Reviews

I've got the kettle on, ya got a minute to visit?

I'm so happy you dropped by! Stay and visit awhile and please leave me a comment- it's so encouraging to hear from you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Change....and pondering

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There is nothing that tests my faith like a big ol' swig of change.  It makes my mouth pucker, my toenails curl, and a leaves a sick feeling in the pit of my being.  I used to brag that this wasn't true of me- that change was welcome in my life and the mat was always out, waiting to be trod on by a drop in visit from my good buddy, Change. 

Not so true now.  Change will take the swagger out of my step, the wind out of my sails, and the strength from my faith........if I let it.

Change is inevitable.  Thankfully we are not God, God is.  (I know, it's a huge revelation and I understand if it takes a moment for you to get a breath after being sucker-punched like that!)  He gets to decide how things are going to roll and we have nose-bleed section seating when it comes to seeing His great plan. We may be able to see a speck, if we're lucky. 
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But Great God Almighty is on the playing field, and fortunately- He's on our team!

I was doing the dishes and had a great moment with God. (If you don't believe that can happen, please read The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris!)  He was showing me all of the change in mine and my loved ones lives over the last few years and boy was there A LOT!!!  Here's the beginning of my list:
Daddy got cancer
We left home to go love on him for a couple of months while he needed us
He died
Momma moved into an apartment
Beth (my sister)got married
Andy's Daddy got cancer
We loved on him
We lost him
Andy's aunt passed away
Tomi, my bro in law, moved to WV without being able to take my sister with him because of a job
My favorite uncle passed away, leaving my aunt (after 62 years of marriage) distraught
A tree fell on my house
We moved to a 2 bedroom apartment for 5 months
We moved back home
My mother lost her job

Change IS inevitable.

I began to ask God to show me people in the bible whom I could relate to and do you know what I got????

Mary

OK Lord, fail to see the resemblance here........

Mary was an engaged teenager with a plan...marry a local carpenter, settle down, live in relative obscurity and poverty for the rest of her life...... but change happened.  BIG change.  Life  History  World Soul altering CHANGE!!  And how did she handle this change?  Luke 2:51.....she pondered, treasured it in her heart.

Did she post her opinion on Image Detail with a snarky undertone?

 Did she speak slanderously about the One who had done thisImage Detail to her to her girlfriends?

 Did she crawl in the bed and refuse to get out?

 Did she go buy something new and large to make up for the ill feelings she had?  Image Detail

Did she yell at her other children because she was at her wits' end?

She pondered and treasured the change, Jesus, and all that came with it (him)- in her heart.

Change will come, my Friends.  We may not expect it- may have our head turned the completely opposite direction.  May be startled, shocked, and have the wind knocked out of us.  It may require that we change our plans, change our focus, change our direction.  Change may require us to do something hard, something new, something...dare I say.....unwanted.

You may even have to........sit in the cheap seats.  And if you do?  What then?

Trust in the One on the playing field.

Monday, December 19, 2011

TOS Review: The World's Greatest Stories


The Black Stallion.  Sesame Street.  Bedtime for Francis.

These were my stories on records that I listened to over and over as a child.  Mersmerized by the flashing disco lights on the front of my portable record player, I sat for hours enthralled in great stories, voices, and emotions.  My aunt was a first grade teacher and she used to send me these treasures and if you asked me one thing that would take me back to my childhood in an instant, it would be recorded stories.

I was thrilled to be chosen to review The World's Greatest Stories for two reasons:
1. My children have the same love of recorded stories as I did at their age and we are CONSTANTLY looking in libraries and thrift stores for something to listen to in the car.
2.  These aren't just ANY recorded stories.....these are bible stories taken straight from scripture.  Nothing added, noting taken away!

Creator George Sarris has a background in commercial voice-over for such companies as Burger King, PIzza Hut, AT&T, and Honda to name just a few.  He is educated in speech and has a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Here is an excellent quote from the website:

   Actor George W. Sarris brings to life in the mind's eye the characters and events of some of the most treasured stories in all of history. The texts of all of the stories are taken directly, word for word, from the Bible. They are told, however, using the art of a dramatic storyteller, incorporating carefully chosen music and sound effects. The result is a very exciting story that comes straight from the words of Scripture.


I find the fact that he memorizes each and every passage before recording remarkable- this must be how he is able to dramatize each story so perfectly and be so engaging!  At $7.95 per CD, I find The World's Greatest Stories to be a great deal.  Even better news is if you order all six volumes, you receive free shipping!  You can choose NIV or KJV and there are six volumes to pick from as well.  Additionally, there is The Real Story of Easter- taken straight from the book of John.

Opinions and observations......

I can see me ordering the other five volumes of The World's Greatest Stories in the future!  Abby LOVED Volume 1: The Prophets. 
Volume One








When I asked her why, this is what she said:

"Momma, that man was so good!  He wasn't boring at all!  He acted out different voices and I liked that he was so dramatic!"

So if your children enjoy listening to a great story while they craft or are riding in the car- please consider going to the website.  You can listen to an audio clip on the Tapes & CDs page.  Let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I was given The Worrld's Greatest Stories, Volume 1: The Prophets for free in exchange for an honest and objective review through The Old Schoolhouse Crew.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Honor of the Last Box




After you deliver your perfectly packed shoebox to your relay center (maybe your own church), do you know what happens to that treasure chest?  Ever thought about what happens between you and the hands of the child meant to receive it?
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It goes on a fabulous adventure!

First, it goes to the local Collection Center- where all of the boxes in your area go before being sent to a processing center. For example, Mountain Brook Community Church is the Collection Center for the Birmingham, AL metro area and it gets boxes as far as 50 miles or so out.  Lots of boxes......

34,358 to be exact this year!

The Collection center volunteers log your boxes (to help keep the count accurate) and check them for labels and rubber bands.  They do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else to your gift!

And by the way, they do not descriminate volunteers based on height, weight, or ability to reach the counter....
From the Collection Center it goes to the processing center.  There are 7 of these nationwide:
Atlanta (Our PC)
Charlotte
Denver
Orange County
Honolulu
Boone
Minneapolis
The Processing Center is the last place in the U.S. that your box will be touched.  Here they are opened, your donation is taken out, they are given a quick look through to make sure you didn't accidentally put any liquids or chocolates in (or toys with weapons), then they are taped, scanned if you have a "Follow My Box" label, and cartonized by age and gender.  Once the carton is taped- it will not see the light of day until it is being opened by the receiving country for distribution.

WE INTERUPT THIS BLOG POST FOR AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR....

Please hear me now.  I want to disspell some myths that I have heard circulating.....
1.  Yes, plastic shoeboxes are fine.  Some do actually crack/break- but they are used by the receivers as holders for their grain and water and other things that make them very useful.
2. Yes, candy is absolutely welcomed in the box!  It may be, as I saw one lady post on FB, unhealthy- but look at the big picture!!! What is one treat in a lifetime??????!!!!
3. No, packing a HUGE box is NOT a good idea! A standard shoebox size box is VERY important to the logistics of box distribution.  An estimated 14 shoeboxes will fit into each carton.  Distribution Project Leaders in-country request a certain number of cartons based on each carton containing at least those 14- so you see how devastating it could be for a child expecting a box if he is in a line of 10 kids to get a box but there were only 4 huge boot boxes in the carton!! 6 hearts instantly broken!

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE REGULARLY PLANNED POST!

After the carton is taped, it is loaded and sent to the nearest port city that will be sending them off!  Fairly amazing, isn't it?  You know what's even more amazing?  Taking a team to the Processing Center to work!


And THEN having a member of your team chosen to carton the last box of the season in the Atlanta PC!!!

(That's Lee, our Community Relations Coordinator!)


And what could possibly be EVEN MORE amazing then that?????


Being asked by my fearless leader, Jamie, to.........


PRAY OVER THE SHOEBOXES as they are sent out of the PC on the final day of processing!!!!

Just so you know, I <3 OCC All Year Long! And you can too!  If you have a heart for this ministry, please consider becoming a year round volunteer in your commuinty!  We have lots of roles to fill!  Just ask me and I'll tell you how!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TOS review: ARTistic Pursuits


The Cains are art lovers.  It is a prerequisite for being in this family! Birmingham has a been blessed with having a LOVELY Museum of Art absolutely FREE to visitors.  My children and I began frequenting it before they ever even knew what art was!  I chose Phonics Museum to teach them how to read- just so I could subject them to more art!  We would all rather paint or create in some expressive form than do just about anything else!  So when the opportunity arose to review ARTistic Pursuits, I jumped on it!

It is very hard for me to find an art curriculum that I am comfortable with.  I am not an accomplished artist, so I have always been intimidated by the thought of teaching my children art.  My children take an art class outside of our home once a week with a FABULOUS teacher, but I have wanted something I could do at home with them that would not only cover technique but also history, composition, and different mediums. ARTistic Pursuits has been just perfect! Take a look at the first lesson below:
lesson one
look at composition
project
The lesson begins with the children learning about what it means to compose, then they actually study a composition, finishing off by composing something of their own.  The lessons are fairly brief, and easily manageable.  The format and material is engaging and the K-3 book still challenges my 4th grader.  Here is a piece of her original work from Lesson 2 of K-3 Book 1:



ARTistic Pursuits covers up through high school with each instruction book costing $42.95.  There are also art packs available for purchase ranging from $40-$100 including shipping.  This is a great option to ensure that you have all of the supplies you will need when it comes time for a lesson with watercolor crayons! (seriously- the ONE art supply NOT on our shelves!) Also, you should know, the ARTistic Pursuits website is very informative and well layed-out.  I encourage you to meander over there and take a look.  Even if you are not a homeschooler, this would be an awesome project once a week for you to do with your children.  You will both enjoy it!

Time for opinions and observations........

My kids have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks while we incorporated this program into our days.  This MAY be the "we can't do without it" product!  I am happy to see them take so much pleasure in taking learning about art to a new level.  .

A word of advise, check your art supply stash.  If it is meek, think about investing in their supply packs.  They seem reasonably priced to me, and it certainly makes project time so much easier if you're not having to go shop for supplies before you can get started!

If you give ARTistic Pursuits a shot, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Disclaimer: I was given the ARTistic Pursuits K-3 Book 1 manual in exchange for a fair and honest review as part of The Old Homeschool Crew.

Dear Lord,

I will not tire of praising you.  I will not tire of sharing how you have blessed me.  I will not forget what you have taught me this year, and if sharing it with one person makes a difference, I will share it with a hundred to whom it doesn't.