Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Fun: A List of 5's

It has been a fairly busy week both on the blog and in real life for me.  I have been busy, busy, busy and I haven't had a lot of time to put together a long post for you, but I still wanted to put together something for you.  So I thought I would have a little bit of fun and post some lists of 5's.
Friday Fun, A Glimpse of Normal
5 Things We Are Doing/Have Done This Summer
  1. We took a trip to New York.
  2. We are entering exhibits in the county fair.
  3. We are attending a Christian music festival.
  4. We rode on a float in a parade.
  5. We have camped some and will do more camping.
5 Movies We Have Watched Recently
  1. I Can Only Imagine - go rent it now...it was so good.
  2. The Greatest Showman
  3. A Dog's Purpose
  4. Coco
  5. Ferdinand
5 Books on On My Reading List
  1. God Schooling
  2. The Best Yes
  3. The Magnolia Story
  4. Redeemed
  5. Taming the To Do List
5 Crafts I Am Working On
  1. Corner to Corner Crochet
  2. Crochet headbands
  3. A Deer Cross Stitch
  4. Hemming Curtains
  5. Crochet Hats
5 Things I Want To Do Before Summer Ends
  1. Plan out our school year
  2. Go to the beach
  3. Bake more treats
  4. Visit our hidden ice cream spot
  5. Sit around more bon fires
Those are all the things I can think of today.  What are some of your ideas for any of these lists?  I would love to know what you are up to this summer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Review of Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media

Little Miss loves music and listening to the radio.  Finding radio stations that are truly kid friendly can be challenging sometimes.  This is why I was interested in trying out Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media when we recently got a chance to review their online radio station.
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
Smart Kidz Radio is an edutainment radio station for kids.  This means their radio station is both educational and entertaining.  Their online streaming radio station is free and can be used on a computer or downloaded as an IOS APP or an Android App so that it works on multiple devices.  This radio station is designed for children ages 3-12.  All of the songs on it are original songs that were created to teach children life skills while promoting positive character traits and strong moral values.  In addition to the free streaming radio, they also have podcasts that your children can listen to.  These podcasts are fun fairy tales and songs.  Smart Kidz Media is also in the process of developing an On-Demand Membership.  This new membership will not be free, like the radio, but it will be $3.99 a month or $39 for a yearly membership.  The On-Demand Membership will give you access to over 1,000 children's songs and stories.  They will have specific programming for bedtime stories, Bible stories, fairy tales, life skills songs, skills to survive and grow songs, and so much more.  
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
I thought this would be a perfect review for Little Miss to work on since she does love music.  I just had to sign in to the Smart Kidz Radio website and then let the music play.  We only listened to this station at home via our computer because I don't have unlimited data on my phone.  I turned on the music for her while she was doing quiet activities like coloring, working on a puzzle, and cleaning up the play area.  All of the songs were positive, upbeat, and taught good things, but overall she wasn't a fan of this radio station.  Little Miss is almost 10 and she felt like the songs, even though they were good, they were really for little kids.  She even told me that she thought her 5 year old cousin would really like listening to these songs.  Even though she thought the radio station wasn't for her, she did listen at different times and she said the songs were catchy and fun.  A few of them had lines that made her laugh.  We heard some bedtime songs, songs that said it was okay to be yourself, songs that encouraged being helpful among others.  The part of the free online radio that Little Miss did like was the podcasts.  She liked listening to the fairy tales.  They were each about 15-20 minutes long and she said it was like having a book read to her.  We have listened to Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Robin Hood so far.  She wants to hear the other ones on the site and they are fun for her to listen to while doing quiet activities.  
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
If you have young kids I would recommend the Smart Kidz Radio for fun and educational music.  I could see where Little Miss would have loved this radio station when she was 3-7 years old.  I am interested to see what they will come out with in the On-Demand content and I hope that will be a better fit for us.  You can learn more about Smart Kidz Radio by clicking here.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also find out about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this radio station by clicking the banner below.
Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Review of Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press

Having a teenage son of our own, we know that sin and temptation are everywhere for boys.  You don't have to look to far to see short shorts or risky images.  I don't want that for my son and I don't want him to have to struggle in this area even though the world tries to tell you it is okay to give in, but that is not what the Bible says.  I want to raise a young man who can stand strong in the world.  That is why I seek out resources that can help my teenage son and encourage him to stand strong.  I recently received  Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to review and I am so glad I got a chance to read this book.  It approaches a sensitive topic from a Biblical perspective and gives honest answers.
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Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality  was written by Hal and Melanie Young.  This book was written specifically for teens to twenty-something age guys.  It is written in a straight forward and direct manner to help young men resist sin and temptation while preparing them for marriage and family life.  It answers awkward questions that boys may have, helps them learn practical ways to fight the temptation that surrounds them, encourages them to get help for breaking out of sin and renewing their mind.  This book is also written to help young men learn how to have healthy and godly relationships with girls while thinking about their future with a wife.  It is a quick, but powerful read with 95 pages and six chapters with an introduction and conclusion.  The chapters include:
  • Sex Was God's Idea
  • It's All Connected
  • The Enemy Perverts God's Design
  • How Can a Young Man Keep His Way Pure?
  • Recovering From a Fall
  • Guys and Girls
Each chapter also includes a summary of key points from the reading.  There are direct discussions about the human body and how it works, how guys are tempted and may give in, what they can do if they have given in to temptation to regain their purity, and how to put a plan in place to prevent sin, temptation and falling.
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It is because I have a teenage son that I wanted to read this book.  I wanted to know what the authors would say on the topics, temptations, and sins that so often plague boys and men.  I know they are constantly being bombarded by the filth of the world and the world tries to play it off as the norm.  Pornography, sex before marriage, and other impurity does not have to be the norm and the Bible speaks clearly against it.  I felt that Hal and Melanie Young presented clear information, facts, and a plan to prevent giving in to these things from a Biblical perspective.  While the reading is very direct and frank, it is very accurate and they are very clear what God says about the issues.  I truly appreciated that this book didn't just point a finger and make guys feel bad about sin and the temptations they will face.  It explained how God designed men and women and how and why He created sex specifically for marriage.  The book also warned of situations, temptations, and people to avoid along with practical approaches for doing so.  I really liked their Five Point Defense (they also called "a fist to knock away temptation").  This method advises guys to leave the situation, pray, read Scripture, Sing to the Lord, and go to their authorities (get some accountability).  This method is practical and even though singing sounds silly, you can focus on the sin if you are singing to the Lord.  I also appreciated that this book didn't tell guys to "avoid girls at all costs."  It encourages guys to be friends with girls, but be honoring to them by not putting yourself or the girl in a situation that opens the door to sin.  It suggested group outings and/or dates, being in public places where others can see you, and being just friends before ever thinking about dating.  It also discussed making sure the person you are interested in is truly a Christian too and that is a point I completely agree with.  I also liked that the book talked about what to do if you have already given in to temptation.  God doesn't give up on us and He provides forgiveness so you can start over.  Grace is an amazing gift.

I definitely recommend reading this book if you have a son.  I even recommend reading it if you have a husband.  It is a great resource that deals with topics that we Christians typically want to avoid, but they are topics we need to address because our guys are being tempted all the time.  I do plan to have my husband and my son read this book.  I think it will be beneficial to both of them to help them form a plan of attack when they feel overwhelmed by this world.  I personally think it is best for boys about 13 on up as it does have some frank conversation in it, but if your son is younger than this you could read it to know what may be being thrown at him and how to help him through it until he is old enough to read the book.

You can learn more about the book Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality here.  It comes not only in paperback, but also in eBook, mp3 download, and Audiobook formats too.  You can learn more about Great Waters Press and all the resources they have to offer on their websiteFacebookInstagram, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.  Hal and Melanie Young also have a Facebook page.  You can learn more about this book from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew as well by clicking on the banner below.  I am sure we all found different parts of this book that applied to us.   I also got the chance to read another book from Great Waters Press, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope and you can read that review here.
Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Review of No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope from Great Waters Press

Parenting today can be tough.  There are so many things the world throws at your kids and so many things you want to protect them from.  I am always open to reading books that give practical, Biblical advice on parenting.  That is why I was excited to receive No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope from Great Waters Press to review.
No Longer Little by Hal and Melanie Young
No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope  was written by Hal and Melanie Young.  This 203 page book is designed for parents with tween girls or boys ages 8-14.  It takes a look inside what might be going on with your tween physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It also offers parents encouragement, tips, and strategies for dealing with these changes and emotions.  The suggestions that Hal and Melanie make are practical and they know the material that is presented in this book works because they have experienced it in raising their eight children.  The book includes twelve chapters, an introduction, references, a list of the Scripture Referenced throughout the book, an index, and a Colophon page, which, in this case, describes the font types used.  The twelve chapters are on the following topics:
  • Chapter 1 - Getting Bigger: Hormones and Body Changes
  • Chapter 2 - The Rollercoaster: Emotional Upheaval
  • Chapter 3 - Brains Turn to Mush: Why School Goes Awry
  • Chapter 4 - Many A Conflict, Many A Doubt: Spiritual Questioning
  • Chapter 5 - The Awakening: Sexuality and Virtue
  • Chapter 6 - Social Struggles: Overcoming Awkwardness
  • Chapter 7 - Media, Gaming, and Discernment: More Than Amusement
  • Chapter 8 -  Conflict At Home: Family Relationships
  • Chapter 9 - Transitioning: Youth in the Bible
  • Chapter 10 - Celebrating Growth: Coming of Age Ceremonies
  • Chapter 11 - Producers, Not Consumers: Work and Stewardship
  • Chapter 12 - The Next Big Thing: High School and Beyond
This book is a very timely resource for me to read.  It is right where we are at in parenting right now.  We are the parents of a tween....as much as I don't want to say that and still see my daughter as my baby, she is at that stage of tween.  It has been a little while since my son was there and exhibited signs of being a tween.  So as I started reading this book, it was like a light flipped on.  All the roller coaster days of the past few months, the indecisiveness, the forgetting what I told her 5 minutes ago, and more all started to make sense.  I know that she is getting to an age where major changes are coming, but I forgot that so many of the small changes start happening long before big changes happen.  So this book reminded me of that.  The first half of it was a great guide to "this is what to expect" and "this is how to approach it."  Hearing how the authors dealt with all the emotional roller coasters, forgetfulness, and the "meh" of the tween stage, helped me be able to put things in perspective and share their tips and ideas with my hubby so that we can deal effectively with our tween.  It is a reminder that this stage will pass and if we don't help her process through this stage well, then we will be in for struggles in her teen years that we could have prevented by dealing with them now.
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The second half of the book was about things to be aware of and how to prepare your tween for success in the future and while helping safeguard them from certain things.  It discussed topics like use of media and gaming, family relationships, celebrating becoming a tween, preparing for work and stewardship, and high school.  This part of the book was very good and practical.  I really appreciated the part on work and stewardship since I always try to encourage my daughter to think about what she might want to do in the future.  I want her to explore lots of areas and careers now since we have the opportunity to research them in homeschooling.  This will help us find a direction for her that she can pursue and explore throughout school and not just jump into something after high school.  This section of the book even encourages you to help your tween start their own business while being young and it was encouraging to me because my daughter comes up with business ideas all the time.  I need to be better about helping her think through them and finding one that she could actually start to try out.

I really appreciated this book and all the authors had to say on tweens.  It was a great reminder for me to be mindful of these stages and phases in my daughter.  The battles of this age are going to be there, that is part of growing up, but being prepared for this stage will lessen these battles and help us to head off many of them before they start.  I also really appreciated the preparing for the future part too.  That is an area that we do need to think about and prepare for even while she is going through the tween stage.  I personally enjoyed the mix of Biblical wisdom and personal experiences that the authors included because it helped me know the approach they used when they are were in the  situations I have been in or will be in with my tween.  I definitely recommend reading this book if you have a tween or will have a tween.  I found valuable information in for parenting my daughter in a calm, graceful way even when she is not thinking clearly.

You can learn more about the book No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope here.  It comes not only in paperback like we received, but also in eBook format too.  You can learn more about Great Waters Press and all the resources they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.  Hal and Melanie Young also have a Facebook page.  You can learn more about this book from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew as well by clicking on the banner below.  I am sure we all found different parts of this book that applied to us.  I also got the chance to read another book from Great Waters Press, Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality and you can read that review here.
Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}

Friday, July 20, 2018

Zucchini Skillet

We love fresh produce around our house.  Zucchini is one of our favorites.  You can use it for making bread, muffins, and so much more.  It makes a great filler for sneaking into sauces and it makes a great replacement for pasta.  I came up with this zucchini skillet one night as a quick dinner for hubby and I because I needed to use up the zucchini.  Of course once it was done, the kids who weren't hungry when I cooked, needed to try it and ate most of it before hubby and I got a chance to have some.  So I dare say this recipe is family approved and now it goes into our regular rotation when I buy zucchini.
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Zucchini Skillet
6-8 medium size Zucchini, cut into 1/4" half pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pound of ground turkey
2 tbsp. Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or a general mixed seasoning)
Shredded Cheese - optional
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1.  In a medium size saute pan, brown the ground turkey.  Cook it until it is completely done, breaking it into pieces as you brown it.

2.  While the ground turkey is cooking, chop your zucchini and onions.
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3.  Add the onions to the ground turkey (you can add them when the ground turkey is mostly cooked).  Cook them for about 3 minutes on medium heat.
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4.  Add the zucchini to the turkey and onion mixture.  Stir it all together and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the zucchini is cooked to your likeness.  (My hubby likes the zucchini so it is cooked, but not mushy.)  You can put a lid on it to help it soften faster.
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5.  Add the spaghetti sauce and 21 Seasoning Salute.  Stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes to warm up the sauce.
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6.  Turn off the stove, add cheese if you desire, and enjoy.

What I love about this meal is that it is simple, filling, and good for you.  If there are any leftovers, they do re-heat well.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Review of Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) from Code for Teens

In today's computer oriented world, I believe that it is important for kids to learn more than just the basics like typing.  I think it is important for them to know some of the background, why, and how to of coding so that they can learn why computer programs do what they do.  This is why I was excited to receive a copy of Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) from Code for Teens for Buddy to review.  I was hoping that this book would be a good start to get him interested in and learning about computer programming and coding.
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Programming and coding are subjects that every teen will deal with if they use a computer, play a video game, or visit a website.  This is why Jeremy Moritz wrote Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1).  He decided that if teens were going to deal with all this technology, they should be able to learn why technology does what it does.  Since he helps homeschool his children and couldn't find coding material that would teach this skill at a pace that teens can understand and use, he created his own book that would do just that.  He believes that having teens learn code opens a world of possibilities for them especially when programming jobs are in high demand.  I agree with him.
Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is designed for teens to teach themselves how to code without a parent or teacher's help.  The book moves at their pace and every chapter includes plenty of drills to work on, review sections, and a chapter quiz.  Teens can complete as many drills as they need to to understand the material and they can easily repeat the drills to get extra practice if they feel unsure of the code they have learned.  The concepts in the book do build on each other so it is necessary for your teen to understand the material and be able to get the coding to work right before they move on to the next chapter.  The book includes 10 chapters for students to learn from, a message for parent on how students are to use this book, a glossary, and an answer key for students to check their work with.  The chapter titles are:
  • Chapter 1: Hello World!
  • Chapter 2: Time to Operate
  • Chapter 3: Comment on the String Section
  • Chapter 4: Have Some Functions
  • Chapter 5: Shall I Compare?
  • Chapter 6: Logically Operational
  • Chapter 7: Projects Galore
  • Chapter 8: Hip Hip Array!
  • Chapter 9: Loop a Round
  • Chapter 10: Make a Hangman Game
Students can work through this book on a computer or tablet.  They just need to use Google Chrome as their browser.  
Buddy wasn't too sure of this book at first.  He has tried a little bit of coding before, but he didn't enjoy it because the directions were complicated and many times he got lost in the middle of them and it just didn't work for him.  So he was hesitant about this book.  I had already read the introduction and note for parents before handing it to him so I knew that this book was designed to walk him step by step through everything.  Buddy started reading and decided that this coding was something he could do.  That was a good thing because he didn't get too far into Chapter 1 before he got down to work.  The chapters are laid out so that you alternate between reading and applying/trying what you read until you get to the Chapter Quiz.  Then he answered the quiz.  After that there was a review the key concepts from the chapter, then there were final drills for him to complete to get more practice, and last there was a DIY project that he had to complete on his own that was based on the drills.  The chapters have bold print glossary terms and do a great job of defining them so that he could actually learn coding lingo.  Buddy worked through Chapter 1 in a few days time.  I wanted him to go slow and really take his time so that he understood what he was doing and not just rush through it.  He said that the book made it easy to understand what he was putting into the console and why he should put in what he had to type in.  He must have understood it well because he passed his quiz with flying colors.  The DIY project for chapter 1 was coding the average age of his family and Buddy did well at this.  He had to look back through parts of the chapter, but he eventually got it.  Our average family age is 25.75.  It was pretty cool that he understood what he was doing and was able to make the coding work.  
Buddy hasn't minded working his way through this book.  He says it is explained well so he doesn't get lost in the coding.  He has worked through chapter 2 and will finish chapter 3 soon.  Chapter 3 is taking longer because it involves coding his biography.  Not only does he have to think about what he wants it to say, he also has to think about how to say it in programming language.  He hasn't minded learning JavaScript and says it is interesting.  After seeing what Buddy can do in just a few short weeks, I am excited for him to finish working his way through this book to see how much more he learns and how far he can go with this programming.  I think it is a valuable skill for him to learn in today's technological age and even though he isn't crazy about computers, this coding knowledge will help him.  I read ahead and saw that the next of volume of Code for Teens books will be about HTML and CSS which can help him learn to make a website.  I am very interested in having him work through that book in the future too.  Learning programming and coding skills can never hurt and then he can help me with my blog coding.  
I really like the layout of this book and how it breaks coding speak down in to step by step instructions that are easy to understand.  I like that this book is written to be fun and entertaining and it doesn't bore my son while he his working.  I think it does a great job of simplifying technical jargon so that anyone picking up this book can understand the language.  I definitely want Buddy to finish working his way through this book and I am definitely interested in other volumes in the series.  The only suggestion I have for Code for Teens is to make the book spiral bound.  This would help the book stay open to where students are working.  This was Buddy's only complaint is that he would be working and his book would flip closed.
Code for Teens
We definitely Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) for learning JavaScript.  You can learn more about the book on the Code for Teens website and read the first chapter of the book there too.  You can also find them on Facebook.  Click the banner below to read the reviews of this book from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew and see how they used it with their students.
Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New York in Pictures

Last week we got the opportunity to go to New York.  We were the 2nd set of drivers for our youth group and we helped drive them to Word of Life camp in New York.  So we got a chance to not only visit the camps, but also to visit some gorgeous towns in New York.  We were up in the mountains and God's handiwork was AMAZING!!!  Here are some pictures from our trip:
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These are the ski jumps from the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.  We have a whole new appreciation for ski jumpers...that is a crazy ridiculous height.
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We had a lot of fun exploring, hanging out with our youth group leaders, and getting to know the teens as we drove to and from New York.  We saw the Pottersville, Schroon Lake, Lake Placid, Saranac, and Lake George areas.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.