Today's Wisdom

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review of KidsEmail.org

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription

My daughter now has own kids email! She has been sending and receiving emails with the Annual Subscription from KidsEmail.org. When you turn 13 in our home, you not only step into the teenage years but it is also the introduction to the world of social media. Yes, their friends have all mostly already begun before age 13 by lying about their age but we make ours wait until they can truthfully put in their birth date.

Truth be told though this is a scary step for me. I know what the internet holds and it is a scary place without some supervision. I am always upfront with my children and tell them that I will be monitoring their accounts and I am extremely grateful when products come along to make that job so much easier!

KidsEmail.org came along at just the perfect time for us. Sarah turned 13 at the beginning of September so her first step into the social media world was to set up an email account and that's where KidsEmail.org has made my life so much simpler. I feel that she is so much safer using this email than any other.


Some of the features of KidsEmail.org that we love are:

Mail monitoring - Parents receive a copy of all incoming and outgoing emails.

Blocking and Filtering - You can block senders or simply set up the account to only receive emails from the email addresses on your contact list. You can also block emails from going or coming at certain times of the day as well as filter out any that may contain foul language. You have the option to block images or attachments too.

Mail Queue - This is where emails go when they have failed the safety rules that you have set up. You can then choose to let them go into your child's inbox or delete them. I LOVE this feature so much!

Template options - There are several background options to choose allowing your child to customize their email landing page.



App - There is an app available for children who have smartphones. There is also a GPS tracking feature you can set up with the app. Sarah does not have a smartphone but she played around with it using my phone and is excited when that next milestone comes. In our house, you can purchase a smartphone when you can pay for it yourself!


Just like in other email programs, you an set up folders to filter emails and have the options of different fonts, sizes, and even emoticons.  There is also a fun drawing board feature.  


I really liked that I could change the email address to @kmail.org instead of @kidsemail.org and Sarah could have her own area where she could log in her information separate from mine. When emails come in they look like every other email so kids have no reason to feel like this program is babyish or anything other than what other email programs offer.
 
With the types of security that this email program features, I would even consider allowing my children to have their own email before they turned 13. I really wish we had this around when my boys were younger too!

With the annual subscription, you can add up to 6 email accounts for $38.95/year. There is also a monthly option at $4.95/month where you can add 4 email accounts.

You can sign up for a 30 day free trial to see if this program will work for your family. No credit card needed!


KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription

Find out more by visiting KidsEmail.org on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.
KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review of The Pray-ers/Book 1 "Troubles" | #prayersnovel

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
I have recently finished devouring a new Christian historical fiction book, The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles, written by Mark S. Mirza and published by CTM Publishing Atlanta. Most of the time when I read, I stick to nonfiction but historical fiction has always been a genre I have found interesting as well. When you add in Christian historical fiction, I am intrigued.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

Author, Mark S. Mirza, had a few goals in mind when writing The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles:

1)for the reader to experience prayer for themselves through his characters and

2) for the reader to enjoy their reading experience. 

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

I can say that from my perspective as a reader both of those goals were completely met!  I found it hard to put the book down once I began reading it.  That is always the sign of a great book to me.  

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles is a paperback book with 372 pages and 45 chapters. It is also available as a Kindle book.   In the beginning of the book, you will find a preface explaining why the author wrote the book along with his reasonings on not capitalizing the names of demons, footnote explanations, and more. At the back of the book was one of my favorite parts as each character is listed including a little detail about them along with the era they represent. My favorite part of the character descriptions were the pronunciation keys to their names because many of them are not common names. 

The book takes place in three different eras of church history - First Century, Nineteenth Century, and the Current Era. Each era has its own hero story line to follow. Each chapter of the book tells which era you will be reading about as the book pivots back and forth between eras. The characters are connected as the current era hero, Dr. Dale Riley, is the great-great-grandson of the 19th century hero, Alexander Rich. Each of the era heroes also has the same guardian angel, Hael, looking after them.


As the story lines of each character unfolds, you find a common theme among them. They each face their own share of uncomfortable situations to deal with and you follow along as each one pours their heart out to God. You are not just told that they prayed about the situation, but you read their actual prayers over and over. Scattered all through out the book are Scripture footnotes showing the why of what the characters believe. Those are great references for any believer and I loved the way the author wrote them in to flow so well with the story lines. There are a lot of historical and Biblical facts in each story line as well. Sometimes I found it hard to separate the fact from the fiction! I loved when Mr. Mirza would give a footnote of a real event that coincided with the story such as the name of one of the character's horses being his own horse's name.

This was a great read while waiting for my children to finish basketball practice. I found the time reading so refreshing for the soul. My normal spot was at the park sitting in the van.



Here are just a few of the main characters and some of their story lines (there is a lot more for you to find out on your own):

First Century - Thales is the hero of this era. His uncle is Epaphras whom Paul spoke about in Colossians 4:12 as one who prays earnestly. Thales ( a fictitious character) learns prayer under his uncle and deals with his own feelings of falling in love with the granddaughter of the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas.

Nineteenth Century - Alexander Rich is the hero of this era. He is a preacher in the south dealing with racism, a congregation full of accusations and gossipers, and his own feelings of love. One of his childhood friends is D.L. Moody so they often exchange letters through out the book.

Current Era - Dr. Dale Riley is the hero of this era. He is a track coach at a university who also leads a men's prayer meeting. One of his students runs into a problem with one of her papers when she gives a Christian answer that her antagonistic professor, Isabela Gonzalez, doesn't like. There lives intertwine as Professor Gonzalez is diagnosed with cancer and seeks council from Dale's praying wife, Margie.

Over and over again, the book gives prayer examples and I found myself picking up some great inspiration for my own prayer life. It was like having my own prayer mentor right by side showing me how to pray more fervently and using Scripture as my prayer. One part that really stood out to me was when was when Dr. Dale Riley was leading his men's prayer group and he gave them advice on what to do when they begin to pray and all of a sudden it seems the enemy starts throwing distractions to you at every angle. He told them to get out a piece of paper and right down what kept coming to their minds and that would help them to take the distraction off their brain. He also taught them that praying in silence is okay. Often we think of awkwardness when all is silent but sometimes that is when we hear God the best.

Here is a snapshot of the type of dialogue you will find. In this sample, you see the angel smiling, the demon (name in lower case) in an uproar because the saint is on his knees in prayer. You can also see a sample of the Scripture footnotes.



This is not a book for younger children unless you are wanting to discuss abortion, atheism, cancer, death, rape, or sex. I did not feel that the book had any inappropriate content and I do plan to let my 15 year old son read the book next. These are things that our children will be dealing with all around them if they haven't already. In the book, characters will deal with strongholds and you will see walls beginning to break down as you reach the end which is always a rejoicing and exciting time. However, you will not see their complete transformation (I'm guessing there will be one coming!) or find any definitive answers. As you read to the end, you are only left with more questions and cliffhangers as to what will happen next in their lives. You do know that they will continue to battle with spiritual warfare as you are told the sequel, The Pray-ers / Book 2 Spiritual Warfare is expected out by Christmas 2016.

I did find a few editing errors as I read but overall I would highly recommend this book to teens and adults. It is a fun and enjoyable read as well as an inspiration to a better prayer life.  The Scripture footnotes alone are a valuable resource to have at your fingertips!

Find out more by visiting Facebook and Twitter.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up | Week 5 | Almost Break Time!


Only 1 week left and then we will take a little break for a teacher planning session and a little camping trip hopefully.  We love having a 6 week on / 1 week off schedule when possible.  

Basketball season officially began this week.  We had some tough lessons to learn this week as Stephen made the team and Sarah did not.  However, the girls only have a varsity team and Sarah has only just turned 13 so she still has plenty of time left to secure her spot.  It is still hard to not make the team but life lessons help us grow. 

And hey she gets to have school at Krispy Kreme while we wait so not too bad, right?  :)

Here is a sneak peak into Teaching Textbooks Geometry and Pre-Algebra.  I cannot recommend them enough.  The lessons are taught so simply and not over complicated and automatically graded for me - yes!  Tip:  I have the kids write their daily scores down on their checklist in case of a computer crash and loss of scores which we have dealt with in the past.  



More science experiment fun this week as Sarah was learning about the different variables of experiments.  How much salt does it take to make an egg float?  What motor works best for a cardboard boat?





This was our last week in the USA so each child took a final state quiz.  Next week, we're off to Mexico!

 

My first attempt at freezer meals was a success - tiring but successful and I now have 10 meals in the freezer for a busy basketball season!



We finished up the the first half of Kingdom Tales this week and will begin reading a missionary book next week.  

Here is the done pile of books so far this year.



Linking up with Weekly Wrap-Up


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review of Getting Started With French

I have been exploring a new foreign language curriculum, Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press. I took two years of Spanish in High School but only remember a little of the vocabulary so I love trying to learn languages all over again beside my children. We've tackled Latin and Spanish so I was curious to see how French flowed and if their were any similarities since it is one of the romance languages.  I discovered some similarities but French also has its own unique qualities.  

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

The book itself comes in a paperback workbook style with 172 lessons. Each lesson gently introduces students to French vocabulary including articles, direct objects, gender, infinitives, singular and plural nouns and so much more. Lessons are simple and quick to complete and designed to build upon each other so skipping ahead is not a good idea. 
 
In the beginning of the book are instructions guiding students and parents through the layout of the lessons. When a lesson contains a new word, students will always find the word in bold print along with pronunciation hints and meaning. There are also exercises for students to complete that contain past and current vocabulary. You see more pages in this preview of the book.


There are no tests included in the book but there is a suggestion to test students at the end of a lesson by having them translate the exercises without looking at the answers. The beauty of this curriculum is that you go at your own pace. If you don't grasp something, simply repeat until you do. 
 
I loved that the lessons could easily be completed in less than 30 minutes per day with some earlier lessons taking much less time than that. I also loved that you were not just left alone to try to figure out pronunciations. There is a pronunciation guide located in the back of the book along with the answers to the lessons and a glossary.

But what I loved most were the accessories available at the website. You can download mp3 commentaries on each lesson as well as the pronunciations from a native French speaker for free. The commentaries are very informative and even give students tricks on how to form their mouth and tongue to produce the correct pronunciation. I found myself laughing out loud as I tried to replicate my new French vocabulary words with my southern accent. I spared y'all the recording of that! I do recommend that you have your students record themselves saying the words though because when you listen to yourself say it back, it's easier to catch mispronunciations or at least it was for me. 
 
I would highly recommend this book to homeschoolers looking for a gentle and quick introduction to French for their students. I think it would be great to add it to a morning basket or read aloud to learn as a family and then you could practice together through out the day and week too. 
 
Another recommendation the book gave is for a high school or college student who is trying to grasp the basics before taking a French class. It's also great for parents like me who still love learning too! It's so quick and easy to complete a lesson that fitting it into your daily schedule isn't difficult at all.


Mr. Linney also has books available for other languages too - Getting Started with Latin, Getting Started with Spanish, and coming soon is Getting Started with Russian.

Find out more by visiting Armfield Academic Press on Facebook.

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
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Virtual Homeschool Coop | 2016-2017 Introduction

the Virtual Homeschool Coop || Coordinating Collaborations to Grow the Homeschool Community of Knowledge
This response video is my part of the Virtual Homeschool Coop Channel Collaboration. You can find out more at www.virtualhomeschoolcoop.com. The goal of the Virtual Homeschool Coop is to build the homeschool community of knowledge with collaborations to give voice to all experiences in homeschooling.


Here is an introduction to our homeschool for the 2016-2017 school year.  We are entering into our 8th year of homeschool in the state of NC and now have only two students left that are homeschooling - Sarah (8th grade) and Stephen (10th grade).  We have one homeschool graduate - whoop whoop!

We had one mission when we began homeschooling and that was to teach our children God's Word so they could grow in their relationship with Him.  I knew that if I could accomplish that one goal, He would equip them with whatever else He wanted them to learn!  You can read more about our mission statement aka our "why" here.  

We take a very eclectic approach when it comes to curriculum and LOVE trying out new curriculum to see if it fits our family.  We have been a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew for many years and that helps to feed our curriculum addictions interests.

We are so excited to meet other homeschooling families and to encourage them in their journeys as well as be encouraged ourselves.  Please leave us a comment to let us know where you are from!  Our focus this year is on World Geography so we would love to know where you are and we will add your family to our prayers!


Here is our Introduction Video:



If you would like to join the Coop, go here to learn more. No voice is too small! 


Friday, September 9, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up | Week 4


Week 4 is done and there goes one month of school!  Is it just me or does 2016 seem to be flying by at extreme speeds?!?

The whole week seemed a blur so I am having a hard time recapping this week!

I did set up this little bin to hold our trivia/vocabulary cards because they were beginning to overtake my desk.  It is working great so far.  



Sarah's geography focus for the next 2 weeks is North America with this week's emphasis on the USA.  We decided to sign up for the geography fair in November too so we need to make a plan to start prepping for that each week.  Sarah chose Canada and Stephen chose Chile as their countries.



This country fact sheet is from NotebookingPages.com.


We reviewed Logic of English last year and are continuing through the book this year.  Sarah is really enjoying seeing the words all fit together and it's helping her spelling confidence too.


Stephen began reading a new book for English this week and finished up his first A.C.E. pace so we have another book added to the done pile!  




We are still currently reading aloud from Kingdom Tales and Pray-ers (review coming soon).

I am continuing to read in Hosea and the gospel of John for quiet time.  Next week is going to be a busy one as basketball tryouts for both children will be going on and I am going to try my hand at a few freezer meals. I've double portions before and froze them but never actually attempted several meals at once!  

So, leave any tips you have in the comment section - please!!

Linking up with Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday, September 5, 2016

Is Your Homeschool Structured or Relaxed? | #VHC

the Virtual Homeschool Coop || Coordinating Collaborations to Grow the Homeschool Community of Knowledge
This response video is my part of the Virtual Homeschool Coop Channel Collaboration. You can find out more at www.virtualhomeschoolcoop.com. The goal of the Virtual Homeschool Coop is to build the homeschool community of knowledge with collaborations to give voice to all experiences in homeschooling.


So this week's question is do we think our homeschool is structured or relaxed and to rate it on a scale from 0 being no structure to 10 being high structure. Here are my thoughts on our homeschool.

Overall, I gave our homeschool a rate of 7 on the structured/relaxed scale. My children and myself thrive on structure so we may be a little more structured then some homeschools out there.

In curriculum, I gave our homeschool a rate of 6 because I am learning to be a lot more flexible in this area than when we first started. I am no longer a slave to my curriculum but use it as a tool to help facilitate the needs that my children need met. If it doesn't work for us, I'm okay with getting rid of it although I do like to give it a good go before sending it on. If it brings tears, sweat, and fights then it really has to go. There are way too many options out there for any of those to be the case!

In our daily routine, I gave our homeschool a rate of 7 because we do have a schedule and try our best to stick to it. Again as the years have passed and my children are involved with extra curricula activities, we have learned to allow for flexibility in our schedule. I am a planner at heart so having a plan makes me feel accomplished even if we only get to half of it for the week. It will still be there for us the next week ready to go!

In our homeschool space, I gave our homeschool a rate of 8 because the majority of our homeschooling takes place in our school room. We do have school on the road, in the dining room, on the living room couch, etc but for the most part all school materials, supplies, and learning resides in our homeschool room.


See this video to hear more thoughts on our homeschool ratings:




If you would like to join the Coop, go here to learn more. No voice is too small!