The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Still Life


I wanted to share this picture Sarah drew for me tonight. I was asked to make invitations for our Ladies Spring Fling in May. The theme is “Fruits of Love”. So I asked Sarah if she would draw me a picture of fruit.

She set up a bowl  with fruit we had in the house, sat down with her paper and pencils and came up with this. The color comes from using her colored pencils and some of the techniques she is learning in her Community Education art class. I thought she did a great job! 

I then took her picture and added a few elements with my computer. This turned out to be the perfect picture for the invitations.

Spring Fling Take Two

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Critical Thinking Co.–Inference Jones: Beginning

Inference Jones

Inference Jones helps students to develop critical reading and higher order thinking.  It develops the ability to draw inferences from written text. Research has shown that being able to draw inferences is a prerequisite for superior reading comprehension. When reading the written word a reader must construct the meaning through interpretation. All readers draw on personal knowledge to make inferences base on their experiences, social values, and cultural conventions.

Inference Jones is designed to help readers in the 3rd and 4th grade but can also be used with higher grade levels if remedial help is needed.

ClarkClan Thoughts

Both Ben (10) and Rebekah (8) were able to use Inference Jones.  Each lesson only took about 10 minutes to complete. It starts with a short reading passage then asks between 8 and 10 questions. Each sentence in the passage is numbered to help with answering the questions.

A mix of question types is used: True/False questions,  short answer, and multiple choice.  Kids are also asked to explain their answers, using personal experience, on some of the questions. The book is simply designed with a small picture at the top, a short paragraph, with wide spaces between lines, then the questions. The instructions for the questions are placed inside a gray box.  Each lesson is only two pages in length.

This has been a great resource for Ben and Rebekah to use. Both of them enjoyed the short lessons.Ben had a little trouble with about 3 lessons, then he caught on and flew through each lesson. Rebekah was a little slower to get started, but once she caught on she just flew through this book.  I would go over the answers with them and have them talk out and correct any wrong answers. 

I would highly recommend this book. I liked that my kids would have to talk out why they thought their answers were correct. Ben has always been a good reader, but he benefitted from using Inference Jones as much as Rebekah. I also noticed a definite improvement in Rebekah’s reading skills using this book. I was delighted when Rebekah sat one day, on her own, and did about 8 lessons all in one sitting. This is unheard of for Rebekah who generally does not like “book work”.


Critical Thinking Co. provided a variety of products for the Crew to review. Visit the Crew blog to read what my Crew mates thought of the products they received.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  Inference Jones (special PDF download for review purposes) for free from Critical Thinking Co. in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blogging through the Alphabet–The Letter I

Marcy from the blog Ben and Me is hosting a weekly theme Blogging through the Alphabet. This week we are on the letter I. After reading my post, visit Marcy’s blog to read what she and others have written.

I is for Inheritance. Not monetary  inheritance, but spiritual inheritance. My spiritual inheritance was brought to my mind today as we visited a small mission church.

We went to El Paso because the youth group from our church had gathered boxes of hygiene items for Ysleta Lutheran Mission. Since we only live about an hour and a half away, we decided that we should drive the items down and visit for a church service as well.

The Lutheran church, on the grounds of the Mission, is San Pablo. They are a small congregation, but one of the outreach programs is a Mariachi band. Today was Mariachi Sunday, where the Mariachi band led the music.

The entire service was enchanting. The music was fantastic, the preaching was wonderful.The sermon followed the Gospel reading from Luke 24:36-49. The Pastor brought home the point that Jesus came to wage war, war against Satan and sin. After Jesus resurrection, He came in peace. Jesus had conquered sin, death and the power of the devil. He could greet his disciples and ultimately us with “Peace be with you” because the war was over. Jesus was the victor.

As I was worshipping, I was almost overwhelmed with what a great gift God has blessed me with, a spiritual inheritance. One of the most special parts of this Sunday was walking into the little church and looking upon the Altar, Pulpit, Lectern and Baptismal Font. These pieces of furniture that decorate the front of this little church were made by my Grandfather about 30 years ago. They were originally made for another mission church and when that church remodeled they were moved down to San Pablo.

The furniture are a reminder of my spiritual inheritance. My Grandfather had a living and active faith and is now resting and rejoicing in Heaven. My Grandmother still has an active faith that she shares not only with me, her grand daughter, but also with my kids, her great- grandchildren.  My grandparents taught the faith to my mother. And my parents brought the faith to me, through the gift of Holy Baptism. My prayer is that I and my husband are teaching our children “in the way that they should go.”(Proverbs 22:6) to continue on with the inheritance.

Classical Academic Press–God’s Great Covenant

Classic Academic Press

God's Great Covenant

  • God’s GREAT Covenant A Bible Course for Children
  • New Testament 1: The Gospels
  • 4th Grade and up
  • By Claire A. Larsen
  • $56.95 which includes:  Student Book, Teacher Edition, Audio download. Each book and audio also available separately.

About the Study  (taken from the Classical Academic Press website)

In God’s Great Covenant, New Testament 1: A Bible Course for Children, students will follow the story of Jesus, the Messiah and King, as He is born and fulfills all God’s promises. But Jesus does not arrive as people expected. The people were looking for a mighty warrior to deliver them from the oppressive Roman government. Instead, He came as the suffering Savior, who would die as the sacrifice for sin and death. He was building a kingdom that was not of this world—it was the kingdom of God. He is the Son of Man, God’s Servant, the Messiah, and the Son of God. Each of the four units in this text emphasizes one of these names of Jesus. God’s Great Covenant, New Testament 1 teaches the Gospels to students in fourth grade and up, using stories, worksheets, memory verses, devotional guides, quizzes, and a little boy named Simon. In the introductions to the text, students will also learn about the historical, cultural, and geographical setting of the New Testament. This book is a most comprehensive and heartfelt study of the Gospels, and many parents and teachers will find themselves learning along with their students.

ClarkClan Thoughts

    This is the most thorough, rigorous Bible course that I have seen for elementary age.  After a slow start, we enjoyed being able to dig in and learn from this study.

     There are six introductions before beginning with chapter one. The introductions cover topics pertinent to a study of the Gospels. They include: Historical and Political, Chronological, Geographical, Religious and Daily Life introductions.

     There are 36 chapters divided into 4 units. Each unit has an overall theme and each chapter also has a main theme. Within each chapter there is a theme verse, Scripture passages, a memory passage and Key Facts. The main portion of the lesson can be read aloud, read silently or listened to with the audio. The audio download reads the main portions of each chapter out loud. A review worksheet comes after the reading of the chapter incorporating different question styles. At the end of each chapter a Chapter quiz can be given.

     While the student book can stand by itself, the teacher’s guide provides much more background and other information. I was amazed at the amount of extra information included in the teacher’s guide. Doing this study with my kids, I liked using the teachers guide and being able to learn more myself and offer extra tidbits of information.

     As I mentioned before, this is a very rigorous study.  I felt that it was not a study that I would give to my kids to complete on their own. Ben (10) and Rebekah (8) had to give this their full attention. (I used this with two kids, each child should have their own student book). The introductions became a bit boring for them and we had to slog through. When the chapters started, the study was better received. They enjoyed listening to the audio and then completing the worksheets.

     If you are looking for a very thorough Bible course, this is it. I would stick to the recommended grade level and not start this before 4th grade. I would also recommend doing the study along with your child, looking up the relevant Scriptures and listening to the audio together. This way any questions that come up or misunderstandings can be cleared immediately. 


Many other Crew members reviewed God’s Great Covenant. Visit the TOS Crew Blog and read that they thought of this bible study book.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  God’s Great Covenant for free from Classical Academic Press in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bright Ideas Press—Christian Kids Explore Physics

Bright ideas press logo



Bright Ideas Press is a curriculum company that promises to publish Christian-oriented curriculum that will fit into a busy life. Their focus is on affordable, easy-to-use, multiple age products. T

Last year I had the privilege of reviewing two of their products, A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers and WonderMaps. We thoroughly enjoyed those programs and were very excited to have an opportunity to review their science curriculum.

Christian Kids Explore Physics (taken from the website)

The universe that we live in is the result of God’s thoughtful design and careful building. Physics gives us a glimpse into the materials, laws, and structures of that universe. Behold the wonders of creation with this series of 30 easy-to-understand lessons for grades 4-8. Each lesson helps develop an understanding of matter and energy and the rules they follow. Exploring physics is an exciting adventure!

There are also other topics besides Physics in the Christian Kids Explore Science series. Available are Chemistry, Earth and Space, and Biology.


ClarkClan Thoughts

We had just finished up our science curriculum when we received this review. Ben, Rebekah and I were very excited to get started. This curriculum was very easy to begin.

The curriculum is divided into Units and Lessons. There are 30 Lessons divided into 6 Units. Each lesson has two parts, a Teaching Time and a Hands on Time. We followed the Lesson plans that are included in the book. We did the Teaching Time one day, then the Hands on Time the next. I would read the Teaching Time out loud to Ben and Rebekah and go over any vocabulary. Then I would give them their “Review It” worksheet to fill out on their own. If they needed help, I would let them read the chapter themselves to find the answers. At the end of each Unit is a “Show What You Know”. I would give them this to see what they had remembered, then we would go over it together and find what answers they missed.

005The Hands on Time was Ben and Rebekah’s favorite part of the program. This is where mom would bog down a little, because I sometimes had to gather supplies I did not have on hand. It was well worth the effort, though, to get the proper supplies listed. (There is a sheet with all supplies needed for each lesson you can take to the store with you.) The Hands on Time cemented the Teaching Time and brought greater understanding of the lesson.


An example of this is when we made an atom. An atom is hard for kids to understand, but when we painted Styrofoam balls and put them together with straws, I could see the understanding as they explained to Dad and big brother Matthew what they had made. Then next lesson, they made a water molecule and then took to wondering how many water molecules would be needed for a drop of water. This is one aspect that I really liked about this program, my kids excited about what they were learning and telling others what they knew.

The focus on God as the creator of the world, truly came through with this curriculum. Each lesson a bible verse was given to go over that corresponded to the lesson theme. I found the creation references to mesh very well with the solid science presented.

This  curriculum has been a great fit for our family. It has a great mix of pencil work and hands on time. Rebekah has some trouble sitting still for long drawn out worksheets, but these provided  work that she could do in one sitting without being overwhelmed.  I have been trying to find things for her to practice finishing a worksheet on her own and this has really helped. Having a day of listening and then a day with a Hands- on activity was a great fit for both Ben and Rebekah.


I enjoyed using Christian Kids Explore Physics so much I plan to continue using it. Ben and Rebekah are learning and retaining the information presented as well as thoroughly enjoying the many Hands-on projects that go with each lesson. 


Read what my Crew Mates thought about the Christian Kids Explore Science Series. Visit the Crew Blog to get a thorough overview of all their science programs.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  Christian Kids Explore Science: Physics  for free from Bright Ideas Press in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blogging Through the Alphabet–Letter H

I have been Blogging Through the Alphabet with Marcy from the blog Ben and Me. Visit her blog and read what she chose for the letter H, then visit  the other blogs joining in, as well.

Unfortunately I missed blogging about the letter G. Although it was a G word that kept me from blogging last week. Gastro-intestinal upsets for the entire family. “Ugh”, is about all I want to say about last week.

This week is the letter H. H for me stands for Hand bells. Our church has a Hand bell choir, which Sarah and I became members of last August when we moved here. The rest of the Hand bell choir have been playing for 4 years. This is Sarah and my first year playing. What an experience.

Sarah and I both read music, which I think is the only reason we could come in and just pick it up and start playing. I played the flute in high school and I have sung in various choirs for many years now. Sarah takes piano lessons and has for quite a few years. When we joined the Hand bell Choir, I began playing treble clef notes and Sarah plays bass clef.

Generally, my notes tend to be melody notes. I think it is fun, but very challenging to play Hand bells. You really have to pay attention. I am in charge of  bells, G, G# (or A flat) and A. You have to watch the music and play, using the right timing, when your note comes up. This is not so hard when you are playing a simple piece with a lot of half notes and quarter notes, but it is not usually as simple as that. Since the Hand bell Choir has been playing for 4 years, the music can get quite complicated.

Sarah, in my opinion has an even tougher job than I do. I can’t remember exactly which bass clef bells she plays, but I know they are fairly large. Since the bells are big, they are a bit heavy and she has to use a lot of strength to ring them. One reason I wanted Sarah to be a part of the Hand Bell Choir is because she tends to have a few problems with her timing while playing piano. Hand Bells can really teach you timing, because if you do not play at the right time,you can throw the whole choir off. I have noticed it is helping her piano playing as well. It is also a good thing because the Hand bell choir director is also Sarah’s piano teacher.

I really enjoy playing. I think it helps keep my brain active and stretching each week. I love the challenge of trying to figure out complicated rhythms and being part of a group making a joyful noise unto our Lord. That is the goal of our Hand bell Choir, to enhance the service and play praise to God.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

AIMS–Looking at Lines


AIMS Education Foundation is a non-profit foundation driven to produce exceptional math and science experiences. Activities are hands on, captivating, motivating and fun.

We were able to try out Looking at Lines, which is part of the Algebraic Thinking Series. Ben is just at the level of the activities in this book. Sarah has completed Algebra I. So the way we used this book was as a review for Sarah and a teaching tool with Ben. I supervised while Sarah taught the lessons to Ben. They had a great time working together.

The activities were very well explained in the teacher portion. Sarah was able to read the teacher portions and then explain them to Ben. They constructed the hands on activities with no problems. Ben’s favorite was Algebraic Ups and Downs in which they constructed a paper elevator to explain how an elevator works as well as graphing the equation. Ben was so proud of being able to explain his elevator and the equation behind it, he took it to Cub Scouts to show his Den Leader who happens to be an engineer. He was quite impressed with the activity.

We used this book mainly as a supplement to our regular math program. Sarah would do one activity a week with Ben as a fun Friday activity.

We had the physical book to try. In the book each activity has teacher explanations and student pages. The CD, which is included with the book, contains all the student pages making it easy to print off as many copies as needed. A few supplies are needed to complete each activity. These were not hard to obtain, mainly tape, paper clips, drinking straws scissors.

We liked the AIMS book Looking at Lines. The explanations were easy to follow and the student pages were fun and engaging. Ben learned algebra concepts while Sarah had her knowledge of algebra strengthened. 


Many other Crew Members reviewed the Looking at Lines book as well as other titles. Visit the Crew Blog and read what they thought of the books they reviewed.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a the book Looking at Lines for free from AIMS Education Foundation in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Write with WORLD


Write with World 

      • Write with WORLD
      • From the publishers of God’s World News and WORLD Magazine
      • Available from:
      • $95 per year or $165 when both first and second year books are purchased together.
      • All purchases include access to the user website coming Fall of 2012

About the product: (taken from their website)

Write with WORLD is the middle school writing curriculum developed by education and media professionals. Use it to inspire and train your students to become proficient communicators who can meet educational requirements and navigate today's growing new media and conflicting worldviews.

Write with WORLD exposes students to:

  • reading and critical thinking that develop discernment
  • contemporary subjects and professional guidance to pique interest
  • flexible exercises to build confidence and skill for using today's new media
  • a thoughtful and meaningful Christian worldview

ClarkClan Thoughts

I have been a huge fan of World Magazine and God’s World News for years. When I heard that the publisher’s of World and God’s World News had written a curriculum to teach writing, I was excited to try it out.

Write with World has been a very good writing curriculum for Benjamin. Ben is in the 5th grade and really enjoyed working with this. Rebekah who is in the 4th grade joined us, but I could tell she was just a little bit too young for the program.

I liked the way the program is broken up into 5 different capsules. Each of these capsules were a great length taking us about 30 minutes to complete. We sat and worked through one capsule a day, thereby finishing one lesson a week. Because of the ages of my kids, I went over the lesson with them and sat while they completed the daily assignment. We used spiral tablets as our CWJ (which stands for Conversations: Writers Journal).

I found the lessons to be engaging and understandable. New vocabulary is introduced and used in each capsule. We took index cards and wrote the vocabulary words at the top, looked the word up in the dictionary and then wrote the definition that fit the context of the word. My kids favorite vocabulary word came from the first lesson: ubiquitous. Both of them will still use this word in daily conversation.

I liked that there were quotes and passages by published writers that “spoke” about good writing. These may have been more interesting to me because I have read World Magazine for years and enjoyed reading perspectives on writing from columnists I recognize. But more than that, my kids liked reading what actual “real-life” writers thought.

There is no specific grammar program with this curriculum. But grammar is taught as needed throughout the lessons. For example, lesson two has students looking at pictures and describing them. One capsule is on nouns,  one on adjectives, one on verbs and one on  adverbs to help make stronger sentences. I liked how the concepts built upon each other. They started simple, then became more complex as the lesson was completed.

Subscribing to World Magazine or God’s World News is not a requirement for using this program. But, because we had both, were were able to pull issues out and use these resources to complete assignments.

Since this curriculum is not available until next Fall, there is a  part of the program that I know is coming, I just have not experienced it for myself. What is still to come is a web site for users of the curriculum. This is to provide an online publishing opportunity for student  writers, as well as additional writing subjects to constantly freshen and augment what is in the textbooks.

I definitely think this is a solid, middle school writing curriculum. While I did use this with Rebekah, who is below middle school, I think she will get more out of it in about two years. Ben picked right up on it with no problems. I also think this could be a solid program for a high school student who has not had a formal writing course.


Read even more reviews about this writing program by visiting the TOS Crew Blog.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a pilot copy of Write with World for free from God’s World Publications in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s

Monday, April 9, 2012

TruthQuest History—Ancient Greece


TruthQuest History – Ancient Greece is a complete curriculum that can be used with multiple grade levels. It is unlike  any other curriculum on the market. Truth Quest's premise is “God initiates…People respond….History Happens.

What makes TruthQuest History so different? According to their website “TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God's unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply 'meet the culture' or 'get the facts;' you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world!”

How is the TruthQuest guide different from other guides? The guide is the jumping off point for the program. It is divided into sections, 43 sections in the Ancient Greece guide. Each section  begins with written commentary on what is going to be studied, giving background and thoughts to ponder while reading the assigned books. Then comes the book lists.

The book list is the heartbeat of the program.There are many books listed for each section. One reason for this is the age range for each guide is quite a span, so having a wide variety of reading levels is important. The author, Michelle Miller, makes a point of telling the parents to only use as few or as many books as you, the parent, feel necessary. Do not feel like you should read every book listed. The approach that TruthQuest uses is  “living books”  to make history come alive.

ClarkClan Experience

When we received this review the kids and I were quite excited. Sarah (14) and Ben (10) and Rebekah (8) have been wanting to study Ancient Greece and could not wait to get started. I read the the introductory material on how to use the program, read the first section introduction and searched for books from the library. 

One feature of this program that intrigued me was the multiple age aspect. I have a 14, 10 and 8 year old. To be able to have one history program for all of them was a huge plus.

The guide is very well-written. I have read most of the introductory segments for each section. Michelle Miller’s enthusiasm for her topic comes through plainly. I enjoyed reading these segments, she draws you in and makes you want to read the books to answer the questions she brings up.

Unfortunately, my main problem came with having trouble finding  the books. To be perfectly honest, I only own about two or three of the books on the book list. For this review, I relied upon my public library to supply what we needed. Sadly, our library was lacking in books about Ancient Greece. I could only locate about 1 in 20 of the books on the lists. Our library charges $5.00 for each inter-library loan item, so I did not search for the books in other libraries.  I noticed there were times a recommended book only had a chapter or two listed for reading. This was under each section, but not listed in the Resource list appendix. Since I would have to purchase many of the books, I would like to see if most of the book was going to be used throughout the program.  I would not like to purchase a book to find my children only needed to read one chapter. While I could have searched through each section of the guide to see if the book is continued in different sections, it would simplify things to have it in the main Resource appendix.

I did research the books online and found many of them for sale on popular book websites. So to truly complete this curriculum, I would need to purchase many of the books, or pay the money for the many books I would need through inter-library loan. If I were to  choose this as my main history curriculum, I would expect to spend money on the books I would need.

I have not seen any of the other TruthQuest History Guides. It may very well be that my public library would have many more of the books listed in guides for say the Middle Ages, or American/European history.


Would I recommend this program for other’s to use? Yes, I would, with a caution to be prepared to buy books as needed.  I liked the idea that we would be studying history from the point of view that God is in control of all things.  I liked the multiple ages studying together, using books for their own reading levels.  I feel this is a solid History curriculum.


Many of my Crew Mates also reviewed TruthQuest History. There are many guides available and you can visit the Crew Blog to read reviews of them.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a PDF download copy of TruthQuest History – Ancient Greece for free from TruthQuest History in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Amazing Animals by Design

We recently had the pleasure of reviewing a picture book called Amazing Animals by Design by Debra Haagen.


Rebekah and I have had a fun time reading this book together. Good dialogue between children and parents during a trip to the zoo is the highlight of this book. The dialogue focuses on the word “design”. The main theme is that every animal is designed with special abilities that help the animal through life.

The book gives a good “zoo” feel by focusing on animals that most of us will only see in a zoo. I liked that the information about each animal is factual. I even learned something about ostriches that I did not know. The special design that each animal has or uses is then tied together with a question of “Who is the Designer?”

God is given all the praise for creating each animal and their special features. An easy transition then relates how we are God’s design, too. We are created with special abilities like the animals, except we have been given and a mind and a heart so we can know God.

Two points that I really liked about the book are:

  1. Family –  I loved that this book was written with both a mom and a dad. This is our family dynamic and it is nice to see it reinforced in a book.
  2. The kids in the story had previous knowledge of God. They knew the answer when asked who designed the animals. I have read other Christian story books that assume kids have never been exposed to God. My kids have been in church since they were born and can relate to the kids in the story who can take what they are learning and apply God as the creator.

Want to read even more reviews? Visit the TOS Crew Blog and read what my Crew Mates think about this cute book.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a download copy of Amazing Animals by Design for free from Tate Publishing in exchange for my honest review of their product. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

F is for Fire Department

This week for  Blogging Through the Alphabet  is the letter F. Marcy from the blog Ben and Me is hosting this fun challenge to blog through the alphabet one letter per week. Be sure and visit her blog and read what other bloggers have come up with for their letter F.

I have chosen Fire Department as my F offering this week. Alamo West Volunteer Fire Department to be exact. The Fire Department is a huge part of our life. Both my husband, Matt, and son, Matthew, are fire fighters with Alamo West.

Matt has spent many years as a Volunteer Fire Fighter. When he was 18 and first in the Air Force, he was stationed here in Alamogordo and joined the Alamo West VFD. He spent about 5 years in the department until we were stationed overseas. After 3 years we were stationed back here in Alamogordo. Matt immediately joined Alamo West VFD again. He was even the Assistant Fire Chief for a few years until  we were stationed in another state. We spent 8 years away from NM and then Matt retired. We have moved, once again, back to Alamogordo. Matt is in the department again. A little older, a little grayer, but still with the same passion for helping out the community. 

Matt has passed his love of the Fire Department to our son, Matthew. Matthew was so very excited when we moved back here because he was 18. That meant he could be a member of  Alamo West VFD. Matthew is just as dedicated as his dad is to the department. Every Saturday he is not at work, he is at the station doing truck checks. He attends training whenever he can and is working on his Fire Fighter 1 certification.  Matthew has even earned a nickname through the department. It is a little morbid, but his nickname is Grave Digger. He earned it early (3am) one morning when he attended a call for a car accident. The girl driving the car rolled it, but was not seriously injured. Her dog, on the other hand, did not make it. Somehow the girl’s dad had come to the scene and asked that the dog be buried, so they did not have to pass by and see it lying on the side of the road. Matthew, grabbed a shovel, dug a grave and buried the dog. Listening to Mathew tell me about it the next morning, I told him what he did is called compassion. Doing something that maybe does not need to be done, but can make a huge difference to a person in the midst of a tragedy.

If you have not guessed it by now, the Fire Department is a very BIG part of our lives. It overshadows just about everything. I admit, I can get a little annoyed at the time it takes. But then, I realize just what an awesome responsibility my guys have taken on. Their dedication is amazing. They take their role as Fire Fighters very seriously, training to the best of their abilities.  My husband used to have a t-shirt with a picture of a house burning that simply said, “What if Volunteer Firefighters did not Volunteer?” .

Book Review--Money Saving Mom’s Budget


     I just recently found a website that I love. The Money Saving Mom website is full of useful, practical and just plain fun things everyday. You can find coupons to print, what stores or companies that are offering freebies. I have been able to find magazine subscriptions for very low to no cost. There is practical advice on saving money, homemaking and more.

      Behind The Money Saving Mom is the creator Crystal Paine. Crystal recently forayed into the field of writing with the book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. In the same style as her website this book is full of useful, practical and even fun tips for budgeting. Crystal shows how you can budget even on a small income. In fact, she shows exactly how  important it is to budget, at any income level.

     I have to say the second chapter surprised and delighted me. It was on de-cluttering you house to help save money. It can seem counter intuitive that by getting rid of things you will save money, but Crystal lays out the reasons why it works. Drowning in a sea of papers and always having to search for this or that bill can leave you overwhelmed and budgeting will take all you willpower to accomplish.

Never set up a budget? Have no idea where to begin? Crystal walks you through easy steps to begin budgeting. I really liked her approach. Start with a few categories, and then when things are sailing along smoothly add more to the budget.  Chapters on using coupons, lowering your grocery bill, forgoing credit cards are all written with equal clarity.

I reviewed the audiobook version of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. I like to listen to audio books when I am doing dishes, hanging clothes or going for a walk. The author, Crystal Paine, is the reader for the audio book version. I like it when an author reads her own books. She did a great job. The speaking was very smooth with great inflection. Reading your own material makes a difference as you would know what to emphasize.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book.  I think it is best suited for someone just beginning to get started budgeting. If you are nervous about trying something new, Crystal’s easy, gentle style can give you the confidence to try.

I received the audiobook The Money Saving Mom’s Budget for free through LitFuse Blog Tour  in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Any Given Morning

On any given morning  things are never dull.

Adventures in Odyssey is playing.

Breakfast is being made and eaten.

Ben will have a book in his hand.

Rebekah will be told, once again, the blanket does not belong in the kitchen, put it in your room.

Loki, the dog, is “talking” to us because he is hungry. Then after he eats he runs around the house like crazy till somebody puts him outside.

Rebekah is heard whistling while she is coloring.

Sarah will be feeding the dog.

Dishes are clanking as the dishwasher is being emptied.

Water is running for dishes to be washed.

Ben is still reading a book.

Sarah is playing a piece on the piano.

And then mom comes out, and the scheduled part of the day begins.