Wednesday, November 5, 2014

David Nicholson (Christmas Book) Review

Christmas Book Review
David Nicholson, a retired teacher and short-term missionary, has taken a tale that was written more than 75 years ago and given it new life—If He Had Not Come. This is a short story, covering just 14 pages of this 40-page hardcover book. Written originally by Nan Weeks, David heard it in his adult Sunday School class and read it over and over again to his family at Christmastime. 

Though If He Had Not Come is written so that children as young as 6 can fully understand it and be fascinated by the concept, older children and adults will be captivated by the proposition—what would life be like for us all if Jesus had never come to earth? This idea is reminiscent of George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, except George wishes he had never been born. In this book, we are given a glimpse, albeit a small one, into what life would be like if Jesus had not come to earth as a baby, if God had not made the way of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ.

The premise set forth in this book is a very interesting and thought-provoking one, but I would have loved it if it were longer. I understand that David was taking Nan Weeks' story and reintroducing it, but so much more could be added to it. I also found it odd that all throughout the town there were signs that said, "If He Had Not Come." My kids and I just kept thinking, "If He had not come, there wouldn't be signs that said, 'If He Had Not Come.'" There also wouldn't be a gate standing where the Children's Home once stood. It would have never been there in the first place. I suppose if it is just a dream, anything can happen. It just seemed a little inconsistent to me and my kids.

The illustrations are done well. They provide a rustic touch to this reintroduction of a 75-year-old story.

Probably the best thing about this book, in my opinion, is what is found after the story has ended. David Nicholson provides interactive topics for families and Sunday School teachers. These six topics encourage discussion about Scripture, our thoughts and feelings, and the way things are today compared to when the book was originally written.

There is a page called "Going Deeper." This was written by Josh Mulvihill, a pastor in Minnesota. He delves into Scripture to help us find out why Jesus did come to earth and what it would mean for us if He had not come. Lastly, the Gospel message is presented, in the ABC format—Admit you are a sinner separated from a perfect God, Believe in your heart that Jesus is Savior, and Confess with your mouth and receive God's gift of salvation. There is also a prayer of salvation on the bottom of the page.

If He Had Not Come is a full-color, 8.5 x 11 book. It retails for $18.95 for the hardcover edition and also sells as an e-Book for $3.99.

Christmas Book Review

Find David Nicholson on Facebook:
Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo Review: Fast Track Bible Pack

Our family is not new to Wizzy Gizmo, having reviewed one of their audio dramas in the past. This is a company with a heart for teaching children God's Word. The folks at Wizzy Gizmo have created many amazing Christian education resources. This time, we received the Fast Track Bible Pack. Selling for just $14.99, these New Testament flash cards are a wonderful way to supplement Bible time with your family.

Each card summarizes one book of the New Testament. It details the number of chapters included, who wrote it, and when it was written. On the back, it provides the theme, a brief outline, key chapters, key verses, key passages, key doctrines, and key people. These cards are an invaluable resource.

I have often found myself wishing that I had information about the books of the Bible in one easy place so that I might relay that information to my kids. Wizzy Gizmo has provided that place. For kids and parents who are looking to memorize Scripture, the key passages are perfect.

The book summaries on the front of the cards are extremely easy to understand and are written on a personal level, sometimes asking questions of the reader. A key verse is provided as well.

I like these cards because they are a very heavyweight card stock. So, they should last a long time. They are also extremely colorful but not too busy as to distract the reader. The website provides suggestions for using these cards with various age ranges, from 2 through adult. Yes, even adults can learn a great deal from these cards. They're convenient enough to put in my Bible or another book so that I can take the one I'm working on with me. When I've got a little downtime, I can slip it out and read it over. The more often I or my kids read them, the better we remember the information.

The cards are biblically sound. I did not come across anything that would speak contrary to what the Bible says.

Some of the other products available include: "Who Created Everything?" audio drama and book (Genesis chapter one) and In His Image book (Genesis chapter two).

Read other reviews of the Fast Track Bible Pack and other products here:

You can find Wizzy Gizmo on these other social media platforms:

*I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.*

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

We had the opportunity to review a German Course through Middlebury Interactive Languages. Middlebury has courses for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The German course we were given to review was the high school German geared towards students in 9th-12th grade. Upon first opening the course, it is inviting. The picture displayed was colorful and interesting.

A table of contents is listed on the left of the screen when beginning each day. Students can click through to where they left off. Once a lesson has been completed, a check mark is placed in the box to the left of the lesson. All lessons have a written script and a speaker, so the important parts of the lesson can be heard by the student. The first screen for each new unit details the objectives of the unit—what the student can expect to learn. Then there is a vocabulary guide and an introduction to the vocabulary. A pronunciation button is available for each word. This was, obviously, very helpful for my son as he sometimes had to click it over and over again because he'd forget how the German word was pronounced. It is a bit inconvenient, however, that a bar showing how long it takes them to say the word pops up right over top of the word. The list of vocabulary can be printed out.

As we went through the German lessons, I thought it would have been helpful if some of the words were said a little bit more slowly. There were words I'm sure we were pronouncing wrong because they said them too quickly. Interactive lessons are provided to learn the vocabulary words. I thought these were a lot of fun. You have to drag and drop the right answers onto the pictures. There is also a speaking lab—an opportunity to record your voice. The sentences provided are long. Unfamiliar words are underlined so students can click on them to learn what they mean. Speaker buttons are provided. I felt, again, that the speaker said the words faster than we could catch all the syllables and nuances. There is also no way to really compare your own attempt to the native speaker. You can listen to your own voice, but there is no direct comparison provided on the screen (no side-by-side voice comparison) to see how your own voice differs from the original.

An exercise comes next that allows the student to listen to a conversation and fill in the missing words. It seems to just be so the student can learn to pick out the vocabulary words from the conversation. It wasn't very difficult. After this exercise and the matching exercises for the vocabulary, the student is able to check his work by clicking the check mark in the top right of the screen.

The second unit teaches the German alphabet. I appreciate this part of the program. A lot of other language programs do not teach the alphabet, but I find that it is helpful to know how each letter sounds so you can at least try to figure out how to pronounce new words. After all, isn't that how we all learned English? Because there are four different letters and some of the letters that are the same as in English just pronounced differently, the student almost needs to take notes. There is an option for printing the script, which might actually be very helpful in this instance.

Some of the interactive exercises allow the student to drag and drop the answer while others require the student to actually type in the answer. I don't feel there is enough repetition of the words in the lessons to bring the student to the point where he feels comfortable spelling the words. I noticed my son getting visibly frustrated during these exercises. "How am I supposed to remember?" These exercises require a lot of going back and forth, unless the student actually writes down every word he learns throughout. He says there is also no instruction in how to type the German characters that aren't also in the English language.

Various topics are covered throughout the course: alphabet, pronouns, greetings, definite and indefinite articles, plurals, school words, adjectives, verb conjugation, etc. There are also cultural topics: Berlin, Burg Eltz, pastries, German economy, Berlin Wall, Brothers Grimm, and so on. I really enjoy the cultural pieces. It adds so much to the study of a language when you are able to catch glimpses of the life of the people.

At the end of each unit, there are two tests. One is multiple choice. The other is either writing or speaking. I've got to say, "These tests are hard." I'm not sure I could pass them without a LOT of review of the words.

A semester of Middlebury German for high school without a Middlebury teacher is $119. If you choose to use one of their teachers and obtain credit in this manner, the cost is an additional $175 per semester, for a total of $294.

I love learning languages, and there are so many different programs available. Middlebury has some things other programs do not, and there are some things that it could do better. I wish there was more review of the vocabulary and better instruction in pronouncing the words. But I liked the interactive exercises and the cultural bits.

The following images are screenshots of different exercises available throughout the program, as well as the various programs that are available:

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Find Middlebury on these social media outlets:

Google +:

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
foreign language learning
world language learning
second language acquistion
digital language courses
digital language learning
online language course
kids language course
kids language learning
Middlebury Interactive Languages  
Spanish, French, Chinese, German

Monday, October 20, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Bringing a different approach to education for more than 20 years, Standard Deviants Accelerate began by providing videos and now has a website to share that same quirky teaching method with students. Standard Deviants Homeschool Courses include earth science, nutrition, biology, chemistry, arithmetic, fundamental math, algebra, English composition, US history, AP biology, AP chemistry, AP US government & politics, AP US history, and AP English composition.

My ninth grader participated in this review by taking nutrition which is geared towards students in grades 6 and up and English composition for students in grades 9 and up. There are actually homeschool courses for children as young as 8 years old. Upon entering the course, a table of contents is listed at the bottom of the page. The student clicks on this to return to where he left off. The ninth grade (and up) English composition class covers topics such as analyzing writing, research strategies, building an argument, rhetoric, writing, researching, citing sources, business writing, nonfiction and fiction,

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Each lesson plays a video. Everything that is said in the video is offered as text beside the video with the option of printing the transcript. There is also a blank area below the video where students can take notes. These notes can be saved to the "Locker," an area where students and parents can monitor progress.

The videos are chock full of information, maybe too much information in just one video. The folks in the videos try to be humorous, though my son didn't find them very funny. He said he felt that he learned some but that the lessons were a bit too childish for him.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Vocabulary along with pronunciation is present after each lesson. There are diagrams, or exercises, for students to test their comprehension of what they heard/read. These were a little frustrating. It is a drag-and-drop exercise. Only the right answers stick, but they have to be dragged to the right place in order for them to stick. They can't just be dragged to the right box but have to be strategically placed.

Quizzes are available. If the student gets any of the answers wrong, they know right away and are encouraged to re-watch the video which pops up at the bottom of the quiz. The section of the video that corresponds to the missed question is provided. The quiz grades are available in the Locker.

The last section is the written answer section. Throughout the English comp course, the same questions were asked: How does the perspective of the thematic question (How does learning to write affect thinking?) inform your understanding of the topics covered in this section? and How does what you have learned in this section provide new dimensions to your understanding of the thematic question asked above? My son did not understand why they kept asking the same questions over and over, so he often did not answer them. He gets frustrated when there is too much repetition. There seems to be a lot in this program.

Each chapter review is broken down into a group activity, post-test, and a critical thinking section. Since my son never had a group of three to four other students, he did the assignments on his own. He actually enjoyed some of them. Students are given a few different topics to choose from, and they have to develop a mini-lesson plan focused on one of five different groups. The lesson plan has to be taught in such a way as to engage that particular group. My son liked it when he was able to pick comic-strip readers. Some of the other chooses for other chapter reviews include forgetful people, aliens from another planet, mimes, peasants from the dark ages, and so on. So, not everything is practical, but the creators of Standard Deviants Accelerate do try to have fun with the students.

The post-test cannot be taken until all of the quizzes throughout the lesson have been completed. Then it is all online and interactive. Like the quizzes, students know right away what they got wrong, and videos are available to re-learn the information. Students can then retake the quiz. The critical thinking part through my son for a loop, I think. He would rather have to write about something specific, something he learned in the lesson, but the second half of the critical thinking assignment required hypothesizing. I was glad to see, though, that he was really trying to do his best with these assignments.

My son spent more time in the English comp class, but the nutrition class is set up similarly. Some of the topics are the body processes regarding food, sugar, salt, oil, vitamins, minerals, nutritional deficiencies, organic foods, and making good food choices.
Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewPricing for one child is as follows: An annual subscription for one subject is $99.00. A monthly subscription for one class is $24.95. One AP class is $14.95 per month.

I have mixed feelings about this program. It is set up so that I don't really have to teach anything; it is all online and taught via video. That I like. I can print our progress reports, which I also like. I don't feel, though, that it is deep enough or challenging enough for my son. There might not be much out there that is, however.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Find Standard Deviants through these social media outlets:


Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Words or Not Two Words

As I edit, one of the most common errors I have found (though there are many) is when authors do not know whether a word is supposed to be two words, one word, or a hyphenated word. Using Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: Eleventh Edition, allow me to share some words and their actual spelling.

all-time (as an adjective)
ice-skate (as a verb)
seat belt
shutdown (as an adjective)

For the sake of needing to get this blog up, I will post it now. I will add to it as I come across more words during my editing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time Travel is Possible!

I was transported back in time last night while I sat on my couch and watched the movie that played on our television. I never believed in time travel but always thought it would be amazing if it were possible. With my son's most recent paycheck, he purchased the DVD for a movie he had seen a few months ago in the theater. Knowing how much I enjoy movies and thinking I'd really like this one, he was eager to sit and watch it with me. (I love that we share a penchant for movies.)

What was this movie that had the ability to return me to my childhood? Why, Godzilla, of course.

The story begins with a family living in Japan. The mother and father work at a nuclear power plant. An accident happens, and the mother is killed. Fast forward 15 years, and the son is serving in the military in the States. He must go to Japan to bail his father out of jail for trespassing in a restricted zone. He just wanted to go back to his old house and gather some of his belongings … and discs to prove the existence of an unknown species.

While in Japan, the father and son end up at the old power plant and come face to face with the creature (or its offspring) that was responsible for the prior destruction. Once this creature, which feeds on radiation, decides it has had enough of Japan, it travels to Hawaii, which just so happens to be where our hero, Ford Brody, has a layover on his way back to his wife and child in California. Honolulu is destroyed, and the military follows this MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object) to Las Vegas where it proceeds to decimate the city and eat anything it can find that emits radiation. Oh, and whenever it chooses, it can emit an EMP to wipe out everything electronic and shut down the grid.

MUTO backtracks (wait, it might actually be the other half of the MUTO couple … how cute!) to San Francisco where it meets up with Godzilla who has not really made any kind of appearance until this point. Of course, Godzilla knows that this is where the action has to take place since Ford's family lives there. There would be no suspense if it weren't for this fact. I guess the other millions of lives don't really matter.

Now, as I watched Godzilla last night, I tried to work at the same time. I wasn't getting anything done, so I closed my computer and focused on the movie. I was actually enjoying it, right up until the point when the male and female MUTOs had an affectionate moment. These massive extraterrestrial creatures that towered above skyscrapers met in the middle of a crumbling city and hugged … or kissed … or something. It was at this moment that I was transported to my childhood.

I was sitting in my living room watching Godzilla. Extremely poor Japanese actors played out the scenes with even poorer quality English dubbing over the original Japanese. Godzilla fought every strange creature that the creators of these movies could think of. They wrestled, they threw each other, they bit. It was like watching a WWE match before its time.

This 2014 version of Godzilla was only missing the dubbing. Godzilla and MUTO1 and MUTO2 threw each other into buildings with no regard for the people who would be crushed as the structure toppled. There are only a few times we are asked to care about the loss of human life. Once is when a school bus full of children tries to make it across the Golden Gate Bridge before Godzilla tears the bridge apart. It just so happens that Ford's son is on this bus. Another time we are asked to consider the human element is when Ford's father pays the ultimate price. If they had only listened to him when he was alive, they might have avoided all the mayhem. But, then, there wouldn't be a movie. And don't forget Ford's wife who is working as a nurse in an area hospital. She stays behind to take care of the sick (of course) and is almost crushed as Godzilla and MUTO continue to destroy the city.

I won't give away the ending of the movie, though I'm sure you can figure it out as it follows the same story line as those old Godzilla movies. I did find some things quite humorous as I watched this newest version (besides the kissing MUTOs). The military thought they could inflict their own damage on Godzilla with their puny military-grade weapons. Really? Godzilla is a gigantic creature covered in hard skin and scales who is known to eat his own fair share of radiation, which came in quite handy in his fight against MUTO. Out of nowhere, Godzilla breathes blue fire filled with radiation. He only does it twice, so he is not a show-off, but it seems strange that he is able to summon his radiation breath right when he needs it. If he didn't have this, would he have been able to win the battle?

There were points when I thought the movie might be truly frightening … if I could actually see it. We had to turn the lights out so we could see what was happening on the screen. Most of the action took place at night or in a city so dark from dust you couldn't see what was going on.

I feel like the writers worked hard during the first half of the screenplay but then chose to rely on the past for the second half. It was predictable, and it was hard to watch. I've recently seen a two-and-a-half-hour movie that felt like it lasted 30 minutes. I remember thinking at one point during Godzilla, "Wow, this is a long movie." It is 123 minutes long, and we were just over an hour into it. I suppose when a movie is predictable and replete with repetition (fighting monsters knocking over buildings) then it will seem long.

I can recommend the first half of Godzilla but not the second. It's just not worth it. I feel bad. My son loves the movie. I enjoyed watching it with him, but unless you're a die-hard Godzilla fan, it will seem to be lacking some … things. If you're in it for a chance to just kick back and forget about reality, then go for it. If you're looking for a plot, you might want to look elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The 7 Minute Life Review

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

As a highly disorganized person, I am always looking for something that will help me to become more organized. Since the Schoolhouse Review Crew hasn't asked me to use and review a personal assistant, I decided to try the next best thing: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner. This spiral-bound, 270-page daily planner sold by The 7 Minute Life is marketed as more than just a daily planner; the website says I can change my life in just seven minutes a day.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner works under the premise that people typically have an attention span of seven minutes and can only remember seven pieces of information at a time. The planner opens with 14 pages of instruction. You can also watch a 12-minute video to learn how to use it. Now, I don't have a lot of free time. I like my instructions to be concise and simple. Fourteen pages was just a bit too much for me.

We are also asked to perform a self-evaluation of priorities and purpose. I've got to tell you, if I'm looking for organizational aids, I'm not usually interested in evaluating my life purpose or my strengths and my weaknesses. I've taken spiritual gifts assessments. I know these things. I want to organize my life. That's it. I've got three jobs. I homeschool. I have a junior who is dual enrolling but doesn't yet have his license. I have a daughter who helps teach dance classes on Tuesday but has her own classes on Thursday. I assist with youth group on Wednesday nights and have my own Bible study on Thursdays. God is my first priority, then my husband, and then my kids. Though most of what I do revolves around my top three priorities, I still have to work. I enjoy my job immensely, and thankfully I am able to do it in and around all of the other things. So, priorities are in order. I need to organize. At this stage of my life, simplifying isn't really an option. All of the things on my list need to be done. I don't think I'm doing anything that is superfluous. Things that aren't important simply don't get done here.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The daily progress reports allow you to track your daily contacts—those people you attempt to contact. I can also give myself points for various contact activities. Like I said, I want simple. I don't want to add another thing to do, especially one that has no value for me. In my job, I have two people I contact on a daily basis. In my life, those contacts change on a daily basis—sometimes zero, sometimes a few. There is no rhyme or reason. When I think of someone I need to call, I usually just write the name down on an index card. When I make the call, I throw away the card. I'm not sure why I'd want to keep track of people I tried to call. There is a section for choosing three people to connect with. While connecting with three people every day is a great and wonderful thing, I hate talking on the phone and don't have a lot of time to visit. I email or text as I think about people; most of the time it is just one sentence to let them know I've been thinking about them. 

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

There's a section for appointments—this is a section I use. But I don't use the "What I Spent" section. I've got a checkbook for that. I don't like the unfinished tasks section; it depresses me to see what I haven't finished. Likewise, the question at the bottom makes me feel guilty: "Did I do what I said I would do today?" Let's look at the rest of that green box. I am supposed to write how many hours I sleep, minutes I exercise, minutes I reflect, and minutes I read. Most days I will only have a number in sleep. Some days I'll have some reflection if I count Bible, which can also double for reading, but there are days when they'll be blank. Besides the fact that this gives me something else to have to keep track of, it makes me feel like a failure when I see blanks or low numbers. There is a section on the next page of the daily progress report for thank you notes and one for voice mails. I'm not going to send a thank you card, let alone three, every day, and I have no need for writing down my voice mail messages. They are saved on my phone. 

The last section I haven't mentioned yet is the "What I will do … 5 before 11" section. This is a doable section for me. I am simply supposed to list five simple tasks that can be completed without having to spend an hour each on them, things like organizing a drawer, dusting the bookshelves, cleaning the glass on the French doors, etc. Accomplishing these tasks among the bigger tasks of the day give me a sense of pride.

The 7 Minute Daily Planner is $24.95. Many other products and videos are available on the website.

While many folks have used this and have changed their lives through it, I simply don't have the time for all of the different tasks that are contained within it. I want a planner that just allows me to list my job-specific tasks, times when the kids need to be somewhere, and appointments. The 7 Minute Daily Planner is not for me.

The 7 Minute Life on Social Media:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Heirloom Audio Productions - Under Drake's Flag Review

Analytical Grammar Review
After a summer of fairly heavy reviews, I was looking forward to being able to kick my feet back and listen to a great story. Heirloom Audio Productions has created a wonderful audio version of G.A. Henty's novel, Under Drake's Flag. This is not your typical audio book, however. This is audio theater. The story is told with more than just a narrator; there is Ned, Mr. George, Gerald, Sir Francis Drake, Master Holyoake, Master Taunton, and others. Each character has his own voice. Each scene has its own music and sound effects.

The story follows the adventure of Ned Hawkshaw who leaves the comfort of his home to become part of legendary hero Sir Francis Drake's crew. Along the way, he must face an angry sailor, an angry shark, and the equally angry Spaniards. His faith is tested, and he learns to trust wholeheartedly in God even though it might mean he'll die. The scene with the shark was probably one of the most riveting (for me) in the whole CD. It was performed very well, and the music included was perfect to add suspense to the scene. The scene when Ned and Gerald are facing certain death at the hands of the Spanish for not recanting their faith was very realistic. I could almost see it unfolding before my very eyes. I could feel the dankness and darkness of the prison. I could sense the boys' fear. I understood the anger Ned felt at having his father's sword melted and made into an instrument of torture. The only thing I didn't like about this production was the accent of Donna Anna. It just didn't sound truly Spanish; it sounded like an English person faking an accent.

This particular story is ideal for ages 6 to adult and is two hours' worth of entertainment on two discs. The two-disc set, which I received, comes with a prayer and a short study guide. A more complete study guide can be downloaded to expand upon the ideals and the history contained within these discs. The small study guide that comes with the CDs includes questions about each chapter (there are 19), vocabulary, and three Bible studies: Godly character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ. There are several options available for purchasing this program. A downloadable MP3 is available for just $20. Those who purchase this will also receive the study guide and the printable prayer. For $29.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling, you can receive the two-disc set, the downloadable MP3, the study guide, and the printable prayer. The best offer, as described on the website, is the family four pack which includes four copies of the CD sets for $99.97. This offer has some freebies to go with it: an e-book copy of Bill Heid's book Echoes of the Dragon's Drums about Sir Francis Drake, the MP3 download, the original G.A. Henty story as an e-book, a two-lecture MP3 set about the life of Sir Francis Drake, the discussion and study guide, the printable prayer, a 30-minute DVD behind-the-scenes documentary about the production of this audio drama, and, finally, unlimited access to Under Drake's Flag membership website.

I started listening to the story in the car with my kids as I was driving, but they very quickly asked to turn it off. When they were younger, we only ever listened to Adventures in Odyssey on CD, no other audio drama. They got used to movies and video games. They are not as impressed with audio drama as I am, unfortunately. Heirloom Audio Productions did a wonderful job with this, however. I didn't get to listen to it with my feet kicked back, since I was always driving while I listened to it, but I did get to listen to a great story. I highly recommend this product!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ever Wish You Could Have a Do Over?

Do you ever wish, as a parent, you could have a do over? Not everything, but just certain things? I don't want to start over at the very beginning of each of my kids' lives, but I wish I could fix the mistakes I made as a parent.

I know. Every parent makes mistakes, and most kids turn out just fine. God is gracious and will help our kids become the people He wants them to be. However, I can't help but feel some remorse for the things I have done that have fostered attitudes like anger, selfishness, and rudeness.

Do you think I'm being too hard on myself? I appreciate the sentiment, but I don't. I've been in the car with my kids and listened to them, for the umpteenth time, bicker over insignificant things or ask each other to stop humming because it was irritating them. They fight over who is going to sit in the front seat. Why? It isn't that amazing.

We are all born sinful. I get that. But I believe that if I had stayed silent more often than I expressed my opinion or remained calm more often than I groaned out of frustration I may have helped my children to be more peaceful. The attitudes that I display are more often than not learned by my kids.

I wish I had had a crystal ball when I was pregnant. I could have seen how my kids were going to turn out. Don't get me wrong, they are great kids, but there is this undercurrent of entitlement I wish wasn't there.

All the little sarcastic and caustic comments I made when they were little about seemingly insignificant things went straight to their hearts. They heard me say them, and they learned that it was okay. I helped to water the seed of sin. I am guilty, and I must ask forgiveness.

They are teenagers. They have learned the habits. Those things are ingrained in them. What can I do now? Will it do any good to work on my own anger and selfishness at this point? You betcha!

When we turn from our sinful ways, people around us are changed. It may not be a noticeable change at first, but they will realize there is something different. I have found myself lately looking to give people the benefit of the doubt, to believe there is another layer of the story than what appears on the surface. Joe isn't being a jerk just to be a jerk; there is probably something going on in his life that is causing him frustration.

If I show more love towards others, then perhaps my children will show more love towards others (even their siblings). If I find a more constructive way to work out my frustration than with my words, perhaps they will have more peace.

I wish I could do over the parts when I got so mad that I yelled. It was usually over really stupid things. I wish that I could do over the parts when I said something not-so-nice while I was driving. I have no right to judge.

I realize now that as a parent we often have to do things that go against what comes naturally for the sake of our children. If you aren't a parent yet or are expecting, please heed this warning: Your children will be like you—in the good and the bad. Do what you must to prevent the sin that is within you spilling over into your kids. Fight the urge to spew venom when someone cuts you off. Fight the urge to be negative. Life is too short. The time we have with our kids is too short. Those formative years are even shorter.

Of course, for all of our greatest efforts, our kids will still have weaknesses and sins in their lives, but do what you can to keep from giving them yours. I will strive (through prayer) to become more Christ-like, to give my kids an example they can follow, a mom they can be proud of. Hopefully, this will help them to be parents who are positive and peaceful and selfless.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Savannah, Georgia: Not What I Expected

We spent the past weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Having moved to northeast Florida in 2012, it has been on our list of places to visit. Since all five of us went, the number of affordable choices was limited. There are many quaint B & B's, but they typically only have rooms for two and are quite expensive. Therefore, we stayed at the Comfort Suites on West Bay Street. This hotel is not recommended. While the staff was extremely friendly and the room was comfortable, it was located across from government housing. It was two blocks past the historical section of town. While we were checking in on Friday night, a youngster from the neighborhood asked if he could come in. The clerk told him no, and he proceeded to throw something against the glass before he left.

John and I took a walk, while it was still light outside, to River Street. I was expecting a beautiful, scenic stroll along the river. While there were some cool buildings and side streets, I didn't think it was beautiful or scenic. I felt like I had to keep looking over my shoulder, especially once the sun went down. 

On Saturday, we decided to tour the town via the Old Town Trolley. The concierge gave us a discount, which we were extremely grateful for as the tours are nearly $30 per person. The trolley takes a 90-minute, narrated, winding route through the historic district, stopping at 15 places along the way. At each stop, passengers have the opportunity to stay on or get off and enjoy the attraction, be it a house, museum, church, or shopping area. One of the beautiful churches, built in the Gothic style, was The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

During the tour, various spots that were used in popular movies were pointed out, including the bench where Forrest Gump sat while he waited for the bus and the home where the shooting took place that is referenced in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We drove past the pub where Julia Roberts saw her husband, Dennis Quaid, eating dinner with another woman in Something to Talk About.

There is one home in Savannah that wast the first on the East Coast (if not the nation) to have whole-house plumbing, and one house was built mostly out of iron (to show others how wealthy the owner was).

The Juliette Gordon Low birthplace is located here. She was the woman responsible for founding the Girl Scouts.

The city is built around 22 existing squares (there were originally 24). Some have statues of people instrumental to the history of Savannah, including James Oglethorpe. Some of these people are even buried in the squares underneath their statues.

One of the places we chose to eat while visiting Savannah was Leopold's Ice Cream on West Broughton. Sandwiches are served here, as well as ice cream. Leopold's is rated the third best ice cream in the country and the fifth best in the world. The owner's father started the business in the early 1900s, and when he (the son) was old enough, he left the business and became a movie producer (Sum of All Fears, Mission: Impossible III, The General's Daughter). In 2004 (I believe), he came back and reopened Leopold's, using the same secret recipe. The history is very interesting, and the restaurant is full of movie posters and clapboards from the movies he played a part in producing. The ice cream is delicious, too!

We had dinner on Saturday night at Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant. Once we were seated, we were served garlic cheddar biscuits and corn bread pancakes. For our meals, the menu had several options, including a buffet for $18.00 that includes salad fixings and an ever-changing variety of Southern favorites. On our buffet, there was fried chicken, pot roast, lima beans, collard greens, green beans, macaroni-and-cheese, cheese broccoli, candied yams, garlic mashed potatoes, rice, spoonbread, and fried fish. Dessert was a choice of peach cobbler, banana pudding, or butter cake.

The Lady and Sons is pictured below. It is a three-story building re-purposed to house a restaurant and store. There is a great deal of re-purposing going on in this town.

Two of the places we frequented while in Savannah were The Peanut Shop where they have all different flavors of peanuts to sample and Savannah's Candy Kitchen where they give out free praline samples. Oh, my goodness!

I'm glad we went to Savannah. If we hadn't, we'd always wonder what it would be like. It wasn't really what I expected, though. There were some interesting things, and I think I would have liked to have toured some of the old houses. I did enjoy the history I learned on the trolley tour. I do recommend that. Just try to get them to reduce your ticket price, especially if you have kids. I guess I was thinking this historic town would be more like Colonial Williamsburg and less like Philadelphia. I don't like the city feel. I want to be steeped in history. I don't want to have to worry about mine or my children's safety.

If you plan on visiting Savannah, my biggest recommendation is to stay within the historic center. Don't stay in a hotel or B&B beyond Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd to the west or Broad Street to the east. There are some upscale hotels on River Street and Bay, as well as some B & B's on East Oglethorpe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Being that it is summer and we've reviewed some fairly intense products, I jumped at the chance to listen to a product for a change. Wizzy Gizmo is a company that has created some Bible resources for children. This is another reason I asked to be on the review. I don't feel like we have enough Bible study or reading (or listening) in our house, so this was an opportunity to learn more while we were out and about. We received Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything? This CD presents the story of Genesis from an extremely unique perspective in just 36 minutes. It retails for $14.99.

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Professor Wizzy Gizmo starts up his Gizmovision machine, and the Bible comes to life. The kids who are listening to the Bible story gain a firsthand account of creation. The CD is intended for ages 4-12. My daughter, who is 12, felt like this was a little bit childish. Of course, she is a strong-willed almost-teen who has developed a taste for things are a bit more young adult in their age level. However, this audio drama is perfect for the younger crowd. It is engaging and entertaining. The way creation is portrayed in this CD with the sound and music and descriptive narration almost made me feel as if I could see it and hear it myself. I did feel as if there were some corny things in it, but, again, it is great for elementary and preschool children. Some vocabulary words are defined during the various segments, which I thought was ingenious. Not many children's stories do this. Silly songs are also interspersed throughout. One of our favorites was about mangoes. We sang this repeatedly after we listened to the CD, especially in the produce section of the grocery store.

Though this audio drama is geared towards ages 4-12, I also listened to it with my 16- and 14-year-old sons. They felt they were beyond the level of the story as well, but we ALL loved the soundtrack that was included at the end of the story. It was almost as if the music didn't fit the rest of the CD; it was that good—good enough that 16- and 14-year-old boys enjoyed it! We listened to the music more than once. I'm glad we are able to keep the CD because I'll be listening to this music when I'm tired of hearing the same songs played on the radio. Some songs had lyrics, and others were instrumental.

This is an excellent homeschool resource for Bible learning! It presents the Bible story in a memorable way, and it is accurate. They present the facts as they are written in Scripture. I hope that Wizzy Gizmo produces more stories like this. Though my children are older than the age range of this product, many children will benefit from this Christian education resource.

Some other products available from Wizzy Gizmo that the Crew reviewed and which you can read reviews about are:

Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament
Book One: Who Created Everything?
Book Two: In His Image

Find Wizzy Gizmo on these social media outlets:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer