Product Review: New Liberty Videos

When I first found out that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would have the chance to review some DVDs from New Liberty Videos, I wasn’t too mussed. We don’t have a TV or a traditional DVD player (just the DVD ROM on the computer), so I didn’t intend to request this product. But then I saw the actual list of films that would be offered, and when I saw Warriors of Honor ($19.95 for a physical DVD) on that list, I had strong suspicions that Will and the boys would be really interested. You see, it’s a film about the Christian faith of two Confederate generals – Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. My boys (and man!) are big history buffs, and the Civil War is one that fascinates them all, so I went ahead and requested this movie after all.

I knew from the beginning that Will and I would watch this first, before we showed it to the boys. I didn’t think there would be anything objectionable in it (how could there be, what with the topic?), but I wanted to be sure. To date, we haven’t shown it to them yet. We’re still processing the film and deciding whether we want to show it to them. You see, while not objectionable per se, the film is definitely not unbiased. We could tell in the first two minutes that the film was going to be a Confederacy-sympathetic one, and we were right. I’m not saying that that’s good or bad, just that we want to think a little more before we show the boys something so clearly biased – at least at their current ages. That said, there was nothing in this film that would be difficult for them to understand, therefore making it suitable for a general audience. It has not been rated by the MPAA, however.

The film is mostly narration over the top of still photographs of the people they’re talking about. There are actual photos of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, their wives, and a myriad of other Civil War figures as well as places. That was really neat to see. When it’s not still photos, we’re shown Civil War reenactments. The way it’s laid out is simply a walk through of the war. We’re told about the different battles and how Jackson and Lee prepared, fought, and reacted to said battles. The film moves chronologically through the Civil War, putting special emphasis on the Christian faith of the two men. It goes nice and slow, offering lots of details until Gettysburg. When we get to Gettysburg, it feels like it almost “skips” the rest of the war and rushes us into the signing of the surrender. I suppose that makes sense, since it’s a documentary of the lives of Jackson and Lee, and after Gettysburg Jackson is dead (he died before Gettysburg, actually) and Lee starts losing.

Ultimately, I felt that this film did a good job diving into the depths of who these two men were, beyond just their position as military generals. Will and I were already moderately familiar with Civil War history (he much more than I!), so the way the individual battles went weren’t exactly a surprise to us, but it was neat to see how these two important men allowed their faith to guide their lives.




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A is for Armadillo

a is for armadillo sbh

A friend of mine (Marcy at Ben and Me) has done a “Blogging Through the Alphabet” series several times now, and I’ve never remembered to start when she’s back at “A.” She’s since decided not to do the series, but I think it’s a great idea, so I’m going to give it a go. Alphabet posts will happen once a week in addition to anything else I have to write about that particular week and may or may not relate to each other. Some will be about our homeschooling journey, some will be recipes, and some will simply my thoughts for the week. Enjoy!

So . . . A is for Armadillo. Pretty random, no? Not for our home this week. We just started a unit study on Wild Animals: Small Mammals (from the set of My First Reports by Hewitt Homeschooling) in our homeschool, and the first animal we’re studying is armadillos.

Here’s what’s on tap for this week of our study. Continue reading

Homeschool Curriculum Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury Interactive Languages ReviewIf you’ve been reading these pages for very long at all, you know that I’m a sucker for foreign languages, especially French. For over a year now I’ve been searching for “the perfect foreign language curriculum.” The conclusion I’m coming to is that it just doesn’t exist. However, Middlebury Interactive Languages comes pretty close. For the purposes of this review, we received a six-month subscription to their Elementary French 1 (Grades 3-5). As the product title suggests, this is designed for upper elementary students – roughly grades 3 through 5.

For this review, we were given several options of Middlebury courses – French, German, Spanish, or Chinese, each available in a variety of levels. It was a really tough call for me whether to start the boys with¬†Elementary French 1 (which has no prerequisites) or Elementary French 2, which has the prerequisite of French 1 or equivalent. You know, of course, that we’ve been doing French off and on for a long time with the boys. But I wasn’t sure if the stuff they’d learned up to this point would be enough to qualify as “or equivalent,” so we went ahead and did Level 1. Continue reading

Reading List – October 2014

Inspired by The Unlikely Homeschool, I’ve decided to do a post each month of what’s on our reading list. It’s a little late in the month to be doing October’s, but that’s okay; we’re still reading these books, and likely will be throughout the rest of the month.

Read-aloud – Everyone

wayside school

We have two. First, we’re reading¬†Sideways Stories from Wayside School. This is a classic from my childhood; it was my brother’s favorite book as an elementary school student. My kids haven’t had the pleasure of hearing or reading it, so I thought it would be a fun one. Plus, it’s a quick read which makes everyone feel like we’ve accomplished something in very short order.

We started earlier this week, and are already about 10 chapters in. The kids love it! And honestly, what’s not to love? Louis the yard teacher . . . Mrs. Gorf, the teacher who turns her students into apples . . . Mrs. Jewls, the teacher who thinks her students are monkeys . . . Maurecia, the girl who keeps ice cream in her desk. Good times. Continue reading

Book Review: The iWitness series by Apologia

Apologia Review
We are fascinated by things like Biblical archaeology in my house. Get us (especially Will and Seahawk) going on the subject, and an hours-long conversation is sure to ensue. So when I heard that members from the Schoolhouse Review Crew would have the opportunity to review the new iWitness series from Apologia Educational Ministries, I was definitely intrigued. They asked us to review the following books:

Written by Doug Powell, each of these books takes the reader on an in-depth search of different aspects important to the Christian faith. The books aren’t a boring tome, though. Each one is designed to look like a stack of documents, using different graphics and fonts, to introduce you to the evidence that has been discovered over the years. They follow a logical progression, but the goal is not to just tell you, “This is how it is, so you have to believe it.” Instead, the idea is to push you to do your own research and (ideally) come to the conclusions that “Yeah, this is probably really true” on your own. The books are good for a variety of ages (we read them aloud with all three boys), but the reading level is roughly 11 and up. Continue reading

Gone Girl: an {unsponsored} review of the book and movie

I mentioned last week that I was reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and that I hoped to finish it over the weekend to be able to see the movie on “$5 Tuesday” at the local (and by “local” I mean “only one town over”) Regal Cinema.

I almost made it. I finished Monday evening.

So now I’m going to try to focus my thoughts on the story into a blog post – without giving too much away. Because I’d hate it if you read this post and then didn’t feel the need to read the book because of it.

Let me start by giving what’s become my general feedback about this story to anyone I know who’s considering or planning to read it. The book is written in three parts. Part one is a quick jog. From the final paragraph of Part 1 clear up until the last word of the last sentence of Part 3 is a full on sprint. There’s no break in the action. Just when you think there should be some falling action, and it feels like you might be entering some, you find out that you’re wrong. You can see on the cover of the book (in the image above), that it’s been called “Thriller of the Year.” I think that’s a pretty great description. This book was a wonderful read. Outside of sponsored book reviews and read-alouds with the boys, it’s the first book I’ve finished in a long time. I like reading, but I’ve been having trouble finding something “worth” reading recently, so I think my finishing this book is pretty high praise.

Continue reading

Wednesday Chat #13


There’s still no new questions from Patrice, so I’m going to answer questions from her “Farmhouse Chat #153,” which I didn’t do when it posted new.

What are you most looking forward to in the remaining months of 2014?

Well, I love the cooler temperatures of Fall, but what I love the most about the last few months of the year are the holidays. I positively adore Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would like to try some new home decor this year, but I don’t know if that will happen or not.

Tell us the last movie you saw, or book you read. Continue reading


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