Correction—Back to Kaikoura

I’m sorry about the missing picture from the post about going to Kaikoura for the first time in a couple of months. I mentioned a broken shipping container, but forgot to add in the picture; that particular photo came from Mr. Diligence’s memory card and I got it from him later. So, here it is.


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Product Review–Adventures of Rush Revere

I’ve been seeing references in various places to the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series, and was thinking I’d like to read some of them so I could review them for Esther’s website. When I had the opportunity to sign up for a review of the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, I grabbed the chance. I found these books interesting, but not a great fit for our family. For the most part, the history seems to be quite accurate; I noted below where I was in question about it. This is a creative way to teach history and make it fascinating! What I don’t like so much is the magical aspect. The main character, Rush Revere, a history teacher who dresses like Paul Revere, has a magic horse who can take people through a time portal to any time in American History. The horse starts running, saying the words, “Rush, rush, rushing into history,” and a swirling yellow and purple circle opens up in front of them. Whoever jumps through quickly, before it closes up, is instantly transported to the time and place they chose. The horse can also stop time briefly. Adventures of Rush Revere

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims Rush and his horse take two children from the history class for which he is substitute teaching to visit the Pilgrims. First, he takes Tommy to the Mayflower as it is traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, and then he takes both Tommy and Freedom, a girl who looks somewhat Native American, to Plymouth Plantation to watch the Pilgrims starting their new life in the New World.

Rush Revere and the First Patriots Rush is now visiting the American colonies in the 1770s, as the colonists are becoming upset with the English king. He takes Tommy and another boy from his history class, Cam, along. Then, Elizabeth, the principal’s daughter, sees them jump through the time portal and figures out what is going on. She demands to be taken along somewhere, so they take her to see George III. However, she decides she wants to become a queen, so she decides she is going to tell the king about the Boston Tea Party and change history—how can they stop her? Rush and his friends participate in that event, as well as meet Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Patrick Henry—among other famous Founding Fathers. What I really didn’t like in this book? Freedom is able to communicate telepathically with the horse.

Rush Revere and the American Revolution Now, Rush Revere is taking his students to visit scenes from the opening of the Revolutionary War. They witness Paul Revere’s ride and the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Throughout the book is woven the story of a young boy who is struggling with being upset about his father’s deployment in Afghanistan and problems with a bully. He uses the lessons he learns from watching the early battles in the Revolution to win a battle with the bully. What I really didn’t like in this book? In chapter 1 Cam gets in a fight. In chapter 3 the horse, Liberty, pretends to be a vampire, and later Rush tells Cam that fighting is sometimes necessary.

Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner Rush’s young friend Tommy is not feeling very happy, since his grandfather is in the Veteran’s Hospital and not doing well. To distract him and cheer him up, Rush takes Tommy, Cam and Freedom on a summer field trip to Washington, D. C., where they visit the important buildings, see the original documents that set up the United States, and learn about the government. They also time-travel to various events in the past, such as the writing of the Constitution and the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner. The word gosh appears on page 51, chapter 3.

Rush Revere and the Presidency Cam wants to be elected as the president of his middle school. Rush Revere and Liberty help Cam and his friends to put a campaign together, as they learn a lot about the United States Presidency and how people become President. They travel back in time to witness President Washington’s inauguration and his farewell speech, meet John and Abigail Adams as he begins his presidency, and visit Thomas Jefferson at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. I did have to wonder about the accuracy of this book; it sounds as though even the first two presidents campaigned for votes, but the way I remember reading it, that didn’t start until much later. I did appreciate the way it was explained that the President’s motive needs to be to help people, not to be popular and famous. The word gee appears on page 110 in chapter 5.

I also do not agree with the author’s view of the United States. He believes the United States is the greatest nation that has ever existed. I do agree that it is the only country specifically built on the principles of freedom and equality, but to say that it is the greatest nation? I certainly don’t believe that it is any more. Also, I believe in two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. I don’t believe the two can be mixed; secular government is needed, but we as Christians should not be involved, other than to obey the government (Romans 13). So, as I said, this series of books is not a good fit for our family for various reasons, although a lot of families who believe differently than us will love them.

These books would be good for roughly 8-15-year-olds who enjoy fantasy, history, and adventure all mixed up. The books are beautiful; they have good, solid hard covers and the pages are lovely heavy paper. One thing that made this fun was receiving the books tied up with a blue ribbon! It was so pretty I took a picture.

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Video–Happy Hill Farm

This is a video Esther made many years ago, before we moved to New Zealand. She did a short tour of our farm, plus some fun bits of her brothers playing. This is quite a keepsake to us; we love to watch it every so often.

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Back to Kaikoura!

The highway to Kaikoura was closed just before Easter, when we had two back-to-back cyclones. The cliffs that were already weakened from the earthquake did some more slipping, and a hillside that hadn’t moved before came down. We had about given up hope of getting to church in Kaikoura before leaving on our trip to America, so we were quite happy to learn that the road was to be opened for a week and a half over our last weekend in New Zealand! It was wonderful to get to see our friends there again, after missing 10 Sundays there.

We had to stop at a light near Barney’s Rock, which gave us a good look at a slip that happened during the earthquake in November.


This hillside slipped more in April.


During one of the cyclones, this hillside slipped so much more that the containers, which are filled with rocks, chained together, and bolted to the cliff, were being pushed out to sea. Five of the containers were unhooked and removed so they wouldn’t be lost.


The new slip. They built a new one-lane road over the seabed for temporary traffic.


We were impressed with the size of the boulder that obviously hit this container. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the way when it came down!

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May 2017

And the rest of the pictures from May! This is a fairly common sight in the morning; here Mr. Inventor is doing his typing lesson while his cat keeps him company, and Mr. Sweetie is trying to get himself started on his Math in a cozy spot in front of the fire.01-IMG_2292

After a heavy rain, the underground cistern overflowed, so Mr. Imagination and Little Miss had great fun playing in the puddle one morning. Great fun, that is, until she got muddy—see the picture below! Then, she was done. Because the cistern was overflowing, and we had no need for the water, I let the boys pump it out to the duck pond. They forgot to turn the pump off at bedtime, though, and Esther discovered it sucking air the next afternoon when we were away! Oops. It’s refilled now, though. Quite a contrast to a few months ago, when we were saving water in every way we could. We’re so thankful for rain!


Mr. Sweetie was playing with a candle one day. The wick was long enough he was able to get it to curl around like this, and he wanted to take a picture of it.


On chilly days, the fire is a main focal point.


I’m not sure what these two were up to. They made a line of the Childcraft books along the hallway. And the blankets wrapped around them? I don’t have a clue!


Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Imagination again.


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Product Review—MarshMedia

Some reviews are more popular around here than others. When I first read the description of MarshMedia, I was not interested. Then, I got an email virtually begging for more reviewers, so, reluctantly, I signed up. We have been watching a movie a day while we eat lunch, as we have time. It tends to be difficult to find time for movies in our house. Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

MarshMedia offers short (15-20 minute) videos on various topics for schools to use in their health education programs. They have 54 vidoes about hygiene, health, puberty education, safety, immune system disorders, head lice, nutrition, etc. Though MarshMedia has offered their videos to schools up to this point, they are now wanting to reach out to the homeschool community. If you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the MarshMedia curriculum to your home schooler click on this link for more information:

There are the most about puberty, a few of which I have watched. We also watched a couple from the hygeine topics. The one about protecting your hearing was unanimously voted boring, unfortunately. So was the one about head lice, although there was some interest, since a family we know had problems with them recently. Once I discovered the Character Education movies, though, under the Guidance tab, there was more interest in watching these. The Character Education ones each feature an animal who acts in pretty natural ways as he narrates the story. Stanley’s This is the Life was about a bear who found a snack inside a camper whose door was left open, and found himself transported to a place far from his mountain home. He discovered a drive-in theater and found lots of food there, but after awhile he realized that he wasn’t feeling good anymore. The moral of the story is obvious! Feathers at Las Flores was a fun story about a talking parrot at a cafe in Florida who repeats what he hears—with disastrous results. We found it quite funny, and I was able to refer to the story when one of my sons was tempted to gossip a day or two after watching it. We also watched Inger’s Promise, about a reindeer in Lapland who learned to be reliable. The best part of that one was the glimpse at life in a fascinating culture. These movies are not quite animated, but almost; the camera zooms in and out on a painting, and moves around the painting or from one illustration to another, as the story is narrated. The pictures are lovely and fairly realistic.


As I said, I watched a few of the Puberty videos myself. I wasn’t comfortable with showing them to my boys. They aren’t very explicit, but there are line drawings of undressed people, showing the changes that occur in the human body as they mature. One thing I did appreciate about the one, A Baby is Born, was a quote near the end. It was something about that you are born either a boy or a girl and cannot change that. Not politically correct now, it seems, but certainly the truth!

My personal opinion? If you want or need to come up with a health education course, MarshMedia’s videos would be a great resource. For our family, they aren’t very helpful. Take a look and see what you think!

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Product Review—K5 Learning

My 5-year-old has been asking for school, and begging me to teach him to read. I’ve given him the attention I could, but I wasn’t sure he was really ready to learn to read, so I haven’t been pushing him at all. When the opportunity arose to review K5 Learning, I showed it to him and asked him if he wanted to try it. He was excited to do this online program, and couldn’t wait till I got the information about logging in to do it. He faithfully does his “school on the computer” every day, and wants to do the worksheets, too. K5 Learning

There are three parts to the K5 Learning. Mr. Imagination has only been using the Reading and Math; he’s too young for the Spelling. He is doing very well with the Math part. I usually just let him do it by himself, because I’m busy helping the older boys with their schoolwork when he does it in the morning, but a couple of afternoons when I’ve been working in the kitchen he has wanted to do his school, so I’ve gotten to observe. I couldn’t believe what he was able to do! He was supposed to put numbers in order the one time, and they gave him 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, and 95. He did it correctly without hesitation. He was also supposed to use the greater than and less than symbols (> and <) that day. He had a little more trouble with that, but caught on pretty quickly. Yesterday he was working on addition on it, and when he finished he came running into the kitchen saying, “Two plus two is four!” I quizzed him on a few other simple facts and he figured them out pretty fast, too.


On the other hand, he’s having more trouble with the Reading section. I can’t tell that he’s really learned much there although he picked up rhyming words very fast from working with them on there. I’m guessing he is dyslexic and that reading will be a little harder for him. It does seem like K5 Learning does not start at the very beginning; my impression is that even Kindergarten starts with some prior experience presupposed. They do say they are a supplementary course, rather than a complete curriculum. My impression is that they spend more time working on sight words than phonics.

There are worksheets to go with each lesson. You can actually use the worksheets without having an account. Mr. Imagination loves doing them, and has done very well. On the sign-in page, worksheets are suggested based on the lessons the child has been doing recently. (It looks, though like he didn’t understand what he was supposed to be doing on the one page here!)


In my opinion, if you have a child who wants to play games on the computer, and you want them to be doing something educational, K5 Learning would be a good choice. As a replacement for other schoolwork, I don’t think it’s a very good choice. One thing that would make it a lot better would be the ability to choose the lessons you want your child to do, and to be able to start them where you want them. As it is, if you want them to be working at a different level from where the program puts them, you have to contact the website. I did do that when Mr. Imagination started out, because the math he was being given was too advanced for him. I asked them to reset him at the beginning of Kindergarten (he had tested between Low Kindergarten and Low 1st grade for reading, and Intermediate Kindergarten to Low 1st on their assessment), but when he got on again the next time he was still at the same place he had been before.

Mr. Sweetie has also used K5 Learning a few times. He mainly does in the evening after his chores are done, when he feels like playing on the computer. He has mostly done the reading part. He’s been given exercises like finding the main idea of a paragraph, or figuring out the meaning of words. They spent a lot of time having him do reading comprehension exercises. I did enjoy the opportunity to have him do the assessment and get a bit of an idea where he is academically. He tested from just below to well above grade level in the various areas they tested. Nice to know he’s average!

Since I don’t have anyone doing the spelling part, I took a look at it myself. There were two areas to choose from, Vocabulary Tutor and Spelling Tutor. In Vocabulary Tutor, you are given a definition and a sample sentence, and must determine what the word is. They do give you dashes to show how many letters are in the word. The Spelling Tutor is similar, except that they pronounce the word for you. In both cases, you have to spell the word correctly before moving on. They seem to be coordinated; for example, I misspelled a word on the Vocabulary part, and that was the first word when I switched to the spelling part.

My final opinion: There are pros and cons to K5 Learning. I like that it is self-directed; I don’t have to help my boys with it much at all. When they want to play something on the computer, they have an educational activity to do. I don’t like that it is sight-word based rather than phonetic. Also, you must keep in mind that it is not a complete curriculum, but supplementary. The part I don’t like about using as a supplement is that you can’t choose the lessons you want them to do. If you’re interested in seeing if this program is a good fit for your family, they offer a 14-day free trial. Up to four students are allowed per account.

K5 Learning {Reviews}


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Little Miss in May

This is a busy little girl. She’s always looking for things to do, especially if they feel like she’s helping with something. Here, she found the tomatillos I had just washed, and spent about half an hour transferring them from one container to another and back again.


Little Miss is happy—but is the cat as happy? This cat is extremely tolerant of her tormenter. She’s only scratched Little Miss a couple of times, and she is mauled daily and hauled around a lot.


Two little people in a boat!


This little girl doesn’t like having her hair in ponytails. I put the rubberbands in to go to church, and tell her she can’t take them out till after church, and she mostly leaves them. One day, she brought me five rubberbands and wanted them all put in! Silly girl. They didn’t last long, though; she soon pulled them out.


“Want to take this book to ‘Merica! Read it wif Gamma.” She has no idea what an airplane is, but she’s pretty excited about the upcoming trip.


She got one of my coverings out of my drawer and put it on. She was pretty pleased with herself!


She unloaded an entire shelf of books the other day, onto the couch. When I told her she would need to put them away, she sat herself down and said she had to read all of them first.


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Busy Boys

My boys know how to keep themselves busy. Here are a few of the projects they’ve been doing lately. Mr. Inventor built this tandem bicycle. He cut apart a couple of bikes and welded them back together. The boys love it; they can hook a trailer to it and with two of them peddling they can carry quite a load.


Counting down…till we fly to America. This was a few weeks ago; the chains are pretty short now!


Mr. Diligence made a cross, and Mr. Intellectual engraved Seth’s name and dates on it, to temporarily mark the grave until we get a proper headstone.


Mr. Diligence researching something.


Some of the busyness is not serious—sometimes they pull shenanigans like this! It took Mr. Intellectual quite awhile and a bit of help to free himself.


Mr. Inventor spent one morning trimming trees so he could mow under them.


The loggers. Mr. Inventor cut these logs across the road, and they hauled them home this way!


Mowing lawn one last time before we leave. He didn’t want to rake up the grass clippings, so he used the bag and pulled a wheelbarrow tub around to put the grass in so he didn’t have to walk to the other side of the yard every time it was full.


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April 2017 Pictures

Time to get caught up with the random pictures!

Remember that post I did about salsa? After I added all the other ingredients, I ended up with two pots full!


Does Little Miss look like she has gained some weight? We were given a big boxful of shoes, gumboots, and a few dresses, her size or a little smaller. She wanted to wear all the dresses at once, so she has five dresses on in this picture!


One afternoon when everyone was away except her and me, she found this sunflower head and sat herself down to pick the seeds out. She got a handful before she got tired of it.


Yes, this is me laughing. I had sent a text to Gayle at work, and although he got an advertising text sent him just before that, he didn’t see mine. So, I sent him another, and we were all laughing about the ridiculousness of the whole thing.


Gayle reading my text.


One of our favorite meals—straw hats.


Little Miss


What to do with an empty chips bag—tape it shut tightly, then pop it with a bang! Boys….


We didn’t have a hard frost till early May, but I picked all the peppers the end of April. These were all from the greenhouse. I was astounded; I hadn’t thought they did so well this year!


This silly cat is always looking for a new spot to sleep.


I’m fixing my bicycle!


Gayle took the boys to the beach to get some sand, so the sandbox is full again. It’s been quite popular—although I’m glad the main popularity only lasted a couple of days; a lot was tracked into the house during those days.


Mr. Diligence and Little Miss mowing lawn.


Mr. Inventor, Little Miss, and Mr. Diligence all mowing at once.


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