Sunday, October 27, 2013

Woodworks By Brooks {Review and Giveaway}

Woodworks By Brooks is a family company based out of Alabama. With over 25 years of experience, Michael Books and his wife April work hard at providing quality, handcrafted wooden treasures for the entire family! When you order from Woodworks By Brooks, you are ordering a handcrafted piece made by them, no outsourcing! Not only do they provide quality items found on their website and Etsy shop, but you can custom order that wood furniture piece that you've been dreaming about for years! They also provide home remodeling services if you are local. Want to learn some woodworking skills for yourself? They hold 'How-to' workshops to help you gain some of the basic skills needed in woodworking! When you support Woodworks By Brooks, not only are you supporting a small business with products made in the USA, but you are supporting a homeschool family! (this is a homeschooling blog, I had to mention it!!) Below is just a sample of some of the beautiful products found in their Etsy Shop.

Primitive Style Display Cabinet

Dollhouse Book Case

Toy Kitchen

Toy Bus

When I received the package in the mail, a few weeks after I had ordered my 12" x 18" cutting board from Woodworks By Brooks, my husband was in the process of making some fresh salsa! And yes, I am embarrassed to say, he was using one of those lame, cheap, plastic cutting boards, (if it can even be called that). Don't get me wrong, we take cooking quite seriously in our house. I even have a beautifully handmade granite cutting board that gives my kitchen some class. But, unfortunately, that's all it gives it. You see, granite destroys your knives! It dulls them like crazy, so when we needed to do some serious chopping, our go-to cutting board was the plastic one! 

Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic when our wooden cutting board arrived! I had been wanting one for a while since wood is great for cutting on! I knew even before I received it that the quality was going to be good and that it would be a long-lasting piece. I knew this because when I had heard back from the Brooks they said it was made but still needed to be sealed a couple of times. This showed me that they take each and every piece they make seriously, wanting to provide each customer with quality products, that will last. When was the last time you bought something from a large retailer and thought, "wow, this company truly takes pride in their work." That is the difference between buying from a large chain and a small business. A small business isn't using large factories to push orders through. At least, this one isn't. Not only does this company care about the quality of their work, but they care about the needs of their customers. If you aren't satisfied with your product you can return it for a refund, no questions asked!

After using the cutting board a few times I noticed it starting to get a little scratched up and dry looking. I used their advice and rubbed mineral oil on it and to my surprise it looked as good as new! Guess what I'm keeping on hand in my kitchen now? Honestly, I couldn't believe how smooth and shiny it made the cutting board look.
By the way, I love the design. The two-tone wood grain look. I feel like a chef or something.
I've been having fun with it too. Chopping like crazy. And not having to constantly sharpen my knives. 
And... I've been doing a little baking. Below is some homemade bread just waiting to be sliced on my new cutting board!

 It's been a few weeks since I've received the cutting board and still the quality is strong. This is definitely a piece that I plan on using for a long time!


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Chopped Style Challenge
Want to show off your cooking skills? You know you do!!! And honestly, the ingredients are super easy, (unless of course you hate garlic or something!) The rules of the game are simple. 

1) Create a dish using the following ingredients:

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3) Submit your entry in the Rafflecopter TWICE to receive the full 20 extra points after completing the Mandatory Entries

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Be creative and have fun!!!!

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Disclaimer: I received the same as the giveaway winner for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated are my own.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

God's World News {Review}

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For those of us who grew up attending public school, we most likely remember receiving a weekly reader to take home to inform us on current events. I remember receiving mine on Fridays to take home and read over the weekend! Sometimes, as homeschool parents we want to be able to recreate things that we remember from our educational past, but if our worldview has changed since then, we want to make sure what we are allowing our kid's to read line up with our beliefs! God's World News is a biblically based magazine providing children from Pre-K through High School with current events and fun facts appropriate for their age level. What a perfect substitute for the secular counterpart! As soon as I learned of this company I knew I wanted to try it out in our homeschool! I was excited to receive several copies of the Early Edition geared towards first and second graders and look forward to receiving a full year subscription.  

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$28 for a Year Subscription 
for Level of Your Choice

A yearly subscription includes monthly magazines physically delivered right to your door each month, except May and December. As a subscriber you also receive access to their website which includes the articles in the magazine and other goodies and fun stuff for your child to enjoy! 
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The Early Edition Subscription Includes not only 10 magazines, but a large map. 

My boys were excited to receive the map and want to have it hanging in the room! I love that even at such a young age they have a desire to learn about the world. To explore other cultures and find out about what is going on in other places outside of their home town. It seems with the Internet, Skype and other means of communication it is easier for children to receive an awareness of the world around them than when I was growing up. I remember being very self-absorbed and thinking that my way, the American way, the New York way, was the best way. The first time I went overseas at the age of 12 I was still so caught up with being "an American" that I wasn't able to truly appreciate the new culture that I was visiting. What a treasure it is to be able to teach our children about what is happening around the world, in a way that makes it real to them. What I love about God's World News is that the news stories are current. Major happenings are brought up and taught in a way that children can understand and in a biblical manner. They also throw in some fun facts that are inspiring for kids such as an eleven year old attending college, or a young girl as a Chess champion. My son loves to play chess so stories like these capture his attention! 

What captures our attention in the secular news? Well, the media seems to think it's sin that we want to read about, and unfortunately many are drawn to just that. Recently the headlines on certain news sites that I would frequent such as Yahoo News, would disgust me. It seemed the more grotesque the sin, the more likely people would be willing to click on it, so an article was written about it. It would be completely irrelevant to what was truly important but it is what people want to read about, sadly. I ended up deleting my account from them because I couldn't get away from their tabloid-based headlines no matter how many times I tried to change my settings! I looked around for a good source of Christian news and hadn't found anything, so I basically would rely on my husband telling me what was going on since I don't watch TV news either. 

Well, to my surprise, a magazine called World Magazine is also put out by the same company, and I received a copy of this magazine as well! I am truly impressed by not only the content but the quality of the articles written! 

As many of us know most of the common news sources out there have a tainted view and an agenda they are trying to push. I saw this firsthand while staying in Israel. I was sitting in the living room watching the news telling the world what was happening in our area, yet I was experiencing something completely different. I saw things that were never mentioned in the news. A parent came up to me with a child that had been blinded from an attack begging for the world to know her story, yet these instances were being ignored. It was then that I realized that we need to discern for ourselves, as Christians what is truly going on in this world around us. If we can get the mind of Christ concerning current events, then we can know how to pray and we can truly move mountains!

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jim Elliot Unit Study {Review}

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When I hear, Youth With A Mission, I immediately think of their Discipleship Training Schools and different ministry opportunities. I think of missions trips and intense spiritual training. YWAM is well-known for training youth to carry the gospel all over the world. Even when I was halfway across the world, almost a decade ago teaching in a children's home in India, I met Christians who had come in contact with YWAM. The impact they had left in that place was profound, especially in the lives of the leaders of that particular ministry. Recently, I have learned that not only does YWAM provide ministry training, but they also run a publishing company! Perfect for homeschoolers, YWAM publishing carries a series called Christian Heroes, some include a Curriculum Guide to use in your home or private school setting. I recently read Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose by Janet and Geoff Benge and the accompanying Unit Study written by them as well. 
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 Christian Heroes: Then and Now: Jim Elliot Unit Study Curriculum Guide

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Christian Heroes: Then and Now: Jim Elliot One Great Purpose

I received an e-book version of the book to use on my e-reader. Recently I've been using apps and e-books more in our schooling but this was the first actual curriculum that relied solely on my e-reader. It took a little getting used to but overall it was nice having all the material right there at my fingertips when I needed it.

 What you'll find in the 

~ Bible Memory Verses

~ Display Corner: 
They suggest gathering Ecadorian materials in a designated corner throughout your study to keep your children engaged.

~ Chapter Questions 
with vocabulary for all sixteen chapters.

~ Student Explorations:
- Essay Questions
- Creative Writing
-Hands-On Projects
- Audio/Visual Projects
- Arts and Crafts
- Language Examples

~ Social Studies

~Culminating Event:
Sharing what you've learned with family and friends with a community meal or presentation!

and more!

Suggested Memory Verse in Unit Study that I printed out

Throughout the years, in my personal life, I have had some amazing opportunities to travel to other countries and in several instances, on mission trips. Some were short, a week or so, others for several months. Reading this book revived a love and desire for missions in my life, not that it was ever lost by any means, but the fire has certainly been rekindled. Around the time I first became serious about going on the mission field I heard it said, as was quoted in this book, that 90% of Christians who feel they are called to missions, never make it to the mission field. That day, over 12 years ago, I vowed that would never be me. And even though I have some powerful memories that I cherish from the mission field in my life so far, I know there are still lives that I have yet to share the gospel of Jesus with, in the future.

You can usually tell a missionary when you see one, at least I can. Especially the ones who travel back and forth from the States on a regular basis. When they share about the people they are ministering to, their faces light up. You can't keep them quiet. They are in their element and everything inside of them want to get back to the people whom God has called them to be with. I imagine it's the same with a pastor going on a short vacation or ministry trip, their hearts have been knit together with their flock. On several occasions, I've met missionaries who long to be with a ministry they've established overseas but God had called them to the States, to teach. To train. To raise up a new generation of missionaries to go and carry the gospel even further than they have. You could see from the look in their eyes that they longed to be somewhere else, but they were called to plant seeds, and faithfully did so. 

As homeschool parents, most of us are currently in the States, and have a powerful responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go. This goes for instilling a love for sharing the gospel in their little hearts. Providing them with an opportunity to learn and study about missionaries and martyrs such as Jim Elliot, is something we should share with them in our homes. One aspect of Jim Elliot's life that stood out to me, is that his father was able to come visit him on the mission field. Jim Elliot's dad had a passion for missions and after so many years, he was able to see the fruit of his labor and visit his son who was fulfilling God's plan for his life in the jungles of Ecuador! 

If you think about it, so many youth these days are using "missions" as an excuse to avoid their responsibilities at home. Out of a rebellious spirit they run to a spiritual training center to get closer to God, only to completely ignore what God is trying to do in their family life. It's sad. The deception. But God is faithful, and I know of an instance where this was the case and after a few weeks a student flew back home from a Bible college, to restore his relationship with his dad!

I eagerly received this book and Unit Study for my second grader and kindergartner hoping to share with them my passion for missions. I began by finding a kid-friendly video on YouTube about Ecuador to set the stage. I then printed out some Ecuadorian coloring sheets I found online to keep them busy as I read. After the first chapter they were asking for more. The wording seemed a tad over their head in my opinion but they were picking up bits and pieces and enjoyed hearing about Jim Elliot's boat ride on his way to Ecuador! Yet, after a few times of reading, their attention span was not lasting very long. The stories about him meeting his wife and learning Spanish did not keep their attention. I ended up reading the story on my own and hope to share it with them either in a more simplified version or when they are a little older. 

Pictures I had the kids color printed from the internet
I could see this working more for this age group if you already have older children and you wanted to include younger ones as well. But to have my oldest only a six year old, was a bit challenging! Now I see why the suggested age is 10 and older!

Overall the story was touching, memorable and written in a way that takes you into the life of Jim Elliot in a way like never before. His story was brought to life in an inspiring and challenging way! 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

National Zoo {Field Trip}

A few weeks ago our family visited the National Zoo in Washington DC. It was a blast. We didn't get to see mama or baby panda since they were tucked away so she could do her nursing thing though. But, we did see daddy panda, quite intriguing!

I was also fortunate enough to see this chipper little fellow.
 For some reason he wouldn't smile for the camera. 

 Here is another one of my faves, something tells me he couldn't smile if he wanted too.  

Now here's a guy who wouldn't stop showing off for the camera. Think I got his best side?

And of course, Mr. Lion, I'm sure he's enjoying some peace and quiet right about now! When we were there it seemed like every child that walked by him had to growl at the top of their lungs, mine included!