Recipe: Taco Rice

One of the things I’ve struggled with the past few weeks is meal planning for people who have severe dietary limitations – no poultry, limited dairy, allergies to several fruits and vegetables, and a distinct hatred for most others (no, none of these issues are my kids – it’s the other grownups we live with right now causing the “problems”). Most of what we’ve been eating is pork chops and salad or tacos. I was looking for something different the other day to use up some ground beef I had on hand when I remembered one of my favorite simple meals – something I made up a while ago that I call “Taco Rice.” It fit the dietary guidelines, and is really yummy. Plus, it’s a one pot meal! Today, I’m sharing the recipe here. Enjoy!

One Pan Recipe Taco Rice

Taco Rice (serves 6-8)

  • 1.5 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
  • 2 packets (or equivalent homemade) taco seasoning
  • 4 cups water (instead of the amount listed on the seasoning packets)
  • 1 jar nacho cheese
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice (or 4 cups instant rice)

Cook and crumble the ground beef until no pink remains; drain fat. Return to pan and add seasoning, water, and nacho cheese. Stir to dissolve the seasoning and melt the cheese. Bring to a boil. Add the rice. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 20 minutes. If you’re using instant rice, follow the directions on the box for timing once you add the rice to the pan. Gently fluff the rice and serve.

I like to eat this either plain or scooped up with tortilla chips. It’s also good with a super simple salad, and would make a wonderful tortilla filling.

Blessings,

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Trust Fund (movie review)

I recently had the opportunity to watch a new movie from an independent film company, Mapelle Films. It’s called Trust Fund, and it offers a new perspective to the biblical story of the prodigal son.

The Synopsis

Reese is a free spirit. She grew up rich, and never had to worry about anything financial. Even as a young adult, her father deposited a hefty sum of money into her bank account each month – which she readily spent every single month.

Audrey is the responsible sister. She works for her father’s publication company, is engaged to a man who also works there, and focuses hard on being “good.”

One day, while snooping through her father’s desk, Reese comes across a copy of her late mother’s will. She learns that her mother, wealthy in her own right, had left 10 million dollars for her and Audrey to divide equally. Her father had never told her about this money, and Reese feels cheated. She tries to convince Audrey to help her confront their father about it, but Audrey refuses. Reese tries to confront him on her own, but chickens out. What she does instead is really horrendous – she hacks into the company’s accounting software by guessing Audrey’s password and transfers $5 million to her own account. She then leaves for Italy, where she meets up with a man she’d met while visiting the country just before the opening scene of the movie.

Trust Fund Movie Review

She spends a lot of energy – and money – in Italy, shopping and generally living the high life with Milo (the Italian boyfriend). When he has difficulty making the money to “invest” as he wants, Reese offers him her money. He tries to decline – in the kind of way that someone declines when they really want to say yes. She insists, and he eventually takes the money. All of it. He buys stolen diamonds, and as soon as Reese finds out that this is what he’s done, she leaves. Fortunately, she runs into a private investigator (hired by Audrey, close friend of her father) who was tracking her. He helps her get home from Italy.

Just like in the biblical parable, her father is thrilled to have her home. He throws a party celebrating her return. And just like the parable, the older sibling (brother in the Bible, sister in this movie) wants none of it. Audrey is furious with Reese – and for good reason. She didn’t just take her inheritance (although that would be pretty bad, considering she didn’t have permission to access that money), she actually stole from the company.

This all happens in the first half of the film. The second half expands on what could reasonably happen from there: Does Audrey ever forgive Reese? Does Reese ever face any legal ramifications for what she’d done? Does she ever get her money back from Milo? Does Milo ever get caught for being part of a diamond smuggling ring? How does Reese’s life change once she gets back from Italy? All these questions are answered in the second half, but to avoid spoilers, I’m going to leave them as questions.

My Thoughts

I watched this movie with Will, just the two of us. Despite it being a “biblical story,” I wanted to see it before committing to showing it to anyone else, including my kids. Now that I’ve seen it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The cinematography is stunning; it doesn’t feel like an independent movie at all. A lot of the actors are people I’d never heard of or seen in anything else, but a few of them I had seen in other things (Ana Ortiz, who I recognized from Boston Legal, and Rose Abdoo, who was a regular guest on Gilmore Girls). The only thing that I can even remotely “complain” about is that some of the scenes felt really short. Also, I had trouble working out what exactly Milo was doing. I knew it was something bad, but it didn’t really seem to ever fully explain it. Overall, this is a fabulous movie though.

Finally…

Trust Fund was written in 2013, shot in the fall of 2014, and had a small release in the Kansas City market in 2016. It did very well there, but Mapelle Films didn’t have the funding to offer a wider theatrical release. But they’re releasing it to the home entertainment market today! That means you don’t have to wait any longer if you’re interested in purchasing the movie. It’s available as a digital download or on DVD.

To supplement the movie, there’s a book called Love Was Near. This book is designed to be read by girls ages 12 and up after they’ve seen the movie. It delves into some of the deeper issues behind the Reese character, exploring what she may have been thinking as she made certain decisions. I don’t know much about the book (as a mom of boys, we didn’t have the opportunity to review the book, just the movie), so make sure to click the banner below to find reviews that did include the book, if that’s something you’re interested in.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}
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Our Week in Pictures (July 14)

Here’s a photographic glimpse of our week.

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Seahawk got a haircut.

And he opted to not just go for a shorter version of his old style; he picked something completely new, which we supported since he’s not really a little boy anymore. He needed a new style, and we’re all really pleased with how it turned out.

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I dyed some yarn.

I’d been watching a lot of YouTube tutorials on the subject lately (just for fun), and decided that I wanted to try it myself. I’d picked up a skein of plain white, wool yarn from my local yarn store on my birthday (they offer a 25% discount if you shop on your birthday), specifically to experiment with dyeing. It took several days of thinking before I knew what I wanted my dyed yarn to look like, but once I had, I went to work quickly. I started by dying the whole thing a light teal blue…

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…and then I added spots of purple, blue, and red. It didn’t turn out exactly the way I’d envisioned (I was hoping for more speckles than spots/globs), but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s very beautiful, and I look forward to knitting someone a gift with my hand-dyed yarn.

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We went to “museums” at the Oregon Coast.

My birthday is July 3rd. Will’s is July 5th. Small Fry’s is July 12th. That’s a lot of birthdays, all really close together, so we usually try to do one big trip to celebrate them all (we also do special stuff for Small Fry by himself). This year, we went to the Oregon Coast and picked up my dad (he moved to a small coastal town between two of the bigger ones back in March, and now we don’t see him as much as we’d like), and took everyone to what’s called “Mariner’s Square.” It’s down on the bayfront, and it consists of three small museums: Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, Wax Works, and Undersea Gardens. Will had found a groupon for a set of 4 tickets to all three locations for a reasonable price, so we had fun going to the three spots. The above picture is Small Fry as a “pickled head” at Ripley’s.

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Dragonfly enamored with the mirror at the end of Wax Works.

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Munchkin and Small Fry exploring the “petting zoo” at Undersea Gardens.

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I took Small Fry bowling.

As another birthday treat for this guy, we went on a special “Mommy and me” date. I took him bowling, which he loved! We played two games, and I could tell he was really tired by the end; his score for the second game was about half of what he’d gotten on the first game.

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We had birthday cupcakes

For his 5th birthday, Small Fry chose spaghetti for his special meal, so I made that at the house for him. Afterwards, we had cupcakes topped with orange frosting – his favorite color.

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I read to the little boys.

This is something that happens fairly often, but this time was worth noting because it was Dragonfly’s idea. He found the book (Llama, Llama Red Pajama) in his room, brought it to me, and climbed up in my lap. Small Fry loves to listen to stories, so he quickly joined us. I love this picture that Munchkin took. Not only is it a very sweet moment between the three of us, but Dragonfly has his hands folded so nicely in his lap, and Small Fry has him arm draped over his brother’s shoulders.

So there you go – a little peak into our week.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Fascinating Chemistry (Review)

Not unlike a lot of parents (homeschooling and otherwise), science is not a subject I love. I never have. Despite the fact that I took several advanced level science classes in high school (forever ago!), I never felt like I really got it. My grades would suggest otherwise, but that’s beside the point. When it comes time to teach your kids, your own confidence matters much more than the grades you earned years and years ago. For this reason, I wanted to give Fascinating Education a try with Seahawk.

When I was in school, biology came before chemistry, but with Fascinating Education, it’s the opposite. Besides that, Seahawk has already had loads of earth and life science classes (I like those better than physical sciences, so I tend to gravitate toward them when I feel like we’ve been avoiding science for too long). For these two reasons, I asked for us to review Fascinating Chemistry.

About Fascinating Education

The firs three lessons. You can see the lesson name as well as the sections for each lesson - video, script, and test.

The firs three lessons. You can see the lesson name as well as the sections for each lesson – video, script, and test.

Fascinating Education was developed by Dr. Sheldon Margulies, a retired neurologist. His background in neurology means he really understands how the brain works, and using this knowledge he developed a system of teaching science that really works. The system consists of video lessons, which are narrated with lots of images including charts and graphs, as well as a downloadable version of the narration for students who are more visual. Accompanying each video lesson is a test to make sure students grasped the information from the lesson. Fascinating Chemistry also has some labs available (though we haven’t gotten to those yet in our time with the program).

Our Experience with Fascinating Education

A sample from the script. The script is broken down into the different slides from the video.

A sample from the script. The script is broken down into the different slides from the video.

Seahawk used this curriculum pretty much all on his own. Outside of logging him in and telling him what to expect, it was completely hands-off on my end. I got the video set up for him on the iPad and left him to it.

Because this was Seahawk’s very first exposure to chemistry, he didn’t do so hot the first time through the test. This wasn’t surprising or upsetting to me at all, although I did have to ask others who had used the program before what to do from there. Obviously I couldn’t have him move on, but it seemed counter intuitive to just have him watch the video again and again and again, expecting him to eventually to pass the test. This is where the downloadable narration comes in. Even though Seahawk is an audio learner, I printed out the narration packet for the first lesson so that he could study it before watching the video again and attempting the test. Thus far, he’s still working on the first lesson – despite regular work over the past few weeks. It’s a lot of information there, and this is just the first lesson! I can totally see how (regardless of our limited exposure) this is a high school level chemistry course.

What we think of Fascinating Education

A sample from the Lesson 1 test. The blue button at the top, "Need help?" takes you to a page that offers a clue to help you figure out the answer in case you're unsure.

A sample from the Lesson 1 test. The blue button at the top, “Need help?” takes you to a page that offers a clue to help you figure out the answer in case you’re unsure.

Our (Seahawk’s and mine) opinions on this curriculum differ a bit.

He doesn’t love it – which makes sense, considering he’s been working on the same lesson for a very long time. He doesn’t hate it either, though. He does well with the video lesson; he just needs to learn to focus himself in order to absorb the information better. This would be a great curriculum to learn note-taking with. If he could figure out how to watch the videos and write down pertinent information rather than just watch and listen, I think he’d do a lot better at it.

My opinion is that this is a really good, solid product for older kids. They need to learn to work independently – this teaches them that. They need to learn science (beyond the “fun” stuff of space and life) – this takes care of that, too. With this review posting, we’re not required to keep using the program, but I’m going to have Seahawk continue doing so anyway, even if that makes me a bit unpopular with him. He needs this program, and for more than just the science aspect. He needs to practice being an independent learner who can figure things out on his own, and Fascinating Education is a good tool for that. (I’m always there to help him through things, of course, but like it or not he’s getting older. The most important thing I can teach him at this point is to take charge of his own life, which right now means his education. I set the expectations, and it’s his job to follow through with them.)

Final Musings

Fascinating Education offers Biology and Physics courses as well as the Chemistry one. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are writing about various levels this week. Make sure to click the banner below for more information on all three levels.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}
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Book Club: Circus Mirandus

Book Club with Lori

When Will and I were in the grocery store a few weeks ago, a book in the checkout line caught my eye. There was an elephant on the cover (my absolute favorite animal!) and a tagline that said, “Magic so wondrous,  you have to believe it to see it.” I picked it up to read the summary, and Will asked me if I wanted to buy it. Normally I say no in situations like this, but I wanted to read this book, so this time I said yes. I didn’t realize at the time that it was a children’s novel, but I’m glad I read the book anyway. It was a whimsical tale about a boy and his grandfather and the magical circus that binds them together, even through the ultimate separation.

A few weeks later, Lori and I were emailing back and forth to try to figure out what books to do for book club this summer, and I requested something “light and easy” because of all the stress of our moving and living situation. She suggested two (one of which was the Women of WWII that we did last month), and one is one that her daughters read (which will be up next month). I suggested Circus Mirandus – the book with the elephant and great tagline.

As always with book club posts, Spoiler Alert.

Aunt Gertrudis says bad sense runs in the family. Do you believe bad sense is inherited or learned? Why?

I think “bad sense” is learned. While it might seem that it’s inherited based on the people in our lives that seem to exhibit it on occasion (or regularly…), you can just as often find people from a “bad situation” who have overcome that to become smart and successful. If bad sense was genetic, you wouldn’t see that often, if ever.

Grandpa Ephraim wrote to a lightbender. Is it possible to bend light and if so, how?

Simply speaking, anyone who wears correctional lenses (glasses) bends light every day. The glasses refract the light to help them see better.

You can also bend light with a prism. Or a hose. Both of those allow us to see the bent light in the form of a rainbow.

But someone just bending light on their own, with no tools, I’m not so sure.

Interesting thought occurred to me as I typed about rainbows just a moment ago, though… The rainbow is God’s promise to never destroy the world by water again. The lightbender in the story is Micah’s savior (of sorts). I’m not suggesting that the lightbender is God or anything, but the fact that this is the way in which his powers manifest make it an interesting comparison.

The Lightbender uses a parrot to send messages. What other bird is known for carrying messages and how are they trained?

It seems as though using birds to send messages is a very popular thing for fantasy stories to do. They use owls in Harry Potter. I’m not sure what birds are used for messaging in real life – carrier pigeons, maybe? Being unsure as to whether this is even the right answer, I don’t know how they’re trained.

Circus Mirandus is in La Paz, Bolivia. Find it on a map. How far is it from your city or state?

I know that La Paz, Bolivia is in South America, so I didn’t have to look too hard to find it on the map. I did not, however, know the distance from my hometown – it’s roughly 5400 miles.

Porter can open a door from one part of the world to another. If you had such a door name the one place you would like to use the door to visit and why.

Paris, France. There are a lot of places I’ve wanted to visit (London, Australia, Peru), but Paris is the one that I want to see the most.

Ephraim writes letters to his father during the war. Each letter has Ephraim doing something worse than the letter before, such as cutting school, then robbing a train. Why do you think Ephraim is writing these types of letters? What is his purpose?

I think that young Ephraim thinks that if he’s bad enough, his father will have to come home from the war, and seeing his father again is the one thing in the world he wants more than anything. So it’s worth it to him to behave badly if it means he’ll get to see his dad again – having his father around to punish him for behaving badly is better than not having him around at all.

Jenny pulls Micah into the crafts closet when she thinks he is about to cry. What does this tell you about Jenny and her character?

It shows that she’s both acutely aware of people’s feelings (to have recognized that he was about to cry) and she has a lot of empathy – she wanted to protect him from potential ridicule from other classmates.

~*~*~

There are dozens more questions on this book from the website we’ve used for these questions, but I’m already getting pretty longwinded here, so I’m going to wrap it up. Before I go, just a couple of final thoughts on this book. I really enjoyed reading it, despite the fact that it was a children’s book. Just because a book is written with kids in mind doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate or enjoyable for adults, and Circus Mirandus proved that to me. As soon as we get moved into our own house again, and unpack the boxes and find this book, my older kids (at least Munchkin – the reader) is going to read it. I look forward to hearing his thoughts on it. This one is definitely something to pick up! But before you do, head over to Lori’s blog and read her thoughts on this book.

Next month, we’ll be reading The Dragon of Lonely Island.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

book club button 200

Square Dancing

Seahawk spent one day a week for the past several months going to a Square Dancing class with our good friends, who live in our old neighborhood. Even after we moved, we took him in every week so he wouldn’t miss out on the dancing – or the friendship. Today, I have a couple of pictures to share of their “graduation” ceremony from the beginning class, and a few words from Seahawk about the dancing itself.

From Seahawk:

The way a square is arranged is first there are the “head couples.” These are the couples opposite from each other, facing the caller. The others are the “sides.” These are the other two sides of the square. If you’re a male dancer, on your left you have your “corner,” and on your right, your partner.

When the caller says something, you just have to do what he says. For example, when the caller says, “Circle to the left,” everyone joins hands and walks in a circle to the left. Calls have names, so they’re not all as basic as “circle to the left,” but they work essentially the same. An example of a more less obvious one is “Grand Square.” This means that the dancers will go to every position of the square and back again to their original position. To start this call, the members of the side couples turn to face their own partner. Then they start walking backwards. The rule of square dancing is “unless the call contradicts this rule, you automatically face the center of the square.” So, for a grand square, the sides will walk backwards so they stay the facing the center. Then when you get to the end of the square, you pivot toward the center again. Now you are facing the other side lady in your square (not your partner). After walking forward a bit, the side couples are in the head position and the the whole thing repeats until everyone has been in each position. (I’m struggling to put this into words very well, so here’s a video that shows what the Grand Square looks like in action.)

I like Square Dancing because it gives me a brain challenge. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be as hard as it is. But it definitely is. Listening and moving your body the proper way is a really fun challenge. That gives me a fun way to spend productive time with my friends.

Here are the pictures from their graduation ceremony last month. Since then, they’ve moved up to the “Plus” class for the summer.

 

 

Seahawk, his friend "A," and A's mom.

Seahawk, his friend “A,” and A’s mom.

Seahawk, A, Mom to A, and the Square Dance teacher/caller

Seahawk, A, Mom to A, and the Square Dance teacher/caller

Blessings,

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Unlocking the Secrets to Upper Level Math (UnLock Math review)

For the past few weeks, Seahawk (13 years old) has been working on his first real foray into upper-level math: Pre-Algebra. To do this, we asked to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math. This program has been an absolute blessing to us! Let me tell you more about it.

UnLock Math was created by Alesia and Matthew Blackwood. Both were homeschooled as children, and Alesia went on to become a school teacher, holding certification from Georgia Professional Standards Commission to teach upper level mathematics (grades 7-12). She and Matthew met in 2001 and married in 2002, and as they started having children they decided they wanted to work together, doing their own business. They recognized a need for quality math curriculum in the homeschool community, so they worked to develop a revolutionary complete, online math curriculum that does everything for you (the teacher/parent): it teaches using entertaining videos; it offers quizzes and tests; and it self-grades. The only thing you as the parent need to do is make sure your child logs on (the site is 100% free from ads and other distractions) regularly, and check in on their progress periodically. The program does absolutely everything else.

Unlock Math homeschool curiculum review

As I said, we’ve been using this with Seahawk. As he’s finishing up 7th grade, looking forward to 8th grade this fall, he’s the same age that I was when I did these maths, so I decided it was time to have him step up and start working on more advanced concepts. I know he’s bright enough to manage, so I eagerly requested this review. For us, it’s become his core math curriculum. Each school day (4-5 days per week), he’s working on one lesson, using my iPad. The program would also work on a computer, of course, but we only have one computer available for school stuff, and since math doesn’t require a real keyboard like, say, typing does, math happens on the iPad. I love that it works there! It’s great to have the computer free for my other son to do different lessons while his older brother is working on math.

This screen shot shows the video lesson and the path to follow afterwards. The warm up is up above (you can see the path leading away on the right side of the video); I just couldn't fit it all on my screen to get a full screen shot.

This screen shot shows the video lesson and the path to follow afterwards. The warm up is up above (you can see the path leading away on the right side of the video); I just couldn’t fit it all on my screen to get a full screen shot.

The lessons each have five parts. First is the “Math Warm Up,” which is a short online worksheet designed to get the student in math mode. Next is the teaching video, which is Alesia explaining a bite-sized math nugget. So far, the videos have been about 7-10 minutes long. I’m not sure if they’ll stay that short throughout the entire program, but I can imagine that they’ll get longer as new and more advanced topics are introduced (so far, the program has been mostly review but with new vocabulary for the concepts for Seahawk). After the video is a worksheet to practice the concepts taught in the video. Then comes the “Challenge,” which is a single difficult problem based on things the student should already know. The final element is Reference Notes, which is a downloadable PDF that shows what a student might have taken notes on during the lesson, if he’s a note-taking type. We haven’t used this section very much because Seahawk is very much an auditory learner; seeing the information written out wouldn’t help him much. The lesson page has all of these elements on it, and there’s a path showing students which order they need to work in. This makes it really easy for kids to do the program completely independently, especially since it’s older kids that the curriculum is geared toward.

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This screen shot shows the progress report. This allows the student to see at a glance how he’s doing at moving through the program.

The icon for each lesson is a padlock, and when the lesson has been completed, it opens up – it UnLocks. This gives the student a clear visual representation of how much they’ve completed and how much they still have to go. It also serves as an easy reminder of where they need to pick up at the beginning of the new day. In addition to the lock icons, there’s a large chart on the same page as the lesson list, and this tells the student how far into the program they are and what their average grade is. At the time of this posting, Seahawk has completed 9% of the class with an average score of 89%.

The lessons with the open lock are those that he's finished; a closed lock indicates that he still needs to do the lesson.

The lessons with the open lock are those that he’s finished; a closed lock indicates that he still needs to do the lesson.

I’ve talked to my son at a few different points during this review period to ask him what he thinks of UnLock Math, and he’s told me that it’s his absolute favorite math program by far. He’s even gone so far as to say that he “really likes it.” He never balks when I tell him it’s time to do his math lesson, and he never asks to be done early. He (usually) does all four parts of the lesson without a fight – and for a strong-minded 13-year-old, that’s really saying something.

UnLock Math is adding more upper-level math, too. They currently have Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and their newest offering is Geometry. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing all of those levels. They’re also in the process of developing Pre-Calculus (coming in 2018) and Calculus (coming in 2019). This is exciting news for parents of high schoolers who want to homeschool those upper grades but are afraid of what that means in terms of getting a good enough math education.

unlock pre algebraBased on the hands-off nature of the program (from me), and the fact that my student loves it, I can definitely recommend this program, especially if you have multiple children who need your attention. This gives you a few minutes each day where you can focus on another kid while not wasting the time of your older child. Win-win!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}
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Rush Revere Time Travel Adventures (book review)

Being a (casual) listener of the Rush Limbaugh radio program, I’d heard of the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. I’d even seen some of the books in a few stores. But I’d never actually picked one up or knew exactly what it was (outside of novels about American history). When the opportunity to review the whole series was offered, I talked to my husband about it, and he was interested too – that never happens, especially with physical products! Based on his reaction, I requested to review these books, and I’m really glad I did!

rush revere review

For this review, we received all five books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner, and Rush Revere and the Presidency. Each of the books revolves around the same main characters: Rush Revere, a middle school substitute history teacher; Tommy, the quarterback of the football team who is the class clown but a closet brainiac; Freedom, a free-spirited girl who was born on the Fourth of July; and Liberty, Mr. Revere’s talking, time-traveling horse.

The purpose of the books is to make American history fun for kids. Each of the books takes place during two eras: the current one and one in the past. Mr. Revere and Liberty use their time-traveling abilities to make history come alive to their students via his smartphone and a projector in the classroom. By traveling back in time and videoing the experience, he sends to the school projector so the students can watch things happen as they’re happening. In the first book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, there’s a moment after this first class in which Tommy and Freedom figure out his secret (I don’t remember the details offhand), so he takes them with him on subsequent trips. The main focus of the novel is the 1620s, and we meet historical figures such as William Bradford, Myles Standish, and the Indians Squanto, Samoset, and Massasoit. The time-travelers get to experience such events as the boarding of the Mayflower, traveling on the Mayflower, and the first Thanksgiving.

required product imageSubsequent books explore different parts of American history. We’re currently reading book 2 (The First Patriots), and so far we’ve met Benjamin Franklin as he’s about to give a speech to the English Parliament in opposition of the Stamp Act. Books 2 and 3 both focus on the period of the American Revolution, while book 4 moves on to the writing of the constitution, the sewing of the first American flag, and the writing of the national anthem. The final book takes place after the successful revolution and focuses on the first three presidents and the work they did in their offices.

Each of these books is what I’d call “average” sized for a children’s novel – about 6×9 and 200-250 pages. The books are beautifully produced with full-color interior pages, and they feel really sturdy. I have no doubt that these will provide my children lots of reading entertainment for years to come. Before then, though, I fully intend for us to read the entire series together. The books are really fun and an easy read-aloud option. I love the they’re fun stories that teach children about history. I know my kids are enjoying them because they normally doodle during read-aloud time, but with these books, they’re captivated and just listen. It’s really rewarding for me as a parent (and the reader!) to experience having their rapt attention. The only thing my kids think are a little cheesy are the illustrations, but that’s an easily forgivable “offense.” Especially when combined with the great text and the other non-illustration images included in the books (maps, pictures of past presidents, etc).

Overall, I highly recommend these books! I was mildly interested in them before the review because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m a casual listener of Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. I’d seen the books at Target, but never really looked at them. Now that we’ve read one (and a little bit), I’m excited to keep reading these to my boys, and then to do them again in a few years when the little kids are old enough to start learning “for real.” Rush Revere books are definite keepers in our home!

Blessings,

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Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}
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Paquita

I had the honor of being in the audience when my boys danced in Paquita for the Sunday afternoon matinee closing performance a couple of weeks ago. I have tons of pictures to share, but first, I want to provide a brief synopsis of the story.

From Wikipedia:

The story takes place in Spain during the occupation of Napoleon’s army. The heroine is the young Gypsy girl, Paquita. Unbeknownst to Paquita, she is really of noble birth, having been abducted by Gypsies when she was an infant. She saves the life of a young French officer, Lucien d’Hervilly, who is the target of a Spanish governor who desires to have him killed by IƱigo, a gypsy chief. By way of a medallion she discovers that she is of noble birth, being in fact the cousin of Lucien. As such, she and the Officer are able to wed.

And now, here are the pictures from my kids’ dance studio’s version of the ballet.

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Paquita

Paquita

Gypsy boys

Gypsy boys

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The gypsy king trying to poison ___

The gypsy king trying to poison Lucien

Lucien playing dead.

Lucien playing dead.

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This scene was during Lucien and Paquita's wedding, and I thought it was one of the most impressive of the whole ballet.

This scene was during Lucien and Paquita’s wedding, and I thought it was one of the most impressive of the whole ballet.

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There are more pictures, but this selection provides a decent feel for the ballet. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Blessings,

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