The Sojourner

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We had a very nice couple of days over the Christmas weekend and I am looking forward to a nice, quiet week between the holidays.  For the first time in weeks, I woke up today with no to-do list - just whatever I want to do.  And I really want to see Dolphin Tale, so I think I will go to the $2 theater all by myself:-)

 Alissa always likes to sing "I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas", so we got her one:-)
 Cody wanted an ASU hat.
Heather and Hailee are living with us for a time.  It was very different celebrating Christmas with a little one around again - it has been a LONG time!

I am so very blessed by my wonderful family!  I LOVE cooking great holiday feasts for them and making special treats.  We were able to surprise both our kids this year with unexpected gifts that they are thrilled about - it has been a while since they didn't know everything they were getting for Christmas!  I also set their surprise gifts up in a scavenger-type hunt with clues that led from one clue to another until finally to their gift - it was SO fun!

Hope you all have a very happy holiday week!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cody's Match at McClintock Tournament

This is Cody's first wrestling match at the McClintock Tournament Friday afternoon.  He had a bye on the first round, then won this match!!!  He also won this morning and is now in the semi-finals!!  I am hoping to be there for that match and will post it tomorrow if I get it on video.  I am SO proud of him and how he has progressed in his wrestling!!!  I need a "Wrestling Mom" t-shirt, I think:-)

Wednesday was Alissa's dance performance for her weekly classes.  She performed in hip hop, ballet, modern and Synergy, which is the dance company she is in.  She is so beautiful and has such God-given talent in dance!  I am so thankful she has found this outlet for her talents and has these opportunities to share her giftings.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cody's First Wrestling Match of the Season

I just thought I would share the video of Cody's first Varsity Wrestling Match of the season.  This match was an intersquad scrimmage so he wrestled a teammate who weighed at least 10 lbs. more than him.  He has improved SO much since a year ago!  It should be a great wrestling season and the next match is in a few days.

Stuffing in a Pumpkin Review

Thanks to a tip I heard from Alton Brown on their special Thanksgiving show, I decided to try baking my stuffing inside a pumpkin this year.  All I did was clean out the pumpkin (you know, seeds and strings), mixed up my stuffing and scooped it into the pumpkin.  I put the lid back on and baked it in the oven with the other side dishes.  The bottom of the pumpkin got really soft, so I would recommend putting the pumpkin on a pan of some type before baking so you can get it out of the oven easily.  Then just cook until the stuffing is cooked to your preference.  You can scoop out some of the pumpkin to eat with the stuffing or just eat the stuffing and puree the pumpkin for another pie like I did.  Plus, it saves on one baking/serving dish, too!!  And what a pretty way to serve the stuffing!!

So I give it 2 THUMBS UP!!!  Thanks, Alton!

Monday, November 14, 2011

College Prep Genius: TOS Review

When I found out about the opportunity to review this product, I was very excited because my son was preparing to take the PSAT in October and then the SAT or ACT in February or March of 2012.  So College Prep Genius "Master the SAT Class" was ideal to help him prepare for these big tests.  However, I did not receive it in time to help us for the PSAT.  However, I know that it will be of great value if he decides to take the SAT next year.

College Prep Genius "Master the SAT Class" DVDs with the accompanying Workbook and Textbook is a very complete and comprehensive way to study for the SAT.  The motto is "the no brainer way to SAT success" and although I still think you need a brain to do well on the SAT, this course certainly makes it alot easier.  The curriculum is divided into 6 parts: Introduction to the SAT, The Critical Reading Section, The Math Section, The Writing Section, Scholarship Search, and Journal for Test Success.  In my opinion, the most valuable help that this curriculum gives is in understanding how the SAT questions are written.  There are techniques and strategies for each section of the SAT that will make the test-taking procedure MUCH easier for the student!!  And College Prep Genius has thoroughly studied each section of the SAT and has many tips and helps to enable your student to get a great score on the SAT.  It uses acronyms to help you REMEMBER all those tips and tricks, too.

To be honest, the tips and tricks that College Prep Genius teaches can be found in many different SAT prep books available from many different sources, but what really set College Prep Genius apart is the completeness of the program.  With the DVDs, your student can listen to the instructions about each section before going over it in the textbook and then working the practice problems in the workbook.  The only thing lacking, in my opinion, are the complete SAT practice tests that you can take before and after studying this curriculum.  However, those ARE available online at, so no worries!  The other aspect of this curriculum that I feel is incredible is the Scholarship Search section which helps you and your student to find as many scholarships as possible to help with the financial burden of a college education.  And the higher the SAT score, the more scholarships your student will qualify for and receive.  So it is well worth the $99 (25% discount) that College Prep Genius is currently charging for this full curriculum to increase your student's score!

After all that I and my son learned about the SAT test via this curriculum and how the SAT test is created and set up, though, I think that my son will be taking the ACT test instead.  If your student is going to take the SAT, College Prep Genius would be a VERY valuable tool to help your student understand the test and what the questions are really asking.  The SAT is not a very straightforward test and they purposely include traps and tricks to fool the test-taker.  So, in my opinion, it is ESSENTIAL to give your student the benefit of going through this curriculum to help them learn these test-taking techniques and strategies to cut time in half, as well as recurring patterns and advice on a "perfect essay", which is the newest portion of the SAT test.

Go to the College Prep Genius website at for more information and to order this curriculum which is the newly updated and revised program featuring an easy-to-use format, bonus material including appendixes of must know math terms,  Latin roots, and prefixes and suffixes, new strategies, more detailed explanations, and a new motivation test.  All this comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.  They also have some other college prep products including VocabCafe.  You can read more reviews of this product and VocabCafe by other members of the TOS Review Crew here and see what they thought.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of College Prep Genius SAT Prep Curriculum.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Person I Marry: TOS Review


The Person I Marry by Bower Family Books is a book I wish I had known about when my teens were younger.  This gorgeous book by Gary Bower which is illustrated by his wife, Jan, is surely a lifelong keepsake!  I received this book as an ebook, but I assure you that I truly wish I had the hardcover book to keep and pass on to my children.  In fact, I think I might just have to buy one for each of my teens!

The Person I Marry is a 32-page picture book that is appropriate for all ages from young children to adults.  It would even make a really nice wedding or anniversary gift, "reminding us of what our partners really mean to us."  Throughout this beautifully illustrated book, in wonderful rhyming verse, the character traits that are most important in a spouse are portrayed and demonstrated in such an awesome way.

"The person I marry won't have to pretend
just to impress me.  I want a friend,
one who can share, but can also receive.
That is the marrying type, I believe."

This and similar verses portray without question the "true gems of character" to look for in a mate in a way that you can begin to share with your young children, your adolescents, and even your young adults.  The illustrations are incredible oil paintings of children by Jan Bower, wife of the author, Gary Bower.  She is incredibly talented as an artist and there is so much fun and feeling portrayed through her paintings used to illustrate this book.

My teen son and daughter read the book with me and were very impressed with the quality of the paintings and the way it shares those wonderful traits that they should be looking for in a mate.

The Person I Marry, part of the Bright Future book series,  is available through Bower Family Books for only $11.49 and you can order it, as well as see all the other beautiful books available, at

Here is a video where you can see excerpts from the book, as well as hear from the author and illustrator, Gary and Jan Bower, about the book:
The Person I Marry from Bower Books on Vimeo.

If you would like to read more reviews of The Person I Marry, you can hop on over to the TOS Review Crew linky page to check them out.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of The Person I Marry by Gary Bower.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature: TOS Review

Even though I am in my third year of homeschooling high school, Literature has been a challenge as far as being sure that I am using the best curriculum for us.  So when I was given the opportunity to receive Introduction to Literature from Everyday Education, I was very interested to see what the course entailed.  I received the curriculum via download, so it was immediate and I can print out the pages to put into a 3-ring binder at my leisure.

At first glance, I was impressed with the selection of literature that is included as the focus works.  They are top quality classics that every child should read before graduating.  Then as I spent time reading and reviewing the 132 pages included in this curriculum, I became more and more impressed with the quality and content of the program.  Here is an excerpt from their website which gives a synopsis of the curriculum:

"Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.
Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing. You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this blog post."
Introduction to Literature is a complete course that includes composition in many different forms such as compare/contrast essays, literary analysis papers, approach papers, poetry analysis and more.  This curriculum encourages the student to work independently and to learn how to delve into literature and analyze it.

We didn't get very far along in this curriculum yet, but I will give you an idea of what it is like and the schedule.  In Unit One, the student will begin by reading “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett as the focus text, which is a short story and is available via a link in the curriculum.  As context reading, there is a biography of Sarah Orne Jewett for the student to read.  The student will then learn to write an approach paper, and discover or review the five elements of fiction:  Plot, Theme, Characterization, Setting, and Style, in five great short stories.  The unit is set to be covered in 4 weeks, so there is plenty of time for the students to spend reading and writing as required, if they spend about one hour per school day on this subject.  The following units are all based on longer novels which are to be read over a 4 week time period, as well as the accompanying papers written.


By the end of the course, students will:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    Unit 1: Short Stories by-
    • Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
    • Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
    • O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • Eudora Welty: A Worn Path

    • James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
    Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

    Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

    Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

    Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

    Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
There are five levels available in Excellence in Literature which together make for a complete college-prep high school study of Literature for 8th through 12th grades.  For a very reasonable price, Introduction to Literature: English 1 Print Book $29 + $4.95 shipping, you can receive an incredible Literature curriculum for your high school student.  Or you can choose the ebook version for $27 and receive it immediately via download.  If you are just beginning your high school journey, you may choose the complete comprehensive 5-year curriculum package which includes Introduction to Literature: English 1, Literature and Composition, American Literature, British Literature and World Literature all in a professionally printed binder with tabs for only $139 plus shipping.

If you would like to read more reviews by TOS Review Crew members, click here and you can read many more opinions of this product.

You can visit the website at and can even get a sample unit so you can see if this curriculum is a good fit for your family.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Introduction to Literature from Everyday Education.

Monday, October 31, 2011

George Washington Carver DVD: TOS Review


I am always happy to receive quality biographical DVDs to supplement our education, so when given the opportunity to review George Washington Carver:  His Live and His Work for Marshall Publishing, I jumped at the chance.  And I was not disappointed!

This DVD about George Washington Carver, although only about 30 minutes in length, was so inspirational and informative about his life and his work!  The DVD is full of wonderful photography and great music.  They share about his relationship with God and what inspired him to research the many uses for peanuts (for which he is most well known.)  It clearly shares the importance of hard work and a positive attitude, and how he was involved in changing how people thought about black people at that time.

If you want to inspire your children to good works and great character, this DVD will surely provide a great platform to do so.  My teens watched this DVD with me and were very touched by George Washington Carver's life and faith.

Marshall Publishing is a company that believes in great family DVDs, books and CDs.  They have a whole selection of educational historical DVDs, as well as DVDs for younger kids about fire trucks, jets and monster trucks!  If my son was younger, I am sure he would LOVE to watch these great DVDs!

The George Washington Carver DVD is on sale right now for only $19.95 and there is a study guide available right on line, too.  It will be a great addition to your study of American history, as well.

You can go to their website at to check out all of their products.  And if you would like to read more reviews from the TOS Review Crew, click here.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of George Washington Carver: His Life and His Work by Marshall Publishing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Say Anything Family Edition: TOS Review

A few days ago, I did another review of a game by the same company, Northstar Games.  Apparently, they major in great family games!  Say Anything Family Edition is a fun family game that reminded us a little of Apples to Apples, and a little of Wits & Wagers, which I reviewed here.

The great thing about Say Anything Family Edition is that you can go from opening the box the first time to playing a game in just a couple minutes.  It is very easy to learn how to play this game for ages 8+ and 3-6 players.  They provide everything that you need, including dry erase markers for each player, a dry erase board to write your answers on, dry erase scoreboard to use over and over, as well as the tokens and Select-o-matic 6000 which is used by the "judge" to select their favorite answer.  The Family Edition of Say Anything is brand new this year and provides a wonderful opportunity for your family to have a blast being silly or serious by guessing what the "judge" would say.

Here is how play goes:

Each player has a dry erase board, marker and 2 tokens.

The judge chooses a card and then selects one of 3 questions from the card to ask to everyone.

Players write their answer on their board secretly, then all show their answers.

The judge secretly selects the most correct answer on the Select-o-matic 6000.

Players then place their tokens on the answer(s) they think the judge will select.

The judge reveals his/her selection and points are awarded for those who selected the correct answer,  wrote the correct answer, and even the judge can earn points.

Then the next person gets a turn as judge and play continues.

If your family likes to be silly, the answers can be quite a hoot to read!  You never know what someone will come up with.  The game is played very quickly, so you can fit several games in even if you don't have a lot of time.  We had a lot of fun playing this game, although I have to admit that Wits & Wagers was favored in our house.

It is such a pleasure to learn about games for the family that are fun, wholesome and bring the whole family together for a time away from "technology-drive" things like computers, TV, video games, etc.  Northstar Games has created some great games and I am so very pleased to have the privilege of reviewing their products!

I found Say Anything Family Edition over at, so go check it out! Regularly priced at $19.99, it is apparently on sale right now for $13.85!! It would be a great family game for the holidays, which are coming up very quickly now!

You can read more reviews of Say Anything Family Edition by other TOS Crew reviewers here.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Say Anything Family Edition by Northstar Games.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wits & Wagers Family: TOS Review

Since the kids and I love to play games, I always jump at the chance to review games that are age appropriate for my teens.  So I was excited to be chosen to review Wits & Wagers Family by Northstar Games.

At first my kids were a little hesitant because they thought the game was probably for little kids.  However, once we started playing, we played quite a few rounds because neither teen would concede defeat.  So, I must share that, even for teens, it is a really fun game!!  It is designed for three or more players ages 8 and up.

It is very simple to get started with the game and they provide EVERYTHING that you need to play.  There is a deck of questions that you "guess" the answers to by writing down your answer on a write-on/wipe-off card with markers that are included.  Then everyone places their "wager" by using Meeples (small and large wooden people-shaped tokens) to indicate which answer they believe is correct (or closest without going over).  You can score points by selecting the correct answer as well as giving the correct answer.  Scores are kept on a write-on/wipe-off card which can be used over and over.

This fun game is available from a variety of national retailers including Target, Barnes & Noble and Borders, so don't miss out on adding this game to your family's game cabinet for the holiday season!  Prices may vary depending on where you purchase.

Be warned - Wits & Wagers Family can be addicting!!!  And you will actually learn a lot in the process of playing the game - a side benefit!  My 17 year old son said, "You should give this game a good review.  It was fun!"  Yes, that is my varsity football lineman/wrestler son - it was that fun!

Northstar Games also offers the original Wits & Wagers version as well as Say Anything that I will review in a few days.  Check out their website at

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Wits & Wagers Family by Northstar Games.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Educating the Wholehearted Child Review

Early in our homeschooling journey, I read the book "Educating the Wholehearted Child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson.  It had a great impact on how I approached homeschooling and really touched my heart about reaching my kids' hearts.  So when I was offered the opportunity to review the newly revised version of this book, I jumped at the chance.

I have been blessed to spend many hours reading through this book over the last several weeks and have been inspired and encouraged once again through the writings of Clay and Sally Clarkson.  Although the book is geared towards homeschooling ages 4-14, there is much that applies to all ages.  Now that my  kids are 15 and 17 years old, I can look back and see the impact that the original book had on our homeschooling journey.  I can also look back and wish I had done some things differently, but I am not one to spend much time with regrets.  I would rather make changes and move on towards the future.

Educating the Wholehearted Child is a huge book filled with so much that it is a hard one to describe.  First and foremost, it is a handbook on providing "a solid biblical foundation for educating and nurturing your children's hearts, minds, and souls."  It is about your journey of faith as a homeschooling family.  Discipling your children is your greatest calling and mission in life, and this book lays out that calling in a very relevant and systematic way, giving tons of foundation, insight and examples.

The over-sized book is comprised of 376 pages divided into four sections: Home, Learning, Methods and Living. There is also a great Resources section with forms and lists that are hugely beneficial.  You can see a list of all the chapters here, and they have even made a whole chapter available to read so that you can get a good feel for the book before buying.

I really appreciate the addition in this revision of updated technology and comments about the young adult years. Educating the Wholehearted Child is available from Apologia Press for only $22 and I believe it to be an incredibly valuable guidebook for any homeschooling family.  You can go to to view the many resources available from Apologia Educational Ministries.
You can read what other members of the TOS Review Crew think of this book here.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Educating the Wholehearted Child.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Little Halloween Nostalgia

We don't really celebrate Halloween, except to pass out candy IF anyone comes to our house:-)  However, I was just looking through some old photos and came across this darling photo of our kiddos when they were really little.  They went to a daycare center for about a year before I quit working in order to homeschool when Cody turned 5.  So on Halloween, they had to dress up for the daycare center party.  Aren't they just the cutest?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zaycon Chicken Event - Don't Miss Out!

Zaycon Foods is a family owned company that brings products direct from the farm / processor (or as nearly as direct as possible). The products are as fresh as if you had your own farm, but without all the chores.  They sell foods only by the case and bring them straight from the farm to you.  They set up a pick-up location where you can just drive thru and pick up your case(s) and be on your way in about 2 minutes.

I have bought the skinless, boneless chicken breasts from them several times now and LOVE them!  They are the best, most flavorful chicken I have ever bought.  The case is 40 lbs. and when I bring it home, I package it in ziploc bags and put in the freezer.  This keeps us in chicken for several months usually and I am usually on the last or next to last bag when the next even comes around - perfect!!

The best part is the price - just $1.49/lb!!!  That equals the absolute best sale price I have ever seen here locally and the chicken is SO much better and NEVER frozen!!!

So by now you may be wanting to know if Zaycon Foods comes to your area and how you can get in on this great deal.   Simply click on this link to go to Zaycon Foods and register for their email list.  Then you will be sure to know if and when they are coming to your area and what they are bringing.   They also sell ground beef, bacon and more.  I think they even had peaches this summer!  And, they are expanding like crazy all over the country, especially with their chicken events. They are now selling in all 48 contiguous states!! So go and register today and order your 40lbs. (or more) of chicken when they come to your area.  When you see an event get listed, don't wait too long to buy your chicken - they go pretty fast and DO sell out!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Being a Sports Mom and a GIVEAWAY!!

Visit the Official site
Cody at practice
 As those of you with children in sports know, these sports can become all-consuming, especially as they advance into high school sports. My son began playing football while we still lived in Mexico, but it was very tedious to make the long journey across the border several days a week for him to play Pop Warner football in Yuma, AZ. After we moved to Arizona, we were very excited to find that the local public schools open their doors to homeschoolers to play sports. So my son then began with football in his Freshman year. Practices and workouts began as early as January of his 8th grade year and continued for most of the summer as well.

Freshman football was disappointing for my son - he fractured his hip before halftime in the first game of the season!! He was heartbroken, but he faithfully attended every practice and game - on crutches - and remained a part of the team. He was finally able to play some in the last two games of the season. And I learned way more about avulsion fractures of the hip than anyone, other than a doctor, should need to!!

Working hard
 Workouts for JV Football began in April with Spring Football, followed by Weight Camp in the summer and then regular football season which runs August through October. Since my son needed to take a weight-lifting class for football, he ended up taking a wrestling/weight-lifting class which got him interested in Wrestling. As soon as football ended, wrestling began and ran through February, at which time individual free-style wrestling began. Also, in January, Varsity Football workouts began early in the mornings. As homeschoolers, we had to "fit" school in between the morning workouts and the afternoon wrestling workouts and, later, football practices.
Ready, set....
Again, Spring Football began in April and ran right into Summer Weight Camp (mornings) and Wrestling Camp (afternoons). This summer also included a 5-day football camp up in the mountains. With this many hours per day of working out, my son's nutrition needs are pretty intense. He needs to consume, on average, about 5,000 to 6,500 calories per day and drink TONS of fluids (we live in the desert!!)

Watch out, here he comes (on the left)
As a mom, I can help my son perform his best by understanding the significant role sports nutrition plays before, during and after a game/practice to fuel his sports performance. Several things are key to fulfilling his nutritional needs. First, he must consume a lot of protein and carbohydrates. I supplement his diet with whey protein shakes at least once a day. I cook all of our food from scratch so he is getting the best, freshest food possible. His diet includes a lot of brown rice, whole wheat pasta and potatoes (white and sweet with skins on). I also cook chicken, beef and, occasionally, pork, as well as lots of beans and grains. I grind wheat and bake fresh bread on a regular basis. And I am able to buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for a very reasonable price thanks to living in AZ.

In order to replenish a lot of the fluid and electrolytes he loses every day, I keep a big stock of Gatorade in the house and buy whenever there are sales. Plus he drinks A LOT of filtered water every day, all day long.

He's a big guy now
Unfortunately, this past Wednesday, my son injured his knee during practice. After several hours in the Emergency Room (where his primary care physician sent us), we don't know much more. He is scheduled to see his orthopedic specialist on Monday where we will hopefully learn more specifically what his injury entails. We are hoping and praying that it is only a strain/sprain of his MCL and not a tear. He is really hoping to get back to playing football before the season is too far along. And again, I am learning way more about MCL injuries than your average person!!

For now, he is still attending practices and scrimmages, on crutches with a knee immobilizer. He is supporting the team and remaining part of the team, in hopes that he will soon be back on the field with them. Injuries are part of the sport, and as hard as it is on him, it seems to be just as hard on me as the mom. I am, behind the scenes, supporting him and helping him in any way I can. My role runs more towards making sure he ices his knee, takes ibuprofen, eats sufficiently and has plenty of Gatorade and water since he is still out in the heat for several hours each day.

but I remember him like this!
Sports injuries really are hard, but as long as his passion runs towards sports, I will do everything I can to assist him in pursuing his passion for football and wrestling. We are hoping he will be able to earn a college scholarship through his sports endeavors and are praying for safety and healing along the way.

If you are a sports mom, you understand how it is. If not, you never will. The vital role you play in your young athlete's achievement and success is immeasurable. Through nutrition, family scheduling or just being someone to lean on during challenging times, every mother wants to support her aspiring athlete as they BECOME the best athlete they can be.
For more information and to encourage moms to support their athletes as they BECOME Gatorade will donate one dollar up to $10,000 to the Women's Sports Foundation for every pledge they receive at Gatorade Moms. Visit the Official site for Gatorade here.

Would you like to win $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card? Just leave me a comment sharing how you help your child athlete become the best they can be and see the rules below for another chance to enter.  This sweepstakes runs from 8/29 until 9/30.

There are also additional chances to win $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card over on the BlogHer Promotions & Prizes section, so go check it out.

No duplicate comments. 

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry 

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post  

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment 
on this post 

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on 
this post 

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about 
an alternate form of entry. 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older 

Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. 

You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be 
 Visit the Official Rules here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TOS Review: Aletheia Writing Magazine

Aletheia Logo - Oval border 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I was chosen for this review.  It is called Aletheia Writing Magazine and I knew it was for Christian teens, but that is all I knew to start with.  Then I received this beautiful full color magazine in the mail and couldn't wait to dive in and read it.  But first, I learned that Aletheia is Greek for TRUTH!!  So that makes it a very cool name for the magazine.

This publication is "committed to offering readers a quality literary and artistic publication that nurtures spiritually-minded creativity from Christian teens across the country."  Aletheia Writing Magazine provides a top-quality opportunity for Christian teens who love to express their creativity through poetry, short stories, and art to be published in a fantastic publication.

Aletheia Spring 2011 Magazine Cover

I read through every single page of this magazine (it was hard to put down once I started) and was so very impressed with the talent and creativity of these teens who had submitted work to Aletheia Writing Magazine.  The magazine is chock full of poems, stories, artwork, book reviews and photography by teens from all over the world.  There is a monthly Writer's Challenge, as well as articles that give a glimpse into the lives of professional writers and/or illustrators.

My daughter, who is 15 and the writer in our family, really liked the magazine.  She thought it was very professionally done and that teens would feel very proud to have their work published in such a magazine.

There is a link on their home page where you can read the Spring 2011 Issue for FREE! You can subscribe to Aletheia Writing Magazine for only $26 per year and that includes 4 issues per year of a beautiful and inspiring 40-page full-color magazine (including shipping and handling).

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Aletheia Writing Magazine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tri-Cross Board Game Review

Tri-Cross Logo
In our family, we love to play games!  So I was thrilled to find out that I was chosen to review Tri-Cross, a new strategy board game for families with short attention spans.

This is a very beautifully and professionally made board game that was designed to utilize the strategy of games like chess, checkers and dominoes, but in a much-less-than-marathon time frame.  In fact, this game plays in just about 5-10 minutes, which means you can play multiple times, employing different strategies and still be done in time to make dinner!  Then you can employ the more difficult version of play (face down) and go again.  Although it says for ages 8 and up, there are some younger kids who could learn and play this game with their families as well.  Kids who like chess and checkers will probably like Tri-Cross as well, if not more.

Tri-Cross was first created 25 years ago by a father who wanted to design a game that could be learned and played out within a short period of time and also become increasingly challenging.  He made and sold a few hundred of the games, but then let it sit on a shelf until 2007, when his sons encouraged him to put the game back out on the market.  In 2008, his son took over the reigns and the game started to gain traction.  The company is called Games for Competitors and they have several different versions of the game available, including an Eco-Edition/Travel Edition in which the board and bag are made of organic cotton and canvas.  They fold up nicely into a travel size version.  All inks are non-toxic and the sizes of the board and bags were decreased to save on material waste.
Tri-Cross Eco Board Game
Tri-Cross won the Mom's Choice Award in 2010 and the Eco-Edition won the Dr. Toy's Best Green Product Award in 2010, as well as Creative Child Magazine's Game of the Year Award in 2008 and Dr. Toy's 100 Best Products winner.  Truly an award-winning game!
Mom's Choice Awards 2010
Dr. Toy Winner - Green Product 2010
Because the game can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first, they provide some very nice video tutorials on their website to get you started, both with the beginner version and the advanced version. 

I have to say that Tri-Cross has the potential to become a classic like chess, checkers and even Monopoly!  It has all the elements of a great game, is fun to play and is made to a very high quality standard.  Once you get the hang of it, it is quite easy to teach to new players, yet also tests memory and logic to a very high degree.  I look forward to many more years of playing this game with my 17-year-old son!  And I am very thankful to the Burns family for giving us this great way to connect and spend quality time together!!

You can purchase the Standard Edition at your local game store or online for $24.95.  There is also a Wood Edition available for $35.95 and the Eco-Edition which is $19.95.  They also donate 10% of every purchase of their Eco-Edition to the Captain Planet Foundation.  There is a list on their website of all the local retailers that carry Tri-Cross, too.  You can also connect with Tri-Cross via their Facebook page.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Tri-Cross from Games for Competitors.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rooted and Grounded: TOS Crew Review

Several years ago, I had the privilege of reviewing another product for Deeper Roots Publications, Discovering Our Amazing God, which was for Middle School.  This year, I have the awesome blessing of reviewing Rooted and Grounded: A Guide for Spiritual Growth, which is for High School.

I was so very excited to be chosen for this review because I was really struggling with what to use for our Bible curriculum for this year.  Last year, I received another great Bible curriculum to review and we used it all year and I loved it!  However, the funds were just not there to purchase another from that same company.  When Rooted and Grounded came up as a review product, I prayed that God would allow me to receive it if that was what He wanted us to use this year.  And I did!  

The first four weeks of our school year, I used the curriculum with my two teenagers.  Then, to my utter joy, my husband has taken over the Bible teaching with my kids!  This is SO wonderful - he should be the one leading our family spiritually and this is a big step in that.  Plus, he has SO much more knowledge of the Bible (he is an ordained minister and pastored for 7 years), so he is making the study so much more involved and my kids seem to respond so much better to him.  I am SO blessed!

I received the Teacher's Guide, Student Workbook, Test and Answer Key, and Scope and Sequence.  These are beautiful books with great drawings that make them a pleasure to look through.  The Teacher's Guide includes everything from the Student Workbook, as well as "Prayer Reminders" for Unreached Peoples for each lesson.  It gives some background about the people group, as well as how to pray for them.

There are also included Memory Challenges, Review Pages, Writing Opportunities, and opportunities for Journaling.  I also love that the complete text for all the scriptures used in the study are included in the green pages in the back of the book (for easy reference) in both King James Version and New International Version.

We have enjoyed using this curriculum for a while now, and I am very pleased to be able to continue it throughout the entire year.  I believe it is appropriately written to target the 10th, 11th and 12th grader, challenging them as they grow spiritually.  Some of the things that I like best about it is that it "moves the students from Biblical knowledge to spiritual application and encourages personal ownership of spiritual truth."  Yes, I am quoting Deeper Roots, but I totally agree with it and couldn't have said it better!

I also love that it encourages a lot of discussion about the lessons between the teacher/parent and the students.  Sometimes it is hard to get our teens to engage in a discussion about Biblical things, but this curriculum opens the door to some good discussions.  If you look through the lesson titles, you can see a good overview of what is covered and where this curriculum is headed:
Lesson 1—Be to the Praise of His Glory.
Lesson 2—Walk as Jesus Walked.
Lesson 3—A Pure and Holy Life
Lesson 4—The Love of God for Others
Lesson 5—Servanthood
Lesson 6—Unrealistic Expectations

Lesson 7— God Is Faithful
Lesson 8—The Forgiveness of God

Lesson 9—The Forgiveness of God
Lesson 10—God Knows Youl
Lesson 11—Christ Accepts You
Lesson 12—God’s Awesome Power

Lesson 13—Don’t Worry or Be Anxious
Lesson 14—Submission and Obedience to Authority
Lesson 15—God Is Worthy of Praise
Lesson 16—The Mystery of Prayer

Lesson 17—The Privilege of Prayer
Lesson 18—The Pattern of Prayer
Lesson 19—The Test of Faith
Lesson 20—The Attitude of Christ
Lesson 21—Christ Must Increase–I Must Decrease

Lesson 22—The Way of Greatness
Lesson 23—Seeking Kingdom Treasure
Lesson 24—A Good Soldier
Lesson 25—Honor All Men
Lesson 26 - Work With All Your Heart

And if you are now wanting this curriculum for your students, here is the basic info on how to order.  You can easily go to Deeper Roots Publications website and check out all of their homeschool curriculum.   They also have many FREE downloadable samples of their different curriculum so that you can see for yourself whether it would be a good fit.  Rooted and Grounded Teacher's Guide, which has 332 pages and is spiral bound, is just $39.50.  The Student Workbook, which has 256 pages and perfect bound, is $23.95, and you can get the Test and Answer Key for just $3.95.  The Scope and Sequence is FREE online, so you can just check it out for yourself.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Rooted and Grounded: A Guide for Spiritual Growth from Deeper Roots Publications

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Review of Buffalo Meat

Free Photo of a Buffalo (Bison). Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart 

Thanks to a friend, I tasted buffalo meat for the first time last week.  In exchange for a little work I am doing for them, my friends have given me some buffalo roasts and a few other cuts of buffalo.  Getting "paid" in buffalo meat works just fine for me!!!  They also have some elk I may get to try soon.

The reason I have never tried buffalo meat before is the cost - it is $9.99/lb when it is on SALE at Sprouts!  WAY out of my budget normally.

So last week, I cooked one of the roasts in my crock pot just like I do a beef roast, with some potatoes and carrots.  It was VERY good!  To me, it was hard to tell any taste difference from beef, but the meat was SO lean, I had to make sure it had water so that it wouldn't dry out.  It was tender and delicious!

Last night, I cooked up some picadillo which is whatever you have on hand (meats, veggies, potatoes) chopped up and cooked together with some salsa and spices.  You can serve this in many different ways, but we made tacos with it.  The buffalo was tender and very yummy!

Well, I decided I needed to find out about the health benefits of eating buffalo meat, and here is what I found:

Buffalo meat has 70-90% less fat than beef.
Buffalo meat has 30% more protein than beef.
Buffalo is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (good fat), which stabilizes blood pressure, enhances metabolism and reduces body fat while preserving muscle mass.
Buffalo meat contains less calories and is lower in cholesterol than beef.
Buffalo meat has more iron and B-12 content than beef, and has 4 times higher vitamin E than grain-fed beef.

WOW!  That's alot of health benefits!  I think I REALLY like buffalo meat now!!
Have you ever tried buffalo meat?  What did you think?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our First Varsity Football Game

Last night, Cody played in his first official Varsity Football game!!  Wow, how much different the varsity games are from the Freshmen and JV!  It is SO much more exciting with the bands and cheerleaders, as well as the huge difference in attendance, even at an away game!  We didn't get the win, but the game was still fun!

This was actually the second game of the season, but the first game Cody was able to play because of his knee injury a few weeks ago.  He didn't play much in the first half, but he played most of the second half and did a good job on both defense and offense.  He even recovered a fumble by the other team for his team!

He came away from the game with a swollen and bruised elbow, as well as an extremely sore knee - so we did lots of icing last night and this morning.  Still sore today, but better.  He had practice this morning to review the film from the game and to do some running.  Now he can rest and relax the rest of today and tomorrow.  However, he still has practice on Monday - even though it is a holiday!!!!  Just doesn't seem fair, but I know the coaches are serious about getting their team to a place where they can win a game.

Such is life for the serious athlete!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crew Blog Hop

Click on the button above to join the Blog Hop and visit blogs from many of the different TOS Review Crew members!! So much fun, so little time!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Great Use for Pillsbury Refrigerator Biscuits

As you should know by now, I try to make everything from scratch as much as possible. There are some things I just can't keep up with to make from scratch. One of those things is biscuits. I am not a great baker (except for bread and I never mess with the recipe:-), so things like biscuits take me too much time and hassle to make from scratch. I have done it several times, but the results just aren't worth the effort. Perhaps if I had someone who could come and show me how to do it, I might have better success than just reading a recipe.

So I watch for sales on Pillsbury Grands Biscuits and use coupons to get them for $1 or less each. However, I just found out that you can make donuts, like the ones at the Chinese buffets, with these biscuits. All you do is heat up about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees and then drop the biscuits whole or cut into 4 pieces (cook more quickly this way) into the oil. Turn them over when you see them begin to brown and wait a few more moments. Remove from oil, drain on paper towel and then toss in a paper bag with some sugar in it. Oh my, these are SOOOOOO good!

We decided they were WAY too easy to make - might become a problem for our waistlines!! And there are none left to take pictures of since they were eaten so rapidly. I like to use the Grands Jr. biscuits for this and just cut them in half.

Have you come across any novel uses for Pillsbury Grands Biscuits? I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Football Season in Full Swing

This week marks the "official" beginning of football season.  I put that in quotes because they have been practicing almost daily since about the first of April!!!  I have been very impressed with some of the changes the coaches have made this year and am excited for the games to begin!  Yes, I am a FOOTBALL MOM!!!  I get out there and scream with the best of them:-)

This week, as they have begun wearing helmets and then full pads, the temperatures have once again risen to over 110 degrees, even reaching 116!!  It is amazing to me that these boys are so used to the temps that they are able to practice full out for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in this blazing heat!  THAT is good conditioning!  However, hydration is ALWAYS a concern and now more than ever.  And the amount of calories that need to be consumed is very high as well - somewhere around 6,000-7,500 per day.  Ok, that is ALOT of cooking that I need to do:-)

I believe they have their first scrimmage either tomorrow or next Friday and the games begin on August 26th.  Yes, it will still be scorching hot for the first 6 or so games and sitting in the bleachers is a test of our heat endurance, too:-)

Cody is #56 this year and is starting as Defensive End and also playing backup Center on offense.  He is in the best shape of his life and can run like never before in his life.  So this should be an exciting season!   Plus, we get the extra entertainment of Marching Band and Cheerleaders - woohoo!  GO WARRIORS!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our Homeschool High School Plan for This Year

It seems folks are really interested in what curriculum you are using, especially when you get to the high school years.  So I thought I would take a moment and share what we are using this year at the Hip Homeschool Hop!!
Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Bible - Rooted and Grounded by Deeper Roots (I have been praying about this one and just found out I am receiving this to review!!!)
Algebra 2 - Math-U-See
Chemistry - Apologia and doing labs as a co-op class
Spanish 2 - Spanish Grammar in Review by Kenneth Chastain
American History (part 2) - Hakim's The Story of US as a review
British Literature - an old English Literature book by Houghton Mifflin
Fine Arts - Guitar and Band
PE - Football and Wrestling at local public school
PSAT Prep - PSAT Prep books from library

So that is our school year.  Both of my kids are taking the same courses except for math.  My daughter is finish up Pre-Algebra (MUS) and will begin Algebra 1 this year.  She is technically only going to be a freshman, but is way ahead in most of her studies since she and my son have been doing the same thing all along.  That will give her a couple years to do "fun" stuff like photography classes and equestrian studies, while she finishes up her math.

I would love to hear what you are using, especially high schoolers!

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Friend Friday Link Up

I just joined a New Friend Friday Link Up over at Molding Minds Homeschool to meet some new blogging friends.  Feel free to join us if you are looking for some new friends, too!

A New Year with TOS Crew Reviews!!

A new year is about to get started with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Review Crew!  The lineup of products looks great already and they are starting off with some fantastic homeschool products!

Since we are homeschooling high school now, there aren't quite as many products specifically for high school, but the ones that we do get to review are always top notch and a great addition to our curriculum.

So keep an eye out here for the reviews to get underway soon and consider becoming a follower of this blog so that you don't miss a single great item!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Continuing Education for Marriage

If you want to excel in any area of your life, especially your career, you are often required to take Continuing Education classes.  For those of us who homeschool, we attend workshops and conferences to get our continuing education.  When I was in sales, I took many workshops and training classes to continually increase my abilities and make me more valuable to my employer.  

Why should our personal lives be any different?  If we want to excel at our marriages, we should take the time and make the effort to continue to educate ourselves about how to be the best wife we can be to our husbands.  However, there are very few "Continuing Education" opportunities for marriage.  There are a few weekend retreats for marriages around the country and individual churches sometimes have classes for married couples.  For those of us whose husbands work odd hours and can't even attend church regularly, these opportunities just don't work.

So I was very interested when I received "To Have and To Hold" Marriage Bundle from Eternal Encouragement.  This "bundle" includes 2 mp3 audio sessions, 5 ebooks, 7 ebooklets, and 2 full back issues of TEACH Magazine.  If you bought these items separately, it would cost  $100, but you can get this entire bundle for $39.97 for the instant downloads or $49.97 if you prefer to receive the hard copies of the materials.

There are so many wonderful articles, tips, ideas, encouragements, and lessons in this bundle that I have never seen such a collection put together in one place before.  Here is a list of what is included:

  • 5R's Session 2 - Rekindle 
  • One Life to Live, One Man to Love 
  • Loving Your Knight in Shining Armor Even When He Doesn't Shine 
  • Roadmap to a Marvelous Marriage 
  • Marriage Tidbits to Treasure 
  • Quotes Not Quibbles 
  • Marriage Report 
  • 31 Daily Biblical Prayers for Wives to Pray for Their Husbands 
  • Encouragement Report 
  • Don't Settle 
  • What God Says about Marriage 
  • 75 Inexpensive Romantic Rut Cures
  • It Happened One Afternoon 
  • 2001 Summer Issue TEACH Magazine "Loving Your Husband"
  • 2009 Spring Issue TEACH Magazine "Marriages Made Marvelous"  
Once I began reading through the "bundle", it was very hard to stop!  There are longer, more in-depth articles as well as short articles with tips and other tidbits of information.  I really enjoyed browsing through "75 Inexpensive Romantic Rut Cures".  After almost 29 years of marriage and with 2 teenagers in the house, I needed some fresh ideas to spark romance again in our marriage. 

I also LOVED "SHIMLY"!!  It is such an endearing story of love through the years - made me want to begin leaving little notes around the house (I guess I would have to explain it to my husband, though:-)

The two issues of TEACH Magazine are packed full of great articles about marriage.  And the article "Loving Your Knight in Shining Armor Even When He Doesn't Shine" was challenging and a great reminder about what is really important.  And the "31 Daily Biblical Prayers for Wives to Pray for Their Husbands" is a great one-page sheet that you can print out and keep handy to help you every day in praying for your husband.

"To Have and To Hold" Marriage Bundle is definitely great Continuing Education for marriages.  You can get yours by visiting The Shop at

You can check out what other Gabby Moms had to say about
"To Have and To Hold" Marriage Bundle over at The Gabby Moms Blog.  One of my fellow Gabby Moms also suggested this would make a great wedding present and I agree!

 I received this product for honest review from Eternal Encouragement Magazine as a part of The Gabby Moms blogging program. All opinions expressed are solely my own.