Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Interview With Sandi Queen of Queen Homeschool Supplies


I love Queen Homeschool Supplies. I was introduced to this company last year when my SIL told me about their amazing science books. I actually ended up ordering their science book in their "Discovering Nature Series". It is called A Nature Walk By Aunt Bessie. It is wonderfully written for children to understand nature and the science behind bugs and animals. They have discontinued the math book I bought but they offer many other books that I plan to use next school year. The last item I ordered was the Language Lessons For Little Ones book.

All of the resources I ordered from from Queen Homeschool are amazing and so well written. You can definitely tell they put a lot of time and effort into each book they write. Since I am blogging for the HEAV conference this year and since I use Queen Homeschool Supplies and they will be there I decided to do an interview with Sandi Queen. Sandi Queen is the creator of Queen Homeschool Supplies.

Here is my interview and I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Queen Homeschool Supplies:

1. How did Queen Homeschool come about?

  • In 1994, we were asked to be a rep for a math company.  Once we were on the road and attending homeschool conventions every week or so during the spring and summer, as a homeschool mom myself, I was always on the lookout for new material to use when homeschooling my own six children.  When we couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, I started to write books for my children, starting with the book, "From Girl to Woman:  God's Plan for the Marvelous Changes That Will Take Place," which, by request, I shared with friends who saw it.  Those friends encouraged me to make my books available to others, and in July 1994, Queen Homeschool Supplies, Inc. was born.
2. What products do you sell for homeschoolers?
  • We specialize in Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum for all ages in all subjects, Bible studies, parenting helps, and character building books and games for all ages.  We also sell our own brand of essential oils, Essential Vitality, which our daughter creates in the wellness center we own, The Holistic Wellness Center, in Pennsylvania.  These essential oils came in first place in independent testing by a world–renowned expert in aromatherapy.
3. What is your favorite product and why?

  • My personal favorite series we publish is a 3 way tie.  I wrote the "God's Plan for Growing Up" series, starting with "From Girl to Woman," for my own children when I couldn't find anything suitable, and it immediately took off with homeschooling families.  It will always have a special place in my heart because it was our introduction to publishing.  Our multi award winning "Language Lessons" series was written for my five oldest children so they would have something beautiful and lovely to use for grammar and writing instruction when I was away in the hospital with our youngest son after his cancer diagnosis, and again, holds a special place in my heart.  Another of our multi award winning series, "Pictures in Cursive," was written for our oldest son who was struggling with cursive writing, who told me later that first year that he used it, "Mom, cursive writing was my favorite subject this year!"  So again - it holds a special place in my heart.  

    In fact, all of our books were originally published for our own children, so it's really hard for me to choose a favorite, as the creation of each series brings back those special memories that made me decide to write something special for one or more of our children.
4. Can you purchase all of your curriculum through Queen Homeschool's website?
  • Yes!
5. Who writes the curriculum and books for Queen Homeschool?
  • Many of the books were written by members of our own family - Sandi Queen, Kiley Queen, Casey Queen, Haley Queen, Evan Queen, and Luke Queen.  We also publish many older books that were out of print, which we have brought back into publication.  We've been able to also work with a team of other wonderful authors and illustrators who were chosen to write books especially for us as part of our series, or as series of their own.
6. Why is homeschooling so important to you and your family?
  • We began homeschooling in 1986, before it was commonplace.  We mainly began for religious reasons.  We did not want our children to be indoctrinated by the public school curriculum and have their minds filled with things like evolution and worldly perspectives. It was largely for us a matter of worldview, but also because, having taught and read to my children from birth, and having seen how well that was working for us, I couldn't bear the thought of turning their young minds and character over to someone else to have all day, every day.  I saw how inquisitive their young minds were, and how they were free, at home, to explore and create and learn with no limits.  I did not want that taken away from them.
7. Why did you first begin to homeschool?
  • I guess I just answered that in my answer above!  :)
8. What are your social media links?
9. Is there anything else that you would like us to know about Queen Homeschool?
  • We've been homeschooling since 1986, and we are still homeschooling.  We are a family–run business.  When you call, you will speak with one of our daughters, who run the phone lines.  Your mailorders are packed and shipped by our family members.  When you see us at a convention, you will be waited on by our family members.  QHS keeps us all hopping, but we love what we do, and wouldn't have it any other way!  Because we know it's our customers who keep us in business (and groceries!), we are always open to customer input, and have written many books due to customer request for certain items, made changes due to customer suggestions, and even let certain titles go out of print when our customers liked another of our series better.  We love to interact with our customers!
I really enjoyed reading her answers and hope you do too. Please check out Queen Homeschool Supplies as soon as you can. It is an awesome website that is owned by a homeschooling family. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Easter To The Three Amigos


Easter is this weekend and here at Jensen Family Academy the Three Amigos are very excited. We aren't the typical family that celebrates Easter with bunnies and the usual Easter paraphernalia. We focus on Jesus and His sacrifice for us. We keep the focus on the cross and of course, His resurrection. The story of Jesus on the cross is such a beautiful story of true love.

To keep the focus clearly on Jesus I am very picky about what I do for my children for Easter. I don't want it to be about gifts but THE gift that Jesus gave to us. So, I went to Family Christian to select Christ-centered items to help my family celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of Christ. At Family Christian you will find many Christian inspired items from books to apparel to sweet gifts for children. It took me over an hour to choose the items for my children because there were so many wonderful things to choose from. I couldn't make up my mind.

One of the first things you will see on their website are the Resurrection Eggs. I would have bought them but they were gifted to me last year by my in-laws. I have the same exact set of eggs and they are WONDERFUL. When I used them last year my boys really enjoyed them very much. Since starting them again this year it has been so much better. They have a clear understanding of what exactly Jesus did for us on the cross.


The above picture is our set of eggs. But, you can purchase your set from Family Christian for $16.99 regular price. But, right now they are on sale for $12.74. That is a great price! The set comes with the Resurrection Egg Booklet and Sticker Set. The book has a scripture verse and short explanation for each egg. Each egg comes with one item that symbolizes part of the Easter Story. The stickers can be used to decorate the eggs or maybe a sticker collection sheet. All of this comes in an egg carton to keep them in.

The next item I ordered was the Buck Denver Asks...What's In The Bible? Vol. 10: Jesus Is The Good News. It is a DVD series by the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer. It's 60 minutes long and includes memorable songs that tell the story of Jesus and His ministry. I love these DVD's so much. I hope to have the whole set someday. Right now we are collecting them for birthdays and holidays. Right now, you can get this DVD for the low price of $3.99 (regular price is $14.99). So, don't wait to check it out.

Since we are HUGE Berenstain Bears fans at JFA I thought this sweet book would be just the ticket. It's called The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. It's about the children not knowing the real meaning of Easter and the parents use it as a lesson to teach them about Jesus. We live in a society that thinks Easter is about bunnies and candy and fancy Easter dresses. I want my children to know and love Jesus. We have most of the Berenstain Bears books and this one will soon turn into a favorite. It is on sale for $3.74 (regularly priced at $4.99).

We are a music loving family. I wanted to find a CD we could listen to for Holy week and on Easter that was all about Jesus. I came across a CD called Easter Favorites sung by the Cedarmont kids. The songs are so sweet and include many of the songs I sang as a child in Sunday School (Praise Him! Praise Him!, Alive Alive, & Tell Me The Story Of Jesus). Included on the CD is an Easter musical The Easter Miracle. It brings drama and words to the story of Easter. For $2.99 (regularly $3.99) you can fill your home with the sweet sounds of children singing about Jesus.

I also purchased some non-Easter items just for fun. One of them is a book called God's Wisdom For Little Boys by Jim and Elizabeth George. The paintings in the book are by Judy Luenebrink. It is such a beautiful book. I have seen it before in other stores but I just had to have it for my Three Amigos for Easter. For $16.99 I am getting an incredible book written by incredibly talented Christian authors.

Another non-Easter item I purchased was the Veggie Tales DVD The League Of Incredible Vegetables. My kids have a small obsession with all super heroes. They also LOVE Veggie Tales. What a great combo. I can't wait to give it to them on Easter morning. They are going to burst with joy! And, it was only $14.99.

The items listed above will be given to my Amigos on Easter morning in a small basket for all of them to share. I will also include a few pieces of candy and we will read the Easter story from the bible. After church we will come home and eat lunch and have our own little Easter Egg Hunt. We do a different kind of egg hunt. Instead of candy in each egg (although some of them will have a piece or two) we fill them with bible verses about Jesus and a small item such as bubbles, a fake tattoo, or a small slinky.

Please go to Family Christian and check out all of their wonderful items for Easter and any time of the year. Their prices are great and their products are awesome.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Perfect Egg {Review}

 
 
I am always looking for new recipes for eggs. It is one of those foods that you can get cheaply, locally, and they are good for you as well. The Perfect Egg by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park is a newly published book with a fresh take on recipes using eggs. I have a small obsession with cook books (as most of my regular readers already know). I read them for fun. Haha.
 
I dove right in to The Perfect Egg when it came in the mail to review. Included in this book are recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and everything in between. I am a HUGE dessert lover so that was the first place I went. There were so many delicious recipes here that I couldn't focus on just one. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Spicy Chocolate Mousse (p. 133)
  • Vanilla Bean Semifreddo Bars (p. 137)
  • Peaches 'N' Cream Cake (p. 147)
The next section I went to was breakfast because, you know, eggs scream breakfast food. I really thought I would find the usual suspects for breakfast here but I was very surprised. There was a ton of information about the different types of quiche as well as frittatas and pancakes. I was very intrigued by the different techniques the authors used to prepare each item. Here are a couple of my favorites:
  • Blackberry Stuffed Croissant French Toast (p. 35)
  • Havarti Dill Popovers (p. 56)
  • Buttermilk Pancakes (p. 59)
So, I have a confession to make. My name is Kristy and I am addicted to bread. Ahh...now that it is out in the open we can move on. Well, this was my very favorite part of The Perfect Egg. They didn't put too many bread recipes in the book but the ones they chose are A-MA-ZING! The brioche buns on page 23 are so mouth watering. They are so egg-y and delicious. There is also a recipe for Hawaiian sweet rolls (p. 27)...need I say more?!
 
At the very beginning of the book they go into detail about the egg, how to handle it, how to store it, and different techniques of preparing it to perfection. They also include a small section on sauces made with eggs as well as pasta and the anatomy of the egg. It was great to "get to know" the egg before actually cooking with it.
 
The lunch, dinner, and snack sections were awesome as well. Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:
  • Pasta Carbonara (p. 125)
  • Charred Caesar Salad (p. 97)
  • Parmesan Popcorn Puffs (p. 69)
  • Beef Empanadas (p. 102)
  • Spaetzle With Swedish Meatballs (p. 119)
 
As you can see by the lists above there are so many yummy recipes that my mouth was watering after the first few pages. This is a great book about using eggs in everyday cooking. I highly recommend this book. It will have a special place in my kitchen from now on.
 
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Three Amigos Visit The Zoo


The Three Amigos went to the zoo last weekend. It was a fun field trip and mama bear got a discount with her Groupon. Woot Woot! I wanted to share with my readers the wonderful adventure that Bear, Ducky, and Monkey had at the zoo.

The first thing the Amigos wanted to do was visit the reptile exhibit...of course.





 Okay, the snake below was HUGE! He was about 15-20 feet long. When we were looking at him he was sleeping at first. Then, his head turned right toward us and it was almost out of a Harry Potter movie. Creeped me out badly! I thought he was going to strike the glass. LOL!


Next, we moved on to some smaller animals that were right outside of the reptile exhibit. 



This little fella was so adorable! He was like a mini deer. Haha!



We were outside for the rest of our trip. The next photos are random animals along the way to see the Lions.

The Eagle is our favorite bird (my boys LOVE them!)





Then came the Lions. We were literally 5 feet from the male Lion and the boys were so excited!




We then moved on to the elephants, giraffes, and zebras. 








 My little Otters!








Lions and Tigers and Monkeys...oh MY! We had a blast and we are so grateful that we are able to do fun stuff like go to the zoo. Homeschooling is so much fun! The next two pics are the aftermath of a day at the zoo. I hope you get to visit your state or local zoo soon!


Yup...they were out like a light!
Thanks for stopping by!
God bless!

Whatever Wanda {Review & Giveaway}


I love a book that teaches a lesson. Especially a children's book that my boys can relate to. Whatever Wanda is a sweet book that teaches the lesson about how your attitude can change your outlook. The book is written by Christy Ziglar (yes, she is related to THE Zig Ziglar) and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye. This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

Wanda is a little girl who really doesn't want to go to the celebration of Rubber Duck Days. She has a negative attitude throughout the entire book and misses out on so many fun activities with her family and friends. Wanda's attitude is so negative because she thinks that she can't have fun at the celebration.

When Wanda refuses to participate in the activities of the day she feels bad for herself. My children could relate to this part because they have been there before. My boys (who are 2, 4, and 6) thought the book taught a very valuable lesson about your attitude and not being grumpy all the time. Even if it's something you think you won't enjoy, go into it with a good attitude and things will change for the better.

About the author:

"Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins, and niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar, is bringing the same timeless wisdom and ageless advice to an entirely new, younger audience through her Shine Bright Kids picture book series. Christy, her husband, and their twins live in Atlanta, Georgia."


About the illustrator:

"Paige Billin-Frye lives with her husband in Washington, D.C., where she gardens and grows food in her city yard. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and works in a studio over a neighborhood hardware store. Coincidentally, Paige has amassed a collection of rubber duckies of all sizes across the years."

You can find out more about Shine Bright Kids HERE

I recommend Whatever Wanda to those with children from age 3-13. It is a great book for learning manners, being polite, and adjusting your attitude to be more kind. My boys liked it even though the main character is a girl. They also loved that the celebration was about Rubber Ducks. 

Now, on to the GIVEAWAY!! I am giving one reader a copy of this sweet book. Please leave a comment telling me where you are from! The giveaway will end on April 1, 2015. Make sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win!



"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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”




Friday, March 20, 2015

NIV Proclamation Bible


God's word. The Holy Bible. My favorite book to read. No matter what you call it, it is the most wonderful book ever written. I love that there are so many different versions so that it is easily accessible to anyone no matter their background. The New International Version (aka NIV) is one of my favorite to read because it is very easy to read and understand. It is also a more literal translation of the bible.

I received a copy of the NIV Proclamation Bible for review. This version of the bible comes with cross-references and concordances. I chose this particular bible to review because I am looking for a new bible to study from. I found this bible very easy to use and understand.

The NIV Proclamation Bible comes with the following features:


  1. An overview of the bible and the historical reliability of it
  2. A "how-to" for applying it to your life
  3. Concordance
  4. Maps in the back of the bible
  5. A brief description and history of each book in the bible as well as who authored each one
  6. Reference guide down the middle of each page
I loved the brief description at the beginning of each book. It gave me a better handle on what I was about to read and who wrote it. I felt that it was well put together. As I read through the NIV Proclamation Bible I felt well informed about each verse and chapter. 

Here is a description about the book:

"The NIV Proclamation Bible offers a valuable resource for those who teach from the Bible regularly and anyone who enjoys studying Scripture in greater depth.
"The NIV Proclamation Bible is remarkable for how well it puts the highest quality biblical scholarship at the Bible student's fingertips in such a clear, penetrating and accessible form. There are many study Bibles on the market right now, but none better." -Tim Keller
This edition of the NIV Proclamation Bible, developed by Lee Gatiss in collaboration with the Proclamation Trust, includes a wealth of additional material from leading theologians, pastors, and Bible teachers to enhance your study of the word. The Bible features ten introductory essays on theology, doctrine and the application and interpretation of Scripture, as well as detailed overviews of each literary genre in the Bible-from the historical narratives to the apocalyptic literature. It also features introductions to every Bible book.
Sixty-five expert Bible teachers have contributed to the NIV Proclamation Bible including Christopher Ash, Graham Beynon, Gerald Bray, Simon Gathercole, David Jackman, Karen Jobes, Dick Lucas, Douglas Moo, Peter O'Brien, Vaughan Roberts, William Taylor, and Chris Wright. Many of these individuals are also members of the NIV translation team, which takes into account the latest developments in biblical scholarship and language usage when working with the New International Version.
Setting the highest standards of reliability and readability, the NIV is ideal for personal reading, public teaching, and group study."
I recommend this Bible to anyone looking for a good study bible that will help guide them into a better understanding of God's word. It really has helped me in the last few weeks to have the motivation to dig deeper into the bible and find out more about each person, event, and verse. 

I was given this book by BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The First Signs Of Spring At Jensen Family Academy

For the last week or so it has been slowly warming up. All of the snow has completely melted away and the buds on the trees are opening up. The smell of grass is in the air and the birds are chirping and flying about. Here at JFA we have been taking full advantage of this gorgeous weather and have been spending a lot of time outdoors.


The sandbox is where the three amigos love to hang out. They build sand castles, pretend they are dinosaurs, and let Monkey tear up their precious masterpieces made of sand. As you can see from the picture we have plenty of yard and outdoor toys to go around. And, yes, my hubby made the plastic swimming pool into a sandbox because the children refused to swim in the pool. It has worked out perfectly.


Another fun activity that all of my boys including my hubby love to do is gardening. We love to make our yard look pretty and planting trees, flowers, and shrubs. Above, all of the guys are planting a Yoshino Cherry Tree. They are dear to our hearts because we have another one in our yard that we planted when baby Kendall went to heaven. They grow very quickly and bloom in Spring with blush pink flowers. It is so amazing and beautiful.


On a sunny afternoon, a trip to Lowe's is always in order. Even if it's just to walk around and see what new plants are available or to get supplies for a gardening idea. The three amigos love to ride in the wagon.


The above picture was taken on Sunday afternoon in our back yard. I haven't taken a picture of our tulips yet but they are coming up as well. It is a wondrous thing that Spring comes every year after a hard winter. I am so grateful for the warmth and hope that it brings with it.

I pray that Spring finds you soon if it hasn't already. Blessings and sunshine to you and your family!

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. (Review)

Teaching my children the alphabet is one of the first things I do as a mom. Having been through this almost three times now, I am always looking for new and fun ways to introduce them to the alphabet and letter recognition. Learning the alphabet song is very simple but adding in the actual letters can be a bit difficult for beginners. For this review, I was given The Alphabet Song Game which is downloadable software. The Alphabet Song Game is produced by a company called The Critical Thinking Co. They have many other programs available as well.

Critical Thinking Company Review


This particular program is for children from toddler age to 1st grade. You know your child and can determine is he/she is ready for The Alphabet Song Game. It comes with 22 easy-to-play games that are fun for the children. In order to use this game program you must have a Windows desktop (it will not work with a Mac but an iPad version is available).

The games are split into three levels: Uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and mixed letters (upper and lower case). The beginners will start with uppercase and move on to lowercase. Once they have mastered both of these levels, the student will go on to the mixed letters level.

Critical Thinking Company Review


Here is how we used it in our homeschool:
  • I started off having Ducky (my 4 year old) play the uppercase letters level by himself. He loved it and did fairly well. It taught him how to use the laptop very well and with great precision. He needed a little help with some of the later levels of uppercase, so his big brother (Bear, who is 6 years old) helped him. They would take turns playing and getting better each time. 
  • After Ducky mastered the uppercase level with the help of Bear I moved them both on to the lowercase letters level. Bear still needed some practice with lowercase letters and this was just the ticket. He did most of the work on this level since Ducky is still in the early stages of learning his letters. He mostly sat and watched Bear play the game and would give his input once in a while of what he thought the correct answer was.
  • Bear flew through the lowercase letters level and was ready to tackle the mixed letters level. He had some difficulty at first but quickly learned how to play. Ducky would help with this level when they asked for the uppercase of a letter. They both enjoyed doing their “computer game” each day.
  • We used The Alphabet Song Game three times a week so that I could limit their computer time. Although, I will say that the game isn’t that long to play and could be used everyday.
An explanation of how to play the game:

At the beginning of each level the “teacher” in the corner of the screen sings the alphabet song as each of the letters appears on the screen. Depending on which level you are on it will show you uppercase, lowercase, or mixed letters.

After she sings the song the teacher will ask the student if they would like to play a game. The student pushes the button to play the game and so the game begins. The game part consists of several letters being displayed on the screen with a prompt to choose the correct letter that the teacher is asking for. For example, there may be a two letters displayed (“A” and “B”). The student is prompted to choose the letter “A”.

After the student chooses the correct letter the game continues on until the teacher says the game is over. At the end of each level there is a percentage displayed beside that particular level of what the student got correct. For instance, it may show 89%. That means that the student recognized 89% of the letters they were asked to choose.

What I liked about The Alphabet Song Game:

I liked that my two older boys got to play this game together. They both learned to recognize more letters than they knew before. They enjoyed their “computer game” each day and were excited when I told them it was time to play the game. I, personally, liked that it was simple. It was not difficult at all for my children to figure it out and that was helpful because I didn’t have to sit and tell them what to do each time. They just knew what to do after playing a couple of times.

I recommend this program for children ages 3-6 years old. It will take a little work for a three year old to get the hang of it but it is doable. The six year old may breeze right through it but still have a blast playing the game.

For a demo of The Alphabet Song Game please visit THIS LINK.

For more information on The Critical Thinking Co please visit these websites:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCriticalThinkingCo
https://plus.google.com/114500823774999703181
https://twitter.com/criticalthinks
https://www.pinterest.com/source/criticalthinking.com/

Critical Thinking Company Review


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