Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

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30 May 2012

TOS Review: Dive Into Your Imagination

Hi there! The latest obsession of my family is nature documentaries… (we don't normally watch much of anything, but we've needed lots of distractions lately and nature documentaries not only provide entertainment but they're also educational! :-D).

Annie Crawley with the Dive Into Your Imagination company sent us a great ocean DVD for kids. I was slightly nervous at first to watch a show entitled "Dive Into Diversity", thanks to how the term has been used to push other agenda's, but with a little research I was soon excited with the opportunity. Annie Crawley's knowledge of sea life, and her ability to capture what happens under water with a camera, is pretty amazing. Not only did the DVD contain information perfectly suited towards children on the topics of sea life, but there were also segments that showed and explained the equipment used in the making of the film (scuba gear and an underwater camera…. which thanks to the video I now know works similarly to the eye, i.e. needing a pocket of air in front of it… no, I did not know that before, please keep your laughing to a minimum! *laugh*), as well as a look at how a musical score is made (WHAT A COOL JOB!). For your knowledge, diversity is addressed a like so: "Diversity means variety. It means differences in shapes, sizes, skills, and colors. Diversity in nature helps protect the balance that is necessary in the world. In the animal kingdom, animals rely on their distinguishing features in order to survive.
Some animals might be fast, while others are slow. Some might be long, while others are short. One might be purple, while another is green.
Can you think of one way that you are different from another person? This is diversity." Later in the same tidbit in the written material (which I talk about further down)... not the video.... it's briefly mentioned how there a couple different fish that are born one gender and then turn into another. That's all that's said, I'm not going to try to read too much into the mention of that... it's a true fact, so, that's that :-)
I LOVED the segment of the DVD that goes over sea life that are out at night. We were all pretty captivated by the amazing color show that happens underwater! I felt like we learned a lot and got to enjoy some great filmography. I'll definitely be buying the other DVD's in the series: What Makes a Fish a Fish and Who Lives in the Sea? Older kids may not enjoy these as much, but I found them interesting and so did my little guys. Personally I didn't need to see video of kids swimming etc., but I know younger children like the correlation between what they see and personal experiences.

Along with the DVD I was sent a link to the PDF Educator Guides that are meant as a companion for each selection. All of the guides are around 300 pages long and are full of additional information, pictures to color, activities, and additional photo's for grades K-6. As with any material, there is need to make sure that you've done your homework before presenting it to your children. The educational guides are not from a Christian perspective, but they're not really evolutionary either... on page 116 of the guide under "Imagination Value" the idea is to visit a kelp forest in your mind (which is a pretty cool idea), but then it says "Remember to give GRATITUDE to our Ocean... (all capitalization came from the guide there, nothing tweaked by me, so yah, I think Ocean with a capital "O" isn't what we'll be discussing :-). For us it'll be thanking our Heavenly Father, but I can't really blame the curriculum itself for those issues I suppose). These guides are also geared toward a classroom setting, but could easily be changed for a homeschooling environment... as said above. The introduction of new vocabulary and new animals with pictures to color is fun and I really like the projects.... I DON'T, however, like that they cater to "common core curriculum", but that's another story in and of itself, and doesn't really effect this guide from what I've seen so far (I'll let you know if something comes up in the future, but for now, what I see is easily adaptable and safe for your home).

The Dive Into Your Imagination DVD's may be purchased here for $19.95. There is also FREE SHIPPING for the month of June for our readers.

The guides are available as a printed version for $299 (for the whole set of them) or as individual PDFs for $69.95. As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, she will gift you a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!

I would definitely take advantage of the free educators guides by buying a DVD now. As packed with information as they are, I wouldn't actually buy them myself. I'm happy that I have them and I'll be using quite a few things again over the years, but the pricing is a bit steep for us, and I'm not 100% sold on everything in it enough to make the kind of investment that the printed matter or PDF's require. I'm sure it's not that big of a deal for a school district, but as a homeschooler who'd have to do quite a bit of changing here and there, I'd probably look elsewhere.... the DVD is great though!

To see what other Crew members are saying about this product please go here.

**As a member of the TOS Crew I was provided a copy of Dive Into Diversity and access to the educator guides free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no compensation for this review.**

27 May 2012

And.... We're back!

What happens when your husband goes TDY back to the states two days after your two oldest children end up having surgery (for tonsils/adnenoids + tubes because of severe hearing loss).... well, your two year old develops a high fever that you stave off valiantly but he's still miserable and you're up all night with him AND your 6 month old who must be teething, of course! A few days after all this begins you take said two year old into the doctor because even though he seems to be feeling better things aren't quite right (like he moves his whole body instead of just moving his neck when trying to look at something). Long story short, you think you're maybe going to get antibiotics.... then you may have to be at the base hospital a day or two.... then you end up in a Japanese hospital in Tokyo for a while and your son needs surgery (and dad is still back in the states for 3 more days). Anyway!!! I have about a thousand people to thank for keeping my older kids and for coming traveling two hours each way to hold my baby round the clock (because he was not allowed in the ICU but still needed to nurse every 2 hours), but we're finally home! Craziness! In any case, we're home, not quite normal but at least happy that we're all here together! The two year old was relinquished to the base for recovery (which is a whole other story! I was persistent and MANY prayers were offered... said two year old was supposed to still be sedated and intubated in Tokyo as I type this, but instead he is resting comfortably in his bed... yes, I'm feeling VERY blessed!) So, I have a few reviews for you, random thoughts and just a need to write/type in general! For now, it's time to get ready for bed and set things in place for tomorrow! Thanks for hanging in there! ~Cherie

09 May 2012

Blogger Question

All of my posts are coming out as one long novel despite them being broken up by paragraph when I write them. Are there any suggestions out there? This didn't happen pre-blogger changes. I'm using a Mac, does that effect anything? Any suggestion will be helpful! As you're aware, my posts are a little lengthy at times, it's nice to have them broken up so they aren't so intimidating... and feel less like the run-on sentences that they are. :-D Thank you!

The Lessons from Learning a New Language as an Adult

There's nothing like feeling like you know nothing to help you learn :-D. I get a lot of time to quietly reflect as well as to listen wholeheartedly as of late. While I'm trying to be diligent about studying Japanese, let's face it, I didn't grow up here, serve a two year mission as a young adult, or work at it at all during the last 8 years that I've been married to a Japanese speaker (but, in my defense, a few of those years said Japanese speaker was living and working in Korea where he spoke Korean everyday.... yah, that's the other part of my defense, I'm married to a talented linguist who hears and picks up on things that are a not even on my radar! It's intimidating, he does his best to help, but he's having to work with someone that isn't naturally good at non-romance languages and some days are better than others :-D. Things went about the same way when I tried learning Korean, and just like those years, I found that the Koreans were a lot easier to learn from. Similarly, using my caveman Japanese (a term a friend here coined), the Japanese people have been very patient and helpful in expanding my understanding. From there comes the listening part... I understand very little! The phrase that I use more often then I'd like to is わかりません "wakarimasen" .. I don't understand :-). I'm getting better with hiragana and can type it etc., so I'm leaps and bound ahead of where I was, but still not where I want to be. The people here are AMAZING! It pains me that I can't converse with them more. So, I listen and try to pick up on context and words to help me decipher what is being spoken. This especially applies to our time at church. Most of the time I have NO CLUE what's going on, but it's good though. I listen and reflect more than ever and for that I'll be forever grateful. Again, it's hard that I can't communicate as I'd like, but just being a quiet observer has taught me a lot I've also noticed how this experience has increased my desires and abilities to teach my children language. It's tout learning a new language! That total applies to the little people in our homes... I think I took for granted the ability of children to pick up on language. There brains are definitely squishy and able to learn quickly (my 4 older kids all have honed into the Japanese sounds and diction and are mixing Japanese words with their English... which I totally encourage, it's been so fun! And we're only like 12 weeks into about 3 years of being here!) Anyway, my patience level with teaching reading and writing has increased by a million and my efforts to teach language to my little ones in both English and Japanese have been infused with more vigor than ever. Anyway, I don't know how many of you are going to drop what you're doing to move to a foreign country and immerse yourself, but I absolutely recommend learning a new language and conversing with someone that speaks it regularly. I've learned a lot about myself and my chidden over the last few weeks! It's hard to grow and stretch... it hurts!... but we're better for it in the end. Might I also extend a challenge to those whose husbands speak a foreign language? LEARN IT NOW :-D. I'm LDS and all worthy men asked to serve missions for two years when they're 19 (women can also go at 21 if they so choose). One of the things that I keep hearing over and over is how men have been reproved for not teaching their wives the language that they learned. Elderly couples are asked to serve missions as well and the message that keeps coming through is that the Lord needs couple missionaries to serve in foreign countries and that it's especially important for the wives to be able to communicate with the people there. So! If you're husband served a foreign mission maybe it's time to start learning? Definitely pray and talk to your husband about things at the very least, it may surprise you what you find :-). (And might I add, while my brain isn't as squishy/able to learn language as easily as when I was a child, I'm sure it's a lot easier to do now then it would be later in life!) We have a senior missionary couple here right now that's reminded me of this. The wife (Sister) and I work on Japanese once a week. She's studying hard and getting better everyday, but it's HARD! She remembers a prayer her husband taught her when they were first married and things like that, but the new stuff is difficult. She wishes she would have learned more then when it stuck. She also shared an experience from the MTC of her husband getting reproved for not teaching her Japanese. I keep hearing these stories! So, with the aid of much prayer and my dear husband who prays to know how to teach me, we're trying to move forward and prepare ourselves to serve the Lord wherever he may need us. For now, He needs us here and prepping our future missionaries by also helping them to learn a new language diligently (and to help their mom be better able to teach them their current language :-D). He's also teaching me to love all people and cultures, to find beauty in small things, and to quietly watch and listen. I'm grateful for these lessons. They're not easy... especially with an infant, still moving in, 2 kids in 2 different schools (where I also can't communicate with anyone effectively yet!), and a husband's who's business trips take up a lot of room on our calendar... but I'm learning! Are you learning a language or have you tried in the past? What keeps you going?

TOS REVIEW: Homeschool Library Builder

I crave books and LOVE having them in my hands... I'm sure you know the feeling! I especially enjoy sharing this experience with my children because, I'm sorry, there's no e-reader out there that warms a moment in the same way that cuddling with a good book does (I've tried, we own a whole family of such products and there really is no replacement for flipping through pages for me!) Anyway! I came across a TOS opportunity to review Homeschool Library Builder and went to take a look at what was offered because I had never heard of them..... and let's just say things got a little crazy! I wasn't sure what the concept behind the company was at first (I'm pretty sure I still have jet-lag or something like that ;-)), but they weren't kidding! The Homeschool Library Builder website is tailor made for us homeschoolers (with, dare I say, book addictions? :-D), who are looking to add to our libraries and do so on a budget. After poking around the different tabs on the website I found myself staring at a whole list of books broken down by curriculum. While we're kind of an all over the place family when it comes to homeschooling (like most of you), I was really curious when I saw a hyperlink for Five in a Row, and then a sub-link to Before Five in a Row (a "curriculum" that I wanted to start with my little boys again soon). Yep, I was hooked! There were books that I have desperately wanted... if you saw my Amazon.com wish list you would know that I'm in no way kidding about that.... but have yet to purchase because the pricing was too much. I was able to get ALL of the books that I wanted for a FRACTION of the price through Homeschool Library Builder, and oh so much more! My package shipped immediately and got here to Japan incredibly fast. While the library here is a good one, taking 5 little kids into it with a specific list of books to find isn't one of my favorite things to do :-). Needless to say, having these in my home "to keep forever!" (as my children noted when I told them that I bought these), have brought much joy! This picture was in no way staged... I sat down to finish this post, the books were stacked up by the piano, and the children just grabbed them up and went their own ways... my house is still really quiet as they gobble up their new treasures. The Homeschool Library Builder history and mission statement can be found here: "Homeschool Library Builder is co-owned by two veteran homeschool families dedicated to Christ-centered education. Our desire is to help homeschool families affordably collect books for their literary-based educational needs. We stock both new and used books found in popular literature-based homeschool curricula, as well as select titles to supplement your unit studies. Whether you're looking for educational or leisure, inspirational or reference, self-help, activity, or classic reading, we are committed to providing wholesome materials that will enrich the entire family." We've certainly found this to be true and hope that by writing about these fantastic women will guide you to getting affordable books for your family! I had personal interaction with the lovely Gayla of Homeschool Library Builder... she had been out of town when I initially placed my order, then I sent an email asking if I could add to my order (because I went scouring in their other sections that are broken down by age etc... yah, I'm surprised I didn't buy them out!). Anyway, I hadn't heard back from them, but I did get a call one morning at 3am after having just hopped back in bed from being up with our 5 month old. On the other end of the line was the sweetest voice you can imagine! She was telling me that I could add to my order, but I was trying not to say too much because Nathan was still asleep... poor Gayla was horrified when I told her the time and apologized over and over. I had a good laugh about it, and we talked again the following week and laughed about it together (this time at about 9:30 am :-D). For some reason her emails weren't coming through to me, so she took the time to personally call (and adjust her work hours so she could call at a good time for me), and we had a great chat! She also let me know of additional books that she had gotten in for the genre that I was looking for. I'm ABSOLUTELY happy with the order that I received from Homeschool Library Builder and will definitely be ordering from them again (actually, I should probably just add it to the monthly budget at this point!). Signing up to be a member (for FREE) on the website will allow you to get updates on upcoming specials going on with the company. They also provide a military discount! The books all vary by price and condition... there's a description on the page to tell you if the book is new, used, or if there's a crease somewhere etc. Many of the books that I received were used and in exactly the condition that I was told they would be in. Being a member also allows you to accumulate "book points" that will add up to free books! ALL ITEMS for the month of May are 25% off! I'd check back in with them often, when I found the site they had $1, $2, $3 and $5 bins... we found A LOT of treasures there! Happy Reading! To see what other members of the Crew are saying about Homeschool Library Builder you can go here. **This review was of my own honest opinion. I did not receive any compensation or items in return for this post.