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!

Monday, February 27, 2012

TOS Review: Beeyoutiful


So turns out that not all TOS reviews are curriculum!  :o)

And I put this review to the test!


Beeyoutiful is a christian-owned company based out of Tennessee that specializes in all natural nutritional supplements, natural skincare, and other items and information that promote a naturally healthy lifestyle. 

I received a package from Beeyoutiful and was smitten upon openning it.  I pulled out a lovely Milk & Honey facial bar shaped like a beehive and a tube of peppermint lip balm. 


This poor company had no idea what I was about to put them up against....Andy's skin.  Dear Andy has the most sensitive skin I have ever seen.  Prone to adult acne and dryness, his skin is fairly unhappy with most soaps.  I'm constantly on the look-out for any all natural cleanser that may please his precious face.  He willingly became my guinea pig and has used the bar for the last month.

Beeyoutiful's Milk & Honey Facial Bar contains Raw Goat Milk, Distilled Water, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sodium Hydroxide (lye), Raw Honey, Bee Pollen, Bee Propolis, Beeswax, Sweet Orange Essential Oil.  This made me feel very good about Andy trying it on his sensitive skin as all of the ingredients are natural and beneficial to his skin.  Here's what Beeyoutiful's website says about this facial bar:
  "Honey cleanses dirt and impurities while smoothing wrinkles by increasing your skin’s elasticity. Propolis—a mixture of the essential oils, pollen, and wax bees harvest from plants—nourishes dry, itchy skin. Pollen, rich in enzymes and vitamins, contains the complete family of amino acids. It promotes new skin cell growth while scrubbing away built-up dead cells without stripping the skin of its natural protection. Milk & Honey’s beeswax base is the all-natural “carrier” for other ingredients that leaves your skin feeling soft and clean."

  I am thrilled to report that Andy's skin has thrived this past month!  He said the best compliment for the soap is that he can rarely wash his face every day because it is painful for his skin, but that he was able to this past month with no ill discomfort at all! When asked, Andy even stated that he would consider continuing to use Beeyoutiful's Milk & Honey Bar! The Milk & Honey Bar is sold for $10 or you may buy in quantity which reduces the price.

I took on the peppermint Beeyoutiful All-natural Lip Moisturizer as I struggle through the winter months with seriously chapped lips.  Our home is nearly a hundred years old and she dries out when the gas heater is running in February!  My lips are fairly sensitive anyway so I am constantly carrying a chapstick of some sort around with me.


 
The peppermint lip balm contains grape seed oil, shea butter, beeswax, and peppermint essential oil.  After applying, the first thing I noticed was how refreshing the scent was, and how completely it saturated my lips.  Also, one application seemed to last quite a while with no need for reapplication.  My lips were much more supple and moist and appeared overall more healthy. Available in peppermint or orange, the lip balms sell for $3 each or 3 for $2.70 each.

I'd like to take a moment just to share a little about the information available through Beeyoutiful's website.  There are many natural health related articles available to read/watch as well as a newsletter and chat forum. Also, if you go to the "About Us" section under "About Beeyoutiful" is a link to owner Stephanie Walker Tallent's blog, http://www.traditionalfoodadventure.com/, which I found very interesting. From their website you can shop by health concern or by product and cover a myriad of things from teas (I HIGHLY recommend the Just For Kids Cold Care tea!) to vitamin supplements and books.

Pop on over and see what you think!

Disclaimer:  I was given a Milk & Honey Facial Bar and a tube of peppermint Beyoutiful All-natural Lip Moisturizer in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, February 24, 2012

TOS Review: Apologia's Who AM I?

If there is one thing you can bet on in the grand scheme of homeschooling curriculum- or even just life enrichment (as is this case)- it's that when you see this logo....



you won't go wrong.  I mean it!  We've used their science curriculum (Anatomy & Astronomy), I've read their books (How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids), and now we're working through this


spiritual journey study with the kids and I have never regretted my time/energy spent on any of them!

Apologia Press has a line called the "What We Believe" series.  There are four books:
Who Is God? (And can I really know him?)
Who Am I? (And what am I doing here?)
Who Is My Neighbor? (And why does he need me?)
What On Earth Can I Do? (Available later this year)

This series strives to lead children in developing the essentials of their faith.  Our children are bombarded with falsehoods and deception and these studies provide a biblcal worldview to give our children a foundation to stand on.

In Who Am I? children are given the true sense of how God views them- as intentional, gifted, worthy, and loved. This is what Apologia had to say:
   "The second book in the What We Believe series, Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) helps children understand what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Most High God. This study will enable students to develop a healthy self-image based on these biblical truths: God made me in His image and crowned me with glory; He has given me special gifts and a unique purpose in life; I can creatively express God's love; I am meant to think about beautiful and praiseworthy things, especially God and His Word; I must make decisions based on God's truth; I can always know the wise thing to do; I must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life; I am a beloved child of God whose true identity is found in Christ."

The 268 page hardback book is broken down into 8 major lessons:
1. What Are We Doing Here?
2.What Will You Make Today?
3. What's On Your Mind?
4. Can You Trust Your Feelings?
5. Will You Choose Wisely?
6. How Will You Run the Race?
7. What Kind of Fruit Are You Growing?
8. Who Do You Think You Are?

Each lesson is broken down into many key components including stories, memory verses, thought provoking discussion questions, and other means of conveying God's truth in a way that allows you to work through at your child's own pace.

Another fabulous tool is the notebooking journal which goes along with the book.  This spiral bound, color journal is filled with graphics, puzzles, journaling spots, questions, activities, and games.  It is great to have one place designated for the kids thoughts and work. 

There is even an accompanying coloring book for your littles and an  MP3-CD of the book!



Apologia sells the book for $39, the notebook for $24, the coloring book for $8, and the MP3-CD for $19.

Observations and opinions of the Cains:
  We enjoy this study.  The stories are interesting and relevant and the children enjoy sitting for the reading.  It's a great opportunity for us to be intentional in developing a Christ-focused world-view and self-image.  I will say that, while we received our copies for free in exchange for a fair and honest review, it's a little pricey for the book and 2 notebooks.  I found that www.christianbooks.com had them on sale.  The book is $28.99, the notebooking journal is $17.99, the coloring book is $6.99, and the MP3-CD is $15.49.  I'm hoping to go back and do Who Is God? when we finish this one, and then pick up with the third and fourth in the series.  I hope you will leave comments of your thoughts if you have/will try it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TOS Review: ALEKS

I'm very excited to bring you another math assessment related review!  We have really been focused on mastering our math facts this semester, so it was very timely that these reviews came our way!



ALEKS stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces.  You won't believe the content of ALEKS- from Basic Math through Pre-calculus and Trig to college prep and Chemistry! This math program is fabulous because not only does it reassess your student as they progress, but it also shows them how they're doing!  A pie graph is used to illustrate how they are moving along...for example...


This is appealing to me because I am visual and like to see how things are in relation to the big picture.  Now, keep in mind that my children are elementary aged so we are only working through the Quicktables in an effort to memorize our math facts.  This website offers so much more that we are just not ready to explore yet!

Quicktables is a fun and challenging way to practice and assess where we are with out multiplication facts (also offered in addition, subtraction, and division).  Here is a sample of a QT game...



and here are examples of how we are able to see how each child is doing.  The first picture is what the child sees at the end of their challenge.  (Abby loves to yell at me to come look and see how her colored blocks have moved or changed!)  The bottom picture is how her progress shows up on my log-in page.  Keep in mind, to see the greatest amount of progress in math skills, that the folks over at ALEKS encourage 2-3 hours of ALEKS activity a week for students in 3rd grade and up .






One of the most awesome features, in my humble opinion, of ALEKS is that you can actually look up your state's standards and see how ALEKS addresses them individually based on the math course you have chosen!  There are so many features on the ALEKS site that you might be a bit overwhelmed at first.  May I suggest going to the training center and checking out the short video that helps you begin to implement ALEKS in your home?  They provide great support and their site is chock full of ways to help your student be successful with the ALEKS program. Here is a free trial offer that you might be interested in.

Fees for ALEKS:
A subscription to ALEKS is

$19.95 per student, per month, or
only $99.95 every 6 months, or
only $179.95 every 12 months.

ALEKS offers a Family Discount for multiple children in the same home.
Disclaimer: A free trial membership was given to my family in exchange for a fair and objective review.

The day after Valentine's Day......

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I am a hopeless romantic.  Maybe to a fault.  Poor Andy.

Some Valentine's days at the Cain house are all frilly cards and roses- there's even been a surprise steak dinner thrown in before.  Some Valentine's days at the Cain house are "I love you" with the conotation of "That's gotta be enough this year."  This year- well, this year was the best---but not for any of the reasons you might think.

There were no chocolates.  No florist's delivery truck. No big bucks spent at Hallmark.  This year there was a piece of paper on my dinner plate when I came to the table.  A card printed off of the computer... it simply said "Love" on the front and "Happy Valentine's Day" on the inside.  But in that distinct handwriting of my Sweetheart's was "I love you very much, Andy".  All caps.

All caps.

We had a candlelit dinner with a fabulous chocolatey dessert together, the four of us.  We read our favorite Valentine stories, A Charlie Brown Valentine and Cranberry Valentine, and then the kids were off to bed.  We were going to pick a movie together, but Andy got tired of me Netflix surfing- so he started "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"! Yes, it made me giggle.  I was thinking "Sleepless in Seattle" or "An Affair to Remember".  He had never seen a Marilyn movie.

I can't stand Marilyn movies.

I piddled, folded laundry, and headed to bed.

At this point you may be wondering why I would consider this the best Valentine's Day yet.

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That's what did it.  That's what singled out this year's V-day as the best.  Not puppy-love.  Not lust-love.  Not my crazy romantic movie idea of love.  Sweet, enduring, in the day-to-day love.  Last year was hard on me and Andy.  I would even say that at one point, I wasn't sure that we would make it through together.  Maybe that's what made this such a special Valentine's Day
  ......appreciation .....devotion .....acceptance...

LOVE.

(in caps)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

TOS Review: Math Rider

Math Rider! The Intelligent Math Facts Game!

We have been using it for a few weeks now and BOTH, yes- you read that correctly, BOTH my kids love it!  My first and fourth graders are working on committing their math facts to memory and they need every little bit of help they can get.  While I'm not keen on the idea of one minute drills on the times tables, I have to confess that they worked for me! (Thank you, Mrs Tramell!)  And yes, I remembered all of my facts in fourth grade, but it was after failing many a one-minute-tests and deciding that me and numbers were never ever gonna be BFFs.......a truth alive and well in my life to this very day.  So how was I to help the kiddos?  What tricks could I pull out of my magic Mommy hat??

Math Rider!  This "intelligent" math game is quite unlike most others.  Kids mount Shadow, their trusty steed, and ride off on one of many adventures.  Whilst riding, children are quizzed on their math facts.  I can't describe it as well as the Math Rider people- this is from their web page:

  While the rider is playing, the game learns what the rider knows and what he or she still needs to practice. Every single response (or non-response) is stored in an internal database and statistically analysed by the software. In this way the program is able to custom-tailor to each rider, which questions are asked next. No repetitive drilling of random number facts the rider already knows – but real practice of what actually needs to be practiced!


  Plenty of feedback is given on the rider’s mastery of each number fact and operation, including an innovative overview map of mastery for each number table. This is highly beneficial for both the rider and the parent/educator. You can see with one glance where your child is at and where he or she might need further assistance. Top challenges are also listed in a separate list box for further easy reference.

multiplication statistics

  This alone might be the best selling point for Abby.  She loves to see each piece shaded in and becomes quite confident when she sees something in green.  I really like how the gfame can process out how well your child is mastering.  I feel like this is so much better than a big red "X" over their incorrect answers!







The graphics are quite pleasant and there is a quest map that helps the children to see how far they have advanced in their adventure.

These are the system requirements for Math Rider:
WINDOWS


Intel® Pentium® Pentium 4 2GHZ or faster, 1GB RAM

Windows 7, Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise including 64 bit editions, Windows Vista SP1, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition SP2 and SP3, Windows XP SP2 and SP3, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows 2003 Server

MAC OS X

Intel Core™ Duo 1.83GHz or faster processor; PowerPC® G4 1GHz or faster processor

Mac OS X 10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.4, 10.5.5, and 10.6

512MB of RAM

The Math Rider site has a special running for $37 until the 15th, at which time it will go back up to its regular price of $47.  This is a great price as that allows for multiple players- not a per player fee.  They offer a 30 risk free guarantee and a free trial if you'd like to give it a shot. 

As always, if you do try it out, please let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I was given a short trial of Math Rider in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TOS Review:Celestial Almanack Feb 2012

I am not an astronomy person.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice evening under the stars and I FULLY appreciate the consequences that would come if the Earth were 10 degrees from the left of where it currently is now---but if you start talking all that space talk.....I totally check out.

Introducing... The Classical Astronomy's Celestial Almanack!


Published by Fourth Day Press, the Celestial Almanack is an illustrated monthly guide to the heavenly happennings of the night sky.  This ezine covers everything you would ever want to know about the month's events as they relate to the sun, moon, and stars!  The cuh-ray-zee thing, which I still can't believe, is that it only costs $3.00 per month!  It is a supreme value for the money- so chocked full of fabulous illustrations to help you find where things are placed in the skies, informative and easy to understand explanations of calendar events (ever heard the term "bisextile"?), and my personal "You had me at 'Hello'" favorite- an introduction page in the grand old style of the original Poor Richard's Almanack!

The February almanack includes five segments:
Astronomical Calendar
Signs of the Season
  The Sun's Declination
Seasonal Skies- Evening
  The Great Constellation Orion
  The N, E, and W Horizons
Dance of the Planets
  Jupiter and Venus Approach
  The Motion of Jupiter and Venus
  Superior Planets- Mars, Saturn
Promotional Partners
 

While I enjoyed the Almanack for my personal enlightenment, the kids enjoyed it as well.  I discussed with them why we have a leap year, how scripture points to the stars (by name!) as far back as the book of Job, and how we MUST view the "Transit of Venus" on June 5 because it will not happen again until 2117!! 
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We took the almanack outside and picked out many constellations, made possible by those fabulous illustrations I mentioned earlier. (They have a 360 degree view in N,S,E, and W facing diagrams!) We recognized the moon and what phase it is currently in, and are keeping track of it's night sky positioning.

I encourage you to hop over to Currclick to check out the free preview of the Celestial Almanack for February.  Author Jay Ryan did, in my humble opinion, a wonderful job of penning a very family friendly account of what could be a very difficult subject.  You can also jump over to Mr Ryan's site, Classical Astronomy, for other family friendly astronomy education tools including middle and high school biblically based astronomy curriculum and even a storybook entitled Moonfinder which helps to teach about the monthly cycle of the moon's phases.

 Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of the February Celestial Almanack for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.