Thursday, October 31, 2013

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . {Schoolhouse Review}

One thing we are doing more of in our homeschool is exploring interest-led learning.  Elliott is really intrigued by geography right now, so when I had the opportunity to review a book series that introduces world geography to children in a fun and engaging way, I jumped at the chance!

 photo carole_p_roman_logo_zps9e0a6d7b.png

Carole P. Roman of Away We Go Media has written four books in the If You Were Me and Lived In series, which are written for children 4-8 years old.

If You Were Me and Lived In Mexico
If You Were Me and Lived in South Korea
If You Were Me and Lived in France
If You Were Me and Lived in Norway {brand new release!}

The books are described as "an exciting new children's series that focuses on learning and appreciating the many cultures that make up our small planet."

All of the books are very informational, but not in a dull way.  You will not find boring lists of facts and statistics in these books.  Instead, they are written in the 2nd person, so the reader gets to feel like they are travelling the globe with a child their age.

Each book is specific to its country, of course, but they all follow the same basic format and include the same overview, written in an engaging way.  For example, things like location on the globe, the capital city, currency, sports, food, famous landmarks and so much more, are all woven right into the dialogue.  These are all things that young children can relate to, so it helps them identify with the narrator.

What did the kids think?
The books are perfect for their intended audience.  My boys (4 and 6) loved all four of the books.  In fact, they wanted to read all of them in one sitting once we started.  They particularly loved hearing the children's names that are considered common in other countries, and the translations for Mom and Dad.  My oldest also wants to travel to Norway now and stay in the hotel made of snow and ice!  The boys are already asking for the next book, and were bummed that there aren't more available yet!

What did Mom think? 
These books are charming!  I personally appreciated that each book had a pronunciation guide in the back, so I could check the foreign words and not stumble through the reading!  I believe these are fantastic living geography and culture books, and I would definitely recommend them.  They are great for a unit study, and when we do our Around the World unit, I plan to incorporate these, because we will definitely love reading them again.  You can purchase the books in paperback ($8.99 on Amazon, except Norway which is $10.79) or on Kindle for only $0.99 ($1.99 for Norway) which is a fantastic price for these books!  I loved the books, and will buy future books in the series too.

Connect with the Author
Carole P. Roman on Facebook
Carole P. Roman on Twitter
Carole P on Pinterest
Carole P Roman's Blog

Be sure to check out more Carole P. Roman book reviews book reviews from the crew!

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin Story

Big pumpkins, little pumpkins . . . they all have a purpose.

Savory Pumpkin Puree for baby }

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sweet Olive by Judy Christie {Booksneeze Review}

Camille is a young woman working in the family business because she felt obligated to her uncle, who "rescued" her has a child.  So she works as a landman for his big oil and gas company, convincing landowners to lease their land for drilling and mineral rights.  She's been traveling for years, though, and all she wants is that cushy office job, to own a home and to volunteer at the art gallery owned by her best friend.

Her uncle promises her the corporate job in Houston, if she will close "just one more" deal for him.  He sends her to Sweet Olive, a small town in Louisiana.  She's there to to negotiate with the artists guild, as many of them own the homes where the oil company wants to drill, but she's up against their corporate attorney, who's a local and also the son of one of the artists.

While there, Camille's love of art draws her in, and she falls in love with the folksy art of the small town, and those who create it.  Obviously, this conflicts with the purpose of her visit, but she can't help herself.  The town also brings back a lot of suppressed childhood memories that Camille has never really dealt with, and she spends a lot of time reflecting on this.  Sometimes it felt like too much of the story was dragged out around this element, but it did fit into the overall story line.

This is a typical women's fiction, love story, all's well that end's well, story.  It started a little slow for my liking, but once the story got going, it was very good.  There were a few surprises in the book, though, that altered the path to the somewhat predictable ending.  I enjoyed the small town feel, and the feeling of belonging.  There is a religious theme woven throughout the story, but I wouldn't particularly label it Christian fiction.  Overall, it was an easy enjoyable read, and I would read the next book in the series.

I review for BookSneeze®

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©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, October 28, 2013

D is for Daughter

It is so hard for me to believe you are already nine months old.  It seems like just yesterday that I was lamenting that you were never going to come out out to greet the world.  Then you came out an 8 lb 5 oz bundle of perfection.  You had your daddy's blue eyes and a head full that gorgeous black baby hair.  Your hair is a few shades lighter now, but you're eyes are still blue and you're as cute as ever.

You haven't started cutting teeth yet, but you're a huge fan of real food.  You love fresh fruit, green beans, and chicken.  You're pulling up everywhere now.  Not quite cruising, but it won't be long now.  You love to play with the rhythm instruments, and "pet" the dogs, though you have a love-hate relationship with the big one.

I admit, you're not the easiest baby.  You still don't sleep through the night, and you have a lot of stranger anxiety and separation anxiety.  Basically, mommy holds you quite frequently, but I'm okay with that.  I'm having fun watching your feisty personality develop, and I love every snuggle and cuddle.

You are a ray of sunshine to our family.  Your brothers adore you.  Elliott makes you laugh constantly, and while Emory may pester you sometimes, he will be your biggest protector.  Your Daddy is completely smitten with you.

We have spent the last nine months watching you smile, learn to crawl and babble.  Your brothers are already hard at work planning your first birthday bash.  It's hard to believe that it is so close.  In no time you will be walking and talking, and the fact that you are growing up so fast makes me happy and sad at the same time.  I am blissfully happy with my family right now, and could stand still in time, but I look forward to seeing the girl you become.  I want you to know that you are loved and cherished, sweet girl, and I am so thankful for you!

Blogging Through the Alphabet My Joy-Filled Life

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, October 25, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity (Schoolhouse Review)

I am always open to trying out new resources in our homeschool.  Recently I was given the opportunity to review a Premium Membership from VocabularySpellingCity, and I figured it would be a good supplement to my six year old's reading program.

What is VocabularySpellingCity?
This is an award winning K-12 site that allows teachers, parents and homeschoolers to help children practice spelling and vocabulary through interactive lessons and games.  Many aspects of the website are free, including several games and activities, so I wondered why I would want a Premium Membership.  The answer is because the Premium Membership is actually a very comprehensive program with a lot to offer.  Also, the price for families - $29.99 for up to 5 students - is a good value.  Many websites charge extra under the guise of a "sibling discount" but I like that VocabularySpellingCity has a flat rate.

One of the most beneficial features to me as a homeschooler are the record keeping and progress tracking.  We do not materialize a lot of paperwork in our homeschool, so I love that I can print records for our portfolio.

The Parent Account

My account is very easy to navigate.  There is a specific "Help" section, no matter what area of my account I'm using, so if I ever have a question or get stuck, they've made it easy for me to find the answer.  The three primary areas that are most important for me for utilizing the website:

  • List Management allows me to create, edit, print or even group my lists.  While using the Teacher Resources available on the site, you can even import lists from the website right into your account!  There are lists for Geography, Homophones, Compound Words, Contractions, Math Vocabulary, Sports, Animals, and so much more!  There are lists for just about everything you would be studying, so you can save yourself the step if you don't already have a specific list you want to enter.  I personally am importing the reading lists, and creating lists based around our reading program/phonics rules, to help with reading fluency.  You can take this one step further, and turn your list into a customized handwriting worksheet (print, d'Nealian, cursive and sign language are all available).  With the addition of vocabulary and some of the language arts topics they offer, you nearly have a complete language arts curriculum just with this program.
  • Assignments is where I can choose a list and create an "assignment" which is actually any combination of games, activities and tests that I choose for my child.  I can choose to have the assignments completed in a particular order, assign them to one, some or all of my children {well, I only have one using this website, but you get the point . . . } and assign due dates if I want.  I can also add specific instructions.  I believe the assignments are great for keeping children on task, and the ability to add due dates is helpful for older children who are working on time management skills.
  • Test Results allows me to click on my child's name and see all of his progress!  It shows me the date he worked on the activity and how much time he spent.  I can see his score on any tests taken, and I can print the tests results as well.  The ability to print tests is great for physical record keeping, since I am keeping a portfolio.

The Student Account
Everyone on the account has their own username and password.  When Elliott logs in, he technically could play independently with his word list, but there is a green box at the top of his screen if I have created assignments for him, and he can click the arrow to start.  When we first started the program, I imported some of their beginner lists just so we could familiarize ourselves with the website and he could get some basic practice.


There are a lot of games and activities to choose from.  There's a game called Hang Mouse, which is like traditional hang man, and it's a hit with Elliott.  He liked Letter Fall (catching the letters in your word in order), but he had a hard time working the controls quick enough, and I even found it frustrating myself.  There are flashcards, fill in the blank type games, listening exercises, crosswords, matching, and memory type games.  Really, there is a large variety to appeal to all learning styles and ages.  The variety really beats the traditional "write the word five times" assignments I had in school.

There is also a free app that can be used with your account.  This makes VocabularySpellingCity very portable for families who like to take school on the road.

What Do We Think?
Elliott (6) definitely has his preference for games, so I've had to experiment to find the best combination of activities that will both interest him and actually help him.  Also, some of the games do not have audio, so that is a consideration for beginning readers.

I think if you're going to include spelling in your homeschool, or if your brick-and-mortar school child needs additional help with their spelling lists, VocabularySpellingCity is a fun alternative.  I like that there are a variety of games for different ages and learning styles, and it is very easy to personalize a spelling curriculum for every child in the family.

Be sure to read more reviews of VocabularySpellingCity for even more opinions.

this graphic contains my FTC statement

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are You Interested in Being on the Schoolhouse Review Crew!?

One thing you probably already know about me is that I am a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, otherwise known as The Crew.  The Crew has been an amazing opportunity for me, both as a homeschool parent, and as a blogger.  First of all, my family gets to try new curriculum and supplements for our homeshool.  We have been exposed to new companies we may have never found or may not have been tempted to try, and as a result, we have learned a lot about our homeschool style, the children’s learning styles, and my teaching preferences.  I have found homeschooling support and encouragement from the other parents, and frankly, it is just a lot of fun!  The Crew is an amazing group of people, and it’s that time of the year when they are welcoming new members!

The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be taking applications for the 2014 Review year from October 24 - November 8!

If you are a homeschool blogger that enjoys trying new curriculum and writing reviews...

Then you might be perfect for the Crew! 

Some requirements for being a part of the Crew include the following: 
  • First of all you must be a homeschool mom or dad. You don’t have to homeschool all of your children, but you must homeschool at least one. 
  • You must be willing to use the review products for about six weeks in your homeschool, before writing your review. Review periods have deadlines and requirements for the reviews. You must be willing to follow these requirements. No, that doesn't mean you must write a positive review. But it does mean that there are certain elements that are required. And the deadlines are firm. If you are often late for deadlines, the Crew is probably not for you. 
  • You must have a blog on which to publish your reviews, and be sure you have an active blog with a following. By active blog, I mean that you should be blogging regularly, at least weekly, about your family and homeschool (in addition to your reviews). Your blog should have followers — RSS feed or email subscribers, as well as in social media. The Crew does not accept brand new bloggers who just set up their blogs for the purposes of applying to the team. 
  • Are you using social media to promote your blog? Activity on at least one social media platform is a requirement to serve on the Crew. Which one is up to you — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Plus are the options. You will need to be willing to promote your reviews there and post a widget or plug-in publicly on your blog, indicating how many followers you have in social media. 
  • You must be willing to check into the Crew's Review Management forum. This is where information is disseminated to the team. The leadership does everything possible to make things easy for us, outside of writing the actual review, but you need to be willing to participate by checking in almost daily. 
  • Sample reviews are helpful. If you’ve never written a review on your blog, go ahead and write one for curriculum you are currently using in your homeschool. This will help the leaders see how you approach writing reviews. 

Why should you want to be a part?
It's not just about the products and the reviews.  Yes, those are helpful to our homeschool.  Being exposed to such a variety of products has helped us figure out what works and what doesn't work for us.  It's fun.

However, it's also about the connections and the opportunities.  You will grow as a reviewer, as a blogger, and as a homeschooler.  You'll find other homeschooling parents who are like you, and some who are very different, but all who strive to provide an enriching environment for their children, and who will try to help you do the same for yours.  It's a diverse group of people, but you will always find support and encouragement.

How can you apply? 
After making sure you meet all of the requirements, if you believe you would to an asset to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and wish to join us, please click over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to apply.

Come be a part of The Old Schoolhouse family!

This is a unique opportunity, and I am so glad I am part of the Crew.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me!


©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: ART

This week's Homeschool Weekly Photo Challenge is Art.

Art in our house is . . . messy, but fun!

Homeschool Weekly Photo Challenge | The Canadian Homeschooler

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

The first time I had one of these, I was begging for the recipe.  Absolutely delicious!

My husband had been to a meeting at work, and brought home some of the leftover cupcakes.  The lady that made them didn't have a specific recipe to give us, so this ended up being our adaption of her "approximate" recipe.  Well, the husband's adaption, as he did most of the work.  He is the cook in our house, after all.

Ingredients - Cupcakes & Filling
{Apple} Spice Cake Mix
Apple Pie Seasoning
2 granny smith {or other tart} apples

Paula Deen's 7 Minute Frosting Recipe
nuts - optional

She used a spice cake, but the store we stopped at only had Apple Pie Spice Cake mix.  We just left out the package of filling that came with it.  We added some apple pie seasoning to the mixture before baking as directed on the package.  While the cupcakes were baking, we made the caramel apple filling.

Finely dice the apples.  We only used about 1 1/2 and we still had mixture left over.  Her suggestion for the caramel was to use caramel ice cream topping, but the husband bought the caramel dip you find in the produce section for dipping apples.  Then he mixed in honey.  I couldn't tell you how much he used, but it's just enough to get it to the taste and texture you like.  It looks disgusting, but it is so tasty!

Once the cupcakes are cool, you cut out a small section from the top to make room for the filling.

Then drop in some of the filling and smooth it out.

Then we moved on to the icing.  Husband just googled to find a 7 Minute recipe.

Pipe on the icing!

If necessary, thin out the caramel so that you can drizzle it on the cupcakes.  Our dipping caramel was not very cooperative.  It wasn't beautiful, but don't worry Martha Stewart, we don't think we're food bloggers.

The first ones we tried from my husband's co-worker had crushed nuts on the top.  We chose to leave them off because we were taking them to an event.

See the inside?  Yuuuummmy!

I'm now a huge fan of these!  What's your favorite cupcake?

Blogging Through the Alphabet 


©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Audrey Bunny - Children's Book Review & Giveaway

This adorable children's book is brought to you by best-selling women's author, Angie Smith.  Audrey Bunny is the story of a little stuffed bunny, who fears that she will never be loved.  She has an imperfection, she is different from the other toys, but all she wants is to belong in a child's arms.

This book is a sweet story about how we are not designed by mistake, and we are each fearfully and wonderfully made.  A story of a little girl's compassion and love for an "imperfect" toy, is a story you will want to read to your children.  Children can relate to the day-to-day activities of the little girl Caroline, and will likely be intrigued to see the fate of Audrey Bunny.  My children were immediately asking questions about what would happen if Audrey wasn't chosen from the toy store, or why the mark wouldn't come off.  I found this book to be a great way to open up dialogue about our unique differences, acceptance, compassion and tolerance.  There is even a Parent Connection page at the end of the book that offers discussion starters, if you need help.

The pictures are absolutely lovely to look at, thanks to Breezy Brookshire's delightful illustrations.  My 6 year old asked me to read the book as soon as he saw it, and my 4 year old thoroughly enjoyed it.  I do not shy away from books with females as the main characters, and I felt like both boys enjoyed this book just as much as they would have if it had been about a boy.  Do not think this book is only for girls.  It is a life lesson for all of us.

I loved this book.  Due to the length of the book and the word count on each page, I would suggest that it is appropriate for ages 4+ and  I think it would make a lovely addition to any child's book collection.  It is a hard-cover book with a dust jacket, and retails for $14.99.  You can purchase Audrey Bunny from B&H Publishing if you don't win this giveaway.

If you want to read the whole story of Audrey and the bunny, check out Angie Smith's website, but be sure to have your tissues ready.

I have the opportunity to give away one copy of this precious book.  The giveaway is open to anyone in the United States or Canada.  A winner will be randomly selected on October 29th and contacted via email.  Winner must confirm within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.  Thank you!

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.