Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie

I read a LOT of books, and there are many that I really like, but it's been a while since I've  gotten excited about a series. That changed this month, with the arrival of The Guardian Duke in my mailbox. The first in a new series by award winning author Jamie Carie, this book has the perfect blend of romance, mystery and great characters.
I have some more to say, but first, a little about the book and its author from the publisher:

About the Book:

The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet.

Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.

When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.

About the Author:

When she was six, Jamie’s parents met Jesus and soon after started a church. It changed everything. Road trips with her dad—to and from Bible studies across Indiana—were filled with talks of things beyond earth’s bounds – creation and the fall, God and Jesus and the rapture, the earthly walk compared to the spiritual walk, and how we are born for more than what we can see or touch.

The highlight of those nights was stopping at a truck stop in the middle of the night where her dad would spend a little of the offering basket on two slices of pie and a couple of Cokes. Nothing ever felt so special as a middle of the night slice of pie with her dad. And nothing could stop the writing pouring out of her.

As Jamie’s relationship with God grew, she discovered her heart was filled with songs and poetry. During high school she wrote lyrics for her brother’s band. (And she sang them too!) After college, Jamie married, had two sons and decided to stay home with them. While she homeschooled she wrote skits, poems, plays and short stories for school and church.

When her eldest son turned five she dove into the world of novels. She’d read romance novels for years, but couldn’t relate to the flawless, saintly heroines in Christian romance novels. So she decided to write her own.

Snow Angel was born on a frosty night in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana, where the cold floor gave plenty of motivation for the snow scene. Jamie loves to write late at night when the house is quiet and the darkness seems alive. Elizabeth and Noah had been playacting in herhead for a long time, so the story went fast.

Ten years later Snow Angel was published and won the ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, was a National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and a 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. It was the beginning of her dream career.

Jamie and her husband Tony have been married for twenty-one years and live in Indianapolis with their three sons and a giant of a dog named Leo.

If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”

This is a good place to give you a sneak peek at the trailer:

What captured my attention from the start - besides the beautifully illustrated cover - was the setting. I confess that I have a weakness for the United Kingdom, in fact, the very region that this story takes place in, Northumberland! Umm, why, you ask?
Well, shortly after my husband and I were married, we had the opportunity to live in the Northeast of England for about a year. So it was a delight for me to read about so many familiar areas and landmarks in that part of the U.K, including Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle, places where we have had the privilege of visiting.

The author did a beautiful job in the development of the characters, both the major and minor players. They are real, flawed, but evoke a sympathetic response from the reader through their respective backgrounds. The book has such a wonderful mix of  romance, mystery, and inspiration.

The hero, Gabriel Ravenwood, was a character that I wasn't sure that I would like at the beginning of the story. He is a bit brash, a bit um, crotchety? But the events that immediately unfold serve to show his human side, and won me over.

Then there is Alexandria Featherstone. I love the names, don't you? She has been somewhat sheltered for most of her life, left largely in the care of the servants in Lindisfarne Castle, while her parents travel the world on their various pursuits.

When news arrives that her parents are presumed dead, the adventure begins for Alexandria. She sets out on a journey to find them, with the help of some unlikely companions, a famed retired admiral named Montague, who in my mind reminds me more of a zorro type character, you know with the mask and the cape and all, *giggle*, and a large burly Irishman called Baylor, both fatherly figures.

There is a lovely romantic tension throughout the story, as the affection between Alexandria and Gabriel
grows, though only through written letters. Up until the last page of the book the reader is waiting for the two to meet and see what comes of it all. Through it all, both are on a personal, spiritual journey as well, and I eagerly await their meeting with the One True God.  I was sorry to have it end, but so, so pleased to see that there is more in the works!
You really need to take the time and read this!

If this has piqued your interest, and I hope that it has, check out the links below for more information.



One Sheet:

USA Today Review:

Now, how about a giveaway? The publisher has graciously provided a copy of The Guardian Duke and one blessed person will receive  a copy.
From now through Friday, March 9, 2012 you'll have a chance to enter.
To enter, follow me here and leave a comment telling me that you did, and leave an email addy please.
For an additional entry, visit their facebook page and 'like' it, then leave me a comment. I will randomly select a person.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or

services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Most of the reviews that I write feature educational products and resources for our homeschool use. And I love them! This one however, is especially fun as it's all about  natural personal care products that were mostly just for me- yippee!

Beeyoutiful is a Christian company offering a wide variety of all natural products for your total body wellness needs. These include teas, essential oils, balms, bath and body products, and some great looking children's products.
For this review, I received Winter Breeze Vapor Rub, and B.A.L.M. Orange Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer.

I'll begin with the Winter Breeze Vapor Rub. As the name suggests, you can use this instead of Vick's Vapor Rub. It contains no petroleum, parabens, or preservatives, but good stuff like coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax, menthol crystals, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus and wintergreen essential oils.

Now, every year it seems, my oldest gets The Cold of Colds. Terrible congestion, sleepless nights with awful coughing get it. Well, this year...nothing. Which is sooo great, don't get me wrong, it just figures that when I have the perfect product to try, we don't need it. Or do we?
You see, the cool thing is, Winter Breeze Vapor Rub has other uses, woohoo!  :)

Not only do the oils within this rub help relieve chest congestion, you can also apply it to... your feet of all places! These antibacterial, antifungal oils soak into your skin, and after several months of regular use, foot fungus and cracking will go bye bye. I'm happy to say there is no fungus amongus over here, but for me, winter = dry feet, so I'm liking this application, yes I am.

But we're not done yet. It's time to give the B.A.L.M. Orange  Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer a turn. When I opened the package and saw this, I quickly tucked it away. You see, my girls like lip balm as much as I do, and sometimes moms just need a little personal treat, you know what I mean?
This balm comes in two varieties, orange and peppermint.

It has a pleasant orange scent, without being overpowering. It goes on smoothly, and it's soothing, and well, I like it, and I'd like to give the peppermint a whirl as well :) With great natural ingredients like grape seed oil, shea butter, beeswax, and essential oils (orange or peppermint), you know its gonna be good.

These are just a couple of the natural products you'll find from Beeyoutiful. You can visit their website here and view their full selection. Go on, do it, treat yourself!


Winter Breeze Vapor Rub - $18.00

B.A.L.M. Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer (available in orange and peppermint) $3.00

See what other crewmembers reviewed from Beeyoutiful right here at TOS Homeschool Crew page.

* I received free samples of the Winter Breeze Vapor Rub and  B.A.L.M. Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer in exchange for my honest review, with no additional compensation.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Apologia - Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?)

Apologia. One of my very favorite names in the educational realm. I always know that when I order a textbook, notebooking journal, parent resource, even a coloring book, it will stand out among most in its quality.
The subject of this review, Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? once again proves that statement correct. I was thrilled to be selected to share this book with my daughters, and over the moon when I opened the box to discover that, not only did I receive the book itself, but the notebooking journal, coloring book, *and* the audio CD!!! Oh sweet mama!

The second in a four part series on a biblical worldview, this hardcover, richly illustrated book presents eight lessons for your 6-14 year old to work through, including...

* What are we doing here?
*Can you trust your feelings?
*Will you choose wisely?
*What kind of fruit are you growing?

-And even more than that. I appreciate that in this book, as in other books I have read and used from Apologia, that within the first page or two is a How to? guide that explains the basic structure and offers suggestions on breaking up the lessons.
So let's talk about the book.

Eight lessons doesn't necessarily sound like much, but each one is absolutely packed with good stuff. For most people, it will take about two weeks to complete one lesson, but of course, you can go at whatever pace fits your family best, depending on the ages and abilities of your children. Who Am I?  suggests two days a week, and we started out that way, but as my girls are on the younger side of the age spectrum, I found that the amount of information presented caused the 6 year old to continually ask "Are we done yet?"
Stretching it out just one more day a week has worked well, especially for my youngest wiggle worm.
Each lesson follows a similiar format. You'll find the following sections in every one:

* The Big Idea - the main idea
*What Will You Do? - lesson objectives
* Short story - a short story relating to the subject
* Think about it - comprehension questions
*Words you need to know - vocabulary words
*Hide it in your heart - Bible memory verses
*What should I do? - personal application
*Prayer - self explanatory
*Worldviews in focus - focuses on other cultures and worldviews
*What's the difference? - discussion questions
*House of truth - when a new concept is learned, a part of a house is "built" in the book. This gives a visual aid to the student to help understand how the truths being learned apply to his/her life.

Now for our thoughts:

As I expected to, I love this curriculum. The quality of the book itself, and even more importantly, the material within are second to none. There is so much to absorb, and I learn as much as the kids do. The girls love the short stories, and with each one, they bring up various aspects of the story throughout the day, pointing out the lies that the character believed, the injustices of the situation, things like that. I love to see how much they are thinking about the story.
It has also inspired an increased interest in other cultures and beliefs held by the various people, and I'm seeing them solidify some of their own beliefs, even at their young age.

The age range of 6-14 is fairly broad, and the text reads more for the older student, which might be an issue for some folks, but personally, I have no problem using this with our 6 and almost 8 year old. When the girls don't understand something, we stop so I can explain it, and we continue on.

The notebooking journal is almost too lovely to use, and as soon as I first flipped through it, I knew we would need an additional copy so both girls would have one :) It's delightfully thick and beautifully illustrated, filled with pages for journaling (naturally), crossword puzzles, book lists, questions, and so much more. A great addition to this book.

And the coloring book...they could have been reading my daughters' minds ;)  They looovvveee to color, and this coloring book has pretty pictures on really nice paper. Each page correlates to a story in the main book. They look forward to these pages every time.

And we can't forget about the audio CD. This is great for well, auditory learners :), and /or reinforcing the lessons in general. My youngest loves listening to CD's such as these during quiet times. It seems to help her retain the information even better.

So, to sum it all up in a sentence...
Great quality, great product, solid curriculum- check them out. :)

Apologia Educational Ministries
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220/340
Anderson, IN 46016
 Toll Free: 888.524.4724
Phone: 765.608.3280
Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?)
Ages: 6-14 years old
Price: $39.00
Notebooking Journal: $24.00
Coloring Book: $8.00
Audio CD: $19.00

*I received a free copy of Who Am I? (And What Am I doing Here?), the notebooking journal, coloring book and audio CD for free in exchange for my honest use and review of it, with no additional compensation.

Read what my crewmates thought of this product here .

Thursday, February 9, 2012


"I love math!", has not been a phrase typically heard in our home, that is, until we began reviewing this cool online math program.
Math Rider is an intelligent math game designed to master the four basic operations (those would be addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division ;) ) in a fun, kid pleasing manner. Your interest is piqued now, isn't it? Well read on friend :)

I knew that this math resource had at least a decent chance of engaging my oldest in particular, when I saw that the game features horses, enchanted lands, and noble quests.
Let's talk about how it works...

You may set up a "rider" for each of your children, so they can begin tracking their individual progress.
You  choose the level of difficulty- easy, medium or hard, and which math operation to work on. Now it's time to begin the quest!

Each journey has a separate storyline, and begins by narrating it to the player in a storybook fashion- we really like hearing these :) For example, the easy level has the student on a quest to find a magical flower needed to make a medicine for the mother in the story, who has a fever.

 Their faithful horse Shadow will take them through many lands and over many jumps, which are completed as they successfully answer math problems. The top of the screen clearly displays the progress as they work up to set number of math facts.
When a problem is answered incorrectly, the jump is stopped and the math fact is answered correctly by a narrated voice.

After completing the set of facts, the game pauses and gives the player opportunity to view their progress on the quest, which looks like a map, showing how far they have come, and how far they have to go. My girls loved tracking their progress this way, and it really motivated them to continue.

A feature that I like about Math Rider - there are quite a few actually- is the way it increases or decreases the pace at which the problems are given, adjusting itself according to the players' ability.

One of my daughters has a low frustration tolerance in the subject of math, and it's been a delightful surprise to see how Math Rider has increased her mastery and overall confidence in this area. I have to make her stop the program to get on with her other studies, and that's an issue I really don't mind dealing with!

In the words of my kids, "Awesome! It's so fun!" So there you have it. Visit the Math Rider website, and register for a free 7 day trial. You can't beat free!
Also, should you decide that this would be a great addition to your home/ homeschool, buy it now for $37.00 The price will increase to $47.00 on February 15, 2012, so lock in your sale price now.

Check out other reviews from TOS HOMESCHOOL CREW

Math Rider
Ages: 6-12 yrs.
Price: $37.00 Price increases to $47.00 on February 15, 2012

** I received free access to the Math Rider software in exchange for my honest opinion of it, with no additional compensation. **