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

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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, 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.

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

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Not much longer...

...and thank goodness for that! My blood pressure has been fairly high the least few appointments, and it got dangerously high last week, sending me to triage. I fully expected them to keep me and start labor, but instead I got the great news (insert sarcasm here!) that I'd be on bed rest for the remainder of baby girl's time inside. Ugh! I tried to remind them I have SIX other kids at home to take care on Earth was this going to work?!?

Well, let me tell ya, it's not been easy. I've been emotional. I've been testy. I've been BORED!!! I can't wait for better news, or for baby girl to make her way into the world. Any time. Like, now would be great.

In the meantime, Connor and Chloe are on meal and laundry detail. Dad's covering everything else. So I'm to just rest. Here. In my bed. Alone.  Well...that's not entirely true. Some certain somebody's have decided mommy shouldn't spend too much time by herself and have made camp beside my bed.

Sweet angel babies. I love them so. They are going to be so good with this baby girl when she arrives. She is already so very loved. And we are all ready to meet her. Me especially. Did I already say that now would be good?

A TOS Review:

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

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

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

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 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}

"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}


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.

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

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