Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yesterday's Classics - TOS Product Review

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
Strickland Gillilan

Reading to my children has been one of the greatest joys in my life. To watch their faces as they listen intently, to hear the words, "just one more chapter!", to sharing tears of happiness and even sometimes tears of sadness, to know life lessons have been learned and remembered, these are just some of the wonders of reading books together.

From Yesterday's Classics website:

Yesterday's Classics republishes classic books for children in high-quality paperback editions. These books, first published in the golden age of children's literature from 1880 and 1920 and long out of print, are reprinted in modern easy-to-read type for today's readers. The illustrations from the original volumes have been included except in those few cases where the quality of the original images was too low to make their reproduction feasible. Color illustrations in the original volumes are rendered in black and white in these editions.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a book fanatic. Walk in our front door and you will immediately see our huge library span the width of two rooms. There's just something about having a good book nearby. With the exception of curriculum for math and science, every book I have bought for our homeschool over the past ten years can be found in our library. Yes, yes, I know.

Our paper books are handled with great care. You don't write in them (I know, Andrew Pudewa is yelling, "Don't listen to her!"), you don't write on them, you don't crack the spine, and you never ever bend a page as a bookmark. Never. I have kept all of these beautiful books because I just don't know if they will still be available for my children should they decide to homeschool their children some day in the future. When it comes to classic literature, well, I'm hooked.

So imagine me having the opportunity to review 225 books in a Kindle format. Wow! is right! Honestly, I wasn't sure how I would feel about reading a book without holding it in my hands, without turning a paper page, or without being able to feel the weight of a massive classic. Well, I got over any hesitations on my part in about three seconds flat! We love reading books on our Kindles (yes, we have two now). Having 225 Yesterday's Classics titles available at our fingertips anytime...anywhere is amazing. I took every single book with me when we were traveling last month. And the weight of lugging all those books around? 10 ounces.

After receiving an e-mail with a link to the download, I was able to download a number of ZIP files in a matter of minutes. We have a very high-speed Internet connection and so I experienced no delays or difficulties in this process. If you have a slower speed service, you might want to get it started and then find something else to do for a little while. After the ZIP files were downloaded, I was able to unZIP each one in seconds and then moved them onto my Kindle. And just like that, I had 225 classic books available to browse and read through. While I didn't read all 225 books, it was easy for me to see how broad was the selection and how great it would be to incorporate many of them into our homeschool.

Here's a little peek at a few titles that really grabbed my attention:

American History Stories, Volumes I, II, III and IV by Mara L. Pratt

Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott

The Early Church, from Ignatius to Augustine by George Hodges

English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall

Four Great Americans by James Baldwin

Grammar-Land by M. L. Nesbitt

The Growth of the British Empire by M. B. Synge

Hannibal by Jacob Abbott

...I could keep going, but you'd be better off looking through the list of titles along with a photo of the book cover, a detailed description of each book, and the recommended age of the reader. Please, take a few minutes and look at this incredible list.

Now it just so happens my students were writing a report on Charlemagne shortly after receiving all 225 Yesterday's Classics titles. Out of curiosity I opened up my Kindle and searched all of my books for the word "Charlemagne." Within a couple of seconds, I had a list of 27 books pop-up, sorted by the most hits to the least. The first book, The Story of Roland, contains the word Charlemagne 348 times. The second book, Stories of Roland Told to the Children, contains the word Charlemagne 124 times. I was able to point my students to these two classic works for additional information on their subject matter. Without an intimate knowledge of every book in my paper book library, this task could never be accomplished. On the other hand, I learned that Charlemagne appears twice in Moby Dick, but this was not the Charlemagne we were looking for! We performed this same exercise to find books about the Civil War.

Another great feature of having Kindle-based books from Yesterday's Classics is the ability to read multiple books at the same time and having bookmarks automatically created for you. Books can be sorted by title, author, and collections. It even keeps the most recently read book at the top.

Check this out...

Take advantage of this special offer being made by Yesterday's Classics to receive 225 classic titles in Kindle or EPub format for less than $100. That's about forty-four cents a book! If you were to buy each of these printed books individually, the cost would be almost $2500.

Yesterday's Classics book titles cover collections which include World History, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, American History, Early Civilizations, Nature, Fables, Fairy Tales, Biographies, Poetry and many others.

In case you missed it earlier, to see this vast collection of classic titles and detailed descriptions, click here. Please know that this special offer ends on May 31st. After this date, this collection will cost $149.95.

While Kindle has a separate format, the EPub format can be used on a Nook, a Kobo, a Sony Reader, an iPad, an iPhone, or any other type of smart phone. If you're not sure which one you might need, Yesterday's Classics has great customer support. I found the question I had was answered quickly and very much to my satisfaction. Should you decide to add a new format later (you have a Kindle, but end up purchasing an iPad), Yesterday's Classics will provide a link which allows a second format to be received free of charge. Honestly, how can you go wrong with that? Well, just to make sure, they offer a 100% Risk Free Guarantee. If you're not satisfied, they will refund the purchase price.

If that's not enough, without Digital Rights Management (DRM) and other restrictions, you can put these 225 titles on as many devices as you own. In addition, each of the 225 titles has the ability to be printed whenever you choose.

Yesterday's Classics titles include illustrations (in color where they were originally in color, and in black and white where they were originally in black and white), correct page formatting and a table of contents which is very much needed for easy navigation between chapters. While some of these titles can be found for free on-line, these important features are not usually included. I tried one of these non-formatted versions and, let's just say, it makes reading frustrating and much less enjoyable.

Yesterday's Classics titles have been adopted by top curriculum developers such as Ambleside Online, Heart of Dakota, Living Books Curriculum and Tapestry of Grace.

If you love to incorporate classic literature into your homeschool or just want to have quality reading materials for your family, I highly HIGHLY recommend Yesterday's Classics. It was my privilege to review this incredible product.

Thank you, Yesterday's Classics!

Here's some additional company information you might find helpful:

Recommended for ages 4 through 18 although these book titles are appropriate for anyone who loves to read.

Lisa M. Ripperton
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

9 AM to 5 PM EST Monday through Friday

Happy reading my friends!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Epic Fail

My life has been a little bit crazy of late. Did you happen to notice that? We have a little more than four weeks of school left and I'm all about finishing well. Trust me, it would be so easy to announce tomorrow morning, "We are done with school until September!" But that aint gonna happen. While we have had a great school year, I will be the first to confess that it has probably been the most difficult...for me. Not for my students, but for me. I have felt unsettled most of the time. There's always something else I need to do. That's why I haven't touched my blog (something I really truly enjoy doing) for almost a month. I just don't know how to do it all.

How do you like that math paper? Let me tell you that it always breaks my heart to see either of my children struggling, for whatever reason. I'm sure most mamas are that way. But when it comes to being the teacher who has to put a big fat F on a math paper, it's even more heart breaking. Actually, I'm the teacher who will do anything to avoid a sprawling D. My students will tell you that I'm the kind of teacher who writes a big D at the top of the paper and then follows it with "elightful!" I know it doesn't make them feel better, but it always helps me. And we all know how important that is, right?

On this particular day, my student, who usually does quite well in math, seemed to be having quite a struggle. Actually, as you can see from my little note on problem one (oh so close!) I started off feeling badly for a problem that was missed by the tiniest little mishap. But math is math and if it's wrong, it's wrong. So, imagine my itty bitty heart and how it felt as I continued on down the paper, marking one problem after another, after another. I was already trying to think of a way I could present this epic fail to my student who I was certain would be crying in two seconds flat. Every single problem was almost correct, but not, thereby making it completely wrong. That is until I got down to the very bottom of the paper. Suddenly I can see ink showing through from the next page.

Did you happen to notice the date on the math paper? Mmmm hmmm. Yep.

So, I flip the page and found this (less the grade and smiley faces, of course):

Why, that little stinker of a student actually skipped a page, did the math homework, and then went back and re-wrote the entire paper, carefully altering 11 of the problems, just to GET ME...again! You see, this same student had already played a terrible April Fool's joke on me earlier. I get up pretty early and enjoy a cup of coffee in a quiet house. Afterwards, I head upstairs, open the blinds and then make our bed. On this particular morning, I noticed Mr. Wonderful's pillow was tucked under the blanket so I figured I'd pull it out while I was on that side of the bed. Except it wasn't Mr. Wonderful's was Rachel. Let me just tell you that I wasn't expecting anything to jump out from under the covers. Not only did I scream, I had goosebumps on top of goosebumps. She scared the living day lights out of me! Well, as you can imagine, she just laughed and laughed and laughed. I grabbed her and gave her the biggest hug ever, laughing right along with her. No one ever gets Mama!

So, did I even consider that she'd get me again a couple of hours later? Never. But boy, did she ever. What a fun day and what wonderful memories...memories I will always cherish in my heart. I often thank God that our home knows more laughter than tears. Rachel knows a pay back is headed her way sometime. She'll never know until it's too late.

Did I mention that it's Rachel's birthday tomorrow? My little baby girl is turning thirteen. Thirteen. I can't quite believe it myself. We will be celebrating with a couple of special events which will take place between tomorrow and before the end of summer. How's that for a party? I love making birthdays special. And if you know anything about our family, you know 13 is a very special number in the lives of my children.

We're all hanging in there. Spring has finally arrived. Instead of snow storm after snow storm, we have had constant rain. Actually, last week I heard that out of 22 days in April, 15 of them had rain. And it's still raining. Such is life on the Great North Coast.

The cherry trees are in bloom. All of my perennials are popping up everywhere. Oh, I love that! I'm certain the ferns in back have grown 3 inches since yesterday. What a miracle to see an empty patch of dirt suddenly fill with wonderful growing things of beauty. As I look out the window, the huge trillium patch in the woods is about to bloom. And I can't wait to see my peony garden in all its glory.

Happy April! Happy spring! Happy Wednesday! And happy belated Easter!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday's Maybe

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12

Let your light shine today,

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Photo Credit or should I say, Discredit

How to Make a Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Please ignore the photo of this peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Apparently, whoever made it didn't know what they were doing.

What you will need:

Two slices of stale white bread
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon strawberry preserves
1 wooden toothpick

Place the two pieces of stale white bread on the counter making sure the top and bottom crusts of the bread are rotated so they do not match.

Without using any utensils, move the 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter from the measuring cup onto one slice of the stale white bread. Spread so the peanut butter is about 1 inch thick across the stale white piece of bread. If you chose to use your fingers to spread the peanut butter, it's OK to lick off whatever didn't stick to the bread.

Next, using a wooden toothpick, move the strawberry preserves from the teaspoon onto the other slice of stale white bread. Without puncturing the bread, carefully use the toothpick to spread the preserves, making sure to cover the bread all the way to the edges.

Lastly, without using your hands, place the two pieces of bread together, being sure the peanut butter side and the strawberry preserves side are placed on the outside of the sandwich. This is important.

Take two bites at a time, starting in the middle of the sandwich. If peanut butter gets on your nose, it's OK, no one will mind.

Be sure to have a glass filled with orange juice nearby. Should the peanut butter get stuck to the roof of your mouth, pour the orange juice on your hands.

That's it!


P.S. Happy April Fool's Day!

P.S.S. Do not try this recipe at home.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin Alive! TOS Product Review

Classical Academic Press
Latin Alive! Book 1

Written by Karen Moore and Gaylan Dubose

Karen Moore – Karen is the head of the Latin department at Grace Academy in Georgetown, TX. She began her Latin studies in seventh grade and went on to receive a B. A. in classics from the University of Texas. She is the author of the Libellus de Historia series, also published by Classical Academic Press.

Gaylan DuBose – Gaylan has been teaching Latin in the classroom for over forty years. He holds a Master’s degree in classics and was the Academic Contest Chair of the National Junior Classical League from 1996 to 2005. He is the author of Farrago Latina: A Teacher Resource Book, and co-author of the well regarded Excelability in Advanced Latin. He currently loves teaching Latin to fifth and sixth graders at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Austin, TX.

Latin Alive! Book One ($24.95)
Latin Alive! Book One: Teacher’s Edition ($29.95)
Latin Alive! 1 DVD and CD Set ($114.95)

Latin study recommended for students in junior high or high school

As stated by Classical Academic Press… Latin is an elegant and ancient language that has been studied for many generations. It is also quite alive in our culture, and in the languages we speak today. Latin Alive! is a series of Latin texts for junior high or high school Latin study. Written by experienced and enthusiastic Latin teachers, Latin Alive! is an excellent introduction to the classical language. With an emphasis on grammar and solid understanding of the language, it goes on to frame the study of Latin in Roman culture and mythology, and also to remind us of the many ways Latin is present in our culture today.

Let me start this product review by telling a story.

Two years ago we began our first year of a classical Christian education curriculum that encompasses history, theology, and literature. I am not embarrassed to admit that some of the books we studied that first year were books I had never heard of, let alone read. I’m not embarrassed because, quite frankly, most I knew had never read them either. These were books of antiquity. But I quickly realized I had a little problem. I didn’t know how to pronounce the names. I figured I would solve my problem by contacting the publisher and asking for some help. I mean, couldn’t someone please tell me how to say Herodotus? Or how about Eusebius, or Aeschylus or Oresteia? What about Aeneid or Hammurabi? At the time, the answer I received satisfied me. “No one knows for sure. These are languages no one has ever heard spoken.” Oh. OK. And off I went saying Herodotus as Hair-ro-dote-us. I’ll spare you from the massacre that occurred with all the other names.

Then one day Latin Alive! arrived in our home. I’m sure the color ran out of my face when I realized the answer I was given, “No one knows for sure” was really to keep me from embarrassment or, perhaps from feeling, um, stupid. You see, had I known anything at all about Latin, I would have realized that, while these are languages no one has ever heard spoken, there is a way to know. So, the complete answer should have been, “Learn to speak Latin.”

Amazingly, the very first lesson in Latin Alive! revealed to us how to say each of these names. Were these names in the first lesson? No. But the introduction to the Latin alphabet, the pronunciation of each letter (c is always hard as in cat, never soft as in cent), the consonant blends (ch is pronounced individually like chorus, not like bachelor), and that Latin vowels are either long or short and have only two sounds helped us immensely. There are only six diphthongs in Latin. So, when we see the diphthong ae we know it sounds like the ai in aisle. We now know how to say Aeschylus.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to attempt to teach a Latin course here on my blog! But I thought it important to say that in one lesson in Latin Alive!, taken slowly over a few days, our eyes and hearts were opened to a whole new world.

So, why Latin? Read Karen Moore’s detailed answer here. Let me also quote Amy Barr, a homeschool mom with a M.A. in Latin, from a recent article that appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

“Mastery of a Classical language promotes excellent English grammar, vocabulary, and analytical skills, Classics students tend to be self-directed learners who shine at anything requiring language, logic, or analysis. Advanced students go on to read texts foundational to Western religion, philosophy, and society becomes the next generation of well-rounded scholars in law, history, medicine, science, and literature.”

From the Classical Academic Press website…

Students will be delighted by what they learn in each new chapter of Latin Alive!, Book One, and they will learn to see that Latin is everywhere around them. As the first text in a three-year series, it is a rigorous and thorough introduction to this great language, and is designed to engage the upper school (middle and high school) student. Brimming with relevant facts and stories this text offers something for everyone.

• Thirty six weekly chapters including twenty nine new content chapters and seven review, “reading” chapters.

• Pronunciation Guides

• Weekly introduction of vocabulary

• Thorough grammar explanations including all five noun declensions and cases, all verb conjugations, irregular verbs, various pronouns, adjectives and adverbs

• United States state seals and their Latin mottos

• Extensive study of the Latin derivatives of English words

• Substantial Latin readings and translation exercises

• Lessons and stories of Roman culture, myths and history

• Exercises and questions to prepare students for the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Exam

• Includes historical contributions from Christopher Schlect, historian and Academic Dean at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID

• Teacher’s Materials including answer keys, teacher’s helps and additional activities available separately

As we watched Latin Alive! lessons on DVD each day, we found Karen Moore to be engaging and easy to listen to. We love her southern y’alls and her rolling r’s! Lessons are broken down into sections and exercises making it easy to stop and practice what you’ve learned. The student textbook is non-consumable (exercises are completed on separate sheets of paper). We enjoyed listening to the audio CD of the Unit Review Latin Readings provided to help students practice proper pronunciation and accent.

To see pages of the student textbook, click here. To see pages of the teacher’s edition, click here. To find out what Karen Moore is up to, check out her Latin Alive! blog here. Why there's even a Yahoo! Group for Latin Alive!

If there was one thing I could add to Latin Alive! it would be a speaking Latin dictionary at the website. This is a tool I would pay to use. For those Latin words we are struggling to memorize and that need more practice, it would be an invaluable tool.

Make no bones about it--learning Latin is rigorous and takes practice, practice, practice. Latin Alive! is designed to serve students new to Latin, while a the same time providing further insight and challenges for “veterans” of any grammar school series.

Let me just say, Ama-mus Latin!

If you use Latin Alive! Ama-bi-tis Latin too!

I highly recommend Latin Alive! and am so thankful to have had the opportunity to review and use this product.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

The first time I noticed it was when I saw Caleb for the first time after we arrived at camp. He had been gone for fifteen days. If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you will remember when he went wilderness camping in the mountains last August. Maybe it was because I hadn't seen him for so long. After all, it was the longest we had ever been apart from one another.

As a mother, I was checking him out to make sure everything was OK. And then I saw it. I looked again and started searching my memory. Had I forgotten? No. I didn't remember seeing it there before. There it was plain as day. And I just couldn't take my eyes off it.

A wrinkle.

When my son smiled, there was a small wrinkle under the corner of his right eye. No, not crows feet. Not that kind of a wrinkle.

I didn't say anything to anyone. Actually, for quite a while I kept it to myself. I kept staring and wondered why Caleb hadn't noticed. I guess he didn't realize I was actually staring. Until that day when the tears came. My tears.

You see, as my son has turned into a man right before my eyes, this little wrinkle came with some of the changes he has gone through. That little wrinkle? Well, it belonged to my brother. My brother has been gone for six years now. Even still, I remember my brother's wrinkle as if he were sitting here in front of me. When he smiled, that little wrinkle would show itself.

Somehow through the amazing transfer of genes in our DNA, my son received that little smile wrinkle from my brother. It's his wrinkle in time.

And I'm happy it's I can remember.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Rains Water the Earth

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6:3

In spite of the fact that I sometimes feel like I'm walking around in big circles, life manages to move at a steady pace and in a forward direction whether I am or not. I've often thought that if the world would just stop and let me jump off just a few minutes, I could get my act together and be ready to move forward too. But, it never seems to work out that way.

Just yesterday morning, I was up very early and snuggled on the sofa with my cup of coffee and Bible. As I was turning to the book of Romans, a little folded up piece of paper fell from the back pages of my Bible. There's a little pocket back there that holds a special stash of love letters from my Rachel. She often writes me a little note, you know, just because. I carefully unfolded this little letter to reveal a message she had written when she was only six years old.

On the outside is a little stick figure drawn in orange marker with a talking bubble that says, "a Kiss for Mama"

The inside reads, with carefully formed letters written in thick pencil:

God made me speshel so you and Daddy cood love and caer for me.
I love God is much as you do.
I love you.

this is a Bible vers.
Sumit yourselfs then to God, resist the devel and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

As I sat there in the quiet of an early Sunday morning, tears chasing one another down my cheeks, I realized once again how fleeting is time. It waits for no one.

You know, I was certain I had lingered over what my children did and said and accomplished from the moment they were born. After all, I was with them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Did I miss something somehow? I found myself wanting to go back in time. To stay there. All wrapped up in that little hand written love letter, things seemed simpler. Life was innocent. Stick figures were works of art and words spelled phonetically were exciting milestones.

And so I find myself with another Monday nearly over. What do I do? I remind myself to acknowledge the on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.