And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cowabunga!


Speedy loves all thing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. For Christmas last year he asked for and received mostly Ninja Turtle toys. After Christmas he scoured the stores for the last 2 weapon and mask packs he needed to complete his set and when he found them (after several weeks of looking) he purchased them himself with Christmas cash. We were really shocked last year that so many stores ran out of the toys and it took them months to get them re-stocked. I'd say the green dudes have come back from the 80s with a vengeance! 


Of course he wanted to dress up as his favorite turtle for Fall festivities! We had to find just the right costume. Now he's making his Christmas wishlist and the top 2 items are a TMNT Secret Sewer Lair and a TMNT Remote Controlled Shellraiser. 

So when Coyne PR let me know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a chance to enter the National Toy Hall of Fame I had to help them out! You can vote for them now at: http://www.toyhalloffame.org/see-do/2013-finalists-poll . Here's a little more information that Coyne PR gave me:

Great news coming from our favorite green heroes in a half shell... The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are one of twelve toy nominees in contention for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame 2013! 

  • The National Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998, and recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period.
  • Each year, the prestigious hall inducts new honorees and showcases both new and historic versions of classic toys beloved by generations.
  • The iconic toys are celebrated in The National Toy Hall of Fame gallery located at The Strong's National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
  • This year's winners will be announced on Thursday, November 7th.
                                                                                         

Considered one of the most popular kids' entertainment brands of the 1980s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have become
an enduring global phenomenon. The Turtles made a totally epic return in September 2012 with the launch of a CG-animated television show on Nickelodeon and an all-new toy line inspired by the show from Playmates Toys, the driving force behind the global toy sensation for decades. Within just one year of its return, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has once again become the number one action figure line in the toy industry!


I did not receive any incentives for posting this. I just love the TMNT! :)









Sunday, October 27, 2013

Going on an Adventure


For Easter 2 years ago we bought our kids the really nice Adventure Bibles. Speedy got the green one and Apple got the purple one. They were so excited about them because those were their first "real" Bibles. The grandparents bought them covers to go with them and oh boy were they ready to go! Now of course you know our family has grown to love, love, love many Bibles and we now have a house full of them! However the kids keep those Adventure Bibles and use them often. Apple uses hers during school most of the time and Speedy has his next to his bed. Sometimes they still carry them on Sunday mornings too. We've been really pleased with their durability and I've recommended the Adventure Bible to many other parents that are looking for that first "real" Bible for their big kids.



Now there is a great companion to the Adventure Bible. Introducing the Adventure Bible Handbook: A Wild Ride Through the Bible. Geared towards the tween age, this comic like adventure takes 4 siblings on a wild ride with their dad who is an archaeologist on an expedition to the Holy Land. The group leads the reader on a fast paced adventure complete with art, maps, and the comic story line. Apple is enthralled with this book. I had to pry it from her hands when it was chore time. She's been laughing and flipping all around through it. She couldn't wait to show me the yacht the group was on! I love seeing her so excited about a different type of journey through the Bible. Speedy has been looking through it with her too!

I do have one issue with this book. I REALLY wish the art was documented. She is so artistically minded and she'd really like to research into the art but without artist's names or even years I don't know where to begin. Other than that this is a great companion to the Bible that will help your child get interested in the big story.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Happy Feet Courtesy of Dr. Scholl's Active Series



I've got happy, happy, happy feet. Wanna know why? I'll tell you! (I always love to share with y'all, my internet people.) It's because of my new Dr. Scholl Active Series insoles. They are FANTASTIC. I was so excited to get them free as part of an Influenster VoxBox. My Zumba shoes were starting to wear out and my feet hurt after every class. I've tested inserts before with some success but usually they are thick and make my shoes too tight. Not these active series ones!


As you can see they aren't much thicker than the original soles of the shoes but they are packing some super comfort in a thin strip! There is extra firm padding in all the right places like the heel and the arch. I could tell a difference as soon as I slipped my shoes on. After an hour of working out I didn't have any foot pain at all! I've worn them to class several times now and each time I am amazed by how well they work. I am recommending these Dr. Scholl Active Insoles to EVERYBODY so I wanted you to know too! 



Need to revive your favorite active shoes? Pick up Dr. Scholl's Active Insoles! Get more information including a coupon here: http://www.drscholls.com/Products/ActiveSeriesInsoles



Answers at Your Fingertips



When I was a kid, we had these 2 big sets of encyclopedias. I really enjoyed having them once I was in school and had research to do. That was back in the days before the internet took over and it was so easy to grab a volume and look up whatever I needed to without begging my parents for a trip to the library. Sadly those old volumes have gone by the wayside but I do keep a set of children's encyclopedias for my kids. Apple loves to thumb through them and read at leisure.

Now imagine a set of Bible encyclopedias. They are softback and much smaller than those old heavy encyclopedias but they contain just as much information. That's what I feel like the Answers Books are, Bible encyclopedias. The New Answers Book 4 answers more than 30 questions on Creation and the Bible. The general editor of this volume is Ken Ham and it is published by Masterbooks. 

The kids and I have been studying Chapter 3: Dragons....Were They Real? These are the kind of questions that my kids ask me and I love having the research at my fingertips. If they kids are still interested in a subject or don't feel like they have all the answers then we can use this Answer Book as a starting point to further research. The charts, graphs, pictures, and information are clearly presented so it is easy to follow along. While there is a lot of scientific research in the book, it isn't a hard read. This is another terrific resource for families and homeschoolers to keep on the shelf. The volumes can be purchased individually or in a set. 

These types of publications make me hopeful. There is so much buzz out there about the number of young adults that are choosing to walk away from Christianity. I have to believe that in large part this is due to a lack of communication about the tough questions. The world is constantly pressing in from all sides with "science" and persuasion against the Bible. As Christians we should all be arming ourselves with all of the information out there that supports creation and the great flood. Arm yourself! Download a free preview of the book here: http://www.nlpg.com/downloads/dl/file/id/489/the_new_answers_book_4.pdf.

I received a free copy of this book from Masterbooks for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Chicken




I am always looking for a new, easy, tasty way to cook chicken. It is our favorite meat in the Carter household. After a while though it can get very boring. I tend to stick to slow cooker recipes because they are usually little to no fuss. When I found Maggi So Juicy I wanted to give it a try. Could it be as easy as putting the chicken in a bag with the seasoning pouch, shaking, and baking in the over? I wasn't sure it would be that simple.....


Now I'm not the best at following instructions. I like to make things my own. It wasn't enough for me to throw in chicken pieces. I tend to buy our chickens whole at the local farmers market. Since that's what I had on hand, that's what I used!


I decided to try the Italian Countryside flavor. I shoved my whole chicken into the included bag and then tossed in the seasoning. 



It was as simple as twisting the bag and shake, shake, shake. I made some homemade mashed potatoes as a side. We had a house guest and I wanted to cook a nice meal for her.


This is Mr. Chicken after his baking. We cooked him about an hour and a half then pulled him out and removed the bag. See all those juices in the pan? The chicken cooked in all of those in the bag. The chicken was SO JUICY! The seasonings look dark in the picture but I can assure you they tasted terrific. With the mashed potatoes it was the perfect meal and our guest was really impressed! Score one for Maggi So Juicy!


Try all 4 flavors to overcome your chicken boredom!

I received free samples of this product from BzzAgent for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review.







Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Second Search



I told you awhile back how much Apple & I enjoyed Rock Harbor Search & Rescue by Colleen Coble and Robin Carroll. We were so excited to get book 2 in the series Rock Harbor Lost & Found.  Emily & Sherlock are back with some new mysteries to solve. Naomi, Bree, Olivia, and all the other characters from Rock Harbor are back too!


Even with so many familiar characters this book is a page turner. The mysteries are unique and leave you guessing until the last few pages. Apple was flying through this book. She couldn't wait to get to all the conclusions to see what happened! Emily and the other SAR members (seach and rescue) are called to a fire at the school. As they work with the Sheriff to determine the cause of the fire, Emily also battles telling on someone, seeing her birth mom lurking around town, helping her bestie solve a BIG mystery, and some more surprises. As I said this is an action packed book!

I think there are some great life lessons in these books. The importance of kids talking with their parents is raised several times. Telling the truth (even when it is really hard) and obedience are also addressed. Of course faith in God is a huge theme. This book is recommended for ages 7-12. The only topic that may not be appropriate for the younger ages is the topic of a 16 year old giving up a baby for adoption. It is very lightly addressed but it does have the girl (who has now grown up) talking about a relationship with a boy who told her he loved her and she recommends always waiting until marriage. That's about the extent of the discussion. 

Apple enjoyed this installment every bit as much as she liked the first one. She gives it two thumbs up! I give it two thumbs up as well! Now we can't wait for #3! If you would like to win a copy of Rock Harbor Lost & Found you can enter via the easy Giveaway Tools. You can also check out a sneak peek here


I received a free copy of this book as a Tommy Mommy for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Day of Delight

These are the days we love. This was one of those prime homeschool days. We needed it because public schools are on Fall Break here this week and we didn't take a Fall Break so my kids were OVER school by today. We slept in this morning then took our time having breakfast and getting ready for the day.

Next we took a trip to our local library. Both kids LOVE a trip to the library. We actually haven't been in a few weeks so they were really excited to go today. Speedy has now completed Hooked on Phonics 2nd grade levels 1 and 2 and now admits that he enjoys reading. Today was the first time he begged to get more books than I told them they could have. Not only do they both love to read, they both enjoy getting books in the fiction and non-fiction sections! As a homeschool mom, when my kids choose to read a non-fiction book it feels like they just took a free class that I didn't have to teach! :) They also choose some audiobooks for the car. We are on Book 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Apple is having a hard time finding new books as she has read almost all of them. Seriously. She's read a LOT of books. Anyone have any suggestions for an almost 9 year old that can read pretty much any level? I'm finding it harder to come up with books that are appropriate for her. She finally managed to find her 8 with a little help from me. I'm digging the fact that she snagged a Sacagawea biography. She also got a fall craft book.....Mama isn't so fond of crafts......

So the local wellness center (new to our area and it is a gym with a cafe, clinic, and classrooms inside) was hosting a (FREE!) cooking class for kids today. Going to new places always makes me a little nervous but given Apple's LOVE for cooking I decided to tough it out. I'm SO glad we did! Speedy wasn't super THRILLED like Apple but he paid attention. So this was such a cool class. The chef was Chef Remmi. She is awesome! You can check her out at her website: http://www.cooktimewithremmi.com/. The kids loved learning a few recipes from a teen! Not only that but Apple won a cookbook! She was SO SO SO happy! She told me it was the best day ever. They were able to try the foods that Chef Remmi cooked and Apple got a picture with her. There were some healthy eating booths set up too and they got a cup and plate each and played some games.


Since Speedy was a good sport about the cooking class we stopped by the park to play a little too. What a beautiful day to be outside! I'm so glad we were able to spend a day without a rigid schedule. It was nice to just enjoy ourselves and take in some fun, free activities!



{I didn't receive any compensation to mention Chef Remmi, I just thought she was awesome and wanted to share her site with you.}

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sleigh Bells and Freshly Fallen Snow



Okay I get just as irked as you do when the stores start stocking Christmas items before Fall even begins but I have to admit with the first cool days and cold evenings I start dreaming of all the things I love about Christmas. Y'all I love Christmas and one of my favorite authors is Cindy Woodsmall so how could I not get a novella compilation by her called Christmas in Apple Ridge? I admit I already have and reviewed The Christmas Singing but this book has 2 other stories in it too!



It includes the interwoven stories The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas. Each one is the unique tale of an Amish man and woman who seem destined to drive one another crazy. The Sound of Sleigh Bells is the story of Jonah and Beth who are a bit different in their own communities and begin their friendship based on a misunderstanding with a bit of fudging by Beth's aunt. Jonah and Beth have both suffered deep loss in their lives. Can they help one another and overcome the issues they face or are they destined to always be alone? Theirs is a heart warming story. In The Christmas Singing we meet Mattie and Gideon. Once an item they have been driven apart. Mattie is forced to return to Apple Ridge and face Gideon. Can they work it out? Lastly The Dawn of Christmas introduces Sadie and Levi. They are both staunchly opposed to any romantic relationships. They stick out in the Amish community for this. Could they use one another to get their families off of their backs? Will all the time they spend pretending turn into something real? I love these Amish romances. They are clean and full of stories of God's grace.

The thread of characters woven in and out of each story keeps the momentum going as you read through the book. It's fun to catch back up with the characters as you "meet" new ones. Woodsmall does a terrific job of presenting characters that live a simple Amish life but aren't perfect. The extra recipes that are included (even one for soap!) just add to the charm. If you are ready for a hint of Christmas then there's no better place to start than Christmas in Apple Ridge.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Money





The other night I was half listening to a news program while I got ready for bed. I fully gave my attention to the show when I realized the three guests on the program were in a heated debate. The subject was whether the city (not my city but a very large city nearby) should take out a $6 million loan to build a convention center. A convention center. For $6 million. In debt. Seriously?!?!? One lady was making sense saying the city wasn't really a convention center type place and that resources could be used to improve things that were already tourist draws. One guy couldn't quit saying the city needed more hotels before the convention center and then the last guy was just certain that $6 million in debt and a new convention center would solve all the city's problems just like it did with this big city and that big city. Seriously?!?! City leaders are keeping up with the Jones in other cities? Where are the responsible, reasonable adults? Evidently there are very few in city, state, and federal governments.

All of this makes me so sad for the world my children are growing up in. When are we all going to learn to take a minute to think before we make huge decisions? Things really do seem to be spiraling out of control- from our government in a lock down over a budget that is out of control to cities thinking America needs one more $6 million convention center when million dollar convention centers sit unused in city after city. I think most of them need to read Luke where it says:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28, NIV)



Money is in crisis right now. The economy isn't really recovering. New jobs aren't really being created. The cost of living is increasing and none of it seems like it will be changing anytime soon. Now is a good time to get a grip on your spending and make a plan for your money. If you need a place to start maybe you should check out Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan of Finacial Fitness


Now if you've never heard or heard of Ramsey (I'd be surprised because he's pretty popular) then you need to know that he can be......harsh. He definitely isn't a guy that's around to build up your ego. However his advice is sound. As he says he's just telling you how your grandparents did it (or my great-grandparents really). He gives common sense ways to apply your money so that your money is working for you. This book will walk you through your financial stage step by step. If you are working a huge pile of debt then I would recommend you start with Financial Peace but the same "debt snowball" plan is included in this book too. 

As I said he's tough but his principles are practical. Now I will say that he doesn't give a lot of wiggle room for extenuating circumstances. Everyone's situation is different. For us we are working off of one income and while I do 3 jobs on the side they are all low paying gigs. I can't pick up regular part time work and neither can Hubby due to his ever changing schedule. Since we homeschool I would end up paying more for childcare than I would make at any job. We aren't willing to give up homeschool and so we struggle financially more than we'd like to. Even in our situation though Dave has some tips to help get through the lean times.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 



Monday, October 7, 2013

Stories With Stories





We have almost as many Bible storybooks in our house as we have Bibles. We are pretty particular about the Bible storybooks we read to our kids when they were younger because we wanted to make sure they were getting a version of the real story and not a story that was overly diluted. Our kids both love Bible storybooks so much that we still have some toddler ones lurking on the shelves that they just can't seem to part with. These days I don't get many new Bible storybooks because I figure they can just get the story straight from the Bible. God's Love for You is a very unique Bible storybook. Unique enough that I decided our shelves could hold just one more....


God's Love for You is a Bible storybook by Rick & Renee Stearns with illustrations by Martina Peluso that combines Bible stories with stories of children from around the world. Each bright, vibrant Bible story included fantastic illustrations and then the following page shares a true story from another culture that coincides with the Bible story. For example the Bible story of Abigail the Peacemaker is followed by a story about Children Working for Peace in Columbia. Our family has a heart for missions and we expose our children to as many missionaries from as many different places as we can but this book brings a whole host of places, cultures, and people to our fingertips. It isn't the same as chatting with someone who lives in Africa or Norway but it is a great snapshot of God's world. My trivia buff loves all the little facts included about each country.

It is so important to teach our kids that God's love is available for everyone. We don't want them to treat anyone differently. We are all part of the family of God. A few weeks ago we were invited to a birthday party with some people we don't know very well. There was a special needs teen at the party. She was so funny and so excited about all the festivities. Our kids were polite to her but didn't interact with her too much. After the party they had some questions about her that we were happy to answer. Yesterday we got to watch this same teen take part in a worship song with sign language. She hadn't practiced with the group that was signing but she was doing it all the same. My kids were cheering her on. It's those little things that let me know they get it. They know God died for her and you and me all the same. I pray they will always remember.

See a special preview here. Enter on the widget for a chance to win a copy of God's Love for You! 

I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 



Christmas Crime

Chloe Humphrey is settling into Amish Country. She has found a peaceful life with her roommate and with her beau. When they stumble upon the body of a murdered Amish teen, their Christmas season takes a turn for the worst. Is Timothy's friend involved in the murder? Will the Amish community continue to shut Chloe out? A Plain Disappearance is the third book in Amanda Flower's Appleseed Creek series.


I felt like the characters in this book were really well developed. It seemed as though each of their personalities emerged as the story emerged. The twists and turns just kept coming. Every time I expected the story to level out and start toward a conclusion there was another surprise. The relationship between Chloe and the Chief is certainly an unusual one and I will go back to read the first two books in the series to see how it all began.

While the story is set in an Amish community it doesn't focus much on the Amish aspect. The local cafe gave a homespun feel to the community and the attitudes of the local residents helped to shroud the storyline in mystery. This is a light read with a serious story. It is set at Christmastime but certainly isn't a feel good, warm typical Amish Christmas story. I liked the book and didn't want to set it down until the end. I will keep an eye on Amanda Flower. I hope to see more fiction from her in the near future.

I received a free copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.




Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homeschool Helpers

So here we are trudging through this semester. Ya know that point when everyone is ready for a break and things start to fall apart? Yes that's where we've been. We send our kids to be at 8:00 pretty much every night (unless we just aren't home at that time) but one of our children had decided sleep wasn't all that important and said child was caught reading at very late hours. The result was that said child would be cranky, slow, and moody the following day during school time. It took me a couple of weeks but I found a creative solution for that child.

I found an old alarm clock, set it up to go off at 7:30 each morning, instituted a "lights out" policy (previously children were allowed to leave on a lamp), and created a rough schedule. It took a few days to iron out the kinks but I have to say this schedule is working great. Here is a sample of what I made but you could easily adjust it to fit your family's routine:

Time
7:30-8:00 Get up, Breakfast, Get Dressed, Brush Hair & Teeth
8:00-8:15 Devotional
8:15-8:45 Math
8:45-9:30 Wisdom
9:30-12:00   Bathroom Break, Corrections, Other Subjects
12:00-12:45 Lunch
12:45-2:00 Free Time
2:00-3:00 Chores
3:00-5:00 Free Time or Errands
5:00-5:30 Dinner
5:30-7:00 Free Time (Soccer)
7:00-7:30 Round Up
7:30-8:00 Brush Teeth, Pjs, Stories, Prayers
8:00-8:30 Read, Lights OUT


*Parents can override any existing schedule.
*Lights out MEANS LIGHTS OUT. No flashlights, no lamps. 
*Schedule is subject to change.
*Anything that isn’t finished during the regular time slot will take away from your free time.
*This schedule is a guideline to help you learn to manage your time.

Now that was the negative we had going on. We had plenty of positives happening too. Speedy is a reader now. He will finish up Hooked on Phonics 2nd grade THIS week! On to chapter books! He is a little hesitant about bigger books but I know he will do fine. He actually admitted earlier this week that he likes to read! YAY! Apple is doing great with fractions. Much better than I expected. I pray, pray, pray that it will continue. She did really well on a unit test this week and I couldn't be happier.

So we will plug away through the mid-semester blahs. We will work diligently towards Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. We will relax with cookouts and bonfires with friends. We will enjoy football, s'mores, falling leaves, and hot cocoa. Keep on keeping on homeschool families!