Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards!


As you may or may not know, I have been a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew since this time last year.  The purpose of the Crew is to review educational products from different companies who want to target the homeschool audience.  We are a large number of mom bloggers, so there are enough of us that we don’t have to review every single product.  These reviews are usually a bit more intense than the other reviews I do because we are required to use them for 6 weeks with our child (or children).  I noticed that by looking at the awards offered for the number one reviewed products this year that many of the top ones I didn’t even get to review!  So, maybe I’ll have to pick those next year if I get the opportunity!

But today I’d love to award the Blue Ribbon to my favorites that I did review this year.

First, I’ll list the reviews with their links so you can read about them if they interest you:  a website with numerous courses on it

KinderBach- online preschool music (My 4-year-old’s favorite!)

Motivated Moms- ebook and app daily chore planner (actually tells you what to do each day!)

Talking Shapes- preschool app to learn about letters

Amazing Science DVDs- fun science demonstrations (My 8-year-old’s favorite!)

If He Had Not Come- Christmas book about Jesus

Egglo- glow-in-the-dark Easter Eggs, with a book and curriculum for having an outreach at your church

Curiosity Quest- fun DVDs that bring you on a fun and educational field trip

Philosophy Adventure- an interesting approach for studying high school philopsophy (my 13-year-old son’s favorite!)

Kinder Cottage Books- reprints of old books

Happy Kids Songs- song downloads to teach about different character qualities

7-Minute Planner- a comprehensive planner for moms

Under Drake’s Flag- CD story about Sir Francis Drake

Purposeful Design- a “coffee table” book about God’s creation

Snake Oil Party Potion Game- fun word game to encourage creativity

Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids While Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet by Kendra Fletcher- ebook encouraging moms of preschoolers

Go Science DVDs – A group of kids take part in science experiments in these Christian-based DVDs

And I award the Top Ten Blue Ribbons to. . .

Spelling You See – innovative approach to teaching spelling.  I’m still using this with my 8-year-old.

Spelling You See Review

UberSmart Math Facts- a simple math flash card program.  We’ll get back to using this soon.  It’s so helpful to have daily drill on math facts.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

CTC Math – Online math program that teaches.  Two of my kids are still using this.

CTC Math Review

Brinkman Adventures - a homeschooling family records these adventure story CDs about missionaries around the world.  When they make new CDs, we want to listen to them!

Brinkman Adventures Review

Micro Business for Teens- a course for teaching teens how to start and run their own businesses.  I will have my future teens do this when they get older.

Micro Business for Teens Review

My Student Logbook- a simple, but wonderful way to keep track of schoolwork and assignments throughout the year.  My 11-year-old daughter uses this daily.

My Student Logbook Review

Trident Case – strong cases for iPads (and other devices).  I love this case–it’s still on my iPad.

Trident Case Review

HomeschoolPiano – online piano courses, with a jazz influence.  A wonderful course.  My oldest wants to go through it as soon as he has time.

Homeschool Piano Review

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate – a book for homeschool moms. I need to read this again–it was really good!


IXL Math and Language Arts- an online website to practice math and language arts skills.  This was the review that surprised me the most.  I was extremely pleased with IXL! Four of my kids still love using it daily.

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 019



(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Book Review/ Giveaway: “Rescue- Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture”

I now have a teenager, and next year I will have 2! It won’t be long, in fact, until I’ll have 5 teenagers all at once!
So, when I was offered the opportunity to review Candy Gibb’s book Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture, I felt like I could use a refresher course on what to expect from the teen years, as well as what the new issues are that I’ll be facing.

Rescue is a very helpful book for learning about parenting teenagers.  The author Candy gives much wisdom herself.  She is the mother of three children, but she is also the Executive Director of a major Crisis Pregnancy Center in Amarillo, TX called CareNet Pregnancy Center. She has an amazing story of redemption, the video of which can be found here.  She deals with tough teen issues daily, so it was so good for me to read her advice on how to approach these tough topics.

But the book doesn’t just have words of advice from Candy.  She has assembled a group of recently graduated teens –mostly college students– into a group she calls the Lifeguards.  In each chapter she has each of them share from their own experiences.  Wow- what an eye-opener.  I’ve already been feeling lately that things truly are different for my kids that they were for me, and that there is a generation gap between us that I wish weren’t there.  I know reading Rescue is going to help me with that.

Here are the chapters you’ll find in Rescue:

1- Your Family

2- Faith/Identity

3- Teens, Sex, and Society

4- Technology

5- My Teen is Struggling with Homosexuality

6- Pro-Life & Pro-Choice

7- Communication

8- Mentoring

9- Preparing Teens for College & Beyond

10- Building an Ark


The format of the book includes “Commentaries from Candy,” “Let’s Ask the Lifeguards,” “Treading Tips” (practical nuggets of wisdom that sumarize the lessons), and “Life Preservers” (relevant and encouraging Scripture).

You will find that Rescue is written from a biblical perspective.  She encourages us to have our teens in church. But it is so much more practical and real that that.


Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Teaching your teen to find value and identity in the Lord is more critical than teaching them to eat healthy and helping them get into the university of their choice.  Remind your teenager of the Lord’s calling on their life.”

“A lack of identity is prevalent due in part to the influence of  social media. . .  Often times, when someone posts a selfie, it’s to get a response. . .  ‘Do you think I’m beaufiful?’ or ‘How would you rate me?’ ”

“Prepare your teens for the ridicule they will likely face from their peers if they choose to remain sexually pure.  Help them develop ways to deal with it.”


Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture is completely filled with practical advice such as this.  I’m so happy to have a copy of the book to give away!


Update:  The winner is AmySD!


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Rescue in order to write this honest review.  I also received one to give away.   This post contains affiliate links.)

Review of “Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation”

Purposeful Design Review


Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by author Jay Schabacker is a new book we have been reading in our home lately, and I’m happy to review it for you today.  You can see more about it at the Purposeful Design website.

There are several ways to describe this beautiful book:

  • It’s a great Coffee Table book, for guests to pick up and leaf through.
  • It’s an informative and enjoyable book for reading aloud to your kids about our God’s awesome creation.  (My 9-year-old daughter especially enjoyed me reading it to her.)
  • It’s a book that can be used by junior high or high school students who are studying science.

Purposeful Design Review

The book is usable with all ages, is a sturdy hardback book of 91 pages, and costs $18.95.  You can purchase it here.


Purposeful Design 001

One of the best parts of the book is that it’s full of beautiful pictures!  There is lots of Scripture sprinkled through as well.

Purposeful Design 002

The format of the book is that there are 7 chapters–one for each day of creation.  Then the author goes into detail about some of the things that were created on that day.

For each chapter here is what you’ll read about:

Day 1:  God created the heavens and the earth, the planets continuing their orbit defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Day 2: God created the atmosphere and water, how the rain cycle works.

Day 3: God created the dry land and vegetation, why apples are so healthy for us, ways in which plants are useful.

Day 4: God created the sun, moon, and stars; how the suns rays and earth’s tilt give us our seasons, why sunrise and sunsets change from day to day; using this information to build Stonehenge and the Ground Zero Memorial; the benefits of our moon; ocean tides; how leatherback turtles take advantage of the tides; stars and celestial navigation.

Day 5:  God created the birds and fish, how birds and fish benefit us, birds’ instincts, salmon, how fish swim, why ice floats, funny-looking animals in the ocean.

Purposeful Design 003

Day 6: God created land animals and people, domestic animals such as camels and cows, amazing uniqueness of humans, our amazing bodies (including the appendix), cells, brain.

Day 7: God rested and taught us to rest, too.

The only thing negative I have to say about the book is that some of the photographs are not high quality (are somewhat blurry), as you might see in the photo below.

Purposeful Design 004

Overall, I am very happy with Purposeful Design and am glad to have it in our home now.  Some parts are very detailed, which can be great for older kids and adults to learn some amazing things you never knew before!

Purposeful Design 005

Also included to use with the book is the Young Explorer’s Club curriculum, and it’s free!  You get student pages that are fill-in-the-blank, and a teacher’s guide with all the answers.  Here are a couple of pages from the Young Explorer’s Club:

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 005

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 006

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 007

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 008

Another child just wanted to draw the days of creation as I was reading about them:

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 001 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 002 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 003 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 004

Visit Jay Schabacker, the author, on social media!




LinkedIn: Jayschab


Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Review: Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner

Wow–another wonderful book to review for you today!  I recently received Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner. She is the National Youth Director of Consituting America.  Her mother Janine Turner is the Founder and Co-Chair of Constituting America (and an actress).

Our Presidents Rock! is for kids and is all about the U.S. Presidents.  It’s a paperback book 316 pages long and jammed packed full of important and fun information about each of our American Presidents.


Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 002

The book begins with an Introduction page which gives an inspiring explanation of how anyone can become President. Next it explains how to read the book (like I explain below), and a couple of pages explaining the role of President as given by the U.S. Constitution.  (They also have a book called Our Constitution Rocks! that I’ll have to check out.)

Each president has several pages devoted to him.  You’ll find the same subheadings for each one:

The Bottom Line — A couple of sentences about his presidency

What Were They Thinking? — Some of his views about major issues

Why Should I Care? — Why you should learn about and understand this particular president’s policies

Breakin’ it Down — His life prior to becoming president

Presidency — His most important events and accomplishments

What Has He Done for Me Lately? — What this president did that still affects or influences us today

Presidential Times — Some of the major events in America and the world during his presidency, written like a newspaper with articles

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 004

Quick Facts — Several different boxed fun tidbits such as Fast Stats (about the man), Liberty Language (definitions), Election Results!, Fun Facts!, Thoughts on the Constitution (things he said or thought about the Constitution), Congressional Corner (important legislation passed during his time in office), Platform Speech (important lines from speeches he made), and Presidential Personality (how he carried himself as president and in his personal life), a Timeline, and Pictures of the president and his wife.

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 006


Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 003  Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 005  Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 007 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 009 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 010 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 011

The book ends with a comparison of Washington’s and Obama’s cabinets and a fun comparison of the Presidents’ heights!

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 012 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 013


My take:

I feel this in now a valuable resource in our home.  I love how it’s easy to read and contains so much information. As we know, all history and political books have a bias, and I’m glad that Our Presidents Rock! leans to the conservative side.  Here is a quote from the chapter on Calvin Coolidge “Had any other individual served as president during this time and not allowed the country to ‘run itself’ as Coolidge did, the United States likely would not have reached the level of accomplishment she did during this time.”

I’ll use this great resource book for my elementary through high school students.

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 001

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: “The Legend of St. Nicholas”

Today’s review is of a Christmas book you might want to get this Christmas: The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.

In this modern-day story, Nick is a young boy who is going Christmas shopping with his dad.  He’s not real excited about getting something for others; in fact he’s hoping there is money left over so he can get something for himself.  As he is wandering around the store, he hears someone say his name.  It’s a mall Santa who is telling the story of a boy named Nick.  This is the same Nick who would grow up to be St. Nicholas.

The Legend of St. Nicholas 001 (3)

Nick’s parents loved God and taught him to do so as well.  They were also wealthy.  When they died, Nick was still young.  He realized that God had a plan for him–to give his money away to those in need.  He did that secretly, including to some girls who needed the money for their dowries, and he threw the money in through their chimney!

The Legend of St. Nicholas 001 (2)

I enjoyed reading The Legend of St. Nicholas.  The story was cute–how the modern day Nick learns about the 4th Century Nick and decides that he wants to be like him and be generous as well!  I also loved the illustrations.  The book is filled with beautiful paintings by Richard Cowdrey, and it was fun to see the snowy owl which appeared on many of the pages!


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to give this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)




Review: If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson

Christmas Book Review
Are you looking for a new Christmas book to read to your kids this year?  I’ve found one for you!  Today I am reviewing If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson.

This story is best for ages 6 and up and is a beautiful physical hardback book in full color.

David Nicholson has reintroduced the story which is a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks.  It is illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz.

I really enjoyed reading If He Had Not Come.  My first thought was that it reminded me of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Remember what happens there?  George is faced with a new reality of what life would be like if he hadn’t lived.  Well, in this story we see some evidence of how our world would be different if Jesus hadn’t lived.  It’s powerful to read about the differences!

If He Had Not Come 002

A young boy is the main character and is excited about Christmas the next day.  Before bed he reads the Bible with his dad and they read John 15:22 where Jesus says, “If I had not come. . . ”  He goes to bed thinking about that.  When he wakes up he goes downstairs and doesn’t see his parents anywhere.  But there are other things missing as well: the Chrismas tree and presents and decorations!  He goes outside and finds that the factory down the street is running that day. When he asks the foreman why they are open on Christmas day, he says he’s never heard of Christmas and doesn’t know what the boy is talking about.  He goes from place to place trying to figure out what is going on, and no one seems to know anything about Christmas.  He runs to his church, but it’s not there.  He runs to the Children’s Home to watch the kids open Christmas presents, but it’s not there either!  There is just a sign in each place that says, “If I Had Not Come.”

If He Had Not Come 004

He then sees a sick old man and tells him he’ll run to the hospital to get him some help, but the hospital isn’t there.  And the homeless shelter doesn’t exist either.  Signs that say “If I Had Not Come” are everywhere.  Finally, the boy runs home and goes up to bed.  Soon he wakes up and realizes it had all been a dream, but a very powerful one!  Christianity  has made an enormous impact in our world and in our society.  Christians who care about others have built hospitals and homeless shelters and children’s homes.  They have spread the love of Christ all around, and if He had not come, our world would be vastly different today.

If He Had Not Come 005

After the lovely story with fine illustrations, there are several pages that a parent or teacher can go over with their children.  The discussion questions were quite interesting and I enjoyed doing these with my kids.  There is also a page that explains how to share the gospel and how to accept Jesus as one’s Savior.

David Nicholson took a wonderful old story and put it in a great package to share with kids.  I’m sure you’ll like this book just like I did!

The price is Casebound Hardcover for $18.95 and E-Book for $3.99.

Visit the If He Had Not Come Facebook page!


Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Review: The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers

Here’s another great Berenstain Bears book written by son Mike Berenstain called Blessed are the Peacemakers.

This story is based on the verse from Matthew 5:9 where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Book reviews 011

The cubs are at school and we find that there are several groups who are always bickering with each other.  They’re trouble-makers and tease and bully.  Everyone joins in for the all-school play, though.  And it’s pretty ironic that the lead girl and boy (for Romeo and Grizzliet) are from rival “gangs.”  Problems continued to happen until they were actually on stage, and a fight breaks out in front of the audience!  Even the parents got involved.  It’s Squire Grizzly and Preacher Brown who became the peacemakers and helped everyone realized what they were doing was wrong.

The final page has “Activites and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear”

Book reviews 012

There are 3 questions to talk about with your child and 2 activities to get out and do.  These help to add to the teaching of the book.


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Blessed are the Peacemakers in order to write this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review “Samantha Sanderson at the Movies” by Robin Caroll

I enjoy getting books that would be good for my tween daughter (who just turned 11) to read.  She loves to read and she loved reading the Samantha Sanderson books.  When we received them I didn’t have time to read them yet; my daughter read them in a matter of days!

The first book in the Faithgirlz! Series for Tweens by Robin Caroll is Samantha Sanderson At the Movies.  We are introduced to Sam who is a 7th grader in public school and her best friend Makayla.  The scenes go from school, fun places (movie theater, football game), church, and Sam’s home.  Sam has a great desire to be an investigative reporter like her mother.  Sam’s father is a police detective.  The story starts out at the movie theater when Sam helps to discover that a bomb has been planted there.

The entire story is that Sam is reporting on the crime at her school’s new blog site.  She continually has to make decisions about what would be appropriate to print, and she often makes bad decisions, such as all but accusing certain people of committing the crime when there was no proof.  She justifies what she does by saying that that’s what a reporter does.  At the end of the story she learns that she didn’t do it very well.  Her mom and dad talk to her about writing things that are kind–not just true.  And listening to her father’s wishes and keeping his trust, instead of just writing what she wants to because she’ll get more comments.

The story was very well-written.  Nothing about the writing bothered me (which seems to be common in lots of books these days).  I loved the ways living out the Christian life was seemlessly woven into the story.  Sam talks to her youth director at church and gets advice on witnessing to her friend at school who isn’t a Christian.  She prays with her dad and talks with her mom about God.

The only negative thing I have is that there was so much more time that Sam spent justifying writing what she wanted than there was of her admitting she was wrong and listening to her parents explain the best way.  I fear that maybe my daughter didn’t quite catch all of it.

Overall, I recommend Samantha Sanderson At the Movies as a book that would be great for a Christian tween girl to read.  Now, I’m off to read Samantha Sanderson On the Scene!


(I received a complimentary copy of Samantha Sanderson At the Movies in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: 2 Adventure Bible “I Can Read” books

Book reviews 008


It’s always fun to receive some new “I Can Read” books for the beginning readers in my home.  Here are two unique ones I’d like to review for you today: God’s Great Creation and Moses Leads the People.

The Bible Stories come from The Adventure Bible–a very popular Bible for kids.  These small paperback books are 32 pages long and are written for Level 2, which is described as “High-interest stories for developing readers”.  They are $3.99 each.

The illustrations are by David Miles and are very fun and colorful!  The last page of each book has a memory verse, description of Bible people to know, and “Words to Treasure” (an explanation about something described in the story).

God’s Great Creation is a retelling of the creation story–the six days of creation and what God created each day, his creation of Adam and Eve, and their disobedience and being sent out of the garden.  But at the end, we are told “God was planning how to help his people.”
Book reviews 009

Moses Leads the People tells us about the wonderful man of God Moses who lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.  We see him talking to Pharoah, learn about the plagues, and see the Red Sea part and God saving His people.

Book reviews 010

I’m so glad to have these books that my younger kids can read to themselves and learn about the Bible at the same time.


(Disclosure: I received these books complimentary in exchange for this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review of 3 New Veggie Tales Books

We have 3 great new Veggie Tales books in our home that I’d like to share with you today.

First is Yuletide Ice Cube Fair by Karen Poth.  The Veggie Tales characters are all getting ready for Christmas!  They ice skate and then hear the bell calling them over to the annual ice cube carving contest.  Everyone works hard creating their incredible carvings to display what Christmas means to them.  The finalists are a shopping mall, angels singing, the peas winning the prize, and a Christmas feast.  But the winner is Junior who carved a tiny stable with a little baby and a shepherd kneeling down.  That displayed what Christmas truly is about!  You’ll also find two Scriptures from Luke 2 in this paperback book of 20 pages.  The book is best for ages 4-8.

Book reviews 007 Book reviews 006


The next two books are Level 1 “I Can Read” books.  These are always a hit in my home where I have beginning readers.  The titles are Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend and The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper, both by Karen Poth.


Book reviews 003

In Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend Sheer luck Holmes and Bobby Watson have to solve the mystery of what happened to their friend who disappeared from the pizza place. They find a note he left that said he was leaving because his feelings had been hurt. The ones who hurt his feelings confess, find Sniffy, and ask for forgiveness.

Book reviews 005

In The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper Bob and Larry and trying to solve the mystery of the Masked Door Slammer. But the story is really about bob who is really in a bad mood. He gets madder and madder as the sort goes on, and finally he loses his temper. Larry explains that Bob is being just like the Masked Door Slammer by losing his temper. Bob realizes that he is right and chooses not to “let his anger run wild” anymore.

Book reviews 004

(Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these books in order to write these honest reviews.  This post also contains affiliate links.)


Review/ Giveway: “It Will Be Okay” by Lysa TerKeurst

It Will Be Okay review

I’m happy to be reviewing a book from one of my favorite authors today: Lysa TerKeurst. But this time it’s for a children’s book!

It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox)
is a beautiful hardback book for
ages 4-8.  I absolutely adore the illustrations by Natalia Moore–so precious!

It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst

*Great purchase for parents or grandparents who want to encourage their children to deal with fear and change

*Children will learn that God has good plans for them

*Helps kids know that God will be with them through every stop as they grow

The book has a pretty page for filling in if giving as a gift.  The next page is a letter from Lysa to the parent about why she wrote the book.  She knew she needed to help her kids find a way to face their fears and trust in God, even when she isn’t around to remind them.  Next is a page with 10 Scriptures to Memorize with Your Kids.  There are some really great scriptures listed here.  I think my favorite is Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The story is 28 pages long and tells about a little seed who is safe in the Farmer’s shed.  A fox comes in and befriends him.  They are quite happy keeping each other company until the day the farmer plants the seed.  The seed is very fearful, but the Farmer reassures it that He can be trusted.  The fox finally finds the seed and also encourages it.  Then, as you can guess, in the spring the seed grows.  It eventually grows into a wonderful tree.  The fox and the seed/tree continue to encourage each other and to trust in the Farmer.

You can see the inside the book here:  Flipbook

 Book reviews 002
And now for the GIVEAWAY: 
If you would like to win a copy of It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox), please enter through the Rafflecopter app below.  The winner will be chosen on 10/14/14 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

Book reviews 014

a Rafflecopter giveaway


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox) in order to write this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Linked to Living and Learning at Home Trivium Tuesdays

Review of “Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids With Success While Loving the Little Ones at your Feet”

Preschoolers and Peace Review
Today I am happily reviewing Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet .  It’s an e-book in PDF format written by Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace . This helpful resource is for any mom who is homeschooling an older child with a preschooler (or baby or toddler) and only costs $2.99! It’s an easy-to-read e-book and is 47 pages long.  It has a few pictures sprinkled throughout.

When I first started blogging 8 1/2 years ago one of the first bloggers I started connecting with was Kendra Fletcher.  I was drawn by the name of her blog: Preschoolers and Peace.  At the time I had 4 children ages 5 and under, with another baby soon to be born.  I knew we wanted to homeschool them, but I didn’t know how in the world I would actually be able to do it!  I looked to people like Kendra who were a few years ahead of me on the road and had some wisdom (actually, lots of wisdom!) to share.  Kendra ended up with 8 kids, just like me!  Her oldest 2 are now high school graduates and the youngest is 5.  My oldest is 13 and youngest is 2, so, I’m still looking her for wisdom!  And I have to tell you one more thing before I review the book.  I got to meet Kendra in person this year at the 2:1 Conference (a blogging conference for homeschooling moms).  She came all the way from California to Chicago.  It was a blessing to finally meet her and to hear her speak.  :)   And, she’s just as wonderful in person as online!

Here are the chapters that you will find included:

What a Homeschooling Mom Needs

Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot

Planning Around Preschoolers

How Do I Keep Them Busy?

What Does a 2-Year-Old’s Day Look Like?

How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?

How Not to Just Kill Time Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In

Preschool Boys

When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers

Preschool Chores

Planning for Preschool

When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)

Meal Planning 101

What you’ll find in the Preschoolers and Peace book is some practical advice and heartfelt encouragement.  I loved reading about her struggles and how she had to change things along the way.  One of the best chapters was about different activities to do with (or give to) toddlers to keep them occupied when you need to concentrate your teaching on the older kids.  I’ve used a lot of those ideas, but she listed some I had never thought of!  I also loved how there are so many links to online articles to give additional information to the topic being discussed.  The e-book is short, but it would be way longer if she included all the linked-to articles in it!

In one chapter Kendra references Circle Time.  I learned about this years ago from Preschoolers and Peace and have done it in various ways ever since.  Basically, it’s simply getting all your kids together to teach them something as a group.  This year we do it as soon as I get my 2-year-old down for a nap.  It includes my 5 middle kids and we do memorization, Bible reading and study, science and history reading, and literature read-alouds.

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the book.  It’s short and full of great information about homeschooling multiple ages from someone who knows what she’s talking about.  It’s well worth the money!

Preschoolers and Peace Review
Be sure to connect Preschoolers and Peace on Social Media!

You Tube:

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Review of The Berenstain Bears “God Shows the Way”

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 008


Are you looking for a great book for your early readers?  I’m happy to review The Berenstain Bears God Shows the Way.  It’s actually 3 books in 1!  And it’s hardcover, so it will last a lot longer.  :)

The first book is called Faith Gets Us Through.  I love how each story has a Bible verse related to it.  This book has Psalm 23:4.

In the story Papa Bear takes the cubs into a cave to earn their merit badge.  They encounter a few fun and scary things while in there, but they had faith in God and He helped them get out safely!

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 011

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 014

The second book is called Do Not Fear, God is Near, with the verse Psalm 34:4.  In this story Sister Bear has lots of things she is afraid of, especially her shadow!  Brother Bear is unkind and teases her, but his parents don’t allow it and encourage him to be kind.  Finally, Papa finds an ingenious way to help Sister not be afraid of her shadow anymore!


Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 012

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 009

The third story is called Piggy Bank Blessings and uses the verse Proverbs 13:11.  Mama teaches the cubs that they need to be careful how they spend their money and that they should save it for something special.  At the end she is afraid they have blown it on something useless, but she is pleasantly surprised when she finds out what they did spend it on!


Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 010


Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 013


(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)




Review of “The Alabaster Jar” by Anna Alden-Tirrill



Today’s review is the 5th book in the Annie’s Adventures Series called The Alabaster Jar: The Miracle of Love by Anna Alden-Tirrill.  It was my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite book of the series!

Annie, who is a 13-year-old Christian homeschooled girl is now living in Australia with her parents.  We see her do a few things in Sydney, but soon the focus of the story is on Europe and Israel.  She sure is a world traveler!

Annie receives a package from a lady who was a character in the fourth book, The Promise Box.  In it is an ossuary with several items inside that were believed to have belonged to Mary Magdalene.  We learn about Mary and about the special items in the box.  Everything is checked out and is believed to be genuine.  We then follow Annie on an adventure with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, running from the bad guys who want to steal the priceless relics. There is danger and excitement, with a little history, geography, and science thrown in.

The story was fun to read.  There were a few moments where the action got bogged down by too much narration.  But overall, the book flowed and was an easy read.

I think most teen and pre-teen girls will really enjoy reading this story.  By the way, you don’t have to have read the other books to follow this one.  Everything relevant is explained again.


Read my reviews of the other Annie books: My Paris ConnectionMy Timeless Locket,  My Riviera Connection, and The Promise Box.

Check out Annie’s Adventure’s website to order the books.

Or here:

(Disclosure:  I received complimentary copies of the Annie’s Adventures series in order to write these honest reviews. This post contains affiliate links.)




Review/ Giveaway “Share A Blessing” book of postcards and stickers


My daughters didn’t come out of their room for an hour after I gave them this book yesterday!  It’s called Share A Blessing and is a book that contains 24 postcards and over 1000 sweet and fun stickers that girls can use to write encouraging notes to their friends and family!  In this increasingly digital age, it’s still so fun to receive real mail in your mailbox.  That’s why this book is called Share A Blessing.  Girls are learning how to share blessings with others, and we pray it brightens someone’s day when they receive them!

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 001  Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 003

Share A Blessing is best for girls ages 6-11.

The postcards include uplifting Christian messages and notes.

Sticker book 017

Sticker book 018

Sticker book 016

Here are a few pictures of the book.  See the cute elastic enclosure?

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 002

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 004

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 007

Sticker Book Berenstain Bears 005

My youngest daughter preferred putting all the stickers she was given on her shirt. :)

Enter on the Rafflecopter below in order to win a copy!  The winner will be chosen on Saturday August 16 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.  U.S. only, ages 18+ only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in order to write this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review “The Pioneer Adventure” and Sale on “The Pilgrim Adventure”

Just in time for back-to-school,  The Pioneer Adventure by Susan Kilbride is now available.  This is the fifth book in the Our America. . . series.  I have also reviewed The Pilgrim Adventure, The King Phillip’s War Adventure, The Salem Adventure, and The Revolutionary War Adventure.
The twins Finn and Ginny are still trying to find their parents who are lost back in time.  Each time they go back, they enter a different period of history and experience it first-hand while always keeping an eye out for their parents.  This time they land back in a wagon train that is heading to west on the Oregon Trail.  They find out that it’s not all fun and games traveling with wagon train.
Susan Kilbride, the author, pored through many journals of first-hand accounts of traveling west on the Oregon Trail.  She chose several exciting, true events which have been incorporated into this story.
The twins experience a cholera epidemic, Indian attacks, floods while trying to cross rivers, dangers traveling through the steep mountain trails, having to take their wagon apart to go down river a while and then put it back together, oxen dying, and Finn even gets amnesia when he falls off his horse.  A couple of the stories are truly amazing, such as one where people hear a mysterious voice calling out a message which ends up saving many peoples’ lives.
There is also a surprise at the end.  If you’ve read the other books, you’ll definitely want to read this one as well to find out what it is!
I have said numerous times that reading books like this is the best way to study history.  It really brings you into the time period.  This book is perfect for older elementary or middle school kids to read to themselves, or for Mom to read aloud to all.  It’s 114 pages long and includes a drawing and a map.
Susan has also provided a free pdf of activities to do along with reading the book!  There are recipes for beef jerky and apple fruit leather (and more), and directions for making a daisy chain, a Thaumatrope, a silhouette, and a yarn doll.  Have fun studying the Oregon Trail this year!
The Kindle version of The Pilgrim Adventure will be on sale for $2.99 on August 4, 5, & 6. 
Susan Kilbride’s other books:
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Pioneer Adventure in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review “Body & Soul” by Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton, world-champion surfer, has written a new book that I love!  Today I share a review of Body & Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Life (co-written with Dustin Dillberg.)

You may remember Bethany as the 13-year-old young lady whose arm was taken by a tiger shark off the coast of Hawaii where she lived.  She had been surfing all her life, and even after losing her arm, couldn’t wait to get back in the water.  She wrote an autobiography called Soul Surfer (which I also enjoyed reading) that was turned into the movie Soul Surfer. Through the years Bethany has learned techniques for exercising and eating well to keep her body in top-notch condition for surfing competitions.  Bethany recently married and is a believer in Jesus.  I found this book to be a wonderful opportunity to share a role model with my daughters.

Body & Soul is written specifically for teen and tween girls.  It is a 155-page paperback book that is beautifully graphically designed.  I just love looking through the book!  The photographs of food and exercises, the fonts and graphics–it’s all gorgeous!  But the content is even greater.

Here is the list of the chapters (with explanations and highlights):

1. In Total Confidence:  This first chapter presents the challenge.  Do you really want to get healthy?  Lots of encouragement from Bethany and from Scripture (verses are sprinkled throughout the book).

2. Your Body is a Gift:  You’ll learn how God made your body for a purpose and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.  We are made in His image.

3. Have an Amazing Outlook: Change your mindset in order to make healthy changes.  No using the word “can’t.”  Set goals.

4. Get Your Eat On:  Understanding about how food affects our bodies.  Learning about protein and carbs, whole foods, where to buy them, portion sizes, creating meal plans, what healthy snacks to take with you, how much water to drink (and how to spice it up), and recipes for green smoothies and sun tea.

5. Surfer Secrets For Your Best Bod:  First, Bethany shares about why posture is so important.  Then there are four workouts–with full instructions and pictures.

6. Tackle Your Challenges:  Q and A, like what other fitness options there are, identifying your fitness style, making eating healthy fun, and not getting burned out.

7. Go the Distance:  More encouragement to persevere.

8. Clean Green Recipes:  An awesome chapter with tons of recipes: breakfast (mango muffins, poached eggs with kale), juices/smoothies, lunch (chicken nori wrap, summer rolls), theme salads, dinner (macadamia nut crusted chicken, grilled veggie salad), side dishes (oven-roasted broccoli, guacamole), desserts and snacks (kale chips, banana “ice cream”).

9. Your Perfect Plan: Another favorite chapter of mine with the meal selections for every meal and every snack for a whole week!


One really fun thing about this book (that I know the teens will love) is that they can use the HarperCollins Unbound app to scan throughout the book to get multimedia and interactive content on their device!  I especially liked seeing videos of a couple of exercises and Bethany and a friend making the recipe for a Green Smoothie.

Overall, I recommend Body & Soul for anyone who has a teen or tween girl they would like to inspire to get healthier.  It will also encourage them in their walk with God!

I review for BookLook Bloggers


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Body & Soul from BookLook Bloggers.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review- Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate

Flourish Book Review
I have another wonderful book to recommend today called Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational MinistriesWhen I was reading it, people kept asking if I was reading it for a review. I said I was, but that I would have read it regardless.  Flourish is now a staple homeschool book on my shelf.  I will refer back to it often and encourage all my homeschooling friends to read it.  It’s that good!

Mary Jo Tate suddenly found herself single, with four boys to raise.  She had already been homeschooling and didn’t want to stop in order to get a job to support her family. Flourish is where she shares what she has done all these years to make it work!  I really learned a lot and have already put some of her suggestions into practice.

If you look at the Flourish website, you’ll find a sample chapter and the table of contents.  But let me share what you’ll find in each chapter here:

Her story, “Life Management”–not time management, FREEDOM (where each letter gives you something for your “toolbox”), how to schedule your time (using a time log), setting goals, planning tools (goals, plans, to-do lists), being OK with interruptions, adjusting your attitude, how to take care of your health, training your children, making family memories, home management, homeschooling, how to flourish if you’re a single mom, running a home business effectively, and how to figure out what to do if it’s not working.

There are 2 appendices in the back of the book: Recommended Resources (wonderful books about life management, family life, homemaking, home education, reading, single parents, and home business) and Planning Forms (Pre-Book Self-Evaluation, Time Log, Big Dream, Yearly Review, Yearly Goals, Monthly Calendar, Weekly Plan, and Post-Book Progress Check).

I really found the Planning Forms to very helpful.  I filled out the evaluations, answered the questions about my dreams, and filled out goals and plans!  Somehow this was different from how I had done similar exercises before.  Mary Jo teaches in a way that really related to me.  She understands how hard it is, but she knows using these tools can make life work better.

These are some of the things she shared that made the most impact on me: People ask her “How do you do it all?”  She says she doesn’t.  And she redefines “it all.”  “True balance doesn’t mean spending an equal amount of time and attention on each area of your life.  It means spending an appropriate amount of time and attention on each area.”  She doesn’t allow whining–not from her kids and not from herself!   If don’t have time for something, ask yourself, “How can I make time for it?”  Make a list of 5-minute jobs that you can quickly do if you have a few minutes.  (I did this one this week and cleaned out part of my car.)  The goal-setting was fun.  For my Big Dream list, I said that I’d like to plan for my husband and me to go to Israel for our 20th Anniversary!  And the most important thing I learned was to make a “Stop-Doing” list.  I already have several things on it that I will stop doing when we start back up to school next month.

Here is a final quote I’ll leave you with.  You’ll just have to pick up the book to see how it’s done!

“Just half an hour of weekly planning will multiply your productivity and relieve stress and frustration.”

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is a paperback book, 288 pages and is intended for homeschool moms. It’s only $15!

Flourish Book Review

Be sure to follow Mary Jo Tate on Facebook and Twitter.



Flourish Book Review

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Review of “The Promise Box: The Miracle of Commitment” by Anna Alden-Tirrill



Today I have a review of the book The Promise Box: The Miracle of Commitment by Anna Alden-Tirrill.  It’s the 4th book in the series Annie’s Adventures.

Once again, I have learned some very interesting things that I have never heard of before!  We follow 13-year-old Annie to Germany.  She is homeschooled and an only child, so Annie and her parents have been traveling around Europe living in different cities while her father works for the universities in different cities.  In The Promise Box we not only experience the adventures Annie goes on, but we learn about German food, culture, and a lot of history!

While out shopping in an antique store one day, Annie and her mom find a pretty box.  They are able to open it and discover some wonderful secrets that have been buried since World War II.

They are living in a small town called Oberammergau which has a long history dating back to the bubonic plague in 1632.  The town has been performing a Passion Play since 1634 as a thank you to God for sparing their lives from the dreadful plague.  Then, many years later residents from the town decided to help rescue people from the German concentration camps during World War II.  You’ll follow the story as they read through an old diary and follow leads to uncover the whole mystery–including one about the Spear of Destiny (the sword which allegedly pierced Jesus on the cross and which Hitler was supposedly “using” to give him power.  As soon as the sword was confiscated by the Americans, Hitler killed himself.)

The story itself was really exciting.  But the writing gets a bit bogged down at times.  I would recommend it for ages 13 and up, although my 10-year-old daughter read it and then immediately started book 5! Girls would probably enjoy it more than boys, simply because it has Annie for the main character.  The book is also unabashedly Christian–which I love!  Scripture and prayer are woven through the story.

Read my reviews of My Paris Connection, My Timeless Locket, and My Riviera Connection. The next review will be book will be Annie’s Adventure #5 when she travels to Sydney, Australia!

Check out Annie’s Adventure’s website to order the books.

Or here:

(Disclosure:  I received complimentary copies of the Annie’s Adventures series in order to write these honest reviews. This post contains affiliate links.)




Review: Kinder Cottage “Peter Rabbit” Series books

Kinder Cottage Review
Kinder Cottage Publishing gave me the privilege to review 2 books:
How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea and
Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy


A little about the books:

These are part of a series of 10 books about Peter Rabbit which were published by the Henry Altemus Company from 1917-1922 and written by Duff Graham.  They have been reprinted (with some words updated) by Kinder Cottage.


Kinder Cottage Review
How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea
In How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea, Peter Rabbit is sent to Mr. McGregor’s garden to get some cabbages.  On the way home he sees and eats some green apples.  Unfortunately, they make him sick.  He forgets about the cabbages and when he gets home his mom gives him a spanking.  The next day Peter and his sisters go out to play, but Peter goes to the brook even though his mother told him not to. Peter builds himself a boat and goes out into the water.  Peter sees a whale, a shark, a crab, and a sword-fish. A gull lands on the boat, picks up Peter, and flies him to the shore.  When Peter finally gets back home he decides never to go out to be a pirate again!

Kinder Cottage Review

Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy

In Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy, Peter is out playing with his sisters when he gets rough and the little girl rabbits get hurt.  Peter is made to stay in to play for the rest of the day.  He asks forgiveness and promises not to be so rough again.  One day soon after Peter and the girls were out playing when Peter goes over the hill even though his mother told them not to.  First his kite gets stuck in a tree and then he finds his cousin Jack-the-Jumper.  They decide to go into the wood, even thought Peter’s mother had told them never to do so–naughty bunnies.  They meet a Scissors Man who told them he had used scissors on a little boy who wouldn’t obey his mother.  They got very scared and ran away as fast as they could.  Then a hawk almost catches them.  They go to Mr. McGregor’s garden and eat cabbages.  When they leave, Peter discovers his watch is gone.  He cries, and then a little boy comes up to them.  He had found the watch in the cabbage patch.  He takes them to his play tent, and they have lots of fun playing.  Then the boy gives them presents and invites them to get a ride home in his grandfather’s car.  The message is that many dangers won’t come to you if you obey your mother!

How we liked them:

The books are written in an old-fashioned style.  I’m sure you’ve read some of this style if you have read books to your kids that were written from about 1900-1950.  It’s not my favorite style of writing.  It’s pretty wordy and not very poetic.  The stories are a bit random–not much of a plot line to them.  These are the kind of books I have to be in the right mood to read.  My kids enjoyed hearing the stories, though.  And my five-year-old, especially, loved reading them to herself.  The illustrations are cute, but again they are old-fashioned.  So, if you like old-fashioned, you’ll love these!

The binding is very nice–hardback with nice thick pages.  Each of the books I reviewed was 64 pages long.

Age Range:
These are ideal for ages 3-9.
If you would like to see the other books in this series:
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit at the Farm
Peter Rabbit’s Christmas
How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea
Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting
Peter Rabbit’s Easter
Peter Rabbit’s Birthday
When Peter Rabbit Went to School
Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy
Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper
The backs of the book say $12.95, but Kinder Cottage Publishing sells them for $4.00 each!
Kinder Cottage Review
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer