Monthly Archives: December 2011

A look back from Home in the Trenches

A look back from Home in the Trenches

Many of my readers are newer to Home in the Trenches!  Thank you for taking time to read what I have to say.  (Actually, really what God lays on my heart–  I try hard to be sensitive to what God want me to write about. )

I wasn’t going to post until after the New Year, but after laying in bed trying to sleep and unable to, I knew it was time to get up and post this for you to read.  I wanted today to go back to one of my original posts I wrote…The Everyday War.  This is a great reminder after the busyness of the Christmas about the war that we as parents are fighting each day for our families!

I hope that you had a very Merry Christmas.  We still have one more day of celebrations today!  Happy New Year (Unless I feel lead to post again before then!)

Need some sanity?-Check this out!

Need some sanity?-Check this out!

I was going to take a break from blogging over the Christmas break, but I came upon something I had to share! 

I saw a LivingSocial email yesterday about an audiobook subscription for kids!  Loved the idea and had to check it out.  Now I love it so much that I had to tell you about it.

Do you have to drive places over Christmas? Or just need everyone to sit quietly so you can wrap presents, or cook?  Or will the kids be complaining a few days after Christmas that they are bored?  IF you answered yes to one or more then you must take a look at this iPhone/iPad app I ran across!

Tales 2 Go is a subscription based app which has over 1,600 audio books that your kids can listen to with just a few swipes on your screen! The first 30 days are free or head over to LivingSocial and get their deal of 3 months for $15!  (I thought this was a great deal to try it out) After that it is $10/month or $99/year.

There are so many cool things about this I will just list some of them:

  • Unlike,, or other subscriptions I have seen, there is no limit to how much they can listen to each month!  Unlimited listening for up to 5 devices per account!
  • It separates books by ages or grade level, themes, characters, series, most popular, highest rated, seasonal, story type and even storytellers! (A quick funny story-I put on an Aesop’s fable today while we were driving to piano lessons and the kids thought we were listening to the audio of one of our school history books (Story of the World)—it’s the same storyteller, Jim Weiss!)
  • It is so easy to put something on for them to listen to.  No having to request something from the library or find a CD–it’s right there in the palm of my hand, quite literally! You can stop and start stories and bookmark right where you left off!
  • It is streaming…as long as you have internet it will play!  Love not having to download and store it on my phone!
  • It has books for all ages-Clifford, BoxCar Children, 39 Clues, American Girl…just to name a few…The selection is really amazing!
So, with that I will leave you and wish you a Merry Christmas.  (Unless, I just have something I have to share with you) And a Happy New Year!  Hope you are able to take time to reflect upon the true meaning of the season and live in the amazement as to what God actually did for us!

The Ham and Potato Soup Recipe I Promised!

The Ham and Potato Soup Recipe I Promised!

Most of you know that we had ham for dinner a week or so ago.  I cubed and froze the extra ham.  Today for lunch I made the most delicious ham and potato soup!  I promised on the ham post that I would post this recipe for you to enjoy.  I love serving it with my Artisan Bread that I make from scratch and my family says is just like Panera’s! I made 16 servings today and there really wasn’t a whole lot left for leftovers!

Delicious Ham and Potato Soup (found on

serves 8  ***in case you want to change the serving size it can be done easily on


  • 3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup diced cooked ham
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk


  1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

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Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Sacha’s<25: An app for your iPad to help your child learn handwriting using the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting method.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 5 stars
Did it help us learn? 5 stars
Is it worth the money? 6 stars
Is it useful to me? 5 stars
Practicality- 5 stars
Quality- 5 stars
Kid Rating- 5 stars

From the Letters Make Words App on iTunes: 
The user can select any letter. Each one comprises a complete unit of instruction for that letter, a warmup pattern, the letter and a word to trace and to sound out. When a letter has a different sound depending on its usage in words, choose from either of two words. The next screen has three words to sound out with a silly sentence for the child to write on paper.

A friendly voice coaches the child to finger trace with the index finger, thereby encouraging good pencil/pen hold when actually writing. It’s the index finger that should push a pen to make marks with the greatest ease of movement.

Lowercase letters are featured. An app for capitals and numerals will follow soon. Lowercase are the ones we most need when we write, and are the easiest to form.

Letter-related warmup patterns start each unit to help the child with formations.
Starting points and directions for strokes are clearly defined, graphically and by the audio that guides a child through all finger tracing and pronunciation.

Letters are designed for ease of writing and legibility. Reversals (b for d, etc.) are never an issue with the formations used in this app.

Our Experience:

We were really excited to try out this app.  I have a child just learning proper handwriting techniques.  Unfortunately, we found this app to be extremely frustrating….while it states that the color changes as the child traces the letter it isn’t what we thought.  The whole letter slowly gets darker, not just where the child has traced. There is no way of “seeing” where their finger has actually been.  As long as she started where the “hole” was at at the beginning of the letter and ended at the end of the letter (she could have scribbled all over the middle of the screen) it would ding like she had completed it correctly.  Also if she traced a word faster than it spoke her through it would continue talking even though she was finished and she would have to wait for it to finish talking.

What I liked:

  • I could see this app helping with fluidity of motion and as a child was getting ready to learn cursive.  It would actually make the transition to cursive much easier.
  • Technology just takes some of the stress out of learning….it is a different way to learn and can make it fun for kids.
  • The audio help while learning letter formation is helpful.

What I didn’t like:

  •  This style of handwriting is so different than what she has already been working on, it was a bit confusing.
  • As you can read from “Our Experience” section there were a few things that were frustrating, which I won’t go into again.
  • After they practice a letter the app follows up with words and then a sentence for the student to write on paper.  This is really way to much for a new to handwriting student.
  • It really isn’t a substitute for good old pencil and paper learning. (While it doesn’t claim to be, I still feel the need to mention this.  It could be a good supplement however)

To sum it up: I would recommend this to families who are looking for extra handwriting help or who are getting ready to make the transition to cursive handwriting.  While it doesn’t take the place of a parent or teacher teaching how to properly do handwriting this could be a supplement for those students who are intimidated by using a pencil and paper or need more review.


The important information:

Letters Make Words

By Swansbury, Inc.

Order from: iTunes

Price: introductory price $2.99

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

A really cool FREE Handwriting Worksheet Maker Website

A really cool FREE Handwriting Worksheet Maker Website

When we first started homeschooling many moons ago…ok, it was just 7 years ago, I purchased a program to put on my computer to help my Kindergardener practice handwriting.  Today I found something even better for that and it is FREE and web-based!  Love it!

Faith (Almost 5) was going to write to Grandma and Grandpa and tell them thank you for taking her overnight, playing with her and buying her a fish for her birthday.  I found this site and I was able to type in exactly what she wanted to say (and pick the style I wanted to her write it) and then print it out for her to copy over. You know how important I think thank you notes are…I won’t get started today on that.

I thought I would share this with you!  Head here to check it out….there are tons of options on what it can do!

Later this week I will be reviewing a new handwriting app for the iPad!