Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A TOS Review: Accountable2You

Let's face it. Our children are living in a world that we have a difficult time relating to. The availability to virtually anything via the internet can be a blessing and a curse. While the technological age has some advantages, teens today have practically unlimited access to the world beyond the eyes of their parents...and that can be a huge temptation to many. Inappropriate websites can pop up inadvertently one time, but one time is enough to spark their curiosity and take them down a path we would not wish for them. I know for myself, it is very daunting to know exactly what my children are looking at online, and I have been looking for something that would help me keep them safer when I can't be everywhere at one time. That's why I was excited to get to review Accountable2You's Family Plan.

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

Accountable2You is an accountability software. The purpose of the program is not to block content, but to keep a person accountable for what he or she is viewing on the internet by sending a report of all activity to what is called an accountability partner. For adults, this can be a spouse or close friend. For children, you can set it up for the email to come directly to you, the parent.

It also has a component called the "objectionable word list". Now this can be used to not only protect the user from objectionable content. This gives the parent a way to screen things that they may want to know if the child is searching for. For example, if you have a child who is spending a lot of time watching Minecraft videos on YouTube, you could put the name of the person they follow on the word list, and the email alert will let you know how many times your child has accessed a search with that name in it. It can also, of course, be used for illicit material, as well. You can set words as Questionable, Highly Questionable, or Not Questionable.

The family plan allows you to install the software on up to 20 devices. The personal plan covers 6 devices. The group plan offers 6 devices per person, and the small business plan offers a per-device charge. The programs are reasonably priced when broken down per device.

I have heard from many people who have used other safety and accountability programs in the past, and they were discouraged with the lag those programs caused. I did not encounter any slowing down, but I did notice my cell phone battery dying much quicker since downloading. I'm assuming it's because the program is constantly running in the background, tabulating everything I am doing every day and compiling my usage report. I don't know if there is a way to fix this, but I hope so. I have more research to do.

Accountable2You is a Christian owned and operated business that wants to build family relationships and protect Christians by opening a dialogue between loved ones about a very serious, yet difficult, subject. The thought behind the overall program is that if you know that others see what you are doing on the Internet, you are much less likely to join in questionable behavior.

To follow Accountable2You on social media, go to the links:

Many other reviewers got the chance to use Accountable2You. To check out their opinions, click here:


Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}


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Friday, October 28, 2016

A TOS Review: CrossTimber

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews


I love giving gifts. However, there are some people that I struggle with finding just the right something that will bring joy to the receiver and show just how much I care. I have gone the typical route in the past - bath gels, hand soaps, coffee gift cards. But I had a chance to review a lovely product that will fit the bill for several gift giving opportunities in the future: CrossTimber. I reviewed their personalized framed plaques with name meanings and scripture.


Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber has a host of personalized gifts to choose from: different sized name plaques, personalized mugs, and music boxes as well. The Dehnerts are a homeschool family who have found their small business niche in printing and now the personalized gift industry. John has spent 17 years running his own business. 

I know many people who struggle with choosing their children's names. Naming a child is a huge responsibility, and many people do endless research and pray that their name will bring honor. Others choose family names or go a completely unconventional route. Whichever way they go, everyone knows that a name can carry significant meaning for its bearer. But not all people even know what their name means! John and his wife Katie do research, write stories, and find beautiful pictures to create unique and beautiful gifts for their customers. For someone who married into a family who takes great pride in their family name, I saw the value of this gift right away.

I chose a screenprint of our last name, Quinn. I got to scroll through dozens of different pictures to choose my backdrop. You can choose backdrops from these categories:
  • Faith & Inspiration
  • Animals & Creatures
  • People & Relationships
  • The Great Outdoors
 I browsed through The Great Outdoors. There were sunsets, mountains, rolling hills, oceanscapes and so much more. But I settled for a Gaelic design with an Irish knot scrollwork making the border. Then I typed in the name and chose a frame. They have several choices at different price points, or you can choose the Frame Artist's Choice button and they will pick one from an array of special frames they have. Click and done!

When I received my order, I was very pleased with the printing. It has a lovely background that is in earthtones, making the red and green in the design very vibrant. And I absolutely love the scripture chosen to accompany our family name. It will hold a place of significance for my family from now on. I will admit, I wasn't blown away by the frame, unfortunately. It was just a plain, wooden 8x10 frame that I could purchase from any discount store. There were also two prongs broken off the back. The back was still secure, so it wasn't worth going throught the trouble of having to return it. It hangs just fine.



The Dehnerts pride themselves on customer service, and my order was no exception. There was a small hiccup with a mailing mixup, but John contacted me very quickly, even before I'd had time to check into it myself. He oversaw the entire situation, cleared up the mistake and communicated with me throughout the entire transaction. I was very impressed! I have had trouble in the past with online ordering, and this was a breath of fresh air to have that personal touch. Even though we never met, I felt he cared about me and my purchasing experience. I am happy to encourage anyone to order from CrossTimber!

For holiday shopping, CrossTimber has some great discounts when you buy multiple items:

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber is also having a giveaway from now to December 4! Click here to enter:
CrossTimber 2016 giveaway


To follow CrossTimber on social media, go to these links:
To see more reviews from TOS, click here:

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews



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Friday, October 7, 2016

A TOS Review: Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

Handwriting. For some families, it is just a normal part of their day. Five minutes of instruction and practice, a pat on the back for a job well done, and moving on to the next subject. For other families, like ours, it is 5 minutes to 2 hours of strife, tears, arguing, and just plain ugliness. So when I was chosen to review Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC, there was not much cheering going on in the Quinn home. But we are always willing to give something new a chance and see if we can benefit.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

None of my children have ever excelled in handwriting. My 13 year old daughter has finally begun to care and started taking more time in forming her letters. My boys...eh, not so much. There are seriously days that I take their work back to them and make them read it aloud to me - and some of those days, they aren't even able to decipher their own writing! It is beyond frustrating, but I've never been able to find anything that encouraged them to excel in this discipline.

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a phonics based program that works on reading and handwriting. You can purchase the hard copy or an ebook version, which is what we were able to review. The book has a great breakdown of how you can use it for both, or just for one of the subjects above. The chapter outline is here:

  • Chapter 1 is a breakdown about reading and handwriting, as well as teaching tips on how to utilize this program.
  • Chapter 2 is filled with reproducible alphabet worksheets.
  • Chapters 3, 4 and 5 are the reading portion of the curriculum. There is a lot of teaching on short and long vowel sounds, blending, digraphs, and also copywork pages of sample words and sentences to go along with the lessons. We did not use this section of the book since we were focused on handwriting and jumped from Chapter 2 to Chapter 6.
  • Chapter 6 begins the handwriting portion of the teaching. The type of handwriting taught in this book is called italic (which before now, I believed to be a font, not a writing style). It teaches the basics of forming slanted lines and ovals rather than perfect circles - which I found to be much less intimidating to a child who feels perfection is unreachable. It is a lovely writing style that teaches how letters can be joined into a cursive-like style as well. It is actually the foundation of calligraphy, which it also teaches in the end of this chapter. I think this is something Chloe will enjoy working through at some point.

One thing I found very encouraging in the handwriting practice was the reproducible sheets. All of the copywork is the author's handwriting, not a typical mass produced lettering that is perfect. I've always thought copywork was better than reproducibles for this reason - so the child doesn't feel inferior to a computer generated - formed letter. This way, the child is seeing an actual person's work and can emulate it, but still make it his own. I think my 8 year old really worked well with that as his example.

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting takes a subject that my kids have struggled with for years and brings them an approach that made them feel successful. I am glad we had the opportunity to try it out, and I think we will continue to use it in the future.

To follow Everyday Education on social media, try one of these out:

To see what other reviewers thought of the product, click here:


Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}


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Thursday, October 6, 2016

A TOS Review: Awaywegomedia.com

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

If you have a child who loves to explore, has a curiosity about the world beyond your front door, and dreams of far off places, a new series of books brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com that may be just for you and your little adventurer. The If You Were Me... series is a set of 8 historical books that take your child to different places and times to give him a glance at what the world is or was like for others. We were chosen to review the following four books:

Each book touches on the history of the times the book is set in, the culture, the customs, family life, and much more. They are written in a way an 8 to 10 year old could just pick up the book on their own and learn a lot. Or you could do a family time with multiple ages and use it as a jumping off point. Caleb (8), Castle (3) and I read them together, and both boys enjoyed the pictures and stories they learned about.


 

Caleb preferred the American West story the best. Here is his review:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

"If you were in the American West, you would be a pioneer. You would be travelling all over the place to new lands. Sometimes they had to cross rivers, build rafts, and take dangerous chances to get to your new home. When you got there, though, you were rewarded with lots and lots of acres, or land of your own. Sometimes there were Indians, and you didn't want to play outside alone because of all the dangers. The men and boys did the farming and ranching, and the women and girls took care of the homestead. I liked this book because it was fun. It told me what MY life would have been like if I lived back then. They ate a lot of stew, which is my favorite food!"

If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China: The Han Dynasty

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}



                       


Ancient China takes you back to the Han Dynasty, about 150 AD. It takes you to the capital city, as well as what rural life was like then. We learned about the customs of the day, how formal things were, and how important tradition, station and ancestry was to the culture. It talked briefly about slavery, class types, jobs that were respected, and celebrations revolving around their religion. This book is fairly long, and there is a TON of information in it. We didn't do this in one sitting, but broke it up over the week. There was just so much about this time period that Caleb found interesting, I will probably go back and do some activities revolving around the food, kites, dragons and symbols, and warriors.

If You Were Me and LIved in...Ancient Greece



Ancient Greece begins by comparing the ruins of Greece today and then a picture of what it may have looked like in 350 BC. This book talked a lot about Greek mythology, the clothing and housing of the time period, and the importance of education in the most civilized nation of the time.

If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy





The late 1400's were a time of great change in Europe, especially in Italy. This book shows the reader how much influence Italy had over clothing, music, art, culture, food, lifestyles and practically everything all over the world. Some of the greatest artists, musicians, and architects were living and creating in this time, and it is fascinating to see some of their creations still around today.

The If You Were Me... series is a great way to do history with younger children. I see many unit studies coming out of each of these books for my kids, and I can't wait to read the other books in the series. I highly recommend this way of open ended teaching. It gives you so much freedom to learn and explore with your children in new and creative ways.

Here are some social media links for more information:





To read more reviews about Carole P Roman's books, click here:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Every time an audio book from GA Henty comes up for review fro The Old Schoolhouse, the kids and I are hoping and hoping that we get picked. I've honestly lost count of how many stories Heirloom Audio Productions has sent us to review, but I've yet to receive one that we didn't absolutely love. The Cat of Bubastes was as great as we expected, and then some.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The story follows a young Prince named Amuba and his faithful servant Jethro through the greatest ordeal and adventure of their lives: kidnapped by Egyptians, forced into servitude, befriended by the children of the high priest to the goddess Osiris, and then sent on the run as fugitives to protect their new friend. All along the way,  Amuba must learn what it truly means to put his trust in the one true God when encountering great trials. The Cat, from which the title comes, is a small but essential character to the story's entire plot. This, and many more moments, give us insight into ancient religions, pagan worship, and the struggle in which many who encounter the Lord find themselves in.

The production is exciting, leaving you on the edge of your seat just waiting to see what happens next. Some of the stories we've had would have moments of loud scenes and eerie noises that upset our 3 year old, but this one never had him running to my lap. While it kept his attention and was exciting for us all, there were no frightening parts (or he's just gotten a little braver!)

Heirloom Audio does such a wonderful job drawing you in, I can't imagine having a movie be any more well done. Many famous people lend their voices to this production, I'm sure you'll recognize a few:
  • Jonathan Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings)
  • Elizabeth Counsell (The Chronocles of Narnia)
  • Brian Blessed (Star Wars)
And that's just to name a few!

We were sent more than just the audio book for review. Heirloom Audio also sent us the following:

  • The Cat of Bubastes Mp3 download 
  • The Cat of Bubastes eBook (original GA Henry publication with updated illustrations)
  • Printable cast poster 
  • Printable verse poster 
  • Mp3 soundtrack (So cool!)
  • Live the Adventure newsletter
  • Study guide with nearly 50 pages of learning material
  • Behind the scenes video (if you have a child interested in movies or audio production, this is a very neat look at what goes into putting together a project of this size)
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Study Guide was a pdf format, not the hard copy. They do have both, however on their website. When using the study guide, you will be amazed at all of the educational material, biblical and historical topics that you can touch on. The guide is broken down into these sections:
  • Listening Well
  • Thinking Further
  • Defining Words
It also offers a breakdown of a listening schedule with daily questions and discussion starters, as well as some in-depth bible topics. There are many ways to incorporate this into your homeschool day, and it will be a great experience for the entire family! Believe me, with a family that has a large span of ages, we didn't have any trouble finding learning opportunities for everyone. This study guide and audio book experience will not disappoint!

To follow Heirloom Audio on social media platforms, go to any of these links:
Want to see what other reviewers thought of The Cat of Bubastes? Just click right here!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes


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Saturday, September 24, 2016

#lovefirst

Do you watch the news regularly? Does it bother you as much as it does me that it is constantly filled with negativity and strife? Does it leave you feeling frustrated and challenged? I have had enough of the division the media tries to make in our country. I am tired of politics and riots and violence. But I have a hope. Within these walls, with these little warriors we are raising, we have the tough talks. We let them see some, not all, of the broadcasts. We talk about this hurting world. And it all comes back to Christ. The only thing that will help and heal our broken world is the love and blood of Jesus. And we are teaching them that they are the ones who will be the messengers. They must be bold to speak out for the outcast. To not judge others. To love unconditionally. To be a light in this dark, dark world. It's not easy, and I know I fail at this constantly. But I keep trying. And I pray.


“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” -Mark Twain

Tonight I am praying for our country and all the people who choose to believe half formed reports before FACTS can truly be stated. When will we hold the media accountable for inciting such violence in our country? And when will we as a nation come together to demand fair, unbiased, fact-covering journalism?? And when will we let Christ unite instead of letting the enemy divide?? I've been so disappointed in some Christians who jump to conclusions and spread hate with their words rather than letting the Spirit lead.


People, I beg you, be responsible with what you post. Especially as a Christian, I do not want to be responsible for putting inaccurate information out there that will harm people. #lovefirst.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A TOS Review: The Pray-ers

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

As Christians, as warriors of the faith, we have the greatest weapon and defense mechanism all rolled into one at our constant disposal, and yet many of us never learn to wield it. That weapon is prayer. In his first ever novel, published by CTM Publishing Atlanta, Mark S. Mirza takes us deep into the spiritual realm and through the ages to show us just how powerful prayer can be. The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles will challenge the way you think about your personal prayer life and what is going on behind the scenes, beyond what we see with our mortal eyes.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

Mark is the founder of Common Thread Ministries and is devoted to help churches and individuals grow in their prayer lives personally and corporately. He has been affiliated with Dr. Charles Stanley's prayer ministries and has devoted his life to teaching others about prayer. This is his first novel.

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

"Troubles" takes you on a journey through time through the eyes of the enemies' minions - demons. These soldiers for evil have constantly been trying to thwart the Holy One since the beginning of their fall from grace. We meet katepa, joln and hoadtie and learn about their battles and schemes to take captive the human heart. It is a unique perspective to see just how the enemy could be lurking nearby at anytime. But where demons dwell for mayhem, the Lord will send his angels as well. The angel Hael has a very special assignment on Earth, and he reports directly to the Holy One.

We travel through three different time periods and meet three very different men while learning about their ability to use prayer to be victorious for the Lord. In the time of the early Church, we meet Epaphrus. He has struggles to keep his flock focused on the Lord's word, to not let gossip and false teaching tear them apart at the very beginning of this ministry. During the American Civil War and the twenty plus years after, we follow Alexander Rich, a traveling northern minister called to serve God in the South, who is also a close personal friend to famed preacher DL Moody. In the modern age, we learn about Dale Riley, a cross country coach at Macon PolyTechnic University, and his struggles in his marriage and leadership role in a men's prayer group. All three men are targets of the enemy because of their ability to use prayer as a mighty weapon and their desire to teach others to do the same. But as we Christians know, the battles may not all be ours, but we know Who wins in the end.

The book is definitely not a light read. I will admit to not finishing the book yet. It is very in depth and detailed, and I found myself taking a much longer time to read this than most books I pick up. While it is a fictional base, the reality of the spiritual battles surrounding us daily definitely took me to deeper thought. I would be surprised to find I'd only read 10 or 12 pages in a sitting because I'd been so engrossed in the scripture references. I do hope to finish the book, but I know it will be one I take more time on than just a typical novel.

It is definitely worth noting that I would not have my children read this book. While my teenagers are familiar with scripture pertaining to spiritual warfare, I don't believe this is the way I want to introduce them to demons. While I appreciate the prayer tools I am learning through this read and will likely share them with my kids, I believe this is an adult novel with content over and above the heads of teens.

On an editing note, I found myself frustrated by the many typos, grammatical errors and run on sentences I encountered throughout the book. I do think this probably hindered the speed in which I was reading as much as the content of the story.

Overall, I am looking forward to finishing the book. I know that it holds great insights into strengthening my own prayer life, and I am sure many will benefit from the read.

Take time to follow these social media links for more information:
To see what other TOS Reviewers thought of the novel, click here for more reviews:
 
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cadie Bug!


This little baby girl is going to be a big sister in less than a month! Oh, my, the changes that are coming! She is going to love her baby, but, I will work hard to let her stay a baby a little longer, too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Baby Turns 15...

This is crazy, y'all...I mean seriously! Wasn't this just yesterday?!?


Now I'm sitting at the DMV, waiting for this baby of mine to get his learner's permit...I don't know how to process this. You hear it all the time - it goes so fast...and it really does. It terrifies me at times to think that I only have 3 years left to have a daily influence on this man-child...have I done enough? Have I prepared him adequately? Is he ready for more responsibility? Can I please stop the clock? 

Kelly smiles at me and takes it all in stride. He trusts we are doing our jobs as parents to the best of our ability and that God will honor that. He is fully prepared to say, "Go, my boy. We have given you the tools to succeed. Now it's up to you." I want that kind of faith and confidence.

Every day, I look at him and see him changing. His looks, his walk, his voice, his attitude. I'm proud of who he is becoming. I'm trusting that God will water those seeds we have planted and that Connor will continue to grow in his walk with the Lord. He's still a kid, but those glimpses of the man he is to be fills my heart to bursting.

This is what I wrote this morning on Facebook:

"Fifteen....fifteen!!?! Robert Connor, this day is a tough one. I'm so thankful that you are the one who made me a mama, and you hold a special place in my heart for now and always. I pray every day that you seek the Lord in all you do, trust Him to guide and direct you, and honor Him with your deeds. This growing up thing isn't always the easiest thing in the world, and watching you work through some struggles has nearly broken my heart...but I've been amazed at the strength and convictions you have gained through them. I love your steadfastness in standing up for what you believe in. I love that you don't follow the crowd, even when it costs you, and that you choose paths that I'd never expect you to take. We don't always see eye to eye, and it's not always fun to disagree, but I am always proud of your decisions because it shows me that you will never be easily swayed by this world. I love you to the moon, my sweet boy. I hope today is all you are hoping for!!"

Yep. That about sums it up. He was my first experience of my heart walking outside of me. I've never been the same, and I'm so thankful.




Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Day of Co-op 2016

We started our 10th year of Lighthouse Christian Academy yesterday. What a ride it has been! There are times when this homeschool journey can be so tough that I feel like I'm failing at every turn. That is when I am so thankful for this amazing group of families that the Lord brought into my life. We love, support, laugh and cry together. We teach our children and each others', and we are fully invested in the growth of these young people for His glory. Is it perfect? No, of course not! We are humans, fallible, and messy. But we are dependent on the Lord to help us and guide us.

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."

The year is full of promise, and I'm excited for what is to come! I can only hope these smiles will stay this bright all year! LOL!

Walkers
Pre B

3rd grade
7th grade

8th grade

This isn't happening! 10th grade!!!



Friday, August 26, 2016

Flashback Friday

This is one of my all time favorite pictures of Caleb. We were at the Butterfly Garden at Nathaniel Greene Park in 2012. He was simply fascinated with the caterpillars! I snapped this really quickly and moved on, not realizing how precious this moment would become to me...all innocence and curiosity wrapped up in those beautiful green eyes.