Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Curried Chicken and Broccoli

Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini (The Freezer Cooking Manual)

Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Thursday: Mary Lu's cheesy tomato soup

Friday: Homemade Pizza and Chips

Saturday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup (or chowder)

Sunday: leftovers

Alternate meal: Cran-Apple Turkey Skillet (with chicken)

Link up your own menu plan at orgjunkie.com. (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Friday, January 27, 2012


For the past several weeks we have been given the opportunity to try online piano lessons for young children by Kinderbach.  It is absolutely adorable and my 4 and 6 year olds are enjoying watching the lessons and doing the accompanying worksheets. Ellie (4) is especially a fan of this. She will talk about Dodie's house throughout the day even on days when we aren't doing Kinderbach.

Kinderbach uses videos and pdf worksheets which can be purchased on DVD or you can buy an online version either by the month or by subscription. (pricing details are found at the end of this post.) Kinderbach teaches more than just music. A variety of additional skills are introduced such as counting, matching and even some phonics.

Each lesson has a worksheet that goes along with the video.
These are easy enough for young children. Many are just coloring pages.
My kids love them. You can print them out one at a time or print out the sheets that
go with each level all at once.

A sample worksheet from one of the later lessons.

Each key has a piano pal.  Dodie (donkey)  is the first character you meet.  

The hardest part of using Kinderbach is printing out the worksheets. (In other words...not hard!)  If I am prepared and set it up for the girls they are happy to do it.  The creator, Karri Gregor, is a lot of fun for little kids.  It is obvious that she works with children of this age group and talks to them at their level.  My 9 and 6 year olds are currently working through a lesson and have been laughing and having a great time the entire time. (My 9 year old takes piano lessons and doesn't "need" Kinderbach but still can benefit from it and have a good time.  I probably wouldn't buy this for a child that old but if you have a younger child with an older sibling they might still enjoy parts of it.)

Watch a sample of the video:

and this:

I truly believe that music is an important part of a good education.  I highly recommend Kinderbach for families with young children.  You can give it a try for free. The first 2 lessons are available on the website along with free coloring pages and song download.

There are 6 levels of Kinderbach and each level is designed to take 10 weeks.  There are 4 sections to each weekly lesson. You need a piano or keyboard in order to use Kinderbach.  A simple keyboard is fine.
Kinderbach is the creation of Karri Gregor
a professional musician and artist with decades of teaching experience.   

You can purchase 6 levels of Kinderbach on DVD for $40.45 each. Each level comes with a DVD, audio CD, and a CD with a pdf Activity Book and Parent Guide or click here for specially priced packages.  Kinderbach is also available as a subscription. You can pay $95.88 for a one year subscription (which works out to $7.99 a month) or pay month to month at $19.99 a month. I think this is a great option and MUCH cheaper than private lessons, especially if you have more than one child.


They are running a 40% off deal until January 31 with coupon code KBclear2012 and I am seriously considering buying the entire package or the set pictured above which includes the first 3 DVDs, pdfs and extra songbooks. So, if you think you might be interested don't delay in checking it out!

The sale mentioned above is over, however I just received a coupon code to offer here for 30% off ANY order and it's good for one year!  TOScrew2012  Let me know if you decide to order and what you think!
Kinderbach has a 30 day no hassle money back guarantee

Read what others are saying about Kinderbach on the TOS crew blog. I do read the comments on my blog so please feel free to ask questions if you have any!

disclaimer: I received a free 3 month subscription to Kinderbach in exchange for an honest review.

Raising Real Men-Book Review

I was recently given the opportunity to read Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal and Melanie Young. This 253 page book for parents was the Christian Small Publishers Association 2011 Book of the Year.

This book is filled with practical, godly advice for raising sons.  As a woman with no brothers, 8 daughters and 2 sons, I definitely feel more equipped to raise girls than boys.  This book is the remedy for that.  (Though I have to admit I'd love to read a similar book for girls.) hint, hint :)

Following the introduction, the book is divided into 2 parts.

Part One: Virtues in the Rough

1. Someone to Look up to
2. Is There Not a Cause?
3. Standing Alone
4. Taking Up Arms
5. Who's in Charge Here?
6. Racing to Win
7. Doing Real Things

 Part Two: Civilization for the Tough

 8. First Things
 9. A Faithful Steward
10. Your Own School For Boys
11. Chivalry is Not Dead
12. KP Isn't Women's Work
13. Love and War
14. Firing the Arrow

I really appreciate the fact that this book addresses issues that pertain to boys and recognizes the fact that boys and girls (men and women) ARE in fact different.  I don't think I realized how different until I had sons myself. :)  Before reading this book, I thought maybe this book would be better suited to fathers to read than mothers but I think it is great for any parent with a son.

In Chapter 8, First Things they share,

"This book is written from a Christian perspective, and we've tried to illustrate as often as possible how we've applied the Bible in our family's day to day lives. It's a principle in our home that we try to bring Scripture to bear in any situation so that our children are saturated in a Biblical worldview.  We discuss it with them, point it out to them, and make sure they know we're looking to God's word."
Isn't that just what we should be doing as Christians?  The Bible is the authority and we need to compare everything we do with with scripture.  This book does exactly that.  I found it encouraging and practical.  I will definitely keep this on hand to re-read and refer to. Read a chapter for yourself here. (It's the chapter I quoted from above.)

 You can purchase Raising Real Men on the website.  The list price is $15.00 but you can see a variety of specials here.  It's also available for the Kindle (my favorite way to read!) as well as Nook, pdf, audio, iPod etc.  (I love technology!)  Visit the Raising Real Men website to see other products available from the Youngs. Late last year I reviewed Christ Centered Christmas (click here to read the review).  Go to the store to see books, webinars, workshops, Hero Tales audio CDs (which I will be reviewing soon) and more.

Thank you Hal and Melanie for writing this book and for giving me the opportunity to read it and write this review!

Authors Hal and Melanie Young are the parents of six sons and two daughters.  They frequently speak on parenting, education and family policy issues, and their articles have appeared in publications in the US, Canada and New Zealand including Homeschooling Today, Homeschool Digest, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, School Reform News and Conservative Citizen.

disclaimer: I received a free copy of Raising Real Men in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

MondayLoaded Baked Potato Chowder

Tuesday: Spicy Black Bean Soup and Nachos

WednesdayChicken and Sausage Gumbo and brown rice

Thursday: Spaghetti and bread

Friday: Homemade Pizza and Chips

Saturday: Stove Top Meatloaves, potatoes, green beans

Sunday: leftovers

Link up your own menu plan at orgjunkie.com. (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Spicy Black Bean Soup and Nachos

Tuesday: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and brown rice

Wednesday: Hamburgers and chips

Thursday: Spaghetti and bread

Friday: Fish sticks & potatoes

Saturday: Emma's birthday party...menu to be determined.

Sunday: leftovers

I might decide to substitute one of the meals with this Cran-Apple Turkey Skillet made with chicken instead of turkey.

Link up your own menu plan at orgjunkie.com. (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Learn Our History

Mike Huckabee and Brad Saft co-founded Learn Our History with the goal of making learning history fun for kids.  They have created a video series called Learn Our History: TimeCycle Academy.  The series features a group of friends who go back in time to relive the most influential stories of our nation. Each video lasts about 30 minutes. Click here to see Mike Huckabee and Brad Saft discussing this series.

There are currently 5 titles available Columbus and the Great DiscoveryThe Birth of a Revolution911 and The War on TerrorOrigins of World War II , and The Reagan Revolution with many more planned to be released this year.  You can see a complete list here.

A few reasons parents love "Learn Our History" from the website:
  • Motivates and inspires your children to learn US history
  • Helps your kids understand and appreciate US history
  • Develops a strong sense of national pride
  • Teaches your children historical truth without bias
  • 97% of kids remember what they learn from the videos
  • Learn Our History improves grades by making history fun

Sample videos can be found on the website or just watch below:
 (you can see more previews by clicking on the links I posted above for each title)

Columbus and The Great Discovery:

The Birth of a Revolution:

I like the content of the videos we were able to see.  The style reminds me of a cross between The Magic Schoolbus and Scooby-Doo.  The animation is slightly rudimentary but not bad.  You can read a description of each of the characters here.  One character, Connor, is a rude boy and I really could do without him.  He calls the other kids "losers" and "a crew of thumbsuckers" and other similar things.  It's a real turn off to me and I don't like it at all. (and is frankly enough to make me not purchase the videos.) He also wears a shirt that says, "I rule, you drool."  The videos are listed as family friendly and outside of this, I'd say that they are.  The history is probably over the heads of young kids but from what I can tell some very serious topics are handled in a way that is appropriate for children.

There are links on each video page to discussion questions, a timeline, trivia and more that can be used in conjunction with the videos.  These videos would make a nice supplement to any history curriculum.

You can order Learn our History DVDs from the Learn Our History website or call 877-US-HISTORY.  Currently you can purchase Columbus and The Great Discovery for $9.95 and receive The Birth of a Revolution free. (Shipping is $3.95 PER video. This includes online streaming of the same videos (available for a limited time.) The DVDs come with a money back guarantee. Other DVDs are available for $9.95 each plus $3.95 shipping (see note below) and these come with a free bonus which includes a DVD storage case, a shoulder sack, a pair of binoculars and a Learn Our History sticker set.

One thing to note is that when you order a video you are then subscribed to receive new videos as they are released.  An e-mail will be sent alerting you that a new DVD is available.  If you do nothing you will receive the DVD and your credit card will be charged.  If you do not wish to receive it, you must call within 10 days to say you don't want it which does not cancel your subscription. If you would like to cancel your subscription then you must call to do that as well.  (I must admit I am NOT a fan of buying things through a subscription like that.  I'd prefer to just order the ones I want.) The first DVD you order is $9.95 plus $3.95 shipping, subsequent DVD's cost $11.95 plus $3.95 shipping.

The website can be a bit difficult to navigate but if you scroll down to the bottom of the main page there are links to the other pages.  They also offer a streaming only option which costs the same as the DVD's but there is no shipping charge.  It is mentioned on the website but you must call to get this offer.  (877-US-HISTORY that's 877-874-4786)

See what others are saying about Learn Our History on the TOS Crew blog.

Co-founders Brad Saft and Mike Huckabee

disclaimer:  I received a free copy of Learn Our History in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a while since I've made a meal plan.  It feels good to be back meal planning.

Monday: Potato and Ham Skillet

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Italian Style Meatloaf, rice, green beans

Wednesday: Spaghetti and bread

Thursday: Amy's Minestrone

Friday: Homemade pizza and chips

Saturday: Chicken, potatoes, vegetable

Sunday: leftovers

Link up your own menu plan at orgjunkie.com . (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Maestro Classics-Swan Lake

Maestro Classics sent us a copy of Swan Lake on CD. This 54 minute CD is recommended for children ages 6-12 and their families though I personally think you can use it for children much younger than 6 (which I guess could be what they mean by "and their families" but I digress.)  Maestro Classics are available on CD or as an MP3 download.  The downloadable version will come with a link to download the 24 page activity book that is included with the CD.

The activity book contains a biography of Tchaikovsky, information on acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music and words for a sing-a-long, and explanation of major and minor keys, puzzles and more.

Free homeschool curriculum that goes along with The Story of Swan Lake (and other CDs) can be found on the Maestro Classics website.  Activities are included for history, science, geography, language arts, art, music, and math.  You could easily make a complete unit study from this CD and the curriculum guide which is something I do plan to do.  You can hear samples of each track and get more information on the website.


We really enjoyed this CD.  It takes a little getting used to for young children because there is a lot of music in between the narration of the story.  There is also a cute little song that is easy to remember with the words, "Tchaikovsky wrote a great ballet, its name is Swan Lake."  (see track 5 on the samples to hear it) I hummed this tune to my 4 year old yesterday (after not having listened to this for a while) and she said, "Mommy! That's Swan Lake!"  (At first she thought it was called Swan Leg...LOL).

The only thing I didn't really like was the track titled Speed Metal Swan.  It's a heavy metal version of Swan Lake and just not our cup of tea but it's easy enough to not listen to that track and wouldn't keep me from purchasing it.  Don't forget that you can listen to samples of each track to see if it is something your family might enjoy. We also did not use the activity book that came with the CD.  The pages are very small (CD sized) and my aging eyes struggle with small print.

I highly recommend Maestro Classics and plan to purchase other titles in the series.

Purchase Swan Lake at Maestro Classics for $16.98 on CD or $9.98 as a download. Other titles available include Peter and the Wolf, Casey at the Bat, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Juanita the Spanish Lobster and more!  Also available is a set of all 8 CD's for $95.00. (less than $12 per CD) or as a smaller 4 CD Story Pack for $48.

You can find Maestro Classics on the web, Facebook and Twitter. "Like" Maestro Classics on Facebook for free coupons and giveaways! See what others are saying about Swan Lake on the TOS Crew blog.

disclaimer: I received a free copy of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics in exchange for an honest review.
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