17 September 2014

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

I know I'm not alone in trying to FIT so much into my days.  I've used planners to keep track of appointments and a lesson planner for the big picture of our homeschool plan.  This has not been enough to keep things running smoothly though.  Other projects were being pushed off and then rushed, calls and errands my husband asked of me were often forgotten or done later than they should have been.  I needed something to keep track of the rest of my life - I am more than a homeschool mom and have (vague) ideas and plans beyond the homeschool part of our day.  I was so happy to have this opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life.

This is so much more than a daily planner of lists and boxes!  The first section of the spiral-bound book is where you will really think, plan and reflect on your goals and ideals.  While this planning and time management tool seems to be written for someone working outside the home or running a home business, it can easily be tweaked for the homeschooling mom's needs.  Ideally, a modified version not needing some of those changes would be offered.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

That life-changing first section?  Don't skip over it.  This is not a planner you will just open and go with.  This will help you tackle that forever-long to-do list, finally start on that dream project and make sure you keep *your* priorities in line.  After reading through the first pages explaining how the various pages and sections are to be used, you will go through and establish your priorities.  I love that there is a list of 75 things to choose from - or get you started.  I made clarification notes beside a few things or chose to combine a few things (financial security for the purpose of philanthropy, etc.).  After marking the things that mean the most to me, the items that *should* be a priority in both the big picture and my day-to-day living, you are to prioritize them, listing them from 1-10.  This is where that hazy ideal for who I want to be started to come into focus.

The second part of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is to organize.  Time management is only part of this.  You've heard the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, right?  This planner offers tools to take those bites - they are called Micro-Actions.  These Micro-Actions can be applied to all areas of life - mental to-dos, home-keeping tasks, annual projects, physical health and more.  There are pages to list the goals and lines under each to break that into actionable steps.  This is just what my split-personality self needs.  The perfect way to accomplish some of those bigger projects that seem to be only a dream.  It is also working well to help me see that a little bit each day is making a difference in both my exercise goals and de-cluttering the whole house tasks.  There are also pages to list unfinished tasks.  It is so nice to have a place to write this down and not try to keep track of it all in my head.  We are working towards a bigger goal of sustainability with what we plant in our various garden areas.  Researching varieties of fruit trees best suited to our zone is one of those things I can add to this list.  It can go on the daily plan nearly anytime, but no need to write it down for an especially busy day, yet I don't want to forget to do it.  This planner rocks for keeping track of those sorts of things.  And those sorts of things are exactly what have been muddling up my thoughts. 

So, we've worked through those early pages of establishing priorities and writing down goals (why does that always seem so daunting?), now comes the daily part.  The third part of the planner is simplify.  The question is often asked throughout the planner "Did I do what I said I would do today?".  On the two-page spread daily progress report this is followed with two boxes to check either yes or no.  The planner is both for planning daily tasks and keeping track of the things accomplished.  This is both the easy and the hard part.  This is where I have tweaked the headings of some of the sections.  

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

Daily Contacts (still looking for a different name) is where I listed specific things we need to do - get a certain load of laundry done (hunting clothes for my husband, etc.) or finish a particular book because it is due at the library this week (and we've exhausted all of our renewal opportunities).  I do not list all of the homekeeping or homeschooling tasks here, just the ones that cannot be missed.  Unfinished Tasks is Blog/Social Media Tasks.  What I Spent is what our meals are that day.  I love the lower section for keeping track of my physical health and more.  My only complaint is that the soft spring green color is very hard to read.  It is not found on just the daily pages, but throughout the whole planner.  That is the only real complaint.

There are numerous videos and sample pages found at The 7 Minute Life so you can check this out and see if it would help you.  The planner is for working on 90 days at a time.  For $24.95 you can order your own soft-cover, spiral-bound 270 packed-full pages of life-changing goodness.  I am loving the change this is making in my life! 

I used to make lists and live by my lists.  I lost part of myself in this though.  I put off too many of my dreams and fun projects and things that brought joy.  So I swung to the other extreme and chucked the lists, trying to cram as much fun and life into each day having no real plan.  Obviously, this is no way to get things accomplished either.  I have been trying to find some sort of balance.  I am a wife and homeschool mom but that is not all that I am.  I needed to find a way to fit all of these wants and needs into my life.  Going through these first sections of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner has really helped to bring those things into focus.  It is helping me to find ways to fit it all in.  I may not get to do all the things I want to do everyday.  It helps so much mentally to see that the fun project I am working on simply for the joy of doing it is not shoved to the back burner, but just to another day this week.

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Thank you the 7 Minute Life!
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10 September 2014

Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Analytical Grammar Review

We love listening to learn.  The more adventurous and dramatic the better.  We love G.A. Henty books.  Our latest review is a perfect fit with our family.  Heirloom Audio Productions has made an amazing dramatic audio production of G.A. Henty's title Under Drake's Flag.  There are various options for purchase from $20.00.  The best option is ordering multiple copies (4 or 10) and the really neat bonuses.

The story takes place in the exciting time of the Spanish Inquisition and the hero, Sir Francis Drake.  Drake is not the main character in this adventure, but rather a moral influence and voice of wisdom throughout the story.  It is a side of Drake we don't read about in your typical history books.  Under Drake's Flag follows Ned Hawkshaw, a young man who grows physically and in faith throughout the story.

The opportunity to join the Crew of Drake's ship, The Golden Hinde, is a dream come true for Ned.  Along this exciting journey, he faces many things that challenge his faith and fears.  Through these events, Ned grows from a boy to a man.  A happy ending and illustrations of great character are only some of what makes this production great.  Those are the things that make Henty books great.  This, the Heirloom Audio Productions version, takes a great book and makes it an extraordinary experience.
This audio presentation is much more than an audio book.  It is much more than the audio dramas of old we enjoy listening to.  The cast are top-notch.  The production team members are experienced - having been involved in many of our favorites for our "Listening Lunches".  The effects are amazing and what blows this version out of the water.  There are some scenes that may be too intense for younger listeners - probably why the recommended age is 6 year olds and up.  The praise from my more visual children - "It's like a movie!"  Despite not having anything to view, they were just as enrapt as though watching a movie.  A few of my children are audio learners; they were equally excited - I expected their high praise.  We've listened numerous times. 
We received a 2 CD set that I quickly imported into iTunes and loaded onto my iPad.  We listened to the entire thing during a day of errands.  About halfway through our first listening, we realized there was an issue with the order.  The numbering and information needed to be adjusted in iTunes for the tracks to play chronologically.  The tracks are numbered for each disk, but not initially set up for the disks to be played separately.  After track one from one disk, track one from the second disk played.  Despite this, we still loved our out-of-order audio.  A quick change in iTunes and we were on track.  Of course, we listened again the next day - you know, to hear the full production properly.

The subsequent times, we used the study guide.  There is an abbreviated guide that comes with the CDs and a longer, more in-depth guide available.  This longer guide is where the learning and application come in.  There are 19 pages of single-page study sheets and three Bible studies comprising three more pages.  The single-page study sheets have three sections - Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words.  There is something for all ages the study guide.  We all discuss the questions from Listening Well - even the younger children.  My older girls tackled the Thinking Further questions.  We have not covered them all.  I marked the questions as we covered them, so we can cover more the next time we listen.  If we had begun our school year, it would have been easy to assign these for the girls to complete individually.  Everyone also participated in the Defining Words section.  We use this to gain experience with a dictionary - yes, a real dictionary.  This is something my middle children (6th, 5th and 3rd graders) especially enjoy. 
We are really looking forward to more of these great audio adventures from Heirloom Audio Productions!  We won't have to wait long - a new one is due later this year.  In Freedom's Cause - a great Henty book on William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (a favorite!!) is the next title to be brought to life.  We can't wait!

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Thank you Heirloom Audio Productions!

Crew Disclaimer

05 September 2014

The Identical ~ Soundtrack Giveaway {FlyBy Review}

I grew up with music always playing in the background - always.  We did not drive anywhere without listening to something - classic rock (before it was classic), oldies, classical, blues and anything in between.  With my own children, we have to be more intentional in what we choose to listen to.  We aren't able to tune into many stations on the radio at home and the radio in our vehicle doesn't work.  We can find nearly anything to listen to online.  We don't listen to just anything though.  Listening with different ears - and values - I am more selective.  My children all seem to enjoy a catchy tune and words they can sing along with.
The soundtrack to The Identical certainly meets all of our requirements - and is quite enjoyable to listen to.  It's hard to sit still when City Lights or Sumthen Boucha is playing.  The music spans the styles of a few decades - just as the movie follows the characters through these same eras.  The soundtrack sampler features twelve tracks produced by Jerry Marcellino and Yochanan Marcellino.  Two of our favorite performers from the disc are The Morph Kings (Sumthen Boucha) and Blake Rayne (City Lights and the star of the movie as both Dexter and Drexel Hemsley).  Top notch recordings that are enjoyed by all ages - and don't have to be censored for little ears.
Be sure to catch The Identical in when it opens in theaters September 5th.  It is a touching story of difficult choices and following dreams.  The main character, Ryan Wade, has always had a strong gift for music, yet his father has hopes of him following him into the ministry.  Meanwhile, Drexel Hemsley is becoming a star and his music is everywhere.  Despite performing sold out shows, Ryan is not happy.  He is not able to perform his own songs.  He is kept in the shadow of the brother he doesn't even know is his.  I wish the brothers had met during the course of the movie, but that would have changed things.  The movie was wonderful to watch with my children (we were allowed a sneak peek online).  There are some Elvis references and the music is reminiscent of his style, but it is original - and so good.
Would you like to win your own CD of songs from The Identical?  Enter through the Rafflecopter below through Friday September 19th.  One winner will be randomly chosen.  See the disclosure below for details of eligibility. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”