from Mozart to Martin

Welcome, again, to the Study of the Composers. Grab the button to the right and link up.

I can’t wait to hear how this week has gone for you.  We are planning a great giveaway in the weeks to come.  Make sure you join in each week so you don’t miss your chance to win a mini study on Composers from Barb at Harmony Fine Arts.  If you want to see more of Barb’s products in action, please make sure you read Petra School’s posts

With the way Hunter rolled his eyes yesterday when I mentioned Mozart, I knew it was time to move on and change it up a little.

Today we are going to be reading.  Good old fashioned reading. Yesterday we spent our music time searching High and Low for a catchy tune to learn the books of the Old Testament to.  Most of them were pretty boring.  But really, how exciting can you make big words like Haggai and Habakkuk? … that still counts as music study right?

No? well aren’t you a tough crowd.  I guess I should get back to the more serious stuff.

We have been walking through some of the Reformation in History, so why not tie it into music too.  I happened to have Mr.Pipes, And Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation

Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation

So I thought I would break it out and give it a whirl.  We will camp out on Martin Luther this week.  Read a bit about his life and listen to two songs that he wrote.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God


and  All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord.  Which I will attempt play on the piano.

next week we will see where we end up.  Maybe more hymns, maybe classical…. maybe jazz…. who knows.


Boys in the kitchen?


This family of 6 is heavy laden with testosterone filled boys.  Boys who love to cook.


I’m not kidding.   My younger boys love to cook. Their love of cooking is why I knew they would love this great kitchen from Guidecraft.  They would be able to play and create endless imaginary dishes and I might actually get some work done in the real kitchen!

Now don’t get me wrong…. it wasn’t just imaginative play where they were pretending to be the Doogie Howsers of the Culinary World.  They fired up those burners and assassinated some evil villains and space aliens too, melting them in a potion of liquid hot death….

That is the beauty of imaginative play.  Minds creating, unleashed, full of endless possibilities.


The boys (ages 4 and 9) absolutely loved this Kitchen.  It’s claims to foster imaginative play were delivered on 1000%.  It will provide hours of fun in the cold snowy months to come.

If we can get the boy out of the oven, that is……


Since the family is made up of more than one…. and more than one person is involved in the review process…. we need to take the time to hear from Daddy the assembler, and mommy the chief financial officer and see how they weigh in on the Guidecraft, Hideaway Country Kitchen.

While the Kitchen itself is created for use by those ages 3 and up,  the words “some adult assembly required” should come with a disclaimer.  It should read, “structural engineers please apply”.  The directions are only pictures, and they are not the clearest of explanations.


Daddy is a MacGyver and made it work…. but many of the components did not fit together as designed. Here is a picture (drawn on an envelope) where he shows how the holes in piece “A” did not properly align with holes “I” and “J” and the screws had to be put in at an angle.  Also contained in this rendition,  he shows on piece “A” the need for a deeper dado so the piece containing the clock could slide in properly.


One part was, out of the box, broken.  The glue was not attached and it just separated as soon as you closed the oven or dishwasher doors.

030                   028

Don’t worry though.  MacGyver fixed it.  It won’t move now.


Daddy’s view:

As he assembled the product he kept a list of notes (he is such a good reviewer’s helper!)  Here are some of his thoughts as he traveled along in the 4 hour process  of putting it together.

  • He was disappointed in the over-all craftsmanship, especially the MDF and not “real” wood that it was made out of.
  • He didn’t like that it was manufactured in another country.
  • He thought that no instructions or parts list had been included with the product.  After following the one paper that was included with the product, and printing out the directions via the website.  He found the directions in the box marked hardware.
  • When he tightened the hinges into the side rails…. anything past finger tight, the MDF started to split.
  • The screws were not of the highest quality, as many of the heads were off-centered.
  • No extra screws were provided and one came without even being “punched” with a phillips head, we had to use one of our own screws
  • Holes in many locations were misaligned and you had to install screws at an angle

In general, from the wife/photographer position….. He seemed very disappointed with the whole manufacturing and assembly processes.  He did say that power tools were pretty much a necessity.

064                 051063

Mom’s thoughts:

I really like the portability of it.  It folds easily (hence the name HIDEAWAY) and it was nice to be able to store it in the closet when we didn’t want to have it in the living room or kitchen.  The knobs are realistic, but noisy, and those days when you are trying to talk on the phone or work on reading with another child….the words “STOP CLICKING THE KNOBS” have been known to fly from my mouth.

It is very cute.  I really am a sucker for the bead board look.  That alone could win my heart….. Smile

I was disappointed with  the lack of craftsmanship and flaws that we found during assembly.  The quality that is conjured up by the mere mention of Guidecraft toys didn’t seem to follow in both arrival condition and into the assembly process of this particular product.  Pieces were marred and scratched, and the laminate chipped even before my two energetic boys ever laid a hand on it.

060              055

Even with the flaws.  The boys don’t care…. they love it.  They have made meals for “The Hulk”, played restaurant, and alternated between server and cook.  Their imaginations are running wild and growing with each day.

Priced at $200.00, I would guess this places the Hideaway Country Kitchen out of the reach of many two income families, not to mention those that homeschool and tend to live on a very tight budget (like mine).  That being said, it is still priced low enough that with forethought and budgeting, a family could save for the product, hopefully it would be in better condition than ours was, and they could enjoy it for many years.

The company does state on their IN-BOX literature to please contact the retailer or place of purchase in the event that you need a refund or exchange.  It is very clear that they intend to stand behind their product, and assure that customers are satisfied with their purchase.  ALWAYS a great thing to find in a company!   They also offer a very WIDE range of products please visit their website to see if there is something there to spark the fires of imagination for your children.

For this family, it would likely not be something we would have sought out to purchase on our own for use at the house.  I have thought of purchasing one for the Nursery at church, and still struggled with spending $200.00 for a toy.

Maybe I’m just a tightwad……


Please don’t just take this family’s word for it.  25 other families reviewed this product.  Please take the time to read their reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew page and take them into consideration before you form an opinion about this product.

****We received a complimentary Hideaway Country Kitchen from Guidecraft for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received. I am not obligated to furnish only a positive review. Thank you, Guidecraft, for your generosity in making your product available for TOS reviewers.****


Inspiring teens to read and write well

Aletheia Logo - Oval border Aletheia Spring 2011 Magazine Cover

What a great magazine!  As a mom of teens it is hard to find appropriate reading material for them, even going to the library can be a literary minefield.  Desiring to give Christian Teens a platform to express themselves, the editors of Aletheia Writing Magazine have gathered up great writing by teens to help stack the deck in favor of wholesome reading material.  I would like to thank them for sending us their Fall issue to review for the TOS Review Crew.

Both Evan (17) and Tayler (16) enjoyed reading the magazine.  When I asked my son what he thought about it, he replied, “You mean you want me to tell you something besides, there are some ridiculously talented kids out there writing for this thing?  Ones that are WAYYYY younger than me?”

After reading through the magazine myself, I would have to wholeheartedly agree with him.  The teens who submit poems and stories for this magazine are ridiculously talented.  Published 4 times a year, this 40 page full color magazine will serve to inspire and engage your teen in the world of creative writing.  Subscriptions are available for $26 (US) and $29 (Canadian). This price includes all shipping and handling.  When my daughter found out the cost she offered to split it with me so that we could keep getting the magazine….  guess that says something about how much she liked it :)

Aletheia isn’t just for the creative writer, it is for the artist too.  Teens who draw are encouraged to submit their artwork and will be contacted to have it paired with stories that are submitted.

As a teacher-mom I found their website to be just as informative as their magazine.  I especially liked the page with Writing Tips.

If you have a teen that loves to write or want to learn how to write well. I think this magazine would be a great thing.  It would be a welcome addition to Doctors or Dentists offices or youth centers, places where quality reading material is few and far between.

You may click here to view a Sample of the magazine. Visit their FAQ page to see how your child could submit his or her work to this quality magazine.

100 families with TEENS reviewed this magazine.  The TOS Homeschool Crew page is the place to see what these families have to say about their experience with the magazine.


****a free copy of the fall issue of Aletheia was supplied for the purpose of this review, no other compensation was received, and all of the above opinions are our own.****


“But MOOOMMMM, It’s not FAIR!??!”

I was thinking the other day about how different my children are.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses.   In our home this fact leads us to treat them as individuals, holding them to different sets of responsibilities based upon those things that they excel or struggle with.  Yet even though we as parents recognize their differences, they still seem to desire total equality.  There are many times I hear…  “But, she got to…”  “Hey! you didn’t make______ do that!!”  and the squeals of protest go on and on……

All of these statements eventually lead to the ultimate equality card being pulled out and slammed into the argument……………. “it’s not fair?!!?”      (can you hear the whine?) How many times have you heard that as a parent? Even if I were paid only in nickels, for each time a child used that as a opening argument,…..  I would be able to retire to beach front property, …a year ago.

So what do you do when you hear that statement??  I will admit, that not long ago, my pithy response was  “Fair?  you want fair??  The Fair is where you take a prize pig…and a pumpkin pie…”  You see, I didn’t put much stock in this whining about things being fair.  My overall attitude was “get over it kid.”  I was beginning to see that my response to them, left them without some sort of resolution.  It lacked any teaching, molding, shaping….. there was no discipleship in it.

While I still have the “get over it” mentality from time to time, God is gracious with me and  is working in my heart.  He is showing me what He says about fairness, and the arguments that start when one kid wants the other ones toy and screams “its not FAIR!!”…. to try to get the toy that belonged to someone else in the first place.

I am beginning to realize that this need for “fairness” stems from selfishness really, and that while my pithy response gets laughs…. it does nothing to train my children to begin to see why they fight, why they want their own way, and what God’s Word has to say about it.

James 4:1-10 starts with this great rhetorical question that James then answers in following verses. To save you the trouble of Google-ing the verse or getting up to get your Bible….  here is what it says:

Where do wars and fights come from among you?  Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

My husband summarizes this as the “We want what we want when we want it” passage of the Bible.  James is telling us that we have desires…. we desire for things to be fair, especially when our perception of *fair* is in our favor.

So, now….. when the whining about fairness begins to crop up around here…..  I just simply ask the rhetorical question like James did.  The response has been very interesting.  It defuses the argument immediately.  They are forced to ask themselves if their desire is in line with the humility that God desires from us.  (James 4:6)

I have found that using Scripture to ask questions, to engage my children’s minds and hearts, has been a factor in increasing the peace with in our home.

I want the Bible to be so much more than a collection of stories to them.  More than a set of rules they feel they can not measure up to.  I want it to be relevant in their day to day lives.  Used as a filter, where they can confidently say…. Oh, I can change that, and here is how, this verse right here tells me how.

I pray that God will use each of you as ministers of grace and love to your families, this week, see you soon!

name gif

I hope you enjoyed this contribution to The Christian Home weekly magazine.  You can read all of this week’s  great articles Here.  They will inspire you, encourage you, and just plain make you smile.  If you are interested in writing for this Magazine, please visit The Legacy of Home, to learn how to submit your article.


Hello Fall

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

I would really like to know where the days go.  Honestly, it was just Monday…..It seems as though the house is one big mess that is barely contained.  Too busy to clean, and that really isn’t a good thing.

In our homeschool this week…

It was the first official week of college for the Tayler.  She survived.  I survived.  Both noteworthy accomplishments.  She found a much faster way home and her bus drops her right by the house.

Last week was a bit of a rough week with Hunter.  This week, covered in prayer by the ladies at church, was much smoother.

Evan asked someone to homecoming.  He sang to her.  Made all the girls in the Choir room cry.  Yes, his voice is *that* good.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Someone called me yesterday because she knew of a homeschooler that was struggling.  I told her to pray with this woman and read to her Philippians 4: 11-13.  To give her a hug and let her know that no matter if the kids are rolling their eyes at you all day, if one or five of them won’t obey, if you just burnt dinner, and the dog ran away……  If you opened the washer and the laundry was mildewed *again*, or the mountain of laundry on the couch is 3 days high…….  God will give you the strength to get through the day.  One moment at a time, relying on Him.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Not too much going on right now, as we approach fall, things wind down and we begin to stay closer to home.

Evan is singing the National Anthem tonight at the Homecoming game with Scarlet and Gold ( the ensemble choir )  I think that is pretty cool.  Oh…. I and I have a chauffer gig tomorrow night between Baskin Robbins, and the Homecoming dance. 

What is my payment you ask?  I get a very clean truck to drive in.  Smile

What’s working/not working for us…

Not sure that there is anything we are doing right now that isn’t working for us…. pretty much everything seems to be going smoothly

Questions/thoughts I have…

I am feeling frustrated with Hunter’s lack of progress in spelling.  I keep telling myself that consistency is the key, and once the light bulb goes off in his head it is going to be easy peasy….  but there is something that just is niggling at the back of my brain….  I can’t really articulate it…. it is just there.

Things I’m working on…

Having purposeful, gospel filled, friendships.  I want to give the encouragement of the Word, not just my opinion of things.

I’m reading…

Colossians.  We are studying it in Church.  I just keep reading it and letting it marinate.

I’m grateful for…

Kids who love the Lord.  Even when they are mad at each other.

I’m praying for…

A struggling homeschool mom.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…


The graduating senior and his sister the dual enrolled junior.  Where, please tell me where the time went!


To read or not to read

Four weeks in and I am really beginning to look forward to Thursdays and these posts to see what you all are doing in your own school’s.

If you are new to Study of the Composers, feel free to grab the button over there on the right, post it onto your blog, and join right in!

Now is the portion of the program where I tell you what we did this week.

I would love to tell you that we did some wonderful thing……  Truth is we didn’t do any work with Mozart this week.  ….. yet.  Yesterday it was on our schedule to do right after piano practice.

Problem was, that about 3 songs into practicing, Hunter grew a wild hair.  He decided to get up from the bench and show me this “cool trick” he had been working on.  It involved old couch cushions stacked up, running, jumping and flipping.  I uttered the standard mom caution, and stated that if it had to do with jumping and flipping I didn’t want to see it.  He, caught up in the uber coolness of his own amazingness, proceeded to show the trick…. without the running, and attempted a standing flip.

He landed smack on the back of his head and jarred his neck so completely I was tempted to take him to have it X-rayed.  I very safely got him to my bed where he could lay flat and undisturbed, and had him lay on some ice off and on….  He cooled his heels, staring at the ceiling for about an hour and a half until, Big Daddy, our military medic, came home from work and gave him the once over and declared him “ok”, but told him he was not to wrestle or jump around for the next few days.


some days…….. just don’t go like you plan……..

Well now that I have been completely transparent about how we DIDN’T do Mozart (yet) this week…

How is it going with you?


Come win a subscription to my favorite magazine!

There are great changes afoot.  The magazine that has always been a bright spot delivered to my door at the change of each season…. is celebrating…

They are celebrating 10 wonderful years of encouragement to homeschoolers around the world.

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine has chosen to celebrate their 10th anniversary with huge Birthday Bash. You won’t want to miss the excitement and the FREEBIES.

Take a blog hop on over to the new Homeschooling with Heart blog and learn about three exciting  events featuring freebies, daily door prizes, a meet-and greet with TOS’s new columnists, and loads of fun for everyone!

Now back to the changes I mentioned.  My magazine is going digital. Not just digital, but MONTHLY! NO more waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is exciting news.  You have no idea how hard it is to wait 3 months to receive all of the encouragement contained within.

If you have not yet seen the digital version of the magazine I invite you to check out your very own free copy just click RIGHT HERE.

I believe this change is for the better.  I am not going to be trading in my subscription any time soon….

I have already downloaded the summer issue to my Kindle and I have enjoyed reading it on the go.

I believe that you will enjoy this new interactive digital format as much as I do, which is why the folks over a The Old Schoolhouse have given me 2 FREE subscriptions to give away.  Simply leave me a comment on this post and I will choose the 2 winners, Friday, September 30, 2011.

Don’t forget to stop over at the blog and see what Free things they are giving away.  I hear the Curiosity Files are up for grabs…. Smile

**current TOS crew members, TT Star Contributors, and TOS employees, or family members are not eligible for this contest**  sad, I know…..  but let’s share the greatness of TOS with families everywhere :)

I am linking up with Hip Homeschool Mom’s Giveaway day!  Giveaway Day


Turkey Stew

Made this the other day on a whim actually. (read that as, had leftover turkey in the fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad)

It turned out well enough that I am willing to share it with you all.  Hubby and the kids loved it, so it is an all around thumbs up.


Gather up the following items

1/3 cup flour
3 Tablespoons of Butter/Bacon Drippings/Vegetable Oil  (Whatever is on hand!)
6 cups water
3-4 cups cooked turkey,cubed
5 full sized carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
4 ribs of celery, chopped into chunks ……..1 medium onion, chopped
10 medium potatoes, roughly peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons Chicken Bouillon
Pepper to Taste

Now here is how you throw it together.


Melt the Butter/Drippings/whatever you have over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, forming a rue.  Don’t brown it.  You just want to cook it for a few minutes to take the raw flour taste out of it.

Add in the water, slowly at first, whisking continually to make sure you don’t get any lumps.  Lumps are bad.  As the mixture incorporates, you can add the water at a more rapid pace.  Still whisking as you go.

Add in the Bouillon.


This is the one that I use.  It is an ingredient of greatness.  Allow the flour/butter/water mixture to continue to simmer until it has come to a full boil.  This is where all your thickening will happen.  Rush this and you will have a burnt pan.  Be patient, you will have a velvety thick stew base.  Whisk this every-so-often as it comes to a boil.


While that Rue is thickening.  Get to choppin’.  I roughly peeled the potatoes to give the stew that rustic appeal.  I add these right to the Rue as soon as it has come to a boil.


Chop the carrots into bite sized chunks.  Buy those bags with the big ones!  They are so much cheaper than those little peeled nubs they try to tell you to feed your kids.  I give the carrots and potatoes their own private 10 minute head start in the pool.  They are the hardest veggies in the dish and they just need some more time to soften


Reduce the Heat a bit to Medium Low/ Low after the carrots and potatoes have had their moment.  Grab your onion and celery and chop those up too. I use the celery leaves too.  They just add more flavor to the stew. Add some pepper now and taste the broth to see if you like the flavor.  Now is the time to adjust, not at the table.   Add in Turkey too… don’t forget the Turkey!

011          012

After everyone is in the tub, let it all simmer together for about 30 or so minutes more.  Or until the vegetables reach your idea of done.

We paired this with some jalapeno bread sticks.  YUM!


Happy Eating!

name gif


zing, zap, pow! exploring electricity with boys!

I have boys.

a girl too, but she is way more active than the average girl and dolls aren’t even in her vocabulary.  never have been.

It is important to note, when telling you that I have boys, that I was raised in an all girl family.

I learned after having boys, that they do things much differently than girls.  The first thing that boys do, is take E-V-E-R-Y-THING apart.  They dig, just because they want to know what is under the ground.  They break toys to see how the arms work.  They disassemble cars to see what really makes it go, the battery or the gears.  Girls, do. not. do. this.  It has been years, and I am still getting over my boy culture shock….  every time I toss a de-armed soldier, or decapitated warrior into the trash can, I shake my head and chalk it up to life with boys.

This need to figure out the how and why of the way things work is exactly why I was so excited to review this product by AIMS Educational Foundation.



AIMS offered TOS reviewers several of their products for review.  The nanosecond that I saw this choice, I KNEW it was the choice for us.  Electrical Connections is a science activity book written for those in the grades 4-6. It speaks to the very soul of boys who NEED to KNOW how stuff works!!!

This 223 page book of experiments comes complete with a CD-ROM full of every printable that is in the book.  Each section has a teachers guide of sorts; making it a book that is self sufficient to use.  These teachers pages state the topic and any benchmarks or standards that this experiment will coordinate with.  It lists the type of science that you are learning, Physical or Earth, for example.  There is background information, how to manage the experiment in larger settings, material lists and the procedures.  They even have a list of questions to ask the student to help reinforce the learning experience.

For my hands-on, take everything apart 4th grader, this Science activity book was pure magic.  He has loved every experiment we have done so far.

We used the book once a week, when we wanted to have more fun, but very directed learning for the day.  Here are some photos of our experiment with Static Electricity.


Measuring to see the approximate distance we need to hold the charged balloon from the string.


We wrote down our predictions for how we thought each material would act, when approached by the statically charged balloon.  Here you can see him charging up that balloon with negative electrons from his hair…..  so much more fun to do than using mom’s nylons……


Zuuuuoooooppppp! Those pieces of string just jumped up to the balloon!  Those positive electrons just couldn’t resist!


We repeated the predictions and recorded the observations for pieces of aluminum foil, paper clips and salt. 


In order to supplement the learning, I would go to the library to check out books on electricity for Hunter to read through out the week as we prepared for our experiment day.

Priced at $24.95, Electrical Connections is a great way to explore electricity without breaking the bank.  Some of the materials needed for the experiments must be purchased. (batteries, magnets, paper clips battery holders, insulated wire, copper wire, light bulbs…etc.) AIMS provides kits for homeschoolers that are fairly well priced and will allow you to complete most of the experiments in the various books they offer. I was not able to find a kit that was specific for Electrical Connections and marketed to homeschool sized families. I talked this option over with my husband and showed him the materials list, he stated that most if not all of the items, or their equivalents,  could be found at a local hardware store, and the purchasing of redundant items at a classroom size level would not be cost effective for most families with one or two children using the product, even in successive years.

Make sure you take some time to see some of the other great activity books this educational company has to offer.  They have various products available to be used from grade K thru grade 9.  You just might find the perfect something to help inspire and ignite the love of learning in your own child.

For further information about AIMS products you may write to them at:

AIMS Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 8120 Fresno, CA 93747-8120


call: toll free   888.733.2467


Many homeschool families reviewed some of the 6 different products that AIMS made available to The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  Please read their reviews before you make a decision on purchasing a product for your family.


**** as a TOS Homeschool Crew member, I received a copy of Electrical Connections FREE of charge for the purpose of this review.  I am under no obligation to furnish a positive review of this product.  All of the above experiences are from our usage of the product.  Trust me, I would let you know if I didn’t like something Smile ****


Giveaway winners

I am glad to have some winners for my Two Giveaways last week.

For the THEO DVD the winners were Lisa and Carrie.  Congratulations!!


For the Ginny Owens CD “Get in I’m Driving”  I am happy to announce that, giveaway winner

Carrie was again the winner!  Congratulations!!


All winners have been notified, thank you all for your entries Smile

name gif

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...