Saturday, August 19, 2017

Shoe Taxonomy Exercise

Alyssa and I are gearing up for the new school year. We recently received the Exploring Creation with Botany Lapbook from A Journey Through Learning to review. My review for the lapbook will post at the end of this month so visit us again soon so you can read about our experiences.

I already owned the Exploring Creation with Botany textbook so I decided to purchase the Notebooking Journal to use in conjunction with the two other resources. Alyssa is having a blast learning about botany. 

She recently completed a Shoe Taxonomy exercise. She pretended to be a taxonomist. First, she gathered one shoe from several different pairs and placed them in a pile on the floor. She thought about the taxonomy system. Then, she organized the shoes into four broad kingdoms giving each group a name. After doing that she divided the group into two phyla for each kingdom, two classes for each phyla, and so forth. There was a notebooking sheet found in her journal to organize her thoughts. 

The book challenged her to indicate a genus and species for one shoe using binomial nomenclature This activity encouraged deep analytical and critical thinking skills. She would also look at the shoes and compare and contrast the similarities and differences.

Overall, it was a fun activity. I am glad that I bought the notebooking journal too. It provides the child with notebooking sheets for the corresponding activities mentioned in the textbook.   
What a mess!
Kingdoms Divided
Sneaker Kingdom
Phylums: Laced and Velcro
I will link this post up at Sometimes Wordless Wednesday hosted at Tots and Me. Thank you for visiting!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Delicious Russian Teacakes

Last night my daughter and I wanted something sweet and buttery so she made us a batch of Russian Teacakes from our Everyday Cooking cookbook. These cookies are also known as Mexican Wedding cookies. Our friends used to give us a container of these cookies every Christmas and we LOVED them. But, we've never made them before so we wanted to give it a whirl. These would be excellent cookies for a Christmas cookie swap or elf surprise!

A link for Russian Teacakes is provided below in case you want to make them. You can eliminate the salt if desired.   

Crazy for Crust - This website also contains other fun Russian Teacake recipes using Rolos, Reese's, chocolate chips, and Funfetti sprinkles. We can't wait to try the Rolo Stuffed and Reese's Russian Teacakes.

Checkout the Everyday Cooking cookbook and Vicki Bentley's Everyday Homemaking blog for more information about this awesome cookbook. My review for this book will post around August 22nd-24th so keep an eye out for it so you can read about our experiences. We've been making lots of the meals and desserts.   

I will link this post up at Sometimes Wordless Wednesday at Tots and Me. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Try Prompt

The prompt for today's Five Minute Friday post is: Try.

Several things pop in my head when I hear the word TRY. I've always been told you have to try new things before you know if you will like it or not.

First, was when I was much younger and people were encouraging me to try new foods at the table. I was also told that it is polite to try new foods if you are a guest in someone's house. I remember sitting at the dining room table refusing to eat and refusing to try new foods. When I became a mom, I asked my daughter to do the same thing: Try. Give everything a try at least once or twice before you make a final decision about it. Who knows you may decide you like it! Today we try new foods by experimenting with new recipes.

Later in life . . .  the word TRY resonated more - it was about trying new jobs and hobbies to figure out what I am most interested in and who I really am. That's how I realized that teaching was the field for me. I was working at a place called New Life assisting the teacher throughout the day with student behavioral issues and then it hit me hard. At that point, I went back to college to get my Masters degree so I could teach. I taught at a public school for 3 years but after giving birth to Alyssa I tried different homeschool methods and curricula. Homeschooling became our reality. But, I remind myself to keep trying new things so that school can be fun.

I TRY to be the best teacher and home educator I can be. But . . . most importantly I try being a mom who is present in my daughter's life. I try comforting her when needed. I try to listening when she speaks. I try to help when needed. I try to juggle our schedule. There are so many things we do as moms. The list is never ending. But the key is to never give up. Keep trucking along and do the best that you can! Keep trying. Oh no . . . I ran out of time and haven't finished but the time is up!

Hmmm . . . I know you are thinking what an odd response to this journal prompt. But, that's what I jot down in 5 minutes without editing my response. It sounds a bit like I am rambling about several different topics. I swear they all have something to do with TRYING. :) Your turn.

I will link this post up at the Five Minute Friday Link-Up. Come join the fun and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sometimes Wordless Wednesday: Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies from Everyday Cooking

I made the Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies from my new Everyday Cooking cookbook written by Vicki Bentley. These treats will definitely curb your sweet tooth. If you've ever eaten the Magic Cookie Bars from the back of the Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs Box, then you'll enjoy these cookies. They have very similar ingredients.  
You know you want to try one!

I think I'll make the Apple Crisp tomorrow. This expanded and revised cookbook contains so many recipes from several different common categories. It even has Instant Pot recipe ideas. I've been planning my whole foods meals and desserts this week from the cookbook.  

Be sure to check out Vicki's blog and the Everyday Homemaking Facebook page because she shares several recipes online. 

I will link this post up at the Sometimes Wordless Wednesday Blog Linky at Tots and Me: Growing Up Together. Come join the fun! 


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Five Minute Friday: COMFORT

This is my first time participating in the Five Minute Friday Link-Up.

Prompt: Comfort
What comes to mind when you think of the word COMFORT?

Set Timer . . . Ready . . . Set . . . Here Goes . . .

Life's circumstances weigh heavy on my heart. During discouraging times, I look to the Bible and God for encouragement, hope, and COMFORT. He is the ultimate Comforter. He will shower me with his unconditional love and release me from worry if I open my heart and soul to Him and listen.

The verse Psalm 147:3 comes to mind "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
I know that God is always there for me no matter what. I seek comfort in Him so I can live a joyful life. He'll give me peace when I am anxious. He'll give me rest if I come to Him exhausted. He'll heal the deep pain I feel and just can't let go. He'll give me strength when I am weak. I have COMFORT knowing He is and always will be there for me just as He is there for you. I'll never be alone no matter what obstacles are thrown at me in life. He'll never leave me.

Comfort can be found in many place. Some people find COMFORT in delicious foods, family time, friendships, home, pets, hobbies, quietness, nature . . . but I seek God and the truth of the Word. When I read Scripture and pray to God . . . I feel Him comforting me. My mood is calmer and I breath slower. I am more relaxed.

I pray that you will find your comfort in our Heavenly Father today. Let Him know what is on your heart.  

I will link this post up at the Five Minute Friday Link-Up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Trust Fund - Know Who to Trust Movie from Mapelle Films

Mapelle Films
My daughter and I recently enjoyed watching our newest review product, Trust Fund, which is compelling drama available through Mapelle Films. The movie's story line was well-written and directed by Sandra Martin. At the beginning of January 2013 she began writing the script which was influenced by Timothy Keller's book Prodigal God. She shot the movie in 2014. It is also a retelling of the Prodigal Son but with a modern contemporary twist with the main characters being daughters. You can read Luke 15 in the Bible to gain a better and more insightful look into this parable. Then, discover the similarities or differences between the parable and movie as you view it.

We received a physical copy of the high-quality film in widescreen DVD format. The movie lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. The movie received the Dove seal movie rating. It had a limited release AMC theaters in January 2016 and was a success in Kansas City. The movie will now be released in the home entertainment market. This movie is intended for girls ages 12 and up. However, younger children can watch this movie with family members talking about any issues that may need further discussion. The movie is rated PG for mild thematic scenes and smoking. We didn't notice any other inappropriate scenes or swearing. You may want to preview the movie before showing it to your children since we all have different opinions and perspectives about appropriateness.  

Isaac Alongi is the cinematographer and one of the producers. Click on the link and scroll down to the bottom to read more about him and his accomplishments. One interesting tidbit about him is that he was a homeschool graduate. His parents homeschooled him from grades 1-12. He is Sandra's husband whose creative talents shine in this movie. His cinematography and setting locations were a brilliant fit.
Trust Fund Movie

Trust Fund: Know Who to Trust is about the main character Reese (Jessica Rothe), who is an aspiring author with a complex personality. She is on a personal journey towards self-discovery and hopes to find a purpose for her life. She is the anxious, free-spirited sister living in the shadows of her older sister. She's set for life but isn't content with life's blessings. Reese desires to have more in life and wants to fill an empty void that's pressing her to do and be more. Her sister Audrey (Louise Dylan) is always diligently working, being responsible, moral, respectable, and aims to impress others in the community. Yet deep inside Audrey is judgmental and has no compassion for her sister's state of being. She constantly belittles and humiliates Reese while making accusations about her life choices. The poor relationship between the two sisters is evident throughout the movie. It is clear that the two sisters have different personalities and perspectives about life. Her father, Grayson Donahue (Kevin Kilner), is a wealthy owner of a publishing company who gives both of his daughters jobs at his company. This generous man appears to be hiding the truth about their inheritance. He is a helpful, forgiving man who cares deeply for and loves them both. I honestly don't believe that their father intentionally and maliciously kept the inheritance to himself. I think he was just waiting for them to get established and reach a mature age before giving them the news. He was waiting for the right moment to share the special gift from their deceased mother.

While Reese snoops around in her father's office she uncovers a hurtful secret. She finds out something he's been hiding for years. She decides to take things in her own hands and lacks trust in her father's decision. She gives into temptation and makes the mistake of betraying her father, family, and the company. Reese steals 5 million dollars from the company which is half of the inheritance she's expecting to receive. She's a dreamer and heads for Italy hoping to meet up and rekindle a romance with a man named Milo. She met him during a recent trip to Italy. Audrey immediately tried hiring a private investigator to track the money her sister stole, but the detective ended up being her father's college roommate and contacted him. Her father was disappointed in her for going behind his back and didn't want to track Reese as if she were a criminal. Audrey is always quick to point out Reese's irresponsible character flaws. For example, during the conversation about hiring a detective Audrey says, "You want to see her as an innocent child, but she's not." She emphasizes and focuses on her mistakes.

Reese eventually ends up returning home empty-handed regretting and doubting her actions and behavior. What happened in Italy that might have changed her heart and life? Did she find her love in Italy? What do you think her father's response was when she called and said, "Daddy can I come home?" What lessons do you think she learned from this experience? Will she be forgiven by everyone involved? Will she return the stolen money? To find out answers to these questions you'll have to watch the movie.

This movie reminds us all to trust our loving God and his righteous plan. He knows the timing for everything in our life and we must patiently wait for it to unfold.

Our Experiences
I watched this movie with my nine-year-old daughter, Alyssa. We watched it as a family together so that I could discuss the big themes of the movie at a deeper level. Themes such as family, unconditional love, friendship, loyalty, trust, morality, honesty, betrayal, jealousy, pride, contentment, and forgiveness were addressed.

The movie was well-casted. Reese brings the story to life with her superb acting skills. One thing I liked about the movie was that I could feel what she was feeling as she struggled with her identity and life's obstacles. I could also relate to her feeling that something is missing in life and the desire to have a purpose. I was also surprised to see familiar faces in the movie. Ana Ortiz played Meredith who is the publisher of Reese's book and new romantic interest of Grayson. She adds a little more love and romance to the plot. Willie Garson who played Jerry in the movie disguised himself as a private detective in order to watch over Reese in Italy. His character and disguises add a touch of humor to the movie. The movie is packed with romance, humor, drama, and action.

We were never bored while watching the movie. It didn't drag on in any way. The action had a natural pace or flow. The story's plot captivated our attention even though we couldn't relate to the social class and status of the affluent family. However, we could still relate to the story because we've asked for forgiveness for our wrongdoings or sins. The relevant message is another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. We all need to think about our actions and the consequences we face for sinful behaviors. We all have a brokenness and no one is perfect. The movie also addresses trust which is an important topic in our own lives.

After watching the movie, you may decide that you liked the music. The music appealed to us. Nathan Matthew David created the original motion picture soundtrack for the movie Trust Fund. The music was well-thought out and fitting for the story. I believe he did an excellent job selecting the music. The soundtrack can also be found on the website for sale.

Alyssa's Thoughts
The movie was so good! I wanted to watch it again the next day. I loved the ending. I think children 8 years old up would enjoy and could watch this movie with their parents. My favorite part was when she comes home. Her dad was welcoming and loving. My least favorite part is what the guy did with Reese's money.   

The website also provides the viewer with a FREE study guide analyzing four relevant movie scenes under the Tools tab. This downloadable study guide and video components are meant to be used and discussed in a small groups setting or for individual purposes if desired. It will enable the users to further analyze the themes of the movie at a more in-depth level. First, the guide provides a short scene summary and a quote or question. Then, it references a Biblical verse and contains a "Right to the Point" section which compares the movie to the parable. The "Deep Thoughts" section allows the viewer to dig deeper and relate the truth or conflicts to their own life. The last section titled, What Do You Think" offers thought-provoking questions for you to ponder. I didn't use the study guide with my daughter, but I believe it would be a neat resource to use with a teen girl Bible study group.

Several of the other crew members reviewed the YA (Young Adult) book, Love Was Near, written by Sandra Martin. We did not receive or read this book. It is suitable for girls ages 12 and up. The book was written from the perspective of the main character (Reese) and reveals her thought processes during the movie. It is a "behind the scenes" glance at the story's plot. It sound like an great resource to use after watching the movie with older preteens and teenage daughters.
Love Was Near Book

Trust Fund: Know Who to Trust $14.99 Watch the movie trailer. :)
Love Was Near $12.99
Motion Picture Soundtrack $9.99

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

Trust Fund weaves fantastic performances and a meaningful message with carefully selected music and beautiful cinematography together in one magnificent film. I highly recommend this family friendly movie for Christian families with preteen and teenage girls in their household. I suggest sitting with them so that you can address the societal issues, life lessons, and Biblical truths revealed in the movie. This is a clean movie with a profoundly positive message that we could all benefit from hearing. It sparked a conversation with my daughter about forgiveness and unconditional love. We enjoyed the movie and will watch it again in the future. It is a wonderful addition to our faith-based movie collection and has surpassed my expectations.
Social Media
Facebook Tag: @TrustFundMovie
Twitter Tag: @TrustFundMovie
Pinterest Tag: @trustfundmovie
Instagram Tag: @trustfundmovie

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read other reviews from my colleagues about the Trust Fund movie and the book titled, Love Was Near.
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, July 14, 2017

Apple Jack Cookies

One winning recipe that we recently made in our home are the Apple Jack Cookies from our Home School in the Woods American Revolution study.

I've never made or tried these unique cookies before but I am glad that we were introduced to them. These cookies were such a hit with my family and friends! They were scarfed down and didn't last long. These cookies would be perfect for a Christmas cookie swap. They taste like molasses or gingerbread snap cookies. Oh so goooood! At first, I was a little worried because the cookie dough was dry and thick. In the end the cookies were moist and plump. I was super happy with the results! These are worth making.

If you want to use the recipe we used it can be found in the American Revolution study available through Home School in the Woods. You can read my review about our experiences with this wonderful History unit by clicking the link above. 

Online Apple Jack Recipes to Try: