About 5 years ago, we made an amazing discovery in our home. It started with a trip to the library and a browse through their large section of children’s audio books. Bug picked out a few to bring home and was immediately sucked into listening while he played. This attraction has continued, with Bug listening to audio books or dramas nearly every day for hours. He listens to them while plays and he’ll listen to them while he does school work {during certain topics I pre-approve}. Understandably, I was jumping with joy when I found out we got to review The Dragon and the Raven from Heirloom Audio Productions.

The Dragon and The Raven is a book written by G.A. Henty following a Saxon boy as he takes part in the battle for England led by King Alfred against the Danes. G.A. Henty wrote Christian historical fiction for children in the late 1880’s.

Heirloom Audio Productions has taken this classic and turned it into an amazing 2 1/2 hour audio drama. With voices from John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings), Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who VII), John Bell (The Hobbit), and Helen George (Call the Midwife), this classic story comes alive!

Included with the purchase of The Dragon and The Raven audio drama on 2 CDs are bonus features available for download from the Heirloom Audio Productions website. These bonus features include:

  • The soundtrack in mp3
  • A Study Guide in pdf

Additional bonus material is available for download if you buy the “Family Four Pack”, including posters and a behind the scene video!

The Study Guide for The Dragon and The Raven is 49 pages and includes comprehension and discussion questions for each track of the audio drama. The questions are thorough and many of the discussion questions could be used as writing prompts for older children.

How Did We Use The Dragon and The Raven Audio Drama?

Quite simply, we listened to it! We spent a quiet afternoon listening to the audio drama. Bug colored and I worked around the house. I then put the mp3 on Bug’s phone for him to listen to it again in his room while he played.

We didn’t use the study guide at this time because we just wanted to enjoy the story. If we were studying the history that went along with the story, we would definitely have used it!

What Did We Think of The Dragon and The Raven Audio Drama?

We loved it! It was a fun, extraordinary adventure! It presented history and Christian lessons in an entertaining audio drama. I imagine Bug will listen to this many more times now that it’s on his phone. I was so impressed with the quality of the drama and the adventure in the story that I may have to pick up more audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Presentations.

Although the price of $29.97 for the 2-CD set seems a little steep, this adventure will be enjoyed by your children for many years! If you use the study guide, it can make the story into a couple weeks of history curriculum. You can also get the downloadable mp3 of the story instead of the CDs for only $19.97.

See what other members of the TOS Review Crew have to say about The Dragon and The Raven!


First of all, let me say I get where you are. I’m there too. 12 year old boys are hard, aren’t they? But truly a gift from God. And oh so much fun!

I want to share some things I’ve learned in the past 8 months of having a 12 year old boy. This is as much as a reminder for myself as it is to encourage you.

12 year old boys are caught between boyhood and manhood {or at least, teen-hood}. One moment they are sweet, innocent little boys. Playing toys and cuddling with their moms. But when you start to treat them like a little boy, they push back. They want to be treated like a man. They want greater privileges, responsibilities and respect.

The problem is, they are only 12. They are careless and distracted. They don’t mess up on purpose, but they are going to mess up. So give them grace. Treat them like they are growing up, but let them still be little occasionally. Expect enough out of them, but not too much. They aren’t men, yet.

12 year old boys have hollow legs. They eat and eat. Then eat some more. It feels like they never stop. And when hunger strikes, watch out! They go from happy to ‘hangry’ {hungry + angry} in the blink of an eye. The only remedy is to eat.

Remember those days when you needed to keep food in your purse to keep your toddler from a hunger meltdown? That time is back. Only a 12 year old boy meltdown can be so much worse. At least I could carry him when he was a toddler!

12 year old boys aren’t sure how to handle the new and different emotions they are feeling. Feelings of worthlessness, frustration, sadness. While not always new, they feel strange to the 12 year old boy. Many times the emotions come out as anger and defiance rather than tears and depression {although those do happen too}. When you pair it with being hungry {see above} you are entering the danger zone!
Recognizing that there might be more to the anger has proven to be key. Get to the source, provide support, and then back off. I usually need to give it some time for him to really figure out what is going on. A hug and a chat go a long way after a cool down period.

12 year old boys need their dads. They need to see what it’s like to be a man. There are both physical and emotional changes happening and mom just doesn’t get it. {Nor do I want to!} They need that support from Dad so much more now.

12 year old boys just need to know that unconditional love still exists.

From their moms and dads. And from their Heavenly Father. This time is filled with a lot of uncertainty in the mind of a 12 year old boy. They need to know that no matter what they say or do – you and He will always love him.

I know much of this is not unique to 12 year old boys. We were dealing with it at 10 and 11 and will probably continue dealing with it at 13 and 14. But this year it’s felt heavier. I just thought we could all use a little reminder.


Another Mom of a 12 Year Old Boy


I was chatting one day with a young mom about homeschooling. She was thinking about homeschooling her preschooler, but she was worried about if she’d do a good job. “But I don’t know anything about history!” she lamented. “And I barely passed Algebra! How am I going to teach my child calculus?”

Many non-homeschoolers would agree – how do you ensure your child receives a proper education when you don’t know the subject? 

I’ve had homeschool moms tell me they will NEED to send their child to public school for middle school or high school. They can handle the elementary level subjects, but they don’t feel confident tackling those higher levels – especially in high school when it starts to ‘count’ towards college.

Homeschooling When You Don’t Know Everything

Take heart. Nobody knows everything! You don’t need unending knowledge or even a college degree to homeschool your child through high school! You just need to have some strategies up your sleeve to help you out!

Learn With Your Child

When Bug was in 1st grade, I mentioned to my pastor’s wife that he was learning Biblical Hebrew. She knew we homeschooled, so she had a perfectly legitimate question – “But you don’t know Biblical Hebrew, do you? How are you going to teach it to him?”

“Nope, I don’t know Biblical Hebrew at all.” I responded. “I’m going to learn it with him!” I was quite excited about the prospect but she didn’t quite ‘get it’ and changed the subject.

When we did our Hebrew letter flashcards, we did them TOGETHER. We both learned the names & sounds. We both learned how to say Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew. I didn’t know anything about Hebrew but we managed to learn it at the same.

I’ve used the same process with many different subjects over the years. Especially history! When we read Story of the World together, it’s almost always new information to me too!

Study the Subject Ahead of Your Child

With some subjects, it might easier to know the material before presenting it to your child. Math is one of those. When I realized that Bug was soon going to be in Pre-Algebra, I decided to start the Life of Fred book before him. I wanted to have a good idea of what he was doing & how the book presented it. I was pretty sure I could do all the math, but I wasn’t so sure I could teach it. As he moves into Algebra, Geometry and beyond – I’m going to have less confidence I remember all of it.

As he moves into Algebra, Geometry and beyond – I’m going to have less confidence I remember all of it. I will continue to read the LoF books before he does – refreshing and learning as I go.

It’s also a great idea for your children to see you studying! Learning and education don’t just happen when you are a kid! It’s a lifelong endeavor! 

Find A Good Curriculum Your Child Can Do Independently

Sometimes, you just don’t have the time or desire to learn with or before your child. That doesn’t mean your child can’t learn it! The curriculum choices you make can have a lot to do with it!

One of the reasons we chose Latin for Children was because it was all written to the student! I didn’t have to teach any of it! I help Bug with the vocabulary by doing flashcards with him, but the rest of it is all on his own. I have an answer key to correct his work. The curriculum is doing all the teaching for me!

Outsource the Subject

There are some subjects that you just feel you can’t properly teach. There may not be a good enough curriculum; it may just be too high of a level for you to adequately conquer before or with your child. That’s when you need to outsource! Outsourcing is finding someone else to teach the subject to your child. This may be a class, a mentor or tutor or an online class.

I know that when Bug gets to high school, I’m going to outsource writing. I do not feel competent enough to properly grade writing projects. There are many amazing curricula out there that can teach it, but I’m going to need someone else to help him and grade his papers. I’m not sure what we’ll be using yet. It may be a combination of a regular homeschool curriculum along with a tutor (either in-person or online) or I may find him a full writing class to take.

We may end up outsourcing other subjects when we get there, but I know that will be one of them!

Teach Your Child to Educate Himself

One of the things that makes homeschooling so different from public school education is the options the student has to direct his own education. There is not a teacher force-feeding him information. He is free to learn and discover on his own.

I am no longer Bug’s teacher, I am now his education guide. If he doesn’t know something, I don’t just give him the information I guide him to it. We use a variety of resources – books, videos, internet searches, other people – to answer his questions. The goal is to get him where he does this automatically on his own.

This what we do as adults when we don’t know something. We don’t have teachers that tell us what we need to know. We educate ourselves on what we are interested in or what we need to know. If I lead him in this type of education, it will mean more to him in the long run.


Sadie swore she’d never get married. But when tragedy hits her family, she finds herself getting married in order to save her home. Aden didn’t save Sadie when they were younger but he’s not going to be weak now. Little do they know that Aden’s father is keeping secrets from them and the entire Amish community and that is the real reason they are forced into marriage.

I love Amish fiction and I jumped at the chance to review A Reluctant Bride for Booklook Bloggers. A Reluctant Bride is the first in the Amish of Birch Creek series by Kathleen Fuller.

I enjoyed getting to know Sadie and Aden. They both had baggage and it made them so much more real. Sadie had her reasons for not wanting to get married and hating both Aden and his alcoholic brother, Solomon. Aden’s relationship with Solomon and his father, the Bishop of their community, is troubled by both mental and physical abuse. It was hard to see how the two would come together at all.

But when they do, through no real choice of their own, their developing relationship is precious. I found myself encouraging them both to let go of their past fears and doubts. I wanted to join them at the dinner table and get them talking to each other.

Into the mix, Fuller adds in some mystery and intrigue. She was able to keep me wondering until the end and beyond. She left a couple of pieces of the story line at a cliffhanger to be finished in the coming books. (I hope!)

I will definitely be watching for the next book in the series. I’m excited to see how the cliffhangers get resolved and hopefully get a glimpse of Sadie and Aden in the future. I had never read any of Kathleen Fuller’s books but I enjoyed this one immensely and will be looking up her other books.

If you enjoy the Amish Romance, you’ll enjoy A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller! It’s everything that is typical of the genre, with a twist!

Make It From Scratch: Easy Enchilada Sauce

In my pursuit of healthier eating, I’m slowly making more and more of our favorite processed foods at home. Especially things that are commonly filled with sugar, salt, msg and/or preservatives. Not only do I cut out all the extra junk, but it’s often tastier and more frugal! 

One of the first switches I made was our enchilada sauce. I couldn’t find any canned sauces that didn’t have extra junk. I’m sure they exist, but not in the regular grocery stores I shop in!  After a few tries, I found my go-to recipe. I don’t know how ‘authentic’ it is, but we love it! I typically use it in my enchilada casserole as I’m too lazy to make actual enchiladas! 

EASY ENCHILADA SAUCE 1 T olive oil1/2 small onion, diced2 garlic cloves, minced1/2 t oregano2 1/2 t chili powder1/2 t basil 1/8 t black pepper1/8 t salt1/4 t cumin1 t parsley 1/4 t smoked paprika1/4 C salsa (whatever your favorite is)1 15 oz tomato sauce1/2 C water In a saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add in the diced onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. 

Mix in all the spices and cook for one more minute.

Add in the salsa and tomato sauce and water.

Bring to simmer and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Use in your favorite recipes! Makes about 2 cups of sauce. 


People tell me all the time that I can’t possibly be introverted because I’m sociable. What extroverts don’t realize is that introverts can be very sociable, but being sociable DRAINS an introvert. It’s exhausting to do all that social stuff. Listening to people talk and then having to respond drains us of our mental, emotional and physical energy. Some introverts are taxed quicker by social interaction than others, but it’s still taxing!

When an introvert is feeling depleted of their strength, the best way to refill is with quiet alone time. The problem with being an introverted homeschool mom is it’s almost impossible to find quiet alone time! We are with our kids all day long! Children are the complete opposite of quiet & alone. Even if they aren’t keeping you physically active, an introverted mom with find herself exhausted after interacting with her children all day – even though she loves it!

There are some ways to keep yourself from becoming too weary at this daily onslaught of social interaction. It just takes a little planning & foresight.

Quiet Time / Naps

One of the easiest ways to give yourself some alone time is to have a scheduled quiet / nap time. A half an hour where all is quiet in the house and no one is allowed to disturb you may give you just the pick-me-up you need. After you’ve gotten kids settled, do whatever you need to recharge. Read a book, study your Bible, enjoy a cup of tea while watching your bird feeder. Just as we schedule quiet/nap time so our kids are rested and recharged, we need to use that time to do the same.
Usually after lunch, both the kiddo and I grab a book and just curl up and read. Sometimes I just send him off to play quietly in his room or outside while I purposefully take a few minutes to veg-out with a book.

Get Up Early or Stay Up Late

This is one of those things that can be easier said the done. Especially if you have multiple kids that don’t all sleep the same hours! Try to schedule yourself a little time before the kids wake or after they go to bed.

I get up early with my husband to get him out the door. I then have some time to myself before Bug wakes. This is the perfect Bible Study and meditation time. If I can just BE for a while, I feel much more ready for my day. I’ve been known to send Bug off to his room with my phone if he wakes too early and I don’t feel that I’ve charged enough!

Fill Your Child’s Bucket First

Even if your child leans more toward being an introvert, they have a need for interaction with you. If your child happens to be an extrovert like Bug, they thrive on this interaction even more. Part of being a mom is giving of yourself to your child. If you give of your undivided attention and energy to fill their bucket, they then have the ability to leave you alone so you can fill your own bucket.

Before I figured out this trick, it seemed like Bug’s bucket was never full. I would respond to every request for attention yet it never seemed to be enough. Every request seemed to interrupt something else that needed to be done and I then didn’t feel I could complete household chores let alone get some quiet time to fill my own bucket. One day I gave into him asking to play a game. I gave him all my attention – not jumping up to do a chore or check Facebook – and played a game with him. Investing in this time gave him what he needed to then keep himself occupied while I did chores and got my alone time I needed. Sure the game was a little draining on me, but not as much as having to switch gears every 5 minutes!

Steal a Moment

Every now and then you will find that all is calm and peaceful and you have no little hands pulling on you. Take it. Breathe deep and say a prayer. Drop the stress and the to do list for just a couple minutes and be purposeful in the recharging of you. This can act like turbo charge to get you through the next part of your day.

I will also steal a ‘quiet’ moment with some music in my earbuds, usually while doing a chore. I will drop all my focus except the music and the one assignment before me. If you have little kids you may need to do this with just one earbud in so you can listen for when you are needed. The music helps tune out the extra sounds that remind that there are other people about.

Encourage Independent Study

It’s our ultimate goal to get our children learning on their own for their own benefit. But independent learning provides an additional benefit to the introverted mom. When they are able to do their school work without you, it opens up your time to deal with household chores which in turn allows you to use more down time to recharge your soul.

Even if you have multiple children with some that are too young to handle independent study, teaching the older children as they are able (start with just one subject!) means you have fewer children to handle at any one time. You bucket then gets drained a little slower and you can last a little longer before you recharge.

Ask for Help

It’s OK to ask your spouse or a friend to hang with your children so you can get a much needed break. The above tips may not be feasible in your life right now. That doesn’t mean you have to run on empty all the time. If you aren’t able to get the time in any other way, schedule a regular time to just step away. Go for a walk, read a book at a local coffee shop, or go for a drive with your favorite album playing. You must give yourself priority sometimes because no one else will do it for you.

Don’t forget to ask our Father for help as well. You may not be able to see where you can find the recharge time, but He can clearly see the big picture. He will help you find the time.

Give Yourself Grace

There are times where your bucket is just going to be EMPTY. You can’t possibly make it through another moment. For me, I usually blow up at some silly little thing when I get to that point. Maybe you just break down in tears. It’s going to happen. When it does, give yourself a little grace. Cancel the rest of school and put a movie on. Order a pizza and pull out the paper plates. Then get away by yourself. You aren’t failing at being a homeschool mom. You are just being human. None of us is perfect. When you’ve sufficiently recharged, go gather your kiddos into a big hug. They love you – weaknesses and all.


This is not the Bible in 90 Days update I was planning on doing.  Or the weekly wrap-up that I have almost ready (except for pictures and links).  But I promised a special 7 yr old that I would post this, and I don’t want to disappoint!

Bug pulled the book Chocolate: A Sweet History by Sandra Markle off his shelf to read the other night.  I read part of it to him, and he read the rest before bed.  He loved learning about one of his favorite foods.   He woke up the next morning INSISTING we make the recipe at the back of the book.  We picked up the last ingredient at the store tonight – so guess what we had for dessert!

Chewy Chocolate Yum Yums

2 C crunchy chow mein noodles
1 C mini marshmallows
1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips

Mix noodles & marshmallows in a mixing bowl.  Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove and pour on top of the noodles/’mallows.  Mix well.  Spoon the mixture onto wax paper.  After it’s cooled and set a bit, shape into balls or ‘beaver dams’ as Bug decided to do.  Cool in the fridge for an hour or so.  Eat and Enjoy!

Bug made almost the entire thing himself.  (I did help with the melting and pouring of chocolate.)  He enjoyed it thoroughly and enjoyed the end product even more!