Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fun Reviews

I'm trying out a volunteer opportunity to review products as a homeschooling mom for the TOS Homeschool Crew. I hope you find the following information interesting and useful:

Help, Lord, I’m Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler! is an e-book put out by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The book is a compilation of personal stories written by real home educators. This is a nice, well-rounded collection that encompasses many different styles of homechooling families. Therefore, it has the potential of appealing to a variety of different readers.

Personally, I can often find these types of resources frustrating. It is easy to read books like this and distress over one’s own homeschool not being magically perfect like the ones portrayed in the articles and stories so often published. With the 13 personal stories encompassed in this e-book everyone is sure to find at least one that they can relate to on some level and avoid the intimidation and feelings of inadequacy that can often follow reading about the lives of fellow homeschool families. This collection is effective at avoiding the fairytale feel and invoking more of a shared experience, a sense of been there done that, a passing on of wisdom from one family to another.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to read about so many different approaches to homeschooling high schoolers. Sometimes it can feel as if we’ve already read everything there is to read by the time we reach the part of the process that finds us knee deep in the throws of educating our high school age children. One thing that I did learn from each and every story is that there is certainly room for more prayer in my educational efforts with my children. That is one thing that is a bit different and refreshing is that each and every family highlighted in this collection has a love for the Lord. The stories not only share about homeschooling approaches, learning styles, and challenges. They also share how Christ was incorporated into their educational plan. Sometimes we need a reminder of what is important…on every level.

As a homeschooling mom of four that graduated from public school, one that graduated from homeschool, and two preparing for graduation from our homeschool this year and next, I had thought my homeschooling journey was coming to an end. Well, God had different plans for my life, as he often does for all of us. He has brought another handsome young baby into our family. I now find myself pondering the pros and cons of homeschooling versus a church school education. This old girl is tired, but I find myself looking more to God than ever before for guidance. If it is His will that I homeschool one more child, I know I can surely do just that.

With resources like the ones offered through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine both in print and online and the various e-books available through the magazine, making my final decision may just be a little easier. As homeschoolers one thing we have surely learned is that making an educated decision involves reviewing enough information to be properly informed. There is certainly information a plenty available through The Old Schoolhouse. The end of the book is loaded with helpful links and resources. Most any homeschool family with highschool age children or those that are nearing highschool age could surely gain something useful from this resource, and with the current focus on penny pinching an e-book is a nice bang for the buck. Also, for the environmentally aware and those that prefer digital formatting The Old Schoolhouse Digital Magazine is a steal at $16.95 for an annual subscription. There is surely something that will appeal to all ages.

If I had the time to write a newsletter and publish e-books, this is SO how I would do it. Molly’s Money Saving Digest is awesome. It is chocked full of fun and useful information. If I didn’t have a brand new baby in the home I would have so done everything included in the digest. In my perfect world I did!

I am an absolute organizational freak that lives with a household of family members that are not. This digest speaks directly to my core being. I love the fun cover, the step-by-step pictures, the recipes, the meal planning section with amazing recipes, the financial planning forms, the suggestions, the crafts…it just goes on and on.

Can you believe that I actually want to make a pie from scratch? It really does seem easy with Molly’s In~A~Pinch Pie Crust Recipe. I actually do believe that I am going to have to try her German Chocolate Pie for Father’s Day. That’s right PIE! My husband loves German Chocolate Cake, and I think this might just earn me some brownie points, especially if I am able to pull it off with a newborn in the house. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

As a big time bargain hunter, I really appreciate the shopping tips. In “On Sale This Month” Molly lets you know just what you should think about purchasing that particular month based on what the stores are generally putting on sale and clearancing out at that time. She also provides some useful links, fun dates and information about the month.

The monthly budget forms are well laid out and very useful. However, what I like most in the organizational section is the Family Clothing Inventory forms. Genius! I cannot believe I never thought of it before. What a useful tool! We resale shop for most all of our clothing. Having this form filled out and tucked away in my purse, which is currently a diaper bag, would prove invaluable. I am totally doing this by the end of the summer.

The “interior decorating” crafts are beautiful, fun and super easy. The ideas that she shares can be easily achieved in an afternoon with little financial investment. They would make a great addition to any home as well as wonderful gift ideas.

Being a “foodie”, the menu section is my favorite. The best part? Pictures are included with ALL recipes. That is a BIG plus for me. You eat with your eyes first, right? One thing that is nice about it is that it doesn’t appeal to the typical American diet alone. There are yummy vegetarian and vegan recipes included in the mix. They are not labeled of marketed as such, but they are present none the less. I can’t wait to try some!

The digest goes on to include fun crafts, stories, and resources. This is a wonderful grab bag of fun and information. I’m not one to subscribe to things like this, but I actually find myself considering the $3.95 per month subscription which includes a tremendous selection of FREE e-books. This surely beats the $4.95 price of purchasing the e-books individually, despite their affordable price. In the meantime I did subscribe to the FREE newsletter, A Minute with Molly, and received the FREE Menu Planning E-book. I absolutely love this resource!

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