Friday, September 30, 2016

Our first field trip - LEGOS!

I love the flexibility of homeschooling...we get to go the mall - during the day, and do school!  Lego Americana exhibit.

We got to see amazing lego structures of iconic American monuments.  And, stop for Chick-fil-a too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Welcome 2016-17 School Year

Here we are...  7 students now, and starting my 15th year of homeschooling!

And, because he loves me (and family traditions!)

The Cat of Bubastes from Heirloom Audio Productions: A Homeschool Crew Review

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Cat of Bubastes   from Heirloom Audio Productions 
We have been waiting eagerly for the newest edition of “The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty” -  The Cat of Bubastes   from Heirloom Audio Productions . It arrived just in time, we are studying ancient Egypt currently in our history class.  We all listen to these - ages 7 to 47!

We got the exciting 2 CD set, along with some great bonuses.  This audio recording is over 2 hours of edge-of-your-seat listening excitement.  This story is one filled with drama, courage and stories that inspire.  It's based on the book by the legendary G.A. Henty, which is a family favorite!  G.A. Henty fills his stories with role models that our children can look up to and learn from, and tells them from a strong Christian worldview.

Our bonuses included:
  • Downloadable 47-page Study Guide
  • MP3 version of the soundtrack
  • Colorful illustrated 350 page E-Book of the original Henty novel
  • Printable copy of the inspirational verse found in 1 Chronicles 17:20 "Oh Jehovah, there is none like Thee, neither is there any god besides Thee."
  • Printable cast poster 
  • Video with a behind-the-scenes documentary
  • The Live the Adventure Letter E-Newsletter.
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of BubastesHeirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Audio CDs - are fully dramatized, and VERY professionally done.  This story features a star-studded cast - Brian Blessed, Anthony Daniels, Sylvester McCoy, and John Rhys-Davies to name a few.  We like to listen to audios in our van time.  Heirloom Audios have quickly become our favorite. This story follows a young prince and his companion through battle, into slavery, and back.  Along the way, they encounter the one true God, and their lives are never the same.

The Cat of Bubastes is a favorite of mine for the way it carefully explains how the Egyptians may have come to worship many Gods, instead of the one true God.  You will want to listen to this one!

The Study Guide is a wonderful resource to go more in depth with the story and use it as a learning tool as well. It is broken down into several sections for each corresponding listening tract:

"Defining Words" - vocabulary
"Listening Well" - questions to use to help them remember what they heard
"Thinking Further" - questions to challenge them to think on what they heard, or even to dig a little deeper and research more.
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Historical information, recipes and extra books to explore are included as well. We were fascinated by the information about the Egyptian Gods. The guide includes several suggestions for hands-on activities you can incorporate into your study of ancient Egypt. The Study Guide also includes 3 Bible Studies.

My testers and I enjoyed the Behind the Scenes video. It really gave us a peek into what the actors are doing while producing and what they think about their characters. We listened to our CD's with a whole new perspective after watching it.

Listening to the audio always inspires my children to want to read the book.  The Full color, illustrated Ebook is included in the bonuses, and works great with your Ereading device.

Other Heirloom Audios include:
  • Under Drake’s Flag - the story of Sir Francis Drake
  • In Freedom’s Cause - William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in their fight for Scottish independence 
  • With Lee in Virginia - the American Civil War 
  • The Dragon and the Raven - the Viking invasions of England
  • Beric the Briton - the Roman invasion of Britannica

We love how history comes alive for us as we listen, and you will too!  We can't wait for the next release...

Find Heirloom Audio Productions  on Social Media:

Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial

Hashtags: #hsreviews #HeirloomAudio #TheCatOfBubastes #LiveTheAdventure #BringingHentyBack #AudioAdventures
See what other members of the Crew thought here
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Annual Subscription from A Homeschool Crew Review Annual Subscription

Annual Subscription from

Email is a fact of life, but how do you introduce this to your younger students safely?  Bentz Test Laboratory has found a wonderful way to explore the online world with a Annual Subscription from

This online subscription offers you and your children a safe email environment.  Our subscription allowed up to 6 children accounts.  Accounts are all setup by the parent.  Each one of the accounts includes safety features such as:
  • Mail Monitoring
  • Time Restrictions
  • Contact Manager
  • Offensive Word Filter
  • GPS
  • No Ads
  • SPAM Filters

Several of my older testers already have and use email, so we used this with 3 of our younger testers - grades 6th,5th and 3rd.  They LOVED it!

Setting up a parent account was easy, and I had access to many options to customize the security for my testers.  For instance, I opted to get a blind cc of every email that is sent or received, and I get to approve the message (or not).  I really like having this control. I can also control the contact list for who can send them email, and who they can send to.  It prevents any unwanted contacts and/or spam or advertising going directly to my child. blocks all advertising and offensive language from your child's account.

My 6th grade daughter was excited to have the option for a more "sophisticated" look with her own account.  I can set up time limits, and even use GPS monitoring (although...none of my children get a phone until they are proud owners of a driver's license...).  My daughter was so excited, she flooded every family member's email box with sweet little emails directly from her! Annual Subscription Annual Subscription
My younger testers enjoyed the process of customizing their login pages almost as much as having an actual email.  They have a large variety of backgrounds that your child can choose from.  They can also organize their mail in folders.  (a helpful skill my older children haven't mastered yet...)

They haven't gone quite as crazy with emailing everyone - but, they have enjoyed having their very own way to send their college-age brother messages.  He's been happy to see all this love from home too!

For really young students...they offer a "read it" feature that will actually read the email to your child.  My testers were able to read their own, so we didn't use this one. 

Kidsemail offers a "drawing board" for your artistic ones.  They can draw their own pictures, and send them.  My 3rd grader loved this part - her messages are mostly pictures. Annual Subscription Annual Subscription Annual Subscription

Parents can also control the attachments allowed - pictures, files, etc.  I could also see a handy activity log to keep track of how much they are using it.  Once the novelty wore off, their emailing tapered off to a manageable amount.

It's very handy to be able to send them notes as well.  It's our own form of  homeschool "lunch box notes" where I write a quick note of encouragement.

This is a very easy-to-use,affordable way to begin introducing the online world while guarding their hearts.  

Highly recommend!

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Hashtags: #hsreviews #kidsemail #emailforkids Annual Subscription Annual Subscription
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles: A Homeschool Crew Reveiw

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles from CTM Publishing Atlanta by Mark S. Mirza

The Pray-ers / Book 1 TroublesPrayer.  Our most powerful weapon.  Author Mark S. Mirza has written a powerful, ficion story to teach us the power of prayer in his book The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles from CTM Publishing Atlanta.

The Bentz test laboratory got a chance to take a peek at this 363 page softcover book.  The book tells the story of the power of prayer in three distinct, but interconnected storylines.  The stories take place in three different time periods.  A 1st century Christian - Epaphras, a contemporary of Paul.  A 18th century circuit preacher named Alexander Rich. And the current era through a college professor - Dr. Dale.  The common thread are the angels and demons we meet that have been "assigned" to these men.

I decided to read this one before letting any of my testers.  The creativity and descriptive language of this talented author paint vivid pictures of the unseen spiritual world.  I do plan to let my teenage testers read this one.  It's very well done.

This book really opens your eyes to spiritual warfare.  The war that is being waged all around us.  I love how this author uses the power of fiction to tell us about the power of our prayers.  The stories are teaching us principles of prayer, but not preaching.  

The angels and demons are portrayed realistically, and Bibilically.  I really liked that Biblical references are footnoted on pages throughout.

My high school students are currently reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, this reminds me of that book - it would be a great followup for them. 

I found the book to be an easy read.  But, I would recommend that you preview if you have sensitive children.  
Find The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubleson Social Media:

Twitter: @ThePrayersNovel

Hashtags: #hsreviews #prayersnovel #christianfiction

See what other members of the Crew thought here

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

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He's home...

After all our summer road trips, a weekend at the beach... it came.  Move-in day!

He's attending the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton, TX.  2 1/2 hours away.  It's happening...

What a bittersweet day!!  I'm so excited for his new adventure, he's soooo ready, and I'm just not sure I'm ready...

It was pouring rain.  His roommate seems nice.  Did I remember to tell him all the important things? Did I pack what he really needs?  Is he ready?  Are we?

We moved his pile into the room pretty fast (helps to have lots of us!) and had him unpacked and arranged pretty quick.  His sisters :-)  I kept reorganizing everything, I'm not sure he'll even know what is there until mid-semester when he happens to discover it.

He is ready.

I will be....after I dry a few tears...

 He was interviewed on TV!  Just minutes after we unpacked.  He's going to be a rock-star.

I barely made it through the "Parent talk" at Welcome Week - telling us they are ready, they will be okay, we will be okay.  Now - go home and leave them!

Our final family pic of the summer...  the last one of "us" like we have always been...together!