in the book and Ned in the audio adventure. There are some other changes as well, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

inside the case to In Freedom's Cause audio theater

I had some definite favorite parts of the audio drama. I loved the girl up in the tree and the goat woo part. They both made me and my family laugh. I loved how William Wallace carried around a Celtic Knot and his Psalter (Bible) and how the symbolism of these two were woven seamlessly into the story. The way William was anchored in his faith in God was awesome! I also loved that Lady Marjory was a great female character, so headstrong and brave...she reminded me of Merida in Disney's animated movie Brave. They even said she had red hair.

Along with the 2 CD audio theater set I also received many other awesome package bonus downloads. The 2 CD set also has a list of the cast on the back of the case, a pamphlet insert that has the link to the study guide and a bit about Heirloom Audio as well as some notes on the more famous of the cast, and in the center under where the pamphlet goes is The Prayer of William Wallace which is from the sacred song for King David, Psalm 23. This prayer also comes as a digital download so you can print it out as a poster to put on your wall.

In Freedom's Cause Single Package (what I am mentioning in this review) includes:
  • In Freedom's Cause (CD Set - Physical Copy + MP3 Download Version)
  • In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Digital Download)
  • In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 Download)
  • Printable copy of The Prayer Of William Wallace (Digital Download)
  • Cast of Characters Roadmap (Digital Download)
I want to also mention that Heirloom Audio was being generous to the Schoolhouse Review Crew that received this for review. We received additional bonuses other than that were supposed to be in the Single Package. The additional items may only be available if you buy the 4-pack.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew that received this for review received all of the above and these additional bonuses:
  • In Freedom's Cause eBook (Digital Download)
  • In Freedom's Cause Cast Poster (Digital Download)
  • Membership Website Access (Link)
  • Behind the Scenes Documentary (Online Showing)
I love the music and sound effects that accompany this program. The music that is used on the CDs is very lovely and is also by itself in soundtrack form as MP3 downloads. It is the original score by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell. This has some beautiful Scottish elements that I love. The sound effects make you feel like you are right there with the characters and immerses you more into what's happening.

The all-star cast in this audio book is expansive and amazing. Some of the cast consists of Joanne Froggatt as Lady Marjory (Anna in Downton Abbey), Billy Boyd as Sir John Comyn (Peregrin "Pippin" in Lord of the Rings), Skandar Keynes as Sir Allan Kerr (Edmund Pevensie in Chronicles of Narnia), Cathy Sara as Dame Forbes (Woman In Black, Topsy-Turvy), and James Cosmo as Sir Robert Gordon (Highlander, Braveheart). I also recognized the boisterous voice of Brian Blessed as G.A. Henty in this production. All of the cast's performances are wonderful and as a bonus you get a downloadable Cast of Characters Roadmap which has some background and an introduction on each of the In Freedom's Cause characters. This will help you distinguish between characters better because there are 4 different Johns you have to keep straight along with other characters that might be hard to follow. The character building is so wonderful as long as you can keep up.

There is also a study guide that has discussion points and questions to ask your children as they listen to the program. This is wonderful to use as part of a history curriculum while homeschooling. It is really easier to listen to the whole program before you do the study guide and then listen again a second time to do the study guide, in my opinion. It feels awkward to stop and start the program so many times (every 4 to 10 minutes) during play. The CDs don't have the places to stop at marked well either unless you know where the narrative takes a new turn. Each set of questions has three parts, Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are questions in the Listening Well section which are to see if you and your child are really paying attention. There are questions in the Thinking Further section that helps you understand deeper and get you and your child thinking more. The Defining Words section is a list of words that will enhance the vocabulary of your child and places more meaning for the story. Having a dictionary handy might be appropriate because the definitions are not already spelled out. At the end of the study guide is a brief history of Scotland. These notes will further understanding of what is going on and why Scotland was under England's rule. It might be best to read this first to comprehend greater. The very end of the study guide is a Bible study to go along with the study and a bibliography to delve even deeper. My children learned and understood so much more with this study guide. We used the questions and Bible study section throughout it and it made for a very lengthy, but interesting discussion session with my older kids. I am very glad that it was included. I love the scriptures it had you look up and ponder too. I do wish, however, that there was a answer guide as well to the questions, because it would make the whole thing flow better in my opinion.

We all thoroughly enjoyed In Freedom's Cause and will probably listen to it many more times. I doubt this audio book will ever get old. I also loved all the bonus extras we received and will be going through them also in more detail.

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In Freedom's Cause Review

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Portlandia Cook Book Review

I received this book free to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

If you are a fan of the hit satire TV series Potlandia by the Emmy-nominated stars and writers Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein or if you just love Portland Oregon you will love the companion cookbook which is aptly named The Portlandia Cook Book. It features local cuisine and delectable dishes from all around the Rose City.

Portland a.k.a Rose City is a food mecca! As well put in the cookbook, "The city is home to community gardens, breweries, farmer's markets,  brunch spots, salt stores, backyard chicken coops, food cart pods, artisanal ice cream parlors, co-ops, mixologists, olive-oil-ologists, ice cube artists, butcherariums, designer doughnut shops, and an unreasonable amount of thoughtfully named coffee shops." This is so true and is also why Portland is so great to catch a bite to eat especially if you love unique food fare and drinks.

Since I live moderately close to Portland Oregon I try to visit when I can. I have been to many of those thoughtfully named coffee shops, farmer's markets, food cart pods, artisanal ice cream parlors, and even some kombucha breweries. I love Portland because of all the interesting things to do, see, and eat. I am very thankful to have many friends that live in and around Portland too. After all the city hustle and bustle I retreat back to my home in Rainier to be with my horses, mini pony, llamas, bunnies, dog...and my very own backyard chicken coop (although technically it is in the front yard) with two chickens. I am a farm girl at heart and as much as I also love the city, I need my wide open spaces and rolling hills to come back to.

If you want to bring a little bit of Portland Oregon's cuisine home with you wherever you may be The Portlandia Cook Book is the perfect cookbook to get. With 50 delicious recipes for every food lover a.k.a. foodie, freegan, organic farmer, and food truck diehard this fun cookbook has something for everyone. The recipes are made up of five sections; Small Plates, Main Courses, Desserts, Drinks, and Brunch. Given at the beginning of most of the recipes is serving sizes, prep time, and total time till done. The recipes are accompanied by mouth watering full-color photographs and illustrations. Tucked into the pages there are also funny stories and sidebars from the characters of Portlandia (such as Mr. Mayor, Peter and Nance, and even Colin the chicken).

My kids and I had fun shaping Pretzel Knots from The Portlandia Cook Book.

I had so much fun reading this cookbook! I laughed and laughed so much. Besides humor The Portlandia Cook Book has a lot of yummy sounding recipes. We tried the Pretzel Knots which is not really a recipe, but more of a work of art. My kids had fun shaping and baking them. Next I think I would love to try the Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Tagliata with Artichoke Salad, Fruit Semifreddo, Mango Lassi Smoothie, and/or Red Flannel Hash with Poached Eggs, Smoked Salmon, & Horseradish. I admit that not all the ingredients in this cookbook are readily found, especially if you do not live in Portland, but substitutes can be made. I have made this a honorary member of my kitchen and plan to use it often. Great as a coffee table book as well for a conversation starter piece. This book is a must have if you want to cook like a local!


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Blogging For Books for sending me this book for free to review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

Monday, February 23, 2015

IndoctriNation Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America DVD Review

IndoctriNation by Great Commission Films is a documentary that is about public schools and the decline of Christianity in America. In this documentary Colin Gunn takes his homeschooled family across the United States in a school bus that was purchased off of Craigslist. While on this educational tour he stops many different places to try and answer many questions about public education:
  • The hotly debated question among Christian parents: should we protect our children by withdrawing them from the public schools or should we leave them in the system to try to influence schools for the better?
  • Who established the American public school system?
  • Are my kids physically and morally safe in the schools?
  • Are the public schools religiously neutral?
  • Should Christians try to be "salt and light" in public schools?
  • Can the public school system be fixed or redeemed?

Lately there has been a rise in sexual sin, abortions, drug & alcohol abuse, and violence in public schools. It doesn't come to me as a surprise when Christianity has been banned from the public schools. When Christ is taken out of schools morality seems to be thrown out the window. The Bible and Christ's teachings about morals and values should be a key foundation to education. This foundation is broken when God, Christ, and Biblical teachings are removed. Things just start to crumble.

If you go far back in history you will see that America started with clear Christian convictions and practices. Government's involvement was a minimal part of education. It was the family's and church's responsibility, not the responsibility of the civil government to educate their youth. Homeschooling was never considered alternative education. It is so unfortunate that government run public schools have a history of trying to replace the church and family with state and are largely successful.

I grew up going to public school. I remember saying the pledge of allegiance with my peers in the morning at school. The words Under God in the pledge was a wonderful reminder to me that God was ever present and watching over me throughout the day. I remember one school I went to had taken those words completely out of the pledge because of some students whose parents were atheist and had pressured the school board to do so. This was a school I remember that had more problems than any of the others I had gone to. I am glad that I had a firm foundation in Christ growing up, because his beautiful teachings saved me from so much peer pressure to do wrong. So many of my peers unfortunately were so impressionable that they fell into temptation. Because I had a firm foundation in Christ I tried to be a shining example to my peers to resist sin. One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Matthew 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. I was trying so hard to be the salt and the light, but it was a difficult struggle because I also wanted to fit in at school. I am glad that I made the decision early out that fitting in was not as important as doing what was right.

My decision to homeschool my children was in part because of my experiences with public school and also because I wanted them to gain a greater understanding of Christ's teachings. I am thankful that I still have a choice to homeschool and that this right has not been taken from me. I am glad that I got to watch this documentary and learn some more history behind the government run public school system. This movie is a powerful testimony of why we need to homeschool our children! It is also a documentary that will open your eyes about public education.

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IndoctriNation DVD Review

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Memorial Planting of a Tree

We lost our goat suddenly to illness on the 9th of February.

We buried our goat and planted a tree out in the field to remember him by. We will miss Goatee/Hedge, as my children fondly called him.