Monday, April 30, 2018

YWAM ~ A Review

Our family always enjoys reading the inspiring books from YWAM Publishing. We just finished reading Christian Heroes:Then & Now ~ Jacob Deshazer : Forgive Your Enemies, and like all of the other books we have read we were definitely moved by Jacob's story. Along with the book we were given access the companion study guide via downloadable pdf file. The book is 221 pages in length. 

Who was Jacob Deshazer?

My 11 year old daughter said, 
"Jacob had a lot of siblings and lived on a farm. He went into the military. He was one of the Japanese bomb raders. They were bombing Japan and they crash landed and he was taken hostage by the Japanese. He was taken to about four or five different prisons. They tried to make him tell them that he was one of the bombers. They beat him. At one point he was separated from all of the others in his crew. He was alone. He was nice to one of the guards in the prison and the guard gave him books. One of the books was the Bible. He read it three times. He began praying and became a Christian. He began praying to God. God told him that the war was over. He was in a cell next to someone else that was in a plane. They used morse code. They eventually got released. Jacob went home. He went to college. During college he met a girl and they got married and they became missionaries in Japan. They had several children. They were missionaries for about 13 years."

The book was truly eye opening for me as an adult. God truly uses even the evilest of men to bring about His glory. How miraculous, that while in a Japanese prison, a guard would give the prisoners a small stack of books, one of those books being the Bible. It was because this that Jacob would come to accept the Lord. On June 8th, 1944 while reading Romans 10:9, Jake knew that he had to respond to the words that he was reading. "Right there in his cell in Nanking, China, Jake bowed his head and prayed.....Jake was overcome by a strange sensation. Despite the fact that he was a prisoner of war in solitary confinement in a brutal Japanese prison in China, his heart was filled with joy-- joy like he had never felt before in his life." 
Even though the guards kicked him and treated him horribly he chose to love and forgive. Each morning when the "guard came on duty and slid open the slot in the cell door to check on the prisoner, Jake said to him, "Ohayo gozaimasu!" (Good morning)." The guard was confused by Jake's kindness and soon a new rapport developed between Jake and the guard. This lead to an openness that benefited not only Jake but also the guard. 

Study Guide
The study guide is full of an abundant amount of content not only to guide you through the book with chapter questions but great enrichment projects and activities. A few of the areas reinforced throughout the guide include:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Essay writing
  • Creative writing
  • Reading comprehension 
  • Public speaking
  • Drama
  • Art

One of the things that I really appreciate about the study guides is that they work well for a very wide range of ages and grades. There are very simple activities and then more challenging projects and assignments for the upper grades. The chapter questions can be adapted for various grade levels as well. For the younger student I have found that reading the questions and talking through the answers is a great way to ensure that your child or children comprehended what you read aloud to them or what they read. It also is a great way to further the discussion about the subject matter. For the older student it gives them the opportunity to express not only their understanding of what they have read but also their own thoughts. 

To read more reviews click here.

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  • Friday, April 27, 2018

    Drawn To Discover

    Drawn To Discover is a unique online video drawing program that helps students develop fine motor skills and cognitive skills. This research-based curriculum also promotes language development. Drawn To Discover gives students confidence in their ability to succeed in art, handwriting, math, and so much more. The program provides a way for parents to interact with their children as they work their way through the program. There are multiple courses within the Drawn To Discover program that is available to users. The core of the program features the course, Drawn To Connections, which has Ten Blocks within the course. Each Block has on average ten lessons. The two other courses, Drawing Cursive and Drawn To Peace, are more supplemental courses. I will explain each of these in greater detail further on in my review. 

    As homeschoolers, Drawn To Discover has worked great for us. This program is geared for the homeschool setting. For children in the school setting, this would also be a great enrichment program. The intended age for using Drawn To Discover is 4-11 years old. After speaking with the people at Drawn To Discover I learned that children with autism have had great success with the program.

    My 11-year-old daughter has fallen in love with Drawn To Discover! She is working through the Drawn To Connections course. She loves to draw but isn’t all that confident in her ability. She has used many different art curriculums and programs and this one CLICKED! She cannot get enough of it. She will sit for hours doing lesson after lesson. She has shocked herself by what she has been able to accomplish artistically. Even though some of the concepts along the way are meant for younger students, it is easy to work around. While we are talking about elementary skills such as the handwriting let me let you in on a bit of a secret. My daughter is a bit sloppy when it comes to her handwriting. I was a bit giddy when I saw her meticulously copying a handwritten sentence out below her artwork. After hours of working through Drawn To Connections I began to see an improvement in her handwriting! I have been shocked at the amazing artwork she has completed. She has learned about interesting facts relating to science too.

    Each lesson in the Drawn To Connections lists:
    •  Subject Matter to be Drawn
    • Lesson Warm Up
    • Subjects Highlighted
    • Overview
    • Video
    • Tools & Tips
    • Final Image

    Some of the fun drawings that my daughter has drawn include mice crawling across a pencil. She drew a dragon with fire coming out of it mouth while a mouse is at the dragon’s feet scurrying to get its cheese. In yet another picture she drew a botanical picture capturing a radish growing in the ground. Blast off!! NASA watch out, my daughter just drew a space ship. Meow, such adorable cat pictures including pictures displaying diagrams such as the iris of a cat’s eye. How about mouth-watering watermelon showing how to show shading in your artwork. Or, how about an up and close depiction of a bee, and parts labeled. Wow, was I impressed with this work of art! So detailed. My daughter drew an impressive goldfish swimming in the water. There was even shading! The fish looked like it was looking at you. Loved my daughter’s picture of a branch with blooming apple blossom’s in various degrees of bloom. Off to the side there was a tiny apple on a branch. It looks so delicious! I could go on and on about her drawing but you get the picture. This program is amazing. I look forward to seeing her pictures after each and every lesson. She is proud and so am I.

    My 11-year-old daughter said,
    Unlike other drawing programs, Drawn To Discover, helps you to draw step-by-step so that you know what your drawing is supposed to look like along the way. If what you are drawing doesn’t look right, you can pause the video, work on the drawing, and then restart the video when you are ready to begin again. My favorite drawing so far was the bee. When I drew the bee, I was amazed at how real it looked! Some of my other favorites have been the flower, goldfish, and dog. Another thing that I like about Drawn To Discover is that each lesson lists all of the things that you will need. I loved that I got to have my very own HUGE box of crayons of my very own. On lesson called for the following crayons: Orange, Dandelion Yellow, Asparagus, and Wisteria. Aren’t those just fun colors!”

    In one particular lesson, students learn about fractions, counting by 4’s, adding, multiplying, etc. by use graph paper, various crayons such as Goldenrod, Orchid, Aquamarine, Melon, and Pine Green and then create a fun drawing. Their final drawing is a circle divided into four parts with dice, with a flower pattern in the middle, and a colorful jagged pattern in the bottom two sectors. It really is a creative way of teaching math!

    In Block Two of Drawn To Connections your student will create something called a “Framed Art Present” which is basically a full-page collaboration of pictures containing artwork that your child has learned up until this point. They will draw the artwork on a smaller scale in a beautiful framed work of art. What a treasure. Each Block builds upon the last Block. There is a total of Ten Blocks.

    In Block Seven your student will again use graph paper and learn about States of Matter. They will learn how to draw a three-dimensional box. Their final drawing will be of three separate boxes in which they will place a solid, a liquid, and a gas and label each one. Remember, the graph paper is something that is something that the student will print out from the website.

    For the younger student, there is plenty of work on proper writing of each letter of the alphabet and each numeral. Basics are very important in Drawn to Discover. The color wheel, patterns, shading, pressure, all colors, outlining, holding the pencil, and so much more is covered in Drawn To Discover.

    My 9-year-old daughter is working on learning cursive this year. She had fun working through the Drawing Cursive. The lessons were engaging and fun. Imagine the lowercase “i” being drawn into the shape of a hot summer sun, or the lowercase letter “c” being the waves of the deep blue ocean. If you loop the lowercase letter “e” in a line just right you just may find yourself getting bugged out! My daughter says, “This is the fun part of cursive.”

    My 9-year-old has also enjoyed working through some of the lessons in the Drawn To Connections course. She is my youngest of six children and tends to not have a lot of confidence in her abilities overall. She tends to shy away from anything that looks too hard. Well, she shocked herself when after the first lesson her artwork actually looked like the teachers! This gave her the confidence to do some more.

    Drawn To Peace explores people throughout history who have shared and promoted peace. Some of the people featured in this course are:
    • Mother Teresa
    • Mark Twain
    • Greek Proverb
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Winston Churchill
    • Maya Angelou
    • Ms. Wendy

    An example of one of the lessons is a saying by Mark Twain that says, “When in doubt, tell the truth.” The picture that the student then draws is of two life-like mice dressed like girls. One of the mice looks worried and has question marks drawn all around her highlighted in yellow. The other is happy.

    I absolutely have loved everything about Drawn To Discover. This program has been a great fit for our family and we will definitely continue to use it. I was very excited when speaking to the people at Drawn to Discover to hear that they will be expanding their program both in the preschool area as well as in the upper grades in the future. I would highly recommend this program to others looking for a fun way to educate and/or supplement their child’s current curriculum. Drawn To Discover is truly a gem that I am grateful to have had the privilege to use.

    I originally reviewed this product for The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, March, 2018

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Slumber Party with a Service Dog

    Karis enjoyed her first sleepover at a friend's house with Mazie at her side. I hooked Karis 
    up to her TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) about 6 hours earlier than normal 
    so that she could enjoy her fun night. Knowing that Mazie was by 
    her side gave both Karis and I great comfort just in case Karis got in trouble 
    adrenal wise. Thankfully the night remained without incident health wise. It was a night filled 
    with fun, laughter, and memories were made. Mazie faithfully stayed at 
    Karis's side into the wee hours of the night, or should I say the next morning. What a trooper! 
    Service dogs are truly a blessing. I am sure that Karis and Mazie will be 
    going to many more slumber parties together in the future. 

    Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    Planet 316 ~ A Review

    Planet 316 Story Bible and the companion Planet 316 Story Bible App from Planet 316 and Worthy Kids/Ideals is literally the coolest Bible story book on the market today. My youngest kiddo has had a blast watching the pages of Planet 316 come to life. 

    The Planet 316 Story Bible with Augmented Reality has 55 Old Testament Bible stories and 49 New Testament Bible stories. This hardcover storybook Bible for young children has short stories taken from the Bible to share with your children. The pictures are colorful and will definitely keep your young child's attention. The stories are written for the younger child to understand and follow. Each story has a title and gives the scripture references. 

    You child will hear some of the most familiar Bible stories such as:
    • Creation
    • Noah's Ark
    • God's Promise to Abraham
    • The Plagues
    • Job
    • Jonah and the Big Fish
    • Saved from the Fiery Furnace
    • The Birth of a Savior
    • Jesus Grows Up
    • Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man
    • Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
    • Jesus Appears to His Disciples
    • The Resurrection
    • Paul and Silas

    The Planet 316 Story Bible App is simple and easy to use. All you have to do is simply open the app and you will be directed to a screen that will say -scanning- . At this point the app is scanning the given page which takes only a couple of seconds and right before your eyes out pops select pieces within the pictures. It can get a bit tricky to hold the book and hold the phone or device at the same time. It works best to rest the book in your lap while you hold the given device to scan a page. If you are too close to the page you will not get the full effect of the augmented reality. You will need to play around with distance a bit to find out the perfect distance in order to get the best reality experience. And the fun doesn't stop there. You can even interact with the stories. Tap on the screen and hear the lions roar or hear Jesus talk. 

    Here are some pictures from the Story Bible in no particular order. The pictures really do not do justice to what the actual app graphics really look like. These came out a bit blurry and distorted. 

    Here is a video describing just how it all works. 

    I would most definitely recommend both the Planet 316 Story Bible and App! What a fantastic way to share God's Word with young children. 

    To read more reviews click here. 

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    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Stella, Mazie, & Malachi

    Service Dogs, whether for emotional, mobility, or for medical conditions...

    can be a natural alternative for one's psychological well-being, 

    may potentially save your life, 

    and will be your loyal companion and best friend. 

    Dogs have natural intuition when it comes to certain medical conditions that MEDICINE just cannot replicate. They can sense things before they happen and alert to avert crises. I am by no means saying that they should replace doctors and medicine but they are a great complement to the package. 

    They provide independence, 

    and HOPE!

    Follow the stories of our lives at
    or grab our book, Dogs in Vests, which will be coming out in late May on 
    Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Princess Cut ~ A Review

    Watchman Pictures presents, Princess Cut, a movie about that special day when that Mr. Right slips the most beautiful princess cut diamond ring on your finger and declares his love for you forever! This movie was released in theaters in select theaters for a short time in 2015 and is now available on DVD as well as digital version. A discussion guide is also available for use after the movie is over.

    Grace Anderson dreams of meeting Mr. Right but after several failed relationships she finds herself frustrated and feeling like she may never find her true love. Desiring to find someone that loves the Lord and wishes to put purity before all else she finds herself single, waiting for God to put the right man in her life. In the end she finds that True Love Is Worth The Wait.  

    While the acting is a bit cheesy at times the overall storyline and values that are taught are spot on. I would highly recommend this film for both teenage boys and girls as well as young adults. They will see a beautiful unfolding of love after having patiently waited on God's timing for that perfect someone. I appreciate that it captures the emotional ups and downs that comes with any relationships, exposure to unhealthy relationships, the importance of seeking godly wisdom, and most importantly listening to the Holy Spirits tugging when a situation is not right. 

    I watched this movie with my teenage daughters and it brought about some great discussion about healthy relationships as well as open communication. 

    A few snippets of the film that stood out for me were when Clint goes to Grace's parents to ask for permission to marry her and further their relationship before talking to Grace about it. I also loved when Clint gives Grace the bouquet of flowers and explains the significance of each flower. I love how the family comes together when things on the farm get though and Clint surprises the family. 

    To read more reviews click here.

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    Confetti Eggs