Wulf the Saxon (Heirloom Audio review)

I have a special treat for you today. My older boys have spent the last couple of weeks listening to the new drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, Wulf the Saxon. Today, they will share their reviews with you.

wulf the saxon review

From Seahawk (age 14)

The story kicks off with the Earl Harold in his chambers, talking with his wife, Lady Edith, about a problem concerning Wulf the Saxon, who had insulted several noblemen. The Earl then exiles him to keep him out of more trouble, including possibly prison (since they are good friends).

Some time later, Wulf is called out of exile so that he may apologize to the king himself and then serve as second in command to Earl Harold in the war against the Welsh. During this war, he proves himself to be a brave warrior and and excellent commander, so he is made noble himself.

Wukf then goes on a victory cruise, and the boat shipwrecks on the French (Norman) coast, where they’re captured by Duke William of Normandy. While captured, the Duke tricks Harold into swearing an oath of loyalty to William. Meanwhile, Wulf has escaped from captivity and goes looking for help. He finds a family powerful enough to free Wulf’s friend and master from William’s grasp. Wulf quickly befriends this family, and it is a friendship that will last him his entire life.

When Wulf returns back to England, he finds that the King of England is ill and has passed command of the country to Harold, who now has to use his new power to civil war in England – all the while dealing with William, who demands that Harold fulfill his oath of loyalty.

I think that my favorite part of audio dramas in general is the sound effects. The wind, the carriages, and even the sound their horses make when they’re running into battle… It really brings the history to life.

Side story: we have 2 pet frogs, which means we also have lots of crickets on hand also. When we were listening to Wulf, there was a nighttime scene, and we didn’t know until we turned off the CD player that the sound was not part of the recording.

As far as things I did not like about this production, I don’t think the excitement built as much as in other story lines (from the same company). Normally, the first disc is set up and the second disc is the climax. Wulf has more excitement spread through the whole thing. This is not bad, but I prefer an epic ending. In this one, the climax (disc 2) was more tying up loose ends than anything else.

Some of my favorite audio dramas include In Freedom’s Cause and In the Reign of Terror, both of which are available from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Thanks for reading my review.

Seahawk

From Munchkin (age 11)

wulf coverWulf the Saxon is about a young Saxon who was shipwrecked on the shores of France. There, he becomes friends with a family, who, after three years, sends him home where he discovers a lot has changed. Wulf soon realizes that England is struggling and on the verge of war. Serving his king on the battlefield, Wulf stays loyal to courage and honor.

My favorite part was the ending, which I liked because it was the Battle of Hastings, which I’ve studied with my dad. It’s one of my favorite historical time periods.

My least favorite part was when Wulf was shipwrecked in France. I did not enjoy this because I didn’t find it exciting. This part didn’t feel like the rest of the audio drama to me. It was just a lot of talking without as many background sounds, which took away from the normal intensity that I’m used to hearing from Heirloom Audio.

Final Thoughts from Mom

While I’m not a huge audio person (I prefer visuals), I’m always glad to have a chance to review these dramas because I know my kids (especially Seahawk) really enjoy them. Oftentimes, they come with a great study guide, too, to help make the drama into a full unit study. Many of these are available on the Live the Adventure Club website, which is run by Heirloom. As of the date of this posting, there isn’t one for Wulf yet, though. 

You can purchase the 2-CD set of Wulf the Saxon for $29.97, which includes a free mp3 download. If you prefer just the mp3, that’s available for $24.97. If you want more than one copy, there are bulk discounts available (see website for details). 

Membership to the Live the Adventure Club is $7.95 per month and includes access to loads of great resources, including the study guides I mentioned before. This price also gets you a free copy of all Heirloom dramas, on physical CD, before they’re released to the public. There’s also a $5.95/month plan, which is the same as the other except you get digital downloads of the dramas (no CDs).

Blessings,

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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
disclaimer

Flood!

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The past few weeks have been rather… interesting. About 4 weeks ago, the kids and I were at the house doing their lessons (we’ve been staying with my in-laws), just us. The washing machine was going, not unusual for that time of day (around 10 a.m.). Suddenly I heard a gushing sound. Assuming the washer had pulled its hose from the wall, I ran over and turned it off. Nothing happened. Well, the washer turned off, but that didn’t stop the water from continuing to gush. Seahawk rushed over to see what was going on. Being younger and more agile than me, he was able to climb up onto the top of the dryer to get a peek at what was going on. All he could tell was that the water was coming straight out of the wall. All the while, water is building up on the floor, and is several inches deep at this point. We found as many towels as we could and built a dam between the laundry room and the kitchen (it’s just a regular-width doorway separating them) to try to mitigate the spreading of water. Seahawk got to work trying to find a way to turn the water off. When it became clear that that wasn’t working, he tried to figure out a way to divert the water instead. Munchkin was on the floor in front of the washer and dryer, sweeping as much water outside as he could (fortunately there’s an external door in the laundry room). I was on the phone trying to get either Will or either of my in-laws to come and help.

Seahawk finally gets the water diverted. He was so clever! He used the foil tube coming out of the dryer and jimmied it up to the leak. Since that tube already led to the outside by way of the dryer vent, the water started pouring outside instead of continuing to come inside. This whole process took about 30-45 minutes from the start of the leak. Not long after, Will arrived back for lunch to find us all frantic. He took over the calling of his dad and stepmom as well as anyone else he could think of (church people, mostly) who might be able to help. No luck. (Being a Monday morning, everyone was at work – except my FIL, who was a doctor’s appointment.) Finally his stepmom called us back and told us how to turn the water off at the street, so Will did that. This was nearly 1.5 hours after the initial outpouring started. It was such a relief to have the water stop! With no more water coming in, the four of us got to work cleaning up the pool that had taken over the kitchen. When we went into the master bathroom looking for more towels (we’d used up literally every single towel, blanket, and clothing item we owned besides what we were physically wearing at the time), another unpleasant surprise awaited us: that room was on the other side of the laundry room wall, and water had escaped under that wall and flooded that room too.

It took us another 45 minutes to an hour (and about a dozen Costco rolls of paper towels) to get the laundry, kitchen, and master bath dry. Right around the time we finished, my father in law called and let us know that he’d be there in 15 minutes and had gotten hold of a handyman-type from church who was also coming over to help. When they both got there, we left to get some lunch (it was nearly 2 p.m. now). We came back to a very frustrated FIL and friend. They’d tried several times to fix the pipe, but every time they turned the water back on to test their work, everything exploded again.

We had only a few minutes at the house this time, because it was the big kids’ ballet day. We took them out there, and I bought a few groceries while they were dancing. When we got back to town at around 7:30 that evening, the house was vacant. Will went into the bathroom while I put the groceries in the pantry. The water was still turned off – not a good sign. So he called his dad. His dad made an insurance claim, and they were putting all of us up in a motel that night and sending a work crew over to assess the damage the next morning.

Because it’s not my house, I’m not going to go into too much detail into the damage, but suffice it to say that with nearly every step the crew took (as in, step in the process, not footstep), they noticed more and more damage that would need to be repaired.

So, we’ve been living in a hotel for the past 4 weeks. Just this past Saturday, the insurance company found us a rental house (furnished) that was available for 2 months, so that’s where we are now. After that, who knows. It’s possible (though no one is holding out much hope for this) that the house will be done by then. If not, we just might end up back in the motel. Time will tell.

Tips on long-term hotel living will be coming next week. Hopefully you won’t find yourself needing them, but just in case…

Blessings,

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Recipe: Easy Guacamole

Most of my life, I thought I didn’t like avocados. I grew up in a home where my mom didn’t use them, and they always looked kind of weird, so I never bothered to try them, assuming that I wouldn’t like them. About three years ago, we were at our friends’ house, and they made tacos – with guacamole as an optional topping. I decided to give it a shot, just out of curiosity, and wow! Now avocados and guacamole are one of my favorite things to eat. I’ve tried guacamole from lots of different restaurants, and some of them are okay (Red Robin, any local Mexican place) and some are not (Chipotle, Fuddruckers). The thing the “bad” ones have in common is an overpowering fresh onion flavor – I’m not a fan of raw onion (and that’s not a blind distaste – I actually don’t like it). So I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for making guacamole at home, which is the best I’ve ever had, in a restaurant or otherwise.

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Easy Guacamole

1-2 avocados, depending on how much guac you need/want
Approximately 1/4 cup salsa (your favorite)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash it lightly with a fork.

Add the salsa and spices and continue to mash and mix until everything is well combined. Taste. If it’s amazing, you’re done. If it’s only almost amazing, adjust the seasonings (salt is the one I always need to add more of) and try again until it’s exactly the way you like it.

Blessings,

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Nutcracker Marionette

In the midst of Nutcracker season, my boys were also really into making puppets (they still are). Munchkin combined these two interests and made this Nutcracker Marionette. It’s made from mostly all refurbished materials – toilet paper tubes, straws, cereal boxes, and string. I love his creativity here!

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Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: Growing Up

We took the boys to one of the local malls on New Year’s Eve, just to get out of the house for a little while. The big kids had some Christmas money (neither ended up getting anything that day), and the little kids just like to be in exciting places.

We didn’t end up spending a lot of money that day (those are the best trips to the mall, yes?), but we did get the little kids each a ride on the indoor Ferris wheel. There were only three kids riding at that time (my two boys plus one little girl), so the boys had to be split up into separate carriages. I was a little nervous letting Dragonfly ride essentially all by himself, but he did great. He was super excited about being up there, and he behaved perfectly. I needn’t have been worried.

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Blessings,

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His First Chapter Book

Small Fry is 5 years old now (5 1/2, actually). He’s still learning to read, but he’s definitely getting stronger at it each time we practice. To help encourage his continued maturing in this skill, I decided to take the plunge with him into reading a chapter book instead of just a picture book at bedtime (nothing wrong with picture books, but for my own sanity, we needed something a bit longer and less repetitive). I chose James and the Giant Peach, knowing that would be a great choice for a little boy, and I was right. He absolutely loved it! He had no problems remembering what had happened from session to session, and ever since we finished, he’s been begging for another chapter book.

Will assigned him a little drawing assignment when we’d finished the book, and Small Fry really liked that, too. He had so much fun drawing James, his buggy friends, and the giant peach being carried overseas by a flock of seagulls. 🙂

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Our next one will be Charlotte’s Web. I’m super excited to read it to him after the success of James.

Blessings,

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Quick Update

So sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Late last week, Will got quite sick. I ended up driving him to the hospital (30 minutes away),  it he talked to the nurse advice line while we were driving who recommended he not go in after all, but instead had the on call doctor send in a prescription for flu medicine to Walgreens. They insisted that we go to the one that was an hour from where we were (half an hour back to the house, then another half hour to the pharmacy) because she was “positive” it was open 24 hours. So we hustled to the Walgreens, arriving at 10:05 p.m. only to discover that they’d closed at 10. Quite the opposite of being open 24 hours, and especially ironic since we’d passed two other Walgreens on the way there that were also open until 10 and could have filled the prescription that night. This all happened on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, I had his prescription transferred to the Walgreens near us and got it picked up. He stayed in bed all day, and Seahawk babysat while I went to a baby shower for my sister in law that afternoon. By Saturday night, I was feeling a little wheezy, but not bad otherwise, so I didn’t worry.

Sunday morning, I still felt decent and Will felt better but we decided to stay back from church just to be safe. It was a good thing we did! By 3pm, my temperature had spiked to over 99. I know this isn’t super high, but I tend to run low normally, so we took it pretty seriously (Will’s had peaked at 102.9) and went to Urgent Care. By the time we got there, my temp was up to 101 – while at the height of fever reducing medicine. The PA diagnosed me with Bronchitis and gave me some prescriptions. We were able to pick them up that night (at the actual 24-hour Walgreens), and now, after almost 2 days in bed an one more taking it very easy, I’m running at about 85-90% today.

All that to say, I’ll be spending some time this weekend getting some posts prepared for the blog, and it should hopefully be a little more active again. 🙂

Blessings,

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Pictures of the Week: Christmas Sweaters

I was so excited to give my parents the sweaters that I’d hand knit for them for them for Christmas. I was not disappointed in their reactions! It was so rewarding to hear them gush about how much they  loved them and had been thinking about getting new outerwear anyway since theirs was wearing out. And when they both put them on immediately, and both sweaters fit, my heart swelled.

Here are my mom and Dragonfly in their matching sweaters. (The pattern is the same, but the colors are different, obviously.)

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And here’s my stepdad in his.

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He was happier about the sweater than he looks in this picture, I promise 🙂

Blessings,

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Book Club: Waiting for Rachel

Book Club with Lori

Lori and I read a fun, easy book for December called Waiting for Rachel. It’s book one in the “Those Karlsson Boys” series by Kimberly Rae Jordan, and one I’ve had sitting on my Kindle for a long time. When circumstances pushed me to read instead of watching YouTube videos (lol) back in November, this is the one I picked. It was a delightful read!

66D90916-4A8B-494E-B97C-0FACC5F8545APastor Damian Karlsson is ready to start a family, and he’s been interested in Rachel Perkins for months. The only problem is that she, while interested in Damian too, is unwilling to start a relationship with him because of demons from her past. She’s convinced herself that she can never be the woman Damian really wants, no matter what he says. Will Rachel ever be able to make peace with her past? Can she tell Damian the truth about why she can’t be in a relationship with him? Will that truth change his mind, or will Damian and Rachel find a way to be together after all?

As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this book. It was the first time in a long time that I found myself reading during the daytime instead of just in bed before falling asleep. I enjoyed the banter between Rachel and Damian, and I was definitely surprised by part of Rachel’s secret (though not all of it – the main part was obvious without needing to be said, but the cause behind it was unexpected). The final catalyst that pushed Rachel to finally share her secret was heartbreaking, and never fully resolved in this book. I definitely plan to get the two sequels to this novel in the coming weeks.

I will admit that Rachel’s stubbornness in not offering the truth sooner was a bit annoying, but not enough to keep me from reading the book, and I did enjoy it despite that.

Make sure to head over to Lori’s blog and read her thoughts on this book. And if you want to get your very own copy (which I highly recommend doing), it’s available as a free Kindle book on Amazon.

Blessings,

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