Monday, June 24, 2013

The Brinkman Adventures - REVIEW

***I received these products for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***

I LOVE audio products.  It started with Jonathan Park and then Odyssey....books on tape.....I am thrilled to be able to use otherwise "wasted" drive time to educate and encourage my family.

I jumped at the chance to review the Brinkman Adventures and boy was I not disappointed.  These stories are RIVETING!  You just almost can't stop listening - like sit in the driveway for several minutes waiting for an episode to end....yep, that's us!  All of my children, myself and my husband too love to listen to these stories that combine a fun-loving family and true missionary stories.  We learn about family dynamics, character training and Biblical truths while going from point A to point B.  GREAT stuff!

These are high quality recordings :)  I know that shouldn't matter if the story is good, but it really does. 

Would you like to listen yourself?  You can do that here.   They operate on a donation basis so you can download the episodes on the site or order physical CD's. If you can't afford but want to listen, you just need to ask.  How cool is that????  Very cool!

YOU can win a set of the first 6 CDs July 1-6 from Lorrie Flem at Eternal Encouragement.  Don't forget to enter and maybe your family can enjoy these stories as much as mine is! 

Reading Kingdom - REVIEW

***I received this program for free in exchange for an fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***

Today's review item is Reading Kingdom.  I've discussed before my dislike for web-based reading programs so I won't go into that again.  With that said, they must be very special to get this mommy's approval.

Designed for children ages 4-10, this program claims that it will help your children read at a 3rd grade level. 

We didn't use it that long.  lol 

I will say that at this short season of my life (moving), this was a blessed product to review.  Bear could work on reading and I could feel that I was helping to contribute to his education while I packed.

To begin, the student takes a series of assessment tests.  The program is very easy to use.  You can choose a "virtual" keyboard from the screen or use the keyboard on your computer.  Bear had no problem using it (Bear is 5.5).  After the assessment, the program determines at what sequence to start the student. 

While colorful, the graphics aren't perfect.  The voice kinda got on my nerves after a while, but Bear didn't seem to mind it, and I could be hyper-sensitive (since I'm on a tight rope anyway).  Progress reports are sent to my email so I can see how he is doing (I loved this part since I don't sit with him while he plays) and I can always access the program if I feel I need to.....I didn't. 

Bear asks to play the game so that is a big plus.  I would encourage you to go to and enroll for a free 30 day trial because I am unusually hard on games like this. 

Also, from June 24-28 you can go to Lorrie Flem's blog - Randy's Rib to register to win a free 6-month subscription.  That would give YOU lots of time to try it out. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Good morning blogland!  I hope that this beautiful morning finds all of you well, happy and in touch with our Lord and Saviour.  Mornings are a good time to do that, yes?  I think so.

Anyway, I feel like my blog has become reviews only and I'm sure many of you are getting sick of it but I've got so much going on that I'm only doing what I have to.  Please know that in a few weeks I have lots of fun stuff planned.  I can't wait!

So what have we been up to?  Packing, priming, painting, sanding, staining, redoing, packing, moving.....that's it!  In addition to the regular working, running, housekeeping.  We are moving back to the country.  A cute farmhouse down a 1/4 mile lane.  We can have critters (pets/livestock).  The house was in need of some TLC so we agreed to work on it.  When we started we had 6 weeks.  I thought 6 weeks was a long time.  Wrong!  lol  It's not going to be done but some of it is so we will take what we can get.  Honestly, everything but some painting (3 rooms) and some cosmetic issues (trim) will be done.  Considering what we started with I think we did pretty good.

We started in the kitchen.  Dismantled the cabinets, tore up the nasty linoleum.  Everything got new paint and then Norman put down new flooring.  Kitchen - done.  Bathroom was in pieces to begin with.  Norman took out what was left.  Reinstalled the shower, new sink, reinstalled the toliet.  New paint on the walls, new flooring, everything sealed up....still needs the trim.  Dining room and living room have new paint on the walls.  Still working to paint the trim.  4 rooms of hardwood floors downstairs (living room, dining room, our room, abby's room) sanding, stained and 1 coat of poly on.  1 more coat of poly tonight and then they need to dry.  The carpet that was originally over the hardwood was stained badly.  We were going to just live with it for a while but we couldn't get the fleas out of it so one day I showed up out there to work and the carpet was gone.  lol  Our room and Abby's room still need paint on the ceilings, walls, and trim.  Upstairs the hardwood is in decent shape.  The upstairs bathroom needs new flooring (someone patched a hole and did a terrible job) but that can wait a bit.  Lee didn't mind the paint in his room (light brown/dark brown) so I just touched it up.  It's done.  Greg hated the baby blue that was on his walls so we did a reverse of Lee's colors (dark brown/light brown).  I hope to finish the trim today and then that room will be done.  Bear's room is also baby blue.  He wants green with brown trim.  I have his room primed but not painted.

Norman has also fixed some water lines, jacked up a sagging floor and replaced the guttering.  He has worked his butt off. 

Every time we have went out there this week we have taken a load of our belongings.  They are being placed in a 2 car garage.  When the floor has cured we will start moving things in.  Still lots of packing/moving to do but we are on the final stretch.  Then I will need to clean this place and turn in the keys. 

It will be so worth it to be back out in the country.  My guys do better in their element.  I don't regret our moving to town.  Not at all.  It served a purpose and was a gift from God.  However, it will be nice to be back out in the country.  Norman has already fixed up the chicken pen and they will be coming in a week or so.  I think we will need a house cat :) and a cute little dog but that will come later. 

I've got 2 more reviews to get done before we lose this internet (I don't know how long it will take to get new internet set up).  Bear with me a bit and then we will get some fun stuff started.  Love ya all!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Medieval History Memory Game - REVIEW

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaic Review program.***

I love history!  Unfortunately, for the most part, my children do not.  That's a bummer.  Traditionally, history has been learned in one of 2 ways....1. boring facts memorized and then forgotten  2.reading about the events and characters in living books (my fav!)

Recently there has been an influx in another way to learn about history.....GAMES!  Why not?

The Classical Historian has created and published history curriculum and games for grades prek-12.

We were blessed to receive the Medieval History Memory Game.  I have to admit that as much as I love history, I'm not very good at anything earlier than 1700 or so.  The cards are very high quality and just the right size for little hands.  You can play the game as a traditional memory game or as a category matching game.  So the game grows with you children!  The illustrations are top notch and a pleasure to look at.

Bear, Abby and I have played several times and I am surprised at the things that we have all learned and the discussions that have been sparked because of our "play".  Neat stuff!

You can get this from The Classical Historian for $14.95.  While you are there, not forget to check out their other great looking resources. I doubt that you will be disappointed :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Everyday Matters Bible for Women NLT

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew***

What if I told you that I found a Bible study ( 24 actually) and an easy to read Bible all in one handy cover? 

Would you believe me?

I did :)

I have to say that NLT is my favorite translation ever (and I was a die-hard KJV user).  This is the 3rd Bible I have in NLT and it is so easy to read.

What's so cool about this Bible you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

First off, it is hard back, but smaller than my Life Application Study Bible.  The type is easier to read (I think it is a tad bigger) than my LASB.

24 topics or "spiritual practices" (as the editors call them) are covered in this Bible.  Sprinkled throughout are studies on such topics as:
Sabbath and Rest
I just chose 6 of the 24 to highlight.  Now these topics are covered in 4 different ways via:
Everyday Matters
Everyday Profiles
Everyday Reflections
Everyday Q&A's

In the back of this Bible there is an index of sorts to help you organize your study.  All you need is this Bible and you can have a focused time in God's word.  I love it!

The only downfall of this Bible that I can see is that it doesn't have a concordance, topical reference or dictionary.  I find those useful for Sunday School class.  Otherwise, this Bible is just about perfect! I'm thinking of using my Life Application Bible for church services and this Bible at home. 

Everyday Matters Bible for Women is available on Amazon for $26.24 (much cheaper than my LASB I have to say).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For Women Only - For Men Only Review and GIVEAWAY

***I received these products for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***
I had the pleasure to receive this book (and the one following) recently.  Now, I have read all the Christian how-to-be-a-good-wife books.  ALL of them.  Many of them were very helpful.  THIS book is completely different and VERY helpful! 

For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhan is a comprehensive book about MEN.  Not how to be a better wife, persay, but how men work and what you can do with that information to benefit your marriage.  Shaunti surveyed THOUSANDS of men (Christian, non-Christian, married, unmarried) and then compiled statistical data about how they feel about many situations.  Not just how they feel, but how they react and WHY.  I WISH I had this little gem 17 years ago.

Now, I know a lot of you are saying "why should I change?".  Let me clue you into can only change you.  You can't change anyone else.  This book gets results if you implement Shaunti's suggestions, even with no changes from your boyfriend/husband at all.

HOWEVER, Shaunti and her husband Jeff Feldhahn went a step further and wrote For Men Only: A Straighforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.  Using the same procedures for the this book; talking to married women, un-married women, Christian and non-Christian women the Feldhahn's have discovered why women tick the way we do and what men can do about it. 

All these years my husband has tried to convince me that I was "different" and what I felt was wrong or abnormal......however, I fell right into the common group of women!  Ha!  I knew I couldn't be so different.  Jeff makes women completely understandable!  See we aren't so difficult :)

You can get the kindle versions of these books for $9.99 on Amazon right now.

Wanna watch a video of Shaunti?  Here ya go!

Lorrie Flem is giving away a copy of the DVD set of the For Only series....check out her blog at Randy's Rib to enter from June 17-21st.

Need more encouragement?  Sign up for Lorrie's free newsletter HERE.

NOW:  I have a set of these books to giveaway.  I don't have any idea what to do with Rafflecopter or any of those things so please comment to my blog if you want to enter and I will randomly choose a winner at 5 p.m. Sunday June 23.  Easy???  LOL

Review: Not Just a Hearer But a Doer by Yolanda Shanks

***I recieved this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.***

Please let me introduce you to Yolanda Shanks:

She is the author of this wonderful little Bible study, Not Just a Hearer But a Doer: Deliberately Living Life Devotional Study.
Lately I've just been reading a chapter from my Bible every day.  I'm in 1 Timothy now.  And that's good.  Way better than nothing and I'm getting a lot out of it.  Sometimes I need some direction though and I was so blessed to receive this book.  I'm on Day 8, so not finished, but far enough that I can see the impact Yolanda's teaching is having in my life. 
I know you are busy, so am I.  Moving, remember?  That's why this devotional is so perfect.  The lessons are short.  1 a day.  Take less than 10 minutes but PACKED with powerful teaching and suggestions for changes that I can make in my life.  The scriptures are in the devotional so that means you can stick it in your bag and go, fully equiped to learn about God wherever He takes you that day. 
Each day is broken into 7 short parts:
Observation (scripture)
Background (of the above scripture)
Additional Memory Scriptures
Blank Space to Personalize Today's Scripture Text
Today's lesson was on Shutting Our Lips. The scripture is Psalm 141:3.  That's all I'm giving away :)  I think that we can all agree that this is an area we need to conquer (or at least diligently work on) if we are going to deliberately live our lives for God.  I know I do!

This is volume 1.  I am sure the rest of the volumes will be as useful.  Not Just a Hearer But a Doer is available on Amazon for $10.83 with free shipping!  You can visit with Yolanda on facebook. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do We Know God is Really There? REVIEW

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaics Homeschool Review team.***

We are in the midst of a move.  We are remodeling our new house before we move.  We are certifiably crazy.  CRAZY crazy.  That's us.

Anyway, I'm spending 90% of my time either at the "new" farmhouse cleaning/painting or at the "old" townhouse packing.  The other 10% of my time I'm squeezing in home management duties (laundry and groceries anyone?), blogging and AVON work. I am crazy.  Or will be by the time this is over.

Finding time to spend with the littles is hard but I'm trying to make sure they know that I'm still here, although a little less sane, so I try to take a book to the farmhouse when we go and after our picnic lunch on the porch I read a bit.  When I received How Do We Know God is Really There? I threw it into the bag. 

This is a very cute, illustrated children's book.  It weaves common "kid" questions with well-thought-out answers, a little bit of science and a lot of love.  We LOVE it.  I couldn't have possibly explain how the universe began in any better way. 

I am encouraged at the end by Psalm 19:1 (The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.) and how the author encourages us to learn more about the universe so that we can have more reasons to believe in our wonderful Creator. How cool is that????

Written by Melissa Cain Travis, illustrated by Christopher Voss and published by Apologia (the science people), this book is available from Apologia for $16....a great educational value for such a nice hardbound book. You won't regret it :)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Menu List June 1-15

Every 2 weeks I sit down and consider our meals for the next 2 weeks.  I really wish that I could somehow streamline this process.  For a while I did this for a month and I really liked that.  Maybe after we move I will go back to that method (especially since the grocery store won't be quite so close). 
Anyway, I try to choose 14 main dishes.  That allows for an occassional night or 2 each pay period that we can eat leftovers.  And by we, I mean me and the littles, usually on a night that dh is working a double shift and the older boys are gone.

cereal, oatmeal or something leftover in the fridge (lasagna, anyone? That's what I had yesterday morning.)  I've been having a pbj sandwich because the protein keeps me going longer.  If I can swing it in the budget I buy greek yogurt and granola for me.  I'm going to start making my own granola. That can be a later post.

Moving on.

pbj sandwiches (The littles usually have either peanut butter or jelly but rarely both together.  I don't know why...they are weird)
Grilled cheese sandwiches

Corn dogs
baked potato bar
hot dogs - probably grilled
cheeseburgers - also on the grill
BBQ ribs
pizza - homemade
ham and cheesy noodles
sausage gravy and biscuits
chicken and veggies

SIDES:  I usually only choose the main dishes....I just buy some sides and I pick what we are having when I start cooking.  This time I will get french fries, mac and cheese, carrots, corn and some frozen veggies.  We also have lots of potatoes so could have fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc.  When the garden starts producing we will have zucchini, okra, etc.

Zucchini bread
Oatmeal cookies
Chocolate chip cookies

I spread the baking out over 2 weeks.  The fruit will be real lucky to make it 3 days after purchase.  My kids are fresh fruit hounds.  So then I start baking.

I'm going to start working on new menu ideas and mix making over the next few weeks.  With moving I'm not sure how much of that I will get done, but I really need to tighten the belt so it is just going to have to get done. Please share favorite recipes!  My guys are kinda picky and my dh is a real "meat and potato"man so it is hard.  Right now I need fast, or slow cooker easy.  Some days I leave to work at the "new" house early and don't make it home till just an hour before the kids need to go to VBS.

Because someone always asks, I am working with a $200 grocery/household supply budget (twice a month).  The above meals will come out of that as will trash bags, baggies, tide, dawn and toliet paper.  I get our tolietries from AVON and use my earnings for that.  I shop at Aldi mainly, IGA for our meat and sometimes Walmart but only if I am desperate (my yogurt, pizza sauce).  I am feeding me, my husband, 2 teenage boys, a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl.  Some days, Abby can outeat everyone else at the table.  We also average 1 extra teenager per day, although they usually show up 2 or 3 at a time.  I love these kids and don't mind feeding them one little bit!  That's also another place that ready-made snacks come in handy....they are great meal stretchers!