Thursday, December 29, 2011

Daily Gifts of Grace


Daily Gifts of Grace: Devotions For Each Day of Your Year ($17.99) is a 366 day devotional book with selections written by Women of Faith Speakers and other well-known Christian writers. It is published by Thomas Nelson.

The book has a lovely hardbound cover with a magnetic closure and ribbon bookmark. Even the inside of the cover and the pages are lovely, making me feel happy when I open it!

Each page includes a focus Bible verse and an inspirational message by a different author. The devotional selections I have read thus far, by authors such as Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, and Marilyn Meburg, have all been gripping and applicable to my life each day, giving me encouragement and nuggets to “chew on” throughout the day. I will confess that I’m reading 2 or 3 selections each day because they are just that good! I already know that this book will be a treasure in my life throughout the next year!

The book isn’t serious Bible study—I am doing that separately, but is great for picking up for a few minutes of inspiration and prayer focus.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a free review copy of this book.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Hydraulic Arm Project

A few weeks ago, Emily put together a hydraulic arm kit made by Teacher Geek. This contraption uses water pressure to control the movement of the arm in 4 different ways.

Our hydraulic arm kit arrived as a box full of parts along with a reamer, cutter tool, and building instructions.  It took us about a week to build our hydraulic arm. We found the directions clear and easy to follow although we were a little frustrated that the dowels had to be shaved down a bit in order to fit. Emily hasn’t spent a lot of time with Legos or other construction toys or models, but she did pretty well with this. Here are some photos of the process…









We used Teacher Geek’s “Fluid Mechanics Lab,” which we found online at the site as a supplement so that Emily would better understand the physics behind the project. Although some of the material was rather advanced for her, this well-written lab helped deepen her understanding of the principles behind her “contraption.”

We had a lot of fun with this kit. I think more “building” projects will be in Emily’s future!

Although I received this kit free from Teacher Geek, I was not required to write a review.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

We had a wonderful Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we attended our traditional candlelight service, where the young adults, including Allison and Katie, read scripture and served as candle-lighters. We visited briefly at a reception in the fellowship hall, then returned home to  read some of Bartholomew’s Passage, the book we have been reading nightly during Advent this year. We usually have extended family over for snacks and visiting on Christmas Eve, but everyone else is on a Christmas cruise this year!










On Christmas day, Emily was up first (of course!). She waited anxiously upstairs for an hour or more before everyone else was ready and she was allowed to come down. We ate  eggs and pumpkin bread for breakfast while we waited for John Michael to show up. The older kids laughed about how I used to be the last one up on Christmas morning. Now, I wait for them to drag themselves out of bed!


Santa opening his sack….No, that’s John Michael who delivered his gifts in a pillowcase instead of wrapping them!


Katie’s favorite gift. OK…she’s a little strange!



We spent the afternoon playing games. Emily’s tabletop ping pong set was a big hit! We also enjoyed Bananagrams and Electronic Banking Monopoly.



Private Selection Frozen Foods (Review)

As a member of BzzAgent, I was given 3 free product coupons to try out the new line of Private Selection frozen foods.


First, we tried the Barbeque Chicken Pizza. We enjoyed this. The crust was very crispy and the toppings were generous. The barbeque flavor was very good. I noticed that the Private Selection brand offered topping choices that most brands don’t offer. One caution, though—although the package stated that the pizza would serve 3 people (and it did serve 3 in our family who are not big eaters), most would consider this to be 2 servings—or even one serving for a big eater.



Next, we tried 2 of the desserts. The Northern Spy Apple Crisp was good—not quite as good as homemade, though. The apples were chopped into smaller chunks than I like.  The package contained 2 individually wrapped servings. The Belgian Chocolate Lava Cakes –rich chocolate cakes filled with belgian chocolate ganache--were melt-in-your mouth good! This package included 4 individually wrapped servings.


We sampled an appetizer as well—the “Mediterranean-Inspired Hors D’Oeuvres Collection,” which included 3 each of spinach pesto puff, mushroom phyllo triangle, and feta-sundried tomato phyllo roll. I had a hard time at the store choosing an appetizer because all the choices looked so good! The appetizers were flaky and delicious. Somehow, from the picture on the box, I expected them to be much bigger than they actually were, though. Each selection was just over an inch in diameter.

I enjoyed the opportunity to try out the Private Selection brand of frozen foods and will likely use them again.

As a member of BzzAgent, I received 3 free product coupons for Private Selection products and was encouraged to share my opinion with others.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wholly Guacamole and Hormel Natural Choice (Giveaway)



I love guacamole! In fact, after I learned that I’d have the opportunity to do this Wholly Guacamole/ Hormel Natural Choice Review, I was so excited that I actually dreamed about the Guacamole feast my family would have!

I received both the Spicy and Classic varieties of Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie Snack Packs. Both types were delicious with visible chunks of avocado and were a nice serving size. I love the snack packs because I’m less tempted to eat too much at a time and I don’t have to worry about finishing up a big package in a timely manner. They even freeze well.

I also received a package of Hormel Natural Choice Oven Roasted Deli Turkey. The Natural Choice line is the first nationally distributed line of all sandwich meats with zero preservatives and no artificial colors or flavors, no nitrates or nitrites added, no MSG, from meat without added hormones. We thought the turkey was very good and I like that it is healthier than most lunch meat choices.

Here are some of the ways my family enjoyed the Wholly Guacamole and Natural Choice combo….

As a classic dip. Yum!


Emily dipped her turkey sandwich into Spicy Guacamole.


Salsa flavored pita chips with Natural Choice turkey and classic guacamole.


Turkey and spicy guacamole wraps. I think this was my favorite!


I received free packages of Hormel Natural Choice turkey and Wholly Guacamole Snack Packs for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions are my own.

GIVEAWAY (Ends Jan. 7)

Would you like to win 3 free product coupons for Wholly Guacamole and 1 Hormel Natural Choice product coupon plus some Wholly Guacamole fun extras? Just leave me a comment with a serving idea for Wholly Guacamole or Hormel turkey.

For additional entries (leave a separate comment for each):

1. Follow me on Google Friend Connect.

2. “Like” Wholly Guacamole on facebook.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Crafts!

Emily has been having fun making some ornaments….

She made these snowman ornaments with fun foam, ribbon, felt, and fabric paint.


This gingerbread man is made of felt and lightly stuffed.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Space Camp! (Kind of)


A couple weeks ago, I got an email that invited homeschoolers to be part of testing a new “mission” for Space Camp at the nearby U.S. Space and Rocket Center. We jumped at the opportunity and signed up. Emily spent 3 hours doing the “mission.” I wish I had brought a camera to get a picture of her wearing the jumpsuit when I picked her up. Oh, well…

Here is Emily’s account of the day.

Today was the most fun space day of all time! I went to the Space and Rocket Center today for free! First we got assigned parts and then went to practice all of them. I left at 7:15am in the morning and stayed until 11:30pm. After we practiced what to say and do we went into a cool room with all of these cool controllers and headgear. We had a snack break and then did the real thing. We went up into a room that held space suits and smelled like sauerkraut, then we got them on and our group went to our assigned room. Then we said our lines and told the people in the space shuttle what to do. After about thirty minutes we went to the space shuttle and fixed some problems there. The problems we had to fix were a broken window, the engine, and the fuel accelerator. We used these cool looking head phones to talk and tell people how to fix different problems. We used a piece of glass for the broken window and water for the fuel, we also used different wires for the broken engine and got it fixed (luckily).

I really enjoyed this trip and hope to go explore space again soon.

To infinity and beyond! - Buzz light year

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Meditations


Several years ago, I was going through a tough time at Christmas. Chris chose to stay in Korea for Christmas instead of coming home to be with us. It was a very lonely time for me. A practice I started that year was to sit in the living room each night with the lights all out except for the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. The kids were all in bed and the house was quiet, making it a perfect time to be alone with God and my thoughts. That became a special ritual for me that I have continued each year.

Five years later, I still find myself alone in the evenings. And I still miss having a complete family for Christmas. After a busy day, I still cherish those moments of peace and quiet each evening to pray, to ponder my day, and to mediate on God’s gift of His Son.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

World’s Greatest Stories (TOS Review)


Emily loves audio books and radio dramas. We have quite a large collection that are listened to frequently. When I saw the opportunity to review The World’s Greatest Stories, I knew it would be a hit—but I didn’t realize how much so!

World’s Greatest Stories are a bit different from most children’s Bible stories because they are actually word-for-word Bible passages. So the listener is actually hearing the Word of God—nothing left out, nothing added. The way the stories are narrated is absolutely amazing. The characters all have different voices and the stories are accompanied by sound effects. The effect is more of a radio drama than a book-on-tape. The storyteller, George W. Sarris, is an accomplished actor, narrator, and spokesman. He is also the narrator for the 2011 revision of The Holy Bible, New International Version by Zondervan Publishing House.

We received Volume One-The Prophets, which includes:

  • The Blazing Furnace-Daniel 3
  • The Handwriting on the Wall – Daniel 5
  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den- Daniel 6
  • Elijah and the Prophets of Baal-Kings 17-18
  • The Prophecy of Jonah

From the moment I popped this cd into our car stereo, it was a hit. Every time we go anywhere in the car, Emily asks, “Mom, can we listen to Bible Stories?” There’s not much better praise than that!

There are 6 Volumes of The World’s Greatest Stories, each selling for $7.95 and appropriate for any age listener.

5/5 Stars!


To read more reviews of this and other of The World’s Greatest Stories recordings, please visit the Crew Blog.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free volume of The World’s Greatest Stories in order to write this review.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Fractazmic (TOS Review)

Fractazmic, by Pyramath, is a card game for 2-4 players used to practice the addition of Fractions. It is played like Rummy, but sets consist of  any number of cards of a suit (color) whose values add up to one. Because the cards have different denominators, the players must convert the fractions in their heads in order to add them. The pictures on the cards help the player “see” the value of each fraction and are helpful for visual learners when adding the values.


We enjoyed this game. I had to look at Emily’s cards occasionally the first few times we played to offer suggestions, but after that, she was able to play independently. We thought this was a fun way to practice with fractions and I could see Emily’s skills improving immediately.

Emily says, “You learn a lot and it helps you with your math. It’s a cool and fun game. I like it because it’s competitive. It helps me concentrate more because it’s a game.”

The Fractazmic game sells for 6.95 for a 60 card deck and is appropriate for 2-4 players (upper elementary and up). “I See Cards” also sells several other educational card games, including “Pyramath,” “Prime Bomb,”, and “I See Cards.”

I received a free deck of Fractazmic cards as a reviewer for the TOS Crew. All opinions are my own.

To read more reviews of Fractazmic, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.


Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Singing


I just finished reading The Christmas Singing, by bestselling author, Cindy Woodsmall. I enjoy reading  Amish fiction and have read a few of Cindy Woodsmall’s other books.

The plot dealt with an Amish woman who had been jilted by the man she loved. Several years later, after moving away, finding a new relationship, and opening a business, her old boyfriend came back into her life and she began to discover that  the past was not what she had believed it to be.

I found the first couple of chapters a bit slow in this book—there were a lot of  characters to keep up with. But once I got a bit into the book, the story really pulled me in. I stayed up late to finish the book because I didn’t want to put it down! This is a great story for Christmas or any time.

Here is the first chapter….

and here is a promo about the book:

Would you like 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title)? Use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Thank you to WaterbrookMultnomah  for providing me with a free e-book for this review.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Super Star Speech Supplement

I just published another Super Star Speech book at Currclick.

super star supplement cover-small

Super Star Speech Supplement contains 40 practice pages that are intended to supplement Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Simple.

The practice pages and games in Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Simple are "generic" ones that are adaptable to any sound. This new volume provides additional sound-specific practice pages for p, b, t, d, k, g, ng, f, v, blends, and final consonants as well as a few additional activities that can be used to practice any sound. Super Star Speech Supplement isn’t a stand alone book, but can be used with Super Star Speech to make it even easier to use.

The e-book format makes it easy to print just the pages that your child needs at any one time. My hope is that this supplement will make Super Star Speech an even better help to you while working to improve your child's speech patterns! Sample pages are viewable at Currclick.

Super Star Speech Supplement will be normally priced at $7.50, but I’ve set it at an introductory price of $4.00 until December 19.

If you have or know a child with articulation delays, I hope you will take a look at the Super Star Speech books!

Please ask if you have any questions about the books!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today I am thankful for:
1. family
2. books!
3. a heated home
4. Christmas decorations
5. glowing candles
6. My sweet cocker, who has blessed our family for 13 years
7. a cheerful child

Thank you to Brenda at Garden of Learning for sponsoring the Gratitude Challenge!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Beginnings

I’m thankful for a new week and new beginnings. Last week was not good—multiple math meltdowns (we finished Tuesday’s math on Saturday!), bad attitudes all around and lots of stressful stuff all at once.

I’m hopeful that this week will be much better!

Thank you to Brenda at Garden of Learning for sponsoring the Gratitude Challenge!

Stocking Up Your Shelves at Currclick

Today, Currclick is having a Cyber Monday sale—8 free items on the website and 2 items on their facebook page for today only. I found a couple of free Christmas titles that I’ll be incorporating into our school next month.


Today is also the start of the annual “Stocking Up Your Shelves” sale. Many items are on sale for up to 75% off. All of my Super Star Speech books are 25% off for this sale.

And…I just published a new book, Super Star Speech Supplement (usually $7.50), which is on sale at an introductory price of $4.00.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Tuesday

I’m thankful today that my oldest daughter is home until January. She has a family practice rotation in town and then some vacation time.

I’m also thankful that Monday is over! Yesterday was a horrible day for Emily, for school, and lots of other stresses too. Today is running a bit more smoothly so far.

Thank you to Brenda at Garden of Learning for sponsoring the Gratitude Challenge!

Truly Awesome Cookies


I recently had the opportunity to try Kroger’s “The Truly Awesome Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie.” These cookies are twice the size of most brands, are free of added preservatives and artificial colors, and claim to taste just like home-baked cookies.

I was eager to try these because:

1. I love home-baked cookies.

2. I don’t like store-bought chocolate cookies. I really don’t. I never eat them.

Guess what? I did like these. They were very good, although I still wouldn’t say they were as good as homemade. (I did forget to try out the suggestion to microwave them for a few seconds to make them seem oven-fresh. ) They had a very nice flavor—chocolaty and buttery, without the artificial undertones that most store-bought cookies have. They were crispy, but not too hard. Emily liked them, too. The 2 packages of cookies we had disappeared quite quickly! I have found a store cookie that I do like!


“The Truly Awesome Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie” is sold at Kroger (and other stores in the Kroger family) with a suggested retail of $2.79 for an 8-cookie package.

I received 2 boxes of this product from BzzAgent in exchange for sharing my honest opinion. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.