Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions: With Lee in Virginia Audio Theater CD Review

My family had the privilege of listening to With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

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 audio books require more imagination which is great for growing minds.

With Lee in Virginia is Heirloom Audio's 3rd dramatization which is adapted from a novel by George Alfred Henty. G.A. Henty authored many historical fiction novels in the late 1800's and early 1900's, including With Lee in Virginia in 1890. All three are from Heirloom Audio's series known as The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty. 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 historical audio theater takes a 15 year old fictional character by the name of Vincent Wingfield on an adventure he will never forget as he joins the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia to fight alongside many of the most famous Confederate generals, including Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee in the American Civil War between the north and the south. The audio version is upbeat and engaging with themes of faith, courage, freedom, strength, devotion, duty, perseverance, virtue, valor, determination, adventure, loyalty, trials, adversity, and heroism. This story has both fictional and truth to it. We learn about true events that actually happened in the war and the disposition of the men that fought. I loved learning about how General Robert E. Lee was such a God-fearing man and how he was respected by General Ulysses S. Grant even though they were fighting on opposite sides. We are taken through different battles and events where there are feelings of joy, loss, sorrow, despair, hardship, victory, defeat, hope, discouragement, affliction, regret, and love. This is a wonderful Christian audio drama that shows how these men looked to God to help them take a stand for their country and their fellow man.

inside the case to With Lee in Virginia audio theater

I thought that the portrayal of slavery in this was very well done. There were people on both sides of the war that felt that having slaves wasn't right. Some slaves were treated worse than others as well. They quote the bible verse of Exodus 21:16, "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." many times throughout the program. I thought it was definitely interesting that there are verses in the Bible that condemn the act of slavery.

I had some definite favorite parts of the Christian radio theatre. I loved it when they prayed before battle and Robert E. Lee joined in their prayer. I also loved how Robert E. Lee sat down with the main character and told him his quote when Vincent was feeling discouraged. I thought it interesting that even when Robert E. Lee was defeated he was still respected by his enemies because of his faith and perseverance.

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 inspirational quote from Robert E. Lee that he actually wrote in a letter to his son. This quote also comes as a digital download so you can print it out as a poster to put on your wall. The images on the cover and inside the CD case are actual images from The Civil War, courtesy of The Library of Congress.

With Lee in Virginia Single Package (what I am mentioning in this review) includes:
  • With Lee in Virginia (CD Set - Physical Copy + MP3 Download Version)
  • With Lee in Virginia Study Guide (Digital Download)
  • With Lee in Virginia Soundtrack (MP3 Download)
  • Printable copy of The Quote Of Robert E. Lee (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 are 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:
  • With Lee in Virginia eBook (Digital Download)
  • With Lee in Virginia Cast Poster (Digital Download)
  • Newsletter Website (Link)
I love the music and sound effects that accompany this program. The music that is used on the CDs is spirited and is also by itself in soundtrack form as MP3 downloads. It is the original score by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell (of Narnia). The foley sound effects make you feel like you are right there with the characters and immerses you more into what's happening. I loved the horse noises and the water noises when they went into the boat. They were very realistic.

The all-star cast in this audio book is expansive and amazing. Some of the cast consists of Sean Astin as Gen. Jeb Stuart (Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Kirk Cameron as Gen. Stonewall Jackson (Fireproof, Left Behind), Chris Anthony as Mary Lee (Adventures in Odyssey produced by Focus on the Family), ​Kelsey Lansdowne as Lucy Kingston (Curious George, Adventures in Odyssey), Jim Weiss as Gen. Johnston (Greathall Productions). I also recognized the boisterous voice of Brian Blessed (Star Wars, Tarzan, King Lear) as G.A. Henty in this production.

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 study guide does have the places to stop at marked in the guide so you know where the narrative takes a new turn.

At the beginning of the study guide there are brief descriptions about G.A. Henty, General Robert E. Lee, and General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. It also has a quote from "Stonewall" Jackson and a map to help you navigate the areas that were referenced in the story. This helps those of us that don't know our geography perfectly.

Each set of questions in the study guide 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 there are five main parts. The first gives us a recommended reading list for learning more on Lee and his faith. Then there are two Bible Studies: one on Duty and one on Love Your Enemy. Lastly there is a Note On Sectionalism and a bit about Slavery In The Bible.

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 an answer guide as well to the questions, because it would make the whole thing flow better in my opinion.

This was a very good production and my family enjoyed listening to it thoroughly. It is not very often that we get to hear about the men who were on the losing side of the story. It is humbling, really that sometimes what we want to have happen isn't always what God has in store for us and that we have to always keep our faith in Him no matter what.
Three options to choose from: Download version for $19.97, Single Version for $29.97, and the Family Four Pack for $99.97.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Climbing Trees

Monday Jaedan fell out of a tree he was climbing, dislocated his arm and fractured his left elbow.

Playing Dungeons & Dragons to take his mind off the pain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pizza Ranch Living Hope Album Review and Giveaway

I received this CD free from FlyBy Promotions to facilitate this review and another free to giveaway below to my readers.

I just heard about a place to go and eat some really good pizza called the Pizza Ranch. I haven't tried their food yet because they are unfortunately not local to me, but everyone I have talked to that has eaten there has liked their food and service. Now I wish there was one of these restaurants closer to me so that I might be able to try them out. Here is a little bit more about them...

About Pizza Ranch:
Adrie Groeneweg had a dream that started in Hull, IA, in 1981, when he was just 19 years old. It was simple. Why does everyone have to drive out of town to get a pizza? With just six specialty and single topping pizza recipes developed by Adrie's mother, Lorraine, Pizza Ranch was born. Pizza Ranch's vision and mission is to glorify God by positively impacting the world and to give every guest a legendary experience. They have 190+ locations across 13 states including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

From Adrie Groeneweg, President & CEO of Pizza Ranch, Inc.: "This album has a very special meaning for Pizza Ranch. Although Pizza Ranch is not in the music business, many things have been happening, conversations have been taking place and doors have been opening for this album. Through these events, I believe it was obvious that God has been behind this for His specific purpose and putting it on our hearts to collectively create this project. As such, we call this our miracle album, Living Hope."

I love Christian music! It lifts me up throughout my day, carries me through tough times, and lets me praise God through music. I love listening to new-to-me artists and the Living Hope CD from Pizza Ranch has some of these as well as familiar voices.

About Living Hope:
On June 2, 2015, Pizza Ranch released a CD called Living Hope containing twelve songs from many of their favorite Christian artists. Most of the songs are brand-new and written exclusively for this CD around the theme of Hope. Artists include Colton Dixon, Francesca Batistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Sidewalk Prophets, Kevin Max, Bart Millard, Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill, Michael W. Smith, and Mark Schultz.

My Thoughts:
Pizza Ranch's new album that they put together is great. I love the CD! It has a menagerie of Christian artists on it and a wide variety of different genre of Christian music. I love the diverseness of it. My favorite song is the first one on the CD, Future, by Francesca Battistelli. Blind and My All In All are both great songs with some rock behind them. Hold On To Hope is folk music with a bit of a country twang. Savior's Arms is praise music. Overcome the World is contemporary praise music. Panic Button gives me an 80's flashback because of its instrumentals and vocals. Hope of Heaven is praise music from an artist I know and love that I have reviewed about before. Till I Met You has some very pretty piano and strings from a contemporary Christian artist with a really pretty voice. A Little Hope reminds me a lot like the song by Jason Mraz in technique because of its Brazilian feel. What Are You Waiting For is contemporary Christian with a bit of a rock beat. Day One is another contemporary Christian artist I know and love and is a song you can clap along to. I also love that the CD comes with a insert that has the lyrics of each song in it so I can sing along! This is the perfect CD to worship God while in the car driving around this summer!

  1. Future ~ Francesca Battistelli 
  2. Blind ~ Colton Dixon 
  3. My All In All ~ Phil Wickham 
  4. Hold Onto Hope ~ Ellie Holcomb 
  5. Savior's Arms ~ Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill
  6. Overcome The World ~ Mark Schultz 
  7. Panic Button ~ Kevin Max 
  8. Hope of Heaven ~ Michael W. Smith 
  9. Till I Met You ~ Laura Story 
  10. A Little Hope ~ Bart Millard 
  11. What Are You Waiting For ~ Sidewalk Prophets 
  12. Day One {Acoustic Version} ~ Matthew West {Bonus Track}

Twitter: @PizzaRanch @PRServes
Official Website:
YouTube Channel (features images and videos of the artists talking about the story behind each song):

The CD will be available to purchase for $5 plus tax exclusively in Pizza Ranch restaurants or for download at through August 31. They will donate $120,000 on behalf of participating artists to the non-profit Porter’s Call.

Win a copy of the Pizza Ranch Living Hope Album! {US & Canada Only}

Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for Rafflecopter below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

SimplyFun Shape Whiz Board Game Review

My family had the privilege of trying SimplyFun Shape Whiz for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

SimplyFun is a company that is dedicated to providing fun products that also teach important skills. These award winning educational games help families spend more quality time together and create meaningful relationships. SimplyFun has games for all ages and and stages, even ones especially for special needs and autism.

My family loves all types of games; whether it be board games, card games, video games, relay races, competitions, etc. We love testing our skill, wit, speed, and strategy. Games are great opportunities to get together with family and friends and have a great time. They help us learn how to: take turns, think ahead, make choices, have consequences for our actions, cooperate, work as a team, and be a good sport. We love family game night because it strengthens family ties & bonds, and builds memories. We also love educational games for homeschool and we always like getting new games to add to our collection because it means a chance to try something different.

My family got the opportunity to try a SimplyFun game called, Shape Whiz. Shape Whiz is a fast paced card game that teaches 2D geometry, shape measurement, and math symbols. It is for 2 to 4 players and is geared towards ages 10 and up. With this board game for kids you learn about all kinds of Geometry: signs and symbols, angles, curves, sides, line of symmetry, parallel lines, polygon, same or equivalent, approximate area, area of a rectangle, area of a square, area of a triangle, area of a parallelogram, area of a trapezoid, area of a circle, approximate perimeter or circumference, perimeter of a polygon, circumference of a circle, and Pythagorean Theorem.

Contents of Shape Whiz

Included in the game's box are 80 Shape Cards, 40 Whiz Cards, and an instruction booklet on the rules of how to play. The Shape Cards have two different sets; 45 total simple shapes (9 blue shapes in 5 sizes) and 35 total complex shapes (7 green shapes in 5 sizes). These have a shape on a grid on the front and shape properties on the back. Whiz Cards tell you a geometry clue and question for helping you to find the correct Shape Card. Whiz Cards are double sided. The instruction booklet has nice color diagrams and helps you with the game play. The main points it goes through and tells us are: what's in the box, game objective, game set up, game play, game end, principles of geometry, and credits.

Shape Whiz Game Objective

The objective of the game and layout is fairly simple. You can play Shape Whiz one of two different ways. You can use both the green and blue shape cards for advanced play or just the blue shape cards for a simpler version of the game. Each player gets a stack of shape cards and puts down three of them in front of them facing up so that you can see the shape of each. Then a Whiz Card from the deck is played in the center of the table. The objective of the game is to race your opponent(s) to find the correct shape from all the available shape cards facing up that matches the geometry clue or question on the Whiz Card in play. Everyone playing must accept that the shape card picked first is a match or flip the card over to check the shape properties on the back to make sure that it is. The first person that gets rid of their Personal Shape Card Stack wins. The games are supposed to be only take about 10-15 minutes.

The above math error we found in the Shape Whiz instruction booklet and the correct math in Google.**

My boys are just the right ages for this game since they are 13 and 14. They have touched on all of these geometry concepts in their math books, but needed some review. Before we started we reviewed all of the instruction booklet. We went over everything including the geometry principles. Right away we found a error within the booklet. On page 7 of the rules booklet, down at the bottom, it says, "Circumference of a Circle: C = 2 * π * r² (π ≈ 3.14)". It is supposed to say Circumference of a Circle: C = 2 * π * r (π ≈ 3.14). **

Also we thought that when it comes to the shapes with curves, the rules for if a shape has sides and how many were a little arbitrary. The game refers to circles and tear drop shapes as having no sides and a half circle/oval as having two. Some mathematicians say that a circle has infinitely many infinitesimal sides. The question, "How many sides does a circle have?", is too ambiguous to have a definite answer. "Side" is a term that, in my honest opinion, should only be reserved for polygons, a plane figure with at least three straight sides and angles. But the booklet does spell out their definition of the words angles, curves, different length sides, line of symmetry, parallel lines, polygon, same or equivalent, and side. Their definition of a side is "a line between two points", so if you go with that definition for the game you are good to go, just remember that some of their definitions don't always apply for some geometry.

Shape Whiz card game in play

My boys are always pretty competitive with each other. At first, arguments broke out over who was first putting their card down and whose card was correct. The shape properties on the back of the Shape Cards were confusing to them sometimes. My boys were over thinking everything which made the game drag out a lot longer than it was supposed to. They were also having trouble reading the greater than and less than symbols out loud correctly. Frustration levels were pretty high and I had to jump in the middle of the game sometimes to play referee. Once they got the hang of how to play better they did calm down and have a better game.

I wish I could say that this game was perfect. I wanted so much to give it a better review, but the math in it is a little flawed. I know that it is hard to please everyone when you are a company. Shape Whiz is a product that still has a lot of potential to be great in my opinion. It just needs a bit of reworking.

UPDATE: **I did contact SimplyFun and they have given me a new PDF copy of instructions with the circumference error fixed. Those of you that already have the game can get a new PDF version from the company or just fix the error in your own booklet.

If you do decide to purchase Shape Whiz, you can for $24. If Homeschooling you can join SimplyFun's program for Homeschoolers. Save 15% on every purchase for a year for just $19, receive 2 FREE games when you join and get access to other great benefits and specials.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Home School in the Woods Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt Review

My family had the privilege of trying Home School in the Woods Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Home School in the Woods is a family run business that creates Christian based history curriculum for homeschooling. This curriculum immerses your student in the topic. It is very hands-on with lapbooks, timelines, recipes, art, creative writing, notebook projects, dramatized audio theater, maps, crafts, projects, re-enactments, file-folder games, vocabulary to learn, etc.

My family got to pick one of three different Project Passport World History Study curriculum: Ancient Egypt (3100 BC to 30 BC), The Middle Ages (400 AD to 1500 AD), and Renaissance & Reformation (1100 AD to 1660 AD). Home School in the Woods will also eventually be expanding the series to include studies of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome! We picked Ancient Egypt because it is just such a fascinating subject. As I have said before, my whole family are history enthusiasts. We love learning about ancient history the most! We also love learning about different cultures and even though we were not new to learning about Egypt, this study didn't disappoint and we learned a lot on the journey.

There are icons that help along one side and buttons that link to nice clear photos of the finished projects.

The Project Passport World History Studies are a virtual trip through history. These are recommended for grades 3-8. There are two different versions you can purchase, a CD version or a digital download version. With the CD version everything that you access and print is on the CD. With the digital download version you download a zipped file, place all of the contents into a folder on your computer, and access it by the start.htm file that is in that folder. We received the digital download version. This "trip" is supposed to last roughly 6-12 weeks depending upon how quickly everything is completed. For Each Project Passport World History Study you make a passport and "luggage" folder to hold some of the stuff you print off and make along the journey. Each "trip" has 25 chapters called "stops", where you observe action-packed events and meet fascinating people along the way. At each stop you come to there will be "Guide Book Text" which is information for the student to read about a certain topic explored and a "Travel Itinerary" that covers the project choices and directions. There are also helpful icons that let you know what you will be doing and color photos of all the completed projects so you know how they are supposed to look like when finished. There are a lot of printables of information and projects to do. Masters are available for all printables. There are so many things to do on the trip, for example: creating a "Scrapbook of Sights" (notebook for storing the notebook projects), dining on local cuisine with the "Dining out Guide" (recipes to create food and drink that was popular in the area at the time), taking pictures ("Snapshot Moments in History" scrapbook timeline), reporting on important people and happenings (a newspaper creative writing assignment - In the Ancient Egypt study it is called "The Kemet Chronicle"), making "souvenirs" to remember your stay (craft/art projects), dressing like the locals (fun dress up craft), making a lapbook, playing games (file-folder games), collecting postcards, listening to tour guides (dramatized audio theater - there are 8 of these), and so much more!

We found that there was a lot of preparation that needed to happen before getting started. There is a lot of things needing printed, items needing prepared for crafts and other projects, and general preparation of materials before one can begin the journey. The Travel Itinerary and Travel Planner: Quick Stop Itinerary helps with this a lot!

You will need a few items to get you through the lessons:
  • Working Printer
  • Color and Black Ink for the printer to cover all the printing that will be happening
  • White and Colored Printer Paper
  • White and Colored Cardstock (this is best, but admittedly we didn't have any of this and used only white printer paper and it worked OK)
  • One 3-Ring Binder for the Guide Book (teacher binder for Introduction, Travel Tips, Travel Planner: Quick Stop Itinerary, Travel Itinerary, Guide Book Text, and Additional Resources)
  • One 3-Ring Binder for the Scrapbook of Sights (student binder for all notebook projects)
  • Colored File Folders or Colored Pocket Folders with Fasteners
  • Scissors and/or an X-acto Knife (when using an X-acto Knife you will need a thick piece of cardboard or self healing mat to use as a cutting surface)
  • Crayons, Markers, or Colored Pencils to color the pictures, if desired
  • Glue
  • Other Craft supplies specified for each of the different projects that your student wants to do
This is what the Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt covers:
  1. Laying the Foundation – Part I
  2. Laying the Foundation – Part II
  3. Everyday Life – Part  I
  4. Everyday Life – Part II
  5. Everyday Life – Part III
  6. Agriculture, Trade and Transportation 
  7. Education
  8. Literature and Writing 
  9. The Sciences
  10. Medicine and Disease 
  11. Ancient Egyptian Arts 
  12. The Great Builders 
  13. Religion and the "gods" 
  14. Governing the Land 
  15. The First Dynasties 
  16. From Chaos to Order and Back Again to Chaos 
  17. A Land Divided 
  18. The New Kingdom Begins 
  19. Egypt's Most Famous Woman 
  20. The Conquering Pharaoh 
  21. Akhenaten and Tutankhamen 
  22. Egypt Fades Away 
  23. Ancient Egypt and the Bible 
  24. Bringing Back the Past 
  25. The Final Stop - Packing Up!
How We Are Using It:
I was initially going to do this with my boys who are going into 8th and 9th grades next year, but they were not wanting to test this out with me, so I enlisted my daughter Teela who is going into 2nd grade next year. Since this is supposed to be for 3rd through 8th graders I thought it would prove a bit difficult for her, but most of the projects she did very well on. She did need my help with some of the more advanced projects and writing assignments and it took her a lot longer to get through some of the stops than it might have taken for my boys. I learned quite a bit too while helping her with this study.

Teela coloring and cutting out her passport, Scrapbook of Sights Cover, and luggage tag.

When I first looked this study over I was a bit overwhelmed by the grandeur of it. It seemed complicated at first, but I quickly got the hang of using the program. The instructions were not hard, there was just a lot of things to set up and print out initially and throughout the program. We still have not gotten through all the stops, but we have enjoyed everything that we have done thus far. I love that it is from a biblical Christian perspective too.

Teela making the Egyptian woman paper doll.

Teela really liked our project time together. She loves art and making things. Her favorite thing she made was a Reed Boat. Although the Reed Boat was time consuming for her she stuck with it and completed the project. We are on a very tight budget for everything, including homeschool, because my husband is doing school himself and not currently working so we don't have a lot to spend on extras at the moment. Because of this our Reed Boat didn't look quite like the one in the picture. It was hard to find actual reeds growing in our area, so we found a plant of a reasonable facsimile to use for the reeds and instead of a fabric sail we used a napkin...hey, we improvised with what we had.  The other project that was her favorite was the What did Egyptians Wear? paper dolls. She learned a lot about: how the Ancient Egyptians dressed, what they ate, what jobs they had, how they mummified their dead, how they grew their crops, how and what they traded and with who, what they used as transportation, their education, and so much more! There were so many projects to do to go with all the reading, creative writing, and listening to the audio tours. We did so many fun things and learned so much about the culture so far. I can't wait to get all the way through the whole program with my daughter. We are looking forward to learning more about Ancient Egypt.

Teela making the Reed Boat and the finished project.

I highly recommend the Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt from Home School in the Woods. This is great for anyone homeschooling who might need some help with teaching Ancient Egypt in a highly educational, fun, and very hands-on way. This would also be perfect for those wanting something fun to do with their kids in the summer time. I am looking forward to reviewing more from Home School in the Woods in the future.

You can purchase the download version of the Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt for $33.95 and CD version for $34.95.

Download the scope and sequence, listen to a sample audio tour, see photo examples of projects, and watch a video of "What is a Project Passport" when you click the link above, to get more of an idea about the program.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Pippin the Duck

Pippin the Duck goes swimming.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op Homeschool Planet Review

My family had the privilege of trying Homeschool Buyers Co-op Homeschool Planet for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op is the world's largest cooperative buyers club for homeschooling families. This free to join co-op is a family-owned and operated business (since 2005), dedicated to providing top-quality curriculum and homeschooling resources at the lowest price possible. You can save 20-90% on curriculum when you participate in GroupBuys where the more people opt in to buy the item the more the group saves as a whole. Not only that, but this free membership includes other perks as well. You get access to: their database of free homeschool curriculum & other resources, free homeschool classifieds, field trip finder, educational contests & scholarships for homeschooled kids, homeschool conferences and events, writing tips, homeschool ID card templates, 30 day free trial of Homeschool Planet, deals of the week special offers, smart points rewards you can earn, and becoming an affiliate. I love Homeschool Buyers Co-op because it has saved me money on curriculum and homeschooling resources. I am so glad to be a part of it.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op gave me a full year of their Homeschool Planet program for free to try out for myself for use with both my home and my homeschool. Homeschool Planet is an awesome full featured planner that not only plans your homeschool day, but every other aspect of your life as well. You do not have to download anything special to use it and it works on any device with a web browser and a broadband Internet connection since it is entirely online. You can use it to schedule classes, assignments, appointments, events, and daily chores. You can also make to do lists and shopping lists. It is so easy to use and very flexible.

How We Are Using It:

Since we usually take off our homeschool and just do relaxed unschooling during the summer, my family has been using the Homeschool Planet so far to fill in fun stuff we have planned and appointments that we have scheduled. We love all the features so far and love the fact that we can print off our calendar or lists if we want to. I have found that Homeschool Planet is so much simpler to use than bound planners or ones printed on paper because of the automatic rescheduling feature it has. No more having to rewrite whole pages just because of one change. You can effortlessly shift things around, even whole schedules, within Homeschool Planet. When you have filled out the calendar everyone in your family with an email added will be getting Daily Digests by email with their own schedule, assignments, and chores for the day so they can keep track of their own stuff. There are also both email and text message reminders that you can set up within the program.

Automatic Rescheduling Helper. (stock photo)

Online Help Video. (stock photo)

When I first launched Homeschool Planet I was able to click on a link to watch a helpful how-to tutorial video of a brief overview of the features in the program. It was very informative and told me exactly what to expect. I liked that it started out like this so you can get a feel for the program before you try to dive into it on your own. There are also a bunch of tutorials listed in the help section of the planner.

This is how the screen looks as you put in Profile information for each member of your family. (stock photo)

You can also check attendance from the profile box. (stock photo)

From the profile box you can tell it to make an individual separate log in and pick what each person has access to. (stock photo)

The whole thing is very easy to customize. When you put in individual family members you can put in pictures for their avatars, update name, grade, email, and cell phone. You can put in each member of your family to have it show their schedules individually or all together on the different modes. You can let individual family members have their own password as a separate log in to have access to check off their stuff and be emailed or text messaged their schedules and plans as well. In the settings you can edit all sorts of things to make it more personalized. I love that they have different display themes to choose from also. My favorite is the horse themes and the butterfly ones. I hope they get a lot more to choose from too because I like to change the themes to what I am feeling and what holiday is coming up...just like I love to decorate my home.

Calendar view month format (stock photo)

Calendar view day format (stock photo)

There are three modes that are within Homeschool Planet: Calendar view, Planner view, and the third is the Resources view...
  • Within the Calendar view you can toggle between day, week, and month. In day and week you can see hours of the day listed on the side so you can schedule things at a certain times. You can also go back and forth with arrows for months previous or coming up. If you click on the S in either corner you can hide or show weekends. A popup window will appear to ask you what you want to add if you click on a day and certain time. You may click class, birthday (which also includes other significant holidays/special events), or everything else. When you add things you can specify its highlight color according to a certain category; for example, church or doctor/dental. You can also specify what activity it is, add notes, for whom it is for, and if it repeats itself somehow. It is so easy to add everything to the calendar that needs to be scheduled. 
  • Within the Planner view are mostly the same features as the Calendar view except that it is in the form of a list instead of a calendar. 
  • The Resources view shows you all the books, DVDs, websites, etc. that you are using for your lessons. I like that you can easily add books by ISBN number to make filling out the forms easier. Filling everything out is very straightforward.

Planner view day format (stock photo)

Resources view (stock photo)

I love how easy it is to set up the school year from within the settings so you can then add classes/subjects and their scheduled assignments and lessons on the Calendar and Planner view. You can tell it what days you are actually homeschooling and what days you are taking off. You can also tell it what holidays you observe. When you create a class you can add a subject, title, for whom it is for, and when & what time it will be happening. You can also add information for the lesson plan: assignments, notes, grades & transcript creation, tracked hours & attendance, and resources. I love the fact that you can copy any lesson you make and use it later for another student.

Reports Assignment List (stock photo)
Grading Helper (stock photo)

Transcript creator (stock photo)

Also, there are widgets on the sidebar that you can add or take away. I absolutely love the shopping list and to do list widget on the side. You can pick your stores and make individual lists according to what store has the item on sale. These are also so easy to be sent to your smartphone, sent as text to your spouse when they are out and about, have printed off, or sent to email. I'd love a widget for more meal planning preparation. I also love the weather, daily quote, and Bible verse widgets that change everyday. It is nice to have a scripture to wake up to when checking the schedules and I love knowing what the weather is going to be like also. I'd like to see them expand this section with even more widgets as well in the future.

Do you want to make your life easier and more organized? Is a regular planner making you crazy because of all the rescheduling? Look no further than Homeschool Buyers Co-op Homeschool Planet! Make this homeschool scheduler part of your life today! I recommend this online homeschool planner that also plans so much more to everyone who homeschools!


Once you have a free membership to Homeschool Buyers Co-op, just log in to Homeschool Buyers Co-op and sign up for the free 30 day trial of Homeschool Planet. There you can check it out for yourself without obligation or risk. If you like what you see after the free trial is up you may subscribe for only $65/year or $6.95/month. All your information you entered with the trial will be preserved so you can use Homeschool Planet without interruption.

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Read other reviews for the Homeschool Buyers Co-op Homeschool Planet...
Homeschool Planet Review

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD with UltraViolet Giveaway & Blog App

I have the opportunity to give away a Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Blu-ray below free for posting this information. All information and giveaway prizes are provided by Warner Bros. and PartnersHub.

Scooby-Doo Where Are You?

Get ready to Rock! Everyone’s favorite crime fighting kids are back with their biggest mystery ever in Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery! To help them solve the case the Scooby gang teams up with Rock and Roll legends KISS for an all new Mystery Inc. adventure! We join the Gang at Kiss World – the all-things-Kiss theme park, as they investigate a series of strange hauntings. With help from Kiss, they discover that the Crimson Witch has returned to summon The Destroyer from the alternate dimension of Kissteria! The evil duos ghastly plan, to destroy the earth! Can the Gang's cunning and Kiss's power of rock save the day?! Tune in to this Rock and Roll Mystery for some thunderous, heavy FUN!

Play with the soundboard to hear new and classic Scooby clips. Plus, check out the additional craft downloads below. Pick your favorite, what a great way to spend family movie night!

Blog App:
  • Scooby Dooby Doooooo! Click around on the soundboard and trigger classic sounds from the Scooby Doo series.
  • Click the box art to bring the film home today! 
  • Get Social With it! Tweet using the #ScoobyDoo hashtag. Share on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here are some pretty Groovy activities to download...

Prize: Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD with UltraViolet copy

Giveaway open to the U.S. and Canada. Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Scooby Doo and KISS Rock & Roll Mystery Blu-ray Combo Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Blu-ray Blog App I am getting a Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Blu-ray free for my readers as a giveaway. Thanks to PartnersHub and Warner Bros. for providing me this promotion information and free product. 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 posting this blog app and giveaway.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Hummingbird

I caught this hummingbird flitting around my farm. It perched just long enough for me to get this shot.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Stinger Mosquito Repellent Lantern Review

I received the Stinger All Natural Mosquito Repellent Lantern free to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

My family really dislikes getting eaten by mosquitoes! Our Oregon weather seems to breed them by the thousands and our farm is by a tributary that flows into the Columbia River a ways off from us. The mosquitoes love coming out in the evening time when the heat has died down and it is a little cooler out. That is when I also love to entertain guests outdoors as well.

The new Stinger All Natural Mosquito Repellent Lantern is a device that repels mosquitoes up a to 15' X 15' area (225 sq. ft.) for up to 12 continuous hours per pad. An ultra-quiet fan diffuses repellent into the air using plant-based, all-natural active ingredients. No heat needed to disperse the scent and it is smokeless.

Quick Facts
  • Outdoor use: great for deck/patio, BBQ, camping, backyard/pool
  • Repels mosquitoes using a fan-dispersed repellent pad 
  • All natural and DEET Free
  • Safe around children & pets 
  • Blue, LED lighting for night 
  • Uses 4 AA batteries (included) 
  • Repellent refills come in 6 packages per PDQ tray MSRP $12.99 
  • Available at and
Stinger Mosquito Repellent Lantern is attractive and functional.

The lantern is easy to operate. After putting in the batteries you place the repellent pad into a drawer located in the side of the lantern. Then you switch on the 3-way power switch that is located to the right of the pad drawer. It has 3 modes. If you switch the toggle to the left the repellent and lantern will operate. If you switch it to the right the lantern will only be on. The middle position is for turning it off. I wish it also had a switch to have it in just repellent mode with no light, but it doesn't. Also if the light bulb inside burns out, there is no way of getting in to replace it. However, it is better than a citronella candle because it won't have to be relit every time a wind blows and there is no hot wax to contend with.

The repellent pads use a powerful plant-based, all-natural active ingredients of essential oils that have been proven to ward off mosquitoes. The active ingredients include: Geraniol (55%), Peppermint Oil (2.5%), Rosemary Oil (2.5%), and Lemongrass Oil (2.5%). Cellulose (37.5%) makes up the last ingredient. The no spill method of installing the pads is not at all messy. Make sure you wash your hands after handling because these essential oils are concentrated and can cause skin irritation. These oils have a very pleasant smell.

Stinger Mosquito Repellent Lantern faint blue glow.

The aesthetically pleasing design is perfect for when you want to entertain outdoors. It has an elegant, decorative vine and leaf pattern that silhouettes against the blue LED light of the lantern. It reminds me of a fairy light (something out of Tinker Bell). Lantern is made of durable plastic so it won't break as easily as glass lanterns. You can also place it on a flat surface or hang it wherever protection is needed. It is small, but effective. The soothing blue illumination is a dimly lit accent lighting that isn't really for seeing by or reading with. The very faint glow is always on when the lantern is on and working.


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Stinger for sending me this product 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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season Cookbook Review

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

You may know Sarah Britton (BFA, CNP) from her extremely popular foodie blog, My New Roots, which focuses on healthy recipes that are plant-based natural whole foods. Sarah Britton is the Copenhagen based holistic nutritionist, writer, and photographer behind both her blog and cookbook that shares the same name. She is also a seasonal eater and lover of organic and super foods. She has won many accolades and awards for her work, been on TED talks and featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, Bon Appétit, and Whole Living. If you've seen her blog you have seen her fantastic wholesome recipes gorgeously presented with photographs that she herself took. If you've seen her TED talks (you can on YouTube if you haven't) you have seen her lovely infectious spirit and enthusiasm for nutritious food. She is, in my opinion, a vegetarian culinary goddess.

In her newly released and very first cookbook she takes inspiration from her blog by creating brand new recipes that also are plant-based natural whole foods. The book is divided into seasonal chapters: Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter which then are each divided into recipe groups: Mornings, Small Measures, Mains, and Sweets. In the Introduction, before the recipes start, she introduces herself, her blog, her food philosophy, why eating in the rhythm of the seasons and connecting with the cycles of nature makes so much sense, and the use of symbols in the book. After the Introduction and before the recipes she shares Essential Techniques of cooking dried legumes, cooking grains, making ghee, making seed and nut milks and butters, growing sprouts, and flavoring food with the use of salt (sea salt, Himalayan rock salt, soy sauce, tamari, miso), sugar (raw honey, pure maple syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, dates, fruit juice, applesauce), and acid (citrus juice, vinegar - raw organic apple cider vinegar is healthiest).

This cookbook has whole foods, super foods, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free recipes inside. Sarah Britton does use goat/sheep/cow cheese/yogurt, ghee (which in most cases can be substituted with coconut oil), honey (although she says you can substitute with maple syrup), bee pollen, and eggs in some of her recipes, so this book is not completely vegan, but it does have quite a few recipes that are and they are clearly marked with a v at the top of the page under the recipe title. Besides the v symbol for vegan, there is a gf  symbol for gluten-free, a clock symbol for when the recipes need planning ahead, and a moon symbol for when it will take 8 hours or longer to do a task that is required (like soaking legumes, fermenting, etc.) in the recipe. Some of these recipes are great for paleo and raw food diets as well.

The layout of each recipe is quite simple. At the top of each recipe includes the title, serving sizes or how much it makes in both US standard and metric units, and symbols. Each recipe also has a small paragraph where the author introduces it. I love her down to earth tone and kindred spirit feel of her writing as well. Then she has listed ingredients and detailed directions to each. Sometimes you see a paragraph within the picture or pages to give more information, facts, or background about an ingredient or a note, tips, and tricks to help you in the recipe process.

Just thumbing through the pages in this cookbook is so satisfying to me. There are things in My New Roots that are revolutionary in my opinion. I wouldn't have thought on my own to make "bacon" from coconut, try celeriac, or poach radishes. I can tell you that I couldn't help but drool a bit when looking through the My New Roots cookbook. What I love about this, verses other cookbooks that I have on my shelf, is that just about every recipe in this cookbook has a photo of the finished dish to go with it. The photos are beautiful and mouth watering just all by themselves!

At the end of the My New Roots cookbook there is a section on stocking the pantry, a gratitude section where she thanks people, and an index to help you find things easier. I love that with the section on stocking the pantry you can get the ingredients in your kitchen closer to healthier and more holistic.

For me the My New Roots cookbook is fantastic! I love the presentation and everything looks and sounds so delicious! I cannot wait to dig into this deeper and try all the food and drinks within. I recommend this to vegetarians or anyone willing to try the lifestyle that need inspiring and motivated cooks who would like to be a little adventuresome with their palate.

Watch for a sneak peek of her cookbook...

Follow Sarah Britton and My New Roots
Her Blog
Twitter: @mynewroots


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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Robin's Nest and Baby Birds in the Double Petaled Mock Orange Tree

This is my Double Petaled Mock Orange tree. It is so fragrant and pretty in the springtime.

Baby Robins in a nest in my Mock Orange tree.

Baby Robins opening wide for what Mama brings.

Mama Robin feeding her babies.