Tuesday, March 26, 2013

See The Light: "Sunflowers" Review and Giveaway!

Art is not just a hobby in my home, it's a passion. That's why I jumped at the chance to review See The Light's latest Art Project DVD, titled "Sunflowers".

I received this product free from See The Light in exchange for my honest review.

Keep Reading for a chance to win your own FREE copy!

The "Sunflowers" DVD contain 4 educational and inspirational lessons with the amazing Pat Knepley. Each lesson explores the life of Van Gogh while gently guiding the student step by step through the process of creating their own sunflower art in the style of this well known Dutch artist.

To begin our project we needed to purchase a few supplies including a 11x14" piece of charcoal or pastel paper. 

Since I had 4 children excited about the project I bought two large sheets (one grey and one tan) then cut them down to size. Super affordable. 

We also needed  . . .
  • a set of oil pastels (at least 24). I bought a set of 50 at Hobby Lobby for only $9.99.
  • paper towels
  • several artificial sunflowers. This is the most expensive of the materials needed. Purchase them at Hobby Lobby before March 30th and you can use this 50% off coupon.
  • and baby wipes for easy clean up. 
Through the lessons, children will learn so much about Van Gogh, not jut as an artist, but as a man. I definitely learned along the way too. For one, I never knew that Van Gogh aspired to be a Pastor. He actually went to seminary but never passed the test. 
Along with guiding children on their artwork, sharing prints of Van Gogh's work and imparting thorough historic knowledge of the artist, Pat Knepley also references the Bible, quoting scriptures and addressing spiritual concepts along the way. 

I never knew Van Gogh's life could be a platform for such relevant topics like handling disappointment and trusting God's plan and purpose for your life. 

The tone of each lesson is friendly and nicely paced. 

Your children will LOVE this project and so will you when their masterpieces are completed and you are hanging their own Sunflower project on the wall.

As I said earlier, I had 4 children working on this project. The project is intended for children 10 and up, but with some supervision younger children to try their hand at Van Gogh's style as well. My children are 5,7, 9 and 11.

Here are their final creations . . . .

Impressed? I sure was! These are all being matted, framed and added to my Mommy Gallery.

Now for the fun part . . .
You get the chance to win a FREE copy of Sunflowers!
Click Here to Enter the Giveaway

There are multiple ways to enter and you can add entries daily.
A winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter on April 1st.

Good Luck!

Go Here to learn more about See The Light and their outstanding products.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We Choose Virtues

As a member of  Mosaic Reviews I was blessed with the opportunity to review We Choose Virtues.

My family received the following items for free for the purpose of this review:

  1.  Virtue Flash Cards ($14.99 for a set of 13 double sided cards)
  2. a sample Parenting Card ( the full set of 13 double sided parenting cards costs $34.99)
  3. Coloring pages (16 beautifully illustrated coloring pages for $3)
  4. the Butterfly Award 
  5. Family Character Assessment (Free to too assess your child's character strengths and weaknesses)
  6. Product Comparison Chart
  7. Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths (FREE list of relevant scriptures and bible heroes to support each virtue)
  8. Teacher’s Handbook (52 color pages full of teaching inspiration and encouragement for $5.00)

We began our review by first admiring all of the beautiful cards. The illustrations are extremely adorable and eye-catching to young learners. 

Once the excitement was built, we focused on the Three Rules (obedient, kind and helpful) for our first week. Then I pulled out the Family Character Assessment and the kids began evaluating themselves. 

This was a hilarious task to observe. 

My oldest child, Chloe, is 11 and she was pretty on target with her self- assessment. She targeted contentment as her biggest area in need of improvement.  It was a great choice.

Caibry is 9. He also self-evaluated. His scores were sometimes higher than I would have given him, but overall close to accurate. His area for improvement was Gentleness. Amen! I think it's a boy thing in some respects, but with three sisters that virtue could always improve.

Nevie is 7. Her evaluation reflected her frequently low self esteem. Scores ranged from 1 to 5 to 10. She had a few 1's actually (though I definitely think she was very hard on herself). She chose to focus on improving her diligence. It was a little hard not to laugh when she chose that virtue as it is exactly what I'd have chosen for her. She's the kid who quits a project early because of self doubt or fear of failure. She's also easily distracted.

Sadie is 5. She cracked me up. To hear her opinion she's pretty close to perfect. She gave herself nine 10's.  When I forced her to chose an area to improve (she really didn't feel she could improve on perfection, you know) she chose Gentleness. 

Bingo! Now I had a tween focused on contentment, my two wild children practicing  gentleness and my hesitant child working on diligence. 

Each child was given their card as a reminder and asked to refer to it whenever the opportunity arose. We discussed character at the dinner table and colored the beautiful pages in the coloring book. 

We have continued referencing the Three Rules as issues arise. It's an awesome trick that has created attitude changes without yelling or threatening. Just holding up the first finger with a firm look is enough to convey that they better show obedience. Love it!

Virtue Flash Cards for Classrooms
I looked over the parenting card, but probably would not buy the resource myself as it felt a little obvious to me. However, I would happily recommend the flash cards and the coloring pages.

The creator of We Choose Virtues, Heather McMillan, met with Mosaic reviewers via conference call and her excitement about teaching virtues to children is truly contagious. It's her mission to make the world a better place.

It's certainly contributed to bettering my environment. 

We Chose Virtues is a great tool for visual learners. The program addresses the strengths and weaknesses of each virtue providing balanced learning.  Each card has a positive  "I am" statement as well as an "I am NOT" statement.  These catch phrases and antonyms are the strength of We Choose Virtues, providing for easy, fun and effective learning.

Some kits are expensive. You will need to personally evaluate the value based on the needs of your child.  If cost is an issue, consider purchasing just the flash cards and the virtue clues. The Virtue Poster would also be an excellent tool to set a household standard for character improvement. I want to get one of these myself. 

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the visual quality as well as the results of We Choose Virtues. 

You can enjoy 15% off with the code: VIRTUE15  (no expiration date)
20% off Homeschool Kits with the code: HOME20 (this code is only good until the end of April)

Please note that the code is entered right before payments on page 3 of the order process. Don't panic if you don't see it right away. 

On a side note, I was so happy with the program that I decided to become an affiliate for We Choose Virtues. If you order, please consider using my link via the banner below to place your order.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Good Grief

Nine years ago I lost the coolest person I could ever imagine knowing, my Uncle Michael.

What made him so "cool" you ask? Well, I have been asking myself that same question since his death. It was a lot of things really.  Those memories of his coolness have kept me laughing when I've wanted to cry.

He was only 10 years older than me. I can't remember ever calling him anything but Uncle, but at the same time, he felt more like a big brother. Maybe that came from living together.  When I was little my Mom and I lived with my grandparents and, since he wasn't an adult yet, he lived there too.

Welcome to Memory Lane:
It would be early morning and time to get ready for school and I would run to his room for him to hide me (or at least delay the morning a little). We would snuggle and throw dirty laundry from his floor at the light switch every time an adult tried to get us to wake up and move.  He was my partner in crime on those mornings.

When they finally got us up, we'd eat cereal together and watch cartoons. He would gripe when I chose to watch Bozo or Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but actually sit with me and watch if I chose Yogi bear or Scooby-Doo.

He'd let me pick through his trash when he'd clean his room. He always had the best stuff.  He'd pay me to clean up his dog's pen or to keep secrets. He filled my piggy bank.

Sometimes he'd pay me a whole dollar just to let him poor jelly on my face or crack an egg on my head. I told you he was like a big brother.

He worked on cars a lot and let me shake the spray paint can before he sprayed his engine gold.

My funniest story with him is about "Bob".

I was born with a cyst on the back of my head. One day my Uncle showed me an article about a man who had a mass on his side that turned out to be the remains of his dead twin. After reading the article he pointed out that my mother always said I "could have been twins". He then tapped my head and said "What do you think about that, Bob?"

We were adults before I confessed that he actually had me convinced that my cyst was my twin. He claimed he didn't remember that but laughed until he cried.

My Uncle was sentimental in the coolest way.

I remember him giving me a license plate from my dad's first motorcycle. My dad died when I was 3 month old and this trinket was a treasure to me.  Better yet, he talked about my dad. Not many people in my family do. Every memory he shared was like gold.

When I had my daughter he gave me the same cigar my dad had given him when I was born. He'd saved it all those years!

Everyone loved him. He was silly and serious and exactly what you needed at any given moment.  Even when there was conflict in the family, everyone could come together happily when he was there. He was the peacemaker. He never took sides or favored anyone. He just loved us all.

I was able to be there at the hospital 9 years ago. I had the privilege of saying goodbye. Even better, I got to be the tool God used to lead him to salvation.

After his death my Grandpa sorted through his things and found a lock box. I don't know what all was in that box of treasures, but I know some things.   Packed away under lock and key was the card I made him for his 18th birthday, a letter I wrote him about Jesus and multiple valentines cards I'd made him over the years.

He valued me.

One card had a big heart on the cover and said "Love, and leave a mark". Boy did he!

People understand grief as a heart wrenching feeling. I get it. I've spent most of today holding back tears. You know what though? I think we could stand to remember that grief is also good.

Matthew 5:4 says "Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted." This tells me that I'm blessed because of my grief. Because of this rotten emotional upheaval and the sadness grief brings, God feel compelled to come close to me. He offers his amazing comfort. He stirs up these precious memories. He restores my soul and brings joy in the morning.

Good grief! I'm blessed.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Final Thoughts on the TRIP Reading Program

If you missed my early posts on TRIP  you can find post 1 herepost 2 here, and post 3 here.


Trip has been a very beneficial program for my family. Key benefits for my family included:
  • TRIP promotes an increased concentration related to the task of reading.
  • TRIP exposes reading issues parents may have previously been unaware of.
  • The flash practices included in the TRIP program include a natural motivational of self-racing which enhances pride as skills develop and reading improves.
  • Reading will improve, as will writing, spelling, focus and comprehension.
After my third post I took the time to examine the TRIP website and accompanying blog. There is a lot there for parents and teachers alike.

The price of TRIP is probably the best deal you will find for anything comparable. 

For only $19.99, you  will receive 20 lessons on DVD plus the teaching tutorial.

You can order your DVD at www.buytripnow.com.

I am a member of The CWA Review Crew. I received my copy of TRIP free in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

TRIP: Coming In For A Landing

Currently Child #2 has just wrapped up lesson 19. Since the last post his interest has picked back up. I have found his speed improving as well as his focus. I think perhaps week 14 was the hardest for him. He must have just had a bad focus week. 

Since then he has enjoyed the pace a lot better. I think hitting lesson 15 was something he saw as a big accomplishment and after that his motivation has been climbing. As soon as the Flashing practice A switched from being a combination of letters and numbers to straight words, he relaxed.

I think the words require less focus for him than XR, C9 etc. I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe because book means something where XR has no meaning or combined sound to express to himself as he writes.

I have slowed things down with Child #3. She is on lesson 13 now. I really believe there are issues with her reading that go deeper than comprehension. She has begun to complain that letters bounce on the page as well.

After the final post is up and some of the pressure is off of her, I may try child #4 more consistently and even allow her to do the flash practice (the highlight of TRIP to my children).

If you missed my early posts on TRIP  you can find post 1 here, post 2 here, and post 3 here.  Look for my final thoughts on the TRIP program tomorrow and check out more opinions from fellow CWA reviewers.

You can order your DVD at www.buytripnow.com.

I am a member of The CWA Review Crew. I received my copy of TRIP free in exchange for my fair and honest review.