Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit ~ REVIEW


My Faith in the Lord has always been strong and unshakable.  And my Husband and I both grew up in church, his experience was much different.  And one of the many things we agree on is that it's never too early to share with your kids how important it is to look toward the Lord and not the world as you move through life.  I have always been that Mom who shares the woes of the world with the kids...not all the "details", but enough for them to be informed.  There is a difference between sheltering and shielding your kiddos....I have tried to perfect that balance.  That being said, I was thrilled to be able to Review a new Father Son Bible Study.... the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit from Manhood Journey and City On A Hill Studio.  I was excited to be able to have my two boys set some time aside to be able to walk through this program together.  But, with my oldest working and going to school full time, that just wasn't going to work for this review period sadly.  So, my Hubby figured he would start with Kaden who is 10 years old now and he was even able to connect with our Nephew who lives on the other side of the country to participate via Skype. 

When the Kit came in I was thrilled to see the nice quality of the guides and we were also given a Bonus Book, Wise Guys -Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You by the co-founder of Manhood Journey, Kent Evans.  Only my Husband is reading it right now and he said it is very inspiring and he would like for our older son to read it after he finishes it.  The Kit included the Bonus Book, Group Guide, 1 on 1 Guide, DVD and several Maprocheres that goes over all the additional Modules in the program that is available.  The one we received is called Embarking.  The other modules available are called Clean Hearts, Working Well, Standing Strong, Manhood Myths and Leading Lessons.

So, what is the Manhood Journey all about?  Well, it's designed to be used with boys ages 8-17 and their Dads or Mentors.  It can be done either in a group setting or one on one.  Each of the 6 Modules should take about 6 weeks long to complete.  Like I said earlier my Husband planned to use it with Kaden and my Nephew Jacob.  But, after the very 1st session we decided it wasn't going to work for Kaden.  Even though he is 10 years old, he has Autism.  The topics discussed was over his head, even being asked to define Manhood was a struggle and he didn't want to talk anymore.  So, make sure you take this into consideration when looking at a program like this.  Think about your child's mental development and maturity level.  We will definitely bring this back out again in a year or two.  The information included is awesome.  And I know when the time is right it will be very impactful for Kaden and his Dad.

Since Kaden was out of the picture this go around my Husband still wanted to do it with our Nephew.  While the one on one activities or outings suggested will be difficult sine we are an 8 hour flight away from each other.  With the help of creative technology the both of them will be able to get through the module and hopefully enjoy a new level of relationship with each other and with the Lord.  
The six lessons in this Module are:
  • Preparing for the Journey
  • Setting Out on the Journey
  • Relying on the Compass
  • Seeking Guidance Along the Way
  • Encountering Others Along the Journey
  • We Have Embarked - Where to Next?
Each week's group lesson is packed with scripture reading, memorization, discussion and Homework. In the one on one the guys get to review the group session materials and offers great conversation starters and questions that spark thinking and applying what they are learning to their own life.  There is an important portion of Digging Deeper that gives the Dad or Mentor the chance to offer scripture that the child can look into during the week for further reading.  Each week offers new topics, but is consistent in how the information, guidance and encouragement is given.  I think it may be hard to get started in the beginning, but with enough prep time, prayer and commitment it is possible to use this program successfully with a group of guys or just your own at home.  My Hubby said that he's looking forward to the game coming up in week 5.... What would you do if questions?


I would definitely recommend this program to our church.  There needs to be something for that age group during Middle-school and before High-school.  I think it touches on a lot of the topics that our boys struggle with on a daily basis.  

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Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}


Not So Little RV Adventure ~ Part 2

Long story short.... we were able to get the RV serviced the following Tuesday and that night we headed out!  So we were only behind by 4 days.  We decided to quickly throw everything back in the RV we had taken out and head on out.  Yes, it was late....like 10pm already, but we knew even if we could get a few hours between us and home would be better then waiting till the morning.  We were all just anxious and excited!!!!
Funny thing though we had never driven the RV at night.  So it was a little different...are the lights even on????  We felt kind of like packed sardines in a rattling can chugging down a dark road into Nevada.  Around 1 am or so we decided to pull over at a Cabela's for the night.  Besides the freeway traffic noise that we are not accustomed to sleeping with we all slept like babies. 

The next morning we headed out around 9 am... see we are not early risers at all!!!  And we headed straight to Salt Lake, UT.  I had plans to stay there over night and get a little sight seeing in, but because we were behind already we knew we were going to have to rush.  But, then we started to see what looked like snow on the ground.  What is this????  Salt....everywhere!  Lucky for us it captured Kaden's eye because since he had opened his eyes this morning he was asking over and over are we there yet?  Buddy, there is really no "there"....we are going to be gone for almost 9 weeks.  Yeah, that didn't really compute with him and 5 minutes later he would ask again. It only took a few days and an extensive run down and look through our loose itinerary for him to understand that there isn't really a "there".  But, today's "there" was going to be the salt flats and then an over night stay at the local Walmart!!


The Bonneville Salt Flats were on the other side of the highway, so we decided to pull over and explore at a look out area and hit the actual Bonneville Salt Flats on the way home.  We had a blast....it was so hot, it felt like our faces and backs were burning.  Not because of the temperature, but because the sun was blaring off of the white salt all around us.  Kaden enjoyed the sensory explosion hearing the salt crunch with every step and the texture all over his hands.  We had to keep a close eye on him, because he LOVES to rub things on his face that inevitably end up in his mouth.


Bessie's Pillow ~ REVIEW


This next Review is so hard to write....not because I didn't like it, I Loved it.  I Loved it so much I feel changed from reading it.  Thank goodness I'm not Reviewing a Science experiment or a Math game!  Today I have the privilege to share with you this amazing book I've been reading the past few weeks  from Strong Learning, Inc..  It's called Bessie's Pillow A Young Immigrant's Journey.  
There are many reasons why this book was so special to me.  One reason is my Parents died when I was a young girl and there is so much I don't know about my extended Family besides the fact that I know they too were immigrants.  My Husband was born in a Malaysian camp and at the age of 2 he and his Family arrived to America by boat.  His stories passed down from his Parents are chilling.  Both my Dad's Family and my Husband's worked hard to provide, survive and thrive in America.  They both went after the American Dream.  But, what does that look like to someone like me...who was just born here in America.  I didn't have to sacrifice, leave behind loved ones and everything I've ever known to become an American.  I didn't have to place myself in harms way, learn a new language and voyage across the deep blue sea.  Linda Bress Silbert makes it possible for me to step into her Grandmother's world as a young Jewish Immigrant from Lithuania... even if it is just a short while.  
I am not going to spoil even one word of this book for you, but I will tell you that this heart-holding book is the life and journey of one young woman who I have never met or known, but have such respect for.  She was a strong, humble young woman of 18 when she traveled to America with such grace even under the circumstances of her time.  While reading my heart beamed at times, ached at other times and leaped into my throat on others.  This story is filled with happiness and God's provisions are obvious, but Bessie's Granddaughter doesn't just paint a pretty picture for us to gloss over.  She has written real accounts told down from Bessie herself to her own Daughter.  You will be able to walk along side this courageous woman as her journey begins on her way to America where she starts a new life....you will not be disappointed on this touching story of History.

Honestly I wish the book was longer....luckily for you and I on her website, Bessie's America there are many extras to look through and explore. I'm talking about an interactive multi-media guide where you will be able to do more research and dive into more of this Era.  You will get to explore a lot of Pictures and Facts in the back of the book, but there is much more online...I loved the pictures.  And being able to take a peek at Bessie's Family Album and childhood in Lithuania was impressive.  There is a section for you to immerse yourself into the world Bessie found herself in.  Listen to Music, Radio Broadcasts with Fireside Chats.  I was able to listen to Franklin Roosevelt speak about many topics during the Depression years.  Also, the kids and I were shocked to here the ads and jingles that were peppered throughout the Radio Series, The Goldbergs.  There were literally tons of Radio programs from all genres we have been pouring through them during lunch time each day.  And the Music....the crackling behind Bob Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth's voices was almost more than my heart could handle.....but, I'm crazy for that kind of stuff.  We watched videos of dance styles like the Grizzly Bear...too funny I dare you to look it up.  Mahala and I enjoyed learning about how Bessie and all other women back then cleaned house.  Wow, I thought I was a busy woman!!!  

I could honestly go on and on forever about all the wonderful extra information about famous people, recipes, health, news and a huge section filled with European Immigration info.  In that section is a link to go explore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Here you can learn so much about Genealogy, research possible ancestors that were passengers on one of the many ships.  You can see actual ship manifests, see pictures of the ships and even plan a trip to go visit.  I never ever had a desire to go there, but I know we will make a trip there now.  :)  



I know you don't need to ask me if I liked this book, I'm sure it's obvious.  This would be a terrific Unit Study for any Middle school or High school Kiddo.  There is plenty of info and researching opportunities to make this part of History real in their eyes instead of being stuck behind a textbook.  This would be a great addition into anyone's home or school library.  
*****Interesting fact too is that the writer's Sister's last name is my Maiden name..... ;)  

Make sure you go now and see what's going on with Strong Learning, Inc. with Social Media!
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Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}


Creating A Masterpiece ~ REVIEW

Have you ever had a vision of what you would like to create, but unsure of the materials needed or the correct technique?  What about wanting to teach your kiddos Art, but feel your not qualified?  I love all things involving Art.  The color, materials, the rhythm and flow of creating, but that doesn't mean what's swirling on in my head can be conveyed correctly to my kiddos.  Usually they look at me like you want me to do what with what???  Never fear.....I have discovered the Monthly Plan from Creating A Masterpiece and I'm going to share my Review with you today.

There are many Art programs, books and ideas floating around.  I can find an endless supply of crafts to mark any occasion or fill a rainy day online.  But, we are talking about true masterpieces here.  I was really impressed with what we could turn a blank canvas into with the simple steps presented and taught by Sharon Hofer.  There are 15 different Art mediums to pick from that is then divided into projects in order of difficulty.  The step by step Video Instruction is the key I feel to achieving such great results.  Not only do you see the finished project, but the whole process.  And it was nice to be able to pause or rewind when we needed to.  Even your youngest kiddos can watch and dive into a project right along side you or your older kiddos.  But, for us Kaden, who has Autism was not able to participate.  He was overwhelmed because of his own expectations of what it "should" look like.  But, creating and Art is difficult for him anyway even if it's a simple project.  So, this one was for Mahala and I to enjoy.  And since we have been using the program Kaden has said that he would maybe like to try it again.  I'll keep you posted on that! 

New Brushes for the Class!

Mahala and I enjoyed it so much and we have at least 10 other projects we are planning to complete in the next few months.  Once we logged in and looked at all the projects available we decided to warm up with some watercolor and sketching.  The Mediums offered cover everything from wood burning and carving to watercolor and pastels.  Truly there is something for everyone, but I do think it will be more appreciated by the middle school and older crowd.  I also think this would be a fun group project to do.  Mahala and I have wanted to go to this painting place in town where you both paint the same thing and compare.  Now we can do it in the comfort of our own home and include as many people as we want to.  I tried to get a group of us together before this Review, but it didn't work out.  Next weekend though we are going to gather 6 of us around the bar and kitchen table to work on a Masterpiece.  Mahala's planned snacks and parting gifts for all. :) 


After you choose your piece the supplies are conveniently available and can even directly order from the site too.  Each piece consists of at least 2 short videos.  And a High Quality Resolution Photo of the finished product is available along with reference photos of some of Sharon's past students.  I took a ton of pictures and I decided to focus on 2 of the projects we did.
Mahala did a Beautiful picture of an Iguana in Ink and Watercolor Pencils.  I did take a ton more pictures of her doing this pic then any of the other projects mainly because it was a longer process with sketch, pen and watercolor.  She stuck with it and did an Amazing job!!!!!  One thing she said she really liked about the instructional videos is that the camera view shows Sharon working and talking, but zooms in very close to the project too.  This makes learning so much easier and the technique be learned is easier to comprehend and mimic.  Mahala also thought all the extra tips and reminders throughout the lesson was helpful and appreciated.  She said she felt like she was taking a true one on one class with Sharon.  I felt that way too. :) Mahala said the photos of Sharon's Art in the Lesson Highlights section for each lesson was real helpful to see her lines and curves compared to Sharon's piece.  I can see where this would be real useful when working on facial features or anything to scale.

I did the African Sunset in Watercolor because I have been exploring African nature for a few weeks now.  This particular painting offered a new technique to paint trees and it's with a straw.  By placing a dot of watercolor on your landscape you then blow through a straw and the paint effortlessly glides upward towards your painted sky.  Such a cool new thing that I can't wait to try again and again. :)  I did have all of the supplies on hand so it was easy to get started.  I enjoyed the videos, Sharon is a pleasant lady that makes you feel super comfortable with her right off the bat.  I love how she offers friendly reminders to watch out for this or to avoid that.  She is knowledgeable and they way she teaches you can grasp what she's telling you to do even if your not familiar with it.

So, I'm sure you don't have to ask if we liked the Creating A Masterpiece program or not.....we love it and plan to complete everything!!!  Yep, that's our goal and we look forward to seeing our progress along the way.  I recommend this to any Homeschooling Family with one or a whole house full of Kiddos.  Not only will you be investing in their education of the Arts, but also building their confidence and giving them an outlet for their emotions and creativity.  Art is so important in a Kiddo's development...we work every single week trying to incorporate Art in someway to Kaden's agenda.  He struggles, but when he is able to focus and not be overwhelmed the benefits are tremendous.

Make sure you head over to Facebook and see what Creating A Masterpiece has going on this week. 
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Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}


Spring has Sprung

Spring is here...it has sprung.  And I'm filled with anticipation of what the next 6 months or so will be filled with.  Planting, gardening, cleaning, organizing, cookouts, picnics, painting outside, camping, swimming late into the night, fires outside with dripping smores and icy beverages in huge glasses with funky straws.  I'm looking forward to movie nights out on the lawn, catching bugs in jars, shopping for antiques and the smell of fresh cut flowers, coconut oil with a pinch of citronella as I snap pictures all day, read books till my eyes are dry and my hands to weak to turn the pages.  Swoooooning!


Circle C Stepping Stones ~ REVIEW

We have books coming out of our ears these days... just like I like it.  There is nothing better than starting a new book series.  And lucky for us several weeks ago Kaden received two books to Review from Kregel Publications, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top.   Kaden is a monster reader, crushing chapter books in just a few short days.  But, when I told him about the series he wanted to read them....all of them.  I think it was mainly because there were horses involved and Mahala several months ago read a few of Susan K. Marlow's books from her Circle C Adventures Series (9-13) and the Milestones Series(11+).  She talked about them all the time and really loved them, so naturally Kaden wanted to read them too.  This new Series that we received was the two first books from, Circle C Stepping Stones (7-10).  It's a great middle ground between the older Adventure series and the younger Circle C Beginnings (6-9).

There are many things I like about these books, one thing is that all of the series follow the one main character, Andrea Carter....Andi.  All the books are filled with good hearted fun, adventure and age appropriate troubles and family situations.  It's hard these days to find good kid fiction, you have to search.  Andi learns valuable lessons and in turn your kiddo does too.  We enjoyed reading these two books out-loud together, they are a little over 100 pages each.  Actually he read to me out-loud...I sipped coffee.....and relaxed. :)  Another thing about these books I felt like they were easy to relate to whether your kiddo is a boy or girl.  Which means your next gift purchase for that little girl or boy in your life just got easier.  Just pop a few of these in a gift bag with some old fashion candy or silly putty or journal would brighten any child's day for any occasion.  Can you tell I have thought this one through already? 

In Andi Saddles Up Andi turns 9 years old....that was a big year for Kaden.  We went on a lot of adventures that year.  And we enjoyed a few of those moments as we reminisced in between chapters.  Andi and her sweet Palamino are ready to trick ride...she's old enough to ride with the big girls.  This is what Andi thinks....but, like big brothers sometimes do, Chad has other ideas about her trick riding....and they don't make for a happy birthday girl. Don't worry though all of that changes when she meets a new friend....Sadie while she was up in her favorite tree.  But, even this new found friendship will be tested and there will be a few lessons learned on friendship and a little about compromise.  On another note after Kaden read about how Andi celebrated her birthday with waffles and a chocolaty drink he just had to have some himself.  He said Mom...it's school work, we need this experience to really understand how Andi feels.  Hold on there partner, sounds good to me, so we enjoyed Andi's Birthday breakfast for lunch that day. :)

Andi Under the Big Top was extra special to me because the lessons learned are so important.  To trust in God, have patients and we were able to have a good conversation about the old saying the grass is always greener on the other side.  In this story Andi gets to go to a circus, she is so excited and amazed by all the animals, lights, music...just the whole package.  Kaden has also never been to a circus and he was on the edge of the couch reading every detail.  This was the late 1800s, people dressed up in church clothes to go, there was a parade even before hand...the details were great all the way down to explaining the noise level perfectly.  While there Andi met a boy named Henry.  And she thinks his life most be a dream, but he has a secret to share and she wants to help him....it may cost her dearly though.

So, what did we think?  We both Loved them and highly recommend them for anyone looking for books filled with adventure, good heart and character building lessons.  These are early level chapter books and easy to read.... we found them very enjoyable.  Kaden put them in his reread bookshelf and that says a lot.  
I also Love that Susan offers FREE activities and coloring pages.  The activities are filled with end of the chapter questions, vocabulary words, poetry exercises, crafts, crossword puzzles, recipes, maps, mazes and more!  It's crazy how much is packed in and it's actually really good stuff, not just busy work.  Kaden put all of the printouts and activities in a binder.  I plan to take pictures of him with some of the crafts he made and put it in the sleeve with the instructions or story and activity that it correlates with.  I'll try to remember to update this post with the finished product when it's done. :)  

Head on over and see what both Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow have to say on Social Media today!

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Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}


Home School Adventure Co. ~ REVIEW

Mahala has grown so much as a writer over the past year with the writing programs we have been using.  She even notices her improvement as we frequently go over her past writing projects.  She takes writing seriously because in her mind it's still a struggle and she constantly over thinks the process of writing.  I always encourage her to write daily, her thoughts, opinions, gratitude, dreams... anything to get her feelings down and out of her sweet head.  She attempts to do it when I remind her, but her writing is anything but freethinking, off the cuff, let your hair down kind of writing.  But, I'm happy to report that maybe Mom couldn't get her to relax, write and possibly have a little fun while doing it.  But, our next Review from Home School Adventure Co. sure did have the secret touch.  For the past several weeks Mahala has been using their Creative Freewriting Adventure program.  And we also had the chance to look at and try the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition too.  The difference between these two is the Coloring Book edition includes a coloring project page after each assignment.  Nice, bold pictures that are perfect for the Kiddo that enjoys coloring or the Mom who wants something to do while her Kiddo writes.  Shhhh, did I just suggest that? :) 


It's Fri-yay!!!

What a gorgeous week we have had....after being shut in because of flooding and tons of rain here we are so enjoying the Sun!!!  I know I haven't finished my update about Kaden and his medicine....it's been crazy busy with schooling, reviews and just life.  But, there is an update coming....an amazing one.  I think part of me is afraid to share the good, because I'm afraid it will stop.  I know it wont, it's silly of me....but, life with Kaden is going good.  Better than good...better than it EVER has been.  I will share more this weekend. :)

This week we have babied our seedlings, soaked in as much sun as possible, cooked in the kitchen and made some delicious strawberry lemonade....Kaden's favorite!!!  We took two outings this week to a park and enjoyed our lunch with Dad.  The other three days we spent several hours outside.  We did our reading out there and worked on our nature journals.

Both Kaden and Mahala worked on a Ben Franklin Lap book, started a Proverbs Study and nature journaled together.  Mahala's biggest thing she is working on besides Math is Writing....all day every day!!!  This week she is collecting info on Ansel Adams.  She is doing a few writing programs right now and they are both digesting poetry every single day. Writing, Reading and Art....are my loves, my go to on a whim.  But, since I've been homeschooling I have fallen for History a little more each year.

Next week we will wrap up our Unit Study on Mr. Ben, continue on our American History journey and wrap up our rocks and gems work.  We have a few art projects coming up and I do see a pie baking and eating contest on the horizon.......


Eclectic Foundations ~ REVIEW

Okay so I may have not always been the kind of person to follow the rules and in Language Arts there are several to learn and follow.  That said you can probably guess that I piece together my Language Arts Curriculum for my Kiddos.  And you would be correct, except with Kaden.  With him I need something all in one, easy to use and as stress-free for him as possible.  Enter this NEW REVIEW.... Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level C from Eclectic Foundations.  Right off the bat I swoon over the fact that we are talking about one spiral bound Workbook for Kaden and one Teacher's Guide for me and that's it.  And it covers Spelling, Grammar, Composition, Handwriting, Memory Work, Phonics, Poetry, Reading and Comprehension.  Normally that's a lot of researching and a lot of books to tote around and that's overwhelming for a Kiddo with Special Needs.


Kwik Stix ~ REVIEW

Once again we have been given the opportunity to try another product from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  Kaden Loves their Kwik Stix and just in time for his Birthday the mailman delivered  their Thin Stix set.  It was funny because our last Review was with their Metalix and Neon Stix and Kaden said that a thinner version would be awesome to have for creating more detail.  Well....Surprise Surprise!!


By The Way Book Series ~ REVIEW

 photo Smoky Mountains_zpsrhglrwtt.png

My Family enjoyed nine weeks in an RV traveling cross country a few months ago.  It was an experience I know we will all treasure for years to come.  We made many memories and have plans already for the next trip...this one we would like to do for 9 months.  This next Review I have to share with all of you is something that will help keep some of those memories even more vivid for us.  I'm talking about the amazing By The Way Book Series which offers different products to allow parents to share the Beauty of God's creations with their children.  They offer trading cards, posters, activity books and more.  We were given the hardcover, fully colored Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! book.