Tuesday, September 27, 2016

KidsEmail.org- Homeschool Review Crew Review

I cannot even begin to tell you how much my 9 year old likes getting mail.  Seriously, it can make his week.  But in this world of technology, snail mail is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  We have been hesitant to allow him on email because of all the potential doors we felt it could open. And open doors we wanted to avoid-

Like security
and strangers
and spam
and p*rn
the list goes on and on unfortunately.  Let's be honest, the world of computers and technology can be a dangerous place for little people these days.

Enter KidsEmail.org!  When I saw this vendor on our Homeschool Review Crew vendor list I knew I wanted to see what they were about.  The Annual Subscription we have been using is amazing.

Let me start with a WOW!!  We love this concept.

An email account for children with all the benefits of email and all the protection you as a parent can want.  Yep, I am sold.  And so is Colby, but more on that in a minute.

Let me tell you about KidsEmail.org.

It is such an ingenious idea and simple to use.  You simply sign your child up for an account using their hosting system which will add a kidsemail.org tag to your account.

And then the fun begins.  YOU get to choose all kinds of filters for your child!

Things like-
  • Email monitoring-
          Yes, I want to see all outgoing emails.
          Yes, I want to see all incoming emails.
  • Yes or no to attachments
  • offensive word filter
  • yes or no to pictures
  • the power to choose your child's contacts
  • the power to choose when a child is able to access their email
  • the ability to block senders
  • GPS tracker
  • activity logs
  • advanced modes for older kids and teens
In addition, there are no ads for your child to view!

Micromanaging?  Maybe!  But frankly, so what? I have been charged with the responsibility of raising the kids God has blessed me with and I take that responsibility seriously. So no, I do not mind micromanaging their world while they are young.

Our experience!
This has been such a blessing in our home.  Colby, age 9, has turned into an emailing monster.  But in a good way!  When we first began with the program, he emailed as many people as I gave him access to every.single.day!  Some may have even been blessed with multiple emails in one day.  (sorry friends!)  Let me tell you, they were not impressive emails.

So we regrouped and laid down some ground rules.  Like, you can check your email and email people ONCE a day!  And if you are going to email, you must make sense and use complete sentences! Score one for mom!  It has worked.  His emails have gotten a bit longer, not as random, and slightly more understandable.

In addition, we have been able to learn a bit about the keyboard and what the different symbols mean that are on the email form.  Things like font, bold, text size, how to add color, etc.  It has been a mini word processing lesson with some fun in between.

In case you are worried, it has been fun, I promise.  Having an email has given our sweet boy an opportunity to connect on his own with friends and family across the miles.  We are a military family, after all, so we have people we love both near and far.  Emailing them has allowed Colby to be in touch without the dependence on me or dad.

There are also template options that allow your child to change the look of their account and make it more personalized to fit their style.  A drawling board is also included that allows your child to draw pictures to include on his or her email.

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription

Final words!
This is an easy product to gush about.  We simply have had a great experience using it and can't say enough about what we feel is value added to our son's day.  By giving him the freedom to communicate with friends, under the protection of the KidsEmail.org service, we are allowing him to better communicate with friends and family, while picking up some valuable skills as well.  Can't beat that!

Still on the fence?  You can try KidsEmail for free!  Give it a try!

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, September 19, 2016

Love at First Fight- book review, giveaway, and thoughts on marriage

Marriage is a big topic in our house these days.  My husband and I have been married for over 24 years now and our oldest daughter is getting married in January.  Then we have three more children that, Lord willing, will join the ranks of happily married couples all over the world someday.

I say happily married couples because that is our desire for them.  Let's face it, two random people who fall in love, get married, and decide to spend their lives following each other and Jesus is a beautiful thing.

But it can also be a difficult thing as well.

No relationship is easy all of the time.  It takes hard work, a lot of patience and forgiveness, and a lot of sacrifice. It is laying down our selfish desires daily, sometimes hourly, and pursuing holiness.  A little dose of humor mixed in certainly doesn't hurt!

While I believe that the Bible is the ultimate rule book for marriage, I do know that there are also some good books out there, written by Godly men and woman, that can help to encourage and teach couples on their marriage journey.

Love at First Fight- 52 Story based Meditations for Married Couples is a book that does just that while adding in that dose of humor!   Authors and Christian speakers Carey and Dena Dyer have taken personal, and often times hilarious, stories from their own 22 year marriage, and written a book that is worth adding to your library!

Each of the 5 book sections is related to a stage in their marriage-
  • Coming Out Swinging
  • Treating Our Wounds
  • Retreating to our Corners
  • Needing a Referee
  • Still Standing
Each chapter begins with a scripture and then has a He Says and She says section.  He says is from Carey's point of view, and She Says is Dena's side of the same story with a few more details added in usually! ;)  Their laid back story telling mixed with whit is sure to pull you in.

Following the story-based meditation, there are a few questions in a Taking Your Gloves Off section to get you thinking, but more importantly, facilitate discussion between couples.  In some instances there are actions suggested such as journaling, going on a date, or looking back through old pictures together. 

My favorite part of the book actually comes at the end of each chapter called Tips From the Pros, which has a quote from a fellow married couple.  Some made me giggle and some made me think, but all challenged me to ask the question "How does that apply to me?"  

My thoughts-

This 174 page softback book is a gem, but not just for married couples in the trenches of life.  Yes, these meditations are great reminders for the "married pros" out there, but they are also a great challenge to those newly married or about to be married.  In fact, our daughter and her fiance have begun reading one meditation a day together and answering the questions.  It has been a great time of reflection and allowed them insight into a Godly marriage, outside their immediate realm of influence.

Yes, it is great to watch and learn from those closest to us, but I also believe that anytime you can hear from people about their marriages, both the joys and the heartbreaks, the better prepared you can be for the realities of marriage.

Can one ever be fully prepared?  Of course not, but when you read the Dyers' stories of different backgrounds, challenging seasons, and what spiritual leadership looks like,  you can simultaneously laugh while learning the lessons they have gleamed from 22 years of experience, hard work, and relying on the Lord!

A million little adjustments?  Yep!  And sometimes many more!

Hard work, but worth the effort!  And maybe a little easier to do with some well said, Godly advice the Dyers offer in Love at First Fight!

If you would like to enter to win a copy of Love at First Fight, just leave me a comment here on the blog!  Tell me how long you have been married, share your best marriage advice, or just say hi!  A ramdom winner will be chosen on Friday!


Friday, September 16, 2016

5, No 7, on Friday

Sometimes there is just more randomness to share with you so here are 7 things that sum up our last few weeks-

Salem loves all things survival, so he fiddles a lot with wood and fire and such.  He actually amazes me with his creativity sometimes.  Sometimes, he just scares me! ;)

Mustache night at AWANA for Colby.  Ashton is just a cool leader who participated!

This is what I do in my few minutes of spare time during the day.  If I admitted how long it took me to complete, you would know how little spare time I actually have!

This is where a spend my mornings these days.  Working on getting in shape, after all.  See those boxes?  Those are boxes of curriculum- one for each year K-12th grade!

This is another quilt in progress.  By Ashton, not me, of course.  Her business, Ashton's Attic, is growing by leaps and bounds and she has several quilts in the works for people for Christmas!  I love seeing her do what she loves as her vocation.

Today we are finishing up our 2nd week of 4th grade with CJ.  The first few days were pretty rough, but on days like this, I remember why I love homeschooling!

Sometimes boxed mixes are just easier when it comes to being wheat free.  (Don't judge)  Tomorrow we begin a dairy free experiment to see if it helps Ashton.  Pray for us, and if you have suggestions about that, feel free to share.  We have got to figure out how to get this girl healthy again.

I pray your week has been a good one!  Have a blessed weekend and know that I appreciate each and every one of you who frequents  this blog!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Biggest Story!

If The Biggest Story, by Kevin DeYoung, sounds familiar to you, maybe it is because I have reviewed the book before.

So why talk about it again?

Because it is an amazingly beautiful and wonderful book about God and His creation.  And now it is also available as an audio CD and a DVD!

Did you hear me squeal?

Because really, I did when I found out I had the chance to review this combo for FlyBy and then get to offer one of you the combo as well.  More on that in a minute, promise!

For those not familiar with The Biggest Story, it is a story about God and his redemptive plan, from the creation of the Earth to the new Heaven and Earth yet to come.  Woven throughout are God's promises to mankind for redeeming his rebellious children.  It is simple enough for young children to enjoy, and yet clearly paints a picture of God's love and mercy in 10 chapters.

Although I am more of a visual kind of gal, I do have a son that is an auditory learner, so an audio book is often the best way to get him interested in anything.  He does like to read, but let's face it, CDs are more portable and great for families like us who tend to spend a lot of time in the car!  It has also been a great addition to my youngest son's collection of nighttime CDs.  Narrated by Kevin DeYoung, the soothing story and beautiful music are perfect for quiet time listening.  The running time is 26 minutes and contains 10 chapters.

You are going to love this DVD for your visual kiddos!  In this animated short film, the illustrations by Don Clarke have been set in motion to stunning original music and brought to life.  I already knew I loved the basic story, but to see it on screen in this 26 minute DVD took my breath away.  Just like the original book, the colors are vibrant and sure to capture even young children.

We have loved having this book in our home and are even more thrilled to now have the CD and DVD as well.  Thanks to the great people at FlyBy, one of you can win this great combo pack for your family, or to give as a gift to someone you love!  Just leave me a comment and a way to contact you if you win.  A random winner will be chosen next Wednesday!  

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


Monday, September 12, 2016

Are You Being Stretched?

There have been (and are going to be) a lot of changes in our lives lately.

Some small, some big, but changes none the less.

They are challenging me a bit.

One of my dearest friends calls it stretching.

I think I am stretched out. 
  • We drove two days to a wedding of one of the sweetest gals I know and spent the whole weekend wondering where time had gone and what happened to the little girl I used to know who argued over pink chairs with my daughter.
  • My mom had a knee replacement and I dropped my second daughter off at college all in the same week.  Not too far from where we had just been the week earlier.  13 hours away, mind you!
  • I spent a week in reverse rolls, being the caregiver of my mom, the lady who has been my rock and taken care of me forever!  Role reversal is an eye opening experience, to say the least.
  • I continue to help plan for a January wedding of our oldest.
  • I am trying to find my new normal schooling just the two boys.  Let's just say week one was not the best.
  • My husband and I are starting to explore retirement possibilities.

I could go on and on, but I will spare you the details.

The point is there is a lot of busyness and change going on around here.  Have I ever told you I am not a huge fan of change?

I like neat and tidy.  I like predictability.  I like quiet and orderly.  I am also a fan of control.

And God obviously thinks that is funny.  Or maybe annoying.

Either way, He is stretching me.

Out of my normal, neat and tidy life, into new.

Not bad, just different.

And new.

When I can take a breath and stop breathing into a brown bag (kidding. mostly) I am trying to embrace the new things He has for me and allow myself to be stretched.

I may change, but God never does!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

How about you?  Is God trying to stretch and change you?

Are you letting Him?


Linking up with Caroline!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Do You Have Character?

I love reviewing books!  It is almost as fun as reading them.  Sharing the books I have read and love with people I love is just plain fun.

And when they not only entertain a child, but teach them important skills or lessons...well, the joy level just builds!

That is how I feel about the latest book I have been reading with my son, Character in Action, by Marilyn and Kelley Boyer.  It is just a fun read!

Let me start from the beginning,  This 144 page, hardback book teaches 14 character traits to children, recommended ages 6-12.  Each chapter focuses on one trait, beginning with a simple definition and then a Bible verse highlighting that trait.  The story that follows is a true to life experience of one or more of the cousins of the Boyer family, complete with color pictures.  Tales about how to be creative in helping or what it means to be sensitive to others are just a start.  Other Godly traits explored include-

 and Deference

Each chapter then ends with a "Taking The Next Step" section that offers a multitude of suggestions to put each trait into a concrete action.

This is actually the second book we have read in the Learning Character with the Cousins Series, so I knew we would love it!  (The other books are Crossroads of Character and Character Trails I have been reading Character in Action with my 9 year old son, although sometimes the whole family gets to hear if we read in the evenings.

The chapters are about 6-10 pages long and take us about 15 minutes to read.  Colby loves looking at the full color pictures of thecousins with the friends they have met.  There is just something about seeing REAL kids doing REAL things that can spark a flame in a kid to imitate their behavior. 

 What better behavior to imitate than Godly character traits!

After we read each chapter, Colby reads the "Taking the Next Step" section out loud to me and we discuss ways that we can bless others.  Ideas he has come up with so far include writing notes to some elderly people in our church, having them for dinner, and making cookies for people.  

Why Study Character traits?

I firmly believe that we are all born sinful and selfish.  Being kind and generous and loving does not always come easily.  In fact, those character traits can often be hard for children to learn.  By teaching children the right behaviors and by SHOWING them how those are lived out, we set the stage for a lifetime of growing and learning how to treat others better than ourselves.  

Who wouldn't love to live in a society where everyone treated others better than themselves?

Character Concepts has a wide array of curriculum for kids preschool age and up.  Through their resources you can help teach children right from wrong, hide God's word in their hearts, and know the books they are reading are teaching valuable lessons while still being fun and engaging.  

Thanks to Character Concepts, we have the opportunity to give away a copy of this wonderful book to one of our readers.  Feel free to leave me a comment, and don't forget to let us know how we can reach you, Tell us what character trait you most admire in people, or which one you wish your children knew more about!

A random winner will be selected next Friday!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Where Are We Now?

Today we begin a new school year.  This is the 18th time I have done this.


That number stuns even me!

I started this journey when my first born was 4.  Yes, she was a little young for Kindergarten, but I rationalized that if I started early and completely messed up the year she could begin Kindergarten and no harm would have been done.

Yes, I was that confident in my abilities.  NOT.

We also sold ourselves the lie that we were just schooling the kids while they were younger so we could save up the money to send them to private school when they were older and it "really mattered!"


18 years later, we have graduated our oldest.  She has her own sewing business and is going to be married in January.

We just dropped off our second daughter at college where she is loving life and pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater.

So who does that leave?

Just me and two boys.  A fourth grader and a freshman in high school.

Two boys!

I love my boys dearly, do not get me wrong, but to say that I am a little apprehensive about this school year is an understatement.

A big one.

Gone is my girl who loved school and excelled at all she did and my Disney princess who brought a ray of sunshine to every school day, and possibly a few fairies and forest animals as well.

Now it is all Legos, Star wars, knives, guns, cars and...well, you get the picture.

Not bad, just different.

So if you think of us during the day, a quick prayer lifted would be appreciated.

That our first day goes smoothly.
That I find joy in each new moment.
That I transition to BOY schooling.
That we love well!

Because these boys deserve that.  And they are worth it!!