Open My Heart ~ hymn

This is one I will let speak for itself. But what a good reminder for us today.

Blessings,
At Home.

Texas Bucket List – W: Washington-On-The-Brazos ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

W - Washington only

Last summer, At Home Dad and I visited the “birthplace of Texas.” It is called Washington-On-The-Brazos. It is the city of Washington which happens to be located on the Brazos River. We enjoyed it so much that we went back and took the girls. It was a fantastic history experience for them.

There is a little hall there that has been recreated to be like the original site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. There is fantastic visitor center that houses an exhibit about the declaring of independence of Texas from Mexico and how those years as an independent nation went. Then it covers the period until Texas became a state of the United States of America. It is a well done exhibit that really shares the history, people, and artifacts that bring history to life.

The delegates that met in Independence Hall were important men from a wide-spread area. They came and participated because they wanted to do what was right and have a say in getting things set down well. These 59 men and the work they did in creating a Declaration of Independence and Constitution are often overshadowed by the fall of the Alamo, as they occurred within days of each other. However, they were a part of the same fight for freedom that the people of Texas were fighting. So many people played a part in this fight for freedom and this exhibit showcased a lot of them.

On site, there is also the Star of the Republic Museum. It houses and exhibits thousands of artifacts from the period of Texas as an independent nation. The artifacts are fascinating and the history that accompanies them is well done. The purpose of the museum is to “collect and preserve the material culture of the Texas Republic (1836-1846) and to interpret the history, cultures, diversity and values of early Texans.” There is a chronological history of Texas, with artifacts to support each part. The second floor showcases different styles of home and the affluence of different people. There are also artifacts from different professions, past times, and necessary items. It is fascinating.

If you want to see a living history site, you can also visit the Barrington Farm. It is a reproduction of a farm from the end of the time of the Republic of Texas. It is based on the Anson Jones family. Dr. Jones was the last president of the Republic of Texas and this was his home. It is worked authentically with people dressed in period clothing. We were a bit disappointed in this site but it could have been because the people were all busy with a school tour. It was interesting to look through the authentically furnished dog-run cabin, see the gardens, the smokehouse, and other buildings needed to run a farm.

Washington-On-The-Brazos is a great site to visit. Take a picnic lunch, walk some of the grounds, explore the museums and sites, and drink in the Texas outdoors. A definite recommmend!

Blessings,
At Home.

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Riding the Wave of Unexpected Interest

Riding the Wave

Tonight we had a large wave of unexpected interest. (pun intended for those of you who know that we have experienced 48 hours of nonstop rain at this point and it is forecast for the next 7 days at least; also in light of the question we investigated)

In what, you ask? Well, floods. Flash floods in particular.

A friend on social media sent a message to ask if we are okay since there is some serious flooding to our southwest. We are fine but it brought up a discussion with Miss J about flash flooding. At Home Dad and I had very different immediate definitions of flash flooding. I grew up in the mountains and deserts where flash flooding came from rains up in the mountains and swept down through dry arroyos. He grew up in central Texas where the flash flooding he was familiar with had to do with debris jambs on rivers.

Question after question came and was answered as best we could. But it is hard to understand the dangers and damage of flash flooding when you have not seen them. So, At Home Dad went to YouTube. The search brought up some really interesting videos. And we watched. There was some excellent explanations on some of the videos, as well.

(Well – I was going to direct you to some of the videos we watched but it seems YouTube is acting up and won’t show me any videos right now. Maybe later?)

In the course of watching these, there were some videos that brought up sink holes. Of course, we had to go view those and see what sink holes were. Those videos were also interesting, though not grabbing for Miss J.

But guess what?

Yep. Another idea related surfaced that we watched – mega monster waves. Those really big things that I have been blessed to never see except on video. So, we watched several of those.

All in all, it was about an hour spent talking about waves and the power of water and how dangerous it can be. Video can explain when words just won’t do sometimes. It shows power and might and danger from a safe place. Lots of learning happens like this. Ride that wave. Engage in the conversation. Seek out those moments. They occur all the time but we don’t always intentionally deal with them.

In the process of trying engage these kinds of questions and interests, we will be making peanut butter and honey bread soon. You read that right – the question was asked after lunch today if you could make a peanut butter and honey flavored loaf of bread for sandwiches. So, we’ll try that out soon. Miss J had some really good ideas about how to approach it.

Blessings,
At Home.

St. Bartholomew’s Eve (Heirloom Audio) ~ a Crew review

St Bartholomew's Eve from Heirloom Audio

Shrieks of joy are always heard in our home when Heirloom Audio releases an new title and St. Bartholomew’s Eve produced nothing less. Miss E and Miss J (14 and 9) took it out of the package and immediately high-tailed it to the bedroom to listen. After about two hours, they reappeared and let me know how wonderful it was. Another hit!

Heirloom Audio Productions is a company producing Christian entertainment through high-quality audio dramas. These are stories that are done with voice actors, sound effects, and all that goes into a movie, without the video. The audio dramas allow your imagination to stay engaged and for your brain to process and understand the story as it develops. Heirloom Audio is working to produce the novels of G.A. Henty in audio drama format and have done about 10 titles so far. We have been able to listen to all of them and have truly enjoyed each one, learning a lot about the situations, history, and people of that time.

inside set of St Bartholomew's Ever

The current production, St. Bartholomew’s Eve, begins in 1567. We find the Hugenots (French Protestants) under persecution by those in the nobility and the Catholic church. An English lad, Philip, has been sent to France by his family, and gone willingly himself, to assist those in danger and fight for what is right. He wants to assist those who are fighting for the right to worship peacefully, without terror and persecution.

Philip and Francois (his cousin) join with the Hugenots and we find them preparing for battle. They march out in battle and in the process of talking with those they are with, they find out that this persecution began over a meal. Philip is told that the Catholics were upset when the Hugenots ate meat on a Friday and sang songs that allowed all those in attendance to participate. The Catholic leaders were upset and decided that these people needed to be removed. Thus, the persecution.

In the first battle, Philip and Francois are extremely helpful and they are given awards. When Philip decries his award, saying he was doing what is right and that he was afraid while acting to save the prince, he is told that he was very brave. He questioned it and was told “Fear is what you feel; brave is what you are.” (What a wonderful quote!)

At another battle, the army is about to advance when Philip reminds them that they need to pray. In his prayer, Philip asked God to help them don His armor (quoted from the Bible – I loved that part, too!). Though they are betrayed and some of the party is captured, their hopes remain high and their faith in God is strong. At one point, when they are surrounded and all seemed lost, a young voice began singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” All joined in and faith was bolstered, hope renewed. It was a beautiful singing of a lovely hymn.

Some high points in the story:

  • God and the ability to worship him rightly was the purpose behind the battles.
  • The song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was beautiful. It began and ended with a child’s voice, reminding me to have a childlike approach before God.
  • Philip mentioned more than once the “glory and duty” of worship. That is a good reminder for me.
  • The purpose of the battles was not for human glory but was rather to protect those who needed it and to secure peace, particularly in worship.

One thing to be aware of is that this is a war story. Life was not simple for them and they did have to fight to worship in peace. Some of these scenes are vivid and some of the sound effects, well, they leave little to the imagination. You may want to know this before you allow your children to listen; it may not bother you. Either way, it is definitely a battle and war story.

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As always, Heirloom Audio has brought us a rendition of a G.A. Henty novel that shows us life in another era. This is a story I am going to try to find to read now, as there is a chunk of the story that feels like it is missing. It is difficult to condense all the detail of a Henty novel into a two-hour production so there is much more to be gleaned by reading the story itself. And that also provides a great correlation to discuss with the girls.

I would love to see Heirloom Audio continue to put out their study guide curriculum to go along with their audio dramas. Those have been extremely well-done in the past and help to fill in some of the holes of the story. It also bring to light some of the details that the listener might not gather while those who worked to research and write the audio drama know them intimately. I would really like to see the guides continue to be produced alongside the audios. It was sorely missed with this production.

All in all, another wonderful production is found in St. Bartholomew’s Eve. Other productions by Heirloom Audio include (links are to our previous reviews):

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking on the graphic below to read about what other families thought of Heirloom Audio’s production of St. Bartholomew’s Eve.

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Texas Bucket List – V: Valley of Dinosaurs ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

V

Texas is not often one of the places where people think of right off when it comes to dinosaurs. But, there is actually a very large area of Texas where you should think of dinosaurs. It is often referred to as the Valley of Dinosaurs but is maybe better known to people familiar with the Park Service as Dinosaur Valley State Park.

Located in Glen Rose, TX, this is an area where lots of dinosaur tracks have been well preserved. Along the Paluxy River, there are sauropod tracks and theropod tracks in the mud by what is believed to have been an ancient ocean. When the river is not too high, you can walk along the river and walk in the tracks left by the dinosaurs. Some places, you can go swimming and cool off from the hot sun.

When we went, it was September and still blazing hot. We waded in the river and walked along the tracks. It was a fun experience and gave us opportunity to discuss the truth of God’s word in relation to modern science with the girls. Many of the signs in the park refer to “millions of years ago” so just know that going in so you can speak truth with your children.

There are five sites within the park that hold tracks. This gives you a lot of viewing opportunity and some good hiking, as well. It is a lovely park. Take a picnic and enjoy the day. It was a good trip. Maybe it is time to visit again.

Close by is Dinosaur World and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, both places I would enjoy visiting.

Blessings,
At Home.

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 ~ a Crew review

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Having Season 6: Underground Rising, Digital version, arrive in our inbox created a lot of excitement from all three of the giggly girls. They thoroughly enjoy Brinkman Adventures and so it was a fun surprise to show the girls that we were going to get to review their newest stories.

Brinkman Adventures tells the stories of a fictional family that is involved with a number of different missionaries. Over the years, they have encountered people from all over the world serving God in varied ways. It is an audiodrama (focus on DRAMA here) and much is not true. They note that all stories are based on real people and real stories but they are dramatized, some of them quite extensively.

Season 6 includes only 6 episodes, four total stories as two of them each have two parts. The stories run about 30 minutes per episode. This season includes Dutch Underground, parts 1 and 2, Twice Born Fly, I Wonder Why, and Free Burma Rangers, parts 1 and 2.

Dutch Underground takes place during WWII. The story is narrated by the children’s great grandmother and tells of her and her husband’s participation in the Dutch Underground Resistance during the German occupation of the Netherlands. It does a very good job of showing the danger and difficulty faced by those seeking to serve God by helping those in danger.

Twice Born Fly addresses facing fears that you have and following God. In this story, one of the young boys accidentally swallows a fly and faces his fear of dying. The father helps by telling a story about a dream he had about being in prison and not being afraid when you are following the right person. This is an allegorical story and includes a lot about life in prison, including a few implied statements that were unnecessary for the actual story.

I Wonder Why is about a family who moves to India to serve in an orphanage. The daughter doesn’t understand why God would send them there and has difficulty in seeing any good. After time, changes take place (though I have a problem with the miraculous way they show this). The daughter has a changed heart and it ends with her happy to be in India.

Free Burma Rangers is about a missionary family, particularly the father. It talks about his growing up and becoming a Green Beret. Then it transitions into a mission they are on to free people in Burma, fleeing an approaching army that is causing destruction and damage to people and property. The Brinkman family are on this dangerous mission with the Free Burma Rangers.

These fictional adventures are an interesting look into lives of missionary minded people around the world. BUT, they are fictional. Names are changed to protect people but also, the episodes are written and changed to be more adventurous and dangerous in the name of entertainment.

There are a couple of places I would want to be aware of before young children listen.

  • Twice Born Fly has a large part that takes place in a prison. It is not a happy place and there is a lot of bullying and extortion that goes on in the story. It is easy to think that the father is a bad man; they do end up saying it was a dream but not until very close to the end. It is very misleading and I do not feel it was appropriate for children under about age 12. My 12 year old questioned many things, stopping it in the middle to discuss it with her older sister to make sure she understood it. Without that, she was confused.
  • I Wonder Why contained much that was “miraculous” and life is not that way for most people. The miracles that took place lead one to think that if you follow Jesus then life will be wonderful and all will be okay in the end. Even with her confidence in her own understanding of the Bible and what God tells us, my 12 year old daughter was concerned about the way the miraculous changes of heart occurred. She expressed concern that people would think that if they just said “God, please come into my heart” then their whole life would be changed and all would be well, that they would be saved. She knows that God does not promise that in the Bible so this is a concern with this particular story.
  • Also, in I Wonder Why, one of the miracles is that a child is healed miraculously from life-threatening allergies. While there is a disclaimer at the end of the recording, warning children with allergies not to just expose themselves and trust God to cure them, it is easy to miss it. (I did – my daughter informed me that I turned it off too soon since I turned it off when they began their “thanks for listening.”) If you have a child with allergies, know that this is in there and needs to be addressed prior to listening to this story.
  • There was a warning in Underground Rising, Part 2 for intense scenes but I did not feel it was necessary. I felt that the prison scenes in another story were much more likely to scare and intimidate a child.

There is much good in Brinkman Adventures and I would not stop my girls from listening to it. It opens up good discussions when they hear things they don’t believe follow God’s word and it shows them how other parts of the world live and encounter God. The view of other places and the work others do for God is wonderful and enlightening. I really like this about these stories.

This season of the Brinkman Adventures reminds us that we should know God’s Word, the Bible, and know what God actually teaches. I would cautiously recommend this season due to the content that specifically states that you can be saved just by silently saying you want God in your life. The Bible tells us differently. Even my daughters registered this issue and asked me to mention it (which I was going to do anyway).

A neat feature of Brinkman Adventures is that they are based on real people and their stories. One the Brinkman Adventures page, they have a link for the Real Stories that inspired these episodes. Please visit their website to read more about these real people who serve God around the world.

Miss L’s thoughts:
I would have liked more of the family because it makes it more relatable. I was expecting that since they have it in the other albums. It is fun to get to listen to the kids. Of Season 6, they were all okay but I didn’t really have a favorite. Two of these didn’t follow our beliefs so it was harder to relate to those.

Miss E’s thoughts:
It was a really good season. I really liked the Dutch Underground episodes because I like reading about that time period. I also really liked I Wonder Why. I enjoy the Brinkman Adventures so much because it is generally about a family that has all sorts of crazy problems. But because they are a family, they are living their life like normal and I like that. Even the things that go wrong. The only thing I didn’t like about this season is that it wasn’t really about the Brinkman family. It was more about other people and their lives, though there were a few appearances. They were in each episode in a small way but I would have liked to have more of them. Because I really like this series, I was a bit disappointed that there were only 6 episodes. But then when there were really only 4 stories, it was really disappointing.

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DISCOUNT: Brinkman Adventures is offering a 10% discount to my readers. The code is FALL10 and is good off of purchases from their online store. The code is good from October 10 – October 31, 2018.

Blessings,
At Home.

There are many other families who have been listening to Season 6: Underground Rising. Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what they have to say about these stories.

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Cupcakes For Everyone

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Miss L has been going to town with her cupcake maker. She has enjoyed having her own small kitchen appliances and the cupcake maker has been lots of fun.

She has made cupcakes several time. We have enjoyed them as a family and she has given them to others. She even designed a desert based off of the cupcakes that didn’t taste quite like she expected them to. (You know – when you forget to check if there is molasses in the cupboard and have to make a substitution that didn’t quite work? What do you do? You add ice cream!)

Her cupcake creations have benefited her in a number of ways –

  • She has kept herself from boredom by creating in the kitchen.
  • She has brought smiles to many people’s faces with her cupcakes.
  • She has learned adjustments on the fly and how to modify recipes.
  • She has learned independence in the kitchen (and to check for ingredients before starting).
  • She has learned to clean up more thoroughly and to be more careful in her cooking.
  • She has learned to read a recipe and how to measure ingredients.

These are just a few of the ways that learning to cook benefits her. Learning to cook, no matter what it is they are cooking, is a skill all children need to learn. And for her to tackle it in this way is great. She is thrilled to be able to bring treats to others. And it is all of her own doing.

What has been created in your kitchen lately?

Blessings,
At Home.

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