Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Journeys of Faithfulness (Schoolhouse Review)


Journeys of Faithfulness, published by Apologia, and written by Sarah Clarkson, is a book that explores the lives of Ruth, Esther, Mary and Martha, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, with the intent of deepening the spiritual journeys of the women and teen readers.

The first thing I will say is that I loved this book! Emily did, too. Each chapter is a fictionalized account of a Bible story that draws the reader into the life of the character. The author explores the thoughts, motivations, backgrounds, and feelings of each character in a way that helps the reader not only to understand the character better, but to draw out Biblical truths that will impact the reader’s life. Each chapter is followed by a devotional reading that explores the topic further and several Bible readings with questions for meditation or discussion. Emily and I each read the chapters on our own, then looked up and discussed the Bible passages together.

Sarah Clarkson is truly a talented writer, making this a hard-to-put-down book, ideal for individual inspirational reading, mother-daughter devotions or study group discussion.

Although the cover specifies that the book contains “stories of life and faith for young Christian women,” I feel that this book would be valuable for any Christian woman, and possibly men as well. It is the type of book to read slowly and savor as you relate truths to your own life.

Highly recommended!

Cost: $13.00

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Crew, I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blog Hop—Preparing for the Holidays

Are you getting ready for the holidays? Or are you looking for some new inspiration this year?

Beginning Nov 5, 25+ members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew will be blazing the way into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with a 5 Days of Preparing for the Holidays Blog Hop, and would love for YOU to come and join them!

Everyone is welcome to link up with this Blog Hop. Here is the schedule:

Monday: Decorating — Share your ideas for how you decorate your home for the holidays.

Tuesday: Cooking — Do you have a special menu, recipes handed down for generations, or a day you spend just baking?

Wednesday: Gift-giving — What are traditions for giving gifts? Are they home made? Maybe you have some great shopping tips to share!

Thursday: Arts & Crafts — Thanksgiving and Christmas lend themselves to some terrific craft ideas. Tell us yours!

Friday: Homeschooling — How do you handle homeschooling during the holidays? Do you have specific lessons you teach?

This is a lovely time of year to share your heart with your own readers and many others who will be thrilled you did. I am excited to read all of your blogs!

So mark your calendar, start getting those ideas together and come and join in the fun, beginning November 5.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sugar Creek Gang (Schoolhouse Review)

Emily has always loved listening to books on tape and cd, so when the opportunity came up to review the Sugar Creek Gang cd set, we jumped at the chance. These recordings are published by Beloved Books, producers of large variety of family-friendly recorded books.

The first of the Sugar Creek Gang set of books were published in 1939, by Paul Hutchens. These wholesome, old-fashioned stories feature the antics of a group of boys who have all sorts of exciting, although sometimes unrealistic, adventures involving such things as capturing bank robbers and encounters with dangerous bears.   Throughout the stories are strong Christian themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and living out one’s faith in daily life. The gospel message is repeated frequently as are the struggles of the boys to live godly lives.

The series was dramatized for radio and is available in 6 separate volumes. We listened to Volume 1, which includes the first six audio books in the series and around 12 hours of listening time. The speaker, Paul Ramseyer, has a fun, folksy way of reading the stories. I thought he spoke a little rapidly, but we got used to his style quickly. The stories do have a dated feel (since they were written 70 years ago), but that added to the charm. I felt that they were more “preachy” than most modern Christian books, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. There were a few differences in the cultural values of 1940’s that wouldn’t be found in modern literature, such as a character throwing a smashed metal cup into the bushes (littering) and continually poking fun at an overweight character (in a kind, matter-of-fact way). We commented on those things as we listened.

The stories also included bits of classic poetry and information about science, nature, and hygiene that we enjoyed.

Emily says:

Sugar Creek Gang is my favorite series of audio tapes ever!! I love that it holds adventure and excitement in every chapter!! If I had a choice, I would listen to the tapes all day long! I love them sooo much because they are everything exciting! They have adventure in them and crime and the man who tells the story tells it like it's happening right now! He tells it like I'm in the story and like I'm doing the things in the story right now! When I hear the the tapes, I want to be in the adventures they are in, because they sound like they are having so much fun! I come from a small neighborhood and it doesn’t have very many kids living in it, but if it did I would start my own gang and I would want it to be just like the one in the story tapes! I love Sugar Creek Gang!

Each of the 6 Volumes (of 6 audio books) sells for $54.95.  The first book, Swamp Robber, may be purchased for only $4.95 with free shipping. Or…listen to the Swamp Robber online for free!

Use the coupon code, “DEBBIE-20” for a 20% discount off your entire purchase!

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Crew, I received Volume 1 of this series in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Free on Amazon—Secret of the Missing Locket

My novel, The Secret of the Missing Locket, is free for Kindle until Monday. It's geared toward ages 8-12. Please download a copy and feel free to share the link! Thanks!

The Secret of the Missing Locket

Twelve-year-old April Matthews has just moved into her great-aunt's creepy southern mansion. Within days, she uncovers a century-old family mystery, tales of ghosts, and the long-lost diary of her great-great grandmother. Are the mysterious dreams she is having related to the secret? Will she be able to solve the mystery before time runs out? This mystery is a fun read for 8 to 12 year olds.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fossil Hunting

Our homeschool group went fossil hunting this week. The kids all seemed to enjoy poking around in the dirt to find the tiny fossils of sea creatures.




Thursday, October 18, 2012

Currclick 50% Sale

Affiliate Appreciation Weekend! Get 50% off thousands of titles!

This weekend is Affiliate Appreciation Weekend at Currclick. From October 19-22, over 4000 great homeschooling products are on sale for 50% off. Use this link and the code “appreciate” to get the sale prices.

I always look forward to this sale!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hands-On Science

Emily has been working in Apologia General Science this year and has been enjoying the many required experiments.

She enjoyed using the scientific method to figure out why a flashlight didn’t work, then learned that she needed to form a hypothesis and test it before she could be sure that her hypothesis was true. (I did several things to “break” the flashlight, such as reversing a battery and putting tape over the metal connection to the bulb.)


She  experimented with density by pouring corn syrup, water, and oil in a glass. She discovered that the three substances separated into layers with corn syrup on the bottom, water in the middle, and oil on the top. Then she dropped in a cork, a grape, and ice to discover that each floated on top of one of the liquids.



She found out that a boat with a soap “motor” moved while boats with no motor or tissue or gum did not move significantly.


It’s been nice that, for the most part, she’s able to perform the experiments without help. I just show up with the camera and ask a few questions about what she’s learning!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Zoo Whiz

Zoo Whiz is an educational game website for ages 5 to 15.  The three areas of content are: math, reading, and work skills. Students complete activities in the “Learn and Earn” area of the zoo to earn coins. These coins may then be used to purchase animals in the Biodome or play games in the Arcade.
Upon signing into Zoo Whiz, the player finds this screen, enabling him to choose an area.
If “Learn and Earn is chosen, the player must then choose a subject.
Within each subject, the player is able to answer a variety of questions.  The player may be asked to divide a word into syllables, then proofread a sentence, then analyze a table of contents, then analyze poetry.  This seems like a good way to keep interest high while reviewing or teaching a wide range of topics. If the student misses a question, he may attempt it a second time. After missing a second time, he may see the solution.
After the player completes a section, he earns coins. He may like to spend them buying animals in the Biodome.
Any of the animals in a player’s zoo may be clicked on to find out more information about diet, habitat, or other interesting facts. (This expanded information is in the Premium version only.)
Another option for spending coins is the Arcade. Some of the Arcade games are educational and some are just fun. They all are timed, however, to keep a child from spending too much time in the Arcade instead of the learning areas.
Finally, the Milestones area allows students and parents to monitor progress. Each skill is listed, so it’s easy to see which areas a student has mastered and which areas need more work. Clicking on the skill allows you to see the specific problem that the child attempted.
My Thoughts:
I love this site!  I think it is a great balance of learning versus play. (We’ve tried some other online sites that offer too much play to be a valuable use of school time.) I appreciate that the age range goes up to 15 and that the parent can set the age level. I found the 12+ activities to be very appropriate for Emily’s educational level and I like knowing that she can’t just choose activities that are far too easy for her just to earn coins faster. Emily enjoys using Zoo Whiz and I like knowing that it’s teaching and reviewing such a wide variety of topics.
Kids can create a FREE Keeper Account and have access to most of the educational games on the site. With an upgrade to a PREMIUM Zoologist account (currently only $14.95 a year), they can access more of the arcade games, more rare and endangered animals, and learn extensive information about all of the animals. Many of the features to set learning levels and activities and to monitor progress are also tied to the Premium level of service. More premium features will be coming soon.
Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Crew, I received a one year premium membership to Zoo Whiz in exchange for my honest review.

Safe Glow Dog Collar (Review)

When I first heard about the Safe Glow Dog Collar, a product of Dog Training Collars, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I often see joggers or bicyclists wearing reflective clothing for safety, so extending this idea to dogs seemed like a great idea.

Our dog, Macy, is black, so at night, she totally disappears into the blackness when I let her out. This makes me nervous when I let her out into the front yard. She’s good about staying close, but I like to be able to stand at the door to watch her (especially if it’s cold or rainy and I don’t want to stand outside myself!

The Safe Glow dog collar ($29.95 retail value) is made of wear-resistant nylon and houses a flexible, light-transmitting polymer core that illuminates when the collar is turned on. A reflective stripe adds additional safety by providing passive reflectivity. The collar is powered by a super-efficient (100,000 hour) LED bulb. An easy to push button turns it on. There are three different settings—a steady on and 2 different flash patterns.

The Safe Glow collar comes in several different colors. We received a green collar. When turned off, it is a pretty lime green. When turned on, it is a very bright neon green.  Although the size chart recommended a size large for cocker spaniels, I was skeptical of the sizing and ordered a medium instead. I’m glad I did. My small (17 lb.) cocker was almost too small for the medium collar. I had to cinch it in as far as it would go. I think that even a size small would have been better.  (Her neck measures 11 inches, which is just at the dividing point between small and medium.) That makes me think that this product might not fit toy dogs. I also think that the 1 inch collar width would be too wide for very small dogs (assuming that the small collar is also 1” wide.)  However, it is perfect for medium to large sizes—just measure your dog’s neck before ordering!

We’ve been using the Safe Glow dog collar for a couple of weeks now and I am very happy with its performance. It makes Macy easy to spot in the dark and makes her visible during evening walks.

This is the collar in daytime use:



Here is Macy outside in the yard at night. Basically, all you can see is the glowing collar!


I think that the Safe Glow dog collar will be a useful purchase for many people and their pets.

Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my  honest review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Adding some fun to our school day…


  This week’s Schoolhouse Blog Cruise topic is “Homeschooling with Games.”  Since I blogged about this last spring, I thought I’d revisit that post….


Our family has always loved board games. Over the years, we have accumulated a LOT of them. Many typical family/ party games have educational value…Scrabble and other word games, games that involve counting money (or even just counting spaces for little ones), or anything that uses the mind, like Scattergories, Pictionary, or Trivial Pursuit.

We’ve also purchased quite a few specifically educational games to supplement our home school. Here are just a few of them…


Elemento (Chemistry)

True Science (Trivia Game)

SomeBody (Human body)



Global Pursuit

10 Days in Africa, Asia, Europe games



Art Deck (Famous Artists rummy)

Rummy Roots (Greek and Latin roots)

The Play’s the Thing (Shakespeare)


Knights and Castles (Medieval History)

Hail to the Chief (Presidential Elections, US geography)


Additionally, I’ve often made my own games to reinforce what we’re studying. This takes a bit of time, but it’s the perfect way to review exactly what we’ve learned. Games are always a welcome alternative to a test! I’ve published many of these at Currclick to share with others….


What are your favorite games?

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise (up on Oct. 2) to learn more about homeschooling with games!

Beeyoutiful Skin Care (Schoolhouse Review)

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, every once in a while, I have the privilege of reviewing something that is just plain fun or indulgent and has nothing to do with school work. As much as I enjoy trying out curriculum and reading new books, something entirely different is always enjoyable!


I was sent these four Beeyoutiful products to try:

 Laveshmint Daily  Moisturizing Lotion ($12.00) contains aloe vera, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and is scented with lavender and peppermint oils. I’ve been using it on my face and found it to be a gentle, but good moisturizer, as claimed. I love the tingly feeling it leaves (due to the peppermint oil). It also smells very nice.  The pretty pink color makes it look almost good enough to eat!


 Laveshmint Hydrating Toner  ($14.00) is also made with organic aloe vera and scented with peppermint and lavender oils. It serves as an astringent that closes the pores after cleansing. I added this to my morning routine, spritzing it on my face before moisturizing with the Laveshmint Daily Moisturizing Lotion. The toner may also be used to cool sunburn and cleanse wounds as well as helping to relieve acne, fever, and headaches. Like the moisturizing lotion, it smells wonderful!

The  Hair Shine Spray in Conditioner ($15.00) contains aloe and essential oils of lavender, rosemary, and citrus. It can be applied to wet or dry hair to add body, softness, and manageability.  It can also be used on the body to ease sunburn pain or as an astringent! It left my hair feeling silky smooth, which was nice, but it was even better on Emily’s hair. She has very thick, tangly hair that always looks messy. The hair shine did seem to make her hair more manageable and easier to comb through.

Here are some before and after pictures….










The Vanilla Dream Body Butter ($15.00) is made with shea butter and vanilla-infused oils of coconut, olive, and grapeseed. The first thing I noticed about this was the wonderful scent! The delicious vanilla scent makes me happy when I just open the jar! This is a heavy-duty moisturizer. I found that it left a greasy feeling for a while until it soaked into my skin, so I applied it to my hands and feet right before bed, when I had time to let it soak in.

Beeyoutiful skin products contain NO Parabens, Formaldehyde, Petroleum derived ingredients or SLS Detergents. They are all manufactured in the USA using pure, all natural ingredients. No testing is done on animals. All testing is personally done by Beeyoutiful Staff and family.

When using these products, I felt like I was indulging myself with something special, probably because of the wonderful scents. It is also nice to have products to use that don’t include questionable additives that might not be good for my skin or hair.

Other Crew members reviewed other products from Beeyoutiful, so be sure to hop over to the Crew blog to find out more!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received  these products  free in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.