Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's Cookin

All summer long I've been doing my best to avoid the kitchen--fruit smoothies, cold sandwiches, etc.  The last thing I wanted to do on a hot, humid day was spend time making my kitchen hotter.  Although we've still had warmer than average temperatures, a cool breeze and falling leaves always motivates me to cook.  Maybe it's some built in instinct to stock up for winter or maybe it's the thought of  hearty soups and stews to warm me up from the inside out. 

A fellow homeschool mom gave me to boxes full of apples at Spanish co-op this week.  They weren't in the best of shape--a lot of bad spots to cut out.  I reasoned that just proved the apples weren't saturated with pesticides , as close to organic as I could come and free!  I always wanted to learn how to can.  I picked up a Squeezo strainer on ebay and all the pint jars on clearance at Tractor Supply over Labor Day weekend.  I cut up and cooked the apples.  Schnickelfritz, still intrigued by the machine from our pear butter experiment, lent a hand at turning the crank at pressing the fruit down.  My 10 quart stockpot only held 5 pints so I had to process two batches.  But we ended up with 9 pints of practically organic, sugar-free apple sauce.

Second,  I received an email about an e-course in freezer cooking by Shelley from One Roast Vegetable.  This is something I've dabbled in from time to time.  I'm the first to admit that our homeschool day goes SOOO much better when I know dinner is already taken care of.    Shelley has seven lessons online so far.  She has started with some experiments on what is really freezable or not--dairy, vegetables, and fruits.  I'd rather learn from her trial and error than ruin my own food in experimenting.  And the course is free, free free!  You can sign up yourself at Fresh From the Freezer.

A second e-course (and really a third) was shared by a fellow Homeschool Crew member.  She's friends with Wardeh Harmon, who espouses "God's Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season," hence the website  The course is like the lab work for the book Nourishing Traditions.   I'm learning the traditional ways to prepare grains, beans, and dairy foods to make their nutrients more bio-available.  This week I learned how to soak brown rice to eliminate the phytic acid that binds to the calcium, magnesium, and iron in the grain and prevents their absorption.  Wardeh provides lists of ingredients and equipment,  mp3 lectures about each topic, a whole binder-full of notes and recipes, and best of all for my learning style--videos of the step-by-step procedures.   There is a second course available on this site that is strictly to learn how to use sourdough in creating breads, pizzas, tortillas, etc.  The two courses are NOT free, but they are made available on a pay as you go/pay what you feel it's worth system (please don't take advantage of Wardeh's generosity by downloading everything without any compensation).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: PGKey

Most homeschoolers will agree that to some degree their decision to keep their children at home is to protect them from the violence and sexuality so pervasive in the world today.  And yet, we often leave major gaps in our armor by allowing that world in through television, popular music, and the internet.  Recently I received a product to review designed to help boost our defenses in the last category.  The PGKey SafeKey, which  looks like a thumb drive, touts "Protection for Your Children. Peace of Mind for You." 

According to the packaging PGKey includes:

  • SafeKey Session Recorder

  • SafeKey Encryptor

  • Safe Key Safe Search

  • SafeKey Time Lock

  • SafeKey Alerts

You simply plug the PGKey into an empty USB port, the software loads automatically, you select a password for yourself as administrator and set up user ID's for the children you want to monitor.  When you go online you can customize the system by either blocking certain websites or only allowing access to a list of specific websites.  You can set  time limits  for computer usage and you can set up alerts if you child types certain words or phrases.  When I set up accounts for myself as administrator and my son as a user, the program automatically set us up as separate users when we start up Windows.  For myself, I had to type in a password at start up.  My son had no password but the computer would lock up unless the PGKey was plugged in--not just for internet access but any computer usage.   Now let's go through those features one by one:

Session Recorder--Most of the space on the PGKey is set aside to record screenshots at intervals of time you set.  As administrator you can then view the screenshots as a slideshow.  This is not just internet time, but any time used by the child ( I got to see a lot of solitaire games).  When the key fills up (60 hours worth)  it should discard the oldest data to make room for the new information.  I don't know if that actually occurs because my son is not allowed that much computer time.  I do know that when I first installed the PGKey, I would get a "write stream error."  The technician discovered that a dummy file they use to test capacity had not been removed from my key before shipping.  It would not record any screenshots until the dummy file had been removed.

Encryptor--The PGKey  relies on a parents password to disable its use, change blocked sites and alert words, and allow additional usage time once the limit has been reached.  If the key has been removed or someone tries to "hack" it, the information will be recorded.

Safe Search--The PGKey changed our default search engine to its own Google based Safe Search.  We use Google anyway, but this new version only allows for web searches not video, images, books, etc.   Of course you can always go to the search engine's website and use it rather than using the one on your menu bar.

Time Lock--I tested this by setting the limit to 10 minutes.  The feature worked perfectly--after ten minutes (not all internet time) a window popped up saying the limit had been reached.  The was a place for me to type in my password giving Fritz an additional 10 minutes of time.

Alerts --  To test this feature I set up an alert any time the phrase "Mississippi River" was typed.  When I put the phrase in the search engine I got an email alert within the hour.  Not satisfied with that (and assuming some teens will spend a lot of time and energy devising ways around the system), I typed in "river near St. Louis."  I used one of the phrase words and received a list of sites and images with the phrase "Mississippi River" in their titles and texts, but no email alert.  As a parent, you'll have to spend a lot of time inputting phrases and individual words if your goal to know when your kids are delving into forbidden areas.  NOTE: the keywords do not deny access to information, they just trigger an alert to the administrator.

The final feature I tested was blocking websites.  The online tool indicates that any website I list will be in addition to a list kept by PGKey (I'm assuming they've researched the seedier sites I don't even want to know about).  I chose a benign little site--Ultimate Disney, that provides information on Disney movies and DVDs.  When I typed in the address I was redirected to their main host site that has a completely different address ( and the site was not blocked.  I set up a new blocked site ( and this time the blocking worked.

Since my Schnickelfritz is so young and has such limited computer usage anyway, I think the best use for us at this time is to just allow access to a short list of sites.   As he gets older, we may take advantage of other features.  The PGKey is more of a reminder that "Mom is watching" than a real shield against filthy language and inappropriate images and videos.

The PGKey retails for $49.99.  Once it's purchased there are no continuing fees but you will need  to purchase separate keys for each computer in your house.  On their website  you can request a free trial (it doesn't say how long the trial period is).  You can see what my fellow Crewmates thought of the PGKey by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received one free PGKey for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Castlewood State Park Orienteering

Schnickelfritz and I participated in our third O meet this past weekend.  As the weather gets cooler and the vegetation dies down, the events move from municipal parks to the big state parks.   Up to now we've just been covering 100 acres or so, today's event was held on over 1800 acres.  More controls were hidden off the paths then on, the  changes in elevation were much steeper and more frequent.

We began the day with a new training class for junior orienteers.  Fritz and three other boys learned tips for better navigation with the detailed maps.  A "catching feature" is some object or formation located past the control you are seeking.  If you reach it--say, a bridge, you know you need to turn around to keep looking for your target.  A "handrail" is a feature that you can follow to guide you in the direction of the control you are seeking--perhaps a fence line or the ridge of a hill.  The map the boys studied was a mini course laid oud by their coach.  When asked if they wanted to navigate together or by themselves all the boys chose the latter, even my Schnickelfritz.  Now the last time my little adventurer wanted to leave me behind in the dust was last year when we explored the Bathtub cave.  He was the first (after our guide) to disappear down the hole and the first to scramble out again.  There was only one way in or out so I knew he couldn't get lost.  Now I was putting my faith in God and a seven- year-old's ability to read a map.

 The coach gave each boy a two minute headstart before sending the next in line.  Fritz was going last and was really raring at the bit.  He must have asked "Can I go now?" five times in those two minutes.  I stuffed a whistle in his pocket in case of emergency and was still praying he'd decide he really wanted me to go with him.  When he had the green light, he tore up the trail, rounded a bend, and was lost to sight.  The coach waited another two minutes before he and I started up the path.  We were going to shadow the boys and collect the tape used in place of regular control markers.    Somewhere up ahead I heard a voice "Mama, I found the first control!"   After the third control we left the trail and started up a dry creek bed.   My initial reaction was fear that he was just running up the trail so fast he would miss the turn, but then I caught a flash of red shirt scrambling over a fallen tree.  I had to give him credit--the boy can read a map.

We caught up with Fritz on two occasions as our long legs and the coach's familiarity with the course allowed us to travel faster.  In both cases Fritz begged for another two minute lead.  He was determined to do this on his own.  He managed to find 12 of the 14 controls on his own and passed one of the older boys (who had fallen and scraped his knees).  When he reached the finish line, my little adventurer was ready for anything.  The real event was starting in 30 minutes and Fritz informed me we were going to find all 24 controls because he was "full of energy!"

This time we'd be competing as a team and I wasn't sure I was so full of energy.  I began trying to lighten my load as much as possible.  Rather than carry around a clunky bunch of keys, I only needed the one to unlock the car.  I took a familiar key off the ring and hid the rest in the car.  Did you notice I said "a" and not "the" key?  When I tried to unlock the car to get a highlighter pen for marking the map I realized I had removed the house key, not the own for the car.  Instead of using our 30 minutes to plan our course I spent it borrowing other folks' cell phones trying to reach the Toolman to come with a spare key.  He was evidently working with a leaf blower and hearing protection and missed my call.  I left messages for him and then Fritz and I joined the others for a mass start.  I figured it would take at least an hour for Toolman to get the message and come to the park so we might as well keep busy while we waited for him.

Remember that energetic little man I spoke of just a paragraph ago.  After six controls and two miles he wasn't quite so energetic.  "My legs are burning!" , "I'm exhausted!" and the ultimate sign of fatigue "I'm going to take a nap when we get home!"  We managed two more controls before nature called to Schnickelfritz and it was the type that boys can't do off the side of the path.  We headed back to the finish line and the bathrooms.  Fritz was at first disappointed at our score, the smallest we've gotten so far.  But I reminded him how much more territory we were covering.  In the past two events we only found half of the total controls.  This time we found 8 of the 10 required for the short course we were running.  That's quite an improvement if you look at it percentage-wise.

We've got two weeks to build up our endurance before the next event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wrap up week 10/18-22

Schnickelfritz is busy taking his Unit III test from Math U See Gamma--a whopping 56 questions.  It still won't take him very long.  He is determined to start MUS Delta before Christmas. 

We completed All About Spelling Level 1 this week as well.  This is a program we discoved as a member of last year's Homeschooling Crew.  I can't tell you what a difference it has made to ease the frustration levels of both student and teacher.  Fritz loves moving the magnetic tiles around rather than writing.  I love the step by step instructions--for some reason teaching language arts intimidates me.  We've had to move the tiles from our whiteboard to a new permanant home on the basement refrigerator.  Fritz was constantly using the whiteboard for drawing maps and pretending to be Mr. Demme teaching math.  He would just pick off the letter tiles to get them out of his way and it would take me a week to find them all again.

The weather has turned cool enough now that its difficult to find insects so we've returned back to the bird chapters of our Apologia Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  We made a field trip to the World Bird Sanctuary open house last weekend.  While it's always a thrill to see bald eagles, even flightless ones,  this weekend was special because we were given access to the clinic where they care for injured birds of prey and their breeding area.   To go with our bird study, I also started reading aloud E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan.

We've been reading our way through the Bible this year (I have chosen not to read certain passages containing more adult content like Lot and his daughters).  We started Exodus and by coincidence Fritz's Royal Ranger commander decided to show the boys The Prince of Egypt.  She had to divide it and show it over two weeks.  Fritz insisted that we read far enough in the book to meet up with the story so I had to read 4 or 5 chapters a day.  Fritz listened without complaint and even insisted I "Keep going," --words to a mother's ears.

I've really slowed down our Mystery of History because I want to tie in to our Bible reading.   Growing up I never understood the relationship between the things I learned in Sunday School and what I learned about history on weekdays.  I want Fritz to understand that what we read in the Bible were real events that we can add to our timeline.  I can only read so much in a day though, so history lessons will just have to go slow for now.

Tomorrow we have another Orienteering meet.  This will be our first in a state park rather than a municipal park.  I have  a feeling it will mean more compass work and less relying on controls being on paths or easy objects.  There's going to be a new training couse for junior members before the main meet.  I hope Fritz will be able to make some new friends that share his enthusiasm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A walk in the fall

Tonight it was a real pleasure taking the dog for a walk.  Down the road, where the neighbors keep horses,  there must have been two dozen bluebirds resting on the fence.  he birds took flight as we approached and when the broke out from shadow to sunlight their vivid blue coloring  just popped.  

Schnickelfritz caught up with us on his bicycle.  Further down the road we discovered a dead snake.  I can't be certain what kind it was but it wasn't a copperhead.  Fritz asked if he could touch it.  He's come a long way since we've moved from our urban home in Indianapolis.  He used to be scared of bugs--even the cute ones.  Now he wanted to touch a snake carcass.  He dismounted his bike, got a stick, and dug a trench to give the snake a decent burial.

It reached almost 72 today--rare for this late in the year.  The leaves are as brilliant as they're going to get (actually, they're all expected to fall with the rain this weekend).    I had good company.  It couldn't get any better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Challenger

When most people hear the word Challenger they think of the space shuttle but today I got to see a  Challenger that predates that spacecraft by forty years.   Built in 1943, it was the largest and most powerful operating locomotive ever.   It was restored to running condition in 1981 and today it made a whistle stop at Washington, MO.

It was scheduled to arrive at 9:15 and I was surprised by the crowds who had arrived before me.  Grandfathers holding little hands,  a group of  boys from the local Catholic school sporting cardboard engineer caps,  even a little girl with an English accent and her mummy.  We waited for nearly an hour.  At one time the crossing gates signaled and folks got their hopes up, but it was only an Amtrak dropping off one passenger. 

There was no mistaking when it did arrive.  I'm sure they heard the whistle all over town.

Review: Soli Deo Gloria Resources

A common phrase among the Homeschool Crew when discussing review products is "God knew exactly what I needed."  We may receive the perfect material to help a struggling learner or it may address a personal passion of one of our kids.  That was the case when we downloaded the Map Skills unit study published by Soli Deo Gloria Resources.

My Schnickelfritz has always been fascinated with maps, but recent interstate trips and joining the orienteering club have kicked his enthusiasm into high gear.  This made doing a review of the unit study an easy sell.   The 32 page ebook contains daily assignments for a 3 week study (based on a 4 day schedule).   To get the most out of the study you will need to purchase a separate workbook -- the author recommends selecting the appropriate level from the Weekly Readers series: Map Skills for Today.  Other recommended items: a compass, a variety of maps, blank or outline maps, and any additional reading books to reinforce the study.

We didn't use the recommended workbook as we had plenty of other resources (like I said, Fritz has a passion for maps).  We gathered amusement park and zoo maps, maps from our orienteering meets, free state maps from rest stops, and checked out the largest atlas possible from the library.   Some activities only required a pencil and paper.  Others involved taking a walk through the neighborhood or a more energy burning game of compass tag.  Fritz did enough activities to earn his Mapping badge for Royal Rangers.

In addition to map skills, the student will look up vocabulary words, practice penmanship with copywork, and learn some grammar mostly through studying Bible verses.  The underlying message is the Bible can be a "map" and give direction to our lives.

The study is designed for students K-6.   Older students (or those with a passion for maps) will really need to supplement the study with advanced workbooks or other activities.    The ebook can be downloaded ($14) at the Soli Deo Gloria website.  You can  see a sample page there as well.   The company also publishes unit studies in the areas of  Bible, science,  history, and geography--prices range from $12 to $18.

You can see what fellow crewmates thought of the Map Skills Unit Study and other products from Soli Deo Gloria Resources by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free download of the Map Skills Unit Study for the purpose of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for my honest opinion.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meramec Caverns

If you've traveled on Highway 44, you've probably seen the signs for Meramec Caverns.  Heck, I've seen an advertisement on Highway 70 in Indiana.  I've always found it a little too expensive to go, but recently the privately owned cave advertised a half price day.  Schnickelfritz got his birthday trip to the cave a few months early.

I believe the cave was the first tourist attraction on Route 66, although it's been attracting people long before that.  It once held a gun powder factory in the Civil War (thanks to all the bat guano).  Artifacts found in the cave are linked to a robbery by the infamous Jesse James.  Some areas are big enough to hold square dances (the buggies were parked around the perimeter of the "room"). 

Outside the cave were more activities--free and half price.  There were bouncy houses, a train made out of metal barrels pulled by a John Deere, a small camp of Civil War re-enactors (complete with cannon).  Fritz learned about the current danger facing bats, white nose syndrome, and made a free bat house to mount on our barn.

The big attraction (well, besides the cave) was the new zip line that takes adventuresome souls across the Meramec River--twice. This also seems to be the rage in Branson right now.   I wonder how they felt with the cannon going off beneath them.  Fortunately, Fritz is still too young for such sport.  I guess that will be a later birthday wish.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Talking Fingers

Typing class....the words send me back to a junior high class room.  The din of clacking interrupted by an occasional bell when someone hit the return carriage. I realize there's a whole generation that has no idea what I'm talking about here--ask your parents.   Just like they never think that it used to take some serious calculation to center text on a page, I never thought about teaching typing to my kid.  After all I didn't learn to type until seventh grade.  Then I realized I didn't have a personal computer until ninth grade!  My son is growing up in a world far different than mine--he looks up library books with a computer instead of a card catalog.  He loves to watch roller coaster videos online.  He may have been the only four-year-old able to put "Expedition Everest" in the YouTube search box.  Of course when he put that in, he was hunting and pecking for the keys.

Enter the Read, Write, and Type Learning System from Talking Fingers.   It is designed to teach K-3rd graders keyboard skills along with phonics, reading, and writing.  Let me just say this is not your mother's typing program.  Gone are the days of drilling ffff and jjjj.   My Schnickelfritz was on a mission to save the characters from the left and right houses from an ugly green alien named Vexor.   His guides on the quest are Lefty La Dee and Rightway McKay--who are technically talking hands not fingers.

Fritz was first taught how to "Power Up,"  the term used for positioning the hands correctly on the keyboard.  I found it a little odd that the focus was put on the middle fingers resting on the D and K keys.  It is the F and J keys that have the little knobs you can feel after all, but this is a minor issue.   F is the first key taught.   Fritz followed Vexor to a theater to rescue the letter F.  A series of pictures is shown, if the name of the pictured object begins with the "f" sound he is to press that key, if not he presses the space bar.   In later lessons he may have to listen for the sound at the end of the word.  In the case of vowels he listens to the middle of words. 

When the letter is successfully rescued and returns to the correct house a "story teller" appears in the window.   The storyteller has to travel to the story tree in the town park.  His or her means of locomotion is done with typing drills.  For the first few lessons this means alternating between the letter key and the space bar, but it is not long before Fritz was typing words and phrases.

The  character usually has to pass across three screens before arriving at the story tree.   In both the phonic sounds screen and the typing drill screens your successes irritate Vexor more and more.  He mumbles, he shakes, steam rises from his head, and eventually he bounces all over the screen or explodes.  Once when I heard Fritz from another room I thought he was getting frustrated with the typing but he was merely imitating Vexor--and having a lot of fun doing it.

The student will also do the typing at the story tree--in this case four phrases or sentences to tell the story.  Of course the vocabulary is very simple and a lot of the story is expressed through the cartoon images.   The story marked the completion of the first few lessons.  As we progressed we went to Vexor's ship for more phonics and reading reenforcements.  There are four lessons for each level and the student earns a printible certificate at the end of each level.  Let me tell you, this was a great motivator for my son!  In fact one day he determined he was going to earn two certificates--that was almost two hours of typing lessons.

There is a parent/teacher report available that will help you track your students scores for phonics, reading, and typing.  It is very simplistic and only gives you a percentage score of each category at each level.  Unless you're sitting with the student as he works, you won't know which lesson (or letter) is giving him trouble. 

The is also feedback for parents to be found on the Certificates of Merit.  It will tell you which letters have been learned, scores for some of the drills, even the words per minute of a speed drill cleverly disguised as a game to keep Vexor up in the air on a park fountain.  Parents should also take advantage of all the free downloads available at the Talking Fingers website.  There are scope and sequence charts, user manuals, a practice paper keyboard, and 18 stories based on the lessons for more phonics reeforcement.

An online annual subscription for  Read Write and Type is available for $35 for the first student.  A second student is an additional $20 and others can be added for $15 each.  We used this online version with our dial up service and didn't notice any real delays in loading or animations.  A  CD Home Edition  is available for $79, but it is not compatible with Windows 7.  My advice:  get this for your kids and just let them play.  You sit quietly to the side racking hours and recording scores.  Fritz played this for hours when it was "only for fun."  When I tried to make it a school assignment the magic disappeared and he quickly complained that it made his hands hurt.

You can read what others on the Homeschool Crew thought of Read, Write & Type by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free online subscription for Read, Write & Type for the purposes on completing this reveiw.  I received no other compensation for my honest opinion.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Digital Frog Field Trip Series

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is the field trips.  I loved them as a kid and I love taking them with my Schnickelfritz.   Think about it, is it more fun to read about a subject or go where you can touch the animal, see where the battle took place,  watch an artisan make something new.  Of course some things are beyond our means right now.  I can't take Fritz to the rainforest or the desert--too far, too much money, perhaps too dangerous.  Digital Frog has attempted to remedy this by making virtual field trips possible.    I recently received a cd rom with their three trips: The Wetlands, The Rainforest, The Desert.

The highlight of each trip is a virtual tour through the biome.   There areposts on each tour where the student may  use the mouse to do a 360 degree view of the location.  The accompanying text gives some basic information and also clues for specific plants and animals to look for.   Certain words in the text may be highlighted and clicked on them will lead to new screen where more in-depth material will be shared.   You may also click on the name of the object to look for and the picture will automatically adjust to find it (saving little ones from undue frustration).   Speaking of younger students,  I don't recommend just plopping them down in front of the computer and letting them point and click away.  They will miss the depth of information available.   I know this from experience--I let Fritz loose with the Wetlands field trip while I worked on the other side of the room.  He confused it with one of our orienteering meets where you try to go to all the posts in as little time as possible.  Fritz would arrive at a post, click to see where the hidden objects were, and click on the sign leading to the next post.  The vocabulary of the text was above his second grade level so he didn't bother to read any of it (it is possible to use the computer's text to speech function but the stilted, automated voice is more annoying that helpful).

 The field trip is really designed to whet the appetite for further study in the other sections of the program.  Subtopics for the Rainforest included: Rainforest Study (plants, animals and their interdependancy),  Rainforest Types (Temperate and Tropical and where they are located),  Mechanisms of the Rainforest (soils and water cycles, etc.), and Our Endangered Rainforests.  The material was presented with text and videos.  There were "games" to test comprehension like building a tree with specific features to survive in the rainforest, looking for camouflaged creatures, and choosing which brightly colored fauna were safe to eat.   Fritz enjoyed the last game best, when you chose an incorrect snack, the screen would say "Blech!"


The disc for each field trip contains PDF files for a teacher's guide and a student workbook if you'd like to make these studies more of a traditional education experience.   They're a little tricky to get to because every time you left-click on the drive with the disk, it starts the program.  You need to right-click on the drive and choose the "Explore" option.  It would be best to use this series when you are studying the particular biome itself.  I had hoped to isolate the birds and insects of each habitat to fit in with our current science study, but specific creatures are just hidden gems to be discovered along the path.   When you do find them however, what a treat!  I'll never forget the video of an orchid mantis in the section on camouflage.  This critter looked just like the delicate light purple flowers it was hiding among--until that bee happened by.   The field trip series takes a secular viewpoint, but I saw it as a wonderful example of God's creativity.

The package I received contained all three Field Trips available by Digital Frog and is available at their website for $199.00.   Single trips are available for $84.00.  Digital Frog also has cds on cell structure and a virtual frog disection (hence the name).  Their pricing structure seems more geared toward schools and institutions rather than homeschooling families.

You can see what others on the Homeschool Crew thought of The Digital Field Trip Series by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Digital Field Trip Series for the purpose of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jonathan Park Download

It's's second anniversary, but you're the one receiving the gift.  Right now (through October 13) you can download a free copy of the entire Jonathan Park Volume 1: The Adventure begins.  Just use coupon code 2NDBIRTHDAY. 

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