Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A TOS Review: The Brinkman Adventures: Season 2

I {heart} Missionaries. I, myself, was born to Missionary parents way back in the early 70’s. Don’t start counting. I am well aware of my age. 

When I was given the opportunity to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 from The Brinkman Adventures, I said, “Yes, please!” I knew it was going to be something I wanted to share with my family.


What I Received

The The Brinkman Adventures are audio dramatized stories on CD or MP3 downloads. They feature Real Life Missionary stories told by the fictional Brinkman Family. 

Instead of merely relaying the inspirational stories, the Brinkman Family have been inserted right in the thick of the adventures. 

I received Season 2 in a 4 CD Set ($25). A MP3 Download ($17) is available. Now before you shake your head in despair (us homeschool parents are chronic belt tighteners), these prices are suggested donations. So if your "cup runneth over" or you are pinching pennies this is a great way to a)expose the kiddos and family to missions and b) support missions in a tangible way. 

How We Used It

The Brinkmans are a homeschooling of 8. I only have 1. This didn’t mean that Josiah felt left out. He absolutely loved the whole bunch.

We do a lot of car riding and absolutely love having quality CDs to pop in the player when we are on the road. I also liked to use them when we were doing chores at home.

There are 12 episodes in Season 2…that’s 5 hours of listening!

Josiah’s favorite parts were numerous. He laughed when they were chasing a chicken. He has been there (and done that). He could relate.

He also enjoyed the Pirates of Mayan Island. It has adventure! It has humor! It also has a Message. He is also ready to join the Brinkman family.

I love that you can see God’s hand at work throughout their adventures. Yes, there is adversity. That is part of serving Christ, especially in Mission work. There are travesties and tragedies every day. The Brinkman Adventures doesn’t gloss over the hard parts. But, what we do hear of is God’s Faithfulness and His miracle working power.

In my opinion, this is money well spent. A few thoughts, however. While these adventures are intended for the whole family, I would suggest to listen to them with your kids (especially with the young ones). I think that extra conversation is needed.  And even though this is my first exposure to the Brinkman Adventures, I didn’t feel as if I had been dropped in the middle of an elaborate story plot. We were able to jump right into the adventures right away. 

The overall quality of the Brinkman Adventures is terrific. There are exciting sound effects, exceptional acting and captivating story lines. I was really inspired when I read this note by the creator of The Brinkman Adventures, Ian Bultman. What a way to get something done for God!

I also encourage my Children's Pastor friends to take a look at The Brinkman Adventures. We as children's pastors use a lot of different resources in our ministries. While this is not a visual resource it is a wonderful way to keep missions alive. I also see it as a good product for giveaways, etc. 

You can check out Brinkman Adventures on the website. There are fun things to do and a place to check out the stories behind the stories (got that?). You can also listen to an episode (I believe it is from Season 1) called The Provider

You can also connect with Brinkman Adventures on Facebook. In fact, it was on FB that we learned that the actress who plays Susan Brinkman lost her husband over the weekend. Such a sad event, but it is comforting to know that such a compassionate body of believers are out there supporting one another. 

I look forward to having the Brinkman Adventures as part of our listening library. Road Trip anyone? You can read more Reviews by clicking on the Banner Below.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

One Foot (in front of the other)

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking out the door

You never will get where you're going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there's a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat

You might recognize these lyrics from the classic Santa Clause is Coming to Town....sung by the late Mickey Rooney. 

Don't worry. This isn't a post about early Christmas preparations. 

Something happened this weekend that I didn't expect. 

About a month ago, I sighed up our little family to participate in a walk/run.

Though it was a big deal to me. There is the whole matter of all bits of metal in my lower half. Even though it was only a mile I knew that it would be a bigger deal for me...than for this fellow down here.

Our YMCA was putting it on as part of a Healthy Kids Day at one of the local parks.

It was a chilly rainy Saturday morning. There was the promise of a sunshiney day later on.

I had to take a few pictures. You know how that is.

But I kept on walking.

And walking. 

Everybody passed me. 
Except for the Muffin. 

 The Man who could walk (and run!) circles around me stayed with me as I plugged along. Every little bit the staff from the Y would be along the edge of the route...cheering us on.

I will admit. It was hard for me, but not impossible. When I got about to this point, I got emotional. Why? I have been able to walk now for years. But it was only last year that I could walk 10 minutes on a treadmill. And then 20 minutes. I got sniffly. "What's wrong?" The Muffin asked. I tried to clean up my act. I didn't want to completely loose control. I was doing it! I was walking! I was walking a mile!

It didn't matter that everyone else came in before me. Even the preschool group beat me. That's okay. When Josiah got his participation ribbon I felt like I had gotten something so much more. A little hope.  Sometimes a miracle doesn't happen overnight.

He also won a really cool game bag. Hope and Jenga. That's a good morning. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Just a walk in the park...

Today was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Josiah's Daddy. Aka The Studly Muffin. Troy (as his mother likes to call him) is out on a boat somewhere with my Little Bro.

Josiah and I needed to do some errands so we grabbed some frozen custard (don't judge) and swung by one of our local parks for a nature study.

I brought the usual. Water. Camera. Sketch Stuff (always supplied by my Mama) and our Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study. 

The park we visited isn't one I generally use for this purpose. It is a beautiful park, but I prefer some of the other parks in our neck of the woods are just more conducive to the study of nature.

When Josiah and I got to the park there were peoples. And more peoples. In fact, too many peoples for me. Josiah loves the peoples. He spent more time watching people than he did nature.

I think I need a hammock to carry with me where ever I might go. I'm browsing pinterest for some do-it-yourself inspiration.  Stay tuned.

 The Dogwoods are out in full force. And just plain gorgeous. This one is looking a little sparse, but I won't hold that it against it.

Josiah kept inching closer and closer to the peoples. He's a fan. He did more people watching than nature watching.

More beautiful dogwoods.

A Dogwood closeup. Did you know that the official state tree of Missouri is the flowering Dogwood?  Or Cornus Florida. Though why Florida had to get involved....

This park has some old trees. I could imagine little fairy creatures making their homes in the base of this tree. Josiah told me it just looked dead. Fine. Just suck all the joy out of my life!

This photo is Josiah's contribution to our pictures here. He told me he liked it because it looks like a Christmas tree. Well, of course!

Just Darlin' ...though I probably need to disclose that this isn't the first time I have seen this shirt on Josiah Bevan this week. It must have been handy. Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday...and Friday.

For our sketch today, we decided to draw the persistent Dandelion.

Very intense work here.

Here is my sketch.

Josiah tried to talk me into letting him color his dandelion red. Normally I am all for artistic impression. However, this is a sketch of what we are observing in nature. When I explained this to Josiah he said, "But I could create some sort of new dandelion never seen before." Then we had a little discussion of Creation and the term "observing in nature." Then we had to talk about an episode of Clone Wars he just saw on Netflix. Rabbit Trails!

Before we left the park I wanted to get a picture of us together. This is our attempt at a selfie. I told you I'm horrible at them.

Josiah is certainly of his generation. I was going through some old pictures and found this gem of a selfie.

Isn't it precious? There are many more where this came from.  It had to be from a few years ago. He's lost some of those caps he's so proudly displaying. 

Have a great weekend!

Candace Kate Giveaway: Win an iPad Mini (and much more!)

I just read the most touching story. More Than A Memory: The Candace Kate Story was written by Nancy Fileccia. Some of you might know her as one of the owners of A Journey Through Learning. I can't wait to post my review, but for now I want to share with you this terrific giveaway.

candace kate giveaway

To help Nancy celebrate the upcoming release of her book, I'm joining with other bloggers from the Candace Kate Launch Team to bring you this amazing giveaway! There will be 2 winners and one winner will win an iPad Mini!

Here's the list of all the incredible prizes offered in this giveaway:

Giveaway # 1 ($560+ value)

American History Through Music bundle by Diana Waring (releasing May, 2014)

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Giveaway #2 ($160+ value)

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older please. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A TOS Review: CTC Math

As long as Math exists on the planet mankind will be searching for ways to make it more appealing to those of us who don’t have a “mathy brain.” Some of us don’t. Some of you are making scowling faces at your computer right now telling me to just “stop complaining about math and do it all already!” 

Listen folks. I made my A in College Algebra. I have no intention of revisiting it ever again. But wait! I speaketh to soon. My son is young yet and we have miles to go before we can set aside those trickier math concepts. Bummer. 

So I am obviously not going to sugar coat it for you. Math has not been the most enjoyable subject at our house. I’ve given up on trying to make it fun and exciting. I don’t have it in me. What I have come to appreciate, however, is those special math helps that come around now and again.
The calvary this time around has come in the form of CTC Math. Josiah and I were able to review the 12 Month Family Plan


What I Received 

Contrary to your first impression, the 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math has absolutely nothing to do with cellular service. CTC Math is a comprehensive online math tutor. It was developed by Australian math teacher, Pat Murray. The lessons are intended for grades K-12 and are presented by Mr. Murray, himself. They generally run about 4-9 minutes and extra reinforcement is given through interactive questions, quizzes and tests. 

Right now Homeschool Families are receiving a huge discount at CTC Math. A single Student Membership is $11.97 a month; $50.80 for six months or $78.80 for 12 months. The Family Plan (which is what I reviewed) for two or more students is $15.97 a month; $78.80 a month or $118.80 for 12 months. 

How It Works and How I Used It

I have a primary math curriculum that I use. It is gentle and really plays to Josiah’s math strengths and weaknesses. I used CTC Math as a review tool. In my opinion, one can’t review math enough (I can’t believe I just typed that!)

I feel like Oz the Great and Powerful. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" In my case, it is "Pay no attention to that pile of clutter you see in foreground." The lights make everything look bigger. At least Josiah has a smile on his face.

Josiah has had difficulty over the years memorizing math facts. One of the benefits of using CTC Math is that it doesn’t matter where one has left off…It is set up by grades and by Topics. And we are not bound by either.
For example, Josiah is in 6th grade. If I feel that he needs additional practice before moving on to another concept I can do that. I get to pick and choose whatever I think he needs help or “tutoring” in…whether it found in the 2nd grade menu or the 6th grade. We weren’t stuck in 6th grade math. Josiah could move around the topics based on his individual needs rather than what a particular curriculum tells him he needs to work on next. 

The video tutorials are simple and to the point. Which helped my “off on a rabbit trail” boy.

I am going to take you through one of the “topics” Josiah worked on this week.

You can see that how the site is arranged. When I created Josiah an account (which by the way he wants me to tell you he has a killer password) I also got to create a parent account. I have to be honest. I rarely visit it. I receive reports via email and the I can see by his scores alone and the course information what I need to assign.

This week Josiah worked on Measurement...specifically, Time.

Today he did Time Conversions. The lesson began with a lesson with Mr. Murray. You can see from the screen that Josiah is able to rewind or fast forward or play again. I'm sure that there are times when he wishes that he could "fast forward" me....but that is an entirely different blog post. After the lesson, Josiah clicks on the Questions box to the right. We are also able to click on the lesson summary and print it off.  I was reading on the website that there are over 1,000 animated and narrated videos. Bless Mr. Murray! He has been a busy man at our house!

 What I like the most about this format is that the student is given one question at a time. Josiah is in control. He can hit submit when he feels confident about his answer. Right away he knows if he has gotten the problem right. He can also see from the progress bar above how much longer he has until he is finished. Which is very important to the 12-year-old male. You know what I mean. 

After he completes the question, he immediately receives his score. We have it set up that he is striving to receive a 90% accuracy. Which means that there have been lessons he has had to repeat. Good stuff. 

I want to show you this screen. You can see from it that Josiah needs to repeat the questions for the Time Difference Lesson and the Timetables. The scores will be averaged out for his final totals. His average at this point it 79%...which in some cases is perfectly acceptable. I like that he can work to improve that average. He likes it as well. We all need a "do over" from time to time. 


I have to talk a minute about the Timetables lesson. I got a kick out it. These locations are obviously not in my neck of the woods. I'm ready to hop on the train to Turramurra.

This screen shows some previous lessons. This is actually from the 2nd grade multiplication course. We did this as reinforcement/review.  One of the Josiah's  motivators has been earning certain levels. For this level he earned a GOLD. There is even a certificate to print out!

My Thoughts

Josiah enjoyed using CTC Math. He really liked listening to Paul Murray’s accent. Which I have to admit might be more appealing than his mom’s occasional hillbilly twang. 

The lessons were nice and short. Mr. Murray got straight to the point. Which might be part of my problem. I seldom get straight to any kind of point. 

I personally loved being able to “wander” around grade levels and topics. Josiah and I have both been sick for the past few weeks. He got sick first and then me…you know how that works. CTC Math was the perfect option for when Josiah started to perk up and I was still dragging. I simply assigned “do math until you get great scores.” I didn’t have to use my snot-filled brain (sorry for the visual image) to grade, check or explain anything. 

For those of us who don’t need snot in the brain to mess up math CTC Math is simply a great tool. It really is an excellent tutor. 

Forget the wonderful homeschool aspect…CTC Math is terrific for all math “doers.” I think it would be a great tool for those in public school setting who need extra help. 

You can connect with CTC Math at http://CTCMath.com/ or on Facebook. 

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