Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BookLook Review: Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

I’ve always wanted to read one of Dave Ramsey’s books. I jumped on the chance to review the Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money book written by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze as soon as I saw it posted on the BookLook bloggers availability list. I knew that I would be a huge fan of his work! I can't remember learning much about money management skills as a child in school or at home. I want to teach my daughter, Alyssa, how to manage her money in hopes to avoid the same financial mistakes my husband and I made in our 15-year marriage. I only wish I had this information in my hands years ago. 

The content in the book is geared towards increasing the financial literacy of our children. It's meant to guide you as you teach your children the skills that will literally CHANGE your financial legacy and their lives as adults. You will hear anecdotes from both Dave and Rachel’s perspectives and memories. They share how these principles were applied to their lives and explain how to implement the strategies into your life. 

About the Authors
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He sold numerous copies of his four New York Times best-selling books including Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. 

Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter who has been speaking to large groups for nearly a decade. She’s the daughter of Dave Ramsey. She uses her knowledge and experiences from growing up in the Ramsey household today to educate America’s students and young adults on the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. 
Book Description
Financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey teams up with his daughter, Rachel Cruze, in order to teach parents how to “raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.” In Smart Money Smart Kids, the authors equip parents to teach their children how to win with money starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving. More challenging issues are addressed such as avoiding debt, paying cash for college without going into debt, creating a wedding budget and plan, and battling discontentment in the second half of the book. Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach for changing your family tree. They discuss the principles of good money management for children as well as giving the reader plenty of stories of what life was like for the Ramsey kids. 

My Thoughts
This well-written book presents information in a practical way using a natural, conversational tone. It is a guide that teaches you how to discuss money management skills with your children and teaches you how to train them to handle money at an early age. The book was interesting and packed with insightful references. The 258-page hardcover book contains student budget worksheets for older children which are included at the back of the book. Smart Money Smart Kids is chocked full of useful information that will help parents train their children to make wise financial decisions in the future and to have strong work ethics. I agree with the authors about the importance of teaching these concepts at a young age not only through discussion but by modeling your behaviors and being a good example. Children do learn more from what you DO than from what you SAY. Let them catch you in the act of handling money properly. We really need to practice what we preach with regards to money habits.   

After reading this book, I have gained a much greater understanding of how to teach my daughter to be a good steward of her money. The handy and modifiable suggestions will instill values in her character while teaching her to be financially responsible. I love that the authors tell you it’s better to teach your children how to handle money now while they live at home rather than later when damage has possibly already been done. The ideas presented begin with a more hands-on approach for younger children leading more towards independence as children get older and mature. They give sound and insightful advice making it easy to start your children off on the right foot. The authors emphasize staying out of debt while finding a financial balance. They also explain the importance of teaching your children with grace. I especially appreciate the content found in chapter 10 with regards to parenting after or during a divorce. They encourage parents to remain unified with the goal to teach money smart skills and to cooperate by following the same principles in each household.   

I thought reading a book with two authors would be a bit confusing. This was NOT the case with this book. Each author was identified in bold print before they began writing. They took turns writing in sections. The use of two different fonts in the book (one for Dave’s writing voice and another for Rachel’s writing style) helped me keep track of each author's perspective. Dave definitely presents his ideas in a straightforward, to the point approach while Rachel’s writing style seems more personable as she reveals stories of life growing up as Dave’s daughter. Her stories added in a little humor making the book have a more light-hearted, softer feel. The writing styles of this dynamic duo balanced well with one another.      

First, a concept is clearly introduced and thoroughly explained to the reader. Then, Dave and Rachel organized the suggestions into different age groups. They discuss how to apply that concept into our children’s lives using age-appropriate examples. For instance, they encourage parents to use clear containers with younger children (age 6 and under) as they learn how to save their money. It allows them to see the money grow over time. We are using Dave's clear envelopes from the Financial Peace kit. Children between the ages of 6-13 begin setting financial goals and start saving for a special toy they want. My daughter is currently saving for the Frozen Karaoke CD. Older children between the ages of 14-18 will learn how to save for bigger ticket items such as a used car or college tuition. 

I already started implementing the strategies into our life. A couple months ago, I purchased Financial Peace Junior with intentions to utilize this system with my six-year-old daughter. It sat on the shelf collecting dust. I can happily say that this book has motivated me to begin teaching Alyssa. We recently started the envelope system using her piggy bank money. First, we made a list of age-appropriate chores that she would be willing to do. We categorized each chore as either a “paid commission” chore or a family expectation. I love that Dave uses the term “commission” instead of “allowance,” because it eliminates the idea that children are entitled to a certain amount of money that they expect us to give them each week.

The plan is to give Alyssa the opportunity to diligently work towards earning $5 a week. She’ll decide how much goes into each envelope with a minimum of 10% going in the GIVE envelope. She was fascinated with finding percentages and using them to figure out how much money she will place in each of her envelopes. I remember when I first asked her how much she wanted to give from what she earned - she said 75%. I am glad that she has a generous heart! She’s eagerly budgeting and learning how to handle her money. I am most thankful for having the opportunity to review this book!  

Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money can be purchased for $24.99. Amazon is selling the book for $ 17.56.   

Note: All prices are subject to change. 

highly recommend this valuable book to EVERY parent with children ages 18 and younger. This is an absolute must read that I encourage you to read as soon as possible. It will be one parenting resource that you won't regret purchasing. You will be more informed which will enable you to teach your children how to handle money properly. It’s time to bless your children with the knowledge that will help them have a more successful future. I also recommend that you obtain the Financial Peace Junior and use it with younger children. The authors do make several biblical references that you may or may not agree with depending on your Christian beliefs. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLook Book Review Program in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: July 21st, 2014

One of my goals this month is to intentionally work on menu planning. I have a strong desire to save money and reduce the amount we spend on groceries. I believe not deterring from the menu will benefit us greatly. However, I never know what's going to happen on a daily basis. This is our menu plan for this week. Wish me luck!

Breakfast - Cereal and Raspberries
Lunch - Egg Salad Sandwiches with Avocado + Carrots
Dinner - Chicken Fajita Bean Soup and Salad

Breakfast - Fruit and Egg White Smoothies
Lunch - Tuna Melts and Bell Pepper
Dinner - Oven-Baked Fish, Asparagus, and Salad

Breakfast - Scrambled "Green" Eggs and Toast
Lunch - Honey-Baked Ham Date
Dinner - Baked Chicken, Parmesan Zucchini, and Sweet Potatoes

Breakfast - Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
Lunch - Turkey and Cheese Wraps with Carrots
Friday - Chicken Taquitos or Chicken Quesadillas and Brown Rice + Peas

Breakfast - Oatmeal and Eggs
Lunch - Turkey and Cheese Grilled Sandwich with Mixed Veggies
Dinner - Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli

Breakfast - Banana Nut Muffins and Hardboiled Eggs
Lunch -  Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup
Dinner - Grilled Ribs, Baked Potatoes, and Green Beans

What other breakfast suggestions do you have to offer? 
Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey! Please share links to your weekly menu plans in the comment section. Have a wonderful day! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blogging for Books Review: I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook

Blogging for Books recently announced the April release of Sarah Wilson's book I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook. Do you know how much sugar you consume on a daily basis? Did you know many products contain hidden sugars? Are you aware of all of the effects sugar has on your health and well-being?

Author Biography
Sarah Wilson is a qualified Health Coach for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition located in New York. She currently lives in Sydney Australia. The author is also a television host, journalist, and blogger. Read Sarah's story and journey to quitting sugar here.     

Book Description
This 224-page book is a step-by-step program guide offering suggestions and tips for quitting sugar which will hopefully help you lose weight, boost your energy level, and improve your moods. The 8-week program is discussed at the beginning of the book using a week-by-week format. Sarah encourages her readers to try three new recipes from the book each week during her 8-week program. Visit the following link to see sample pages of the book.

What's Covered
  • Start to Cut Back
  • Operation Eat Fat
  • Quit!
  • Face the Demons
  • Get Creative, Experiment . . . and Detox
  • Add Some Sweetness Back In
  • Recovering from lapses
  • Refining and Moving Forward
She includes a "Getting Equipped" section that mentions two notes from the author on how she hates waste and loves efficiency. Her recipes utilize the same core ingredients repeatedly and she wants you to take advantage of the bits and pieces that many individuals tend to toss out. She gives the reader tips on how to create a freezer stash. One tip Sarah offers is that she freezes celery leaves to later use in stock recipes which are included in this book. I have tossed out the ends for years, now I collect them in a freezer bag for later use. The author also includes a short list of kitchen items that she prefers to have on hand. It is NOT an exhaustive or complete list, but is helpful to those wanting a simple start in the program. This book section contains information on how to stock up your pantry with staples that will consistently be used during the program. I have to say, I found this section to be quite insightful. I never realized I could make my own cream cheese and how useful and good chia seeds were for my body. A few other recipes included in this section are homemade ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayo, nut butters, and almond milk. Several of these recipes are also on her blog if you'd like to take a peek.

The back of the book consists of a shopping list, additional resources, and contributors. The shopping list is organized into three categories including pantry, freezer, and fridge items. Sarah also adds in a list of oils, condiments, sweeteners, teas, and baking bits. The list isn't comprehensive, because it doesn't include any fresh produce foods. The additional resources list her social media links and lists places to find hard-to-find ingredients. I had a difficult time finding chia seeds at local stores, but managed to find them at a nearby health store and on line for a reasonable price. I also stocked my pantry with quinoa after finding several packages on sale in the clearance section. I've been reading about the benefits of quinoa and have a strong desire to create recipes using this product. There are definitely a few ingredients that I don't tend to buy such as marcapone cheese, brown rice syrup, coconut and grapeseed oil, unsweetened coconut, almond meal, almond milk, stevia, and chia seeds just to name a few. I am not sure if I will be able to afford these items, but I will take small steps towards eating better using several of the recipes.

The book also contains 108 sugar-free recipes to help you in your journey. The recipes include an ingredient list, method instructions, serving size, and preparation notes. Several recipes include variations and seem easy to prepare. Many of the recipes seem appealing. I haven't tried any yet, but fully intend on doing so this month. My favorite recipe categories are obviously desserts, savory snacks, sweet treats, and breakfast. I can't wait to try the blueberry quinoa crumble, fudgy protein bites, sugar-free nutella, meal-in-a-crackercoco-nutty granola, and chia and quinoa parfait. Ha! Can you tell I am a sugar addict? I head straight to the sweets. Doesn't this Raspberry Ripple look delicious? Sarah tells you how to make it while cutting back on sugar.

Recipes Categories 
  • Breakfast
  • Smoothies and Drinks
  • Healthy Detox Meals
  • Savory Snacks
  • Sugar-Free Kids
  • Sweet Treats
  • Desserts
Overall Thoughts
Her book is organized into bite-sized chunks making it a quick read. The plan appears to be doable and flexible, but you will need to make a consistent effort and remain motivated to complete the program. The book teaches you how to eliminate sugar completely from you diet and later introduces sugar back with healthier substitutes. The variety of recipes included in the book make the idea of quitting sugar seem a little more realistic. I am sure that there will be controversial debates over whether or not sugar makes you fat. However, there are other benefits to quitting or reducing your sugar intake. Sarah does provide the reader with scientific information about the effects of sugar.

I haven't attempted the program yet. I definitely consider myself a sugar addict. I feel like I NEED sugar every single day and my sugar cravings are intense. I always feel tired, moody, and bloated. The information contained in the book was informative and extremely helpful.

The author is personable and inviting as she shares the realities of her experience with quitting sugar in the introduction of the book. She states, "There is a detox period where you will feel like crap." I love the honesty in this statement. She wants you to know ahead of time, that the program is not going to be easy and she's not trying to "sugar" coat it. She wants you to understand that your body will have an adjustment period and that it is normal. Many individuals will be able to relate to her experiences. I also like her viewpoint on using a "lets just see" approach when attempting the detox program.

Are you looking to live a healthier lifestyle? 

I recommend this book to individuals wanting to improve their health and well-being. Are you looking for a structured program that will help you cut back on sugar? I believe this is a good book to begin with if you are a sugar addict and want to change your lifestyle. Sugar doesn't have to rule over your life! Sarah's modernized book format and knowledge about the topic will encourage and motivate you to make better life choices with regards to which foods you eat. 

The paperback trade book can be purchased for $25.00 at Random HouseAmazon is currently offering the book for $15.81.

Note: Prices are subject to change at any time.

Social Media
Sarah Wilson's Blog
I Quit Sugar Book Store

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music Review

I recently received the newly released, restored, and updated Experience History Through Music 3 Book and CD Set to review as part of the Diana Waring Presents Launch Team. Be sure to read the article title, A Story of Restoration, on Diana's website which discusses the remaking of this these products. We haven't focused a lot of attention on American History this year, but I knew I wanted to expose my daughter to the topics in a fun, engaging way while integrating literature at the same time during the summer months. Experience History Through Music was the answer to our summer learning curricula dilemma. History is not my best subject and this set allowed me to keep things simple yet still make learning effective. Teaching educational concepts using music can definitely help younger children learn more advanced topics.

About the Author
Diana Waring is the author of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring's History Revealed world history curriculum. She discovered years ago that "the key to education is relationship." Beginning in the early '80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn. Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style. Find out more about Diana and her products by reading the author interview recently posted.  
Meet Diana: Highly Energetic and Fun Lovin'
Experience History Through Music is a 3 Book and CD Set Including:
  • America 1750-1890: The Heart of a New Nation 
  • Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West 
  • Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The print book and CD sets allow you to literally "Experience History Through Music" as implied by the product's name. Each title contains one book and one CD. A brief introduction to each book title is included at the beginning of the book. The pages of each book hold numerous black and white historical photos, sketches, or paintings in addition to heartwarming stories that will help you connect each of the songs to that moment in history. The short stories are about 1-2 pages in length. These insights will enable children to understand our history better. The book is divided into two parts. The first part includes the stories and the second half contains sheet music. Information about the authors, photographers, and musicians can be found towards the back of the book with the acknowledgments.

One of the unique features of each book is that the sheet music with lyrics and chord charts are also included making it easier for children and adults learn the words or play the music. The CD's are professional recordings with amazing vocalists and instrumental sounds that tend to draw in all listeners. The CD's are placed in a plastic sleeve on the back cover keeping everything in one safe place. You'll find sheet music for 13-16 songs on each CD giving you approximately 45-50 minutes worth of high quality music.  

The two combine for fond memories and a grand, knee-slapping good time. You can't resist tapping your toes while humming or singing along. 

America – Heart of a New Nation
From the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad, America is a chronological tour of American history through its music. Enjoy the songs and stories of our past that have been shared from generation to generation—songs that make you laugh, make you cry, and make your patriotic spirit soar.

The songs in the book, America: The Heart of a New Nation rang in a sense and feeling of familiarity. This familiarity made the songs even more meaningful to my daughter. I remember singing several of these songs to her as a baby and a toddler. I was glad that she had the opportunity to reconnect to the song titles. The ones that stood out the most were "Yankee Doodle," "Star Spangled Banner," "Oh, Susanna," and "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain." We used to have a geography toy that sang the "Star Spangled Banner." Alyssa chimed in as soon as she heard it playing on the CD player. What's your favorite patriotic song?  

The CD contains 16 classic and patriotic songs:
  • Yankee Doodle 
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Erie Canal
  • Oh, Susanna
  • Sweet Betsy From Pike
  • All Night, All Day
  • Old Dan Tucker
  • Wade in the Water
  • Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • Shenandoah
  • Got Along L'il Dogies
  • Drill Ye Tarriers
  • Polly Wolly Doodle
  • She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain
  • Old Joe Clark
Westward Ho! – Heart of the Old West
America's westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs. In Westward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time. Now you can experience the pioneers' adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along.

Our favorite book by far was Westward Ho! All of them are great, but the music genre captured our attention. The history behind the stories was indeed fascinating. Did you know that the Homestead Act of 1862 enabled anyone who was at least 21 years of age, the head of a family, a citizen, and who had never borne arms against the U.S. to claim 160 acres of free public land if they agreed to live on that land for 5 years while making improvements? Wow! The houses built on that land were made of sod. The song, Little Old Sod Shanty, opens your eyes up to the realities of life for Plains settlers. I don't think I could handle living with the creatures in my home. I also doubt that I could have dealt with the realities they faced during that time period. I found this factoid to be of great interest. I loved seeing the neat old photographs of the sod house.  

"Boll Weevil" was a humorous yet historical account explaining the origination of the boll weevil and its invasion on the Texas cotton fields. This song was fun to sing yet informative. It's the little things in life that we don't pay much attention to but later find out they had a big impact on our lives in the past. Here's a video of Alyssa singing part of the silly "Boll Weevil" song. She had a blast singing and dancing to it! 

Gooey Duck . . . all I can say is WHAT? I never knew this clam creature even existed! After reading the story and singing the song, Alyssa 's interest was sparked. She immediately researched geoducks (gooey ducks) online. She watched several videos and read articles to further enrich the topic. She even learned how to cook a gooey duck. I had to pull her away from the computer. 

This CD contains the following 14 songs:
  • Apple Picker's Reel
  • Boll Weevil
  • Missionary's Farewell
  • Oh, California
  • Ho! For California
  • San Juan Pig War
  • Chisholm Trail
  • Westward Ho!
  • Home on the Range
  • Little Old Sod Shanty
  • Strawberry Roan
  • Old Settler
  • Gooey Duck
  • Little Cabin in the Cascade Mountains
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The well-loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families. Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder CD introduced us to many songs we've never heard before. It was also the home of a few of our favorite tunes including "Wait for the Wagon," "Pop! Goes the Weasel," "The Old Chariot," and "Sweet By and By."  I can't wait to read aloud the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie book series to my daughter while using this resource. I want to read the history behind the stories and listen to the songs as they are mentioned in each book. I bet it'll bring a new understanding to book series. I am including a video of my daughter singing part of her favorite song, "Wait for the Wagon." Listen to the background to hear a sample of the music on the CD.   

The CD contains the 13 following songs:
  • Wait for the Wagon
  • Green Grows the Laurel
  • The Old Chariot
  • Buy a Broom
  • Sweet By and By
  • Rock Me to Sleep
  • Buffalo Girls
  • A Railroad Man for Me
  • Beware
  • Pop! Goes the Weasel
  • Oft in the Stilly Night
  • The Girl I Left Behind Me
  • My Sabbath Home
How We Used Experiencing History Through Music
I used this product with my six-year-old daughter (Alyssa) as a supplement to our current American History studies. We decided to read up to five stories aloud each day from at least two different books a day. However, we read stories in all of the books each week. You do not have to go in chronological order. You can start reading anywhere in the book. 

Alyssa wanted to take turns reading the paragraphs. This really helped with keeping her attention. I assisted her with reading the more difficult words. We looked up the dictionary meanings of any unknown words. We read the stories first and played the accompanying CD songs afterwards. After reading the fascinating stories, we danced together while listening to the catchy tunes. We also listened to the music CD's in the car, during our breaks, during art time, or while lapbooking. It wasn't a surprise to me that she chose these CD's to listen to during her free time. We enjoyed the music so much that we played them during chore time. This was Alyssa's idea after reading about workers singing while they work to pass the time. Sure enough . . . my daughter did finish her chores at a faster pace with the music playing.

Our Thoughts Overall
We thoroughly enjoyed Diana Waring's approach to learning American History using music and stories. I believe all home educators will appreciate the method, especially those using a Charlotte Mason, Delight-Directed, or Unit Study approach. I can't wait for Diana's American History curriculum to release!!! I bet they will complement the Experience History Through Music set. 

Furthermore, these products can be used by ALL families regardless of whether they homeschool or not. Why not sneak in a little learning while listening to music? This could easily become a family night activity for individuals who play musical instruments. I wish I knew how to play an instrument. The approach was fun and very engaging. Alyssa and I both learned new information by reading the stories behind the songs. Diana Waring truly awakens the spirit of children and brings history to life. 

My daughter was motivated to enrich and further investigate the topics discussed in the book. Many times she would run to the computer to research information mentioned in the book. She enjoyed researching information about boll weevils and even completed a research paper on it. Rabbit trail unit studies can include Presidents, Historical Names in History, Pioneer Times, Early Settlers, American Revolution, Civil War, Oregon Trail and Territory, Westward Expansion, Chisholm Trail, California Gold Rush, and more.  

I can't tell you how many times I caught her singing the words from the songs or humming the tunes. She dressed up in her cowgirl boots and hat on many occasions ready to perform her favorite songs. Slower ballads or lullaby songs were sung into the ear of her teddy bear as she rocked it back and forth. I also heard her humming and passionately singing tunes in the shower. I appreciated the variety of genres recorded on the CD's. The familiarity of several tunes and the rhythm of the music will make you want to get up and dance.    

We also took the books to her piano teacher and asked her to play a song at the end of her classes just for fun. The notes were too advanced for Alyssa right now, but they definitely gave her something to look forward to and gave her a goal to aim for in the future. 

Do you like folk music and patriotic songs? This set will help you pass on America's heritage for generations to come! Imagine the lasting childhood memories you can create now while enabling your children to understand America's history better.   

I truly appreciate the fact that the sheet music was included in the book. However, there were times when my daughter lost her place while following along. She wanted to sing and learn the lyrics without the musical notes. If they ever reprint the series again, I suggest having a separate page for the lyrics making sure they follow along with the song on the CD in addition to having the sheet music accessible to young musicians.

Special Sale Price for the Month of July 
You can purchase the complete 3 Book/CD set for only $50 in July. You also have the opportunity to buy each title separately for $18.99 each.

I HIGHLY recommend ALL of the Experience History Through Music books and CD's for children and adults of ALL ages. The set would complement and supplement ANY American History study or curriculum. It is also a wonderful way to teach music appreciation while integrating history into your day. Younger children can simply listen to the music and sing the songs. Older and advanced children will appreciate the stories. You can always read aloud or summarize the stories for your children too.

You won't be disappointed in this set! It is of great importance that our children learn American history! I wish I had the opportunity to learn this way as a child. I believe it would have made learning history more fun. You can help teach your child by taking a step forward and utilizing these resources during your day.

Social Media Links

Oh and before I say goodbye for the day . . . there's still time to enter the Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway. You won't want to miss this one! 

And . . . Don't miss out on my Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection Giveaway! We could all use a little encouragement during our homeschool adventures. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Diana Waring's Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection Giveaway and More

I posted an author interview introducing you to Diana Waring the other day. She's the author of Experience History Through Music and the ever popular History Revealed World History Curriculum.

It's no secret that I am an excited participant in the Experience History Through Music launch team. Reviewing these new, updated products created by Diana Waring Presents has been an honor and blessing.

I recently received the Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection as a gift for being part of the launch team. It is a VERY inspirational and informative set that ANY homeschooler will appreciate. I've heard Diana speak at a convention in the past and I believe you will truly be blessed by her words and advice.

I have GREAT news! Diana Waring has generously offered me the opportunity to giveaway a complete Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection to one of my LUCKY blog readers. This downloadable collection includes the "Once Upon a Time" ebook containing eight articles totaling 40 pages in addition to the four MP3 audio downloadable recordings. The four audios include the Beyond Survival Workshop, Box-Free Living, Roots, and Wings. This package retails for $25, but one of my readers can win it!

This giveaway ends July 5th (12am) Central Time. One winner will be randomly selected to receive a copy of this collection. Read the terms and conditions provided. Please click on the link provided to enter this giveaway if you do not see the Rafflecopter widget. Thanks!

I am also celebrating the release of these products by participating in the Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway. Have you entered it yet?

Don't forget about the Facebook Release Party on July 1st from 8-10 EST. We will begin the party at Diana Waring Presents and say our goodbye the last hour at A Journey Through Learning.

Be on the lookout for my review sometime next week where I'll be sharing highlights about our experiences using Experience History Through Music!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Author Interview: Introducing Diana Waring

Diana Waring is an extremely popular and familiar name in many homeschool circles. It has been a privilege to review Diana Waring Presents Experience History Through Music this summer. We are having a BLAST integrating music into American History lessons using the 3 Book/CD set. My review will post the week of June 30th. 

As many of you already know, I am part of the launch team for these products. This launch team opportunity has given us some insider information about the author's life that I think you'd enjoy reading. I really want you to get to know the Diana on a more personal level before the Facebook release party. She's a wonderful person! I actually met her at a homeschool convention in Tennessee and it was an honor to speak with such a passionate person. I'll start with a little bio and the interview will follow. 

Meet the Author
Diana Waring is the author of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring's History Revealed world history curriculum. She discovered years ago that "the key to education is relationship." Beginning in the early '80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

Let's get started! Without further ado . . . Meet the friendly, easy going, and fun lovin' Diana Waring.

1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

I ALWAYS loved music . . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade. 

I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church . . .

But music WAS in my grandparents' lives. My father's father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there -- tell you later), and my mother's father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.

Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings . . .

Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended. 

Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm . . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings--but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!

Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring -- and it was a JOY!!

2. How did you start writing history books?

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of "America." As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

One thing often leads to another. Doing workshops on making history come alive using music exposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992. There were so many things I wanted to know about how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time . . . seeing the "secular" civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.  

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions . . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making). Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity to research and write!

Goodness! I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  :)

3. What is your favorite period of history?

My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!

I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath. I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.

Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Security Resources Board, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951. He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world warwhich was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War. I still remember listening to my grandfather say, "Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing . . ."  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.

So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.

4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

Yes! All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician. He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences! He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice! He wrote one of the most delightful songs I've ever heard: "Round Trip Ticket to Samoa" . . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  :)

Melody was my classically-trained musician. She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists. Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music. I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother's piano. She loves, loves, loves music. (The tragedy turned to beauty when she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk. She is amazing.)

5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?

I LOVE "Ho for California" in Westward Ho! Somehow, this one became my favorite . . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, "Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go. There's plenty of gold in the world we're told on the banks of the Sacramento. . ."

"Gooey Duck"  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concert. There is something so catchy about this song! Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho! book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams). He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate. That has tickled me ever since . . .

"Sweet Betsy From Pike" is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!

6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don't you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):  
  • I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.
  • Switched to oboe in 7th grade.
  • Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!
  • Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.
  • Learned to play recorder when I was 19 . . . played it in the musical, "Godspell."
  • Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.
  • Learned to play banjo when I was 23.
  • But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven's 9th symphony in Indianapolis!
7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?

As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form. "Old Settler" and "San Juan Pig War" are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .

And, I love "Sweet By and By." We used to end our "Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale" concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears . . . singing of our "bountiful Father above.

8. What value do you see in students learning America's folk songs?

How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did? As a real and normal part of our lives? You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it's music! Plus, it's part of our American heritage.  It's part of our history. And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  :)

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?

Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. 

They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyoneThere is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of "stealth academics," meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won't even realize they are learning. But YOU will.

10. Do you have other books/products in the works?

Always!! Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, "Daughters of God." I am hoping to have it finished by this fall. 

Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series. 

Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time . . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

A Party is Coming . . . Will You Be Attending?  
Be sure to RSVP for the Facebook Release Party next Tuesday, July 1st 2014 from 8-10 EST. The party will begin at Diana Waring Presents and end at A Journey Through Learning. There will be giveaway prizes and freebies!

Don't forget to enter this generous Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway too! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway - $700 + Value

A couple years ago, I reviewed Diana Waring Presents Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Book and CD set. We adored the curriculum and quickly became huge fans. Needless to say, I was super excited when I was offered the opportunity to join the launch team for her new American History products. We're participating in the upcoming release of Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring

The new Experience History Through Music products have provided us with hours of laughter, joyful moments, and memories to treasure in our hearts forever. I love seeing Alyssa get all dressed up in her cowgirl boots to sing the Westward Ho! songs such as Boll Weevil, Home on the Range, and Apple Picker's Reel. The stories are fascinating! We are BOTH learning interesting information. The music really starts our day off on a cheerful and positive note. 

I will be sharing my review of Diana's Experience History Through Music the week of June 30th. Please visit A Learning Journey to hear about our experiences with the products at that time. Until then . . . I want to share some exciting news with you.

Diana and Friends Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!  Here's what you could win! 

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!

Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.  

From A Journey Through Learning

Logo New 300 trans$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.  


From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I. Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.  

From Knowledge Quest Maps

HardcoverCD_ecover_croppedMap Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.  


From Home School Adventure Co. 

PAPS-R-96dpi shadowPhilosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.  


From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

fpf3-bundle-covers-180x180Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!  

From Raising Real Men

My-Beloved-and-My-Friend-Cover-Border-201x300RRM-Mom-Dad-300x295Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69) Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)  


From Institute for Excellence in Writing

logo$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.  

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.  

From Writing with Sharon Watson

69276_1454187188126914_157492202_nthe-power-in-your-hands-front-coverThe Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing. Writing Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life .

 To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter.