Monday, February 19, 2018

Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions ~ a Crew Review

Jump in the boat with us as we sail away on yet another exciting adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions! This ninth release in the Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series tell a tale of loyalty, courage, and love through the story of Wulf the Saxon. We begin our adventure when Wulf is just a short-tempered 16 year old thane under Earl Harold Godwinson and follow him through the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Although these are historical fiction tales, you will step away wishing Wulf were real and alive today because you will want him for a friend, either for yourself or for your children.

Heirloom Audio Productions continues to excel at bringing audio theatre to a higher level as they combine great storytelling with superb acting and amazing sound effects. We like listening to these on long car rides, but I often wish I had the time to listen at home as well when I could close my eyes and better imagine the details the stories evoke. Arlene has enjoyed listening to all of the audio adventures over and over again ever since the first one arrived in the fall of 2014.

Wulf the Saxon is 2.5 hours of non-stop listening enjoyment. Having recently lived through our own daughters' learning those oh-so-necessary lessons of self-control, polite speech, and loyalty during the teen years, I think the story of Wulf's growth in this tale might just become my favorite! As a future landholder in a time of England's history where a thane's words and actions reflected upon the Earls, and thus the King, Wulf must learn to control his temper. Along the way he learns the value of self-control and the great honor and responsibility of loyalty to Earl Harold who would succeed Edward the Confessor as King.

While Wulf has the privilege of being raised as a page enroute to becoming a thane who will one-day rule his Father's lands, he also must learn the value of hard work. Beorn is in a similar situation, and during the time they spend learning from Earl Harold they become good friends. By the end of the story you will also come to love Osgod, Wulf's servant, defender, cohort, and friend.

I was fascinated by the way this story tells the details of what happened leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It has been a long time since I studied World History, but I do remember mention of the Bayeux Tapestry, and it is the springboard into this story. Once again, G.A. Henty as narrator is voiced by Brian Blessed, and he is joined by an amazing cast.

While listening to the story of Wulf the Saxon, Arlene and I often paused the CDs to talk about these themes of loyalty and hard work and various points in Britain's history. Questions she raised like "Why was someone always trying to conquer England?" and others make our study of history so much richer. We would definitely recommend these Christian audio dramas become a vital and well-loved part of your homeschooling curriculum! If you are looking to further your study of history, we recommend you take a look at the Live the Adventure Club from Heirloom Audio! This online, subscription-only resource allows you to dig deeper into a wide variety of history topics, beginning with the audio adventures! We have a subscription and it keeps all of our audio adventures available for online listening,  along with any bonus content. There is an old-time radio vault for your listening enjoyment, plus resources for parents, online kids' activities, daily devotionals and a wonderful Live the Adventure Club Community forum. 

Throughout the story of Wulf the Saxon there is an underlying theme of patriotism (to England) that requires sacrifice. This is a lesson we Americans would do well to learn again. King Edward's, and later King Harold's goals were to keep England united from within to withstand the attacks that threatened to tear her apart. Some characters, like Lady Edith and King Harold, gave up their dreams of marrying for love, while others, like Osgod, gave up a part of their lives, all while fighting for the continuation of England as a free country. They are not portrayed as looking for their country to do something for them, but rather they are portrayed as being willing to sacrifice their personal wants for the greater good of their country and their countrymen. It reminded me of JFK's speech "Ask not what your country can do for you..."

Courage in the face of overwhelming odds or an uncertain future is something I want our daughters to learn. Courage is not necessarily the absence of fear, but the decision to not let fear rule your life or your choices. The story of Wulf the Saxon, while fictional, reminds us of the Biblical truths that God is the one who goes before us into battle, and He is the one who allows us to treat others with compassion.

While the adventures from Heirloom Audio are designed for ages 6-16, don't be fooled into thinking those are the only ages that will enjoy them. Arlene will soon turn 18 and is still excited every time a new audio adventure releases! I am pretty sure some day in the distant future Kurt and I will be purchasing these for another generation of our family. Yes, they really are that well done!

From Arlene:

Normans and Saxons, if you have ever watched or read Robin Hood (I myself am a big fan of the 1938 Errol Flynn version) you know that the Normans and Saxons don't like each other. However, if you are like me, you were never quite sure why? Enter Wulf the Saxon, a tale that can help you understand their animosity, while still being an amazing story in its own right. The story follows Wulf, a thane, in his adventures with and for Earl Harold as the Earl works to unify the country of England he will one day rule. Harold is trying to keep peace with the other rulers and cultures around them. The story is never boring, with battles and adventures of Dukes and Kings. It is sure to both entertain and teach from start to finish.

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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}


Books With Bean ~ Anne of Green Gables

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Anne of Green Gables

Title: Anne of Green Gables 

Author: L. M. Montgomery

Published: 1908

Genre: Literary 

Summary: 11 year old Anne Shirley was not what Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert expected when they sent for an orphan to help out on their farm. But come she did, and their lives are forever changed when they decide to keep her and raise her. Anne hasn't had much formal upbringing up to that point so life is one mishap after another as Anne learns how to be a proper girl. From making lifelong friends with one child at school to swearing to hate another one for the rest of her life, life on Prince Edward Island is never boring. Anne meets new people, has lots of adventures, and for the first time in her life learns what it is like to have a family.

What I liked about it: Being a redhead myself I have always liked Anne, she was a lot like me, she loved what she loved and hated what she did not like. She was quick to a temper but just as quick to forgive (at least most of the time). Even as I got older and with time grew more refined in my literary analysis skills I realized that Anne could be a bit too good at times. However she and her adventures will always have a special place in my heart for her love of fun and the world around her.

Language: None

Romance: None in the first book, but as Anne grows older she does have romance and eventually gets married. The books are all very good however you might want to wait until your child is a bit older to read the later books if they start the first book when they are young.

Violence: None

Magic: None

Recommended Age: Anne is 11 and I personally think 10 or 11 is good age to start reading the series. However as I said above Anne does get older as the books go on. These books a wonderful to read as you grow up however while Anne is young in the first book she does get older and I would recommend the later books for 14 and up or maybe a little older

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Anne of Green Gables

Friday, February 16, 2018

Treetop Outpost at Conner Prairie ~ Road Trip Time!

Treetop Outpost
Spring will be here before you know it! This week many bloggers are focusing on adding field trips to their children's education, so we wanted to remind you about Conner Prairie, with this post that originally debuted in July of 2016

Just north of Indianapolis lies one of Indiana's treasures: Conner Prairie! It is a living history museum where guests learn through interaction with costumed interpreters while being immersed in Indiana's past.  While Conner Prairie has long been known for its quality presentation of multiple times in Indiana's history, it is fast becoming known nationwide for its newest area: Treetop Outpost! 

This newest hands-on exhibit is centered around the four-story tall wood and steel Treetop Outpost and includes dozens of activities for all ages. We have been members of Conner Prairie for more than a decade, and I must say, they have outdone themselves with this newest addition! There are learning and play centers outside the structure, as well as various interactive activities inside. Words cannot describe everything there is to do at Treetop Outpost, but I'll try to at least whet your appetite to visit soon!

 As you enter the Treetop Outpost, you cross a slightly elevated boardwalk through a portal that frames your first view of the area. The first outdoor area you see contains three archaeological-dig-type boxes with "relics" for children to find from 200 AD, the 1820's, and a 1950's kitchen. Just beyond this is an area for exploration in art through water painting, twill weaving, or nature framing. Rounding the salvage wall, you will find multiple opportunities to build using various materials. Many of these are appropriate for all ages, but your littlest ones (6 and under) may require some help. This area also hold a unique sand and granite art exploration station.

Approaching the actual Treetop Structure, you will find the outdoor music area where kids and adults alike can listen to recordings and create their own music on three different outdoor instruments. On one of the days this past weekend (Treetop Outpost officially opened on July 1, 2016,) I passed a group of young adults doing a drum and bugle corp style rendition on the drum set. It was quite impressive. Almost as impressive as when a kid played Mary Had a Little Lamb on the xylophone . . . but I think the kid won with the cuteness factor.

Conner Prairie, Treetop Outpost

For entering the four story Outpost, you can choose the suspension bridge that begins a few steps up from the music platform, or you can take the ADA accessible ramp past the binoculars and flag station. The main floor is chock full of hands-on experiences. Learn to tie knots, explore Indiana on the map wall, get up close and personal with the bugs, moss, and fossils via your fingers and a magnifying glass, these are just some of the options on the main floor. I was impressed with the variety of Hoosiers featured on the learning wall where boxes represent their major reasons for notoriety and tags give you details. This is outdoor learning at its best! Just to the side of all of these activities is a small play area with wooden figures and animals for the make-believe age little ones. The back side of the Outpost has stunning views of the woods and wildlife.

When you venture up the stairs to the second floor, you'll be met with a stunning view of all the areas in front of the Outpost, as well as the other end of the flag station. This floor is an excellent place to stop and look out into nature at a height level many people don't readily have access to. Currently, there is a mama robin raising her fledglings in a  nearby tree.

The third and top floor houses a telescope that can be used to view far and wide. I think the views will be spectacular this Autumn when the leaves change color and begin to fall.

For those who venture down the steps to the basement of Treetop, they will find a quaint little library with books for all ages about the outdoors: picture books, field guides, and more. The seating for the library is reclaimed chairs from the Indianapolis Indians's old home: Bush Stadium.

Conner Prairie, Treetop Outpost

If you've visited Conner Prairie in the past two years, you may be wondering how this newest area interacts with the Nature Walk. Treetop Outpost is situated at the top of the Nature Walk, which has also seen some new additions this Summer. You can access the Nature Walk either via a path past the base of the Outpost, or by walking out of the basement and taking the spur around to the Nature Walk. 

Be sure to allow yourself at least two hours for your first visit to Treetop Outpost. Because there is so much to see and do in all of the historic areas at Conner Prairie, not to mention in the museum center itself, we are recommending an all day visit. Conner Prairie is open Tuesday-Sunday during the Summer and Fall from 10 am-5 pm. There are reasonably priced food offerings at the Cafe on the Commons, or you can pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the tables in front of the museum center. Your admission price gives you all day access to the park, so you can return to your vehicle at your leisure throughout the day for lunch, sunblock, or bug spray as needed. 

Consider purchasing a membership while at Conner Prairie. A basic family membership is only $115 for the whole year (12 months from date of purchase purchase.) For a family of four, you'll begin seeing the savings on only your second visit. If you choose to purchase one-day admission and then wish you'd gotten membership instead, stop at the ticket counter before you leave. Depending the level of membership you choose, you can apply most, if not all, of your one-day admission to a year-long adventure!

Treetop Outpost is a wonderful addition to an already stellar family-friendly, hand-on history park! Plan your road trip soon, and bring your friends! For more information on Conner Prairie, visit their website.

Note: all pictures used in this review were taken on my iPhone, and rendered through our newest favorite app: Waterlogue.

FTC disclosure: We did not receive any compensation for reviewing Treetop Outpost. All opinions are our own. We are simply so impressed with it that we had to share it with you!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

OLIGO 30 Premium Prebiotic Fiber ~ a review

OLIGO 30, Prebiotic blend, gut health, fiber blends

Do you ever have those days when you just feel a little off? What do you do about it? Have you considered that your overall health is linked to your gut health? Too often we let those 'little cheats' become our standard fare instead of them being an occasional indulgence in our eating pattern. If you've been looking for a heavy-duty fiber supplement to get your gut back on track, you'll want to take a look at OLIGO 30 Premium Prebiotic Fiber. Brad Dennis, Ph.D, the founder of Great Gut sent me a container of OLIGO 30 to test out. We had talked extensively about gut health last fall, and I was impressed that someone actually wanted to talk about the science of gut health with me! I had tasted the Great Gut Extra Strength Prebiotic Fiber and wanted to know more about their other products.

So here is the scoop...

OLIGO 30 is a blend of 6 different prebiotics. Prebiotics are those fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system and help them grow. You could take a probiotic every day, but if you do not feed it well, it will not stick around in your gut and help your digestion. You need both, probiotics and prebiotics to maintain a regular, healthy gut. It is not difficult to find probiotics, but it can be a challenge to keep them happy. That is where OLIGO 30 comes in.

The standard plan to follow with OLIGO 30 is to take it in the evenings, so it can feed your good gut bacterial while you sleep. This blend can also help suppress some of the bad gut bacteria you may be harboring, like Streptococcus. If you're already used to taking fiber daily, you can start with a scoop each evening, but if not, start with 1/3 to 1/2 a scoop each evening mixed in 6-9 oz of a non-carbonated beverage and work your way up to the full dose.  One of the Prebiotics in this blend is cocoa powder, but I did not notice it being enough to affect going to sleep, in fact, when you get your gut regular, you sleep better. I did however, find the cocoa difficult to mix in when I used just plain water to take it, so I often mixed it in unsweetened applesauce instead. If any of you are bakers, you'll know that cocoa powder is notorious for not mixing well with water, so if you're taking your OLIGO 30 with water instead of a clear juice, plan on using a mixer bottle instead of a spoon.

The non-dairy formula of OLIGO 30 may create gas and/or bloating for some people. Start with the lower dosage and move up to minimize this. Also, be sure to take it every evening as a consistent usage can minimize the gassy feelings. The best way to do this is to set a reminder on your phone to take it every night a half-hour or so before bed. If you are wanting to mix it into a smoothie, you might want to take it earlier in the evening. If you really struggle with gas or bloating, you might want to consider their Low FODMAP Fiber instead.

I tried taking it both in the evenings and in the mornings and found it did work much better when taken after dinner. This is a potent formula and not for the faint of heart. You said you wanted to get your gut in order right? That means being consistent and letting your body balance itself again!

The price for OLIGO 30 is consistent with other quality prebiotic blends - around a dollar a serving. This container is 13.5 ounces and holds between 37-41 servings depending on how level you make your scoop. It retails for $39.97.

Has your healthcare practitioner been suggesting you start taking fiber? Do more than just take fiber, take a blend that can feed your beneficial bacteria along the way, not one that only pushes food through your gut. OLIGO 30 comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Get it, use it, and have a better balanced digestive tract in 30 days.

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Disclaimer: I received a free container of this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Flash Sale at - only through Friday 2/16!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just in case you missed last month's Fresh Start sale and were thinking about joining, I wanted to let you know about this week's Valentine's Day flash sale. All the great courses, all the great extra resources, only $99/year with code: LOVE18 or $10.95/month with the code: LOVEMONTHLY18 ... and ... the Yearly Membership comes with a chocolate bar and a print copy of the Winter education of The Old Schoolhouse magazine for new US subscribers!

If you are not familiar with, check out these recent posts of ours that share more information: 


History lessons at

Don't let this opportunity pass you by! The sale ends Friday at midnight!