Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Audio Collection Will We Be Adding to Our Advent and Christmas Listening?


I do not typically begin our Advent and Christmas celebrations this early in the year, but when our family was offered a chance to review one physical CD and a host of Digital Downloads from The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection by The Familyman, I could not resist. My children and I adore audiobooks, and we tend to center a significant proportion of our Advent and Christmas season studies each year on seasonal stories.  Thus, the opportunity to add to our collection was one I could not pass up.

Happily, choosing to start our Advent and Christmas season listening early this year by listening to the
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury has proven a delight for our family.  We listened to the one physical audio CD we received (The Stranger) in our minivan one day and have listened to the rest of the collection of Digital Downloads that we received as bedtime stories using my laptop.

The children have quite enjoyed these stories - often asking for "just one more", which was an easy request to honor since the stories are short - just 12-30 minutes typically!  All but one of the audios in
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury will definitely become added to our annual Advent and Christmas season listening repertoire.

(The one that won't be added is The Bishop's Dream, which is described later..)

What We Thought of The Familyman's Christmas Treasury Overall
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

When I asked my children what they thought of the collection overall, my nine-year-old daughter said:

I like these stories.  They are about faith and Christmas.  They are fun, but there was one I didn't get.  It was about an old man, boy, and lots people who did not know what Christmas was.  Most of the rest were good though!

My six-year-old son added:

I liked them, too!  The one with Captain Chaos is funny!

My oldest son, ten, chimed in:

They are almost all good stories.  I like that they are Christian.  Some of them are funny.

As for me, besides the story called The Bishop's Dream, I enjoyed listening to each of the stories with my children.  In this collection of fun family stories, Todd Wilson combined humor and a heart for Jesus with an obvious desire to promote the real meaning of the Christmas season.  Narrator and master storyteller Jim Hodges brings the stories alive with his well-lauded narration.  (We have listened to a number of other stories and collections narrated by Jim Hodges and typically enjoy his storytelling style.)

My Children Would Like to Tell You a Bit About Each Story

Cootie McKay's Nativity

My oldest said:
It's about a guy who doesn't know God. He builds the own's new nativity, because someone else drove into their old one.  The nativity ends up being... well, I am not going to tell you, but, just trust me, it has a happy ending.

My middle child added:
The person that actually drove over the nativity was an old woman who said, "I have to get this package to my son on time," but she was off on the day Christmas was.  This story was funny.

Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster
My oldest smiled and said:
This one was hilarious.  It's about a boy who does not like the Christmas story and tries to change it.  He goes to his room and... it gets really funny!

My youngest added:
It was funny in the beginning.  The man gets rid of the crib so no one knows what Christmas is.

My middle child then chimed in to say:
I did not like how they said, 'and even the ornate Catholic church.'  It made it sound like it was not a good church.  It IS!  It's my church.  It's my religion.

Her big brother replied:
I did not think it made the Catholic church sound bad.  I just think it made it sound like a really pretty church, which is a compliment.  Our Catholic churches ARE pretty.

Gladys Remembers Christmas

My daughter, who is my most sensitive child, explained:
This was actually kind of sad.  It is about a girl who lost her mother.  She does not like her name.  She finds a package and in the package is a mystery thing - I won't tell you what - and, in the end, she is changed.

My youngest child warned:

It's not funny.

(He ends to like the funny stories.)

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest

My oldest said:
It is about a boy and his dad.   They talk about his dad's vest.  It used to belong to a guy called Mr. Grubbs and it has a special meaning.  The story is cute.

My middle child echoed:
I thought it was really cute!

And, my youngest, chimed in:
Someone got changed!

The Stranger

My oldest said:
This one is about a strange man who goes around to all the houses of a church and one boy lets him in.  He ends making something, but you have to listen to find out what.

My youngest wanted to say more, but his big brother shushed him, saying any more details would spoil the listening for other.

The Bishop's Dream
Luckily, two of my three children had fallen asleep before this story played, while my oldest said:
This story is confusing, but I still like it a little.

He noticed that the church described in the story had an empty cross, not a crucifix, and that there were some other differences, too.  He said:
It's obviously not Catholic. St. Nicholas is someone is someone who believes in Jesus and brings gifts to people because he is kind and he helps us celebrate Jesus.

He added:

This CD is not a good one, because it says Santa Claus is fake, that Catholics worship St. Nicholas, and more.  We do not.  We celebrate his feast day because he is in Heaven and is close to God.  We also celebrate Christmas.  We ask Santa Claus for presents and he brings us three presents to remind us of the three Wise Men's gifts.  We also go to Mass and set our nativity.  We remember Jesus always - every day all year long!

It's Called Christmas

My daughter said:

That one I did not understand.

Her big brother explained:
It's about a boy from the future who is calling to help people change the past because in the future all religion and Christmas is deleted.  It's just an empty holiday.  It was my favorite!

The Secret of Snow Village

My daughter proclaimed:
It was adorable!  The girl never forgot that Jesus is what Christmas was about and went into a toy village

My oldest concluded:

I would recommend this audio collection to others.
Learn More

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

To clarify:
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury CD-set contains only six of the eight audios we received for review.  All eight stories, however, are available as books and any are available as Digital Downloads
The Familyman on social media:

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

Fifty Homeschool Review Crew families gave
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury a listen.  Click through the banner to read all our reviews.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

1000+ Lessons at Your Fingertips {An Online Lesson Subscription Review}

Educeri .......  Educeri a division of DataWORKS offers over 1000 lessons aimed for grades PreK-12 with their Educeri Lesson Subscription Service, which we received twelve months of access to in exchange for this honest review.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Now, with that honesty in mind, I have to admit that I was not sure how well
Educeri would go over in our home since my children typically shun anything too "schooly" and I am not a huge fan of "standards-based", "Common Core-aligned" materials. 

So, why did I choose to take the review?

Well, more honesty:  Our homeschool approach vacillates between a variety of approaches depending on the season of life we are in, and, sometimes our eclectic, often experiential, style results in "holes" that need filling in.  With the season of our life being an extra-busy one, I wanted an "easy button" or two for helping my children become proficient
with a few basic skills, so I decided to give the Educeri Lesson Subscription Service a go. 

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Educeri's website
states that they are "committed to providing lesson plans - awesome ones - that a ready to teach anytime" allowing parents/teachers to get back to being our "engaging, inspiring selves", and that sounded great to me!


Does Educeri Deliver?

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service provides access to 1000+ lessons that are categorized by grade level (PreK through High School) and subject.  Easy navigation and search engines help you find lessons in:

  • Math 
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Art
  • History
  • P.E.
  • Music
  • Spanish 

and more.  Lessons are presented in power-point format so parents/teachers can easily teach them to children.  (There is no audio; lessons are not meant to be sit-your-child-down-and-let-them-go-independently.  Rather, they are meant to be used by the parent/teacher with the child(ren). )

Most lessons also have printable pdf materials that can be used as student handouts/worksheets.

The power-point format lessons are compatible with all web browsers and operating systems on PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Educeri is a supplementary program, not a complete one, you will not find everything you ever want/need to teach your child on it, or course, but you will find many basics and then some.

Using the search engines, I was easily able to find a series of lessons aimed at different grade levels on telling time.

Two of my children and I used these to teach/solidify concepts with this skill. My middle child did not love the lessons we used, but also did not balk at them.  Better still, she improved her time telling skills. 

My youngest thought "it was fun" to see the animated clock hands on the telling time power-points move.  He also liked doing the questions orally or on a whiteboard (because worksheets aren't our family's style) with his sister or me and clicking the arrows to have the correct answers fill in on-screen in red to see if his answers were correct.

My oldest son and I found several myth lessons to work through. 

He had requested that I create and teach a myth-writing class for our local co-op, which I did, and, then, I decided to capitalize on his interest in myth-writing to see if he would tolerate "schooly" lessons like those on

To my delight, my oldest not only tolerated the lessons, he enjoyed them

One day, when we were doing one of the lessons, a timer we'd set went off, and he asked me if we could continue.  Since we were short on time before having to depart for a scheduled commitment, I looked ahead a the side bar to see how many more slides/portions of the lesson there were.  Quickly, I was able to assess how much more we could squeeze in during that sitting and where we would pick up another day.

The next day, my son asked to complete the lesson.  Wow!  My son asked me to complete something "schooly".  That was a boon in my book!

From Telling Time to understanding Myths to other basic Math and ELA lessons,
Educeri Lesson Subscription Service has provided us with some easy, straightforward lessons which have - happily - been quick to find and implement and painless for my children to complete.  So, to answer my earlier question: Yes, Educeri delivers what they promise.

Final Thoughts

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
has been a helpful resource to have among our eclectic collection or homeschooling tools.  With it, we've been able to easily and effectively "fill in some holes" in our children's learning without pain or grumbling on either the kids' or my parts.  We've also been able to supplement existing studies. Thus,
I have no doubt that we will continue to access our a subscription over the next eleven months, especially when we are in need of some reliable, quick-and-easy lessons in Math or ELA.

I do wish
Educeri would add more Science, History, Art, PE, and Music lessons, though, since these are the subjects my children are most interested in.  Currently, there are 400+ Math lessons, 535 or so English Language Arts lessons, around 25 Science lessons (mostly middle-high school), 25+ History lessons (mostly 5th grade and up), and only 1-2 each of Art, PE and Music lessons. 

I would not hesitate to recommend
Educeri Lesson Subscription Service to families that seek straightforward lessons, created for schoolteachers, initially, but helpful to parents and tutors as well.

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Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Educeri offers free trials as well as a $7 per month subscription rate.

Sixty-five Homeschool Review Crew families reviewed Educeri Lesson Subscription Service.  Click through the banner to read about each of our experiences.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service

You can visit Educeri .......  Educeri a division of DataWORKS on social media on:

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pro-Life Kids: Decorate Bibs and Onesies

Are you seeking a hands-on, meaningful service project for children to enjoy during Respect Life month?   How about decorating onesies and bibs to offer expectant mothers?

That is just what we did with friends after our monthly Children's Adoration this past week. 

We started off by chatting about respecting life from natural conception to natural death and bridged into the idea of providing both spiritual and physical help for babies and mamas by praying for them, offering them encouragement, and gifting them with basic supplies.

Then, we set to decorating bibs and onesies with fabric paint pictures and messages.

To do so, one mom offered a brief demo,  Then, we simply set the children free with their imaginations and some fabric markers.

With these, they thoroughly enjoyed creating designs...

... and offering sweet messages.

Their designs were bright and cheerful.

Some even depicted sacraments (like Baptism.)

All were created with love.

Truth was shared.

Testimony to Jesus' love was eagerly offered.

Thanksgiving for babies was, too.

 Mamas also got into the action...

 ...making some designs ourselves.

I think the children (and the Moms!) could have just kept on going...

...but we ran out of bibs and onesies to gift sweet babies and their mamas.

We do pray that the recipients of the our loving work and prayers will be clothed in grace and blessings.  We also ask YOU to join us in praying intercessions for all lives.

As stated in this year's Respect Life statement:
God made each of us in his own image and likeness.  He desires to be united with us forever in a loving relationship.  God loves us, treats us with respect, and asks us to do the same with others.  Every person is sacred and must be treated with the dignity they deserve.  No one should ever be treated callously or carelessly—everyone should be cherished and protected!

From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection. Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the margins of society by a "throwaway culture," expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, and every other person—each "has a place in God's heart from all eternity" (Amoris Laetitia. . . , 168).
May we be united in love!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

There Is Still Time to Get to King Richard's Faire!

Hear ye! Hear ye!  There is still time to enjoy Renaissance-themed merriment at King Richard's Faire this year, which is open 10:30-6:00 on weekends through October 23.

My family was delighted to receive complimentary tickets to this annual festivity again this year, for, truly, the Faire has become a fall favorite for us all!

As has become typical for our annual
King Richard's Faire family fun day, we all woke early, had a big breakfast, and packed a picnic dinner to eat once we returned to our minivan after a full day of Renaissance entertainment.

Then, we headed off to Carver* to catch the opening "act" of the Faire, which always has some bawdy innuendo that, thankfully, goes over my kids' heads, but also includes silliness that the kids get and enjoy. 

(*Directions are here.)

Then, once in the Faire gates, we headed straight back to the Gaming Glen, where - for our family budget's sake - we let each child pick ONE game to play, which Mom and Dad would pay for and as many games as they like that they could pay for on their own. 

This year, none of my children chose to pay for their own games, but my oldest quickly asked us to treat him to a go at Crusader's Crossbows, where he succeeded and was "knighted". 

My youngest, of course, then wanted to give the crossbows a try, too, and, thankfully, (with a wee bit of help from the kind-hearted, smiling gal running the game) succeeded at proving his merit to be on par with his brother's.

By the time the boys were done at the crossbows, we noticed that one our favorite repeat performers at the Faire- Daniel, Duke of Danger - was about to begin his first show of the day.  So, our daughter opted not to try a game, but, instead, to have us all go enjoy the Duke of Danger's show.

Again this year, the Duke of Danger's acrobatic, comical weirdness delighted my children, and had them laughing, "'oo"ing and "ahhh"ing.

After the show was over, they were ready for more shows, so we took a look at the schedule, and began making a circuit of the Faire, taking in the feats of the different performers, which included seeing other perennial favorites, such as the Squire of the Wire Tightrope Walker and Juggler (picture above)...

...the Draiku aerial show...

...and Jacques Ze Whippeur with his Dashing Danger (whichh can get a bit, shall we say, "colorful", so take care if you do not like innuendo and, also, do look for the ratings in the program which tell you which performances, overall throughout the day, may be more PG-13.)

Throughout the performances, the children did not only watch and laugh, but participated at times...

... stood up to get better looks or jumped out of their seats with excitement at others...

...and, genuinely, smiled through in awe, excitement, and humor for large portions of the day!

They also enjoyed seeing some of the wild cats up close...

... took breaks to be silly themselves...

... and locked Mommy up for a moment.

Plus, of course, they found time and space to battle with their swords brought from home...

...between watching each of the three jousting events that they absolutely love each year.

They love the jousts so much, in fact, that they begged for us to go super early to get seats for the last one, and, while waiting, enjoyed their own battle.

Of course, this was only after being fueled up by Faire food, which does come at typical event prices, but also comes with generous portion sizes and with options for special diets. 

It's always fun to see the children share their meals...

... and it's ever so sweet to witness them decide to "gift" each other things at the Faire.  This yer, a small gift happened when my daughter opted to use her game budget money from Mom and Dad to buy corn to split with her brothers as a snack instead.  Love it!

I also love watching my children watch the shows.

With suspense, smiles, and laughter, they take in the jousts.  With delight, they enjoy the Faire.  With gratitude, we head out after the final joust each year, grateful for the fun of
King Richard's Faire!Faire Details

Faire hours are 10:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays, from September 3rd through October 23, 2016.

Tickets are $31 for adults (12+) and $16 for children ages 4-11. Children under 4 are free.

Parking is free

Discounts are available for groups of 25 adults or more and private parties can be accommodated (birthdays, vow renewal ceremonies, weddings). Groups may make reservations by emailing

The Faire is located at 235 Main Street (Rt. 58) in Carver, Mass. 02330.  The phone number is 508-866-5391 and the email is

You can also visit King Richard’s Faire on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Enjoy King Richard's Faire this weekend or next,a nd, if you cannot make it, do not worry.  The Faire comes round every fall!


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