Thursday, September 30, 2010

Foundlings Review

Let me just start by saying how excited I was to be receiving this book for review. Both of my kids are voracious readers, they bring books on 10 minute errand runs. They always want books with them. The difficult part of that is finding literature that is both quality and appropriate. And today there seems to be a shortage of those qualities to be found in modern books. I loved flipping the book over and finding the words: "No Magic, No Evolution, and No Humanism" printed clearly on the back...."great start" ran through my mind.

Here is a brief synopsis from the website about Foundlings written by Matthew Christian Harding:

Foundlings, book one of The Peleg Chronicles
is Historical Fiction that takes place in the
time period of Peleg, soon after the tower of
Babel dispersion. In its pages we meet
dragons, giants, false priests, the death hunt,
an under-city of the Dwarven Brotherhood,
and many memorable characters.

The story begins with Lord McDougal and his
faithful shield-bearer, Fergus Leatherhead,
departing their lands with giants at their
backs, while before them lie in wait denizens of
the bog-land and forest.

Ever ready to protect and serve others, they
gather in tow an assortment of displaced
adventurers and find themselves embroiled in
a mysterious search for the foundlings:
orphaned Thiery with his companion Horatio
the white wolf, and Suzie who has been
deceitfully retained by the thieves Elvodug and

I decided to have my 15 year old son read this book and here are a few of his opinions:

"It's a good book, well written and kept me interested. The book was set in the time of Peleg, just after the flood of Noah, but there were elements that in actual history were centuries apart. For example they were wearing plate mail and that wasn't invented until the Roman empire. I believe it's better if the technology is time period accurate. But it is still a good book and I would be interested in reading the rest of the series."

My son is all about history, he loves it, reads about it for fun, not just homeschool. So for him, these kinds of details really matter. I would find him enjoying the book but then having moments of frustration at the inaccuracy of the time period and events happening that would never have gone together. He would also mention how the speech of the characters did not align with the time period as well...details, but like he said, it would not stop him from wanting to read more of the series.

From my personal perusal of the book, I found it to be fun and engaging. Personally I felt weaving together the Genesis account with another time period of chivalry and heroism was entertaining. I would recommend this book to my friends and family however I would definitely add in the thoughts my son has shared as well. The best written? Probably not, but overall a fun read. I am thankful for believing authors that are taking time to produce books for our kids to read. I look forward to future releases from this author and publishing company, I want to encourage a publisher working to bring better literature to the world.

In addition to the story in the end of the book there is a section entitled " The Gospel of Jesus Christ". This portion is filled with verses about coming into repentance and a relationship with the Lord. It includes verses on baptism as well. I like that there is no commentary offered in this portion, just a listing of verses. I might suggest, however, that there be guidance to the child reading this to talk to their parents if they have any questions about what is being shared here.

Foundlings is 239 pages long. It can be purchased from the Zoe & Sozo Publishing website for $11.95, the recommended age range for this book is ages 10 and up. Currently, books one and two are available for this series.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. As such I have received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of this product. I have not received any additional compensation for my review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press

I love to get books, check books out of the library, borrow them from friends, receive them as gifts and especially have them sent to me for review! We just LOVE books in our home. There is one problem, in a world that seems to love vampires, magic and overly mature relationships for young people, finding good quality books can be quite difficult. So, I was very excited about receiving and reading books from Salem Ridge Press.

I had done a little look see over there website to get an idea of what we would be receiving. I was so excited about the prospects! Here is a little snippit from there site:

"Here at Salem Ridge Press we know how challenging it can sometimes be to find wholesome books for your family. Well-written books that teach godly character and high moral values are hard to come by. Many books written during the late 1800's and early 1900's fit this criteria, but it still takes time to search them out and preview their contents. We purchase many old books, often using leads from old catalogs, and carefully evaluate each one, republishing only the best of the best."

These are just the kinds of books we are looking for. And this is one of the books we read, cover to cover when it arrived...

Dearer Than Life, a story of the times of Wycliffe, by Emma Leslie. Wonderful story! The kids and I really enjoyed learning about the life of Dr. Wycliffe and the reality of life under a church that ruled all aspects of life. It gave us such a wonderful understanding of what Dr. Wycliffe and his "poor priests" endured as they tried to spread the truth of God's word to a people who only understood the church to be the final authority on all matters. It was certainly a time of revival.

As much as we learned and enjoyed this book, I would have to add, we did find the language difficult at times. Because of the Old English we would find ourselves lost in the story. However, with that aside, we still understood the overall story and enjoyed the language. One thing that we found very helpful as well, at the bottom of each page is a list of words from Old English and their translation into modern English. This was fun to learn some "old" vocabulary.

In addition to this book we received two books in e-book format:

Sign Above the Door - Story Synopsis
"Young Prince Martiesen is ruler of the land of Goshen in Egypt, where the Hebrews live. Eight plagues have already come upon Egypt and now Martiesen has been forced by Pharaoh to further increase the burden of the Hebrews. Martiesen, however, is in love with the beautiful Hebrew maiden, Elisheba, whom he is forbidden by Egyptian law to marry. As the nation despairs, the other nobles turn to Martiesen for leadership, but before he can decide what to do, Elisheba is kidnapped by the evil Peshala and terrifying darkness falls over the land. An exciting tale woven around the events of the Exodus from the Egyptian perspective!"

The Captives - Story Synopsis
"The Druid priests are as cold and cruel as the forest spirits they claim to represent, and Guntra, the chief of her tribe of Britons, must make a desperate deal with them to protect those she loves. Unaware of Guntra’s struggles, Jugurtha, her son, longs to drive the hated Roman conquerors from the land. When he encounters the Christian Centurion, Marcinius, Jugurtha mocks the idea of a God of love and kindness, but there comes a day when he is in need of love and kindness for himself and his beloved little sister. Will he allow Marcinius to help him? And will the gospel of Jesus Christ ever penetrate the brutal religion of the proud Britons?"

Salem Ridge Press offers a nice line of books, and I would have to say, using this book as an indicator of quality, we will be sure to return for other adventures. What they offer is quite extensive:
  • Church History (historical fiction)
  • American History (historical fiction)
  • World History (historical fiction)
  • Adventure Books
  • Allegory
  • Books for Young Readers
And within these there are many options. You can get many books in hardcover or soft cover, and books range in price from $12.95-$22.95. Their website is also very user friendly, you can search by subject, age range, author or alphabetical. And while you are there, don't forget to check out there "About Us" page, sweet photos of this family and a lovely testimony. This is a family committed to offering excellent literature for our children.

I would highly recommend taking a look at Salem Ridge Press . I know my family will be heading back for more wonderful books on subjects we will be studying in the future.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. As such I have received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of this product. I have not received any additional compensation for my review.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Crazy Cat

A couple of years ago I thought it would be fun to get another has been about a year since our beloved Critter had passed and I was thinking it would be nice to have a little fur ball around again. I asked Scott about it and he was quick to answer no way. He did not want the clean up of a litter box, clawing of furniture and all the other work that comes with cat ownership. So, with definitive no, I felt it was safe to go ahead and bug him now and then about getting one. To be honest, as much fun as I had in my head to get one, a large part of me also thought about the work of it all. So began my campaign, with the knowledge that the answer was a flat no, it was fun to dream and bug him about having a new pet. (It was a safe way to go...I could have the fun of dreaming but all the while knowing I was not really committing to anything!)

It was December on a Saturday night, we were driving home from services, Scott leans over and asks me a question, which I did not hear clearly, thinking he asked if I wanted to go and grab some food on the way home I said "Sure!". YAY! I don't have to cook!! HA! Well, to my utter surprise we pull up to the pet store! WHAT??!! I didn't say a word. We got out and went in looking at the cats, my brain is flying over the conversation we just had in the car....didn't he say go out to eat? Or did he say let's go get a CAT??!! SERIOUSLY? But he said no!? He can't just change his mind..I was having fun! (I should learn a lesson from things like this....let's all pray that I will, K?)

So, with that, we acquired Shaggy the cat. Easily the funniest cat we have ever owned. This one has some character, and is not shy about showing it. I have often tried to capture video of him playing with the dog, but it seems he always stops when he sees the camera rolling. So, I caught a break...and here it is. For whatever reason, he loves to torture Kayli, one of his favorite things to do. But on the other side of that, he loves her dearly. Whenever he comes in from outside, he gives her bumps and rubs and let's her do a full sniff down on him before he commences cleaning or pestering for food.

Thankfully this cat is fully entertaining, Lord knows we have spent enough on his furry little butt (literally). It's his way of paying his way around here! Oh, and we just plain love him. Enjoy the video!

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Monic Books - Vocabulary Cartoons

A few weeks ago I received notice that one of my upcoming review products was going to be a book called New Monics - I'm not sure I completely understood how you would learn vocabulary through cartoons, but I was anxious to give it a try!

When this book showed up in the mail, it was just a little before dinner time. I had been out running errands, so when we got in the house, I really had things to do, the book was opened and left sitting there until we sat down to dinner. I pulled the book over and started looking through it, I was completely delighted! Shortly after I showed off a couple of pages it was being passed around the table from kids to parents, everyone having a giggle and enjoying the short stories and hilarious cartoons!

That next day I was heading out to visit with some of my homeschool mommy friends and decided to bring this little gem along to see what they thought. Same thing! The book was passed about, giggles here and there and overall rave reviews!

So, I will tell you, I have not often seen a vocabulary book being passed around with laughter, usually it looks something more like reading an obituary. This was a great and most welcome surprise! Vocabulary Cartoons by New Monic Books is very well done! Engaging stories, cartoons that truly give you a giggle and best of all, it works! I gave the book to my 15 year old son to read through the first set of words, about 15 minutes later I sat down with him to go over the review section for those words and HE KNEW THEM ALL! And enjoyed the time he spent learning them. WOW! That is effective in my opinion! So, this little SAT vocabulary prep book delivers what it advertises, "Learn Hundreds of SAT words with easy memory techniques". And the technique is so simple! If you can read a comic strip, you can learn what this book has to teach you!

This 345 page book is designed for jr high and high school students grades 7-12. It is broken up into 29 sections each one learning 10 words. I would highly recommend this book to any student who enjoys a good laugh and I am really looking forward to continued use of this book in our homeschool day. You can find this book and a wide variety more for all age ranges from New Monic Books at This is a great investment at just $12.95, it is a book everyone in the house will enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. As such I have received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of this product. I have not received any additional compensation for my review.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In His Word Wednesday

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

At the beginning of each school year the kids and I make up a cover sheet for our binders. For them it is either something that they are "in to" at the time, or it could reflect our course of study. For me, I try to put something inspiration, a bit of help on there as a reminder that I can do this whole homeschooling thing and as a reminder that my kids are doing great and flourishing at home. (Secret for all of you who don't know: we homeschool moms have freak out moments where we wonder if we are really just screwing our kids up or if what we are doing is good....our imperfections are all too frequently highlighted when trying to teach our children at home.) So, for this year I chose to put the Shema on the cover of my binder. Having a high school aged son can be a bit overwhelming and I wanted to be reminded daily of what my goal is in our education, God first, worldly education second. The Shema sums that up so beautifully, our reminder of the order of our priorities, loving God and loving others.

I also decided to put the verse from Proverbs on my binder, about raising your child in the way they should go. Great verse, so simple and to the point. As I looked around on the internet, I found some commentary on this verse by Rashi, ancient Jewish commentator, which I also believed summed up beautifully the other side of this verse that is often overlooked. He said: "Train a child: according to what you teach a child and train him in matters, either for good or bad, even when he grows old, he will not turn away from it." What a great reminder, not only am I to be teaching my children the word of God and living by it, but I need to also be watchful about the negative things I may be inadvertently training them in. Ouch. Well said, and such a great reminder for me each day as I set an example to them as not only their teacher but also as their mother who needs this reminder that they are learning even when I am not meaning to teach them.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

In His Word Wednesday

This is a re-post from Rabbi Daniel Lapins Blog. You can find his blog here: Rabbi Daniel Lapin

I have always found the connection in Hebrew between words and bees to be quite interesting. There are many implications that can be made from this connection and I really enjoyed how Rabbi Daniel Lapin shared this particular experience. May all of our words be sweet as honey and pleasing to our King!

To Bee or Not to Bee
Have you ever had the experience of blithely saying something and then, as the words left your lips, instantly regretting them and wishing you could take them back? Unless you’ve been obeying a vow of silence for years, I know the answer. We’ve all had intense remorse over something that would have been better unsaid. It just happened again to me.

I appeared on the Glenn Beck television show this past Friday. Among many other questions, he asked how I relate to atheists. On the spot, I referred to atheists as parasites. Needless to say, I instantly knew that what I meant wasn’t going to be what people heard. But with the rapid tempo of television, we were already on the next topic with no opportunity to elaborate or retract.

With one word, I casually insulted who knows how many potential friends who were now gone forever. Men and women who pay their taxes, serve in the military, and support their communities were instantly dismissed as parasites. In retrospect, there are so many true, good and kind words I could have said. Instead, I stung.

In almost every interaction, we each have the opportunity to use words that soothe and sweeten. We can say things that build connections and nurture relationships. By being careless, literally by not caring enough, we can so easily use words that stab and sting.

Hebrew emphasizes this dual nature of words, their ability to sweeten or sting by using one word for both ‘bees’ and ‘word’: DeVaRiM - words and DeVoRiM - bees. In Hebrew Scripture vowels do not appear, so though the words are pronounced slightly differently, they are exactly the same.

In fact, the Hebrew name for the fifth of the Five Books of Moses, Deuteronomy, is actually Words, from its opening verse --“These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel…..”

At the end of Deuternonomy’s first chapter, we find the word DeVaRiM or bees used:

And the Emorites who live in the mountains came out

to confront you and they chased you as bees do…

(Deuteronomy 1:44)

By employing exactly the same word for bees and words, the Lord’s language teaches us that just as bees can both sweeten with their honey and sting with their barbs, so words can do exactly the same thing.

Though I am not excusing my mistake, what was I thinking? I was remembering the following words from the sermon given by Reverend George Docherty in February, 1954.

"This age has thrown up a new kind of man-we call him a ‘secular’. He does not believe in God, not because he is a wicked man but because he is dialectically honest… These men, and many I have known, are fine in character and in their obligations as citizens and good neighbors, quite excellent. But they really are ‘spiritual parasites’ and I mean no term of abuse in this. I’m simply classifying them…These excellent ethical seculars are living upon the accumulated spiritual capital of Judeo-Christian civilization and at the same time, deny the God who revealed the divine principles upon which the ethics of this country grow…"

These words, which persuaded President Eisenhower to add the words “Under God” to America’s Pledge of Allegiance, echoed in my mind, but trying to convey them in a 10 second television sound bite was not a good idea. All I did was hurt people and jeopardize relationships.

Success in both life and business comes from relationships and being careful about words is a vital part of nurturing relationships. It takes deliberate and purposeful practice to monitor the words we use; in this case I failed.