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!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc.
My girls love it when I give them supplies for arts and crafts and just let them create with no agenda or purpose or art theory. Kids are incredibly creative and come up with some of the most amazing works of art when we just give them freedom to make. Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. is an incredible tool for this kind of free creativity because they are the most mess-free paints I have ever seen! We had the opportunity to review one of the smaller sets of Thin Stix earlier this year. When I opened the box and the girls saw this amazing box inside they all began jumping up and down begging to open it up!
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
 This set of 24 colors will keep your child engaged for a long time! In addition to the vibrant traditional colors there are also neons and metallics. 
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
Thin Stix Creativity PackThin Stix Creativity Pack

 We decided to give rock painting a try with these fun, fast-drying paints. We haven't tried rock hunting but I know it is all the rage on social media and I thought this could be a fun activity. If we don't end up hiding any rocks we can just use them in our flower bed.


 Grace liked to put lots of layers on her rocks. These this was really good for her style of creativity. are perfect for that because they dry so quickly.You can see she was working on 3-4 rocks at the same time. This is perfect for her personality since she tends to jump from one thing to the next and not having to wait long kept her occupied longer.

I don't have photos of myself, but I also painted some rocks! These paints just glide on their surface in such a smooth way. They were really enjoyable to use personally. I  Their chunky nature means your projects will not have tiny details, but we just adjusted our expectations and had such a great time using them!

While one might think mess-free paints are more suitable for pre-school and younger elementary students, my 10 and 12-year-old daughters really love them as well. When we were done with our rocks the girls asked if they could keep on creating. This is the sign of a quality product. No matter how much I may love something, if my girls aren't engaged it really doesn't meet our needs. Rose is working on a picture of a school bus.

 My favorite rocks the girls created were the pepperoni pizza slices! So adorable! My rock was a beach scene that didn't turn out quite as lovely as their creations. Some other good uses for these would be posters and painting clay projects. We haven't tried that yet, but I think they would work beautifully.

Although Thin Stix adhere fabulously to porous products like paper, they did have the tendency to wipe off with enough pressure on the rocks. This is no big deal as I usually coat our placing them outside to keep this from happening in the rain.

The girls chatted and created for well over 90 minutes. Wow! Winner in my book!

Make sure to see what my Crew-mates had to say!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, November 3, 2017

Preserving Memories: Week of October 30

 Two layouts from 2009 with me pregnant with Grace and 2 layouts of our current family photos. Wow! Time moves so quickly, doesn't it mamas? 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Magic Stories from Allsaid & Dunn, LLC, publishers of The Reading Game and authors of the Wordly Wise series: A TOS Crew Review

The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}
Read through to the bottom for a generous coupon code!
I am always excited to find new materials to help with the reading process. My daughters are eager readers, which I try very hard not to take for granted! I recognized not all kids find the process of reading easy nor do all children love to read. Still, anything that will build my daughter's comprehension is intriguing to me. I was enamored from the first time I laid eyes on The Magic Stories from Allsaid & Dunn, LLC, publishers of The Reading Game and authors of the Wordly Wise series.
The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}
 This thoughtfully designed reading program is intended as a follow-up to completed phonics instruction, geared towards grades 2-3, although I feel all elementary students will enjoy these stories and greatly benefit from the activities included. My daughter, Grace, is an 8-year-old 2nd grader who is reading at a 6th grade level. She adored these stories. 
These tales are simply delightful and reminiscent of classic children's literature in both their style and content. I appreciated the more complex sentence structure that is often missing from modern emerging reader books. The type set was also at a good size so as not to overwhelm children of this age while at the same time move them forward from 1-2 sentence-per-page picture books.
The downloadable files will work quite nicely on an i-Pad device or they may be printed depending upon your preference. I asked Grace what she preferred and she asked to read them on the iPad. My daughters often read their schoolbooks this way, so it is quite normal. However I really appreciate that they can be printed for the benefit of children who do not need the distraction of the screen and families who prefer as much learning as possible be done without screens.  
The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}  
The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}
The illustrations in these titles are simply darling! I love that the drawings are simple, black and white lined sketches which allow for the child's imagination to expand upon what they see. Because the titles are downloadable, they can also be colored after reading. Engaging students with this type of imaginary discovery is another way to help them build comprehension through tactile activity. Again, the illustrations take me back to the more classic style of children's literature, where kids were encouraged to use their imaginations to visualize the scenes rather than have every aspect already created for them. 
Each of the six books comes with comprehension activities, Naughty 40 word cards (think vocabulary building), and a reading comprehension maze to help guide students in their remembrance of the story. I particularly liked the reading comprehension mazes. This unique way to review the story presented the sequential facts in a way that seemed almost like a game board. I also liked the analytical factor involved. We do a lot of narration in our home, so the idea of retelling what she has read is not new to Grace, but this particular way to review the facts was quite new and I loved how well it worked! 
When I asked Grace if she liked the stories she said, "Oh yes!" I, as her mom and teacher, loved how innocent and child-like they really were. Even more so I appreciated just how well the activities afterwards benefited her comprehension skills. These are excellent stories for emerging readers and parents will appreciate the good moral teaching which accompanies the tales. 
Allsaid & Dunn, LLC is generously offering a 25% discount to my readers! Just use the code below in the coupon area!

See what my Crewmates have to say!
The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack from Let the Little Children Come: A TOS Crew Review

Let The Little Children Come
Our girls have grown up learning what the Bible says about our purpose in life. We are to glorify God in all that we do and make every effort to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Because this is a part of the culture of our family we talk often about creative way to tell others about salvation and they have participated in various outreach events at our church where this is the key goal. I told them about the opportunity to review the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack from Let the Little Children Come they were very excited!
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
 This wonderful sampler pack was a joy to explore! The girls had fun reading the various tracts and trying out the hands-on pieces. There are so many options available from this company, but more importantly, these are solid theologically. I appreciate that they are not frightening, but hopeful. Some gospel tracts, while well-meaning, can be so heavy that they produce more fear than understanding about the important decision of salvation for children. While tracts should be honest and truthful about our sinful state, if fear is the driving force for a child, they may miss the beauty of a personal relationship with the Lord. 
Some of the tracts are 3D. This is a really neat one that Rose liked. The writing is clear and concise. Perfectly suited for children. The girls said they felt like they would be comfortable using these to share the message of salvation to someone on their own which also told me they understood what it said clearly. 
 Beth really liked the wordless book beads. They were already familiar with this particular tool of using colors to share the gospel because we have used it before in our children's services at various times. Beth said it was nice to be able to actually make something and she thought this would be a fun one to use. 
This little hands-on tract was a hit with Grace. She liked how fun it was to manipulate and was easy to use to tell the story of salvation. (Rose is the one showing this because Grace was feeling a little shy!) I love that it takes the familiar verse of John 3:16 and illustrates in beautifully. I tried it out and it really is quite fun!
Their absolute favorites were the animated tracts and I have to say, they were some of the coolest I've ever seen as well! As you slide a cover piece over the picture it looks as if it is moving. The message again was very clear, but so much more memorable because of this unique feature!
As you can see there are many options from this wonderful company. These are great to hand out at fall-festivals or other community events in which your church may have the opportunity to participate. Whenever children are brought into your church you will have the opportunity to share the saving gospel message with them as well as their families. I encourage you to check out these unique tools for this purpose. 
Check out what my Crewmates have to say!
Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools {Let the Little Children Come Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Family Photo Shoot: 2017

 I'm going to let you in on a little secret...we don't pay for family photos. There are some incredibly talented photographers out there and I'm in no way saying I can compare to them in style or creativity or skill. I use my point-and-shoot camera, a tripod, and Photoshop for light editing after taking the photos. I've been reading blogs on light-source placement and looking at family photo poses on Pinterst. I've also been practicing with the light and color editing features in Photoshop Elements so I can work with our photos more quickly.

Another factor that helps tremendously is that my daughters are getting old enough they will sit still for a timer on our camera. There is no way this could have worked when they were little! We took about an hour and I snapped LOTS of bad shots. But I have learned the more I take, the more options I have and there will probably be something I can use.

I've been taking the girls' photos for the last couple of years and asking others to do the family shots. This is our first try with a tripod for the family pictures and I'm so happy with them! We used the timer feature on my camera a few other times with success at home so I figured it was worth a try. I had to re-position us a few times, but since the girl are older they were a little more patient. 

We may not do this every year, but for now it is working and saving us quite a bit of money while still providing yearly location portraits which I wouldn't trade for anything!