Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Search is on in Earnest

We have been here in southwest Indiana (Evansville) for 5 weeks or so, but only 2.5 full weeks with all of us. It's been a great blessing to be staying in a temporary home, but it has also been a bit challenging. First of all this space is less then half of our home in SC. My kiddos have been great with their current sleeping situation as well as putting all their 'stuff' in temporary places (like 5 drawers split between 2 teen girls!) or still living out of a suitcase as your dresser (which is how my son is doing it.) And one of the hardest things is sleeping on a full size bed when you generally share a king size with your spouse! But God is good.
Small houses lend themselves to more family time.
We have had a lot of time to hang out, play games, read, pray, and even explore our new city. We've been to the city's museum, walked the Riverfront, gone to several parks, and tried to get in some field trips and events with other homeschoolers. Some of those include going to an apple orchard, Lego day (a time to hang out with others and just build with Legos), park days, and one I'm looking forward to attending is going to Lincoln's boyhood home! I'm keeping that one a surprise, but we are headed there this Friday and I can't wait!
Picking her first apple.

Apple Orchard Field trip

Lots of parks

Sunset on the Ohio River.

We've also tried to find out more about the Jacobsville/Jimtown area of Evansville, affectionately know as 'westside'. Many would agree that it is an area that is in serious need, but most will not take steps to find out HOW to help or WHERE to help. We had the opportunity to take a tour of a place called the Dream Center which is doing exactly that ... reaching the lost and in need in this community. They have a program 3 days a week that is for elementary aged children and 2 days a week that focuses on middle and high school aged.
Ministry Center

On the tour at the Dream Center.

Gymnasium/play area

Scripture everywhere.
They are in desparate need of volunteers and we will be joining in to help them as soon as we can figure out our own schedule. They also have a dream for the 200 blocks that is their 'circle of responsibiilty' which has at least 2,000 children, to meet their needs. Right now they are starting with 4 city blocks and that contains about 10 children. Those 10 are in what they are calling the Dream Center Kid Zone. They help with homework, have ministry sessions, playtime usually at the park across the street, and just be there for the children. They would love to see one volunteer for every child that comes to the Dream Center. Would you pray for these 10 children - for them to see Jesus through the volunteers that they would know someone is there for them always?
Dream Center Kids Zone
I say all that to say that we are earnestly looking for a place we can call our own. We will be letting our medical missionary friends who are coming back to the states for a while rent our home in SC, so we are looking for a place to either rent or lease. We are open to anything that fits our family, allows for our pets to have room and space and that is in a location that would make it safe for Stephen to continue to bicycle into work. Would you join us in prayer that the right home would open up?

Please keep us in prayer and if you would like to be a part of our prayer team please click this link and fill it out so we can keep you updated with specific prayers for us and the community. #MissionEvansville

Friday, September 21, 2018

Indiana - By the Way ~~ A New TOS Review!!

As many of you know, we have been in process of moving to Indiana. What better way to get to know some of the state's history then through a travel book for kids that explores all this great state has to offer, all while tying in Scripture to daily life.  By the Way has added 4 new titles to their By the Way Book Series and we have been blessed to be picked to review the one called Indiana.  The other new ones are Ireland, New York City, and Alaska, and after reading the one on Indiana I know we'll be getting more of these soon. I'm putting them on our Christmas wishlist!

Even though this is a book, meant to be read, it is part of a larger series of geographically based Christian worldview children's books created by Joy Budensiek, based off of the Scripture in Deuternomy 6:7 that teaches us to daily talk about God as we go "by the way". The Indiana book we received was even signed! And the front inside cover (isn't beautiful) reminded me of my childhood where autumn became my favorite season.
Joy encourages us parents to use the book as a tool not just a book to be read and pushed aside. The book is full of facts, science, geography and history, Scripture, and a constant reminder that our world was created by God the Creator.

A few more pages in and there are a bunch of pictures of items we were encouraged to locate while we read the book. We tried to find as many as we could, but some we are still searching for. But we did manage to find some pumpkins, mums, and a church. We scoured our town to find the state bird (a cardinal), but to no avail.
From the book
a pretty church

pumpkins and mums
This wasn't on the scavanger hunt, but these are a fall staple. 
Within the book there is a story about Lexi and Alex as they and their family go to visit friends and family in Indiana for Thanksgiving. The children in the book hang out with their friends Maddie and Jeff (who is supposed to be writing a state report) and their Aunt and Uncle as they travel all around Indiana discovering all it has to offer while keeping the Lord at the center.
Scripture weaved throughout
While we read we took many breaks along the way so we could discuss some of the things we read about or delve deeper into a subject.

One of those was when the book mentioned there are many covered bridges in Indiana. We hadn't explored much in Evansville, but after a quick Google search we found 2 that were only 30 miles away. So we decided to go on an adventure to find one. We found the Wheeling Covered Bridge that was built in 1877. It is not used any longer, but we did get to walk around it and discuss what it might have been like to be able to use it. It was next to a waterway so that spurred conversations about goods that might need to get from one town to another.

Wheeling Covered Bridge 1877
Walking down to the other side
On the way to find the covered bridge we passed alot of corn fields. Some were still there, but most were getting ready to be harvested. We decided that this corn must be feed corn or corn for grits or cornmeal because they had let the stalks go until they were VERY brown and dried out. We even got to see this machine cutting down the corn. I know we'll be celebrating National Popcorn Day in style since "Indiana is THE number one producer of popcorn"!!! (It's January 19th in case you wanted to put it on your calendar to celebrate as well.

Machine cutting corn down
We were also excited when we noticed that our new city was mentioned -- Evansville! So we went to the riverfront to take pictures during the beautiful sunset on the Ohio River. This last week or so the Ohio River has been at the brink of flooding we were able to read all about the levee system that was put into place after the Great Flood in 1937 which went up to 57' (five streets back from the river!)  In one of the pictures I tried to get a picture of the barge, but it was too far away. We talked about how this was how things were shipped primarily and that the Ohio River was a major bustling goods passage.
The Ohio River at sunset.

The Ohio River in the book and in real life.
My eldest daughter was intrigued when the book mentioned geocaching, which we've dabbled in a little over the years, but I think we may explore it more in our new location. And my middle child loved the pages on the animals. From bunnies to butterflies they were beautiful representations of the Lord's beautiful creations. 

Then on one of the days we were looking at houses a garden area was FULL of butterflies. She tried to catch one and came very close. I also snapped this other photo of a butterfly on a butterfly bush. We can't wait to have our own place where we can fill it with all the plants that will attract many butterflies and birds to our own yard so we can watch them.
The Indiana book by By the Way has been a great addition to our bookshelf. I plan to add many more (there are 8 others already and 3 more on the way). The photographs throughout are spectacular, vivid, and rich. Be sure to check out the reviews by my fellow Crew members by clicking the link below. And you can connect with By the Way on Facebook.
By the Way Book Series: New York City, Ireland, Indiana & Alaska {By the Way Reviews}

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Captain Sun Adventures, Book 1 - Rescue Me! -- A New TOS Review!!

My children have really enjoyed having and reading their own comic book, Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith, which is the first book of three in The Captain Sun Adventures!! This short and intriguing story focuses on the power of faith in our own lives as read the adventure of Captain Sun.

There are eight fully illustrated chapters in what looks and acts more like a graphic novel, but with a twist. After ever few pages of the story you are "interrupted" by a newspaper graphic that is really a devotional. And who doesn't love superheroes ... I know all of my kiddos do ... and they were intrigued by the story of how Black-Out was going to be conquered and learning more about Captain Sun as he comes to the rescue and save Capital City from the darkness enveloping it that was created by Black-Out.

Author Bryce Morgan and illustrator Mitch Martin are the perfect team weaving Biblical truths within the cover of a superhero comic.  Some topics they have conquered in Book 1 of The Captain Sun Adventures are what is sin, who is the only one who can truly rescue us, and who the REAL hero is, and they all point to Scriptures which are printed on the devotional pages throughout the story. These devotional pages look like the front page of a newspaper and the main article being published in the Capital City Chronicle. At the end of the book there are 2 questions about each chapter of the book. One dealing more with comprehension and the other focusing on applying the truth taught about in the chapter.
Question in devotional
Scripture in every devotional page
Just because this is a short book does not mean it is not full. All three of my children have enjoyed reading it both on their own and having another read it to them, but what I've liked most are the conversations that have come after. This is where they are questioning and investigating their own life to see if they are relying on Jesus to rescue them from sin or whether they are portraying themselves as part of the 'super team' and being real heroes ourselves.

My son has gone through this book by doing a chapter at a time every few days and then we'd spend the in between time trying to delve into the lesson of that chapter. This might mean going over the question raised in the lesson or in the back of the book or re-reading the Scripture that was pointed out.

My daughters have both primarily read the book on their own, but did occasionally like to get read to as well. Having all of us read the book has really been helpful when talking about a theme of a chapter and using it as a devotional time.

My son can not wait to get his hands on further books in The Captain Sun Adventures series, but for now he'll just grab our copy of Book 1, Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith and read it again and again! I encourage you to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Oh and don't miss reading other reviews of the Crew by clicking the link below!

Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith {The Captain Sun Adventures Reviews}

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Picta Dicta ~~ A New TOS Review!!

We tend to have a bent toward classical education so when we heard that Roman Roads Media was  our next product review, I wanted to check out one of their newest products Picta Dicta Natural World. It is one in a series of three. Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder which focuses on vocabulary and has a goal to improve your vocabulary. Picta Dicta Ancient World is coming soon and will focus on Latin, English, and even a little Greek covering over 500 historical concepts. They sound cool, don't they?! We thought so too.
We chose Picta Dicta Natural World because I thought that all of us (me included) would be able to use the product. I was right! All of the Picta Dicta offerings are self-paced courses that are suited for elementary through high school and their motto is See It, Hear It, and Understand It. Those three concepts are the basis for their entire program by using hand drawn illustrations to introduce the Latin vocabulary words, hearing the word pronounced as the see the word which helps all types of learners, and then the definition of the word to make sure the student clearly understands the word they are learning.
Eldest working on it on my Android phone.
The app works with an internet connection on all major browsers, except Internet Explorer. And you can also even use your phone to access Picta Dicta! Each student will need their own account/subscription so you can see everyone's individual progress throughout their course. And if you think your student needs written work as well you can download the free workbook which has exercises, drills, and puzzles to help reinforce their learning on the app.
Typing in her answer
Another feature of Picta Dicta is that there are several levels you can set your account up as to fit the stage of your student. They include Basic, English, Reader I, Reader II, Express, and Teacher (I only just found this one). Since my younger 2 are still slight struggling readers we chose Reader I for them, my eldest is using Reader II, and I put myself at Express. When you log on with your account you can set yourself as a student and the teacher/administrator of the whole account. The other levels are explained so you can pick the best one. Below is a video of the basic way to get your account up and running. And the second video is a walk through of the program.

The difference in the levels is really how fast they are introduced to the vocabulary. So for Express you learn the lesson in 3 parts - Learn Latin II, Latin Picture II, and Spell Latin. But for Reader II (the one my eldest is using) it is broken down into 6 parts - Learn Latin II, Latin Picture II, Article II, English II, Spell Latin II, Review Latin VII. It is still all the same information, just broken down a little more and some more emphasis on spelling both in English and Latin. For Reader I (this is what my two younger children are using) the lessons are broken into 9 sections -- Learn English (2 different ones), Article I, Learn Latin, Latin Picture, Choose English, Spell English, Choose Latin, Spell Latin, Review Latin II. The other levels are similar and progress up to Express.
Express level

Reader II
Reader I (see the stars of progress)
As you move through the sections in each lesson your student will play a series of "games" or what they call campaigns to learn the Latin vocanulary. The words in Natural World focus on 400 common words from animals to fruits, basic anatomy to constellations and more. When they complete a lesson they will get anywhere from 1 to 5 stars. If they get only a few stars I usually make them repeat the lesson so that we work on mastery of the Latin vocabulary.
other levels upcoming
In the Express level there are stories that go along with the picture of the vocabulary word. These stories do not seem to be in the lower level. These stories are pretty long and would be good for strong readers and older students. You are given about 6 words to learn and then pictures which have both pictures you have learned and those you have not been introduced to yet. You match the picture to the word and also the word to the picture. Then you have to spell the word both in English and in Latin. This is where mine have gotten lower stars then in the first few sections of the lesson and then have redone these lessons.
a word in English

typing it in Latin
 The game way of learning is really fun and unique. And with Latin being the base of the Romantic languages (French, Spanish, and Italian) as well as the basis of scientific words and the base to a lot of our own English words it is the perfect way to get a good grip on having strong vocabulary.
Shows progress on the top right.

Here are some thoughts from my kiddos on their thoughts:

Arianna - "One thing that I liked was that it gives you a grade but in stars and reminds me of playing a game. The more stars you get the better your score was. For the main lesson with each new word it has a story or information about that word. It's pretty long, but in the lower levels younger people can have it read it to them. Then it also speaks to you when you get your next "card" (they look like cards to me) and helps have the correct pronunciation for the Latin. You get to match the pictures with the word. So you get a card that has a picture of a sheep, but under it says 'an animal used for wool and meat' and then the next card you have to pick the correct Latin word out of 6 or 9. I really like it and it has helped me with learning Latin."
choices of 'cards'

Audrie -- "Picta Dicta is fun because you get to do Latin, English, and spelling all in one program. It doesn't feel like you are doing school, but just doing a fun activity or game. I think it is easier to use the computer rather than on our phone, but both work. I had to use my mom's phone because we've just moved and she was using her computer. But since you can use the phone I could still work on my school. It seems to help make learning Latin easier since they start off in grouping. So first you learn animals and then fruits, trees, and nuts, and then there's several review lessons. My version is broken up into smaller sections because I'm on a different level. It makes it easier to learn. When you do a lesson you can get up to 5 stars. If I get less than 4 stars, I do that lesson again. Sometimes I have to do a lesson 2 or 3 times, but it helps me learn that better."

Seanan -- "I think it is super fun and I like working on it. It isn't that hard, but I'm on a lower level then my older sister. My level reads to me and I get to work on Latin and English."

You can find Roman Roads Media on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. The Review Crew didn't just review Picta Dicta Natural World, but also Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder and Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric so be sure to check the link below and get all the details on the other products.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

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