Monday, June 27, 2016

Swimming With Faith

Swimming With Faith: The Missy Franklin Story
Written by Natalie Davis Miller
Zondervan Publishing
Cost: $6.99
Ages: 10-14 ish; Swimmers of all ages



From the Zondervan Website:
Missy Franklin is one of the most talented swimmers in the world.  She is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and currently holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke and American records in bother the 100-meter and 200- meter backstroke.  She was Swimming World's World Swimmer of the Year and the American Swimmer of the Year in 2012.  This story tells of her rise in fame and humbleness  in the sport.

Swimming with Faith takes a look into the life of Missy Franklin, mostly focusing on her high school years.  I have to say, we have not had television for about 10 years and I really did not know anything about Missy and what she had been through.  It was an interesting look into the life of a girl with a passion for swimming and goals she was reaching for and convictions to do what she felt was the right thing.  She sounds like an amazing young woman with a big faith in our great God.  I love that she is presented as someone younger people can look up to as an example...I would LOVE to my daughter to read this book.

Right now, as we speak, Missy is competing in Olympic Trials to see if she will have a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Team...so this is unbelievable timing!

So, I did really enjoy the information in this book.  The hard part for me was the writing style.  It read a little more like a newspaper (or something) than a book for me.  There were SO MANY citings in the book that disrupted the flow of the text for me.  This might be the way books are written these days, but I am more used to just having the citings in the back of the book.  This could be a personal thing for me...

Anyway, a cool feature in the back of the book is a swim dictionary to explain what all those swimming terms mean. 13 pages of terms help readers unfamiliar with the terminology keep on reading.

I think this is a fantastic book for young people to read!

* I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and opinions may vary.

NIrV Minecrafters Bible

NIrV Minecrafters Bible
Zondervan Publishing
Cost: $24.99
Ages: 8-12 ish

My initial thoughts...Minecraft...are you kidding me?  I cannot believe that I get the opportunity to review this item...My boy was SO EXCITED!  I am not personally a HUGE Minecraft fan, but my boy is...and it is pretty cool to combine the Word of God with something he finds fun!

So what this is:
Complete text of the NIrV...Genesis to Revelation

24 color tip-in pages featuring full color illustrations in the style of the wildly popular virtual world building game.

Featured stories such as Creation and great builds of the Bible


So, my thoughts...as you know...My boy LOVES IT!!!  We have some different standards to measure by though!

So, the text is NIrV, which I have said before is not at all my favorite.  I would prefer a standard NIV to this...2 pages at the very front of this Bible explain why NIrV...I have read this several times...and I get what they are saying...Not a fan though.  I will leave that there and let you decide for yourself on that.

Also, the text is just essentially a standard Bible...No commentary, no intros to the books of the Bible...Just the plain text.  The words of Christ are NOT in red...just in case you are wondering.

What makes this Bible unique are the 24 color pages.  These pages are full color in the style of that particular game (this Bible is not endorsed, sponsored, authorized or in any way, shape or form affiliated with that particular game)...and many of the pages have a building theme.  Some just have aspects you might find in that particular game...like planting, stones, or weapons.  A few just show the picture in the style of that particular game.  It is a little weird seeing Jesus in the shape of that guy...is his name Steve?  I am really not in the know here...this the the BIG draw for fans of that particular game.

I think I am neutral towards this Bible...I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.  It is an acceptable Bible.  My boy LOVES this Bible.  I think he just looks at the pictures though...and those, no matter how much fun they might be, are not inspired.  So, there you have it!

* I received these items in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your result and opinions may vary.


God Bless...Land That I Love Books

God Bless America
God Bless Texas
God Bless Florida
Illustrated by Peter Francis
Published by Zonderkidz
Cost $ 9.99
Ages: All

Today, I bring to you three books from the Land That I Love series.  I will take these one at a time...so you can get up close with these cute board books!

First stop...God Bless Texas!  Texas--Larger than life!  As we come to Texas in this book, we get to take a look at landmarks, Like Guadalupe Peak, the Alamo, and the Capitol.  I won't give every detail, just a small taste!  Children will follow the sweet bear Henry as he travels throughout the state to see the fun adventures he will have.  The text has a Rhythmic cadence that children LOVE and the books are a good length to keep attention for the youngers that these are mostly designed for...it is a board book after all!
Children get to learn little snippets about Texas through the text of the book...For instance, on the Alamo page, children will learn that the Texans fought Mexico for thirteen straight days for freedom.
At the end of the book, we see Henry on his knees praying, thanking God for the things he saw.  Very, Very CUTE!
The illustrations in this book are colorful and sweet!

Ok, our second stop today is Florida!  In God Bless Florida, we take little peeks into Tallahassee (capitol), Daytona, and the Space Center.  This book follows the same pattern as the one above, just new sights to see.

In the last book today, we get to take the speed tour of the United States.  In God Bless America, some of the sights we get to see in this book are Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and National Mall.  Two of the sights in this book were in the other two books...I would have liked to see something else brought in...but there you have it.  Once again, this book follows the pattern of the one above!

Speaking of that, essentially, the first four pages and the last four are pretty much the same, with the names changed to protect the innocent...oh, sorry...the names changed for this book.  It is annoying to me to see that as I look at it with a reviewers eyes, but some children really do like that!

If you are travelling to any of these places, it could be fun to add pictures, receipts, etc to the books as a memory book of sorts (I Love altered books!).  Or add postcards of other places you went to in the state or country.   This is why I gave it the ALL age range...the text is really written to younger children.

I think for the most part, your family will LOVE these books...I do have one caution though...in each one, Henry buys souvenirs...Now, I am not sure how your family feels about souvenirs, but our family does not buy them for the most part.  They are often expensive and not worth the asking price.  Also, when you have several children, you may have to come up with a lot of extra dollars in your budget for souvenirs... And just do not even get me started on all the stuff they already have without souvenirs added in.  This may or may not impact your child.  Again, I am looking at all three books together and it gives me the impression that this is normal and what we do when we travel.


*I received these items in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and opinions may vary


Monday, June 6, 2016

Grads, Dad, Brides and Birthdays



Grads, Dad, Brides and Birthdays


Spring ushers in a season of gift giving opportunities as graduation announcements, wedding and birthday party invitations fill your mailbox.  Giving gifts is not about how much money we spend, but in celebrating someone special in our life.  Thanks to the internet, fresh ideas abound and ways to get creative on a budget  are at your fingertips.  I will warn you though…giving gifts is my love language and I am SURE I go way overboard on this…I just can’t help myself, but I am learning to cut back a little.
Graduation gifts are always a challenge for me.  You often see people suggesting books, a watch or loads of cash.  Cash is ALWAYS a gift that is appreciated!  Maybe you can give it in a creative way.  Search Pinterest for “Graduation Gift Ideas”   to see some of those creative ideas.    A gift card to Target or another store of your choice is ALWAYS helpful.   Creating theme kits might be fun too – laundry soap and quarters, or a basket full of cleaning supplies, midnight munchies or bathroom supplies are very useful at this point in a graduate’s life.
Birthday Parties are the next hurdle to get over. Figuring out which Lego set a child DOES NOT have, what THING is THE THING this year and finally giving up and getting a gift card or giving cash.  Some ideas I am kicking around are movie tickets (Thank you, Costco), zoo, aquarium or museum tickets.   I find that my children do not need more STUFF, and I am trying to think of things we can do to create memories for them instead.  I think that sometimes we get all worked up if we give cash.  My children LOVE to get cash as a gift, because they do not often get money for things. I would not write that off completely, but maybe scale back on the amount you give.  I like to give dollars equal to their age.  I think it makes the gift a little more memorable.

Weddings are made a little easier for us with registry lists.  Often, we can find a gift on a registry within our price range and call it good.  One special gift I have created a couple of times now is a homemade cookbook.  This works beautifully if you have known the bride or groom for a long time.  Recently, I created a cookbook for a dear friend from a Smash Book and scrapbooking supplies on hand.  I did this start to finish in one evening, so it is completely possible, I just don’t really recommend it!  Currently, I have been scouring Craigslist for a used Kitchen aid Mixer  at a FANTASTIC price for a precious friend who is getting married soon.  My Kitchen aid is one of the best gifts I have ever received and has lasted more than 20 years. Other ideas might be to create an evening out with dinner gift card and movie tickets, or a date night in with popcorn, movie, and treats.    There are so many ideas; have a look around Pinterest for wedding gifts or DIY wedding gifts, or even think about the best gifts you have received and I am sure you will be inspired with an idea.
Finally, Dads . . . Dads are really tough  because they often aren’t helpful with what they would like.  How about something for the barbeque?  New cookbooks, cedar planks, or seasonings get those creative juices flowing and bring blessings to the whole family.  What about a basket of different hot sauces – my hubby would LOVE that!  Gift certificates to go out to a nice dinner or Starbucks to grab some coffee on the way to work are great options too.   Coupons for a foot massage, a car wash, or some yard work ease Dad’s burden a little.  If none of these ideas apply to your guy, you can always grab him another tie!
The best advice I can give when gift giving opportunities arise is to focus on the person you are giving your gift to.  As you think about who they are and what they mean in your life, I am sure you will come up with the PERFECT gift idea!

Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics

Friday, May 27, 2016

Vacation Bible School, Day Five

Well, this is the LAST post for Vacation Bible School theme ideas.  We will wrap up this carnival with an animal theme!  Animals are all around us---in our homes as pets, on farms providing us with meat, milk and eggs, in the forests, in the sea, and even in the sky!  Kids are often curious about the lives of animals and how God relates to them.  This fun theme helps children get in touch with nature and with animals.

Bible Stories that would fit in with this theme:
Creation
Adam Names the Animals
Noah's Ark
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Elijah and the Ravens
The Lost Sheep
Jesus Rides the Donkey on Palm Sunday

Books to Reference:
7 Days of Awesome by Shawn Byous $ 16.99 (Just my two cents here...we LOVE this book!)
Goodnight Ark by Laura Sassi $16.99
The Beginner's Bible: Daniel and the Lion' Den (An I Can Read Book) $3.99
The Beginner's Bible: Adam and Eve in the Garden (An I Can Read Book) $3.99
The Adventure Bible: Elijah, God's Mighty Prophet (An I Can Read Book) $3.99
Made by God: Animals All Around $9.99
Made by God: Curious Creatures $9.99
Adventure Bible (NIV) $24.99

Craft Ideas:
Ok...so Zondervan gave some craft ideas from Oriental Trading Company and for some reason, I cannot access their site...so check OTC for some inexpensive craft ideas!  They usually have quiet a few projects to choose from.
A few ideas from Pinterest

Decoration Ideas:
Here are some ideas for this...this theme could go any number of ways depending on what you prefer to focus on....Also, check out the Under The Sea board for those ideas as well!
Animal print balloons

Snack Ideas:
Here are a few snack ideas that look fun AND yummy!

Songs you could include:
Father Abraham (I cannot even believe I am suggesting this...this song is not my favorite, but CHILDREN LOVE IT!)
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
Hosanna in the Highest

Some other fun ideas include:
Invite a veterinarian or zookeeper to come and talk to your group...maybe they can bring a special animal visitor
Take a trip to the zoo
Volunteer for the day, a a group, at a local farm or animal shelter
Make Handprint Hens
Run a food drive for cats or dogs and donate the collected items to an animal shelter
Host a dog wash event fundraiser and donate the money collected to the church, a children's ministry or to a local animal shelter.
Have a scavenger hunt to spot signs of animal life native to that area
Take a nature walk in your local park or hiking area to spot animals and explore their habitats.
Make animal masks... Enchanted Learning is a subscription site, so there MIGHT be a limit to what they will allow you to print...it looks like you might be able to print this for free, but I cannot guarantee that.
A Pinata is a fun idea...but only if you do NOT make it!

Generic Pinterest Boards...just because you get sucked in to the great time warp
Snacks
Decorations

Ok, that is it!  I hope you have enjoyed this VBS round up of ideas!  A big thank you to Zondervan for putting this together!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vacation Bible School, Day Four



Many people are fascinated with Angels.  They are guardians and messengers, mysterious and very interesting.  Find out what Angels are all about with this exciting theme.



Bible Stories that would fit with an Angels Everywhere theme:
Creation-God created the angels
Abraham and Sarah visited by three angels
Three youths in the fiery furnace
Jacob's Ladder
The angels guide Isaiah through Heaven
The angel appears to Mary
The angel appears at the tomb of Jesus

(I would be careful with which stories I pick here...For instance, the three youths in the fiery furnace...I have believed that this was an appearance of the Christ and it could be confusing for children.  Perhaps a better choice is a passage where Daniel is praying in chapters 9 and 10 of that book.  There are also many references to angels in Revelation...maybe Revelation 22:6-9, or 19:1-10.  The Angels in the Bible Storybook might be a very helpful resource for this theme.)

Books to Reference:
Angels: A 90 Day Devotional About God's Messengers by Christa Kinde $9.99
Angels in the Bible Storybook by Allia Zobel Nolan $16.99
Adventure Bible: Facing the Blazing Furnace (An I Can Read Book) $3.99
Beginner's Bible: Baby Jesus is Born (An I Can Read Book) $3.99
Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible (NIV) $29.99

Craft Ideas:
See my Pinterest board
Decoration Ideas:
again, Pinterest
Snack Ideas:
And, Pinterest for the Win...well, actually, It was hard to find angel theme snacks...so here is a generic board for any kind of snack

Songs you could include:
Angels We Have Heard on High
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Angels, From the Realms of Glory

Some other fun ideas include:
Make angel wings from paper plates
Be angels in your community by helping people in need with a food or clothing drive, or a needed activity.
Host an angel hair spaghetti lunch and invite the senior citizens of the church (or neighborhood) to be served by and dine with the children.
Make keepsake coffee filter photo angels
Bake Angel Cookies using cookie cutters and cookie dough
Form groups to build giant angel art figures using recyclables and make angel paintings for an Art Gallery.
Have an Angel Food Cake eating contest- eat slices of angel food cake piled high with whipped cream using only their mouths.
Sing angel themed Christmas songs in the summer...see above!


Ok, that is all for today!  I will see you for one last theme tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vacation Bible School, Day Three

It's Day Three of our Vacation Bible School Theme Round Up and today's theme is When I Grow Up!  Most kids enjoy thinking about all the things they could BE when they grow up and this theme helps them explore that a little bit and reminds them that God is ALWAYS with them!

Bible Stories that would fit into a When I Grow Up theme:

God calls Noah to Build an Ark
God calls Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and write the 10 Commandments
Joseph, the dream interpreter
Jesus calls His 12 Disciples to minister with Him
Jesus calls Paul to be a Disciple

Books to Reference:
The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker $16.99 (it said it was on special for $11.89...I am not sure how long that is good for)
The Plans I Have for You Devotional by Amy Parker $14.99
Baby Wren and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd-Jones $16.99
Adventure Bible: Joseph the Dreamer (An I Can Read book) $3.99
Adventure Bible: Noah's Voyage (An I Can Read book) $3.99
Adventure Bible: Paul Meets Jesus (An I Can Read book) $3.99
Kids Quest Study Bible (NIrV) $29.99

This theme was a little more difficult to find ideas for...you may have to tweak the ideas posted or look for ideas from the Bible Stories...but here is what I have.

Craft Ideas:
Create Your Own Puzzle $4.99
Jobs If You Like Career People Craft Sticks- Scroll down for supplies, price varies

A few ideas here

Snack Ideas:
Foods that seem grown up, but that Children love...this will vary, but veggies, hummus or wraps.  You can also have the snacks go with the story for that day.
You can also check in here to find more ideas

Decorating Ideas:
Collect Community Helper costumes and posters.

This theme was a little more difficult to have specific decorations for.  It might be fun to adapt the Never Grow Up ideas to mix with the When I Grow Up theme...Anyway, such as it is, here is my pinterest board


Songs you can include:
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
This Little Light Of Mine
Standing in the Need of Prayer

Other Activities that might be fun!
Invite parents or church members to come each day and talk about their careers
Have children dress up for a career they might like to have
Honor Different Careers each day
Have a pet visit day in honor of veterinarians
Practice safety demonstrations in honor of police, fire fighters and first responders.
Help people in need with a charitable activity in honor of pastors, missionaries and other care givers.
Host a special lunch where kids serve their parents to honor all that parents do for them
Host a Talent Show where children can sing, recite a poem, tell a story or dance that honors a career they would like to have.


Well, that wraps up day three!  I will see you tomorrow for Day FOUR!  I hope you are enjoying these posts, courtesy of Zondervan Publishing and that they are helping to get your Vacation Bible School Plans moving.

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