Monday, October 31, 2011

George Washington Carver DVD - Review

What do you know about George Washington Carver?

Yes, he is The Peanut Man.  Anything else?

Then, I definitely recommend you get a copy of Marshall Publishing's DVD entitled George Washington Carver:  His Life & His Work

 © 2009 Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc.
A Kaw Valley Films Production
KVFD-106 Length Approx: 30 Minutes
ISBN 978-1-9636134-12-0 UPC 894190001868

Compiling a list of over 300 uses for peanuts and the by-products of peanuts, it is no wonder why George Washington Carver's great claim to fame is peanuts.  However, we would all be naive and sorely mistaken if we truly believed this to be all that defined the man.  Upper elementary students through adults will glean much from watching this DVD.  You will be moved by Carver's great victory over unfavorable circumstances and periods of trial including:  slavery, the loss of his parents, health concerns, poverty, and the prejudices and stereotypes that polluted the South following the abolition of slavery.   

As parents, I believe, it is important to provide our children with real-life examples of people who have triumphed over adversity and made a reputable name all with integrity, hard work, and determination.  George Washington Carver serves as such an example.  He exhibits the character traits I desire to see in my kids.  His inspiring story is full of hope. 

January 5th is the annual George Washington Carver Recognition Day.  This DVD would be perfect to view each year as a great reminder of the results of dedication, a positive attitude, and education.  In addition to viewing the 30 minute program, a study guide and discussion questions can be found HERE.

Especially for my readers...
~15% Discount~
Use coupon code: TOSC1
only $16.95 (plus S&H)

To order:  Call 888-300-3455

Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc.
123 S. Hough St. Barrington, IL 60010

Read what other TOS CREW MEMBERS are saying about this DVD. 

Disclosure:  I was provided a complimentary copy of this DVD in exchange for my honest review.

Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks & Firefighters - Review

This past summer, the kiddos got to visit our local fire station. Therefore, fire safety and their experiences were still somewhat fresh in their minds. However, being that October is Fire Safety Awareness Month, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon their prior knowledge while reviewing Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks & Firefighters as well as Lots & Lots of Fire Songs & Safety Tips. This book and DVD combo by Marshall Publishing is superb! I'm not shocked in the least that the products are Dove Family Approved and a Parent's Choice Award Winner. They are winners to me!

My little ones especially enjoyed the 30 minute fire safety songs DVD.  It was high-energy and engaging.  The melodies were catchy and the lyrics were easy to memorize.  This is so important since the songs are teaching the imperative truths of firesafety as evidenced in song titles:  "Call 9-1-1," "Stop, Drop, and Roll," and "Your Home Safety Plan."  This DVD would best serve preschool and early elementary students.  I believe, my children will enjoy it time and time again.

To me, the book is the bestseller.  It houses 128 full-color, glossy, photo-filled pages.  The photographs are brilliant, yet the book is crammed full of facts and tips.  In meeting Firefighter Joe, reader's discover not only a firefighter's important job and the tools and equipment needed to perform such demanding tasks, but also get a sneak peek into the life of a firefighter and firehouse traditions.  The various rescue vehicles are highlighted while providing the history of firefighting and fire trucks.  Fire fighting facts are reported as well as documentation of some of the greatest fires in histroy.  A detailed timeline is recorded among the books pages and a list of fire house museums is included.  I also appreciated the "Words of a Fireman" section that included some beautiful poetry and The Fireman's Prayer.

~Red Hot - Special Offer~
Readers Save $30.00!
Regular Price - $49.90
(Plus S&H)
Enter Coupon Code: TOSF1
CALL TOLL FREE 888-300-3455
or online at
Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc.
123 S. Hough St. Barrington, IL 60010

Read other TOS CREW MEMBERS reviews of Lots & Lots of Firetrucks & Firefighters.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of these products in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Are you staring at the title, Educating the WholeHearted Child, and thinking to yourself that you must have previously read it or have it tucked away on a shelf from years gone by?  Possibly so, but you are going to want to pick up this revision/expansion of the 1996 edition.  Why?  The Clarkson's have learned much more in the past 15 years educating their own four children.  Well over 100 pages of brand new material to be exact and much of the old material has been revamped and/or rewritten entirely.

The new and improved edition, all 376 pages, is divided into four sections.  First, the book addresses the HOME, then LEARNING, METHODS, and finally, LIVING.  It concludes with a wonderful resources section complete with booklists and a plethora of forms for home and educational management.

Specific Highlights for me:
  • Quoted from Chapter 5, "In God's economy, to be educated is not a matter of something you know or have achieved.  Rather, to be educated is something you become."
  • I enjoyed Chapter 7's section on building a home library, the qualities of good books, and even some recommendations of types of books to avoid.  I'm now more determined to find "living books" of great caliber for my children.
  • Quoted from Chapter 10, "Of all the appetites for life and learning that you instill in your children's hearts, let a love for God's Word be one that you feed and stimulate every day.  Let all others be minimized until you see the signs in your children's heart of a godly hunger and thirst for righteousness."
  • The Family section of Chapter 15 gave such wonderful, detailed descriptions of the roles of family members and spoke to my mission and ministry as a mother.  It is always good to revisit this information and evaluate effectiveness and priorities. 
  • Am I gracious? a servant? compassionate? and encouraging? 
  • Also from Chapter 15, I absolutely have latched on to the ideas of following the PATH on my "mom walk."  PATH being an acronym:  P - purpose, A - assurance, T- trust, H - heart.
  • I really loved Chapter 16 where the Clarkson's recommend planning your year around the holidays.  So often, we feel guilty as educators from taking time away from the 3 R's, but the logic behind the Clarkson's words was so timely and made perfect sense.
  • From Chapter 17, I gleaned an idea of a new filing system.  Despite my best efforts, I always fill as if I'm wading in paper.  Hoping this helps!
This book is not a quick read.  In fact, there are so many nuggets of wisdom and pure gold ideas to implement in your homeschool that like me, you may find yourself with pen and paper in hand taking lots of notes.  My intention is to keep this book and refer to it again often for inspiration, encouragement, and troubleshooting when things aren't going the way they should.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who homeschools whether you are contemplating starting soon, are a novice, or have been in the trenches for many years.  However, don't simply take my word for it.  Read what my TOS Crewmates have to say by visiting the TOS CREW Blog.

Educating the WholeHearted Child is available for purchase for $22 from Apologia.  View the book's Table of Contents. Also, read a sample chapter.

While visiting the Apologia site, I encourage you to take a look at the other titles available as resources for parents.  Moms, you may even want to learn more about the Apologia Live Retreats designed as a get-away to support and encourage Moms. 
(Disclosure:  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy Jack's

We traded in Southland's Fall Family Awesomeness at Boyd's Orchard for some Wells' Family Awesomeness at Happy Jack's Pumpkin Farm.  How did that happen?  Well, after church, we made a mad dash to the hospital to visit MaMa Spaulding.  We visited for a few minutes, left, rushed through Arby's drive-thru, ate in the car, and headed to join the Children's Ministry at Boyd's Orchard.  Even arriving 20 minutes early, the parking lot was packed.  After seeing cars circling looking for spots to no avail, we opted to skip out on this outing.  It appeared to crowded... call us claustrophobic, I guess.  The kids again impressed us this weekend.  They were completely understanding and content to try something else.

We headed to Happy Jack's, and we enjoyed a much less crowded venue for Fall Family Fun.  The kiddos enjoyed feeding the critters and were especially excited to have a prime spectator's spot for some hard core goat fights.  My, my... they were locking horns and going at with great bravado and gusto.  My boys were cheering.

The little ones posed for some photos and then we climbed onto the wagon. After riding out to the pumpkin patch, we hopped off on a search for the perfect family pumpkin. Once we returned, each kiddo chose a small pumpkin of their own. We saw the goats go across the bridge. Then, we left considering it our own Fall Family Awesomeness kind of day!



Saturday, October 22, 2011

All Aboard!

Scratching off another one of our Groupons, we ventured to New Haven, KY to visit the Kentucky Railway Museum.  Honestly, this trip left a lot to be desired, and I seriously doubt we will repeat this outing.  Had I paid full price for the museum admission and train ride, I would have been grossly disappointed.  Actually, I don't feel like we got our money's worth even at the discounted rate.

The museum is rather small.  Thankfully,  three Thomas train tables were in the room, so the kids did stay occupied for quite some time.  Outside, we were able to see a few train exhibits, but the building that housed the model trains wasn't open due to recent flooding. 

We were told to be outside at 1:30 p.m. preparing to board, so that our train ride could begin promptly at 2 p.m.  However, while in line at the correct time, an announcement was made saying that there would be a delay and boarding/departure wouldn't be until 2:30 p.m.  Believe it or not, my 6 year old boys and 5 year old daughter waited without complaint in line an additional hour.  We played more "I-Spy" that I cared to, but whatever it takes, right?

Once we were finally able to take our seats on the train, it appeared that the ride was oversold.  We waited forever for people to get situated and all find places to sit.  Some got off the train... not sure if the reason was lack of seating or not. 

The ride began, but our engineer/tour guide was extremely hard to understand when he talked and the microphone he was using garbled his speech to the point that we missed out on most of what was being said.  We traveled a whopping 11 miles through less than scenic terrain (farm, trailer park, river-that looked more like a creek, and a heart-shaped pond).  The train made a stop in the booming metropolis of Boston, KY - population 300, claim to fame a gas station/market.  We opted not to depart.  We weren't in need of a candy bar or pop or a trip to the porta-potties.  Instead, we froze to death for 20 minutes because someone had the bright idea to crank the AC in our railway car. 

At long last, the Boston pit stop came to an end.  Then, we traveled the same 11 miles in our return trip.  Originally, we should have returned at 3:30.  Instead, it was near 5 p.m.  Definitely, an inconvenience.  Oh well... they can't all be winners.  My kiddos were real troopers.  Even though they all agreed they were bored to death, they were exceptionally well-behaved.  The couples sitting across from us complimented them for being such great passengers, and my Momma heart was so proud.

Checking out the model trains
Taking a load off
It was nice of the museum to provide a train table for each of my children. 
Thankfully, a solid 20 minutes of entertainment.

My three cuties.
Rachel was not happy to be posing for this one.

Her mood changed for this one :-)

3 stow-aways on the caboose?

They're so cute...  I'll take them home with me :-)

 Momma's Munchkins
Daddy's Darlings

 Here comes our ride... choo, choo!

A cuddly seatmate for Daddy

Some pretty great company in my seat too!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Yes, I know... you are probably in a state of shock.  It's ok - REALLY!  I DID volunteer to review a product that involved the kitchen.  Saying that the kitchen and cooking are not my favorites is the understatement of the century. However, I find myself spending more and more time there lately.  Strange how these three little things called children have a penchant for eating?  Anyway, with their crazy strong appetites, they are eating a lot thus forcing me to experiment with this cooking thing more. 

So looking for any help I could get knowing that a personal chef isn't in the budget, I eagerly jumped at the chance to review E-Mealz.  Why?  As their website touts, "E-Mealz is the revolutionary way to free up your brain, your budget and your family time.  E-Mealz takes the dinner menu and money planning stress off your plate... easy as 1-2-3!"


1. Choose a Plan


  • There are choices of 5 meals for 1-2 people or 7 meals for 4-6 people.
  • There are options to meet varied dietary needs: gluten free,  vegetarian, low-carb, low-fat, etc.
  • Plans exist based on specific stores (Kroger, Wal-mart, Publix, etc.)   and their sale items for the week.

  • Check out this list of options for Meal Plans!  Wow, lots of choices!
    Be sure and click on your plans of interest to view sample meal plans. You also have the opportunity to switch your meal plan once during your 3 month subscription.

    2. Print & Go Shopping
    • Print the entire week's plan on only two pages.  The first contains the list of meals/sides, ingredients, and recipes.  The second is the actual shopping list.
    • The shopping list contains a categorized list of needed ingredients and a staples list.

    3. Cook & Enjoy
    • No need to go out or hit the drive-thru.
    • Prepare & Cook a simple, easy meal.
    • Enjoy time at home with your family.


    • The company was created by two Christian women, Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran.  I always like to support Christian businesses when I have the opportunity.
    • The program is endorsed by Dave Ramsey.  When you are looking to cut-costs and save, his seal of approval means a lot!
    • The meals are kitchen-illiterate, domestically-challenged (terms I affectionately refer to myself as) friendly. (A.K.A. - simple, do-able, EASY!)
    • Recipes are provided.
    • Quick meals for this busy Momma
    • A meal plan that coordinates with the sale prices of Kroger - my store of choice
    • Categorized shopping list makes items easy to find.  5 categories: Deli/Produce, Meats, Dairy/Refrigerated, Frozen, and Canned/Bottled/Packaged
    • E-meals only provide supper plans.  I'm on my own for breakfast and lunch.
    • My kiddos are fruit & veggie lovers, so we have a lot of fresh/organic produce in our house.  However, the meals used quite a bit of canned/processed food.
    • I'm picky - especially with the cuts of beef I eat.  I don't like fat at all.  Some of the dishes called for a cut that I disliked - not that it phased my carnivore husband.  
    • I'm all about sales and manager's special items.  When I see something good (especially with meat), we stock up.  This program isn't designed to make use of your stockpile.
    • However, if your family is like mine, the stockpile comes in handy because I found that only 3-4 of the 7 recipes per week were a good fit for my family.  I'm the picky eater of the bunch, and there were some meal suggestions I knew I just couldn't stomach.  This isn't the fault of the program - just my crazy warped taste buds!

    The concept is brilliant.  Busy families everywhere could embrace the easy 1-2-3 plan.  Even though my family didn't reap the full benefits due to weird eating habits, I think it is a good program.  For only $5 a month, I believe, it is more than worth it to add some variety to your diet, save you some time, and provide an answer to the always asked question, "What's for dinner?"

    Subscribe Here - While the cost is $5 a month, plans must be purchased in 3 month increments.  Then through automatic renewal, you will be billed $15 every 3 months to your credit or debit card. 
    Visit the E-Mealz blog: Make Time for Family
    Connect with the E-Mealz community on Facebook or Twitter.

    Christmas is quickly approaching.  Have someone who is impossible to buy for?  Consider E-Mealz Gift Certificates. Gift Certificate Example

    Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog and read what other crewmates are saying about E-Mealz.

    (Disclosure:  I was provided a 3 month subscription to E-Mealz in exchange for my honest opinion.  I receive no monetary compensation for this review or referrals.)

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    The World's Largest Halloween Party

    As long time zoo members, of course, we had to take in "The World's Largest Halloween Party" at the Louisville Zoo.  I'm not quite sure who coined it by that name, but I'm thinking that somewhere there must be a bigger party.  In fact, at least when we went, 5 p.m. on Friday, it was probably the smallest crowd we have seen - not that we were complaining.  The weather was gorgeous but windy.  The kiddos enjoyed having their buckets filled with candy, posing with familiar characters, and taking a jaunt through the small hay bale maze.  It was a fabulous night with the hubs, Optimus Prime, Batman, and my prima ballerina!