Friday, October 29, 2010

TOS Review: Buckets-O-Fun


I was very excited when I learned I would be reviewing Buckets-O-Fun because I had already checked out their website and it was full of neat toys that my husband and I could use with our family or with the middle school students he works with at Youth for Christ. They have any thing you can think of from inflatable toys to rubber chickens, water fun to yuck. Yuck! Did I say yuck? Yes, I said yuck! Okay, I'm a clean person, I don't do yuck! My kids on the other hand (3 boys, and the one mud lovin' girl) love yuck, in any form.

So this was a nice review for them, not so much for me :-) I had hoped to use it with the youth at YFC but when I mixed up the sticky yuck I realized it wasn't going to be enough so we just looked at it basically. It was too messy to do anything else with. We needed to be outside but it wasn't possible at that time.

Oct 10- Oct 25, 2010 134 Next we mixed the saucy yuck. It made more than the sticky so there was more that we could've done with it, had we been outside. Again, it was dark and rainy, we couldn't go out. So we just playedOct 10- Oct 25, 2010 138 in it. They enjoyed that. Also there was a short handout that we used to make it more educational. The handout explained polymers, natural and man made.

The sticky yuck was very sticky and yucky (appropriately named) and the saucy yuck was more like applesauce. The boys enjoyed the feel of it on their hands. I wondered if we could add some food color to either of these to make for some interesting pranks ;-)Oct 10- Oct 25, 2010 139

Included in this review was a game sheet and a FAQ sheet. I reviewed 4 types of yuck: Saucy, Snowy, Sticky, and Chunky. They range in cost depending upon how much you order, and which yuck you order. The price range is from $16 to $400. You can also get a free sample of yuck, just visit their website to find out more.

If you'd like to see what other TOS reviewers think about Buckets-O-Fun, click here.

  **Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TOS Review: PG Key

TOS Homeschool Crew
I have discovered, thru TOS Homeschool Crew, the neatest device to help protect our children while online. It’s called PG Key, and here’s how it works.  You simply plug it into your computer’s USB port, allow the drivers to load and assign a password that the kids can’t guess. If the Key is removed the computer doesn’t work.   After set up you’re ready to personalize it or jusPG Keyt use it as is.  It really is that simple.
If you’re like me I wanted to personalize my PG Key so I added a few sites to block and some key words to block.  I also downloaded my favorites into the list of safe sites. Here are some of the options available:
  • Chose to only allow sites that you deem acceptable
  • Add additional sites to be blocked
  • Block key phrases and/or words
  • Set Time Allowances to keep kids from spending all day on the pc
  • PG Safe Search, search engine
  • Remote access
  • Automatic notifications, to let you know where your child has been
  • Session Recording
In my opinion the greatest tool would be the session recording. This feature allows you to actually replay what your child has been doing while online. It’s like a surveillance system so you can see exactly where they’ve been and who they’ve talked with, what was said, etc Imagine how beneficial that alone would’ve been for those parents who’s children fell victim to online predators.
Yes this little device can do all of that! And it only costs 49.99 (plus shipping) You can request a free trial by going here. The PG Key has been featured in numerous articles, magazines and newspapers. I would also like to add that the customer support is extremely efficient. I thought I was having trouble after adding some safe sites to my lists and they were there to help me. I really didn’t have an issue, I just hadn’t waited long enough for the settings to go into effect.
Although PG Key is an amazing tool to HELP us protect our children. There is no substitute for adult supervision. You still need to monitor your children and teach them internet safety.  I am not 100% satisfied with the search results that  show up when I type in certain phrases. I will continue to tweak this and see if I can block everything I want blocked, but for now I have to say, it’s not blocking all the filth. My children have certain sites they go to so it’s not much of an issue at this point, but when they’re older and doing research I will definitely want a better system then what I have in place at this point.
If you’d like to see what others are saying about PG Key, click here.

**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am the Vine. Abide in Me (Part 2)

25As I explained in my previous post, I recently drifted from my Father and found I didn't have the will to find Him again. There was something standing between us and it was almost like "out of sight out of mind." I know that sounds awful but it truly seems that way sometimes. I'm so weak on my own, I can't even go to Him!

Thank you Jesus, You came to me (again). This time it was through Pastor Mike's sermon. I knew God was telling me, "no matter what you do, where you go, how far away you move, I'm still here. I love you"  In that moment I felt truly special to Him. We are all that special to Him, all the time, but we seem to forget it so easily. Before I left church that day I asked Him to please get me out of bed the next morning, I didn't want to miss my time with Him. He woke me up at 6:30 am on the dot. I practically sit straight up in bed. When I saw the clock I remembered my prayer at church the previous morning. I usually don't remember things, especially when I first wake up, so I knew it was Him, giving me my special wake up call.

Now that I was up, I had to decide what to do for my quiet time. Should I continue with the Bible study I was using but not particularly enjoying, or should I just dive into His Word on my own. I decided I should continue the Bible study (I hate not finishing something I've started) and I'm so glad I did.

Over the next few days God began to speak to me with different verses. I now have a practical plan in place to help me battle some things I've been dealing with in my life. These are issues that I've been struggling with for years and I've felt moved to lay them all on the alter and seek no outside council. I'm usually the type that will ask other believers, read Christian books on the subject matter etc. But I've done that and I'm still fighting these same battles. Here are the verses He gave me:
Psalm 126:5-6
5 Those who sow in tears
    Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
   Bearing seed for sowing,
   Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
   Bringing his sheaves with him.

I realized that although I've been battling this for quite sometime, if I could just keep sowing the harvest would be joyful in the end. I will rejoice when this struggle ends.

Galatians 6:8
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Keep sowing---harvest time will come! The tricky part will be to sow to the Spirit and not my flesh, which is my natural tendency. I will need to sow the seed (God's Word) by putting it into practice! I must die to my fleshly desires in order to reap His Spiritual rewards.

John 15:4-5
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.                                                                                                                         5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

There it was, in black in white! The answer I'd been looking for. Isn't it funny how something you've read 100's of times becomes clear all at once. None of these verses were new to me, but they all became new to me when the Spirit revealed His plan for me to overcome this particular struggle I had been dealing with. I'm so glad He broke it down to me in simple terms. I'm simply to Abide! When I don't know what to do, that word pops in my head~~ abide!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I am the Vine. Abide in Me (Part 1)

Am I the only one who struggles to stay with Jesus on my spiritual journey? It seems I always get distracted by life or selfish desires. I see myself as a small two-year-old following behind her Father in a forest full of interesting and dangerous sights.forest Always stopping along the way to pick a flower or remove a stick in the way. Sometimes needing to rest I’ll sit down instead of asking Him to carry me for awhile. Then when I least expect it something will catch my eye and off I trot on my own path in the opposite direction of my Father.

This scenario has played out time and time again in my life, but it always ends the same. My Father draws me back to Himself. It happens in different ways each time, but I always know it’s Him calling me back. Recently I followed my own path which lead me to sleep later than usual and miss my quiet time more often then not. It started around the middle of the summer when my normally ordered life became very unorganized and disrupted. I saw this coming and started a personal Bible study to hopefully keep me on track. The Bible study wasn’t the best and for that reason I didn’t really mind skipping it on occasion (too many occasions) for a couple extra winks of sleep.

Pretty quickly I noticed a dangerous pattern in my thought life, but instead of squelching it quickly I allowed it to linger. This is such a dangerous thing to do because as the saying goes “be careful what you think because your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions.” For several months I allowed myself to think more about “me”  and put myself in a higher position than I deserved. I also chose not to recognize my sin nature taking hold of my heart and life. Praying was very difficult and my usually strong desire for God’s Word was becoming non-existent. These are always red flags in my spiritual walk but by the time they’re popping up I’m usually far enough away from my Father to not really care so much. I’ve got a taste of freedom in my mouth and I’m longing to do things MY WAY! I realize there is pleasure in sin for a season and I’m blinded by the allure of the pleasure to come; I’m equally blinded to the consequences my sin will bring once it’s given free reign in my body.

Forest During these weeks, I knew things weren’t right but I felt helpless to find my Father again. My desire for Him was alive, and yet it wasn’t strong enough to snap me out of my haze and bring me to the realization that I was headed for trouble. Does that make sense?  He was there, I knew He was close, I hadn’t gone too far from His path but I couldn’t even bring myself to call out to Him. Looking back to where I was, and where I was headed, scares the heebie-jeebies out of me.

Thank God He called out my name!

To be continued...

Friday, October 15, 2010

TOS Review: Young Hearts Longing For God by Soli Deo Gloria Resources

For the past several weeks my 5th grade son has been doing a Bible Study by Kim Kargbo at Soli Deo Gloria Resources. The study he is using, Young Hearts Longing for God,  is a  pre-inductive study of the Psalms. It is a 30 week study of 28 SoliDeoGloriadifferent Psalms. They cover one Psalm per week, except for Psalm 119 which they spend 3 weeks covering. This particular study was designed for 4th-8th graders, but in my opinion it would be easy to use at any age. It is a very simple study to use. Each day the child reads the Psalm and answers 1-2 probing questions or some days they will have to look thru the Psalm and underline or circle a particular reference. At the end of the week they are to write a journal entry pertaining to the Psalm. There is accountability in the form of a study checklist for them to check off each day.The cost of this workbook study is $16 and you would need to purchase one workbook per child/adult participating in the study.
For us this was an easy add-on to my son’s AWANA program. He just needed a little something to go with the memorization he was already doing and this was a good fit, in my opinion. He was instructed to read the Psalm each day and answer a question or two, saving the last day for journaling. Another option would be to have him read the Psalm each day and save all the questions for the last day. I prefer him do the questions slowly each day giving himself time to absorb the Psalm.
Soli Deo Gloria is Latin for “to God alone be the glory.” The mission of this company is to “educate God’s children for God’s glory alone.” They offer numerous different Bible studies, as well as courses in Geography, History, and Science. They also offer a very reasonably priced kindergarten program that I found interesting as I was exploring their website.
If you’d like to see what others have to say about Soli Deo Gloria, visit the TOS blog here.
This Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew
**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I’ve been tagged---Again!

One of my mini-mates, Elizabeth from Expand, has tagged me again, so I will answer her 8 questions here.

  1. What is your favorite Psalm? Very hard to pick a favorite. If I have to choose one I’ll choose Psalm 121
  2. What do you want God to say to you at the end of you life? Well done my good and faithful servant, enter now into the joy that was prepared for you
  3. What would you like God NOT to ask of you? Let one of my kids go. For whatever reason, death, disobedience etc
  4. Do you have an alter ego? Not that I’m aware of
  5. Is there a movie you would watch over and over? No, there are too many good ones left to be seen to spend time watching one over ;-)
  6. Who would you love to have met before they died? Jesus when He walked the earth as a man
  7. What is your favorite thing to do while by yourself? Read!!!
  8. What is a favorite quote? Motherhood is a journey out of self-centeredness ~author unknown

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I attended the Schoolhouse Expo Tuesday  and was blessed to hear speaker Dianne Craft. I learned a lot from her hour session but not enough, so I decided to visit her website where she has tons and tons of information on right brain learning. I also emailed her with a few questions and in her response she sent me several other documents.
As I was combing thru all of the info this morning, I came across an interesting strategy for teaching spelling to children who have difficulty writing. My son, Josiah doesn’t have trouble writing but he does have trouble with short term memory and the strategy they use is similar to the one we’ve learned with Barton. Only Dianne takes it a step further.
Let me explain. With Barton we have sight words and we write them on an index card in black all except the ‘tricky’ letter. The tricky letter (any letter not making it’s normal sound) is written in red. Josiah stares at the card for a while, then tries to picture it on the wall, then he writes it really big on the table using two fingers. After that he is to write it from memory on paper. This works okay but it does take several sessions for him to actually memorize it and remember it. We only do three at a time. The past two weeks he’s been trying to learn want and what but he continually mixes the two up. I tried to help him remember by telling him funny sayings using What hat and Want ant but this didn’t work.
What Dianne does is add pictures to the card, because right brain learners tend to have photographic memories. She said they will get the image in their mind and be able to look up and recall the word well enough to spell it forwards or backwards. Kind of like the spelling bee kids.  So I decided to give it a shot.  Sept 2010-Oct 9 2010 165 I added ants to Want and a couple hats to What. And to my surprise, it worked! AND he could spell them backwards. BUT, he’s still struggling with keeping these two apart at times.
So I asked him if he could spell his first name backwards. He did it without hesitation. I asked him to spell his last name backwards. No problem.  He had a little hesitation but not much. So I took a shot in the dark and pulled a word out of my head AMERICA, and wrote it on an index card like this: America  I also added a picture of the American flag. I gave him the card (I didn’t tell him I would ask him to spell it backwards) and he looked at it 30-45 seconds and said he was ready. He spelled it forwards beautifully. I asked him to spell it backwards and to my surprise he spelled it PerFectlY!!  I was in utter shock! I called my husband and while on the phone I asked him to do it again and he hadn’t forgotten it…he could still do it. Now I can not spell it backwards without looking at it so I had to have my index card to check him each time.  The amazing thing about this is, he doesn’t spell it forwards or backwards by sounding it out, like we would because he can’t sound it out. He just memorized it. But not with his short term memory, because he doesn’t have much…remember he couldn’t keep want and what apart. It’s his photographic memory that helps him.
The following video was taken on the fly, without a warning and it was 24 hrs after seeing the card:

All of this after staring at the card less than a minute. Now that’s impressive!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tag! I’m it!!

Catherine at Our Village is a Little Different has tagged me in this fun meme. She has asked me to answer the following 8 questions. At the end of the post I will tag 8 more people with 8 new questions. Here goes:

  1. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?  Redneck fireworks video my sister posted on Facebook
  2. Do you have any pet peeves? I hate to be ignored! By anyone! It makes me feel unloved, inferior, and I get down right angry when my kids do it :-)
  3. Which is your favorite domestic duty? I have no favorite but I cook and clean because I love to eat and I hate a mess,lol!
  4. Is there anything you’d like to do when the children are all grown? I really haven’t given it alot of thought. I would like to be able to help them when they have kids and I would also like to be able to work with my husband in his ministry with Youth for Christ. I guess the Lord will give me a desire when I need it, but for now my only desire is to be a godly wife and mom.
  5. What can always cheer you? My husband. He can make me laugh like no one else and when he’s happy I’m happy :-)
  6. Are you a very organized person? I try to be because I like order and don’t function well in chaos. But I’m definitely not overly organized, I could always stand to improve.
  7. Do you have a special thought that helps you in our daily life? God is in control. Nothing takes Him by surprise and all of the tools I need to survive this journey of life are at my disposal thru Him.
  8. Are you a morning person, or a night owl?  I am an AWAKE person. Now that doesn’t mean I like to wake up. No, no, no quite the contrary. I hate waking up, that’s why I don’t do naps. I am an AWAKE person meaning I love living, and you can’t do that asleep in the bed. I like to stay up late and get up early!


Okay now I will tag the following people to answer the next 8 questions:

  1. A Better Life Than I Deserve
  2. Expand
  3. Adventures in Unsell Land!
  4. Reaping A Harvest...Raising My Three Sons
  5. Loving Learning at Home
  6. Discover Their Gifts
  7. Day by Day in our World
  8. Through the Calm and Through the Storm

Here are your eight questions (I’m going to answer these too, lol):

  1. How did you decide to Homeschool? It all started when my first baby was still in the womb and we met some great homeschoolers. After that it just seemed like God was gradually leading both of us in that direction until finally we had to make the choice and by then it had kind of been decided in our hearts already.
  2. What is something about you most people would be surprised to know? I think I’m good at sports, lol
  3. What is your favorite praise and worship song? Praise Him in the storm by Casting Crowns. Because it’s a reminder that God inhabits our praises and the best time to praise is when we’re at our lowest.
  4. If you had no children and homeschooling wasn’t necessary, what would your dream job be? I think I’d like to be speaker and Bible teacher for women. I’m not gifted in this area so I know it’s not from the Lord. Just a fleshly dream.
  5. What book(s) are you currently reading? I’m reading two. 1) Francine Rivers’ latest “Her Daughter’s Dream” and Mary Beth Chapman’s “I choose to See”
  6. How has Jesus changed you? I was on my way to being a teenage alcoholic when He stepped in and changed the desires of my heart. It was such a dramatic, quick, change that I haven’t gotten over it yet and it was 16 years ago!
  7. How would you like to be remembered by your children? As a mom who cared deeply and loved passionately about every aspect of their life. A mom who would understand and listen without condemning. Who would sacrifice anything to help them see The Way, The Truth, The Life JESUS!
  8. How will your children likely remember you? Ouch, this is gonna hurt. They will probably remember me as a mom who yelled too much, had way too little patience and even less time to spend listening to their problems. A mom who selfishly desired ‘me time’  a little too often, and complained about being ignored a few too many times. Okay seriously, I’m not always yelling and searching for ‘me time’ but to them it may seem that way. They’re going to remember something and now’s the time to make those memories good ones! Realistically I want them to have more good than bad memories. They’re going to have both but hopefully the good will out weight the bad by tons!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Homeschool FuN DaY

Yesterday our local homeschool group sponsored a Fun Day and hotdog supper. We aren’t as involved in the group as we could be, but we always have a grLucas in the 3 legged race with a new friendeat time when we get together. We just never seem to have the time or money to do a lot with the group. I’m so glad we attended this event, because there were some new families there and it was fun meeting everyone.
The kids were separated according to age and rotated around to each station/activity. They had a water relay,  Josiah and his partner ended up perfecting the three legged race and won for their grouphoola hoop fun, tug of war,  a three legged race, sack races, cake walks, face painting and more.

Even the adults had fun  with the tug of war at times. It was Jody was so good with Shiloh,helping her with the sack hoppinga wonderful afternoon, full of activities, food, and fun. The ending was wonderful because the kids took of their shoes and played in the creek while the adults cleaned up. They had a blast searching for ‘creatures.’ My boys found a few crawdads and captured them for a short bit. We turned them loose before we left :-)
boys tug of warA Great Way To Start The School Year!!!!!!!
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