Category Archives: Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume one: Nothing That Eats . . . A T.O.S Review

Well, and isn’t that a mouthful of a title, LOL! However, the title of this book was precisely what intrigued me enough to want to read it when it was offered for review to those of us who are members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, so I was very happy to be chosen as one of the reviewers!

I am going to admit to you, my readers, right here and now, that I have been totally dragging my feet when it came to writing up this review. You see, getting it written up would mean getting it posted and linked to the crew blog, and I really, really don’t want to. Why? Because, this is my very last review product from the crew for the year 2013, and while I HAVE applied to remain on the crew for the year 2014, I am truly going to miss doing this in the interim! I will be writing a post about my time on the crew very soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, I digress . . .

Back to “At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats“, written and published by Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, which is quite a read! As I said, the title alone made me want to check it out!

This is a BIG book, coming in at 379 pages. It is not a novel, and I knew this from the description, but rather a collection of letters written by Franklin Sanders . . .

which were then published in his monthly newsletter, The Moneychanger over a period of 17 years.

In this, the first of three volumes to be published, Mr. Sanders tells us, in a series of letters about, well, his life, and that of his family. We read about their several moves closer and closer to being where they can live off the land, and how, when they get there, his wife’s consistant admonishments that they bring home “nothing that eats” end up being quite useless, as he and the children do, in fact, keep adding to the collection of farm animals and pets.

The family winds up in a place called Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee, which, as I discovered in the book, is a real place, not just the name of their farm, which is what I had thought before reading the book. It all began with the desire of Franklin and his wife Susan’s desire to “go back to the land” when the Y2K scare was looming. I happen to be part of the generation that remembers when that non-event happened, and how my own mother was so worried about it that she filled her tub and all the sinks with water just in case all of the utilities went dead at midnight on December 31, 1999. Of course, that did not happen, but I guess I understand the concern a lot of people had, after all, we had never lived through the changing from one century to another before!

As I said before, this book is a collection of letters, written and published in Franklin Sanders newsletter The Moneychanger, so it really is more of a picture of the life of himself and his family written as it happened, rather than as a recollection or memoir would be.

I got a very interesting (and different!) picture of southern history, as Franklin Sanders is very much a history buff when it comes to the Confederacy. For myself, as the adoptive mother of biracial children, the enthusiasm for the Confederacy made me uncomfortable.

Franklin Sanders is unabashedly Christian, and makes no bones about it, however, his troubles with the IRS and jail time as a result, bothered me. As a Christian, I believe the Lord says we must obey the laws, unless the laws DEFINITELY go against God’s laws. I’m not so sure that the issue of whether or not one must collect tax when selling gold or silver should be considered to go against God’s laws. I think Mr. Sanders is right when he says that the constitution declares gold and silver to be money, and therefore you should not have to collect taxes when exchanging money (gold or silver) for money (paper), however, I think that by God’s law, he would have showed a better testimony to follow the law and then protest it afterwards.

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats” is a very good read, if you are not expecting something to read like a novel. It doesn’t. One of the things I actually enjoy about it is that because of the way it is written, as a series of letters written as they happened, this is a book that you can pick up and read whenever you have a free moment or two. I do like having books like that around, as frequently, my reading time comes in unexpected little patches of time these days! ๐Ÿ™‚

There is even a “no-risk” guarantee offered on the website:

No Risk Guarantee

If you don’t laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we’ll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.”

I thought the guarantee was just hilarious, myself, having never read one quite like it!

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats” is available here. The oversized paperback costs $22.95, and is also available in pdf, Kindle and ePUB versions for $ 16.95.

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of the book “At Home In
Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats
, please click the graphic below!
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the top of the page and enter your email information into the “sign me up” button. Also, please, do go to our Facebook page here and click on the “Like” button! I’d surely appreciate it, and you will never miss an update again! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed under At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats, Christian faith, Franklin Sanders, Schoolhouse Review Crew Membership, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . A T.O.S. Review

We were sent four cute little books from Carol P. Roman with Away We Go Media to review in our homeschool.

We received:

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . South Korea . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . France . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Mexico

and . . .

“If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Norway . . .”

The author was also kind enough to gift us with an inflatable globe, a couple of pencils with international flags printed on them, and a play passport set, all of which my boys thought were very cool, most especially the globe. ๐Ÿ™‚

These books are the beginning of a series of books that can be used to introduce other countries and cultures to younger children. They are intended for children ranging from Pre-K through age 8, but my kids enjoyed them as well.

They range in price from $8.99 to $10.79 in the paperback editions, which is what we received, or $.99 to $1.99 in Kindle format, which some of the other Review Crew Members received.

Each of these books follows the same basic formula. It is a short book, approximately 25 to 30 pages long, exploring the culture of a different country.

At the very beginning, we get a picture of the country featured in the book, which has a star marking the capital. Then, we go right into the little story with a boy and girl pointing to their country on a globe. This is followed up by talking briefly about the capital city, and a picture of a scene from that city. Next, there is a picture of the boy and girl in a scene relating to where they are, and talking about three different names you might have if you are a boy, and three names that would be popular for a girl in that country. Next, along with a cute picture of the children doing something with their parents, we learn what you would call your mom and your dad in that language! From there, we next see the children in a place of business, and we discover what their money is called, what they might be buying there, and what the business would be called in their language. In the different books, we learn about a popular sport, a favorite vacation place, a holiday, special things they might eat, and their school. All of these things use words in the language of the country the book is covering.

At the end of the book is a page with a glossary of all of the foreign language words. This is perhaps the one thing I would change, I would have preferred to have the translations perhaps within parentheses right next to the actual words, that way, we would not have needed to go back and forth every time we came upon a word in a different language. ๐Ÿ™‚

we did do our best though, to try to guess what the words meant, and occasionally, we were actually successful!

I think these books are nicely done, and very cute. As it turned out, they were a bit young for my older kids, but my twins like them, and I’ve seen them reading them again. And, the bonus is that all of the boys were looking for, and finding the different countries on the globe and on a map we have from a previous review. ๐Ÿ™‚

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of these books, please click on the graphic below!
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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up!” button at the top right of the blog, and please, also go here and “like” our Facebook page!

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Filed under Away We Go Media, education, family, Foreign language homeschooling, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, read-alouds, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

A Day At McCall’s Pumpkin Patch!

Yesterday, we spent the day at McCall’s Pumpkin Patch with the homeschool group from our church. It is about an hour away from where we live, but it turned out to be worth the drive!

Here is our group . . .
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I, of course, totally messed up and didn’t get any pictures in the actual pumpkin field, but here we are in the hay wagon for the ride there and back, shortly after we arrived . . .

First, here is “The Batman”, “The Artist”, one of their friends, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” . . .
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And here I am, with one of my friends, the grandmother of the extra boy in the previous picture!
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There were a lot of really cool opportunities for fun photos.

Here are all of my boys with my friend’s grandkids in one of the teepees . . .
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Although I forgot to take pictures when they were choosing their pumpkins, we did find some really nice arrangements that were PERFECT for photos!
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There were these very neat antique trucks filled with hay and pumpkins . . .
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An antique tractor . . .
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This cool hay wagon . . .
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The Soda Wagon . . .
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One of my favorites, the giant rocking chair!
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I liked this spot, too . . .
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They had a “corn bin”, which was like a sandbox, but filled with corn kernels!

“The Puzzler” . . .
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“Mr. Loquacious” . . .
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“The Artist” . . .
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“The Batman” . . .
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“Here is “The Artist”, letting the younger kids bury him in the corn!
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Here, “The Batman” is feeding the goats . . .
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And last but not least, here we all are, being the farm animals!
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As you can see, we had a really good day, with lots of time walking around in the fresh air. It was a beautiful day, and so nice to be doing this at the end of October, and NOT needing winter coats! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed under Christian faith, Church, education, family, home education, Home-school Group, Homeschool Field Trip, homeschooling, Kids, McCall's Pumpkin Patch, Mesa Baptist Church, NM, Travel, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Reasons For Homeschooling . . .

I came across this really good article “Comparing Homeschooling vs Public Schooling: Ten Reasons For Homeschooling (A Public School Teacher Tells All)“. I think it’s well worth reading, so I wanted to share it with you.

Some of MY reasons for homeschooling are:

It is the absolute best choice for my kids. That is more important than making the best choice for ME.

My kids are not being indoctrinated with a secular worldview.

My kids have a variety of special needs, so homeschooling allows us to work at their own paces, and in the ways they each learn best.

My kids do NOT need the sort of “socialization” found in schools, whether public or private.

We are not tied to a formal schedule. We can take off days for other things as we wish to do so, and we can work school in around life, as opposed to the other way around.

I’m sure if I sat here and thought about it, I could list a whole bunch of other reasons, but these are just the ones that came to mind right now.

Whether you homeschool, or your kids are in public or private school, I hope your choice is being made solely based upon what is best for YOUR children, not based on what other people may think of your decision. It’s not their decision, it is yours. Make it count.

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Filed under Christian faith, education, encouragement, family, home education, just me, Kids, special needs education, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy!

So, I am just getting caught up here with my Ultimate Blog Post Challenge! It’s a very busy time for our church family right now . . . Today, we had our homeschool group field trip to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty, NM, which I will post about soon, but first I have to go through my pictures and choose which ones to use in the blog post!

Tonight, I have Ladies Bible Study at church, and when I am done blogging for today, I need to go finish writing in my Bible Study workbook.

I did slow-cooker for tonight’s supper, so that’s done, except for potatoes and a veggie, and fruit for dessert.

Then tomorrow, I’ll be working on a gift set of notecards for our homeschool missions project, which is this coming Friday. We will be joining other homeschool families at church to fill gift boxes for missionary families, along with one each for our three college students.

Tomorrow night we have church, and Thursday night we have our Fall Festival and chile cook-off at church, as an alternative to celebrating Halloween.

In between all that, I am working on getting the little make and take ready for a Close To My Heart Party this coming Saturday!

So, lots to do, I will be very busy for a few days!

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Filed under Christian faith, Church, Close to My Heart, family, Mesa Baptist Church, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

“The Force” is here!

As I told you all in a previous post, I am excited to be part of a launch team for the newest novel “The Force“, written by Alexandra and Joyce Swann.

About the authors:

Joyce and Alexandra Swann are mother and daughter. Joyce homeschooled her ten children from the first grade through masterโ€™s degrees. She is a well-known author and speaker on the subject of homeschooling. For nearly a decade she was a popular columnist for “Practical Homeschooling Magazine”. She now blogs regularly on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian lifestyle issues.

Joyce and Alexandra have co-authored two other novels, The Fourth Kingdom and The Twelfth Juror, both of which were published in 2010.

Joyceโ€™s personal story of her experiences raising and educating her family is chronicled in Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother, published in February of 2011. Her novel, The Warrior, which tells the story of one womanโ€™s ten year prayer vigil for a man she has never met, was released in May of 2012. She is also the author of two childrenโ€™s books, “Tales of Pig Isle” and “The McAloons”, which began as stories that she told to entertain her grandchildren.

Alexandra is the author of “No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Masterโ€™s Degree at Age Sixteen” and “Writing for Today”. She has been self-employed for over fourteen years and was the 2011 Chairwoman of the Board of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She writes a regular blog, Paying for Protection, about the consequences of over-regulation and over-reaching government. Her novel “The Planner”, which is the prequel to “The Chosen”, was published in June of 2012.

When I posted before, it was to offer you a free download of the prequel called “The Fourth Kingdom. Today, I am very pleased to share with you that you can, for a short time, download “The Force” for Kindle, absolutely free!

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About “The Force

Someone is murdering the worldโ€™s most beautiful womenโ€”over and over and over. When Jarrod and Joshua Sinclair are called in to consult with the FBI about the Hollywood Starlet murders, they immediately suspect their old nemesis Josef Helmick of creating clones of famous women for a visiting Saudi prince. Wasting no time, they hire retired detective Fred Kowalski and send him to Dubai to uncover Josefโ€™s base of operations and build a case against him for the murders. But Fred soon discovers that Helmick Enterprises is harboring a secret much darker than human trafficking. Fred must stop Helmick before he resurrects an ancient, diabolical Force in order to bring the entire human race under his control.

Just go here, and settle in for an exciting read! I just got my copy and am looking forward to thrilling read!

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Filed under Book Launch, Joyce and Alexandra Swann, The Force, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Short and Sweet Today!

Busy, busy day today! I spent an hour or so greeting and handing out discount coupons at the Friends and Family sale event that was being held at our local Christopher and Banks store here in Albuquerque, in exchange for a 50% discount on whatever I purchased today. On top of that, I had a 15% coupon, plus a $20.00 rewards points coupon that I had just received in the mail! Since so much of what is in my closet has gotten too large for me, this was a GOOD THING! On Monday, I will be going through and packing up everything that doesn’t fit anymore to pass on to someone I know will be able to use it, and making room for my new things which fit me! ๐Ÿ™‚

After that, I went grocery shopping. First I went to Sam’s Club, then Walmart, and finally, Smith’s, where I also filled up my minivan, as the boys and I have a field trip to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch this coming Tuesday (with our church homeschool group) in Moriarty, NM, which I understand is about an hour away.

We do have a busy week coming up . . . field trip on Tuesday, Ladies Bible Study Tuesday night, church on Wednesday, park day Thursday, and our homeschool missionary project on Friday! I’ll have a lot to write about, if I just can find time to write it, LOL!

As always, I’d love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and please, go here and “like” our Facebook page!

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Weekly Wrap-Up . . . A new Series For us

I have been following the blog “Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for some time, ever since I stumbled upon it a while back. This blogger turned me on to a weekly link up called “Weekly Wrap-Up”, which I’ve decided to take part in, beginning now.

So, here is how OUR week has gone . . .

Sunday evening, our church‘s Sunshine Kids Choir performed the special music during service. My younger two boys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are members of the choir, and also had lines in the skit this time!

On Monday night, I got to go to a Mom’s Night Out with other moms from our church. This is important to me. As a homeschooling mom, most of my time is spent primarily with my children, so it’s really nice to have that monthly night out, just for a couple of hours to eat dinner and sit and talk with other moms. We had a great time! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tuesday night, I went to Ladies Bible Study, held at our church, We are studying the book ” Changed Into His Image: God’s Plan For Transforming Your Life” by Jim Berg. This study is very deep, and is really affecting all of us who are working through it! We are taking it very slowly, it may take us three or four sessions to complete it. Our current session will end the beginning of December, and the next one will start probably sometime in January.

Meanwhile, this week the boys and I worked on some Schoolhouse Review Crew products.

We worked on VocabularySpellingCity.com, we worked on a couple of upcoming review products, including a set of books called “If You Were Me And Lived In . . .”, an Apologia product, “Exploring Creation Through Chemistry and Physics”, and “French essentials”

In addition, “The Artist” has spent time each day adding to the story he is writing on the computer, “The Batman” has spent considerable time immersed in his “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego” computer game, and the twins have been working on learning their song for the next time the Sunshine Kids Choir performs. Also, “The Artist” has a part in the upcoming Christmas drama which will be put on by our teens at our church, so he has been practicing hard on his scene, since he has to go to play practice beginning this Saturday.

Thursday, we went to homeschool parkday with a group of homeschoolers here in our area. Thursdays have now become definite slowcooker days, which will be even more essential in a few weeks when “The Batman”, “The Artist” and I begin piano lessons again, finally. Which reminds me, we got a nice piano bench to use with our keyboard this week from a fellow freecycler!

I would once again encourage you, no matter what part of the country you live in, to check out and participate in your local freecycle group! It helps keep things out of landfills, it allows you to bless others with things you no longer need or want, and you can get things (for free) that others no longer need or want, but which are still perfectly good!

I received an order for hand-crafted Christmas cards from my wonderful hairstylist, and I’ve also been planning my ministry cards for this week.

So, it’s been a full week! I wonder what next week will bring! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’d like to join the “Weekly-Wrap Up” postings, check out the guidelines here. I hope to see you there! ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, I would love to have you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”. Please enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and please, go to our Facebook page here and “Like” it. Never miss another update! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed under education, family, home education, Homeschool Park Day, homeschool products, Kids, Mesa Baptist Church, Mom's Night Out, Schoolhouse Review Crew Membership, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013, VocabularySpellingCity, Weekly Wrap-Up

VocabularySpellingCity . . . A T.O.S. Review

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Do you want a value packed, full of fun online language arts program for your homeschoolers? Well, the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership might just be what you are looking for.

When I first looked at this program, in the process of deciding whether or not to request the review, my reaction was W.O.W., there is SO much available there, and this program is good for any students from kindergarten through 12th grade!

I have four boys, with very different learning abilities and styles, and VocabularySpellingCity is a site they are ALL enjoying.

My twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are, as you know, still working on learning to read. They are getting better, but VocabularySpellingCity seems to be actually helping them to comprehend the words a little better, as well. I have them working with “Word Family” lists, which are available in weekly segments, along with a great number of other types of lists, which you are free to import into your account and use.

With my older boys, “The Batman” and “The Artist”, I decided to use (at this time) themed lists, such as “October – Harvest”, for example.

VocabularySpellingCity takes a word list and wrings everything it possibly can from it. By the time they are done, your children will know pretty much everything they can about the words on the list you have assigned them!

Here is the assignment section from one of “Mr. Loquacious’s” weeks . . .

Activity Completed On Time on Task Status Score Missed Words Total 37 min
Spelling TeachMe 10/22/2013 4:11 pm 1 min Complete

Test-N-Teach 10/22/2013 4:12 pm 2 mins Complete

Audio Word Match 10/22/2013 4:15 pm 1 min Complete

HangMouse 10/22/2013 4:16 pm 7 mins Complete

MatchIt Definitions 10/22/2013 4:23 pm 4 mins Complete

Sentence Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:27 pm 13 mins Complete

Spelling TestMe 10/22/2013 4:41 pm 1 min Complete 100 %

Vocabulary TestMe 10/22/2013 4:46 pm 2 mins Complete 75 % get, set

WordFind 10/22/2013 4:48 pm 5 mins Complete

Word Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:54 pm 1 min Complete

As you can see, even though he doesn’t HAVE to do everything in one day, he was having so much fun, he just kept going! I will admit, though, that after the first couple of weeks, I realized they were all doing one or two assigned activities and then just moving right over to playing the games, so I’ve switched things around somewhat and told them they have to do the assigned things first! ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the learning activities that can be assigned are pictured below:

The Word-O-Rama game . . .
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Flash Card . . .
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Letter Fall
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Full disclosure, neither “Mr. Loquacious” or “The Puzzler” were very fond of “Letter Fall”, and asked me to change to something else on their assignments. They had a hard time with this activity, and the speed of it.

It is very easy though, to switch up the activities in an assignment. You are given a good size list of options, each one taking your chosen word list and teaching all sorts of things with it, from spelling, vocabulary (definitions, use it in a sentence, etc), there are word find activities, crosswords, just so many ideas that you can use to keep your kids interested long enough to really learn those words!

Here is a look at what you can offer to them as assignments . . .
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Here are “The Batman” and “The Artist”, both working on their VocabularySpellingCity assignments . . .

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And here are “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, working on theirs!
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Watch this short video to learn more about VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership . . .

Now, while you CAN get a free membership to VocabularySpellingCity, which would definitely give you a lot, including spelling lists, the parent page, printables and spelling tests, along with some other resources, I think the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership is a great deal. The cost is just $29.99 for an entire year, which covers up to five students.

Here, you can see a comparison checklist between the free membership and the premium checklist . . .

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As you can see, there is SO much available when you go with the premium membership! This has for sure turned into one of those products that the boys will have included into their educational schedule for this year, because, as you probably already are aware, I feel strongly that whenever possible, education can, and should, be fun. This is fun. When I have boys actually asking if they can go again after their brothers have finished doing their time on VocabularySpellingCity, well then, I think we definitely have a winner, don’t you?

To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of VocabularySpellingCity, please click the graphic below!
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please enter your email information in the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and also, do please go here, and “like” our Facebook page! Never miss another update! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed under education, educational games, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013, VocabularySpellingCity

Sunshine Kids Choir!

Sunday night, our Sunshine Kids Choir did a special at our church, something they do about once per month during each session. They did such a good job, and two of my boys are members! “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” both participated in the skit this time, as you can see in the video below. I’m sorry the video got a bit shaky when switching from the skit to the song . . . I’m still learning how to manage doing videos, and didn’t realize I was too close to get all of the kids when the singing began, and would need to move back! Other than that, though, I think it came out fairly well! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you live in or near Albuquerque, NM, or will be visiting or moving here and are looking for a great church to visit, this is the one! For more information, please click here

As always, I’d love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information in the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and please, go and “like” our Facebook page here

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Filed under Albuquerque, Christian faith, Church, family, Kids, Mesa Baptist Church, NM, Transitions, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013