Friday, October 28, 2011

Memoria Press: Classical Phonics & First Start Reading

Finding a good, solid Phonics curriculum is overwhelming!  When I first started homeschooling Kindergarten, I stressed and stressed over all the of the curriculum choices!  There were so many options and many of them looked SO good...  It is hard to judge at a noisy curriculum fair, a busy bookstore, or over the internet just which curriculum is actually going to be a good fit for your kids.  Especially when you can't see it in person and thumb through its pages.  A lot of times, finding the right one takes a bit of trial and error and it is frustrating to spend money on a curriculum that, in the end, just didn't work for your children.  Thankfully great products, like those by Memoria Press, eliminate the stress of weeding through curriculum and offer an awesome, full, curriculum that is so easy to use!

A big thank you Memoria Press and The Old Schoolhouse Crew I had an opportunity to review Memoria Press: First Start Reading & Classical Phonics.  I am so excited to share this product with you!

First Start Reading:  First Start Reading is a no-nonsense, no-fluff method of learning how to read.   Ideal for Pre-K through 2nd grade First Start Reading uses a traditional segmented phonics approach for teaching your child how to read. 
This program is intuitive and uncomplicated.  For example, your child will start with individual letter sounds:  M makes the "mmmm" sound as in moon, man and mop, B makes the "buh" sound, and so on.   The student workbook includes coloring, tracing and handwriting pages.  As your child leans to write they are encouraged to use the correct pencil hold -- a valuable handwriting skill that is often overlooked into today's schools.

After working through each letter sound your child moves on to phonics blends and word families.  Things like:  -an, -in, -it, -at and so forth.  Each blend is then strung together to make words!  By lesson 3 your child is capable of reading several words!  There is nothing more rewarding that watching your child's eyes light up when they have accomplished something new!
Yes!  It really is that easy!  First start reading includes a easy-to-follow Teacher Guide and 3 Student Workbooks.  You can buy just the 3 student books, they retail for $21.00 or you can purchase the 3-book First Start Reading set with teachers guide, it retails for $29.95.  Items can be purchased HERE.

Classical Phonics:
We were also able to review Classical Phonics, a supplement to First Start Reading.


Based on the 1913 classic, Word Mastery by Florence Akin, Classical Phonics is a fun approach to learning to hear, see and recognize letters and words.  Using "ear, tongue and eye training", Classical Phonics encourages children to hear & recognize consonant and vowel sounds, listen to how words are spelled to interpret meaning, encourages correct pronunciation of phonetic sounds through drill and associating sounds with symbols for long-term memory.  It is well organized, systematic and easy to use.

Take a look at the Table of Contents!  By Unit 10 your child will achieve mastery of over 2000 words!

Classical Phonics retails for 14.95 and can be purchased HERE.

What we liked about First Start Reading & Classical Phonics:
-Simple and intuitive.  A very common-sense approach to learning phonics, word blends and a no-stress method of learning to read!

-The price is great!  A full phonics curriculum for less than $50.00! Wow!  That is hard to find!

-Teachers guide is VERY simple to use, requiring only basic prep-work.

Teaches the lost skill of "correct pencil hold" and posture!

What we didn't like about First Start Reading & Classical Phonics:
-Spying the long word-list pages immediately made my daughter cringe.  Page after page of just words (only small black and white illustrations on some pages) overwhelmed my daughter causing her to immediately announce "Oh!  I can't do THAT"  (She could - but it was intimidating for her).   In the past we have used workbooks that have a lot of color pictures and illustrations.  You will not find any of that here...which is perfect for many homeschool families whose child gets overwhelmed or over stimulated busy worktext.reading pages or the homeschool parent who really wants a no-frills approach to learning.

To learn more about Memoria Press or to shop through their catalog click the button below!

To see what my crewmates thought of Memoria Press Classical Phonics & First Start Reading click HERE.

I received Memoria Press: Classical Phonics and First Start Reading free of charge in exchange for an honest review.   All the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smack Dab in the Middle of God's Love

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God's Love, by Brennan Manning & John Blase is a book that shows God's Love for His children no matter where they are in life.  Willie Juan and Ana are smack-dab in the middle of their years and were unable to have children of their own, but their love for the neighborhood children knows no limits.  As Ana makes Sopapillas for the children, the kids open up to Willie Juan and Ana and ask the hard questions about God.  As one child expresses fear over how big God is...Willie Juan and Ana comfort her and show the children through example just how much God loves them by keeping them right Smack Dab in the Middle of His Love! 
A great any-time story for little kids and big kids alike!

I review for BookSneeze®

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Teacher Priscilla White knew that Gods plan for her life was a life of missionary service abroad.  When the missionary board determines the only way that Pricilla can fulfill a mission is to be married, she is devastated.  As a teen Priscilla had a serious illness that left her unable to conceive or bear a child so marriage was out of the question, or was it?

Dr. Eli Earnest was stuck.  In order to fulfill his dream of providing medical care and opening a much-needed medical clinic in the rugged west, the missionary board determined he needed a wife.  The problem?  He doesn't really want a wife.

Two completely different individuals thrown together by similar circumstances.  A marriage of convenience and a trip West fraught with danger and heartache.  As they continue on their journey, Priscilla and Eli learn to respect and eventually love one another.

I really enjoyed this book!  As an adoptive Mom I was able to relate to the heartache and pain Priscilla experienced watching other women with their children.  It is rare to read a historical fiction where the heroine is infertile...  I stayed up way too late to keep on reading, one more chapter, just one more chapter!  You will enjoy The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund!

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Character Concepts for Preschoolers - The Learning Parent

When I first began homeschooling I was truly worried about how be around my children, all day, every day, and still ENJOY being a Stay At Home Mom.  Don't get me wrong, I really, really love my little munchkins, but I was overwhelmed with the thought that we would all be around each other 24/7.   It was at a homeschoolers information meeting where I heard the best advice from another Mom.  She said, "The key to staying home with your kids, and loving it, is training our children to be the kind of kids you love to be around."  Wow.  Why didn't I think of that?

A few months later I was still frustrated and feeling like I had made an unwise decision to homeschool when I had the opportunity to go to our local homeschool conference.  Our key note speakers that week were a family from Virginia, Rick & Marilyn Boyer (parents of 14 children, all homeschooled!)- and I haven't been the same since.  Not only did Marilyn reiterate what the wise mother had said, but she also told me HOW to make it happen through Character Training.

At the end of the conference I bought every audio transcript available by Rick & Marilyn, listened to them over and over and over again, and with excitement, implemented their Character Concepts for Preschoolers curriculum, available through their website The Learning Parent.

Character Concepts for Preschoolers Curriculum includes:

Teacher Guide and Storybook - setting the foundation for learning and emulating good character qualities.  Topics include, Obedience, Patience, Honesty, Gratefulness, Respectfulness and much more!  To use this you can read a real-life story to your child from the storybook, and then use the teachers guide to choose activities that will work well with your child.  The teachers guide also includes Hero's From History and the Bible that are good examples of the character quality you are studying.  Each character quality has a theme to memorize, for example Obedience is doing what is expected of me, immediately, cheerfully and thoroughly.   My daughter can quote these by heart and when we slip up, Mommy can quote this too to encourage back-on-track behavior.

Hands On Character Building - is a book full of fun games and activities that you can use to help your child as you learn the character qualities.

Flash Cards - Character Quality flashcards and Alphabet flashcards to help with memorization of key terms and themes.

Uncle Rick's History for Preschoolers - audio read by Rick teaching real-life history to kids

I was also blessed to receive Uncle Rick Reads the Proverbs for review...  Marilyn recommended playing this audio during quiet time to give my kids a chance to hear the book of proverbs.  In fact, every character quality we need to know is embedded in this book of the Bible.

Let me tell you.  After listening to this audio for about 5 minutes - I immediately thought to myself "This is MY Uncle Rick too!"  I, the Mom, was hungry to hear Rick read the Proverbs to me...not just my kids!  It may seem strange, but it was like inviting MY Uncle Rick into my home so he could help me teach my children.  It is now one of my favorite things to listen to in the car, and Uncle Rick feeds my soul every Sunday during my 30 minute drive to Church.  As Uncle Rick reads through the Proverbs he stops and explains complicated words and concepts.  I cannot wait to get a chance to purchase another audio.  There are so many to choose from!

I am so grateful to Rick & Marilyn Boyer at The Learning Parent for providing me with this opportunity to review the Character Concepts for Preschoolers Curriculum.  Implementing the character qualities in my home has helped me to feel more empowered and confident in homeschooling and encouraged me as a mother.  Thank you - thank you- Thank you!!!

To learn more about Rick & Marilyn or to shop through their awesome products, 
check out their website at The Learning Parent!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Destination Adventure: The Trip Back Home

We eventually started making our way back home where we stopped through Colorado Springs to see Aunt Mary and Uncle Jarom.  You can thank them for...

buying Kayley this interesting Sponge Bob T-shirt and hat...that she adores.

Maggie was so sick and tired of traveling that she pretty much gave us this look all the way home.

We stopped and played for a while at Ft. Scott National Monument in Kansas...every so often a bugle would play, and every time she heard it Maggie would gasp!  And look all around!
  aaahhh...isn't my hubby cute?

and, this is how extremely trashed our car looked by the time we got back...
it was so GOOD to be home!

Monday, October 17, 2011

E-mealz Review

It is no secret in my little family that I do NOT like to cook.  It's true.  I also hate the cleanup that comes from cooking.  But, do you know what I hate the absolute most?  Planning!  I hate planning what I am going to cook, what ingredients I need to cook and shopping for the goodies that I need to make a decent meal.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a terrible cook.  I just really, really, don't like it.  So - needless to say I was really intrigued by the opportunity the TOS Crew gave me in reviewing a program called E-mealz!


What is E-mealz?  E-mealz is a simple, easy to use system that takes the guesswork and planning out of family dinner!  Or, in other words, it was exactly what I needed to prepare delicious and inexpensive family meals for my picky eaters without the stress!! 

The E-mealz plans are written by REAL Moms who also have picky eaters, so each menu is child friendly.  Plans are also written based on this weeks sales at YOUR grocery store, so it is budget friendly!  E-mealz plans are also available for special issues like gluten intolerance, vegetarian, portion control, low carb and more! 

How does it work?

E-mealz is so simple!  First your choose your plan.  Plans include:  Regular Meal Plans or Specialty Meal Plans.   (7 meals, for two or for Family, 4-6 people)

Regular Meal Plans are broken up by store.  Choose from:  Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Aldi, Ralphs or a generic "any store" option.  (I tried the Walmart plan for 3 weeks)

Specialty Meal Plans are broken up by specialty.  Choose from:  Gluten free, low carb, vegetarian, portion control, and low fat.  (I also tried the low carb plan for 3 weeks)

Second,  download your recipes, shopping list and head to the store!
Click to see a sample plan: 


 Third, cook your meals and have a fun dinner!  Yum!

 Here are some of the good dinners we enjoyed on a 1 to 4 "Yum" Scale...  1 being "Eww YUCK" and 4 being "WAY Yummy!")

Pepperoni Loaf:  My family gave this dinner 4 Yums Up!  It was so easy to prepare and so tasty!  Perfect for my picky little eaters!  In fact, I have been craving this and might just have to make it again today!  Oh, I should add that even the toddler liked this and the prep/cleanup was minimal.  (Walmart Family Plan) 

Cheeseburgers with Mushrooms & Onions:  3 Yums Up.  My 5 year old gagged over the mushroom & onion part but then again, what 5 year old likes mushrooms and onions?  I thought it tasted pretty good!  (Low Carb Plan)

Sausage & Shrimp Gumbo:   Ohhhh yummy, yummy, yummy.  This got 4 Yums Up!  Even my 4 year old thought it tasted great (and it was a little spicy).  She was really impressed that I put "hot dogs" in it (it was turkey sausage).  I will definitely be making this again!  (Low Carb Plan)

Enchilada Pie:   4 Yums Up!  Even the toddler liked it and wanted more.  In fact, this recipe was so good that I even ended up eating the leftovers for breakfast!  (Walmart Family Plan)

Chicken Chile Verde:  3 Yums Up!  It was too spicy for my littles but the adults LOVED it.  You can bet if I will be making this dish for my next potluck!  This recipe could win awards!  (Low Carb Plan)

What I liked about E-mealz:  I really like the convenience of having recipes and a shopping list lined up.  My family really likes the fact that I am cooking more.  E-mealz is so easy to use and so easy on the budget!  Understandably the prices didn't exactly match up with the list and my Walmart on all items but it was minimal.

What I didn't like about E-mealz:  Dessert?  Not that I eat dessert every day, but I do like to make a dessert once or twice a week.  I would LOVE to see some dessert recipes.  And a few of the items that were considered "staples" were not actually items I keep in the house.  For example, cooking wine and fresh ginger.

How much does it cost?
E-mealz charges $15 every 3 months to your debit or credit card. That's a bargain at only 5$ per month!

To find out more about E-mealz programs click HERE.

To learn more about the creative geniuses behind this awesome program, Jane & Jenny, click HERE.

Ready to join E-mealz and enjoy the convenience and fun of family dinnertime?  Click HERE.

To find out what my fellow crewmates thought of E-mealz, click HERE.


I received E-mealz free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  
All the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Destination Adventure: Hogle Zoo, TITP Mon, & BYU

I know I know!  It is taking me forever to get all these pics uploaded!  I'm so sorry!  I've been so busy doing projects (taking advantage of Grandma visiting) that I am so out of the loop on the virtual world!  Anyway, here are the pics from our final day in UT!  We went to Hogle Zoo and met up with Krystin, Jay & Autumn!

The girls road the carousel...which was a real treat since our local zoo doesn't have one!

Kayley kept a lookout for wildlife.

 Self portrait on the train!

Afterward we headed over for a few minutes to the This Is The Place Monument and Heritage Park where I snapped a few great pics!

 This is about to be a tantrum....

 And then, before leaving the Salt Lake Valley we drove down to Provo and stopped off at BYU to buy much-needed BYU gear!

As we headed out we drive by the Tabernacle to see it stabilized and very clean.   We found out during General Conference that they will turn it into a Temple!

The drive out of UT was kind of boring, but beautiful.

James pretended like he was reading the map, but don't be fooled...I think he is sleeping.

 I snapped this picture of my friend, the Big Kahuna.  He has been hanging in my car(s) for over 10 years.  I'm sure by now you are wondering why I started snapping unrelated pictures...  I was very, very bored.

As we drove we became more and more...

Mentally Unstable.
Next Stop:  Denver.
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