Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Toaster: Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree App Review ~ TOS Crew

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
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Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewWell, they've gone and done it!! Star Toaster has created a super fun and interactive chapter book called, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree and it is a blast! This is the second product from Star Toaster that my daughter and I have had the privilege to review and they do not disappoint!! We were so pleased with the interactive book we were able to review last year, that we jumped at the chance to check this product out as well...
Imagine an interactive chapter book that doubles as a learning app that allows your child to play like it's a game, all the while they are learning things like reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, math, science...Well....imagine no more. Star Toaster has created a masterpiece in Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree, it is hard to put down!! From the time you begin reading, you will be drawn into the fun and exciting adventure awaiting you!
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewThis new book is available as an app for Apple iOS devices. I was so excited about this as we each have an iPad that we could download this app on. What you find upon downloading and "cracking open" this chapter book is 122 pages of sheer pleasure! Not only will your children read the book, but there are videos and activities galore! You will find Seventy-five lessons in all that challenge your child as they find themselves on a quest to provide for the little orphaned squirrels!
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewOrphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewOrphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree is a fantastic educational game. My daughter earned gold stars as she completed lessons and answered questions correctly. With those stars she was able to buy food, clothing, etc. for the orphans in the story. This was a true test of my daughter's reading comprehension skills...which is not always a "natural" skill for her. You may have a student that struggles with reading too...they would love this product. I believe you will see them wanting to read because of the amazing story line!

I think one thing that we found discouraging was the fact that if you didn't remember an answer to a question, you couldn't go back into the book or material and try to find it. I know that if my daughter was a little younger, that would have been very frustrating for her. may be wondering why I left that paragraph there and drew a line through it.....well, I knew that some of you may have already seen this review and I wanted you to see that I have some new information!!  That paragraph is incorrect. You are able to go back if you don't know the answer to a question. The key is to take your time if you are having problems with reading comprehension, or if you simply missed something. Just leave the answer blank and go back into the material to find the answer. In the menu there is a Table of Contents that will take you to any chapter that you've already read. In Stumptown, you can click on a lesson even if it's already been viewed. Jobs that are not finished will just remain undone in Stumptown until you return to complete them.

Overall, we loved our time taking care of Orphs and learning what we could through this interactive book. I am not looking forward to waiting for the next portion to come out. We were so drawn in by the sweet and fun nature of the story, that we wish there would have been more to this adventure. I understand they left the adventure open so they could add more to it later, but it was a sad moment to work hard to complete it and feel like we fell short!

With that being said....this is an adventure you don't want to miss. I love that I can count on more adventures to come and can't wait to see what is dreamed up next! You do not want to miss the opportunity to instill the love of learning into your kiddos with Star Toaster's Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree.....go to the App Store today!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
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Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Reading a Compass...

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Now I have had several opportunities to navigate myself with the use of a compass. Believe is not as easy as it looks! In fact it took me multiple attempts to get to the correct coordinates. I have seen a compass used efficiently by others, and I have to say it makes me feel a little jealous! :-)
The biggest problem I found was that it was extremely troubling to me that I had no clue whatsoever where the coordinates were taking me until I got there. I just felt that there should be more information included in my you know what I mean? Give me some landmarks that will help me see as I walk along that I am on the right path!  Just a few little clues for goodness sake!!
Sometimes I get that same feeling as I am trying to do my best to follow the will of God. I start desiring more information about my final destination. I get my eyes off the Lord and onto my surroundings and then I start to imagine where I should be instead of where I am....Can any of you relate to me with that one??
Matthew 14 shares a similar story about Peter. He saw Jesus walking on the water and says, "If it's really you Jesus, then ask me to come." Jesus in turn tells him to come. We know that he began to walk on the water and got his eyes off the Lord and the saw the storm around him. In that moment, he stopped moving forward. He began sinking instead. Then Jesus had to rescue him and take him back to the boat.
I don't want my journey stunted. I want to keep moving forward in faith. Pray this prayer with me. Pray that God will continue to fill you with faith for the journey ahead!
Lord, I praise you! You are a God that never fails me even when I fail you. I pray that you continue to grow my faith. Help me to keep my eyes firmly on you. Don't let my faith waiver. I know that you have great things in store for me and I don't want to miss it. Help me keep my eyes off my surroundings. Don't let the troubles I come up against seem larger than where you are taking me. Continue to make and mold me into who you want me to be. Help my life radiant your love as I walk out your plan and purpose! May everything I say and do impact your kingdom for eternity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Writing with Sharon Watson: The Power in Your Hands - Writing Nonfiction in High School Review

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My baby is now a high school student! Eeeek! I don't know about your other homeschool parents, but whenever one of my kiddos hits high school age I get a little nervous. I can feel time counting down, and I know that every class matters even more than before. So imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to review a curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson called, The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School 2nd Edition. 

What I received:

The student book - Let me just say that before breaking this book open, I had tried quite a few different curricula. Each one seemed to be missing bits and pieces that I felt was very important and even critical to the education quality that I wanted for my girls. 

Part One: Before You Write
In this section, your student will find out important things about how to "start" writing. Anyone that has written anything knows that the beginning can be the hardest part sometimes!! LOL! My daughter found the "Writing Self" test interesting and fun. Since she doesn't really enjoy writing, she found it encouraging for there to be questions like: __ I have trouble coming up with good ideas, or __ It's hard for me to know how to begin and end my essays or reports...but I think her favorite was...__ I would rather walk across a burning desert at high noon with buzzards cicrcling overhead while I drag a bone-dry water bottle than write anything whatsoever. LOL! I know that it seems strange that she should find these statements encouraging, but she said that it made her realize that she isn't alone. We found that from the start, she was able to relate to this teaching and that was her "buy in!"

Part Two: Persuasion
There are six chapters in this section. Sharon Watson goes in depth and walks your student through persuasive writing from beginning to end. 

Part Three: Proofreading
Proofreading is an important part of writing. Beginning with proofreading marks to punctuation mishaps, this section has got you covered. I tend to be slightly addicted to exclamation marks, so I have a lot to learn from this section! ha ha!

Part Four: Exposition
Your student will touch on writing good essays, plagiarism, writing for a newspaper, biographies and much more through this section. By the time you have reached this section, you have laid the ground work and have finally reached the meat of the matter. You will see the previous work done in this course start to pay off. 

Part Five: Description

Part Six: Narration

Part Seven: Reference

The Teacher's Guide - This course is designed to prepare high school students for college writing and the Teacher's Guide gives you as the homeschool parent the tool you need to direct your student successfully.

I am very excited that in this, the 2nd Edition, Sharon Watson added evaluation forms/rubrics for each essay assignment to help make the grading process easier. I love that! I always found grading essays to be the hardest part of high school literature, but not anymore! The Teacher's Guide gives you the tools for each and every lesson, and will help you and your student understand the expectations for each assignment!

My Bottom Line - 

My daughter loved this curriculum! I always love curriculum when my girls love it! That makes the hard work that we put into schooling our children at home completely worth it! My daughter has never really liked writing, so it was wonderful seeing her not only understand, but compose writings that were age appropriate! This was a for us!

Check out the Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School 2nd Edition for yourself right here! You will be glad you did!

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Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Just Keep Going......

I don't know about you, but I like to be comfortable. When I bought my new car last year I tested it out to see if the seats were nice and cushy. I want shoes that make my feet happy and everyone enjoys sitting on a couch that seems to snuggle up with you! Comfort has become a part of our life! You could even say that we as Americans tend to make it a top priority in our lives.

Our pastor began a sermon series this past Sunday highlighting ways that we as Christians have allowed that mentality to seep into our relationship with Him.

"People don't want to be challenged anymore let alone changed. People these days don't want to face the facts that they could be wrong. They don't want to be convicted...they want to be entertained."   - Pastor Bell

So because of this they have created their own version of God that exists only in their own mind. A God that is concerned with and understands our desire for comfort. This is a a false idol! That is what we create when we call our apathy comfort and then worship it!

I know....I words may sound offensive to you. You may be indifferent and think that you don't have an issue with this matter, but it swoops into our lives in shades of gray. I mean, it's alright to miss church for the next three weeks because you want to spend time on the lake in your new boat....God will understand....He wants you to have fun....right?! It's okay to sleep in on Sundays....God knows it's your only day to sleep in, right?! It's okay to skip your prayer time to just chill and watch TV or play video had a rough day...God understands that!
No, He doesn't!!! When you are in need of rests He tells us in His Word to come to Him! He promises us that He will give us rest....can Nintendo or XBox give you the same promise?! We all know the answer to that question!

Listen to what God's Word has to say...
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16.NIV

We are called to live holy lives as a light for those around us! Our goal is not comfort....our goal is holiness! Holiness isn't necessarily comfortable! It is dying to ourselves daily and disregarding the desires of our flesh as we pursue the desires of God in our life!

So when you get tired and think that you DESERVE a little bit of comfort in your life...just keep going. God will fill you with strength and peace as you pursue Him. He has a plan and purpose for you and He wants you to keep going!

Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ArtAchieve: Entire Level II Review ~ TOS Crew

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

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Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

As a homeschool parent I have found myself stressed at times over all kinds of things. I'm sure some of you can understand what I'm talking about. I have stressed over making sure I get just the right core curriculum that works for each of my girls. I have stressed over whether or not they are making friends. I have stressed over worksheets, attendance, gradebooks, co-ops, and probably anything else that you could think of.....including Art. I believe that art class is an important part of a child's education and something that should be included in their studies even through high school, the problem is this.....I am not ARTISTIC!! I am slightly crafty, but not artistic. If my children's creativity was dependent on my ability to draw a cat....they would be sunk! So imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to review ArtAchieve Entire Level II.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve ReviewWith ArtAchieve you can absolutely learn to draw the world! Art class in my house used to consist of a picture of a project and a list of directions. Sometimes we were successful, and sometimes.....well......not so much!! LOl!  ArtAchieve Level II is more than a list of projects with directions. What you find when you open up each lesson is a comprehensive art class complete with printables, a video, and a powerpoint. My girls and I absolutely loved it! You are able to work through the project at your own pace and the instructions whether via powerpoint, or video are easy to understand.

My oldest daughter loved using the powerpoint as the

instruction for the art class. She likes to do things step by step as she works her way through the process. She reads quickly and comprehends what she reads by thinking abstractly and didn't find the need to use the video. She tends to be much more artistic than myself. 
My youngest daughter loved using the video lesson. She doesn't think abstractly as much as her sister. She needs to see it and hear it at the same time. Then she is able to fully comprehend what is expected of her. So for me, this was AMAZING! It was the best of both worlds which was exactly what this homeschool needed!!

I found the versatility of ArtAchieve Level II to be fantastic! The lessons in Level II can be for anyone grades 1 through adult. So for homeschool families with children at different grade levels, you are able to use the same lesson for each child! That is a wonderful gift when it comes lesson plans! 

I found this product to be easy to use and fun for my girls. That isn't always easy when it comes to art. Not only was it something that we could all do together as a family.....but it was something that we could all DO! There wasn't anyone feeling left out or "thumbsie" like they weren't talented or crafty enough to complete the lessons. They also learned some history behind the project as well. ArtAchieve Entire Level II is a top-notch product that I would recommend to anyone in need of homeschool art curriculum.

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Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

Breakfast is Important

I have had a unique opportunity lately. One of my daughters needed to be dropped off this week at 7:30 am and I didn't have to be at work until 9:00 am, so I took the opportunity to have some quiet time.

I stopped at a little diner and ordered some coffee and spent time in prayer and in His Word. I am amazed at what a little change of scenery can do for your time with God. Here I am completely separated from any responsibility from home and can focus entirely on God and His Word!

I always knew that time in the morning with God was important, but I'm not entirely sure that I always made it a point to position myself to be fed by Him. I have been guilty of pulling up to the table and not eating what God had laid out in front of me. Think about it! I'm sure you have to. We get ready and prepared then......the phone rings, the dog needs to go out, the laundry needs switched... whatever it is that distracts you happens...Then we go through the day without filling ourselves from our Lord's table.

You wonder how a country that was built on Christian values can resemble what we see on the news these days? I feel it is because our churches are full of emaciated Christians who have deceived themselves into believing that everything is okay!

We need to wake ourselves and not only sit at our Lord's table, but allow Him to feed our souls. That is where change happens. That is when we begin to reaemble His character. That is how we are prepared for the call He has for our lives!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Life We Never Expected ~ A FlyBy Productions Book Review

By Andrew and Rachel Wilson, Foreword by Russell D. Moore
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I am so glad to have had the opportunity to review this book. I am not the parent of a child with special needs, but I really appreciated the perspective shift that I received. No matter what we face in our lives, we should always treasure and protect our "God Perspective."


Andrew and Rachel Wilson are the authors of The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs and have two children, Zeke and Anna. Andrew is the teaching pastor at King's Church London and a columnist for Christianity Today.


Sometimes life throws you a curveball.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson know what it means to live a life they never expected. As the parents of two children with special needs, their story mingles deep pain with deep joy in unexpected places. With raw honesty, they share about the challenges they face on a daily basis—all the while teaching what it means to weep, worship, wait, and hope in the Lord. Offering encouragement rooted in God's Word, this book will help you cling to Jesus and fight for joy when faced with a life you never expected.

They share a story at the beginning of the book about an orange. Imagine you are with a group of friends at a restaurant and you have enjoyed a decent meal and are getting ready to think about dessert. Just then one of your friends taps his glass with your fork, and the wait staff begins bringing out a dessert to everyone that was handpicked by your gracious friend. Each person at the table is given a beautifully wrapped orb with a bow on top, and you each anxiously begin unwrapping them to see what it is. You see that everyone around you has opened up their gift to find a chocolate orange. Twenty segments of rich, smooth, lightly flavored milk chocolate - a perfect way to end the meal. However, when you unwrap your beautiful little package, you find an actual orange. Eleven segments of juicy, messy and awkward to eat fruit...not chocolate at all. The worst part is  that the rest of the table hasn't even noticed because they are too busy enjoying their chocolate! "In fact, looking at the scenario from a number of perspectives - medical, dietary, environmental - you have actually been given a better dessert than everyone else. And you didn't have the right to be given anything anyway. But your heart sinks just the same. An orange was not what you expected...Discovering your kids have special needs is like that."

Andrew and Rachel share openly about their five strategies for processing the unexpected: weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathe. Sometimes we try to keep ourselves from experiencing any feelings, or we get stuck in the weeping stage. They share...."It's only when I find my place in the giant story that God is writing and come to terms with its twists and turns that I can lean back in the knowledge that it is my Father's job to redeem, or make right, all things - not only in our nuclear family but in every single thing that the curse of sin has touched or tarnished."


This book is good for just about anyone. Although they write from a place of sharing their story regarding life with special needs, their story goes beyond it. They share their story with sincere transparency and speak to the exhaustion and heartache that some of you are dealing with as you live life with special needs children. I found that this book also speaks to grief, disillusionment and sadness. As you read this book, you will find wisdom in the pages you knowing that they understand pain.The Wilson's find their peace and contentment in Christ and challenge us as readers to do the same.

The biggest take-away that I got from this book is to put my hope and trust in God through it all. We are to surrender everything to Christ and know that whatever place we find ourselves in, God is right there with us!

Purchase your copy today! Click here!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Laurelwood Books: Patriotic Penmanship High School Grades 9-12 Review ~ TOS Crew

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Although cursive has been almost entirely taken out of the Brick and Mortar education, I still believe that it is important for my girls to learn and use on a daily basis. That is why I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Patriotic Penmanship High School grades 9-12 by Laurelwood Books

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}Patriotic Penmanship is a series of consumable workbooks that is specifically designed to help your child develop their handwriting. I personally loved the fact that what my daughter was learning as she practiced her handwriting, was historical quotes. We reviewed the High School level of Patriotic Penmanship. This is one book in a series of books that start at the Kindergarten level and go all the way through High School. If you are interested in this product, but have children in a different grade, please check out some of the reviews of my fellow crew members who had the opportunity to review these other levels.

Mary Ellen Tedrow is the author, and operator of Laurelwood Books for the past 20+ years, and, most importantly, a homeschooling mother of seven! It became clear to me as we worked our way through this workbook that she has been around the block a few times. I found that this workbook flows nicely, and makes handwriting and penmanship interesting by having the students copy important historical quotes, etc.

Patriotic Penmanship High School Grades 9-12 has 82 pages and contains 30 lessons of penmanship practice. It begins with practice for each letter and then dives right into practice of things like: The Introduction of the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, Scripture References, poetry, well-known quotes, I Have a Dream Speech, and much, much more. The way that the lessons are laid out is to begin by tracing the entire selected portion. Then right below it, you can practice writing what you just traced. The "Full Quote" portion is my all time favorite part of the cursive lesson. This is where your child is given the first word of each phrase, and your child has to try to remember how to finish it, and write it down. This is a unique method of memory all while working on their handwriting.

We are officially in our "summer break," but that didn't stop us any. I had my ninth grader dig right in, and continue her penmanship practice. She tends to be a little bit of a history buff....maybe because her dad is a old war movie buff...but at any rate, she loved the fact that she was practicing on historical quotes and scriptures like Psalm 23. 

For the most part we absolutely loved this workbook, and wish that we would have found them earlier so we could have worked through the entire series. With that being said, I felt like it the lessons could have been a little longer, or possibly more of them. We loved it...and wished there was more of it! 

If you would like to find a Patriotic Penmanship that suits your homeschool needs, click here.

See more reviews! Click the picture below!
Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Unashamed: A FlyBy Book Review

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About the Book:

Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame offers hope to those struggling under the burden of shame. This book shines the life-giving gospel on the things that leave us feeling worthless and rejected, directing our attention to the God who promises to forgive and restore us - no matter what.

About the Author:

Heather Davis Nelson (MA, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a writer, counselor, and speaker. Heather writes regularly at and has been a featured writer at the Gospel Coalition, as well as a contributing author to the Journal of Biblical Counseling. 

This 192 page soft cover book is written about something we have all had to deal with. In fact I would say that everyone I have spoken to in my life has felt shame at one time or another. Some are even a slave to it. Sometimes we find that we carry shame from our childhood all the way through our adulthood...shame is show-stopper in our lives and a lot of times, we just feel that shame is "the cost of doing business."

No matter how we try to slice it, the fact is that shame is everywhere. When it isn't heaped on us by others, we heap it on ourselves. The affects of shame are many and varied and they are never good. When we begin to feel shame, we tend to isolate ourselves in the name of "self preservation" and we find ourselves alone and confused.

Heather Davis Nelson takes us into the Word of God and digs up the Truth about shame, revealing the redemptive power of God that is for all of us. She also does a great job of showing us how we are made for each other. We are to encourage one anther!! Each chapter has a section at the end for Reflection and Discussion. These discussion points help us to understand more completely the concepts that lays out in the chapters. "Through the gospel, we discover the only real and lasting antidote to shame: exchanging our shame for the righteousness of Christ alongside others in the same journey."

Although this book is not necessarily a book written for shear enjoyment, I am pretty sure you will enjoy the treasures of Truth that will be gleaned by reading it. This is definitely one that I will read several times while allowing God to speak to me through it.

Click here to purchase your copy today!

Would a Worm Go on a Walk? A FlyByBook Review

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There are a lot of kid's books on the market today, but nothing that compares to this book. Would a Worm Go on a Walk is such a sweet book. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to review this amazing book. From first glance at the cover, this humorous and creative picture book is fresh and energetic! I spent time reading this to a sweet "little" that I know and she absolutely loved it!! I think her favorite part about the book would be the silly questions the book asks about each animal, while discussing their unique and wonderful strengths! 

The author, Hannah C. Hall has also written best-selling children's books, including: God Bless You and Good Night and God Bless our Christmas, as well as an award-winning blog, When it comes to Worm on a Walk, I have to say that she absolutely outdone herself with this one. Not only is it sweet, but it rhymes which is always a favorite for me when picking a children's book. The illustrations by Bill Bolton are sweet, and perfectly fit the story!

Quote: "Would a rhino wear a raincoat if his sister said he should? Would he carry an umbrella if the forecast wasn't good? ...No! Rain doesn't bother him. Rhinos don't need rain gear. Their slickers are built in." 

This 32 page hardcover, jacketed book is adorable from start to finish. You will find yourself chuckling and smiling throughout the entire thing. What I found to be special about this well-written masterpiece is how Hannah C. Hall does a great job of helping children see how they were created special and unique...with the closing line..."The animals were just a start. God's masterpiece is you!"

This would be a great addition to any home library and a wonderful gift idea for the "littles" in your life. Click here to purchase your own copy.

My bottom line...I have read a lot of children's books in my day. Some of them you hope against hope that your kids don't want to hear again...or you skip pages. Come know what I'm talking about!! This book is one that you will enjoying reading to your children or grandchildren! I have no doubt about that!!

Is God Enough for You?

Is God enough for you? If you are like me you very quickly answered yes! "Yes!!! God is enough for me. Of course He is! Why, would you even feel you need to ask that question!"

But, instead of rapidly firing back an answer...take a little time. Ponder your interactions with Him. Just like the old saying that says, "actions speak louder than words," our life will show us if God truly is enough for us.

A true relationship with God is important. You cannot find satisfaction or fulfillment for your soul if you are caught up in religion. Set aside your selfish desires for more of _____________ (you fill in the blank) and get to know the God of the universe. He longs to have a relationship with you.

Take some time to meditate on His Word. You will find that He is a good father that longs to take care of us and supply all our needs.