Thursday, August 28, 2014

Holy Ghost DVD {a FlyBy Review} PLUS Giveaway


Wanderlust Productions presents Holy Ghost
My thoughts:
When I was first given the opportunity to review this film, I was a little apprehensive. With a cast that includes Lenny Kravitz and members from the heavy metal band Korn... well, I wasn't exactly sure this was something I would want to watch, let alone enjoy. To be honest, I waited until the last possible moment to view the film (foolish, foolish me). Now, having watched it.. oh. my. goodness. It is one of the most moving films I've seen in a long time. Being a Christian documentary that is entirely directed and lead by the Holy Spirit's guidance, the film is nothing short of amazing.

I am so thankful that I belong to an Assemblies of God church that believes in and teaches the ENTIRE Bible. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in the Mighty Power of the Holy Spirit to move and direct us. We believe in healings and the gift of speaking in tongues. We don't put God in a box with the limitations of our own minds and what we think is possible or He is capable of (though sometimes the flesh tries to!).

What you may believe is challenged almost from the very beginning when the crew of this film start asking the Holy Spirit to heal people on the streets in Jesus' name. The miracles are nonstop in this encouraging and surprising film. The crew travel all over the world doing the miraculous and witnessing the Holy Spirit work as God moves. It is simply incredible.

I am so glad I am able to do a giveaway so I can share this must-see film with one of you out there but truth be told... I wish I could give a copy to every person I know. I have never seen the power of God and faith in Him so plainly, so blindly put out there. The cast of this film truly allowed God and Holy Spirit to work through them. I love how they explain where each of them came from and how they got to the place they are now. Like I said... nothing short of amazing. I intend to share this film with as many people as I can.

Check out the Trailer:


About the film:
Can the Holy Spirit Direct a Movie?
 
In this fast-paced documentary from the director of the popular films Finger of GodFurious Love, and Father of Lights, Darren Wilson sets out to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. No plan, no script, no safety net — just go wherever he feels the Spirit leading him to try and discover the adventure God has for him. Whether it’s the riches of Monte Carlo, a heavy metal concert, or the oldest city in world, the result is a film that not only challenges and excites, but also reveals a God who is far more alive and active than you ever imagined.
 
The movie features big names such as Lenny Kravitz, Brain “Head” Welch, Bill Johnson, Michael W. Smith, Todd White, Meredith Andrews, DeVon Franklin, William P. Young, Phil Vischer, and many more!
 
Check out the official website and find them on Facebook.
 
Don't miss this!!!
On September 6th, Wanderlust Productions will host the FREE worldwide premiere of the film at this site —> HolyGhostMovie.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Super Quick Fruit Salsa

 

Being pregnant, I crave cold things. Ice, popsicles, frozen yogurt.. anything cold is on the top of my crave list right now. I attended a Mom's meeting for our homeschool coop a couple nights ago and one of the lovely ladies brought in something that looked like a fruit salsa. I don't know why I never thought to make this before. Since my Ninja broke (sniff, sniff) about a week ago, I've had to adapt my many Ninja recipes to food processor recipes. This one came out great!! It's super easy, super yummy and very good for you! Did I mention the kids love it? The littles ate theirs scooped on graham crackers while Oscar opted to just eat it with a spoon.

What you'll need:

You could use any fruit you want really (I'd avoid bananas though) but here's what I used..
  • 3 apples
  • a couple handfulls of frozen fruit (this time it was a strawberry, mango, papaya, pineapple mix)
  •  handful of grapes
  • 2 teaspoons blueberry preserves (again, any flavor you'd like will work)
  • graham crackers for dipping
How to:

1. slice your apples

2. chop them up

3.  grab your grapes, rinse and chop them up
 
 
4. toss in your frozen fruit and chop
 
 
5. add your preserves or jelly or jam and mix it up!
 
6. dig in!
 
 
I put each fruit in the food processor individually and then dumped it into a large glass measuring bowl to mix together at the end and measure how much these particular ingredients would make. All together this batch made just over 4 cups. It went quick. Next time I'll definitely double it.
 
There you have it! Quick. Simple. Yummy and best of all.. Healthy!! Enjoy!

Essential Skills Advantage {a Crew Review}


Essential Skills Advantage is an online learning tool for kids grades K-6. They offer a wide variety of teaching tools such as spelling rules, writing activities, reading comprehension, word pronunciation, sight word activities, phonics programs and reading skills. We were given a full year subscription to all levels of the website to review with our family. The Premium Program we reviewed is $9.99/month. I used the program primarily with Max, my 3 year old with whom I am doing preschool this year. My 6th grader, Julia, did some of the spelling work available. She is an advanced 6th who does mostly 7th and 8th grade work but spelling is something she could use help with.

When I first took a look at the program to see if it was something that would fit our family, I was surprised to see that what they are calling kindergarten readiness work falls in line with what we either have already done or will be doing with preschool this year. (Because Max is 3, we will be doing two years of preschool… this year is more like tot school.)

The Complete Reading Grade K program is broken down into four groups (we only worked with the first group, the others are too advanced for him): Readiness Skills, Phonics, Sight Words and Stories.

The Kindergarten Reading Readiness tools fall into four groups and are broken down from there:

Picture Vocabulary
Within this part are several smaller games that ask the student to identify a spoken word, such as an animal, form of transportation, clothing, action words and body parts. There are 18 games total in the Picture Vocabulary section. Max was able to complete 11 of them without much assistance from me. There were some, like word searches and memory games that are just too advanced for him right now but would work just fine for an older 4 or 5 year old.

 


 Visual Skills
There are 32 games in the Visual Skills section. There is a wide variety of games in this section, like identifying items of the same color, which one is not like the others, which letters are the same (for upper and lower case) and much, much more. Max finished 6 of the games, mostly pertaining to the alphabet and colors. There are more he could do but the attention span of a 3 year old is, well, lacking.

Auditory Skills
15 games make up the Auditory Skills section. These all had a lot to do with rhyming and sequencing, both of which are above his head right now.

Basic Concepts
The 13 games in Basic Concepts are all about big and small, tall and short and other opposites. There are 2 or 3 games here I know he is capable of but we didn’t make it that far.

Overall, Max really liked being able to play on Mommy’s computer (which normally I don’t allow). I introduced him to the mouse (he loves the scrolling wheel) and after a few attempts with moms help, he picked up how to use it and did fine on his own. He had a lot of fun with the different kinds of games- the dancing dog at the end of some of the games was probably his favorite part. This is something we will come back to again and again because not only is it fun for him but it’s educational!!

Spell Master 6 is the program tool Julia worked with, specifically the Spelling Rules section. She completed 23 of the 24 games. She enjoyed the program but was a bit reluctant about doing it at first. Being a Charlotte Mason-esque type homeschool, we don’t do a lot of spelling work. Her spelling gets worked on when she gives written narrations, writes stories, does copywork and of course through reading so much.
 
A special offer from Essential Skills Advantage!
Essential Skills Advantage has started offering a sponsored version of the program that is completely FREE. You can sign up for that at the ESA Learning website. Through the FREE version, you can enjoy all the programs ESA has to offer but there will be some sponsored advertising and some of the available features will be missing.
The Premium Plan we reviewed is $9.99/month and has all the available features. HOWEVER! From now until October 1st, ESA is offering a 50% discount on the monthly fee!! Use code TOS50 and the monthly fee will drop to $4.99/month per student for the life of your membership! How awesome is that?
 
My bottom line
Essential Skills Advantage is a fun program for reinforcing basic language arts skills for older kids and teaching school readiness for little ones. This would make a great summer program to keep the kids up on their skills and not allow the brain drain of summer to take full effect. Remedial work for struggling students could be another good fit. I look forward to continuing through the program with Max and seeing how he learns from it. I just love those "aha!" moments. :) Thank you Essential Skills Advantage for this opportunity!
 
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UberSmart Math Facts {a Crew Review}


There aren’t too many children out there who claim math to be their favorite subject. In general, it isn’t because they have an innate hatred for the subject of arithmetic but because they have a hard time memorizing the basic foundational blocks of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Enter UberSmart Software and their product UberSmart Math Facts. We were given the opportunity to review the downloadable math fact memorization tool in our homeschool.
Because it is a downloadable software, once you purchase the program for $24.95, it is yours to keep forever, with free upgrades whenever available. It is only compatible with Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista for the time being. (Sorry Mac users!) In a home setting, you can put the software on any number of computers as long as they are for your personal use at home. The only drawback is that the different computers won’t be synced so the info and scores retained on each of the computers will be different. It can be used with 8 or more different student accounts, which could totally include you Mom and Dad!

Since the program covers the wide range of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division it is recommended for grades K-6 but realistically, who couldn’t use a little brush up on their math facts memorization? I know I could! Both my 6th grader and sophomore used the program a few times a week and it was a great refresher for each of them.

Created by computer programmer and homeschool dad, David Kocur, the program teaches the old fashioned way (the way I learned in school!) with a flashcard and test approach.

It takes three different approaches in teaching the math facts:
Dot Cards (like counting the faces of dominoes)
 
Keyboard Entry
 
Flashcards (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
 
How does the testing work?
There is no set time or place to test. As the parent (or for the older student) you decide when to take the tests. The scores are recorded and progress can be seen. The tests are timed but you can adjust the timing allowed for each student. Not only are scores kept but the students’ response time is also kept. The students are given the choice to skip problems during the tests and those problems go to the “end of the deck”. My kids quickly found out that even if they skip a problem or two, the test will not be considered complet until all the problems have been answered (wrong or right). I found it neat that at the end of each test, the program literally applauds the student, encourages and then instructs the kids on how to proceed. Did I mention the fun certificates of completion you can print off? I'm all about visuals to show accomplishment!
 
For added practice, UberSmart offers FREE worksheets for each of the four areas: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The worksheets are handy for any "carschool" that may happen during the week. I know there are some days it seems we spend the entire day in the van, so having something we can slap on a clip board and take with us is always a plus.
If you are a try-before-you-buy kind of person, UberSmart offers a free 30-day trial.
My bottom line
For the price, capability for multiple student use and lifetime usage I'd say UberSmart is a good asset to any homeschool. It's nice to have a simple program to help identify any small gaps in the basic memorization of math fact. This is a program we will come back to again and again to keep their (and my own) mental math up to par! Thank you UberSmart for this opportunity!
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up ~ 8-22-14

In general, I have two favorite days of the week, Monday and Saturday. Both days we take easy and tend to spend the entire day in our pajamas. We don't do much on the weekends. Actually, I try not to leave the house on the weekends, other than church on Sunday of course. Maybe I'm crazy but I think there's just too much traffic, too much hustle and bustle, too much.. I don't know... maybe I'm getting old. Does that sound old?

Anyway, this is supposed to be a wrap up post and thus far I've done nothing but share my fear of leaving my home on Saturdays. So, lets see.. what have we done this week??

Well, we finished our 4th week of the school year. We've been at this homeschooling thing for four years now and I've pretty much accepted that not everything will get done every week. We are in a perpetual state of "behind" but I've decided that as long as we aren't more than a few days behind in something, then well, we really are on schedule! That makes perfect sense, right? It sure does in my head.

Oh! I completed my first sewing project and started my second! I made my own nursing cover with matching burp cloths and I just started the process of making some reusable nursing pads.




















They aren't perfect by any means but I'm still excited!!

I had a couple of awesome reviews this week. One for a super helpful Bible study tool for both kids and adults and another for some neat, uplifting kids songs.

I'm in my 35th week of my pregnancy! Which, for me means I should be holding a newborn within the next couple of weeks! My last two came at exactly 36 weeks, so I'm trying to get prepped and ready just incase this little lady follows suit.

That's about it in my little world. Thanks for reading and God bless!!

Happy Kids Songs {a Crew Review}


What goes in will come out. What we allow our children (and ourselves!) to watch, listen to and witness affect their thoughts, words and actions. As parents, we try to shelter our kids from the harsh music so ready to darken their minds and the provocative, worldly commercials on the TV. I’m so thankful for companies like Happy Kids Songs who develop songs just for kids that teach positive lessons with uplifting music. We were given three songs sets (15 songs total) to download and review: Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude and Manners & Character. We also received a physical copy of the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands on Activities to Build Character, Social and Emotional Skills.
The sets include the following songs:


1.       Sailing on the Seven Cs
2.       Everybody Wants to Find a Friend
3.       Sharing Friends
4.       Happy as Happy Can Be
5.       Together


1.       Shake it Out and Dance
2.       Who Knows What’s a Kudo?
3.       I Don’t Understand
4.       Be Good to Yourself
5.       Better Together


1.       H-o-n-e-s-t-y
2.       The Magic Word
3.       Quirks
4.       The Golden Rule
5.       Six Little Kids

There are samples of all the songs on the website.

Custom-tailored to kids 3-8 years old, the songs are adult quality but kid oriented. The variety of adult and child soloists, children’s chorus, and wide range of instruments and styles of music easily hold children’s attention. Our favorite is probably Be Good to Yourself from the Happiness & Attitude set; it has a wonderful African feel to it that the kids really like. They like to get out daddy’s bongos and play along.

Divided in two sections, The Happy Kids Songs Workbook is 125 pages long and jam packed with hands-on activities, lyrics, color pages and more! In the first half, each of the 40 songs available from Happy Kids has its own lyric page and a child’s activity page to reinforce a key concept. The second half is a collection of activities for parents and teachers to do together with their children. Since the workbook can be adapted for kids 3-8, some activities are geared toward younger kids while others are more for older ones. The activities include arts and crafts, movement, drama and games. Some of the activities require additional materials, most of which can be found around the house.
The children I intended to use these songs and workbook with are ages 2 and 3, so the majority of the activities in the workbook were simply over their heads. They did enjoy listening to and dancing along with the fun music and coloring the pages in the workbook. Because the songs come in a downloadable format, you can burn them to a cd and take them on the go! Listening to them in the van or while cleaning up the toy room were prime times for us to listen and enjoy the songs.

The copyright allows for reproduction of the workbook pages for use in family or school setting, so this would be great for coop use!! Character study is something most coops do at some point or another and this would be the perfect resource for that.

Prices
The Happy Kids Songs Workbook retails for $13.95.
Each of the albums are $4.95 to download all 5 songs, or you can download individual songs for $.99 each. As a bonus, when you purchase the albums, you get the lyric, coloring and activity pages for those songs to download for FREE!!

My bottom line
These songs are fun, educational and entertaining, with age appropriate words and themes. They are great for down times like clean up or travel (again, I used them with 2 and 3 year olds). They would be perfect for kids ages 4-8 and fantastic for a homeschool coop group. The prices are right for each of the products, making them affordable for most any homeschool family. We enjoyed listening to and using these character building resources. Thank you Happy Kids for the opportunity!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament {a Crew Review}



As a Christian parent, it is very important that I help my children gain Bible knowledge at every stage of life. Wizzy Gizmo offers great Christian resources that help us parents do just that. We received the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament for review. It’s recommended for all ages (2 and up) and retails for $14.99 on the Wizzy Gizmo website.
 
The 28 card pack includes 1 card for each book of the New Testament plus an overview card that lists all 27 books of the New Testament, along with the theme of each book, the book’s author, the dates it was written and the number of chapters within the book.
Each of the 5” x 8” New Testament cards breaks down the book in different ways.
The front of the card features:
  • A brief overview of the book
  • The number of chapters in the book
  • The author and a bit about him
  • The approximate date it was written
  • The theme

The back of the card features:
  • An outline of the chapters
  • Key chapters
  • Key passages
  • Key doctrines
  • Key people

As an example, here’s the Matthew card (a close up of these can be seen on the website)

 
and the back
 
 
Aren't they beautiful to look at? Having two visual learners, this type of appeal is very important when it comes to keeping the kids' attention.
 
On the website you’ll find helpful tips on how to use the cards with the following age groups: 2-5, 6-8, 9-11 and 12 & up.
 
In my mind, any product that can be used for such a vast age group has got to be a good one! I am all about keeping things simple and these Fast Track cards definitely fall in line with that.
 
This year in our homeschool we are studying the New Testament age for History. Specifically, my 6th grader is studying Matthew through Acts with Simply Charlotte Mason’s geography, history and Bible curriculum. These cards are the perfect supplement to her Bible lessons. We are slowly working our way through the Gospels. Right now we are concentrating on Mark. Each day of the week we focus on the card that corresponds to the book we are in, so right now… that would be Mark. We review (and I quiz) her on the author, dates written, ask her to recall what key people we have covered and review the other “keys” we’ve already covered. The further along we get in the book, the more I expect her to remember and narrate back to me. We also read the overview on the front of the card about every other day. She has greatly enjoyed working with these cards so far and I believe we will be using them for many years to come!

My bottom line
This is an excellent product at an excellent price. I highly recommend it for any family looking to further their Bible knowledge. Even as an adult, I didn't know the dates the different books of the New Testament were written. My favorite thing about this pack is probably the overview card. I love being able to look and see who wrote what and WHEN. Being able to see the chronological order of things at a glance is very helpful when trying to explain the order of things to the kids. The Fast Track Bible Pack is a great Bible study tool. I also like that they are the perfect size to fit in my purse so we can review while we are out and about.
 
Thank you Wizzy Gizmo for this opportunity!
 
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