Tag Archives: Review

Mystery of History

Mystery of History Review

If you’ve been following our adventures lately, you know that we have made the switch to unschool. So you’re probably wondering why an unschooler would be doing a review of a curriculum product.

Well, I will be honest with you – I was offered the opportunity to review Mystery of History before we made the switch, and we did start using it before then. I will also tell you that Mystery of History is the only curriculum that we are still using – even as unschoolers.

The great thing about the textbook is that you really can personalize it to fit your family and your goals.

Each week begins with a Pre-Test designed to give your kids confidence. My kids always enjoy seeing how much they already know. We just do this orally as a group.

What we especially LOVE: Easy one to two page summaries of a time period that usually focuses in on one person {three a week}. If this summary ignites an interest, then I find us a more in-depth biography, historical fiction, or other non-fiction resource. If not, then we appreciate the glimpse into another life, another culture and then move on.

After each summary, there are Exercises offered for further exploration – usually 3 to 4 options – that are divided into appropriate age range suggestions.

There is also a review activity for each week – and every other week, this review is a quiz that reviews ALL of the material from the beginning of the semester.

One of my favorite features of the program is the Memory Cards. Each child makes one card to represent each chapter that are then put into index card binders. In this way, you have a mobile time line that a quick flip through will remind you of the order of events. {And, if your family enjoys more time line work, there are suggestions each week for building onto a more elaborate time line).

I also really appreciate that there are only TWELVE dates that are recommended for memorization. I love that the author shares my belief that it is much more important to enjoy the flow of history rather than learn a lot of dates.

This book could easily be used on its own for a year or longer as your history resource.

If you combine it with Illuminations, you will have an amazing powerhouse that will cover your history, literature, and Bible readings seamlessly (pretty much everything except math). This could easily fit into any Classical, Charlotte Mason, or Unit Studies program.

When I first read the product description of Illuminations, I thought that it was only a schedule and book list. Boy was I wrong! Also included in this superb resource are the Study Guides to go along with all of the literature selections. Wow!

It also includes copywork, a spelling curriculum, AND more graphic organizers than you can imagine. (You will need to purchase other textbooks to be able to use the other parts of the program.) What’s great is that the graphic organizers are used for the literature assignments which makes a great jumping off point to learn how to use them effectively.

If your family is looking for a new history program (or one to get started), then I highly recommend Mystery of History. I am looking forward to enjoying their products for many years to come.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Mystery of History 1 from Bright Ideas Press to facilitate this review. All opinions are my honest and unbiased review. I also participated in a BETA test of Illuminations for which I did receive a gift for my feedback. The links within the post are affiliate links. If you purchase products through them, I will receive a small commission.

Debra Bell Planner

Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner Review

It’s almost September – are you feeling the pressure? You know, that little voice in your head that is asking, “How are we going to get it all done?” or reminding you that you haven’t even begun to start planning for next year.

Well, my friends, I have found a tool that has the potential to make this process a million times easier! Not only did it make planning this year easier for me, but I can already see some results in training my children how to schedule their own time!

Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner, combined with the Student and Teen Planner, has all the features you need to get ready for the year – complete with detailed guidance to help you through the process.

But first, I have a confession to make – it took me a few weeks to actually bring myself to write in these beautiful books. {They are all made with good quality paper and a plasticized cover that feels like it will last all year.}

Debra Bell Planner

I would look at them and read the information, but I couldn’t bring myself to write in them. And, once I worked up to it, I still had to write in pencil for several weeks so that I had the opportunity to erase if need be. Now, I am happy to report that I have broken through and realized that this is a tool like any other to help me – I can’t be held back by my own perfectionism. {Something that helped me was using a favorite pen.}

Full Year Scheduling

Probably one of my favorite things about this planner is that there are 12 month and 50 week schedule pages. {I know it’s not quite a complete year, but who really needs 52 weeks for school, right?} Not only that, but you also have an entire One Year Planning Grid to help you get an overall sense of your year and to help you visually see any long-term projects/events so that you don’t over-schedule.


Pre-Plan for Success

Once I did get started, I actually found it rather painless to step through Debra’s Yearly Retreat steps to decide on our Family Priorities as well as set some academic and character goals on the Student Goal Setter for both Monkey and Rex. The students are also asked to set goals in their personal planners. I prayed about it and talked to Monkey and Rex, as well as to Dad, before setting these goals.

As I compiled their Resource Lists, I was surprised at how setting our priorities and goals helped me focus on exactly where we should concentrate our studies. Priorities and goals made it so much easier to narrow down all of the options to what made sense for these kids. This year. Keeping the character and academic goals in mind, I was able to {with less stress} formulate a plan with their curriculum. For example, Monkey needs to work on her writing skills and fully developing her ideas so writing is being incorporated into all of her studies.


The cool thing about the resource lists is that I can see at a glance the books and other resources I plan on using for each of them. So, half way through the year, I can be reminded that I had a reading book I wanted to pull out, or we had intended on watching a certain video. This takes a lot of the stress away for me because this way I don’t have to plan out the entire year at one time. I can refer back to this list as we go along.

Planning to Get it All Done

At the beginning of the month, I work through the Monthly Planing Session while referring to our family priority list and blocking out time for our priorities as well as any commitments for the month.

At the beginning of each week, during the Weekly Planning Break, I have the opportunity  to focus on our successes {no matter how small} and God’s provisions while filling out the Memorable Moments/Achievements and Evidences of Grace. These pages help to keep me focused each week on why we homeschool and who is ultimately in control regardless of how much planning I do.

The Weekly Planner pages are set up with 6 columns and 6 rows to give you maximum flexibility on whether you want to go by subject or day or child,etc… {It should be noted that the Teen Planner only has room for 5 subjects.} For us, we decided to list the subjects at the top and put names down the side. Because we only have 2 children, we were able to also put some of those other spaces to use. This is also the time when I make all the copies that we need for the week. They each have a folder with all of the papers for the week.


Put it All in Motion

Each Sunday night, I meet with Monkey and Rex individually to go over their schedule for the next week for our Monday Morning Tutorial. {The actual recommendation is to do this part on Monday mornings, but we need to have our plan in place when we get up on Monday to keep us motivated.} And, this next part is why this planner is unique and different from anything I’ve ever seen out there. The kids write in their own planners to make their own plan. For Rex, I direct him as to what to put down for each day. Since handwriting is difficult for him, we use a lot of abbreviations.


But for Monkey, I tell her what she needs to complete for the week, and then she is responsible for breaking it down into daily plans. {I am still guiding her in this process.} Debra is very focused on helping the children work towards being independent learners, and I can see how these sessions will help them get there.


To wrap up the week, I meet with each of them for a Friday Review to go over their work and put the papers into their notebook. This only takes a short amount of time, but it gives them the feedback they need, and it makes sure that I am staying on top of their progress.

Record-keeping for Sanity

As if all that wasn’t awesome enough to help keep me on target, the back section of the book is for record keeping. I’ll probably only use the Grades portion for Monkey, and the only reason is because she is now in high school. {I’m not a big proponent of grades in homeschool.} But, I LOVE the Reading and Field Trips/Outside Activities Lists! These will help me remember all that we accomplished over the year. {Yes, I know the pages of weekly planners should do that as well, but nothing is quite so awesome as a list of all the books they read for the year or all the places that we went.}

Since we only have 2 children {the planner has enough spots to accommodate 6}, we are using 2 of the extra columns to record our read alouds as well as our audiobooks.


There is also a High School Planning Guide which I used to work out Monkey’s next four years. Can you believe that? I have actually not only planned a year out, I have planned out four years?!? Well, actually that’s not that surprising, but what is surprising is that it is all written down. Neatly. In a place that I will be able to find it again.


Both the Student Planner and the Teen Planner have multiple pages where they can record their favorite stuff. This way you have something for the scrapbook to represent this oh-so-brief year. {Yes, I know his is not filled out – he’s waiting on me to do his writing for him.}


This year, I was blessed to win 2 of these planners, so I started thinking about the cost and whether or not this was something we could continue with each year – having to buy 3 planners. And, ultimately, I decided YES! The cost is not much more than what I used to do, and the convenience {not to mention the guidance and expertise!} is well worth the little bit extra. I really can’t say enough good things about this system.

And, now, the good people at Apologia have given me the opportunity to bless one of my readers with TWO planners of your own. The winner will receive the Ultimate Homeschool Planner as well as either the Student or Teen Planner {winner’s choice}.

To Enter: Simply use the Rafflecopter below! Ends at midnight on Thursday, August 23rd ET. See Full Terms and Conditions in the widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Full Disclosure: I won two planners during twitter parties, and Apologia provided me with a complimentary copy of the Teen Planner in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. There was no other compensation.


iLiveMath Animals of Africa App Review

Since one of my son’s special interests is Animals, I jumped at the opportunity to review one of iHomeEducators Educational Apps: iLiveMath Animals of Africa. This is the first app they developed in a series that use animals as the base for word problems. {They also have math apps that focus on transportation, agriculture, insects, and the Winter Olympics.}

From their website:

iLiveMath Animals of Africa” brings math to life by describing a group of animals as a coalition of cheetahs, parade of elephants, or a dazzle of zebras. There are 26 animal types from Africa (additional updates will include more African animals and problems). The app automatically generates over one million possible combinations of questions.

Three levels of difficulty can be configured to help students from first through sixth grade as they move through different operations and challenge the student with equations from single digit to triple digits.

Rex has had an aversion to word problems in the past. It was as if he had a mental block that he just couldn’t move past. This app has changed that. For one thing, he loves that he is not only allowed, but encouraged, to play on Dad’s ipod. But, more than that, once he started seeing word problems with his much loved animals as the focus, it was as if something clicked for him.

If you have a child that has resisted word problems, then I highly recommend the iLiveMath series to make it more fun. {They also offer apps for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.}

And, here’s some fun – they have given me the opportunity to give away 9 codes so that you can have an opportunity to win your very own copy!

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me how you make math fun in your homeschool. One entry per person. Giveaway ends Thursday, August 9th at midnight ET.

Good luck!


Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of iLiveMath Animals of Africa for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Linking up with

Apologia Biology

Exploring Creation with Biology {Review}

Recently, I realized that our proposed science plans for this year simply were not working and we decided to put the book down and look for something new.

Luckily, right about that same time, I received the awesome opportunity to review one of the Apologia highschool science programs, and since we LOVED all of Jeannie Fulbright’s Elementary Science books, I jumped at the chance!

I talked to Monkey to see which program appealed to her the most, and she surprised me by choosing Exploring Creation with Biology. Since she is a recent teenager, I decided that for the first part of the program, I would work with her to make sure that she was understanding the material. Secretly (well, maybe not so secret), I’m excited that she chose Biology because it means that maybe we will make it to Exploring Creation with Marine Biology – another good reason to start the higher sciences early.

When I got the materials, I immediately read the student notes, and I was very pleased with how well the layout (or pedagogy as the book says – I learned something new right away!) of the book was described. I was confident that we could do this.

There are 16 modules which breaks down nicely into 2 weeks per module to complete in a standard 36 week year. Each module has been broken up by “On Your Own” questions that are designed to be answered as you read through the text (We use these natural breaks to determine our reading for each day) as well as experiments (2-3 in most modules).

There are three different types of experiments: microscope labs, dissection labs, and household labs. They stress that all 3 are not required if you don’t have the funds (or the desire), but they recommend that you at least do the household labs. We have a microscope, but it was cost prohibitive to purchase the slides, so we decided to get the companion multimedia CD – at $19, it was a much better option for us to be able to see some of the organisms. Although, I was thrilled that the second experiment taught us how to use our National Geographic microscope she received as a gift many years ago which came with NO directions (which we may be able to use for some of the experiments even without the slide set so might as well give it a try).

At the end of the book, there are fill-in-the blank summaries for each module that we are using as we go through each module in order to cement the information. Then, at the end of each module, there is a study guide that is an overview of the module and prepares them for the test – which is conveniently included in the Solutions and Test book that is included in the 2 book set.

The writing is clear and interesting even given the tough subject matter, and although challenging for Monkey, she is understanding the material. We are both enjoying the conversational style of the writing that is written directly to the student. There is also plenty of built-in review to check comprehension along the way. I’m so thankful that we received this opportunity to return to our original plans (at least for Science) because we have been really happy with Exploring Science with Biology – and, now for some exciting news!

I have the pleasure to be able to give away a copy of Exploring Biology with Creation 2 book Set to one of my readers. How cool is that?!? So here are the rules: You must 18 years or older, have a US mailing address (including APO), and use the Rafflecopter below. (Full details in the Terms & Conditions of the widget.)

Ends: midnight, Thursday, May 24th. Winner will be announced on Friday, May 25th.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of Exploring Creation with Biology from Apologia for my unbiased and honest review. All opinions here are mine as a result of using the books. Apologia will also be providing a copy for the winner.


Giveaway Day

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Educating the WholeHearted Child

I have been absolutely giddy with excitement looking forward to telling you about this amazing resource. The 3rd version of Educating the WholeHearted Child should be on every homeschooler’s bookshelf (or at their bedside where mine seems to reside).

Some time ago, I checked out the 2nd edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child from the library, and I have to admit that I was completely overwhelmed. Here was all this wonderful information – and I was at a loss as to how to implement any of it.

This new version supplies all the specifics I was looking for and more – I almost cried with relief as I read it the first time because this is the book that I have been searching for to help me put it all together.

Clay and Sally Clarkson approach homeschooling from the viewpoint that our primary job as Christian parents is to train our children’s hearts to love God so that they are willing and ready to accomplish the tasks that God has planned for them. If we train their hearts while they are young, then they are ready for God to use for the Kingdom.


From the Publisher:

God did not forget to include “school” in his biblical design for raising children:home education is a natural expression of all that God intended for parents and their children. Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child is about rediscovering God’s original design for the family. What you’ll find in this book is a homeschooling model that makes sense. It’s an approach that is based on sound biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction, and learning. Newly revised and significantly expanded, Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home, and the Clarksons’ uncomplicated, common-sense approach to life and learning will provide you with the tools you need to experience God’s abundant blessings for your family.

There are 18 chapters that are divided into four sections covering everything you need to know to train their hearts.

  • Section 1: Home – Why train their hearts
  • Section 2: Learning – How do they learn
  • Section 3: Methods – What to study (and how)
  • Section 4: Living – Putting it all together

And, if that wasn’t enough, there is also a HUGE resource section including:

  • Books for the WholeHearted Family (broken down into different genres)
  • Books for WholeHearted Learning (books on Christian family, parenting, and homeschooling)
  • Forms for WholeHearted Learning (18 forms to help you plot your course)

***italicized notes are my interpretation of the section

My Thoughts (including some comparisons to the 2nd Edition)

The first obvious difference is purely size. The new book is amazingly thick. Part of that can be attributed to the slightly larger type size (which made it so much easier to read), but also by the addition of a lot of new information and ideas. Whereas the 2nd edition had 9 chapters, this one has 18. I also find the new version to be much better organized with the information being grouped into sections that makes more sense for me.

There is an entire section on Understanding Your Child (Chapter Eight) that covers Personality and Living Styles and also includes a “Learning Style Indicator” to help you better understand how your child learns and where they are coming from.

What is their Learning Style? Do they rely on

  • Facts & Logic
  • Facts & Values
  • Insights & Values
  • Insights & Logic

What is their Personality Type? Are they a

  • Doer
  • Helper
  • Mover
  • Shaper

Is their Mental Focus ACTIVE or REFLECTIVE?

Is their Life Orientation towards TIME or EXPERIENCE?

And, after the Clarksons have helped you figure out these traits, they don’t just leave you there to figure it out for yourself. For each personality style, there is a two page spread that covers

  • Thinking Modes
  • A Description
  • Life Motto
  • Personal Encouragement
  • Personality Profile
  • Chart of Strengths and Weaknesses (SO helpful!)

They’ve also added a section on the WholeHearted Youth (beyond the child) that discusses planning for high school as well as covering the purpose of the high school years.

In Section 2, you will also find a one page synopsis of each of the Five Focused Study Areas that includes

  • The Focus
  • The Content
  • The Purpose
  • Specific Learning Objectives
  • Suggested Methods to accomplish those objectives
  • Suggested Materials to use

And, then, in Section 3, you’ll find an entire chapter devoted to the methods for each of the focused areas:

  • Discipleship Studies
  • Disciplined Studies
  • Discussion Studies
  • Discovery Studies
  • Discretionary Studies

I also really like the addition of a table of contents at the beginning of the Methods Section which makes it super easy to find the exact method you are looking for within a specific study.

All of the forms included at the back of the book are cleaner and more modern than in the 2nd edition. Some of the forms have changed, some have been added, and some have been removed. Also, some of the original forms are still there but may have a new name.

Removed Forms

  • My Homeschool Work for this Week (I thought this covered duplicate info anyway.)
  • My Assigned Reading List
  • “Fish and Bread” Character and Values Planner
  • Bible Study Notes: Book Study

Added (and changed) Forms

  • My “Get It Done” Project Planner
  • My “Read for My Life” Book Report
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Be” – Godly Character
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Go” – Biblical Values
  • Family Devotional ARTS Planner
  • Bible Reading Record
  • Family Chores Chart
  • My “Check it Out” Disciple Sheet: more focused for topical Bible study (replaces Bible Study Notes: Topical Study)
  • Devotional Journal: has only 3 on a page (instead of 6 in the prev edition) – much friendlier for a child with large penmanship

While I do wish that there was an index in the back of the book, the Table of Contents is nicely organized making it fairly easy to find exactly what I’m looking for.

Final Verdict

Educating the WholeHearted Child is my new go to resource. The amount of information they have packed into this book is nothing short of amazing. There are so many nuggets of pure gold that I imagine I will still be gleaning new information well into their college years – and maybe, dare I hope, with my homeschooled grandchildren?

This would absolutely be my gift of choice to any new homeschooling family. It almost makes me wish that I were back at the beginning again.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to get you all excited – how about the opportunity to win a copy for free?!? You know we love Apologia around here, and they have been so generous by not only providing a copy for me to read to write this review, but they are also offering one copy of the 3rd Edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child to one of my lucky readers!

Just follow the directions in the rafflecopter below to enter to win! There are lots of different ways to enter – with only one mandatory – click on the “Do It” button and answer the question in a comment. The deadline is midnight,Thursday, March 15th. Find out more about rafflecopter. (Fine Print: valid for US mailing addresses (including military) and you must be 18 yrs or older to win. Void where prohibited.)

And, if you can’t wait to see if you won, you can purchase a copy directly from Apologia for only $22. A real steal for all of the information included!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the rafflecopter widget in your reader or e-mail?

Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Apologia for my honest and unbiased review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own, and I was not compensated by Apologia for sharing them.

Giveaway Day

Rex jumping

Leaping for a Contest

Today, we’re Leaping for a Contest over at Apologia. And, for the record – taking a shot of a jump – in midair – is not an easy thing to do! Wow – I had no idea it would be so tough! With that in mind, I have to apologize for Rex looking like he is going to pass out any second – my camera did not want to cooperate and take photos in sports mode (like it is SUPPOSED to).

So, in case you can’t tell, Rex is holding Exploring Creation through Zoology: Land Animals of the Sixth Day – he is absolutely crazy about animals and regularly pulls this book as well as the Flying Animals and Swimming Animals just to read them. Our favorite project with this particular book was dissecting an owl pellet. I know, it sounds gross, right? Well, it was – but also pretty COOL to find the skeletons of what this particular owl had eaten…. so, we learned about owls AND the rodents it had eaten – double score!

The books are made with quality, glossy paper that rivals ANY coffee table book with beautiful hardbound covers.

We’ve also done Botany, Astronomy, and Anatomy, and we are eagerly waiting for Chemistry/Physics to be released. (Those are all from the Elementary side of the products, but I would dare say that even this mom finds them interesting, so they would be great reading books for any age even if the work is not high school level.)

Monkey has just moved into the world of the High School courses, and I can’t wait to tell you all about Exploring Creation through Biology. Stay tuned for that soon.

If you are in search of Science books, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Apologia – we’ve been using them since Monkey was in the 2nd grade and I’ve been looking forward to this time with the High School materials (Personally, I hope, hope, HOPE, she decides to do Marine Biology – how cool is that? Marine Biology in high school!)

We love Apologia for their other products too (more on those coming soon) but possibly MOST important, we LOVE apologia because they love the Lord and are such wonderful people to work with!

So after you finish laughing at the photo, definitely check them out, and be sure to tell them that Gidget sent you  :)


101 Bible Adventures

Have you ever thought about how many tales of adventure there are in the Bible? When I saw the book 101 Bible Adventures available on the Tyndale Blog Network, I immediately knew that I wanted a copy.

From the back of the book:

God’s people experienced lots of action and adventure throughout history. In this book you’ll find 101 of the most action-packed stories ever written. And yes – they’re all from the Bible!

I really like the layout of the book. Each adventure has a two page spread. You start out the story with a brief overview of the story – just a quick overview to give the kids an idea of what’s happening. Then, the story is told using actual Scripture (from the New Living Translation) albeit condensed. There is a key Scripture verse that sums up the main idea that could easily be used for memorization (NLT). And, then everything is wrapped up with a Now What? section that challenges the kids to apply the story to their own life.

The Good: I think that it’s great that the core of each story is told from Scripture (and this is actually the translation we normally use for reading), and then it’s followed up with commentary instead of the other way around (as found in so many devotionals – not just kids).

The Bad: The Now What? section’s language is very simple and stilted.  It lacks the rich language that I look for in our reading material. Also, I really don’t care for using the New Living Translation for memorization.

The Bottom Line: This can be a fun devotional for children, either as a family or on their own. We’re probably going to use it as a family devotional, but use the King James for our memorization. I think the real value in this book is two-fold – first, the type of stories collected together for maximum interest and secondly the Now What? section – assuming you can get past the overly simple language.


Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers through their Blog Network for my honest and unbiased review.

bonding over beauty

Bonding over Beauty

I know, I know – we always say that beauty isn’t important, right? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. And, yes that’s true – but, I also believe that it is natural for us to want to look our best. We want to put our best foot forward and make a good impression. And, I just don’t think that Bonding over Hygiene would go over as well, do you?

When I received the book Bonding over Beauty, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I guess I was thinking that it would be filled with sleepover type activities for mother and daughter to do together, and while there are some such activities, this book really is so much more.

There are chapters focusing on such areas as hair (both wanted and unwanted), skin care, nutrition and fitness, and yes – make-up. The information given can range from the basic (how to choose a hairbrush) to the more complex (how to color your hair at home) – including some – er, shall we say – sensitive subjects that need to be discussed. Each chapter closes with some bonding activities to do together. I will caution that this book is really designed to be read by Mom and then shared with the daughter – not as a book to just hand to her. (Not to mention, that way you can decide when each area is age appropriate for your princess…) :)

I actually was amazed at how much information there was that was news to me. And, what surprised me more? My Monkey, who is definitely NOT a girly girl, grabbed the book as soon as she saw it and I didn’t see it again for a few days. :) (So, yes we didn’t use it in the intended way either.) I’m looking forward to giving each other some face masks – and maybe even a mani/pedi or two…

Now, for the really fun part – I get to giveaway a copy of this unique book to one of my wonderful readers. Just follow the instructions below to enter the rafflecopter. There’s a daily entry available, so be sure to come back tomorrow.

Entries will close at midnight (ET) on Thursday, Feb 23rd and the winner will be announced as quickly as possible after that. (I can’t wait to find out the winner, either!)

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was given a copy of Bonding over Beauty for my honest and unbiased review. The publisher is also providing a copy for the giveaway. Also, some links within the post are affiliate links.

Giveaway Day

100 Day Prayer

100 Days of Prayer

Can you imagine what 100 days of prayer – the same prayer – looks like? I know that I couldn’t several months ago – before I received a copy of Your 100 Day Prayer from Booksneeze.

Right off the bat, Mr. Snyder dispels the notion that it is necessary to have hours long prayer sessions in order to be effective.

Your 100 Day Prayer

You’ll find the book is broken down into 4 broad topics and then further broken down into daily topics that reads almost like a devotional study with each day having a Scripture that is applicable to that day’s topic, some commentary, a guided prayer, and a space to journal your progress. One of my favorites is Day 20: Here for a Reason.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2

The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God

That’s the subtitle to this book, and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. Even though I haven’t finished all 100 days – and I’ve missed a lot in between days – I have been immensely blessed by praying a focused prayer for a long term. I’m not going to go into detail because I do think that each person’s experience will be different.

I think that you could do the same thing without the book and still be blessed, but the text definitely gave me some insight that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Even without a guide though, I encourage you – no, I challenge you – to pray a single focused prayer (for a need or want or anything really) and see how God blesses you.


Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of the book from BookSneeze for my fair and unbiased review. Some of the links within the post are affiliate links which means that should you purchase after clicking the link, I will make a small percentage – but, your price will remain the same.

Giveaway: Keeping His Way Pure

You know those books that you read and as you read them you just know that your life will never be the same? Well, that’s exactly how I felt as I turned the pages of Keeping His Way Pure.
Here’s the “official” description.
How does a young man keep his way pure?
Psalm 119:9

Keeping His Way Pure is an eBook that clearly outlines the Biblical guide to leading our children into purity according to Psalm 119:9 while providing the tools to help along the way.

This eBook unfolds a four step plan based on King David’s answer. It also offers encouragement to parents who are struggling to hold the heart of their child. 

More information (including an excerpt)

I must admit that this book was not exactly what I expected – thinking that there would be suggestions such as “Keep him away from girls at all times.”  Well, maybe not that strict – but, definitely in a legalistic tone.  But, instead I learned how to teach my son how to put on the Armor of God as well as how to protect him in other ways spiritually. Wow! How much more confident would I be that his heart would be kept pure knowing that he was outfitted with the armor than by my faithfulness at following a random list of rules.
I am also fairly confident that the plan would work for both boys and girls even though the book is written with our sons in mind.  I am so glad that the Lord moved Tammy to provide this information in such an easy to read format.  I love this book so much that I can’t wait to get it bound at Staples into a “real” book with a spiral binding ($5). There is also a section included with scripture for memorization broken down into 3 age groups – enough for 3 years at one a week – this alone would make this a great buy at $4.99!
I really enjoyed this book and wholeheartedly believe that If you have boys, you NEED this book! (and, truthfully, even if you have only girls, I encourage you to get it – much of the information is timeless regardless of gender.) I’m positive that it will touch your heart as it did mine and encourage growth in your own life as well as preparing your children for the onslaught of the world. Keeping His Way Pure is available in both pdf and kindle formats – as of noon today, Jan 30th.   
I am so excited to be able to give away a pdf copy to TWO of my readers. 
The rafflecopter will accept entries until Midnight on Friday, February 4th, so be sure to enter for your chance to win! Winner will be announced here on Saturday, Feb 5th, and will be contacted by e-mail. The winner will have 48hrs to respond or another winner will be chosen.
Truthfully, if I didn’t already have it, I wouldn’t be able to wait to get my  hands on this amazing resource – but, hey – you can still enter and gift it to someone if you win. :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of Keeping His Way Pure in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Giveaway Day

Get Back on Track: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

I was so excited to be offered the opportunity to review The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine, and I’m also thrilled to be able to offer a copy to one of my readers.

First a little back story, we discovered Dave Ramsey about 8 years ago (more or less), and we were inspired to work towards getting out of debt. We accomplished Baby Step 1 – put $1,000 into saving for an emergency fund.  And, although it was difficult to keep that $1,000 because Murphy kept popping his head up, we kept putting it back and working towards our goal. In about 2 years, we payed off $15,000 in debt. That was not a fun 2 years by any stretch of the imagination, but we pressed on in large part because we had a clear vision of the goal.

But, with that goal accomplished, we loosened our belts and breathed a sigh of relief. We could now go out to eat again and do other fun activities. But, we forgot to set a time limit for our relaxed view of money and never got started back in earnest to become financially free.

Enter The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

When I received my copy, the first thing that I noticed, at the top of the cover, was an endorsement by Dave Ramsey. Woohoo ~ that means that the principles are in line with what we’ve already learned.

The very first chapter deals with setting goals – which is exactly what I  needed – a shot in the arm to get us going again. Crystal leads you step by step on how to set your goals and then moves into a plan to accomplish them.

I love Crystal’s conversational tone – it’s like sitting by the fire, and sharing experiences over hot cocoa with a good friend.  She goes so much farther than just telling you where you are going, she also comes alongside you and walks you step by step to get there.

I heartily recommend that you accept the Cash Only Challenge.  As a family that has been using cash predominantly for many years, I will absolutely say that using cash makes a difference.  Even compared to using “cash” through your debit card – there is something psychological about actually seeing the money go away.  Each month that we forget this principle, we undoubtedly spend more than we should.

Only Fourteen Hours a day…

When you think budget, I’m sure that you only think of budgeting money – or at least I did. But, she also covers budgeting your time. The wake up call for me that I’ve been spending my time in the wrong places was when she pointed out that once you take out time for sleeping and budget in “margin time” for those unexpected things that always seem to come up – we only have 14 hours to work with each day – FOURTEEN hours!

Moneysavingmom.com describes itself as being there to help you live on less so that you can save more and give more. And, to show you that it’s not all talk and the heart that Crystal has for helping others – she personally is not making any money from the sales of the book. Not one cent – can you believe that? But, instead she is donating the proceeds of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget to  Compassion International.

Who is this book for? This book is perfect for anyone who is starting out on the journey to become debt free or for anyone who is new to budgeting and needs to know where to start. Anyone who is trying to get control of their finances will probably be inspired by Crystal’s advice.  While there are several things within the book that were new to me, I think that it is most beneficial for those fairly new to the journey.

Who this book may not be for? Anyone who is very experienced with budgeting and living within their means already may be better served by visiting her website directly. But, truthfully, if that describes you, then I’m not sure why you would be reading this review. :) That being said, I’ve been working on a budget for 8 years, and there were still several nuggets of information that would make this book a good buy even for me!  :) Not to mention, this will be my new Wedding Present of choice to new couples.

And, now for the special offer – Crystal has been generous enough to offer a free copy of the book to one of my lucky readers!  To enter, click the large green button by each task for more information, and then be sure to click the green button saying that you did the task.  (This is my first rafflecopter giveaway, so please let me know if you have any issues.) All entries are verified, so please be sure to complete the required task for each entry. ** If viewing this on the main page, you will need to click through to the full post for entries. **

This giveaway will accept entries until midnight on Thursday, January 26th, and the winner will be announced here on Friday, January 27th. The winner will be e-mailed and has 48 hrs to respond or a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

And, in the meantime, I definitely encourage you to hop on over to Crystal’s blog where she promises to “help you become a better home economist.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Day

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of The Money Saving Mom in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. Some links within this post are affiliate links which means that I will make a small amt of money if you purchase after clicking the link. Thank you for your support!

Review: Raising Real Men

When I was provided a copy of Raising Real Men for review, I was more than a little interested. I am so glad that I took advantage of the opportunity because this book is definitely going to be a blessing for my family.

Pretty much everything that has ever confused you about boys is covered. Hal and Melanie Young have written an amazing resource, and they definitely have a good idea about what they are talking about as parents to 6 sons and 2 daughters.

I was shocked to realize one of the mistakes I have been making with my 10 year old son. He quite often tries to take grocery bags from me and his sister to carry to the car or into the house, and in an effort to divide the workload, I have insisted that his sister carry some bags herself.  What I should be doing is thanking him and complimenting what a strong, helpful boy he is. What a simple thing to do and yet I can see how powerful it can be to build up his spirit – I can’t wait to put it into practice!

I love the way they cover some of the traits that we tend to want to squelch in our sons such as recklessness and hyperactivity.  They demonstrate how these same traits could be beneficial in their adult lives once they’ve matured.  That’s not to say that our boys should be allowed to run wild, but instead their adventurous spirit should be celebrated!

In addition to warning against the feminization of boys, they also give very real suggestions on how to cultivate chivalry and teach them the proper way to behave as young men.  They can have good manners without being required to behave as females do.

I’ll be honest – there is so much information packed into these pages that I’m going to have to reread the book in order to put it all into practice (and even then I might not get it all), but I know that this book has already started to change the way that I think about my son’s behavior.

The most important thing I’ve learned? Jesus is the ultimate hero and role model that I should be directing Rex’s attention towards. (Of course I knew this logically, but I had never really thought about it in practicality before…) And, we also have to be careful not to present the feminized version of Jesus that is so often presented nowadays.

I absolutely LOVE the poem that they share called the Dream of The Rood.  I am going to be sharing this entire poem with my children, but here it is in part:

I could go on for pages and pages about how amazing this book is, but if you have boys, just know that this book will be an awesome resource and one that I imagine I will be consulting for years to come.