Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CrossTimber review and #giveaway

One of the greatest privileges of parenting is getting to choose your child's name.  I've never liked my own name, but I love my children's names.  The pondering over name choices, the imagining who your child will be, it's magical, whether your children come to you by birth or by adoption.  Each of my children has a story that goes with the names that we chose for them, both first names and middle names.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber is a business all about names!  The Homeschool Review Crew was offered the opportunity to review a wide variety of their products.  CrossTimber offers everything from a personalized framed plaque with name meaning and Bible verse, to music boxes, bookmarks, coffee mugs, and even multi-name plaques.  Their products are totally customized to what you want.  Deciding what to order was the hardest part for me!  I couldn't very well get a name plaque for one of my children and not all the others, could I?

I was browsing the occupations when I found a firefighter mug.  I decided I would get that for my husband, Paul, who is a fire captain.  The ordering process was simple, and the staff personable.  They even offered to research my odd name for me.

The mug arrived quickly by priority mail, and was very well packed.

It's beautiful!  I'm very happy with it.  I was originally planning for it to be a Christmas gift, but since Paul sees the blog from time to time, I'll have to give it to him now.

They included a small name card with it, with the same motif as the mug.

There's even a discrete logo on the back of the mug, which is nice if I want to order more of them.  The website is right there, without me having to think, "Now what was that business called again?"

The mug is microwavable, and dishwasher safe, both very important in our house.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber products would make lovely baby shower or first birthday gifts.  As we head into the holiday season, they're also a great gift idea for the hard to shop for people on your list.  After all, everybody has a name, right?

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber also has gifts featuring the names of God.  You can select from a variety of the Biblical names of God, on various backgrounds to create beautiful artwork for your home, or as a gift for your pastor or mentor.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber is generously offering discounts for volume purchases.  They're also sponsoring a great giveaway!  The grand prize winner may select either a mug, a name plaque or an 8x10 plaque.  Nine additional winners each get a $10 gift certificate toward the item of their choice.  Click the box below to enter.  

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway

This was a really fun review for the Crew, and everyone has a unique story about what they chose and why.  You will want to click the box below to read all those reviews and see pictures of the other products CrossTimber offers.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages

My daughter, Hannah, was born in China.  For the first three and a half years of her life, she spoke Mandarin Chinese.  In the last 6 years, most of her Chinese has been replaced by English.  So I was very happy to get to review Elementary Chinese, grades 3-5, from Middlebury Interactive Languages.   We received access to the program for one year, which sells for $238.

My hope for Hannah is to keep Chinese familiar enough to her that if she chooses to re-learn it as a teen or adult, she won't be starting completely from scratch.  Mandarin is a tonal language, and it's difficult for a non-native speaker to distinguish the tones.

Middlebury Interactive Languages helps me with that goal.  She's exposed to stories and cultural information, in addition to learning Chinese vocabulary and characters.  I appreciate the variety of ways information is presented.  The program holds her interest well.

Middlebury currently offers courses in Chinese, French, Spanish, and German.  In the Chinese language courses, Middlebury has two elementary levels (K-2 and 3-5), two middle school levels, and 4 high school levels.

Hannah likes "doing Chinese" because the lessons are interesting and engaging.  She likes to hear the stories.

I like that she's actually learning how to write characters.  I know a few characters, but I am pretty sure she has passed me up already.  The paper you see in front of her is a special printout designed for learning to write Chinese characters.  I like that I can print as much of this as we need.

Here, Hannah is learning to print the characters representing the numbers 1-10.

Middlebury is an online program.  You need a computer, an internet connection, and a microphone.  For some lessons, the program will say a word and have Hannah repeat it into the microphone so she can hear herself say it and know if it sounds the same as the computer or not.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

I think Middlebury is a great solution for homeschool families that want to teach a second language that the parents themselves do not speak.  Since I'm getting ready to go back to China on an advocacy trip, it's been helpful to me to "hang out" in the room with Hannah while she's working on her Chinese to brush up on the Mandarin few phrases that I know.

Progress is visible in the grade book area of the program.

Plus there's an "at a glance" progress report available under grade report.  At the time of this screenshot, Hannah was getting an 87%, and had completed 11% of the program so far.

Many years ago, most people lived and died within 100 miles of the house they were born in, but in today's global society, travel is safer and easier, and people are on the move.  Kids who learn a second language are more employable and have more opportunities available to them.  Knowing about other cultures in our world is a wonderful side benefit to using Middlebury.

You can connect with Middlebury Interactive Languages on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Other Crew families reviewed a variety of languages and levels, and you can read their reviews by clicking the box below.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Our Week with a Spot of Sewing

My friend is home from the hospital and doing well.  Her kids are happy to have their mama home.

We got back to art this week!  The first project involved soft pastels, which are messy.  We keep diaper wipes with the art supplies for things like this.

Our first project involved creating an animal shaped stencil and then using pastels to color around it several times.

Then we put a small piece of cardboard under the stencil and glued it onto the page, creating a 3 dimensional effect.

Still loving the Can Do Cubes.  Actually, we're still enjoying the Jolly Phonics books, too.  Katie's working through book 2 now.  Here, she's using the cubes to spell out words.  I find myself reaching for these when Katie misspells a word in her spelling book so I can show her the way it should look.  Especially with 2 letter vowels and ch, sh, th, etc.

Math drill work.  Not a favorite, but a necessary evil.

When my friend's kids were here last week, I made a discovery.  We had no crib sheets.  After Luke left the first time, I decluttered down to just two of them:  the ones I made for him and Katie when I decorated the panda room.  When he came back, we used them to death.  He often slammed his face into the crib to self sooth, and I'd go in to get him in the morning and find blood (from his nose) all over him and the crib.  When he moved again, those two sheets were gross, so I threw them away.

After having to "make do" with what we had around the house while we had 6 spare kids here last week, I decided we should probably have some crib sheets.  And since I have oodles of fabric, I should make them.  Left sheet is a travel print with landmarks from around the world.  Center sheet is fabric from Alaska.

Sheet on the right is a purple calico print.  If you're curious, this is How I Make Crib Sheets.

Our second art project this week, also from the Home Art Studio 4th grade DVD, was treat bags for Halloween.  The tutorial was on how to make a monster or Frankenstein treat bag, but she mentioned you could also make them to match a costume.  I told Jack and Hannah they could choose.

Jack decided to go with a monster, and Hannah decided to match her costume.  She's going to be a tiger.  Katie was working on her math, but I made her a panda bag to go with her panda costume.

When I pulled out the pipe cleaners chenille stems, Jack played with them for a while, and ended up chained to his chair at one point.  Boys!

Our finished treat bags.

What's this?  We're at another pumpkin patch?  Yes.  I confess, I'm really, really enjoying being able to get out of the house and meet up with friends to enjoy all the special fun that only happens in the autumn.

We hung out with some other homeschoolers we don't get to see very often at our local pumpkin patch.

It was really, really good for Jack to get to run with a flock of boys his age.

Hannah and Katie had a great time, too.

We went on a hay ride.

 They posed for silly pictures.

And they got to pet animals.

It was perfect fall weather; sunny and nice, with lots to see and do.  I took new pictures of Jack, Hannah and Katie to update the blog sidebar.

My China trip is only a couple weeks away now, and I'm starting to get things ready.  We got a letter from Josiah, and we heard from his commander when graduation will be, so it looks like we'll be traveling again for that, just a short while after my return from China.  Exciting!

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