TOS Review: Hewitt Homeschooling

Hewitt Homeschooling ReviewFor some children, learning reading comprehension, grammar, and writing skills in the context of literature makes things easier. I, personally, love to tie books into our subjects. For this review, we got to check out the eighth grade Lightning Literature set from Hewitt Homeschooling. It includes the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student’s Guide, the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student’s Workbook, and the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Teacher’s Guide.

Hewitt Homeschooling ReviewI used this set with my son, who is a new 8th grader. Now, let me say that reading is not really his thing, and in the paperwork I received with the review, it states that the grades are fluid and this guide could be used for 8th-9th grade. I think that it was a little above his level in some respects, so we picked and chose which literature we would read. Next year, I will return to this program to finish it up.

Lightning Lit and Composition Grade 8

The set comes with a student’s guide, workbook, and teachers guide. The literature is not included, although a lot of it is available at the library. Some of the books used in the 8th grade program include: Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, and To Kill a Mockingbird (which my son will not read until high school). The program also focuses on some short stories and poetry. Some specific skills addressed in Lightning Lit for 8th grade include: humor, symbolism, setting, and author’s purpose, among others.

Okay, first of all, the books are very well done. The Teacher’s Guide does a really good job of explaining each part of the program, and gives you a suggested schedule for each section. Lessons begin with the introduction to the author and story in the Student’s Guide. From there, children complete the reading. Now, the schedule as it was laid out was a little much for us. The novels were read in large chunks that were too much for my son, so we broke the reading down into smaller pieces. For example, in the first week of Treasure Island, students were supposed to read 12 chapters. We read about eight. But it doesn’t really matter, because the way Lightning Lit works, you just move on to the exercises when you finish the reading. This makes it especially homeschool-friendly in my opinion.

Once the reading is done, the student guide lists some comprehension questions, and then moves into the lessons. Again, the suggested schedule has these set up for completion in one week, but you can certainly slow that timeline down. Students begin by reading the lesson in their workbook. While the lesson is written directly to the students, the Teacher’s Guide offers suggestions for expanding on the lessons. Each lesson has a focus (such as setting for Treasure Island). The main lesson teaches about that focus. A mini lesson, often focused on some type of writing, is also included. Workbook pages relate to both the story, the lesson, and the mini-lesson.

A basic vocabulary list is included, which parents could use for their own lessons if they wanted. I thought the workbook pages were very good. They offered sufficient practice for my son to grasp the concept. Of course, the Teacher’s Guide includes answers to all of the comprehension questions and workbook pages, as well as suggested discussion questions. At the end of each lesson, suggested optional writing activities were included. Some of these focus on creative writing, while others focus on informational writing. We always chose at least one writing activity per lesson.

So, what did I think of this program? I think Lightning Lit and Composition is a VERY thorough and advanced program. It delves deep into the literature while also doing a great job of teaching important concepts your child will need in high school. That said, it was a little much for my son at this point, but I am definitely going to hang onto it for next year. Now, as far as my son’s opinion went, he enjoyed the stories when we read them together, and he liked how the lesson were written directly to him (those he had no problem with on his own) and the workbook pages were easy to complete. Some of the books were just a little meaty and frustrating for him. So, I would recommend this program for strong readers in the 8th grade, and for others, I would suggest looking at a grade below your child’s level (I think the 7th grade book would have been perfect for us!).

The Lightning Lit books are priced as follows: Student Guide: $25.00, Teachers Guide: 20.00, and Workbook: $25.00. I think they are well worth it if you want a solid, literature-based program.

To learn more about Lightning Lit, check in with them on social media here:
Hewitt Homeschooling on Facebook

Hewitt Homeschooling on Twitter

Hewitt Homeschooling on Pinterest

Hewitt Homeschooling on Google+

Hewitt Homeschooling Blog

To see what other crew members had to say about this and the other programs we got to check out from Hewitt, click here:

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Enchilada Casserole

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole. Yum.

Cheese…beans…meat…cheese…yum! I have to admit, my personal tastes lean toward stuff that isn’t exactly super-healthy. While I do make sure we eat healthy meals like grilled lean meats and fresh veggies several times a week, some nights just call for some old-fashioned comfort food that cooks up fast. This week, I am sharing this recipe for an enchilada casserole that is a classic one-dish meal.

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced green chiles
12 small corn tortillas
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
10 oz. low-fat sour cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

Directions:
1. Brown and drain the ground beef and onion.
2. Rinse and drain the beans
3. Return the meat mixture to the skillet and add in the cumin, chili powder, and pinto beans.
4. Cook for a few minutes to heat through and set aside.

5. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, flour, and garlic powder.
6. Spray the bottom of a 13X9X2 casserole dish and line it with the tortillas.

7. Spread a layer of the meat mixture over the tortillas.

8. Spread a layer of the sour cream mixture on top of the meat and cover with 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce.
9. Layer 6 more tortillas on top the enchilada sauce and repeat the layers.
10. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the casserole.
11. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
12. Remove the foil and sprinkle on the cheese. Cook for 5 additional minutes until the cheese melts.

This dish also works great for a party.

If you have any ideas for how to make this less fattening, let me know in the comments! LOL. Thanks for stopping by this week, and check out more recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

TOS Review: Analytical Grammar

Analytical Grammar Review

Clauses, prepositions, predicates, phrases……grammar!! I am an English teacher and I love words..my kids make the joke that “mom only laughs at grammar jokes”. Well, it’s true, I do laugh at those funny grammar memes you see on Facebook, and for me, grammar just makes sense. However, even my love of the subject does not make it easier to teach to my children. My youngest son really struggles in this area and I am always looking for programs that will help it make sense in his head. For this review, I got to try the Analytical Grammar program from the ladies at Analytical Grammar.

This program is aimed at students in 6th grade and up. For sixth graders, the program can extend over three years when used along with the Reinforcement and Review workbook. For older students, parents can choose a one or two year schedule. Parents also have the option of using the Companion DVD that feature authors Robin and Erin teaching the lessons and going through examples.

Analytical Grammar Review

Analytical Grammar comes with a student book and a teacher book. For the most part, the teacher book is the same as the student book. It includes all the same pages, but has the answers for the worksheets and tests. It also includes a section in the beginning that offers a suggested schedule and how to grade the work. I will say this feature was really nice for me. The suggested schedule made the lessons very easy to follow and the grading system was very easy to understand.

Basically, each lesson begins with a page of notes that explain the lesson for the week. These notes are short, and clearly explain the concept with examples. If you are using the three year plan, you would cover basic grammar topics from nouns to conjunctions the first year, phrases and clauses the second year, and punctuation the third year. If you are using the book in one year, you would cover all 35 lessons in a year’s time.

We started each week with the DVD lesson, mainly because my son and I have butted heads over this topic so much that we each become very frustrated when working on grammar now. So, I really appreciated having the DVD “teacher” there. For some reason, he seems to listen better to someone else, and he can’t argue with a DVD. I sat there while he watched the DVD to answer questions if he had any, and to go over the first few examples with him. The DVD lessons are short and easy to watch, and Robin and Erin do a very good job of explaining the concepts.

After going over the notes on Monday, you assign the first exercise to your child. Each exercise consists of practice sentences for the student to complete. Some lessons involve diagramming, while others involve marking parts of speech. Most practice pages run between 10 to 20 sentences each. On Tuesday, you and your child go over their practice page from Monday together. The idea is for the student to learn to correct their own mistakes, but the key is to only focus on the mistakes related to the lesson you are studying. So if the lesson is on pronouns, and there is an error in prepositions, you can discuss the error, but it does not count against the student. The theory is that over time, students will eventually internalize the instruction and correct all of their errors.

After making corrections, parent assign the next worksheet and the pattern continues. There are three worksheets in all, and the week ends with a test. Tests are given open book and graded together as well.

My son responded very well to Analytical Grammar. The short duration of the lessons made them easy to complete. I would say each lesson took us no more than 15-20 minutes each day, which meant he no longer dreaded doing grammar. I liked the whole idea of training students to correct their own errors, especially since my son is an 8th grader. Next year, and each year after that, I expect him to become more and more independent in his work. I need him to learn how to self-correct his grammar.

The first few lessons went pretty easily for us, as my son got used to the method this program uses. He struggled a little with labeling the parts of speech, but once he caught on, he went pretty quickly. Diagramming was still…diagramming. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that can make that interesting, but my son seemed to catch on, at least with the simple diagrams. I suspect he will still struggle with the more advanced diagramming later in the program, but I don’t think that is ever going to be his strength, if you know what I mean. I am satisfied that by the time we complete Analytical Grammar my son will have a much deeper understanding of the subject, which will hopefully then translate to better writing.

As a homeschool mom, I really appreciate how easy Analytical Grammar is to use. I just don’t have the time or patience for a three-part program that requires a 30 minute lesson followed by additional practice. While that method may work for some people, it just doesn’t work for me. At this point in our homeschool career, I want something simple that works. The Analytical Grammar set, that includes the teacher book and student book, costs $94.95. I know that’s a lot, but if you are like me (looking for a way to finally teach grammar to your grammar-resistant child while trying to preserve your sanity) then its worth it. Remember, if you have a 6th grade student, the program will last you three years. Also, as students complete these lessons, they are building a grammar resource book for themselves that they can refer back to in high school.

To learn more about Analytical Grammar, connect with them on social media:
Analytical Grammar on Facebook

Analytical Grammar on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program, and the other programs crew members got to check out, click here:

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Menu Plan Monday 7/28/14

Oh my goodness! It is the last week in July! I cannot believe summer is almost over. I am going to have to start breaking out my fall cookbook soon, but in the meantime, here is what’s for dinner at our house:

Monday: Baked Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Tuesday: Mexican Stuffed Shells

Wednesday: Pork Casserole

Thursday: Overnight trip

Friday: Overnight trip

Oh yeah, we are heading down to the keys to visit some friends for an overnight during mini-lobster season. I’m hoping to come back with some lobsters to try new recipes with 🙂 Thanks for visiting me for Menu Plan Monday this week! Be sure to come back next week!

TOS Review: Flourish

Flourish Book ReviewAh..inspiration. Let me be honest, toward the end of the school year, I tend to lose my inspiration. I just feel so worn down as the year comes to a close. I like to use summer to recharge my batteries. For this review, I received a copy of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, written by Mary Jo Tate and published by Apologia Educational Ministries.  I took it with me for some poolside reading during my vacation.

Flourish Book Review

Wow. This book is just full of so much…so much inspiration that spoke directly into my life!! First of all, the author, Mary Jo Tate is an experienced homeschooler who also runs her own home-based business. She knows what it means to have to balance work, life, family, and school. As a single mom, Tate does all of this on her own…well, not completely. In Flourish, she explains how she finds balance, and lot of her secret has to do with something I struggle with: Knowing how to delegate!!

Flourish Book Review

Tate began her career as an entrepreneur as a freelance editor. I work as a freelance writer, and I have to say, at the time I was reading this book, I was on a much welcome break from my computer. I was feeling WAY overwhelmed. Even during the summer I find it hard to balance work and family life. Chores, shopping, cleaning…and forget just hanging out and having fun..and did I mention I made a commitment to myself to exercise this summer because I really really need to?? To be honest, I had begun to question if I was even cut out for this!

But then I spent a week reading Flourish..and my absolute most favorite part of this book that I will carry with me is when Tate says we have to learn to make peace between the ideal and the reality! I know that seems like a simple concept….but for some reason, when I read those words, it’s like they just clicked in my head. Here’s the thing: I think as moms we are really really good at setting up completely unrealistic expectations for ourselves. And then we kick ourselves when reality does not match the picture in our heads. Let me give you an example: This is how my day goes in my head:

I wake up at 5AM to have my coffee and quiet time. Then I go for a jog around my neighborhood before coming home to shower and get ready for the day. Once I am well dressed and presentable I make a healthy breakfast for my family. I hand my hubby his coffee and wake my happy and enthusiastic kids and we all share breakfast to start our day. School starts promptly at nine, with me toggling back and forth between writing, and helping my kids with their schoolwork. All of us have a great attitude. We break for lunch, then all three of us spend time cleaning up and doing some chores before getting back to school. School is done by 2:00 and while my boys finish chores and extracurriculars, I finish up my work for the day in time to cook up a delicious dinner to share after daddy gets home. We then enjoy a leisurely evening with my kids in bed by nine and me heading off to sleep by 11.

Sounds great right? Okay, this is how a typical day really goes:
I drag out of bed by 6:30 (okay, sometimes 7). Do some jumping jacks and wash my face. Read my Bible and resist the urge to check email. Barely manage to make coffee before the hubs leaves for work, at which time I am still in my robe. Wake my kids up about FOUR TIMES before they finally stumble out of bed at 9AM. Heat up some pop tarts while I go over the schedule for they day..deal with 10 minutes of arguing about who has which chores. Finally get school started at 10. Shower and get dressed while kids do math. Finally get to work around 11, have to immediately stop to help with school. Everyone figures out lunch on their own and the school day ends somewhere between 2 and 4. I cook up dinner and am halfway presentable when my hubs gets home. Kids finally get to be around 10 Then I am locked on my computer until 1 AM trying to catch up on work.

Sigh…obviously there is a big discrepancy between my ideal and my reality. The problem is, my instinct is to kick myself for not living up to my ideal. Instead of cutting myself slack, I tell myself that I am just not doing good enough. The problem with that is, I will NEVER be that good. And I have to learn that while it is okay to have lofty goals, it is also okay to only achieve 3/4 of them (or even 1/2).

My yearly goals.

In her book, Tate advocates setting over-reaching year-long goals as well as weekly goals. She tells readers to base their goals off of their vision for their lives. When setting goals, you can set them in levels, your “realistic” goals, and the ones you want to “shoot for”. So, when I set my goals for the week, I set a realistic goal of three days of exercise each week, with a shoot for goal of five. So, while I may WANT to work out every day, I recognize the fact that some days, that just may not be possible. As long as I reach three, I will be happy.

My weekly plan.

Each week you evaluate your goals. If you see a goal you are consistently missing, Tate leads you through a series of questions to determine why. Perhaps the task is something you just don’t need to do at all, or perhaps that task is something you can outsource to someone else, or perhaps you just need to buckle down and do it. The fact is, Flourish gives you a solid plan for how to determine those things that are most important in your life and how to make time for them. She is also open and honest about how NO ONE can really do everything (at least on their own) and that’s okay.

I would definitely recommend Flourish for any homeschool mom who feels overwhelmed. I am now going back to reread all the pages I bookmarked in my first read! The book costs $15.00 and is absolutely worth it!!

To learn more about Mary Jo Tate and this book, check out their social media pages here:
Flourish on Facebook

Mary Jo Tate on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of this book, click here:
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Menu Plan Monday 7/21/14

Welcome back to Menu Plan Monday! This week is a “clean-out-the-freezer” kind of weeks at my house. Here’s what’s on our menu:

Monday: Stuffed Pork Chops

Tuesday: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Wednesday: Pork and Black Bean Soup

Thursday: Make Your Own Pizza

Friday: Cookout at a friend’s house. I am bringing Sopapilla Cheesecake

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Healthy Mexican Stuffed Shells

Since I posted something so tremendously unhealthy last week, I felt the need to post one of my favorite healthy recipes this week. This recipe for Mexican stuffed shells skips the heavy sauce and cheese, but packs in the flavor!

Ingredients:
24 jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cups salsa
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup black beans
1 cup shredded Mexican chesse
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup sliced olives

Directions:
1. Cook pasta shells normally and set aside.
2. In large skillet, cook the beef until done, then drain.
3. Return the beef to the skillet and stir in the salsa, tomato sauce, beans, and corn.
4. Lightly spray 13X9X2 pan with cooking spray and place pasta shells inside.
5. Stuff shells with meat mixture.
6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
7. Sprinkle with cheese and cook 5 minutes more.
8. Garnish with olives and green onions and serve with additional salsa and light sour cream for topping.

There! Simply, tasty, and healthy! It makes a nice starter for my Sopapilla Cheesecake last week! Thanks for stopping by, be sure to come back next week. Check out more recipes at Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy!

Okay, this recipe I am about to share with you is completely unhealthy…and it is absolutely loaded with calories…and I’m sure someone much smarter than me could figure out a better way to make it so that it is not quite so decadent..but the thing is, it is just SO GOSH DARN DELICIOUS that I don’t care. Now, this is one of those “special desserts” that you only make once in a while, but I promise you, when you make it for a party, EVERYONE will be asking you for the recipe!!

Ingredients:
Three 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups sugar
2 cans crescent rolls
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:
1. Blend the softened cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until smooth.
2. Add in the vanilla and stir.
3. Open one can of the crescent rolls and shape the dough into a rectangle.
4. Press the dough into the bottom of a greased 13X9X2 pan.
5. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the dough.
6. Shape the other crescent roll dough into a rectangle and place it on top of the cream cheese.
7. Melt the butter and drizzle it over the top of the dough.
8. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle on top.
9. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
10. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until the dough puffs up and browns.

That’s it. Now, don’t say I didn’t warn you, after that first bite you won’t be able to stop!

Check out other recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Menu Plan Monday 7/14/14

 

Last week I enjoyed a very relaxing vacation in the mountains with my family, and now I am back and doing all those post-vacation chores that remind you that you are back in the real world!! Of course, that means menu planning!! So, here is what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Grilled Pork Chops

Tuesday: Caprese Chicken

Wednesday: Pasta with butter and herbs

Thursday: Corn Chowder

Friday:  Beef and Bean Burritos

Thanks for joining me for Menu Plan Monday this week! See you next Monday.

On Boys and Forts

The Fort takeover.

So the question is “Mom, can I build a fort?”. And I sigh as my response. Forts are messy…they take up space…they usually result in me having to wash every extra sheet in my house.

But then I remember…my Nana had this round coffee table in her living room..and a certain little girl loved to throw a sheet on top and crawl underneath. It was my Narnia, my Terabithia, my portal to adventure. Then there was that time my cousin and I took her grandma’s sheets and tied them onto the patio chairs that one summer and had lunch and a camp out in the backyard.

Childhood is so fleeting…and as an adult there are times that I long to build myself a fort and climb inside and shut the world away! So…yes little (well, really not so little) boy, you and your brother can take over the living room (and the dining room, and part of the kitchen) to build your super-mega-fort-spy-superhero-headquarters. I will give you the sleeping bag and you can bring the dogs in with you and have a sleepover. And I will stand in the hallway and listen to the whispers and the laughter and think about how much I wish I could make time stand still so I could make your childhood last longer. I love you guys!

TOS Review: Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page ReviewI love teaching with real literature. And I especially love introducing my boys to some of my childhood favorites. So, when we got a chance to review a literature and social studies unit from Moving Beyond the Page, I jumped at the chance. We have used their products once before, and loved them. For this review, we got check out the Language Arts Package–Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and the Social Studies Package–History of Your State.

 

Moving Beyond the Page

 

One of the things I love about Moving Beyond the Page is how easy it is to customize their programs to your child’s needs. All of their individual units are organized by age. For example, my 7th/8th (who is 12 years old) grade boy is not a big reader, so I was able to go a little below his age range for our literature, (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is for ages 8-10), but I stayed right in his range for the Social Studies (History of Your State is for ages 12-14). This makes it easy to create a custom complete curriculum for your child by just adding one of their science units and then finding a math program.

Now, the literature unit is online, and I have to say, I really wish I had a hard copy. That’s really just a “me” thing, because the online unit is very easy to navigate and use, but I prefer to hold the guide in my hands!! Anyway, we accessed our unit by logging in on the website and basically, you can go to the index page and receive easy access to student activity pages that include activities like plot flowcharts and chapter outlines as well as grammar lessons. The pages are easy to print out and use. In addition, there are chapter questions and a convenient How-to page that gives you a general outline for how to use the program, with a suggestion for a daily schedule.

The lessons for each chapter begin with an introduction with some discussion suggestions for the parent and child, and then moves into having the reading assignment for the child for the day, followed by activities and a conclusion. For us, this meant starting and ending the lesson together with my son doing the reading on his own. If there were chapter questions (some of them cover multiple chapters) I printed those out and had him do them after.

Now, one of the things I love most about these units is their culminating activity. Moving Beyond the Page does a really good job of giving kids a choice of activities to appeal to different learning styles. For this book, the activities were to write another chapter for the story, focusing on what happened to the rats after the move, or to build a “float” for a parade based on the book. When I was teaching, I always offered my students a choice of activities for book reports because I liked to let them use their own strengths to show what they learned. In building a float, or writing a chapter, kids get to tap into their creative sides!

For the social studies unit, I allowed my son to pick the topic, and he really wanted to learn about Florida. The History of Your State unit came with a DVD of the history channel series America The Story of Us, and the book We Were There Too!: Young People in US History.

History of Your State

 

The guide consists of eight sections that focus on topics like: Flora and Fauna, Native Populations, State Leaders and more. Each lesson gives you a suggested amount of time you should spend on it. Lessons are a mix of research and activities, with some lessons directing you to specific websites to gather information. I felt like the unit had a good balance of writing and creative activities with my son answering questions, drawing maps, and making journals. I have to say that my son really learned a LOT (and so did I!) from this unit, and on top of that, he had a LOT of fun doing it!

Just like before, I can honestly tell you I would firmly recommend Moving Beyond the Page for any homeschooler. They have a HUGE range of choices, and their units are fun, economical, and easy to use. The online package for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM costs $19.92, while the hard copy package for History of Your State costs $75.72 (remember it comes with the guide, the book, and the DVD). I think both prices are very reasonable.

To learn more about Moving Beyond the Page, check them out on social media here:
Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook

 

To see what other members of the crew had to say about the products they got to check out, click here;

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TOS Review: Veritas Press

Veritas Press Review

As my children get older, I am always looking for new ways to challenge them in their schooling. With rising 8th and 11th grade students, I find that my boys are now coming up with more in-depth and thoughtful questions, particularly in the areas of history and our Biblical studies. So, I was pretty excited to get to try out the Self-Paced Omnibus I program from Veritas Press. This program is aimed at students in grades 7-9, so I figured it would be perfect for my 8th grader!

Veritas Press Review

Now, one of the first things I really liked about this program is the fact that it is self-paced, allowing you to move as slowly or quickly as you want. This makes it perfect to start in the summer, where we could do lessons 3 days per week, and then move up to 5 days per week when we officially get back to work in the fall. However, after having done some of the sections now, I will say that we may have to move at a slower pace all year due to the reading. There is a LOT of reading each week, at least from the viewpoint of my non-reading loving boy. And the reading is kind of hard too. We read through two books of the Bible and parts of the Odyssey for the program. In some cases (like Genesis and Exodus) you cover an entire book of the Bible in five sessions! If you have a child who loves to read and is really good at it, they will be at a huge advantage for this course. But, if you have a struggling reader or someone who does not enjoy reading (like in my house) you will likely have to slow down the pace or read along with them.

So, in the cases of Genesis and Exodus, my son and I alternated the reading, with him reading a section alone and then me reading to him. The Odyssey we had to read together because the Greek tragedies are still a little much for my son to tackle by himself. The videos that went with each session were much easier for my son to digest. My son really liked Mr. Etter, the teacher. He has a pleasant speaking voice and a warm personality which makes the videos easy to watch. Each daily session takes about 30 minutes or more (at least so far) which is a bit lengthy. Sometimes we would take a stretch break in the middle of a lesson.

Lessons are broken into different sections, with Mr. Etter speaking directly to the camera in lecture-type formats, interviews with experts and people on the street, tours of famous historical sites, and interactive quizzes and activities. The menu on the side lists the table of contents, but you cannot always skip around in the videos, some parts are locked until you finish the previous section. The course also comes with a PDF download of a book to go along with the program. You have to download it through another program called bookshelf, and the textbook is kin d of like a guide, it includes summaries of all the reading, as well as questions for discussion and debate.

The quizzes and activities were age appropriate and easy to finish. I liked the fact that students could go back and look at their quiz to see what they got wrong after. The program keeps grades and everything for you, making it less work for the parent. I got my own log-in and could see what my son was doing as well as his grades. I would have liked this program a little more if you could skip around in the lessons, reading what you wanted without following a schedule, but it is not set up that way. I feel Omnibus I is a very complete program and you could just add in some math and science to have a full year of school.

In my opinion, Omnibus is a very rich and detailed program that is great for advanced students. I think my older son (who is now in 11th grade) would have loved this! I can see that it is going to be a bit more challenging for my youngest boy, but I am hoping he will grow into it. Omnibus I costs $295 dollars for one year of access. Yes, that is a lot, especially since it is just for one year, but if you consider that math and science are all you need to add after that, it makes the price look a little better. If you want a Biblically-based, thought-provoking program that will challenge the way your child looks at the world, I would definitely recommend Veritas Press Omnibus I.

To learn more about this program, get in touch with Veritas Press through their social media accounts:

Veritas Press on Facebook

Veritas Press on Twitter

Veritas Press Pinterest

Veritas Press on Google+

To see what other members of the crew thought about Omnibus and the other products we got to check out, click here:

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Blueberry Cheesecake

So one of my best friends invited me and the boys to visit one of those “you pick” blueberry farms with her and her children. Its about a 45 minute drive, but it was worth it. We got about 15 pounds of blueberries for about $30! Of course, now the question is: what to do with all those blueberries? So far we have had blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, and last week, I used my friends recipe to make this blueberry cheesecake.

Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients:
2 packs crushed graham crackers
1 stick melted butter
2 packages of Neufchatel cheese
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
10 oz. blueberry preserves
2 cups blueberries

Directions:
1. Line a 13X9 pan with parchment paper.
2. Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in bowl and press into bottom of pan.

Finished crust

3. Beat Neufchatel cheese in a large bowl to make it creamy.
4. Add vanilla, sugar, and eggs to the cheese and mix until blended.


5. Spread blueberry preserves over graham cracker crust.

6. Top the crust with the blueberries.

Fresh blueberries.

7. Top the blueberries with the cheese mixture and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

This tasted so good. I have to say, there is just something about using fresh picked blueberries that makes such a difference in the flavor! Thanks for stopping by. If you have any other ideas for ways I can use up all these blueberries, let me know in the comments. To see more new recipes check out the Try a New Recipe Tuesday link up: