Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes - A Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In late August I was ecstatic to learn I'd been selected to be part of the Review Crew reviewing The Cat of Bubastes.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Cat of Bubastes is the latest family audio drama produced by Heirloom Audio Productions.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
I already knew my family loves productions by Heirloom. So far our family has been blessed to review:

Whenever my family learns a new Heirloom audio drama is coming up for review, we get excited and wait impatiently for the CD package to arrive. My adult daughter tried to again leave with the CDs before my review, and was only half joking. She gets to take them to listen when she next visits.

My son and I once again had a 90-minute drive scheduled for an orthodontist visit at University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore, so I saved the listening for this captive time. (My son is so busy it is hard for us to find time when we can listen together for such a long time, even for such a wonderful audio drama!)

The story takes place in an ancient era in the area of the Middle East to Africa. The king of Rebu is killed and the prince, Amuba, and his servant and protector, Jethro, are taken captive and made slaves in the region of Thebes, near Egypt. Amuba keeps his princely identity a secret, initially. As they are being transported, Amuba recognizes that he and Jethro will do better if they learn the Egyptian language of their captives. By the time they reach Egypt, Amuba is speaking and understanding Egyptian fairly well, and Jethro somewhat but less fluently.

A priest notes Amuba and Jethro and acquires them to be servants and companions to his son, Chebron.

The story takes many twists and turns. To make the story brief, the "holy" cat of Bubastes dies. Chebron's sister has a cat, which becomes heir intended for the title of The Cat of Bubastes. Then a hunting accident occurs, and Chebron inadvertently kills his sister's cat. Almost simultaneously the boys uncovers a plot of treachery, a plan of murder. They don't know who the target family is, nor the identity of the plotting villians.

The boys flee, as the death of the cat is discovered and their guilt is revealed. Chebron tries to flee to his brother's house only to learn his brother has been murdered. 

There is so much more, but I don't want to reveal the whole story. A famous ancient Bible hero makes a cameo appearance in the story, and my son reacted with, "*****! (Bible hero's name) No way!" It was the first puzzle piece to enable us to know where, time era-wise, to know the historical setting of the story. You're going to love it!

You're going to want to know about the bonus package that comes with the CD package! When you purchase The Cat of Bubastes you receive a link to a page where you can access a huge bonus package which includes:
  • an MP3 file you can download to your computer of the adventure you receive on CD;
  • an ebook of the full G.A. Henty version of The Cat of Bubastes;
  • a video, A Day in the Life, of the recording of the adventure;
  • an inspirational verse poster you can print out;
  • a printable cast poster;
  • a soundtrack MP3;
  • a study guide for The Cat of Bubastes.
The Study Guide is an amazing tool, particularly for upper grammar to middle school aged children. It is 47 pages long and contains cast and crew credits, and an introduction describing how best to use the study guide to enhance your study of The Cat of Bubastes. There is biographical information about G.A. Henty, as well as the Biblical hero I mentioned above.

The study guide then breaks the story down track by track with helps to enable your students to get the most out of their listening experience. The guide has a page for delving deeper into your Egypt studies, and this is followed by a Bible study section. I don't know how they do it, but every Heirloom audio adventure seems better than the last!

So seriously, history and Henty lovers, you're going to love this one! 

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed The Cat of Bubastes. To read more reviews, click the button below.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Menu Monday for 6/26/16

Here are this week's menu plans:

Saturday (9/24):  chicken Caesar salad

Sunday (9/25):  cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, baked beans, potato chips

Monday (9/26) (Troop Meeting):  rotisserie chicken, broccoli, rice

Tuesday (9/27):  spaghetti and meatballs, salad, TX toast

Wednesday (9/28):  pork chops, orzo, green beans

Thursday (9/29)(CAP):  grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Friday (9/30):  Dinner out

Saturday (10/1):  grandma’s chili, salad, cornbread

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles -- A Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In early August I learned I would be part of the crew reviewing The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles, a new book written by Mark S. Mirza and published by CTM Publishing Atlanta.  
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

I was interested in reading this book -- I wanted fresh insight into forms of prayer.
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

The book arrived August 25th, and I was already concerned. This book has 372 pages, and somehow this review was due in less than four weeks! 

I dug in as quickly as I could, but August/September was busy. The book is fabulous, but I was really struggling to get through it by deadline to write this review. This is a book you want to read slowly, to savor, and to check out each Bible reference the author is including. By itself, as a study, I could easily see myself working my way through this material slowly, as part of my quiet time, taking a small section each day. I would have loved to take this book and spread it out over maybe six months!

Alas, though, deadline hovered. It was not less enjoyable, but it was less beneficial as I plowed my way through like a snow plow in Quebec! So, suddenly I was at the end, and... No, not yet. Let me tell you about the book.

The Pray-ers is a novel that weaves a history of three individuals of great faith and prayer: first century Thales, nephew to Epaphras; 19th century Alexander Rich, friend to D.L. Moody; and current era Dale Riley, track and field coach at an imaginary university. Dale Riley and Thales are fiction characters. I'm not quite clear on Alexander Rich (whether he is a created individual or actually existed).

I'll tell you, first off, that I love well written historic fiction, which this book qualifies as. The story line jumps from era to era as the author weaves the tale(s). Thales lives in an era shortly after the resurrection of Jesus. Thales' mother was healed by Jesus during His time of ministry. Thales' uncle, Epaphras, worked with Paul and is mentioned several places in the New Testament.

Nineteenth century Brother Rich was born in the North, where he grew up with Moody, but felt called to preach the gospel in Georgia. He was an itinerant preacher in Central Georgia when the Civil War began, and felt called to minister to the southern troops as a chaplain during the war. When captured as a prisoner he continued to minister even in his captivity. After the war he went back to his previous work.

Dale Riley, and his wife of twenty years, Margie, are childless. Their ministry is to work with students at the university to disciple them, hold Bible studies, and help them learn how to pray. They act as counselors when their "kids" need advice.

As the story unwinds, it is revealed that there is a connection between Brother Rich and Dale Riley, which was fun. I won't reveal all, because it was really fun, reading the book, to come across this type of tidbit revealed in the story. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you!

The main emphasis of the novel is presenting an example of "Listening Prayer" to the readers in the life of the various central characters in a way that helps the reader integrate listening prayer into his/her own life. I loved it! And, very interestingly, our women's ministry at church had a prayer breakfast last Saturday with a speaker teaching about listening prayer! It is so fun when God orchestrates these interesting "coincidences"! 

I loved everything about this book except that it had to end! I am so glad there will be a sequel! It is scheduled to come out in December, and I hope to get a copy as soon as possible!

If I had to pick a favorite character in the book, I think I would pick Brother Rich. I am a similar age, and I just loved his character and the story of his life. A conflict which arose in his life near the end of the book was unresolved when the book ended, and I look forward to reading the resolution in the next novel.

One thing that would have made the book better would have been a better editing job. There were misspelled words that would not have been caught by a spell-checker ("is" instead of "his", "tale" instead of "table"). There were quote marks with no second quote marks ("Like in this example.). There were sentence fragments. There were awkward sentences. The book has a very professional appearance, but these types of errors make it a less professional production. I would hope there is more editing and changes made before another publication run occurs.

Still, even with errors, this book is amazing. I have already been affected by it in my prayer life. I completely recommend this book to you for your reading pleasure and your growth in prayer. Please go check it out at You can also follow the author on social media at:
Twitter: @ThePrayersNovel

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also read and reviewed this book. To see more reviews of this amazing book, click the button below.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Menu Monday for 9/19/16

Here are this week's meal plans:

Saturday (9/17):  
Spaghetti and meatballs

Sunday (9/18):  
Greek chicken bake, steamed green beans

Monday (9/19) (Troop Meeting):  
Pasta Puttanesca, salad

Tuesday (9/20):  
Grilled barbecue ribs, baked beans, cauli/broccoli/carrot medley

Wednesday (9/21):
Tacos salad, tostitos 

Thursday (9/22)(CAP):  

Friday (9/23):  
Dinner out

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Getting Started with French - A Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In July I learned I would be on the review team for Armfield Academic Press. I have become a student of languages, and I welcomed this opportunity to review Getting Started with French by William E. Linney and Brandon Simpson.    

I studied French last century, many decades ago... 1970-1974 to be exact. I have fought to retain my ability to use the language, but alas my vocabulary is extremely limited at this point. I was so happy to be selected for this review! What a great opportunity to refresh my abilities in this romantic language!

The book arrived, and I opened it with delight!

I flipped it open to the inside of the back cover and my heart dropped -- the book did not come with a DVD! What? I was really surprised. I set the book aside to start the next day.

Opening the book the next day I began at the very beginning and flipped through the pages, reading them one by one, and coming to the realization that this was one of those rare books that you MUST read this way. The Preface and "How to use this book" cannot be skipped!

I quickly learned there ARE audio files to accompany the book! Accessible on the Getting Started with French website are audio files of narration to go with the lessons as well as audio files of pronunciation to help the student know how to speak French correctly.

Getting Started with French is a gentle, incremental program that builds a solid foundation slowly and thoroughly. The book contains 172 lessons and 281 pages. A typical school year has 180 days, so your goal would be to do one lesson per day through most of the school year.

The typical days lesson begins with the printed content for the lesson in the book. Most lessons are designed around the introduction of a new word in French. Having the student write down the word and its definition helps the student learn the new word.  

Step 2 is listening to the narrative for the chapter. Some of the content may seem redundant, but think of it as reinforcement. There is also material in this audio that is not in the book. 

Step 3 is having the student work through the exercise at the end of the lesson. This generally involves translating up to ten words and phrases from French to English. Example: "mon amie" = "my girl friend".

The final step is having the student listen to the pronunciation and practicing the words in French.

If you ever want to give a quiz (maybe you want a way to be sure learning is occurring), you go back one lesson and have the student do the exercises. So say you are on Lesson 50 -- the quiz would be the exercises at the end of Lesson 49.

We (Review Crew) were expected to work on our French at least three days per week during the review period. I had the book almost two months and completed 35 lessons. I did not completely follow the directions above because the program is review for me. So I did not write out the exercises, but did them in my head.

I was surprised at some of the things I learned. New to me were "Forbidden Liasons", "Liasons" and "Elision". These are words for practices in French that I had known how to use but didn't know the words for, like if you knew how to make contractions (he will = he'll) but you didn't know they were called "contractions". I also appreciated being reminded of French words I forgot long ago (mari = husband). I look forward to continuing my way through the rest of the lessons.

Getting Started with French is not a program that should, in my opinion, count as a credit for high school French. It is not as rigorous as the French course I took in 7th Grade. I suggest it is best for students in K - 6th grade. Depending on the situation it could be used for anyone older, but I would still hesitate to count it for a credit on a high school transcript. I would not hesitate to recommend it for a learner of any age who wants an introduction to French. This is a very affordable way to get a beginning French education.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this product. To see more product reviews, please click the button below.
Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Menu Monday for 9/12/16

Menu Plan Monday for the week of Aug 1/16 - recipe links and menu planning inspiration at I'm an Organizing Junkie
In creating my menu plan this week I have had some help. I am blessed to be reviewing an on-line product called MyFreezEasy, and today's plan is the first plan using menus from MyFreezEasy. I cannot share the recipes with you on these, but you could Google similar recipes.

Here's my plan:

Saturday (9/10):  
Reuben sandwiches

Sunday (9/11):  Butter chicken, pita bread, salad

Monday (9/12) (Troop Meeting):  Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, celery and carrot sticks

Tuesday (9/13):  Mediterranean quinoa skillet, salad

Wednesday (9/14):  chicken tortilla soup, salad, tostitoes

Thursday (9/15)(CAP):  Sesame ginger salmon, rice, veggie medley

Friday (9/16) (Scouts camping trip):  leftovers

Saturday (9/17) (Scouts camping trip):  eating out

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week in Review, Week 2

The continuining saga...

As last week ended, our gas leak had been repaired, but our water heater had died,

and our dishwasher had been dead for some time.

Friday night hubby and I went on a date to Guapo's. Dear son asked dad to stop somewhere and bring him something on the way home, which dad did, which made son happy.

After dinner hubby and I went to Lowe's with dishwashers and hot water heaters in mind. First, after a phone consult with my husband's brother, we checked out the dishwashers. We had some back and forth for a bit and finally settled on a mid-range model of a recommended brand, and a model that has a "Delay" feature, which I really use. (It means I can turn in on after dinner on delay and not cause any bedtime baths to have cold water.) We chose a black-front model, which will match our fridge and oven. I didn't even think of taking a photo of the floor model.

Next we checked out hot water heaters and consulted with a floor salesman. He created a sight-unseen estimate, and it came out spot-on with the estimate the plumber gave us, with the caveat that it might cost more because there might be variables. Hubby and I agreed to go with the plumber, who will do everything that needs to be done and will guarantee for ten years. 

On the way home we even had ice cream! Sometimes that's what date night with hubby looks like! At home we started a "retro" movie night watching "Working Girl", but it got too late and we saved half the movie for tomorrow.

Saturday morning... I took a cold shower. Yes, I did. A very FAST shower. Then I got dressed and got my menu planned and my shopping list created. Hubby went for a long run (he's training for a half-marathon). After his run he showered at our neighborhood swimming pool's bath house! Wasn't that a smart way to get a hot (or not cold) shower? Shopping was done. We spent time doing house cleaning and decluttering. We had dinner according to our plan, cleaned up (hot water from pots heated on the stove, no dishwasher) and had a relaxing evening at home. We finished last night's movie.

Sunday we went to church and then hurried home as my daughter and son-in-law were visiting from their home 60+ miles away from us. When they arrived, JB left to play football with his friends. My daughter and I went to Starbuck's for some decadent beverages. Then we went to Trader Joe's for some fresh corn on the cob to go with our dinner.

Daughter and I went home and enjoyed our visit and our beverages. I spent time reading The Pray-ers and Handbook for Writers. Hubby took son to try to get a haircut, but the barber shop was closed for the holiday weekend. (Good for them! Small family shop.) Then they went to Ranger surplus. Son came home with an empty grenade. (Thanks, hubby!)

We had barbecued chicken, corn on the cob and broccoli for dinner. Evening came way too quickly, and we bid the "kids" goodbye for their long drive home.

We enjoyed another "retro" movie night and watched "Top Gun".

Monday we got to enjoy a holiday. We did clean up and declutter of the living room/dining room -- Boy Scouts coming over tomorrow night for a leadership training meeting. Hubby ran again (shorter tun) and showered at the pool again -- last chance, as the pool closes for the season today. I got myself a bath Little House on the Prairie style by heating four different pots of water on the stove. Hubby helped me carry them to the tub for my bath. My hair really needed washing!

I did a load of laundry (cold load of course). I cleaned out the bird cage (cockatiel). We picked up yard clutter (fallen twigs and branches) and put trash and recycling to the curb. We straightened up the deck and moved the glider from down in the yard to up on the  deck, where I prefer it.

We had cheeseburgers on the grill on paper plates, so less dishwashing tonight. We spent some time taking it easy.

Tuesday - I'd been waiting anxiously all weekend to hear from the plumber to confirm that we could get our hot water heater installed today. Fred did not let me down. He pulled one of his employees from another job to take care of us. That was when I realized I had forgotten to rearrange some things to make the area accessible! Scurry, scurry to get that done!

No photos, but Brian, from Limmerick, Ireland, arrived to take care of our hot water heater installation. Brian needed to turn off the main water valve, did I know where the access panel is? ::sigh:: Behind a large bookshelf full of games. Scurry, scurry, more rearranging. Three shelves empty and the unit can be moved.

The games are now on my washer/dryer along with craft storage items from beside the old hot water heater.

The games need to be decluttered. No one needs two sets of Clue, among other things. And the craft items cannot go back beside the hot water heater -- not safe. ::sigh::
But I am now the proud owner of a new, very costly water heater.
The new model has a pressure overflow tank.
Displaying IMG_3804.JPG

New safety requirements meant that we had to upgrade 3" ductwork to 4" or 5" ductwork.

Wednesday I started my day with a HOT SHOWER! Whew hooo! What a joy! 

Took my son to his 10:00 English class and scurried home. Had loads to do downstairs, but used my time to take care of some business on the computer. Picked my son up after his classes.  On the way home we stopped and got my son's hair cut.

Stopped at the UPS Store and shipped that book that I mentioned last week that I needed to returned.

Got home and evaluated what needed to be done. I really needed to do laundry, but first I needed to clean up my utility room and find my washer! It's the white thing under the piles of games and craft items...

I also needed to write a review due Friday. I started working on the game shelf, but before I knew it it was time to make dinner. When hubby got home we realized I haven't heard from the store about my dishwasher. Hubby called them and we realized the phone number on the invoice was wrong! We gave them the correct number and hope to get a call from them tomorrow.  I never got back to the game shelves, and bedtime arrived before I knew it.

Thursday I had thought I'd be able to get to the gym, but I just couldn't! I had to finish that utility room and I HAD to get that review written! So I got those things done. That's about it. I called Lowe's and learned there was still a place in there computer with the wrong phone number. I again gave my correct number and was informed they should call me tomorrow. 

I made dinner and we booked out the door. Hubby had a church men's meeting, I had Boy Scouts Roundtable, and my son had Civil Air Patrol. They got to watch a drone demonstration at CAP!

Friday I took my son to his class and then finally got to the gym. After a good workout I headed home for a hot shower. (I am so thankful for my hotwater heater!) My son rode home on the bus.

Called Lowe;s again. And again. And again. Finally got someone who took responsibility to get me an installation date on my dishwasher. Next week on Tuesday. Suddenly I needed to reschedule an appointment that was planned for next Tuesday. But at least the dishwasher will get installed.

Worked on Geometry with my son. Cleaned up my email inbox. When hubby got home we went out for dinner. After dinner I worked on some Boy Scout Merit Badge entries into the computer.

Saturday I was supposed to go to quilting day, but I just couldent. I menu planned and created shopping list (first week with Hubby shopped while I cleaned a bathroom and did laundry, put away dishes and read a few chapters of The Pray-ers

Hubby got home and I put away groceries. Hubby went out and I compiled one of the recipes from MyFreezEasy (two meals). As I was finishing the two freezer meals, hubby got home and made the Reuben sandwiches for our dinner.

It's been a full week. Have still been working on Getting Started with French. I love French! 
Getting Started with French is my next review and it will be posted next week. Watch for it!

So how did your week go this week?