Awesome History Audio Series for kids and families.
The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty by Heirloom Audio Productions
We love audio books and audio dramas – can’t get enough of them. When Steve was working for 23 years as an advertising account executive he would regularly go to the public library and check out a number of audio books every three weeks and listen to them as he drove around to client meetings.
When we took the kids on driving vacations we’d take several audio books with us also. Working on projects around the house – like painting a room and trimming trees in the yard are also perfect times for listening to them as well.
Recently we were contacted by Bill Heid from Off the Grid Radio to preview a new audio drama project he was working on through Heirloom Audio Productions. Bill is a great guy and when we heard that the he was using top rated actors/actresses (see the list below (you’re sure to recognize several from “The Lord of the Rings,” “Downton Abbey” and “ Fireproof”) along with superb quality sound designers from the “Adventures in Odyssey” series, we jumped at the chance to preview the series. These aren't just short stories, but they are 2 hours to 2 1/2 hour long dramatic presentations - they have been dubbed "Disney for the Ears." They are just that good.
The entire series is designed to bring to life the historical novels of G.A. Henty (1832 – 1902). While the stories are historically accurate, what we love the most is the melding of courage and faith that Henty weaves into every story. His heroes experience deep emotions as they wrestle with seemingly impossible obstacles. Their faith fails at times, but is always bolstered as they walk through their battles, instead of running from them. You’ll find great inspiration for your own life and for your children too.
Heirloom Audio Productions first dramatic production was Under Drakes Flag where a young boy, Ned Hawkshaw, is given the opportunity to sail with Sir Frances Drake. During the story Ned experiences and survives a shipwreck, fights off sharks, and comes face to face with the terrors of the Spanish Inquisition. It was fantastic.
We’ve also listened with rapt attention to The Dragon and the Raven, a story about young King Alfred of Wessex standing against the vicious Danes who ravaged England in 875 A.D. The tale portrays the ravages of war, the courage of men (young and old) who faced overwhelming odds of survival with faith in God and their companions. The battle scenes are realistic and as a result could be a little scary for children under the age of eight to listen to. However, we believe that the way Henty wrote and the way the audio theater portrays the scenes gives the listener a great understanding into the hearts and minds of the people who experienced these days in history.
The other story that we absolutely loved was With Lee in Virginia. This Read More...
WHY INVENTORY YOUR FOOD?
This is an excerpt from the planning chapter of our book, Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half with America’s Cheapest Family. It will help you manage your food inventory and tame food budget so you’ll always have extra money for stocking up on killer deals!
Sometimes we’re both dog-tired and the thought of inventorying the freezer or planning a month’s worth of meals is the last thing either of us wants to do.
But before we embark on our once-a-month grocery trek, we do want to be efficient and economical, so Annette takes stock of what we have in our pantry and refrigerator, and Steve inventories the freezer.
Evaluating our stockpile
Annette records items in a number of categories, noting what we’ll need to buy in order to make it through the month.
If you go shopping once each week or twice a month you may not have to do a full inventory each time. But this step is still critical for making sure your pantry and freezer are fully stocked so you won’t have to make a special trip to just pick up one missing item for a meal you are preparing. Taking stock also helps us minimize duplicate purchases and reminds us to use the things we already have in the house.
Taking Stock the Easy Way
Using a blank sheet of scrap paper, we make note of the following items and quantities we have in stock. (Of course, your list will differ.):
• Breakfast Foods: Eggs, milk, juice, oatmeal, farina, cold cereal, bagels, and ingredients for waffles, pancakes, and French toast. Annette also makes sure our pantry is well stocked with baking soda, flour, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and commonly used spices.
• Lunch Foods: Peanut butter and jelly, tuna, bread, lunch meat, eggs for egg salad, tortillas and shredded cheese for cheese crisps, hot dogs, cottage cheese, yogurt, salad fixings, and plenty of fruit.
• Dinner Foods: Steve takes almost everything out of our chest freezer, and gets a count of the number of items in each of the following categories:
He also notes how much
School's Out For Summer — Yikes! Here are about 15 great Summertime Ideas for Kids (and Adults)
It's June and school's out …what do you do to help your kids have healthy fun in the summer?
Is it an afternoon at the movies, a visit to an amusement park, or an afternoon at the mall?
How much will that cost you?
Perhaps you might want to consider tackling a large project, learning a new skill or participating in community service. These activities can also be fun and more rewarding.
But be careful of Summertime overkill.
We’ve seen parents sign their kids up for a crushing load of summer activities that have both parent and child exhausted (and broke!) by summer’s end. Are expensive camps, clinics and planned activities all there is to having summertime fun? Spending gobs of money to keep your kids entertained isn’t necessarily the solution.
We’ve compiled a list of suggestions — most of which we’ve done — to stimulate your thinking about summertime fun activities.
Not Just for Kids!
Don't think, however, that these ideas are just for kids! As we said earlier, kids often know how to have fun in a way that adults don't, and we think folks of any age will get some enjoyment out of these ideas.
We know that if both parents are working, your options are more limited, but there are still activities that you can do together. Consider “co-oping” with a couple of other working families and coordinating days off to do activities with the kids.
Inexpensive Indoor Fun
Free Days at Museums
People often think of museums as great places to visit. While they can be very educational, we've found that they can also be over-stimulating, especially to young children. We try to limit our time there to no more than four hours. Some museums schedule occasional Free Days. Contact your local museums to see what they offer.
We schedule a couple of afternoons each week from 2 to 4 p.m. as reading or artwork time. Even Mom needs a break and staying inside during the heat of the day can be refreshing.
Edu-tainment at the Movies
We don’t “live our lives in front of the TV,” but during the summer, we’ll schedule a weekly time to watch a two-hour movie borrowed from a friend or the library for some excellent “Edu-tainment.” The old Disney classics like Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Homeward Bound and many others are wonderful to watch. Also, historical movies hold our kids’ attention, educate them and provide better role models and heroes than most of today’s movies — Davy Crockett, Johnny Tremain and Gary Cooper in Sergeant York are just a few examples.
Volunteer this Summer
Don’t neglect this Read More...
The typical Father's Day celebration is to wait on Dad, hand and foot, hand him the remote control and let him do whatever he wants for the entire day.
Try a Different Kind of Father's Day
This Father's day we'd like to encourage Dad's everywhere to step up and make it a day when they serve their families—giving time and love to their families, and receiving much more in return. There is no better Father's Day present to receive than to have little hands squeeze your face after you fix a broken toy or finish swinging your child at the park.
The Best Gifts for This Father
Some of the best gifts Steve has ever received are tools that he uses to build things for Annette and the kids. He’s constructed things like built-in oak bookcases, captain’s beds from salvaged waterbed frames, storage racks, shade structure for our dogs, and he’s also refinished lots of furniture. He and Joe built an 8' tall cubbie hole shelf unit a few years ago from used lumber purchased on CraigsList —you can read more about it and other things we do in this article from American Profile Magazine).
The Right Tools - at the Right Price
Having the right tools (not necessarily the most expensive ones) help him to get the job done quickly, safely and well.
Check out CraigsList or OfferUp.com for estate sales and for specific tools in your area. We especially like church rummage sales because there are usually lots of tools and no one is emotionally attached to them. This is the best place to pick up good tools inexpensively. If you don't have time to shop on CraigsList, check out Amazon and eBay, you may be surprised at the deals you find.
Learning to Do Home Repairs
And Dads, don't forget that one of the best ways to save money is to learn to do household repairs and small construction projects on your own. Not only will you save money, but you'll amaze your wife and you'll be able to teach your kids how to manage and repair a home—these are great life skills to pass on.
What if you Don't Know How to DIY?
YouTube has thousands of step-by-step / how-to videos for just about every type of household project you could imagine. When Steve encounters a new home repair problem or project, YouTube is one of his first stops.
Find a handy mentor or be a mentor. Steve has spent the last year or so working with son-in-law Collin, helping him learn how to do dry-wall, plumbing and other carpentry work. This is the very thing Annette’s dad did for Steve when we bought our first home.
If you are "Handyman Challenged" see if one of your friends can help you repair something and learn while you do it together - Steve and Annette's dad (Syl) do this all the time and really enjoy their time together.
Tools that Steve Likes
Here’s a list of Steve’s favorite and most used tools:
Many American families sacrifice their oral health under the belief that they can't afford dental care. With over 100 million people in the U.S. without dental insurance, and one in five adults not attending routine dental care appointments, it’s clear that, while routine dental care is necessary, cost is a legitimate concern.
Did you know that taking on the full cost is not the only option for maintaining routine dental care? There are a number of practical things families can do to help save money on dental care without putting their oral health at risk.
1. Educate your family and practice oral health best practices
There are simple, ongoing steps everyone should be following to keep their teeth and mouth clean and healthy:
These preventive habits will not only encourage a healthy smile and fresher breath, but they can reduce the chances of developing tooth decay, gum disease, as well as a host of more serious illnesses and conditions that your dentist can help spot and diagnose in time to effectively treat. Failing to maintain good oral health habits like these often results in some level of dental complications down the road, along with a lot of unexpected expenses.
2. Work closely with your dentist
Your dentist is primarily interested in maintaining and improving your oral health. When you're at your semi-annual check-up, take advantage of the opportunity to discuss any concerns or questions you have and listen carefully to the dentist's recommendations.
If they suggest ordering x-rays or an additional procedure, listen to the reasoning behind the recommendation and make an informed decision. A small investment now can prevent tremendous expense down the road when a minor problem progresses into a major issue.
Many dentists offer flexible financing options and discounts for uninsured patients such as a sliding fee scale or installment payments that can make receiving the care you and your family need easier to afford.
3. Budget wisely and plan for both the expected and the unexpected
Your family's oral health really does deserve to be prioritized in the family budget. Although you may not be dealing with an obvious problem currently, that doesn't mean it's wise to ignore routine dental care.
Be sure to budget effectively to cover, at minimum, a routine exam and cleaning every six months, x-rays once a year, and the supplies and equipment needed to maintain those healthy habits described above.
It’s also important to plan for the unexpected to help soften a financial blow. Despite your best efforts, you or your child may get a cavity that requires filling. Perhaps a filling or bridge you already have will need to be repaired or replaced during the year. Or, maybe it’s time for your teenager to look into getting braces. Budgeting wisely for these possibilities will ensure that an emergency situation doesn't turn into a huge burden.
4. Use a dental savings card
One of the most valuable investments you can make in your oral care is to join a dental savings plan to reduce costs. Dental Solutions offers a dental discount card that applies to everyone in your family for less than $10 month.
Dental discount plans offer significant Read More...