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Monday, October 31, 2011

George Washington Carver His Life and His Work DVD by Marshall Publishing TOS Crew Review

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              If you asked my kids what their favorite subject was when it comes to school, Alyx would quickly say History. While on the other hand Taylor likes History, Science is his ultimate favorite. Either way the History Channel plays on the TV a ton at my house. I might even say that sometimes it gets to be a little too much for me. Don't get me wrong I love that my kids are always soaking up knowledge even when they are watching TV but sometimes it gets extreme. If you have a child with Asperger's Syndrome you know exactly what I am talking about.  

  So when I mentioned to Alyx that we could have the opportunity to review George Washington Carver His Life and His Work DVD from Marshall Publishing &Promotions, Inc. he was so excited. The first thing he said to me was "Did you know that he is most famous for his affiliation with the peanut?" I honestly had to answer "No". That was all about to change as we were blessed to be picked as one of the reviewers from the TOS Crew and our DVD was on its way. Alyx checked the mail everyday. I could not believe how excited he was about getting this DVD. The minute it came we popped it into the DVD player and watched it we did.

  I am not a big fan of History myself and I am sad to say that I did not retain much from my days in school from long ago. That makes learning so much more fun in our house as I sometimes feel as if I am learning right along with my kids. Learning seems so much more enjoyable here at home than it did when I sat and listened to the teacher and we just did book work.

  My kids and I are all visual learners. When presented with the opportunity for hands on learning and DVDs I jump at it as the information seems to sink in more and we all seem to remember more. This DVD presented itself in a way that walked you through George Washington Carver's life and work.

Check out what the publisher had to say:

Product Description



GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER: His Life and His Work DVD


Born into slavery and reared during the Reconstruction years in the South, George Washington Carver struggled through poor health, poverty and prejudice…to become a great benefactor, not only to his people…but to his country as well. Carver is known in history books as the “peanut man” – for his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton. As one of the world’s foremost experts in agriculture and horticulture, Carver, through his research and teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama practically reinvented land management in the South. He is said to have compiled a list of over 300 uses for and by-products of peanuts such as cosmetics, dyes and paints, plastics, gasoline and nitroglycerin.


But his work as a creative scientist stretches far beyond that endeavor. He marveled at the world around him and his ability to inspire those closely associated with him may well have been one of his greatest lifetime achievements. As a living example of the importance of hard work, a positive attitude and a good education, Carver was instrumental in changing the stereotype of the time that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race.

Here then, is the story of Carver’s life…a life that should not be forgotten, for it is full of hope, meaning and inspiration. To commemorate his life and inventions, George Washington Carver Recognition Day is celebrated on January 5, the anniversary of Carver's death.


For anyone looking for an inspirational story, for historians, teachers and students, and for young and old alike this DVD featuring stunning photography and a superb original music score is certain to be watched again and again.
© 2009 Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc. A Kaw Valley Films Production
KVFD-106 Length Approx: 30 Minutes ISBN 978-1-9636134-12-0 UPC 894190001868

    I know that in our house this movie will be watched over and over again. The other great addition to this DVD is the Study Guide that can be printed off and used with the suggested ages of 4th grade through adult.  We used this study guide and turned it into a lapbook unit study. My boys love lapbooks and you can take any topic and turn it into one which seems to happen quite often around here.

  If you think your family would enjoy this DVD of George Washington Carver you can purchase it from Marshall Publishing for $19.95 but for a limited time enjoy 15% off with the code I was given to share TOSC1 enter it at checkout to get your discount.
  Be sure to check out all of the products that Marshall Publishing has to offer including many other History DVDs and so much more like Fire Trucks, Jets and Planes, Animals and Rockets and Space.
  Please also be sure to check out all of my fellow TOS Crewmates reviews on George Washington Carver and also Lots & Lots of Fire Songs & Safety Tips DVD.



Disclaimer

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or



services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it


on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally


and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance


with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the


Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Friday, October 28, 2011

Northstar Games Say Anything Family TOS Crew Review

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    If your family is anything like ours we LOVE Family Game Night!! As a perk of being part of the TOS Crew, we not only do we get the privilege of reviewing curriculum and learning products, but also fun games that are great for family game night. 
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    We had the pleasure of reviewing 2 games from Northstar Games recently one of which was a Silly, fun game called Say Anything Family. The other was more of a learning game although fun in it's own respect. You can read about Wits & Wagers Family on my post here.
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    Say Anything Family, is a game that makes kids use their imagination and think sometimes outside of the box. This game is geared for ages 8 and up. my kids are 11 and 13 that played this with me and they laughed themselves silly while playing.

Everyone chooses a color Meeple to be, this game does not use actual Meeples it uses "coins" that represent the player and have a Meeple pictured on it. My kids were a little bummed that actually Meeples were not used. The chose to take the Meeples from our other game and use them sometimes. Back to the game, players pick their color that will represent them and then they get the corresponding wipe off board and a marker. Make sure you have tissues handy to act as an eraser. Then the Judge reads off a question, now in this game there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. Just what the player feels is their best opinion.

The Judge chooses the Question and then the players write their opinion on their card. After all answers are placed on the table or floor as in our case, the Judge spins the selector to see which answer is the "right" one. Then the Judge places the Selector on face down and the players then  bet on the answer they think the judge has picked as the best answer. . They have 2 coins to bet so they can earn up to 3 points, 1 for each coin that is on the "right" answer. The third point is if they were the one that wrote the answer the judge chose. After all bets are placed the judge flips over the selector to reveals the winning answer.  The judge has the ability to earn points as well, the judge scores a point for every coin that is on the selected answer, with the maximum points being 3 for all players including the judge. The goal of the game is to be the Judge and have the most points.

You definitely need the minimum of 3 people to play like the rules state. One person is the "judge" while the other 2+ players write their answers. With only 3 of us playing it was easy for the judge to beat the players but I think once we get Nick and Daddy involved it will be a little more of a competition.

The game itself contains 60 question cards with a total of 360 topics, 6 dry erase pens and 6 dry erase boards, 1 SELECT-O-MATIC-6000 which is a spinner used to determine player order, 12 player tokens, 1 dry erase score board, and 1 full color rules booklet.

 Say Anything Family Edition Game retails for $19.99 and can be purchased from places like Amazon.com, Target and other retail stores.  Those of us on the TOS Crew that were picked to review this were chosen just in time to be able to do some Christmas shopping. Please be sure to visit my fellow crew mates and see how much fun their families had with Say Anything Family Edition. I know this will be a game I will purchase for some friends of ours this Holiday Season. Who could you buy this for on your shopping list?

  Be sure to check out all of the array of family friendly games available from Northstar Games.
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Disclaimer

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or



services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it


on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally


and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance


with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the


Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Northstar Games Wits & Wagers Family TOS Crew Review

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      School time can't always mean books and work, there is a ton of positives about homeschooling and the one of them that comes to mind is the ability to make learning as fun as possible. In our house that means making games an intrical part of our homeschool curriculum. I am always on the hunt to find great family friendly games that we can use in our homeschool and also for family game night.

   Being a member of the TOS Crew has helped me in my venture to find wonderful games that I can incorporate into our learning time. This review opportunity was no exception. Now I know what you are thinking how can a game be a learning opportunity? Well I am about to show you why! I was asked as part of the Tos Crew to Review one of the greatt games from Northstar Games, Wits & Wagers Family.


Here is what Wits & Wagers Family is all about:
Wits & Wagers Family simplifies the rules and scoring system of the popular Wits & Wagers. Now families and kids can get into the Wits & Wagers action! First, every player writes down a guess to a fun question. Then players try to score points by choosing which guess is closest to the right answer without going over. That is it!


The game features 300 new family-friendly questions. And even better than that, Wits & Wagers Family includes Meeples-- fun, cute, human shaped wooden pieces that the players use to select which answers they think are correct. Meeples have been a hallmark in European style strategy games for years, but this is the first time they have made an appearance in a party game.

So check out Wits & Wagers Family, the game that combines laughter and learning in a way that all ages can enjoy together!


A Family Edition of the Most Award-Winning Party Game in History!


  My boys have asked to play this game just about everyday since we received it in the mail. It was very fun to see them laugh at some of the answers and learn all at the same time. My husband even got into this game and if you knew him you would know that games are really not his thing.
  It made my kids really second guess themselves and to try and really think about their answers the next time around. As we all laid our answers down and "bet" on each others answers it was fun to see them really go against their answers. Sometimes they would split their wager and sometimes they would lay it all on the line with one answer. We had a different winner each time we played so it is so not a game where you really have to know the answers. Guessing is half the fun.

  This game is suggested ages 8 and up, my boys are 11,13 and almost 15 and all liked it. I would even think that younger kids could enjoy it as guessing is half the fun. So you would have to use your best judgement.

  What I liked about it is all of the answers had fun facts to be told to go right along with them. So they were learning even though they were laughing themselves silly. Usually at their Dad's answers but we won't tell him that. My kids loved "betting" against each others answers and it was great to see them thinking it through when it was time to put their meeples down. The large meeple was worth 2 points and the little one was only worth one point. Another great positive about this game is that it uses wipe off board for the answers and the score boards so you are not using paper and then throwing it away. We are big into being "Green" in our family so this was a huge bonus with our family.
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 The one downside is you have to have at least 3 people to play so my 2 boys that I homeschool could never play without me or my husband during the day. The flipside of this is it just makes me take time out to play and have fun too. So it is a small negative.
  Northstar Games makes some other great fun games one of them is Say Anything Family which we had the pleasure of reviewing too, so be sure to check out my thoughts on that game also.  Make sure you check out the whole variety of games they offer. If you would like to pick up Wits & Wagers Family you can do so online or from a variety of retail stores.

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   Be sure to check out the opinions of my fellow TOS Crew mates and what their family's had to say about Wits & Wagers Family.
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“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or


services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”











Monday, October 24, 2011

Long Overdue Update

Pin It Now!   Although I have been doing reviews, Simple Woman's Daybook and Wordless Wednesday I have been lacking in the actually updating of our lives, I am excited to do another Blog 2 Book for my Mom and I come January and need to keep up on the actual journaling of our family life, because after all is said and done this is for my kids and family.
   School has been going well we have been blessed with new curriculum this year along with our My Father's World by being part of the TOS Crew. God sure knew what he was doing when he lead me to apply for this wonderful opportunity. Be sure to check out our reviews of all we have been blessed with so far.
 In September Dave and I started up with our bowling league from church again, we look forward to every other Friday of fellowship, fun and a little healthy competition. We had to get new bowling balls, shoes and a bag due to the summer garage fire, and although I love shopping I was not eager to get these new things. It was a struggle getting used to the new balls and shoes and took a couple weeks of getting back in the groove.
  In September I also started back up in my stamp club with my upline Sherrie. I love seeing the girls and getting creative.
The end of the month was also the yearly women's retreat held at our church on a Friday night and all day Saturday. I always leave feeling so refreshed.
  The boys and my mom and I also went to see Dolphin Tale the movie. I highly recommend it to anyone especially families. We have also returned to our co-op Enrich for our 3rd year and I am teaching 2 classes, Sewing Crafts to 7-12 grade girls we are working on a patchwork purse and matching wallet in this first session. I am also teaching Creative Calendars to 1-3 graders and we are having so much fun making our calendars for next year.
Alyx and I and my Mom went to see Courageous the movie the day it came out and then Dave and I went again to see it with our good friends Gyda and Dave and also went to dinner with them. It was a great date night.
  October has been busy as well with many exciting adventures. My Best friend Sue and I have started a Woman's Bible Study at our friend Dolores' house and we meet every other Thursday. It has been a great time of fellowship and enlightening of our spirits and feels so nice to be able to share our feelings without the fear of rejection or being looked down upon.
    On the 14th we started a jam packed weekend with the boys and my Mom and I seeing Disney on Ice in the morning and then Alyx and I going with a group of friends to see The Newsboys that evening. Then on Saturday Sue and I and some other of her friends went to an all day scrap fundraiser where we stamped the day away. It was a much needed day of relaxation.
  My Mom and I have been enjoying some quality Mother/ Daughter time while being involved in a wonderful new Red Hat group. We have been blessed with some wonderful new friends.
  That I believe brings us up to date and please enjoy the pictures from some of our events from the last 2 months.                                          NewsBoys Concert



                                                 Disney On Ice











Apologia's Educating the WholeHearted Child TOS Crew Review

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    As I talk with many homeschooling parents, either at our co-op or at Church or anywhere really. I find that parents homeschool for many different reasons. Most I find may be for more than one reason like us. We were faced for many years with our Special Needs kids not fairing well in the public school system and struggling with what to do about it. We often let others guide our decisions and we were not listening to what the Lord had in store for us. When we made the decision to finally jump the proverbial fence to homeschool it was because we had finally given our lives to Christ fully and we were letting him guide us and our family in what was right for us. There were many things that were simply not working for us in the public school system and one of them was not being able to have control over the spiritual side of our children's learning. 
   Whatever your family's reasons for homeschooling are, if you are a Christian homeschooling family, you have come to the right place today for guidance as I was blessed with the opportunity to review Educating the WholeHearted Child from Apologia. I was given this wonderful opportunity because of my place on the TOS Crew.

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      I know that we often struggle with educating all areas of our children's lives, and that does not always mean school work. I often find myself feeling overwhelmed with where to start and how to fit it all in. I will start by saying I am blessed to live in one of the states with very relaxed homeschooling laws and this helps give me the freedom to teach my children what I want to teach them. Also what I feel the Lord wants them to learn without the pressures to get certain busy work done. At the same time I often feel like there are just not enough hours in the day and how am I going to possibly get it all done.

  One thing was for sure "school" does not need to take all day. Learning happens in life all around us.
When we first started homeschooling, I felt the need to structure our learning time just like the public schools and I struggled with what I felt was right when that just did not seem to be working for us. We still have a schedule but I have learned that it is OK to be a little more relaxed about it. Educating the WholeHearted Child helped me to know that I was doing a great job as long as it was right for our family.

   This book is a huge 400 page book at a full 8 1/2 x 11 size. Chock full of inspirational stories, Bible verses that relate to the material it is teaching. The book takes you through aspects of having a well rounded Christian family both in schooling and life. Section 1 is Home, then it is broken down into chapters throughout the section. I was a little overwhelmed when I saw the size of the book, but quickly learned that it is OK to skim through it the first time and then read chapter by chapter from then on. This book is so easy to navigate and is written by Clay and Sally Clarkson and tells it like it is and supposed to be by writing about their life's adventures in homeschooling. This makes it so much easier to relate with as it is real people telling their story in a friendly way. The topics in the section "Home" are: The Christian Home, The Christian Homeschool, Home Nurture, Home Discipleship, and Home Education.

   Reading just the first section seemed to life such a huge burden I had put on myself to be "perfect" in our homeschooling adventure. Next was Section 2 Learning, the chapters in this section focus on the WholeHearted Methods. The WH Learning Model, The WH Learning Home, The WH Learning Child, and THE WH Learning Youth.  These chapters focused on what needs to be learned as a whole and how to break it down to teach it.

    Section 3 Methods: Discipleship Studies Methods which is mainly focusing on the study of the Bible.
Disciplined Studies Methods, showing how to study the basics. Then it moves onto Discussion Studies Methods, Discovery Studies Methods and lastly Discretionary Studies Methods which is The Study of Living.
God did not forget to include "school" in his biblical design for raising children&mdash:home education is a natural expression of all that God intended for parents and their children. Clay and Sally Clarkson's Educating the WholeHearted Child is about rediscovering God's original design for the family. What you'll find in this book is a homeschooling model that makes sense. It's an approach that is based on sound biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction, and learning. Newly revised and significantly expanded, Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home, and the Clarksons' uncomplicated, common-sense approach to life and learning will provide you with the tools you need to experience God's abundant blessings for your family.




Here is a sample chapter for your enjoyment. You can also find the complete table of contents, be sure to check them out to see for yourself.

     What I love about his book is how it teaches the principals of the lessons for that chapter but always included how in their home this principal was put to use. This is what made it real for me and showed me that this truly works for real people like me. It is not just a text book but a true life application study. Section 4 really hit home for me and I think has helped me more than anything, the title of the last section is simply put, Living. This section focuses on Family, Structure, Order and Support.  The book finishes off with a Postscript, this is The Challenge: Keeping Faith in the Family. The most profound statement that jumps out at me from this is "The true ideal of home is not defined by human experience but is found in God's design and in his word."  Which leads me back to my one of my favorite Bible verses, ""With God, all things are possible", Matthew Chapter 19, Verse 26
With reading this book, Educating the WholeHearted Child I took with me this.

  If you keep God in the center of your life, home and homeschool, then you will be doing it the right way. There is no true wrong or right way to do things as long as you are following the plan the Lord has laid out before you and your family. Follow him and all will be right.

   The very end of the book has Resources for The WholeHearted Family, such as books and also wonderful worksheets for you and your family. There are some other wonderful  books by Apologia by the Clarkson Family featured on The WholeHeart Ministry. They also publish books under Whole Heart Press and WaterBrook Press as well. I am sure any book by the family will be a book to treasure. I know I will read Educating the WholeHearted Child over and over for many years to come to help keep me focused on this journey God has laid out for my family and I.

   If you are a veteran homeschooler or a family just starting this wonderful journey, I recommend this book to be the next book you add to your library, at only $22.00 this is a must have for you and your family. You can purchase it straight from the Apologia website. Be sure to check out their other wonderful books and Apologia Curriculum while you are there. Apologia Educational Ministries offers many resources for the homeschool family, from science, Geography and History, to language arts, to Bible Studies, to Homeschool Parent Helps. All are written from a Christian Worldview. They also have retreats for homeschool moms. You will not be disappointed when you turn to Apologia for homeschooling needs.





  Please be sure to check out what my other Tos Crew mates have gained from reading Apologia: Educating the WholeHearted Child.
   
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services


mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I

only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:

"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."









Friday, October 21, 2011

The Mighty Macs Movie Review

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     Lately I have been pleasantly surprised by the many family friendly movies popping into local theaters and  The Mighty Macs is no exception.  I know as a mom of teenage boys I often struggle with finding movie content that I feel comfortable with them viewing. Recently we went to the theater to see a movie and one of the previews was for the movie The Mighty Macs that starts today in theaters. I knew the minute I saw the preview that I wanted to see it with my family. I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to preview it right in the comfort of our own home online.
     So this week during school we watched the movie and let me tell you I was not disappointed in the least. The boys were a little skeptical at first as the movie, which is a true story centers the plot around a Catholic Girls College Basketball team. They however were quickly immersed into the storyline and did not give it another thought. I too became glued to our TV watching the movie.  Not one of us moved throughout the entire movie. My 91 yr old Grandma equally enjoyed the movie. So needless to say we had a wide age range of thoughts and opinions to work with when the movie ended.

  I find it refreshing to watch movies that overcome adversity and this film was just that. The movie tells the story of a girls Catholic College Basketball team from a struggling all girls school,Immaculata College (now University and convent that is just barely keeping the doors open. The girls are meant to play basketball merely as a form of exercise never intending to be a real team that plays to win. The new coach that is hired thinks otherwise and she teaches the girls all they need to know about Basketball and themselves and how they are all capable or dreaming and making their dreams come true. I especially like the end of True Movies when they update you on where those who were depicted in the movie ended up going with their lives.

  Here is the synopsis of the movie and you can go here for a trailer of the movie. You can also check out the movie page on facebook or twitter.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:


It's 1971. Cathy Rush is a woman ahead of her time ... and she's about to embark on an adventure for the ages. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women's basketball.






In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women's Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush is about to find Immaculata College.






Recently married, Cathy is dealing with the aftermath of a truncated playing career. While cultural norms would have her staying at home, she's willing to do the hard work necessary to help her new team reach their goals—or perhaps she's just trying to achieve her unfulfilled dreams through them.






From the beginning, her challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. Cathy learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school's Mother Superior, and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team!






While it appears the Macs don't have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday—a spunky assistant coach—and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team—and the school—together.






Will this pioneer buck cultural norms and spur her rag-tag team to unexpected heights? Or will her hard-driving ways create a wedge between the coach and everyone around her? One thing's for certain: there's never been anyone like Cathy Rush at Immaculata!

























 Disclaimer: I was given the opportunity to preview this movie from Propeller and was not compensated in any way and the ability to preview the movie did not affect the outcome of my review or my personal opinions.

E-Mealz It's What's for Dinner!! TOS Crew Review

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 It's 4 PM and you are dreading dinner time, Why? You have no idea what to make and nothing sounds good and you are tired of slaving over a hot stove only to find out your family isn't thrilled with what you have made. Why? It is one of the tired recipes you make once a week and everyone has Dinner Burnout Blues! What is a Mom to do?

   Well I am here to save the day, because I have a meal planning solution to share with you. This solution will end dinner time troubles and help with the grocery shopping too. Have I got your attention yet? I though so.
My family were give the distinct pleasure of reviewing E-Mealz as part of being on the TOS Crew. Now I know what you are thinking but what does meal planning have to do with homeschooling? Well to answer your question more than I ever though it did. Read on to find out how I not only busted our dinner time boredom, but how I also incorporated E-Mealz into our homeschool curriculum.

        For a long while now I have been at a loss for what to cook, I am not sure why, but it was getting boring at the dinner table around my house. Now I like to think I am a pretty good cook and many will agree with me unless they have been just trying to make me feel good. There just has been some creativity missing and I think it was partly do to the fact that I hated spending the time to make up a menu and then make the shopping list and then trudge to the grocery store, especially when my boys were both in tow.

One thing I know for sure is that any company endorsed by Dave Ramsey is something I want to at least try.


  Dave Ramsey

Recommends E-Mealz
Food is the biggest budget buster of all. I’ve wanted someone to create a practical solution to the "beans and rice, rice and beans" dilemma. Finally... E-Mealz has done it! Now thousands of my listeners subscribe to E-mealz from MealtimeMakeover.com. You will save a ton of time and money. And at just $5.00 per month, E-Mealz is a no-brainer!


 E-Mealz Core Belief and Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of E-Mealz and their core belief is reflected in their organization, Make Time For Family (maketimeforfamily.org), through which they are booked for speaking engagements and publish articles. Jane and Jenny have found that parents fall into two categories:







1) Those who did not grow up with family dinnertime and therefore don't have a vision for what it can be, or


2) Those who did grow up with family dinnertime, but since current lifestyles are so busy and fragmented, struggle to duplicate their childhood experience and pull it off for their own families.






Our goal through maketimeforfamily.org is to inspire women and men with a vision to do something transcendent in their family's life.



 
    When I first applied to review E-Mealz I was not super excited but figured, What do I have to lose? It surely cannot make meal time worse so it is sure to make it even the tiniest bit better. So when I was picked I was excited to dive right in and what better time to get access than a day when we needed to go grocery shopping anyway.

   Logging in and creating my account on the E-Mealz Website was a breeze so I became even more excited, hoping that the whole system was as easy to navigate. You know what? It was, the E-Mealz website allows you to preview different menu plans like, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Carb, Vegetarian and Portion Control. There are also different options for the size of your family or what store you like to shop at. Such as 2 person meal plan or a Family Meal Plan which feeds 4-6. Stores like Kroger, Walmart and our personal favorite Aldi.
   You can preview the meal plans that you are interested in by clicking the link and it will show you the shopping list for that week and the menu with only a couple of the actual recipes showing. You then decide based on the samples which menu plan you would like to chose based on your family's eating habits and family size. Don't worry though, after signing up you may change your menu plan once during your cycle. I thought I would end up doing that but we picked Aldi and we have stuck with it through out our 3 month trial membership that we have gotten to use for our review.
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    Once you have purchased your membership, which by the way only cost $15 for 3 months, which broken down is only $1.25 a week.  Now I know some of you are probably thinking that this is not in the budget. Honestly I was thinking the same thing before I started but after using it the last couple of months I can not imagine not trying to crunch the numbers somewhere to make this work for my family. This plan has helped me out in so many ways that I do not know what I ever did with out it.
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      Back to the set up process, now after you have picked your menu option you can log right in and you will be able to print out last week's menu and shopping list and the current week's one as well. For Aldi the new menu and list is posted every Tuesday and is always there when I get up to start my day, which is pretty early. So there is no waiting around until a certain time which eliminates some frustration right there.

   My house has some pretty picky eaters, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that 6 out of 7 recipes for the first week of our trial was something that sounding like everyone in my home would enjoy. Now there are certain things that some of my kids will eat so long as they do not know what all of their ingredients are, this was no different. I have just learned to omit certain ingredients from the verbal list when going through the recipes with the kids. We still make them according to the recipe but we have a don't ask don't tell policy in our kitchen and a What they don't know won't hurt them kind of thing going on when it comes to cooking. I am sure you have someone that is like that too. Just keeps dinner time more peaceful.

   So we printed out the menu and the shopping list, which is a life saver if you ask me. The prices are matched to the store you chose, unless you pick the any store option then the prices will be blank, they are organized by store departments and on the far left column is the meal numbers for each ingredient. Some ingredients are shared between 2 recipes this helps in the cost saving department. For instance a package of cheese, or bacon or certain vegetables or eggs. What I do is highlight the items on the list that we may already have to prevent the buying of duplicates to save extra money and there is also a pantry list on the bottom of staples you should always keep on hand, some I did not so I initially bought some extra items like some spices, cornstarch and croutons and such.

  For our first week that one day that the recipe would not fit the taste buds of our family I substituted that day for our Dinner at Church on Wednesday and just rearranged what meals we would be eating on what days.  Now to be honest there were a couple weeks where they were more than one recipe that did not mesh with our family but what E-Mealz did for me was inspired me to fill in the gaps with other recipes that I found on Pinterest or recipe websites, but it still seemed much more manageable to just add one or two recipes and some items to the shopping list than having to start with a blank canvas.

    Now I will let you in on a secret, I do double most of my recipes as I have 6 people in my family with odd people thrown in for good measure on many occasions so we have 8 on a regular basis and many of them are growing teenage boys, my hopes were to originally cook enough so we would have left overs for lunch the next day. You know what? We almost never have left overs anymore because everyone loves every meal I have made and they beg for seconds and sometimes thirds. Even my 91 year old grandma who was eating like a bird was asking for seconds and cleaning her plate. She had been bored with our prior meals too and just was not speaking up. Good grief had it really been that bad? Yes I am ashamed to say it had. How could I have missed it, well if your lifestyle is anything like ours it is chaotic to say the least and I simply just did not prioritize my meal planning above anything else, we just throw our meals together often at the last minute.
Our first meal we made was Sausage Pie and it was delicious and looked great too. I think it is our favorite, and the kids especially love eating "pie" for dinner.

Our next favorite was Toasted Ham and Cheese on Garlic Bread


Bacon Mushroom Quiche

And last but certianly not least Stuffed Pasta Shells which we used Manicotti instead of shells but delicious nonetheless

    So I have told your how E-Mealz has saved our family at meal time, but remember how I said I incorporated it into our homeschool.

   Well the kids and I are studying economics this year and so even though at the bottom of my shopping list there is a total for the week's dinner time meals and remember I was doubling it. I did not let the kids see the amount, we went shopping together I sent them to fetch certain ingredients all the while they are double checking prices and matching them to what I told them they should be( my prices at my Aldi were slightly higher than the projected prices on my sheet, prices differ from area to area) and then they also had to double the amount that was written on my sheet so they were multiplying and adding. So this was part of our Math on shopping day. I also started to see them work as a team which is very important to me. Alyx helped Taylor reach things that were high up or lift heavy items. So then when we got to the register they each had to estimate what they thought our grocery total was going to be. The one closest without going over received a prize. Over the course of a few weeks they seem to get more accurate in their estimating. This was so great!
  We also decided to head to our local produce store to save some extra money as well as use coupons at other stores if we could to save additional money, but the menu prices without deviating from your plan typical run $55 to $70 for a family of 4-6 people (this is without doubling).
      This has truly been a time and money saver for our family and I know we are going to continue with E-Mealz, How can we not? I love hearing my family's praises around the dinner table it has truly blessed my family's mealtime in more ways than one. All the boys now have a new found joy of cooking, where is before it was totally up to me and Alyx to come up with dinner. Meal time if truly now family time in every sense of the word.
   E-Mealz has come up with the ultimate gift for those hard to buy for families. Newlywed Couples, Family with a new Arrival, or just simply to help a famuily have wonderful dinner time experiences. E-Mealz printable gift certificates. What a blessing that would be for a family on your holiday gift list or simply just because.

    What is for dinner at your house?? If you don't know or are simply tired of all the work of preparing the weekly dinner menu, and creating the shopping list, then you go to http://www.e-mealz.com/ and subscribe today. Don't just take my word for it visit my fellow TOS Crew Mates and see what their families are saying about E-Mealz and Dinner time in their house.


Disclaimer: I was given a 3 month trial membership to E-Mealz in exchange for my review as part of the TOS Crew. I was not compensated in any way and was not paid for my review. Receiving the trial membership did not influence my review or my opinions in any way.



  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scruble Cube TOS Crew Review

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   Around our house we love word games, Scrabble, Words With Friends, Boggle and Yahtzee. We also like playing around with the Rubik's Cube. So we were super excited to try out a new game that is both educational and fun that combine two of our favorites all wrapped into one cube. The Scruble Cube is a word puzzle game that combines the word challenges of scrabble and the fun puzzle challenges of the Rubik's Cube.
   Language is something my boys whom have Asperger's Syndrome both struggle with, so we are always trying to make it fun with games that incorporate spelling and language. Being a part of the TOS Crew we were given the opportunity to put the Scruble Cube to the test.
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  They  were very anxious to get this in the mail and could not wait to rip it open and get started. First I needed to read the instructions which I have to say explained the game play and directions in both word format and some pictures. Which for me is wonderful as I am a very visual learner as are my kids.
So after looking over the way we word to use it and reading the tips about it sticking in some points because it is new we got to playing.

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Here is how the Company describes Scruble Cube...

Scruble Cube
Scruble Cube takes some of the best known play patterns of some of the most popular word games and puzzles in history and combines them in a brand new, unique format to create the World's Greatest 3-D Word Game! "SCRUBLE Cube™ is a patent pending game with over 7.4 x 1045 (that's 7,401 septillion) possible configurations that anyone who can spell can play. Plus it comes in a highly portable format that can be played anywhere- anytime. Scruble Cube is a game AND a puzzle...on steroids!
Game set includes a 7cm cube with 96 individually rotating letters, a sand timer, scorepad and instructions.


The Scruble Cube has won many awards like Dr. Toy Winner Best New Product and Creative Child Magazine's 2010 Seal of Excellence and has been featured in many magazines and websites such as Celebrity Parents Magazine, Education News and Forbes.
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  There are so many ways you can use the Scruble Cube, in play and in learning. We used the lessons from the online Press Packet that allow Scruble Cube owners the opportunity to expand on the natural fun of the product.
These lessons teach Academic Skills


Mathematics Trial & Error

Spelling

Vowel Awareness

Word Building with Rimes

Math Facts

Research Skills

Mechanical Skills

Vocabulary Development Life Skills

Team Work

Sportsmanship/Competition

Problem Solving Skills

Listening Skills

Oral Communications

Strategic Thinking

Higher Level Thinking
 
 We even used it to have races, like how many words can you make in a set amount of time. The boys really liked that, they are very competitive. This was a healthy output for that. I loved seeing them challenge themselves to find bigger and more meaningful words after they initially became acclimated to the Scruble Cube.  The other fun thing with the Scruble Cube is not only finding long words but taking advantage of the bonus pegs like 2x Word Score. The other fun thing was that there was no Q or Z on the cube, but with using one of the two Wild Card pegs you could make a word with those letters. The boys really tried to make good use of all of the bonus pegs including the Wild Card Pegs.
  We not only used this for Language Arts time during our school day but made it a fun part of our Family Game Time, it was fun to see who scored more points the kids or the grown ups. I am embarrassed to say the kids usually scored more points and believe me when I say they do not let us forget things like that.

 The only negative I truly saw with this as it is not made to be rough and tumbled. In our house that is fine but these games are only brought out with adult supervision. Some games the boys have constant access too, so that when they need quiet time or are bored they can just grab one and start playing. Scruble Cube is not one of those games, we have added it to the ones that can only be played when we are there to over see what is going on. Boys are boys and can get a little hyper and get rowdy and I am not sure this could withstand that.
  With that being said I would not let that deter me from purchasing Scruble Cube which sells for $24.95. I would just make sure to let the kids know that is not meant to be rough with and they should treat it with respect and only use it for it's intended purpose.
You can purchase your Scruble Cube for $24.95 here at their website http://www.scrublecube.com/. You can also after many hours of family fun purchase replacements labels for the Scruble Cube for $4.95 for a complete set.  This is a wonderful asset in case your kids do get too rough or your Scruble Cube just after time shows much love and needs a makeover.

   As always do not just take my word for it please check out what my fellow TOS Crewmates are saying about the Scruble Cube
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  Disclaimer: I was given  a Scruble Cube in exchange for my review as part of the TOS Crew. I was not compensated in anyway and it in no way influenced the outcome of my review.