TOS Review: Great Waters Press

Raising Real MenListen, raising teenagers is hard. My pastor likens it to raising aliens, and he is not wrong. For a time there, it is pretty much like communicating with an alien race, because a lot of the time it feels like everything you do or say is either awkward or just plain wrong, especially when it comes to the “big” topics. I have two boys, and raising them to have right attitudes towards women, dating, sex, and marriage is a high priority for myself and my husband and, honestly, one I leave mostly to him. However, as the one who spends the most time with our boys, I realize that I have a lot of influence over them too. So, I was very interested to read, Love, Honor, and Virtue:Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to see what kinds of conversations I could have with my boys, especially since they are older now.

Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie YoungFirst, let me say that this book is a great read for either parents of older children or older teens/adult children themselves. While the book itself is actually written to the guys themselves, it still offers excellent talking points for parents, especially if your teens are younger, but still “maturing” at a faster rate then you would like. Be aware that it covers multiple aspects of sexual maturity, even the ones that might make you uncomfortable to think about as a parent (but face it, just because you are uncomfortable thinking about it doesn’t mean your child isn’t dealing with it, right?) so be prepared for that. While the book is aimed at ages 12 through 20, I probably would not have addressed it with my kids at 12, but they were slow to mature, so as the parent, I would probably read it first and then decide if it suits your particular child.

I will say that as a mom, some of the topics definitely made me blush, and there are certainly some things that dads would probably naturally be more comfortable talking to their sons about. That said, this is a book I would definitely give to my husband with the intention of perhaps having him and my boys talking about it together. For an older teen who has been struggling, it might be enough to read it on their own, but for a younger teen, I think they would definitely need to talk some of the stuff over with an adult after reading some of the chapters and I don’t think my boys would feel comfortable talking to my mom about some of these topics. (but again, just because the topics may be uncomfortable does not mean they should not be discussed. In fact, in the time we live in, I believe it is very important that these uncomfortable topics ARE discussed very thoroughly with our children in order to prepare and protect them).

I believe the best way to protect our kids is to prepare them for the challenges they will face in the world and as they get older sexual temptation is one of the biggest temptations there is. As the parent it is your job to talk about the hard stuff with your kids, and honestly, I don’t think anybody really likes those conversations. Love, Honor, and Virtue might make those talks a bit easier because it gives you a common starting point to begin those conversations that can make them a bit less awkward. I would recommend you check it out. To learn more, connect with Great Waters Press here:

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Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

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TOS Review: Parenting Made Practical

parenting made practical

It’s funny to me how every stage of parenting presents its own challenges. When kids are little there are midnight feedings, endless diaper changes and the constant challenge of keeping them out of trouble. As they get older you face different struggles like teaching them to make good choices, dealing with friends, and peer pressure. Parenting older teenagers certainly isn’t any easier, though the methods change. Sometimes I feel like I am in a constant cycle of lecture my kids, see minor improvements, things go back to how they were and then I lecture again. So, I was very interested to check out the book Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think from Parenting Made Practical.

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book

This short book offers many valuable pieces of advice to help you stop the lecture cycle and get your kids to start thinking for themselves about the choices they make. Written by Joey and Carla Link (the founders of Parenting Made Practical) it is based on their own experiences raising their three children. They intersperse the information in the book with highlights from their own lives, which I always appreciate. I hate when I read a book that offers advice, but doesn’t show you how the author has lived it out in their own life.

The book begins with descriptions of failed lecturing techniques with some real insights into why this doesn’t work and how kids think. This helped me to look at lectures from a kids perspective (believe it or not, it’s been a while since I was their age). I could see how, from my child’s perspective, lectures can easily go in one ear and at the other. I could also see how my constant lecturing was only feeding the cycle and in some ways, encouraging my kids to remain exactly where they were.

After the background information, Taming the Lecture Bug moves into describing real and practical ways you can change your own behavior (which should also lead to changes in your kids behavior). I found much of their advice easy to implement and I look forward to applying more of it in my life. This book also includes a lot of scriptural background for the techniques given, which is something else I appreciate.

At the end of the book is an appendix that includes the steps in the Repentance, Forgiveness, and Restoration process, helpful charts and book recommendations for teens that will encourage them to lead the life God has for them. I already have some on reserve at the library for my son.

So, what you really want to know is how did this affect my child? Well, at first he was pretty surprised at the lack of lectures he was receiving on a daily basis and I’m not sure he knew exactly how to react. He was skeptical to say the least. However, as time has progressed I have seen him taking more responsibility for himself and taking care of things on his own that I would have had to lecture him on before. Now, I am only human and I can’t say that I will never lecture my child again, but when I feel a lecture coming on I try to take a step back and review what I have learned. I expect that with time this will become easier.

If you feel like you spend more time lecturing your kids without seeing any results than I would definitely recommend checking Taming the Lecture Bug out. To learn more, connect with Parenting Made Practical on social media here:

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 Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}

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TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (In the Reign of Terror)

Heirloom Audio ProductionsIn summer, we do a lot of road trips, and I love having audiobooks to listen to in the car as we drive. It’s a great way to keep our whole family entertained! For this review, we got to check out In the Reign of Terror, the latest offering from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have reviewed several of Heirloom’s audiodramas before, and we are never disappointed. Based on novels by GA Henty, the stories are always full of adventure and excitement that keeps my boys on the edge of their seats, and this new one was no different!

In the Reign of TerrorSet against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story is the perfect mix of history and drama. It tells the story of a young man named Harry, who is caught up in the events of the revolution, trying to save an aristocratic Christian family from execution. The cast, as always, is stellar, with Brian Blessed leading as Henty himself. Rounding out the ensemble are actors like John Rhys-Davies from movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Cathy Sara from Downtown Abbey.

The cast does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, infusing them with passion and vibrance. You really connect with each one, and find yourself anxiously waiting to see what happens to each person. A 2 CD set, In the Reign of Terror offers over two hours of entertainment, broken into sections that easily allow you to pick up wherever you left off. This feature is especially convenient if you listen to it on a day when you have to run a lot of errands.

Heirloom audio always seems to product top-notch products, complete with background music and sound effects that draw you even deeper into the story. You find yourself automatically rooting for Harry and waiting on pins and needles as each new chapter develops.

In addition to the audiobook, you also get access to a downloadable study guide. This guide features questions for each chapter in the story. The questions range from recall questions that make sure students listened and remember what happened, to vocabulary and questions that require listeners to dig deeper and make connections between events and draw conclusions, make inferences and other higher-order thinking skills. We usually discuss these questions orally after each section, leading to a lot of family discussion. The guide wraps up with three Bible stories that connect with the Biblical themes related in the story. If you would like to use this audiodrama as part of a unit study, Heirloom also offers a reading list with books about the French Revolution in the study guide, which would be especially useful for older students.

Users also have the option of joining the Live the Adventure Club, an online community that Heirloom just started. If you sign up, you not only gain access to the downloadable extras, but you can also participate in discussion boards about the books, access quizzes on the audiobooks, and have your kids play games and find lots of other things to do to further explore the adventure!

We thoroughly enjoyed In the Reign of terror and are looking forward to Heirloom’s next adventure! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

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TOS Review: Peggy Consolver-Author

Peggy ConsolverEven though my son is in 10th grade, I am always looking for ways to weave some read-aloud time into our schooling. Historical fiction has become one of our favorite genres, which is interesting because it wasn’t when we started homeschooling. And I always love when a book successfully weaves Biblical history and an exciting story together. For this review, we got a chance to read Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver-Author.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}This book tells the story of the Gibeonites who approached Joshua in an attempt to protect their city from the eyes of a young shepherd boy, Keshub. I imagine Keshub is much like any young boy of his time, loyal to his family and thirsty for adventure. While his family is known for their pottery work, which Keshub helps with when necessary, he daydreams of being a traveler or trader and seeing faraway lands. When visitors come in from other towns, he listens breathlessly to their stories.

peggy consolver

When a caravanner who frequently stays with his family comes to town and starts talking about the Hebrews in the desert, it sets the whole town wondering who they are and what they are up to. Stories of ruined towns and ended kingdoms filter through, further raising the tension. Through it all, Keshub’s father and uncles try to keep the town calm, along with Sir Ghaleb, a local soldier.

Along the way in this adventure, Keshub also goes to school with the other local boys to learn how to fight with swords, boys, and slingshots. He meets the son of a king of a neighboring kingdom and helps him escape his father, faces off with a local bully, tries to earn the respect of his brothers, and he also faces his own dangers protecting his flock in the fields. Through it all, Keshub develops his own questions about the God of the universe and what is real and what is not.

Without giving away more of the story, I just want to say, even if you are familiar with the ending, this book is definitely worth reading. The way Peggy Consolver tells the story, it all flows together so beautifully. Her character descriptions really pull you in, giving life to a familiar plot in an entirely new way. While I knew the story of Gibeon (and so did my son), after reading this book, it was like we were really able to see it through the eyes of people who experienced it.

There is also a study guide that goes along with the book. It includes all kinds of information related to each chapter. My son found it interesting to check out the links which showed videos of things like how to square lash with a rope, the medicinal properties of honey, information about the culture at the time of the story, maps, and much more. I didn’t push the study guide very much, I mainly let him use it for the topics he was interested in, but I can tell you that it’s not a like a typical study guide with a bunch of questions and answers, this one contains all sorts of additional information that your kids will likely want to explore.

I used this book as a read aloud for my son at the start of our school day. I found that if I tried to stop at only one chapter, he quickly begged me to read more. I think you could certainly tie this book into your history studies if you wanted, but you could also read it just for fun, like we did.

To learn more, connect with the author on social media here:

Peggy Consolver on Facebook

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TOS Review: The Cat of Bubastes (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Travel back in time to Ancient Egypt and go on an adventure with Amuba, the captured prince of Rebu, a city on the shore of the Caspian Sea. During his journey, he will find friends among his captors, and some enemies too, and in a race to save a friend’s life, discover the One True God. The Cat of Bubastes is another audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have loved every single one that we got to check out so far, and we were really excited to check out this latest release for this review.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Based on the book of the same name by author G.A. Henty, the two-disc set takes you and your family into the book. As always, Heirloom has recruited top voice talent to play the roles, and their sound effects and soundtrack help you feel like you are really in the story. All of the actors do a great job, and as you listen, you can picture the action in your head, as if you were watching a movie.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but I will tell you that Amuba comes to serve the high priest of Thebes, where he is taken after being captured. He and his friend Jethro become close to the family of the priest, who is very kind and treats all people with respect. Of course, conflict arises on a few fronts when Amuba and Chebron, the priest’s son, discover a murder plot in the city and then have to flee for their lives after accidentally killing the sacred cat of the city. During their adventures, they encounter Simeon, a faithful Israelite, and Ruth, his granddaughter, who help introduce them to the Christian faith.

Full of historical facts, The Cat of Bubastes combines history with drama to create excitement that you can also use as a teaching tool. Each track is numbered, so it is very easy to pick up where you left off as you listen. Along with the CDs, Heirloom gives you access to some awesome extras including a study guide that is chock full of information. There are discussion questions for each track on the disc, questions that include both recalling info from the story and questions that require you to go a little deeper with your thinking.

One thing I noticed in this study guide was the inclusion of other historical information related to the story. The Expand Your Learning sections offer info about a range of topics from Ancient Egyptian games, to the Pyramids, to recipes you can make. At the end of the study guide are three Bible studies you can do with your family. We mostly used the study guide as a source of discussion, but now that my kids are older, I did have them answer some of the going deeper questions in writing and keep a notebook of the vocabulary words.

Other extras include a download of the actual G.A. Henty book, complete with color pictures. I like this option because if you have a reader in the family, they can read the book before or after listening to the audio drama. You can also download the soundtrack, a poster, and more.

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Cat of Bubastes. Like the other Heirloom audio dramas, it is pure, family-friendly entertainment that both introduces your kids to history and points them toward God. I definitely recommend this if you and your family like listening to audio books. They are great for road trips or just listening to after dinner. To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

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You might also want to check out some of their other adventures like, The Dragon and the Raven and With Lee in Virginia.

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TOS Review: Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations Review

I am a big time reader, and as a homeschool mom, one of the things I love to read about is homeschooling! With my oldest entering his senior year, and my youngest on the verge of high school, I am always on the lookout for ways to fine tune our final years of homeschooling. So, I was really excited to get to review The Conversation from Classical Conversations.

Classical Conversations Review

Written by Leigh A. Bortins, the book is the third in a series on Classical homeschooling, and focuses on finishing strong with a high school student. Now, keep in mind that we have not schooled classically all these years at all. While I find the classical model very interesting, and there are certainly parts of it that we have utilized (particularly for history), we are very eclectic in our house in general. However, I am drawn to many classical ideas, and for high school, I really want to go deeper with my boys, in order to prepare them for college, and I feel like classical-style schooling does encourage students to go further in their thinking. So, I wanted to check out this book to see what parts of it I could apply to this next part of our homeschool journey.

The book itself is divided into three parts. In the introduction, the author gives you some background info about her and her family, that really helps put the rest of the book into context. For me, this short glimpse into the real-life of her family gave me a practical view of what classical high school looked like for her. The first section of the book actually focuses on defining the rhetorical stage as it applies to a classical education, and on what it takes for parents to work out homeschool high school.

I really appreciated Bortins’ honesty in this section of the book. For example, there was one part in the parents chapter where the question is raised “What do I do if I don’t get along with my student?”. Sigh..as the parent of two teenagers, can I just admit now that there are days when we absolutely, positively just DO NOT get along (and believe me, sometimes that makes me feel really really bad). And the author freely admits that she feels the same way sometimes. Just reading that made me feel so much better about myself!! The author goes on to address other common concerns parents may have about homeschooling high school in the chapter.

From there, the second section of the book takes on individual subjects and explains how the parents would provide a classical education within the confines of each subject. This section of the book is very practical and helpful, providing clear, concrete examples for each subject. Basically, after explaining the five “canons” of rhetoric in part one, the author leads the parents through applying each canon in each subject.

Once you understand the system, the process itself comes pretty easy. It actually makes a lot of sense. Each canon has a guiding question that more or less defines the canon, then a corresponding action the student goes through to get answers for that question. For example, for the canon “invention” the guiding question is “what should I say?” and the action is to discover ideas through research and planning. So, if a student were to apply this to a subject like Speech and Debate, they would use it during a brainstorming session to determine their topic, research their points etc. etc.

Bortins addresses numerous subjects from Reading and Math to Latin, Government, and Science, but like I said, once you understand how the process works, you could really apply it to any subject on your own.

In the third part of the book, the author includes multiple resources like games and lists of rhetorical devices that are also very helpful.

What I took from this book is some very helpful advice about how to structure learning in general for my kids final years as homeschoolers. I like how you can take the ideas here and really apply them to any curriculum. The foundations of rhetoric really encourage kids to dig deeper, and Bortins does a great job of explaining them in a way that is very easy to understand. I think this book would make a great addition to any homeschool parents library!

To learn more, connect with with Classical Conversations on social media here:
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TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Ahoy there Maties! Ever since Pirates of the Caribbean came out when he was just two years old, my youngest boy has had a thing for pirates! Seriously, he dressed up like a pirate for Halloween and then refused to take the costume off. Also, he still dresses up in September to get free Donuts for Dress like a Pirate day at Krispy Kreme. 🙂 My youngest also really likes audio books, so when I got a chance to check out an audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions, I jumped at the chance!

Analytical Grammar Review

And of course, when he found out it was going to be a pirate story, my son was on board too! Under Drake’s Flag is a recording of the book written by GA Henty. Known for writing exciting historical adventure stories in the early 19th century, Henty’s books told tales of courage and daring, with a Christian perspective.

The story in Under Drake’s Flag focuses on teenage boys Ned and Gerald, and their high-seas journey under Sir Francis Drake. As they travel, they face the perils of life at sea, including storms and shipwrecks, and encounter numerous new people and cultures as they visit new lands (some are friendly, some are not so much!) Along the way, the boys begin to grow into men, and into their faith in the Lord.

We listened to this recording on our trip down to the Keys to visit some friends over the summer. First, let me tell you the cast is absolutely phenomenal! Really, they add so much excitement to the storytelling, it’s like you can just picture every scene in your head. The high-quality sound effects also make you feel like you are right there on the ship! In total, the story goes on for about two hours. However, it is neatly divided into sections, with each one being timed, so if you needed to stop and restart the story later, it would be easy to do so.

As if the incredible story wasn’t enough, Under Drake’s Flag also includes quite a bit of history. Aside from learning about the Sir Francis Drake (a major character), part of the story also relates to the Spanish Inquisition. This makes it ideal for a homeschool setting, and I could easily see someone using it as a basis for a unit study. The 2-CD set also comes with a inset study guide that includes some background information and some questions for discussion on each section of the story. I found this very convenient for use in the car. They also have a PDF download of a study that goes more in depth and includes Biblical and historical references.

Under Drake’s Flag is aimed at ages six and up, although it may be slightly intense for very young children. In our case, I knew my youngest son (in 8th grade) would love it, but I wasn’t so sure about how my older son (11th grade) and my hubby were going to feel about it! I needn’t have worried. My husband got into the story right away, and even though my oldest started off the trip with his headphones in his ears, by the time we stopped for our first bathroom break, he was totally engrossed in the story as well. Of course, since we got back my youngest has taken the CDs into his room and I often hear him listening to the story when he is playing with his Legos! (and now he is asking me if there are any more stories just like it!)

So, would I recommend Under Drake’s Flag to someone else? Definitely! Especially if you have children who love an adventure. We just listened to the story mainly for fun, but it also has tremendous potential for school as well. I feel like the price of $29.99 is pretty reasonable, and you can get a digital download version for $20.00.

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