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Monday, April 29, 2013 Review & Giveaway
Mother's Day is just around the corner & you probably haven't chosen a gift yet. I have a suggestion! How about a magazine subscription. is running a Mother's Day Deal & they have dropped prices on the most popular magazines for mom. I even have a coupon code valued at $10 to giveaway and there are a lot of magazines subscriptions for $10 or less.

I was given a coupon code for $10 also, so I didn't waste any time browsing the selection of magazine subscriptions at I was really surprised at how many titles are included in the sale. I had a hard time choosing what I wanted. Some of my favorites were Southern Living, Food Network, Taste of the South, Cooking with Paula Deen, Creating Keepsakes, and Card Maker. I chose Cooking with Paula Deen & I cannot wait for it to get here.

It was so easy to shop on, you can search by price, rating, or category. They offer magazines about pets, hobbies, electronics, gardening, and so much more for the entire family. I chose my magazine and proceeded to the checkout, I could either create an account or checkout as a guest. It was easy & would have been quick if I could make up my mind faster. also has a variety of books, newspapers, journal, and movies. And if you purchase an item as a gift you have the option of sending a post card to the recipient.

~~ Giveaway~~

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fun Cakes

I have a few loyal customers who just tell me what size of cake they want and leave the rest up to me. On this particular cake the lady wanted a 3 tier round or square cake for her daughters 16th birthday. She wanted it to be fun with hot pink, black, and white. I decided to go with a 6, 10, & 12 inch square cakes, that gave her about 100 servings. The top 2 tiers were white and the bottom was red velvet. 
I thought it would be fun to do half of it black & the other half hot pink. 

I think it turned out really cute. What 16 year-old girl wouldn't love to have this cake for her birthday.

I really like the black side. Maybe because it is so different from what people normally want.

The pink side was really cute too.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

I'm linking up with Marcy's Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is Our Time Review and Giveaway

This Is Our Time - DVD
Pure Flix was released. We see 5 young people learn that everything is in God's time, even though they may not understand why things happen the way they do. 

About This Is Our Time
The movie tells the interwoven stories of Luke (T.J. Dalrymple) and AlĂ© (Erin Bethea), who marry right after school and move to India to serve as missionaries for Embrace A Village, a ministry that cares for those afflicted with leprosy and their families; aspiring financier Catherine (Kate Cobb), who joins a prestigious financial institution determined to make an impact on corporate America; Ryder (Matthew Florida), who lands an impressive job in social media and can’t wait to use the powerful medium for a greater good; and Ethan (Shawn-Caulin Young,) seemingly the odd man out, who struggles to find his God-given-purpose and feels sidelined by God.
“What they all come to learn is that it never really was their time,” Arnold said. “It always was, always is, God’s time.”
I really enjoyed watching this DVD. It is inspiring to see young people wanting to live a godly life. These young people thought they had their lives all figured out, but realize everything doesn't happen according to their plan.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Imagination Station Book Review

Cover: Hunt for the Devil's Dragon

I like when we find a series of books that my girls love to read. The only problem with reading a new series is waiting for the next book to come out. We started the Imagination Station Series when they first came out & my girls eagerly await each new one. Book #11 Hunt for the Devil's Dragon will be out in May and the day we got ours in the mail Amber had to read it right then. Even though this series is below Amber & Delaney's reading level they still love to read them.

In Hunt for the Devil's Dragon we head to Libya in the 13th century. Cousins Patrick and Beth head to a Silene where a vicious animal has been killing the local sheep. Some of the men think they need to offer a human sacrifice to the appease the dragon. While Beth tries to help the girl who is going to be offered to the beast she also gets left outside the Dragon's lair. Meanwhile Patrick and his new friend get help from a Roman knight to slay the dragon. Their plans change when Beth convinces them not to kill the dragon & she reveals the real sheep killer.

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Disclaimer: I received Hunt for the Devil's Dragon from Tyndale House Publishers free of charge in exchange for my review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Math Rider Review

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No matter what math curriculum you choose to use with your kids, they all need to practice their math facts. We normally use the old paper and pencil method, but lately we have been using Math Rider.

Math Rider is an computer game where kids can work on their math facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from 0-12. This program download can be purchased for $47.00 with free lifetime updates. It is recommended for kids ages 6-12 and can be used with up to 8 riders. The system requirements list that it can be used on Windows or Mac. There is also a free 7 day trial of the complete program available.
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I didn't run into any problems while downloading the program and we were ready to start in just a few minutes. All three of my girls Alaina (age 8), Delaney (age 10), and Amber (age 12) used the program. Alaina worked on addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Delaney and Amber worked on multiplication.

This is the Rider Menu that lists all the students so they can gain access to their saved program. It is very easy for everyone to login to their account.

Each child has a home screen and once they have completed a level they get a flower, gem, or flag. From the home screen you can proceed to your quest, start a new quest, view statistics, or view your map.

This is the actual quest. The horse is running across the screen toward the math problem. The faster the student answers the question the faster they come. If a problem is missed it is repeated again.

After each section is completed the student will be shown how well they did. Green is good and the small bars mean the problem was answered quickly. A tall red bar means the student took longer to answer each problem.

This is the map for each quest. The red line marks where the student has already been. The same map is used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division quests. The story is the same for each math function:

  • Easy Level Quest~ Your mother has the addition, subtraction, multiplication or division flu. You must find the Pythagoras flower (below) to cure her. 

  •  Medium Level Story~ You must return the gem to the elves in Elven Land. 
  • Hard Level Story~ You discover the princess has been kidnapped by the evil King Wartan. If you get 100% in this level you can move on to the Mastery Level to rescue the princess. 
Statistics can be checked from the students home screen. You have the option of seeing one students scores or all riders together for each math function and level.

The Statistics chart is very easy to see how well the child is progressing. If the chart is red that means the child either hasn't completed that problem or they are having trouble with it. The color scheme for the Mastery Level is on the bar.
This chart shows that Amber has almost mastered the multiplication level. The math problems that she is slower on are listed in the Top Challenges box and are colored yellow on the chart. On the multiplication table you can left click to see the problem worked out with beads. If you right click you will be shown a box with two up arrows, one is blue and one is green. The green arrow will show a percentage of improvement. If your cursor hovers over the chart it will show the multiplication problem with the answer.

All three of my girls enjoy using Math Rider. We only had it downloaded on one laptop and some days they all wanted to use it first. Amber already knows her math facts, but after using the program she has been able to answer the harder ones much faster. Alaina is my child who likes math and she was very happy to play Math Rider over and over. Just in the last couple of months she has increased her speed in answering her addition and subtraction facts. She knows some of her multiplication facts and this has already been helping her learn more & retain them. Delaney does not like math at all!! I have noticed that she hasn't complained about her regular math lessons as much after using Math Rider for awhile. I think because she is actually retaining her multiplication facts and it makes her math lessons easier. We received access to Math Rider for one year and I think I will purchase it after the year, it is well worth $47.00. I don't have to print copies of our speed drills and my kids are volunteering to work on their facts.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A Cry From Egypt Giveaway

Back in the fall I read A Cry From Egypt to my family. My girls enjoyed it so much they have been asking when the next book will be finished. Friday April 27th is the official release date of A Cry From Egypt and I have a signed copy to giveaway.

My girls all know the bible account of the 10 plagues, but this book allowed them to see into the lives of the Israelites & Egyptians. It also helped them to see the awe of God's protection of the Israelites during the plagues.
 "A Cry From Egypt" Cover!

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Disclaimer: The author is offering a giveaway of her new book & I am promoting it because my family enjoyed it so much. No other compensation was received. 

Break Away Review and Giveaway

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Break Away is a new Christian movie by Word Films that brings hope. This family friendly movie will be available April 23, 2013.

About the movie:
Break Away takes place in South Africa where Francois is a hard working husband and dad that gets laid off from his job. None of his efforts to get another job succeed and he is forced to use what he has, including an old bicycle, in order to provide for his family. With the help of his "black sheep" brother, a bicycle shop owner and a pro-cyclist, Francois makes some life-changing discoveries about his life, career and faith in God.

The 113-minute DVD Break Away  is produced by Frans Cronje ("Faith Like Potatoes" and "Journey to Grace"). The inspiring story, based on actual events of the film crew and their friends, was shot on a tight budget and a crew consisting of just seven professional members and 15 students and volunteers.

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My girls and I watched Break Away together and really enjoyed the story line. I like that it shows even in a bad economy there are jobs that need to be done. If people would just take the time to look around they could fill a void & if they are willing to give 100% they can make some money.

~~ Giveaway~~
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Disclaimer: I received Break Away free of charge from Word Films in exchange for my review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Progeny Press The Golden Goblet Review

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We are always on the lookout for good books to use in our school & it is really nice when we find a good book and a study guide to go with it. We just finished reading The Golden Goblet & completing The Golden Goblet Study Guide from Progeny Press.

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Progeny Press has over 100 study guides for kindergarten through high school. Their goal is to teach children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on God's scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it.

We chose to review The Golden Goblet Study Guide and it is recommended for grades 5-8.  It can be purchased as a download or CD for $16.99 or a printed booklet for $18.99. I used it with Amber (age 12) and Delaney (age 10). The 68 page study is divided into Prereading Activities, As-You-Read Activities, 7 Chapters, an Overview, After-You-Read Activities, and Additional Resources.

  • Prereading Activities include history, research, geography, and field trip ideas.
  • As-You-Read Activities suggests making a map and keeping a notebook & sketchbook.
  • 7 Chapters include vocabulary lists, puzzles, and worksheets. 
Throughout the study guide my girls worked on imagery, similes, settings, synonyms, antonyms, and even juxtaposition. There are puzzles, matching, fill in the blank, thought questions, listing steps in order, field trip ideas, and bible verses to look up. Egyptian vocabulary, culture, gods & goddess and web links are suggested for further study. There are also lists of additional reading, creative writing, art, and research ideas included.

The book does not come with the study guide & it wasn’t available at our library, but we found it at a local used book store for just a couple of dollars, it is also available on Amazon. We didn’t have any trouble downloading and printing this study guide & it was very easy to get started.

It is suggested in the notes to the teacher that the student read the entire book first and then go back and reread each chapter to complete the study guide. This is a very good suggestion because my girls loved this book so much they didn’t want to spend the time on the study guide the first time they read it.

Once they got into the study guide they really enjoyed the discussions we had. Both girls had their own study guide but some of the questions we spent more time discussing. Delaney needed a little help on some of the questions because she wasn’t sure how to answer them. The study guide is written at the perfect level for Amber & I really like that issues from the book are looked at from a biblical view with bible references.

Carol Clark is the author of this study guide. She is a retired teacher and her passions include helping kids learn, teaching great literature, and encouraging children to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Golden Goblet is about a young boy named Ranofer who becomes an orphan. He has his heart set on becoming a master goldsmith, but after his father dies he must live with his older half brother, Gebu. He is not very nice to Ranofer and only allows him to work for a goldsmith so that he can bring home stolen gold. Ranofer is unaware he is transporting the stolen gold and when he finds out he rebels against Gebu. For Ranofer's punishment Gebu apprentices Ranofer to himself at the stone-cutting shop. While Ranofer is working there he realizes something is going on. He enlists his friends to help him discover what Gebu is up to now. Once Ranofer and his friends discover the truth about Gebu, they must also prove it to the authorities.

This is the second study guide we have used from Progeny Press and I have been very impressed with the quality of the material and the choice of literature that they use. We  look forward to completing more of these in the future. 

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Leadership Garden Legacy Review

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Debra Slover wants to empower adults and children to lead their life with purpose by growing the leader within. She used her 27 years of experience helping others to write her "Empowering Tools" to reach even more people. Members of the SchoolHouse Review Crew received U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within and U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Growing My Leadership Garden from Leadership Garden Legacy.

 U.N.I.Q.U.E. stands for:

  • Understanding
  • Nurturing
  • Inventive
  • Quality
  • Unstoppable
  • Expression
Debra uses her own tragic experiences to help others Grow Their own Leadership Garden. She uses the garden metaphor to help individuals tap into their imagination, dreams, and spirit. She teaches people to become the primary shoot of a plant that will eventually bloom and to destroy the weeds that can overtake the garden. The story is about a lost sheep who represents the heart, mind,  and spirit in all of us. He wanders into a Leadership Garden where he meets several people. The people and animals he meets teach him about compassion, purpose, aim, favor, grace, and more. Hugh learns to uproot weeds, and plant new seeds to allow his own unique leader to thrive.

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U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden is written for ages 8-12. This colorful 125 page book can be purchased for $18.95 in paperback or an ebook for $8.95. After each chapter there are questions to answer or you can complete the Activity Guide & Journal that goes along with the story.

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U.N.I.Q.U.E: Kids Activity Guide and Journal 79 page PDF download can be used along with the Growing My Leadership Garden and can be purchased for $8.95. This ebook contains the questions included in the book, but also illustrates parts of plants & the importance of the roots & good choices. There are also 35 pages for journaling, charts and puzzles.

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An additional resource that may be purchased to accompany U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids are the audio files. This allows the story to be heard anywhere & really brings the characters to life. They are available as an MP3 download for $8.95 or on 2 CDs for $18.95.

U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within - paperback
U.N.I.Q.U.E: Growing the Leader Within is the adult book. It is a 147 page paperback and can be purchased for $18.95 or hardcover for $26.95. The same story that is told in the Growing My Leadership Garden is told in the Growing the Leader Within only not in color. The difference is that there are notes and suggested activities for the older student or adult. These can either be completed in a notebook or you may purchase The Leadership Garden Guidebook to complete the same activities. The author also uses examples from her own life to illustrate the point taught.
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The Leadership Garden Guidebook is a 79 page 8 1/2 X 11 softcover workbook and it can be purchased for $18.95. It includes a worksheet for each of the activities that are suggested in the adult book.

I have been using the Growing My Leadership Garden with all three of my kids ages 8, 10, & 12. The ebooks & MP3 files were very easy to download and use. We listened to part of the audio file & the girls liked listening but it is easier for us to read from the book to be able to stop & discuss what we are reading. This would be good to have if you were in the car a lot. I read the Growing My Leadership Garden aloud to them & all three of them really enjoyed the story. My 8 year-old struggled with answering some of the questions without some help, I think they were better suited for my older two.

By using a garden metaphor it is very easy for my kids to see how we respond to our feelings can change our behavior. Some of the activities are very visual, like writing our leader blockers on a piece of paper & then tearing them up to show that we are getting rid of them. Throughout the book I reminded my girls that through prayer God can help us overcome our negative thoughts before they change our behavior. I also need this reminder often. We also found bible verses that could go along with each garden practice. In the book Love is the heart of the Leadership Gardens and there are six leadership practices:

  • Be nonjudgmental
  • Do not enable
  • Use empathy
  • Prune Gossip
  • Eliminate blame
  • Eradicate victimization

Debra Slover really shares her life & heart with us in order to help us become leaders. I started this book thinking that it was to help us become better leaders, but it seems to be more of a self help book for people to learn to lead their own lives no matter what their circumstances.
I have a coupon code that can be used for an additional 20% off all of their Empowerment Tools. That's on top of the sale price. Just use discount code: TOS-SS20D until May 31, 2013.

If you use the 20% discount on the Family Empowerment Tool Kit Bundle you will save $28.70 off the retail price.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

D is for Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

We are constantly making decisions in our lives. Even before we get out of bed we decide when we will get up, what kind of toothpaste we use, if we get in the shower right away or read the paper first, and what we will eat for breakfast. Then there are major decisions. Where should I work, who should I marry, or what house should I buy. The list is endless.

One decision we make every day that can effect every aspect of life is what kind of attitude to have. Sometimes I wake up in a bad mood or someone may say or do something that puts me in a bad mood, but it is my choice to stay that way. I have found in the past if I have a bad attitude then my husband has a bad attitude & then even my kids are a little edgy. Attitudes are contagious especially in the home. 

One way to maintain a good attitude is to delight in the Lord (Psalms 37:4a). Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15), and Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16).

If Christ dwells in us then we can have peace. And if we study his word & and have a song of thanksgiving in our hearts constantly it is hard to stay in our bad attitude.  

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Purex Natural Elements Review & Giveaway

Alaina loves to smell everything. She was very excited when we received the new Dirt Lift Action Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash. She had the lid off the minute we opened the box. She loved the smell & wanted me to wash her clothes in it right away. I like it because the scent is not overly strong & reminds me of a spring morning. It leaves our clothes clean & fresh smelling.

The new Dirt Lift Action Purex is hypoallergenic, dye-free for sensitive skin, and still packs the cleaning power of Purex with DirtLift Action. It delivers the bright, white, and clean you expect from Purex, but with naturally sourced ingredients.

2 of my readers within the United States can win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Natural Elements.
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Disclosure: As a Purex Insider I received a free bottle of Purex Natural Elements to use in order to write my blog post. No other compensation was received & all opinions are my own. 

Exploring Microgravity Review & Giveaway

I love science videos because they can show us things that we could never experience or demonstrate for our kids. Microgravity is one of those topics that kids love to learn about. We received the DVD from Janet's Planet called "Exploring Microgravity". It is 37- minutes long and geared toward elementary school kids, but I even enjoyed watching it.

About: By focusing on science, technology, engineering, are and math, Janet's Planet travels at the "speed of thought" and is designed to fuel S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). Gravity's phenomena and effects are explained and the audience gets to meet Galileo, Newton, and Cavendish and find out how they built on the ideas of scientist before them and formed a shared picture of how the universe works! You'll also get a chance to see Janet onboard the Zero G plane experiencing microgravity! 

My girls absolutely loved this video. They thought it was so awesome that there is a plane where you can experience different degrees of gravity. Amber is thinking it would be so cool to go on that plane & is already asking how to do it.

Janet's Planet also has a fun website where kids can play games, look at pictures, and more.

~~ Janet's Planet "Exploring Microgravity" Giveaway. ~~
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mentionit on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Computer Science For Kids Review

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In this day and age everything is ran by a computer. I'm sure that will continue into the future & more than likely my kids will have to use them in their career fields. For the past month Amber has been learning about more than using a computer she has been learning how to create programs with Beginning Microsoft Small Basic programming tutorial from Computer Science For Kids.
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When the Schoolhouse Review Crew receives items that come as a download we are told what day the vendor should email the product. The day we were suppose to receive our Microsoft Small Basic Amber could not wait. As soon as she got up she wanted to know if I had checked my email. It wasn't there & she was not very patient that day. About every 30 minutes or so she wanted to check my email again. It finally arrived & I started the download. Once it was finished I was in the middle of helping one of the younger girls with their math. I told Amber that I would look at it that evening & she could start it the next day. She was so excited that she asked if she could try and figure it out on her own. She pulled up the Small Basic program & the PDF containing the instructions and got to work right away. I'm not sure how long she worked on this every day, but I never had to remind her about it. She had a blast & every little bit she would holler at everyone to see what she had done.

Beginning Microsoft Small Basic programing tutorial teaches very basic programming and is written for children ages 10 and up or adults who have never tried their hand at computer programming. It is divided into 11 chapters (sample chapter) and is self-paced. The Table of Contents will show you that although it is for a beginner it contains a lot of information in the 500 pages. Amber started out creating easy things like having her name appear on the screen & adding numbers. She even made a program where she could draw with the mouse. Of course we all had to try it & it wasn't that easy.
Amber didn't even give me the chance to print the PDF file for her, she just brought up read it on the computer and put them side by side whenever she needed to. 

The directions were very easy for her to understand. The only time she needed any help was when she had made a mistake in her typing and couldn't find it. If you have worked with computer programing at all you know that a typo can cause the program to have an error. As she progressed through the program she would save her work in a folder so that she could go back to them whenever she wanted to. The appendix contains codes for a lot of colors so while Amber worked through the program she could change her display to just about any color.
Amber loves working with the small basic program and she is already asking for more. This is a great program for a beginner programer. It was easy enough for her to use & she was very excited with the results of her work.

The Beginning Small Basic turtorial is available as a digital e-book for $59.99. It will be on sale for $34.95 until July 4th, 2013. This program requires XP-SP2, Vista, or Windows 7 to work.

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