Tuesday, October 30, 2012

225 Books for $49.95~ Limited Offer

I'm being lazy and pasting in an email I just received. This is a fantastic deal on classic books. I missed it last year and jumped on it quickly this time. It only lasts until October 31st though. Don't miss it!

Last Day- October 31st!! Don't Miss it-
We probably won't offer this until next year!

Imagine having a floor-to-ceiling bookcase chock-full of books your children love to read, all in the palm of your hand, so it can travel with you wherever you go!
With the school year starting, do you wish you had additional great reading for your children to read or for the family to enjoy together? Take advantage of this great offer now! This is the best selection of books for this price!

I am a lover of books...that is no surprise! And although I've always liked the actual book, as opposed to digital versions, I must admit technology is humbling me. The truth is Kindle and E-Pub Readers (like iPad and others) are amazing and every homeschool mom has to have one (I'm hoping for one soon)!

Whereas before we couldn't take our favorite books everywhere, the amazing thing is we now can! Not to mention, this is specially great for those of us who are finding our house has lots and lots of books and only limited spaces to put them! Digital readers are great for children or adults, who need a larger font, because you can make the font any size you want. It is also great for travel and for children who like technology more than books- this is a great transition to paperbacks!

DON'T HAVE A KINDLE? Don't worry! A Free E-Pub Reader can be downloaded so you can read digital versions of books on your computer.

Thanks to my friend Lisa from Yesterday's Classics, we have an opportunity to purchase 225 of the best books printed between 1800 and early 1900's for less than 50 cents each!! These books come in digital form, which can be downloaded to your Kindle or E-Pub Reader. If you are not computer saavy, don't worry because our friend's at Yesterday's Classics will walk you through the details of the process.

Lisa has chosen the best books and put them in an easy to read format with wonderful illustrations (which you can't find in the free versions online), plus she's added a terrific table of contents that, when you click, takes you directly to the chapter you are looking for. BUT,  this offer is only good for Lifetime customers until Wednesday, OCTOBER 31st at Midnight.

You get books from all these genres:

World HistoryEarly Civilizations
Children of the WorldPoetry
NatureMiddle Ages
Ancient GreeceLegends
Ancient RomeRenaissance and Exploration
Fairy TalesAmerican History
BritainChristmas Stories

If you are using Ambleside Online, Heart of Dakota, Living Books Curriculum or Tapestry of Grace this package will save you money, because many of the books you need for these programs are included here. Basically, if you love good books this package is for you!

Here are a few of the titles included:




Monday, October 29, 2012

Jazzed about Jane

I'm embracing a growing passion for Jane Austen novels. I always appreciated her writing style, but returning to her stories as an adult has brought new themes to life.

Have you ever noticed how much Austen related fan fiction exists out there? Google it and you'll be amazed. From altering the stories into a present day setting to morphing characters into zombies or continuing the story focusing on a particular player, there seems to be a huge fascination with the works of Jane Austen.

Book clubs, societies and online forums exist. It's maddening.

Now I love Austen as much as the next reader, but the overwhelming support of her work seems to be something worthy of taking notice. What is it about these stories that capture the imagination and attention of authors and readers alike?

I'm currently re-reading Pride and Prejudice.  I've noticed that so much of the story is built around hearsay, gossip and other's shared opinions. Everything we know about each character is funneled through the back room chatter of the characters. It's all second-hand knowledge.

This writing device creates a very accurate picture of the social nature in Britain at the time. The hierarchy was established and the classes divided by wealth and extravagance. Though is was against etiquette to speak on one's own private personal matters, no one seemed to refrain from discussing another's personal matters.

In my church we call this Lashon Hara. You might call it simply gossip. Austen's works, at first glance, seem completely buried in it.

Here's the brilliance of it: Everyone knows gossip is wrong. Every character in the story whispers their opinion in secret because, in fact, they know they are out of place by making such statements. Yet they are compelled to share and as we read their gossip we are pulled into their failures, following them in judgements and forming opinions based on the same limited knowledge that the characters have. In the end we see (along with the characters) the errors of our ways and the foolishness of judging others on half truths and misinformation.

We share the character's shame and guilt and the author planned it that way, a moral lesson as relevant in her time period as it is today.

How do you model proper speech in your home? Do your children hear you speak ill of others? Do you cause your friends to judge others based on your view of them? Are you missing something.

These are the crux of Austen, the core of misunderstanding, how it wounds, steals and destroys the beauty of truth.

This is just one (of many) reasons for sharing Jane's work with our children and revisiting them ourselves.

Go here to learn more about Lashon Hara. Lessons in the power of speech work in perfect concert with Austen's books and can create a dynamic discussion with your children.

Happy Learning!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Looking For Rainbows In The Storm

If you don't know much about me you may not know that my second "well read" child has some special needs.

I remember when I was child being drawn to books like Fanny,  A Very Special Critter, and Leo the Late Bloomer (a less modern version). I loved these books because the characters weren't without defect. Not everyone can relate to a three legged cat, or a lion who can't roar but if we are honest we all have something that we struggle with. I knew this reality even as a child.

I thank God for that heart he built up in me as a child and I know now that he was preparing me to care for me child, looking past quirks and the adjustments that his life requires and loving the person he is.

My son has been diagnosed with OCD, ADHD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and we are standing on the threshold of an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis. I read like a crazy person. I study all I can on these disorders and I can't even express in words how important it is to me to give him every advantage in this world. I advocate for him and strive to make his needs my expertise so I can mother him with excellence. That said, sometimes education and experience are stretched beyond their span. Resources fail and the challenges mount. In these times we can only rely on God.

Monday I was in such a place. His medications were not producing their needed response. His anger was burning. Over the weekend he expressed violence, rage and self-loathing that lit my fears. By Monday it was a fire of emotion that couldn't be contained.

I am my son's safe place. We just click. I can speak reason to him when his logic is failing. Monday even I couldn't reach his heart.

After a day of constant prayer and repeated conversations with his doctors (medical, Psychiatrist, and Therapist) I made an appointment to have him evaluated at a nearby children's psychiatric center.

I was prepared to leave him there for treatment for a period of 3 days. The hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but his best option. When they said 5-7 days my heart broke in two.

At this point my son is safe and learning the skills to remain safe when he returns home (hopefully very soon). The staff at the hospital respect my momma bear instincts and are advocating for my son on my behalf. I trust them and that is no small thing. I'm a control freak. This is completely out of my nature.

I want to share what is in my heart now, my rawest feelings pulled from my personal diary.  I'm sharing this in the hopes that
1. you will pray for my son.
2. you will have a friend should you even have to walk this path.
3. the end story (which has yet to be reveled) will build your faith.

I can't pray. heck, if I'm honest I can't breath. Touch me and you'll be left to sweep up a crumbled mess on the floor. 

You know, he said never flood the earth again, but my world is submerged in a flood of tears and not everyone in it can swim. 

Trust has never been my strong point, but did we really have to test it this far? 

I left him in the hands of strangers and God and right now both feel like wild cards. 

On the way home from the hospital last night we passed a sign. I'm not sure what it was advertised. There was only time to read the words "A Devastating Spill. A Devastating Feeling." Great road sign right?
Anyway, I thought devastating was a perfect word for what I was feeling as the tears were trying not to spill from my eyes.

My son is my dream. I wanted him from my childhood, back when he was just a plastic doll with brown eyes and a different name. He has always been wanted.  It tears my heart in two to leave him.

I dreamt last night that the house I live in split. The floor started to sink at one end of the house. It tilted and rocked and everything we loved was hanging in the balance. I counted the kids as the house tipped and water receded like a wave over them. I had to struggle to find my son but found him eventually, soaked and frazzled like a nearly drowned kitten. Someone else had pulled him out of the wave. I was too far away to ever get there in time, standing, watching at the highest point of the room.

I hate this lack of control. This powerless feeling is foreign and it takes my breath away.

I want nerve pills, (something to put air back in my lungs) but I can't risk another loss of control. He needs me to be alert right now, to be in my head enough to make intelligent decisions even if they are the hardest ones to make.

I see him everywhere. In one child's eyes, in another's compassion, in my youngest's spunk, and my husbands everything. If everyone is honest though, I know him best and know his mind is racing and his heart is retreating in fear.
It's his heart I love most about him about him though and the one thing I can't stand to lose. I want my little boy back.

So I guess I'm praying after all. God, give us a break through, a miracle that will end this nightmare quickly and restore his emotions so he can come home to us better. Not beat down and timid, but fully him with all the pieces and quirks we have grown to love. Give him peace and even laughter as he works toward health. Keep shame and harm at bay and bring my little boy back to me whole, with hope for the future. I miss him and I'm not sure how long my strength will last.

Please settle the storm inside. Send a rainbow. Amen

Update: Half way through this post I stopped to take a call from him. He says he is having a great day. He had a time out, but fixed his behavior after. He actually said "it taught me something". Iron man was on tv and he was distracted by it and kept losing focus. I told him he could go watch it that it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he liked the movie and wanted to hang up. He said "I love you mom". I told him he would be home soon and that I loved him too. "Right, so can I really go watch the movie?"

I laughed and said goodbye. That's the little boy I know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Open Doors

Hello friends,

I am continually amazed by all that God is doing in my home and my family. I love working with Noelle Mena of CWA managing The CWA Review Crew. I have also been asked to speak at a homeschool conference in Texas this July and I was asked today to speak to a writers group regarding social media and branding. I have also begun teaching art privately and locally. I have two students so far. God is opening so many doors.

I wanted to let you know about another project I'm tackling now which is light graphic design services. I can make blog headers, buttons, event banners, and FB Timeline Covers. My prices are super affordable. See here.

School has slowed down for the summer but we aren't about to stop. Math keeps marching on. Oh! I have to tell you how excited I was when I found a tangible soft copy version of Math Mammoth! I will never use any other math program. Nope, I'm not a spokesman, but I should be I love it that much. That's big for a person who hates math.

Chloe is whipping through books this summer. She is a fast reader too like her Daddy. She recently begged me to buy her The Little Princess which made me laugh. I read the book in 6th grade and cried finishing it because I hated it so much. The dialogue was torture for me trying to make out what they were trying to say in that broken English. She liked it and is nagging me to try it again as a grown up.

Caibry is muddling through. He is doing Speech and OT every week even through the summer. I also have him working steady on some math. He just did roman numerals and is making problems non stop and writing the characters in chalk on the sidewalk. He will be going with me to Texas when I speak and I'm looking forward to the mother/son time alone with him.

Nevie and Sadie are a hoot. They are going to be a riot come fall. Nevie can't learn anything fast enough. She loves school and begs for it. Sadie is always competing to try to answer every problem before her big sister. It's adorable.

That's life right now. I'll pop in again when I have some lesson ideas and book stuff to share.

Remember, if you are a Christian Woman you can get free books, products, and apps as a reviewer for CWA. You can apply here. We are currently offering a book by Amy Bayliss (among others).

Enjoy your summer!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reading Eggs: A Review

         Reading Eggs- Learn to Read Online with Phonics in 5 Weeks from ages 3-13.

My children are enjoying the benefits of learning reading through an exciting new site called Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is still in the beta phase and is growing and expanding all the time as they expose glitches and make the service better suited to their audience.

Frankly I am very impressed with the quality of the lessons and the format they utilize to really appeal to children ages 3-13.

In my home I have 4 kids ages 4-10 who each experienced Reading Eggs and formed their own unique opinions of it. Here's the scoop:

Each of my children began their experience with Reading Eggs by taking an assessment quiz. This quiz determined which map the child should be placed on.

Chloe (10) was not too excited about the maps or the lesson which she felt where "babyish" she preferred to visit Reading Eggspress and read through as many books in their library as she could find. Chloe really likes to read already and has some pretty decent skills in reading so she didn't feel very challenged by the program. The biggest benefit of reading eggs for her was the Skills Bank where children can go through a series of short animated lessons to help them learn spelling words, ultimately leading to a spelling quiz upon completion. She needs to improve in her spelling so this area challenged her the most and taught her the greatest.

Caibry (8) is my little techy in the making. He loves computers and anything electronic. He also has special needs. Reading and auditory skills are extremely hard for him, but he was doing them with the disguise of computer games. The lessons were fun for him, perfectly timed for his attention, and challenging enough to satisfy me. He did everything he could do in there from reading, completing map lessons, working through the skills bank, exploring story land, building a book, chillin' in the playroom, and the oodles of fun at Reading Eggspress (the library, stadium, gym and mall). One of the things I had to constantly monitor was the "mall" inside Reading Eggspress. He would do nothing but shop for pets if allowed. Fortunately, Reading Eggs considered this issue and made everything reward based. He had to work to earn enough to buy the pets he wanted. This kept him motivated.  The Comprehension gym was the most helpful. Caibry struggles with recall due to ADHD and other learning issues. He can remember up to two things before his mind goes fuzzy. Games within the Comprehension Gym really honed the memory skills.

Nevie (6) was happy with Reading Eggs. She enjoyed it, but prefers learning on my lap vs. on my laptop. She made a lot of progress with reading eggs though and although it wasn't the learning method she prefers, she did learn a lot from this program.

Sadie (4) is a huge fan of Reading Eggs and as a beginning reader she had the greatest benefit. The music and characters excited her the most and she took real pride in her progress traveling from map to map.

All in all I think Reading Eggs was a huge hit with my family. I've let friends know about it and I will be continuing Caibry and Sadie in the program as it suits their learning styles.

Now, as a homeschooler who primarily operates in a CM philosophy I have to share that some of the books in the Reading Eggspress library are absolutely stunning. The illustrations of Ritva Voutila are beautiful and complex feasts for young eyes. I thoroughly appreciate the quality and skill their books demonstrate.

I looked these books up separately and the books alone (which you have access to as a member) sell for $7.50 a piece. That makes Reading Eggs a truly great deal.

I highly recommend this site to other families.

Now, Reading Eggs can get a bit pricey when signing up multiple children. They don't currently have family pricing. I wish they would. In the meantime, you can go here to find a list of coupon codes you can use to defray some of the cost. By the way, this program is definitely worth it.

Head here to learn more about Reading Eggs.

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by The Homeschool Lounge Review Team. I received a 5 week membership to Reading Eggs to facilitate this review. All opinions stated are my own.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Heart Project

Dear Friends,
There is something on my heart that I’ve got to share with you. I hope you’ll take some time and read this through to capture the vision and how you can participate. As a mom, I’m sure that you can relate to the feeling that our children are our greatest gift. Yeah, sometimes they drive me a little nuts, but if asked to state my greatest accomplishment in life I would have to say Chloe, Caibry, Nevie and Sadie.

They are my world and I simply could not imagine a world without them in it. I’m sure you can relate.
In fact, it’s probably this maternal juice that first bubbled up in me when I heard about the Butterfly Project. As an artist, I was looking for ways to contribute my talents to worthy causes. During my search I came across the opportunity to create two-dimensional butterflies that I could then contribute to the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas. In 2014 they are seeking to display their vast collection of butterfly submissions from young and old artists alike. Each winged beauty will represent one of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.
Now this project isn’t exclusive to artists. ANYONE could create a butterfly. ANYONE could remember one of these lost children. Upon seeing this, I got out my art supplies and rallied my little artists. I borrowed my friend’s children and we painted and we played together. All the while I was extremely aware of the gift I had in them. My children were free to mix colors and swirling pigments; they were free to experiment without being experimented on by the cruel hands of Hitler’s Gestapo.
Like you, I’m aware of the reality of the past and the horrific position children were put in during Hitler’s regime. I feel a bond with their mothers, and a responsibility, if you will, to get the word out about this project. It’s something I’m truly passionate about.
At this point you may be thinking, “Alright Heather, you do realize it’s just a paper butterfly don’t you? How can it make a difference?” Well, it speaks volumes to the families of Holocaust survivors. It really is more than paper. It’s a gift of solidarity, a commitment to remember these innocent victims, and create beauty out of ashes. It gives them a legacy. It’s a mission on their behalf. Your butterfly gives a child a voice.
Okay, so I had about 50 butterflies created when my family began to attend a Messianic congregation. This made me even more alert to the similarities between these children who perished in the Holocaust and my own kiddos. They weren’t that different you know? Children are all the same at their core. Their imaginations, dreams, and fantasies are their playgrounds. What if the imagination was fragmented, the dreams nightmares, and the playground a concentration camp?
A Little History:
During World War II the Nazis despised Messianic Jews. Amidst this landscape pastors of some Christian congregations still chose to embrace Messianic Jews, those who accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. In July 1933 the heat was turned up when these churches were made to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler and all churches were made to institute the Aryan Paragraph and exclude Messianic Jews. Messianic Jews were already expelled from the Jewish community and synagogue due to their belief in the Messiah. The Aryan Paragraph sought to further isolate these believers from fellowship in the Christian circles, leaving them without any sense of religious community. This may seem like a small loss to some, but in Jewish culture the fellowship that allows them to grow in their understanding of scripture by debate and dialogue is paramount. In essence, Hitler was attempting to strip them of God, working intentionally to create in them a psyche of rejection and neglect.
Understanding the ramifications, many churches refused to accept the oath. As a result, many church leaders were arrested and murdered in concentration camps in the coming years. The Aryan Paragraph achieved its mission to force Jewish Christians out of the church. And those with non-Jewish heritage who embraced the Hebraic mindset, sought to keep Torah, and honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were also in danger of the wrath of Hitler. By their allegiance to this most threatened people group, these Hebraic Christians were basically waving a red flag before a raging bull, professing clearly whose side they were on.
Dating from Bible times onward, the will to stand up for YHVH, to face His critics head on and take the consequences as they came, has never been too big of a risk for a true believer. With pure conviction and certainty in the Torah, they clung to the truth that when they stood before the enemy they would surely not stand alone; for a host of angels would wage the war in unison with each brave step an individual took. Through that knowledge they faced the worst. They endured the shattering loss of loved ones, children ripped from their arms, terror, torture, and the worst the world could bring against them. Yet, the promise remained steadfast. The aching pain preceded a glorious reunion; and for that they would do it all again if they would have to. May they never have to.
The Bottom Line:
1.5 million children died in the Holocaust. Many were Jewish; no doubt some were children of these Messianic believers. Children like mine. Among them were also gypsies and handicapped children, anyone who was deemed unworthy of life by Hitler’s cruel standards. These were ordinary children. They were boys and girls who slept with their favorite toys and played their favorite games, which laughed and fought with their siblings, who begged Mommy to kiss their booboos and Daddy to tell a bedtime story. They had dreams and futures until everything was stolen by war and hate.
We would like to believe that the world is very different then it was in Hitler’s day. Yet, I am not convinced that such hate could not rise up again. It has so many times before. Who are we to think we could be immune? It seems evident to me that the key to prevention of any illness, whether the flu, AIDS, or simply the heinous ignorance of hate, is to foster awareness of the results. Remembering what was and what might be if we don’t carve out a fresh future is precious. It puts 1.5 million butterflies to flight and honors those mommies like us who would want our children remembered if the shoe was on the other foot.
“Children were neither just the mute and traumatized witnesses to this war, nor merely innocent victims; the war invaded their imaginations and the war raged inside them.” Nicholas Stargardt in “Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives Under the Nazis”

They were innocent dreamers, awakened to war. Don’t they deserve to be honored?


Will you please help by participating in this project? Tell your church, your synagogue, your school etc. and start creating some colorful butterflies. Let’s bring some color and beauty to the page in honor of children who were robbed of a childhood.
  • Skill is not the key, volume is the key. 1.5 million is a HUGE number. Together we can help every child be represented.
  • All ages are welcome.
  • Completed Butterflies cannot be over 8x10 inches.
  • Any medium is accepted but two-dimensional submissions are preferred.
  • Please Do Not use glitter or food products on your butterfly.
  • Ask artists to sign them on the back only.
*The above butterflies were created by children ages 4-10. For an easy project give each child a poster board and have them smear paints in an abstract pattern across the entire surface. Cut out butterfly shapes after the paint dries. One child created over 70 butterflies with one poster board using this method.
Butterflies are due by Dec. 13th, 2012
Mail or bring your Butterflies to: Holocaust Museum Houston
Butterfly Project
Education Department
5401 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77004
Remember to include your name, organization/school, address, email address, and number of butterflies sent.
If you live close to me just give me a call and I’ll pick up your butterfly stash and mail them for you along with my collection. Please have them counted.
You can see more details at http://www.hmh.org/ed_butterfly1.shtml
I cannot tell you how much it means to me personally that you have taken the time to read this letter and that you would consider participating. Please let me know if you decide to send butterflies and how many you’ve sent.
Heather Randall

Friday, April 29, 2011

Celebrating 10 Years of TOS Blog Hop

When I moved to Oklahoma with my family in 2007 we didn't know anyone in the state except our children, my Mom (who moved with us), and my husband's new employer. I knew homeschooling was widespread in Oklahoma, but I had no idea how to make the homeschooling connections I needed.

When I found The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine in a local Mardel I was really excited by the contents. Truthfully, the ads drew me in. I had no idea where to find or buy curriculum. I didn't know my options and seeing all of those pretty glossy pictures of countless options filled me with hope. That hope grew bigger as I began to read the contents and find quality articles from moms just like me, real moms who felt scared by this awesome responsibility but forged ahead anyway because they were determined to follow the will of God in their children's education.

Ultimately, I found a resource that I never expected would impact not only my homeschooling, but my life as a whole. It was more than a magazine. It was a community. This was a huge comfort to me being 10,000 miles from my friends and the majority of my support system.

I began visiting the Homeschool Lounge, I started a blog on HomeschoolBlogger, and my support system grew. My understanding of homeschooling blossomed and my confidence developed.

Eventually I applied and was selected to be a member on the Maiden Voyage of The Homeschool Crew. This was an opportunity to review several curricula in exchange for an honest review. It was a year of experiment and flexibility that taught my children how to learn in any circumstance and with any materials they were given. We found the best fits and we had some fits, but the experience was one I wouldn't change for anything.

Once the year on the Crew came to an end I had caught the review fever. I signed up for review programs with every Christian publisher I could find. I also tried for a slot as a TOS product reviewer. All of these opportunities allowed me to review and test over $4,000 worth of great homeschooling materials for free. The kids tried out Latin, started studying guitar, and learned a million other things I could not have offered them without this wonderful blessing.

Last September I began working as an Independent Contractor with The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. I'm constantly in awe at the hearts and minds (not to mention the talent) of my fellow co-workers. They are a beautiful, and Godly group of people who are passionate about this calling we have to homeschool our children.

TOS is like a family to me. I have been blessed so much by the TOS homeschooling community. My gratitude for this resource is immeasurable. That's why I feel enormous excitement when I see that The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is celebrating 10 years in publication. I want to be the annoying relative wailing the "Happy Birthday" song with embarrassingly loud enthusiasm.

Thank you TOS! Happy 10th Anniversary!

If you have a special TOS memory, come share it in the TOS Blog Hop.

If you haven't joined the TOS family yet, it isn't too late. Come celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine!

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