Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Adventure Bible for Early Readers: A BookLook Bloggers Review

When I was younger I remember having a hot pink Adventure Bible. I loved that Bible and all the fun little extra's it included. I was really excited to see a new, update version for early readers. My sweet little Grace was excited too! She's turning 5 soon and we have finished up her initial reading curriculum. She's reading on an early 1st grade level and this has been the perfect Bible for her. 
The bright cover immediately started her jumping up and down. She was so excited to get her hands on it when I pulled it out of the box. I could hardly keep her from jumping up and down when I took this sweet little picture on the first Sunday she took her Bible to church. 
She was so very surprised she could read it when she opened the Bible. Her first verse of choice was Genesis 1:1, a verse she had memorized in Cubbies at Awana. The NIrV version is nice for kids who are beginning readers. They need words and phrases which are more manageable. I'm honestly not a big fan of the NIV translation, but I love how my daughter is excited about reading her Bible and other versions are just not accessible to her right now. 
Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night Grace calls out, "Daddy? What are you going to preach about today?" Then she and I find the Scripture passage in her Bible. She marks it with a bookmark and makes sure she opens her Bible while listening to her Daddy preach. She doesn't understand what he is saying most of the time, and I don't expect her to, but I'm excited she wants to learn and grow as she studies the Bible. 
I also liked the extras included on every page. Some parts are informational and historical, but I particularly like the boxes which lead her into a deeper understanding of who God is. She is still very young and hasn't yet grasped a full understanding of what it means to ask Jesus to be her Savior and follow Him, but she will, and God's Word in her hands is a huge step towards this. 

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Studies in World History: A Moms of Master Books Review

One of the great blessings I receive from homeschooling my sweet girls is the opportunity to study history through a biblical worldview. Although I was incredibly blessed to have many vocal Christian teachers throughout my public school education, the text books we used were definitely not in support of Christianity. My father passed along his love of history to me and I'm thoroughly enjoying learning alongside my children.

I was really excited to have a chance to review Studies in World History Volume 1 from Master Books (an imprint of New Leaf Publishing) with the Moms of Masterbooks. While my girls are not yet in the target age (Junior High) this is a great resource personally for me as my girls are studying early exploration and ancient civilizations during the first part of the year. I also have plans to use this alongside Heart of Dakota's Creation to Christ with my oldest when we get there later next year.

This volume focuses on Creation through the Age of Discovery. It does have a young-earth perspective which aligns with our family's view about Scripture. I know we are in the minority and counter-culture, but we choose to believe the Bible is literal and historical, looking at all other information through this lens.

I really liked how the book is laid out and that the daily lessons are concise. The first page of each chapter gives and overview and learning objectives which I find helpful when teaching. I like knowing what purpose my kids should have in studying so I can make sure they actually meet those goals. The discussion questions and activities are very age-appropriate for middle school. Some of the activities include discussion questions, writing prompts, map activities, and more.

Dr. James Stobaugh writes in a fluid manner which will keep your students reading. As I mentioned before the lessons are short, no 4-5 page readings as with other history books I've seen! I appreciate that the author recognizes the need to keep daily readings manageable so as not to turn students off before they begin. This is something my girls always want to know, no matter the subject..."How many pages is it?"

Also available with this text book is a teacher's guide filled with more activities, a schedule for the year, and weekly exams. Each exam offers a fill-in-the-blank test and/or an essay prompt. There is also an excellent answer key provided for the discussion questions as well as the test. While I do study with my girls I am so grateful for answer keys. Grading three different grade-levels can be rather time consuming when I have to figure out the answers myself.


The best news is...there are two more volumes in this excellent series! Volume 2 studies the New World to the Modern Age and Volume 3 focuses on the New Word to the Present. These are suggested to be used for 7th-9th grades, but I think they could easily be adapted for a younger student as well as older. I also see it as a great general resource to have in your library for research or further study on topics which interested your student.

You can see more about it in the video below!

Disclaimer: I received Studies in World History Volume 1 and the Teacher's Guide  as part of the Moms of Master Books Team. I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Odyssey Adventure Club iPad Mini Giveaway!

Ahhhhh! I'm so incredibly excited!!!! I've given away some great stuff before, but I've never had the chance to offer one of my readers an iPad mini! We have thoroughly enjoyed the Odyssey Adventure club. My girls were so excited to get to listen to Odyssey in the evenings in our tent when we went camping and my girls keep begging to borrow my iPad to go listen to adventures all over the house. They absolutely love having it all at their finger tips!

Enough chit-chat...are you read to enter!?!?!?!?!


 The end of summer is in sight, and OAC is giving away an iPad Mini back-to-school bundle! It might seem like summer just began for your kids, so if they need some added motivation to get their homework done, remind them they can jump on the Odyssey Adventure Club after their papers are written and their math problems are solved.

As members, your kids can also listen to Album 58 before the album is released to the public! Sign up today for just $5!

Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):
It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive. Plus, here's a sneak peek of a new episode called "The Lone Lawman"!
LoneLawman_Final 2
 Jason, Whit, Red and the gang rustle up herds of fun while performing a new Kids’ Radio show set in the Old West. “The Lone Lawman” features a confused boy getting mixed up with a shifty band of bank robbers. Can a hero on horseback set things right? See just how wild the West can get in this action-packed send-up of old-time radio dramas.

NOW . . . on to the iPad Mini back-to-school bundle. One grand prize winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. All winners will be announced August 28th on the widget on this page.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit this page again on the 28th to see if you won! (You'll see the winner's name in the widget.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Flood of Noah: A Moms of Master Books Review

I know I say this every month, but I'm so excited about this month's book to review for the Moms of Master Books! I'm so fascinated by the many cultures which have flood stories. The Flood of Noah from Master Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing, is an interactive book that makes researching this topic incredibly interesting.

This book is beyond cool. Think of it like a pop up book for grown ups. The illustrations are amazing and the interaction is a fun way to explore the various flood legends from cultures around the world. As with everything from Master Books I love how everything points back to our true Creator. It is so important to learn the history of the world and learning doing so with resources which I can trust will not contradict the Word of God is a great blessing.

Rose has especially liked this book. I can't give this girl enough stuff to satisfy her itch for knowledge. I can't tell you how many sentences she begins with, "Mommy, why....?" Books like this encourage her own exploration and fill up her desire to learn more and more. She really likes how each page has something to do to help aid in the learning process.

This is one of my favorite parts. It is at the beginning of the book and includes a list of facts from the historical account of the flood in Genesis and how they correlate with different parts of the flood legends from around the world. There is a rotating circle with images of the flood for a fun visual.

This is a great shot to show the amazing and colorful illustrations. I really like how each pages is sectioned off so kids can read a small portion and not feel overwhelmed. My younger girls have really liked the pictures even though they haven't been as interested in reading it. That will come!

Bodie Hodge and Laura Welch co-authored this amazingly fun book. It is clear they took careful consideration as they compiled this collection of stories. Another of my favorite features is the list of the names of Noah and his wife from the various legends. I found this to be so interesting, especially the cultures which seemed to borrow so clearly from Scripture. Since the division of languages at the tower of Babel misinformation about the flood appears to have run rampant. Even now there are those who produce their own legends claiming the flood was merely a local even rather than a world-wide catastrophe as Scripture indicates. Even the writer of the movie Noah admitted he took liberties to make the story more interesting from his perspective. As we live in a world full of lies and myths I'm so grateful for the truth of Scripture and resources like this one to help us continually filter out the false.

Check out this awesome book trailer! 

Disclaimer: I received The Flood of Noah  as part of the Moms of Master Books Team. I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

I'm really excited that those of us in the OAC are getting to hear the newest saga from Adventures in Odyssey before anyone else! And you are invited to hear the first episode from this album!!!! There are several story arcs within this I am loving the Comic-Connellsville part so much. Wooton is one of our favorite characters. This is going to be so much fun...

Oh! And I almost forgot that the deal has been extended to join the OAC for only $5 the first month! Check out that deal below.

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 For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5! Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):
It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive. One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:
  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!

Disclaimer: As one of the OAC bloggers I have received a membership to the OAC for purposes of review and other Adventures in Odyssey resources from Focus on the Family. These opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.