Saturday, December 6, 2014

Movie Review and Giveaway! ~ Susie's Hope

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Are you an animal lover? Do you love movies that touch your heart so deeply that you just cry tears of joy? Well this movie is perfect for you!

Susie's Hope is based on a true story about a woman named Donna who felt sorry for a neighborhood dog left behind by its owners. She began feeding it and giving it fresh water daily. But one day the dog became territorial and attacked Donna. She was losing blood and her body was in shock, but she cried out to God for help, and miraculously she escaped and made her way to a neighbors house and survived.

Very understandably, she was terrified of dogs after this ordeal. Donna was devastated to learn that her unborn baby did not survive the attack however, and she would not be able to conceive any more children. This is where I first broke out in tears, I am expecting and have also suffered miscarriages. This news must have seemed unbearable at the time.

But God had a plan in all of this. A little while later a puppy was found in a park in Greensboro NC, barely alive, having been beaten and burned by its owner. This dog barely escaped its human attacker. When Donna and this puppy meet, her heart is broken for this animal. Her fears melt away as she does all that she can to help save its life.

Donna and Susie are both survivors, and a special bond is created between them. When Susie's abuser is found and brought to trial, Donna learns that in the state of  North Carolina the laws are very outdated and the man who did this to Susie will not even get jail time for his crime.

Because of Donna's determination to see justice served, a new law is passed to protect animals from abuse. The law was appropriately named "Susie's Law".

Susie is now a healthy adult dog, and although her body bears the scars, her heart is good and true. Susie visits burn victims, as well as other needy humans and helps bring healing everywhere she goes! She is a trained therapy dog and received the American Hero Dog award for 2014!

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Although this movie has some harsh realities in it, and parts are so sad that my girls and I just cried, I think it is a good family movie and the ending really shows how God worked it all out for His good in the end. A tragedy was turned into hope for both humans and animals, and today humans continue to benefit from meeting Susie and hearing her story. Donna and Susie work together as a team. They visit schools, churches, pet adoption fairs, fundraisers and organizations to motivate and educate people. These are their principles:
  • We believe that having a pet is a huge responsibility and that, before adopting an animal, the family must be sure that they have enough time and love to give their pet.
  • We believe that no one should ever hurt any creatures and that animals have feelings and experience pain just as humans do.
  • We teach children about staying safe when they are around animals they don’t know. One person or one animal can make a difference in this world.
  • We will continue to inspire people to make the most out of life through love, hope, and forgiveness.
It is such a good thing that the stricter law was passed. Any human who can abuse an animal so heartlessly, is likely to do the same to another human. So this law is potentially helping us as much as it does them!

Every purchase of this DVD helps fund the Susie's Hope Fund, a non profit organization that promotes education and awareness of the care and responsibility required in owning pets as well as animal safety around unfamiliar animals.You can also donate directly at the Susie's Hope website.

Would you like to win a copy of Susie's Hope for your family? Enter below using the Rafflecopter form. If you are reading this via email click here to go directly to the blog post to enter.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Children's Book Review and Giveaway! ~ Noah (A Wordless Picture Book)

This new book by artist Mark Ludy is titled simply Noah. This book is unique because it has no words, just pictures to tell the story.

 I don't remember ever seeing a wordless picture book before that wasn't meant just for babies. This incredibly beautifully illustrated book is in no way babyish though. It is a work of art and simply beautiful to look through as you imagine the story being told of Noah and his family in pictures. The book is hardback with 65 sturdy pages and written for ages 2 to 102.

Every time I look through this book I see something new, some small detail that adds depth and meaning to the story. My kids know the story of Noah well, yet as we looked through the pages they too saw things they had not thought of before.

For instance, the Bible tells us it took 120 years or so to build the ark, but they hadn't thought of all the things taking place during that time. The pictures show Noah's wife pregnant, the boys growing up and eventually helping to build the ark alongside Noah. Oftentimes we picture in our minds that this happened rather quickly and Noah always had lots of help from his boys because of movies we have seen.

I love how the pictures show this family loving and caring for each other, even though they must have went through some really hard times with others all around them making fun and calling Noah crazy.

The ark was built by hand with hand tools, not the tools used to build things today. Its no wonder it took so long!

This book is a treasure and would make a beautiful addition to any library! You can find links to purchase the book here, and I also get to give one away to one of my lucky readers! Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below. If you are reading this via email click here to go directly to the blog post to enter.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

DVD Review and Giveaway! ~ Buck Denver Asks...Why Do We Call It Christmas?

Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, has released a new DVD just in time for Christmas! This 60 minute video is titled Buck Denver Asks.....Why Do We Call It Christmas?

I apologize to those of you who don't want to think about Christmas before Thanksgiving! My own kids asked me why we were watching this a couple of weeks ago when it arrived at our house. This DVD isn't a Christmas tale however, it is all about answering all those great questions our kids come up with about WHY we celebrate Christmas.

My standard answer has always been that we are celebrating Jesus' birth, and of course that is the right answer, but there are other things out there that can be confusing this time of year.

Who is Santa Claus and how did he get into the Christmas story?
Where did the name "Christmas" come from?
Why do we put up a Christmas tree?
Why do some people hang stockings up?

 All these questions and more are asked, and answered, in this very well put together episode! If your kids are already familiar with Buck Denver and his other puppet friends from watching the What's In The Bible Series, then they will enjoy it even more, but newcomers to this program will learn so much and love the zany characters just as much.

What did we think of this DVD?

I thought the crew at Jelly Telly did a fabulous job of answering all those confusing questions that come up at Christmas time. I love how they explain everything from a historical point of view, adding in humorous cartoons to help kids imagine the events that took place years ago that led up to our current traditions. Almost every tradition out there, even the secular ones, got their start from and point back to Jesus in some way. I didn't know some of these things myself!

I love that everything about this DVD is biblically based and encourages spending time with family and friends and worshiping Jesus and not just the giving of gifts. Its so easy to get sucked into that mindset this time of year and kids struggle with it too I think. The full story of Jesus' birth from the book of Luke is also shared in this DVD. 

The kids have watched it numerous times and anytime a friend comes over they watch it again. I believe that is a testimony in itself right there. I'm sure they will have it out during our Thanksgiving get together as well.

You can buy this DVD in many stores as well as online for around $10.00. You can also enter to win a copy by filling out the Rafflecopter form below! If you are reading this post via email click here to enter.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway! ~ Growing Up Social

Are you familiar with The 5 Love Languages? Reading that book made a huge impact on our family as I learned how to show members of my family love in the way they would feel it most. When I heard that Gary Chapman had written a new book with Arlene Pellicane I knew I wanted to read it.

This new book is titled Growing Up Social ~ Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World. We all deal with the issue of screen time in some form or another. I was very curious about what the authors had to say about it. I had mixed feelings about this issue and I wasn't sure that I would actually like this book.

This paperback book has 233 pages divided into 14 chapters. The end of the book includes more resources including a quiz to determine if your child has too much screen time and discussion questions if you want to use this book in a group setting.

The first half of the book goes into great detail about the A+ Method for Relational Kids. These include 7 different skills : Affection, Appreciation, Anger Management, Apology, and  Attention. These skills are something we all need to know to function in the real world regardless of whether or not you have screens in your home or not.

What did I think about this book?

I will start by describing our family's screen policies. We do not have cable TV, but we do have a netflix account. I limit its use to family time when we watch things together except for the occasional times when the kids watch something I have pre-approved. Any DVD's we own are kid safe, but I still don't allow them to watch just anytime they want. The problem with screens began here when I bought the kids Kindle Fire devices 2 years ago. I bought them with the intention of using them for school. I thought we could read books together on them, that they could practice math and reading with educational apps. I had no idea of the Pandora's box I was about to open. It is basically a tablet, with internet access and all. It got out of control, and the game addiction began.

Ill be honest and say that it wasn't just the kids. I too was spending way too much time on it, and I wasn't reading books either. After a few months I started noticing that we did not spend as much time together as a family anymore. I felt disconnected from my kids and I didn't like that feeling at all! I also had other moms telling me it was OK, this is how our world is now, they need to be allowed to explore as long as they aren't doing something bad its ok.

But it didn't feel ok.

If you are in a similar type of situation in your family, then Growing Up Social is going to be a breath of fresh air for you. This book isn't about getting rid of screens, its about building relationships with our kids and using technology to our advantage instead of letting technology rule you.

I was deeply convicted about the amount of time I spend online. I decided the change must begin with me! My family is already reaping the benefits of having me un-distracted and able to interact with them much more than before. This book was just the tool I needed to start making a positive change in my own home.

Would Growing Up Social benefit your family too? You can purchase this book in many places on and offline, check this list to find out where. You can also WIN a copy by entering via the rafflecopter form below! If you are reading this post through email click here to go directly to my blog post to enter.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review ~ Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games

Out of the Box Games Review

Sad to say, this is my last review for The Schoolhouse Review Crew. It has been a fun one though! We had the pleasure of reviewing a game from Out Of The Box Games called Snake Oil. This version of the game is for ages 10 and up and is meant to played by the whole family. There is another version of this game that younger kids can play called Snake Oil Party Potion. To read reviews on this game click the banner at the bottom of this post.

Do you remember hearing about snake oil salesman when learning about the Old West as a kid? Snake Oil was a real product! But back then some sneaky salesmen sold bottles that didn't contain any snake oil at all. Then finally someone tested a bottle and the scam was revealed. So now we think of  a snake oil salesman when someone is trying to sell us something that is just too good to be true. The creators of this game have taken that concept and made a game where one player is the customer and everyone else tries their best to convince the customer that their product is the one they need most!

Out of the Box Games Review

How do you play the game?

In the picture above, the "customer" with a green card is playing a teenager. The other players choose 2 cards from their hand and combine those items to create a customized sales pitch. For instance, if I had the cards that say TV and Glasses, this would be my sales pitch to the teenager.....

"No teenager should be without my awesome product called TV Glasses! While wearing these you can go about your daily activities like school and football practice and never miss out on your favorite TV shows again! Imagine being able to catch up on all those old episodes of your favorite shows any time you like just by wearing these special glasses. And the best part is, no one can tell! These glasses are custom made just for you and only work when you are wearing them, so you will never get caught! Get your TV Glasses today!"

If you were a teenager would that sales pitch interest you? Then you might pick me as the winner of that round and I would keep the green card. All the players take turns presenting their own product to the customer. At the end of the game the player with the most green cards wins! Sounds fun right? I promise, it really is.

My kids have gotten to be such imaginative little sales people since we started playing this game. Even though this game is intended for older kids and adults my 8 and 5 year olds refuse to be left out. I help them with reading the cards they cant read yet but they make up their own advertisements and learned pretty quickly how to be super cute and win many a round. I have to admit it is easier to play with just the older kids though.

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I plan on taking this game with us to our Bible study group's game day this weekend. I cant wait to hear what everyone comes up with!You need at least 3 players to make this game work well, but as many players can join in the fun as you like. There are lots of cards and lots of different possibilities. The box suggests up to 10 players, but I don't see why more couldn't play if you had a larger crowd. If you play by the rules a game lasts 30 minutes or less.

What did we think of Snake Oil?

To simply say we love this game would be an understatement. Its just plain fun, and I love how this game gets us all giggly and laughing together every time. I also love how creative we can get when making up our ads! We have come up with some crazy products, some that actually sounded pretty useful! Some are just ridiculous and silly. My kinda shy little 8 year old really gets into this game. I love seeing her open up and get involved. Yeah we kinda LOVE this game a lot!

From an educational view the kids are definitely increasing their vocabulary by playing this game. Not every word card is familiar to them, sometimes I have to explain what it is first. Reading skills are being used too. Reasoning, logic and public speaking are put to use as well.

Snake Oil retails for $19.99 and can be found at many local stores as well as online. Use this store locator tool to find one near you.

If you are looking for something new for family game night, to play during your holiday get togethers or to give as a gift I cant recommend this one enough. Read more reviews from other families by clicking the banner below.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review ~ Purposeful Design : Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker

Purposeful Design Review

I am so thankful that we were blessed to review this book from Purposeful Design written by Jay Schabacker. I'm excited to share it with you!

Every school year we spend the first week or so re-reading Genesis in the Bible and discussing the account of the Creation. I think its a very important topic that kids and adults need to think about often. We know that God created our Earth and everything in it, but going in depth and learning about why He did it the way He did really brings the whole occurrence to life in our minds. Purposeful Design : Understanding the Creation was written for both children and adults in a beautiful and interesting way so we can learn more about God's purposeful design for us.

While reading through this book there is free downloadable curriculum titled the Young Explorer's Club available to use if you wish. There are worksheets, Bible verses, and activities to go with each chapter, as well as a teacher answer key and certificates to award the kids.

The book has 7 chapters, one for each day of Creation.....

1~The First Day: Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, the Foundation of it All
2~The Second Day: Creation of the Atmosphere and Water
3~The Third Day: Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation
4~The Fourth Day: Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
5~The Fifth Day: Creation of the Birds and Fish
6~Creation Day Six: Creation of Land Creatures and Humans
7~The Seventh Day

Jay Schabacker's intent for this book was to show that God had a purpose for each day, the work done on day 1 laid the foundation for the work on day 2. The work done in the first 4 days  had to be done first, before God filled the earth with birds, fish, animals and man on days 5, and 6. It didn't just happen, God knew exactly what was needed to sustain life and he designed our world perfectly for us.

Jay goes into detail with many interesting facts and scientific discoveries that prove our world was created by an intelligent and loving God. This book caused us to slow down and really think about how much thought and consideration God put into making this world, and he made it for us. How he must love us so!

The photography is beautiful, I love just looking through the pictures sometimes. I love how each chapter begins with a lovely photo background and the corresponding scripture printed over it.

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How did we use Purposeful Design?

I started with the intention of reading a chapter at a time and discussing the questions orally with the kids. One chapter was never enough for them so we just read and discussed as we felt led and then picked up where we left off the next day. It still took a full 7 school days to get through the book. Our discussions sometimes led us to look up more information online and I found a few crafts to go along with each day for the little ones. We even found a song to help us remember what happened on each respective day. My 5 year old sat for at least an hour one evening just looking at the pictures and discovering things she had missed earlier when I was reading it and just looking quickly at the pictures.

What did we think of Purposeful Design?

All of us agreed that this is a fabulous book and resource! We learned a lot together and enjoyed the time we spent with this book. It would make a great gift for any family whether they homeschool or not. I think it would be checked out often from a library or church library if it were available there.

Could this be used in a church setting?

Yes! Using a chapter per week along with the curriculum this would be an excellent Sunday School or Wednesday night study for kids grade 3 and up. I believe the curriculum would be more suited to those ages because of the writing involved. The book could be used with younger grades if the curriculum was used mostly orally and could be supplemented with other activities and crafts to round out the lessons.

You can purchase this book for $18.99 from Purposeful Design and this includes free shipping and the free curriculum.

Purposeful Design Review

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review ~ If He Had Not Come ~ A Children's Christmas Book

Christmas Book Review

My kids and I love reading Christmas stories together! I was excited to review the book If He Had Not Come. This book was originally written by Nan F. Weeks over 50 years ago. David Nicholson heard this story in his adult Sunday School class and loved it. He decided that day that he was going to read this story to his own children every Christmas, and a family tradition was born. The book itself was out of print, but the message in this story is one we all need reminding of. So he lovingly reintroduced this story, along with fresh illustrations, to a new generation. 

I am so glad he did! I read this book aloud to my own kids and each one of them had many comments afterward as they thought about what our world would be like now if Jesus had never come.

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The story tells of a young boy named Bobby, who like every other child is excited as can be about Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve his dad reads him a story from John 15 in the Bible, and that night his dreams take him on an eye opening journey. What if Jesus had not come? What would the world be like? Have you really thought about this?

The first thing he notices is all the decorations, the tree, and the presents are gone. Confused, he goes outside to find his own home isn't the only thing that looks different. It is just another ordinary day, with people going to work, stores are open, and no one seems to know what he is talking about when he mentions the word Christmas.

 photo IMG_3494_zpsce9dcdfd.jpgWorse still, parts of his Bible are missing and his church is gone! So is the orphanage and many other familiar places. Because Jesus never came, His love wasn't being shown to others.  Oh what a sad and hopeless world it was!

Then Bobby wakes up and realizes it was a dream. It sounds more like a nightmare to me! I LOVE the message this book brings, I love the hope it instills, it is very thought provoking. We have had many small discussions as the kids think of other ways the world would be different.

I have asked to read this book to the kids in our Sunday School, as well as my adult bible study class. Who knows how it might inspire others like it did David Nicholson years ago. Reading If He Had Not Come every year to my children and grandchildren will be a new tradition in our home as well.

 photo IMG_3495_zps34e9ce41.jpgI want to make special mention of the illustrations by Charlie Jaskiewicz as well. I just love the beautiful artwork. The facial expressions really stood out to me and added a lot of emotion to the story. I watched my 5 year old daughters face change as she looked at the pictures when I read. She was feeling the story. A lot of thought and effort went into illustrating this book and you can tell. Awesome job!

The back of the book includes some discussion questions and suggested activities that can be used by families at home as well as in a Sunday School setting.  The gospel message is also presented here. I like the idea he gives for drawing a Christmas tree and explaining what each part means. Its more than just the presents and a star.

If He Had Not Come was written for ages 6 and up and is available for purchase for $18.95 in hardcover, or in ebook form for $3.99.

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