Friday, February 27, 2015

A TOS Review: Koru Naturals

Koru Naturals Review

Koru Naturals is an all natural beauty product company based out of New Zealand. Their products utilize the best their country has to offer from nature in skin care, gourmet honey, health supplements and so much more. They have hundreds of products, and they pride themselves on using the most quality of ingredients and no animal testing. I was sent their Emu oil and Koolpurrie Restoring Balm to review for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

The first product I got to review was one of Koru's most popular products, pure Emu Oil Premium Golden ($9.85 for the 2oz bottle).

Koru Naturals Review
I had never heard of emu oil before this review, let alone use it for anything. I wasn't sure what all it could be used for, so I looked it up. Here is what I found online:
- take by mouth to improve cholesterol levels, weight loss, and cough syrup
- apply topically for aching joints and muscles, healing of wounds, cuts and burns, diaper rash and eczema
- promote healthy nails and cuticles
- moisturizer    (

Koru Naturals' website promotes their emu oil for skin moisturizer (on unbroken skin) and leave-in hair conditioner. I am not sure why, if it is known to do so much, that the company only encourages its use for these two things. I chose to use it on my nails and cuticles and as a facial moisturizer. 
I have just recently had my 6th child. Through the pregnancy, I had multiple breakouts. It didn't seem to matter what I was using to wash my face, or how little makeup I wore, I was constantly fighting a breakout. I started using a couple drops of emu oil after cleaning my face about 5 weeks ago. I have seen a difference. I was worried the oil may cause my pores to clog and leave me feeling greasy, but not at all. I have had much less acne and don't seem to have any greasy areas at all. As for the nail treatment, I can't say that I've seen much improvement.

The second product I reviewed was the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm ($12.50 for the 1.4oz jar).

Koru Naturals Review

The Koolpurrie restoring balm is a mixture of emu oil and pure lanolin. It is about the thickness and consistency of petroleum jelly. The website states that its emollient action is long lasting and great for hydration and healing of extremely dry or damaged skin.

I decided to try the balm on my stomach stretch marks. I didn't like the feel of it at all. I felt like I was rubbing for a long time, and it never fully absorbed into my skin. It left me feeling slightly sticky. I didn't see any significant improvement to the look of my stomach, either. I also used it on my hands, and that was a little better. I have extremely dry skin in the winter, and I felt the balm kept my hands moisturized better and longer than most lotions I have tried. 

One use for the balm that I was very impressed with was for Cadie. She was born past her due date, and her skin has been very dry. She also has already had a little bit of a diaper rash. I used the balm on her legs and arms, and on her bottom for her rash. WOW! It made a huge difference. In two or three applications, her legs were not flaky and dry any more. As for her bottom, the balm is thck enough to form a protective layer so that her rash had time to heal. I was very happy with the results. 

I also found another great use for the balm this week. Wednesday, I was frying bacon for lunch when the grease splattered all over my left arm. I immediately went to the sink and sprayed it down with cold water, but I could already see the welts rising. It was really sore! After lunch, I went to look for my aloe vera and saw my jar of Koolpurrie restoring balm sitting on the table. I thought it was worth a shot, so I covered the welts with it. By evening, my welts didn't have any heat or pain in them, the swelling was gone, and they had faded to light red. Today, I just have a few pink dots where the burns were. I was so excited to see how well it worked on burned skin.

Overall, I liked both products. I don't see myself continuing to use the Emu Oil, but I would definitely purchase the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm again. While I thought the price tag was a little high ($12.95 for 1.4 ounces), once I saw how many uses it has and the effectiveness of the product, not to mention that I've used it in so many ways and have barely put a dent in the jar, I believe it is worth every penny.

Some of my fellow crew members reviewed some different products from Koru Naturals. You can find out what they thought in their reviews here:

Koru Naturals Review

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

A country under attack. A young boy with high hopes of vengeance, in need of guidance. The hero he admires. That hero's journey of faith. Heirloom Audio Productions has brought the story of one of the greatest warriors in history, William Wallace, to vibrant life with their presentation of G.A. Henty's In Freedom's Cause.

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

I was sent the In Freedom's Cause single package ($29.97) for my TOS review. I also received these special bonuses:

- MP3 download of the audio production
- E-book download of GA Henty's original story with new graphics
- Official soundtrack
- Promotional cast poster
- Printable copy of William Wallace's prayer
- Full access to the membership website
- Behind the scenes documentary with a run time of 30 minutes
- Study Guide and discussion starter
- Cast and characters roadmap

Our family has always enjoyed listening to audio books. The freedom of being able to throw a cd into the player while in the van, or freeing my hands (and saving my voice) to do other things while the kids learn is always a great occasional change of pace. Heirloom Audio Productions does not just give you a book on cd, however. It is a full theatrical production that will immerse the entire family, taking you back in history as if you were there. The detail that goes into the making of these productions is truly impressive.

We listened to the first cd in the car one day, then the second cd in the house another evening. At first, Caleb was a little frightened. He said it was creepy and he didn't want to listen. However, he was soon engrossed and completely enjoying himself.

I love accents - British, Scottish, French, you name it. So I was thoroughly captivated by the storytellers and actors right away. I really felt like I was in the middle of the story, and I loved every minute of it. I also found it enjoyable to recognize some voices: Skandar Keynes (Edmond, The Chronicles of Narnia), Joanne Froggat (Anna, Downton Abbey) and Billy Boyd (Pippin, The Lord of the Rings), just to name a few.

I perused the study guide and discussion starters. I loved how there were questions of many age levels. Some my 6-year-old could answer with ease, others that left my 11 and 13-year-olds deep in thought. There was a good deal of information that they knew, but a lot of details that they missed. They actually said they want to listen to it again sometime soon so they can get more out of the story the second time. :)

Although I liked the study guide's questions, I did have one complaint. I was in and out, running errands and doing housework or taking care of the baby. So there were good chunks of the story that I missed. I wish the study guide had the answers to the questions so I could keep up on the parts that I had missed. I used this as our history for a week, so I wish I could have had a better idea of how much they retained. Since I missed so much, I didn't know whether or not they had answered correctly or thoroughly at times.

Overall, I think In Freedom's Cause was one of the best audio books we have come across in a long time. Heirloom Audio does a fantastic job of drawing their audience into the story, making history truly come alive. They have already announced their next project will be released around Memorial Day. It is called With Lee in Virginia.

 I am excited, and I can't wait to order!

Check out what my fellow TOS Reviewers had to say about this great product here:

In Freedom's Cause Review

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A TOS Review: Great Commission Films

"This is the story of our children. This is the story of the big yellow bus. This is the story of IndoctriNation." Scottish native-turned-Texan Colin Gunn has caught my attention, and we are not even 2 minutes into this movie. 

"IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America" was released by Great Commission Films in 2011. (retail price $19.95) is a documentary/testimonial of Colin Gunn, a Christian homeschool father of seven who takes his family on a 3-week journey across our nation in a big yellow school bus to investigate the origins of the government school systems, the major shifts over the 200 year history of government schools, and where we are as a nation today compared to when they began. 

IndoctriNation DVD Review

I was glad to be chosen to review this movie by The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. In this 102-minute DVD, you will hear from some of the most respected evangelical leaders in America, government scholars and historians, university professors, as well as public school principals and teachers.

The movie began with a warning to parents that this was not a video appropriate for children, for which I was grateful. While there was nothing graphic or explicit, and I wouldn't have minded my older 2 watching with me and answering their questions, the content was definitely for adults. Major points of discussion were:

Sexual education and promiscuity

Homosexual education material

School shootings/violence

Pressure to undermine or renounce the Christian faith

It is important to know from the get go that this film is made for a Christian audience. Most of the arguments and concerns regarding the public schools in America are that they are, as stated above, undermining the Christian faith. Many of the people interviewed stated from personal experience how they have witnessed the moral decline of the schools they are a part of. If you do not hold to the moral tenets of the Christian faith, then you are not going to relate or even care about some of the arguments made against government run schools. If, however, you are a Christian and strive to uphold biblically based morals in your home and family, then you may want to hold on to your seat...because it could be a bumpy ride. Be prepared to have your toes stepped on, but more importantly, your eyes opened.

One of the most striking testimonials for me was an elementary school principal who was a devoted Christian. When asked by Gunn how he uses his position of high standing to be salt and light to his students and in the community, he gets kind of emotional. He compares his role to the story of the little boy standing in front of the dike, putting his finger in the hole to stop the flood. All the while, the foundation is crumbling underneath him. The foundation of the government run schools is no longer built upon God and His word. He says, "I know I am on shaky ground, and I have a hard time with that."

I have heard the "salt and light" argument so many times over the years. That if we take all the Christian families out of the public schools, then we are turning them over to the darkness. It is unfathomable to me that we would put this argument out there. When the teachers and faculty who proclaim Christ are finding the battle overwhelming and essentially unachievable, how then are we to argue that our children should hold the front lines? It is absolutely absurd to me.

Another statement that I found profound and thought provoking was from renowned pastor, RC Sproul, Jr, a huge opponent of government run schools.RC Sproul, Jr. He said that as a Christian community, we aren't "losing" our kids, we are giving them away. "We are sending our Christian kids to a government school who refuses to allow God in, and we wonder why they aren't thriving."

It is a spiritual battle, certainly. But we are not only asking our CHILDREN to fight the battle, we are asking them to go in, hand over their weapons...and still expect them to win.

We are a homeschool family. We started this journey when our oldest was 4 years old. He has never been in a public school setting, nor has any of his siblings. This was a decision prayed over, agonized over, and committed to by my husband and I nearly nine years ago. I will not say it is easy. In fact, it is the hardest thing you could probably choose to do for your kids. 

There have definitely been days over the years that that big yellow bus driving past our house had its enticements.  I would dream of packing little sack lunches, kissing their cheeks, and enjoying 8-10 hours of child-free living. That is what I'd always assumed I would do. It's what my parents did, and theirs before them...why would I do it any differently? Kelly and I both attended public schools ( I did my entire academic career, Kelly did from 7th grade on) and we came out relatively unscarred. In fact, I mostly enjoyed my school years. So what was the big deal? "IndoctriNation" shows many of the reasons why it IS such a big deal.

Choosing to homeschool was not something we did lightly, or something that we had even considered until the Lord laid it on our hearts. We were convicted and shown in very direct ways that it was the path He had for our family. We (more so, I) struggled with it, in fact even rebelled against it, until we finally committed to follow His leading. I truly believe if I had seen "IndoctriNation" during that time of deciding what to do for our family, the decision would not have taken me nearly as long, nor would I have been so reluctant to try homeschooling in the first place. I know in my heart that we are on the right path, but watching this movie gave me comfort and peace to continue pressing on. That big yellow bus will never hold the enticements that it once held for me, ever again.

More information on IndoctriNation can be found at:


If you would like to know what my fellow TOS Reviewers thought of IndoctriNation, check out the other reviews here:

IndoctriNation DVD Review

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Uncle Jim

It was Friday, February 6. I hadn't been up long, just beginning to start our day. Adjusting to life with six children at home, enjoying our precious little Cadie Sean. We had been home from the hospital for less than 24 hours. I was exhausted, but doing ok. I got on Facebook and saw some very cryptic posts. First from my cousin Jackie's daughter, Kimberly..."Please pray for my family"...then my cousin Ryan..."Prayers for my family today!" I was a little concerned, but knew it could be anything, really. Seeing no other details, I was certain it wasn't serious. I mean, I'd have been called if something was really wrong...right? But I couldn't get the invisible brick that had suddenly appeared off of my chest. I texted my cousin April a quick and simple text: "What is going on??"

My phone rang in like two minutes. April didn't sound right. She seemed nervous, hesitant, like she didn't really want to talk to me. I asked her if she knew what was going on, and she was evasive. I told her I'd seen Ryan and Kim's posts, and I knew something was up. Then she asked me if Kelly was there with me...what the heck did that mean? And why ask me that unless she had something to say that was going to rock me to the core? I told her to tell me what she knew, and she burst into tears. I asked her if it was Uncle Jim, and how bad was it. Then she blurted it out. "He's gone, Ammy. I'm so sorry. I didn't want to be the one to tell you."

My Uncle Jim. Gone? I felt lightheaded, like the world had tipped just ever so slightly. I heard someone bawling convulsively, crying so loudly and so hard that it was frightening...then I realized it was me. Kelly came running from our room, and I couldn't even tell him at first. I don't remember the rest of the conversation with April, or what Kelly had to say, or even where the kids were at the moment. I just fell to pieces. Uncle Jim was gone...and nobody had let me know.

There aren't many memories of my childhood that don't revolve around time spent with my Aunt Trudi and Uncle Jim and my cousins, Missy, Jackie and Ryan. Camping trips, summer weekends on the sailboat, countless nights at each other's houses. We were constantly together. I wasn't really the youngest of three, I was kind of the youngest of six. I was as close to Aunt Trudi and Uncle Jim as my own parents. In fact, as a young child, I barely discerned between them. Whoever was closest was who took care of my scraped knee or bad dream, and whichever lap was open was the one I climbed onto.

Uncle Jim was one of a kind. He was gruff and cranky, and ornery as the dickens. He had a goofy sense of humor and a quick temper. He could argue with the best of them, and he enjoyed riling people up, then sitting back and grinning. I remember so many things about him, but a few memories stand out brighter than most. 

I can think back to times at the Blue Hole, swimming with him when the big kids took off to explore without me. He was the oddest swimmer ever! He would lay on his back, but be in an almost upright position, where all you could see of him was his head, neck and feet. He would paddle around in circles singing, "Do-doo-do, doo-de-doo!" It was just weird, but it always made me giggle. He'd take me to look for rocks and dig for worms, anything to keep me occupied and out of Mom and Aunt Trudi's hair while they got a meal ready. 

I can remember him getting out of the shower at their house and me rushing to climb on his lap so I could "help" him comb his hair - Uncle Jim wore a comb-over, pompadour-like hairdo till I was in my late teens. When it was wet, it was well past his shoulders. And I remember when he finally buzzed his hair for the first time, I was spitting mad! He just didn't look right at all!

I remember him kissing Aunt Trudi in their kitchen, grabbing her and making her dance with him while she was trying to cook chili. He could irritate the daylights out of her, and she'd always snap at him when he was bothering her...but when he'd walk back to the living room, they'd both be smiling. 

I remember he and Daddy arguing about...oh, everything. He really did love to get Daddy riled up! They were so much alike, but had such differing opinions on things. It would all be in good fun, but when Uncle Jim would say, "Now see here, little brother...", I knew the joking was over and he meant business.

I remember him making the most ridiculous faces. He was always crossing his eyes and sticking out his tongue at me. I was a...pouty times, and he could always get me out of a foul mood with his goofy looks. (In my defense, I pouted because I was CONTINUALLY picked on and left out by the older kids, just an FYI!) And he always took my side. I was the baby, after all. ;)

I remember the first summer I brought a boyfriend to a family gathering. He scared the daylights out of poor Chris with threats of bodily harm while we swam at a family gathering at our house - he wasn't thrilled with my bathing suit of choice, or my boyfriends' appreciation of said swimsuit. He could be pretty intimidating, and he enjoyed the role!

I remember taking my senior pictures over to Greenfield for Uncle Jim and Aunt Trudi to pick out their choices. Aunt Trudi picked out her favorites, and he hated every one of them! He said she was picking the froo froo ones, and they didn't look anything like me. He chose one of me in my Dallas Cowboys hat and sweatshirt and my hair pulled back in a ponytail. He looked at her and said, "Now THIS one is Ammy!" That was the end of that - they both got the 8x10 THEY wanted!

I remember my graduation day. He and Aunt Trudi pulled me away from everyone at the party and took me to Mom and Dad's room alone. They handed me an envelope with $100 in it. I knew what a sacrifice that was, and I was so overcome. I told him it was too much, and he just shook his head with tears in his eyes. He told me how proud he was of me, and that me going to college was a dream he was glad to see coming true. This was his part of supporting me in that dream.

I remember my wedding day. More tears. More hugs and him telling me he was proud of me. Then at my reception, when a fast oldie came on. I was dancing in a group of girlfriends when I felt someone grab my hand from behind. I turned around to see Uncle Jim grinning from ear to ear. He pulled me onto the dance floor, and we jitterbugged like there was no tomorrow! I'll never forget that dance as long as I live.

As the years flew by, priorities changed. All us kids got married, had families of our own. Uncle Jim and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things. His outspokenness and frank opinions didn't always come across with love. I had my feelings hurt on numerous occasions. His health wasn't the best, and he was miserable much of the time, putting him in horrible depressed moods. We grew apart. When they moved away from Walnut Grove, I never imagined so much time could go past so quickly, and that I'd not have time to see him again. I can't change it now, but I am so sorry that I didn't make it a priority to stop by. To spend time with him. To let him state his opinions and complaints, and just grin and bear it. I hate that my older kids don't have many good memories of being around him because he felt so badly, and my littler ones don't have memories of him at all. Those will be my biggest regrets. But through all of that, I can see past the recent years and go back to my childhood and remember him at his best and share my sweet memories of him with them.

The funeral is over. It was a good turnout. All six of the surviving siblings were there, and all but four of the nieces and nephews came. A few people shared some memories and laughs. Some beautiful songs were sung. Aunt Trudi clung to Cadie, finding comfort in her new little life coming so close to Uncle Jim's passing. I just sat there with continual tears flowing down my face. More people stood and shared. I couldn't do it. I am sad that I didn't. But I am glad to have shared them here, now. It isn't much, but it's my tribute to my uncle, my godfather, and one of the most important men in my life.

Rest in peace, Uncle Jim. I love you, so very much.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Time Has Arrived!

I woke up Tuesday morning about 7:30 after a fitful sleep. I was really uncomfortable, but groggy enough not to put two and two together. Then, I felt it. Yep. No denying it. That was a contraction. A real one. Tight, a little painful, pretty uncomfortable. I just smiled. Finally! I was only 3 days past my due date, but I had somehow convinced myself that this little one was GOING to come early. My reasoning for this silliness? All the boys had been late or induced, Chloe was the only one who came early. So, since this was a girl, I was CERTAIN that she would follow in big sister's footsteps. BUZZ!! Wrong answer! This little girl was going to set her own path from the telling what this holds for our future! :D

I got up and started keeping track of the contractions. Quietly, of course. Even though I was certain this was the real thing just getting started, I didn't want to get the kids all worked up. By 10, they were consistently 20 minutes apart, so Kelly and I started making plans for the kids and co-op. Of course, I would go into labor on co-op day! Kelly decided to take them to co-op and to stay and teach his class, then leave them in Emily's care. He was gone for not quite two hours, and the contractions practically came to a stop - I was so frustrated! I called my nurse and asked her what to do. She encouraged me to take a bath, lie down and rest. She was sure if it was the real deal, they'd start back up again, and she was right! By 3:00, I told Kelly we should start making our way to the hospital. We were in the car at 3:30, walking into L&D at 4:00. 

The Triage nurses were great. When they realized this wasn't our first rodeo, they were much more relaxed and not too concerned. When one nurse went to check me, she said I was at a 3 1/2, which is what I'd been my last two doctor appointments. I was disappointed, but not surprised. When I progress, I progress quickly. They acted like they'd send me home, but called Dr. Wotherspoon to ask her. My blood pressure was pretty elevated, and they weren't comfortable with that. She told them to send me over to L&D - we were gonna have this baby! So by 4:30, I was walking into my L&D room. They called the on call doctor to come in and break my water. When she came in and checked me at 5:00, she asked what I'd been, they told her 3 1/2. She just smiled and said, "Well, that's a good sign. She's at least a 6 now!" WOW!! All the girls were very surprised at that! They asked me if I was going to want an epidural, because they'd have to get me in line right then. I told them to get me in line! :)

We had a sweet nurse named Kelli until a little after 7:00. I really don't remember any of the other names, but they were some of the sweetest girls I'd had in all my deliveries. They all were fascinated that we had so many kids, that we homeschooled, and they all wanted to visit and share about their families. It was actually a nice distraction, and I enjoyed them all. 

The doctor came in about 6:30 to give me my epidural. He asked me if I minded if some medical explorers observed. I told him that was fine with me. So two girls, a 16 and an 18 year old, walked in the room. They may have believed they knew what was about to happen, but they were in for a surprise...about 5 minutes in, one was directed to sit down on the floor before she passed out! We had a good laugh at her expense, but she was a good sport! She even came back for my delivery, which she said she enjoyed much more than watching the epidural. LOL!

About an hour later, I knew it was time. Kelly went and got a nurse, and we were ready to roll. Unfortunately, Cadie had other ideas...somehow at some point, she had turned sideways. Nobody expected this, and she got stuck. Before I had any idea what was happening, there were three nurses standing on top of me, one grabbing an emergency call cord (which was broken and didn't call anyone, we found out later) and the other two pushing on my stomach with all they had. Kelly said Dr. Wotherspoon was pulling on Cadie like nothing he'd ever seen before. Her head was out at 7:37, but the rest of her came at 7:40. In hindsight, it all happened really quickly, but it was a scary few moments for sure. They said she was stunned and swooped her away. It took a few minutes, but I finally heard her cries. A healthy, loud girl at 8 pounds 14 ouncs and 21 inches long. Then I could breathe.

There was some concern that they may have broken her clavicle. She was very fussy through the evening, and it made me wonder, as well. But when I picked her up around 2am to feed her, I heard a pop in her shoulder. She stopped crying immediately, and didn't fuss much after that. They brought in the xray machine to my room the next morning to be sure, and it came back just fine. I was so relieved.

We have had a bad cold and flu season here in SW Missouri, and the hospitals had restricted children under 14 from the hospital. We knew about it beforehand and had prepared the kids for it. They were very upset, but knew there was nothing we could do about it. About mid day Wednesday, however, they lifted the ban! My nurse was very happy to tell me, and I called Kelly right away. He didn't tell them, but loaded the kids up and surprised them by driving right up to the hospital! Connor and Chloe stayed with me that night, and we had a lovely evening.

It's a beautiful thing, this family of mine. I am so thankful for all my children. They were all genuinely thrilled to have a new baby sister. They simply adore her. Every one of them have had special bonding time with her and are developing their own unique relationship with her. I am proud of all of them. There are sure to be moments of chaos, frustration, and probably even some jealousy, but we will deal with them all with the Lord's guidance. He has given us a most priceless gift with these children, and Kelly and I know without a doubt that we are Abundantly Blessed.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Welcome, Carlie Grace!

So I woke up Saturday morning to a lot of commotion...four little voices giggling and visiting with much excitement in their voices...I knew immediately what it was all about. Tiffany must have gone into labor. Phoebe had gotten the call, Casey had dropped them off, and they had headed to the hospital. Phoebe fed them breakfast, and then they headed up the stairs to have a day of fun with their cousins. My kids were as thrilled and excited as the girls were! We love babies in this family, and the fun of waiting together was just a blast. I will admit, I was a little disappointed. This was Cadie's due date, and I didn't feel any closer to having her than I had for two weeks. But adding a niece or nephew to the family on any day is a blessing.

All of the kids had a lot of fun. They played outside, built Legos, watched movies, had a tea party, and much more. They were looking forward to hearing from Casey, but didn't dwell on it all day. I was actually more anxious to hear than they were, I think! :D When the call finally came, it was very exciting. We all waited with baited breath to find out...girl, or boy???

Emma and I have had a bet the entire time. She was certain it was a boy, and I kept telling her I thought it was a girl! She came up the stairs, and looked at me with a sheepish grin. "You win, Aunt Ammy." LOL, that was it, that was all she had to say! Carlie Grace has joined this family of beauties, and we all are just as happy as can be. My nieces are just beautiful, inside and out. Casey and Tiffany have done a great job raising them to love the Lord and each other. Carlie will be a perfect fit, because God in His infinite wisdom puts our families together just as He knows they should be.

It was a long and exciting day, and the next day was just as packed. Casey picked them up Saturday night late, and he brought them back to us mid morning Sunday. Another day of playing with cousins! The kids hadn't had so much time together in a long time, and I was so proud of how they all behaved. And to think, very soon, two more little ones will be in the middle of all the fun and games!

So Happy Birthday, Carlie Grace! Aunt Ammy and Uncle Kelly and all your cousins love you very much already!  :)