Thursday, November 15, 2018

Guitar 360 Method (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

My friends. The time is near. We are heading towards the end of our Review Crew run this year. 

Which means, shortly, we will be taking a good long break. In the meantime, I want to share with you with a good one. We got to review guitar lessons! This is really one of the best jobs evah. We got to try out the Semester 1 Bundle from Guitar 360 Method. This included 5 weeks of the Absolute Beginner bonus content). 



The Guitar 360 Method is an online course developed and taught by Krisz Simonfalvi. Mr. Simonfalvi has ooodles of experience playing professionally. He also has mentored and taught students all over North America and Europe from ages 4-74. 

I will talk more about his approach in just a minute. For now, you have to know that we have access to plenty of guitars in our house. The Muffin has a new Taylor and an old Martin. Josiah has ownership of an old honkytonk guitar that used to belong to my grandfather. But other than an impressive air guitar game, Josiah's guitar playing experience has been limited. 






We have been talking about music lessons for some time (with someone other than The Muffin), but things just haven't come together.  We all have a variety of musical experiences and education. Plus, some challenges. We pastor a small church and we don't have all "kinds of time." 

So back to Guitar 360 Method. This method is for beginners and those who know a bit more but want to expand their knowledge. This approach is a wonderful mix between learning to play the guitar for fun and learning music theory. 

The cool part is that the Absolute Beginner Course is FREE! Can't get any better than that! Semester 1 (which I was given access to) is for the "motivated beginner." I would suggest starting off with the Absolute Beginner Course and going from there. I think you will find Mr. Simonfalvi's methods refreshing.

The whole thing is taught by cyclical pedagogy. Basically, this means that the student is taught building blocks and those things are frequently being "cycled" back to in the lessons. I really could have used this approach when I learned to play the piano. There is just great freedom in that method of instruction. 

How We Used It
Josiah was so excited to start this course. Krisz Simonfalvi is a pretty cool teacher. He is most certainly teenager approved. However, I think it was a bit harder than he thought. His honkytonk guitar hasn't seen a lot of action for quite a number of years, but I imagine Josiah thought it would just magically start singing under his fingers. 
The lessons were (and are) exactly the pace he needed. The Absolute Beginner Course starts on basic things like finger placement, strumming, and picking. 


He's not quite through the Absolute Beginner Course yet, but I've had the opportunity to look through Semester 1.  I am really impressed. The content is excellent. The videos are well-produced and easy to navigate. And I love, love that we can watch them as often as we can. 


So here is where I get to the nitty gritty (along with a little pep talk). In our house, we have varying degrees of musical background and education. I have piano training, more vocal training and with that comes quite a bit of theory. However, playing the guitar is a different experience. My husband (aka The Muffin) has only had one guitar lesson in his life but has had years and years of "on the job" playing experience. He wishes he had more music theory in his life and a bit more barre chord know-how. 
And then there is Josiah. Who absolutely kills it on Guitar Hero. 
A program like Guitar 360 Method is a fit for all of us. It provides the hands-on visual practice we need. We can take our time. We aren't tied to a timetable. It provides excellent music education that gives us musical freedom AND a foundation for great technique. 
There is really SO MUCH GOOD STUFF here. The content is impressive.  
Right now is a great time to dive in. There is currently a discount on  Guitar 360 Method for homeschool families. Use the code HOMESCHOOL20 at checkout for 20% off the course.
You can connect with Guitar 360 Method via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 




Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Surgery and Stuff

I did it. 

Remember my frank "talk" I had with my gynecologist some time back? 

On Monday, I had a quick little surgery. 

I say a quick "little" surgery because I still have most of my "parts." The surgery itself was uncomplicated, but for someone like me, there were a few more steps and hurdles. 

I had a little difficulty waking up and my oxygen levels weren't ideal when I was in recovery. But all is good and I was sent home with a few more stitches and a happening pair of fuzzy socks. Color puce. 

It is early. Currently, I am on my couch (I couldn't climb the vast height of my bed) with my cat waiting to take a pill (or two). The rest of the household is asleep.

Including (wait for it), MY MOMMA! She is here! In my house. In Josiah's little bed. 

I know what you're thinking. Why are you just now hearing about all of this STUFF going on with me? I am generally a bit more transparent. After all, I have admitted to losing my skirt in public, frequently going to the Wal-marts with two different shoes AND accidentally putting cough syrup in a coconut cream pie. 

Just. Plain. Goofy. 

That's what I be. 

This season in my life has been just harder to talk about. There is so much going on in the world. Wildfires. Contentious elections. People have just become unhinged. 

The fact that I had to sign a "Consent for Sterilization" seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things. My private pain and suffering seemed almost too tender. It has been a constant reminder of all of my perceived failures. 

Rationally, I know that it was impractical and almost impossible for me to become pregnant again. Plus, the miracle of Josiah's adoption was and is a thing of beauty. I have no complaints. I love being a momma. 

It's just that infertility took away my choices. And some of my dreams. 

But. We do what we have to do...don't we? "Railing" against my body and venting publically about my disappointments and current pain seems counterproductive. And it's really not my thing. 

The reality is that my current list of medications is downright ridiculous. The girls at my pharmacy have memorized my birthdate. I have gained more weight in the past two years year than I previously lost. I don't ever have a day that I am not in pain from all the metal located in my body. I never know when the tide is going to turn and my heart function is going to take another nose dive. For nearly 8 months this year, I bled. I stop breathing when I sleep and sometimes my feet and legs swell so much I can't wear my cute shoes. 

Which is downright insulting, I assure you. 

But, my friends. I am singularly blessed. For the most part, the things that I have suffered have made me a better person. 

I have a husband that adores me. 
I have a son that sat up for two hours last night watching over me before he went to bed. He basically took the "night shift." This boy. He is a treasure. 
I have parents who have always been supportive and allowed me to be "me." 

Not to mention the love and support of all of the rest of my crazy family. And I can't even begin to tell you about my church family. 

They are precious. There is even a sweet couple who stayed at the hospital with my family the whole time I was in surgery and only left when they could see me in recovery. Last night, we were blessed with yummy food and a visit from some of my favorite people. 

And I have a Savior who comforts me. Who keeps me. Who has shown His faithfulness time and time again.

The past few months have been a reckoning for me of sorts. I have needed some quiet and private time to sort through my feelings. And, frankly, I haven't felt my best. I have needed to reserve my energies for evenings at home with my boys. Time spent with good books and mastering my homemade roll technique. Mornings spent in quiet devotion with a good cup of coffee (and plenty of cream). 

It's time for me to take a few more pills. I feel pretty good and my cat is doing an excellent job of keeping me company in this, the wee hours of the morning. But pain is pain and I'd rather not tempt it. 

My momma is here and she brought with her some treasures from my daddy's garden. I got to spend a few hours with my brother (though I would have liked it better if he could have stayed longer and made some of his famous beans). The Muffin has fetched and carried and been as doting as he always is. 

I feel cherished. Not only is it a fact...but it is also a choice. In the long run...no matter what is taken away...so much more is given. 







Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Master Kitz The Starry Night (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

We love us some art. However, it can be difficult to find time or opportunity to sneak it into our day. And I always have such grand plans...but find I don't have what I need when it's time to carry out my "grand plan." We are winding down our reviews for this year and I am excited to share with you about this masterpiece. It's ALL about art and it's very grand indeed! We got to review Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com.



I had previously not heard of Kidzaw. Their mission is to expose budding artists to master painters in addition to making art fun and interactive. They have designed several neat kits to do just that. There are the Master Kitz, as well as the Master Sculpz. The kits are intended for ages 5 and up.

This Master Kitz is inspired by Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.

Each kit contains EVERYTHING a student will need to create a masterpiece inspired by a great artist. For The Master Kitz The Starry Night we received:

3 acrylic paints
4 custom oil pastels
1 van Gogh roller
1 reusable Starry Night Cyprus Stencil
1 standard paint roller
2 sheets of deluxe art paper
1 "Mesmerizing Stars" sticker sheet
and a full-color poster of instructions, along with information about Van Gogh

All of these goodies came in a sturdy reusable box.




This was really an easy and fun project. It is recommended to cover your surface with newspaper or some kind of table covering and then tape down your paper. We used washi tape (because I have it in abundance). The art paper is really heavy duty. Which is a good thing. Josiah is an enthusiastic painter.  

Each step of the project was numbered and contained a detailed illustration as well as written instruction. I think is this benefits every style of learner...including the enthusiastic painter. 



I was surprised at how little time the whole thing took. For those of you who worry about taking time away from math and lunch...you need not fret! This is one of those products that does all the heavy lifting for you. And it gives satisfying results for such little effort. 



We did have a few hiccups. I was THRILLED TO SEE that the stencil was reusable. Unfortunately, it is made of stiff coated cardboard. I wasn't paying attention and starting rinsing it off and scrubbing on it like you would a plastic stencil.

Oops. Listen and learn, my friends. Don't waterlog the cute stencil. Josiah was also kind of heavy with the stickers. He wasn't gentle while peeling them away from the art paper. We won't be able to use them again. But at least we still have the rollers.

Despite all of that, we LOVED, LOVED this product and can't wait to order more. The finished product is really something special. I plan on framing it for Josiah. It really has that "WOW!" factor. As does all of the EXCLAMATION POINTS I am using during this review.

I'm feeling it today, my friends. This was a perfect project to do during the middle of a busy season of life. I also think these Master Kitz would make excellent Christmas presents. (hint, hint).  Josiah would like to try the Master Kitz The Great Wave next.

Check this company out! It's a keeper!




You can connect with Kidzaw via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. 


Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidzaw
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kidzaw123?blend=1&ob=5


Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}
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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

St. Bartholomew's Eve (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

One of our favorite vendors to review has to be Heirloom Audio. Thanks to being on the Crew we are proud owners of hours and hours of fabulous audio dramas based on the popular book series of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty. Once again, Heirloom Audio has put out a great adventure….St. Bartholomew’s Eve.




 If you aren’t familiar with G.A. Henty you need to be. He was a famous war correspondent and author back in the day. His books are filled with all of the virtues we hold dear…courage, integrity, and faith. Heirloom Audio has produced outstanding adventure after adventure. We have listened to these historical tales on long trips, on the way to Co-op, lounging in the living room…pretty much everywhere we can.

Before I talk about the audio production itself, I want to tell you about this era in history. The French Religious Wars happened between 1562-1598. The wars happened between Roman Catholics and a group called the Huguenots. The Huguenots were Protestants. Just a fun fact. According to my family history, some of my French ancestors were Huguenots. They eventually settled on the island of Manhattan, which at that time was not much more than a forest.

The events of St. Bartholomew’s Eve lead up to the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. The hero of our story is a young man from England named Philip. His mother is French-born and he has come to France to visit family and aid in the battle to help the Huguenots escape persecution. Along the way, Philip meets a young Huguenot, Argento. He also happens to have a fetching older sister. The story isn’t all love and sunshine. There are some truly intense moments. Being persecuted for one’s faith and the dreadful events of the massacre kept up riveted. How fortunate we are to live in a country where we can worship how we chose.

One of the most poignant moments included the singing of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It was beautiful. And so very inspiring. For the purposes of this review, we received a 2-CD set. You can also purchase a digital download. The ages for all of Heirloom Audio’s adventures is generally 6 and up. You, of course, will have to decide what is appropriate for your family. We LOVE every bit of the productions No matter how uncomfortable they might make us feel. Persecution isn’t comfortable.

 I just want to make a quick comment about the quality of St. Bartholomew’s Eve. It is EXCELLENT. Brain Blessed, as usual, plays G.A. Henty himself and narrates the story. I have said this before in some of my other reviews, Brian Blessed is a treasure. His voice is wrapped in gold. In fact, all the actors voicing the characters are tremendous. Heirloom Audio never disappoints with the musical scores, acting quality….pretty much all of it. This is one we will enjoy for years to come.



You can connect with Heirloom Audio via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeirloomAudio
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeirloomStories  
Google+: https://goo.gl/d8btpX
Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial



St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 (A Homeschool Review Crew)

I might have mentioned this a time or two, but I was born on the mission field. My parents were missionaries at the time of my birth in Managua, Nicaragua. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for those who have given up the comforts of home and family to explore the world and tell others about Jesus.  And I'm always excited to hear their stories. Some of our favorite reviews have been with Brinkman Adventures. This time around we got to review Season 6: Underground Rising (digital edition).



Brinkman Adventures come from real life stories. Some of the names and particulars have been changed to protect those involved. They are audio dramas...filled with intrigue, adventure and much, more! They are not only inspiring to listen to, but they are also fun!

Season 6: Underground Rising includes:

Dutch Underground Part 1
Dutch Underground Part 2
Twice Born Fly
I Wonder Why?
Free Burma Rangers Part 1
Free Burma Rangers Part 2

They come to about 2 hours of listening in all. Having a digital download allowed me to download to multiple devices. We primarily listened to the adventures in the morning while we sat around the table. They were a terrific way to start out our day.

All of the stories were just terrific. They took us from the Netherlands to Burma. We met resistance volunteers in the Dutch Underground during World War II. We traveled with a young girl as she joined her missionary parents in a foreign country. We also got to meet a Green Beret and hear of his adventures from boyhood to working with and aiding the people of Burma.

While I can't possibly recap all of the great stories, I can tell you that the history of the Dutch Underground kept us spellbound. We are great fans of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Dutch Underground was a wonderful retelling of real events. I don't think that those of us living in a free society understand the danger these brave souls put themselves in. Would I be as self-sacrificing? These still were questions some of the characters had to ask.

They do recommend for kids under 10 to listen to this particular story with their parents. You have to know that this particular part of history wasn't sunshine and roses. There are some intense parts. I didn't feel like they were particularly violent or distressing.

One of the treasures and special parts of Brinkman Adventures is that they always include information about the real-life stories on their website. I personally love looking at all the pictures and reading a bit more or "the rest of the story." I can't recommend spending time poking around the site enough.

Just one other note of appreciation. I won't give away the story in Twice Born Fly, but the Brinkmans are enjoying a "day of rest." We have been talking a lot about this particular idea lately. As pastors, sometimes we feel wrung out...I appreciated the further nudge from the Holy Spirit about a day of rest.

I haven't yet, but I plan on burning the digital files to a CD. We have a long trip planned around Thanksgiving and I know my husband will love these stories! In fact, I've been inspired to get out the other seasons of Brinkman Adventures we have in our possession.   If you would like to read my reviews out  Season 2Season 3 or Season 4 you can do so by clicking on the links.

We also received a coupon code to share with our readers for 10% off the site. Use the code FALL10. It is good from October 10-31.  I think any of their Seasons would be wonderful gifts.

Go check it out!



You can connect with Brinkman Adventures via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

https://www.facebook.com/Brinkman-Adventures-152895116079/






Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Josiah and I recently reviewed CashCrunch Careers from CashCrunch Games.




It's possible I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. When I was quite small I had dreams of the ballet. Of course, there wasn't a tutu within 50 miles of our little hill town. But it was the call of the archaeologist that held my attention for most of my childhood and teen years.

Obviously, I didn't grow up to be Indiana Jones.

I worked as a hairstylist. I was a telephone operator. I have been a teacher of music, kindergarten and pre-school. I even became the lunch lady at a sweet little preschool.

Best. Job. Ever.

Now I can call myself a freelance writer because (on occasion) I make a little money writing. It's hard to believe, I know.

Josiah wanted to be a weatherman when he was little. Or a football player with the NFL. Now he has the illustrious goal of playing video games or at least, an 80's rocker.

The boy needs direction.

CashCrunch Careers is intended for those looking to change careers or begin one.

The goal is to provide users with the necessary tools to learn more about themselves and in turn explore different careers based on those strengths and motivations.

When we first logged on to the site we took a survey. I have to say it was eye-opening. Josiah is fairly laid back and I was surprised at some of his answers. Let's just say he sees himself differently and perhaps has more ambition than I realized.

I do have some advice when taking the survey. Go with your first instinct. There are some answers that seem similar or not applicable, but it's best not to labor over the thing.

After we took the survey we got a report.

I'll show you some of mine first. It gave me a summary of my Career Work Style, Motivators & De-motivators, Career Attributes, and Career Match.

The Motivators & De-motivators summary reassured me that I generate useful ideas and creative...among other things. All which are pretty correct.



Below are my Career Attributes with the strongest ones listed first.


I was terribly disappointed with my Career Matches. I thought for sure Fairy Princess, Expert Book Reader and Super Hero would towards the top of my list. 

 To be honest, I was surprised with all the "manager" positions. I just really like to be left alone. The site explains that there are jobs within those jobs.

When I clicked on the top career "General and Operation Managers" it gave me a list of tasks someone in this profession might need to do.


 Another neat feature is that it gives you a list of colleges that have programs within that particular career field.

Now here is where it gets more specific. Within my top career of "General and Operation Mangement" is a whole list of specific careers. I do have to say that some of the accounting titles freaked me out. I think accounting involves math. 




Josiah's report was different enough that I could see that there wasn't just a set report sent to everyone. 











I thought "close supervision of work" as a de-motivator was spot on. Also being alone in a room, without a phone. Sounds like heaven to me...but apparently doesn't appeal to Josiah.



Many of our Career Matches were the same...though there were some differences. I did have to explain to him that "Gaming Managers" was not managing a bunch of guys playing video games.

Take a look at this video to see it in action. 






There is a whole lot on this site. It is available 24/7 so you and your kiddos can revisit as often as you need to.

Personally, I found the whole process fascinating. For one, it reaffirmed some things I know about myself but perhaps had forgotten.

Josiah had a blast exploring the site. You can also check out the FREE CashCrunch 101 games. It also nice to know that the creator of CashCrunch is a teacher on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. He has a Personal Finance in Bite-Size Chunks.

This was neat experience and we plan on revisiting it. Though I do have a suggestion for another Career category. I hear there is a big market for Fairy Princesses.

You can connect with CrashCrunch via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to read MORE reviews by clicking on the banner below.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/721791248014409/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CashCrunchGames @cashcrunchgames
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cashcrunchgames/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cashcrunchgames/ @cashcrunchgames
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FortuneAndVenture




CashCrunch Careers {CashCrunch Games Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, October 5, 2018

Books of the Bible At-A-Glance (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

The study of the Bible is a big deal in our home. Some of us are a bit more studious about it than others...for example, The Muffin...who is also a Pastor. You might know that the Bible, itself, has 66 books. It can overwhelming to put all of those books in perspective and context. We just got to review a product from Teach Sunday School that is a perfect tool for such a study. It is called Books of the Bible At-A-Glance





I received the Books of the Bible product as a download. There are soooo many ways that you can implement the sheets. Each book of the Bible has one page. That is it. You can add them to an exsisting study or use them as a study unto themselves. I chose to use them as a study by themselves. 

But more on that in a minute. 

The sheets are colorful and really easy to navigate. Josiah is dyslexic and I worry about products that are too busy or filled with small print and cluttered graphics. The Bible pages are clean and flow in such a way that the reader can get to the point. 

The sheets are uniform in appearance. You will find the name of the book, the author, when it was written, most famous verses and more. Most importantly, you will find the important stories and points that the books make. 




I chose to print off a set for both Josiah and myself. They fit nicely in a binder. However, you can certainly print them off and make a family binder to use a reference book during your studies. 



Books of the Bible at a Glance

The possibilities for Books of the Bible At-A-Glance are numerous. I am going to continue to use them once a week as a separate study. I like the idea of choosing a story and verse to focus on weekly. 

They also would be terrific in a Sunday School setting.  They are extremely accessible and would be easy to use with those who are familiar with the Bible as well as those who don't know anything about it. 

You could also use it as a general reference tool in your own personal Bible study. They aren't just intended for kids. 

One of the BEST things about this product is that it is extremely affordable. You can download the entire thing for a mere $9. That is about a cup and a half of coffee from one of the more popular coffee joints. AND upon purchase, you can use it with your church or household. 

This product is really fantastic. It has made the study of the Bible make more sense to my very visual learners. 

It's a keeper! 



You can connect with Teach Sunday School via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews! 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/biblefun/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teachsundayschool/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SundaySchoolSample



Books of the Bible At-a-Glance { Teach Sunday School Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
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