Monday, May 27, 2019

Tornado Tips From a Scaredy Cat


I was born and raised in Oklahoma so severe weather and tornadoes is something I'm very familiar with.  It's nerve-wracking - especially with kids, but it is nothing new to us Okies.  However, 2019 has brought more tornado warnings and flooding than we've seen in a while.  Being on alert and 'weather aware' is exhausting and worse when it extends multiple days in a row.  This scaredy cat has learned a few things about coping with tornado season that might help you if you're new to the subject.

First, understand that Oklahoma has some of the best technology, education and people on the job when it comes to severe weather and tornadoes mostly because we have to.  The National Weather Center in Norman, OK is located there for a reason!  Our weather is so unpredictable and varied that it is the perfect place to learn.  That means there is a LOT of time, money, equipment and energy being put into keeping people safe.  Knowing that helps me not feel so alone when I start to get nervous about the weather.

Second, know that more people die from flooding (drowning) than from tornadoes.  So, if you are sitting at home worrying about a tornado risk, you are already more likely to be safe than if you were out driving in a storm.  Even with all the tornado watches we have been under at my house this season, we only went to the storm shelter once and it was just in case. 

Still scared?  I understand and get nervous too, but there are a few things I've learned to do in order to not be a crazy person about it.

1) Geography. Know where you live on a map, including surrounding towns, counties, and local highways.  When news/radio people start tracking storms, they are going to start throwing out names of places.  If you have no idea where you are, how will you know to expect a storm or not?

2) Meteorology. Okies typically have a base understanding of severe weather science.  If you don't, here are a few terms to familiarize yourself with: Wind sheer, hook echo, dry line, funnel cloud, cap, power flash, etc.  Educate yourself on how storms typically move (northeast) so you can anticipate which storm is heading your way eventually.

3) Media.  Know and use your weather sources wisely.  It is always reassuring and wise to have more than one source of current weather information.

  • News/Radio. Here in the OKC metro, we have 3-4 competing major news stations that provide weather coverage and those are often streamed live on radio stations during severe weather.  They all are very competent while having their own personalities and styles, but still tend to heighten my stress levels. There is a local meteorologist that has developed his own app and utilizes Facebook and YouTube to predict storms.  He takes a much calmer approach that I prefer mostly because he tries to educate rather than create drama.

  • Social Media.  Decide which weather guys you prefer and follow them on social media! Facebook can be useful for forecast maps a day or two ahead and watching a live stream of weather coverage when you aren't using a television.  Twitter is a great source for up to the minute coverage and area specific information.  When we went to Arkansas and had a tornado threat, I got the best info from Twitter by searching #arwx (arkansas weather).  The same works for every state so my most searched hashtag is #okwx
4) Shelter. No matter where you live, not  having a safe place to go when in danger is THE scariest place to be in.  That doesn't mean you have to have the latest storm shelter, but it does mean you need a plan.  Never be in a mobile home or trailer if you are in the path of any kind of a tornado. NEVER. Find a friend, family member or neighbor who has a basement or storm shelter that you can share.  If you live in a house, know that a bathroom or closet in the center, lowest level of your house is the safest place to be with blankets, helmets, and/or a mattress.

5) Plan.  Make a plan in case you are in the path of a tornado.  If it requires you to drive somewhere, know how long it takes.  My father-in-law blessed us with a new storm shelter in our back yard after we moved here so I know it takes about 1 minute to get my stuff, myself and the kids from the house to the shelter with a closed door.  Longer if I'm bringing the dog.  I have a box of important documents (birth certificates, ss cards, journals to my kids, etc.) and my camera bag sitting next to the back door ready to go on severe weather days.  What or whoever is in your charge, just make sure you have a plan that you can execute if necessary.

6) Finally, but most importantly, pray.  From the moment you start worrying to the point that the storm has passed, be in communication with God.  It builds your faith, calms your soul and gives you something productive to do when your anxiety is spinning out of control!



Friday, May 24, 2019

Typing Tournament Online and Maths Invaders Online: An EdAlive Review

If you're like me, you probably feel weary of always being the gatekeeper between your kids and the black hole of screen time and online gaming.  One of the ways I try to make my job easier is to surround them with educational options rather than too many mindless ones.  Today I'm going to share with you two online games, Typing Tournament Online and Maths Invaders Online from EdAlive that are entertaining AND teaching important skills at the same time.  It's a win-win for sure in this household.  
What We Received:

We were given a one-year subscription for two students and one parent/admin to Typing Tournament Online and Maths Invaders Online, which are both accessible on all devices.
How It Works:
Typing Tournament Online 
TTO is a series of exercises and games that introduce and increases typing skills.  It is designed with a brand new student in mind where they can learn proper typing form and begin to build up words per minute.  The program is divided into locations on a map with each stop containing lesson material, drills, 3 games - Siege, Powder Keg & Dragon Chase, Progress Report, and a Test.  In order to progress to the next location the only material that is require is passing the test.  With a total of 16 locations and a changeable Words Per Minute goal, there is plenty to do within this game.

Maths Invaders Online 
MIO is a game of testing and practicing math skills. There are three main areas, Galactic Campaign, Space Rescue and Practice.  There is also a section to view your progress and the ability to print worksheets based on the problems you were given in a particular game.  The Galactic Campaign is simply firing a correct answer at floating equations in an outer space skin.  The level of questions can be changed as desired to change difficulty.  Space Rescue is an online outer space themed version of Battleship where players must guess where a ship might be.  After each turn, a player is required to 'recharge their battery' by answering math questions.  Finally, there is a practice area that mimics the Galactic Campaign area, but the results are not maintained and you are able to choose the content you are practicing.

 
What We Thought:

Any reason to play an online game is a good reason in my children's minds so they were pumped to try these programs out.  

Math Invaders was the favorite by both my 8 and 5 year old.  It was easier to dive right into because they were more familiar with math than typing.  There was some debate about how best to use the control keys and when to move the gun from side to side, but it all gave opportunity to talk strategy.  They felt like they were playing a video game and I knew they were practicing mental math with increasing speed.  Overall, we had no complaints and plan to use this as reward and in supplement to other math practice.

Typing Tournament wasn't always first choice, but I think it has been the greatest blessing.  While both of my children have experience with our computers, they have not officially been taught to type.  That meant they were true beginners and were substantially challenged by the program.  I don't believe it to be too difficult in any way, but my impatient children desired more rapid success than they first experienced.  My 8 year old son would head straight to the tests and then come to tears when he wouldn't pass them.  Come to find out, there was little practicing done and mostly just attempts at typing very fast.  My 5 year old daughter did alright once she understood what the pace had to be for success. In addition to learning to type, I think this program will support their need for a more disciplined approach to learning skills.




EdAlive on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdAlive/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/edalive
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/edalive/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edalive.education/

Do you have middle school aged kids?  Follow the link below to read what other families had to say about these games!
Typing Tournament & Maths Invaders Online {EdAlive Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

God Is Better Than Trucks: A Christian Focus Book Review


In a world where every physical entity begs for our attention, it is our job as parents to set God in grand perspective for our kids.  That is accomplished in many different ways, but reading with children is, perhaps, the easiest!   I'm sure you've heard of great advantage you give children when you read to them daily.  That advantage is only enhanced when you include books that talk about God and his role in our life.  Today I'm reviewing a new book from Christian Focus that we've enjoyed reading together called God is Better than Trucks. by Sarah Reju and illustrated by Roger De Klerk.  The title might suggest a very simplistic idea, but the book reinforces a concept that we too often fail to put into practice - giving God the ultimate honor in our daily lives because He is worthy.



This hard-backed ABC picture books takes all kinds of trucks and machinery and compares what they do to how God is better than that.  Each letter of the alphabet and type of truck is attached to a verse of the Bible that illustrates God's superiority in some way.  For example, for the letter P a police car rushes to help when you're in trouble, but God is always with you.  The verse Psalm 119:151 "...you are near, O Lord, ..." is used to reiterate why we should prefer God and His ways.  The illustrations are brightly colored and accurately drawn with plenty of details added in.  The pages are good quality which suggests long-lasting in the face of young children's use, the intended audience.



We found this book to be easy to use in a couple different ways.  Sitting down and reading straight through was doable and definitely hammered home that God is better than everything.  Sometimes we would read only a few pages - like a sampling - when we are short on time, but wanted to include some devotional or scripture elements.  With my older kids, I could easily pick only one and have a small devotion on that one thought.  We are so busy and consumed with physical things that giving God the proper honor and position in our lives is a struggle!  Even just one page can reveal to us where our allegiance might lie in our deeds.



As a whole, the kids enjoyed reading the book and are usually unsatisfied with only a page or two.  As a parent, I am pleased with the content overall and appreciate having another way to introduce God's ways into our daily life. The subject matter is appropriate for all elementary age kids, but ideally I would recommend this as part of a Preschool curriculum that would reinforce the alphabet and introduce Godly principles into their mindset and vocabulary.  They also offer a God is Better Than Princesses book for those kids not really interested in the things that go that looks just as great!

Christian Focus on Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/christianfocus/
Twitter: twitter.com/Christian_Focus
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9n_TTQulXBNqM7LtEALtJg?view_as=subscriber
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christianfocuspublications/

The Crew reviewed several God-centered books from Christian Focus.  If you would like to see what God is Better Than Princesses is like or some of their other books, follow the link below to read other reviews.
Big Bible Science, Elizabeth Prentiss, God is Better than Princesses,  God is Better than Trucks. {Christian Focus Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Vacation with Young Kids and Not Lose Your Mind

In case you didn't know this already, vacationing with kids is an entirely different experience than without kids.  At best it's just really different.  At worst, it's REALLY hard to consider it a vacation.  So much so that many families abstain altogether.  You see, location doesn't change how much you have to do for a child.  So, changing diapers and feeding has to happen whether you are at home or in a hotel of luxury on the other side of the world.  Of course, finances, locations, and opportunities will differ, but I have a few ideas that could help you make a vacation with kids happen and not lose your mind in the process!



Look for opportunities!   Making vacations affordable is sometimes one of the biggest hurdles.  There are several different types of programs that can result in deep discounts or doable destinations, if you look ahead.  Do you use a credit card that accumulates points or miles?  Do you know your favorite destination special offer or sale time of year?  Does you or your spouse's employer offer any kind of special deal?  Even just asking around your family and friends to see if they have a time share condo or cabin somewhere that they might be willing to rent to you.  Mr. Butler is a civilian employee for the government which gives him access to a great travel office where they offer week-long condo stays around the country sometimes as cheap as $350.  We have found this to be a great option for our family because the kids get their own room, we usually have a washer and dryer on site, and a full kitchen makes eating in a breeze!

Separate Bedrooms - While typical hotels might feel like the cheaper option, we don't prefer it..  Being confined to one room with 3 kids under 8 wears on us after a while - especially when there is no yard to send them too for a while.  We have found the cheap condos to be a great option for our family because the kids get their own room and at least a back patio if not a yard area to play in.

Manage expectations - Don't let your self get sucked into an unrealistic vision of traveling with kids.  They need frequent snacks, bathroom breaks, plenty of rest and whatever else is their normal in every time zone.  If you start skipping naps or forgetting provisions, you may suffer for it.  Our favorite style of trip is where we can get to a trail within 30-40 minutes and go on a hike before or after lunch and then allowing everyone some down time before evening plans.  Whatever the natural rhythms of your family home are, try to recreate a version on your trip and keep wild expectations to a minimum  This helps to prevent meltdowns and keeps the kids on track too! ;)



Keep It Simple - It is so very tempting to try to make every trip on the level of Disney World, but it isn't necessary and in a lot of cases far more trouble than its worth.  With small children, anything that isn't home is instantly more exciting!  The miniature golf place down the road from where you are staying might be just like one at home, but since you are on a trip, it's magical!  The kids really enjoy visiting the local library where you can usually get a temporary card.  They are always excited for new books.  We try to take two trips a year, but at least one is usually very low-key with hiking being the main attraction.  National Parks are a great resource for trips like this.  Before you plan a theme park trip, just make sure it is practical for the age of your youngest child.  We expect to do a Disney World trip once the baby is 5 or 6 at least.  Just the walking alone is exhausting to adults and it can be a double burden with toddlers or those still needing a lot of care.   

Know Yourself - We've talked about what the kids need a lot, but also know what you need for something to feel like a vacation.  Being a sensitive introvert, I know I need pockets of downtime, preferably by myself.  On our latest trip to Arkansas, our condo had a small balcony with a table in chairs.  It turned out to be the perfect hideaway, especially if Mr. Butler took the kids somewhere for a while.  Whatever stresses you or wears on you, keep that in mind and don't include much of that.  Mr. Butler doesn't like excess or unnecessary clothes and luggage so we try to bring the minimum and depend on the washer and dryer that is usually on site.  Eating out a lot is hard on the budget and our health, which is a stress to both of us.  Another reason we choose the condos on our trips is the full kitchen.  With about 30 minutes of meal planning and making a grocery list, we are able to eat in for most of the trip, cutting down on expenses and sickness!

Clearly Defined Purpose - Don't forget why you took this trip in the first place.  For some, it will be about the location so seeing specific sights are important to get in.  Other trips are just about family time or feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.  Make sure how the pace and mood of your days reflects the purpose of your trip.


 
Above all else, find a way to take those trips together.  Like camping, it can seem like a huge waste of time the first time simply because its so much more work than you are used to.  But, trust me, it gets easier every time.  We have taken at least 4 trips since the Race Car (which means 3 kids in tow) was born and every time it got significantly easier.  It takes work, but the relationships you are building and the experiences you are having with your family are exceedingly worth it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Nothing: A WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Review

Books are such a blessing to the home of a child.  They feed the imagination and spark the best conversations in real life.  I'm positive a certain organizing guru would say we have too many, but the sight of our breakfast table filled with everyone's choice of a morning book or two reminds me that I don't care!  There big brains are feeding on stories and it does a body so good.  My review today is a great example of the good things a book can contain.  Nothing by Natalee Creech from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group is a beautiful illustration of a Biblical concept that we all may struggle with from time to time - "Will God stop loving me?"


The inspiration of the text is from Romans 8:38-39:

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The book is hardback with colorful and fun illustrations.  This charming picture book speaks from the perspective of a child wondering if anything can separate them from the love of God.  The story begins with kids laying in the grass gazing into the clouds and contemplating Gods love.  From there it explores all the different scenarios that might, but doesn't separate us from His love.



Of my three kids 8, 5 and 2, I feel like it resonated perfectly with my 5 (almost 6) year old daughter.  My 8 year old son appreciated it, but (at least intellectually) he seemed to have a good grasp of the concept already.  And my 2 year old enjoyed it, but he is 2 and not quite there yet.  My daughter, though, seems to be piecing things together spiritually and this was a gentle walk through of the concept.  The book also gives a great setup for talking about what does happen when we disobey God.  The confusion that comes from thinking that God leaves us when we sin instead of the reality of us leaving Him is an important conversation to have, especially at this age.  It also helps teach safety and security in any state because the love of God can reach us there, no matter where we are.


There is so much media that does not reveal God to our families in any way.  Whenever I discover a fun and imaginative way to include spiritual teachable moments in our daily life, it is important to capitalize on it and certainly share it with others!  


WorthyKids on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorthyKidsBooks/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/worthykidsideals/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/worthykidsbooks/

Are you interested in what other families thought of this book?  Click on the link below to read all of the Crew reviews.
Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Dark Side of Progress: Why We Want To Live Life Differently

I have friends, as I'm sure you do as well, that boycott Facebook in an attempt to protect their mental space from the negatively charged climate we are battling on a daily basis.  If you are tapped into early childhood education, you have heard the battle between higher test score advocates and the call for play-dominated education.  Are you struggling with chronic health problems?  There is a lot of discussion about the dangers of our modern agricultural approaches undermining the God-given nutrients and immunity my grandparents received from their food and microbiome.  While modern conveniences are amazing in their own right, there is troubling evidence that suggests a blind-following of current trends in the name of keeping up is rapidly eating away at our quality of life.

About a mile from our house, we have experienced an oil site construction that has finally come to its maintenance state.  It was only a matter of weeks when another began just down the way from it.  No one in the area has been pleased with it and my animal loving kids were disgusted at all the animal homes they were destroying (in the tree clearing) just for the sake of money!  I had to calm my little activists down and explain how we do benefit from the oil even if we don't like the process and location.  I'm not in denial about some real benefits of progress and technology advancements, but this current wave of technology and internet-dominated living comes with side effects we do not generally consider.



My upbringing was extremely health-conscious and certainly not the norm of my culture usually.  To her credit, my mom was advocating for health and wellness choices that would become mainstream years later.  So, I remember how certain the 'experts' were about the evils of butter and all manner of fats.  Turns out they were off-base and there are quite a few good fats that are vital for overall health.  Let's not even talk about the smoking and the tobacco industry.  My point is, just because something is new and popular never means it is safe, wise or a place to set up camp.

I always hated the 'back in the good old days' talks or the resistance of progress simply because it is new, but I'm starting to understand their motivation.  There are some things in this world that do not change and our incessant need to upgrade or revolutionize what already works is getting us into trouble in some cases.  Spending time outdoors in nature is good for you - mind, body and spirit.  Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is important for mind and body function.  Being creative and keeping a slow pace is a mandatory part of life in order to sustain the times of necessary work and fast pace.  These are things that do not change no matter how fast your computer is or what new gadget comes on the market.



It is clear that our mental and physical health as a country is failing.  From suicide to cancers to chronic illness - all of our technological advancements aren't enough to truly change the direction of our health nationally.  I am so thankful for surgeries and procedures being more precise and revolutionized in many areas.  Like the oil that is being harvested down the street, there are good, even life-saving elements that come from progress.  But my hope is that we don't walk into the future blindly as if there are never any dangerous costs or side effects from all this progress.   A big reason why we choose the lifestyle we do - homeschool, hiking, gardening, cooking, etc. - is to protect and preserve a healthy way of life for our children.  I cannot control what dangers may arise from modern advancements, but I can invest more heavily in the decidedly good parts of life in order to side step or in some cases prevent the negative fallout of our march to the more, the better and the new.  

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pattern Explorer: A The Critical Thinking Co. Review


My 8 year old, J, has been learning to do long division and I'm gaining much respect for those elementary teachers who do this year after year! He's really been doing pretty well, but long division is full of a lot of steps and definitely wearing on him.  Today's review of Pattern Explorer Beginning  from The Critical Thinking Co. him has been a nice break while also strengthening his math skills at the same time.


What We Received:

We received one digital file.  Pattern Explorer comes as an ebook that you can save and print off as needed.


How It Works:

The book includes a Table of Contents, Introduction, 40 different activities, Hints, Solutions, and a Sample page from Dare to Compare, another resource by The Critical Thinking Co. Pattern Explorer is designed to help 3rd and 4th graders strengthen their mathematical pattern and structure skills through a series of activities that are divided into 5 themes:

  • Pattern Predictor
  • Equality Explorer
  • Sequence Sleuth
  • Number Ninja
  • Function Finder
The themes cycle back throughout the entire book to give students a variety of exercises.  All activities can stand alone as an enrichment resource, but it is designed to be used from beginning to end, as the activities build up on each other in skill.  The activities themselves use the basics - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division - in higher level ways that stretch students thinking from concrete to abstract.  


At the end of the activities, there is a Hints section that is a great help for times when a student is stuck, but you aren't ready to just give them the solution.


The Solutions section immediately follows and makes helping or grading students' work easy and efficient.


How We Used It:

Since my son doesn't always have the confidence in his math skills that I do, we just dove in and started at the beginning. I printed all 40 activities at once so I would leave it open as to how many activities he should do in one sitting.  Depending on how challenging on section would be, some days he would do several in a row.



What We Thought:

As a parent/teacher, I loved this product!  The activities were right on point for bridging the gap between learning a concept to answer questions correctly and grasping skills that help you ask the right questions.  Seeing patterns is something difficult to teach when it doesn't come naturally.  This book gives specific aid to students struggling with getting there on their own.

J gave it a 5 out of 10 because it was hard at first to figure out.  After he figured out how to do each activity he enjoyed it and sped through.  As his teacher, that means it did exactly what it needed to do - challenge his thinking and gradually increase his skill!

Overall, I feel like this is an important resource to have that helps strengthen important skills in preparing for higher math.  It is easy to use and great for multiple students.  I highly recommend this product and feel it is worth the money!  



READER'S SPECIAL: If you order anything from The Critical Thinking Co. for the remainder of 2019, you can receive FREE SHIPPING plus 15% off any size order when you use the coupon: TOSCREW19


The Critical Thinking Co. on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCriticalThinkingCo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/criticalthinks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/criticalthinks/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsVEVNa6UpVqXxo_t5sbb7Q
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecriticalthinkingco/ 

The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed several products for middle school and high school from The Critical Thinking Co.  Follow the link below to check out other products you might be interested in!

Critical Thinking, Math, Vocabulary & Writing Skills {The Critical Thinking Co. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum: A Review

While I have never been a very political person, having children certainly has awakened me to the importance of our freedoms in the United States.  In our ongoing homeschool curriculum this past year, the kids and I have been doing an overview of the birth of the US and the 50 states. Today's review, Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum, paralleled our ongoing study very nicely, giving a liberty-centered context to some of the events we were already studying.  In a time when the media is continually shaping the information we receive, sometimes beyond the reality of what is happening, it seems necessary to seek out history from more than a single place.  Pathway to Liberty provides a Biblical worldview, a look at Christian history, and highlights all of this in terms of liberty.



 What is Pathway to Liberty?

Pathway to Liberty is a complete homeschool history curriculum for K-12th grades that covers the following:

Pathway to Liberty's Universal History, Year 1
Pathway to Liberty's The Middle Ages, Year 2
Pathway to Liberty's US History, Year 3
Pathway to Liberty's World History, Year 4

The levels are broken down as follows:

Level 1: K5-3rd grade
Level 2: 4th-6th grade
Level 3: 7th-9th grade
Level 4: 10th-12th grade 

Types of assignments include:

  • word studies
  • writing options
  • map work
  • videos
  • copy work
  • Bible study
  • extra reading


It is available in both digital and physical formats.





What We Received:

Since we were already studying this topic, we chose to study US History, Year 3. We were given access to 3 digital files, a Level 1, Year 3 Teacher's Guide, a Level 1, Year 3 Student Guide, the Chain of Liberty book and access to a Youtube channel of video playlists that coordinates with the curriculum. 

The Teacher's Guide begins with advice and explanations for how to use all of the elements.  It continues with a few different charts that lay out the entire 26 week curriculum by levels, books used and lessons.  It also provides a weekly overview for each lesson.




The Student Guide includes similar instructions and charts as the Teacher's Guide followed by each lesson's elements.  This includes reading passages, copy work, map work, fill in the blanks, and discussion questions.


The Chain of Liberty text is the basis and explanation for the curriculum itself.  It discusses the importance of certain people and events that result in a chain of liberty, working together to purchase this liberty we have.  The book also convicts the reader that our liberty could be in danger as we are lulled into a comfort that doesn't fully appreciate what we have been given and at what cost.

The video explaining the history behind the national anthem was one of our favorite parts of the curriculum!

How We Used It:

We started in the middle of the curriculum about week 16 because it approximately lined up with our ongoing studies.  I had initially considered incorporating my 5 (almost 6) year old daughter into this program as well, but aside from the videos, it was just a lot to ask of her.  As a result, it was just my 8 year old son using this program.  Every lesson begins with a scripture and principle that usually required filling in the blanks.  Most lessons we would begin with that and then move on to the reading portions.  I would include the videos at other times when we were not doing school which spread the learning out over the day.

What We Thought:

My son (8) enjoys learning about history, but he prefers more action than not.  He enjoyed the videos and didn't mind some of the fill-in-the-blank/copy work, but he complained about all the reading and extra writing. 

I have a lot of respect for the way this curriculum is designed and the liberty-mindedness of the author.  In the past few years, I have been seeing our liberties be shoved around and in some cases taken away.  I know this is an important topic to grasp and look forward to my children developing understanding themselves.

I do not do well with digital products that are more than a page or two long.  It seems that it gets jumbled somehow and find it difficult to keep it organized.  A digital version is wonderful for using with more than one student, but I think I'm having to face a personal reality that I do a less efficient job without physical books.

For my son's age and activity level, I think he wasn't quite ready to fully digest this program.  The layout and design of the text reminds me of a college class, which is something we hadn't really encountered yet.  Knowing now what it entails, I will use it sprinkled into our current overview of US History and come back around to the bulk of it in a year or two. 

My Recommendation:
This is a powerful resource and curriculum that would be great for middle school and high school ages.  To use it with elementary ages, I would highly recommend getting the physical books and allowing for ample planning time.  I would also recommend the book Chain of Liberty as an important read for every parent, whether or not you use the curriculum.  It puts our freedoms and our current political climate in perspective in a way I've never really heard before.



Pathway to Liberty on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PathwaytoLiberty/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pathway2Liberty
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pathwaytoliberty/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClVQD1kM1KnthMBWFTQ_AbQ/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pathwaytoliberty/

There are 60 families reviewing this product, including the other years and levels.  I would encourage you to read some of their thoughts to get a broader impression of how this curriculum can work in your home.  Check out the reviews through the link below:
Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 6, 2019

To Know and Be Known


This photo is one of my absolute favorites.  Mr. Butler and I were driving to Hot Springs by way of the Talimena  Scenic Drive, but it was crazy foggy and hard to see almost anything.  We pulled over right here and the view from the road was perfect for a picture.  This view embodies the journey of life and the fog that hides our future days sometimes. 

This picture also reminds me of the disappointments in life.  That trip was one of strain and tension.  We had hit some bumps in the marriage road and were trying to recover, but with only small successes.  Like the gloomy December skies, it was hard to find the excitement with so much discouragement lingering about.  Thankfully, a cloudy day doesn't last and disappointment in life can be temporary. 


This one is not a very good photo and certainly isn't something that most people would be inspired by in any way.  On the other hand, this is a reminder of how much Mr. Butler loves me and his children.  This reminds me of the joys that can be had in marriage - despite disappointments and unexpected problems.  Though the picture isn't much to speak of, the content is quite powerful to me.

I've been lovingly teased before because I don't appreciate small talk.  I'm not good at it and it seems terribly pointless.  This is a good illustration of why: The truth and reality of someone's life isn't usually very evident on the surface, certainly not through pictures strategically placed on the internet.  You probably won't know the true highs and lows of my life unless you sit down and talk with me.  Even in my writing, there is always the editing process that attempts to put a better foot forward.  If I ever ask you how you are doing, you better believe I really want to know.  I find small talk difficult because people ask you questions they have no interest in hearing the answers to.  What is that? If you don't want to know, please don't ask to begin with! Ok, rant over. 

My hope is that you live a life of discovery.  Some things are beautiful on the outside, but rotting away inside.  Other things are ugly at first glance, but with more familiarity are full of wonderful things.  Take time to truly know and be known.