Monday, October 5, 2015

FlyBoy Meets The Methuselah Project

I recently received a historical/sci-fi novel to read for review. The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry. I love historical novels, and those set in World War II have been of particular interest in times past.

I'll give you my thoughts below the snippet from the publisher about the book:

About the book: The Methuselah Project (Kregel, September 2015)

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed---until the day he's shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success---but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn't aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn't Captain America---just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger's sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there's no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It's 2015---and the world has become an unrecognizable place.
Katherine Mueller---crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle---offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he's trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Purchase a copy:
About the author:
Rick Barry is the author of Gunner's Run, another World War II novel, Kiriath's Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he is the director of church planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry operating in Eastern Europe. He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and has visited Europe more than fifty times. Rick lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Connect with Rick online: 

My thoughts:

I am new to Rick Barry's work, but will be interested in picking up more of his books. The Methuselah Project is very readable, and the characters are quite believable.

I have visited Dachau, and been horrified by the unspeakable experiments that were performed on prisoners in the name of science. It's not too difficult to imagine the premise of this novel~ An insane genius, searching for the fountain of youth, using undocumented prisoners (MIA) as lab rats, at an undisclosed location.

The first chapter is set in 1943, before Roger's last flight over Germany, with the next chapter introducing us to Katherine Meuller in July, 2014. The story continues to move between the two times, covering decades in Roger's life, but only months of Katherine's life, until their timelines collide in March, 2015. The twining of the past and the present is well done, and presented a story that held my interest until the very end. To some degree, I was aware of who the final antagonist near the time of that character's introduction, but how the story would play out was unclear, which made it a very gripping read. I enjoyed seeing the two main characters discover the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as they careen between deception and truth themselves.

I enjoyed The Methuselah Project, and think that many fans of action/adventure/sci-fi/history may find this book worth their time. You can read what others thought of The Methuselah Tour at the following blog tour link.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages: High School German I

I took German in high school in part because I had German ancestors, and in part because it was offered! I wore a Dirndl my sister sent from Germany (When she was in the army) and had my hair in braids to sing Nur Ver Die Sehnsucht Kennt  at our State Music Competition, where I was asked if I was a German Exchange Student due to the fact that my name had a German spelling, and my accent was "native." My German teacher said my ear for language and accents was such that I would make a good spy... too bad I didn't/don't have the stomach for it. ;)

I must admit I was a little bit disappointed when my Eldest determined that Latin would be her Foreign Language of choice for high school. Middlest didn't do any foreign language study last year, but as he is a Sophomore this year, it *is* getting to be time for him to make a choice. He had mentioned an interest in German (hurrah!) a couple of years ago, so when the opportunity came to review a 6 month, 1 semester course of High School German Level 1 through Middlebury Interactive Languages I signed up!

Middlebury Interactive offers courses in Chinese, French, German, and Spanish 
Grades K-12

Each class is offered by semester, with a full course being two complete semesters. Almost everything is done online, with the exception of some "written" work that the parent/teacher is supposed to grade. This might be a little tricky for someone who doesn't already have some familiarity with the language, but so far I haven't run into any major trouble.

The courses are immersive in that they involve the student in 4 key areas of language learning: the auditory aspect of  Listening and Speaking, and the ability to Read and Write. Some exercises include listening to native speakers, then recording the same phrases, listening to native speakers and translating what they said, reading phrases and dragging them to the correct translation, watching videos, and more. Most of the activities are interesting and engaging.

A couple of things that could use some improvement:
We did have *some* confusion with a couple of the listening/writing exercises, where the directions weren't totally clear~ I could wish that there was a little more homeschool parent guidance when using the independent version (aka a key to the answers, so that we could guide our students toward the correct sort of answer).

As a homeschool teacher, I would like the ability to move the assignments around on the calendar. Because we had a two week vacation scheduled during the review period, I would have preferred to have control over the assignments rather than having my son's assignments constantly behind. I expect that the calendar is set up for the interactive teacher, who provides support, encouragement and feedback if you should happen to choose that option, but it would be good to have access to it as a homeschool teacher as well.

My son actually prefers the process the of accessing assignments via the calendar: with each section shown on the left, and the arrow buttons at the bottom to move back to a previous lesson or go on to the next lesson.
(Note that the presentations in the lesson that have been completed have blue/greyed out titles and the slides themselves are tinted. In this screenshot you can see the last part of the lesson, Pronunciation Practice 1 has a white title, and therefore wasn't completed...)

The Table of Contents is another way to access the lessons, and can be more straight-forward if one is not up-to-date with the pre-programmed calendar assignments. It makes it easier for the teacher (and student) to see which sections have been completed (green check box) and which haven't (unchecked box). I think that if a "Forward" and "backward" button could be added to these presentations, the "user interface" ( or "UI" to quote my son) would be much smoother. Currently when using this method to move through the course one must click back to the title in the side menu. Not a big deal, but Middlest did request that I mention it. ;)

By and large, I find this to be an interesting method of teaching German, and a far cry from my high school classes which started out learning the alphabet, conjugating verbs, and learning noun gender right away. Conjugations don't show up until the third unit, after the student has some good conversational phrases under their belt. He had enough after the first lesson to have a little fun with it. Learning to say "Herr ____ ist ein freund von mir" made him think of a slightly cheesy little song their youth pastor introduced them to... Jesus is a friend of mine: (so much better in German!)

Middlest's thoughts: I like it a lot~ it is one of the things I look forward to doing. It has renewed my interest in learning German, and I enjoy learning about German culture in the videos. I like that I can understand some conversation, and I am starting to get a feel for the language. 

I am looking forward to brushing up on my German as well, so that Middlest and I  can try to converse a little bit.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Visit  Middlebury Interactive Languages Social Media:

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say as they reviewed other languages and levels. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Swagbucks reaches $100 Million Milestone! (earn EXTRA Swagbucks today!)

After 7 plus years, Swagbucks has reached a major milestone today - 
$100 million in gift cards and cash paid out to its members!

Some of you may know that I have been a member of Swagbucks for a very long time... I mention it every once in awhile. Well, I just checked, and I signed up in December 2008... almost since the beginning! Over the course of almost 7 years I've earned 27,800 swagbucks, which translates into a little over $500 in Amazon Gift cards! Not too shabby for mostly just doing normal internet searches!

Back to the point at hand... To celebrate, Swagbucks is giving away tons of points (called SB) that *you* can use to get free gift cards or cash back!

I wanted to share some information with you on how you can earn extra swagbucks today, and maybe score an Amazon Gift Card (Or something else... that just tends to be my "Redemption" of choice). The rest of this post is information directly from Swagbucks. 

1. The World of Millions Swag Code Extravaganza 
(Wednesday, September 30 only)

6 Swag Codes 
(Enter these into the swag code box at the top of your screen throughout the day) 

7 am PST/ 10 am EST - Answers 
9 am PST/ 12 pm EST - nCrave  
11 am PST/ 2 pm EST - Watch 
1 pm PST/ 4 pm EST - Shop 
3 pm PST/ 6 pm EST - Search 
5 pm PST/ 8 pm EST - Instagram 

2. Earn 100 SB Get 100 SB - For the 30th only, you can earn up to 400 bonus SB combined through the following activities

  • Discover = Earn 100 SB get a 100 SB Swag Up
  • nCrave = Earn 125 SB get a 100 SB Swag Up
  • Answer (Surveys Only) = Earn 150 SB get a 100 Swag Up
  • Watch Mobile = Earn 200 SB get a 100 Swag Up
Not a Swagbucks member yet? With back-to-school shopping completed and the holidays quickly approaching, a lot of you are probably thinking about your gift shopping list. Swagbucks is a fun rewards program that gives consumers free gift cards and cash and helps families pay for the holidays simply by doing what they are already doing online like shopping, searching the web, watching videos and sharing their opinions. Here’s a video showing how fun and easy it can be…

There is no limit to how many points Swagbucks members can earn and they never expire. Points can be redeemed for cash via PayPal or for gift cards for hundreds of retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us, and more. Sign up today and if you earn 300 points, called SB today (that's equivalent to a $3 Amazon Gift Card), you’ll get an additional 300 SB bonus on top of everything else! It’s simple, it’s free and it works. Click here to join today!

I  continue to search, and sometimes take part in some of the other swagbucks earning opportunities to earn Amazon Gift Cards, which helps stretch our cash for Christmas, Birthdays, Camping... really whatever we need to get. If you haven't signed up with Swagbucks yet, I'd love if you would use my referral link (Any highlighted links above) when you do~ because then we *both* win. ;)


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fascinating Education ~ Fascinating Physics Review

Even with a little help
from his little brother
he's good! 
Juggling at the beach
There really are three
balls in the air... 
Middlest child is a nuts and bolts kind of guy, who happens to have a bit of a natural inclination towards physics from a coordination point of view... he understands how to juggle... and he makes some amazing pool shots... and those all tie in to physics to some degree. He utilizes the laws governing movement and energy, often without even realizing it. Because of this, he was most interested in checking Fascinating Physics when given the option to choose between Fascinating Education's Biology, Chemistry, and Physics programs to review.

Now... he is on the younger end of the spectrum~ just turning 15 and if he were in the local school district he'd probably be an incoming freshman, so Physics is a bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h for him, but he was up for the challenge.

Fascinating Physics is an online science course, accessed via browser. The class is taught by the founder, Dr. Sheldon Margulies. As you can see by the graphic below, the course consists of a lesson (Power-point style, with Dr. Margulies lecturing/explaining through each slide), a script of the lecture, (for those who absorb knowledge best via reading,  easily accessed via the blue button below the lesson icon), and when your student has a handle on the material, a test, which can be taken either online or via a printed version from the provided pdf file, for those who prefer to have hardcopy on hand for their portfolios.

If you click on the graphic below, you can visit the Fascinating Education Sample page, to "test-drive" a lesson, view a script and see what a test looks like. This page also includes the course outline.
A note about the physics tests~ each question page has a "need help?" button, which will open up and reinforce the material learned before returning the student to the test. This can be very helpful when there are a myriad formulas that are difficult to recall when working through some of this material. 

A note about the tests in general~ there are no results stored on the website, so if you want a record of your students work, you will want to print the results right away, or print as pdf and store them on your computer. 

I should also mention that this is a secular science resource, so there will be mention of theories like "The Big Bang" and "Billions of years." However, I didn't find those comments to be a problem in the efficacy of the course in teaching the laws of physics.

So... how did we like Fascinating Physics, and how did it work for us? 
As mentioned above, the material might be a little bit advanced for my son at this age, so we took it a little slower than a student might who is 2-3 years older, with a stronger background in Algebra and Geometry. Middlest watched the complete first lesson in a few chunks of time the first full week we had the program. Then we watched it together, again bit by bit, because he was having trouble comprehending some parts (ummm.. yeah, me too! Physics is tricky stuff!). However, Dr. Margulies does present the material in a very understandable, straightforward manner, once the math concepts are conquered.

I reminded Middlest that he could pause the lesson, and look at the script that pertained to each slide, taking his time to really absorb what was being said, or the problem that was being worked. Finally, he went through the whole lesson one more time before taking the test.

Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the test results needed to be printed (I forgot to mention that quirk to him), so he moved on to another subject before I was able to see his results. I think I might move to the pdf version for future tests, just to be on the safe side! :) Or I can use this as a lesson in responsibility~ print/save/email the results, lest you be required to take the test again~ hardcopy! :D

The course consists of 15 lessons, which offers the equivalent of 1 year high school physics credit. I expect most lessons could be completed fairly easily over two weeks by a student with advanced math skills, and even by less proficient students, once they are confident in taking full advantage of accessing the material in the multiple ways in which it is presented.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

T is for Thanks ~ Charlotte Mason Inspiration

T is for Thanks...

The quote continues... "simple in that we are really thinking of the kindness of the other person and not of ourselves; and sincere, in that we do not say a word more than we feel, or make believe to value a gift for its own sake when it is really not of value to us."

After a long hiatus, I shall attempt to finish my Charlotte Mason Inspiration A-Z picture/quotes. Please let me know if you enjoy(ed) this series. :)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Nuggets of Gold (Missionary Story, Revolutionary Time Travel and a new song)

We've been busy with our last week of vacation before school starts, and time has really gone flying by! After camping last week we spent this week regrouping and relaxing for much of the time.

We unveiled our tie-Dye shirts from camping~ spent an afternoon at the beach, Eldest and I put in a long day at a Feis and then on to square dancing with "the cousins," while the boys and the dog were busy with a baseball game in the morning, the fall flea market down the street, and enjoying parts of our town's 375th birthday celebration (no photos from the boys' time... :(  )

Now it's time to get ready for our first day/week of school! :)

Here are a few nuggets to start you off:

By Canoe and Dog Train: The Adventures of Sharing the Gospel with Canadian Indians (Updated Edition. Includes Original Illustrations.) I haven't read this yet, but it looks like an interesting read for an older elementary age.

Timekeepers: A Revolutionary Tale is another that I plan to check out shortly~ a time travel story for the younger set.

And last but not least,  a bit of new music
that you can download from HearItFirst.
A new-to-me artist, Becca Bradley and her song The Lions Eyes. This is currently free for download if you submit your email address~

One more~ not a freebie, but a fun resource that you might be able to check out from the library or purchase used ~ I Hear America Singing!: Folksongs for American Families is a nostalgic CD/Book combo for my family~ it was a major part of the soundtrack to our 2006 Great American Road Trip. Eldest was reminded of it when looking up some of the tunes played at the square-dance. :)

Enjoy these nuggets! I'm going to go get some last-minute planning in for our first day of school, 2015/2016.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Early September Golden Nuggets

I hope that your September has started off well!

Ours began with a week of camping,  beautiful weather, fishing (Middlest) and fun with family and friends.

Reminder: $5.99 Great Homeschool T-shirt Sale ~ ends on the 10th! They are also offering 20% off of most of their totes (Listed at $5.99) and "specialty" t-shirts... Go, check it out! :D
Our purchases from the 2010 sale

New Release Today has a free download from Cindy Morgan.

Amazon has a fun remake: Free Story "Little Bad Wolf and Red Riding Hood" from Newfangled Fairy Tales for Kindle~ I always like to check out variations on classic tales, and this one is cute. ;)

That's all for the moment~ enjoy!!! 


I love trading in points(450), earned during normal searches, for ($5) Amazon Gift Cards!


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