Tuesday, September 27, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ The Cat of Bubastes

I love having access to excellent literature in our schooling. And so I was thrilled to get to review The Cat of Bubastes from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

We have quite a few books by GA Henty; he wrote this particular historical novel in 1889. His books bring portions of history alive for my children, and help in our learning of history.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Story:

Taking place in Ancient Egyptian times, this story is about a young prince, who along with his mentor, are taken from their homeland and made slaves in Egypt. He becomes friends with the son of the priest in the household where he works. But then something unexpected happens and they are all are forced to flee from Egypt and end up back in the princes' homeland.

I received the audio dramatization of this story. We decided to sit and listen to the whole thing at once. The younger girls got out some art supplies and Bookworm did some crocheting. The CD is about 2 hours in length so listening to it all at once was totally doable. And we really enjoyed our lazy afternoon!

I was impressed with the quality and the voice-acting that I heard - the actors are well known and have been in other audio dramas. We enjoyed hearing Brain Blessed, Anthony Daniels (Star Wars) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) to name a few.  The story does start out slow but in typical Henty fashion, has adventure, heroes, and narrow escapes. The girls really enjoyed listening to the drama and asked that we put it into the car for our next road trip.

I also received some other extras with the CD to check out as well -

  • Cat of Bubastes Study Guide
  • M3P version of the drama
  • printable posters
  • e-book of the original Henty novel
  • Behind the scenes on the making of the audio drama

These were all downloads which I put onto my computer. We actually own a hard copy of the book, but I did appreciate that they gave me access to an e-book as well.

 I also took a look at the Study Guide. This 48 page downloadable guide is very helpful in bringing out historical notes from the story. There are comprehension questions, map work ideas, vocabulary pages, and sections that teach more about ancient Egyptian culture.

The study guide is very appropriate for encouraging discussion about the story. I did sit down with the younger two girls and ask them some of the questions and we talked about life in ancient Egypt. I really appreciated the notes about the culture and religion of ancient Egypt and used it in our discussion.

As is true with all of Henty's books, the hero has excellent character qualities, and is courageous and very intelligent. If you have never had the opportunity to read Henty's books I encourage you to check out this, or other titles from Heirloom Audio. There are other Henty books that they have turned into audio dramas, including With Lee in Virginia, Under Drake's Flag, Beric the Briton, and more.

Also, check out what other reviewers thought about Cat of Bubastes by clicking below!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

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Friday, September 23, 2016

{Journal Entry} USAF BMT WOT:7 Airman's Run, Coin Ceremony, Base Liberty

I am combining my weekly BMT post with a journal entry. So many fun and interesting things happened while we were in Texas last week, that I felt I needed to journal our experiences.

The big wrench in our plans was that the week before, I had sprained my ankle pretty badly. So I had rented a knee scooter to get myself through the airports. The plus side of this little dilemma was that we got to board first and sit up near the front of the plane; on the negative side I needed some more pain meds - not for my ankle but for my poor knee and thigh muscle that took the brunt of my scooter motions.

Our flights to Texas were uneventful, and we landed around 8pm Central Time. Getting to our hotel though, was a bit of a task.

There were a few things I liked about Texas and a few things that I really did not like, and one of those things I detested was their freeway system. They have these annoying one-way frontage roads, that go alongside the freeways, and are how you exit and enter the freeway itself. These exits and entrances are not right there at the cross streets, so you need to know exactly where you are going ahead of time. Our poor GPS had no idea how to handle these things and when it would think we were on a frontage road we would be on the freeway. Because of  this, we would inevitably miss our exit, and then watch helplessly as it passed us as we were trapped on the freeway.

Finally, we made it to our hotel, right near the Riverwalk.

That night we ate at Smoke Restaurant in downtown at 10pm, since we were wide awake and not at all tired.

 {My drink, a Jack Rose}

We split a poutine (if you have never had one you need to try it) and a burger. The poutine was delicious, but the burger a bit dry.

Next morning, we were up and out of hotel door by 5:30 am (3:30 am back in CA). Getting on base was not a problem since we had our base passes already, but do take my advice and HAVE YOUR ID OUT, when you get to the front of the car line. I thought we were going to be getting out of our cars and standing in a line, so I didn't get it out until the last minute, and then had a mini heart attack/freak out moment when I couldn't find it in my wallet. After about 45 seconds of sheer terror, and a friendly security airman, I found my ID behind another card and we were on our way.

We made our way to the BMT reception hall and took the 7 am orientation class. I am the kind of person that does a TON of research before taking trips so we knew most of what they said, but there was lots of good information, so don't miss the meeting.

At around 7:30 we made our way out onto the pad behind he reception center. I had now graduated to a large ankle brace and could hobble as I walked.

You can either sit in the stands and watch, or go into the center circle and have the trainees run around you.

Promptly at 8am, the Airmen's Run began.

This is where you definitely need to know what squadron your trainee is in (Our boy was in Wolfpack), so that you know what color shirt they will be wearing (black).

It was an amazing moment; 750 trainees running in formation, chanting their jodies. While all around, thousands of family screamed, cheered, and waved signs.

Mr. Lego was still an element leader, which made him easy to spot since he was in front of his flight.

He looked so different to me!

After they came passed the crowd, they circle back around and come through them again. But this run was different - Sept 16th is POW/MIA Recognition Day, so the second run was led by the POW/MIA flag, and we stood in silence as they all passed.

It was neat moment, and as the trainees ran back to their dorms, we headed inside to the reception center. There was a gift shop there and even though it was a bit crowded, I found what I was looking for:

We headed back outside to the pad, but this time into the stands for the Coin Ceremony.

First was the Honor Graduate Ceremony. These trainees had scored very high on all their tests and were recommended for this honor by their MTI's. Only the top ten percent in each flight can get this honor, and many times not all ten percent receive it.

The next part was the Naturalization Ceremony. There were seven trainees that began BMT as citizens of other countries. Before they could become airmen, they needed to be sworn in as American citizens, so we were honored to witness this.

Then all flights began their entrance.

This was where I was really glad that Dasher had let us bring her binoculars.

He was easy to spot in the front.

This next part was for me, the most emotional part of the whole week. The head of the BMT training wing said a few words about what an amazing accomplishment this was. He talked about the sacrifice we and the trainees had made, and will be making in the future as they serve our country. He talked about the Air Force as a whole, and officially welcomed us into the Air Force family.

Then the MTI's began to pass out the coins to their flight. As they were doing this, they played patriotic songs like God Bless the U.S.A., and God Bless America. It was a very moving moment.

You can barely see it above, but Mr. Lego is being presented with his Air Force Coin. (The third black hat you see from us was his MTI. He is standing right in front of him.)

The flights then all sang the Air Force Song ("Off we go, into the wold blue yonder.....")

And then they also recited the Airmen's Creed. There is no way to describe how this sounds, especially the ending.

The final ceremony was the Retreat. This is when the national anthem is played, and the flag is lowered and folded. During this time, there was a speech about the flag, that in light of recent events, really touched my heart.

At the conclusion of Retreat, we were invited down to tap out our airmen.

Along with the other thousands of other family members, and me with my busted ankle.

We had decided ahead of time to tap him out together, and since he was in front of the flight, we came around and stood behind him.

 On three, we both tapped him on the shoulders.

As soon as we tapped him, he turned and gave me the biggest hug I think I have gotten from him, ever.

It was surreal, seeing him in his ABU's and a member of the greatest air force in the world!

He was now free for base liberty for the next six hours or so.

We took him out to our car, where we showed him the sign we made for him (which he did not see during the run), and a handful of letters that we carried from home for him.

We drove over to one of the mini-malls on base where he decided to have Popeye's for lunch.

Be prepared to stand in line and have patience wherever you go this day - 750 airmen plus their families are stuck on base and doing the same things you are doing.

We were texting the girls back home, and they wanted to see a full length photo of him, so I sent them this one:

That afternoon we explored the base, while asking him tons of questions and hearing lots of stories about his time during BMT. He also got to call some friends on our phone and he texted his sisters for a while too.

We went to the bowling alley on base and put our names on the list for an hour of play. While we were waiting, the guys played some pool.

They bowled for an hour (I sat on the couch behind them and rested my poor ankle) and got almost 4 games in.

We had originally planned to take him to a nice dinner at the Gateway Club on base, but he was due back a little earlier than usual, since someone in their flight messed up that morning.

But we were just very thankful to be able to hang out a few hours with our new airman!

That night My Sweetie and I decided to explore the Riverwalk a bit. We stayed at a hotel very near to it, and were able to access it through the mall. I highly recommend staying on or near Riverwalk; hotels provide parking for their guests which is a plus. If you come to Riverwalk and try public parking, they charge a crazy amount. And our hotel was only about 20 minutes from the base, and 15 minutes from the airport.

We ate at Casa Rio, as we were drawn in by their colorful umbrellas and fun lights.

A margarita on the river is a must.

We got combo plates - here is mine with an enchilada, tamale, and taco.

It was a very lovely way to end our amazing day.

 Next up was an early day (not as early as the one before), parade ceremony, dorm tour and some town liberty!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


We have come to week seven!!

And the reason I am so excited is that at some point this week, we are flying to Texas and seeing Mr. Lego and watching him graduate!

What He Is Learning

This week he is doing a bit of drilling. At one of the ceremonies there is a parade, where marching is key, so they are practicing a lot with that this week. They will be practicing for other parts of the ceremony week, and also looking at career choices. Since Mr. Lego is in the Reserves his career path has already been decided, but it will be good for him to see what options the Air Force has for him.

{Photo credit: www.usairforce.com}

You can see a video of this week here.

What We Are Learning:

Well, first off, I am figuring out what to take to Texas and what we can do while there.There are a bit of restrictions as to what your airmen can do and where they can go. The most helpful site for this has been the Facebook AFWingmoms page, which adds information to each flight's private page as the weeks progress.

I am also learning about Heritage Flights.

These flights are new as of July 2015, are formed at the end of WOT 6, and are completely different from the flights they have been in. There are 14 different Heritage Flights that, unlike their BMT flights, are androgynous. Instead, these flights are determined by their career choices and tech school locations. In a way, this is getting them used to being with these fellow airmen, and learning to get along and march with others besides their flight.

What We Are Doing:

We got TWO phone calls over the weekend! One was while he was on base liberty and from a pay phone, so if you have a trainee there and you get a call from the 210 area code, answer it no matter what. He passed all of his tests and got a 96 in PT. He was enjoying the last week of BMT and had a good BEAST week. We talked about the coming week and what he would like to do, and he gave us an idea of where we could see him best from, in the ceremonies.

It was great to hear his voice; he sounded confident and in control. You don't know how excited we are to see him this coming week! Really, the last seven and a half weeks have gone fast, and I can't believe this day is finally here.

We are getting ready and counting down to when we will finally see our AIRMAN!

The Journey Begins

Thursday, September 8, 2016


We are close to the end of this leg of the journey, people.

BMT is officially 8.5 weeks long, but beginning a few years ago, they changed graduation from WOT 8 to WOT 7. So Lord willing, he will graduate in a week!

What He's Learning:

This week is their evaluation week. They will be evaluated and inspected in their drill movements, uniforms, and weapons. They will also do their final PT test and be timed in their 1.5 mile run, and see how many push-ups, sit-ups, and pull ups they can do in a minute. They will also have their End of Course tests, which are written exams from their classroom sessions they have had over the last 6 weeks.

{photo credit: www.usairforce.com}

That's a busy week, and one that can be stressful. I knew this last week, so my letters that I sent to arrive this week were very encouraging and I hope, inspirational.

Also, this week we get another phone call. When that will be you never know, we have not gotten one yet and the suspense is killing me. This is where I am thankful for my AF Wingmoms group on Facebook - we have been encouraging one another this whole week. And in WOT 4, our flight's Facebook page lit up like crazy with notifications when their flight was allowed to call, so I am watching Facebook too.

You can see a video about his week here.

 What We're Learning:

We are learning more about the significance of some of the ceremonies at graduation.

Coin Ceremony

At this ceremony, the airmen in their blues, and are presented with the Air Force Airmen's Coin. This coin signifies their membership in the Air Force and their being a member of the Armed Forces. At this very important moment, they are no longer considered trainees, but airmen.

Coins began to be given out by squadrons in both the World Wars, and since then, have become a common tangible item for squadrons to pass out to their members. These  coins are called Challenge Coins, and are given out in all branches of the military.

{photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/}

Tap Out

Tap Out will happen twice during WOT 7 - after the Coin Ceremony and after the Graduation Parade. Basically, Tapping Out is an orderly way to release the airmen. To tap out your airmen, you can literally tap them, or give them a quick hug. Whenever you touch them, they know they are then released from attention and can move freely. At both of these Tap Outs, the airmen are free for base or town liberty.

What We're Doing:

This week I organized my Grad week binder. I got this great idea from AF Wingmoms and love being organized in this way. Graduation at BMT is not a one time ceremony like a high school graduation - this is a 5 day-long schedule that has numerous events that we need to attend. There are also specific rules as to what he can and cannot do, places that we can go, and suggestions for base and town liberties. Plus maps (Lackland AFB is huge!), instructions, and other info.

Yes, this is the front of my folder. Over the last couple of weeks I had been printing off lots of info from AF Wingmoms, so I sat down and organized it so that I can quickly look up information. I love being organized like this and would highly recommend this for anyone going to BMT.

One week to go! We are almost there......

The Journey Begins

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ Christian Homeschool Hub

What is Christian Homeschool Hub?

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

Well Christian Homeschool Hub, or CHSH-Teach.com, is a place where homeschoolers can find lots of amazing resources.

For this review I received the CHSH Download Club, which is an annual subscription to the whole website.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

So, let me share with you some of the things you will find on this website.....

First off, on the homepage that comes up each time I sign in, I see a special calendar. This calendar lists important historical events, daily observances and holidays. For example, looking at the September calendar I can see that on September 1st the wreck of the Titanic was found in 1985, and that WWII began in 1939. Having this list of important events is a fun asset to this site.

The bulk of the site are lists and lists of downloads that enhance your homeschooling.

By clicking on 'Search for Downloads', you can see the entire list both by subject and by grade.

Subjects include:

  • Bible
  • Languages
  • Art, Music & Crafts
  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Electives
  • Health

When you click on one of the subjects, it brings you to a page that lists all downloads. One great feature for some of the downloads, you can preview them first to see if it is something you are interested in.

Another way to search the site is by month. The topics in this section are based on holidays and seasonal things such as Veteran's Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Groundhog Day.

There was lots to see on this website!

I needed to narrow down what we were going to use so first I focused on handwriting and copywork.

I found several copywork pages in the Bible section where there were both print and cursive copywork pages.

Throughout the review period, I had Dasher using these for her handwriting. I liked that they had the entire alphabet in cursive at the top, for quick reference.

For actual handwriting lessons, I found letter tracing and practice sheets for young learners. Nutsy did a few of these, even though she learned her cursive last year.

As I looked through the website I realized that many of the downloads were not just simple worksheets, but whole units of learning. Looking through the subjects I saw health and realized I have never done an elementary level health curriculum with Nutsy.

There was a General Health Curriculum, meant for grades K-5th that I decided to download. That was another thing I appreciated - the grade level was clearly listed.

The General Health Unit was a whopping 184 pages!

There were worksheets and lesson plans for each grade which was very handy.

For her, I chose the 4th and 5th grade lessons. The topics studied were hygiene, anatomy, pituitary gland, human growth, and self esteem. There were worksheets, activity suggestions, and questions to ask your students.

There were also lots of diagrams on human growth and sexual reproduction - none of them were inappropriate but do beware. Nutsy was definitely not ready for some of this, but we did use a few of the worksheets. I also did find that most of the activities were meant for classroom situations and would be harder to do with only one or two students. Overall, we found enough to do in the time we reviewed this (about 4 weeks) but not too much more than that.

I also wanted the girls to do some math pages, so I went to the 'by subject' area and chose some worksheets for them to do. Again, there were not individual worksheets to download, but full units. I chose Roman Numerals, since Nutsy has a hard time with that.

On this page I was happy to see a download for a poster, flashcards, a lapbook and a unit of study. I chose a few worksheets from the unit of study, and through that week we were able to really understand Roman Numerals.

Finally, I did notice that things are being added every day. Just as I was writing this, I saw there were geology flashcards for both volcanoes and earth's layers added today. This site is only going to get bigger, offering even more to the homeschooling community.

So I did like this resource; there were a few times that I felt like it was definitely geared towards more of a classroom setting, but there are many times as homeschoolers that we are teaching in a co op setting. I also found myself having to download units, only to find that it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

But there is lots more to this site that I didn't really get involved in....there are places to get to know other members and share information on forums, newsletters to your email, there are opportunities for affiliates and giveaways too.

Check out what others thought by clicking below!

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

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