Let me help you get a jump start on your Christmas shopping!! I've got a few great giveaways going on and will continue through the holidays. Be sure to click on the "giveaway" tab so you don't miss out!!

Oct 232014

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Ready to have some fun learning a foreign language? Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a variety of languages for grades K-12 (not every language is available for each level.) Since my oldest daughter (25 years) and my youngest (7 years) both have an interest in Asian culture, they agreed to work together if I got the opportunity to review the Elementary Chinese 1 course, geared for grades 3-5. I know the level was a little high for my son but with  my older daughter working side by side with him, we all thought it would work out fine.

About Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury uses the immersion approach to teaching languages. The program was developed by highly academic and linguistic experts to not only master a language, but to learn about the culture. The course will engage the student through various tasks (I’ll go over lessons later) and has won several awards for their innovation in digital education.

They offer courses in Spanish, French, Chinese and German and have the following levels available:Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The Lessons

You can access the lessons either through the calendar (which will automatically assign the lessons) or through the Table of Contents, which is what we did.

Middlebury_WelcomeAs you click on each folder, it opens up the lessons for each unit. Elementary Chinese 1 has 45 lessons and is considered one semester. (You purchase the course by semesters, which is for 6 months and is either $119 without a teacher or an additional $175 with a teacher). We did the self-paced course without a teacher. A teacher would offer personalized feedback and ongoing support. Note: If you have a high schooler doing a course for credit, depending on your state’s criteria, you might would want to do the teacher option where Middlebury will match your student with a state-certified teacher to ensure you would receive proper credit.


On to the lessons.

The lessons are based on a story from the Chinese culture. As  your student progresses, they will learn vocabulary, grammar, handwriting (which my son LOVED since it’s not the alphabet we use…he thought he was writing in secret code), and cultural information. This is done in a variety of ways making the course very interactive and will appeal to all learners.

Middlebury_Chinese_language_writing(This is a screenshot from the introduction showing what will be learned in that lesson.)


We did not have a microphone to work with the program but there are lessons in the speaking lab where you can speak and it will “check” your pronunciation. I highly recommend it for Chinese!! As you work through the course, your grades are automatically recorded. You can retake tests but it does not change the grade.

Remember that this uses the immersion method so there is very little English instruction. I found it to be a very thorough program. I do think my son would have struggled on his own but this course was above his level. Chinese is a harder language to learn but the pronunciation was very distinct and my kids really enjoyed learning to write the characters which is an element that is usually not included in most foreign language programs and learning about the cultural. I even found them searching for China related documentaries on Netflix to watch!

 Get Connected

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Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 222014

For this review, BenBella books provided me with a free copy of this book and will also provide a free copy for the giveaway. I am not required to write a positive review nor did I receive additional compensation. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC Regulations.

Art of Eating thru a zombie apocalypse book review

Are You Ready for a Zombie Apocolypse (aka zpoc)? I am going to share how to increase your chances of surviving.
Zombies are all the rage right now. Movies. Books, you name it. Personally, I don’t take it serious but when I received the opportunity from BenBella Books to review The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse – A Cookbook & Culinary Survival Guide, I knew it would be fun.

About the Author and Illustrator

This survival guide-cookbook combo is cleverly written by Lauren Wilson. Wilson is well acquainted with the ways of the undead from video games, comic books and online communities. I hear she has a pretty mean collection of undead shirts too.
All of the graphics are contributed by Kristian Bauthus. He has done work for several publications and has admitted that he probably wouldn’t survive a zombie apocalypse. Don’t worry, I probably wouldn’t either.

About the book

At first, I thought this was going to be a cookbook written along a storyline. But it’s really a complete survival skills book. For someone who never finished scouts, or really even an outdoor adventurer of any stretch of imagination, this book could help me have a fighting chance. Or at the very least, be able to survive a camping trip!
There is a storyline that talks about the “skels” (the book is chock-full of undead lingo and has a lot of name dropping that I might be familiar with if I watched all the latest zombie shows) and what to expect should you be around when the pending apocalypse happens. And then is the time referred to as “zpoc” – an all out may-the-best survive, no rules, fight-to-the-death race begins.
Once zpoc is here, basically you have two options – bugging in (staying where you are and guarding down the hatch) or bugging out (forging out and living off the land). I think my best option would be to bug in. Mainly because I live in Florida and I know what’s out there – alligators, snakes, spiders – all things that I am deathly afraid of without even adding zombies to the mix! Plus, I’m kinda spoiled and like my bed. There is equal dedicated helpful tips for whichever option you choose.
This book does have plenty of recipes (I’ll get to that in a bit) but there are so many helpful tips that I learned soooo much!! Here’s just a little sampling:
• There’s a way to find out if plants are edible (and not having someone else eating it first to see if they live!)
• How to hunt animals (everything from finding their trails, best bait to use, and traps to make) and how to butcher them
• Several oven hacks and types of fires to build
• How to grow your own food (not only short-term gardening tips but even mealworm farming)
• Making your own yeast
• Foraging (complete with pictures of edible plants and berries)
• Complete guide to eating bugs (did you know that if you have a shellfish allergy that you should not eat crickets, grasshoppers or cicadas?)
• If you are bunkering down, there’s information on companion gardening, vermicomposting, water filtration and food preservation.
There is soooo much information covered in this 330 page book that I barely even covered the surface in the above list.
Now for the recipes.
There are sixty-one recipes. Naturally, there are a few that I would prefer not to have to fix unless it actually was a survival situation at hand but some sound tasty that I could try right now before my life is in jeopardy.

zpoc french toast

Like the Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast which I made and my family enjoyed in the comfort of our home.

You will need the following ingredients:

Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 12 oz. bread (challah, raisin, French, baguette, Wonder- whatever you have) sliced in 2-3 finger-wide strips
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries or raisins
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. milk, cream or combination
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp. rum, orange liqueur, or brandy (optional)
  • 1 c. nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds; roughly chopped and toasted (optional))
  • maple syrup to taste

Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast before baking

  1. Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together in small bowl and spread along bottom of 7″ x 11″ baking dish
  2. Layer bread and dried fruit, repeat. Be sure to fill in any gaps.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and granulated sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and liquor (if using). Whisk until incorporated, creating a custard.
  4. Pour over the bread/dried fruit to completely moisten, filling in all nooks and crannies. Cover with foil and let sit for 2 hours (no refrigeration) or 4 hours/overnight (in the fridge).
  5. Preheat oven 375 degrees.
  6. Remove foil and sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with maple syrup.
  7. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Then cover and bake for 15 minutes.
  8. It’s ready when the custard is set (not jiggly or raw). Let stand 5-10 minutes then drizzle with a little more syrup before serving.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone with a fascination of the undead, survivor skills or culinary. You can visit this Smart Pop Books to order your own copy.



Bonus!! Here’s your chance to win a copy of this book!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 212014

I'll Be Me Review and Giveaway

I am honored to be able to review “I’ll Be Me”, a movie portraying the life of one of America’s greatest performers, Glen Campbell, and how the power of music helped him and his family keep his identity during a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The movie opens this fall in theaters. You can see a preview here.


Glen Campbell won “Entertainer of the Year” award in 1968 (just one of his many achievements), the year I was born. I remember hearing his music growing up. I even remember my parents having vinyl records of him that we would listen to. My dad played the guitar and since Glen Campbell is undisputedly one of the best guitarists ever, it was only natural that he would be part of my life. There were so many songs of his embedded in my memory that as I watched the movie, the words came flooding back although it has been years since I’ve heard some of them. The impact that he has made on so many lives is evident throughout this movie.

In 2011, Glen Campbell and wife Kim receive the confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The news is received during the same time that “Ghost on Canvas” is being released and as a family, they decide to go public with the diagnosis and a final Goodbye Tour. “I’ll Be Me” takes you behind the scenes of that emotionally charged 151 concert tour.

As the tour starts, you get to see how love and music tightly binds this family. Kim is an unsung hero as she is constantly by her husband’s side, helping him in anyway that is needed. Their children, sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley, all play in the band on the tour. They have amazing patience as they help this tour to be successful and the memories that are made I know they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

There are concerns as the tour begins (and rightly so) that perhaps Campbell would not be able to perform and the tour would be a disaster. And of course there are a few hiccups – like the concert where he played the same song twice. But to be able to see this songwriter, singer, musician who is deeply woven in the tapestry of American music perform, who cares if you hear the same song twice??!! I would consider it a double blessing. Occasionally he would forget a key. But he never forgot the melody. The audience was able to witness this great man singing, smiling and laughing, not hidden away somewhere suffering with this disease in silence. Even in Nashville, when there were some technical difficulties with the teleprompter, Campbell rolled with the punches. 

Music helped Campbell hold onto his life. While Alzheimer’s affects cognitive skills. Since music was so deeply embedded in his brain, Campbell was still able to remember those things. When he performed, he was more like his true self. I think, and the doctor also mentioned, that being able to perform and doing what he loved, seemed to slow down the advancement of the disease.

In 2012, Glen Campbell won a Lifetime Achievement Award. He sang on stage with Blake Shelton and The Band Perry at the Grammys. It was a truly moving performance as you could see the admiration of current county music superstars show appreciation of this great man. Glen Campbell affected so many lives as the movie is peppered with interview clips of so many talents from different musical genres, all proclaiming the impact Campbell had on their lives and showing admiration. Towards the end of the movie, many of these also share how they have personally been affected by Alzheimer’s as it touches their own lives by loved ones fighting the disease.

One of the most important performances was that for the Library of Congress as the family helps to bring awareness of the effects of this disease on families and the urgency to find a cure.

Eventually, it becomes harder and harder on the family when Campbell is not performing. He would get fixated on things, forgetful and belligerent. By the last show in Napa, it is apparent that the tour is, and should be, coming to a close. The great Glen Campbell struggles at the beginning of the show until eventually music does it’s medicinal magic and he slips back into being the great performer. Regardless, as shown throughout the entire tour, the fans embrace him, knowing they are witnessing history as this legend performs on his last tour.

Two months after the tour ends, Glen Campbell recorded his last record, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” with the legendary Wrecking Crew. 

Whether you are a fan of country music or not does not matter. I promise you will not walk away from this movie untouched. The rally of love and support from fans, family and friends is touching but most importantly, you can see how even though a disease like Alzheimer’s will try to destroy a person, the essence of who they are will always remain. Throughout the movie, you see Glen Campbell as a man who loves music and loves his family. His memory may fade but that love never does.

I would like to be able to share a part of this great legend with you. I am hosting a giveaway for a 5 song EP soundtrack from the film for you. This is open for USA and Canada.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Oct 202014
Standard Deviants Accelerate Online Courses - A Review

Are you familiar with Standard Deviants Accelerate? We had already explored many of their DVD’s that our local library has and loved the quirky fun lessons. When the opportunity became available to be able to use Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses for a review, we knew we wanted to take advantage of it. For this review, we were given an annual subscription. About Standard Deviants Accelerate As I mentioned earlier, [...]

Oct 182014
Homeschool Mother's Journal - Weekly Recap

It’s another weekly wrap-up. So let’s talk homeschool. Monday was Columbus Day. Do you take it off? We did a little but not as much. Mostly I had my kids work on some of their online courses that we are doing reviews for – IXL, Standard Deviants and Middlebury Languages. I had every intention of doing a study on Christopher Columbus but it seems we do it almost every year [...]

Oct 172014
Majestic DVD by Kim Collingsworth - A Review and Giveaway!

For this review, Family Christian provided me with a free copy of Majestic DVD and will also provide a free copy for the giveaway. I am not required to write a positive review nor did I receive additional compensation. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC Regulations. This review may contain affiliate links.     Are you ready to enjoy an auditory celebration of [...]

Oct 152014
Apologia's iWitness Books - {A Review}

Apologia Educational Ministries has done it again. They have produced eye-catching, informative products that are Biblically based. I count it a privilege to have received three of the books from their iWitness series for a review. For this review I received the following three paperback books: (each valued at $14) • iWitness Biblical Archaeology • Old Testament iWitness • New Testament iWitness About the Author These three books were written [...]

Oct 132014
Sleep Apnea and Children - What You Need to Know

Do you know anyone with sleep apnea? Chances are, you do.  They might not even know it themselves. My father-in-law had it. We used to always pick at him for snoring. He would fall asleep in almost every church service. While everyone else would gather around and talk after holiday meals, he would often either go to bed for a nap or end up falling asleep in a chair. Fast [...]

Oct 112014
Homeschool Mother's Journal - Weekly Recap

This has been a great week. I’m finally starting to get over my migraines. Or sinusitis?? It’s taken lots of prayer, cold meds, and colloidal silver. Academically, we finished up our skeletal system and started learning about muscles. Even did a experiment on bones, and if I can gather enough empty milk jugs, we will make a skeleton. We’ve done that before for Halloween, but this time I will have [...]

Oct 102014
Tis the Season for Some New Christmas Music - Sentimental Season by Wayne Haun Review

Ever since we moved to Florida nine years ago, I really struggle to get in the Christmas mood. It’s just so hard without the cooler temperatures, the need for bundling up in coats and scarves, and the scent of evergreens. I have learned however, that with a few tweaks, I can get in that holiday mood. One of the sure-fire ways to get in the good ole Christmas feeling, is [...]

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