Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Star Wars Saga on DVD

As you may or may not know, we are a Star Wars when I say WE, I really mean THEM...the boys, but who's keeping track of all that...
So, an opportunity is before the Star Wars on Blu-Ray...and since May the Fourth is a holiday to at least ONE of my boys, I am making a shameless PLUG to receive this item to review...ON BLU-RAY...the WHOLE since we own more of these on VHS than DVD, AND I think we are missing at least one, AND one of my boys has been counting down the days until it was released, I am raising my hands, waving frantically and saying...PLEASE PICK ME...I think it would qualify me as being MOM of the year...and what mom REALLY does not need some of that???

And, for those of you who had to read this and are saying to yourselves how lame it KNOW you'd do it too for one of yours! Just plug in THEIR THING! :-)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Aletheia Writing Magazine

Aletheia Writing Magazine
Creativity for Christian Teens (13-19)
Four issues per year. 40 pages. Color. Price includes shipping & handling.
United States- $26, Canada- $29
European Inquiries, please email

Aletheia Writing Magazine is a quarterly publication focusing on the literary and artistic works of Christian teens, ages 13 to 19*.
We are excited to offer Christian teens a healthy platform in which to express themselves, especially in a culture that so definitively shapes and saturates their worldview with unhealthy imagery and values.
In addition to the literary and artistic expressions of Christian teens, each issue offers a variety of unique features: a Writer's Challenge, the Featured Contributor, a book review, Glory to God for the Beauty of Nature, Ancient Ink, and an interview or other feature for edification and enjoyment. (from Aletheia's Website)

Spring 2011
Expecting this item, I was full of what I THOUGHT it was going to be...I thought it would be full of teaching/writing prompts to help students get their creative juices flowing. Boy, was I WRONG...when I saw the magazine, I thought, "Well my teens are sure going to think this is lame." I am happy to say that I was wrong. As one of my children was looking at it and kept reading, he was asking some questions...can anyone send writing in...because so and so is a really great writer, how much is many issues do you get? More questions than I thought I would get...

What I like- This is written by teens, for teens...I think this encourages them to write better work and the readers enjoy it because it is really geared toward their interests and reading levels. I like the special features in each magazine- The featured contributor, the Writer's Challenge, the Glory to God for the Beauty of Nature (OUTSTANDING photography!!!) I like that there is a variety of short stories and poems.

What I was not so fond of- There seemed to be quite a bit of fantasy type work in the magazine...maybe that is what teens are really into, I am not sure, but I would have liked to see a greater range of genres portrayed in the magazine such as biography and historical fiction. I like the writer's challenge, but would have liked to see maybe a little more instruction in writing included...maybe a short lesson on developing your plot or creating complex characters or something of that nature. It seems like many of the stories I read had a very sad feel to the fall issue, most of the writing is pretty sad, dealing with topics such as human trafficking, deep relational issues and hurts, sadness, loneliness, etc. These things do not encourage me, but make me focus on the things that are wrong. I would like to see the admonition of Philippians 4:8 held up as more of a baseline for the stories/work accepted... "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." I know that through hard things God works great wonders, but at this age it seems to me that focusing on sad issues could make coping with life more difficult. The magazine does issue this disclaimer: "At Aletheia Writing Magazine, we are excited about our contributors and the articulation of their Christian faith and experiences in writing. This magazine is geared toward youth ages 13 to 19. Because contributors’ ages vary, the maturity level of situational content may likewise vary." I would preview the work before letting your children freely read it if this is a concern to you.

If I am reading this correctly, it looks like the fall issue might be only their third issue, so I think this magazine has great potential and would encourage you to look into it if you have a budding writer. They could see their name in print!

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, Aletheia (pronounced either Ah-LAY-thei-uh or Ah-LEE-thei-uh) means truth or unveiling.

Please see what my fellow crew mates had to say about this item here

Disclaimer: I received this magazine for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Games for Competitors- Tri-Cross

I was so excited to be selected to review this item for TOS and eagerly awaited the box in the mail. I was SO surprised by the generosity of Games for Competitors in sending not only the Eco-version, but the regular full sized version of the game as well.

Hailed as the “new chess”, Tri-Cross challenges competitors in areas of strategy, critical thinking and problem solving. The game itself is sort of a combination of chess and checkers and is good for ages 8 and up and for 2-4 players.

I love that this is a strategy game that really makes you think and plan ahead, but doesn’t have a complex system of rules and moves for pieces. I would say that this would be a great game for those who play checkers, but haven’t grasped chess yet. Another wonderful thing is that the games are played out pretty quickly, so that the players do not give up or get bored.

Video Demos on how the game is played:Beginner


One thing that was a challenge for our family was that it did seem a little easy for my older boys and they were not really interested in the game after a few times of playing it through. There is an option of playing with the pieces face down, and that was a little more challenging.

Tri-Cross has receive Dr. Toy’s 2009 100 Best Children’s Products, Creative Child Magazine’s Creative Toy Awards 2008 Game of the Year and earned the National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval.

The eco-friendly version of the game showcases Games for Competitors’ commitment to responsible manufacturing and thinking outside of the box as to what is done to what could be done. The cardboard box and game board are traded in for a MUCH smaller organic cotton pouch and game board, which are printed with non-toxic soy based inks. The scratch proof pieces and cotton game board fit nicely into the pouch and is WONDERFUL to take on the go with you. There is also the added bonus of no cardboard boxes to get all smashed up…yes, that does happen in our home…sad, but true.

Games for Competitors Eco-friendly version of Tri-Cross sells for $19.95 and the standard version sells for $24.95.

Please see what my crew mates think about Tri-Cross here

Disclaimer: I received these games for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go
Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big IQ Kids

Big IQ Kids

BigIQkids presents a unique learning method designed to help each child develop the skills needed to perform to his/her full potential. Our award winning programs are designed for students in grades K-12 and promote spelling efficiency, vocabulary building, math fact mastery and US geography knowledge via multimedia reinforcement and independent learning. We offer Free and Premium spelling, math, vocabulary, U.S. states programs.

We did activities in all areas, but really focused on the spelling (4th grade level) as we could customize it with the spelling words my daughter had in her language arts program. I appreciated being able to do double duty, rather than having two complete sets of spelling words. She had a great time with all the activities she did and we both loved that you had to work to be able to play. She earned one game token for each lesson she completed. I was surprised by the number of game options available (3 pages!!!)…I think that kept the Principessa wanting to do more lessons. It is recommended to do one lesson a day in each category (spelling, vocabulary, math, & states), but I found my daughter wanted to do much more to earn more game coins.

The lessons are pretty short and most of the games were very short…I thought the length of both were pretty appropriate…and the lure of game coins keeps the program pretty self motivating.
I love that Big IQ kids has a free option, as well as a Premium option to choose from. With families on a tight budget, this is a great blessing and a wonderful way to enrich what your children are currently learning. Costs of premium memberships depends on which program you would like to add and the premium membership option adds nice benefits such as being able to monitor the progress of your child, being able to identify and target problem areas, parents are emailed progress reports (so you don’t have to figure out how to find that information on the site!), full game page access, limited advertising and the ability to customize a buddy, which my daughter loved more than I thought she would.

As we have 5 children needing to do schoolwork on ONE computer, it was a little tricky to find time to work this in…this is just the dynamics of our own family. Also, the robotic voice of the people guiding you through the lessons, is a little annoying…I don’t think my daughter minded this, but I really found it irritating.

Overall, I was very pleased with the lessons and the material covered. I loved the self motivating factor of the games. I thought the customer service team was very quick to answer the question I had about adding my kindergarten aged son. Even though I do not like to add many computer based programs, I loved this program and would encourage you to consider adding Big IQ Kids for your child/children.

Please see what my fellow crew mates had to say about this item here

Disclaimer: I received two complimentary premium memberships for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Cost: The monthly membership is $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child, with nothing else to buy.

Money Back Guarantee: 14 Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Time4Learning includes the following:
• Online curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8th
• More than 1,000 interactive animated lessons
• Self paced lessons
• Math & algebra tutorials & printable worksheets
• Language arts, phonics & grammar lessons
• Interactive, project-based reading activities
• Science (grades 1st – 6th) & social studies (grades 2nd – 7th)
• Detailed reporting for easy record keeping
• Extensive lesson plans & teaching tools for parents
• and much more…

Time4Learning is web based, so there is no software to download, no CDs and nothing additional to purchase. Members can access the program 24/7 from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. It would be great if you needed to be on the road traveling a lot.

Time4Learning is an online education program for preschool through eighth grade that uses multimedia activities to teach standards-based curriculum. It is popular as a homeschool curriculum, afterschool tutorial, skill sharpener for test preparation and for summer study. The grade levels are based upon state standards which could be helpful for those in states where annual testing is required.

Students can access two and sometimes three levels in their grade so that they can truly work at their own pace and at their skill level. I think this is a great feature because I have had strong readers who were not so great in math and those who were strong in math and science, but struggled with reading based subjects. This is one of the beauties of homeschooling in my opinion. Our children work at where their skill level is, not where a grade says they should be. So, I can press them forward and challenge them in areas of strength while giving grace in the areas they need the extra help.

The getting started guide was a HUGE help for me in navigating through the parent’s pages…how to use lesson plans, tracking progress, how many lessons, etc.

I also really liked the sample schedule so you can see how you would lay out a day’s work/plan your year if you choose to use it as a complete curriculum.

What we thought: We focused on Language Arts at mostly 2 levels, 4th and 8th grades, so that we could review more thoroughly. The lessons made learning fun and so they wanted to do more…I do not hear that much with other work…so that is DEFINITELY A BONUS! At the 4th grade level, it covered some areas we had not touched on yet, such as plot, setting, characters and themes, as well as enriched some areas we work on frequently such as grammar and vocabulary. The 8th grade level has similar topics, but at a much higher level, of course. The interactive lessons are full of options, helps and corny jokes that children LOVE! You can try a free demo and see what your children think!

In our home, we have 5 children all needing to use ONE computer PLUS Mom, of course ;-), so it is hard to have too many computer activities going at one time. Due to that issue, this product is probably not a great fit for our family. Although it could be used by some as a complete curriculum, if we were to implement it into our home, we would use it to supplement/enrich what we are currently using.

If you are using this as a complete curriculum, this might be a great value, depending on how you structure your school. I thought this might be a little high as a supplement, especially in larger families.

Please see what my crew mates had to say about this item here

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary one month subscription for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids by Rachael Carman


How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids by Rachael Carman
Apologia Press Publishing
Cost- $13.00
Sample Chapter
Table of Contents

Rachael Carman’s book “How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids” from Apologia Press publishing came to me at “Such a time as this.” I think that very often we busy homeschool mommas get caught up in yes, no, what do you think you’re doing, dishes, laundry, what on earth is for dinner and how many more books can I buy and will they fit on the bookshelves I have, that we often forget that our time is very short with our children. I mean, we have three children who are three and under and our only wish is that a time will come soon when they can all get themselves dressed or buckled in their carseats and then we blink and they are sixteen and we wish for those days back again. If only we would have known back then, but we couldn’t see the forest for the trees and time flies when measured by growing babies. We think, “ I am always going to be…”, but too soon, we find our roles changing and we’re really not ready for it and if we have not captured our children’s hearts, we may not like the place we find ourselves to be.

Rachael Carman's book, How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids is an easy reading power packed book for raising children. It gets right to the HEART of the matter and often made me stop and think, OUCH....I walked away from this book with many things I really need to re-evaluate and implement in my home so that my children know my HEART is for them.
Using the acronym, HEART, this book is broken down into these segments
H: Have a Heart for the things of God
E: Enrich your marriage
A: Accept your kids
R: Release them to God
T: Teach them the truth

I thought I would share a point or so (may be more in certain sections because of where I am in my life) that was something I felt I needed to notice...these may be direct quotes or paraphrases of what the author said
Having a HEART for our kids starts with OUR example of worshipping and obeying our Lord God. We cannot expect our children to exhibit Christ-like behavior if we are graceless and disobedient.

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of Christ, to watch and to learn from Him.

When we get down on our knees together, at the foot of the throne of grace, that is where bonding occurs.
There is a revealing of your soul that we share, a point of vulnerability and humility that brings us closer.

Our children were created to bring glory to God. Instead of resisting their bends- their original wiring- I needed to honor the way God wired them. I needed to pray for Him to reveal His plan and purpose for their lives so I could raise them in the way they should go.

This seems easy until the time comes to release your children into His care, for the fulfillment of His purpose, His plan and His will. In the end, it comes down to a trust issue. Not as to whether or not your trust your children. Do you trust the Lord with your children? (BIG OUCH HERE!)

Rachael gives 6 facts about truth that I thought were helpful and I won't take time to share that here, but I mention it so that you can be sure to check it out.
I loved what she shared about Christians reaching a point where she thought we could just take it easy and coast into heaven, but she realized, "There's no coasting this side of heaven."

One point I gleaned from this chapter is that we can live truth by allowing it to set us free from worry, panic, exhaustion and despair. I think we all (and often) need this reminder.

This is a sweet book, that I would heartily recommend. Points in this book have made me sit up and take notice. I want to have a HEART for my children and I want to have their hearts!


Please check out what my crew mates had to say about this item here

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.