Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Otter B Free: Christian Picture Books! TOS Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Focus on the Family

I am very careful with the media that is presented to my almost-four-year-old son, Zeke. These days, you not only have to be careful with the TV shows and movies geared toward this age group, but also the books. There are so many books, even picture books targeting the preschool age, with messages that are contrary to my family's core Christian beliefs. This is one reason I was excited to receive Otter B Free from Focus on the Family to read to Zeke.

Otter B is a series of children's picture books that present biblical values and character traits using a fun story and adorable characters. In Otter B Free, Otter B and his friends are gearing up for a fun Fourth of July Field Day - and the big, shiny trophy the winner received! Otter B doesn't think he has a chance of winning because his friend Felicia is the best at every event. When Otter B hears that Felicia has broken her foot and can't compete, he starts practicing every day in hopes that he will win the big trophy! However, seeing Felicia sitting all alone at Field Day makes Otter B realize there are more important things that winning, like friendship. All of the friends, including Felicia, work together to win - and share - the gold trophy! 

This hard cover book is such a cute, fun read for young children. The pictures are cartoonish and adorable, the pages are thick and glossy, and the storyline includes biblical values that I want to instill in my children. At the end of the book, there is a little poem and a scripture that reinforces the topic of the book. This series is definitely preschooler-friendly!

There are ten books in the Otter B series, including Otter B Kind, Otter B Thankful, and Otter B Brave. These would make great Christmas gifts for the young children in your life! Check out what other reviewers thought of this book by clicking the banner below!

Character Traits

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Audio Adventures with Jonathan Park! TOS Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Do you know the difference in an audio book and an audio story? I'll confess that I didn't know there was a difference until I started listening to Jonathan Park, The Adventure Begins, Series 1! Here is the difference: An audio book is simply a book that is read by a narrator. There are many benefits for kids listening to audio books. But an audio story is totally different! According to their website, these stories are like "movies for your ears" complete with actors, composers, engineers, and writers. Listening to these audio stories is a whole new experience for my kids! 

We received The Adventure Begins, Series 1 which includes four albums with three episodes each. The episodes run around 20-26 minutes in length, so each album is around an hour or a little more. This set contains over five hours of the adventure for your family to listen to. Plus, there are 19 different series!

Jonathan Park is a Biblical, Creation-based audio story that includes science topics and Biblical concepts in the story. Some of the science topics in this series are the Evolutionary Tree, convergent evolution, the laws of energy, and the water cycle. The Biblical take-aways are returning good for evil, showing kindness, and the consequences of sin. I am very interested in Creation-based science and from the very first episode, I was intrigued. 

This series is action-packed and full of adventure, mystery, and excitement! It genuinely keeps my kids' attention - and that's not an easy task. There are so many interesting facts presented in the episodes, great sound effects, talented voices, and a fast-moving storyline. 

Click the image to learn more about Jonathan Park!

Listening to this audio story has been a new experience for my kids. Even Titus, my 10-year-old who has trouble focusing due to large amounts of energy, has really enjoyed listening to this. He even commented, "They need to make this into a movie!" I responded with, "It's a movie for your ears." My energetic three-year-old, Zeke, even sat on the couch and listened to the story. 

I am very impressed with The Adventure Begins from Jonathan Park! Right now, The Adventure Begins, Series 1 is on sale from $59.99 to $24.99. Jonathan Park is also offering free shipping to the US by using the code jpcrew22 at checkout. This is a great deal, so don't let it pass you up! Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought about this amazing audio story.

Children's Audio Stories

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Blogging From A to Z: Names

I figured I would share the meaning behind each of my children's names this week! There are no elaborate stories behind any of them, but I always find it interesting to see why people name their children what they do. 

Mikaela LeeAnn 

Mikaela was a name that I heard when I was in high school, and I thought it was the prettiest name I had ever heard. I told myself I would name my first daughter Mikaela, and when I found out she was a girl I knew I wanted her name to be Mikaela. LeeAnn was the name of Rod's sister. She passed away in a car wreck when I was still pregnant with Mikaela. She was my age at the time - 17. We named Mikaela after her to remember her. 

Elijah Paul

We went back and forth with Eli's name when I was pregnant. We considered the name Enoch Elijah since they were the only two men in the Bible who never died - God took them to heaven alive. We eventually decided that we liked Elijah as a first name, but were torn on Peter and Paul as middle names. They were two of our favorite Biblical characters. The day we left the hospital we finally decided on Elijah Paul! Funny story - we called him Eli almost all the time, except when he would be in trouble I would call out "Eli - jah!" We were discussing middle names when he was around 7 or 8, and he said, "I have a weird middle name - Jah." I had to explain that Jah was not his middle name! 

Mercie Renee

I don't remember how we decided on the name Mercie, but I remember that it didn't feel natural to me until after she was born! I liked the spelling with an -ie at the end because that's how my sister Ashlie spells her name. Renee is my middle name and my mom's middle name, so I wanted to pass that on to my daughter as well. 

Silas Bruce

Silas is another Bible name that we loved, and Bruce is Rod's dad's name and Rod's middle name. We found out that Silas and Bruce mean "man of the woods" and "from the forest", which was pretty neat! Silas does love the woods and hunting, so his name is fitting.

Titus Rodgers

Again, Titus is just a Biblical name that we loved! Rodgers is my dad and his dad's middle name as well. Their names are Jimmie Rodgers Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers Jr.  Jimmy Rodgers was a famous country singer years and years ago I'm told! I also like that Rodgers is spelling with "Rod" in it, so it feels like he is also named after Rod. My dad doesn't have any sons, so I did feel good naming one of mine after him.

Rodrick Ezekiel

We loved the name Zeke, but I wanted to continue the Bible name tradition for our sons so we went with Ezekiel, calling him Zeke. Rodrick is Rod's first name, and I wanted Zeke named after him as well since Silas and Titus had part of his name in their names. Zeke will not say his full name though - he says, "I'm just Zeke!"

Zoey May

Zoey isn't born yet - she has about a month to go! But I still want to share her name. When I was pregnant with Zeke, I wanted twins so badly. I wanted a boy and a girl - Zeke and Zoey. I thought those names went together really well. Zeke was a singleton, so I didn't get my Zoey. I wasn't planning to have any more children, and Zoey was a surprise! When we found out she was a girl, there was no question as to what her name would be - Zoey. May is a name we have always loved as a middle name. Rod's grandmother was Johnnie Mae, and the kids all called her "MaeMae". Now Daniel calls me "MayMay" (I spelled it differently) and I wanted Zoey to have the name May as her middle name. 

I'd love to hear the stories behind your children's names! Link up any "N" posts below!

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Monday, August 29, 2022

Audio Bible for Kids - The Adventum: TOS Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
The Adventum

Audio books can be such a valuable resource to have on hand for kids. Having Bible stories on audio can be even more valuable! That's exactly what The Adventum is - an exciting audio adaptation of the Bible for kids. 

We received The Adventum Volume 1 to listen to for the past month. Volume 1 takes you from the Creation of the World through Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac on the altar. Volumes 2-4 are also available, taking you through Joshua taking the Promised Land. We received the physical CDs, but these audio dramas are also available as a digital download. Volume 1 is approximately 4 hours of playing time on 4 different discs. Each episode is under a half hour long with many being around 20 minutes.

When we listened to the first episode of the Creation of the world and mankind, I was honestly blown away by the awesome sound effects, lovely music, and great voices of the narrators. It really made the account of Creation and mankind come alive for us, even though we've heard this story many times. The story adaptations are very scripturally sound, and each direct quote from scripture is taken from the New King James or New Internation Versions of the Bible. The words spoken by God are always taken directly from scripture; there is no artistic license taken with His words.

Listening to these story adaptations is a great way to really reinforce Bible stories in your child's mind and heart. It's easy to visualize what's going on with all of the sound effects and different voices. There are plenty of pauses in the dialogue with beautiful music that gives your mind a minute to picture what is happening. I've always thought that audio books were a fantastic way to work on listening skills and grow the imagination. 

The Adventum would be a great resource to listen to in the car on long trips or even running errands, during quiet time, or while your child is playing with their toys. Having these Bible stories on in the background of your home is one way to keep a peaceful environment and spirit. Right now, Volume 1 is only $19.99 (normally $39.99). They're also offering free shipping for my readers! Just use the code advcrew22 at checkout! See what other families thought of this amazing audio adaptation of the Bible by clicking on the banner below. 

audio bible stories

Friday, August 26, 2022

Week In Review: Zoey's Crib, Shopping, and Homeschooling!

This was our second week of school, and it went even better than last week. We are all pleased with the curriculum we are using. I feel like I've finally come to the place where I'm not always looking for the next best thing. I can be content using something that may not be the best but works for our family. Last week I was pretty detailed our week-in-review post, but this week I'll just touch on the favorite moments from the week.


Our favorite moments were definitely the science experiments and demonstrations. I like how there are usually several scheduled in each week. The boys can do them pretty much on their own. Having a box with almost all of the supplies needed has also made things much simpler. 

Titus is learning about the weather right now. He did an experiment to see how hot and cold air molecules move to make currents in the water and air. We put a pan of lukewarm water on top of some cups and placed a cup of boiling water under one end and a cup of ice under the other. After waiting a few minutes, he placed a drop of food coloring at each end. He watched how the cold and hot molecules moved and made different currents.

Silas learned about friction and did an experiment with a block of wood and sandpaper to show how friction slows down a moving object. 

My favorite moments were also listening to the boys give narrations of their history lessons. I love to see how much they retain and what parts of the lessons most interest them. Titus also has read the past three chapters of Farmer Boy on his own and that is a definite favorite for me!

Geography Drill! He really needs to learn basic geography.

Zeke learned the letter F this week. He made a cute paper plate fish with tissue paper squares. I love paper plate crafts!

I was also really pleased that he can recognize the numbers 1-5 and know what value they represent. I had him lay out the number cards and then count the correct amount of glass beads for each card. He did this activity with zero help from me!

He made his alphabet collage using Foil and Felt pieces and completed several other worksheets. Most of these are available in my Etsy shop. 

Doctor's Visit and Shopping Trip

Thursdays are my doctor days. I make the hour and half long trek to the doctor's office each week. I've been taking one child with me each week to spend some one-on-one time with them before Zoey arrives, and this week was Titus's week. My blood pressure has been high the past few visits, and they've done bloodwork to check for preeclampsia signs. So far, my bloodwork has been normal even though my blood pressure is 140/82-165/92. Next week I start my weekly ultrasounds, so I'm excited about that! I'm 35 weeks now.

Titus has been needing some new tennis shoes and wanting a pair of Hey Dude shoes like his older siblings. We bought him a pair of both! He was super excited about them. He also got a new pair of jeans and a nice shirt for church, two t-shirts, and a hoodie for this fall. We met Mikaela (she lives there now while she's going to school) and ate lunch in the mall (they had Yummy Japan). I wound up buying everyone a surprise from the mall - new shirts for the older kids and a pair of Hey Dudes for Zeke. He needed a nice pair for church (he usually wears his Crocs!). 

New western shirt

Zoey's Crib

When we got home Thursday, my dad came and took Titus to TKD for me. Eli put Zoey's crib together for me! It's a mini-crib, so it fits really nicely in front of our window in our bedroom. It matches our bed really well, too. 

I cannot wait for her to sleep in here! I'm so excited about her arrival. I have co-slept with the last three babies, but I'm honestly not wanting to co-sleep this time around. I'm hoping she'll sleep in the crib from day one!

We also got tons of rain this week - nearly 8 inches! It was so dry that it's almost all drained off the roads already. I'm SO ready for cooler temperatures, but they're still at least a month away.

What was your favorite homeschooling moment this week?

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Blogging From A to Z: Middle School Thoughts on Monday

Middle school can be a difficult time for homeschoolers. Your child is not in elementary school anymore and doesn't need as much handholding, but they are not in high school yet and are not ready to be totally independent in their learning. They want to do things independently, yet they still need some scaffolding in their daily work. They can also be a bit grumpy at times since this age group is typically going through puberty, with all of the hormones and mood swings that accompany it!
Silas in the middle

Middle school can also be a wonderful time for homeschoolers. You have this extra time with your pre-teen and teenager that you would miss out on if they were in public school. You can offer them the help they may need, the one-on-one time that is invaluable for kids of all ages. You can cater to your child's interests and feed their curiosity about different topics. 
7th grade workload

One of the things I always try to remind myself of is that my middle-schoolers are in a big transition stage, not just in school but in life. They are outgrowing many of their childish behaviors and hobbies and at the same time trying to see where they fit in the world of teenagers. They may still have the desire to play with toys or watch shows that are geared toward younger kids while at the same time have no desire to play with their younger siblings or do things with younger friends. They could be asking for their own phones or social media - something you may not be ready to give them.
I try to spend time with him in his environment 

Middle school can be tough - both for you and your child! Having plenty of patience and offering grace to your child (even when we think they don't deserve it) will help you both cope. Take the time to listen to your child, putting away your phone and any other distractions. Allow your child to have small "tantrums", trying to get to the root of the problem. Discuss ways to handle the larger workload in their school and try to give them as much independence as they can bear without burdening them. 
He loves to grill!

Make sure your middle-schooler is getting plenty of sleep! It's tempting to stay awake late, playing video games or watching a movie. It's recommended that children ages 6-12 get 9-12 hours of sleep a night, while children ages 13-18 need 8-10. Turning off screens an hour before sleeping also helps your child fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Most of all, enjoy this time with your middle-schooler! Play games together, go on fun fieldtrips, and laugh with (and at!) each other often. 

What’s your favorite thing about middle school?

This post is part of my series of Middle School Monday!

Link up your "M" posts this week!

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Saturday, August 20, 2022

First Week of School!

I think we had a very productive first week of homeschool this week! So far, I'm really pleased with all of the curriculum choices we made and how well they're working with my boys. I'll break it down into each grade level and try to hit on the highlights of the week. This first week may be a bit lengthy.

First day of school breakfast - you can tell who looks more excited!


I can't believe he is in middle school this year! He is really taking ownership of his schoolwork and doing most of it with zero help from me. 

Physical Science - He had several fun experiments/demonstrations this week that helped him visualize the concepts he is learning (the different types of energy). He completes his workbook pages with minimal help from me and does the experiments totally on his own (while I try to snap pictures!). 

shooting a rubber band at a target 

he made a ramp for a toy car

swinging a tennis ball around his head

learning about momentum with dominos, golf balls, and ping pong balls

World History - He reads the assigned pages on his own, gives me a narration when prompted, and completes his workbook pages all on his own. He brings them to me to check before putting them in his binder.

Writing Strands - Again, this has been done completely by him. It's a bit easy right now, but I want him to start slow with writing instruction. I do want to add in some grammar review each day, even just parts of speech.

Progeny Press - He finished reading chapters 6-8 this week and completed most of the questions for these chapters. We do this together for the most part, while he answers aloud and I help him condense the answer into a short enough response to write down. He loves the book he's reading - The Last Battle - and his comprehension of the story has really surprised me. 

Saxon Math 7/6 - He is using Nicole the Math Lady with this, and he says she makes things so simple to understand! He completed six lessons so far. I do not make him work all the problems in the problem set.


So far, I've been sitting with him for his lessons, but I hope to be able to give him a bit more independence as time goes on. 

Science - He had a few experiments this week to show air pressure and that air has weight. I was really surprised how he read all of the lessons aloud in their entirety to me because he hates to read. he remembered so much from each lesson! He completed his workbook pages with little help.

learning that air has weight

air pressure

American History - He learned about Native Americans this week, one of his favorite topics! He also read these pages aloud and remembered quite a bit! He really enjoyed these workbook pages, including researching a tribe of his choice and writing a mini-report! 

Language Lessons for a Living Education - I like this workbook so far, and he can do it mostly on his own. He liked reading the Bible story, drawing the picture, and the copy work on Day 4! It is quick but looks like it's going to be a good variety of topics. 

Language Smarts E - This was a review workbook that I wanted Titus to keep using. He did some worksheets on prefixes and suffixes this week. 

Math Lessons for a Living Education - We love this series, and he was reviewing addition and subtraction this week, so it was totally on his own. 

Progeny Press - We finished reading the assigned chapters in Farmer Boy and finished the corresponding pages for those. He remembers a lot from this book, even though we take turns reading pages because he finds it challenging. There are a lot of details and descriptions in this book!


The Gentle + Classical Preschool - We read Last Stop on Market Street three times this week. He enjoys this book! He learned the letter L and reviewed counting to five and counting five different objects. We did his memory cards each day, and he liked being able to hold them himself and recite the information. His nursery rhyme was Rain, Rain, Go Away and he would randomly recite it throughout the week!

counting five crayons

he can recognize the numbers 1-5

We did a fun rain in a jar experiment that I've done several times with my kids. He loved it!

We mixed red and yellow and made orange! He also did a red and orange sorting worksheet I created for him.

He also completed some worksheets from my Preschool Learning Journal and some that I created for him to go with his theme and letter this week. He loves worksheets and wants several a day.

he put a sticker in each circle

he filled the L with leaf stickers

he traced his letters and gave the lion a mane in an AB pattern

reading numbers and placing leaf stickers on the tree

he cut and glue a tiny green leaf to the tree - can you spot it?

this set is available in my Etsy shop - alphabet collage worksheets

he made this adorable paper plate lion! He drew the whiskers and mouth himself

he cut the edges to make a mane

Mercie starts her school Monday. It's going to be weird to have her gone during the day four days a week, but I know she is going to love it. Eli had his last first day of high school this week. It's bittersweet! Have you started school yet?

My high school senior!