Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Children's Encyclopedia of American History

We have used My Father's World Curriculum for our core homeschool curriculum over the past five years. We have really loved the curriculum and the variety of books it provides. Some books obviously surpass others in content or practicality and some are obviously more enjoyable than others. One of the books we used this year was the 2003 edition of DK's the Children's Encyclopedia of American History. The content was great. The shortness of each section was perfect for short attention spans. The amount of pictures was helpful for visual learners.

However, many pictures are used for the background. That makes it super hard to read some of the pages. It is very distracting and really caused a slow down in our reading. I am disappointed in what could have been an excellent book.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Samantha Sanderson At the Movies

Samantha Sanderson At the Movies by Robin Caroll was provided to me through the BookSneeze program and Zonderkidz Publishers in exchange for an honest review. This book is part of the FaiThGirLz! series but still would be enjoyed by middle school boys as well.

Samantha Sanderson, or Sam, wants to be a journalist like her mom. She writes for the school newspaper but the editor, Aubrey, doesn't want her on the paper staff. However, when Sam finds a hidden bomb at the movie theater, she is sure she has a good enough story to show Aubrey she is deserving of a good roll on the newspaper staff.

What will happen now? Was the bomb planted by an atheist because a church was renting out the theater to show a Christian movie? Can Sam balance all of this detective work and newspaper writing with school and cheerleading? And what happens when Sam publishes "ideas" about the bombing instead of facts? Could this affect her roll on the newspaper? Or her dad's job as police detective? Should she listen to her dad and step down from writing about this story?
And what about her friend who isn't a Christian? How can she witness to her without forcing Jesus down her throat?

Excellent book aimed at the middle school population - boys or girls.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bikini Body Mommy

Through a friend's mention of this short and sweet (and FREE) workout program, I decided to give the Bikini Body Mommy (BBM) 90 Day Challenge a try - even though I will never wear a bikini, even if I had a bikini body. Once I got past the first day (where she insists on you taking pictures of your body in a bikini and take measurements), I was hooked! The workouts are all under a half hour - most closer to twenty minutes. And they work so many different muscle groups! You really FEEL like you just had a good workout! And without much time!

But the REAL reason this workout is so fun and successful is that Briana (BBM) is not a Jillian Michaels. She is a real mom working out and panting and groaning right along with you. Sometimes she has toy cars/trucks she has to step over when her son is playing right by her side. Sometimes she has to take a quick break to catch her breath or shake out some muscles. She adapts some exercises as she gets tired. She is real!

So you can go to the BBM site and print off the workouts so you know what you are doing and then watch the videos and work along with her. Or you can just go to her youtube channel and watch the videos (that's what I did). But YOU NEED TO WATCH THE VIDEOS! Not only because Briana is so real, but because without that timer pushing you, you can easily "cheat" or even give up. (You can take two minute breaks instead of one minute breaks - so not only have you just lost intensity, but now you have just added ten minutes to your short workout. So then you aren't as eager to work out the next day because you think of it as a longer workout. Or you think an exercise is too hard so you just don't do it. But if you watch the video, you see Briana adapting for herself because it IS hard - so then you feel better about yourself.)

Back to the taking pictures... yuck! But Briana wants you to be able to look back and SEE a difference, and not just rely on the scale. And taking measurements defines those differences. So I sucked it up and took my very first bikini -actually, underwear- pictures (gross!). And I measured. (Again, yuck!) After that grossness was over, I enlisted my thirteen year old daughter to join me in these workouts. Accountability is always good and teaching her to be strong and healthy is important, right? And Briana does focus on being strong and healthy - not being "skinny."

She also has a meal plan which I may try out now because I rewarded my workouts with sweet treats, which almost negated all the hard work... Not quite though. This morning my daughter and I completed the 90 day challenge and I took my measurements and lost 4.5 inches in my waist, 2 inches in my hips, and an inch on each thigh. (No, I'm not sharing pictures!!!) Best of all, I am so much stronger (as is my daughter)! --Remember, that is without changing my eating habits - actually, that is with eating worse than I did beforehand - those darn desserts! Even without the meal plan, but with eliminating desserts, think of what I could do! BBM is doing a 2.0 Challenge and I'm in! Are you?